Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 19 - 25, 2016, MN

Wednesday, September 20.  Yup, busy, busy, busy, although Monday and Tuesday were not unmanageable and I had a couple of mornings alone. Today, Norah and Camille had coughs and runny noses so they stayed at home today.  They were pretty good, needed a little extra TLC (whining and crying) but mostly cooperative and playing well together.  There are times when Camille, who has a strong personality (in fact, she thinks she is an expert at everything) is a little overpowering at times.  She does things for Norah, when Norah wants to do things for herself. I was very happy when Mom and Dad finished work and I could get myself a break.

Friday, September 23.   I started preparing to empty my room yesterday, making sure that the bedding was clean for the next guest, Leah, who is a long-time

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 12 - 18, 2016, MN

Thursday, September 15.  When my first journal update is written on a Thursday, it is an indication of how my week has gone.  Ben left for SF on Tuesday, leaving Jill and I to run the show.  Any window of time without kids has been used to shop, prepare for meals, do minor clean ups and take a nap whenever I can.  That is probably what I should be doing right now.  Twice, I have had to wake the twins up after only an hour's nap, in order to get Charlotte after school (Jill had a couple of days that she couldn't do the afternoon pickup.

Yesterday, my first time driving Jill's car to pickup Norah and Camille, I couldn't get her car to start - I have no experience with a car that has keyless starting. I had to call Ben at work to learn how to get it started.  Then, in the scramble to get lunch bags, sweaters, dirty clothes, and 2 3-year olds to the parked car, I managed to drop the bag of dirty clothes, losing Camille's shoes and clothes.

Then in the afternoon while they were napping, I was out back watering the lawn when I heard a squeal, turned around and found the dogs chasing a chipmunk. I aimed the hose on them and they came away, leaving an injured chipmunk struggling as he hid in the corner of the patio.  I got the dogs in the house and observed the little guy for a while and it appeared that it was dying, staying in one place and twitching now and then.  I knew I should probably put it out of its misery, but I just didn't have the heart to kill it, choosing to let it die on its own instead.  I checked periodically and every time, it moved just a bit.  After an hour or so, I checked and didn't see any movement, so I went to the garage and got a shovel to dispose of it. When I scooped underneath, the thing ran, trying to get away from me. Fortunately, it ran off the patio and behind the fence - good thing, since I didn't want the kids to see it. I check a couple of times and each time, it had moved several feet - maybe it was going to be ok.  The last I checked, it was gone. I have no idea where, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I hope it didn't suffer too much longer, or died quickly.

I made an apple crunch for a special treat for after dinner on Tuesday but there was so much yelling, pushing and completely uncooperative kids, that the privilege was taken away

We have a pot luck for Norah and Camille's school tonight, so I made a cornbread this morning.  It looked beautiful coming out of the oven but as I tipped it out of the pan, it broke apart.  This is the result

 Dang, we won't be taking that to any potluck.

Jill sent me a quick salsa recipe and I pulled that together. I also got groceries for my camping trip with Charlotte this weekend,  Whew!  Resting now.

Sunday, Sptember 18.  What a great weekend I had, camping with Charlotte again.  This time, we went to Lebanon Hills Campground, only a 20-minute drive from here.  We got setup, then went on a walkabout to check out the park.  We were camped in the west loop, an area for RVs that had full hookup sites. We walked up to the East Loop, where the playground is and found those sites to be more desirable for the next time - the drawback is that they are electric only sites, so I would have to fill up with water and empty tanks at the dump station, but it would be very doable.  Those sites are bigger and more secluded, with trees surrounding each site. Another plus is that the playground is right in the middle of the loop.

We headed back home, and saw a family pull into one of the sites across the street. Charlotte wanted to see if the little girl could play, so Eliza joined us and they got to know each other and had a great time together; coloring, running around and playing with some of Charlotte's toys.

We had shrimp, rice, and edamame for dinner and then a special treat of an ice cream cone from the store.  By then, it was time to get a fire started and we sat and sang campfire songs and enjoyed the fire until it started to rain.  We were hoping to see the full Harvest Moon tonight but there were way too many clouds covering it up.  We scurried off to bed and had a fun tickle and giggle fest until she wore out and we both went to sleep.

We got right to it on Saturday morning with chats with the neighbors, Julie and Lisa and thier German Shepherd, Bago (who we learned is the same age as Charlotte, born 3 days later than her).  The dog was so smart and well behaved, loved little kids and Charlotte  loved him too, asking frequently if she could go over there to pet him.   Also, we got new neighbors on the other side of us and she had to meet that little black poodle named Molly.  Molly survived an attack by her mother when she was just a puppy and her face was deformed and crooked, but she was still a real "cutie", Charlotte's description of her.

Bago stole a kiss from her, just as she was posing for the photo.

Once things tried out a bit, we went back to the playground for a while and when we got back to the camper, Eliza joined us again in the afternoon and they played for a couple of hours, coloring, practicing leaps, Eliza teaching Charlotte how to do cartwheels, rolling down the hill, eating, and playing with toys.  

After dinner, we went for a hike along a forest path that wine along the lake shore.   Unfortunately, a large section of the path was flooded from the recent rains, so we couldn't go all around the lake, having to turn around and take the same path.

She got bored of the campfire and we went inside about 8:30, never did get to see the full moon until just before she went to sleep, and we saw it through the window.  I suggested that we go outside in our pjs to get a good look, but she was too sleepy by that time.

I had a miserable night of sleep, waking up to the sound of coyotes around midnight and then not going back to sleep until after 3 am, and when I did sleep, it was that kind of sleep that is right on the edge of awake and asleep. Charlotte sleep in until 8:00.

She was ready to go see Bago and go for a morning walk so we had a quick bowl of cereal and headed down a different woodland path, this time around another lake and it was so quiet and peaceful. When we got back to the campsite, I made eggs in a hole for breakfast and we packed up and got ready to leave.  

We ended our weekend with a stop for pizza. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September 5 - 11, 2016, MN

Tuesday, September 7.  Yesterday was family photo day, so I had the morning to myself.  Getting prepped for this event was pretty crazy, as they all wanted their pretty new dresses on but weren't allowed until all of the morning tasks were out of the way: potty, tooth and hair brushing, breakfast, hands/face washed - then, pretty new dresses.  The twins were whining and crying, then Norah fell down the last 4 or 5 steps and cried some more, she was ok though, no big injuries.

I filled out 3 applications for subsidized apartments that have long waiting lists (20-24 months), headed out to mail them but then decided to drop them off myself next week.

The weather reports are calling for possible torrential rains, flooding, high winds, and maybe even some hail.  Since Kevin, the neighbor offered me a spot to store my trailer on his lot across the alley, we took him up on it and got the trailer moved and the family van in the garage and Jill's car just outside.  It's a perfect arrangement, I don't know why we didn't take advantage from the day I got here.

Today was the first day of the new school routine and after I walked Charlotte to school this morning, I headed out for some more apartment research, including dropping off the apps that I had ready and taking another look at those places. Either would fit my needs well.  I also drove out to Savage to check out the single story cottage apartments, Villas by Mary T, and learned that they are way to far away (25 minute drive without traffic) and out of my price range by about $300 a month.  It's too bad, because I find that type of living arrangement to be very attractive.  I checked out 1 more apartment complex in Minnetonka, but again, it's a bit far and the manager wasn't around to talk to, so I think I will nix that place.

I stopped at a produce stand for a yummy peach and added some popcorn to it for my lunch, I couldn't find anything but fast food restaurants in the area.  A little bit of shopping topped my day off, then I headed back home.

Ben was training the new Nanny, Maria, so I got busy with dinner prep. I fixed pork tenderloin, Cuban beans and rice, and dilled carrots for dinner and it was well received.

Sunday, September 11.  A day to remember for sure, a day when America lost so many in the attacks on the twin towers in NYC.  For Mike and I, it was also a day of horror as we waited to hear that Ben was safe and back in the US from his trip to Japan. Many calls were made to the airlines and local officials and then his flight was allowed to land in San Franciso, right where he was supposed to be.  The people on the plane knew nothing until after they landed and could talk with loved ones on the phone again.

Ben and I went to Costco this morning and loaded up on groceries that should last a while. We also got him on my account.

The week went well, although Ben got a text from the new nanny on Tuesday saying that she thought the job was way more than spwhat she could handle.  Come on - you don't even give it more than a half-day?  I can't believe the work ethic of the younger generations - I never would have done something like that.

I did some exploring and found another apartment complex nearby to check out.  It was a pretty rainy day and we had some good thunderstorms during the night.  I was mostly in charge of the kids on the days that Charlotte finished school at 12:30 and for a short time after naps until Ben and Jill finished work.  Charlotte will start full days until 3:30 next week and the twins schedule will stay the same for the next few weeks. Ben and Jill have worked it out with their work schedules so that no nanny is needed.  I think that a regular schedule will be nice.

I made a reservation at Lebanon Hills Campground for Charlotte and I next weekend, as she asked me to take her camping one more time.  The timing is good because Ben will be in SF for work and Jill will have one less child to keep track of on Friday night and Saturday morning.  It is nice to have them on their own too - a third wheel really does cause problems some times, but for the most part, they get along and play well together.  Some of their antics just crack me up and their imaginations are so lively and vivid.  

I got a Jill haircut this afternoon and I can't believe the difference in the style and quality that she does. She also cut and colored her Mom's hair, then Lois helped her to color her own, and then Charlotte got a haircut too - so much for having a Sunday afternoon off.

Ben fixed a delicious Mexican dinner that everyone raved about - marinade flank steak tacos, guacamole, rice and beans and then we topped it off with homemade margaritas by Jill.   Mmmmmm! Little Norah ate 3-4 servings of rice and 3 meat tacos.  She looked at me and said, "I like meat"!  What a cutie!

And now I have finished the dinner cleanup, walked the dogs while the kids are being put to bed and I'm done for the night and ready to close up on this week.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September 1 - 4, 2016, MN

Thursday, September 1.  It is the first day of school for Norah and Camille and they were excited and up by 6:30 this morning.  We all knew that they had to get up earlier today, but that was pushing it a bit.  Ben and Jill took them to school and stayed with them in their classes today and again tomorrow, Monday they are on their own.  Big day!

I took them for special treats and playground time when they were done.

Saturday, September 4.  Jill headed off to her parents house with the kids this morning and Ben and I stayed back to top dress and seed the back yard.  We got to the store for a yard of compost and had to wait about 45 minutes for the guy to return from a delivery and for our clerk to find his keys, so we went for a coffee while we waited.  

While Ben mowed the grass and shoved and spread compost, I got started on prepping the soil and planting some sedum cuttings that Lois brought us.  I also pruned a scruffy looking shrub that was overgrown, then helped Ben to rake in the compost.  By the time we finished, we were both stiff and sore, took showers and headed out to meet up with the family for a yummy dinner, adult beverage,  and a nice visit.  The kids all fell asleep in the car on the way home, bedtime was a cinch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 29 - 31, 2016, MN

Tuesday, August 30.  Another week is upon us.  Jill arranged for Camille to spend a day and night with Grannie yesterday, and I couldn't believe how nice it was to only have 2 kids in the mix.  Norah and I went on o the zoo in the morning buti should have left a lot sooner, we ended up only having 1.5 hours there.  Many of the animals were hidden from us, we did go through the dinosaur exhibit but she was afraid of the noises they made (my granddaughters are all wary of loud noises).  On the way back to the parking lot, we stopped at the carousel so she could ride the blue frog.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 22 - 28, 2016, MN

Thursday, August 25.  I knew this was going to be a bit hectic and it has.  I had all 3 girls on Monday and Wednesday and we even succeeded in having outings to the park and I managed to get them all in the van, buckled up and they stayed near me while walking and at the park.  Charlotte has been a bit help, especially by setting a good example and then Norah and Camille are just interested in being like her.  

Tina (the Nanny) spent her last day with them on Tuesday, so I went to see a few subsidized apartment buildings.  The first two were about a 15 minute drive but both have 20-24 month waiting lists and the changeover isn't real quick, like 15 a year.  I attempted to visit a senior community with garden homes but my GPS led me astray, I drove 20 miles too far and never did find the place.  A couple of places were in construction zones and I didn't feel like stopping there, although I probably should another time.  They were also in a very busy part of Edina near the Southdale Mall and would be convenient to shopping, but I'm not sure I really care that much about that.  The last place that I stopped at was discouraging, as it appeared to be more for assisted living type arrangements, like 80-90 year olds.

I think I'm going to just focus on the neighborhoods that I would like to be in and maybe use a rental management resource.

Charlotte went to spend the night with Granny and Papa, so I have been in demand a little bit less.  I took them for special treats this morning - an ice cream cone.  Both chose blue and I'm not Ben sure what the flavor is, just blue.

Friday, August 26.  It has been a quiet and mellow day with Norah and Camille. Both have been in great moods and have been very cooperative with the exception of a meltdown by Camille at nap time this afternoon.  She forcefully took a ring from Norah, I made her give it back and she went berserk because she wanted it.  When she wouldn't stop screaming, I put her on her bed and she settled right in, listened to a couple of stories and drifted off to sleep.  Boy, a 2-year old sure does get agitated when she doesn't get what she wants.

We are preparing for Charlotte's 5th birthday party tomorrow (her actual birthday falls on Labor Day weekend). It will be held at an art studio, all of the guests will paint a picture on a canvas and take it home with them when they leave.  It should be a fun time.

The sentencing trial for Travis Standlee, the slug who murdered my brother, Ray, is scheduled for Monday and he is facing 50 years.  I spent some time this afternoon writing an impact statement to be read at the hearing.  It is always difficult to lose a family member, but the way that Ray died was brutal and I hope the man gets all 50 years of the sentence.  He goes on trial in October for the death of Sharon Mead, murdered just 6 days after he killed Ray, a day after he was let out of jail because they didn't feel like they had sufficient evidence. He deserves another 50 years for her murder.

Saturday, August 27.  Birthday party day for my little birdie girl.  She is all about the birds the days, her favorite is the Peacock and the theme is definitely birds.  We went to 
and 10 of her friends were invited.  They started by choosing a canvas, getting a painting lesson and making their own creation.  That was followed by snacks and cupcakes and dress up.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August 15 - 21, 2016, WI, MN

Wednesday, August 17.  My week has been busy, running errands and seeing some folks one more time before I leave Stoughton next Sunday.  On Monday, I headed up to Pat and Roger's house, loaded a few bins and boxes in my car, and followed Pat to their new home near Montello.  The inspector was there today, so the house was open and I could see the inside. It is cute as can be, has a beautiful lot with nice, tall trees, and will be a comfortable home for them.

On Tuesday, I went downtown and scheduled a haircut appointment for Friday, shopped for food and treats for Frisco, and stopped to see my cousin, Fran. We had a great visit.  I also ran to the grocery store to get a few things and just as I was parking my car back at Pat's house, my friend Judy called and asked "are you coming"?  Here I had forgotten that I had arranged to meet her for lunch, so I did a u-turn and scurried to the restaurant where I had a very nice visit with her and Virginia.

Today, I went with Tracey, Donna, and Caroline to Oconomowoc for some shopping at some of Donna's favorite places; Stein's Garden Center, K-Mart (I'm not a fan), Ben Franklin, and a book store.  I got a few gifts for the grandkid's but that is about it.  On our way back home, we stopped at the outlet mall in Johnson Creek and I tried to find another pair of walking shoes like I have now - they had a few, but they were hot pink or hot orange, so I walked away empty handed.  Naturally, I just love a shoe style that has been discontinued - guess I will shop online for a new pair.

We had lunch at Maxim's Old Depot Inn, an old railroad station, that took you back a few years with the photos and banners on the walls.  Lunch was delicious and the company was fun too.

This evening, Tracey and I chopped veggies while Pat prepped for the canning process and we put up another 6 cans of salsa and 2 quarts of tomatoes.  It will be great for them to have yummy garden veggies during the winter.

Friday, August 19.  Happy 47th Birthday to my oldest son, Pat!  

I spent the morning yesterday finishing up my research on apartment complexes that I want to check out when I get to Minneapolis.  The list has 6 possibilities.  Wouldn't you know that my first choice place is the farthest away, but still only a 20 minute drive to the south and the next 2 choices are the most pricey.  These are all large complexes that are age restricted and have some amenities that are similar to what I have now.  I have not ruled out the possibility of a small flat or duplex near Ben's neighborhood.

We had some pretty serious storms during the night and I slept right through them.  I just love it when I'm in a good sleeping pattern.  Frisco got walked in the pouring rain this morning and neither of us liked it very much.

I made lasagna and Caesar salad for dinner, broke out the bottle of wine that I bought in Michigan (not a very good one) and then we had my favorite apple crumble for dessert.  Tracey's folks stopped over to wish Pat a happy birthday and stayed around for a nice visit.  Pat ended up getting rained out at work this morning, so he got the day off on his birthday too.

Saturday, August 20.  Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law, Jill and my mother-in-law, Jane who would be 98 today - I love and miss you, Mom.

We all walked to Mandt Park this morning for the annual Coffee Break Fest and car show and I was glad to see several of my cousins from the Ganshert family.  I thought I would be seeing them at a birthday party this afternoon but I had the dates mixed up and that event is tomorrow.  I really wanted to get to see Larry and he was right at the entrance when we walked in.  I bought a souvenir coffee mug and sampled some different brews, chatted with a few folks, and then it started to rain so we high tailed it home.  

Tracey caught a Pokeman on me,

I got my laundry done, cleaned up the trailer a bit, got beer to deliver to Ben and to take with me to AZ, and got things in the car organized and ready for the trip to Minnesota tomorrow. It was a good day.

Sunday, August 21.  Naturally, on a day that I want to be alert and focused, I didn't get much sleep the night before.  Grrrrr.  I last looked at the clock at 11:30, was up at 3:00, then awake again at 5:30 this morning.  

I had coffee with Pat, then hooked up, said my goodbyes, and was on the road by 8:30. My first stop was the state park to empty all of the tanks, then to McFarland to fill up on gas and get some breakfast and then I was headed north.  I took the Garmin's suggested route that took me through Eau Claire and right through downtown St. Paul and that was a big mistake.  There was lots of construction on I94, a detour at the exit that I wanted to take, I was rerouted way south near the airport and Mall of America and then I finally got on the right road that took me to Ben's.  In the past, I have taken I90 through LaCrosse and Rochester and come in from the south - a much easier way to go and the route I will take in the future.

It was great to see the kids again. Charlotte had me making critters out of play dough in no time at all, then when Norah and Camille woke from their naps, we all made whales and islands for them to swim near.  We had dinner in the patio and then bath and bedtime that stretched way close to 9:00.