Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Know I Am Strange

I've always been a little strange.  It's sort of a funny, quirky strange.  But I think some people find me really, really weird and it can be a little off-putting.  I can remember, even as a kid, I would sometimes say or do the weirdest things.  My mom can vouch for me.

  • For instance, at the beginning of the school year in first grade, I told the teacher I was allergic to bee stings.  She called my mom.  My mom told her I was not allergic to bee stings.

  • I told that same teacher that I once got lost at the zoo and couldn't find my mom and what a terrible ordeal it was.  This is another story that was completely false and my mom, once again, set the teacher straight. 

  • In junior high, I told a teacher that I had leukemia.  She called my mother to see how "Jennifer is doing with her leukemia."  I don't know how my mom held it together on that one.

Maybe I was not strange, but a complete liar!  No, I think I was just a good story teller.  Creative...very creative.

  • I was REALLY awkward around boys, too.  I'm surprised any of them ever wanted to date me.  I said the stupidest things.  Maybe all girls do, but I just remember that a lot of other girls seemed waayyyyy cooler and more smooth and confident than I did. 
One boy in 9th grade wrote in my yearbook, "You are the strangest girl I know."  I think that said it all.

And I'm still awkward even around my husband.  He rolls his eyes a lot.  So does my son, JT.  Two peas in a pod, those guys.  I know they love me, though.  Deep down inside.

  • I used to wake my brother up in the mornings by dancing across his room and singing the old Bible song, "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory!"  He remembers it to this day and I'm sure he looks back on it as a brother/sister bonding moment.  I'm pretty sure his friends' sisters did not bestow this type of royal treatment upon them.

  • I firmly believe that closet doors should be shut at night because they could be potential portals for ghosts and demons to enter a house.  So I routinely go through my kids' rooms at night and make sure their closet doors are shut.  I'm not kidding.

  • I also make up songs every night for my son, Peyton.  He happens to like them and actually asks for them (he's strange like me).  Here is the one I made up a couple nights ago (sing it to any tune you'd like):
Peyton should really stop burping,
Cuz for his mom, it's really not working.
He's negatively impacting his life,
And he'll never get a good job or a wife.
So Peyton should really stop burping.

Peyton then informed me that he doesn't want a job or wife anyway, and that he just wants to marry me.  He might be my favorite.  I'm kidding, of course (kinda).
  • I have a locker room phobia.  I hate being around other naked women.  I hate being naked in front of other women.  I hate the thought of naked women in any sort of capacity.  So I avoid it at all costs.  My husband cannot get over this one, bless his heart.
  • I am not the slightest bit afraid of snakes, mice, spiders, or musk rats.  I once removed a musk rat from my garage with my bare hands, while pregnant.
  • I do have a fear of mushrooms, olives and large chunks of tomatoes in my food. 
  • I am an accountant and have been in this field for 17 years. I'm pretty good at it. But I might be the only accountant I know of that sings and dances in the office and occasionally speaks in different accents. I think I was meant for the stage, but missed my calling somewhere along the road. My co-workers are good people for humoring me and pretending that I actually entertain them.
So, those of you that know me well and have accepted my strangeness, I thank you and love you.  You have been good to me throughout the years.  And for those who are yet to know me, look out!  You're in for a real (strange) treat.
J to the H

Wednesday, December 5, 2012



[hahy-koo]  noun, plural hai·ku for 2.
1. a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.
2. a poem written in this form.

Recently, my 9-year-old son was talking to me about haikus, a topic which he must've covered recently in school, so it is fresh in his spongy little mind.  We were trying to come up with some of our own haikus, and here is one of our masterpieces:

There was a hippo
Who wanted to do a dance
He did the Rumba

I think he has a bright future in poetry.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Evolution of Friendship

When I was a small child, my family lived in a trailer park in Inver Grove Heights.  It was there, amidst my humble surroundings, that I met my best friend Amy who lived two trailers down from me.  From the age of two, we became inseparable.  Through random photos and a slightly hazy memory, I can recall the two of us playing "whale" in a little pool in my yard.  We spent hours in the sandbox, took trips to the beach with Amy's mom, who served as my daycare provider for a while, and cheered our dads on as they totaled cars in the occasional demolition derby.  We went to our first Sunday School class together, and played in the back of my dad's van (black '70's version).  Life in the trailer park was simple, and so was our friendship.  We shared dolls and other toys and most of all, giggles.

Just before Kindergarten, my parents built a new house and we moved to Apple Valley.  Around this same time, Amy's family moved to Cottage Grove.  Though separated by a river, our friendship remained very much intact and we were fortunate that our parents were also such good friends. We had many sleepovers and our families took us camping frequently in the summertime.  We looked a lot alike throughout grade school and were mistaken for sisters on a regular basis, which is an occurrence that delighted us to no end.  One such instance was in Sunday School, when we were supposed to memorize and recite the books of the Bible.  I had no problem with this assignment, but my biblically challenged friend Amy did.  So one Sunday she happened to be absent, and I did what any best friend and look-alike would do...I pretended I was Amy for the day.  The teacher was none-the-wiser and I recited the books of the Bible so Amy could get the credit.  I'm not sure God was amused at the fib, but I'm sure He could appreciate the loyalty I showed to my best friend.

My parents divorced when I was nine and even though the dynamics of our parents' friendships changed, our moms remained very good friends and my friendship with Amy did not falter a bit.  My mom's new marriage eventually took us to Afton, where I spent my junior high years, but with Amy still in Cottage Grove, we saw each other often.  My favorite activity during these years was our "modeling" sessions.  We would try on every outfit in our closets and take pictures on our old flashbulb cameras.  Unlike the modern days of digital cameras and Facebook uploads, we then had to wait for a mom to take the film in and get it developed for us, but the results were always hilarious.  Since we attended different schools, we continued the sleepovers and started keeping notebook journals where we would write notes back and forth to each other.  I still have these notebooks and they are more entertaining than any reality show on tv.

Our time in Afton was short-lived for several different reasons, and just before 10th grade, we moved to Cottage Grove and I couldn't have been more excited to attend high school with Amy.  In reading our notebooks, I can now tell there was some tension there at first, as I believe Amy was a little nervous about my coming into her "turf" and making friends, and I was nervous about whether I would fit in.  But as soon as school started, it became quickly obvious that, even though we were soul sisters to the very core, our high school careers took us in different directions.  Though we had a couple friends in common, we ran in completely different crowds.  None of that mattered, though, because Amy was still the one in whom I confided every secret and she was still the one I would choose to spend a Friday or Saturday night with, whenever we had the chance.  There were crushes and dates and eventually boyfriends that gave us plenty to talk about.  I remember when she and one studly football player and upper classman broke up after several months of dating.  I made sure to glare at him and give him dirty looks when I cheered at the football game the next Friday night.  I mean, what are best friends for, right?  As most chums do, we also traded clothes, gave each other nicknames in high school and had many wacky adventures, one of which took us up north to a rented trailer at Lake of the Woods for a week by ourselves.  And we spent a lot of time perfecting the art of making our bangs stand up as tall as possible amongst our thickly permed, but perfectly styled hair.

We had fights, too.  I didn't always agree with her choices, nor she mine.  And there may have been a particular guy that I dated that she really liked, which I admit now was a very selfish thing for me to do.  Thank God Amy was the forgiving type of friend.  We made it through those years and when it was time for college, I watched her leave town to go live in a dorm on campus at Southwest State while I decided to stay at home and attend community college until I could figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life.  During our college years, we didn't see each other quite as often, but made sure we hit a GB Leighton concert whenever we could.  Then Amy left her school down south to attend Hamline, which was awesome, and allowed us to hang out a little more.  There were some more boyfriends and personal struggles for each of us during those years, so our friendship continued to be one of support and encouragement.

We each met our husbands around the same time and as our relationships with them deepened, our own wild excursions grew fewer.  Our talks now were more about settling down and getting married and buying houses.  What our friendship offered during these years was an occasional night out for some girl time or an ear to listen when we were having difficulties with our then-boyfriends, and most of all, when the time came, to serve as the absolute best maids of honor for each other in our respective weddings. 

We went on to have babies around the same time and, because of the demands of marriage and motherhood, and because we live in completely opposite ends of the cities, for several years we only made time to see each other a couple times a year. During this time, we often lent an ear via telephone for the exchange of parenting tips, or to share cute kid stories.  Again, we were just there to lend support whenever the other needed it.

Fast forward several years, and Amy and I just attended our 20-year high school reunion.  Amy didn't share my love for school back in the day, but with the help of a couple other of her besties, we got her to attend the reunion and she stayed much longer than expected.  And I do have to say, the woman looks amazing!  I am so glad that our friendship has stood the test of time.  Whatever life throws at us, I know we will always be there for each other, regardless of the geographical distance that separates us.  The ups-and-downs of marriage and parenthood, work stress and everything else in between, are the things that continue to tie us closer together. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken Wisdom

My husband tossed the idea around for years before we got them, and I was never really sure it was a good idea.  But since I am the ever-supportive wife, a few years ago our back yard became home to a flock of chickens.  I grew up in suburbia and am now a chicken farmer.  I have to admit, though, they have really grown on me.  I pet them and thank them for a job well done when I go to collect the eggs.  I occasionally pick one up and carry it around like a small pet dog.  They really are nice animals to have around and don't require a whole lot of effort to raise.  And the fresh eggs are marvelous.

As I've gotten to know my chickens and they have become a part of our family, I am constantly reminded of how much we humans have learned from the chicken.  I like to call it "Chicken Wisdom."
  • "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."  This is a lesson that I can't seem to learn completely, but I keep trying.
  • Sometimes you gotta "rule the roost."  And sometimes you gotta just step back and let someone else be in charge.
  • In almost every situation there can be "too many roosters, and not enough hens." And when those roosters start strutting their stuff just a little too much, just ignore them and get back to what you know you do well.
  • In life, there is a "pecking order."  It's hardly ever a good thing to be at the bottom of that order.
  • Being "cooped up" for too long can make anyone a little crazy.  Anyone who lives in MN during the long, cold winters can attest to that.
  • I'll never know "what came first: the chicken or the egg," but I know that God put one of them on this earth.
  • It's okay to 'ruffle feathers' a little along the way, as long as you keep it friendly and don't draw blood.
Do you have some Chicken Wisdom to share?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Diary of a Scrapaholic

I'm on a mission to organize my scrapbooking and cardmaking supplies.  Since I don't have a room I can dedicate to my crafting habit (addiction) just yet, my vast collection of albums, papers, stickers, ribbons and other embellishments have taken over every spare corner, nook and cranny in my house.  Until just recently, it occupied my closet, my kids' closets, the linen closet, the basement, the underside of my bed, the walkway that goes between my bedroom and the baby nursery (future craft room), and even the laundry room.  My husband, bless his heart, must want to open the nearby window and start whipping stuff out of it every time he steps on some of my supplies on his side of the bedroom.  He never says anything, though.  Either he has faith that one day I will get it cleaned up and feels it best not to stir the pot at this time, or he feels it's a lost cause and feels it best not to stir the pot ever.  Whatever the reason, I appreciate his current silence on the subject.

I do promise to give it some semblance of order while I wait patiently for the day when I can claim the nursery as my new craft room (when we finish our basement and move one or both of the boys down there).  And so I've decided to document the transformation in pictures and post them here on my blog.  Stay tuned for some organizational fun!

I started by gathering most of my supplies into one area so I could assess the situation.  This is most of the fun stuff (paper, stickers, embellishments) and I have already begun to purge old items and scraps, so it is already scaled back just a tad from where I started.  I would like to note that each of the totes and cases you see is absolutely full.

I brought in a table in hopes of creating a workspace to work on my cards and albums in all of my abundant spare time.  At least it gives me a place to put all the small items that don't have homes yet.  But wait!  There's more...

This is the walkway to the nursery, mostly lined with stacks of albums, pictures and baby keepsakes and mementos which will eventually be put into albums.  I have another storage tote full of these types of items in the basement.

And one last place...the hall linen closet, with more empty albums, refill pages, boxes of photos, and some other odds 'n ends.  Can anyone pick out the Oakland Jr. High lettermans letter sitting on top of one of the stacks??  (Proudly earned in 9th grade cheerleading.)

So come along with me on my journey to organize!  I gracefully accept organizational tips and suggestions, too.  I can't go at this alone.  And I better get movin' on it, cuz look what the mail lady just delivered today.  Yeeeeeee!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas at Himmerick Farm,
Where the 4-foot snow drifts had lost their charm.
The chickens were nestled all snug in their coop,
Though Brent really needed to clean out their poop.

Inside the kids were fighting and screaming,
And I was soooo wishing I was just dreaming.
The decorations were up, the lights sparkly and bright,
But I couldn't wait 'til the kids were in bed, tucked in tight.

When out in the driveway a great noise started then.
Oh, it was just Brent plowing with the 4-wheeler again.
I wondered to myself, would it ever stop snowing?
The 16-foot pole barn was now barely showing!

As I thought about all the presents yet to wrap,
I couldn't believe how much I had spent for the crap;
All the toys, gift cards, books and clothes I had bought.
My gall bladder began to act up at the thought.

The cookies were baked, though I'd eaten most anyway.
I feared I'd never get the house cleaned before Christmas Day.
As I worried whether we'd have enough food,
It was just one more thing that was dampening my mood.

Then as I looked out on the new fallen snow,
I noticed a star and watched it twinkle and glow.
At that moment I realized that all of the fuss,
Was not what this holiday should mean to us.

As I tucked in my children and gave each a kiss,
I told a story to remind them what Christmas really is.
Christ came into this world on this glorious day,
Sent from the Heavenly Father to take sin away.

So when the holidays get messy and your head starts to ache,
Remember what's important, for goodness sake.
It's about God and family, so forget about the rest.
Merry Christmas to all.  May your days be most blessed!

Monday, December 13, 2010

National Lampoon's Himmerick Vacation

When Brent proposed the idea of renting an RV and driving down to visit his sister in Arkansas, I said, "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea!  We've always wanted to do that with the kids and they have a few days off of school in October for MEA weekend, so why not?"  Famous last words.

So I'm going to do a service to all who may be contemplating this form of travel, especially with small children.  I encourage you to use my experience as a learning opportunity, a life lesson if you will, and that is what I've decided to do as well.  Here are the things I learned from our trip in the ol' RV. 
  • Renting an RV does not cost less than purchasing 4 plane tickets.  It was about $2000 for 5 days.
  • An RV is more convenient if you have to travel with baby stuff, because you can just load up what you need and don't have to worry about checking any of it at the airport and possibly arriving at your destination with damaged or lost goods.
  • RV's are nice for traveling with a dog, but said dog will likely hog the front passenger seat.
  • Having snacks for kids within arm's reach at all times is a blessing.
  • A novice RV driver (a.k.a. Brent) doesn't realize that when you take corners or proceed forward from a stopped position, you need to do so gently, so as not to fling your wife, kids, dog and all of the items on the counter or table to the opposite end of the rig.
  • Being flung across an RV leaves a nasty bruise.
  • If you suffer from motion sickness, as I do, riding in the back of an RV will be approximately 4 times worse than any motion sickness you've experienced in a car.  Especially when your husband drives in the aforementioned manner.
  • Dramamine is a life-saver, but it takes about 30-60 minutes to kick in.
  • If you tell kids not to touch something, they will do it anyway.
  • Gas station bathroom stops are inconvenient but necessary when RV bathroom doors have been locked from the inside by meddling children.
  • If Brent gets mad enough, he can yank a locked bathroom door open so it is usable again.
  • RV trips do not strengthen marriages.
  • DVD players on board an RV are awesome.
  • When little fingers mess with the audio/visual system, DVD players become obsolete.
  • Markers and coloring books can help kill time...about 30 minutes...tops.
  • The words, "How much longer 'til we're there?" are not just words we used on trips when we were kids.  Kids still use them today...often.
  • When driving into 50 mph winds, an awning ripping off the side of an RV sounds very scary, but is rather breathtaking when you watch it fly quite freely across the highway.
  • They do indeed have good BBQ in Kansas City, MO.
  • Fried okra is fantastic!
  • Kids fighting in an RV is worse than kids fighting at home.
  • 13 hours from Minneapolis to Branson, MO feels a lot longer than that.
  • In Branson, most visitors have bluish-grayish hair and are sleeping by 9 p.m. and do not appreciate an RV pulling into their peaceful RV parks at 11:30.
  • RV beds are small and not incredibly comfortable for adults; however, kids do very well in them.
  • 2-year-old Kierney is much more adaptable to different sleeping environments than I would've originally given her credit for.
  • A good night's sleep can improve moods dramatically.
  • I hate to admit that I would probably go back to Branson when I have more time to check out the shows.
  • Lamberts (Home of the Throwed Rolls) is a really cool restaurant with huge portions of good ol' southern food and people that walk around the restaurant offering you different side dishes for free and throwing yummy buttery rolls at you.
  • The Water Ducks are fun for adults and kids and the attraction has a huge candy store with every flavor of taffy you can dream of; $24 buys you a pretty good variety of them.
  • Taffy makes everyone happy.
  • A little fun can help repair relationships damaged by RV traveling.
  • The trip from Branson, MO to RoseBud, AR is short and not as painful.
  • It becomes a little bit painful when you tweak your back unknowingly and can't sit or stand.
  • There are a lot of "dry" counties in MO and AR; bring your own alcoholic beverages.
  • Finally arriving at your destination is a wonderful feeling.
  • Memphis, TN is not a very long drive from Arkansas, so a trip to Graceland to see The King is a great plan.
  • Graceland is very commercialized, but it is still a really cool experience.
  • While at Graceland, it's perfectly normal to imagine yourself in another time, perhaps as a pretty little thing waiting for The King down in the Jungle Room.  I think.
  • While in the Memphis area, a trip to Beale Street for some BBQ is a must; 'Rendezvous' is off the beaten path in a dark alley, but SO worth the walk if you like dry rub bbq.
  • My kids amaze me sometimes when they behave like almost-perfect angels in places where I would've completely understood if they were bored to death and naughty.  They must love the south!
  • A relaxing day in Arkansas, just visiting with family you don't get to see often, is what trips like this are all about.
  • My sister-in-law is one of the nicest, most generous and welcoming people I have ever known.
  • I'm sorry I never got to meet her late husband, Nick Bacon, who was a Medal of Honor recipient.
  • In an RV, there is "gray water" and "black water" and you should know the difference between the two and if going on a longer trip than we did, make sure the RV rental place gives you a hose to pump out the "black water."  Pumping stations do not supply them for you.
  • When setting out for a non-stop trip back from AR to MN, leaving at 4 a.m. is a good idea because Dad gets a few hours of peaceful driving before the kids wake up; this makes the trip seem much shorter.
  • Bring a bigger selection of kid movies along because once you've seen each of them a few times, you will want to throw them away...or throw up...or both.
  • In the words of the pretty girl in the ruby slippers, "There's no place like home." 
Most of all, this trip taught us that we are probably like just about every other family out there.  Cramped quarters and long trips can bring out the worst in all of us, but once you're home and have had time to reflect, the experience is kind of like child birth; you forget about the pain and the yelling and screaming and just remember the good things.  Mostly.

  • An awning replacement costs $1079.
  • If you do not have comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance won't pay for it.
  • If your insurance company makes a clerical error, they will end up paying it anyway. :)