Merry Christmas Again!

Merry Christmas 2016 from the Pieper family!!  It has been another year of the craze we call normal around here, bringing much change and many memories made (I think, but I can’t remember anything before last Thursday, the brain can only hold so much – but you know, it sounds good.)

At the beginning of 2016, Bill was starting to feel the 20+ year itch and began to prepare our family for the fact that his career was about to make a change.  We didn’t know what that would mean but slowly God worked on my need for financial security and helped our family adjust to life beyond Microsoft.  He is now employed at Intelligent Insites, doing more of that tech stuff I don’t understand and sleeping at night again, so that’s good.  His daily commute brings him to downtown Fargo, which in this part of the world, is quite a drive, like 25 minutes.  Whoa.  I had to adjust suppertime to 5:45 now.  Big big changes after decades of 5:30 supper.

Spring brought us our first family graduation! What a great season of life to reflect on what an awesome job we did at parenting.  High fives to us as we sent a readied 18-year-old way down the road to NDSU.  (A new list appeared on my wunderlist app that day called “Things James forgot to pack” and we sent siblings back up to his dorm later that afternoon with things like bedding – really??  The next day, we got this call “Mom, I forgot to grab my towels and shampoo” so up we went again with that stuff.  What did he pack??)  James snuck in all the farm-related work he could this fall, even driving sugar beet truck – which in my mind means a Tonka truck in a sand box but in reality was a semi-truck cruising down the interstate hauling tons of beets at very high speeds – nothing a mom wants to think about.  He loves college life and continues his path to attaining a crop and weed degree.  This kid is consistent with his love of farm life.  And I feel like I am adjusting to life without him home pretty successfully now although the first few weeks pretty much wrecked me.   And because of James, we have Emily.  I am just going to leave that here.

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Alli – oh sweet Alli – so much sincere love and kindness radiates from this girl.  She sings and dances, her heart full of music.  Theater filled her year – Fiddler on the Roof, The Little Mermaid, Charlette’s Web (in which she played Wilbur and for those of us who have loved her for 16+ years knows that Wilbur was pretty much her dream role) and now preparation for Phantom of the Opera.  She loves people as much as she loves her music.  Her tender heart amazes me.  She works in the church nursery and watches kiddos for MOPS groups (talk about life coming full circle).  She is looking at colleges and is unsure of what direction she wants to go, but honestly, her passion is elementary education.  When she was tiny (that’s a joke, she still is shorter than I am and always will be) she wanted to be a ballerina teacher so not much has changed: when God puts a calling on a life, you step aside and watch everything fall into place.  And, elementary kids are smaller than she is so that’s good.  Alli will be our caretakers when we get old, so we are extra kind to her…what goes around comes around and we are hoping for an awesome party atmosphere when someone chooses our nursing home.

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Karalyn, still the jokester of the family, continues to amaze us with her growth.  When I look back at the kindergarten mom that I was, I remember worrying about her because she didn’t talk to people she didn’t know and you know, that is pretty much everyone at kindergarten, and I wasn’t sure how she would function without Alli by her side.  Now, she has the tightest-knit group of friends I have ever witnessed and her social calendar is packed.  Not surprisingly, all these friends came from her XC team and I am so thankful for this group of Mustang girls who have pulled my Curly out of her shell.  She is training to run her first half marathon this spring and we all know that when she sets her mind to something, she is going to get it done!  Karalyn works at a nursing home which I blame for her change in direction concerning college and career.  A couple months ago, my veterinarian suddenly decided she wants to instead be a doctor, so we have started looking at med schools with her.  She is going to pay off for us big time.

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Andy, the crazy one, is still the crazy one.  Building, fixing, climbing, creating, drumming, messifying (yes, it’s a word), this kid knows no boundaries.  His mind always running, his body always moving, he just needs to get himself through chemistry and history so he can get on with his real life.  He loves a job, except a real job that requires a time clock and self-control, and prefers getting grease on his hands over pretty much anything else.  Back when he was a preschooler, he asked for duct tape, nails, and zip ties for Christmas.  This year, he wants tools, work boots, and a Carhart jacket.  Our little Bob the Builder has grown into Tim the Tool Man and we just try to keep one step ahead of him, or at least keep up with him as he moves so quickly.  He loves hunting and fishing, being with people, and misses his big brother a lot.  For obvious reasons, Andy is looking at tech schools: Diesel Mechanics or Electrician or a Diesel Mechanic who builds houses for fun, or an electrician who fixes small engines in his spare time or some other combination like that.

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Are we busy? Yes, so why not also go back to college myself?  I enrolled in online classes to get my teaching license.  This is a little bit different from my original agriculture degree, but this is the direction my life headed and when doors open you walk through them.  I am not sure the timing of it all, but one of these days I will bring home a different sized paycheck doing about the same thing I am doing now, minus recess duty so booya for that!  Winter recess duty – three words of torture.   And, when I am a real teacher, I will get to use the color printer at school.  So when you ask, “What on God’s green earth is she doing that for?”  remind yourself: the three main reasons she is doing this: $$, recess duty, and color printer.

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So we sent one off (fly, little birdie, fly) and prepare to send three more.  Good thing Lucy and Walter are here to maintain some sort of normal.  Lucy has the life every busy mom dreams of.  Eats, sleeps, and poops.  That’s about it.  At 11 years old, she has earned that right.  Here when we get home and ready to drop everything for a good belly rub, Walter is pretty amazeballs.  He loves to eat Alli’s socks.  In conclusion, Walter loves belly rubs and socks.  And Cheetos puffs.  We don’t raise no fools round here.

So in true form, today I realized Christmas is in a week.  That means I must get a month’s worth of stuff done in a week.  That is how I roll.  Let the week of nutso begin.  Merry Christmas to our family and friends.  We are surrounded by a fantastic team of people who cover us in times of need, love on our kids, and bring much joy and laughter to our lives.  We love each of you.  Have a blessed, relaxing time celebrating Jesus!!  Our family is planning a snowed-in-palooza.

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The Way We do a Hot Valentine’s Date

Very very romantic – that is how we do Valentine’s Day around our house.  From the early morning when we get up, to the minute we shut the lights off, it is all romance, all the time.  True love is like that.

We went about our regular days until about 4 PM when we noticed something strange going on with Lucy the superdog.  Apparently, she had decided to try ice fishing, because we found fishing line dangling from her mouth, and by “we” I mean Curly found it while I was lounging on my bed in fleece, hoping to grab a cat nap before my hot Valentine’s Date.  Ya know, I need more and more of that beauty sleep the older I get.  I have always been a fan of napping.  So anyways, I guess a good pet owner can’t ignore dangling fishing line, so I tried to get her to chill enough for me to tug on it.  She is a spaz.  And I have an injured wrist (more on that later) so it was a no go.  I locked her in her kennel, and did what every good wife does – called Bill.

Me, “Ah, Bill, I think maybe you have to come home.  NOW.  And take a look at your super dog.  Seems she wanted to end her week on a high note again.”

Bill, “Are you flipping kidding me?  Where did she get fishing line?”   No, wait, that is not what he said.  He did not ask that.  Because really, fishing line comes from one place in this house:  Crazy’s room.  He is the fishing line, duct tape, PVC pipe guy.  A man’s man.  I ran down there to see if I could find evidence and low and behold, I found NOTHING.  Not one piece of fishing stuff anywhere.

“Fine, after Xrays, we will be able to pin this one on Crazy,” We thought.

Curly and I busied ourselves folding 17 loads of laundry while we waited for Bill to get home.  We couldn’t think of what a swallowed fish hook might mean.  At 8 1/2 going on about 15, Lucy has run out of heroic efforts.  After the TPLO, we agreed we wouldn’t do anything like that again to her.  Lucy, on the other hand, was sawing logs, happy as can be to grab her cat nap.

Bill got home, and between the two of us, we were able to pin her down, open her mouth, and locate the issue.  Again, not true at all.  Labs are strong!!!!!!!!  So I made a call to the vet, Bill loaded her kennel in the Denali, and Lucy got herself a last minute drink, which must have helped her finish swallowing the whole fishing line, because it had disappeared.  We think she had planned this in advance, because 4:30 on a Friday????  Who does that?  She was so excited to go for a ride, stealing Bill away from our big hot date night plans.

So I went solo to our hot date – a swim meet.  And waited, literally shaking, for news.  They sedated her, they morphine her, they X-rayed her, the excreted her anal glands (can I get a “whoop!” from the stinky dog owners!) and they found…drum roll please…of course, nothing.  Well, nothing that showed up on X-ray.  So we wait to see if fishing line ruins her guts – watching for red eyes, unable to bathroom correctly (although really, dogs don’t “bathroom” so maybe backyard correctly is the better term.)  I guess the Pieper kids get to go follow her poop trail, watching for signs of badness or for fishing line.

They did find, in this X-raying that they did, that she has severe arthritis in her neck, so they asked if she had been chained up a lot or if she pulls when leashed, and we had to tell the truth – the truth is, she has hardly been leashed since the TPLO surgery because she spends most of her day propped on her bed with pillows and blankets and more of her nights on the queen bed with her main man, JP.  She also eats a lot of toast crusts, that is her job around here.   I guess that is why she had also gained a bunch of weight.  Don’t we all gain a little in the winter???

So she is eating 4 meals a day now, smaller amounts – trying to get back into bikini form.  Or, maybe it is because we have to take it easy on her digestive system, watching for the worst thing.

We are not ready to lose our dog, so this fishing line eating better just be another funny story – like the bread dough eating last month was.  Boy, for a dog who has severe arthritis and a fake knee, she still is pretty naughty.

So I sat alone at the swim meet, and Bill stayed home with a drugged dog, who pooped on the floor at the vet’s for the first time and was pretty proud of it.  Clarifying – Lucy pooped on the floor, not Bill – I know some of you will wonder.  And that is our romantic date story.  Brought to you by this dog, who seems to just be suffering from Afluenza today.

ImageIn all the craziness, I forgot to bring my camera.  I still don’t have pictures of JP’s first swim season.  Any kid who will parade around wearing pretty much nothing, trying a sport that he knows nothing about, just because of a deal he made with a buddy deserves to have pictures and maybe trophies.   I will write all about this some day soon, because I am so proud of him.  Doing what I could, I whipped out my cell phone to get a picture of him on the blocks (is that what they are called in swimming?) and instead, took this awesome Valentine’s date selfie:

ImageWhat was that???  Keeping it real, Pieper Style.  We have one more swim meet to get the perfect picture of him…I will do better next time.   Do you feel the romance around here?

What is important?

This weekend, we were slated to attend a very important family wedding.  Why so important?  Because it involves family, family we haven’t seen for quite some time, and family we would really have liked to see.  We knew it would be impossible to get all of us down there, so we RSVP’d that half of us would come, hoping one of us could sneak the non-runners down to the farm while the other stayed home and did parent duty.  As the day got closer, we had to accept the truth that we weren’t going to get there at all.  My dad decided to buy Crazy a bow and introduce him to bow hunting, which I was in favor of, not realizing this weekend was opener – so up to Northern Minnesota Crazy went.  JP has XC and Band practice Saturday.  Curly actually had a XC meet.  Princess, after learning we would be staying home, booked herself a trip to the mall and an overnighter with a friend.  All doable for a single parent.  But then Bill ended up working the majority of the weekend and it was all over but the crying.

I thought I would feel guilty, but I didn’t.  I felt sad.  We missed something that was really important to attend, but didn’t have an option.  We really wanted to see everyone.  Our kids’ activities run our lives right now, and that is ok, that is how it is supposed to be, right?  And guess what?  Princess just got a part in the fall play, so add drama at the other middle school to the list.  We will be picking kids up all over town for a while, and again, that is ok.

Sometimes what is really important just isn’t doable because of a busy schedule.  Coming to realize that is just the way it is sometimes, even if we really want to be there.

That is what I am wrestling with this weekend.

With a little self-inflicted kick in the butt today, I got around to getting some cooking and cleaning done since I was home. 

New recipes I made the past two weeks:

Homemade Egg McMuffins  Haven’t tried these yet – they are in the freezer waiting for the kids to devour them.  I did use ham instead of sausage because I had it in the house.

Skillet Lasagna  An expensive recipe for sure!  I liked it, but it was very rich.

Spicy Sausage Pasta  This was a total winner!  Spicy and perfect.

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole   Another great win this week.  I think the grown ups liked it more than the kids, thus, it also made great lunches for us.

Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chicken Cacciatore, and Freezer Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie  This site actually has a ton of good lookin’ food!

Hopefully, this is enough prep work to get us through another week of life.  I just love following my kids all over, cheering for them whatever it is they choose to do.  Never a dull moment.

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Back to School Photo Shoot

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It was the first day of school and this is how we girls roll.

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These are seriously different the “fun” shots of the boys.

Four kids and one mom, back to the grind.

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Our big guy is finishing up college this semester.

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And thus ends the first day of school Pieper round-up 2013.

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Eye of the Storms

Blizzards at DQ are buy one get one for 99 cents right now – Just like our weather pattern.  Yesterday, winter weather – Sunday another storm coming, thrown in for free.

Last night, JP ran in his first ever varsity track meet.   The result wasn’t what we were hoping for; after finishing his mile run, he found us to tell us he didn’t feel so well and then puked.  Not on us, not near us – he made it to a bathroom.  Then he didn’t run his other race, so we stayed and cheered all the other “kids” that we know.  Some of these “kids” are starting to look like men and women more than kids.  YIKES!  It was a great time.  Getting there and home was another story.

I left here at 4:18 after the bus bringing the triplets home from school finally got home – late.  I was slightly concerned since the roads were kinda bad; my concern was just.  I pulled up to the stop sign where our street empties onto the county road, me and my awesome minivan.  I had to stop for traffic and thus, when I finally could go, I sat there with wheels spinning.  No big deal, I could back up and take a run for it except for the fact that two cars had decided pulling right up onto my butt was a good idea.  While I was sitting there, a girl pulled onto our street and also got stuck.  She was spinning going DOWN the incline.  I got out of my van after watching her to see if she needed help – about then, she rocked her car enough to get out of the snow she was hung up in but she rolled down her window and sweetly asked me if I was ok.

My answer,  “I would be if these two (*@#($*)@#*$& cars would back up so I could too.”  No, I didn’t – I didn’t say exactly what I was thinking, I left off the (*@#($*)@#*$& – sometimes, I can do that.

And I went to the cars to tell them I wasn’t moving until they did.  And surprise, each car held a young college-age type guy who had so wonderfully sat in his car, probably texting someone about the stupid minivan stuck in front of him, and watched two women get stuck and come to the aid of each other while they did nothing.  I kinda gave them each a piece of my mind in a very kind and maternal ND way.  And they backed up.  And I got out.  And when I told JP about my trek to his meet, I taught him to never be so blasted stupid and selfish that two women out serve him in that capacity.  He assured me he would have been out helping if he was there.

Then I sped crazily down the road, topping out about 25 MPH,  white knuckling it all the way to the parking lot at Microsoft where I climbed in Bill’s four wheel drive at 4:53 (typically an 8 minute drive) and thanked God that I had made it down the iced roads, unlike the few I had seen whip 180’s and land in ditches along the way.  All because I wanted to see JP run like the wind, or as was the case last night, run like a sea lion on grease and then lay on the floor of the Fieldhouse like road kill.  Way to set the bar low – there is only one way to go this season.

I decided I am done being a van driver – I am through that stage in life.  I generally don’t haul kids anymore and when I do, I haul few enough for a smaller vehicle.  I am thinking it is time for my corvette.  Just sayin’.  If I would have been stuck in a corvette, those guys would have helped me.

Today, my spring-crazy self drove my van back up those icy roads to DSW – sometimes a girl needs new shoes.

Views from the Inside of a Blizzard

It is a snow day – well, it was a snow day.  And now it is a snow night.  And tomorrow is already a non-school snow day.  The natives hunkered down, settled in, got bored, and then went out and had fun.  If you can’t fly somewhere warm, go over to the neighbor’s house and snowmobile and play hide and go seek in the woods – the wind’s effect on the snow covers your tracks in no time.

We have known it was coming for days.  I stocked up on the important stuff – like Oreos (because they are vegan, as I learned on a documentary I watched today from the comforts of my fleece pants and comfy bed.)  I didn’t accomplish a single thing today other than relaxing and slacking, but those two things are things I find to be very important.

The day started innocently enough – the snow coming down was made of the sweet monster flakes that young children (and some child-like adults) love to catch on their tongues.  I was silently hoping that by later in the storm, we would not be able to see the neighbors’ homes.  We hadn’t had a good storm for a long time.

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I did get up and shower.  That kind of thing is important.  Mostly because no matter what, a girl should shower every day.  It is a life skill, an expectancy in our country.  But then I took a look outside as the wind started to pick up, and made the decision that we would not be driving in for church and selected my clothes for the day.

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It wasn’t long before we got news that Princess would not have play practice and that the mall would be closing.  That is how we knew this was getting serious.  Also, the interstates and other roads in and out of town were closed, I guess that is a sign as well.

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Well,  thank goodness for Xbox Minecraft because that game can entertain kids for hour after hour.  Crazy Man took over one TV while Lucy snuggled in.  JP and Curly claimed the other.

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College kids who take online classes cant really take snow days.  Bill spent almost the entire day working on homework and even took two quizzes and a test.  

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Princess, in mourning over the loss of practice with all her friends today, curled up with a blanket and escaped into a book.

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The wind kicked in and the snow began to pile up.  We had great views out our windows.  White. 

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So the kids decided to go out and enjoy the fresh powder.  Don’t worry, we tired ropes around their waists in case.  No we didn’t.  Princess does have puffy cheeks here because like every wise squirrel, she knew to shove a PB&Banana sandwich in her mouth to better her odds of survival if she got lost in a drift.

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Lucy used to love the snow.  It used to be so much fun and then she wasn’t a puppy anymore.  Even if she thinks it will be fun, her reality is much different.  She still enjoys eating snow, however.

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Poor dog needed a potty path shoveled for her by this evening.  We are fully aware that by morning, we wont have a path anymore, but thanks to their work, she can pee tonight.  Her bad knees aren’t great for plowing through drifts or leaping and bounding through the fluff.

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It will be interesting to see what it all looks like after the wind kicks it around all night.  I know it is windy out there, the water in my toilet bowl has white caps.

I am sad that we don’t have school.  Sad because Princess’s play is this week and they really needed today and tomorrow’s rehearsals and sad because we have to make this up in March.  Some March day when it is warm (like 35 degrees) and we want to go outside and catch a few rays, we will be in class staring longingly out the window, wishing we were at home.

I plan to accomplish stuff tomorrow.  Baking bread and sewing stuff are the two things on my list other than clean whole house.  That is, if I can force myself into real clothes and out of my bed.

PS>  To the snowmobiler who enjoyed our front yard – the street is about 10 feet further north.  Our yard is marked by all the reflectors.  Kinda simple.

Body Works

This three day weekend brought a little staycation for the Pieper clan.  We went to the cities to get ourselves some culturing.  Things we planned combined with bonus occurrences made for one awesome weekend.

Saturday morning, we went to the Minnesota Science Museum where Crazy Man immediately made friends with a Museum Volunteer talking about bear crap.  They also talked about beaver parts.  This was in the first 3 minutes – the museum was a big hit with him.  He was most impressed by the live baby opossums in a jar, but I never saw proof of that.  (Wow, JP is sitting here and he just learned that ‘possums are actually called opossums.  You might be a redneck if…)

The big draw to the Science Museum was the Body Works Exhibit.  We were excited that the kids were old enough to see plasticized bodies because a few years ago when the exhibit was there, we had to skip it.  Lets just say that the boys had a hard time looking at all the “man parts” on display and that if we learned only one thing, it was that JP does NOT want to be plasticized and put on display.   He saw one too many franks and beans.  Crazy Man was slightly amused by the positioning of the beans on a couple of the bodies.  I hope there are not hidden cameras anywhere in there.   If so, someone watching was getting humored. 

Princess was grossed out completely.  She shivered and it wasn’t in delight.  Curly was most excited to see a brain in a jar, and really was impressed by the spinning brain.  Pretty much, the young ladies walked ahead and found benches until those of us learning stuff caught up. 

After the Science Museum, we ventured to REI where Crazy Man immediately got lost and by lost I mean we didn’t know where he was exactly, but he was in his own glorious mecca of awesomeness.  He loves all things carabineer and oh, do they have a bunch of them!  He came out with a bird call.  Oh, and the kids climbed the rock wall like monkeys.

We went to the Mall of America and watched some hooligans get denied entrance by the Rent-a-PoPo and also found the Peeps store, where I got my most bestest shirt ever.  A big unveiling will occur at a later date.  I found a calendar titled “Peep Show” and wondered if they knew about my Piep Show and figured probably not because I am not all famous and stuff. 

We ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory because Fargo doesn’t have such culture.  They have a skinny menu, and we took full advantage of it.  Someone ate the world’s largest 540 calorie salad and let me tell you, that is a monster plate full of delicious roughage going in and consequential…well, you gotta go to Body Works to understand the rest of the story.  

Sunday brought plummeting temperatures but we never even left the hotel because we spent the day at the Water Park of America.   We climbed 10 stories to raft down the slides.  We floated the lazy river.  We joined 100 others in the hot tub.  We tried the Flow Rider.  We had a blast.  And, we saw more bodies on display than we had at Body Works, and these were mostly overfed, underdressed varieties.  The neatest accessory we saw was an awesome anklet on a lady.  It was black and strapped on and had a box and we are pretty sure the PoPo knew where she was at all times with that awesome piece of bling. 

Sunday night, we all enjoyed winding down by watching a few quality TV shows that are new to us since we are all Amish and don’t have cable.  We were so excited to stumble upon Amish Mafia since were are all up on the Amish scene.  It really didn’t seem like it was all that legit, cuz the guys’ shirts were white.  That is false.  Oh, and they had cars and tractors and cell phones and all that…and tattoos, which are a sign of the devil, so can’t be real Amish.  When that show was over, we found Honey Boo Boo.  Holy Moly, and I don’t even know what to say.  Sad sad truth about society.  Those people really exist, I know that, but they don’t need a TV show.  Except that I laughed a lot.  Because she said she had ants in her butt crack.  And that made me think of Body Works because we saw lots of butt cracks there.  Oh, and at the Waterpark, lots of crack there too.  So, full circle weekend for us. 

We had to cut the trip a little short because Bill had to jet off to sunny warm locations while the rest of the Pieper clan holds down the fort and tries not to freeze our butt cracks off.

PS.  Wanna know how healthy we ate on vacation?  uh…well…ya know.

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