Pipe Dream

Recently I’ve been consumed with thoughts of WHAT IF…..

WHAT IF ….  We only lived in Minnesota.

WHAT IF …. We lived debt free.

WHAT IF …. We didn’t have to work, except to pay a couple of bills

Here’s the thing.  If we were to sell our home in California, we could put all of that money into our home in Minnesota and OWN OUR HOME.  And I don’t mean, oh yes I’ll check the box that says “I own my home” vs “Rent”.  No, I mean ZERO MORTGAGE PAYMENTS.  What would our lives be like then?!?!

The stress of a full-time job would be off the table.  I could *potentially* have more time with my husband and children.  We could grow our own fresh food that we could can and eat for the entire year.  We could build a green house and grow even more food that doesn’t normally grow in our zone.

My kids would learn country living skills that you just can’t quite learn in the suburbs.  They would learn what seasons really mean.  They would learn to appreciate the outdoors instead of take it for granted.

We could have chickens and eat fresh farm eggs!  We could raise some to humanely eat later.  We could have a horse or two and could actually use that horse shed that is on the property.

But then reality sets in….

Then I wouldn’t see my family.

I wouldn’t see my friends.

I wouldn’t learn the truth and word of God with my beloved church family.

Music Man would still have to travel sometimes to make some money, which means there would be days and nights where daddy wouldn’t be home.  It would be me and 4 young children alone.  I hate those days/nights.

Homeschooling in Minnesota means more regulation and tests with the government.  There are fewer opportunities for my kids to socialize in a small town.  I certainly don’t want to ostracize my kids from the world.

Winters in Minnesota.  6 months out of the year in SNOW.  Holy cow, I’m not sure I can honestly do that.

So for now we are still going to live our double lives.  But man a girl can dream about living DEBT FREE.  One day my friends, one day.

Country Fair (part 3)

A funny thing can happen when you re-enter your hometown, or in this case your home state.  You begin to recognize familiar faces.  Going to the local fair was no exception.

Country and State Fairs generally have good bands and good entertainment.  Looking at the line up of bands playing, of course Music Man recognizes not just one, but several bands that he used to play along side with.  He was never in their bands, but was often playing the same gigs with them.

We decided to get a babysitter and head on over to the night side of things at the local fair and catch up with this killer band.

At the door when they checked ID’s, the bouncer couldn’t help but notice our out-of-state licenses.

“California?!” said with indignation.

“Yup” I responded with a big of a laugh.

“You should have stayed there” said without a trace of humor as he handed me back my card.

Music Man and I head in to the sparsely attended concert and quickly found some seats.  It was still early in the evening so the crowd wasn’t yet loose enough to visibly enjoy the show.  They were politely appreciating the musicianship from the stage.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the stereotypes filling the room.

The band had its old as dirt guitar player who started the band along with some young’ns to spruce up the cool factor.  The new lead singer/lead guitar player looked like he was plucked straight off a pick up game of baseball.  Totally clean cut All-American.  The juxtaposition had me chuckling.  He didn’t lack charisma though.

I was however pleasantly surprised at the level of talent this band had.  I was digging it.

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During their first 10 minute break, we decided to be brave and re-introduce ourselves.  And low and behold the lead singer recognized Music Man before we even said hello.

“You may not remember me, but…”  MM uttered.

“I can’t remember your name but I definitely remember your face!” lead guy says enthusiastically.  They shook hands like old friends, which I guess they were.  Lead singer even remembered several key facts about Music Man, like where he was going off to college, and how good of a player he was.  I was truly amazed at this guys memory.  It had been over 20 years since these 2 guys had seen each other, and they weren’t even in the same band!

After introducing me and playing a bit of catch up, we were interrupted by a guy in the crowd who just needed to have a particular song played (the band didn’t know it).  We took our cue and left for a bit.

We decided it was time to go on a culinary adventure.  This was a pig sausage on stick for me and in a bun for MM.  Disappointing I have to say.  Later we had funnel cake sticks, for me, and a bag of mini donuts for him.  Much better.

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We never did go on any rides but we had fun anyway.

 

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We came back after this short break and enjoyed another loud round of rock and roll/country music.

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I have to say that exposure to this band and MM’s familiarity with them, gave me a glimpse into a parallel universe.  A “what if” adventure series book tale if you will.  (remember those?  I loved those as a kid!)   This is what our lives could have been.  My man playing gigs 20-25 nights out of the month and recording local bands during the day.  Not a bad life.

But I certainly am glad how things turned out the way they did.

Country Fair (part 2)

After all of the animal festivities at the fair, I discover that there is a karaoke contest in a couple of days.  I thought….. Ooooooh I am so tempted!  Well that temptation turned into “Heck yah I’m doing it!”.  After several attempts at obtaining a babysitter for the day, we finally snagged one and were off on our way back to the fair with my game face on.

Karaoke (said ‘car(e)- OOH- key’ if your midwestern) is a funny business.  It attracts quite a wide birth of characters.  This small town gathering was no exception.

First of all, the karaoke contest was open to children as well.  This can be cringe worthy or eye opening.  I believe we had both.  One young girl, I’m guessing to be 8 or 9, came out in belly baring tank top.  It wasn’t meant to be trashy looking.  Her top just up and decided that it would no longer stretch as far as it needed to because that was entirely way to much work.  This child decided to sing “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry.  Um, hello super inappropriate!  Am I just getting old?  Out of touch?  Too ‘religious?’  I don’t know, but whatever you may think, I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to be singing such a sexualized song no matter what the orientation is.

Anyhoo…. getting off my momma bear rant….  Next was a 12 year old baby face boy who sang ‘Blown Away’ by Carrie Underwood.  Holy fair cow did he knock it out of the park!  I was geniuenly impressed.  I wish I was that confident and talented at his age.  I was still shaking and singing in the dark to hide from everybody when I was 12.  There was also the very thin 14 year old girl singing a sultry Adele song.  Her momma was standing off to the side and I could practically feel her yelling “come on baby you can do it!” insider her head.  She won for the kids.

Now onto the adults.

First up is a paunchy middle aged man wearing a Mr. Wrangler shirt with a belt buckle the size of an acorn squash.  At the finish of his country song, he flung his cowboy hat into the sparse audience.  It took every ounce of self control not to bust a gut laughing.  After his song, he changed into a more comfy shirt and shorts.  It was then that I noticed his full duffle bag beside him.  For the finals I wasn’t surprised to see yet another costume change; a red cowboy shirt with an American flag embroidered on the front pocket.  I wish he had prepared his singing as much as he did in his wardrobe because he’d be taken home the grand prize baby!  But alas, it was not meant to be.

Next in the character line up was the hawaiian flowered shirt with sunglasses on guy singing “Pretty Woman” who announced often at how much karaoke he did.  Of course you do…..

The surprise for me was the bright orange hoodie post graduate guy who screamed into the mic some System of a Down song.  Couldn’t understand a word he yelled, but just worried about how red in the face he was getting.  Breathe man breathe!

His girlfriend jumped up on stage after him and beautifully sang some alto song that I can’t remember.  She would have given me a run for my money if she had bothered to stick around for the finals.  Oh well.

Then there were the twins/friends who sang a basic melody song that I didn’t recognize.  Sweet sounding but nothing memorable.

I should mention that I donned a basic black shirt and my most bedazzled jeans I owned.  Your basic jazzed up country girl get up.  I fit right it.

All a worthwhile event I would say.  For the people watching alone it was worth it.

Oh, in case you were wondering.  I won.  I sang Beautiful by Christina Aguilera.  😉

Country Fair (Part 1)

This past week has been a whirlwind of fan-fair (pun intended).  Our dairy-farming neighbors had 2 of their grandsons showing their cows with the 4-H program.   We had to some support!  And what’s not to love about seeing all the fun animals that the 4-H kids show off?

First the dairy cow needs to get beautified.  Before she gets to the barn she needs have been washed and scrubbed.  Here she is getting a final brushing.

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Then its time to go walk the walk!  Its beauty pageant time!

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Sitting down on the bleachers ready to start the show!

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I’m here watching to mom!

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Here’s the lovely heifer!  You better weeeerk!

The heifer and her companion did a blue ribbon kind of job!  Yay!

Next we decided to check out the other varieties of animals ready for their close up.

Here are all the pretty pink pigs.

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Fawns!  But be careful because those baby deers would love to eat that plastic bag…. which would kill them.  😦  Always gotta be careful around babies.  I understand that!

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Goats!

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Funniest part about living the country life is the limited choices in wardrobe.  Mini Man found a superman t-shirt twin!

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Crazy hair bunnies

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Next up…. tractors!  Lil Rascals favorite

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Whoa that sure is BIG!

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Near those big tractors was the horse barn where Ariel trodded off to

This was one of the first horses that we saw.  He has scoliosis!  The best part is that someone decided that he was still worthy of showing and riding, he just needs some extra tender-loving-care.  Although, watch out because he may bite.  Yikes.

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And here is Ariel and her Minnesota best friend checking out their futures

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I didn’t know that you dress up your horse in funky costumes….

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Guess our day is done

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Garden Party

Many of you might be wondering how our garden is doing.  Farmer Music Man has delighted in planting his full fledged garden this year.  Back in California we don’t have enough space for a garden except for a couple of fruit trees.  Also, there are rules about where and how big you can grown them.  Don’t get me started on how much this irks me….

So one of the best things about living in Minnesota is having the ability to grow our own food.  Lately we have been noshing on our abundance of lettuce and green beans, which has been delicious.

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Sometimes we put it in salads and sometimes we just eat it straight from the ground like our own personal veggie candy store.

 

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Not too shabby.

 

Today however we picked our first batch of zucchini.

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I can not believe how crazy huge these things are!

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We should have entered these amazing giants into the local fair.  1st place trophy for sure.  Guess what we are doing next year?  Oh have I mentioned that I’m super competitive?  Watch for that blue ribbon next year people, because I’ll be bringing it home baby!

When in Rome…

Splitting my time between 2 states makes for very interesting sports mania.  Oh who am I kidding?  There is no mania.  I don’t watch ANY professional or college sports.  But other people do and expect you to do so as well.  So I might as well make some sort of effort.

So after much consideration (like 5 minutes) here is a list of teams that I will root for.  And by root for, I mean I will get excited if they win a big trophy.

HockeyLA Kings  (Hello, did you see the size of that Stanley Cup… that we won again?!)

BasketballLA Lakers  (yes I realize the irony considering they used to play for Minnesota)

BaseballSt. Louis Cardinals  (I should also mention that my dad grew up in baseball town and if you dare to walk out of your home without your cardinal red on, well you take your own risks my friend.)

FootballVikings  (somebody’s got to root for the underdog)

I put Mr. Sunshine in an approved team pj’s

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Although I gotta be honest.  Every time I see those colors I immediately think Lakers baby.

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He looks cute no matter what the faux jersey he is wearing.

Ariel’s 5th

This weekend we celebrated our sweet daughters 5th birthday.  Its hard to believe that she turned 5.  I remember being 40 weeks and a few days, sitting outside our sunny backyard naively saying “I wonder how our lives will change”.  I once heard that Oprah said the same thing in her diary right before the start of her lucrative and mega successful talk show.  Obviously I knew that life would change.  It had to.  And nothing, I mean nothing prepares you for bringing that first baby home for *gasps* YOU to take care of.  Its a daunting and important task that God has given.  The weight of it can feel nearly collapsing, but you get through it day by day, not of your own understanding, but simply by the grace of God.  I don’t say that lightly.  This journey called parenthood has been steam powered by the grace of God.  It is the power that keeps this crazy train still moving forward.

Being here in Minnesota for my baby’s birthday has its ups and downs.  My precocious daughter has been asking for a birthday party every day since her last birthday.  Last year Music Man and I thought it would be fun to take her for a special day just mommy and daddy and ride some rides at the famous Mall of America and watch her first movie at the movie theater.  We had a blast.  She had fun.  But apparently not enough fun.  Or at least not the same kind of fun friends can bring.  So this year I fretted as to what to do.  Her regular friends are in California soaking up the blazing heat.  However, what we have here in Minnesota is family.  And that is awesome.  It also happens to be my nephew’s 9th birthday, so his mom and I decided to combine forces for a double family party.

Here are the 2 birthday kids playing with one another through the window

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Auntie and Uncle with pathetic Mr. Sunshine who got shots the previous day (sorry for the poor lighting.  I’m still learning our camera)

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 Mr. Sunshine and daddy

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 Family time=fun time.  Upside down with gramma!

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One of the biggest challenges of a combined opposite gender cousin birthday was how to decorate the cake.  2 cakes?  No that seemed too much for any family to eat.  Ultimately we decided on an ice cream cake (who doesn’t love those?) with a simple “Happy Birthday” with separate decorations.  My daughter couldn’t stop talking about an Ariel birthday so getting an Ariel doll for the cake seemed like the only logical thing to do.  Until we put an half naked doll on the cake of a 9 year old boys cake.  Ummmmm, my bad.  Boy did my sister in law and I get a kick out of that!

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Guess she liked it!  Although she did say “ewwwhhh” when she took the doll off and realized there was actual cake on the poor girl.

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 Cake is a hit!

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 Now on to presents….

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 Of course she had to have a big Ariel doll.  Of course.

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 Little brothers are so nice to help….

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 With this dolly blanket came a rag doll and an easy reader about Laura from Little House on the Prairie and her 5th birthday.  So perfect.

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For some reason, the 5th birthday is the best birthday for birthday money!

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$5 for a newly minted 5 year old!  Auntie and Uncle gave her a cute kitty wallet to stash all that cash.  Guess this is the perfect opportunity to start teaching her about the value of a dollar; Save, Use, and Tithe.  Homeschooling here we come!

For my nephew we got him this

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Perhaps I should have gotten him a target too.  My poor niece.  I apologize for all the nerf shots she will soon be facing.

Family.  By far the best part of Minnesota.

Season switch

One interesting observation about living in two different places is the vast difference in weather.  Since we have (so far) enjoyed Minnesota summers and California for the rest of the year, it seems like something is amiss.  You see Minnesota summers include a lot of thunder storms.  Which is why the place looks like a lush green blanket and makes our garden grow like its on steroids.  Frankly the deviation from the constant sunny California disposition is a welcome one for this Irish blooded fair skin lady.

During a California ‘winter’ we enjoy 85 and sunny without a cloud in the sky while wearing shorts and sandals.  Christmas is picnic weather.  Our Santa should be wearing a Hawaiian shirt and surfing to feel like it belongs.

So basically my seasons are totally flip flopped.  I feel like I’m experiencing a winter during summer and during my actual winter it feels like summer.  Weird.

Today is another rainy and wet day, so the boys decided to take advantage of our coldest months (for us) and play in the rain.

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Traffic jam!

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Look ma no jacket!  The craziest thing about Minnesota rain is that it isn’t always cold.  Totally bizarre.

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Riding in the rain is a beautiful thing

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Well except for those pesky mosquitos.

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Hey my foot fits in here!

Might as well take advantage of the differences and enjoy the change of pace.  Even if it isn’t what it’s supposed to feel like.

California bound (again)

So this past week has been nothing short of a whirlwind.  We went back to California for a wedding and made it a quick trip.  But not so quick that we didn’t have some to party it up like college kids because we were KIDS FREE.  It was such a rarity that we honestly didn’t even know what to do with ourselves.  Music man was nearly narcaleptic since the moment we got on the plane (understandable since we had only gotten a few hours of sleep), but I was like a sugar highed preschooler who had just inhaled her last m&m.  I was hyper and ready for FUN.  

By the time we had landed I was sober with a lot more of my book read and back to the land of reality sleepiness.  So after a nice breakfast with the Mother and Father of the Bride, who were kind enough to be our airport chauffeurs, we did what every parent dreams of.

We took a nap.  

In the middle of the day.

For as long as we could (which wasn’t very long due to my inner sugar addicted child screaming for big fun).

And it was GLORIOUS.

A parental dream come true for sure.

After we got the most important thing out of the way we decided to check out our measley fruit trees and discovered that there were some peaches ready and ripe to eat!

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Since we had zero food in our fridge, these beauties became our breakfast for the next day.  

Now that we were rested and had nothing on the agenda we decided to live it up suburban style and go out to eat (where we could actually eat warm food) and see a movie that I had been waiting so patiently to see (Divergent).

We wound up eating our favorite cuisine, sushi.  It was heavenly.  Generous portions of amazing fish.  So good.  However, since it was an all you can eat situation, I decided to test my luck.  I thought “Hey things are going so well right now why don’t I screw it up?”  Ok so I didn’t actually think that.  What I actually thought was “Hey I’m going to be adventurous!”  Which of course was an awful mistake.

I ordered a quail egg shooter.  

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As soon as I saw it I thought “NO NO NO NO”.

But I can’t back down now.

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Down the hatch!  

I don’t recommend it.  *barf*

(please excuse the bad hair.  It looked cuter in person.  Or so I thought)

Main point?  We had a rare moment without kids, responsibility, or work.  Basically it was awesome.  

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*Music man and I at our friends mountain top/golf course wedding*

The 4th for freedom

Living here out in the country and feeling like you are starting over can be a bit depressing actually.  Luckily this summer has been quite a different experience.  Last year we barely knew anyone and this year we are making a community of friends.  

After several conversations of “oh your not doing anything either?” we decided to host a dinner.  Normally this type of thing both excites me and terrifies me.  I’m thrilled to socialize with friends but terrified to have them over because its a constant state of ‘shove it shove it shove it!!!’ of all the nasty clutter.  

We hosted a medium size gathering.  It wound up being 4 couples and all of our children.  Funny how on paper that seems like a totally reasonable amount of people, but in person it seems one bonk-on-the-head shy of mishap.  In spite of the recipe for disaster amount of small children gathered at one time, we all made it out alive.  

And earlier as Jeff and I did our best to scramble to prepare for this get together, I truly marveled at what a difference it was from living in California.  We practically have nothing here except for the basics.  At first it was shocking to live so sparse, but now it feels so liberating.  Clutter has been a pain in my arse my entire life.  I have come to the realization that I inherited the ‘hoarder’ gene.  *there’s no gene?  No you must be wrong.  All bad behavior is linked to a deformed gene and no one should take responsibility for anything anymore.* (dripping sarcasm here)

So despite the general “oh my goodness everyone will lose their appetite if they see the dust bunnies I have stockpiled in this house!” type of cleaning, there wasn’t too much to do.  

It was a revelation.  

You mean I don’t have to rapidly shove that pile of crap-o-la into the closet?  Or that pile of what-is-this-doing-here into the room we never show?  Or apologize profusely to obsessive compulsive friend who has precisely labeled everything in their cupboards?  Or just simply give up and say to myself “well I hope they like me anyway junk piles and all”.

The place simply was fine.  

You see I am a recovering hoarder and this was a taste of freedom.  Freedom from all the stuff.  All the mess.  All the junk that consumes you.  

So as we all gathered for food at the table, I stood in awe at how blessed we are.  New friends, family, happy healthy children.  Freedom from the stress of too much stuff.  What a joy.