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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Photos

We have had the most beautiful fall here.  With temps in the 70's and 80's of late, it seems like summer has taken pity on us and stuck around a bit longer than it was scheduled to.  We have spent a ton of time outside the past few weeks because of the nice weather, and have had a few opportunities to get some quick shots of our little neighborhood in its fall colors.  I never really think about our town being particularly "scenic" (especially after moving from a place like Deadwood!) but there are actually some really beautiful parts of town!  With the towering Cottonwoods and American Elms that criss-cross to form tunnels down some of the residential streets, and the lush green grass (that still needs mowing!) there are some really photogenic neighborhoods around here that previously went unappreciated by yours truly.

I don't claim to be much of a landscape photographer at all, but here are just some of the little gems taken in our neighborhood... most in our own backyard!

Canopy of tree branches with the evening light shining through.

I'm no botanist, so I'd have no idea what types of leaves these are. 
But their striking deep red color really caught my eye!

Every fall, the trees the south side of the street lose their leaves long before those on the north side!  Strange...

I loved the way the light was peeking through these huge tree trunks in between our neighbors' houses.

Ok, I can't claim this gorgeous backyard -- it belongs to our neighbor. 
But I do get the pleasure of looking at it every day!  Lucky me!!

Enjoying the beautiful weather by roughhousing in the leaf pile Daddy made!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Mo' Ugly Flo'

It's done! It's done! It's done!  (can you tell I'm excited!?)  No more awful white carpet!! 

The installation started on Monday, finished on Friday.  It was a somewhat hellish week in-between, as we lived amidst sawdust and displaced furniture.  My cheapskate self decided it was worth saving the $250 they were going to charge to move our furniture, so we (we = mostly Jordan) just moved it ourselves.  Great idea.  Not exhausting at all, and not in the least bit inconvenient to have the entire contents of one's home piled into the living room...

The kitchen, dining room, and upper landing were done in a scraped hardwood laminate.  We had a little "surprise" under the ugly white linoleum that was in the kitchen:  ugly harvest gold lineoleum.  Hilarious.  I had to take a pic, just for posterity.

Eww. (before)
And after (that's better!)
The sunken living room, upper stairs, hallway, & 3 bedrooms were done in a flecked, soft, neutral, dark "brown-ish" carpet.

Living room... before (I can't believe how little that baby is!!)

Living room (from the opposite angle) after.

standing in the dining room

facing the dining room/living room

And the end result is gorgeous, if I do say so myself!  Very happy with the installers, and the outcome is beautifully low-maintenance!  I love:
1) not having to vaccuum under the dining room table after each meal (yup, the dining room was previously CARPETED).
2) not having to *attempt* to sweep the super high-gloss, show-everything stark-white kitchen linoleum.
3) not having to follow the children and/or the dog around with the spot cleaner
4) not having to get the carpets shampoo'ed every 6 weeks
5) not having to look at that stained, ugly, old-lady, again-with-the-white carpet!

Noah's room (for "before" pic, see my post from a couple weeks ago)

Asha's room - after.
Our room - after (cleanest this place has been since we moved in!)
And now, I'm headed right there... off to bed!  Goodnight!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I just have to take a quick moment to brag a little bit... cuz I feel so close to fame. ;)

My cousin Jessie won Best In Show for the ND Governor’s Photo Contest for her (one of many) beautiful photos of the Maah Daah Hey trail in the ND Badlands.  The studly Marlboro Man-esque subject of her photo is her hubby, Chad. See the full story here:  and if you want to read some (ok ALL) amazing posts and see more of her stunning photography, check out Jessie's blog:

The winning shot!  Awesome, right?

And my cousin Jaci (from the other side of the family!) stars in this month’s edition of everyone’s favorite in-flight reading material on Delta Airlines, the Delta Sky Magazine -- she is the one who appears to be very excited about what her friend is pointing at.  

Channeling a little Lewis & Clark, but in downtown Fargo.
Way to go ladies, you both make me so proud!

In addition, my little brother Seth (ok, not so little, he just turned 29!) is now a doctoral candidate in the counseling psychology program at the University of Miami.  So we'll soon have someone in the family who can "attempt" to fix all our mental problems.  He caused many of them, so it's fitting he should fix 'em.  HAR HAR HAR.  I kid, I kid.  I am so proud of his accomplishments, and I hope he is too.  He has worked so hard and come a long way in 29 short years!  Way to go, Sether!

I couldn't find anything nerdier if I tried.  And I tried pretty hard. 
This is the most "studious" looking picture I could find of Seth, though...

And a little tooting of the ol' horn: both my husband and I landed sweet new jobs at Microsoft recently!  Jordan is still in support, but he for a completely different product:  he's now supporting SQL Server (Core).  It's a big new challenge he's tackling, but there are exponentially more opportunities for him in this role.  I'm proud of Jordan, it has been a crazy adjustment for him the past couple years, coming off his teaching / administration career and jumping into the private sector.  But he has worked really hard in his former role and accomplished a lot in a short time, which certainly helped him earn this great gig because of it! 

As for myself, I am completely switching jobs, so I'll no longer be doing commercial technical support for Office applications (stop the tears, Chuck, I'll still be on-call to fix all your compy woes when you break stuff).  On Monday I will officially become a Technical Account Manager for the Premier National Team in Fargo.  [Um, yeah, I'll let you know just exactly what all that means in a couple months!  At Microsoft we LOVE obscure titles and acronyms.]  I'm BEYOND excited about the opportunity, and I guess pretty proud of myself for landing the job too!  I will definitely miss my current team, I honestly couldn't have asked for a better crew to work with over the past while.  And I'm not just saying that!  They really are the most professional group of individuals I've ever worked with, in addition to being a blast to hang around with every day.  Never a dull moment with you jerks! Haha!  I know I'll only be a building away, but I'll truly miss you all.

Corny.  Trashy.  Awesome.  (Pretty much describes our team right there...)  Couldn't find a pic of the whole team, but this one'll have to do.  This here's Adrian (he's from Texas, which is why he looks slightly less enthused about the cornfield), myself, and Nate (sans busted up leg)
And of course I have plenty of other ridiculously awesome relatives who accomplish amazing things every day with courage and grace.  Like Joan, who helped get a Buddy Walk organized in Great Falls, MT for Down Syndrome awareness month in October.  Or like my mother-in-law, whose strength is a rock in the midst of the shitstorm that is sometimes life.  Or like my dad, who has been dealt kindof a crappy hand lately but is rising above it and will persevere like the tough old cowboy I know him to be.  Or like Jodi, who is fighting a battle with cancer, and has had great health reports recently due to her persistance and diligence in diet and pure will and faith.  I admire all of you more than you will ever know.  You give me the strength and the motivation to try to do great things. Here's hoping I can live up to your examples!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


"The Fall of My Youth"
or, "
Seasons of Change"

As a kid, fall was this incredible time of year when my brother and I would get home on the bus, toss our backpacks onto the sidewalk, and grab a big ol’ sour apple from the tree. We’d hop on our bikes (mine was fully-loaded with a banana seat, daisy basket, and Smurfette license plate) and cruise down to the hay yard to play leapfrog on the haybales that Dad had recently hauled into the yard. When he’d unload them from the flatbed, they landed in sortof a wonky maze that was pure joy to climb on, under & around. It was almost a disappointment when he would stack them into neat pyramids for the winter. But when he did, we’d just change our strategy to racing across the tops of the stacks, carefully avoiding falling into the hot lava which undoubtedly existed in the crevasses between the bales.

I can so clearly remember the sweet smell of the hay, with the crisp in the air and the orange tones the sun cast as our shadows grew longer and longer as dusk approached. This blissful period of time seemed a fleeting moment as winter all too soon began to steal away daylight and procured its takeover with chilly winds and frosty mornings.

In hindsight, it seemed like such a liberating time in my childhood, where I was free to run like a wild child with the wind at my back, as fast as my lanky legs would carry me down the sloped hillside as my little brother and big dog trotted along behind. I know I had worries at that point in my life (didn’t we all?) but none that weighed me down and prevented me from running so fast my hair flew behind me and ended up a snarled mess. No mortgage or car payments, no work/life balance, no worrying about 3 other people before yourself, absolutely no burdens to hold me back. No fears to prevent me from playing out there with reckless abandon until my mom honked the horn (that meant business, like “supper’s ready” or “you’re in deep shit, young lady”) to bring me back inside. We’d return to the house with rosy cheeks (mine, always freckled with their sun-kissed summer glow) and consume massive amounts of Mom’s incredible home cooked meal before we were off to more serious things, like homework and piano practice.

Warm nights like tonight take me back to that time, to a point where I can actually smell the hay and damp leaves. Evenings like tonight make me want to run so fast my hair gets all crazy and my cheeks (still freckly, but now with some laugh lines!) get rosy. They make me hungry for my mom’s cooking, they make me wish for the sound of my dad’s voice, and they make me miss my brothers whom I share all these memories with, but now live hundreds, or thousands of miles away. On nights like these I am instinctively drawn outdoors, as the longing to re-enact these pieces of my youth is formidable. The stark distinction between tonight and evenings all those years ago is the unadulterated freedom I felt.

Sadly, I think we all lose sight of that when we “grow up”. We get too serious and proper and we forget to have fun. I dearly love the saying, “I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up.” I’m always thankful for parenthood, but especially so in times where I want to just… revel in my youth again! When you’ve got children no one snickers at you for dancing in circles to a made-up jig to keep your toddler entertained. No one laughs (to your face anyway) when you rhyme every sentence to get your preschooler to erupt into giggles. No one gives you grief when you run and jump and play with the same uninhibited exuberance that you felt when you were their age. Or maybe they do. But maybe now, you just don’t care.

So here’s hoping you’ll take a moment to go jump in a pile of leaves or pick an apple fresh off the tree (no, the produce section at the supermarket doesn’t count!) and surrender yourself to a little childlike behavior! Happy fall, everyone!

The munchkins, fully enjoying this perfect evening at the park.