Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hanging with the H-we's - Husky Style!

Friday we headed to the H-we's for some hang time. Ms. Gretchen's birthday was Thursday, so there was reason to celebrate too. We arrived bearing Papa Murphy's Pizza and heavenly to-die-for desserts from Truffles and Torte's in Anoka.

The kids played up and down and all around, this way and that. The adults had a cocktail and talked about everything under the sun, as we always do.

Saturday, Little Miss P was signed up for a mini dance class at SCSU. After several hours of practice in the AM, the kids were going to dance at half time of the SCSU Huskies Football Game.
The Thomberg's decided to stick around for the game, and bring our kids on their first ever visit to their parent's Alma Mater. We brought a picnic lunch, checked out campus and the NUMEROUS upgrades and changes, visited Gretchen's office, and got the kids their first SCSU sweatshirts at the bookstore.

And we were off to the stadium (build AFTER we graduated) located on the banks of the beautiful Mississippi.

We had a FANTASTIC time, on another perfect fall afternoon. P was a doll dancing during the half time show. And, the Huskies won against the UMD Bulldogs.

After we headed back to the car, to head home to B.P. Here is Marly having a melt down. Boy was she P-O'ed when I snapped this picture on my phone!!!!!!

Okay... smiles again.

Now let's go HOME!

**More often then not, when we are with the H-we's we are just ourselves being exactly that. More often than not, we are too comfortable in our time to think about the camera. All pics were taken on someone's phone and e mailed about. Unfortunately, I find myself unable to master the technology to turn the photos, so you will have to turn your head instead!**

p.s. - Gretchen, Can you send me the photo of us with the dessert???? okay - GOT IT!

p.p.s - Have you come across Oscar? Can you drop him in the mail????

p.p.p.s - THANKS Huwe's for a fantastic time! You too P and M!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Missing Post - Westwood Nature Center Fall Fest

For the 3rd year in a row, Dad and Nana got us all tickets to the Westwood Nature Center Fall Fest in St Louis Park. It is an excellent opportunity to draw out Halloween and don the kid's costumes a week early.

We had a wonderful time last Saturday, with pleasant weather like past years. Before hitting the spooky trails and games, we met Rachel and Baby Charlie at TGIFridays for dinner. For the first time since we started going, Chris was able to use her ticket and join in the fun. In past years, she has been on call.

I am referring to this as the missing post because I cannot find the camera key card the hold the pictures on the event. Oops! Good thing I download photos ALL the time, so nothing else is lost.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home to the Farm!

Saturday I took the kids home to the FARM, to visit my cousins and aunt and uncle... since I am not "technically" from the farm anymore. Thankfully, my family takes us in with wide open arms.
This post is part historical, part educational, part reflection...and ALL Andrea.

The Twinners and I got to my cousin Matt and Shylah's around 11:30. When we arrived, my Aunt Jan (Matt and Mike's mom) was hustling from one field to the next to feed the noon meal to the crew combining in one field, and the crew harvesting beets in another. Back in the day, my mom and Jan would cook all morning and coordinate who feed who. I estimate Jan fed 8 or more men that day??? Today, Jan and Shylah call ahead and pick up hot and hearty meals at cafe in town. In the past, like today, there is seasonal hired help to get the crops in. All those men are feed too. Back in the day, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy was a sustaining menu item. Today, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy remains a regular menu item!

Shylah kindly fed my brood and hers barbecues in her kitchen at the home farm. After, we headed down the shop and "shack". I would liken the "shack" to command central for the grain set up (the bins and leg system), which is used for the movement, drying and storage of corn and beans.

My uncle Sheldon was dumping the semi's at the grain set up as they came from the field loaded with corn. In my day on the farm, my mom would man the "shack" between feeding men and nightfall.

I tried to explain to Marly and Dean that this is how our uncle and cousin's make a living.

Next, Shylah drove us to meet my cousin Mike harvesting beets in a field a few miles east at Allen's. Sutton, Saxton, Marly and Dean piled in the back seat of the pick up, with Sawyer in the front with us girls.

Back in the day, my Dad and Uncle Sheldon operated 2 lifters when conditions were good.

Today, Mike is operating with one new and efficient piece of equipment.

Once the semi is full of beets, it will head to the Buffalo Lake sugar beet dump. Over the months ahead, the beets from those piles around the county will make their way to the farmer owned co-op processing plant in Renville...then onto the grocery store, where we buy refined sugar in 5 pound bags.Next we headed to Essers for a combine ride, while my cousin Matt harvested corn. Farms are all named so you know who is where. Usually the names reflect someone who owned them or lived there. My cousin farm spread spread across many many miles, mostly in Renville County.

Back in the day, my Dad and Uncle Sheldon operated two combines.
Today, Matt uses one very efficient, and very large machine. What do you all think that state-of-the art green piece of equipment costs??? The combine now also serves as the stock chopper, removing one step in the process to return the soil to a condition suitable for planting in the spring.

I love to show off the agricultural technology available today. This GPS computer system tracks yield and moisture by acre. I am sure it does a hell of that more than that... but are the details are all I can explain! Unfortunately, purple is the lowest yeild that can register.

While continuing to drive/harvest, Matt simultaneously empties the combine hopper into the grain cart, which pulls up along side of him. Back in the day, my Dad would pull the combine up to the sitting semi, stop, and unload. Matt estimates he shaves 30% of the time it takes to harvest a field by using the grain cart. My retired uncle Loren shuttles the cart from the combine to the semi. My cousin's now farm Loren and his brother Allen's land. Allen's is where Mike was harvesting beets. Allen also puts in some hours on the farm in the fall.

Part of the reason my relatives find success in farming is their love and stewardship of the land they own, and the land entrusted in them by their landlords (like my uncle Loren and aunt Carol, my Dad, Orlo, Don and Irene, and the late Mrs. Howard Tewes). I feel that same love and pride in the land, even though I am not involved in the food supply chain.

The old white farm house in the photo above is the place I lived from age 2 to 13. Now it is abandoned and ramshackle. Back in the day, my mom spent DAYS getting the entire yard mowed. We moved when I was in 8th grade and my parents built a new house. After we left, this person and that person lived their, including my cousin Michelle and her husband Chad, then my cousin Mike. Eventually, the 5 acre farm site was sold off. Our neighbor's across the road, Patty and Orlo, are forever remembered and honored too.

Dean needed to pick MORE corn to take home to suburbia (along with the sugar beets). Look at that blue sky. Look at that wide open space. Look at the country. This is home to me. This is where my heart lives.

Just as the kids were getting antsy in the combine, Shylah came to pick us up. In case you are curious, I ride along too. There is plenty of room in the combine and tractor, since both have a buddy seat. I make it no secret, I LOVE riding.

Honostly, it's a damn good thing the kids like going out, because they are my excuse to get to come out.After leaving Matt to a combine cab filled with just the two-way radio chatter (instead of MY chatter), we headed back to the home farm, where the kids got more time to play with their cousin's Sutton, Saxton, and Sawyer. Of course ALL kids love farm cats.

Look at all those pumpkins Shlyah grew! She kindly sent us home with car load for our autumn decor.

By now you must undestand that farming is in our blood. This past week, my oldest cousin Jared was home to the farm to help Matt and Mike. My oldest cousin is an engineer for Cummings. Cummings makes the motors for Case-IH farm equipment. Case is the leading compititor with John Deer. Jared used a WEEK of vacation and FLEW from Indiana to put in 14 hours days working on the farm. My cousins don't call Jared. Jared comes because he WANTS to.
It is my hope that bringing the kids out to the farm will instill this same love for the land in them, even if it is from a distance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Leaf Patrol 2011

We started leaf clean up this past Saturday, on a HOT October day. In past years, we would have spent ALL DAY racking... but not this year. You see the lawn mower above? That rider was my "Mother's Day" gift. When the Sear's delivery truck arrived Saturday morning of Mother's Day weekend, I was VERY surprised indeed. In fact, I was so surprised I drove myself right over to Hot Mama in Maple Grove, and promtly bought myself a new dress! I thought I might wear it to MOW the lawn!?!!?

The truth is, the lawn mower has freed up time for our family, and leaf patrol this year has been easy breezy indeed.

Marly and Dean dressed themselves that morning while I ran to Walgreen's to pick up a bottle of hair color. I was in dire need of L'oreal, so I could be the same shade again from root to tip for Brett's Annual Birthday Dinner at Manny's Steak House! Marly picked a summer dress for the unseasonably warm day.Dean opted for his new Super Man t shirt purchased for the cooler months ahead.

After dumping the leaves from the bagger into a pile and having some fun, we loaded them onto a tarp. We dragged them over to the neighbor's and threw them down the river bank. How handy is that! (I am not sure what the DNR would have to say about our neighborhood practice...)

Happy Daddy! Happy Kids!

Happy Mommy! (behind the lens of the Nikon, sweaty and dusty with BAD hair)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

15 years ago

A little over 15 years ago, I decided to study abroad.

I got on a plane and moved farther away, for a longer length of time then I ever have in my life.

I embarked on the adventure with 28(?) St. Cloud State students who were virtual strangers to me.

I lived in a real life castle (now made famous by Harry Potter) up 176(?) steps in a tower called Upper Diana.
Europe was our doorstep.

All we needed was a backpack, our Bible better known as "Let's Go", a Euro-rail pass, and credit cards we used to emass debt we will never regret.

15 years ago, on a Thursday night, you could find us at a pub called Oscars, owned by a man named Frank. The pub was stumbling distance from the (friendly) guarded gate of OUR castle.

15 years ago I might have been drinking a Snake Bite Black (1/2 lager, 1/2 cider, and a shot of something black currant).

15 years ago, we left the pub in time to walk home for curfew (it's true!)

15 years ago, the world was full of promise and drama.
Last Thursday, I met up with 5 people who were part of my everything in day to day life for 6 months, FIFTEEN years ago in the small town in northern England called Alnwick. (That was back when were without internet and cell phones).

Thursday, 5 of met at a dive bar in south Minneapolis, after work. We drank pitchers of lite tap beer.

Thursday, we drove home to our spouses (except Gretchen and Dan who married each other... and picked me up), children (and mortgages). We left in time to be rested for work the next day.

Today, the world is full of promise and drama.

There are no words to aptly describe our experience, or the connection that was born of living inside the ancient stone walls of the Alnwick Castle.

I love you guys, always and forever...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marly's Curtains - Toots to the rescue!

Since moving Marly down stairs, I have been on the hunt for cute, girly, yet somewhat sophisticated curtains for Marly's butterfly room. Because it is the lower level, the windows are a custom size from the standard window treatments.

I found picture perfect window treatments at Pottery Barn Kids, but the price tag didn't match my meager budget, not to mention the size was disproportionate, and would need altering on top of the cost.

I found a woman on Etsy who could make adorable panels with darling ruffles to fit, but alas, her creations were still not in the range I was willing to spend.

Next up - Full size pink panels on clearance for 10 bucks each at Bed Bath and Beyond. Score! Well - SCORE one panel. I needed 4. Fortunately they were easily able to locate and ship me 3 more.

So.... now I had 4 super long, pink panels.
They are not exactly "sophisticated" but the price was right.
I also have a sewing machine.
What I do NOT have? Skills in the fine art of sewing.

What to do? What to do!
CALL MY AUNT TOOTS (of course!!!) Me - "Hi Toots!!! How are you?!..... Um... Can you PRETTY PLEASE come to my house some day when you are in the cities and help me. Please! I have these curtains I need hemmed???"

Me - "Well..... There are two sheers to each window. And then... Two panels for each window...and two windows...."

Me - "No... Of course it can wait until the end of September. That is NO PROBLEM AT ALL. I promise I will feed you when you come!"
And so at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, Toots arrived with her Bernina in hand.
Of course I hadn't cut the panels to the correct size....
Of course I hadn't ironed the hems...
Of COURSE I was completely unprepared.
Of course I smiled sweetly at my aunt...

So... I guess you could say Toot's literally had her work cut out for her!

I invited Rachel and Baby Charlie to visit too, but I forgot to take a picture when I let Toot's take a break to hold him!!! (j/k)

Toots measured and cut and sewed until supper time. I did some ironing as my meager attempt to help.

After a bowl of chili, she sewed some more. When she was finally done laboring away for her niece, we each had a piece of homemade apple pie for dessert!

(You all can guess where this is going. You all know I do NOT bake...)

Did I mention she came, she sewed....

and - She brought a bag of apples, a jar of her homemade jam, AND A HOMEMADE APPLE PIE!

(Yes... Toot's spoils me!!!)

Thank you so VERY MUCH Toots!

(I know that you know that mom would have done this for me, and you couldn't say no...)

Marly's curtains look perfect.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Leaf Peeping, Wine...The Perfect Day

The perfect day began with a Groupon and e mail early this summer. The daily deal was a wine tasting, cheese and chocolate for two at the Chateau St Croix vineyard in Wisconsin. Mark and I visited last year and had a fantastic time. We knew we wanted to return with friends. I sent Jenny an e-mail shout out - "Hey.... let's buy this and go."

Late this summer Jenny proposed three October Saturday's to spend the day doing some Minnesota wine tasting. This was the Saturday. The plan - get relatives to watch our children, get a room in Stillwater, head up Highway 95 to a handful of local vineyards, and return to town for dinner.

Yesterday we started our perfect day with a quick lunch at Chipotle in Stillwater, then set off on our adventure. The sun was shining. The leaves were brilliant. The air was crisp. The company was enjoyable.

Initially, the plan was to go as far as Highway 8, then jog west to Chisago City, making our first stop the Wine Haven vineyard. After turning, we only made it a few miles down the road when we happened upon the Crossroads Bar in the tiny town of Shafer. I yelled to Jeremy, "Wait! Turn off!! RIGHT HERE!"

Jeremy hit the brakes and made a louie. The timing was perfect for Bloody Mary's and tap beer from plastic keg cups.

The men made an executive decision to skip Wine Haven, and head directly to St. Croix Falls. Soon we were at Chateau St Croix, with wine in hand.

Jenny and Jeremy Lyons.

Outstanding friends. Outstanding day.

Relax! Laugh! Smile!

Sip - Drink!

I had created a wine tasting outfit to perfectly reflect my carefree, happy mood for the day -Flirty flower dress purchased from Marshall's that morning, cashmere wrap purchased at a second hand shop in Park City, Utah years ago when I was pregnant with the twinners, tights, and my favorite brown leather boots I picked up last year for $30 on uber-clearance at DSW.

After a bottle of wine, we crossed back over the St. Croix River and headed to the Wild Mountain Vineyard outside of Taylors Falls. After a wrong turn, circling back into town, and back out, we were finally seated for tasting. We enjoyed talking with two of the three owners about their very first season as entrepreneurs in the wine industry.

We purchased a bottle, and saddled up.

We stopped at a field approach somewhere between Taylors Falls and Stillwater, trespassed onto a farmer's hay bales, sipped wine, and watched the sun go down on a glorious fall day.

Our men!

We returned to Stillwater for 8 pm dinner reservations at Reve 324, where the talk and pleasure of the carefree day continued into the night......a cocktail up the street.....a return to our room with chatter about all the moments we loved throughout our day....

We woke in the morning with memories to last until we can do it AGAIN next year!


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