Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Tree Cutting. Or: When Saw We Thee a Stranger?

This year for the first time, I seriously considered an artificial tree. I have never really been a believer in those - I mean, how can it be Christmas without a genuine pine? However, pressed with the issues of time, long-term budgeting and a budding notion that maybe it isn't exactly eco-conscious to cut down trees each yea and then toss them after a few weeks, we brought the idea of artifice on the table. And then we took it off again.
Upon deliberation, we couldn't abandon our newly started tradition of cutting down our own tree and thus we set off yesterday afternoon to a Christmas Tree Farm. We had a busy day of rock-climbing classes and a birthday party, so we didn't get to the farm until ten minutes before closing time - which should be a decent amount of time to get out of the car, find the perfect tree, cut it down and head towards the exit. Or at least enough time to get into the farm, find the perfect tree and apologize for keeping the owners there fifteen minutes late.
Unless of course, you get out of your car with all the kids and the saw and then lock your car. With the keys still in the car. Which we did.
It could have been a disaster - the wind was icy, it was getting late and we were a good 30 minutes from home, but it turned out quite great in the end. We asked to borrow someone's cell phone to call AAA and when he didn't have reception, we were immediately offered three other phones to use. Because we had been running late, we didn't bring hats and gloves (except for the littlest monkey, who fortunately had her warm hat on), figuring we'd be in and out quickly. The mother of the teenagers who let us use their phone pulled the hats and gloves off her teenage boys and gave them to our boys. Within ten minutes the owner of the tree farm had come up see if he could get into our car (apparently we aren't the only fools to do this...) and AAA showed up shortly thereafter. As it turns out, our Sienna is fairly secure against theft, but the guy's expertise got us in after a few minutes of lock-jiggling. (Do those guys make some sort of a vow not to steal cars, btw? Or do they actually hire car thieves? They are very good at getting into locked vehicles...)
All that and we got out of there only 25 minutes after closing, with a beautiful tree! We weren't even the last ones to leave. We drove away feeling happy about AAA, thrilled that we were able to cut down our tree, comforted that the Sienna is very hard to break in to, and mostly grateful about the kindness of strangers. Thank you Christmas Tree Farmer for trying to help and not yelling at us about our stupidity. Thank you boys for offering your cell phones. And thank you lady, who we may never meet again, for giving us your children's hats and gloves without hesitating, when you saw they were cold and didn't know how long we'd be in the cold for. Happy Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am thankful for many things this year and I may update this tomorrow with a list of some of those, just so I have it to look back at when I am 102.
For now, just these few...(Photos by the very talented Jenn Miettinen)

I am thankful for this little bundle of joy:

I am thankful for this guy here on the left:

And for the craziness that is these two:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Faster Than Her Own Shadow...

I tried to take a few pictures of my littlest monkey and realized this mobility thing is going to make pictures difficult until I can bribe her with candy like the boys she learns to be a perfect model just like her brothers... She would sit still long enough for me to realize I needed to change my settings to get a good shot and then she would try to climb over the side of the chair or throw herself face first off the front of it. Until further notice, I may have to break out sports photography equipment for this to succeed. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Been A Hard Day's Night...

After several weeks of our vole drama, I was beginning to worry that the voles were a product of my overtired brain, since I was the only one who kept seeing them. What kept me convinced that I was indeed seeing the real deal were the copious amounts of dropping I've been cleaning up. I would hope that any actual delusions would involve less cleaning. Meanwhile calls to several exterminators have gone along the lines of this:

Conversation A 
Us: Hi, I was wondering if you guys can help us out with voles in the house?
Ext: Moles?
Us: No, voles.
Ext: Never heard of them.

Conversation B:

Us: Hi, I was wondering if you guys can help us out with voles in the house?
Ext: Moles?
Us: No, voles.
Ext: Sorry, those are hard to get rid of, so we don't do voles. They don't take the usual mouse bait. Good luck.

Conversation C:

Us: Hi, I was wondering if you guys can help us out with voles in the house?
Ext: Moles?
Us: No, voles.
Ext: You don't have voles, you have mice.
Us: No, we're certain they are not mice. They don't look like mice and the don't take mouse bait.
Ext: Oh. Well, not sure what they are then. Try mouse bait. (!)

And my favorite - we've had this one a few times:

Us: Hi, I was wondering if you guys can help us out with voles in the house?
Ext: Moles?
Us: No, voles.
Ext: They don't come into houses.
Us: Well, they're here, so what can we do?
Ext: Are you sure they are voles?
Us: Yes, we are sure. Very sure. Can you help?
Ext: Sorry, did you say moles or voles?

I promise I didn't swear at any of these guys. At least not while on the phone with them. 

Well, after many attempts at glue traps (and mouse bait - we tried to prove Google wrong about voles not taking mouse bait, but alas, Google knows better), many sightings and jumping at small noises and an evening of scrambling, squealing (mostly mine), some furniture rearranging (we had to move the dishwasher out) and an escape attempt that nearly succeeded, we are down one vole in the household. And I am, in fact, not delusional. I even have a picture to prove it:

My darling husband drove the vole to a far away location as neither of us could bear to actually kill it - although it may yet die from stress after being chased around by us for a good 45 minutes.
Now we wait to see if the rest of its vole friends show up. that's right. This round goes to Tom, not Jerry.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Piano Recital

S has been asking for piano lessons for over a year, so when a spot opened up with an amazing teacher in our area, we finally said ok. He started in September and the first recital was a couple of weeks ago. Given his recent history of panicked shyness in front of crowds, I was worried he would have an awful time, but he did so well. He was first, went right up, played his song (a duet with his teacher), took a bow and came back to us. I was so proud of him. Unfortunately, I was also woozy from surgery earlier that day, so I completely forgot that my camera has a video function. I did get the chance to record the song at his lesson the following week, though. Phew.

(I should probably also mention that for this recital the students and the teacher all dressed up in their Halloween costumes, lest anyone wonders if the surgery also caused me to think it was ok to send my son to his recital in his PJs...)