60 Years

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!

I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what to post for you today. I finally got it!

I hope you enjoy your homemade infographic (if you don’t know what an infographic is, you’re about to figure it out!)

Dad's Birthday

(click to enlarge)

It was harder than you’d think, making that. But worth every minute. I hope you enjoyed seeing your life reduced to facts and figures. I also hope it brought you a chuckle or two.

Lastly, if anyone would like to learn more about my awesome (and aging) father, here are some of my favorite posts about him.

Super Dad

10:17 am

Lent Letter

59th Birthday

Love you, Dad! We’ll celebrate for real on Thanksgiving.

10:17 am

My phone rang. It was my dad. My dad does not usually call me while I am at work. I grabbed the phone and rushed into the hall. I answered. “Hello?”

“Yeah, I’m just driving down the freeway listening to Gordon Lightfoot and Don Williams in my new truck. I’m driving past your work and I just thought I’d call and say thank you.”

Was what I heard.

Yesterday I went to visit my folks, and to see my dad’s new Explorer, purchased on Saturday. My mom told me how as soon as he bought it, with its CD player, he went up into his room and pulled out a CD called “Dad’s Mix” that I had made for him the LAST time he got a new vehicle. His truck. A decade ago, maybe? (His interim vehicles have not had CD players) I thought it was sweet he saved that CD for all this time. So, before I visited, I made him a new collection. A three volume set of CDs; music I thought he’d enjoy.

He was on his way home from work and listening and just called me to say thanks. I’m pleased that he likes his new music. I’m guessing, based on the length of his drive that he hasn’t even made it all the way through Disc 1 (there and back to work) but I’m pleased that he likes what he’s heard so far. I was even more pleased that he called simply to say thanks.  It quite made my whole day

Then he said “I’m driving by, wave out the window.”

So I did.

Super Dad

I need to cook several recipes that call for cooked chicken. I bought the chicken at the grocery (on sale!) and now I just need to cook it. But, really, who has that kind of time? Ok, well, I do, but I prefer to spend what little free time I have doing fun things, like laundry and dishes, rather than cooking chicken. This morning, I was thinking, hmm, bet I can just cook it in the crock pot…

I googled it and, yes, you can cook chicken breasts in the crock pot, but they do dry out, so you can’t over cook them. 6-7 hours on low, and that is it. Fine. I’m going to be at work for 7 hours today, so if it is the very last thing I do before leaving the house, it should be fine. I prepare it, seasoning and a little chicken broth to keep it as moist as possible, and all that chicken in the crock pot. Then I reminded myself to turn it on as I was walking out the door.

The job I have today is a job that I was specially trained for, but this is the first time I had done it. As I was leaving I was doing my mental checklist of things I needed to bring, most importantly, my manual, explaining what I need to do. Lo and behold, really not a surprise, I forgot to turn on the crock pot.

30 minutes later, I remember. Of course, I am well into Anoka County by this point. Damn. What can I do? I can’t just leave it sit out all day in the crock pot, I’ll have to throw away three pounds of chicken. Yeah, it was on sale, but is wasn’t FREE. I mentally debated calling my neighbor, but she’s not even usually home during the day. Suddenly I notice the clock. 10:51 am. My dad leaves work at 10, so he is probably home by now, but maybe, just maybe, I can catch him.

I call.

He, fortunately, stopped by the old house for something and was about 10 minutes from my place. I asked if he had a key to my house on him and he did. Hallelujah! I asked him if he would mind stopping by my house and turning on my crock pot for me. He laughed, I suppose it is a strange request, but he agreed to do it. He said he’d do it and call if there was a problem. About 40 minutes later, he called. We did a little phone tag to connect but I got him on the line. He said he turned it on low, and made sure it was plugged in but there wasn’t a light or anything that came on. I assured him it doesn’t have a light and he just had to turn it on. He said it wasn’t warm, I said it takes a minute or two. He checked it again and said, yes, it was now starting to warm.

I thanked him, because, really, how great is he?

And that was that.

Dad saved my chicken.

AND, the best part is, since he turned it on, it FOR SURE won’t dry out!

Just the latest adventure of Super Dad, saving the world, one chicken dinner at a time.

Snow Buddies

And then, perhaps because she could sense what I was writing, my mother just sent me a photo.

And if this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

photo

I can’t believe she can even LIFT that heavy wet snow. And I love their identical poses. Weight on the same leg, bent at the same angle, hands in the same position.

But I can’t help wonder why she isn’t wearing gloves? Or mittens? Don’t be fooled by the date on the calendar, it’s COLD outside!

Lent Letter #39

Dear Dad,

As with Mom, you’re obviously one of the biggest influences on my life. I like to pretend that I’m exactly like Mom, but I think we all know the truth. I’ve got so much of you in me. From you I get my pragmatism, my sense of humor, my affinity for math and numbers and music, my stubbornness, and my work ethic, just to name a few.

You’ve been this quiet, steady, presence in my life. You’re not one to insist or jump in with input or advice, you just quietly live your life and offer me a sterling example. So many things I’ve learned, just by seeing how it is that you live your life. This is a powerful example that too many overlook. Aside from that, you are my guide to practicality. When something needs to be decided, when it is something big, I always go to Mom first. But mom responds emotionally to things; while that can be useful at times, it doesn’t always help me decide. After I think about what she says, I ask you. Your advice is tempered, measured, considered, thoughtful. It is to the point and straightforward.

Does that mean I always take your advice?

I think we both know better.

But what it does mean is that I walk through this world with a smart, strong, and savvy mixture of emotion and knowledge, courtesy of my parents. I’m an equal blend of you both. That is something I’m very proud of. I guess you could say that the best thing you ever gave me was you for a father and the fact that you chose Mom to be my mother. I’m grateful. I’m proud.

I love you and I’m glad that you’re my Dad.

Thank you for being part of my life,

Livi

(to see why I am doing this, read here)

Saturday’s Woes

I was going to write a long story about this, but let’s just brief it out instead.

photo

That enough? Ok, a bit more. My battery died. I couldn’t find it to jump it. Turns out, that’s because my battery is under the backseat of the car. Yep, sure is.

I even

photo

text my dad a photo of the engine to see if he could find it. I’m not a stupid girl. When I couldn’t find the battery, something had to be going on.

Unfortunately, I was quite a ways away from my house. It was a long jaunt for my dad to come and get me. He jumped the car, after I figured out where the battery was located – using the manual, thank God for print resources, and it has been fine ever since. FINE. Nothing is wrong with it. The battery tests perfectly. So, here’s to hoping it was a fluke. And furthermore, here’s to hoping if it does break down again, it’s at my day job, instead of one of my far off weekend jobs…

Things I Love -2013 Edition

Last year, to celebrate Valentine’s day, I posted my first Things I Love list. This is a tradition I want to continue. What is better than taking a moment to reflect on all the good in life?

Here we go (in no particular order):

photo

Camden (yeah, okay, he gets to be first)

photo

Sneaking kisses

photo

Breathtakingly beautiful winter mornings

photo

Laughter
photo

My dad
photo

My mom. And happiness.

photo

Mickey Mouse

photo

French braids

photo

Baby hair

photo

Play time (and cousins)
photo

Big families
photo

Little families

photo

Crazy Uncle Zack

photo

New red shoes

photo

Lanie

photo

Christian Kane
Christmas 2012

Friends

Oversized chocolate (and Valentine’s gifts)
photo

Inspiration

photo

Simon

photo

Arionna

It’s so easy to let the little moments slide past, today I choose to acknowledge that I am living a life filled with love and family, friendship and fun. I’m fortunate in my life and lucky in those that I love.

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

Zero Five Niner

He is 59.

photo

This is the 59th photo I have of him. With his parents, and I think it says July ’69, so he would have been 16 years old.

When I was 16 he tried to teach me to drive a stick. It didn’t work and he pawned me off on mom. He did, however, get me a car. And admonished me to keep it CLEAN…ALWAYS. And to never let the fuel gauge go below 1/4 tank. And keep sandbags in the trunk in winter (it was rear-wheel drive). And he taught me to change my own oil and how to change a flat tire. I’ve never done these things, but I believe that if I HAD to, I could do it. Because he made me learn, even though I didn’t want to. He taught me that.

photo

He is still the one I go to when something is wrong. Tell me how to fix it. Tell me how to do it. He’s the most practical person I know and, as smart as I know I am, I’m still amazed that he just knows so very much. He can fix anything and if he doesn’t know how, he will figure it out. I get that from him. I always believe I can figure it out, he taught me that by example.
photo

My knowledge of oldies music is off the charts for someone my age. That came from him. He loves music and he shared that love with me. Many of the songs I like are because they remind me of him. I know, without a doubt that 1968 is the year that EVERYTHING happened. My whole family knows. He taught us all.

He is one of my favorite trivia buddies. He loves terrible movies that no one else will even watch. He likes Bones, but probably not for the same reasons I do. He’s my favorite person to argue with; I get my stubbornness from him. He doesn’t always understand me, but he loves me anyway.

He’s my dad. Today is his birthday.

photo

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you.

 

Corn Maze 2012

If you will recall, last fall my mother and I took Simon to Sever’s Corn Maze in Shakopee. We had an absolute blast and immediately started talking about doing it again next year. We decided we wanted to bring Arionna.

I’m saying that was a mistake, right up front. She was just a hair too little for everything. I’d say 4 and up is about the perfect age for this. Mom agreed and we probably won’t even bring her next year. The year after, though, it is ON.

Beginning at the pillow jump. Simon still loved it. She was terrified. I carried her up there because she was too small to climb it. As soon as we got on it, she had a death grip on my neck. Eventually we thought if she sat down and let others bounce she might like it.

photo

That’s the happiest she looked and she’s watching Simon. Two seconds after this she said, “I’m all done”. I took her out of there.

There was a wooden train for the kids to play on this year.
photo

In the engine.
photo

Pulling the whistle.

They both liked this.

Then Arionna said she wanted to do the slide. Which is weird because she’s afraid of slides. The “kid” slide is $2 for them to do it. She wouldn’t go alone. I didn’t want to take her because that thing is for kids and it scared me. My mom said, “if you don’t think it is safe why are we letting the kids go on it?” Good question. While we were arguing about who would have to take her on the slide, unexpectedly, Grandpa stepped up.

Seriously, he’ll do anything for his grandkids. He doesn’t like slides AND he’s afraid of heights….but he did this.

photo

Simon sliding while my dad (at the top) prepares. Arionna is up there, too.

photo

Grandpa and Arionna sliding. Hard to tell which of them looks more scared.

photo

Simon at the bottom. Also, you got to love the DAD who is letting his extremely small son stand ON the slide while waiting for someone to come down. Really? That’s what you want to teach him? Aside from the fact that you are ruining everyone else’s experience?

Simon did like this slide much better this year, he was very afraid to do it alone last year. He did it, but he said he didn’t like it because he was scared. This year, he wanted to do it alone.

And in one of my favorite photos of the entire day:

photo

Yep, she looks like a girl who loves slides. And Dad just looks relieved it was over. When they walked over to us he said to me, “did it look like she had fun?” Isn’t that so sweet? Unfortunately, my answer was, “no, she looked terrified, she doesn’t like slides”. But she keeps trying them, so I guess that’s something. She’s a brave little bug.

Next we did the hay bale maze, but I was in the maze chasing Simon (read: no pictures). Again, the difference of one year. This year he was flying over those jumps, never hesitating. Even big jumps that he probably shouldn’t have done…just flew across them like it was nothing. He was also hopping up and down on the bales without any assistance at all. 4-5 is evidently a huge leap forward, at least for boys.

Then we decided to tackle the big maze. I forgot to take a picture of the aerial view, but this year it was a farm theme. There was a life size tractor shape cut into the maze. And the words “Minnesota Grown”. The letters, as it happens, were actually helpful. Even inside, they were recognizable, by the shape and it helped us figure out where we were.

Sever shots from in the maze. Someday I would like to do a photo shoot in a corn field, I think. I love how the photos look in there. Last year, too.
photo

The kids playing in the corn. (Which they were not supposed to do; news to me. We got reprimanded. I let them do it anyway. It’s hundreds of acres of corn and they are small children. What are they hurting?) Also, Simon is about five inches in front of her, facing her. It’s amazing how dense corn is. You can’t even see him in the photo.

photo

He was jumping out to scare her. I wish you could she her face as she is laughing uproariously.

photo

I told him he was in “corn jail” and couldn’t come out.

photo

Easily one of my all-time favorite photos of this lady.
photo

The kids trying to figure out the maze.

photo

Mom and Dad trying to figure out the maze. (It seemed a LOT harder this year than last year)
photo

Just a candid shot of them walking through the maze.

Unfortunately, this is about the point my mom started feeling ill. She was getting heat stroke or something. So we were trying to find the way out so we could get her some water.

While my parents got water, I stayed with the kids and asked them to pose by the giant scarecrow.

photo

Yeah, not so much. He wants down to play on the tractor and she is just fascinated by him. Won’t stop staring.

Also, see how dirty she is? She was all about running in the maze and tripping and falling and playing in the dirt. My dad kept calling her Pigpen.

photo

A close up. Look how dirty her face is! She was filthy, it was pretty cute.

photo

What I like about this photo is that while Simon is playing and I’m trying to get a picture, my dad is in the background, checking out the tractor. I guess boys never grow out of a love for tractors.
photo

There we go. A great shot of him driving the tractor.

Next we took a potty break by the giant tires that were there for the kids to climb on. My dad and I were talking and just for one second took our eyes off Simon. Suddenly I realized he was gone. I said, “Dad, where is he?” Which was a dumb question, because he was talking to ME, so how would he know?

Then I yelled, “Simon!” And I hear this little voice, floating out of the ether. “I’m in the tire!”

photo

He had decided to take a break in the shade. I went over there and said, “you scared me, I didn’t know where you were. What’s the rule, buddy?” He said, “I have to be able to see you at all times.”

That’s right.

“But Auntie Livia, I could see you the whole time.”

Drat. I hate it when they’re smarter than me. I couldn’t see him, but he could, in fact, see me the whole time.

And that face? He wouldn’t smile. Just staring at me. So I said, “fine, give me your scariest tire face” and I got that. Love it.

After the potty break (yay for Arionna, who went on a porta potty for the first time and didn’t have an accident all day!) my mom was still feeling poorly, so we found some small shade and sat for a few minutes. Eventually, the kids got antsy and noticed the cut outs. Somehow, they found them fun and let me take pictures galore, no bribing!
photo

 

photo

 
photo

 
photo

Simon took that. He borrowed the camera to “get me”.

photo

And he got Arionna in that one, too.
photo

Then he took this, through the hole of the cut out. So darned cute!

photo

I reclaimed the camera.

photo

Oh, the cuteness.

Then, they were just running and sticking their faces in and laughing at each other.

So I zoomed in.

photo

 

photo

 

photo

Hello one of my new favorite Simon photos.

We decided we needed to be heading out, so we took a quick turn through the petting zoo. One of my highlights? A water buffalo ate corn out of my hand. How many people can actually say that?

Then we were off to the corn pit. Mom and Dad sat this one out, and I took the kids.

It was Arionna’s first time. She was a little unsure. She enjoyed it, but she never strayed more than a foot from me. Of course that could have been because it was so packed in there. Last year I thought it was busy in the corn pit. This year? Easily twice as many people in there and the space is not larger. It was PACKED.

photo

Just feeling it out.
photo

I asked him if he was falling asleep. He said, “no, I’m just relaxing.”. Nice.

I also really love this photo.

photo

I was trying to get a shot of her from above. I thought I had it lined up, evidently not. But somehow, I love it like this.

photo

Her expression said she was pissed, but she’s actually just annoyed that I keep interrupting her play to take pictures.

photo

He was in heaven. He wanted to do this first, but I wouldn’t let him because it is so messy. I said this was our last stop of the day.

photo

She wanted to be buried in the corn (we had already buried Simon) but she was nervous and wouldn’t lay back. This was the best we could do.

photo

So she decided to bury herself, while sitting up.
photo

Simon came by to help.

photo

She was so intent. I’m a huge fan of play that keeps them quiet and calm. Love it.
photo

Here he’s shoveling corn between his legs and it is pelting her in the face. She is laughing hysterically. She loved this. Right until she got some in her mouth. She did not love that. And then I made them stop because there were too many people in there to be throwing corn around.

photo

She’s saying “I got it in my mouth” but her mouth is open the whole time, so it sounded more like “I ot it im my mouf”. I was cracking up. Very unsympathetic auntie.

photo

Just laying on her stomach in the corn.

After the pit, we decided to head out. Simon wanted to do the pillow jump one more time and I wouldn’t let him. Grandma was sick. He had a melt down that I had to deal with. It wasn’t fun. And I choose not to remember that as the last part of the day, so instead, I’m ending with my favorite part of the day.

For one second, when we were playing on top of the hay bale maze, I had both kids resting in one spot. I said to them, if you give me one nice photo, then for the rest of the day, I won’t make you stop and take more pictures. Just one nice one now. I still took more photos, but I didn’t force them to stop and pose after this.

This is what they gave me.
photo

If she was looking it would be perfect. But even with that, it’s still a lovely picture. Scooting next to Arionna and putting his arm around her was all Simon’s idea. I just wanted them next to each other.

Isn’t that the cutest? When I think about this day, this is what I am choosing to remember. This small moment when they showed me how much they love one another.

It was a perfect fall day, that’s for sure. We’ll try again next year.