Wednesday, August 31, 2011

31.



It's Greg's golden today. What joy to have Eli here for this birthday!

I love you, Greg.

-the wife

Monday, August 29, 2011

Now I Know.

Confession time.

Thanks to spell check, I rarely have problems with spelling these days. Ah, but spell check is not fool proof. I have been mixing up a few words for years. I continually have trouble with 'now' and 'know' and 'brain' and 'Brian' (I always have to check when writing to Uncle Brian).

Am I the only one with certain words that get mixed up in my brian... err, I mean brain?

-Heather

Saturday, August 27, 2011

4 Months.

Our sweet joy of a boy is four months old. He weighed 16 lb 12 oz at his check up yesterday. I forgot to check what percentiles he's in... but I'm pretty sure his still up there in the 90 range. We are so grateful to have such a healthy little man!

Eli is much more consistent at finding his hands these days. When he does, they go to the mouth like this:


He also makes lots of noises: blabbering, sighing, whining. The best is when he lets out a big 'ol sigh/yawn when we are in the middle of talking... just letting us know he's bored of our discussion.

-Heather

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fake Tan.


This is a photo I took of three photos I ordered. Same photo printed from the same company. The first printing was very fuzzy and cut incorrectly. The second... well I think you can guess that the color is a bit off and we didn't, in fact, sunburn our boy. These two were printed at the same time. The third is the "normal" or correct printing, printed on my reorder.

Uff-da.

-Heather

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mail: Flat Rate Boxes.

It's been awhile since I've told you something I think you should know. But I'm making up for it by giving you a great tutorial on something I have come to know well:

US Post Office FLAT RATE boxes.

Mailing doesn't sound exciting, you say. Well fine... go spend more money than you should when you ship your Grandma's birthday gift. Smart people, yes, smart people will listen up.

Here's all I've learned about shipping using the flat rate boxes.

First, you pick up the boxes at your post office, no charge. There should be a red kiosk with all the different sizes at your local PO. I believe these days they only have Ready Post mailers that you have to pay for and these... but to be safe, make sure they say Flat Rate Box under the Priority Mail logo.

Again, no charge. You could walk in there and grab every single box they have and walk out. You would also look a little crazy doing that. And remember, using these boxes for non-postal use is fraud. Or something bad like that. It's a no-no.

Let's talk size. There are four sizes of boxes (large, two medium, small). They also have envelopes but those are boring so I'm skipping them in this post.

Large Flat Rate Box | 12" x 12" x 5-1/2"
First Medium Flat Rate Box | 13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8"
Second Medium Flat Rate Box 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"
Small Flat Rate Box | 8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"

There is a DVD in the Small Flat Rate Box and one sitting in front of the second Medium Box, just to help you visualize size. Oh, and Eli is in the large box. There is a BIG difference in size from the Mediums to the Small. The Small is just a tease, really. You can see the DVD inside there barely fits the width. Still not convinced?

"Please know that this box is small!"

Trust me, it won't fit much without some serious finagling on your part.

Now the most important part - cost. No matter where you send it in the domestic US:

Large Flat Rate Box $14.95
Medium Flat Rate Boxes $10.95
Small Flat Rate Box $5.20

This is the cost NO MATTER HOW HEAVY the box is! It can be up to 70 pounds! I'd like to see you try that!

Because it can be ubber heavy, the real challenge here is to FIT whatever you can in the smallest possible box. I'm a big fan of the first medium box. It's long and tall and comes with it's own sticky-strip adhesive on both sides so you don't even have to use your own tape (the others don't have that feature). Make sure your contents don't alter the shape but that doesn't mean you can't stuff and tape that baby FULL.

Get your box ready and then you have two ways to pay for it. First, the traditional: get in your vehicle, drive to the PO, wait in an invariably long line, then pay and hand it off. Or you can pay for it online and print your mailing label! You go to the Postage Price Calculator found here, put in your zip codes, select which box you are using from the Flat Rate Service options and follow the instructions. You even save like 45 cents if you buy it online!

After paying online (you do have to create a little USPS account), then printing and attaching your label to your box, you may drop off your box at the PO (save the waiting in line to pay) OR you have the "Schedule a Pickup" option when paying online. This means you can schedule a pick up at your home from your postal carrier for free!

If you do this, your carrier will pick up your ready-to-go box whatever day you have it scheduled and you can even tell them how/where (do you want them to knock, will you leave it on your front step, etc). I love when JT saves me a trip to the PO!

Non-Flat Rate Box Tangent
Now you can use the online price calculator and print your shipping labels for non-flat rate boxes, too, but you do have to know the exact weight of your package in order to do that. Unless you have an accurate scale, it's probably not worth doing that for your regular packages/envelopes. Sometimes when I have a good guess, I'll use the online price calculator to just get an idea of what it'll cost me to ship priority versus parcel post ... or if it would be cheaper to go with the flat rate.

For example, shipping a package in my own box (a non-flat rate one) with just a one-ounce weight from Columbia to Williston would cost me $5.38 parcel post, $5.60 for priority. Shipping a 1.1-ounce package from Columbia to Williston would cost me $7.96 parcel post, $9.15 for priority. WHAT A DIFFERENCE one ounce makes! I would never know this if it wasn't for the nifty Postage Price Calculator.

Basically, if it's a light padded envelope deal, I usually try go parcel post if I have the time or regular priority if its not small enough to fit in the flat rate box. If it's heavy (anything over a pound), I go flat rate.

International?
You may be wondering about international flat rates? They are much, much spendier and they have a weight limit of 4 pounds. You can use the same boxes as above, but the price is different for each box and depending on what country you are sending it to. The cheapest is by far the Flat Rate Envelope... for here to China it costs $13.95. But this "envelope" is no package. As you can see (again DVD on top), it's small and it's hard to fit anything not-flat in it:

However, once I fit a couple of cookie mixes, some socks, candy, stickers, etc in one of these. I used a lot of tape. But $13.95 is easier to do than $45 or $50 for the medium and flat rate sizes. Basically, use the Price Calculator if you are planning on shipping overseas. And don't forget you still have to use the custom forms and all that jazz.

Fun?
For added enjoyment, decorate the white space of your box. I'm a big fan of polka dots. The reason I have learned all about shipping is mostly because of our nieces and nephews. And I know they enjoy their gift even more when we decorate the outside of the box!

I hope you have learned something. And I hope you are understanding the greatness of the flat rate boxes, my friends. And now you know if it fits, it ships.

Oh, and Eli is rolling to his side these days. And still attempting to eat anything that comes remotely close to his mouth:


If you click twice, you can barely see his very faint birthmark on his right bicep/arm roll!

-Heather

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Close Enough.

These are a few of Eli's "close enough" cousins:

Eli doesn't know it yet, but he's a big fan of Benjamin, Faith and Jeremiah. So sweet!

Almost as big as her!

Too bad Eli was so very, very sleepy during our too-short visit.

I just love this girl!

I'm a big fan of all our extended close enough relatives. So grateful to see these kiddos and talk with their mama! A bright spot in Williston for sure!

-Heather

Monday, August 22, 2011

Now.

I suppose the title of my last Wednesday post has got me thinking as I wait for my photos to upload.

We really have become an immediate gratification culture. I want something and I want it now. This applies very much to anything on a computer for me. If I click something, I expect it to happen that instant. No waiting. No wirrr-weee-wiirrr of dial up. No double-click. No hour glass. Click and waa-lah! That's what I want.

So, Blogger, you are really annoying me. Why are you taking so long to upload my photos? Why have you twice-deleted photos I've uploaded? Why that blasted loading exclamation point over and over?

Sigh. There's a lesson or two here. I'll think on it as I head to bed.

-Heather

If I'm like this in 2011, how much more will Eli's expectations for lightening-fast response be in 2031?

Yikes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Want This Right Now:

I don't know about you, but I could sure go for this right about now. If you never have had a cheeseburger and fries (or tots) dipped, nay soaked, in ranch from Gramma Sharons, you have not fully lived. It's a reason to visit Williston, ND. My mouth is salivating.

I did ask the cashier how they make their ranch. Unfortunately Gramma does not share her recipes. I suppose it will just live on in my dreams.

-Heather

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can I Get A Hand Here?

Here is one excellent and much loved uncle and daddy.

-Heather

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cousins.


Ali - 5 years
Ava - 10 months
Eli - 3 months

-Heather

Friday, August 12, 2011

Threshing Bee.

The Threshing Bee gives you the chance to watch really old tractors and cars in a parade. This is especially interesting to enthusiasts of old tractors and/or cars. Or people that actually used them or saw them being used back in the day and can distinguish one from the other. I am not that person. Besides a few unique ones, they all look and sound about the same.

I just spent a minute trying to figure out how to type out that sound. I can't figure out what letters would make it. It's chug-a-chug times 1,000, or Thomas the Train after he's smoked cigarettes for fifty years.

I grew up attending this yearly third-weekend-in-July event and I have some great memories. I do still love it all and maybe someday I'll get more into the actual knowledge of the machines. But if I was honest, I'd say my favorite part is when one of the tractors breaks down and creates a big hullabaloo and inevitably causes other tractors to stall.

Thanks to our family we got seats in the shade. Very hard to come by... I'd liken it to floor seats at a Lakers game.

Here's Ava watching the parade:


And Aunt Marlys holding a very heat-induced-zonked Eli.


Here's the view from Greg's sunglasses while he watched the parade:


Did I mention it was HOT?


This very rare tractor is worth a lot. Like enough to send Eli to college.


I could post more photos of tractors. But I'm guessing most of you probably aren't interested. And the few that are probably have your own albums to enjoy.

Ali and Benjamin (my cousin's son) loved riding the horses:


And last but not least: The Cook Car. Imagine these four ladies cooking up a plethora of midwestern delicacies, to serve to all the guys working on getting those finagled old tractors up and running for the parade. Think homemade stews and cookies served on one long picnic table with a bunch of greasy overall-ed, grateful men chowing down. It's awesome.

We didn't get to take part in more of the Bee festivities because of our way-too-packed-tight schedule. But so you know for your 2012 vacation planning, there is a talent show (let's be honest, Amber and I got nothing to offer here), tractor pull for kids, gun show (and not the muscle kind), antiques, and a host of other enjoyable festivities.

Mark your calendars, folks, Crosby, ND is calling you to visit!

-Heather

Ava-ater.

Ava: "This is my cousin!"
Eli: "Yeah, sure."
Ava: "He looks tasty."
Eli. "Really?"
Ava: "Nom."
Eli: "I am not loving this."Ava: "Fun!"
Eli: "Guys, get me out of here. Fast."
Ava: "I'm just going to smack him a little bit."
Eli: "Told you! Told you! Help!"
I'm blaming it on Jeff that I make our babies talk.

-Heather

The Shack.

Driving to the Shack this year was a bit more difficult. The road is closed. Water, water everywhere. It's sort of hard to cross the road when it looks like this:


And that water is deep! Sloughs are no longer little pockets of water in the ditch. Now they look more like full-on lakes. It's crazy! The Shack's next door (or next farmhouse) neighbors even have to build a new road to their place.



Let's talk more about weather.

The two days we were in Crosby, it was incredibly, uncommonly hot. It was why-did-the-heat-follow-us-to-ND hot. And the Shack does not have AC. I ended up getting a migraine and throwing up in the middle of the night. Details you probably don't need to know. It does prove that I am not made for heat and I love AC.

We gave the kids a few baths to keep them cool. And that involved buckets. Eli didn't quite know what to think:


Ava was a big fan of the sink bath. She's a water fan. And hopefully 15 years from now she doesn't find out I posted naked baby photos of her. Chunky baby alert!


Ilene and Dale braved the heat to come see us. Eli loved meeting them!


Seriously it was so hot, we all wished we could waddle around in just a diaper like these two. And being there is only an outhouse at the Shack...

Kidding!

It was great being there, even with the hot. Many, many great memories there and a place I hope Eli gets to love someday too.



-Heather

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Windmills and Plaid.

Back to part two of our trip up North.

We had a great drive up from Bismarck to Williston. Greg drove, Eli slept, and I giddily took photos from the passenger window. It does something to my soul, to look out over miles and miles of prairie. Especially when the sun is shining in a bright blue sky and the clouds are so close you can touch them.


As you can see here, they have lot of windmills in ND, using the crazy wind that exists there to work on some sustainable energy. They are really tall.


We had one quick night in Williston before heading up to Crosby to catch the Threshing Bee, see family, and stay at The Hunting Shack for a night. More on all this later.

Since my whole immediate family was only going to get to be together less than two days (before Greg had to head back), I was adamant we take a few good family photos of the whole bunch. We did get the Twins shot I posted earlier, thanks to my 2nd cousin Pam. And then I made us pose next to the outhouse for another shot using the auto function on my camera wedged onto my dad's pickup windowsill.

And out of the six shots we got (which everyone else would argue was five too many), this one taken while I set it up is my favorite:


I guarantee you my dad had just made some off-the-cuff remark. No idea what it was, but I know that it was funny because my mom's face shows it. And he's just hilarious like that. Never a dull moment with him around. Also noted is how totally zonked Eli is, how ready Ali is to smile, and how the Lipperts are thinking "oh geez Heather do we really need to do this?"

This is the best end result:


Now I wouldn't say anyone in the above photo would be known for their good style. But I think at least four of us figured out what was "cool" this summer. Plaid.

Too bad no one told us it doesn't look right when you all wear plaid shorts the same day:


Eli actually had plaid shorts. I put them on him when he was laying flat and when I sat him up, his belly protruded out the top and he grimaced. Too tight! I undid the top button and all his squishy fat rolls gushed out and he smiled. So yea, he never actually got to wear them. Poor guy.


Here is two happy grandparents with their adorable red-headed grandbabies. Oh how I wish Maelee could be in this photo:


-Heather

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fan of the Fan.

Our boy feels very strongly about our living room fan. He really loves this thing.

Here's over a minute of him grinning ear to ear at the fan this afternoon:

video

And we really do have him wear non-Twins gear most of the time! I swear!

-Heather

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1518 10th Ave W

One of the reasons that we went back to Williston was to say goodbye to my beloved house. My parents are moving.

I grew up living in the same house until I moved away to college. My dad and his dad built most of this two-story house back in ’78. They finished the basement sometime in the '80s. One of my very first memories was making sure not to fall down the steps onto the concrete. And I vaguely recall getting to color on the sheetrock too.

I know the sounds of my house. I know the exact spot in the hallway where the floor squeaks. I can hear the wind slamming shut the door to the garage. I can hear my mom sewing in the laundry room listening to NPR. I can hear the sound of bath toys splashing against the tub. I can hear the sprinkler system running in the summer night. I can hear the dirty laundry going down the laundry chute.

I know every nook and cranny of my house. I have memories engrained into much of it. I recall family gatherings and friend sleepovers, holidays and celebrations, all taking place in our home. I can see the milestone moments, captured in photos, taken on our front steps. I can feel the warmth of the fireplace every fall combined with the smell of mom baking something with the apples we picked from our tree. I can recall my dad coming home from work, tossing his ivy cap on the banister and us ending up with a hat tossing contest. And I remember exploring (nay, snooping) around the house, finding treasures in the walk-in closet or behind the bar or in the china cupboard.

First Day of School - check out the stretch pants!

As a child, one of the best things about my house was the playhouse. My dad built it to look like a mini version of the house. We spent hours and hours playing in the playhouse, creating a world just our own. It was something that made our house, and us, special. This may be the biggest thing I’m grieving about the move – not getting to see my kids play inside my playhouse.

Helping Dad paint the playhouse

Saying goodbye to the playhouse, wishing Eli could know all the fun contained in its walls.

My mom has always lived in a way that her house is an extension of who she is. This house has always been clean, immaculate actually. And beautiful. Even though mom would complain about the lack of character in the structure (straight walls), she made it look different every season when she would rearrange furniture and d├ęcor. She made it homey and warm and often looking like something straight out of a magazine. And let's be honest, it probably helped that my dad is a painter and we would all get to redecorate our rooms every few years.

Eli laying on the living room floor, trying not to poop on the white carpet

On top of the cleanliness factor, whoever buys our house is also getting a very well maintained home. My dad is talented. The front steps face the other way now, after my dad built a new entrance. The kitchen doesn’t look much like it did when I lived there since he remodeled the whole thing a few years ago. And he added a huge sunroom, so that took away the deck I remember. He did a good job, the changes fit flawlessly in the house. And really, there is so much of him in this house.

And I must talk about The Lawn. Oh please, please don’t let whoever buys this house ruin the grass. It really is the nicest lawn on the block. The next door neighbors used to joke about Mr. Tysse out mowing his grass again. After being in South Carolina where they don’t make dirt and grass like they do there, I often dream of rolling around in my dad's grass. We spent a lot of time in the backyard throughout the years, with roses, gardens, and those racing games where I would always win the 5-year-old division race, and Amber the 10 (because we both must always win).

Running through the sprinkler was a big deal back for me back then (above) and now for my niece Ali (below):


My sister and I moved on from 1518 years ago (and that's a good thing ... it wouldn't be good if we still lived there!). But my dad, my dad is a home body. I didn’t realize that until a few years ago. But he loves northwest North Dakota. He likes familiar. He likes that feeling of being home.

It’s no surprise, then, that this transition is hard on him. And we all know he is a huge softy. A big emotional wreck when it comes to saying goodbye, accepting change, or dealing with the uncomfortable. My dad will never drive by the house once it’s sold. He just can’t. It’s the way he was wired. He needs to be able to say goodbye, grieve, and then move on. 1518 is best as a memory for him. I hope that he doesn’t know whoever buys the house because he will never be able to come visit.

Admittedly, I was pretty angry when it was first mentioned, the selling of 1518. Honestly I was completely selfish. I didn’t want my house to not be my house anymore. Then I realized how blessed we are to say goodbye out of choice versus a flood or fire destroying it. And more importantly, after awhile I really understood that it was time for my parents to move on. It was time to say goodbye to Williston and this house. It was a perfect time to transition: they had a new exciting chapter ahead in two new exciting places. And they still do, but not like we had initially thought... now it’s much more complicated and messy. Sigh.

Regardless, our time on earth is temporary. Everyone, every single person, on earth dies and doesn’t take one thing with them. So a house is just a container for us and our stuff. That’s a good perspective when getting too attached. Yet while we are here on earth, it sure is nice to have a house that you can reflect yourself into, if you are into that sort of thing, and call it home.

1518 | April 1979 (yes, April)

1518 | July 2011

Since it was the only house I knew, I have a lot of memories and a deep connection to this place. And I'd venture to say since 1518 only knew Lloyd, Sherry, Amber and Heather, I think it will miss us too.

-Heather