Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yeah, that hurt

storm.  BIG STORM.  crazy, crazy wind.  how crazy? 

crazy enough to take down 50 foot trees (can you spy the buried picnic table?)

what's that thing sticking up?  oh that's the crabapple that went down with the pine.  ouch, i didn't want that one pruned out
uh, lady, why is there a pine tree growing in your maple?
sadly, not permanent, and once we cut it up there will be a lot less privacy from the road

So, that is 2 trees down, blown west to east.  Here is tree #3.  This one was a welcome pruning as it was dead.  This tree has blown from south to north, did I mention crazy wind?

Then there is this pathetic specimen.  Sure, it looked healthy enough, but no roots!  It is tree #4, making our house surrounded on three sides by downed trees.  Clearly I should just be happy that our house did not blow away.

Thankfully, my parents were planning a weekend visit and brought their chainsaw along.  Pakka is da man!

The picnic table is completely in tact!  amazing.  but, man is that a big bare spot.  i'll get over it.  eventually.

for example, this makes me feel better.
What is it?  
It is grandpa's upcycling!

A winter fort!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

in MN winter begins at Halloween

I hate that.  It really makes me miss Boston.  I will try to focus on the positive, like the fact that the new house has a wood stove that will make winter cozy (assuming we can make it work).

This year we are going for homemade costumes.  littleT wants to be a rock star, and that should be doable.  In fact, it should be quite interesting to see what the dude comes up with if we cut him lose in Target for costume development.  A-man wants to be a basketball.  I see a trip to JoAnns and lots of orange flannel in my future.  I'm a little more nervous about that one coming together!

Here are a couple pics from our first Halloween in MN:

Time to face the day and this weary weather (ok, that's kind of funny given I faced my day by giving a 7am seminar, r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s).  

I'm going to try and remember that A) I decided to become a scientist while doing experiments as an undergrad during the infamous Halloween Blizzard, and B) this marks the beginning of the "serious season" (so dubbed by a colleague of mine).  I am in need of a serious and productive season, so here goes!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blame it on Project Runway

They wanted lounge pants.  

I don't like to sew, but about every 10 years I break out my very nice sewing machine (thank you parents), and give it another go.  So, sure, I'll try some lounge pants.

Saturday night I cut the fabric (polar fleece)

And Sunday after taking bigT to the airport busted out the sewing machine, and re-learned how to use it (walking foot and all).  littleT's pants were first, and A-man's pair went decidedly quicker. The pants were very well received by the recipients, who insisted on modeling them runway style.

They don't look so bad in motion, but, I am a horrible seamstress and have purposefully not included any closeup pictures.  But the boys are happy.  and contemplating what they want next.  I would say it would take another 10 years to get me to make something else, but my good friend Maya has gotten the sewing bug, so I might continue to practice with her on Sunday nights.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Basement plans

Winter is approaching, and we will sorely miss having the ability to kick the boys outside to get their energy out (well, we can try, but they are not the most winter-loving of Minnesotans).  Eventually we will get the basement finished so that it can be the kid/tween/teen hangout.  Step 1:  getting a plan.

Here's the first draft!

I think I like it!  There is a bathroom behind that fireplace/tv unit.  Next step:  bring in an HVAC guy and get the space more adequately heated.  We won't be ready for this winter, but now that we are making wall placement decisions we can at least start picking away at it.

I hate to admit it... but right now there is a dead mouse by the furnace.  I don't want to go clean it up.  I'm pissed that its there after all the money we spent on de-mousing.  But, the nights are getting cold, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.  There is a downside to this wooded wonderland...  hopefully the new basement will seem less appealing to the little vermin than the current unfinished space.  Yeah, I know, that's ridiculous.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yeah, we let him do that

and his big brother didn't get to do it either.

On Fridays littleT's good buddy comes over to play, and littleT rarely gets to go to his buddy's house because they live way out in the country (Wyoming, not the state).  Yesterday was a non-school day and littleT got to go have the country life.  It was clearly a very fun time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The first tooth

littleT is a little brother, and often that means everything seems unfair.  For at least 2 years he has been pining to lose a tooth and cash in.  The buildup has been tremendous!  Unfortunately for him, he is a hammond-nelson, which means he is genetically destined to lose his first tooth at 7.  This has been excruciating as every other kid he knows has lost a tooth.

about a week ago the wiggling began.  He delighted at the fact that his mother gets very squeemish by tooth wiggles. give me blood and guts, but not loose teeth!  And there was all sorts of good ribbing about tying a string around the tooth, or sending Pakka (my Dad) down from Fargo to pull it out (he almost thought that would be worth it for some Pakka pancakes).

last night we came home to Nate-the-great (our babysitter), who informed us that Tomas had lost the tooth.  He had both lost the tooth, and misplaced the tooth in dramatic fashion, as only littleT could.  There was much searching, to no avail, and much stress.  So, a note for the tooth fairy was left under the pillow (I will update the post tonight with an image of the real thing, but for now here is the text):

I lost my tooth, but I couldn't find it.  I really want some money for it because it was my first tooth.  So if you could give me the money I would really like that. [three smiley faces] 

poor littleT.  so, the tooth fairy did the business.  I should disclose that the tooth fairy never gets it right at our house.  The tooth fairy has forgotten many times, and has even forgotten on consecutive nights.  

Then this morning:

Dad, look at my face, what is different?

Now, I present to you the dramatic tale of littleT's first tooth.

I was eating lunch and bit into my hamburger and my tooth stuck in it.  So, I didn't get lunch!  I went to the nurse and she made me clean up all the blood.

littleT, was there a lot of blood?

no.  but she just made me.  and they wouldn't let me call you, I really wanted to call and tell you!  but they wouldn't let me, and that wasn't fair.  Then, everyone was happy for me and I was carrying my tooth, and I tripped on my shoelace and it went flying!  I lost it!!  and we couldn't find it anywhere.  everyone looked.  and A-man helped me look for a really long time.

from what I can tell, he got his brother to go back to the classroom twice with him to look.  plus Nate-the-great.  Poor dude.

But in the end it was all good because the tooth fairy left him two dollars, and now he has eight dollars, and

I really need to go to Target now mom.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Hammonds playing bananagrams at the Lake cabin

Have you played Bananagrams?  it is a very fun game, if you are a puzzling-word-game kind of person.  Which clearly not everyone in my family is.  I can always get my Mom and Brother to play.  littleT always wants to play, but isn't quite old enough to play solo.  The upside of this is that this is the mechanism by which we get my Dad to play.  And A-man will usually play once, but not more than that, because he's just 10 and still working on managing his frustrations at not being the winner at everything.


Monday, October 18, 2010


This past weekend we went to a birthday party for little-H at the children's museum.  It was really nice!  and every weekend I'm reminded that my boys will be too big for kid stuff soon (hard for the mama, but thankfully I like them big too).  After the party we had a monstorous sushi lunch (and the boys chowed down the sashimi) and a quiet Saturday evening catching up on Project Runway.  Yeah, I know, that whole sentence doesn't seem like a MN boy thing to do.

I've been meaning to post from littleT's birthday (way back in June), when he turned 7.  Part of his birthday present was a day-out just for him.  Here is a chronicle of the day with crappy cellphone pictures.

Swedish pancakes at the Scandanavian Bakery (with new Pokemon cards spread over the table)
A stop by the lab... pokemon DS time!  he bonded with the students over this.

Lunch at Sea Change.  It's no Legal Sea Foods, but for land-locked country it is good.  Fancy-shmancy fish sticks today.

Vising the "yellow box" at the Guthrie

I actually hate the "yellow box", it's like insta-migraine.  But look how happy it makes birthday boy.
phew, out of the box and onto the "everlasting bridge", a great spot in MSP.
And on to the St Paul campus
Where we met up with Daddy for bowling.  These smiles are good... there were soon tears because he didn't win.  Ah, little-T with his big emotions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

3 in 4

I went nuts at the St Paul Farmers Market on Sunday with root vegetables, which has resulted in 3 large batches of soup in 4 days (and I might be buying a freezer on my way home from work).

I have taken to making my own soup stock, which sounds like a big deal and totally isn't.  Do it!  Here is the link:

Throw it in before bed, and it is ready in the morning (if you are making a crock of soup).  Throw it in in the morning, and you are ready for stove-top soup making after work.  I am done buying stock, this is too easy and tasty, and no excess packaging!

Ok, so from there I made two recipes from the New England Soup Factory cookbook.  This is a small soup shop in Boston (actually, there are at least 2 in Boston), anyway, it is one of the little things we get homesick for.  On our last family trip there I picked up the cookbook, and it is great!

I made (for the first time), the sweet potato soup with carmelized onions, which was awesome.  The onions were fairly quick and easy and delicious.  And (for the third time) the spinach zucchini bisque with roasted leeks, which is a tobenandheather favorite.

The third soup was from:
Normandy cream of root vegetable soup

Want to make soup now?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



This was the first batch, and this weekend I finally cracked open a jar and goodgawd are they B-A-D.  Embarrassingly bad.  Really hoping the next 3 batches I made weren't that bad.

My mother will say, "well, they weren't very crispy but they tasted fine".  They were rubber!  How can you even detect a flavor after that texture??!!

Thankfully, my dear Brother happened to be here, and he ate the whole jar in one sitting.  I've never known anyone who loved pickles so much ... I can only conclude he would eat anything in pickle brine.

Except maybe those peas... I'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ma Mere en Paris

Two things have have been happening this past week.  1)  the date Oct 5 has been stuck in my head, like something is supposed to happen that I forgot about  2)  I have (again) the strong itch to go to France.

It is not random that these things are happening together because it has been exactly 1 year since I went to Paris with my mother in celebration of a big birthday, and there was a lot of planning with a date of Oct 5 in mind (and I can go about 1 year before I feel the need for another fix of French)

Here she is at the top of les Galleries LaFayette, tres chic, non?:

It was a splendid trip, and I don't think I can recall it all with a quick bloggie in the morning, but here is some random things from our trip.  We stayed at a lovely little hotel near l'Acr de Triomphe, here I am on the first day at said monument with the map:

We did hit up just about everything one needs to see... le louvre (i can't find our mona lisa pic, but here is my favorite piece of art in Paris, which is on the climb up to see her):

This next picture has special meaning to my mother, who grew up with maybe not so many things.  This was THE puzzle.  The one that she and her sister put together one thousand times.  And here she is, in front of the real thing.  We took this picture for her sister! (Barb, next time come with us!)

Le Pompadou (you know, that funky museum in Paris with all the colorful tubing on the outside, and all the funky art on the inside), is always one of my favorite stops.  We had a very fun time listening to our headphone tour and having some good laughs.  Including the "meat dress".  You might think lady gaga is an original and came up with that on her own but it is a TOTAL knockoff.  The original is old, and in a museum in Paris.

I don't know where this is, but it's a nice picture, no?  you can feel the armies approaching... oh Paris, what a place.

 So many other things, here are a few:
  • strolling Les Champs Elysees
  • Kir Royale, which Donna decidedly liked
  • Notre Dame
  • The steep climb to le Sacre Couer (my favorite cathedral in Paris)
  • Le Bon Marche (although I think this is where my mother lost a chunk of her toe in an escalator)

Donna, what am I forgetting?

Monday, October 11, 2010

That's a whole lotta weekend

 How much can you get done in a weekend?  A ridiculous amount.

  • Biking in Hyland Park Reserve
  • Rope climbing
  • More biking
  • bike crying (littleT)
  • Leaf blowing and bagging
  • Dinner out (Granite City = unfriendly to hearing impaired)
  • Childrens' Theater!
  • Keys for breakfast
  • St Paul Farmers market
  • biking Lake Phalen
  • backyard football
  • grading papers
  • figuring out the genetic structure of KLRA1
  • Uncle Matt!
  • Sweet potato roasted onion soup
  • swimming lessons (first time off the high dive)
  • s'mores in the back yard
  • pickled eggs
  • vegetable stock
  • pumpkin muffins

Was that all?  it seemed like more.

I will admit to being homesick for New England a lot... especially in fall, where autumn lasts 3 months in Boston and 3 weekends in Minnesota.  But this weekend was spectacularly beautiful, especially at our sweet spot in the woods.

Huh, I had no idea he did these big smooches with his eyes open
Reading by the fire

Saturday, October 9, 2010

That's why this house is great

This was the view (ok, it doesn't do it justice, but you get the drift... it is 80 degrees on my awesome screened porch with the oak leaves gently falling):

I spent the morning here with my friend and colleague from UCSF that I never see.  We talked about grants, and data, and ate some Mahnomin Porridge (an Al Franken thing, which is appropriate as he went to school with Al).

Then the kid mayhem started.  I am home with them, and a buddy, on Fridays (I do things like work till 2am so there is no guilt involved with this Friday afternoon mom-thing).  School gets out at 2:07, and the kids get to the bus stop at the end of our road at 2:37.  At 2:08 I get a call from the school nurse.  She tells me how littleT got to her office with a bloody nose at 1:55, that it hadn't stopped bleeding, and she had to send him to the school bus with a pocket full of Kleenex.  Ok, that sounds about right. 

WHILE we are talking another call is coming in, and I ignore it, because, you know, I'm on the phone with the school nurse, it doesn't seem right to put her on hold.  I don't recognize the number, I listen to the voicemail, and it is littleT --WHAT??!  "mom, I can't find my backpack and I need it!".  click.  that's all.  who's phone?  how to call back?  where are you??  just, click.

I walk to the end of the road to meet the bus.  And (thankfully) four boys pile out all with backpacks.  And there is great fun telling me about how A-man had little brothers backpack on the bus, and littleT had to run and catch the bus while it was pulling out.

Next comes afterschool snacks.
I've learned "what happened at school today" is not a worthwhile prompt.  So, I go with "how got in trouble today?".  That's right, these two went to the principle's office:

hard to believe, right?  and in fact, while they were doing this:

I had to talk to the principle (yeah, for the 4th time this year).  He's a good guy, and this was not a big deal visit (phew).

That was followed by a lot of football, and buddy time

Then, littleH and her lovely mommy came over:

Then, my brother unexpectedly showed up from 250 miles away!

it doesn't get much better than that.