Easter Egg Hunting Adventures with the GrandTwins


            Our family was fortunate to be able to gather together for the Easter holiday at the home of our oldest son.  The majority of our visit was spent ‘oooohing” and “ahhhhing” over how much the GrandTwins have grown but in-between those important activities our never ending winter and cold spring, parted for a few hours on two consecutive days to enable us to enjoy two traditional Easter egg hunts.

             The first egg hunt was a community event EXTREMELY well organized and thought out by the local Lions Club.  A soccer field was the scene of the crowd gathering event with the four fields each designated as the hunting grounds for a particular age.  The second hunt was the backyard of the son and daughter-in-law’s home.  It was a much smaller event with three cousins being the only other invitees.

            An important factor to note is that the GrandTwins are now 2 years, 4 months and run everywhere.  There is no slow or even moderate speed – only fast.  Add to that the impulse reaction of running at or to anything colorful or within reach and running is pretty much a constant activity.  And, out racing each other is important – even though their thoughtful parents provide two of almost everything, who arrives first is very important.

      For the community event, we had a ratio of five adults to the two GrandTwins and the mistaken belief we not lose sight of either one of them.  Within seconds of the bullhorn send-off, GrandTwin One was somehow on the opposite side of the field and ready to venture onto the adjourning field where the 6-8 years olds were hunting and ready to mow down a 2-year-old.  He was quickly retrieved and his energies refocused on the eggs in his designated area.  GrandTwin Two liked carrying his basket – empty – and objected to any efforts to add to it.  Event over, we headed back home with very little candy gathered and even less consumed.

         The cousins arrived early for the home based egg hunt and commented loudly on what type of candy and even coins they anticipated finding in the plastic eggs they could observe from the confines of the deck.  The word “candy” invoked interest from the GrandTwins who looked about expectantly but saw no candy.  Another signal to start and the slightly older cousins took the field first, snatched up plastic eggs, proceeded to open them and eat the contents.  “Wow” the light bulbs went off simultaneously for the GrandTwins and suddenly finding eggs and devouring the contents was the goal.  Their parents objected to no avail.  The second hunt resulted in many more eggs gathered, much more candy consumed and some very chocolaty hands and faces.  All in all, a perfect egg hunt.

From Snow and Back

More from MT or From Snow and Back
In an earlier blog, I wrote about members of the 4-H program here in Ramsey county traveling to Montana for a regional 4-H Forum. We fundraised, planned, registered and anticipated attending a wonderful SPRINGTIME event in Montana.
The day before we departed, I picked up a state fleet van for the journey. It’s color – inside and out – was hazy from winter road salt and grime. A car wash and through vacuuming later, its appearance was much brighter and it looked like a vehicle that might be destined for a spring event.
A dressy banquet was on the conference’s schedule. After a winter of wool sweaters, turtlenecks and heavy socks, without comparing notes, we all packed light, bright spring attire including sandals!
Fitting luggage for seven ladies in one mini-van was a puzzle we eventually completed – see more details in an earlier blog. One casualty of the packing process was the snow shovel provided for the state fleet vehicle by the ND Department of Transportation. The shovel was left behind in another vehicle and returned to its rightful place when we returned.
On the morning we departed, it was snowing here in Devils Lake. Near Bismarck, we finally drove out of it. From the ND border to Billings and back again, the sun shone, the temperatures soared to the 60’s and we strolled about in short sleeves. Then it was time to come home.
First snow, then a snowstorm and then a blizzard were forecast so we drove straight and fast. The sun was at our backs and gray clouds ahead. Two hours after we returned to Devils Lake, it began to snow.
We had a fabulous time at the conference, learned lots, brought back idea upon idea to share with other 4-H clubs. Sometimes though it seemed we traveled further than just to a bordering state – our destination seemed more south of the equator than it did snow fall central plains.

On the Road to MT

A variety of happenings have kept me away from my computer which translated into not blogging – my apologies for the inconsistency. While my blogging may have not been recently consistent, all the happenings have been consistently FUN!
One of those happenings was the Western Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum in Billings, MT. The fourteen states in that region rotate hosting a three-day conference designed to support, honor and enthuse 4-H leaders in their work with youth. While ND is techniquely in the central region, Billings is much closer to Ramsey County than most of the central region hosts – such as Iowa – so off we went.
The “we” in this adventure was two wonderful adult volunteers, three even more wonderful older 4-H members, our office administrative assistant and myself. Which is a grand total of seven – all women – and their luggage – to fit into one state fleet mini-van. We had all agreed to pack “light” but the definition women have of “light” is rather expansive.
At 7 am in our rendezvous location of the theater parking lot, we arranged and rearranged the suitcases, tote bags, fleece blankets and pillows. Each time another member of the group was dropped off by a family member, we did the puzzle again until all was secure and in the vehicle.
One of the family members who dropped off a member of our traveling troop, said he was surprised when he drove past the later that he did not see an abandoned piece of luggage in the parking lot. HA! 4-H people are innovative! We found a way – which included sitting on the pillows – and began the 1,280 mile round trip. More later.

Not My Favorite Season

Not My Favorite Season

The warmer weather is a welcome change and though it is still unusually cold, the wind feels more like spring and less like the latest wind chill reading. In place of looming snow banks, puddles are appearing and so begins my annual obstacle course.
Towering height is not in my family’s gene pool and I missed some of even that limited amount of DNA. My Mom says one of my first self-initiated activities as a toddler was dragging a step stool around with me to better access some unreachable counter. Now as an adult, I own a variety of different types of ladders and still more step-stools but they are of little use for puddle season.
At this time of year, before the street sewer drains have thawed, the puddles extend out and out from the curb. They are far wider and longer than my legs can reach and so cut off some of my favorite avenues of travel. I access our curbside newspaper drop off box by driving through the puddle surrounding it. I reach our front door by parking in the driveway and walking down and around the corner of our corner lot. I drive around the block on which a favorite business is located to find a lone dry spot for a quick entrance and exit.
Like other North Dakotans, I am eager for green grass to replace white lawns but I do wish that on the way to summer, we could skip puddle season. My short legs would be very thankful.

End of Cross Country Season

End of Cross Country Season

Our long, long winter appears to be loosening its grasp. Roofs no longer have caps of white; the pavement of streets is visible and while sometimes just as bumpy as driving on snow and ice, they are definitely not as slippery. It will be a while yet before lawns begin to appear but the snowbanks are on a fast weight loss program and hope is in the air.
It is time to put the skis away. A new set of cross country skis, boots and poles for yours truly appeared in our entry way this winter. Actually, it took some online investigating, in and out of town shopping and waiting for a GREAT sale for the set to appear. So part of our winter had passed before the set was in place for use.
Once they arrived, the skis and poles quickly took up residence in my vehicle so if I, the warm boots and a moderate at most wind chill matched schedules part of the set was ready to go. We found snowmobile trails in the local parks to follow and other times broke our own trail. A few times we found fellow cross-country skiers out and about and matched paces for a short time. We promised to ski with others “when the wind went down” but that seldom happened.
And now the snow is disappearing and we are anxious for spring activities. Time to exchange yard rakes for snow shovels. But, the new set of skis may remain in my vehicle for a time yet. North Dakota has often experienced one more late spring blizzard and the skis, if not the people, will be ready.

Waiting – With and Without Patience


Waiting – With and Without Patience

          This time of year – just before Spring arrives – is super attentive to, has much emphasis on, concentrated effort time – for planning summer events.  Numerous activities associated with Extension work are held outdoors during our hopefully warm summer days.  Plus kids are more available so camps and day-long workshops can happen. You just can’t plant, tend, grow and harvest a plot of jack-o-lantern perfect pumpkins in the middle of a ND winter with everyone in school!

          A new experience this year as plans for summer camps, gardening classes, ATV safety classes, babysitting classes, 4-H Achievement Days and Horse Shows are being made, is that one answer keeps popping up.  “I will need to wait to make a commitment” says the potential booth sponsor for the Children’s Safety & Learning Fair.  “Can you wait for an answer?” asks the hoped for photography judge for 4-H Achievement Days.  “Wait until the price is set, then I will get back to you” replies the supplier of the babysitting books. 

In addition to those signals of “wait”, a group I work with is waiting for word on the success or failure of their application for a sizable grant.  Every time a message pops up on my email I scan the subject line to determine if it one of the many “wait” messages finally being answered.  Every time the desk phone or cell phone rings, I look at the caller ID, hoping again for a reply from another of the “waits”. 

          Waiting is not in the forefront of my nature. “Ready Now!” is how a coworker once described my strategy for planning.  As I and other North Dakotans wait for spring, I add waiting for patience to my spring wish list.


An Internet Negative

An Internet Negative

I love technology – especially the Internet and its many uses. I love how Facebook makes it possible to maintain contact with friends and classmates more frequently than a once-a-year Christmas card. I love seeing photos of pets, children, new homes, scenery and vacation spots of friends and family via sharing on Shutterfly. Facetime makes it possible for me to see the latest antics of our grandtwins!
Email ensures fast work of sharing important info with work colleagues and members of organizations I belong to. Online meetings save travel time and eliminate scary driving situations during this never-ending winter. Reading the news online is a daily happening, Pinterest is inspiring and don’t get me started on how many new recipes I can find online!
Ask me about life before and after the Internet and I would have heartily agreed now is better – until this week. For statewide 4-H events, online registration is the new norm. No more mailing reams of paper registrations – fill in the blanks, click enter and our young four-leaf clover person is good to go for the latest judging contest, livestock show, 4-H camp, etc. No, not happening that way. Character space for names seems to be limited so Samantha becomes Sam which can confusing for a ten-year-old. Time slots allow for only three people of a four person team to be entered. “Does that mean one has to stay home?”, I am asked. The web site is requesting a separate health form for each contest entered – even if they are all on the same date.
The glitches will be worked out and by next year, everyone will breeze through the process but for now the kids are confused and I am thinking of unfriending the Internet.

A “Two Conversations for One” Call

A “Two Conversations for One” Call

Our family enjoys staying connected via a variety of communication tools. Old-fashioned land line, cell phone, email, text message and Facebook have all carried happy messages, birthday greetings, messages of concern and requests for the recipe for a favorite dish.
Our new favorite though is Facetime. It is also proving to be the most frustrating. Facetime, for the non-users, is live video streaming over the Internet or your smartphone. It is a phone call with a camera. It is our new favorite as our twin grandsons are now old enough to recognize the faces and voices projected via Facetime and react with waves, smiles and blowing kisses.
It is our most frustrating as the twins are also old enough to know which button to push to disconnect the session, old enough to know that yelling into the speaker will cause us to react with a wince, old enough to demand to hold the phone and attempt to grab it from their parents hands.
During one the recent Facetime sessions, oldest twin snagged the phone from his Dad’s hand and raced away with all the top speed that his two-year-old legs could muster. Once he determined that Dad was not immediately following, he slowed to a more normal walking pace and began a walking/talking tour of their collection of toys, books, trikes, blankets and baby monitors. It was obvious that he was holding the phone near an item and then chatting to us as to its significance to him. At one point, he deposited a favorite book on the phone which caused a disconnect. Dad reported that loud cries resulted when Dad maintained the need to reconnect. Twin-One was still objecting when our faces came back up which elicited a replacement smile.
By the end of the session, there had been three disconnects, three phone snatching and an almost equal amount of loud cries and kisses blown. All-in-all a wonderful experience.

Where in the World Is____?

Where in the World Is _______?

Our family is excited about the upcoming wedding of our youngest son. In October we will be in Kansas celebrating with the happy couple on their wedding day. As there are quite a few miles between ND and Kansas, we will celebrate again in November with a reception in Devils Lake.
We are hoping that numerous friends and family members will be able to join us in Kansas and are anticipating welcoming even more at the ND reception. That is if we can find them!
Over the years our Christmas card list has grown and grown and we thought contained up-to-date addresses plus we have been through one wedding with oldest son so assumed we were good-to-go with contact info. That is turning out to be a less than 100% accurate assumption. Especially for the age 20-somethings in the groom’s age bracket.
Sometimes Christmas cards aren’t reciprocated and if a letter isn’t returned as undeliverable, we are wary that there might have been an address change. Or a name change! Our friends and family are also following the trend of most Americans and giving up their land line phones for cell phone exclusivity. No land line means no address in a phone book to double-check. Phone calls to those cell phones have been made which has added the twist of waiting for a return call or the one return message which cheerfully gave the new apartment number but no street address!
Facebook, Twitter and other social media are being tried to locate classmates of the groom, many of whom have moved out of state. To date, text messages to cell phones are having the best return rate. One classmate who was located ended up asking us if we knew how to contact several other classmates! Googling names has sometimes given us a location but not a mailing address.
The wedding invitations are lovely and ready to go. Carrying them with us and distributing by hand may become the new normal.

No More Weather Talk!

No More Weather Talk

I love the change of seasons in North Dakota. Spring will always look like a Monet painting to me as soft, spring colors begin to appear. Summer means the height of garden season and 4-H happenings – two of my absolute favorite things in the world! Fall this year equals a wedding in our family so I am greatly anticipating that season. Winter has cross-country skiing, multiply cold weather days which are an excuse for creating a kettle of homemade soup and holiday celebrations with family and friends. Truly, I do enjoy each season and its unique weather patterns.
This winter though I have recently determined that a moratorium is in order. No more conversations about how cold it is! Especially wind chill readings! Maybe it is the popularity of Facebook, maybe it is the ability and willingness of my friends, family and co-workers to text or perhaps it is the desire of friends in warmer climates to share our own local weather reports with us but for the past month, not one day has gone past without multiple comments on the weather reaching my ears. And my ears are becoming tired and cold from hearing the same comments over and over.
Yes, it has been cold for a long time. Yes, we have broken cold weather records. Yes, the wind has blown most days adding its own rankings of wind chill. But, for the sake of my frost-bitten ears, no more conversations about weather. I can even suggest other topics – what a wonderful experience you would have as a 4-H volunteer, spring seed catalogs have begun to arrive and this month is American Heart Month so eat healthy for your heart’s sake! Just no more “cold enough for you?” comments!