Monday, October 12, 2015

Pioneer Woman | Butchering Chickens

This summer we had a super cool opportunity! We butchered our own chickens! I had been buying locally laid eggs from a co-worker for quite a few months. I finally asked him if we could get some meat too. The only stipulation was that we had to come help butcher! The deal was made! I made sure I brought the boys along too...every person should know where their meat comes from. They were all too excited to watch one run around with its head cut off.

Now Dave has the coolest plucker ever. He rigged this thing up to a drill so that when it was turned on it plucked a majority of the feathers off for us! The only major plucking we had to do was the pin feathers and a few random ones. By far made our job easier!
I thought I would be a little sad to see them alive and then butchering them right after but it really didn't bother me.
The boys didn't mind either. They had to imitate the chickens of course. Including loud clucking noises in the woods.
Now the boiling of the chicken was not the best smell, but we were in the wide open and no smell stayed too long.
Emmitt kept saying how heavy the chicken was. They were HUGE birds!
It took Parker a little longer to want to hold the chicken, but he wasn't about to let his little brother show him up.
Now this smell may have been the worst there was. Burn hair was all I could think of. But it was one of the very last steps in the process.

Farm girl Audrey had to see if she could remember the butchering process. It had been quite a few years but she got right back in there and it all came back to her.

The boys had a BLAST standing in the shooting lane of the flying feathers! All three of them were laughing pretty hard!
Total boy...covered in feathers and playing with a chicken foot.

The final stage of packaging chickens. We ended up with five really big birds!
And we promptly made beer-butt chicken for dinner that night. Talk about fresh!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Olson Magic 2015

After our trip to Disney I wondered just what part my kids would remember. Would they remember us scolding them to "stop touching your brother, please get down from there, hold my hand, stay with the group, move out of the stroller's way, stop swinging the partition, yes this is another line, we know it's hot, we're all hot, we are going to feed you..." I think I've succeeded in burning the "happy images" into their heads. The pictures make the trip come back to life and it's so fun to listen to the boys talk about the things we did.

A little history behind the music I chose.

Holiday Road | The Griswold's Family Vacation
The cancelled flight, the last rental car in town, driving 300  miles in the middle of the night, camping out at the airport, eating Subway at 5 in the morning, and being awake for 30+ hours totally shows how much of a Griswold family we really are! I have one of the most easy going families ever and we just rolled with the flow.

Main Title | The Wilderness Lodge
The Wilderness Lodge is where we stayed on our honeymoon. When you walk into this gorgeous lodge they are playing the theme song from the Last of the Mohicans, It's the Main Title song and one that Bear can whistle on cue if you ask him too. He stayed in the lodge back in 1995 (20 years ago to the month) and first heard the song. He and a buddy took all of their graduation cash and flew to Disney World together to celebrate their big accomplishment. This trip we didn't hear any music in the lobby, let alone the song we were waiting for, but we would randomly whistle it when we walked through the lobby.

Once Upon a Dream, It's a Small World, Go the Distance | Magic Kingdom
This is where we went right after we dumped our stuff off in the room. We hopped on a boat and headed over there. We walked straight for the castle and the stage show was just starting. We rode on some amazing rides, took full advantage of the FastPass+, figured out our meal plan and got poured on. The kids didn't care one bit they were soaking wet when we met Mickey at almost 10 o'clock at night. We came back another night and planted ourselves in 95 degree heat with 100% humidity for two hours for an amazing spot for the Electric Light Parade, the castle light show and the fireworks. Disney doesn't hold back that's for sure.

He Lives in You and The Circle of Life | Animal Kingdom on Father's Day.
We are a Lion King family. Emmitt LOVES that movie and lion's in general. We started with a character buffet where the kids participated in a Goofy lead conga line, met Mickey, Minnie and Daisy too. We went to the Lion King show where we were amazed by fire performers, flying trapeze monkeys and amazing music. The kids had their faces painted we rode on a safari ride, were blown away by the cool carvings on the tree of life and were introduced to one of many 3-D interactive shows--It's Tough to be a Bug.

Be Our Guest | Hollywood Studios.
I think it's safe to say this was one of our favorite parks. The rides were much more intense and there were less people. The lines were shorter and the shows were much more "boyish." Granted I "forced" them to play along and let momma watch Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid shows but the stunt shows like Indiana Jones and Lights, Motor, Action were where the boys shouted out one of their lines of the week, "THIS IS AWESOME!" and "THAT WAS SO COOL!"

Part of Your World | Epcot
We visited or at least walked around the entire World Showcase to see all of the countries. Of course we stopped and ate in Japan for sushi. The kids met Duffy the Bear. He's Mickey's new bedtime friend and the story is told every 15 minutes on your room TV. This was one of the few characters that the kids wanted to stand in line to meet. They were content to just view the characters from afar or have momma snap a pic during a character dinner.

Hedwig's Theme | Harry Potter
We left Disney to hit up Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. We went to Diagon Alley and Hogsmede both. We read other blogs the night before and learned all the tips on how to get there the fastest and all the cool tips. We followed their advice to go left through Dr. Seuss land and the boys spotted a ride. Well they were soaked at 9 in the morning but had a blast! We hit Hogsmede first because Diagon Alley was to be more shaded in the afternoon. In case you haven't figured it out yet, it was SO HOT in Florida the week we were there! Harry Potter world was breathtaking to me but it was also something I had never seen before. It makes it so magical! We went to Olivander's and got the kids their own interactive wands. Parker picked Harry Potter's wand and Emmitt picked Voldemort's. I tried to convince him to pick Ron or Dumbledore's but nooooo, he wanted to duel his brother. Awesome, more fighting. I caved and let him get it. We bounced around looking for all of the spells the kids could perform and the witches and wizards were there to help them with their spell. It was cool to watch them get a spell right and then the reaction of the magic that occurred after. We enjoyed Hagrid's hut, the Hippogriff ride, toured the castle, a butter beer, pumpkin juice, had lunch at the Three Broomsticks, rode the Hogwart's Express over to Diagon Alley, visited the Quidditch shop and Zonko's. The rides were crazy cool. You couldn't carry a backpack on the rides like you could at Disney so we braved the locker rental (complete with fingerprint scans to get your stuff back), we visited the Knight Bus and Grimmauld Place where we saw Kreacher peaking out of the window at us. The fire breathing dragon on top of Gringott's bank was crazy huge and cool. The ride inside the bank took you through the heart of the bank just like in the movie! We all agreed to head back to Universal in 10 years when the boys will be at the perfect age for the rides.

You'll be in my Heart | Downtown Disney
We were out of park passes so we headed down to Downtown Disney for a day of walking around and browsing shops. We had an amazing seafood lunch-lobster and crablegs. It was nice to just chill for the day and enjoy a bit slower pace. The LEGO shop was amazing to see. The kids are always amazed at the life size LEGO sculptures. Emmitt and I were able to find our Halloween costume characters too!

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes | The Grand Floridian
Also known as, "you are going along for dinner while mom freaks out over meeting Cinderella" night. Well low and behold the kids ended up getting scooped up by the evil stepsisters, complete with promises of marriage and their first kisses! They hammed it up and discussed how many castles they needed to buy for the sisters. While Bear found the sushi buffet and helped my dream come true by taking an updated pic of me and Cinderella. We loved every minute of our last vacation meal.

Best Summer Ever | Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach
We have water babies! At the end of all the park days the boys would ask if they could go back to the hotel and swim at the pool. Most days we did. It was HOT and the pool was refreshing. We would often look for the boys and spot Parker mastering his hand stand and Emmitt on the water slide. Two different days we hit the water parks. Blizzard Beach was first and we hadn't been there for more than 5 minutes and we couldn't find the boys. Bear and I were putting our gear down on chairs and turned around and the kids were gone. We spotted them among the hundreds of people in the wave pool. Time basically stops when you spot your kid struggling to keep his head above water and you can't get to him fast enough. Bear was ahead of me trying to run through the water as we watched the life guard make the split decision to blow the whistle and stop the waves and then jump in to save our kid. Bear reached Emmitt at the same time the lifeguard did but needless to say we were all shook up and our mood was altered for the day. We just couldn't figure out why the kids thought they should walk away from us and go to the water?! We teach them these things right?! They are "old enough" to know better. There are so many people, WHY aren't they afraid of things like this?! It won't be something any of us ever forget.
We managed to pull ourselves together after quite a few tears and lots of hand holding the rest of the day. We spent lots of time floating in the lazy river and then of course we braved the two huge water slides. Daddy and Emmitt went on the smaller Slusher Gusher and Parker got me on Summit Plummet. I was totally freaked out and bruised from the experience but I went up a notch in my sons book. I was one of VERY few females, let alone moms, in line for this horrible ride and did it for him.
Typhoon Lagoon featured the premiere of the Teen Beach 2 original Disney movie and we hit the water park on that day! The "cast" was there and hosted a DJ session on the beach, a hula hoop contest and we got to hear the entire album from the movie. We enjoyed the water, the rides, the sun, the snacks, the sky messages, the sun and each other. We finished that night with pizza in our room and the premiere of Teen Beach 2.

We had an amazing trip. We love our little family of four bubble. We love everything Disney. We will always have these memories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Disney Revealed

So we've held it in long enough! We warmed them up with a few random games of Hangman today and the last one was the "We are going to Disney World on Saturday!" Emmitt was shocked he got the words right and Parker cried. SO MUCH FUN! Cannot wait for our trip. I can finally pack the suitcases and talk about it and get excited with them!

Parker did follow up with, "what about the play?" I finally had to let him in on the secret that they all know they won't be there for the performance on Saturday and that's why they don't have any lines. Here I thought Emmitt would be totally bumming about missing his first play but they are both okay with skipping it for Disney.

Setting family goals has by far helped this whole process. These two have wanted this trip for quite awhile. Number one reason for waiting was money. Second reason was Emmitt needed to be 48" tall to fit in the rides! Well he hit 48" and then some this school year and they were all supportive every time I left them for an oil class or event. It was better for all of us that they knew why mom was "working oils."

So on Saturday we head out on a very early flight for 8 days of Mickey and friends!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Emmitt Wins a Bike!

A couple of weeks ago I let the boys ride their bikes to school for the first time. I slowly followed them in the car. I just wanted to be sure they made it. Well they didn't. We made it a block from school and Emmitt started screaming. Parker just kept biking. I yelled at Parker to stop and check on Emmitt. I put on my hazards in the middle of 13th Street and got out of the car to check out what was wrong with the bike.
When I finally approached the bike I had looked at the welding and it had completely snapped off. When I picked up the bike to put it in the back of my vehicle the tire went bouncing down the road as if it were a cartoon. Emmitt witnessed my brief but dramatic 35-year-old tantrum (I may have dropped a swear word) and then got a ride to school. So there I left my kid in front of the bike rack crying with no bike and told him he had to walk home.
I remembered that a flyer had come home about a week prior to that about collecting pop tops for a chance to win a new bike. When we got home I asked him if he wanted to try to earn a new bike by participating in the contest. Of course he did!
Auntie Tracey, Uncle Kurt, Grandma's Grandpa's, Uncle Jimmy and Auntie Paula, Uncle Kerry, Tex, Casey Kittelson, Auntie Tolle and a stranger from Facebook donated over 17,000 poptops (let's face it some were beer) to help this little guy out.
Daddy and Emmitt spent hours removing pop tops off of dirty cans. Grandma Audrey when ditch digging for cans. Truly every top counted!
Emmitt ended up with 13.1 pounds. Second place was 12.9. If my math is correct he won by roughly 200 tops!
Emmitt received a phone call early this morning from Mrs. Shermoen asking if he could be to the high school to pick up his bike at 9 AM. He was so excited! We arrived at the school and met the sponsors and the school staff. We were welcomed into the lobby with a big round of applause.

Mr. and Mrs. Ohlquist were the amazing people who donated the bike. It is in honor of their son. They chose the Mr. Pete Foundation to donate the money from the pop tops. Mr. Pete used to collect pop tops from around the globe and my connection with Gina and the Peterson family makes this all come full circle.

My  little hugger was more than grateful for his new prize!
Mr. Ohlquist told us there are 1,336 tops in a pound. That's 17,500 pop tops that Emmitt brought in! Crazy! We don't even drink pop!

The proud family members who helped collect and the sponsors.
He was ready to go on his new wheels.
We weren't sure if he was big enough for the bike, but he made it up on the seat and rode right out of the school!
Off he goes...
We made a stop at The Sport Shop to say thanks to Milt too.
Amazingly emotional day and what a way to end the school year!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mom’s Guide to a Busy Summer

Basketball Camp
June 9-12 (Tuesday-Friday)
9-11:30 am grades 1-4
12-2:30 grades 5-8
$60 each child
Check payable to Rec Department and youth or adult shirt size specified.
Mail to: Recreation Department
c/o Basketball camp
1515 11th Street
Int’l Falls, MN 56649

Swim Lessons
Session 1 June 15-26
Session 2 July 6-17
Monday-Friday for 2 weeks in the morning
Community Education: 283-2571, Ext 186
Golf Lessons Junior Clinics
Falls Country Club 218-283-4491
June 8-10
June 29-July 1
July 20-22
$45 per child
8-11 am
Clubs available, call Tom or the Country Club to sign up

Rec Hockey Camp

Backus Summer Arts and Prairie Fire Theatre
June 15-20th
Get on the website for a list and get your pickings in EARLY! They are limited and fill up fast!
Play is on Saturday June 20th Tom Sawyer is this year’s performance.

The U Athletic Camp with Evolve U
16 Sessions
June 22-July 2nd
July 20-30th
Grades 1-3
College for Kids
July 20-30th
Contact: Dawn Flesland
Schedule coming soon.

Falls Summer Reading Program

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Program | Emmitt Style

I was invited to a special "orange" carpet event today in Emmitt's classroom. Mrs. Dowty is a fantastic teacher who pushes the kids to try their best and then to go a little farther. She was amazing with Parker and created a wonderful year for Emmitt. 

She had all of the kids draw a picture of their mom and then write about them each day. Their writing reflected their reading and it was amazing to witness what those kids have to say about us moms. I will admit I was half expecting something like, "my mom only wears yoga pants" or "if my mom had more time she would play on her phone" or worse, "my mom yells all the time." But that little dude of mine does realize that I love to snuggle him and read to him and help him with homework.
Here is what Emmitt had to say wrote about me..."My mom's name is Becky. She has brown eyes like me. She is tall. She has red and yellow hair. She works at VNP. My mom does my laundry for me. She helps me clean my room with me. She helps me do my homework with me. She takes me to Subway. She took me when I got my tonsils out. My mom makes the best lettece because it is made of lettece. She puts on Ranch dressing with tomatoes and croutons. I love my mom."
I say wrote and not read because my baby, my tender hearted boy got to the part about our eyes being the same and lost it. His little lip started to quiver, his voice cracked and he just couldn't do it. I lasted through the next line as Mrs. Dowty read his words to me and I scrambled up to the front of the room. He just stared at the floor as she read for him and I rubbed his back. When she ended with, "I love my mom" he let me hug him and pick him up. Now, he was the first speaker of the day in the crowded room, but he's read at church and performed before. I'm not sure if it really was "all the people" as he says or if it was actually him being vulnerable and opening up in front of all his classmates. I mean, if I had to get up and speak to a crowd about how much I loved my mom, I would be crying too. He let me carry him back to his seat and he let me soothe him and hold him. After a few of the other kids read to their moms he let me return to my chair.
We finished the program with him receiving a Magnificent  Mathematician award and some treats. And this was the one time that I actually took advantage of the "optional release." I'm always the mom rushing back to work and making my kid ride the bus home. We talked on the way to the car about how he was feeling and then we snuggled a bit more at home.
My sweet, sweet boy. My baby. My seven year old. My tender hearted little man. I love you and am so proud to be your momma.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day. A day to celebrate my mom, my mother-in-law, being a mom, my sisters...all moms. 
It all started with this pretty lady. We spent the day hanging out, eating a yummy brunch and finished it with game night. We laughed, we talked, we hugged and kissed. My boys loved up on me and I got to love up on the mom's in my life.
The five of us all together doesn't happen very often, but when it does I refuse to pass up a group pic. And because I'm the baby, I always get my way... 
Thank you all for teaching me to be a strong, loving, affectionate mom...I learn from the best...xoxo

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Happy Easter | 2015

Gorgeous Easter weekend celebrating with traditions. We dyed 3 dozen eggs and they were gone in a little over a week. They LOVE hard boiled eggs! Egg salad or just plain! 

Parker mastered the "ugly egg" this year perfectly! This is an Olson tradition that daddy brought to the family. He always combined the last of the colors to see if he could make a black/brown egg. This year we did!
This was the first year that silly bunny hid eggs outside. It was 11 degrees out and both boys had their Christmas jammies on! Emmitt was even in footie jammies!  
Another tradition is black jelly beans. We all love them! I ended up taking the leftover candy to work and I was surprised to see how many coworkers picked out and ate the black jelly beans too. You either love them or hate them..YUM!
I think they actually counted how many eggs they found...60 some a piece! LOTS of eggs and through out the week they would spot more! A few in a shoe or a drawer tucked away!
We headed out to Ray to Papa and Grandma's. It wouldn't be complete without a little more sugar! Mom made a lemon dessert with sticky frosting that was amazing! We had an egg hunt out there also. A little different and we all had to find 26 eggs, each with a letter of the alphabet on it. The "N" eluded us until Grandma called later to tell us she finally found it!
And since we got all dressed up it would be complete without Easter pics. I needed some newbies for the wall! Papa said it best, "they look so innocent here." When I was previously telling them to stop throwing rocks and whacking each other with sticks. The dirty knees show they were up to no good prior to the picture. Boys! Gotta love them.

On April 3rd we celebrated 18 years together. 18 years since our first date. It's been a crazy fun ride and I cannot imagine it with anyone else.

Oh Emmitt Jon...growing so tall and so fast! He truly hit a growth spurt this year and isn't much shorter than Parker. He's losing that baby look and beginning to look more and more like a big boy. His laugh still comes through in the pics. He has the BEST giggle and it comes freely. Don't ever stop little man.
And this one!? WHEN did he get so grown up looking. His hair is a daily battle with dad. I like it! He's made a deal with us...if he keeps it out of his face he can keep it long. There are mornings he needs to wet it down and has learned how to operate the blow dryer. While I was taking these pics my mom even told him he was "acting like a teenager." And she was right...some of his mannerisms and expressions were very grown up.