Thursday, September 1, 2016

USA Part 1: Home Sweet Home

The last time I visited home was in 2014, when my sister birthed two babies at once.  That same sister, clearly crazier than a shit house rat, went ahead and did it again, just two weeks shy of two years later!

General Myles
But this time only one came out.  Myles, or General Myles as Martin calls him for no apparent reason but it's catchy so the name stuck, is the first male to be born in our lineage in 70 years, since my Old Man was born in 1946.  His presence has predictably been a hit!

Myles timed his entrance nicely, shortly before my beloved North Dakota State Fair.

The childhood magic is no longer there.  I can confirm being a grown-up does suck sometimes.  But let me tell you what, the food will never lose its luster!

Normally I go on a crash diet pre-USA trip, but I didn't this time, so I was able to handle the deluge of ridiculously unhealthy, deep fried grub better than previous trips.  Diabetes for all!

I love how farm-y the NDSF is.  Despite my upbringing I never fail to get a kick out of just how country it is!

Have you ever seen a teenage boy shave a goat's ass before?  No?  Well do I have a treat for you!

A state fair is really something all visitors to America should take in.  It's beyond fascinating!

While goat asses were high on my priority list for my trip home, I did have to make time for more important things, like spending time with my three nieces.

I didn't even get a picture of all the kids together because the twins move too fast; this screenshot of a Snapchat is the best I've got.

I wouldn't wish 2 year old twins on my worst enemy!  It's all fun and games when they're newborns, but shit gets real quick when they can walk and talk (and run and fight and talk back).  My crazy sister is an absolute rockstar at handling 3 kids under age 2.  Don't get me wrong, I love Dos Baby Girls, but I simultaneously fear and loath them.

This is the only picture I got of my whole family (with the notable exception of, um, me):

This sums us up quite nicely.  At the NDSF, shoving our faces, Kelli hogs the baby, Brynn makes faces at the camera.  We are a predictable bunch!

I love these kids so much!

But as I learned, the key to happiness is having mommy around to do the hard work...

After my weekend at the NDSF it was time for some proper farm life.

Crazy sister with all the kids built a (naturally, huge) house on a farm since the last time I was home.  I wanted to see it, plus it's a major, laborious endeavor for her to go anywhere so I made the trip for some down home fun.

It's a good thing, too, because on my first day visiting there was not one but two "cow emergencies" that required her immediate attention.

I was sleeping peacefully when Jenna burst into my room, laid General Myles down on the bed next to me, and said "You're in charge".

Holy shit.

It started out pretty chill.  The kids woke up.  I changed everyone out of their jammies.  Fed everyone.

Took a few selfies:

Parenting is easy!

And then...then it began.

At one point I look around and there is piss everywhere.  On the couch, puddled on the floor, visibly down the leg of one of their grey pants.  The outside dog who's not allowed in?  It's inside, pissing on the floor!

How did this even happen?!  I saw none of it.  I didn't know so much urine existed in the whole wide world, much less in this small domain that I was in charge of!

A valuable lesson was learned that day.  Just because there is a drawer full of big girl panties does not mean kids are potty trained and ready to wear them.  Always - always - err on the side of diapers!

Mercifully the real grown-ups eventually returned from their cow emergencies to relieve (rescue) me from my pee-soaked day in charge.  However farm work never ceases, especially with cows, so we packed up the kids and headed out to take care of some business:

Haha, don't worry, no cows were slain in full view of the kids.  Jeremy was helping them.

By administering antibiotics via dart gun.  Jeremy did all the work while Jenna and I stayed in the pickup and enjoyed a few beverages (a.k.a. roadies).

And took really, really good care of the kids.

I also learned how to drive a stick shift on their farm!  This is a skill I had attempted but never managed to perfect, but with the aid of [several] Michelob Ultras I can now officially declare myself a stick shift driving champ!  I am incredibly pleased with myself (but am nervous to try again without the aid of Michelob Ultra).

I then made a quick trip to my hometown for the two most important things on offer there:

& Chelsey
My parents still live there, and of course they take priority over (sweet, sweet) bingo and beers, but they come with me wherever I go in the state, so technically they don't count.

I don't often go this far down memory lane, but we busted out the old photo albums for some rockin' good LOLs:

It was so much fun!  I really had an awesome upbringing.  Damn youths just don't appreciate it until it's all gone.

Some, not all, of us found endless fun in a sack of potatoes:

The twins couldn't care less about TV; this is what entertains them.  Farm kids through and through!

Then it was time to go to Grand Forks, my college town and where my sister Kelli lives, to enjoy some one-on-one time with the older kids:

Brynn and her brother Spanky are only 5 days apart, so technically they, too, are twins.  Except one is a lazy, lazy mutt.

We love our Boston Terriers in our family!  

No trip to Grand Forks would be complete without a trip to The Kegs drive-in!

Besides that, I was more than happy to stay at Kelli's house the whole time and eat macaroni & cheese and her world famous chocolate chip cookies.  And Twizzlers!  So very many Twizzlers.  Do you not agree with me that all Americans can be divided into two groups, Twizzler Americans and Red Vine Americans?  I truly believe that!

The last stop on my Tour de NoDak was Fargo, where I got to spend one last weekend with my entire family at my favorite hotel on planet earth, the C'Mon Inn:

I don't know what it is, but there's something about that place that burrowed its way into my heart and hasn't ever come out.

There was also a little bit of this going on in Fargo:

Personally I feel it's way too early to be thinking about this sort of stuff, but it was my only opportunity to do the whole dress shopping thing with my nearest and dearest, so I had a few shopping sessions (despite being grossly overweight at the moment).  Though there were a few legit contenders I did not, in fact, say yes to the dress.

Stay tuned for the real deal in November 2017!

My last stop in the Midwest was the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN to visit my best friend from high school and fly out.  Well, attempt to fly out at least.  In reality I spent more time drinking champagne at the Escape Lounge, which I highly recommend by the way, than actually flying.

So I'm not complaining.  But long story short, traveling domestically in the U.S. is not worth the hassle.  You'll get the long story in my next post.

I've always said if I ever win the lottery my big purchase will be a house on Lake Minnetonka.

I stand by that statement.  It's just so beautiful and perfect there!

After 2.5 weeks with my friends and fam it was time to make my way eastward, to a place I hadn't been in half my life.  I squeezed a little side trip into my visit home, which I'd never thought to do before because I am obviously an idiot.

Two holidays for the price of one!

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