Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas morning

It's Christmas morning at our home. Santa made an early drop off since we're leaving later today to spend Christmas with Brent's family. The kids are still sleeping. And since I was lying awake, part with excitement for the morning and mostly with aches and pains, I decided to get up and make breakfast.

I am just hoping the kids - Noah especially - will be excited about this visit from Santa. We've been doing Christmas in phases this year so we can see all of our family. And I'm afraid Noah is slightly confused. Or, she is thinking that Santa is just alright, since he keeps coming and coming.

The only gift she has asked for over and over again is a pink house - namely a particular pink doll house. This is what Grandma and Grandpa...also under the disguise of Santa...had got for her. And that present was delivered over the weekend.

So while sitting on Santa's lap Monday evening (our neighbor plays a great Santa and makes house calls to kids around town every year), he asks her, "What do you want for Christmas, Noah?"

She matter-of-factly replies, "A pink house, but I already got it. You can get my brother one."

Santa, Mommy and Daddy are deflated.

Mommy and Daddy have really been looking forward to giving our budding performer a preschool karaoke toy (Fisher Price Star Station). And now we're just hoping she will feel the same way about it.

I'll let you know how things go.

Until then, cherish and treasure this time with your children, your families and your spouses.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Down and dirty

I see dust everywhere. I don't know if it's because I have just six weeks left to go in this pregnancy, or that my mother and my very neat and organized sister-in-law are coming to visit this weekend, but whatever the reason, I feel like I am living in a dust pile.

I spent 30 minutes yesterday morning wiping down every surface in the refrigerator. But that wasn't enough. I soaked the "yucky looking grill thingy" at the base of the fridge in a vinegar bath in the tub.

Handprints and smears on the walls started to jump out at me. Nearly every wall surface within the reach of a three-year-old has been scrubbed with soapy water.

Yesterday, I cleaned the bathroom in all those corners to which I usually turn a blind eye. You know what I'm talking about - that hard to reach place all the way behind the toilet, the dust bunnies behind a decorative basket of towels. And just when I thought I was finished, I noticed the dust between the window and the window screen. That's where I'll be starting my day.

And I will also be dusting the wood blinds, disenfecting door knobs, and attacking the yuckiest place of all - the buffet that has accumlated under my kitchen table.

Happy holiday preparations, ya'all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Annual Christmas Letter

Why waste creative effort only to mail out the letters? I say spread the effort around, and blog it!!
















A few days after Thanksgiving, I began the process of decorating for Christmas. This year, it meant Brent had to climb into that awkward closet and begin lugging down box after box of my favorite things. I told myself, that at this point in my pregnancy, just the tree a few small things would be enough decorations for this year. But with each box I opened, I just couldn’t resist.

Alas, snowmen, Santa’s, strands of garland, stockings, three nativity scenes and five days of work later, the job was complete.

In the days that have passed, I have spent some portion of time each day on my hands and knees – remember, very pregnant - looking for baby Jesus. Of all the figures in the two out of three nativity scenes that are within reach of little hands, baby Jesus seems to be the favorite. I have found him under the couch, nestled among the Christmas books, baking in the toy oven, and sleeping at the bottom of the toy box.

I just could not stand to look at an incomplete nativity scene – especially one missing baby Jesus, himself. After all, we’re celebrating his big day!

During one particular search and rescue mission, where I found baby Jesus deep in the cushions of the couch, Jesus had this message of thanks for me,

“My dear, you are looking for me in all the wrong places.”

I heard his message. Loud and clear. And I’m wishing the same for all of you this year…

…that you find baby Jesus, not in the mess strung across your house, but in the faces of the precious children who made that mess…

…not in the crumbs under the kitchen table, but in the blessings of food and warmth…

…not in the broken decorations and ornaments, but in the grubby little hands that just wanted to throw a ball…

Some days, it can be so hard to see what is right in front of you.

Brent and I strive to be mindful each day of just how precious, and fleeting, these messes truly are. Noah, now 3, and Tucker, 18 months, can really wreck havoc on Christmas trees and nativity scenes. Oh and next year, when there are three of them, I just hope baby Jesus is up for a solid month of hide and seek.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Brent, Sarah, Noah and Tucker

Monday, December 8, 2008

Invisible moms

I am devoting full creative energy to our annual Christmas letter. But I received an email today from my Aunt Donna that I thought was soooo worth sharing. Thanks, Donna! And enjoy everyone!

Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone! One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To My Dear Friend, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.' In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.' At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're going to love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful...

I just couldn't put my finger on what I was thankful for this year, until Monday morning. I was listening to a K-State press conference on the radio on my drive back from my doctor's appointment. The press conference where my alma matter announced a new football coach to lead our stumbling program - Bill Snyder was to return and take charge.

At first, I was disappointed in the university. Surely, they could be more visionary than this, right? Were they so scared that they had to turn backwards? Reach for the only security the football program has really ever known?

Afterall, is not this the time to be craving something more hopeful, more progressive, more symbolic of change? Seems to be the message in America these days...

But as the day went on, and I mulled over this news, I began to feel thankful. Thankful to be a Kansan. Thankful to be a K-Stater. Thankful to have been a student in the stadium on the night K-State defeated Nebraska for the first time in decades.

And in a bigger sense, thankful to be associated with a university that refused to be lured by the mere propsect of hope and change, but one that had the conviction to trust in a proven man, a proven leader. For in troubled times, why gamble? Why risk so much? Fans, family traditions, positive experiences for student athletes.

We know what we're getting with Snyder - absolute dedication to the job, an ability to attract quality coaches and student athletes, a tenacios defensive effort on the field, and a few "delay of game" calls.

Don't you wish you had that same feeling of security in the bigger world these days? Don't you wish you could turn on the TV and see a national or world leader you could trust? Someone saged, tested, proven?

I am thankful, this year, to live in a place that honors and respects leadership, families, traditions, education, and Saturday afternoons in the fall at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Scheming

So...just as soon as I said I would update my blog from the early morning hours, it was as if my kids read the blog and began scheming. Scheming a plan to begin waking up at 5:30ish every day for the past 10 days. And then Tucker also decided to kill my afternoon blogging plans by taking abbreviated naps. Just write in the evening then, you say? You've got to be kidding! After beginning the day at 5:30, chasing around 5 kids, all the while being very pregnant, I can't even speak a sentence past 8:00pm.


There is one good thing that has come out of all this sleeplessness. Tucker fell asleep on my lap at church on Sunday. He was getting a bit tired, so he snuggled on my lap with his blankie and paci, and I rocked him right to sleep. I even had to carry him to communion. Which was a bit like lugging a feed sack with a little pair of cowboy boots stuck to the end across the church and back.

The kids are still battling coughs from the cold that began on Halloween. The cough really only bothers them at nighttime, so I don't think it's much to worry about. Still, it is enough to make me worry. I have humidifiers running, and I smear Vicks all over their chests each night. I will give it through the Thanksgiving weekend before I drag them to the pediatrician.

Here's hoping we all get some sleep tonight...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eggs for breakfast

Good morning, everyone! I am going to try updating the Potted Goose from the front side of the day. I have reached the point in my pregnany where too much of anything - including sleeping - begins to get uncomfortable. So, I thought I would get up, log on, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, and make the kids some eggs for breakfast.

Speaking of eggs, I want to shed a little light on a recent California ballot issue. In case you haven't heard...and you probably haven't because the media does not seem to be able to take their eyes off our president-elect...but the State of California recently passed a piece of legislation referred to as Proposition 2.

Prop 2 is a bill that will now "phase out the use of modern housing methods in the production of eggs, pork and veal," according to American Farm Bureau. Still uncertain? Here's the way this Goose sees it...

You and I, for the most part, go to the grocery store to buy the food we need to feed our families, with little thought given to where that food came from or how it got to the grocery store. And that's okay, for the most part.

You see, you and I have made a choice to be a part of a modern society. We have chosen careers, and suburban or town living, over living on a farm and working to grow the food we need to feed our families. We have left that task behind...to American farmers. But here's where I take issue.

There is such a great chasm that exists in our country between those who produce the food and those who consume it. Even in the more rural State of Kansas, population 2.7 million, there are only about 64,000 farms in this state. That means each farm feeds about about 42 people.

And in California, where there happens to be a large concentration of egg production, an even larger disconnect exists. A majority of the people in that state, with little to no connection or understanding of production agriculture, voted to approve Prop 2 and essentially put the egg farmers out of business.

Egg farmers, over the course of the last century, have raised chickens in small, housing units. They have achieved great levels of efficiency while maintaining ethical treatment of the animal, and all the while producing eggs for all of us who don't want chickens in our back yard.

This legislation will drive egg farmers out of business and shift egg production to places outside of the US. Places where we have little control over the safety and quality of those eggs.

So, enjoy your eggs while you can, and in the meantime, I encourage you to watch this on Monday night...

http://www.kfb.org/news/animaldoc.htm

It will air Monday evening, 9:30 pm, on your local PBS station.

Have a great day!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Up and Down

Up and down. In and out. Home and away. The past six weeks have been a blur.

Either Brent or I, or all of us, have been away from home 11 nights in the past 35 days. We are presently entering a calm two and a half week period between now and Thanksgiving with no nights away, no meetings, nothing. Just time together at home.

Here's a look back at the ups and downs of the past six weeks.









The Changing Seasons agriculture student leadership conference was this past weekend. It's an event for K-State College of Ag students that I have been a part of since college.

Up: Changing Seasons always helps me to renew my focus, connect with old friends, and reenergize my passions for agriculture and building rural leadership.

Down: This was the fourth time in six weeks I was away from home overnight. And while it may have also been the fourth time in three years that I was away from home overnight, it was nonetheless wearing on my family, especially Noah Grace.

















Up: Happy Halloween! Noah chose to be a pig this year - all by herself. She also decided her brother should be a turkey. I gently convinced her that her brother should be a pig as well. (I knew I could wing a snout and two ears out of craft foam; but an entire spread of turkey feathers seemed a bit impossible!)

Down: Halloween brought about our first cold of the season. Sore throats, fevers and yucky coughs landed us in the doctor's office the Monday following trick-or-treating.
















Up: Our baby girl turned three years old last Saturday. That smile on her face perfectly captured the night. My kids' birthdays have truly become my favorite holidays.

Down: I wanted to give her the world, but I decided a purple care bear would be more sensible.










Kansas Hometown Prosperity is my first "work outside of the home" experience in three years. I traveled to three communities across the state working on the issue of youth retention. (It should be no surprise to you that our bright and talented rural Kansans are choosing to leave their homes for bigger places.) I spent the past two months working with a team of very sharp people who want to make our rural Kansas towns better places for young people and all people.

Up: I got my hands dirty working again, working with real adults, talking about real, challenging problems. And I made good money doing it.

Down: I spent four nights away from home and many, many hours working from home to get the task accomplished. While Tucker seemed to truck along through all of this, it really took a toll on Noah Grace. She learned that "meetings" are bad things; and I even think the anxiety caused her to start biting her nails.











Up: Conservative women across the country - much like myself - found political leadership and inspiration in a women named Sarah Palin. Personally, I renewed my conviction to voting for common-sense leadership, for those who respect life, and for those who will encourage us to be self-reliant and courageous.

Down: The majority in this country didn't see things my way. And presidential history was made.

And in the end, I'm up because I am down. Down at home, that is. Down on the floor, playing with my kids. Sitting down at my computer, trying to write my own little piece of history. Down in the back because my family has been blessed with life once again. Downtown, in a small town, reconnected with my hope for rural people and rural places.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh...and about the kids...

Seem like I have been a little lost in myself lately? That's probably because I have been. Hard to admit, but yes, the sudden news of baby number three has caused me to stray off course.

Even we mommies with the best of intentions can get that way. Motherhood has a way of humbling us beyond humility.

But I wanted to take the time this week to let you know about the two little reasons that help me to regain my focus each day. After all, they are the inspiration behind this whole venture.
























This is Noah in mid August at the end of my parent's driveway. Her face is smeared with a pink ice cream treat from Dairy Queen, and she's clutching a very special blue balloon. Back in July, she lost that balloon. She got the balloon from a parade, and a few days later, opened the front door of our house only to have the balloon swept out by the Kansas breeze. It was as high as the heavens in no time. She cried and moaned about that balloon for weeks. That's when a mommy genius moment struck.

What if we could "find" the balloon? And so I plotted, with Grandma's help, to recover the balloon swallowed up by the heavens. On the day we were to arrive at Grandma's house, the flower shop delivered a blue balloon with a pink string - just like the one we'd lost - to Grandma's house and tied it to her mailbox. Then, as we would pull in the driveway, Noah would boast with joy for her found balloon.

Well, twenty miles from Grandma's house that afternoon, we drove by a car dealership that had big balloons tied to every car on the lot.

"Look at those balloons, Momma!" she exclaimed. And then, so grown up like, she said,

"But I don't want anymore balloons...(pause to hold back the tears)...because they just blow away."

Mommy genius moment dissipated.

We pushed on and found her "lost" balloon. Her excitement, however, had been replaced with grave concern for the safety of her balloon. She was not settled until that balloon was tied safely to a chair in Grandma's house.

And so the summer has gone; Noah grasps the realities of the world around her more and more each day. The toddler in her is giving way to a more settled, more purposeful preschooler.

And then there's Tucker. That little baby boy who was content to sit on his mommy's lap is no more. He has been replaced with a ball throwing, bug eating, hair pulling toddler.

















Oh sure, he looks innocent in this picture. He's just a happy kid helping his momma make a batch of cookies. But you should have seen the fit he threw when I took the cookie dough away.

And, he's beginning to figure out how to use his brute size to his advantage. Today, he tackled one of my daycare kids in pursuit of a ball. Sure, they were the same age. But still, he grabbed the back of the kid's shirt, yanked him to the ground and took the ball away from him. I took a moment to laugh before I resolved the incident.

He had a bit of a tough summer. He had tubes put in his ears at the end of June. And while that has solved his ear infections, he has been on a relentless teething streak, had to get rid of his favorite comfort, his bottle, and has entered full blown toddler terror. Now he is the one who gets escorted out of church each Sunday.

Boys should come with more explicit instructions. Seriously. The kid is only satisfied with things if you can throw them, eat them, or bang them.

And so I pause here. Because you know, mommies, we could go on and on about our kids. But seriously, if I don't get to bed soon, there's no way I'll make it through another day of this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Substance behind the inspiration

Let me follow up my story of inspiration with some substance.

I am supporting the McCain / Palin ticket, but not simply because an Alaskan hockey mom happens to be the VP candidate. I also happen to agree with their stance on the issues.

If you want to talk policy details and specifics, this isn't the place. I have a general knowledge of most issues, but I tend to get bored with the tidy details. Especially when it comes to policy. (Seriously, have you ever read a piece of legislation? Zzzzzzzzzz...)

I grew up in a family that spent our time at church, on the farm, and at sporting events. My political beliefs derive from those experiences.

I support plans to explore and drill for oil and natural gas. I believe the technology exists today to do this exercising great care for our natural world, a world I care deeply about.

I support agricultural policies that eliminate barriers to trade, reduce regulations, and allow food producers to grow products for a global consumer.

I support efforts to encourage young people to return to their rural roots. I believe providing incentives for our best and brightest to return home, and ensuring a strong education, health care system and culture of entrepreneurs in our rural communities will help our hometown's to be prosperous long into the future.

I support a strong national defense, and I am looking for a leader whom I can trust with my children's safety and security. I believe there are too many evils and too much hatred directed at our country to simply stand aside.

I believe in the power of a free market economy. I understand there are problems with our healthcare system. Yet, with rewards for wellness and prevention, I think our current system can be improved. Furthermore, I don't think it's fair that those without health insurance can receive the same care that I receive.

I support an education system that sets standards for achievement and holds schools accountable. I hope to see the best teachers rewarded, and I hope to see more incentives for teachers to get the training they need. (Oh, and could we encourage some of those great teachers to work in our rural districts, too?) And, I don't plan to pay for your children to go to college. I am just hoping I can pay for mine to make it through a semester. Afterall, what's the value in an education when you didn't have to earn it?

I support a child's right to life.

I support my husband's right to bear arms. (I am NOT a hunter. I used to show livestock, and that's about as wild as I like to get.)

And I, though a conservative Christian, have always thought myself to be concerned for women's rights. I simply cannot understand why anyone would think Sarah Palin is a step backwards for women.

I see a woman who has made a million steps forward on behalf of all women; all the while cherishing the role of wife and mother, balancing family and career, and seeking ways to serve something bigger than herself.

So, that's the substance behind the inspiration. I am not looking for a heated, political debate. I just want you to know that I'm not all lipstick.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Inspired

I have been a little less than inspired lately. A lot less than inspired, actually. That is, until six days ago.

Because eighty-two days ago, I found myself at Alco buying a pregnancy test. My husband and I had plans to attend a big Catholic wedding that afternoon, and I had plans to open a bottle of wine. My you-know-what, however, was going on two weeks late. At my husband's prompting, I drove to the store and purchased the test from a cute, thin, blond teenage girl.

About thirty minutes later, I was crying on my husband's shoulder. He was laughing at me.

Why the tears, you ask?

Because that cute, teenage girl at the store still had her waistline...

Because I had two awfully young babies already...

Because this was the third time I had been pregnant in the not-even-yet four years we had been married...

Because I only had a three bedroom house...

Because I had actually had success losing weight...

Because (counter-productively) I liked wine, and margaritas, and caffeine...

And so the pity party began. I was ridden with guilt for the time I was stealing away from my two babies. I was worried that my body wouldn't be able to handle three back-to-back pregnancies. I was jealous of every family who had family close by to lend a helping hand. I wallowed in self pity for eighty-two days. Refusing to be thankful. Ignoring the positives. Pushing away any inspiration.

Six days ago, that all changed. I was on the couch crying, again, but this time with tears of inspiration.

I watched Sarah Palin address the Republican National Convention, and I let my pity party pass with each tear streaming down my cheek.

I had not felt that inspired since I was fourteen years old attending National FFA Convention in Kansas City, watching nineteen and twenty year old students giving incredible speeches about living a life of leadership and service.

If a moose-hunting mother of five from Alaska can find within herself the strength and courage to run for the Vice President of the United States, then surely, oh surely, I could muster the enthusiasm to be a mommy of three and a mere daycare provider.

If a forty-four year old woman can bravely bring a baby into this world knowing the baby will suffer from Down's Syndrome, then surely, oh surely, I could have my third child before the age of thirty.

If a PTA mom can answer the call to serve her community and her state, all the while rearing a family, then surely, oh surely, I could seek ways to answer my own call to serve.

Right?

Right.

I may have been one of thirty-seven million viewers that night, but hearing her words was worth more to me than a million dollars of inspiration.

I have never really been one to get so down on life. Sure, there have been a few down times. But I have always found a way to come back quickly, tenacious and focused.

So when an outdoorsy, athletic, hockey mom from Alaska spoke to this uninspired outdoorsy, athletic mom in Kansas, maybe you can see why I was inspired to tears.

The pity party is over. It's official. Baby Goss #3 will be arriving in February. She (we're 99% positive it's a girl) will fill up this house...but with the precious love and laughter only God's gift of children can give. And maybe someday, she'll be Vice President.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My heart goes out to my fellow Kansans who suffered far greater than I from last night's tornadic weather.

I sat down to write this post last night, and was interrupted by storms that just kept coming. We suffered no loss, save a few leaves on the trees. Others not so far away lost livestock, entire wheat crops, homes, businesses and saw an old and beautiful college campus crumble.

I share these pictures with you, not to make drama out of our situation, but mostly so that someday Tucker can remember how we spent the day before his first birthday.
























We had purchased this ball for Tucker on Tuesday after we left the Ear Nose and Throat doctor and scheduled an appointment to have tubes put in his ears. He loves balls, and he is ecstatic about this one. He didn't put it down for almost 24 hours.

















Sensing Noah needed some special attention, we finger painted on Wednesday afternoon. Actually, we started sponge painting the numbers 1, 2 and 3. She ended up painting everything within reach.
























Shortly after bath time, the tornado sirens went off. This was a first for the kids and I. Noah and Tucker had lots of fun playing in the closet under the stairs. Noah played "house." Tucker played "bang on stuff."
























With the kids playing safely downstairs, Brent and I stepped out the back door to watch these eerie clouds forming just at the north edge of town.

















The third storm that came through brought us this lovely gift - hail. There is a quarter to the right of the hail stone. We were awfully lucky considering the size of the hail.

There is nothing like the feeling of being helpless against Mother Nature. My heart goes out to everyone who experienced loss last night.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Have you ever found yourself arguing with a two-year-old? I have. All too often lately. It's futile. Infuriating. Exhausting.

And so I ordered this book a few weeks ago online.

Because my daughter didn't come with an owner's manual. Because she leaves me perplexed. Baffled. Fearful that I am creating a spit fire, unruly child.

I have just started the book, and already I feel more composed during the day when I see she has found my brand new, expensive nail polish and commenced to painting her leg, her new shirt, and the couch.

According to the author, you cannot determine your child's "love language" until they are the age of five. I disagree, and I am taking his advice and applying to my young children. Seems to me so much of their personality is already in place. Why wait until they are five to figure out how to best understand and communicate with them?

If you are reading or have read this book, I would love to hear your reaction.

Until then, I am going to keep reading and I am going to keep (well, I am really, really going to try) my composure as my two-year-old tornado rips through my house every day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One, two, three, floor!

Tucker's birthday is just about one week away. As Brent was putting him in the bathtub this evening, he reminisced, "Wasn't life easier when there was just one of them?"

My first thought was of that last several weeks of pregnancy you-know-what. No, I thought, I am glad he's out here in the real world.

And then my thoughts turned to all the wonderful things Tucker has brought into our life. His chubby smile, his easy laugh, his kisses and all his snuggles.

Sure, life may have been a bit easier. But how I love the extra large dose of love Tucker has added to our family.

Yesterday, as we were playing in the kiddie pool in the backyard, Tucker took his first few steps. He was standing outside of the pool, holding on to the edge. He let go and wobbled two or three steps to his wagon.

Of course, he has been in intensive training ever since. Brent and I guide him in walking four of five feet between us as we sit on the floor. He is so proud of himself! He starts to clap in mid-walk and sends his body weight crashing forward. He gets up and crawls to the nearest parent for a big hug. (I think he loves the reward at the end as much as the walking itself.)

Like most mommy's, I just don't know how this year went by so fast.

And I have come to believe that birthday's are also a silent celebration for mommy's. Especially the first birthday. While everyone laughs as your baby eats cake, you silently celebrate inside, giving thanks for your beautiful baby and realizing you have accomplished the feat of rearing a baby through his first year of life.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Haven...

Last Thursday, in the middle of "daddy's gone to camp" week, my favorite gal pals and I redeemed our Mother's Day gifts from our husbands- a massage at the Rock Haven Day Spa.

The mere stress of getting out the door made me tense from head to toe. Daddy was gone, remember? So I had to find a babysitter to watch my kids for what turned out to be a nine hour outing. Which means, I had to clean my house and organize snacks, drinks and meals for the majority of the day and explain to a fourteen year old girl how to specifically care for my two children.

I don't know if I've ever been so relieved to leave the house.

I volunteered to drive my mini-van and haul my five friends and to our westerly destination. It is with relief I can say that I will never have to drive again. In all the stress of leaving for the day, I didn't eat much lunch. Just after we pulled on to the highway, I reached for a bag of snacks. Apparently, I reached too far and the van swerved hard to the right. No one was hurt. I was ribbed sufficiently...and I will never have to drive again. Which is just fine by me. I prefer napping, reading magazines, and doing my nails in the car anyway.

We arrived to the spa, and they sent us up to the bungalow. The climb up the over-sized limestone rocks left us winded. And the luxury we stepped into completely took our breath away.

We each had a private dressing room, complete with toiletries, a robe, and a blow dryer. We changed into our swimming suits and we went to the whirlpool. We were served peach champagne, cheese and crackers, grapes and muffins. If the day had ended right there, I would have been just fine.

But there was more to come.

And they were running behind. An hour and a half behind.

The two and half bottles of peach champagne they provided us were gone in 30 minutes. We don't mess around.

We finally headed down for our massage. As we waited for our massage therapist, I watched this girl as she just finished her massage. She looked like she had just awoke from a three day nap. I silently panicked.

Other than the fact Michelle and I had to share a massage room - which meant we had to remove our robe and slip under the sheets oh-so discreetly - that massage felt like a three day nap. I let my mind wander to my happiest memories, while my body was relieved and rejuvenated. I left a part of me on that massage table. The part of me that has neglected to take care of myself, and more importantly, to take time for myself. I walked out of that room feeling woozy, yet determined to uncover those parts of myself that I have let go.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, during our massage, they dried our swimming suits for us. Can you believe that? I'm sure some of you regular spa-goers out there are laughing at my naivety.

It gets better. They then took us to the steam shower; after we dressed, of course. We sat in this rock walled shower as it filled with hot, hot steam. And, we then scrubbed away rough skin with this cooling, tingling scrub. We showered and even washed our hair. Yes, naivety.

Thinking back, I cannot recall I day where I have ever felt so good, in body and soul. My physical aches were relieved. My soul connected with good friends.

It was the best Mother's Day gift I have ever received...this being my third. The standard has been set, dear husband. I simply can't wait for next year!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I admit, I need help

Daddy is away for work this week. It takes me about 48 hours of doing this all by myself, that I finally realize that I like having that guy around.

We make it through the mornings just fine. The kids watch some cartoons while I get dressed for the day. I would get up and get that done before they are awake, but when they are up by 6:00, I think cartoons are in order.

The two (and only two!!) daycare kids arrive and we proceed with our morning as usual. Play time, read stories and send the babies down for a nap.

The big girls color pictures or do puzzles while I finish up the breakfast dishes and figure out what we're having for lunch. Then it's more play time, and the babies wake up.

Here's the part where I start to miss Daddy.

Everyone is hungry. Really hungry. Lunch is almost ready, and two one-year-olds are pulling on my legs. When I ask the two-year-old girls to go find their cups for lunch, they proceed with chasing each other around the house.

With just a few tears and only some mild yelling, we sit down to lunch.

Then, everyone is ready to go outside and "run their sillies out." Again, I miss Daddy. I can't find four pair of shoes and four jackets fast enough. One heads out the front door, while I chase down a baby who escaped up the stairs. Just to corral them out the door takes enough energy to qualify as a 30 minute cardio workout.

Once out the door, we miss Daddy some more. The four children go in four different directions. One wants to look at the dog. Another heads for the sand box. Still another for the swing set. Wait. That's only three? Anybody seen number four?

30 minutes later we head inside. A few more tears and then everyone is down for a nap. Ahhh. Peace and quiet. I really don't miss Daddy right now. I sit down for a glass of tea and some HGTV.

The point is...seven kids, four kids, or just one. All mommies miss daddies. And kids miss their daddies even more. Here's to you mommies who swing it all alone. I don't know how you do it day in and day out. I'm simply trying to survive five days.

Daddy, it's true, we miss you. We hope you come home soon!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today marked the beginning of the end of the year. By Friday, I will have whittled my daycare crew from five down to two. It has been a long year, a long challenging year. Looking back, there were some really enjoyable moments. But most days just seemed to be on the border of "I'm absolutely losing my mind!"

I spent my days with some good kids. Individually. It was just when they all got together - and collaborated their backyard shenanigans - that it became hard to enjoy them collectively.

I now know a few things I didn't know before. (Why must I learn lessons the hard way?)

Boys and girls are only related in the sense that God put us together on earth to sustain his greatest creation. Other than that, we couldn't be more different. Boys chase each other around the yard with sticks, yelling "I am a superhero. I have great power over you." The girls, meanwhile, are in the sandbox making cupcakes.

It is very difficult to love another child as if it were your own. This is the hardest part of my job every day. Hands down.

Preschoolers and toddlers have short-term memory. Short as in, about one minute. I said, "Don't jump on the furniture," and "Take off your muddy shoes before walking on the carpet," and "Please don't hit your friends," seven hundred and thirty five times in the past nine months.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned this year, is that time goes by much too fast. My baby boy is almost one year old. My baby girl is scarcely a baby at all. My time at home with my babies is slipping by...

Here are two pictures from our adventure to the park today. We took a picnic lunch and one of the boys' mom brought treats from Dairy Queen. (There's one extra in this picture. We invited a friend to come along. And his mother. I'm not that crazy!)



































After a nap and a change of clothes, I wanted to take pictures of my kids by the spirea bushes. They are in full bloom, and they are beautiful, just like my babies.







































Have you stopped to admire your own flowers today?

~Sarah

Thursday, May 15, 2008

All things natural

Click this link...for a video about an "Eco Friendly Day Care"

Now that you have watched that, you should understand what my daycare is not.

Here's just one example.

After lunch yesterday, the three older boys were heading outside to play. I noticed that their shoes were quite muddy. Realizing that it had not rained in several days, I asked the boys how their shoes got so muddy.

"We made mud," the boys replied matter-of-factly.

"Where did you get the water?" I asked. The boys know they are not supposed to turn on the water.

"We all peed."

Yeah, this would be my daycare. Don't you want your children to come here?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thanks Uncle Sam, but no thanks

I went online to balance my checkbook this afternoon, and much to my surprise, there was a cushy balance. This is not what I expected upon returning home from vacation. I fully expected to tap our savings account to cover my shopping spree...and to ride things out a few more days until pay day. But much to my surprise, our tax refund had come in!

Woooohoooo! Just for a moment, I was pleased with those "hard working folks on Capitol Hill." And then I came back to reality.

I have to say that I am fed up with all the advertisements telling me how to spend my refund. And more than that, I am fed up with those who had their money spent well before the bill could pass through both Chambers of Congress.

I know times are tough. I find myself looking at our accounts at the end of each week wondering where the extra funds have gone. The cost of energy has us all crippled by our pocketbook. Gas to drive the car, food to feed the family, energy to heat the home and keep the lights on...we are all feeling the squeeze.

But I just don't believe that by burning my refund on a major purchase is doing my family any good.

Oh, believe me, I want to make a major purchase. I want a new oven. I want to makeover our basement. I want a new sectional for my living room. I want to go on vacation again. And the list goes on...

The sad part of this story is that the intent of these funds is "stimulation." You and I are supposed to stimulate the American economy with a major purchase. Giving businesses a boost, spurring manufacturing and securing jobs.

Yet, at this time - given the current economic conditions - I am putting my priority on financial security. I want the comfort of knowing that money is safely tucked away in my savings account, standing ready to help us out when we really need it.

So, thank you Lowe's, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and every other retailer who has given me oodles of ideas on how to spend my "stimulus check."

It is with much regret that I must pass over your enticing offers. Deep, sorrowful, aching regret...

And to our American economy, I am sorry I will not be doing my part to "stimulate." But let's be honest, if we all just sit around and wait for the government to bail us out of some hard times, will we really ever learn how to stand tall when the wind blows?

Monday, May 12, 2008















Ahhhhh.....vacation. Let me take a moment from my Monday afternoon to tell you about my vacation. Because after the Monday morning I just had, that's all I want to think about.

We arrived to a warm and sunny San Antonio, leaving behind a cloudy and rainy Kansas. We stayed at the Emily Morgan hotel, which is just across the street from the Alamo. The accommodations were outstanding - complete with whirlpool tub and Aveda bath products. (Aveda just happens to be among my favorites.) What did we do first? Whirlpool tub, of course!
And we quickly followed that up with Margaritas! After all, we were on vacation. Okay, almost vacation. I was vacating; my husband was working.

I managed to fill the entire next day with shopping, a tour of the Alamo, and a pedicure at an excellent day spa. And, then what? Margaritas, of course! What did you expect?

That night, a few margaritas turned into a few more. And then a light supper and more margaritas. We (shamefully) checked out Coyote Ugly and spent most of the night in a piano bar. And just in case you've seen the movie, Coyote Ugly, the real bar is really not much different than the movie.

The next day, I tried to sleep in. I really, really tried. And by 7:15, I gave up and got the day started. (It's no wonder my kids are early birds.)

I checked out La Mercada (Market Square) - for some "local flavor." There were some really cool finds, that just wouldn't quite fit in my suitcase.

That afternoon, we went to Sea World. This was definitely not my choice. We had brought along six high school students (along with two additional adult chaperons) to attend the conference also. And since the students couldn't drink margaritas or go bar hopping, we thought it would be a good idea to take them to Sea World.

I don't like amusement parks. I especially don't like zoos. Therefore, I really didn't like Sea World. I gave this very high and very thrilling water ride a try - and I will never be trying it again. Something strange happened to my equilibrium after being pregnant. I can barely swing on our swing set...let alone free fall a hundred feet on some crazy water ride. We saw a few of the animals, and they were okay. I guess I would just rather see them in their natural habitat, you know?

On Friday, our final morning there, Brent and I walked up and down the Riverwalk. It's really beautiful...except for the places where the water seems stagnant. That's mostly next the bars - suppose that's any coincidence?














We loved all the vegetation, the lush, green and beautifully landscaped areas. We loved the culture, the food, the nightlife. And, we loved the chance to get away, together.

Monday, May 5, 2008

So long, Dorothy!

Our vacation is finally here!

Okay, my vacation. Brent has to attend a conference in San Antonio, and I just happen to be tagging along. I have three days of shopping, museums and day spas planned. And I'm just chomping at the bit, this evening. Mostly...

Why - in the middle of packing bags, washing fifteen loads of laundry and finding three pair of matching socks - does that bout of mommy guilt well up? Where does that come from? Doesn't my mind know that it needs a break from the day to day chaos? Doesn't my spirit feel the need to rejuvenate (with the help of a pedicure)? Doesn't my body yearn for (margaritas) relaxation?

So I'm stricken with mommy guilt, ridden with anxiety over everything I have yet to accomplish, and worried my parents will never want to see my children again at the end of this week. All that stirred together should make for some interesting dreams tonight...

Alas, I have things to do...like figuring out how I'm going to fit seventy-three beauty products and medications into one cosmetic bag, selecting the perfect five pair of shoes to take on my four day trip, and saying the rosary while trying on my bathing suit for the first time in two years.

I will try to give an update from San Antonio, but I'm not sure we can fit a laptop in with my shoes.

Adios!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Typical!

A very talented, and very special, someone shared this site with me today. It's a quick read - and an excellent synopsis of American farm policy. I highly recommend it!

We had another evening of gardening. Tucker's muddy adventures were cut short - he was cranky and started to run a fever. Noah, however, was still going strong at 8:00. Garden hose in hand, mud from head to toe, she was one busy little girl. A storm was blowing in, and we were all forced inside.

The real highlight of my day, though, came shortly after nap time. It typifies my life these days...

I awoke one of the daycare kids early from his nap- his cousins were picking him up early to go play at their house. Eager to begin the shuffling of kids out the door, I put his shoes on him and had him wait at the front door. I turned around to pick up his cap only to watch him stand right there and pee all over my floor.

You should know, I spent the past four days repainting the tile at my front door. Four days. Repainting tile. Two coats of primer. Two coats of paint. And a top coat of polyurethane. Four days. And just this morning, I removed my homemade barrier to the tile, unlocked the front door and let traffic commence on the newly painted tile.

And he peed all over it! I was without words. Exasperated. Sensing God laughing from above. Wanting to laugh, myself, and cry at the same time.

The good news? The paint job and the tile held up to the puddle. I mopped the puddle, disinfected, and got the kid some dry pants. And for goodness sakes, I sent him away with his cousins.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Down and dirty

I have been less than faithful to my blog writing lately. And to all my devoted readers (mom), I'm sorry.

Spring has finally graced our corner of the world, and we have been spending so much time outdoors each evening. By the time we hose off the kids and sweep the piles of sand from their beds, I am without energy to put together sentences.

My kids seem to be the dirtiest kids I know. Perhaps it's because they are still so young. Or perhaps it's because I let them dig in the sand and dirt. Whatever it is, I have yet to see kids get as dirty as mine.

In fact, I have been trying to figure out how other kids stay so clean.

Are all the other kids strapped in strollers and wagons, only watching the dirt and sand?

For the last three nights, the sand and dirt on my kid's clothing has required intense soaking. And I'm pretty good at attacking stains, but mud has got to be the toughest.

Nonetheless, I noticed how clean my husband and I are not when we come into the house each evening. I wipe dirt on the back of my t-shirt, and usually have potting soil smeared on my legs. My husband has grass stains on his pants and dirt deep into his nail bed.

I guess the apples didn't fall far from the tree.

We love the outdoors, growing things, watching grass grow and flowers bloom. And we love all the dirt and mud and stains it takes to make that happen. I guess our kids do, too.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Only fourteen years until the prom

Last Saturday was the prom. As a mother of a two year old daughter and a ten month old son, I am not affected in the slightest by the ongoings of a small town prom. I did notice a few fancy cars cruising down my street with drivers sporting up do's or tuxes. And while I did take notice, it didn't interrupt my day whatsoever.

Because as the mother of two small children, I take great pride in the fact that I do not have to go prom dress shopping for at least another fourteen years. I do not have to be asked for money for the tanning salon, drive my teenager and her girlfriends to a mall three hours away to try on thousands of dresses, or hand over the keys to my Honda Accord (because that's what I'll be driving as soon as I can get rid of my minivan) to my teenage son.

I know that I was a real pearl for my mother during my prom days. In fact, I was so good that I dread the day I have to take Noah shopping. I know God works like that. I know my penance is coming.

Nonetheless, I did take Noah to "promenade." That's the gathering in the auditorium where the community (nosy onlookers) can come see all the kids in their fancy get-ups. She sat on my lap like an angel and clapped after each dress crossed the stage. It was a bit of a special moment (only because I knew I still had those fourteen years).

Later that evening, as I laid down with Noah at her bedtime, we talked about the prom.

"Did you like the prom, Noah?"

"Yes, momma."

"Which was your favorite dress?"

"The pink one."

"What color dress do you want when you go to the prom, Noah."

"I want a blue one, momma. But, momma, you drive me, okay? Cause I not drive."

"Yes, Noah, mommy would love to drive you to the prom."

Mark my words, folks, in fourteen years I will be driving my daughter and her date in my Honda Accord to her junior prom. Mark my words.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Can you turn that into a personal mission statement?

It has been a rather quiet week around our house. As quiet as things can be for a house with two small children and a handful of daycare kids. Oh sure, we have had our share of interesting things happening. Today, one of the daycare kids knocked four of his bottom teeth loose during a lunge for the couch. I found nine dollars in a coat pocket. And, I finally finished some adorable summer dresses for Noah and her cousins. None of these, however, make for exceptional blog material.

My sister, on the other hand, should be writing a blog this week. Her "much more exciting than a SAHM" life in Washington D.C., got her an up close look at the Pope from the White House lawn and a new job as a legislative aide for a US Congressman.

While she was shaking hands with people in power, I was wiping noses and doing the dishes.

Am I jealous? Nah. Just glad I have someone to talk to who does things that are interesting and worldly.

Or, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Because if I keep wishing I was somewhere else, I am going to miss the beautiful things happening in front of me.

There are times in life when you feel purposeful and passionate and that you're living the life your were called to live. And then there are those times where you find yourself wondering what the heck is your purpose.

And as a mother, you seem to suspend all those questions for the sake of your children. For right or wrong, your answers to life's questions are not going to come when the baby needs a bottle and your toddler is washing the bathtub with toothpaste.

I - and I'm sure many of you, too - have so many questions. But I have to make myself live in the here and now. For in the here are now are two precious sleeping babies, two growing little bodies and minds, two lives entrusted to me. Someday, somehow, I will answer those questions. Just not yet, I have laundry to fold.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ABC's...Wildcat style

There are many things over the course of the last two years that I have tried to teach my daughter. Things such as how to ride a tricycle, put on a jacket and draw a circle are things that quickly come to mind. The video you are about to watch - and you must watch - is one of the things I did not teach my daughter. Yes, I have helped to provide the basis for learning and singing her ABC's. But this is her own special version...something she created in her two year old mind.

She is destined to be a wildcat. (As if her father and I would allow her to go anywhere else?)

How do you remove gasoline from clothes?

Noah, while searching for daddy's hidden stash of peanuts in the garage, encountered a small gasoline can. The can was full of gasoline intended for the lawnmower, of course. Noah, however, watered the garage with $3.26 per gallon fuel!

Now I have a stinky garage and some very stinky toddler clothes. And now I am looking for the best method to remove the stench of gasoline from clothing. Have suggestions?

(Please reserve your comments on my parental judgment. We all have let our children encounter dangerous substances from time to time, right?)

Email me or leave your comments. I will give away $10.00 worth of laundry detergent (your choice) for the most effective method!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Am grumpy. Have keyboard. Will publish.

I have been having a few grumpy days. It could all be related to this, but that would be such a typical excuse. I know I can come up with a much better reason.

Like Noah ate my yogurt this morning. Yes, I am the parent in this situation. But it was my yogurt, and it is my digestive system that so desperately needs jump started every morning. Because when mommy's day starts with a high fiber supplement, whole grain cereal, yogurt and coffee, the day is just that much better.

Or, how about it's been raining for four days? It started raining Sunday night, and with the exception of the sunshine we saw for five minutes today, it hasn't stopped raining. Oh, we love the rain. Rain for the crops means happy farmers and happy families. But I would like a few of those farmers to spend four days in my house with seven children under the age of five. Let's just see what they think of the rain then, huh?

And hunting season makes me grumpy. Turkey season began on Wednesday. My husband took the entire day off work to go hunting. That is how he chose to celebrate his birthday. When it's my birthday, I am going to take the entire day off work and devote myself to an expensive, elaborate hobby...such as shopping.

Too add to the list - crying babies, dirty dishes, clutter, leftovers, cold coffee, an unmade bed, and mismatched socks all make me grumpy. And that's just what is happening within my own four walls.

I am trying - and praying - to get out of town sans kids for one night this weekend. Provided we all stay healthy for the next 24 hours, the trip is a go. At this point, I don't even care about all the things to do in the big city. I just want one night of uninterrupted sleep in a hotel room. That outta cure "grumpy" for a least a couple more weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No news is good news

It was a slow news day. I read a few other "mommy blogs," and read some sad, sad stories about problems much worse than Tucker's fifth ear infection. I heard really great news about some friends who, after years of trying to have another child, are bringing home an adopted child today. It was a slow news day at our house.

And I think that's just fine.

Tomorrow, is my husband's 30th birthday. I have offered to make his favorite breakfast. I have offered to make his favorite supper. He insists on spending the entire day turkey hunting. (I think we forgot to go over this during marriage prep some five years ago.)

Also, he is taking his turn at writing about the skyrocketing grain prices. I've included his latest article for the newspaper below. I'm sure he won't mind a little free press.

Searching for Gold

Ellsworth producers are searching for gold this summer. Are they all going to win the lottery? Are they going to inherit a large sum of money? Are they mining the mountains searching for the next big find? No. Ellsworth producers are growing wheat. Wheat, a very common crop in the county, could benefit producers this summer.

Today, the price of wheat is around $9.00 per bushel. The average price for Kansas wheat over the last 7 years has been $3.79. That's a significant increase.

The Ellsworth county producer has had some difficult harvests over the last several years due to dry conditions and late season freezes. The Ellsworth county average production has been 39 bushels per acre over the last 7 years. With the current prices, producers could double their profits with current grain prices. Due to higher input costs, such as fertilizer, machinery, fuel, and other operating costs, it is a good thing the price of wheat has jumped significantly.

Wet conditions during winter and early spring have the Ellsworth county producer favored with some pretty decent odds of raising a great crop. However, in a blink of an eye the odds can turn against the farmer and force them into a negative situation. Let's hope for favorable environmental conditions over the next sixty days to benefit our local producer.

Underneath every rainbow is a pot of gold - Ellsworth county has thousands of acres covered with green gold that might benefit the local economy more than you'll ever realize.

Sunday, April 6, 2008














So I took a picture of Tucker throwing the ball this weekend. And while I am certainly not a photographer, I did happen to capture the ball suspended in mid-air. Amazing, huh?

We were out of town all weekend for Brent's niece's first communion. Everything we took with us is still in a huge pile at the front door. Before I get too distracted to put away my mess before Monday morning comes, I just want to give a shout out to Brent's niece and her family.

His niece, upon the encouragement of her mother and grandmother, wore the dress her mother wore for her first communion many years ago. The dress was beautiful, yet dated. And while his niece certainly could have insisted on a brand new dress like all the other girls, she chose to honor her family and wear that very special dress.

At eight years old she may not fully understand what a courageous thing she did, but I sure hope she knows just how proud everyone was of her today.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Flowers blooming underfoot

Lately, it seems I have been a bit consumed with the "big world that's out there." And while I have been getting my fix on economics and rural policy, it seems my kids have been doing some pretty amazing things. Tonight, I turn my focus to my home front.

When Noah, my defiant two-year-old, isn't having a complete melt-down because I said, "No more candy, today," she is practicing her new "pedaling" skills on her new trike. Can't you just see the look of determination in her face? Wednesday, she pedaled from the garage to the street. On the return trip, she crashed into the wall. Next week, we will be working on how to turn.
















And if she isn't cruising on her pink and purple trike, she is singing. Singing her ABC's, all the nursery rhymes she can remember, and songs about Grandma and cow poop. (We have her Uncle N. to thank for the very educational lesson about cow poop.)

Noah will certainly be our tom-boy, yet this week she revealed her inner diva. When Daddy asked her if she'd like to go look for turkeys, she replied, "No, I'm going with momma to get my haircut." Precious. Furthermore, as she put on her Pull-Up at nap time the other day, she said, "Look, Daddy, Cinderella has pretty earrings," referencing the picture of Cinderella on the front of the Pull-Up. So sweet.

Tucker - in a matter of a few days this week - became a little boy. He has figured out how to throw a ball. (Notice I do not have a picture of this. He is my second child.) As soon as he throws the ball, he claps in approval of his efforts. It's splendid. He even pats the ball, much like a quarterback does when he's in the pocket looking for an open receiver. (Wow, that sounded good. Maybe I should write for ESPN.)

Although, if he's going to make quarterback, he is going to have to slim down and stretch out. Based on his build right now, I'd say he would make a great lineman.

His favorite foods are fruits, vegetables, sausages and hot dogs. (This may be contributing to his lineman stature.) Hey, the kid has to pay for his college education somehow!

While certainly more sensitive and reserved than his big sister, I have no doubts he will be a rough, tough and dirty little boy. Isn't that the way they are supposed to be?

Yes, my job and my life are these kids and my home. But it always refreshes me to take some time to grasp the big world that's out there. Just like a working mom, I, too, have to strike that balance between adult world and mommy world. Otherwise, my husband would have me committed.

You now owe $400,000

Did you know that in addition to your own mortgage and consumer debts, your household also owes the government an additional $400,000 just to cover our nation's debt? This is fascinating information - and information that is certainly worth your fifteen minutes.

If you are banking on social security and medicare to pay your bills beyond retirement, especially if you are a member of my "thirty-ish" generation, think again.

These two programs alone are bankrupting our government. And there is simply not enough revenue - in the form of federal taxes - to continue to fund these programs at their current level. (Unless you can convince your parents (the babyboomers) to keep working until they are about 90.)

Imagine this - by 2040 there will just be enough federal funds to pay for these two programs. That would mean no schools, no highways, no farm programs, no national defense. Just think about that for a minute.

Please, please take the time to view these videos. Our nation needs you to know right from wrong.





Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I am retiring early this evening. My blogging habits have been keeping me up way past my bedtime - which is usually 9:00. I make no concessions about it - I need my (beauty) sleep.

If you would like to read more about the food price issues, such as what Bessy is dealing with, see this.

Stay tuned for a post coming about how the products you are buying at the grocery store are shrinking in size...

Monday, March 31, 2008

There aren't many days where I feel like I need "the heck outta Dodge," but today was one of them. Honestly, I love my kids. I love being with them every day. But the moment when they are both crying at my ankles - for like the eighty-fifth time - just sets me over the edge.

I went to the grocery store when my husband got home from work. (Because there's really nowhere else to go after 5:00 in a small town.) I picked up some milk (and some chocolate syrup), some breakfast sausage links (they were on sale), and I found a friend near the coolers and we stopped to talk (vent about our days and our children.)

She had the same look in her eyes that I had in mine. The look that said, "I have given every piece of myself away today. Will someone please just make supper?"

After supper, I stepped out for a brisk walk. Emphasis on the word, "brisk." Brrr! That north wind ripped through my jacket. Sort of hard to think clearly when you can't feel you fingers, nor your ears. So much for that!

The minute I stepped into the bathroom where daddy had the kids in the tub, Tucker started crying. I rescued him from evil daddy and tucked him into bed. There's really nothing like being needed by your kids, but some days...gheez.

The good news? I can admire my new floor while typing away about my day. Uh-oh, I see a crumb. Gotta run...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Out with the old...

We installed new flooring in our kitchen this weekend. I say "we" as if I had something to do with the installation process. My role was to say, "I like this one," while shopping at the home improvement store, and to fork over the credit card to the cashier. Other than that, I really wasn't involved with the installation. I kept the kids out of the way while Brent and his buddy John provided the labor.

Here's a look at the old flooring...a mix of vinyl and carpet. The carpet was certainly not well suited for kids. (Case in point.)





















I took this picture as we were nearing completion. I only lost my kitchen for 48 hours in this process - and I'm certainly not complaining. Do you see how pretty that floor looks?















And this is a completed view. Isn't it lovely!














Save for a few finishing touches, the job is complete. I will be making John an extra large batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies tomorrow to thank him for his time. I sure hope I don't make a mess of my new floor.

And, I just can't go without saying that the job was slowed a bit because we celebrated my husband's thirtieth birthday on Friday night. His buddies and I threw a surprise party, and we needed nearly all Saturday morning to recover. I would show you the pictures - they are hilarious - but I think my husband would rather keep his professional career.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bessy's banking my milk money!

I started this post a couple weeks ago. Since then the price of milk has curtailed slightly - but the story is still relevant. Enjoy!)


I made a desperate run to the grocery store last night. There wasn’t a fruit or vegetable on the premise. The milk supply was down to a few sips in the bottom of the jug. And as far as bread goes, there was one stale bagel in the back of the refrigerator. We were desperate for groceries.

I headed out – alone – for the supermarket, leaving daddy and kids behind. If only there was time for the mall and the craft store, this would have been a fun trip. But not this time. I was on a mission. There would be another day for dark washed jeans and fabric for new throw pillows.

I made my way through the supermarket with ease. Isn’t it amazing how fast you can move without children hanging from the cart and a baby on your hip? That’s when I hit the milk coolers.

$4.00 for a gallon of milk?

I stepped back slowly from the cooler. Surely, this wasn’t right. I cautiously checked the prices on the rest of the coolers. 2%, 1%, whole and skim – all within pennies of $4.00 per gallon.

I knew the price of milk had gone up, but when did it hit $4.00? I thought I was an aware consumer, but this had me baffled.

I stood there, leaning against my cart, thinking about those four dollars.

$4.00 can buy lots of things – a new color of nail polish for spring, a pair of polka dot socks, a snazzy new pen for my day planner, several colors of Play Doh, twenty-one digital prints from the pharmacy, flower seeds, and lip gloss – all of which are fun things to buy for $4.00. But $4.00 for cow’s milk? Holy cow!

What self-righteous, greedy dairy cow was taking my $4.00 anyway?

I can picture ol’ Bessy, herself, decked out in hot pink nail polish, new shiny lip gloss, and doodling her favorite bull’s name in her day planner with her snazzy new pen. She’s probably gazing at her beautiful flowers from her barn window, and hanging up new pictures of a night out with the girls at the feed bunk.

By now, I was pretty annoyed with Bessy. But my family had to have milk, and I pulled a gallon from the cooler and placed it in my cart anyway. I walked away from those coolers determined to figure out the truth behind Bessy’s shopping spree.

As it turns out, Bessy is not on a shopping spree. Bessy, in fact, is having a hard time putting food on the table for her family. Her family like to eat corn, among other things, and the price of corn is breaking Bessy’s bank.

So what’s going on with corn? Seems the rest of the world thinks it would be a good idea if their automobiles would run on corn…err…ethanol. And while that may be a good idea, the choice between food and feed use for corn versus using it for fuel, is creating competition thus driving up the price of those little yellow kernels.

Furthermore, the US dollar is weak, presently, compared to other currencies around the globe. That means US products are more affordable in the global markets, and we have been exporting much of our grain supply to foreign countries.

Getting complicated? There’s more…

It takes oil – in the form of gas – to get that grain from the field, to a processor, to a retailer and then to your kitchen table. Oil is awfully expensive these days, as you certainly are aware.

Incomes are on the rise around the world – as are populations. We have more people, with more money, and that means more mouths to feed with a limited supply of land on which to produce that food.

Did I mention that is has been a poor crop year around the globe? Grain supplies are down all over the world, and demand continues to drive that price upward.

So…hold on a minute. Can’t figure out why grain production in a foreign country has anything to do with the gallon of milk you just pulled from the cooler at your grocery store?

Let’s review.

Cows give us milk.

Cows need to eat grain to produce that milk.

Grain is expensive at the present time.

The price of grain is high due to many factors – oil, ethanol, poor global crop, etc.

If Bessy is spending more money to produce the milk you want to buy, then you, too, will have to spend more money for Bessy’s milk.

That happens to be the way a market economy works. Take it or leave it. You’re not getting your milk (lunch) free.

You and I, mother to mother, we’re in this together. We have to buy milk. Our kids need it. (And we need it too, or our morning coffee just wouldn’t be quite right.)

And from the look of things, we had better just get used to it. It doesn’t sound like things will be getting better anytime soon.

I guess it’s like they say, “When life gives you expensive milk, make chocolate milk.” Or something like that…

Want to read more? See this and this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Be Sloppy!

Time is running out - don't miss your chance to enter your kiddos into Cargill Meat Solution's "Be Sloppy" contest. Simply take a picture of your messy child (under the age of 10) eating a delicious sloppy joe, submit to this website, and complete the release form.

You could win a $1,000 savings bond for your child's college education, or you could also win a year's supply of ground beef. (We're actually hoping for second place!)

We had fun today taking the pictures at lunch time. I "beefed up" my sloppy joe recipe with pureed red peppers and sweet potatoes. Tasty!





















"Sloppy Noah"
















"Sloppy Tucker"

I would show you the pictures of the daycare kids - but I should probably ask their parents before I post their picture. My mom still cringes when I put pictures up on my site. But I refuse to let some loony out there keep me from my creative ventures!

You can all go to the website and vote beginning April 12 through April 27.

Until then...be sloppy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We had a happy - yet chilly - Easter weekend. Here's the holiday in review...




















Soon after we arrived, Noah began to decorate cookies. The onslaught of sugar had only just begun.














After checking cows with Grandpa and Daddy Saturday morning, we went into town for the community Easter Egg Hunt. Noah, and her cousin Henry, fared well. Henry, however, preferred the acorns and grass to the chocolates and treats.














Aunt Mary helped Noah dye Easter eggs - and Grandma's kitchen table as well as Noah's hands. That stuff actually comes off in the bathtub, but I can't say the same for the kitchen table.





















The Easter Bunny found us at the farm. Tucker was the first to find an egg - 'atta boy!




















Shortly after this picture, we all began to understand why two year old's should not have candy for breakfast.














Sure, they look cute now, but you should have seen them forty-five minutes into Mass. Cute clothes don't do anything for tired, sugar loaded babies.

I hope you all had a very special Easter!

By the way, I am looking for any charity wanting to accept oodles of chocolates and candy. I am in the spirit of giving (and maintaining my current pants size.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just let it go...

I have spent the last twelve hours trying to teach myself HTML in order to get this new header to center properly on my page. I come to the conclusion that learning HTML would be like to trying to learn Arabic in twelve hours. They read right to left. I read left to right. Really, we just don't see eye to eye.

So, I had to let go of the dots on my background. This was sad. I liked those dots - thought they gave my site a more contemporary image. (Which is something I needed considering my life and my stories are more of the country, crafty style.)

Hey now - it's not that I don't like my country, crafty life. I am just saying that you don't have to dress the part. Even if you live near a barn, that doesn't mean your image has to reflect the fact you just stepped out of a dirty, dusty barn.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look and the new header. Thanks to my friend, Dixie, and her team at Graphic Arts of Topeka, for the snazzy header. Don't you think she did a great job?