Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ten years and ten thousand questions

It hit me like a ton of bricks while lying in bed Sunday morning - this year is my ten year reunion.

I know that my beloved "ho-do" friends are laughing right now. I just so happen to be the youngest "ho-do." I often remind them of the year I started kindergarten, while they reminisce about high school days.

But in all seriousness, this revelation brought about some questions that just may require therapy.

Of course, my mind first began to question my physique. I use that word as if I'm the athlete I dream about being, when the truth is I had my second baby eight months ago and my first baby only nineteen months prior to that. My physique has had a rough couple years.

My weight is not so different that it was ten years ago. But the way those pounds are arranged on my body, is vastly different.

I feel like, and look like, a "momma cow." (I'm a farm girl - in case you didn't know. And making my body analogous to that of a cow's body seems only natural to me. It's what I know.)

You all know what a heifer, is, right? A young, female cow. Well, ten years ago, I was a heifer. I had muscle definition, carried plenty of lean muscle and was quite feminine.

Today, my hips have protruded, my lean muscle has disappeared, and my utter is sagging. I am just an old momma cow. I graze all day long while the baby calves run wildly through the pasture coming to me only when they need something to eat.

Go ahead and laugh, but that pretty much describes every day around here!

Beyond the obvious doubts about my appearance, and the more pertinent questions about my life.

Did I do what I set out to do ten years ago?

Am I living a life that I dreamed about?

Did I think I would have two children, a husband, and a small town life in only ten years?

Can the eighteen-year-old me relate to the twenty-eight-year-old me?


I fully intend to answer those questions, but right now, my twenty-eight-year-old body needs to get some rest. Stay tuned for more from momma cow...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One of these days...

It was one of those days, you know. I'm sure everybody has days like this...

My daughter came crawling into bed around 6ish. I had a terrible night's sleep. My body is still punishing me for Friday night's activities. And the baby was up by 6:30.

I decided my hair needed to be washed - I was going on four days - so I headed to the shower. Husband (still half asleep) and kids watched cartoons. Yes - that's how we start our day. Cartoons. Deal with it.

And after those five minutes of peace in the shower, things just went downhill.

Noah smeared the bathroom counter and her own cheeks with my moisturizer.

I measured incorrectly when making the kids Malt-O-Meal for breakfast.

We were out of yogurt. (This is quite important to my body after two pregnancies - things just work better with yogurt, if you know what I mean.)

It was cold and gray outside - again. This has been the longest winter I can ever remember.

The babies soon grew tired and cranky. They now notice when I hold the other - and they let me know about it.

Once the babies were asleep, things began to look better. I put the kids to work. Err...I mean I led the children in a sorting activity. We sorted cans for the recycling center. (Suddenly the can box was overflowing. I again reference Friday night's activities.)

And just like that, it got worse again.

I answered the question, "What's for lunch?" like thirty-seven times.

One of the kids set in with tears and "I miss my mommy."

I tried to (calmly) explain to Noah that you can sing without yelling.

Then I got a phone call that my signature was needed at the bank before noon. Hallelujah! I'm outta here!

I got lunch ready, fed the babies, and rushed downtown. (My husband was home. Don't worry. I didn't leave the four-year-olds to run the show.)

My five minute signature turned into a twenty minute conversation. What did you expect?

Then, back to fun house. The minute I walked in the door, the babies started fussing.

It quickly became nap time for everyone. I laid down the babies, got Noah to her bed, and put on a movie for the rest of the kids.

No sooner than I could make a glass of tea, read my favorite mommy blogs and pay a few bills, Tucker was up. So much for my to-do list.

From here, the afternoon went quickly. Play with the baby. Make a snack. Tie four pair of shoes, zip coats and track down hats, and send the kiddos home. I missed Oprah, but I finished washing the dishes. Fair trade?

The best part of the day - besides the trip to the bank - the neighbors delivered a batch of homemade enchiladas we had ordered. Supper was ready!

"These" days seem to happen often lately. Whether they were brought on by baby number two, or the onslaught of daycare kids that enter my house every morning, I don't know. What I do know, is this...

...if I could relinquish the anxiety over my to-do list everyday, I could enjoy my kids (and the other kids) so much more.

And if there was a way I could accept wiping snotty noses, doing a load of laundry, and paying two bills as a satisfactory day's work, I'm sure I could kick this whole negative thing.

It's that balance that I am after - that time for self and time to give and care for others that I can't quite figure out. Maybe one of "these" days the answer will come...

Monday, February 25, 2008

One fishy Friday night....

Has it been four days since I posted something already? Well, let me explain.

My husband planned a fish fry for Friday night. It's a little something he likes to do during Lent. Guess it makes the absence of red meat in his diet easier to swallow.

So, I spent my "nap time" on Thursday and Friday cleaning my house. I usually clean my house on those days. I rush around during nap time to Clorox counter tops and scrub the floors. That way, I can just enjoy my house and my own kids on the weekend. No extra kids and no messes. I love my quiet weekends in a clean house. What can I say? It doesn't take much to make me happy.

But I worked extra hard last week since we were having company. All that clutter had to be put away (hidden behind the closed door to my bedroom).

And to be completely honest, by about 3:00pm on Friday afternoon, I was in no mood for a fish fry. It had been a long week with the kids. I was finally getting over being sick. I just wanted some peace and quiet...

But I put on my happy face. Dug deep in the bathroom drawer for my mascara and lip gloss. Traded in my sweats for a pair of jeans. And my husband walked in the door with a bottle of wine. Cheap wine. But wine, nonetheless.

I poured a glass and my outlook was approaching sunny side up...

Our guests arrived. My husband and his cronies fried the rest of last season's catch in the garage, minimizing the fishiness of my kitchen. Thank you, dear. The ladies and I chatted away in the kitchen. My two-year-old and her two-year-old friend, played together nicely, for the most part. And, the baby was asleep by 9:00pm.

For some reason, the night still felt young. There was plenty of wine left in my bottle. So I filled up.

Noah was exhausted by 10:00pm, and easily fell asleep.

I filled up again. I paused somewhere for a glass of water. Then quickly poured the last of the wine into my glass.

By now, things were getting a little silly. The volume began to rise as our conversations turned to politics, marriage and college days. Topics which - when liquor is involved - give way to secrets revealed and guarded opinions exposed.

Soon we were dancing and playing music. Why does this always happen?

The night was young, based on the standards I used ten years ago. According to the standards I now use as a mother, I was looking at about three hours of sleep before my kids would be awake. And I don't function well on anything less than seven.

But it was like the night was meant to be...

Noah awoke briefly somewhere in the 5:00 am hour, but fell back to sleep. Tucker wanted a bottle at 6:45, and then he went back to sleep.

They slept until 9:30. Let me say that again. They slept until 9:30. Never in the history of this household have children slept until 9:30.

The night was meant to be.

I must admit, shamefully, that even getting out of bed at 9:30 am wasn't quite what my body had in mind. It took a piece of dry toast, two hours of laying on the couch, a hot shower and a bottle of Ginger ale before my body was ready to get up.

I am somewhat out of practice when it comes to drinking an entire bottle of wine (did I mention that Tequila shot?) and staying up until 3:00 am. Several years out of practice.

So there you have it. That's the reason I am four days behind on my blogging. Because my husband wanted to have a fish fry.

Somehow, I knew it was his fault!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Go cats!
















Keepin' it brief tonight. The cats are on TV taking on the Huskers. Here's a picture from our adventure to Bramlage Coliseum a couple weeks ago. We took the kiddos and took in a basketball game. Popcorn, pop, seats on the fourth row - it was excellent.

Thanks to my friend, Jackie, for sending me the pics she took during the game.

I do have to say, however, that the outing was slightly tarnished thanks to the lady sitting directly behind us. This lady - whom I will now refer to as "coach," - drove me crazy! She called each one of the players by their first name. Shouted out plays. Touted the referees. And basically didn't stop yelling the entire game.

Do you think she noticed how my eight month old son shuddered when she yelled in his year? Nope.

My husband pointed out to me her best line of the night.

"Coach" seemed to have a real thing for, "Billy." Or, as the majority of the Wildcat faithful like to call him, Bill Walker. Walker (most sport fans call players by their last name) just happens to be one of the best rookies in the entire country. As Walker was driving, she hollared, "Billy, go to your left."

And my husband replied (to me on the way home), "Don't you think if the best rookie in the country wants to use his left hand, he'll use his left hand?"

That's right Coach. Let's let Billy play basketball.

Go cats!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures.













This week is National FFA Week. And in case you're not familiar with the FFA, you have probably seen someone wearing one of these noticeable jackets.



















I wore one of these jackets during my high school and into my early college years. (That's my sister and I at National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY in 1999.) And while it doesn't make a fashion statement, that jacket certainly makes a statement about my life.

That National FFA Organization is a large - if not the largest - national student organization. Their mission is "to make a difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agriculture education."

They certainly made a difference in mine.

And while I don't have time tonight to give due credit to how FFA shaped my life, I do ask you to pause today and think about how agriculture education is touching your life...

* by giving high school students something positive to be involved with

* challenging students to look forward to a career in an exciting industry

* raising up positive students as role models and leaders

* providing for the next generation of food and fiber producers and processors (i.e. the guys and gals who will make sure this country is fed and clothed and can turn the lights on)

Here's to you FFA!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Super Dad


















Super Dad came to our rescue on Saturday morning. He swept in and rescued the children. I was stricken with the flu - rendered unable to move and achy through every joint. He fed them breakfast. He played with them. He fed them lunch. And - if you can believe it - he even prepared supper for them. Super Dad is beyond words. What he can do for his children in one day is no less than...super.

Mothers out there - when illness strikes you, and heaven forbid it does, pray that Super Dad comes to save the day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day begins early at our house. Most days begin early; Noah is our little rooster. But this day begins with gusto. Or, more accurately, it begins with heart shaped pancakes and a full, family breakfast.

While I was in college, this little tradition was introduced to me by my roommate, Leslie. I remember the first time she made us heart-shaped pancakes. We were juniors in college - and finally had moved away from organized living. We had our own kitchen, our own bathrooms, and of course, poor cleaning and cooking habits. (Did I also mention that we all turned 21 that year?)

Early, one cold February morning, this small gal with a squeaky voice climbed into my bed, and squeaked, "This is Cupid and it's time to get up. It's time to get up Valentine! Come to the kitchen!"

After a few rather ugly thoughts of how I could aim that arrow right at Cupid, I made my way to the kitchen, curious now, as to what in the world Leslie was doing.

Our meager kitchen table was turned into a Valentine's morning feast. Heart shaped pancakes, pretty little candles and treats for everyone.

Leslie then informed us that this was her own family's tradition. She now, wished to share that tradition with us so that we could, in turn, start the tradition with our own families someday.

And here I am, several years later, doing just that. I confess I did take a few years off in that time "after college and before children." But - Leslie - I am happy to report that your tradition lives on in our home.

This morning I roused the children and daddy. Scratch that - Noah was up at 6:15 to assist. I sent her to wake up her daddy and we let Tucker sleep in. (Three out of four ain't bad!) And we all sat down to a Valentine's breakfast of pink heart-shaped pancakes, sausage links, and apple slices. (For my recipe for pink heart-shaped pancakes, see below.)
















Bet you can't guess what makes these pancakes pink!















Leslie - there's one little girl who thinks this is pretty fun! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Pink Heart-Shaped Pancakes (compliments of Deceptively Delicious)

3/4 c water
1/4 c beet puree
1/4 c grated apple
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c pancake mix

Wisk water, beet puree, apple, vanilla and cinnamon. Add pancake mix. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Pour batter into heart-shaped metal cookie cutter. Remove cookie cutter when pancake batter has set, about 1 minute. Cook until bubbles on top, and then flip to other side. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Poop!

I bought myself a new shower poof at Wal-Mart last night. And, I bought one for Noah, too. She liked using mine, and she also likes to take her own shower now.











Actually, her idea of showering involves sitting under the stream of water playing with her toys. Whatever works, right? She's getting somewhat clean. After all, it is winter. It's not like she's digging in the dirt as she does in the summer months.

Anyway, back to the point of the story. Noah had a hard time saying, "poof." It kept coming out more like, "poop."

"You got me a pink poop, Momma?"

"I like my poop."

"I threw my poop in the shower, Momma!"

My husband and I have been giggling all evening as she anticipated bath time.

"Where's your new poof, Noah?" I asked her just before bathtime.

"It's in the bafroom, Momma!" (Apparently, she has no problems making the "f" sound.")

So, once in the bathtub, things went like this...

"Tucker's chewing on my poop, Daddy."

"Put some soap on my poop."

I think you get the idea. I suppose this all seems silly. Two adults giggling over poop jokes. That's so fifth grade, right?

But to watch the word come out of her mouth time and time again, well, I bet you couldn't hold back a chuckle, either!

Valentine's crafts
















These were today's craft projects. We made them for the kids to give to their mom's for Valentine's Day. I thought they turned out especially cute. And if I was a work-outside-of-the-home mom, with a desk and a private office and my own computer and telelphone (somedays, that sounds so nice), I would love to put this adorable picture of my kiddo on my desk.

The photo jars were very simple to make. If you're feeling crafty, here's what you'll need:

small jar (i used 8 ounce canning jars)
8" x 8" fabric square
12" piece of coordinating ribbon
tape
photo (I had my pics reduced to wallet size)
lots of valentine's heart candies
rubberband

Simply tape the photo to the inside of the jar. Fill with candies. Secure fabric on jar lid with rubber band, and tie ribbon around the jar. Easy, breezy, eh?

And, the kids can help by filling the jar with candies. They can (and most certainly will) eat the candy while you tape in the picture and attach the fabric and ribbon.

These also make excellent fall gifts. Substitute the candy hearts for candy corns, and switch to a fall fabric. How versatile!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I have composed a list of a few things that most mothers can relate to...

1. Stepping over toys. I don't mean stepping over a toy just one time on the way to the kitchen, I mean stepping over the same toy sixty-two times in the course of one day hoping that it will walk itself back to the toy box.

2. Watching babies sleep. And checking them frequently while sleeping. It is so beautiful to watch a baby sleep peacefully. Or maybe it is just the recent memory of the crying and whining. Whatever it is, I love to watch my babies sleeping.

3. Walking slowly down the aisles of the grocery store. With the kids at home with daddy, sometimes I like to browse the aisles of the grocery store. I especially like to linger in the baking products section, dreaming of having hours on end to spend making bread and cookies and muffins and pies. Or maybe it's just because the mall is 35 miles away, and the grocery store suffices my craving to shop.

4. Speaking of the grocery store. I love the trip to the market where I spend a significant amount of money on food, put it all away, and then stare blankly into the pantry wondering what I'm going to fix for supper.

5. Staring. At my own face. Wondering where the heck did that line come from?

6. Staring. At my hair. Wondering has it always been this dull and drabby?

7. Staring. At my closet. Waiting for something hot and fashionable to jump out my closet.

8. Staring. At the last chocolate chip cookie. Knowing I should save it for my daughter, and eating it anyway.

9. Longing for a day out. And then after about an hour away, feeling my heart tug me back home again.

10. Sleeping through the night. Or at least until about midnight when I have to go to the bathroom. And then I better check the baby. And while I'm up, I might as well check my daughter. Oh, and I should just make a bottle now so I don't have to do it in three hours when the baby wakes up. Okay, back to bed. I just hope I can fall asleep now. Oh...do I have to pee again?

Good night...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Remember how I said a few days ago that it is sweet and joyful to be a big sister? Well, it is. In fact, it can also be downright funny. Only a big sister could love these pictures!





















This is little brother, N. He's actually an excellent cattleman these days. But you would never know by the look of his scrawny 4-H bucket calf or his layered shorts, tennis shoes and rolled socks.






















Litter sister, MA. Currently pursuing a career in D.C. She's always had a special place in her heart for all things patriotic.

















And little sister, ME. The vegetarian.






















And just to be fair - this is me. Sophisticated. Fashion forward. Teenage sweetheart.

See? Isn't it just so much fun to be the big sister?

Party time!

Remember this? Well, I'm having a party - an Uppercase Living party! Mark your calendar for March 2nd.

Can't make it to the party? Shop online and I would be happy to take your order.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I do it, momma!

After six months of dedicated trips to the bathroom, about 200 stickers, and 400 pieces of candy, we have reached success with potty training. That moment we've been waiting for - Noah's ability to pause from her activities and recognize the need to run to the potty chair - has finally begun to happen on a regular basis. Oh sure, we still have some accidents. But 90% of the time, she can actually stop coloring, running, building, and playing to hustle up to the bathroom.

She has, in fact, asserted a new level of independence at the same time.

"Go check Tucker, Momma. Shut the door," she tells with her finger pointed towards the door.

"You're going to do it all by yourself?" I ask.

"I do it, Momma."

"Okay, then," I say as I turn around and shut the door for my (bossy) two year old.

A few moments later, she returns to the hallway, pants around her ankles, announcing, "I did it."

Wiping, pulling up her own pants, and washing her hands are tasks we have yet to master.

But, what the heck? I'll take a half-clothed, two-year-old bottom over a two-year-old bottom in diapers any day. Seriously, her digestive system deserves the toilet. No diaper should have to suffer the punishment of her intestines.

Six months ago, I seriously wondered if this day would ever come. I thought I would be battling my toddler to sit still for one minute to potty until they came and took her to kindergarten. I thought I was the only idiot who couldn't figure out how to potty train their child.

Ahhh...such foolish thoughts. My mother, in all her wisdom, said, "Noah will potty on her own time."

Seriously. How does she know these things? How can she be so right all of the time? Gheez!

So, I guess Noah can go to kindergarten wearing big girl panties. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on how we have progressed at wiping, pulling up pants and washing hands.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Return

Lest we not forget that Ash Wednesday followed Super Tuesday. In all the buzz about last night's elections, even I forgot about the Holy Day to follow. I walked out of the door tonight on my way to mass, with two children crying at my feet. Daddy - cheerfully - put them in the bathtub and sent them off to peaceful sleep.

I sat in the back at church - surrounded by all the other parents with fussy, crying, kicking, and giggling babies and toddlers. What would people think if I sat in the front row? This time, however, I could drown out those baby noises and focus on what Father had to say.

"Return," he said. "Return to the Lord."

Yes, I need to return. It seems I have been absent for awhile. I have certainly not been present at church. I have been there - in the pew. But my mind was spinning on how to keep my kids quiet so the lady in front of me doesn't give me the "eye." My bedside devotions involve my eyes closed and my head resting on the pillow.

I used to have an accountability group, affectionately called WOF. (Women of Faith) Five terrificly talented and spiritual gals who gathered on Sunday evenings for a dose of faith. But that was in college. We could slam a beer on Saturday night and read from the gospel less than 24 hours later. It was a beautiful thing.

I digress...return. Yes, return to the Lord. My Lenten focus shall be just that - turning myself to see the Lord in my daily life once again. To see more clearly the love surrounding me; to sift through the clutter to reclaim my purpose; to understand that higher calling.

Return, yes, return.

Monday, February 4, 2008















Tucker is days away from crawling. The first time around, with Noah, this brought about much anxiety. What will she get into? Where will she bump her head? Will she tumble down the stairs? Will she eat my magazines and chew on my photo albums? What if she opens the drawers in the kitchen? This time, however, I am just happy to watch Tucker's curiosity unfold before my eyes.

Instead of panicking about my possessions, I am eager to see what will grab his attention. My magazines, photo albums, kitchen drawers and closets will all survive. And all that touching, chewing, and mild destruction will yield for Tucker a better understanding of his surroundings, a better sense of touch, a stronger grasp of consequences (if I pull this, the drawer will open...oohhh...this is way better than toys).

Besides, with one toddler, four preschoolers, and two babies on the loose, would I even really notice if a few extra things were out of place? My house is in a constant state of chaos - how much harm can he really do?


On a separate note, I was happy with the outcome of last night's Superbowl. Either way, I think the game would have ended in a good story. The Patriots make history with an undefeated season; or the Giants and Eli Manning write a Cinderella story. But I was so happy to see the little brother finally get some deserved recognition.

In my family's birth order, I am the big sister. One of the simple joys of being the big sister, is watching your younger siblings reach their own milestones and achieve their own success. I suppose it's like an early taste of motherhood - that sweet, shared joy; that pride.

That final drive where Eli led his team down the field - with big brother Payton watching from the stands - was a beautiful moment. Sure it meant a Superbowl ring, a Cadillac Escalade, and going down as a football legend. But for two brothers, it was so much more than that.