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 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?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yes - I have a beautiful, new header for my blog.

No - it is not centered properly on my page.

No - I do not speak HTML.

Yes - I need some help.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A view from the shoe

There was an old women who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread,
scolded them soundly and sent them to bed.

Noah and I just read this nursery rhyme this evening as she was getting ready for bed. Why did it resonate in my head as if I was reading my own biography?

Let's just analyze this a bit...

Do I live in a shoe? No, but I do live in an area of the country that oftentimes seems far removed from modern culture, otherwise known as the Midwest. Thanks to the wonders of technology (cable television, cell phones, and high speed internet), I like to think that I am somewhat "tuned in." But that's just my view from the shoe. The reality is I spend my entire day in my shoe, and my conversations involve babies, toddlers, preschoolers. (There are the moments I like to "talk back" to conservative talk radio. But since Rush and Glen can't return my oh-so intelligent and thoughtful comments, I guess we can't really call that a conversation.)

Do I have so many children that I don't know what to do? Nah - I know just what to do. When things heat up and more than three of them are crying, I reach for the chocolate. I stand at the freezer for 30 seconds of pure chocolate bliss, and then face the challenge with renewed vigor.

I have only two children that are my own - I provide care for an additional five. Sound crazy? It is.

And while giving them broth without any bread is an intriguing idea, it certainly doesn't bode well for the future of my childcare business.

Today, for example, I just had four kids, including my own. Should have been an easy day, right? Wrong. The three year old spent the morning in tears because I was out of breakfast sausage links, I turned off the TV, and he missed his mommy. My toddler spent the middle of the day in tears because I asked her to pick up her play-doh, go get her own kleenex, and stop walking in the middle of the street. (Ahh...yes...we were outside today. There was sunshine. Alleluia!) And the minute we got in the door from our walk, both babies started crying and biting at my ankles.

I scolded them soundly I made them each a bottle and sent them to bed.

I made myself a strong glass of tea, caught up on my blog reading, and watched Paula Deen make a yummy banana dessert. And before I knew it, the afternoon was over, and Daddy was home. He entertained the kids, bathed them, and even did the dishes. Somedays, I am so glad I married this guy!

I nearly forgot, no pun intended, to pose the "old" question. Do I look like an old woman? While I am not yet thirty, and while I may seem like a spring chicken to many of my friends, I know I am not the same girl in that wedding picture on my wall. Having two children has most definitely aged my body. I now look at my two younger sisters with a twinge of jealousy - their soft, glowing complexion and noticeable waist lines sends me right back to the freezer for another handful of chocolate.

Someone please remind me to remove this nursery rhyme from the pages of the book! I can't afford to spend another evening wallowing in my stinky shoe of self pity.

And don't even get me started on Peter the Pumpkin Eater...

Monday, March 17, 2008

I am not sure how March 17th got here so quickly. It's not that I am unprepared to celebrate St. Patrick's day. No, I will leave that to the spring breakers. What I am saying is that I feel like it is still about February 28. I am simply not prepared for today.

These cold and dreary days have stolen my optimism.

Being sick and dealing with sick kids has left me exhausted.

My mood has been anything but "springy."

If the tulips don't start blooming soon, I am going to stake fake flowers in my garden, roll out some astro-turf across my yard, organize a game of baseball and declare spring has sprung.

I could go on and give you the update on how we've all been Noah was just starting to feel better and then ran a fever all weekend, or how Tucker is on his fourth ear infection, or that it snowed again on Sunday...but that would just be depressing.

Instead, I will give you the good news from the weekend. We did make it to an Easter Egg hunt (before the fever started). And while we had to wear winter coats, the kids had a great time.
(I guess it doesn't look like they are having fun...but you try getting them to look at the camera and smile at the same time!)

And, yes, I know, it all could be worse. Ear infections and a 24 hour stay in the hospital is nothing compared to what mom's of terminally sick babies have to endure. But we all need to air out our complaints every now and then - and this is my blog - so I guess you'll just have to deal with it.

Come back tomorrow - there's a chance for sunshine.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Last Monday, a rather quiet and peaceful evening went bad.

Both kids refused to eat any supper. Noah got sick in the bathtub, and Tucker did just after he went to sleep. We spent the entire night up tending to them. Noah threw up all night long, and finally stopped somewhere around 6:00 am. Tucker's throwing up didn't last all night, but he certainly didn't sleep soundly.

Morning came much too quickly.

Noah was sleepy and lethargic all day long. She couldn't keep any fluids down. Tucker's tummy seemed to be bothering him, too. He just wasn't his usual happy-go-lucky.

That evening, the bug struck me. I spent the night in the bathroom, while daddy tended to the restless babes.

Morning came, and Noah still could not hold down any fluids. I called the pediatrician, and they recommended to come right over.

Daddy had to take her - I was still feeling queasy. They made four attempts in the office to get an IV in her arm to treat her dehydration, but failed. So they sent her to the hospital.

Several hours later, on the fifth attempt, the pediatric nurse got the IV in successfully. By this time, Tucker and I had made it over. Somehow the thought of my daughter in the hospital made my nausea just go away.

She was still throwing up any fluids. The doctor ordered some medication to ease the nausea, and within an hour, she was sucking down lemon-lime pop and popsicles. And soon after that, she was singing her ABC's. That was the first bit of relief I'd felt in two days.

She and I slept soundly through the night at the hospital. By morning, she was still keeping down juice and pop, and the pediatrician said we could go home in the afternoon.

We did just that.

She was completely drained of her energy. She had no desire to get up from her bed or from the couch, unless someone was carrying her.

We struggled to get her to drink anything once we got home. So Friday morning, we took her back to the pediatrician. By the time we got there, she seemed to be feeling better. (Of course.) She was drinking juice and the doc gave her a popsicle. We were sent home - which was just fine.

By Saturday evening, she was showing some signs of life...wanting to get up, play with her toys and read books. She was still moving slowly and was wobbly under foot.

Today - Sunday - she really seemed to be on the mend. She had an appetite for toast, crackers, juice, water and popsicles. She walked around the yard and played in the sandbox. She even had several moments of being "bossy and fiercely independent." Yes, she must be feeling better.

I don't know what has happened in the world since last Monday night...but I don't feel like I missed anything. I know my little girl is getting better, and that's all that matters.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A quick update for everyone -

Noah's stomach bug took a turn for the worse and landed us in the hospital yesterday. We are home now, and she is mending slowly.

More to come as we heal and disinfect...