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...