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.