Monday, September 26, 2016

Catching Up

Its been a day or two since I last wrote.  My apologies.  It's been busy here, just like with everyone else.  Let's do a little recap, shall we?  

We purchased a swing set for the boys with my credit card rewards points, making it *nearly* free for us.  My favorite four letter F word.  But... we still have to put it together...

Drinking or sober, it won't matter.  There is no way to make building this swing set look appealing.  Or possible.  I wish I could go to the factory where they pack these kits together.  I imagine some college age kiddo taping together every box to send out the door and giggling uncontrollably while muttering under his breath, "Those poor idiots.  They won't stand a chance."
Please pray for us.

On to happier things.

I highly recommend this craft for any toddler.  I 'painted' a tree with a sharpee marker.  And I have not a talented bone in my body, so when I say 'painted' I mean that I drew one tall line with several lines offshooting in an attempt to mimic branches.  That's really all it takes, folks.

I then took a bunch of Q-tips (approximately 20) and bundled them together with a rubber band.  This became Kenyon's paintbrush for our craft.

On one paper plate I squirted out three dollops of paint.  Red, orange and a deep red.  He would dib-dab his Q-tip paint brush in each dollop of paint and then dab it onto the tree branches of the canvas.  (You can purchase a 3 pack of canvases at Wal-Mart for just a few dollars.)
Kenyon demonstrated his superior art skills to his grandma and grandad yesterday.  He had a captive audience and put on quite the show.

Viola!  A masterpiece.  There is really no way for a child to mess anything up, destruct anything or cut themselves during this process.  It could quite possibly be my favorite craft we have ever done together.  Scratch that.  It is my favorite craft with him, ever.  Now I'm trying to imagine ways we can tweak this craft for different times of year by using different colors.  For example, we could use red and blue paint and make a firecracker canvas for the summer, pastels and paint flowers in the spring, etc.  Watch out, Martha Stewart.  I'm coming for you. 

This weekend we celebrated many of the fall birthdays in our family during a ranch rodeo.  While it rained INCHES outside on the men that were competing, we sat under a covered pavillion and exchanged presents.  When the ranch rodeo was over, everyone came over to join us and everyone celebrated both birthdays and Uncle Mitch's team winning with celebratory cupcakes and beer.  (Like one man chuckled, "Wow, cupcakes and beer.  Feel's like college all over again!")

Kenyon and cousin Kade played HARD during the hours they were together.  Seeing Kade guarantees a good night sleep for Kenyon.  Or perhaps it is more of a mild coma.  I really don't know, and frankly, I really don't care. 
In other news... 

While the weather has been so pleasant lately, we've been trying to go for jaunts every day.  Sometimes we go check cattle, sometimes we just walk down to the creek and throw rocks into the water.  Regardless, we have a great time. 

John is pulling himself up anywhere and everywhere and loves to walk (with assistance).  He is getting more impatient with his assistants and I feel that walking unassisted is going to begin just any day now. 

My porch is covered with these delicate, purple blossoms these days.  It is a transplant from my aunt.  She calls it a Hyacinth bean.  Calling it an aggressive vine is an understatement.  I have to spend a few minutes every day or two with the vines and help them climb my makeshift trellis I've tied together from jute.  Otherwise they will overtake anything near them.  I had to cut out a patio chair that the vines overtook one weekend while we were gone.  It is that crazy.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Day at the State Fair

Monday was incredibly... um... out of the ordinary for us.  We took a day trip with Kenyon (leaving John at home with a grandma) and went to the Kansas State Fair.  The day was filled with firsts for Kenyon and it was a blast watching him experience so many new and unusual things.  

You've never seen real pain until you watch a conductor tell a three year old that the train is full and he must wait an excruciating 8 MINUTES for it to come back.  Might as well have been 8 years.  It was an aging experience for us all.
Once he got on the train he waved to everyone like an experienced pageant winner on a parade float.
I realize that is not what his dad wants to hear, but it fits the bill pretty well. 
Behold: a tacone.  My uncle used to own this food stand and I couldn't leave without eating one of these again.  Not quite as good as I remembered, but still worth the 5,000 calories.  
If you leave the Kansas State Fair without learning something about agriculture, you were blatantly avoiding 4,000 fun learning opportunities.  Everywhere you turn there are hands on experiences, demonstrations and other fun things ag-related to see.  Which is exactly why we drove two hours to the fair - to see the exact same things that we have in our yard already.  Sigh....

'Driving' a combine with his dad.  
Ice cream.  We were in desperate need of a sugar-induced high to keep up going the rest of the afternoon.
We had to play on all the fancy machines that were on display.

Another must-see at the fair: pig races.  You cannot leave until you see pigs wearing silks and running like greyhounds.  Kenyon had a blast watching but was sorely disappointed there were no betting windows at these races. 

You may have to click on the photo to enlarge, but there is a racing pig at the feet of the funny man that is chasing him.  I think Kenyon wanted that job most of all.

Behold: The world's tallest slipper slide.  (I just made that up.)  This thing was enormous and Kenyon decided he wanted to ride it.  His dad was brave enough to go with him.

Kenyon told the slipper slide attendant thank you for the nice ride and he gave Kenyon tickets to ride again for free.  We conveniently never made it back to this again.  Wes was not thrilled at the prospect of riding again.

He spied a much smaller, kiddie sized slide.
He studied it for several minutes.
(Please excuse the photog's fingers in the picture.  He's not used to a camera phone.)
We discussed him riding all by himself, but decided his mom could sit next to him for moral support...
It was traumatic for all involved.  It was much faster than we anticipated. 
Kenyon's face is priceless.

And a camel ride to end the day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I've seen other bloggers participate in 'Wordless Wednesday' and post adorable pictures of their kiddos, sans any sort of accompanying caption.  I tried that.  I really did, but I'm afraid the conclusions that folks might come to if I don't provide just a wee bit of details as to our actual happenings. 

How do you keep a kiddo contained at the grocery store?  You make him drive the cart.  We play 'Red Light, Green Light' and he is the best helper for me.
(For the uninformed masses, 'Red Light, Green Light' is the equivalent of saying 'Stop, Go'.  It's not rocket science.)

I pick the tomatoes, he unloads the tomatoes.
Are you gathering that he does not have a life of luxury?  Kiddo has lots of chores.
A little responsibility never killed anyone.  (Believe me, my parents tried.)

All the rains we've had lately have made for some good cloud watching.  Because we are simple like that.  Don't judge, you're the one reading this blog.

Kenyon and I pick the tomatoes, John eats the tomatoes.
Seriously, I just dice them, throw them on the tray and get out of his way.

Sometimes, just sometimes, if he likes you enough, John will share his food.
I rarely make the cut, but his Auntie Lala does.

After a weekend with the grandparents.
You could have performed surgery on this kid and he never would have moved.
That's how comatose he was from playing so hard. 

I love watching these two play together.  They truly are best friends.
It's become very entertaining to watch them.

If this smile doesn't make your day better, nothing will.

Outdoor movie night with friends.
Kenyon's mom just moved a few (hundred) more pegs down the 'cool parent' ladder. 

Kenyon has become my apprentice for a small shelving project that we are working on.
Just like I slowed down my friend, Larry, Kenyon is making this project infinitely longer than necessary.  I hope it helps him develop a love of woodworking just like mine though.  Hats off to Larry. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chopping Silage

We were busy at our place last week, chopping feed to last the cattle all winter.  It was a pretty long, uneventful week with relatively few hiccups.  The boys (and I) enjoyed spending so much time out with the men.  We brought lunch every day and Kenyon helped run the dozer with his dad.  It's crazy to think that this is his fourth time chopping feed.  The first time I brought him down to the silo he was just barely a month old.  Time flies.

The Pioneer Woman I am not.  My meals are hearty and filling but not much to look at.  That, and it's just impractical to transport and drink out of mason jars.  Let's get real.  We use water jugs.
Hour 3 of chopping feed.  It adds up pretty quickly...
Of course, he had to check all the nuts and bolts and make sure everything was kosher.
This is out in the corn field.  The cutter runs along, chopping feed and dumps the feed out of the tall spout into the bed of the truck. 
The truck driver dumps the feed into the silage pit... husband smooths out the feed so it can then be packed down tight. 
Kenyon loves to ride the dozer with his dad. 

Back and forth, back and forth.  Packing silage.
Why pack down the feed, you ask?  The entire goal of storing silage for feed is to decrease the amount of oxygen (thus the repeated packing) and increase the acidity of the pile.  This increases levels of beneficial acids such as lactic acid.  This lactic acid in turn is then in turn transformed into a volatile fatty acid (VFA) and utilized by the animal.  (See?  My education was not a complete waste!)

Is your head spinning?  Here's the take home message: Packing silage helps ensure that you are providing the best feedstuffs for your animals.  Not packing your silage is the equivalent of purchasing a new vehicle but not filling the tires with air.  What the heck?  If you're going to do something, do it right so you get the full benefit out of it!