Monday, July 27, 2015

Thinking About the Silver Lining

Tonight is the last night of our county fair, and here I sit at home having contractions much like I did two years ago this very same night of the fair.  It made me rather nostalgic and my mind started to wander back through those last whirlwind days before our first child was born.

I was still working full time as a county extension agent and being involved with the fair mere days before my due date was a special kind of hell.  (I swear, we will look at a calendar before and plan before we have another kid that requires me to be pregnant during the summer.)

For all the stress and everything else that comes with fair wrap up plus having a baby at any moment, one especially bright spot will always stick with me.  When it came to mind this evening I still teared up just thinking about how great small towns can be, how great 4-H can be.  It didn't take me long to dig through my files and find this wonderful story, written mere hours before my son was born.  (I really wish I had placed an asterisk in the following story each time I had to pause and breathe deeeeeeeply through a contraction.)  It was like goodness, followed by more goodness.  My favorite kind of story.  Enjoy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Silver Lining

Friday was a crappy day.  No, horrible.  No, even that's not enough.  It was downrightshee-tay.  Top ten worst of all time, no joke.  Just one thing after another after another.

Hopefully you get the picture and I need not elaborate further.  God has a funny way of helping out on shee-tay days like Friday, though.

I had a check sitting on the corner of my desk at the J-O-B, waiting patiently on a mother to come pick it up.

She finally came into the office, rather clueless of what she was doing there.  I sat her down in my office and she proceeded to tell me that the strangest thing had just happened.

Her daughter had sold a steer at the fair a few days earlier and it didn't bring very much premium money.  Several hundred dollars less than any other calf at the sale, in fact.  While at the feed store not 30 minutes prior to entering my office, the feed store owner had given the lady and her daughter a check for $200.  Premium money he had 'forgotten' to spend that night at the sale.  My heart started to warm.

I handed her the check that was sitting on the corner of my desk.  I explained to her how the beef judge at the fair had donated his judging fee back and wanted it to be given to a deserving kid.  The daughter, a young girl with long, white-blonde hair kept dancing around her mom's chair.  "Mom, can you believe it?!  We're like RICH now!"

The mom kept staring off into space, shaking her head.  Partly because she couldn't believe it, and partly because if she looked anywhere but up the tears in her eyes would start to spill over.

Even though I really had nothing to do with that family's good fortune, I was merely the bearer of great news, it did my heart good to get to be a part of the process.  I'm sure that judge had no idea how many folks he was truly touching when he did such a good deed.  I'm sure the feed store owner had no idea that he was absolutely melting my heart either.

This is my heartfelt thank you to them and encouragement to everyone to 'pass it on', 'pay it forward', or whatever your phrase of choice may be.  Go do something good and see if you can inadvertently turn someone's day around. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

County Fair 2015

So far, the county fair has been pretty enjoyable.  Good food, good friends, great projects and great animals.  

I travel throughout the surrounding counties enough each summer judging at other fairs to feel pretty confidant in stating that our local kids are pretty awesome.  

My (very abridged) recap of thoughts on projects include:
  • Holy cow, I wish I knew how to decorate a cake so stunningly. 
  • Holy cow, I wish I could put together such a sophisticated ensemble on a shoestring budget.
  • Holy cow, that is a dang nice looking home-raised calf.
  • Holy cow, I wish I could weld that well.
  • Holy cow, that woodworking project actually lives up to my standards.  Awesome.  (As you can see, my strengths clearly are focused upon one area.  And that motherhood has cleaned up my language immensely.)
Speaking of motherhood and children, Kenyon has enjoyed his time at the fair as well.  

If this isn't the most genius way to watch a beef show, I don't know what is.
And the award for dirtiest fair kid goes to.....
Any child under the age of 5 who had a parent brave enough to let them loose near dirt..

I can feel the criticisms coming in - "WHERE ARE HIS PARENTS?!"  Quit clutching your pearls, ladies.  His mother was a mere five feet behind him, stretched back on some bleachers and trying desperately to cool her miserable 7 1/2 month preggo body.  

His dad serves as one of the beef superintendents and was helping in the ring during the beef show.  Never fear, Kenyon and his dad got to hang out as soon as his dad finished his superhero duties.  Kenyon loved watching his dad in the ring.  If I had been out there I'm not sure he would have even glanced my direction.  



I had my opportunity to serve as superintendent of the tractor operator contest the next day.  At one o'clock in the afternoon.  In a large, open, treeless area.  In my 7 1/2 month pregnant glory.  Thank goodness one of the 4-H parents was wonderful enough to hold her shade umbrella over me.  

The tractor operator contest is one of my favorite parts of the fair, and not because I'm in charge, but because the kids (and parents) don't take themselves too seriously during this.  The kiddos take a short, written test and then must drive a small tractor and bumper pull trailer through a pattern.  The level of good-natured smack talk is hilarious.  

Where was Kenyon while I was at the fairgrounds working?  He headed to a grandma's house to beat the heat for the afternoon.
Yes, it really is hot enough out to totally justify this sort of attire (or lack thereof).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tons of Tomatoes

Early in the mornings, Kenyon and I head out to the garden and pick tomatoes.  It is heartwarming to see what pride he takes in picking, counting and placing in his bucket.  Each little tomato receives special attention and a little celebration when it makes it into the bucket.  I simply cannot soak in enough moments like these.  


"I see one more, Mom."
We saw 'one more' approximately 27 times.



"Just one more." 
Thank goodness he's around to pick those really difficult-to-reach tomatoes.  Standing on my head is completely out of the question this year.

Although we had to stop and re-position several times while carrying his bucket to the house, he absolutely did not want any help.  He is definitely homozygous stubborn.  It goes back several generations. 
"Ta da!  All done!"
I enjoy how little ones take time to celebrate all sorts of victories in life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July Happenings

I realized that I hadn't used my camera in several weeks and immediately took steps to rectify the situation.  The result?  A random compilation of the pieces that make up our crazy little life this summer.  


This kiddo is nearly two.  Feel free to come cry with me at your leisure.  His summer hobbies include: driving in his play car, helping Mom in the shop, helping Dad ship and feed cattle, picking tomatoes and shutting every gate he sees open.  He sounds possessed and his voice drops several octaves when he commands "SHUT THE GATE!"  I was concerned until Wes pointed out I sound very similar shouting "SHUT THE DOOR!" when the boys leave the fridge door open.  My bad.


A friend gave me this huge chunk of burled, live edge walnut.  I oiled it down, gave it a few coats of lacquer and some iron legs.  It now resides as a side table next to my rocking chair in the living room and I am absolutely in love.  I can't wait to spend countless hours rocking a new baby in my rocking chair and being able to look over and see this beauty next to me.  Its the little things in life.


The beginnings of some industrial shelving for our mudroom.  If it turns out great, expect an entire post detailing my process.  If it doesn't turn out, this is likely assuredly the only time you will see them.  Stay tuned.


Manna from heaven.  Meal planning has become incredibly simple since our tomatoes finally started to ripen.  At least once a day we eat bacon and tomato sandwiches.  It doesn't get much better than that.


The grasshoppers have not invaded us (yet) like they did last year, so we thankfully still have flowers to admire.  My hostas began to bloom last week and I always enjoy their delicate little blooms.





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Mother In Law Delights in Watching Me Cry

On Sunday night, I became absolutely sure that my mother-in-law must delight in watching me cry.  I am absolutely certain.  Why else would she keep gifting the new baby with clothes like this:


This child has more than enough hand-me-downs, and yet she still insists on purchasing these little onsies on clearance at Kohl's.  These little onsies that instantly bring happy tears of excitement and anticipation to my eyes each and every time I lay eyes on them.  

The nerve. 

I can't even scroll up to look at the picture anymore.  It makes me get all misty eyed and verklempt again.  

Talk amongst yourselves.  I'll give you a topic.  Rhode Island is neither a rhode nor an island.  There, I feel better, I feel better. 

(For those of you not following along with the last few sentences, that was totally not a Lutheran joke.  That was an SNL from the 90's from a wife up too early during shipping season joke.  Bear with me.)  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Play by Play

It is the beginning of shipping season in our neck of the woods (or pasture).  Kenyon enjoys getting up early to walk across the road and watch the men load out cattle.  He's pretty well gotten the process figured out and likes to tell his mama exactly what is going on.  'Cause ya' know, I never watched cattle load before he was born, much less ever helped ship loads of cattle growing up.

Sidenote:  The longer I experience this whole 'mothering' gig, the more I realize I will henceforth forevermore be known as an idiot to my children.  Sigh......

Mama, truck back up.  Chooooo (loading chute), boom, choo-chooooooooo, done.  

(For you town folk, that's how Kenyon tells me the semi pulling a pot backs up, hits the chute and sets the parking brake.)

Mama, Daddy bring cows.  Shut the gate.  Push the cows.  Cows go up.  Daddy bring cows.  Shut the gate.  Push the cows.  Cows go up.  Shut the door.  Bye bye cows!  

Load after load after load, Kenyon is so polite to explain the entire process to his mama.  I can't wait to see him in the pens in just a few short years putting all these words into actions himself.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dear Megan, This is all your fault.

Dear Megan,

I blame last night on you.

Bear with me, and please keep in mind that the previous statement holds an entirely different meaning than when we were in grad school.  Back then, 'I blame last night on you' probably meant that today would be spent in a gin induced fog.

Today, this phrase means that I spent an incredulous amount of time cleaning up potty off the bathroom floor.  All thanks to you.

It was you that got me hooked on 'The Big Bang Theory' in college.  I now love that show.  I love the sophisticated humor intermixed with absolutely juvenile shenanigans. I love it that several times a week this show can be found in mini-marathons on one of the few TV channels we actually get.  (Yep, much like in college, I'm still ridiculously cheap.)

My son, Kenyon, is now almost two.  'Member when you held that little, delicate, sweet, innocent baby?  I have no idea where that child went.  He has since been replaced with a little tornado of never ending energy.

In the past few weeks we have begun potty training, and things had been progressing nicely....until last night.  Last night, he was sitting on his potty chair in the bathroom and dutifully doing, well, his duty.  When he heard the familiar, catchy, upbeat theme song to 'The Big Bang Theory' he completely forgot his prior obligations to control bodily functions, stood up and began to dance around the bathroom.

And this is why I spent the next half hour missing my favorite program and instead mopping the floor and wiping down walls.  This is why I blame last night on you.

Yours truly,
Anna