Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Way We Celebrate

Fun.  We will find a way to have it, especially on an important day like Father's day.  Some people may think that living in the country limits the possibilities and opportunities for fun but I say, "Not so, my friends, not so."

In fact living in the country naturally inspires creativity and ingenuity.  Or, desperation.  Or both.  Or all.

Really, who do you think came up with the leisurely pastimes of hay rack rides and cow tipping?? City folks?? I think not.

Inspiration came to us this past weekend by way of water.  Steve and the boys got together with the cousins and transformed an old hay tarp into a humungo slip-'n-slide. Needless to say, we had a blast! In honor of the event, we would like to share some essential tips with anyone considering the same recreational quest:

1.  Remove all forms of friction if possible.  The slipperyer the better! (Yes, that's a word. It's in the slip-n-slide handbook. You know, the one I'm currently typing...)  Steve suggested dish soap, but ya know they put that "do not put in contact with the eyes" warning on the label for certain people. People like us, actually.
Baby soap is a better option.  Bet ya didn't know that the "no more tears" logo wasn't just for bath time! (Note the tidal waves of glorious soapy foam below.  Country folk also know how to multi-task and conserve - it was bath, laundry and entertainment at a discount price!)
Baby soap is meant for more than baby buns, or for removing tight wedding rings off of fat fingers.  Chips, salsa and beer.  That's the recipe for swelling.  Happens every time.  Arrrrr. Moving on...

2.  Have the kids take all initial test runs.  Just in case, because you never know if there are bumpy rocks under the tarp or a few not-so-slick spots here and there.  Mom and Pop are too old for such risky business.  Leave it to the young little whipper-snappers.
3.  Keep a stash of juice-boxes on hand just in case the water warriors get thirsty.  We told them not to drink the soapy water, but I guess they have to learn the hard way.  (Kidding! But, it does look like they've just come out of the desert and discovered the "springs of eternal bliss.")
4.  Tie up the pets.  They tend to get in the way of the action.  And, they too think the frothy delight is an irresistible temptation on a hot day...
5.  Make sure you have enough room to get a running start...
6.  Initiate challenges. For instance, who can slide the farthest (dad won),
 Kids vs. Dad, 
Mom vs. Dad...(Mom won by a strong half-inch.  It was a Michael Phelps sort of victory.),
who can create the all around best splash, and of course, don't forget...
who's sportin' the best farmer tan (the boys tied, straight across on that one!),
 who can exhibit the greatest focus (a tie between George and Henry),
and, finally, who has the cutest tummy.  Charles was napping, so the prize for runner-up goes to Henry.
 7.  Check every now and then to be sure that Dad is smiling, if in fact you are celebrating Father's Day in our preferred fashion!
That's how it's done!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author Unknown
As thoughts of Father's Day have lingered in my mind over the past few days, I knew that I wanted to do something special for Steve. Days often pass by quickly in this household, and we don't always slow down and take the time to express our gratitude for each other.  Through a few conversations I recently had with the boys about their Dad, they expressed not only their love and admiration for him, but also how grateful they are for him.  They spoke of him with exuberant joy, interrupting one another with funny stories and bragging testimonies of their experiences with him.  Oh, how blessed I felt listening to them triumphantly praise and honor their papa with heaps of love and thanksgiving!  A testimony indeed to the incredible father he is to our boys.  Here are some snippets of our conversation, my questions to them are italicized:
From Benedict:
"Hey, Dad, this Father's Day I want to thank you for all of the fun things you take time to do with us. Not every dad gets to take their sons to do fun things. Even though I have many memories of doing things with you like sports and hunting, my most favorite thing so far is the ski trip we took last winter.  It was a blast!" Why do you look up to your dad, Benedict? "Because he has a strong faith, and when I grow up I want to have a strong faith like him."
From Andrew:
"My dad is great because he took me to every single wrestling match last year.  He coached me a lot and told me he was proud of me.  I really admire my dad, because he is such a good athlete. I am thankful to him for helping me get my calf, Rosemary, for 4-H." 
How do you feel most loved by dad, Andrew? "Well, when I do things wrong and I feel bad about it, he helps me to understand my mistakes and how I can fix them, then I feel better about myself."

From George:
"My dad is so awesome because if anything is ever broken he can fix it.  I know he is very crazy, because Granny tells me funny stories about things my dad did when he was young like me.  I always laugh at him!  I like to make crafts for my dad with glue and I like to trace pictures for him and surprise him when he comes home from working all day." 
What do you love most about your dad, George?  "Well, I love how he coaches me in wrestling and football and spends time with me even though he's busy."

From Henry:
Henry, what's your most favorite thing to do with daddy? "I like to ride the tractor with daddy and get tools and work on things." Anything else? "And, I like to eat snacks, too, and steal his beer (Giggling)!"
From Charles:
"Daddy, if I could tell you with words how very much I love you I would. For now, I will tell you with my eyes. You will know each time I look into your eyes and smile!  My mommy tells me every day just how lucky I am to have a daddy like you.  She says that when I get bigger we will conquer the world together, just you and me and my big brothers.
Your soft shoulder is one of my favorite places to sleep, and when you hold me in your strong arms, I feel safe and warm.  Thank you for being my daddy - I just love being your little 'Sugar Bear!'"


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

True Grit

Last weekend Steve and I watched the movie True Grit. The original John Wayne version is better, but that's just my opinion. Those western movies make me pine for the past.  I've always had a bit of a fascination with pioneer people. Like this lady here. Can anyone compare with Ma Ingalls?  She was the Martha Stewart of the plains, only better.  Ma never went to jail :). I remember being sorely disappointed when my mom revealed to me that people in those days did not have pretty skin, perfect hair and white teeth - if they had teeth.  Bummer.
The pioneers were so courageous, industrious, persevering and often downright fearless.  When I have bouts of self pity as I agonize over the fountains of laundry cascading out of the hamper or another dreaded trip to town with the clan to run errands, I just think of all those pioneer women, who in cumbersome corsets, with calloused hands braved the exhausting endeavors of homesteading.

Both of my parents were raised on farms.  It's impossible to rest on your laurels when you're raised on a farm...or if you are raised by people who were raised on a farm.  I tried some of that laurel-resting in my youth, and was very unsuccessful. Canning, sewing, painting, mowing - you name it, we did it. If there was work to be done there were kids there to help.

We_Can_Do_It!.jpgNow, my mom could kill, dress and fry a chicken at the age of 9.  If I could have done that at the age of 9, I would have expected a trophy, demanded an allowance and voluntarily submitted my picture to the local newspaper.  She just knew how to contribute, how to be helpful, and so did my dad.

The value of hard work and dedication demonstrated to me by my parents and grandparents has served as a great motivator when I have been faced with tasks which require not only a creative mind, but a lot of endurance and the application of a little "elbow grease," as my dad used to say.

Now, don't get me wrong, I l-o-v-e to have help, and if I could have my way, there are just some chores that I dream of conquering in a Jetson-type world. Having a space-age gadget to stylize my mane and wardrobe, tackle the laundry, and suds up the dishes at the same time would be out of this world (wink)!

After living in our former newly-constructed/landscaped home in Johnson County suburbia, it's been so good for the boys to be a part of the process of making a home a home, from the ground up. For the past nine months, I have been channeling Caroline Ingalls - you know, moving to the country, not having a lawn, dirt caked in the windows, critters in the house (besides the kids). Minus the washboards, cow milking and a fiddle playing, curly-haired hubby, were practically twins. Oh, and I don't have any girls.  Ok, were not really the same. But, kinda.
In the summer, my abode is a tad neglected, because I prefer to be outside working in the garden, planting flowers, snapping nature photos and hiding from...I mean playing sports with the kiddos. One of the big DIY projects we are tackling as a family is landscaping around the house.  
How do you do this, you ask, with a newborn baby??  Very, very slowly and patiently.  With a plan, the right tools, and an army of boys bribed with the promise of unlimited popsicles, anything is possible.
Before taking on such a project, be sure that you have:

More Muscles,
A tractor-driving Christmas puppy??,
An ancient rusty roto-tiller named Bessie who requires at least 10 minutes of brow sweat and naughty words to get started. (Handy for teaching the boys a lesson in perseverance while you run into the house and grab a hops and barley based refreshment for you and the hub.
And finally, don't forget...
Free and abundant entertainment for those who might otherwise be underfoot or trying to "trim" the newly-purchased plants. May I suggest,
worms??  We love worms!
And, we love a dad who will listen to endless stories about worms!
Laurel-resters are not allowed. Even if they are resting on the deck that they built with their bare hands. Beat it, Mr. Laurel-Rester.  
I am sure that in no time at all, my freshly planted knock-out roses, sprays of lavender and
mounds of day-lillies will soon blossom and bloom with the best of them....
flagstone walk.jpg
Ok, maybe not, but one can dream can't she?? Here are just a few more flash-cards from my imagination...
I dream of greenhouses like this one!
And, this one too!
This serene spot just screams, "Hey you, get your little laurels over here and park it!"
Copy of beautiful cottage garden.JPG.jpg
VW Bus - garden accents.JPG.jpg
Gardener's never lack creativity!  Flower power!


Didn't you ever see the Jetsons?? 
Do you think Rosie can pull weeds??