The shock will wear off in a few days. It always does.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The shock will wear off in a few days. It always does.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Now let me ask you a question....
Do I look like someone who should be left in charge of two homesteads, two dogs, and a FARM?
I didn't think so.
Nevertheless, my entire family saw fit to jet off and leave us here, in charge. My sister left us a loooong list of farm instructions and gave me a tour of the place to be sure I knew which end was up.
I had to learn how to turn off the dryer on the grain bin if it rained really hard. (Please don't tell my sister it rained really hard and I forgot to turn off the dryer on the grain bin.)
I learned that if you leave the hose in the water tank, it'll siphon it all off overnight. (We tested this theory. It's true.)
I was instructed to feed the cats in the garage. (Um, there are no cats in the garage.)
The chore list goes on and on, but really, there ain't nothing to do. There are eggs to collect, hens to let out and shut in, and water tanks to fill. Bales of hay need to be placed every few days and the mineral feeder needs filling on occasion. Crack the ice if the water gets frozen. Don't let the goats get into the chicken coop or they'll eat all the feed. Sell the surplus eggs.
Pshaw, this farmin' stuff's easy, man.
But then I read the instructions a little closer....
*The mother cow with the swollen jawbone is getting skinny. She may die."
I'm sorry... did you say die? Did that just say "She may die?" Die as in dead-carcass-in-the-pasture die?
And there's where it gets interesting. In order for the rendering service to handle the carcass, we need to....
"drag her to the side of the road with the tractor and a chain and have the rendering company come and get her."
That's going to be fun. And it gets better. The rendering company... well, they're interesting folks. You can imagine you'd have to be a little off yer rocker to want to operate such a business, so they have some strange requirements. You see, they don't want to deal with us any more than we want to deal with them. Hence, the following instructions:
"You'll need to leave the money (cash only) in a coffee can or jar for the driver."
You read that right. We're supposed to put cash in an empty coffee can and leave it next to the carcass. On the side of the road.
And now that I've just spilled the beans on a little farm secret, don't y'all go scouring the countryside for ditch-side dead animals just so you can steal a little cash, y'hear?
As for me, I've gotta run. Gotta get my sh*t-kickers on and do some farm chores. And go whisper sweet nothing's in mama cow's ear... Sweet nothing's along the lines of "Please don't die Mama Cow. Please... PLEASE don't die Mama Cow."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It's that time of year again... the anniversary of my father's death, several annual memorial events. I try my best to squelch the uncomfortable waves of grief that begin deep down in my core, to calm my latent dread; I wait for that day when it all lifts and I can look at a picture of my dad without the bottom of my stomach dropping out. Without holding my breath.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Not always - I'm actually diplomatic to a fault, and, being quite intuitive, I'm rather adept at knowing what I can say and when. That said, it's also a happened a time or two that while Rob and I drove home from an event, he was saying, "I can't believe you said such-and-such to so-and-so." Rest assured that should I misstep, I will get a talking-to for it on the way home. Ah, he's so sensitive.
Last night was one of those blunt nights. We attended an awards ceremony hosted by one of the companies for which Rob sells. We've attended these before and while they're a nice perk - dinner, drinks, and a night's stay are on the company - they're also a wee bit awkward in that we don't usually know anyone there and, technically, they're all competitors anyhow.
It was with great relief that I ran into Julie, who worked for my father and was his right-hand woman for many years. Someone to talk to! We ended the night with the folks from her new agency, most of whom were taking full-on advantage of the "free drinks" portion of the perk.
Since Rob doesn't drink any more, and I only indulge in the occasional cocktail, we were in a rather precarious position. Hob-nobbing, sober, with competition who were - shall we say - feeling no pain was quite interesting indeed.
Not once, not twice, but three times I found myself saying, "You might want to rephrase that. Consider what you just said and try that again."
When one extremely tipsy man opened with, "I have to tell you my goat story," I remarked that he might want to rephrase that. "I have to tell you my goat story" is probably not your best choice to strike up a conversation with me. Laughter.
When another man, having just left his wife in their hotel room, said, "I just got rid of my wife," I remarked that he might want to rephrase that. I went on, "Tomorrow's headline: 'Wife of award-winning insurance agent goes missing.'" Laughter.
When a third very-drunk agent said to me, "I'm still waiting for that busload of teenagers to arrive. I guess they're not coming," I suggested he might want to rephrase that. And that perhaps he'd enjoy talking with the guy with the goat story. Laughter.
Normally, these are the kinds of things that might cause Rob to shoot me those "be careful" looks, or ask why I had to 'go there' on the way home. But he didn't. He just laughed.
Sometimes, even he likes my style.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I have this knack for guessing my birthday presents. It's not because I ask for anything in particular - I don't. In fact, when people ask what I want for my birthday, my brain flies out the back of my head and I can't think of a single thing. It's actually something I inherited - my grandfather always guesses his gifts. You could wrap a tie in a shoebox and he'd say, "Oh, you got me a tie!" before even touching the bow.
My darling husband has gotten verrrry good at paying attention to what I like these past few years and has gotten me some sa-weet gifts. I couldn't be happier. Let's just say we've come a long way from the Christmas I got him a cappucino machine and he got me an Adam Sandler movie.
It started two years ago when on Christmas morning he made me close my eyes and then wheeled in my new road bike. THAT was awesome. I adore that bike.
Last year he got me my kick-*ss digital camera. My camera rocks.
Today, when the box containing my birthday gift arrived, I just had a hunch... I hadn't had any hunches before that, but even though the box was somewhat large and unmarked, I scrunched my forehead in that knowing way and said, "I know what you got me."
That prompted Rob to begin lying; at which, thankfully, he's quite poor. He said, "I'm not really sure you're going to like it" in an attempt to throw me off, which then led to a series of guesses on my part. If he wasn't sure I'd like it, I mused, it must be something HE wants.
"A Pink Floyd CD?" I ventured... Pink Floyd makes me want to carve out the insides of my eyelids with a butter knife.
"The first five seasons of Spongebob Squarepants?" I tried again... I'd like to squeeze Spongebob Squarepants until his beady little eyes explode.
"How about 'The Best of Screamo'?" I laughed... I don't mind Screamo when my son's band is playing it, but that's all on account of a mother's love for her son, not a true appreciation for the style of music. (Sorry Brady.)
Long story short - I guessed right. But that doesn't mean I wasn't totally, completely surprised. I even danced a little jig in the kitchen, to which Brady said, surprised, "Wow - she's never done THAT before."
This sweet new lens allows me to zoom in further than ever. It means instead of zooming this close...
I can zoom THIS close.
Those pictures were taken from the same spot, using different lenses.
Instead of only zooming in this close....
I can zoom in THIS close....
I can also stand in the safety of the garage and shoot pictures of my lovely niece who was way out in the yard.
Or stand far out of the way of the kids shooting hoops and still capture this shot of my adorable nephew Armando who was giving me his pie-faced grin from afar.
Jonathan nabbed the following cool shot of a branch outside our front window. He was standing in the middle of our living room.
So far I am madly in love with this new telephoto lens. So far there's only one minor problem with being able to capture photos from far away... especially when unbeknownst to the subject....
I should've added under-eye cream to my birthday list.
As we grew older, birthdays meant fun times. Themed parties. Group trips to places like Chuck E Cheese or Great America or Shakey's. Slumber Parties. Slumber parties where somehow - and who knows how - it got leaked that there were a pile of pajama'd grrls gathered in a tent in a cornfield and boys showed up.
Later birthday celebrations meant pizza joints, dances in the round barn, movie nights where no movies were actually watched. (Sorry Mom.)
And later yet, bars and pubs. And house parties.
And if you're lucky enough to have a birthday on St. Patrick's Day, like me, there is no shortage of partiers and revelers to join you in your celebration. I have dozens and dozens of pictures taken over the years of me with who-knows-who, people who were more than willing to down a green beer, tip their cap, and jump into the fray of my birthday celebration. It all seemed like a good idea at the time.
These days, life is simpler. Quieter. And quite a bit more sober. And I'm happy as a pig in mud.
My first birthday gift of the day - well, besides Rob's sweet 'Happy Birthday' nuzzle first thing - was Brady picking up the house. And my second was Jonathan's invitation to do yoga.
As kids we don't necessarily get the whole "I don't need a present" thing. We roll our eyes when our parents say things like, "All I want is to spend time with you."
But then we grow up. And it's true. Just like all those other things our parents warned us about such as "you don't just marry the boy, you marry the family" (from Dad) and "sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do" (from Mom).
I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday morning than doing yoga with my two favorite kids in the whole wide world.
When I suggested taking a photo, Jonathan eagerly obliged and showed off his backbend.
Incidentally, when we did three backbends in a row using Rodney Yee's video, we could barely do them. We were laughing too hard as Brady moaned, "Oh my Gah! I'm dying! I can't do this! Oh my Gah!" over and over.
Here we were still laughing as I tried to get into a half-moon pose without tipping over in time for the camera to flash...
And now we're off for Birthday Gift Part II.
A few moments ago I had a sudden craving and yelled, "Let's go get french fries!"
Monday, March 16, 2009
By the way, anyone speak Greek? Because that's what the above sentence is to me.
If I have to translate it to layman's terms it would sound something like this:
"Brady! WAH! My computer won't stay connected to the internet! Fix it! What do you mean you can't fix it? I'm going to burst a blood vessel now. Please call the paramedics. Amen."
It also means I'm having trouble uploading pictures to my blog and ya'll know, if there are no pictures, I have nothing to say.
You did know that, didn't you?
That's Jonathan's explanation for why I didn't blog much last month. My photos all suddenly disappeared from Picasa and I was forlorn, lost, and twitchy. It made my muse crawl into the fetal position, suck her thumb, stick her blankie up her nostril and refuse to come out until the photos were found.
Which they were. It had something to do with the whole operating system swap-o-rama-gone-bad. Brady.
And so, with no photos to keep me focused, I can only post random, disconnected thoughts on my blog today....
Rob had a fever last night. It's weird when adults get fevers. Rather than seem especially sick, he got loopy and silly.
We ventured out to Monroe, WI today to meet up with a new-to-us homeschooling group, thanks to an invitation from Jodi of Sunflower Hill Farm who introduced herself to me at the InHome Conference and who was, incidentally, just featured in the Wisconsin State Journal. Thanks Jodi - We had fun!
Usually I have to boot Jonathan out of my bed so I can go to sleep. The last two nights I had to boot Brady out. He hasn't done that in approximately 7.6 years.
There is a pair of naaaasty looking socks on my staircase. I refuse to touch them. Which means they'll be there for a long, long time.
It's 10pm and I should be in bed before I turn into a pumpkin.
But instead of sleeping, I'll end up watching Iron Chef America on the Food Network. Which gets my heart-rate up. Seriously. I get sooo nervous. I'm a dork like that.
Today I was asked to serve on the planning committees for TWO conferences. I'm going to feel badly about letting one of them down. Eenie Meenie Miny Mo.
Jonathan is upset with me tonight because I wouldn't do yoga with him. It's part of his new, "I want to get stronger and more fit" plan, which he announced tonight. This from a kid who has worked out every day since January 1st.
I only said no because I'd just gotten home from a 2-hour stint at the gym, was already showered, and had a full stomach. I promised we'd do it tomorrow morning. OM-baby-OM.
I decided today that I jive with country folks better than city folks. City folks are cool, hip, urban, and intellectual. Country folks talk about things like growing horseradish and suckling pigs and have kids who run around barefoot with dirty toes. I'm intimidated by city folks. Country folks are kin. City folks make me realize just how unhip I am. Country folks make me relax and feel like expanding my garden by 2.5 acres.
I sometimes make sweeping generalizations I later regret.
Tomorrow is my birthday.
To cool Rob's feverish head, I placed a cold, wet washcloth on his forehead. Which immediately prompted his famous Ferris Bueller impersonation. The part where he's faking-sick for his mom.
My mom is making Boston Cream Pie for my birthday.
I like inchworms. Even though they send a shiver up my spine.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I am an idea grrrl. But I'm not a follow-through-on-my-ideas kind of grrrl. I have a vision. In fact, I have several visions. I have new visions all the time. But I don't necessarily do anything about it.
I've come up with all sorts of ideas, grand schemes, life plans. Some are huge and somewhat unrealistic - living in a cooperative community, opening a creative playspace museum for children - but others are smallish and entirely conceivable should I just get to work - hosting round-table discussions in my home, hosting 'Fridays in the Field' field trips for homeschoolers, speaking on unschooling.
I just have trouble believing in my own 'credentials.' In true codependent form, I am my own worst critic. But where most successful people simply adapt their strategy when they fail, rather than quit or get derailed, I talk myself out of things before I ever get started.
It's not always true. There are plenty of things I do and accomplish. What I get hung up on, though, are those things that involve really putting myself out there, really marketing myself. I can do the occasional class for homeschoolers, tutor the occasional student, direct the occasional play, arrange the occasional PR for an event; but tossing my name into the hat for new things - big new things - intimidates me.
I like entering through the back door. I like it when my debut occurs organically, by happenstance, or accidentally. Once I'm in, once I've accomplished something, once I've established I can do a thing, then I'm comfortable. In the end I even find myself more brazen then ever, buoyed by my own dumb luck. Next thing you know, I go from saying I'll serve cookies at an event to running the operation the following year. I love that.
And that's how it happened that I'm speaking at next year's
Before attending this year's event, I waited until the last minute to submit a proposal for a roundtable discussion. Naturally, the slots were filled. But it so happened that I know Debra through our blogs, and when she heard I was coming she invited me to join her panel and share my story for their "Redesigning Education" workshop. It went very well and I enjoyed it very much.
Later that evening, the UWWG organizer, Carol Reinhard said she heard good things about our talk and yesterday, I got my official invitation to speak at next year's event!
And it all happened without my having to put myself out there; without having to say, "Hire me: I'm a speaker."
I'm still irritated with myself, though. I'd like to get over my insecurities, get past my fears, and take more initiative to do some of the big things I long to do. Perhaps that means I need to pick the brains of those who do these things. Perhaps that means I need to brush up on marketing skills. Perhaps that means I need to commit myself to my vision on a regular basis. Perhaps that means doing for myself what I urge others to do - treat myself gently and believe in my own gifts. And if definitely means I need to quit prioritizing sweeping the floor over writing another article to submit to homeschooling magazines.
I sold another small article this week. Occasionally I submit freelance articles to a middle-man organization called Constant Content. It's a site that sells your content to buyers seeking articles for their publications, newsletters, and blogs. Constant Content gets a cut, of course, and you don't get a byline (essentially, you're a ghostwriter) but it's been a good way to get my feet wet; see if I'm publishable. Today I received notice that I sold usage rights to an article I wrote some time ago; one that I thought was destined to languish on the site forever. A fun surprise!
These small accomplishments revive my enthusiasm for big dreams and visions. Maybe I really am a writer. Maybe I really can be a speaker.
Today, I grabbed my notebook and gathered all the workshop ideas I've been jotting down for many months. They were scattered and disconnected ideas, penned while I was driving and had an "aha" moment, or inspired by the words of another speaker, or revealed as I answered the questions of a new and worried unschooler. I compiled the ideas into workshops. I even wrote the descriptions.
Too many times I'd think,"I want to speak too" only to have that thought followed by, "But on what topic?" Unschooling is an obvious choice, sure, but even that needed to be fleshed out a bit.
Now I am one giant step closer to putting myself out there. Have topics - will speak.
Sharing this with you on my blog is giant step #2.
I'll work on the other obstacles another day.
Friday, March 13, 2009
So I'm going to let my nephew Armando explain it. In pictures.
When one first considers the symbolism of a new baby being born - the granddaughter of my mom's new fiance - on the 3rd anniversary of my father's death, one might at first think,
"I don't want to talk about it."
Or, one might even think,
"This is a stupid day and you can't make me think about it."
Upon further reflection, however, the significance of the events may begin to sink in, causing one to think,
"That IS pretty crazy."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
Here is the lovely Jillian.
We rarely see Jillian anymore so it was fun to hang out with her.
There are about six dozen more photos of Jillian just like these.
Other friends were there too, but their parents aren't cool with their photos going on my blog.
Who played along for a while...
And then grew a little crazed....
Jonathan and his friend Colin checked in from the Family Dance from time to time.
And therefore got their picture taken. 62 times.
And even the adults were targeted. Rob's always game for silliness. But in case he wants to kill me for that photo, here's a better one:
Not that he'd kill me. I mean, who'd wash his socks, butter his toast, and greet him at the door after work with his slippers and dinner ready?
No really, who? Because he'd probably really like that.