This was it. Time flew by and my baby boy went to kindergarten this year. Just like every other teary-eyed mom that sent their first child to school, I spent the day, and the weeks leading up to the first school day, in a sad little stupor. My husband thought it was funny to bring it up, to mention that he’d be at school all day, every day, and that he was a big boy now. I’d start to cry every time. While I was having mini-meltdowns throughout the summer, my son was soooo excited! He loves new things and had been asking about school all summer.
“When can I go to all day school?”
“Is tomorrow when I start school?”
“Will the teacher get on to me if I pick my nose in school?”
Ugh! With parent-teacher conferences just around the corner, here is where my problem lies. Did I teach him everything he needs to know? Obviously, he didn’t know that picking his nose in public was gross, so I missed some essential lessons in there somewhere. I want him to be successful, happy, and kind. I’ve read my fair share of parenting books, and I’ve come to realize after finishing many of those books, that what I have already done, at the tender age of five years old, will be what most influences him for the rest of his life. THE REST OF HIS LIFE! Essentially, all these books are telling me it’s too late. So, I must be satisfied with what he’s already learned. Here are some of the things he has either learned on his own or has learned from us:
1.) How to milk a cow using a single-milking machine or by hand - Will he do either one if asked? Nope, but he knows how. Does he drink the milk? A seriously gross amount. One day milking the cow will be a chore off my husband’s hands, but until then, he will continue to ask me to do it, and until my dying day, I will say no.
2.) His ABCs, his numbers, how to write his name, and, 80% of the time, our phone number - All the other things are important, but nothing was more stressful than trying to teach him our phone number. He thought it sounded better with a three beat interval, skipping one number so it came out to his beat, and I would get worked up as I pictured him getting kidnapped or lost, trying to tell a police officer the number, but not quite getting it. For awhile we just settled on him knowing the nearest town to our farm. I told him, “Tell them you're from Armstrong. Once they take you there, everyone will know who you belong too. You’re obviously a Stroupe.” Dominant genes!
3.) How to suck up to the teacher - I was a teacher, so he’s heard a million times that he needs to be nice to the teacher. He’s even heard that he should tell her, “Good morning!,” “Have a good weekend!,” and “My mommy will give you a present to make up for my orneriness.”
4.) The difference between a sheep and a goat - Most kids can’t tell the difference, but he can. This is from pawning him off on Daddy to move the sheep or Grandma to do goat chores. He thinks he’s an expert at moving them, feeding them, and fencing them in, but if he has dominant Stroupe genes, the last one is still questionable.
5.) How to steal a heart - Sorry, but he’s a heartbreaker. He is the cutest little booger you’ll ever meet, and he’s got a winning smile and bright, blue eyes that shoot arrows through your heart. Just ask my friends - they just think he’s the sweetest, well, until he brings them #6.
6.) How to find bugs anywhere - My boy may not grow up to be a farmer, and I’m more than cool with that. I hope he lives in a city with a grocery store in walking distance, a job that pays comfortably well, with great insurance, and enough room in his house so I can come visit for extended periods of time. I’m not sure finding bugs will bring that about, but he loves to tag along during farm chores, mostly to find new places to explore. He digs in the dirt (never look at his fingernails) and finds all kinds of creepy crawlers. He is not afraid of a bug and improvises places to stash them in a second. Never drink out of a cup he’s handed you, never wear his hats, and don’t even let him into your vicinity without a thorough shake down.
7.) How to wash his hands, say thank you and your welcome and excuse me, and to raise his hand - I’m saying he knows how to do all of these things, but I didn’t say he will choose to actually do any of them.
8.) How to drive a 4-wheeler (and a car with some assistance) - Currently the 4-wheeler is parked with the keys hidden because that’s what happens when little farm boys get in trouble, but he has learned to drive it, and even shift it without being taught. That was on purpose. I would much rather it blow up then to have him being reckless, but he can smell danger from a mile away, and figured it out on his own.
9.) How to open gates - I taught him this a while ago for no other reason than to save myself from having to get out of the car.
10.) Most importantly, how to treat people with kindness - This doesn’t include his brother; they are just mean to each other one second and hugging it out the next, but everyone else is his best friend. We taught him to say nice things to people to “fill their bucket” and to punch a bully in the face (Daddy’s words, not mine). Don’t worry, I’ve seen him around a bully, and despite the inadequate education of the latter, he tries to kill them with kindness.
Tomorrow we’ll learn if he’s progressing in pronunciation, sight words, classroom rules, and all that jazz. I’m going to try to remember that at this point, none of that matters. It’s kindergarten. I only went to half day kindergarten. We even napped during those few hours, and I still came out a genius. Yes, a genius, I say!
He may not be able to write his numbers in the correct direction or stay in line in the hallway, but as long as he remembers #10, I’m going to call it a win because nothing is more important to me. And if for some reason I’ve been fooled, and he turns out to be the bully, and has completely forgotten our lesson on “filling buckets,” I will take away all his toys, make him milk the cow by hand, and even shovel some poop for the fun of it, because when it comes to being mean to someone else, in the words of Tina Fey, “For I will not have that S&#@. I will not have it.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, so I thought, “What better way to celebrate than alerting everyone that it’s my birthday?”
I’m actually using my birthday present from my husband, a nap and a free afternoon to work, to write this. I felt like Kelly Kapor from The Office being tucked in as everyone backed out of the room for such a magic occasion as a middle-of-the-afternoon nap. Thankfully, I wasn’t woken up by Dwight Shrute with a pair of cymbals ringing in my ears. Instead of getting right back to “mommy work,” I was also informed that I have a few hours free. Yes, I was given the ultimate gift, or at least the gift than any mom would love to have - a nap AND free time.
So while I recover from the grogginess that always comes with an unexpected siesta, I’m going to ramble about how awesome 35 really is. If my husband thought I’d use this time to clean the house, well, his mistake. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
The day that I turned 30, five short years ago, I turned off my phone as soon as I woke up, ignored social media, and told my husband not to mention my birthday. I felt old. HAHAHAHA! That’s crazy, I know, but that’s how I felt.
Let me explain.
I had my first son a few months prior, so sleep wasn’t happening at the length that any man would be able to handle. I was on my second round of mastitis, lugging out the breast pump too many times a day since my son didn’t latch. I was a mommy machine. I had no idea how I was going to return to my classroom in the next few weeks. It seemed impossible. I also found my first gray hair and had to sell my beloved sports car, both moments I blame on my first born and always will. If he would like to repay me one day by buying me an old classic muscle car, I would not hesitate to snatch it up, but in no uncertain terms is he allowed to buy, drive, or stand near one for the rest of his life. I’ve read that Hondas get great crash test ratings, so that’s what he should drive, always under the speed limit.
At the end of that day, I finally plugged back in, heard and read all the well wishes, and had a good cry.
Now, five years later, that makes me laugh.
What a silly mess I was! Honestly though, I think we all have to hit that moment before we turn around and decide, “Ahhhhh, who give a s#*&?!” I will tell you that right now I am drinking iced tea out of a wine glass because 1.) I don’t want to wash two glasses later on and I know I’ll be drinking a glass of wine this evening and 2.) it makes me feel classy. And there lies that fantastic part of growing older. Slowly but surely, I’m leaving behind that awful adolescent fear of what other people think of me. Not 100%, but as I look around at the older people around me, I secretly hope that I make it to at least 90 because of the things I can say and get away with.
In the last five years I have quit a job that I loved when someone made it miserable. It was a completely insane time in my life but so very important. I was lucky enough to find a job where I made more money, loved my coworkers, and had an amazing boss. I scrimped and saved like any regular joe tightwad would do - for no reason - then found my reason after becoming pregnant again and deciding, “Well, you only live once, so might as well live day in and day out snuggling babies and tickling the pee out of your children while you can.” Even though I loved my new job, and would still need a job once my kids were older, I risked the anger of a great employer to jump ship after a year. I learned that great employers don’t get mad. They wish you luck and keep in contact to make sure you’ll come back when you’re ready.
My time at home became less about snuggles and tickling and more about wiping butts and dealing with other gross things that little boys think are cool, but it’s been the greatest time of my life. Not only am I a mom, but I’m an avid volunteer, which is really the most stressful but reaffirming thing someone can do with their life. A plus about volunteering as a mom, you can take your kids with you everywhere. You are a volunteer, so no one is going to complain if you drag your kids along with you. You are in high demand, so they’ll take you in a heartbeat, along with your screaming toddler and super inquisitive preschooler.
In the last five years I have also almost entirely removed myself from helping around the farm. I’m usually only asked to water sheep or calves that are near the house, house a dying calf or lamb in my kitchen for their last few hours, or answer questions like “Should I do ‘this or that’ on the farm?” which I always have no answer for. This will pass as the kids get older and won’t need constant supervision, but then again, won’t they be big enough to help my husband instead?
I have also recently started a little bitty, small business. I saw something that was needed and said, “I can do that,” and I did. Do I make lots of money? Nope. Am I having fun? Heck yeah. More importantly, am I helping people? Yes.
It’s amazing how awesome getting older can be. Yes, sometimes you have more worries, more responsibilities, but I feel like I’m slowly becoming the new Evelyn from Fried Green Tomatoes when, after taking her parking spot, two young women say snarkily, “Face it lady, we’re younger and faster!” and after she rear ends their car multiple times to their horror, she says, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance!”
I know I sound braggy, but life is pretty good, and it’s my birthday, so bare with me. I’m a lucky, lucky, lucky lady, and not everyone can say that. I have two beautiful boys, a great husband, a great life, and like Evelyn, some insurance. For all my English teacher friends, if I get hit by a truck tomorrow, feel free to use this as an example of irony in your classrooms. I approve.
So everyone together now, “Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you….”
No, okay, that’s cool. :)
It’s Father’s Day, but I’m not going to make pancakes or biscuits and gravy for my husband. He’s happier eating an oatmeal cream pie and drinking a Mountain Dew to get a real sugar rush before the work day begins, and around here, every day is a work day.
He’ll get a practical present because I’m the worst gift giver, maybe a drawing from our sons if I can get them to sit down long enough to finish it, and some hugs and kisses. Other than that, Father’s Day, like other holidays, roll on the same as any other day.
Before he gets to work though, I would like to say thank you to my husband for being the greatest dad on earth. The best, possibly on the planet. Hugely amazing, the greatest.
Honestly, he is a great father, and he’s always there for his boys, loves to hang out with them, and makes them laugh hysterically at least 20 times a day. A man and his minions are inseparable.
So, thank you John, for being such a great dad, for teaching our boys how to have fun, how to work hard, how to be empathetic and kind, and most importantly, how to be a huge dork.
We love you!
A man and his minions....
When I was in elementary school, there’s nothing I remember more than the excitement of getting a Scholastic book order. I loved to read, I loved the smell of books, and I loved sprawling out on the livingroom floor with my four page book order so I could circle the books that I wanted and then finally order the one that my mom made me narrow it down to from the, well, the whole pages that I had marked. Now, those book orders are truly a book, probably 30 pages in length, and you can order online, so it’s a good task that my son can do at the table after school so I can get dinner started. I then enter in all the books that he marked on the online shopping cart, wait a day or two, and finally let him narrow it down to a few books after he’s forgotten most of them, making the decision making process a little easier.
Most of those Scholastic books come with little trinkets, toys, or stickers. My oldest will take his new books to bed with him and when I go into his room in the morning, I find a whole mess of stickers newly placed on the wall beside his bed. Our house isn’t done, so he gets free reign over his room (at least with stickers anyway). He loves the books, they’re inexpensive, and he becomes very attached to the things that come with them. He has received a tiny bulldozer, Lego Batman and Superman, a large dragon tooth on a necklace, and a stuffed My Little Pony, which he said was for me, but he hasn’t let me play with it since the order came in.
He becomes very attached to these little toys for a few days, maybe longer, and he carries them everywhere with him. That’s how we ended up spending a few days searching everywhere for a three inch Smurf.
He got this Smurf when I ordered Rain, Rain, Smurf Away, and I assume the tiny Smurf that came with it is Handy Smurf because that’s who the story is about, but it could have been about Grouchy or any number of other Smurfs because a lot of them look the same. In case you were interested, Handy builds a machine to turn rain clouds into sunshine. Also, if you were wondering, no, I don’t remember all the Smurfs. The book was very good at explaining who was who, but I also looked at a Wikipedia page, which might have had thousands of Smurf characters listed on it.
To all the boys and girls out there thinking, “Hey, she used to teach English, always told us not to use Wikipedia as a source, and she just cited it. Hypocrite!!!”
Yes, I cited Wikipedia for Smurfs, not for accurate information for your persuasive paper on the impact of the Kennedy Administration on the surge of sciences in schools. Please tell me you understand the difference. If not, I feel like the years I spent nagging about that and the importance of The Goonies were meaningless.
I’ll have to go back to teaching eventually, so I needed to make that clear so they couldn’t use it against me.
Back to the Smurf. Handy Smurf was the toy of the moment for about three hours. My son brought him home after school in excitement. He played with him, made him a spaceship out of Duplos, and fought over him with his little brother.
Then Daddy asked, “Wanna come with me to milk the cow?”
But Handy Smurf was not forgotten. This was just his thing. Handy needed to be there with his handy skills in case the 4-wheelers broke down, the milker stalled, or the gate fell off its post, all likely possibilities.
As they got on their 4-wheelers, finding no pockets in his shorts, he put poor Handy Smurf in his underwear for safe keeping. He wears gym shorts most of the time, and none of them have pockets, so after witnessing that, I think I should sanitize a lot of toys. My husband and the boys went to the corral and then checked some fence. They came home, and five minutes after coming home my son yelled, “Oh no! Where’s my Smurf?!”
I assumed that he had walked in with the Smurf and lost him in his room where he’d been playing. Nope! It was not there - anywhere. Then I asked him if he’d brought it in with him.
He got teary-eyed realizing the implication of his answer, “I don’t think I did…”
So Handy Smurf was lost on the farm. Being the sucker that I am for a teary-eyed little boy, I promised we’d look for him the next day. And that’s just what we did, all day.
We started at the house again, looking everywhere that I thought he’d stopped and then the whole house. We then checked the garage and I even checked every nook and cranny of his little 4-wheeler in case it had fallen into some mechanical part. Then we had to prepare for afternoon preschool, but right after school, we were right back at it. My husband took our younger son along on some errands, so we went for a hike to the corral. We checked the corral yard, the chutes, the stock trailer, the tanks, but no Smurf.
I questioned him about where he last saw the Smurf, and after taking a few moments to think, he said, “Well, I played with him in the corral, then I put him back in my underwear. We rode our 4-wheelers to check fence.”
I had asked this question previously, but I guess all that searching had jogged his memory enough to exclude the one place we had already searched high and low.
So off we went to search wherever they had gone to check fence, which could have been anywhere on 150 acres, but for a five-year-old that never has any idea where his shoes are, he had remarkable clarity for the exact direction they had gone. Over the hills and through the woods, he even remembered that he had stopped his 4-wheeler at a pond when Daddy told him not to and was quick enough to give his Smurf a dip in the connecting tank before jumping back on the 4-wheeler. I checked the tank and the ground around it thoroughly, but no Handy Smurf. We continued to walk through the field and into the woods, crossing multiple hot wire fences. Thank goodness there were lots of spots to climb under and step over (hence, the reason cows are never where they are suppose to be).
Our hike had led us to the end of the line, a little stream that my son said he’d been playing in while my husband looked for a stray cow. There were lots of dead leaves on the ground, so I pictured Handy Smurf buried under them, forever lost, to be found in a thousand years by paleontologists certain that it was an idol of a long lost religion because they had already found so many of them in other areas, along with multiple womanly shaped dolls, but ones that most certainly could not have possibly stood erect without severe back problems, and little turtles with human arms and legs and archaic weapons.
I gave up on the search. We headed back and kept looking as we walked, but I had definitely given up seriously looking for him in piles of leaves, tall grass, or even in my dirty home. If he wanted to be found, he needed to make it happen.
He made it happen a few days later, as I was picking up laundry, and saw a sock peeking out for under the bed. I got on my hands and knees, assuming there was another sock under there with it and like any adult, I’m in an ongoing and futile war with mismatched socks.
As I peeked under the bed, there was the Smurf, standing upright and looking right at me. Yeah, a Smurf isn’t scary, but when you aren’t expecting it and a large-eyed toy seems to be staring at you in the dark, it’s kind of creepy. It also felt like I caught him in the act, like he was Woody from Toy Story, and he was frozen in place as I entered the room unexpectedly because I am almost certain I checked under the bed when we originally searched the house.
Then I thought, “I just walked all over this farm looking for this Smurf, and he’s been here the whole time.”
I asked my son about it, “Hey, guess what I found under the bed?”
Like it had just dawned on him in that exact moment, he replied, “Oh yeah, my Smurf. He was hiding under there so Baby Godzilla wouldn’t steal him.”
Baby Godzilla is what we call my younger son when he gets in a destructive mood and just wants to throw toys and knock over construction of Lincoln Log and Legos.
He took the Smurf and gave him a hug and took him outside to play. As I watched, he promptly saw something more interesting, dropped the Smurf in the grass, and moved on.
Ugh (eye roll).
I did the smart thing though. This time I quickly picked up the Smurf and hid him away so I would be his favorite when I was able to produce the Smurf in the next moment of crisis. I last used it during the baby’s naptime. The photos below are brought to you by Nap Time Photography by Aiden. On a positive note, I did get a lot of exercise, I cleaned a little bit while I searched in the house, and I got to be Super Mom for a few minutes after I found him. Those few minutes are worth it.
It’s spring time again, which means we’re suppose to get that garden planted and lawn mown, both of which we haven’t done. Technically, we have started, just haven’t finished. We broke the tiller in the process of starting the garden, not even our own tiller, the in-laws tiller. It’s currently getting worked on while I spend any free moment with extra energy in the garden with a hoe, so I’m not getting very far because I don’t have a lot of free moments and let’s face it, I don’t have the muscle tone for that. My husband did get the mower started, but his only purpose was to see that it started, but thinking it was a waste just to start it, he drove it through the yard like a maze trying to avoid toys and patio furniture.
One reason we can’t get anything done is because the spring season brings on the lambing season. It’s been a little chaotic around here. Just exhausting. So this has been our routine:
It’s been so much work playing with those lambs. ;) I don’t know why my husband is tired though.
Last month I subbed for a P.E. teacher friend of mine who was going to be out of commission for a few weeks. There are a few things that I do well: teach English, eat just about anything in large quantities, and be competitive. Notice that I didn’t say I am athletic, but competitive. Yes, I am competitive, so I am one of those few substitutes in the area that enjoys subbing in P.E., not for the athleticism, but for the competition of who wins the volleyball game or who hits a homerun during wiffle ball, or who can I harass as I chase them around the court while they run warm up laps and while yelling, “Don’t let an old lady beat you!” as I tailgate them, slightly stepping on the backs of their shoes to freak them out.
I should clarify that I enjoy subbing for high school P.E. I would walk into an elementary P.E. class like I was Dorothy coming upon the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. Those little ones are possessed and ready to take you down. I’ll stick to my size, thank you very much.
A couple of days before I was supposed to start subbing, my husband finished up a cattle shoot and scale and wanted to show it off. He coaxed me into the contraption before I realized that to my right were numbers flashing before my eyes like a game on The Price is Right. At one time we had a scale in the house, but I hadn’t seen it in a long time and didn’t weigh myself much anyway. I have pretty good genetics and a pregnancy experience that seems more like a serious illness, so thanks to hanging over a toilet for nine months before I had my children, I haven’t changed clothing sizes in years, so I just haven’t been on a scale since my last doctor’s appointment, which was six weeks after giving birth. I felt like an extreme dieter after pushing a baby out of me.
As I read the numbers flashing on the cattle scale, I was surprised. Wait! No! There was an eight pound difference for sure. I jumped off the scale quickly and yelled at my husband to get on so I could see if it was correct. He said that his weight seemed normal, so I looked at myself. It didn’t look any different, but these things are gradual. Clothes are also stretchy now, so I could probably gain 20 pounds without even realizing it. I honestly wouldn’t change that for the world though. The poor women who had to wear corsets and pointy bras would be skipping with joy if they were around for our clothing, but sadly, they didn’t survive constriction and pokey-metal-object injuries from their own clothing.
After accepting the fact that my clothing has definitely been deceiving me, I decided that I was going to make this subbing experience a workout session, all day, everyday. After spending the first two days playing and running with every class, I decided that I would die at that rate, so I toned it down and just played with the ones I liked and spent the other classes just yelling at them to run harder, jump higher, and be quiet so I could stretch and read in peace.
The competitive side of me had kicked in, so I would have hurt myself seriously if I didn’t tone it down. During one class, we were playing knock out and toward the end of the hour, we started a new game with the first shot from half court. It came down to two students and me, and we just continually made shots. I’d have to sprint for my ball, run back to half court, attempt a shot from half court that I could never make in my life, scramble after it, get closer and make a reasonable shot just to sprint back to half court and start all over. After ten rounds of this, I seriously screamed at the girl behind me, begging, “Just get me out, I’m dying,” as I still tried to make the shot. Thank goodness her ball hit mine, sending it flying down the court, giving her enough time to beat me, finally. I laid on the floor, sweating like a pig, and whispered like Rose from Titanic, “Put the balls up, go get dressed, and come back to make sure I’m alive.”
No one ever came back to check on me. Kids these days! Geez!
Wiffle ball was by far my favorite though. My high school coach came out in me. When a game is being played, you should worry about nothing except precision, intensity, and above all WINNING! I would direct them on base running as I was running them down, two steps behind, trying to make the most out of a hit between players. I tackled another student trying to get to home as I was running her down with the ball, but to be fair, she was just as competitive as me and only ran home because she thought she’d take advantage of the old lady (me) subbing. I still say she was out, but I called her safe because 1.) it was close, 2.) I was slightly dazed because I was flat on my back after that tumble, staring straight into the sun, and 3.) Ummmm, I didn’t want to get sued.
I did warm ups with some of the classes, I lifted weights, played volleyball, basketball, and wiffle ball, I set up heavy posts and nets and jogged as I set up bases in the few minutes between classes.
Was I eating healthier food, you ask?
No, that’s crazy. I was ordering from the bakery occasionally and eating my lard-cooked meals on most days. One thing at a time people!
After my three weeks were up, I waited until my husband took the boys out on the farm for a quick check, and I ran out to the cattle scale for the final judgement. I climbed in and looked over for the dreaded news, but the digital scale was gone. After looking around for a minute, I gave up. I’d have to find a scale elsewhere.
I looked through the house and still couldn’t find the bathroom scale that had been missing for months. I looked and looked to no avail. I decided to go back outside and try to find the digital scale again for the cattle scale but still didn’t find it. As I took one last look around, I found the bathroom scale covered by a couple of boxes. By now I should have known, anything that I can’t find in the house is in the shed, and anything I don’t want in the house from the shed ends up in the house somehow.
I took the step, waited for flashing lights to stop, and BAM….I lost ten pounds! Whoot Whoot!
After the initial shock and feeling of elation kicked in, I thought, “If I lost ten pounds, my clothing would feel somewhat different, right?”
The jeans that I had on, that were feeling a little snug around my muffin top, were telling me a different story.
I tried the bathroom scale again, and it said the same thing. By now you've probably figured out that I'm not sharing the number. After the lady at the DMV told me I needed to update my weight "because it must be too much" when it was 100% accurate, I decided I'll let people assume that I'm whatever weight they imagine because it's definitely lighter than the truth. She was probably being nice, but we're talking about the DMV, so I'm taking it as a rare compliment.
Since weighing myself, I have yet to find the cattle scale to figure it out, but I have come to this revelation. I think my husband has hid the scale from me. He knew how horrified I was to see the larger number. He knew I’d be back again to check my weight.
So why would he hide it?
My hypothesis is kind of based on women’s dread for a doctor’s scale. You have all your clothes on, you just ate a huge meal, and the scale is from the 1880’s. The numbers are always too much. They should just ask us what we weighed when we woke up that morning, with no clothes on, and on a scale that treats us kindly by being a pound off to our advantage. My husband’s cattle scale should reflect gorging and gain, not diets and exercise.
Did I lose ten pounds? No.
Did I gain eight pounds over the last year based on the digital scale the first time I stepped on it? No.
Does my husband’s scale give him an inflated sense of accomplishment when his cows gain so quickly after he buys them? Maybe.
My oldest son really loves dinosaurs. Most people already know this. He makes it very clear when he runs around roaring like a dinosaur, like a super adorably cute, yet slightly irritating dinosaur. He’s been banned from doing that inside because it drives my husband nuts, but when we’re at the park, he may spend a whole thirty minutes of play time being T-Rex and chasing his little brother around, calling him the brachiosaurus that will be his next meal, until the little brachiosaurus takes a big swing and the T-Rex is out for the count for a minute or two.
Younger siblings are little demons. Sorry big brother! I never truly knew how awful it is to be the older brother who doesn’t get to hit back until I witnessed a take down tackle of a four-year-old from a very stocky and wild 18-month-old.
My oldest son’s birthday cupcakes had dinosaurs, we’ve driven three hours so he could see a triceratops skull, and the local librarians surprise him frequently with new dinosaur books and toys. He is fully immersed in this stage.
With this love of dinosaurs, comes a love of excavation. Last summer our garden became a dinosaur world and a whole set of tiny dinosaurs got left behind, eventually sinking into the dirt. By the end of the summer, paleontology and excavation became his new hobby after finding one dinosaur as he dug for fishing worms. He brought out little dozers and tractors, little shovels, a toothbrush, and buckets of water to clean his new found treasures. It was kind of a mess but not worse than the existing state of our garden.
When he couldn’t find anymore dinosaurs in the garden, he started to look for something else to excavate, and naturally, he found plenty of things on the farm. After excavating some lost tools and toys, he had to widen his search. He now likes to hunt for dinosaur bones on hikes, and the only thing pretend about this hunt for bones is the “dinosaur” part. He has found a treasure trove of cow bones to my horror and my husband’s chagrin.
Sometimes I can’t get rid of of all these bones fast enough and our yard looks like a museum. One day, when the yard was just full of bones, I asked him if he was going to build a dinosaur with all his dinosaur bones, and he looked at me without any patience and said, “Mommy, these aren’t dinosaur bones, they’re cow bones.”
Wait, when did this no longer become pretend. I was okay with it if we were pretending that it was a dinosaur hunt, but what’s the fun in finding cow bones. It’s just disturbing to me and just a reminder to my husband of the cow that he thought looked sick, but decided to give one more day, then that one day became its demise. I guess it’s a lot of fun because my son is still doing it. Should I go ahead and let them pile up, giving him the chance to study a cow’s anatomy? Maybe one day he’ll become a veterinarian or a for real paleontologist.
For now, our yard sometimes looks like a horror story, but at least it deflects from the left out toys and scattered patio furniture. Spring is coming. Maybe I can get the yard cleaned up and spur a new interest in gardening. Providing dirt and calling anything a science experiment is usually a success.
Lately my youngest son, who we’ve taken to calling Hoss because he throws his weight around to intimidate us all, has become more interested in books. I was getting concerned because my first born has always loved when I read to him, but his younger brother has had no interest. The oldest is an energetic kid, so it’s always been the trick up my sleeve when I’m completely exhausted and want to sit down.
“Hey, let’s read a book.”
And everything gets calm and quiet, and I have as much time as I want to recuperate, and I really mean as much time as I want. I could and have read Tina Fey’s Bossypants (skipping some inappropriate language) or a classic like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as I kept a cheerful Sesame Street voice throughout.
With our little Hoss though, it’s been a struggle. He did not want to sit down and read with me. If I did start to read, he’d shove his hands in my face, his way of saying, “Stop, this is awful,” which he also does anytime I try to sing to him. It was very upsetting for a former English teacher and lover of books. If he didn’t have my little pug nose and his father’s, well, everything else, I would have sworn they switched him at birth because we’re all readers in this house. Even the oldest, who technically can’t read yet, has memorized his favorites or makes up his own stories while he sits quietly with a new pile of library books.
So I was very surprised when my little man sat down with me one day and actually let me read a whole book to him. It was a short, baby board book, and he didn’t try to hit me with it, which was a good sign. He had me read it a few times, just flipping it over and over.
After reading Dear Zoo a few times, one that I’ve read and heard my oldest recite too many times, I asked the baby, “Do you want to pick another book to read?”
He hopped off my lap and headed right toward the bookshelf and a tear came to my eye. This was a milestone for sure, and one that even I, who cannot remember the date of my first date with my husband, will remember, surely.
Then, suddenly, he took a turn, noticing something out of the corner of his eye.
“Darn it!” I thought, he’s already forgotten about reading, but no, he was heading straight toward the coffee table where my husband had left a Graze magazine. Graze is a magazine that focuses mostly on small livestock farms and rotational grazing, soooooo, not exactly what I wanted to read.
I tried to grab for my own book, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, the novel that the PBS show is based on, but the little one just pushed it away and threw the Graze magazine in my lap and climbed on up. I flipped through it a little, just pointing out pictures, but he wanted me to read. I started with an article about a dairy and the Irishman who owned an operated it in Missouri. Surprise, surprise (my husband comes from a long line of dairyman on one side of the family and happy-go-lucky Irishmen on the other). We also read and reread an article about camel’s milk, which I even thought was very informative, although I do not wish to try any, and the baby thought it was just amazing because he sat still and listened intently.
I should be excited about this turn of events, but I have a few problems with it.
I’m going to keep trying to read Dr. Seuss or Goodnight Moon, but all the while he keeps grabbing My Farm Friends and Say Moo?. Maybe I could order Successful Farming for him. It has a lot of information about market analysis. He could become something ag related in the finance sector, making just enough money to keep his elderly mother out of a nursing home or in a really expensive one that seems like the Hilton.
This week my older son turns five. That ...is…insane! Where did my baby go? Give me a moment; I need to have a good cry.
Okay, okay, I’ll move on to the real problem. He wants a pony. He thinks with all these acres we have, there’s got to be enough room for a pony. He promises that he’ll feed it (doubt it) and pay for anything that the horse might need (HAHAHA!).
Honestly, we do have plenty of room for a horse, but there’s not enough room on this farm for a horse and my husband. He hates horses.
I’ve ridden a horse a few times and never got too excited about it. It didn’t seem scary, but it didn’t seem like fun either. It just seemed like a lot of extra work when I’d rather be reading. I’m just not a horse person. My husband, on the other hand, did give a horse a try at one point. When he was in high school he bought a horse because, hey, why not. It would be one more excuse to go hang out with his friends. Now when you ask my husband about that horse, he squints his eyes as the anger comes back to him and says, “I hate horses.”
He realized shortly after buying this horse that it really didn’t like him. No matter how nice he was to it, the horse did whatever sneaky thing it could to knock my husband off. His favorite trick was to play nice for awhile until my husband was pacified that he was being nice, not just pretending, then he’d make a quick run to a low lying branch to swipe off his passenger in a flash and tumble.
He was a pretty smart and curious horse. He learned to open an old deep freeze with his forehead. The deep freeze was used for storing bread that my father-in-law baked and sold on his milk route. At first they didn’t know what was doing it, a vandal possibly, until they caught him in the act and realized the vandal was their horse. He would get the lid open, pull out each bagged loaf of bread one by one, and throw them across the yard. After catching him do it, they put a concrete block on top thinking that would stop him from opening it, but he figured out after a couple of days that a good push would knock it off, and he could continue with his vandalizing ways.
After getting unexpectedly whacked so many times by tree limbs and yelled at by his father while throwing out loaf after loaf of bread, my husband decided a horse wasn’t for him. He sold it and decided that horses would never have a place anywhere near him. Yet, my son asks for a pony frequently.
Recently, I have sidetracked him with advertisements of Legos and dinosaurs, so his birthday wishes have been detoured for now. The horse topic comes and goes, so if I can keep him distracted long enough, just a few more days now, then I will be in the clear until Christmas.
There’s always a backup plan though. If he keeps asking and begging, we can always get him a puppy because he talks about that often too (and I really want a puppy), and it might be a good starter pet to see if he’s responsible enough to feed and care for a pet on a daily basis. We all know the answer to that one already, but I’m much more apt to take care of a puppy myself, rather than a horse. Puppies want food, hugs, and kisses. Horses just seem so much more demanding. We could also go to the sale barn with Daddy and pick up a Shetland pony for about $40 on a good day. They tend to be the little sale barn orphans because stupid people with little yards think, “Oh, that would be so cute for my little one,” buy it for an arm and a leg from a private seller, then realize that they eat a lot more grass than anticipated, and their little one couldn’t care less after a couple of days. I wonder how nasty a Shetland pony’s poops are. It could be a nice lawn mower. Hmmmm, I might have to investigate this. Either way, I’ll be doing all the work, whether it’s feeding a pony, or a puppy, or a weird little Shetland pony, but more than likely, I’ll just be stepping on even more tiny Legos for the next year. A little sharp foot pain is totally worth it.
If you’re feeling pretty bummed out about Valentine’s Day - maybe you didn’t get what you wanted or you didn’t get anything at all - I’m here to give you a reality check. Don’t pay attention to all the Facebook posts with roses, chocolates, and jewelry galore. Think about how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter total. Now, how many of them posted amazing Valentine’s gifts? Probably not even a fraction. The anti-Valentiners are out there. All over actually, but since we just went to work, or stayed home with the kids, or slept all day, you don’t see a big show of it. I’ll explain to you what Valentine’s was at our house, so you'll feel a little better about yours.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband cheerily said, “Next weekend we’re going out. Your mom is watching the kids, and maybe she’ll even keep them overnight so we can get eight hours of sleep. You pick a place where you want to eat and maybe we’ll see a movie or something.”
He was proud of himself for sure, that he’d asked my mom all on his own, until I said, “You know that’s the weekend before Valentine’s day, right?”
Dun, dun, dun.
Crowds, extra expensive meals, and yes, crowds.
“It’s okay, we can still go,” he said with a nervous crack in his voice.
I let him off the hook though. What turned out to be our Valentine’s date, which was not meant to be a Valentine’s date, but let’s be honest, we had no intention of going on a Valentine’s date, was pizza and a movie - at home.
We dropped off the kids at my mom’s house and called in a carryout order at Pizza Hut because we thought this date was suppose to be special, so instead of a Casey’s pizza we went for something more expensive with less cheese like we were in a European country or something. While we waited for our order, we headed over to Dollar Tree, and my husband found his own personal heaven. He was walking up and down the aisles yelling out the deals that he was finding.
“Cookies for a dollar!”
“Popcorn, all kinds of popcorn!”
“Frozen food’s back here! Hmmmm, do you think that would kill me?”
I picked out the valentines for my son’s preschool class as my husband made his way through the aisles grabbing a basketful. I’ll apologize now to a few people:
We then picked up our pizza, got in the car, and before I even hit the highway, I asked my husband to hand me the pepperoni. If you are a person who can drive more than a block with pizza in the car without eating it, you might be a witch. I’ve never had that discipline. We picked up a movie from the grocery store, something that we both could agree on - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Tina Fey for me and a war and Billy Bob Thornton for my husband. By the way, it was a great movie, so you should definitely see it.
As we left my mom’s house earlier after dropping off the kids, my mom gave us that expectant, weird, now-go-make-me-another-grandbaby look. HAHAHAHA! Jokes on her. She babysat and I just went home, put on my ugliest PJs, ate almost a whole pizza, and got eight hours of sleep. People are living longer these days; she’s more likely to get a great-grandbaby in her nineties.
If you know me well and think I’m slacking because I didn’t finish the whole pizza in one sitting like you’ve probably seen me do on numerous occasions, I would just like to inform you that I was saving a couple of pieces for breakfast, which I ate cold, so no, nothing has changed. I’m still the gross Elisha that you’ve always known.
My husband picked him up from school because he was coming back from the sale barn anyway. He pulled up to the house in the truck and trailer as my son was putting multiple Valentine's stickers on the windows.
And my husband handed me a Valentine’s gift: A 3 Musketeers. I’ll call it a Valentine’s gift even though on most trips to town he tries to pacify me with a 3 Musketeers, Coke in a glass bottle, or wine in a very large bottle. Since it was Valentine’s Day, I will categorize it as a gift. As my gift to him, I made taco salad (nope, not his favorite, just containing the ingredients that needed to be removed from the refrigerator before they grew arms and legs and walked away). I also bathed his children, folded his clothes, and kept the house at the usual mess it always is, no better, no worse.
He got out of the truck with a large bag from Dollar Tree, so really he bought me a candy bar as an excuse to get even more junk from his new favorite store.
That was our Valentine’s Day! Don’t be jealous of all those flowers, candies, and rings. Be jealous of Dollar Tree extravaganzas, Pizza Hut pizza in the car, and most importantly, eight hours of sleep.