Life in the Country

Taking one day at a time with kids, cattle, and farming!

Week #1 Down! 35 More to Go!

on Friday, August 29, 2008

Ok, we did it. What an accomplishment. We survived our very first week of school! Here are a few highlights of our week and our weekend to come!

1. Blake really likes 2nd grade. His teachers are enjoying him, too! My friend Carrie is one of the 2nd grade teachers, and she is not his teacher because we are friends mainly. She does have him for reading though, and she told me it's a good thing she's not his teacher because she just has a hard time telling him to stop talking! She said his stories are so funny and he gets so excited when he's telling one! (tell me something I don't know - blake talks? what?) He really likes his teacher Miss Howard and student teacher Miss Sauer. (note - student teacher has 5' long legs, is skinny and blond - what's not to like there? Jeff is sure he won't learn a thing in 2nd grade after he saw her this summer!)

2. Brooke is enjoying 4th grade, too! It's so weird to see her carrying her books down the hall to switch classes though! She goes to different teachers for social studies and science. She likes all of her teachers, too! She is so grown up. Next year will be her last year at the grade school and then it's off to junior high! Yikes! Of course her teachers enjoy her, too - what's not to like about her? She's well-behaved and gets her work done! We did have about 2 hours worth of homework on Wednesday night, not so much a highlight of our week.

3. My high school biology teacher and student council leader remembers my birthday? Yes, I got a card in the mail today from "Mr. U". How can he remember MY birthday, let alone know that I will be 35 .... on Monday, by the way.

4. On that note, I don't need a birthday anymore. Last year was hard enough when Mom wasn't here to call me, but at least Dad called to pick up the slack. Now he's not here this year. That really sucks. Mom would have called me 7 or 8 times and not remembered that she had called the previous 6 or 7 times! And everytime she would tell me to come down and get some money and ask me, "Now how old are you this year?" Those simple things that I miss so much! Let's change the subject.....

5. Tonight is our high school's first football game. Nephew Erik is a junior and will be on the starting lineup. He is #66 so I got Blake a United Football tshirt with #66on the back. How cute is that? He loves Erik so he will wear it proudly.

6. Speaking of Erik, he was miserably disappointed last Wednesday when I walked into his 6th hour study hall at the high school. I guess he didn't know that I was coming to the high school everyday for 7th and 8th hour study halls. You should have seen his face when I walked into his English 11 class? I just acted like I didn't know him. I know he was praying to himself that I would disappear. It's gotten better though, today he came in between 7th and 8th hours and told me that he needs some money. I offered him the only $1 that I had, but that wasn't quite enough I don't think. He said he'd have to get his "blue book" from his Mom (that's his savings account book). He needed to fill up his rig with gas.... which by the way, is parked in the back row of the high school parking lot.... backed in to position... with the whip antennas flying in the wind... big, red 98 Dodge Ram! So him!

7. Brooke and Rachel are having their birthday party tomorrow with their girl friends. It's at the YMCA and they are going to swim for a couple hours. They will have lots of fun, and the best part is that I don't have to swim with them! We will have snacks, too. They are excited about it. And I think there are a lot of girls coming.... yikes!

8. Next week is going to be so crazy. It's the Prime Beef Festival and is the kids' last Steer Show. We are "ditching" school, as Blake calls it, on Thursday for the show. We will have to be in there by 6:30 a.m. so it will be a long day. But this is the day we have worked for since the beginning of last January. Then on Saturday is the Auction, the dreaded Auction, the Auction that will make me cry and cry when we have to say goodbye to these damn steers. The kids will cry. I will cry. Jeff will probably just sit in the truck so he doesn't cry. It's going to be bad, I'm just warning you. I have said all along that my goal is for the kids to enjoy this and to not get hurt. Well my goal has unfortunately changed. Yes, I want them to enjoy this and not get hurt, but I want to win! I want my 2 young kids to go in there and place in the top of their classes! Is that too much to ask? Why is it? I have worked my ass off with these animals and I want it to pay off! By the way, Jeff would absolutely KILL me for saying this, but I need to tell someone! Brooke and Blake will be the youngest exhibitors there. There will be one more 4th grader and the rest will be high schoolers. I need to get off of the idea of winning, but I can't help it. I have become competitive. I'll admit it. And the other thing is that I want all 6 steers (2 singles and pen of 4) to sell good. I hope they earn enough money to pay us back for the calves and then have enough left over to buy new ones. Is that asking too much? So.... if you are not busy and you are meat eaters, could you please come to the auction next Saturday, the 6th, at 9 am? If you buy a steer and plan to butcher it, just don't tell me or invite me over for hamburgers, roast, or ribeyes? Deal?

9. I just got a text from our friends Joel and Jenn offering to bring over lasagna and wine tonight for an early birthday celebration (I don't need a birthday, remember). That was so nice of them. I wonder if they could bring it on Sunday? That's the only night we don't have anything to do! We just won't say it's a "birthday" celebration!

10. The Prime Beef Festival Parade is Wednesday. Brooke is riding in the back of the Ethanol truck with some other friends. Blake is riding with Joel in a John Deere tractor for Kleine Equipment. That will be the first time in 10 years that I will watch the parade by myself. But... this will be my 35th year at the fair. My first outing at 5 days old was to the tractor pull at the festival. No wonder there's so much wrong with me. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Well those are just a few highlights. Everyone have a great holiday weekend!

Our 1st Day

on Monday, August 25, 2008

Here is just a little recap of our 1st morning getting ready for our 1st day of 2nd and 4th grades:
6:05 a.m. - Blake comes bounding our bedroom and jumps up on our bed already starting to babble!
6:10 a.m. - Blake has his clothes on. He's wearing shorts of all things - he NEVER wears shorts, he always wears jeans! I even had his clothes laid out for him!
6:20 a.m. - Blake is downstairs eating breakfast - apple pie mind you, no supervision of his parents who are still trying to get out of bed
6:30 a.m. - Blake is back upstairs telling me he's ready to go to school
6:31 a.m. - Brooke wakes up, asking WHAT Blake is doing up so early and WHY does he have to talk so much!
6:35 a.m. - it's finally time for me to jump in the shower and get ready for school myself. Well, that's a little delayed because Sophie decided she really had to tinkle... and she did it on my bedroom floor! Has she ever tinkled on my bedroom floor? No. Never. Not once. Why this morning?
So I get that scrubbed up and start getting ready for school. Blake is playing his playstation by now, with his shoes on and his backpack by his side (it's about 6:45 a.m. now). Brooke is getting ready, too.
7:00 a.m. - Brooke goes downstairs to eat breakfast. Yes, she decides she wants apple pie, too. Only takes 2 bites and says she is full. I tried to tell her that she would be starving by lunchtime, but she thought for sure she would be fine. I think the nerves were talking a little bit.
7:30 a.m. - I am taking their pictures outside. They hate that part. Then Blake realizes he's forgotten to brush his teeth so he heads back in the house. And, low and behold, gets toothpaste on his shirt.... so off he goes to change his shirt, very unhappy that now he can't wear his "good" shirt on the first day of school. Meanwhile, I am on my hands and knees in my bedroom trying to get Sophie to come out from under the bed so she can be put in her kennel. Such a fun game we play every morning and every time we get ready to go somewhere.
7:45 a.m. - we are off! Finally!

We all had a good first day of school. Of course we did, we got out at 11:30! Brooke and Blake both seem excited about school and really like their teachers. Blake told me his goal is to never get on "yellow" on his behavior card. He wants to get all smiles on his behavior calendar! Oh that would make Mom proud! Brooke has never once gotten into any type of trouble. 4 years of never "turning her ticket" or getting any time of reprimand. If she did, she would probably drop out of school!

So tomorrow is our first full day. They are already looking forward to it! I have pictures of them from this morning that I will post later. Until then....

He Might Be in for It!

on Sunday, August 24, 2008

School starts tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Yes, in 12 hours we will be arriving at our 1st day of school? Are we ready? Are we excited? Well I guess I am kind of ready to start back. I am a creature of routine, and I think we are ready to get back into the school routine. Am I excited about driving back and forth to the high school everyday? Not really. However, they are pretty self-sufficient so I don't have to do too much for them. I am in an Informal Geometry class this year. Yes, I am nervous. It's been 17 years or better since I've had that stuff. Is Brooke ready? She did say tonight that she was kind of excited about going to 4th grade. That is the first time I've heard her say that. She likes to be home, not really a fan of the whole school thing. She is a little nervous about 4th grade being hard. I don't blame her, I am, too! Now the question of the day.....

IS BLAKE READY FOR 2ND GRADE?????? A better question might be - Is 2nd grade ready for Blake? Well, what does this tell you - we just got back from Galesburg and he absolutely, positively, no doubt about it.... talked the whole way home! I mean the WHOLE WAY HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone that knows Blake knows that he talks NONSTOP! When I ask him to "rest his jaws" as we very often do, he does.... but only for about 5 seconds. I'm really worried about how this is going to impact 2nd grade. Does he realize how much "tougher" his teacher is this year?! He used to be afraid of her, but I really don't think he is anymore. I am afraid of her so why isn't he? I am really hoping that she puts the fear of God into him tomorrow. I want him to listen, be respectful, learn, and be polite - but how can he do that if he talks continuously???? I don't want to have the kid that no one wants in their class because he won't shut up and talks out of turn. I don't want to have the kid that has to sit out at recess for talking or better yet causes his whole class to sit out because he is talking! He told me tonight that he is just trying to "get all of his talking out now before school starts tomorrow". He says he won't talk during class because he can talk all he wants during recess and lunch. Oh Lord, I hope he is right! I am worried!

Please keep your fingers crossed for all of us. Please mention my name in your little bedtime prayers tonight! I need it! I'll definitely keep everyone posted as the week goes on! Wish us well.

Brooke's Party

on Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Flatt and Ryner families joined us last night for Brooke's birthday party. She planned the menu of cheeseburgers, baked beans and chips, corn and macaroni casserole, and Aunt Cathi's strawberry pretzel salad. You know your child is getting old when they don't want any of the trendy stuff on their birthday cakes - no Hannah Montana, no
Camp Rock, no High School Musical- she wanted a basketball! At least she wanted PINK frosting! She got lots of nice things, but she needs to remember to not tell everyone the same thing on her birthday list. One of the big things she wanted this year was an I-Dog. You hook it up to an MP3 player and it dances along with the music - yes, she had to get an MP3 player, too, thanks to Grandma Wanda! Anyway, she didn't get 1 I-Dog.... she got 3!!!! And every single one was different! She got lots of nice gifts and was appreciative of every one!

Where has the time gone?

Well, my first born will be 10 tomorrow! And, boy, I am sure having a hard time with it! Yes, I realize I will be 35 in a week, but I still don't feel old enough to have a 10 year old. We've kind of done little "birthday things" all week - pedicures, family birthday party, ear piercings - and will continue! Tomorrow is her actual birthday so she wants me to bake her an apple pie and she wants to go eat at Applebee's for supper. Next weekend, Brooke and Rachel are having their "friend party" together at the YMCA. They are having a swimming party. It's so nice that they are only 2 weeks apart - we get the friend party done in one kick!

Last Wednesday we took her to the mall to get her ears double pierced. She's been asking for that for a few months now and it was on her birthday list. So off we went to Claire's. She was really excited and didn't mind it a bit. She said that it hurt a little (not as bad as it hurt me listening to that gun going through her cartilage). When she was 5, she got them pierced and started screaming after the first ear was done. I didn't think she'd make it to the 2nd ear but after quite a while, she finally let them finish up! So she was a pro this time!



And After... you have to look very closely to see the 2 holes!


They look really good and she is really good at taking care of them herself! I guess that goes along with being 10 years old!

Brooke's Flowers

Brooke planted canna bulbs in early June with Grandma Wanda. She planted them on the north side of our deck and on the north side of the old chicken house. They finally started blooming last week. They are so pretty!

They're Home!

on Monday, August 18, 2008

Finally.... Brooke and Blake are home! Let me tell you, they aren't going anywhere this week either! Blake got home around noon yesterday. He'd been at Uncle Joe and Aunt Sara's since Friday morning, enjoying the New Windsor Rodeo and Fair with cousin Sam. He had such a good time. He thought that it was a mini-vacation, too, since Brooke had been to Six Flags all weekend. She got home about 7:30 last night. She said she had a lot of fun, but didn't know if she'd go on a little trip without us anytime soon. She said she really wanted to come home Saturday night, but knew she couldn't because she was so far away. She was glad to get home, but again, had such a good time!

Yesterday morning I used the opportunity of Jeff being around to get some things done around here. I had been working on getting the house cleaned/picked up all weekend so I was able to get the kids' rooms cleaned yesterday. We brought home a bed for Blake from Mom and Dad's spare bedroom about 6 weeks ago. He has had a twin bed and I thought this was a good opportunity to get him a "new" bed. I thought it was a full bed so I bought his John Deere sheets and bedskirt and had them all washed up to be put on the bed. Jeff and his dad brought the bed in via our french doors in our bedroom. Yes, they had to put the box springs on the roof and then bring it in through the doors. I thought for sure Jeff was going to fall off the roof! Anyway, the bed was put in..... it's a queen, not a full! Luckily I stretched the bedskirt to fit somewhat and I had an extra set of queen sheets in the closet. Both of their rooms looked so good when they got home. They were really excited! About 1:00 yesterday, Blake decided to go lay on his bed for a little bit. Well, he didn't get out of it until 4:00! A much needed 3 hour nap!!

Blake was really excited to have Brooke finally get home last night. He couldn't wait to show her his bed. In fact, he wanted her to sleep in there with him last night. I tucked them in and on my way out of the room , I could hear them chit chatting about everything they'd done this weekend. It was really cute... and amazing to hear them get along! A little time apart did them good!

So this is the kids' last week of summer! They go to school a week from today. I, unfortunately, go back this Thursday and Friday for Institutes. Not looking forward to it. I have a lot of work to do in my classroom before school starts. I think that is what we will do tomorrow. The kids like to help for a little bit at a time. We have new playground equipment so they will like playing on that, too. I keep hoping that maybe we are ready to get back into a routine..... sniff... sniff...sniff!

2 Months Today

on Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two months today - June 15 - Sunday - Father's Day - we lost Dad. It just does not seem possible that he is gone. Nor is it right that Mom is gone, too. I wish everyone could have known him. He was the most caring, generous, kind, and funny person I have ever known. I was so proud to have him as my Dad. I wish I could have told him how proud I was, but I didn't get the chance. I'm not the kind of person to express my feelings to people. I don't tell the people I love that I love them near enough. I'm not the kind of person to give hugs and kisses every time I see people either. I need to change my ways. I need to be that person. I need to tell everyone that I love them. I need to give hugs. I need to give extra kisses. I would give anything to be able to hug my Mom and Dad one more time. I'm only 34 and I still need/want my Mom and Dad. It's just not right that I don't have them here with me. I'm trying to find comfort in knowing that they are both together.... and it does make me feel better. They were absolute best friends, married 50 years, devoted to each other. Dad could have walked away many years ago, but he didn't. He stood by my Mom's side for 25 years with her MS. He fed her, changed her, moved her, brushed her hair and teeth..... he did everything for her that she couldn't do for herself. Yes, he occasionally bit his tongue when she asked him 10 times to move her legs or 10 times to feed the birds - in the middle of a pouring rain, blizzard, and a 110 degree day - but you know what? He did what she asked everytime - maybe not at the second she asked (and she wanted him to!), but he did it. He was such a remarkable person, as was Mom. I miss them terribly. I love you Dad. I love you Mom.

4 Short Years Ago....

on Saturday, August 16, 2008

I came across this picture this afternoon and I just couldn't help but post it. I've been talking about how quickly the kids are growing up... and how they don't get along 9 times out of 10! They are so happy in this picture... they really used to get along pretty well. Brooke would have been 5 in this picture and Blake would have been 2. Those were the days....

"BJ" "Irv" "Scooter" "Lance"

Yes, these are all 3 names that Blake goes by. My sister Carrie has always called him "BJ" since his name is Blake Jeffrey. He decided a couple weeks ago that he wants to be called "Irv" - so not sure why! Cathi and I sometimes call him "Scooter" - I think it's so cute! Then he told me 2 years ago that he wanted his name changed to "Lance"???? I listed some of my favorite things about Brooke so I thought I better do the same for Blake!

1. Blake + Dirt = Best Friends If there is dirt within 100 yards of Blake, he's going to find it. You might not be able to identify him by the time he's done, but he sure does have a lot of fun!

2. Blake has this raspiness to his voice that is absolutely adorable.

3. He has the same big blue eyes as his big sister.

4. He's jumped 2 sizes in his jeans - not for the size of his waist, for length! Whoever invented adjustable waist jeans is my hero! I have to cinch them up just about as tight as they will go (you know when there is 8" of elastic hanging out of the top of the jeans!?) but he needs the length for his long, skinny legs! By the way, he has no butt either! Who does he get that from? I seriously have NO idea! I was always a skinny little girl, but NEVER tall!

5. Blake + SUGAR = Best Friends! Blake is a candy-holic. His diet is not very well-balanced. I won't get into that though, it shows what a bad mother I am!

6. Blake is such an animal lover! Loves them all - big and small - well, except for reptiles!

7. He has in inherent "need for speed". The faster he goes, the bigger his head gets, the more his heart races! He loves anything with a motor. I think he would enjoy swimming in our pool more if he could fit a jet ski in there. The faster and louder your truck is, the more likely you are to be his best friend.

8. His biggest and bestest friends are his cousins - Chase 23, Luke 19, and Erik 16. Does that give us any indication of how early he will be getting into trouble? I have already threatened all of them with their lives that they better not EVER buy him beer!

9. He is "all boy". Silly, ornery, mouthy, fast, dirty - but he can be soooo darn sweet, too!

And best of all, he is such a "mommy's boy". I don't care that he is 7 1/2!

A little more about Brooke

1. Brooke has such a good sense of humor. She can really make a room light up. As annoying as it is to me sometimes when she get showing off, she sure makes others laugh. I guess I need to relax a little more about that.

2. The last time she was at the doctor, she was 55" tall. I'm only 62" tall. Plus, I think she's grown about 2 inches this summer. It won't be long until she is taller than me!

3. I wonder if she has restless leg syndrome. Sleep with her sometime and let me know your opinion. I'll have a sign-up sheet on my fridge so you can sign up to spend the night, but sleep with her in her own bed!

4. She loves her friends and going to their houses. Obviously!

5. She loves her cousin Rachel, who is also her best friend. In fact she told her yesterday that if she was mad that Brooke was going to Six Flags, Brooke would stay home so Rachel could go. Rachel said no. What would Brooke have done if Rachel said yes?

6. She can be such a "girl", then turn around and jump on her 4 wheeler and fly through the mud, put on her workboots and woller through the manure washing/cleaning her steer. Such a good combo of a girl!

7. She can be such a good help around here. If I ask her to do something, I usually don't get any static about it. I'm pretty lucky.

8. She also has the prettiest blue eyes! Gets them from her Dad.

9. She bit, yes BIT, her brother yesterday. He pissed her off and she bit him. Remember she has braces. That felt good, huh Blake? So I guess she's a little short-tempered. Must get that from her Dad, too.

10. She wants to shave her legs! Oh my gosh, we would have to use the clippers on them for the first time. She has alot of hair on her legs. I don't think I'm ready for that!!!

11. She looks just like me! How lucky am I? We get so many comments about how much we look alike. One lady at the fair asked if we were sisters! Don't know who she was, but she is now my newest best friend! She acts a lot like me, too. My mom always said that I deserve everything I'm getting from her. I'm sure that both Dad and Mom are laughing as they watch from above!

And she is my little best friend. I love you, Brooke!

I guess maybe I'm missing her a little bit this morning. I'll sure be excited to see her Sunday!

My future 10 year old!

Gosh, I guess it's been a while since I've posted, huh? I was kindly reminded of that by my sister, but I don't understand why she wants me to post - she knows everything that happens here.

Where has the past 10 years gone? Brooke is going to turn 10 next Sunday and it's just so hard for me to believe! We went birthday shopping last night to pick up a few things she asked for. Her birthday list was a combination of more "grown up" stuff and still the girlie stuff she loves - Barbies! The girl plays with Barbies all the time! She also wants her ears pierced - for the 2nd time!! I remember when she got them pierced for the 1st time. She was 5 and she cried after the first ear was pierced and didn't want the 2nd one pierced! Pretty sure we won the award for the longest time it took to pierce a little girl's ears!

We went out for supper last night with our friend Joel, and Jeff made the comment how much Brooke has changed. She is going through a growth spurt - definitely shooting up and thinning out a little bit. He also said that he hasn't seen her that much this summer. I got to thinking about that and ..... he's right! He works all day, and by the time he gets home, she's usually off somewhere. Like right now.... where is Brooke? In St. Louis at Six Flags! And not with us!! She is experiencing her first "weekend away" with her friend Shania. They left at 1:00 yesterday and will return Sunday afternoon, so it really is a short trip. Nevertheless, I was a little nervous when I dropped her off! I think this is a little of our conversation on the way to town-

"Now, remember, Brooke - use your manners and be polite. Say please and thank you. You have your own money to buy your tickets and meals, but I know that Angela probably won't let you use it, but be sure to offer. Make sure you talk slowly so they can understand you. Stay right with them, don't wander off. If you think you won't like a ride, don't go on it. Take care of your teeth - make sure you brush AND pick! Are you listening, Brooke Ann? This is serious. Are you sure you want to go? I can't drive to St. Louis to get you. Well, I can, but I don't really want to. Ok, so you know everything ---"

Then she told me to be quiet. Typical.


on Monday, August 4, 2008

And we wonder why he doesn't want to sell Bullet? My gosh, he lays on top of him for long periods of time at these shows and in the barn! A little attached maybe??

Advice Needed!

on Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh my, I do not know what I am going to do! I need some advice. Now, I know some of you might get tired of my show steer talk, but I need you to listen one more time because I am in need of some advice.

We were choring tonight when Brooke (followed shortly by Blake) started crying hysterically!
She told me that she is NOT going to take Stewart (her steer) to the Fall Festival because she's not going to let him get butchered. Well, that's the deal - it's a terminal sale. You sell them after the show, tie them out one last time, and go home without them. I guess reality has set in with the kids, knowing now that there is just one more show until they get sold. I don't know what to do. I, of course, started crying, too, and I think Jeff was getting a little misty in the eyes! They cried and carried on for over 30 minutes. I tried explaining them that that's what steers are for - meat. They think they should be able to stay on the farm forever! I tried telling them that they are raising a product that everyone else benefits from. Didn't work. I tried telling them that we are getting new calves and we would look forward to those. Didn't work. I tried telling them that maybe they could go to a big feedlot in Texas (my nose grew on that one) and they could be fed out with other steers. Didn't work. Also told them that if we don't sell them, the festival men would come out and get them while we were at school. Now they don't want to ever go to school again and they want new locks put on the barn. Guess that didn't work either!

When we came inside after that, Jeff did tell me that I need to start making some phone calls to line up a couple heifers for them - they don't have to sell them! They keep them and then will always have their babies. I just don't know how we are going to handle this - I need some help! I feel so bad that we ever put the kids in this position!!! HELP!