Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Big 3-0

March is almost over. And that means the end of another birthday month. This birthday month was a bit more celebratory than in past years; apparently, hitting the big 3-0 is great reason to celebrate. As I look back at all of the birthday wishes from the month, these are the ones I'd like to remember:

"If 50 is the new 30, then 30 means you just hit double digits!"

(Maybe this is why I don't feel nearly as old as I always imagined 30 to be.)

"It's best to take birthdays with a few grains of salt… preferably around the rim of a margarita glass."

(After chocolate milk and water, margaritas are my next favorite beverage. Our lifestyle — kids and cows — doesn't include many nights out, so the margarita's third place finish is a distant third place. But I did enjoy a couple for my birthday!)

"Some birthdays are more meaningful than others because they remind us of where we've been, what we've learned, and where we've yet to go."

(Enough said.)

"May the next 30 years be the best years of your life."

(I think this one was borrowed from a country music song. But it speaks volumes. There's so much figuring out to do in the first 30 years; I imagine I'll always be trying to figure something out, but I believe it will be a more peaceful figuring.)

Here's to the next 30 years! (I'm raising my glass of chocolate milk!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Mud-ness

Right up there with the disaster in Japan, college basketball's March Madness dominates news headlines and air time.

But here in our world, March isn't about basketball madness — it's about mud madness. My birthday falls in mid-March; and, for as long as I can remember, my birthday has always been muddy.

A couple weeks ago, I thought maybe I was going to have a white birthday since there was so much snow cover left. I'll take tromping through snow over trudging through mud any day.

But Mother Nature does not disappoint. The warm winds blew, sunshine prevailed, the snow melted, it rained — and, voilĂ  — mud!

And the mud is everywhere. The cow yard, the heifer lot, our entryway floor, inside Dan's rubber boots (how do kids manage to get mud inside their mud boots, anyway?). His snowpants are twice as bad.

With the mud comes mud puddles. I'll never fully understand the magnetism between children and mud puddles, but that attraction pulls Monika into them without fail.

There's hope, though. The one good thing about having a yard with as much slope as we have is that it tends to drain and dry quickly. The slush/snow that's falling this morning won't help, but I'm inclined to believe that this has to be winter's last dance.

And in a few short weeks, this mud-ness will be but a memory as we bask in the sunshine of spring.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm not sure who taught him about them, but Dan has recently taken an interest in snow angels. I'd never actually seen him make one, until he made this one for the photo, but he talks about them all the time.

Then, the other night in the barn, I was shoveling TMR while Dan played on the other side of the pile. When he disappeared, I peered over the pile to see where he had went.

I found Dan laying in the TMR on the edge of the pile.

"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"I'm making feed angels," he replied.

I chuckled and went back to shoveling.

Last weekend, we finally got around to conquering the disaster area that was our basement. One of the tasks was sorting through the pile of clothes that had accumulated under the laundry chute.

As I sorted lights from darks, Dan pitched in by handing me articles of clothing so I didn't have to bend down. The next thing I knew, he was laying in what was left of the pile.

"What are you doing, Dan?" I asked.

"I'm making clothes angels," he looked up at me and said.

As I finished the laundry, it occurred to me that maybe Dan was onto something.

If we had a snow angel to clear the snow, a feed angel to feed the cows, and a clothes angel to do the laundry, our workload would be a lot lighter. We could actually use a whole fleet of angels, but these three would be a good start.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Why don't you sit down?"

Glen is always asking me, "Why don't you sit down to eat and rest your feet?"

Well, there are a couple reasons why I eat standing at the counter…

• As soon as I sit down, somebody will need something from the fridge or the counter or the stove.

• If I sit down, somebody will inevitably climb up in my lap and decide that the food on my plate is better than the food on their plate, even though the food is the same.

• If I sit down, I'll fall asleep.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You couldn't pay me to do that!

When we got back from Reno last fall, we found shingles from the barn roof all over the yard. Apparently, we missed one heck of a wind storm.

We called the damage in and the adjuster came out the next day. He agreed that we needed to repair the roof, especially since the barn was in such good shape. Our barn was built in 1981, so it's relatively young.

We hoped to have steel put on the roof right away last fall, but by the time we were done getting bids and finalizing the claim, we were the third barn on the carpenter's list of barn roofs to do.

We figured we'd have to wait until spring, but the recent warm spell cleared the snow off the roof and gave the carpenter a window of opportunity to put the steel on now.

He spent a couple days prepping the site and the roof and marking the steel. The first piece of steel went up last Friday. They (the carpenter and his son) finished by noon on Saturday.

It was pretty amazing to watch the process. You couldn't pay me to climb up onto a round barn roof and man-handle sheets of steel the way our carpenter was.

It's even more amazing to see how nice it looks now that both halves of the barn roof have steel on them. (I would have taken a picture of the finished roof, but it's once again covered in snow!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

"I already am."

Dan had his dentist appointment on Wednesday. Not only did Dan do a super job staying relaxed and keeping his mouth open for the hygienist, he also made quite the impression on the dentist.

After the dentist finished examining Dan's teeth, he started asking Dan about our farm. Of course, Dan didn't need much encouragement to tell the dentist all about our cows, calves, chickens, cats, and dog.

The dentist asked Dan if he helped with the farm work. Dan nodded vigorously.

Then, the dentist asked Dan if he was going to be a farmer someday. Dan was quiet for a moment. Since he was sitting on my lap, I couldn't see his face. But I figured he was getting ready to tell the dentist that he was going to be a pirate or a rescue hero.

Then, very matter-of-factly, Dan told the dentist, "I already am."

The dentist's face lit up with a smile and he said, "Of course."

I nearly beamed with pride. Later, I could hear the dentist telling some of the other staff what Dan had said.

That night, Dan was exceptionally helpful in the barn. When it came time to bed the cows with shavings, he and Monika were right by my side with their little shovels. Monika could barely reach into the wheelbarrow, but she kept at it.

By the time we were done, there were shavings everywhere — and the task probably took half-again as much time as it would have by myself — but I could tell the kids were proud of the job they'd done.

There are many days when I'm concerned that our kids spend too much time in the barn (and that Glen and I spend too much time in the barn), but moments like those on Wednesday remind me that there's no better place to raise our children.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's all a blur

Falling snow. Blowing snow. Bitter cold. Fresh cows. New calves. Sick calves. Sick kids. Sick me. Endless days. Sleepless nights. That was our February. Looking back, it's all a blur.

I'm convinced that sleep deprivation leads to memory loss. So, if I wasn't writing about this right now, down the road we'd never remember just how ridiculously grueling the past month was.

Thrown into this mix — and this is what I hope to remember — was Monika's potty training.

For the record, it wasn't my idea to start potty training in the middle of one of the worst winters I can remember. I was thinking that summer would be a great time to tackle this feat.

No, potty training was mostly Monika's idea. Because of that, the process was a piece of cake compared to convincing Dan to use the toilet. No stickers, no M&Ms. Just pure self-motivation on Monika's part and a few high-fives on our part.

The challenge has come with going potty in the barn. Here, there was a significant advantage to potty training a boy. Between dragging the potty chair along to the barn, wrestling with her snowpants and all her layers (and remembering to change her out of her sleeper!), and trying to keep her little bum warm, I definitely think it would have been a better idea to wait until summer.

At the same time, it sure is nice to be mostly done with diapers.