6 Years Ago…

“We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it LOVE.” – Dr. Seuss

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It seems so weird to me that this picture was taken six years ago! We both look so much younger and it is nice to see a picture of me minus weight from three pregnancies! If you ask Emma my hair also didn’t have “white pieces” then either. The brutal honesty of a pre-schooler is often enlightening. This isn’t going to be some big, mushy blog post about how much I love my husband. Although I do have to admit, the mild embarrassment and watching his face slowly turn red would be worth it about ten times over. I think the above Dr. Seuss quote sums up our relationship quite nicely. If you ask my parents, we are why our kids are so weird some days. I hope they’re joking because our little tribe is very unique!

Spending six years married to someone you encounter a lot of life’s obstacles. I have been blessed enough to have married someone who helps me thru them. And it generally involves us laughing at something stupid or awkward. I really hope other couples have conversations as odd as ours are some days. If not, let me tell you, you are missing out! I think it’s the ability we both possess to see the humor and light-heartedness in most situations. It sounds cliché but it can  help get you some of life’s tougher situations, believe me this past year has been a doozy!

I also can’t remember us having a fight or argument that last more than a day. Most of those were most likely in our first year of marriage. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone or think you know someone, when you move in together a whole curtain is lifted. The mushy pleasantries are gone as you are now aware that your spouse also has a daily routine that may not intermesh with yours. Example: shave over the bathroom sink, leave enough facial fur to clothe a cat in the bathroom sink and simply reply when questioned “oh yea, I forgot about that.”

Another theory I have to our minimum arguments we have anymore goes something like this. We have 115 ladies in a barn that generally one, occasionally both of us, have to go help milk and feed 6 mornings a week. Yes, farmers can get days off *gasp*. Do you want to argue with someone all night, go to sleep, crawl out of bed (yes, this often involves real crawling) and look at them again, first thing in the morning, bright dark and early at 3:30 in the morning? I am aware I said dark and early. Have you ever been up at 3:30? There’s nothing bright about it! If I’m seeing someone at this dismal hour I want to be as cheery as I humanly can. This generally requires a half pot of coffee minimum.  Tom being a smart man, realizes this and gives me ample space mornings we work together.

Between the two of us we like to believe that we keep the home running fairly smoothly. Or as smoothly as you can with 3 children,  4 and under. Most days we’re able to do this, some days we lose miserably! With everyone being in and out through out the day we are able to eat all of our meals together. I realize when the tribe starts trickling off to school this won’t happen. Honestly it makes me a little sad. The conversations these little squirts have! Emma now says prayer, which is an adorable one they do at pre-school. It’s hard to imagine some day these little people will have families of their own to eat supper with. Hopefully they have their own little pre-schoolers to say their prayers for them. Great now I’m getting all misty eyed! Moving on…

Who would have known in six years we would have had all these adventures! We ourselves, growing together not only as a married couple, but let’s face it, we were only twenty and twenty-three when we were married. We’ve just grown up in general some too! Then adding in all the fun times with the tribe as they’ve came in to our family. Pregnancies, births, zoo and aquarium trips (these are BIG summer time hits!) to playing around yard and house and watching their little personalities develop.

Someone actually asked me one time if I regretted being married so young. What has there been to regret? No, I didn’t have any stereotypical wild adventures from my early twenties, but I have a loving husband, who puts up with my craziness, three amazing little people and enough stories, which probably include as much vomit and bodily functions as if I had spent my early twenties partying and clubbing, to fill me with happiness. These six years have been anything but boring.

Following are some pictures of the past six years! I tried to work them in somewhere along all these ramblings but it didn’t work!

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My dad walking me down the aisle

 

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Emma’s 2nd birthday party. Can’t tell we like Ohio State!

 

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Taylor when he was 2. Still sweet and adorable.

 

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Henry’s impromptu 3 month pic

 

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Kinda blurry, but cute shot of Tom, Taylor and one of our cows walking to the show ring at the county fair last year.

 

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Our Christmas card picture. One of the outtakes. Emma’s duck lips, Taylor staring in to space and I think the little one looks like he’s a mob boss.

 

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Sunday Mornings

Yes, I’m aware it is no longer Sunday morning. I have not lost it that bad, yet. Sunday mornings at our house are an interesting mix of both chaos and relaxation. We attend church if I’m feeling brave enough to take the tribe in to a quiet, public setting that day. I enjoy attending church, feel very lucky to have the small, tight-knit church family we have and enjoy listening to our pastor. That being said, we do not make it every Sunday. I am going to recap yesterday morning so you can appreciate sitting thru a church service with the tribe.

This Sunday morning was our Sunday off. We were all out of bed by 7:30, church starts at 10:30. This means we have approximately three hours and fifteen minutes to get ready to attend service. One would assume this is enough time. Ha ha ha. By the time we are all coherent and start moving around we’ve already lost an hour. I go about getting everyone their desired breakfast, which makes me nothing shy of a short order cook. Mornings never used to be this way, but somehow in the past few months I cook, pour or spoon to order. Eggs, toast, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, etc. The list can be quite lengthy some days. After breakfast we proceed to bathing and personal hygiene.

We’re now looking at 9 o’clock. Now down to an hour and fifteen minutes. At this point in time my phone starts beeping with messages of family plans. I quickly excuse myself from them for the moment, knowing if I get distracted we will not make it. I chuck the eldest two tribal members in the tub together. After they add all the bathing necessities, included but not limited to bubbles, balls, several water squirting toys and a mermaid Barbie, the actual bathing begins. I’m frantically scrubbing over shouts of “I can wash myself!” Well that may be true, but we lost at least 10 minutes with adding bath toys. So they are washed, chucked out of the tub, dried off and underweared. We don’t dress them until the last minute. You would be surprised how much they can get on clothes in a small amount of time.

Next comes the cleansing of the littlest tribesman. He is easy and quick. No protests, no complaining and lots less square inches of body to bathe. He gives cute smiles and coos. Acts almost appreciative that I’m washing him down. It’s nice to feel appreciated. I cherish these moments because I know that too soon he will join the tribe, learn their ways and fully become one of them. He is dressed and ready to go. After having a bath he decides he needs to nurse. This kills twenty minutes. The whole time he’s nursing I’m praying he doesn’t spew all over his cute little outfit when he’s done.

Tom has elected to stay home today. In the big picture this saves us time, but worries me that it’s just my mom and I manning 3 children during service.

This leaves me with 20 minutes to bathe, dress and make myself look as presentable as possible. I’ve gotten fairly good at doing this in a small amount of time, I must brag. My biggest dilemma is my hair. I bit the bullet and had it cut short awhile ago. I do love my new ‘do. However, I have some pretty wavy hair. Not the desirable waves that look all sexy and add body to your hair that you see in TV commercials. No. I have the crazy wavy hair that is rebellious and doesn’t want tamed. I give up, throw in some product, blow dry and pull part of it back with a clip. Problem solved.

We’re now looking at five minutes to make it out the door. **Disclaimer: I have no idea if these times are adding up** The hubs packs a diaper bag with enough toys, snacks and changes of clothes to see us thru the apocalypse. This is probably still not enough to keep the eldest two entertained. Oh and a bottle. Henry may need a bottle during service.

It suddenly dawns on me the eldest two are still in underwear. We grab clothes and begin dressing. All the time hearing from the tribal leader “I can dress myself!!” Well we do not have time for a four year old to put her own tights on today. By the grace of God, we make it to the car, in car seats and down the road in ample time this week. We weren’t late, hurrah!

This brings us to church. They march in like the sweet little children they can actually be. Sit in the pew next to Ma-Ma and begin to entertain themselves. Today was practicing writing and eating fruit snacks. Emma went up dutifully for the children’s sermon, Taylor is boycotting them for some reason. This has happened the past three times at church, I’m not sure what this is about. Emma comes back, all is well.

At some point in time there’s a disagreement between tribesmen and a small squabble takes place. Some tears, a small word exchange and it’s over. This results in Taylor sitting on my lap, Emma sitting by my mom and Henry sleeping peacefully. Now one would think you could sit there and cherish a few quiet moments, sitting with your little boy in church singing a hymn. This is where he turns all weird on me. He begins licking me. Repeatedly. I’m quietly asking him to stop. Trying to change where he’s sitting so he can’t lick me as easily. To no avail. There’s only so much you can do to stop a child from licking you during a church service without causing more of a scene than he already is. This was apparently not as noticeable as I thought, much to my relief!

Don’t fear he’s not done. The middle tribesman needs a potty break. We go out, he goes potty, all is well. Unbeknownst to me, as we go back in he has taken his dollar for offering out of his pocket. No biggie right? He proceeds to make a “mask” out of it and puts it over his eyes… that’s all I’m going to say about that. Thankfully it was stopped quicker than the licking, which picked right back up after the dollar was put in the offering plate. All the while Henry is blissfully sleeping.

We sing the last hymn, much to my relief. As we get up to leave, the elderly lady behind us leans forward. Now you’re never quite sure of the conversation that’s going to take place. I somewhat freeze. “It’s such a joy to see your kids here. They’re great to see and make me laugh a little.” Phew!

I enjoy church. I’m glad the eldest tribe member has started asking about going to church. It helps get me out the door on Sunday mornings. My Sunday mornings may be rough sometimes, but they’re worth it. Most Sundays church is followed by a nap. A long nap.

 

Relax!

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I had to post a picture of this adorable onesie I ordered from Etsy last week! For it to be accurate, the littlest tribesman’s shirt should read “Relax my daddy, mommy, ma-ma (my mom), pa (my dad), and great-grandpa are farmers” but we’ll let it slide 😉 If you’re curious the shops name was Blue Fox Apps and you can order any color to suit your needs. We’re “red people”.

 

 

Sand, Sand Everywhere…

“Sand, sand, everywhere. It’s even in our underwear!” This could be my little tribes motto lately. Most small kids have a sandbox. This is where our children, being raised on a dairy farm, differ from your other average pre-school aged child. Believe me, I had to explain one morning at school when Emma was making it sound like we had a large sandbox. We literally have a mountain of sand behind our one barn, just beckoning for the children to come scale it in its monstrosity.

You may be wondering why we have the Mt Everest of sand behind our barn. On our dairy, the cows are housed in a free stall barn. This helps keep them clean and comfortable. Below is a picture of what free stall housing looks like.

ultra-comfort-looplEach cow has here own stall to lounge in during the day. You can bed stalls with a wide array of things. These include but are not limited to: sand, straw, sawdust, pine shavings, etc. We have chosen sand, it is a very comfortable material for them to lay on. Cows are very large animals, with the majority of our Holsteins (the black and white ones) being over 1200 pounds. Now when you’re this large you not only WANT a large, comfy bed, but you NEED a large, comfy bed. The happier we keep our girls the more milk they want to give for us. Cow comfort is a huge part of dairy farming and is always a topic discussed at industry meetings and in dairy magazines. Not only California gets to have happy cows!

While sand is the preferred bedding of many dairy farmers and their ladies, it does not come with out its own challenges. While straw or shavings that will break down and decompose in manuare pit, sand does not. Some farms have sand lanes, which slowly filter out the sand as it heads to the farms manuare  storage. Ours doesn’t, it has to have the excess sand cleaned out with a backhoe from time to time.

Our ladies get fresh sand in their  stalls on a weekly basis. These helps keep them clean and mastitis free. If you’ve ever been a nursing mother you can appreciate this. I know after having 3 babies I have a whole new appreciation for our girls! We normally have one or two semi loads of sand stored at a time. This brings us to two weeks ago.

The person who hauls the sand to our farm needed to have his trailer worked on. Being worried how long it was going to take to have it fixed and not want us to run out, he brought us twice as much as what we normally get. We had 4 semi loads of sand, for a rough visual in your mind this is approximately 80ish tons of sand. In one pile. This is why I referred to it as the Mt Everest of sand, it was a good comparison.

So if you are 3 and 4 years old and are accustomed to playing in a large sand pile (20-40 tons), when you walk behind the free stall barn and see 80+ tons of the pearly stuff, you may believe you have died and gone to sand heaven. Being the little thinkers they are, they realized the normal shovels, pails and assorted sand toys were not going to meet the needs they suddenly had. Don’t get me wrong, they were sufficient for a certain amount of time while they pondered what would truly maximize the pile’s potential.

A simple discovery was made, a saucer sled innocently forgotten about from last winter. When it was dug out from storage, you would have thought the two eldest tribe members had unearthed the holy grail! Such glee on little faces! In to the milking parlor they walked with their new discovery, sheepish little grins on their cherubic faces. Suddenly they exclaimed “We’re headed back to the sand pile!” and off they marched.

This appeared to have all the makings of an amazing pre-school stunt. One thing the tribesmen forgot to account for is that sand cause friction. Sadly, what took hours of devious thinking and probably 5 minutes of trekking thru the mud with a saucer as big as they were, was a fail. However, it may have been in the best interest of our medical bills that this did not pan out. The following are pictures after a sand pile adventure. Yes, there were clothes that did not return to their original state after these photos were taken. Mainly Taylors jeans….

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A pile of sand, poured out of a boot.

 

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Grubby little smiles!

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The bottoms of pant legs. No, it didn’t all come out…

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Booty shot

Now, when your kids come home and are this disgusting you must go about the act of attempting to get them clean. Clothes were stripped off and sent thru two aggressive cycles on the wash machine. Upon completing their cycle thru the dryer I realized that my lint trap was filled to the brim with sand. But the worst was yet to come.

While the clothes were washing so were the children. I had to wash their hair 3 times to remove all the sand! Feet and hands were stained brown. Until this little experience I was unaware sand could stain things. Boy was I naïve. After thirty minutes (it seemed like anyways) of non-stop scrubbing, they were deemed clean enough and hopped out of the tub. The elders of the tribe were toweled off, pajama-d and bounding off to go about their mischief til dinner time. Nothing else interesting occurred that evening.

The next evening Tom and I were getting ready to go away for the evening. The bath tub just didn’t seem to be draining like it should. I busted out the trusty plunger and set to work trying to free the drain. I achieved little success. After a few heartier plunges from Tom, there was a gurgling that sounded like it came from the bowels of our basement. Next was truly a disgusting thing. It looked as though our bathtub drain was slowly vomiting sand, in copious amounts, on to the floor of our tub…. Removing sand from a tub is about as fun as it sounds. I’m pretty sure sand is about the only inorganic thing that can multiply on its own.

The lesson I took away from this: not only does sand require special needs in it’s handling and removal on a dairy farm, farm mothers should beware, it can also cause havoc in the home as well!

Here we go!

So I have broken down and decided to join to blogging world. I’m not sure exactly what direction  this blog is going to go in. It may be one of those neat organized ones, but most likely it will just be me flying by the seat of my pants. Nothing wrong with a little spontaneity!

I had this great idea to get my first blog entry posted on National Ag day. I wrote some jumbled stuff down and decided it sounded awful, so I deleted it and thought I would just start over after the little tribe went to sleep. Well in true me fashion, ask my husband, I fell asleep about 5 minutes prior to the last kid falling asleep. This is generally how my evenings go, if I make it past 9:30 it’s a near miracle!

My early sleep was a blessing unknown to me, however. The smallest tribe member believed that sleep was highly uneccessary last night. After sleeping peacefully until 11 he thought it was time to binge feed for the next 4ish hours. This was truly delightful… Now I am fully aware that most babies of his age are up several times a night, feeding every 3 to 4 hours. Well, little Henry is a great sleeper for his age (until I just typed this and jinxed myself) and generally is only up about once a night. Now my day home with my little preciouses is going to be a foggy, coffee filled haze. For the record, Henry is now sleeping beautifully behind me in his swing as I type. Babies have such a wonderful abandonment. After reeking havoc on my internal clock he can now rest as I try to referee the elders of the tribe. And lately it has been refereeing.

Our oldest 2 have a mere 18 months between them. It is both a blessing and a curse. They are each others best friends and worst enemies. Which I guess that’s how it goes for most siblings when they’re young. But these 2 are professionals at sabotaging each other. The tides have recently changed, Taylor has realized that he is now the same size as Emma. The playing field has been leveled and new war tactics are being used. Instead of him sneaking around, attacking while she’s vulnerable, he now wages full on attacks in the broad, open daylight. I feel like my days at home are spent as ref and servant to their needs. I give it to moms who stay at home and are with their kids 24/7. You have my utmost respect and adoration. My children would have for sale signs tied around them as they stood at the end of our driveway.

We farm with my parents. While I am a working mom, I have the ability to take my kids to work with me. This is where I have a feeling most of my blog inspirations will take place. My kids love the cows and seeing my parents almost every day. I’ve heard before it takes a village to raise a child. My tribe may need more than a village! Being at the farm lets my kids use their little brains in all kinds of creative play and out of the box thinking. Example: what will happen if I take a saucer sled down a massive pile of sand (3 semi loads to be exact). This yielded disappointing results as apparently sand creates too much friction and the sled goes too slowly to obtain any thrills. I believe the sand pile will warrant a blog entry of it’s own someday fairly soon! The kids love the cows and calves, as well as any animal they can get their grubby mits on. We have a whole barn at our house containing 2 goats, a pony and 18 laying hens to prove this! But I don’t think there is a much better place for them to grow up!

This is going to conclude my *first* blog entry, I know exciting stuff! Currently I have a 3 year old, 4 year old and 10 week old puppy being supervised by our beloved golden retriever in the other room. The poor girl only has so much patience.