Thursday, August 28, 2008

Withdrawals

I'm sleeping better this week. Going to bed much earlier than I have the last 2 weeks. But I'm going through withdrawals.

I love the Olympics. I have fond memories of them. Watching the "Battle of the Brians" at the winter Olympics with my Mom on the sofa. Watching the American girls win the gold when I was in college with my roommate Chera. I love them. I enjoyed watching Michael Phelps go for gold. I cheered when he raced. I even had the butterflies.
And I held my breath watching the girls perform for the gold. It's exciting. I wish it happened more than just every 4 years. I'm glad they separated them. I'm looking forward to my next fix in the Winter 2010 games. And I have to say, I'm glad Canada is closer. Maybe I'll get more sleep.
Or maybe not.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Meet the Miracle Man... er, boy...

Our newest little friend and resident Miracle has left the hospital. He is home living with his family and is living large!

We had the pleasure of visiting him last week. He is still tiny! His pacifier is almost as big as he it!
He's a content little guy. But who wouldn't be? He has 2 loving and caring parents who are over the moon in love with him. And 2 big sisters who just don't see fit to let him sleep anywhere but in their arms.

When we visited, he had been to church for the first time and was wearing this cute little onesie. "Heaven Sent." Truer words were never spoken.

The Doodlebug even wanted her chance to hold and love on him. She was so gentle and sweet. She just sat there and loved on him and smiled. It was wonderful.
Welcome Home, Little Matthew!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Only Bad Thing About the Nutty Forest

I love living here. Have I told you that? The Nutty Papa tells me I'm a city girl. I didn't grow up in a big city, but I grew up next to one, with a car. So I did what I wanted when I wanted. I didn't work outside. I spent my time at dance classes. So moving out to the country has been a new experience for me. And I love it! I love the smell of the air. I love the freedom I feel. Being able to do whatever I want outside without worrying about what the neighbors think. And I love the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.

That being said, there is one thing about living out here that I hate. Can't stand it. Drives me wild. Luckily I have only had to deal with this from a distance, a few times a year.

Meet my nightmare. Mr. Rattlesnake. Unfortunately, I have to share the country with him. He mostly keeps his distance. But every once in a while, he wanders, or slithers, over to my part of the world. Luckily, Mr. David is usually there to save me when he does. This particular fellow met Mr. David on our driveway. Mr. David ran over him with his car. Then he took him over to the barn and placed him under a tree so the kids could look at him. Thanks Mr. David.

We have run ins with these guys 2-3 times a year. I'll never forget my first run in with one. The kids and I were alone... the Nutty Papa had gone to Japan. Japan of all places. He couldn't have been farther away. We were returning one early March evening from a visit to Aunt Tricia's. It was dark. I told Chojuk to feed the puppies and I was going to go get some laundry off the line. That's when I heard it. Not a rattle. A scream. I came running and it was Chojuk. He was hysterical. I could barely understand him. Finally, I figured out he'd seen a rattlesnake. When I asked him where it was, he said, "Come here, I'll show you." Wait a minute. I didn't want to see it. Didn't want to get close to it. Didn't want to let HIM get close to it. So I told him to point to it. And sure enough. There was a tiny little rattlesnake curled up on the back door, preventing us from going in. Not knowing who else to call at 9pm, I called Mr. Pete, our mechanic.

"Pete..."
Groggily.... "Yes"
"I think there's a rattlesnake by my back door."
"You think?"
"Well, I'm not getting close enough to see."
"Is it alive?"
"I don't know. I'm not getting close enough to see."
"You sure it's a rattlesnake? It's awfully early in the year for rattlesnakes."
"No, I'm not sure it's a rattlesnake. I'm not getting close enough to see."
"Is your gate open?"
"If you'll come kill it, I'll open the gate for you!"
"Let me get out of bed. I'll be right there."
"Thanks Mr. Pete."

Mr. Pete arrived and was as surprised as we were to see a little rattlesnake on our back porch. He brought a shovel and cut his head off. Then he showed it to the kids and gave us a little lesson in rattlesnake. I'm such a city girl!

To this day, if you ask the kids what to do if they see a rattlesnake they'll say, "Run away from it." And then what'll happen? "Mr. Pete will come with a shovel and kill it." Thanks Mr. Pete!

After that, I started askin' people how to get rid of them... or keep them away. Put down a rope... they don't slither over rope. I had a hard time findin' a rope long enough to go around 100 acres. Moth Balls, my father in law said. They don't like the smell of moth balls. So I went to Walmart and bought them out of moth balls. I put them all over the ground like I was landscaping the ground with them. Then my girlfriend Teza came out. She said she pulled onto the driveway and was so excited to be in the country, she rolled down her window to smell that wonderful country air. She started coughing from the smell of moth balls. Kinda ruins the whole country livin' thing. So I'm still lookin' for a solution.

Rattlesnakes. My country livin' nemesis. As long as I live here, he'll be here. But if my choices are live with the occasional run in, or leave, I'll live with the rattlesnakes. They bother me a lot less than my noisy neighbors used to.

But if you come up with a rattlesnake bait, let me know.

A Good Day Outside with The Nutty Papa

The baby is old enough now to walk around outside with the family. This past weekend, The Nutty Papa was in charge. He allows so much more freedom than I do. I worry. What if they run into a rattlesnake? What if they get a stick in the eye? What if they step in an ant bed? What if they throw dirt at each other? WHAT IF THEY RUN INTO A RATTLESNAKE?!? Not to worry. The Nutty Papa stays outside with the kids. He's never far.

This weekend, while I was cleaning the inside, The Nutty Papa and kids were cleaning the outside. Since there isn't much for the Baby to do to help, he just gets to explore. The Doodlebug and he have become really good buddies. They get into all kinds of trouble together. They especially love the dirt. Here's what happens to a Baby who plays in the dirt.

This is what I saw when the Nutty Papa brought him in for lunch! Needless to say, he didn't get lunch until he got a bath! It took a while to get him to smile for this picture. He was really mad that he had to come inside. But he was so hot! The dirt is stuck to his sweat!


I'm envisioning years of dirty tubs ahead for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Madness in the Nutty Forest

I love farming. It's great to watch something grow. Then to harvest it. Eat it. Sell it. It's cool.

The craziest part of pecan farming is thinning the crop. Walking up to a perfectly healthy tree loaded with nuts and saying, "We need to get rid of some of these nuts!" My Friendly Cotton Pickin' Neighbor doesn't do that. "Hmmm. We just have too much cotton. Let's get rid of some of it!" If he did that, the neighbors would laugh at him.

But here I go. Shakin' down half the nuts on the tree. There's a logic to this. If the tree has too many nuts, it can't fill all of them and you'll have bad nuts on the whole tree. AND next year, you won't have any nuts because the tree would have used up all it's energy trying to fill all those nuts. So if you shake them down, it's a win-win situation. Except for the punched in the gut feeling it leaves me. I still look at the ground at each and every nut and think, "That's a lot of money on the ground." (I still think I can get a penny for every pecan. It's more like 1/5 of a penny for every nut.) And yet The Great Pecan Man has said, "Shake!" So I shake.

This is going to be a learning lesson for me, since I tried shaking last year and didn't do so well. The Great Pecan Man orders me to shake every nut of the heaviest loaded tree I can find. "Every nut?!?" Yep. Every nut. So Mr. David fires up the shaker and off we go, to shake down a tree.


We shook and shook. Those babies weren't comin' off that tree. But we finally decided we had as many as we could possibly get. Sigh. Look at all those nuts.

Next, the Great Pecan Man tells me to make an "X" on the ground so as to divide the nuts on the ground into fourths. OK. Ground "X"-ed. Next? Count the nuts in one section of the "X". Count 1/4 of the nuts on the ground. WHAT? Count? Did I hear you right? You want me to COUNT all those nuts? Maybe I didn't hear you right. Could you explain this again? He actually wanted me to count all those nuts. Can you see all those nuts?!? That's a lot of nuts! But after pleading and begging, there seems to be no way around it. I must count the nuts. So I do.

An hour later, I have counted 1,928 nuts. So I call the Great Pecan Man with my number. Great, he says. That means....if you.... then you could.... yep. You want to shake 3000 nuts off trees that are as heavy as that one. So go find another tree and shake it, then count 1/4 of those nuts and you should have about 750 nuts.

WHAT?!? More counting. I don't need to do that. I get it. 750 nuts is about 2 1/2 buckets of nuts. So I need to shake down 10 buckets worth of nuts. Got it.

So off we go. I walk around each tree and decide whether it's a 0, 1, 2, or 3 tree. 0 means it's a no shake tree. I didn't find many of those. 1 means it needs a few nuts taken off it. Using the Great Pecan Man's numbers, I decide 1000 nuts would be good. A 2 tree needs a little more nuts taken off it... say 2000 nuts. And a 3 is the heaviest tree. It needs about 3000 nuts taken off it.

We are slow at first. I carefully walk around each tree. Evaluate each side. Look up at those pecans. Then give it a rating. I came up with signs for how big a shake I want Mr. David to give each tree. So he grabs the trunk, looks to me for a sign, then lets it go! Shake! Shake! Shake!

After 2 hours, we are really working well. Mr. David and I have it down and we are just shakin' away. So I call the Great Pecan Man to let him know how well I'm doing. You know what he says? "Did you count?" Count what? "Did you count the nuts you shook off a 3 to make sure you had 750 nuts?" No. Counting is hard. It's time consuming. And it's HOT out here! "Count." So guess what I did folks? I counted. I found a 3 tree and counted the nuts in 1/4. And guess what? I got 721!! When I called the Great Pecan Man to boast, I was pleased with his response. "You're pretty good!"

So Mr. David and I took the weekend and shook trees. We shook about 600 trees. If all the trees we shook were 2s, we would have shook 1,200,000 nuts off the trees this weekend. Whew! That's a lot of money!


Don't look, Abuck!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gramps

This is Gramps. He's my Dad's Dad. He'll be 88 in September. And I love him.


He is the reason for the crazy 18 hour drive in the car with 4 kids to Minneapolis family vacation. I wanted to see him. It had been 4 years since I'd seen him and that's just too long. It was wonderful. It was great to see him, and all my other cousins, aunts, uncles and their families. Everyone was there. (Except Jill. She didn't come. Loser. And Amy. She didn't come either. Slacker.)


Seems it was divine intervention, this trip. See, my fun lovin' Aunt Donna called me as we were on our 18 hour drive in the car up to Minneapolis. She said Gramps wasn't doing so well. She took him to the VA hospital and his kidneys are tired. Run out. Pooped. They are slowin' down and slowin' him down. And apparently they are both scheduled to stop in 6 months. This was a surprise. None of us were expecting this. But He knew. That's why we gathered together, one last time with Gramps. To celebrate. To remind him what he did.



He always says that. "I did all this."


He did a lot more that just "all this" family. He served his country. He fought in World War II and was captured. It was ugly. It was scary. And he survived. He's a hero. He's my hero.


I love Gramps. He's a tolerant man. He's a patient man. He's a loving man. If you had met Grandma, you'd understand. He says it best: "She was easy to love, and hard to live with." (And when he told the Nutty Papa this, the Nutty Papa smiled knowingly. What's THAT about?!?)



When I'm with Gramps, I want to sit in his lap and just be. Just loved. I'm so thankful for my Gramps.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

While Mama's Away...

While the Nutty Mama and Nutty Papa were busy learning about pecans, Mimi was busy doing what Mimi's do best: spoilin' everyone. The Snuggle Bug had requested a trip to Build a Bear. He's an animal lover and especially loves his stuffed animals. (He gets that from me.)

He chose to make the cheetah. He named it "Fire Cheetah". It's really cool. It has a heart beat and even a special sound. He loves it!


Surprisingly, the Snuggle Bug was the only one who participated in the bear building adventure. I figured the Doodlebug would come home with a bear dressed in a Tu-tu. She apparently just wanted to get something for Mama. She's so thoughtful. (Where did she get THAT?)

But don't you worry. While they were out having a great time with Mimi, I was having a great time too. My niece, Katy, met me at her salon and I got a new do.

I think this is the shortest my hair has been since 7th grade. I'm getting used to it. It's a lot more maintenance than I am used to. I asked for different, and I got it! Whadda think?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Utopia for My Boys

When we go to Mimi's the rule is, there is no rule. I guess the kids rule. So the adults are left to the whim of the children's desires. This most recent trip, the boys wanted to go to Dave and Buster's. They have a game there that they LOVE and wanted to get a chance to play again. Leave it to Mimi to grant them their wish.

While the boys played, G'pa and I shared Doodlebug duty. She isn't much of a game player. But she is a button pusher. G'pa once said, "I think we've touched every machine in the building!" And that's her philosophy. Keep movin'.


Here is the game the boys love. Something about a big dragon. All I know is Chojuk was really excited about beating something.

After a while, G'pa and I sat down to the trivia game and tested our brain power. Seems between our 2 brains, we do alright. We won the kids 300 points to spend in the junk room, er, I mean prize store. Doodlebug was true to her girlie roots. She wanted everything. And before we left, she had touched and played with everything in the store. She finally ended up with a cute little lip gloss purse and a stretchy bug.

Everyone wanted a stretchy bug. So Chojuk and the Snugglebug got one too. Then they each got one other item. Everyone left happy. And the food was pretty good to. So the adults' bellies were full. It was a nice trip.

And Chojuk has already asked if we can go visit Mimi again tomorrow so we can go back. We'll see, buddy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Mimi!


We'll see you in a few weeks! Hope you have a wonderful day! We love you!
(Remind me the next time I come, to get a better picture of you and the kids!)