Saturday, November 12, 2016

Chocolate Fountain

It is said that the world is full of two types of people: glass half empty or glass half full. Well, I have stumbled upon another kind of person. A very rare person. A person who finds the good in something and makes it even better. Someone who refuses to stop recycling the good. That person is Makenna. My Makenna is a chocolate fountain.

Prime example:  I had a terrible week. One of those weeks that was so busy and full of stuff that I couldn't even enjoy it. Makenna overheard me saying that to one of my friends. When I got off the phone, she looked at me and said, "That's not true. You had a great week. A lot of good stuff happened. We did good practicing for rodeo. Your mom and dad came to visit us twice.  Degnan is roping. I am riding again. Josie is doing good at school. Chaney hasn't peed anywhere she isn't supposed to."  You know what?  She was right. All of that stuff was good but she made it sound great. She does this kind of thing all the time. Just last week, she called me from school. With a giggle in her voice she informed me that I needed to get to town with some new pants. It seems that she busted a move during gym and split her pants from front to back. She wasn't embarrassed. She wasn't put out. She just laughed at her self and kept going. Yesterday, she told me that was sure a good thing she split her pants and had to sit in the office because she was able to help the secretary remember where he principal went when they were looking for him. 

I don't think they are many chocolate fountains in the world. I think God sprinkles them sparingly and waits to see if we notice. I am sure glad I have a chocolate fountain. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not So Rockwell Meals

Old fashioned family meals are a regular at our house. We sit down, together, talk about our day and eat. About once a year, we go all out and have one of the best meals on the planet. Chicken fried steak. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Corn. I know it is the equivalent of putting a steer in the feedyard for fattening but, it's oh so good. Last night was that meal. 

We were all gathered around the table, sharing our days and imagining seconds and thirds. It was a total modern day Rockwell moment if you didn't pay attention to Chaney's lack of pants and a few of the older ones smacking. As I was congratulating Austin on a meal, well done, Makenna was grabbing her second helping of corn.  Suddenly, she stopped, mid scoop, and asked us where the corn came from. I told her it was leftover from the night before. I buy industrial size cans of corn and they eat it for days. Makenna slowly sat the spoon back in the bowl and gave us all a sheepish smile. 

"Oh yeah. About the corn. I had some of it for snack and the bowl was so heavy that I spilled it. I didn't want to get in trouble so I cleaned it up. I forgot to tell you."  I told her that wasn't anything to get in trouble for. "Well, I scooped it back into the bowl."  Austin and I looked at each other, processing the fact we were all enjoying floor corn. He finally shrugged his shoulders and said, "Eh, we have eaten worse, I am sure. Besides, I heated it pretty good."  Josie piped up and said, "Oh great!  This is worse than the time Dad made us eat chicken out of the dumpster."  

Yep, you read that right. About two years ago (almost to the day), we were putting some finishing touches on our new store. I had stopped and picked up KFC.  I had this grand idea of us eating a picnic like meal in our brand new store. A sort of christening. Another modern day Rockwell moment. Upon arriving, I asked the kids to pick up the trash, in the vehicle and throw it out. I am sure you can guess. The bucket of chicken got tossed. I had a moment of panic. I couldn't cook supper.  There wasn't time. Austin calmly walked out, pulled the bucket of chicken out of the dumpster full of Sheetrock, wood and building materials and said, "Dig in!"  I rolled with it. So did the kids. Apparently, they remembered it, also. 

Obviously our attempts at Rockwell moments don't go as planned.  We are more of a mix of Rockwell meets Van Gogh self portrait with partially missing ear meets Family Circle. But, we have a sense of humor about them and we haven't been struck with any extreme gastrointestinal issues. I don't plan to keep keep taking the chance. I like my food sheetrock and floor debris free. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kill Free Zone

Why does the team of Austin and Erin work so well?  Is it our undying love?  Is it our never ceasing attraction to one another?  No.  It is because marriage is a "kill free zone."  It is our ability to remember that neither of us is perfect and therefore, we cannot kill one another.  Yesterday, I needed to be reminded that I wasn't perfect.  Why?  Because I was close to coming unhinged.  Why? 

Yesterday was Bacon Day for one of our pigs.  She needed to be at the locker around 8:00 a.m. Austin hooked up the trailer and loaded her the night before.  I was extremely grateful to him for doing that.  I got the older kids up and on the bus and Chaney and I into the pickup, on time!!  All of this is a big accomplishment, on a Monday morning.  Before pulling out, I checked the pig and gave her a going away treat of bananas.  Thirteen miles down the road, I notice that the side gate of my trailer is swinging open.  Holy Boston butt!!  I quickly explained my situation to my mom and hung up on her.  I came to a very slow stop, prayed and prayed that the pig would be in the back of the trailer and ran to check.  No pig!!  Panic.  Pukey feeling.  Tears.  Frustration.  I had thirteen miles of slow driving and praying.  "Please don't let the pig be in the road, in a mangled mess.  Please don't let someone hit her and hurt themselves.  Please let her be okay.  Please let me be able to load her, on my own, before she tears up someone's field.  Please let me not kill my husband for leaving the gate open.  Please let me not kill my kids for leaving the gate open. Please let me find this pig."  Relief doesn't even begin to cover my feeling of pulling into our yard and seeing the missing pig, happily rooting around.  Now, to load her.  Thankfully, other than placing 320 pounds of cloven hoof directly on my big toe, it went smoothly.  I checked ALL gates and got her to the land of bacon and sausage.  I called my mom who told me, "Oh, you will be laughing about this, soon!"  I wasn't so sure.  My plans were off for the entire day.  My foot hurt.  My stomach was still in a knot.

Austin apologized and tried really hard not to laugh.  I waffled between laughter and slugging him.  And then, my memory shot back to this moment.  This moment when I told him that I was sorry and tried not to laugh.  This moment when he wanted to kill me and didn't. 

Best Laid Plans

Marriage is about making a life together and living it.  Not making it and killing each other.  Marriage is a kill free zone.  We are doing a pretty good job of living it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Heart & Brains

Makenna once said "most of the time, I don't have a clue."  She is so wrong. Yes, she can forget to put both shoes on. She can be holding something and looking for it at the same time. But, this kid has a uniqueness that I love. Her thinker is perfectly in tune with her feeler. While many of us use either our brain or our heart, Makenna utilizes both. 

For two years, she has kept a jacket in her locker. When I asked her to bring it home, she politely declined and explained herself. That jacket is her "forgot jacket". It is for the kids in her class who forget their jackets or don't have warm enough jackets. She told me "it's quite handy."  

She and I ran a few errands. We bumped into a man, in town, who has voiced his extreme dislike of Austin and I, to many people. I smiled and said "Hi". He refused to acknowledge me. Makenna looked at me and said "When people won't smile and be polite, I just smile bigger. I don't have to be as mean as they are."

I feel like there are a lot of lessons coming from this smile. The world would be a lot different if we all used a balance between our heart and brain in our decisions. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Going Backwards to Go Forwards

Welcome to the hardest blog I have ever written.  It's so hard that it has taken me a year to even attempt.  Be patient.  Be kind.  I don't know how to tell this story without airing frustrations, writing the wrong thing (unintentionally) or stumbling over myself.  This is our story of dyslexia.  Before I begin, know two things:  1.  I don't blame anyone for my baby having dyslexia.  2.  I don't write this for sympathy.  I write this because there is another parent, out there, who needs to know they aren't the only ones struggling.  I write this because there is a kid, sitting in a classroom wondering why they don't "get it" and everyone else does.  Josie has dyslexia.

How did we figure this out?  We didn't.  She did.  Sort of.  Two years ago, during a skills assessment, Josie looked straight at her teacher and said "You know I don't learn like those other kids, right?"  That began a whole new way of approaching school.  Her teacher, an amazing lady, started working with her a bit differently.  We weren't thinking dyslexic.  We were just thinking we had a different thinker on our hands.  That didn't bother us, in the least bit.  Kindergarten started and we noticed it wasn't just a different thinker.  Josie would "read" a book to me and if I wasn't really paying attention, I wouldn't notice that she wasn't really reading.  The girl could pick up a book, look at the pictures and fool even the best of them.  When asked to sound out simple words, she could sound it out but couldn't tell you what it meant.  For instance, she would painfully sound out "cat" and not be able to tell you that we were talking about the very type of four legged animal that she had just finished playing with, on our front porch. She couldn't tell you how many fingers she had without counting them. She could count moving cattle on the cake line. That's hard for some adults (hellloooo, me). She couldn't get her pole pattern down on foot or her horse because she got lost with the straight line. Her test scores started rolling in.  They were all over the place.  One week she was so far behind, I was surprised the kid on the piece of paper could put one foot in front of the other.  The next test, she was at the top of the charts.  It wasn't adding up.  We asked the school to test her.  She passed all the tests.  It was suggested we wait until she was ten.  That just didn't seem right to us. I am, admittedly, leaving out a lot of the frustrations in jumping through the school hoops.  They are there but I don't think it will serve a purpose for this blog to go through all of that.  It was evident to us, the school couldn't or wouldn't address what we suspected.  That was dyslexia.  We took her to have independent testing run.  I know that sounds like it had to have been time consuming and expensive.  It wasn't.  It was a ridiculously simple process and cost a measly $100.  At this time, she has only been evaluated by professionals.  We haven't had a need to have her officially diagnosed.  We chose to use the thousands of dollars that would have cost to learn how to teach her. 

We live in a state in which the schools don't "recognize" dyslexia. Austin and I knew she wasn't going to learn as she should with the current system. So, I spent two weeks learning how to learn like Josie.  It was the most humbling and overwhelming two weeks of my life.  The simulations, in which we learned what it is like to be in a classroom, as a dyslexic, left me in tears.  I had taken learning for granted.  It came easily to me.  How could I have missed this for my daughter?  Was it our fault?  We should have spent less time loving her love of Blake Shelton songs and more time on the ABCs. How was I going to help her continue loving learning?  We hadn't hit the frustration beyond measure stage and I wanted to help her avoid it.  How could we protect her yet, teach her to work with what she was given?  We chose to be upfront about it.  We told her why she learned differently.  We taught her to use her voice and explain to people when she couldn't understand.  She told us that when she asked for the directions, twice, people just got louder.  We taught her to say "I don't understand.  I need you to say it a different way."  We worked hard to get a program into the school. 

I am happy to say that our school has a great program, now. We are working together and seeing positive things. It isn't cured and never will be. We really believe that this girl isn't going to be held back by dyslexia. We believe that God have her something hard so she can help others. We are excited to watch her learn. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dear Husband: Why I Go to Bed Ugly

I go to bed ugly. It's true.  You haven't said anything and I appreciate it. I feel like I should explain. The days of me getting dressed up or putting on airs for bed time are long gone. Honestly, I am not sure they existed. I know it has never been candle light and romantic music but I do feel like there was a time of cute shots and a tank top that matched. Now, you get old underwear, your own t-shirt and the promise I love you. 

It isn't an intentional attempt at running you off. I have a lot of reasons for this change. They are:

1.  We just got home from roping. It is 11:30. You are asleep. You have been up since 3:45 a.m.  I have been up since 6:30. I put kids and horses to bed. I just want your old t shirt and a pillow.

2.  There aren't any other clean clothes. It's been a rough week. The washer keeps throwing codes. I can't get Google to fix it. I want your favorite t-shirt just as much as you do. Alas, it is buried underneath little people clothing that smells like various forms of animal, mud and sweat. That t-shirt is oh so soft but it can't fight through the pile. 

3.  I got new beauty supplies. This hair mask may make my hair look greasy now but it is for sure going to give me locks of hair that will leave even Fabio jealous. Also, this face mask says it will tighten all the right places and obliterate all the wrong if I can commit to eight hours. Who am I to argue with that?

4.  I am tired. I haven been verbally, mentally and physically abused. All. Day. Long. They are little and they don't mean to wear me down. But, holy geehozephat they are relentless. Hungry. Thirsty. Bored. Excited. Bleeding. Smart. Dumb. Happy. Sad. Angry.  Needy. It is ALL day long. 

5.  You don't care. I love you even more for that. You don't expect me to get all dolled up so you can turn on "Deadliest Catch" and fall asleep before the first commercial. You don't need me in full hair, makeup and silky things so you can sleep open mouthed and snoring. All you care about is having me next to you. Oh, and you care about whether I will ever wash that t-shirt and if you will ever get it back from me. Your chances are slim. 

Thanks for going to bed ugly, with me. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's All In the Name

In an effort to help other parents of small children, here is solid advice for naming pets. It's tried and true. Do not name your pets (or other children ) these names:

Tucker - the "T" is harder to enunciate than you think. One of the most common mispronunciations for small children is "truck". That "T" becomes an "F" and a very clear one, at that. It's the same for Tucker. 

Baxter - Baxter quickly becomes the child of unmarried parents. 

Georgie - the second "g" is easy. The first one is left off. Pretty soon, Georgie is a very lovely party of naked people with loose morals. 

How do we know this?  Well, we were smart enough to head off Baxter. The other two are part of our lives. 

Meet my parents' dog, Tucker. 

Meet our cat, Georgie.