Why being a farm mom rocks

I have four boys…four rambunctious, crazy, wild boys. I thank God every day that we live on a farm, because I’m not sure town could handle them. Or maybe it’s that I’m not sure I could handle them in town. Without frequent visits from officers. And maybe child protective services. And calls from neighbors. And…well, I digress.

So how does being a farm mom rock? Let me count the ways:

  1. I get to deep-clean often. Like when someone brings in a bucket of toads. And drops them. In the kitchen. Near the stove. And fridge. And I’m too slow.

    The Toad Catcher

    These are what we found right away…a few had escaped.

  2. I get new utensils and dishes often. Mostly because all of mine disappear throughout the winter and don’t reappear until it thaws outside and they’re found it what used to be a snow fort.
  3. I don’t have to talk to them about the birds and the bees. They learn about it every spring, usually with commentary from their uncle.
  4. I know when spring is upon us. Because it’s warm enough to pee outside. With pants ALL the way down.

    Warmer weather

    But the best sign of spring? Outdoor bathroom is open for business.

  5. My kids will be expert drivers by the time the state says it’s OK for them to drive…just don’t ask me how they got to know so much.
  6. They understand the weather, and what it means to the farm. Rain doesn’t mean an event is ruined…it means the whole family gets to join in!
  7. Math is no longer some mysterious language that will never be used. They understand the importance of measurements (such as acres), area (field size), volume (bin capacity), etc. Math and science are definitely living and breathing on the farm!
  8. We learn creative problem solving – like how to get the wild barn cat out of the house without breaking everything.
  9. They also learn about teamwork – so Mom doesn’t find out about #8.
  10. They also learn about trust – and that a 3-year-old isn’t so good at it. See #9.

    laughter, children

    That little one on bottom left? Yeah, he’s not so good at secrets.

No matter what, these boys are my world. And I’m glad I can raise them in the best environment possible – our farm. They learn so much, but even more so, they learn how to become better people. They respect the land, understand hard work, and know where their blessings come from – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m sure I could add hundreds more, but I’d rather hear about your reasons why you love being a farm mom…or maybe why you’re glad you’re not!

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Where popcorn leads me…

Today was a rough day. It began pretty decent, work was a little stressful, some funny stuff regarding pork roasts on a sidewalk happened in between, then it was home for supper, a couple-mile run, canning salsa and getting my discussion ready for tomorrow night’s first “Led by the Spirit” meeting at our church…also led by me, funnily enough.

I decided to get going on George’s Cub Scout popcorn sales, because the deadline for signing up for the website is tomorrow. (Yeah, I plan ahead like that.)

I was perusing the site when I stumbled across a few cool things – like Cub Scouts that sell enough popcorn can earn a scholarship! And that popcorn sales online get shipped directly to the customer. And a large chunk of the money from the sales go to local programming. All very cool.

And then it hit me – scholarship. College. Life.

George, summer 2010...we've come a long way, baby!

George, summer 2010…we’ve come a long way, baby!

I’ve been so busy worrying about today, that I’ve somehow forgotten that I need to plan for George’s tomorrow. And then other thoughts started invading my head. Like do we give back the money if George doesn’t make it? Does it qualify for any further education? Even if it’s special needs? How do you even deal with that?

The point being that I used to get involved in these types of things and not even think twice about the meaning behind them. I would plan every day as if they were the same. Yet, nothing is further from the truth.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

George is here. He’s making a splash in first grade and we’ll have check-ups at Mayo in November. And I’m going to let him grow up, and make plans – and sell Cub Scout popcorn. And we’ll aim for the scholarship. And wait for the future. And plan. Including a plan for Christmas that will knock his socks off! (Can’t wait to share, but it’s a surprise!)

So I ended the night with a few tears – because my baby is growing up, even when they told me he probably wouldn’t.

What will his Eagle Scout project be? How about living?

If you’d like some Cub Scout popcorn, here’s George’s link – don’t worry if it says “Eli”…that’s his real name. George is just my nickname for him on here, and his dad’s nickname for him all the time. And if you do order, I’ll have George send you a real life thank-you. 

Are laws good or bad?

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail that I’ve been dreading for years. I was notified that our insurance will be discontinued on June 30. But I’m not supposed to worry, because they have a plan that’s “comparable,” that can start July 1.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others...but don't simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It's why we live where we live.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others…but don’t simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It’s why we live where we live.

Except I don’t trust that it is.

It’s not that I’m always this distrustful. But George doesn’t rely on me taking someone else’s word for it. We live in North Dakota. His pediatrician is in South Dakota. His specialists are in Minnesota. Right now, I don’t have to worry about things like “networks” and “preferred providers” and whatever other words they throw in the way of the search for medicine.

George, summer 2010, before we had a diagnosis more than "failure to thrive." This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I'm pushing too hard...and then I push harder.

George, summer 2010, (about 16-months old, wearing 6-9 month clothing) before we had a diagnosis more than “failure to thrive.” This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I’m pushing too hard…and then I push harder.

But I digress.

So, I posted last night that I received the dreaded letter, and the response was pretty much what I figured it would be – people blamed the law.

Is it the law’s fault? Did the law write itself? Did it pass on its own? Has it not had a chance to be corrected? The flaws less flawed? The problems less problematic? The promises more promissory?

And yet, we’re so quick to blame the legislation. Blame the party. Blame whatever inanimate object, thing or idea that cannot possibly take the blame. So where does the blame lie? (Here’s where I probably lose a little popularity…) It lies with legislators, lawmakers, elected officials…and us.

That’s right. I take partial responsibility. Do you? I voted. And have, in every election since I turned 18. Which means I’m partially to blame. Not because I didn’t vote “right,” but because I haven’t done enough to make sure that my lawmakers understand who I am, where I’m coming from and what it is that I need from the laws they are passing.

I cannot blame the law, when I haven’t done as much as I could do to ensure that the changes I need are being made. And that doesn’t begin and end with complaining – it includes constructive criticism, yes, but also solutions – real ones.

Let me be clear, I know of several families (real ones), that have been helped by the Affordable Care Act. I do not deny that we truly need access for all to health care, and health insurance, as well.

I guess it’s time I get to working on my suggestions for solutions, because I definitely have a problem.

The years go by

Time flies when you you’re having fun…right?

It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago my little George turned 5. How is that even possible?
It seems like just yesterday I was spending countless hours at various physicians, trying to nail down what was going on…wondering where his road would lead.

Yet, here we are. Five.

For those that don’t know, or maybe haven’t been following along, or are new to this blog, 5 is a magic number for my George. It’s an age that science said he more than likely wouldn’t reach. It’s an age that should have brought more issues and concerns and perhaps a little more doom and gloom.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

George broke down the door of 5 and is rarin’ to go. He’s excelled at preschool and may need some advanced work when he hits kindergarten in the fall. Kindergarten. A dream I dared to dream.

It seemed like eons ago that I wrote about finally realizing I needed to give George a life. Not just health…a real life. One filled with friends and experiences and ups and downs. And since then, I started living too.

Do I still worry about tomorrow? Certainly. I don’t know of a single parent that wouldn’t. But why borrow the trouble of tomorrow against the miracle of today?

My guard is still up. I read about the measles outbreaks across the country and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I do what I can to protect George from the known issues that he may face. But I could never fully protect him. There are too many unknowns. Too many variables. So I must use a little common sense and balance.

Five whole years. It seriously feels like a lot longer than that. But if we truly lived by the adage that “it’s not the years, it’s the miles,” George would be older than most.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. My greatest blessing just so happens to come in a dynamite little package that keeps thumbing his nose at what the experts say. Just goes to show that the greatest Expert of all doesn’t follow a scientific journal.

And I am grateful for that.

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Day 7 – Thoughts on raising boys

Yes, as you are well aware, I have boys. Four of them. I joke that they’re the reason I dye my hair, but that has more to do with genetics than anything. So here are some of my thoughts on what it’s like to raise boys…and perhaps a tip or two on how to survive:

boys on first day of school

From left to right: George, EJ, Big Bro and Scooter. My crew.

  • I’d tell you to expect the unexpected, but that’s not true. Expect the impossible. Really. Want to hide the last Hershey kiss in the light fixture, in the middle of the kitchen, with no ladder? Go fold clothes. I dare you. You’ll find your son hanging from the light. Seriously.
  • Do not teach them hide and go seek. I mean it. Unless you want to spend frantic minutes looking for them, only to find them in the dryer. Yeah. Not kidding on this one either.
  • Throw out any book that tells you boys and girls aren’t different. I bought dolls for my boys and gave them a kitchen, thinking I wouldn’t introduce any biasness and would let them be “themselves.” The dolls became hostages and lost their heads, the kitchen was turned into a bunker and doll arms became guns. *sigh* I have to admit, I was never a Barbie fan myself.
  • Do not tell your son to “act like a man.” Unless he’s older than 18. I do not want my child to leave his socks on the kitchen floor, expect his dishes to be picked up after him or expect the sock fairy to magically appear each night. (Kidding, just kidding.) Actually, my problem is that our children grow up too fast, and we always expect them to act older, not just act appropriately for the age they are…and there’s a difference. I’m afraid I may have done a little too much of this with my oldest. He has a very old soul, and I worked so hard to raise him to be a good child, I forgot to let him be a child. Lesson learned the hard way.

    Life is never dull around here.

    Life is never dull around here.

So how do you survive it all? I’m not sure I know quite yet, but I do know one thing. Let go. Don’t get so wrapped up in all the different aspects that you forget that you’re living a life. Make some memories. Have a water fight. Give your son a wedgie. Let them know that you’re not just Mom, and that you remember how to have fun.

It can’t be all rules, all the time. Stay up late. Tell scary stories. Play in a fort. Get dirty. When they ask what’s for supper, tell them it’s frog eyeballs and spider legs. Get creative.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

The time will fly by, and before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do all these things sooner.

Four boys. Apparently God has a very good sense of humor. But that’s OK…so do I.

Day 2 – Thoughts on Sports

Here is Day Two in my “30 Days of Thoughts” series! Woohoo! I can’t believe I made it this far! 😉

Here’s my topic for the day: kids and sports.

I know it’s a pretty polarizing topic. People either feel that kids should be involved, and learn to win AND lose, or that sports and childhood don’t mix. I’m somewhere in the middle.

Let me explain.

This is Scooter. He’s 9. He’s all boy. And he likes sports.

Scooter, in all his glory. He loves all things having to do with sports.

Scooter, in all his glory. He loves all things having to do with sports.

He loves all sorts of sports.

Wrestling. Check.

Wrestling. Check.

Baseball. Check.

Baseball. Check.

Football. Check. (He's #84)

Football. Check. (He’s #84, about to sack the QB.)

Basketball. Check.

Basketball. Check. (Scooter’s the tall one in the red.)

And it actually is helpful in school. He’s learning about teamwork, getting along with others, listening AND if he doesn’t get good grades, he doesn’t get to play. It’s a tool to get him to work hard, and it works well.

His older brother? Well, Big Bro doesn’t care much for sports, and he’s a little more limited in his choices. But he likes music. He plays piano and the trumpet. But that’s another thought for another day.

Here’s my point: I often hear people talk about today’s children being too busy. They are involved in this and that, and sometimes you just need to not be involved. I agree…and disagree.

I see it the opposite way. Today’s children aren’t involved enough. Nothing is expected of them. The world is their oyster and no one tells them that they have to work for it.

No, not every child is destined to be a football superstar, or play for the NBA, but every child should learn that you have to work for what you want. Including practice, listening to a coach and making sure that you’re pulling your weight with your grades. For Scooter, the key to motivation is sports, for his brother, its an instrument. In another year or two, I’m sure EJ and George will let me know what their interests are (I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m hoping for at least one more sports nut!).

It’s not what our children do that’s so important, it’s making them responsible for something.

Yes, we have a busy schedule, and yes, we do enjoy the down-time when it comes, but managing time and a calendar and keeping track of schedules is also an important lesson. In fact, I find my children teaching me more about scheduling every day!

Can there be too much of a good thing? Certainly. But if you’re in tune with your kids, and know where you’re at, then you’re one step ahead of the game.

And all I need to know is where the next step leads.

There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home

There’s no place like home.

Dang. Said it three times and it still didn’t work. I’m still sitting here, at my impromptu desk on third floor of the hospital. I remember not-so-long ago when this seemed like home. But it’s been a long time since then, almost two years, I think.

For those new to the blog, my youngest son (he’s referred to as “George” on here) has a metabolic disorder. It’s called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, and if you want to read up about it, and George, knock yourself out. There’s a whole tab up on the top there. (And yes, spell check, I have spelled it right. Trust me.)

George’s condition makes him more susceptible to illness. But we have had a long run of good luck, and his immune system has bounced back amazingly. We haven’t had to deal with a hospital-stay-inducing illness in quite some time.

That was, until about midnight last night.

It started with a cough, followed by a sound that would wake the most sound sleeper from the deepest of sleeps…the sound of a child projectile vomiting down a flight of stairs.

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I'll learn. ;)

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I’ll learn. 😉

Needless to say, my night was short, and I ended up bringing George down to his pediatrician after the other boys got on the bus. We stopped up at the hospital for a round of fluids, and were about to disconnect the IV to head home when I noticed a change.

George’s cheeks were flush, he was no longer talking or playing and he started to get “that” look. He was now running a fever.

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn't anyway.)

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn’t anyway.)

I was given the option to stick around for the evening, or take him home and see how the night went. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then when George asked to go to the bathroom, he had a dizzy spell coming back to bed. My mind was decided for me, we were sticking it out.

And so, here I am, after midnight. I’ve been awake about 24 hours, give or take a few minutes here or there…and yet, I cannot sleep. I watch him like a hawk, listen for his IV pump, hold my breath when he coughs, all those things that a parent does for their child.

Yet, as tired as I am, I know one thing: I am blessed.

And that’s all I need to know.

This is the George that I can't wait to get back.

This is the George that I can’t wait to get back.

I’ll update in the morning about George’s progress and our (hopeful) discharge home. Fingers crossed for a peaceful night…well, what’s left of it.

3:46 p.m. – Heading home! YAY!