Sunday, October 26, 2008

A No Gift Christmas? Well, Almost...

Christmas 2007


This year our family is going to implement a "no gift giving Christmas". We are not giving gifts to our friends. We are not giving gifts to our friend's kids. We are not giving gifts to our parents, spouses, co-workers or mailmen. The only one getting gifts this year in our family is Grace. Okay and probably one cousin, we just can't get EVERYONE on board.



Of course this is a crazy experiment and one that Mom (I know you are reading this) wasn't the most excited about but seriously, we are 40 years old now, we buy what we want and need already and it's time to stop trading money :) Every year it gets harder and harder because we all have more and more. Sure occasionally one of us will come up with a perfectly clever and personal gift but really we just need to spend more time together. Sooooo....this is the year to do it.



It won't be as easy as it sounds because I've already thought of some things I could MAKE for a few people from materials I already have, but that would defeat the purpose really because then they would feel the need to reciprocate and it would just never, ever end.



I Googled "no gift giving Christmas" and found one link on the history of the tradition of gift giving that was sort of interesting http://www.essortment.com/all/christmaschrist_rijq.htm



We are not exactly planning to skip Christmas, just the crazy and expensive shopping trips for various novelty gewgaws no one really wants or needs.



We spent almost $2,000 on Christmas last year for family and friends. We just have to stop the madness! Sorry, Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, you'll just have to struggle along without us this year.



Last year, by Christmas morning we had to beg Grace to open the rest of her presents. She didn't want to do it anymore. It was nuts.



So PAAAAALLLLLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSEEEE don't get me a gift, because then I'll have to go into my whole tirade (see above) about why we are not giving gifts this year.



This year we'll be eating, going to church, playing games and watching movies for Christmas with my family.



Ho, ho, ho.

She's poison Garrett!



We had a great birthday party for Grace on Saturday. She had six friends from her preschool and four other kid friends plus family. She was so excited to have her friends at her house. They played outside on the swingset, jumped on the trampoline, admired the pigs and chased chickens. It was a good day.


Grace got some cute clothes, several Barbies and lots of other funs stuff. She's really been enjoying her toys.


I didn't get to see it but Gary, Richard and Bryon got to see a glimpse of things to come. Garrett drug the bean bag out of the playroom and into to the game area upstairs to watch air hockey and was all sprawled out on it when Grace decided to jump on him. Garrett put his arm around Grace and cuddled up while little brother Boone was bouncing Tigger style over the two of them. Garrett was holding Grace's face really close to his with both of his hands and Cale hollers out,


"Don't do it Garrett, she's poison!"


I think Bryon, Richard and Gary about died laughing.


We are in so much trouble...

Sarah Palin Rally



As I was leaving the parking lot last Thursday morning after dropping off Grace at daycare and heading to Lawrence County for the day, I heard on the radio that there was going to be a rally for Sarah Palin on Friday. I've never really been all that interested in politics until this year and I decided to cruise by the Republican Headquarters in Springfield to see what it was all about. There was a line of about 300 people already but it wasn't really too daunting so I joined the fray. It was cold. I didn't have a coat. I'm not even a really a Republican. What was I doing there?

As I was looking around I saw my Uncle, five or six folks from the front of the line. He'd been there since 4:15 am. I arrived at 8:20 am for the tickets that were to be given away at 9. They were only giving away a limited number of tickets and I had no idea how many but there I stood on a cold October morning waiting for mine.

I've voted Democrat every election since I turned 18 until the last election when I voted for Bush Jr. because I felt like he needed to finish the war in Iraq and not change horses midstream. I was the lone Democrat at many Thanksgiving dinners with my family. They tolerated me. I was young. I used to feel like the Democrats were for the little guy (i.e. me) but these days I don't think that is necessarily the case anymore.

This year I'll be voting for McCain and Palin. I think he has a crummy view on immigration but otherwise seems the most in line with the way our family rolls at this point in our lives. It should be an interesting next four years.

I finally got my 4 tickets, called my friend Dawn to go with me and gave the other two to my boss because Bryon didn't want to take off work to go. I already had the day off to prepare for Grace's birthday party.

After changing the time AND location, the rally was finally held at Bass Pro Shops parking lot on a cold, cold, cloudy Friday. I stood in that parking lot for 4 hours in the cold wondering the entire time why the heck I was there. Dawn skipped out after about an hour and a half but I was determined to see it through. I might never get another chance to see a Vice President in person again. THEY say there were somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people there. I have no idea. I just know it was crazy crowded but everyone dispersed quickly when it was over.

She looked great, was just a regular girl and was inspiring really. I was feeling supremely patriotic on the drive home as my fingers and toes finally unthawed.

If nothing else now I can say I've been there and done that...I just didn't buy the t-shirt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Big 4!



Today is Grace's 4th Birthday! She has been VERY excited to be 4. Her two best girlfriends at school turned four earlier this month and now she is 4 too! Last night we made Pinkalicious cupcakes for her to take to school to share today. Pinkalicious is one of her favorite books and she has it memorized. She's taken it to school once to read to her class herself and today she took it again WITH pink cupcakes. She helped ice them last night and about every 10 seconds I had to remind her NOT to lick the icing knife. It was a struggle but we we made it through with no Grace slobber on the cupcakes (at least I'm pretty sure there wasn't).  I let her lick both knives when we were done.

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to make her Cow Cake and clean the house before the big party on Saturday afternoon. There is a lot to do but I think this will be her best birthday ever because she REALLY knows what it's all about now! All her school and friend friends are coming and the family and we are ALL excited.

Bryon and I went in this morning with a candle lit cupcake and her gifts to wake her up. We got her a REAL pink guitar and a Barbie at her request. She like them both. She got to eat a pink cupcake for breakfast and for the first morning ever couldn't wait for me to get ready to take her to school so she could tell her friends and teachers she is 4!

It's good to be a kid...especially on your birthday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Busy Weekend and It's Not Over Yet

We have had one REALLY busy weekend. Bryon left at noon on Friday to go to the Eleven Point river for a guys fishing weekend. I wanted to take the day off to make up for working all day last Saturday but Grace had her St. Jude's Trike-A-Thon at school and was excited to participate again this year. The past 2 years she rode her Dora battery powered four wheeler but this year got to take her real bike (still with training wheels of course). She rode 37 laps around the parking lot and got her Trike License along with 6 stickers on her shirt. She was pretty proud and I was pretty impressed. I'm not sure I could have ridden that many laps at this point.

I went ahead into work for the ridiculously long Friday morning production meeting and then back to Marshfield to pick her up early from school. She has been asking to visit our workplaces so I figured this would be a good opportunity and the girl needed some clothes in a bad, starting to look homeless sort of way. We went to Bryon's work first and she performed her cheers on request for EVERYONE. She was really hamming it up! Everyone asked about her blonde hair and where it came from and we had to remind them Bryon did indeed have hair at one time and yes it was blonde :)

At my work she got rewarded for her performances with candy which was pretty much the start to a long weekend of junkfood and eating out. We ate lunch at McDonalds and I let her play in the indoor play place for a few minutes. Next it was off shopping for shirts, shoes and socks. All her little shirts are riding up her belly so I was on a mission. We went to Kohls, Gordmans, ToysRUs, Shoe Carnival, Pennys, Sears, Children's Place, Striderite and Steve & Barry's before there was just no more talking her into trying ANYTHING on!

The icing on the Grace Cake for the day was the grand finale...her friend Mattie's 4th birthday party at Chuck E Cheeses. Somehow we had successfully avoided Chuck E's for FOUR years but the streak was broken last night. She loved it. They ALL loved it. I, not so much but I took one for the team and she left with the everlasting memory of playing with her two best girlfriends at Chuck E Cheese's.

This morning we went to Freda's for breakfast because TODAY she had her last game of flag foot ball to cheer for the Cowboys in Marshfield. They got to play and cheer at the big high school stadium complete with halftime show and help from the Marshfield High Cheer Squad. She was pretty hot stuff. We got there two hours early because of miscommunication so we stopped to rent some movies and killed some time and of course money at Wal-Mart. This was the first time I let her pick out her own movies to rent at Movie Gallery and instead of picking some sweet little Strawberry Shortcake flick she picks out Batman vs. Dracula, the Justice League and Leroy and Stitch (yes I know it's Lilo, but I swear it said Leroy). I picked out Mr. Magorium's Wonder Imporium for her too. Her little friend Andrew at school is all about the Superhero's and she knows the main ones so I figured it was his influence that lead to the pics. Well let me tell you Batman vs. Dracula was horrible! I was folding clothes in the bedroom while she was watching it in there with me and I let her watch about 5 minutes of it before I was so horrified I popped it out. I kept asking her if she thought it was scary and she kept saying no, but it was AWFUL. It was bloody and creepy and I'm pretty sure I WILL have nightmares from it. Hopefully she's tougher than I am. After I popped it out she admitted it was pretty scary. We tried the Justice League next and it wasn't as bad but I'm just pretty sure those movies aren't intended for 4 year old girls. It lasted about 3 minutes and she asked to pop it out too. No problem.Those two are going back tomorrow. That Batman movie does NOT need to be in the kids section. We did end on a good note with Mr. Magorium. It was great. We watched the whole thing together. She was pretty happy girl sitting on the couch cuddled up watching a Saturday night movie together.

Tomorrow...oops it's already tomorrow, we are going to church, lunch and then back to church for the "Fall Party" which is church speak for the Halloween Party. She'll wear her chicken costume and kickoff the return of candy season.

Life has got to be pretty good for a four year old.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Smorgasbord

And then there were nine. TWO chickens got abducted and eaten last week. Of course both of them were active layers and not the two gimpy chickens that don't lay yet I continue to feed. I'm so disgusted. We got home after gymnastics last Tuesday night and I went down to feed the duck. I say DUCK as in singular because one of them vanished a few weeks ago so we only have one now. As I was walking to the pond I stomped across a pile of black and white feathers and then followed a trail of stragglers to the edge of the woods. Definately the Wyandotte.

I had decided to keep them cooped up the next day to discourage a binge but Bryon talked me out of it and I left them out again. Wednesday there was ANOTHER pile of feathers right outside the coop. Apparently the culprit had a taste for Wyandotte because the other one had vanished into a pile of black and white feathers as well.

My friends, it's dangerous in the country.

So NOW, I have 4 or 5 eggs a day which don't add up nearly as quickly as 8 or 9 a day. I'm pretty sure the two gimpy birds will never lay. I have started mixing up the cracked meal like corn we feed the pigs with water for the crossed beaked chicken. I think she can get more into her beak that way. She ate for 20 minutes this weekend one night while I shooed the other hens away from her. She finally walked away (and probably took a nap!) with what I can only assume was a full belly or gullet or whatever chickens have.

Grace hasn't been too concerned about the diminishing flock.

One of the Buff Orpingtons has gotten all broody and tries to hatch the eggs every day. She sits in there constantly on the eggs and gets all upset when I scoop then out from under her. I'm thinking maybe I should just get a rooster and let them hatch out to replenish the flock and maybe the rooster would be able to protect them a little more too during the day. Of course winter is probably not the best time to hatch that plan (pun intended). Maybe I'll just make it through to spring and THEN get a rooster. I really wanted to wait until I could have a pure flock since I have 5 different breeds of birds now instead of six, at this rate that won't be long anyway.

Oh the perils of farm life...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grace and Olivia


Cheerleading

Grace has been going to a mini cheerleading class at gymnastics on Friday nights and it culminated today in getting to cheer at the MFL (Marshfield Football League's) flag football game today. Getting 4-7 year olds to cheer in any sort of coordinated fashion is like herding cats. I would have lasted about 45 seconds if I was in charge. Mercifully I wasn't. The girls had fun. I'm not even sure if our team (the Cowboys) won or not, but it wasn't from lack of enthusiastic cheerleaders rooting them on!

video

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Farm Update

This has been a busy month with Bryon's Dad here visiting. We've enjoyed spending time with him and Grace has enjoyed getting to know her Grandpa Medley better. I think she's probably worn him out. Gary has taken over most of the farm chores while he's been here and starting tomorrow it's back to regular business around here.

He's given a lot of special attention to the crooked beaked Aracauana and she has followed him around the farm like a puppy. She's going to be lonely when he's gone. We lost a duck last week. We don't know what happened to it but the other duck quacks around looking for it. It's pretty sad. The chickens go down and visit it from time to time but I think it needs a friend. We missed the small animal swap meet this month and the last one is Oct. 25, the day of Grace's 4th birthday party so I'm not too hopeful about making it over there to get another duck.

The pigs are getting big and aggressive. They push and shove on Bryon and Gary when they go out to feed them. I've only fed them once by myself. They are getting kind of scary. I thought I was going to have to feed them this weekend while Bryon takes Gary home, but it looks like the Huggler Men are going to take care of them for me. I'm glad because I had decided I was just going to get a bucket to stand on and throw their food over the top of the kennel instead of going into it. Bryon says they rush him now for the food as soon as he gets to the door.

We haven't had any more 17 egg days. I'm pretty sure we must have just missed them, even though I just don't remember missing a day. Being out of my routine these past few weeks though I suppose I must have. We are regularly getting 7-9 eggs a day. We're eating some, giving some away and selling some from time to time. I feel sort of bad selling them to my friends. I hate asking them to pay for them, but when I do sell them it just helps pay for their feed and upkeep.

I finally caved in and let Bryon spray for ants last weekend. We had been overtaken in the house with ants in my kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. I tried to fight them off but I was NOT winning the battle. Not a very green choice, but I was sick of the fight.

This weekend is going to be busy since I decided not to go to Nebraska with the boys. Grace and I have a lot to do. I'm taking Friday off and taking Grace to school then she has cheerleading practice Friday night. They are going to get to cheer at the K-2nd Flag Football Games at the Jr. High. They'll only have three games to go to and Grace will only be able to make it to 2 of them, but it should be entertaining. Don't worry, I plan to take pictures and some video if I can.

Sunday afternoon she has a birthday party to go to at McDonalds. I've started planning her Cow Party and trying to get the invitations made out. I didn't make them this year. I just gave up and found a farm theme and bought them. I did find her a cow mylar balloon and plan to make a cow cake. I asked her tonight on the way home what she wanted for presents for her birthday and she said a Barbie and a pink guitar. Seems reasonable enough. I'm going to try to find her guitar. I've had mine out while Gary was here and I think that's why she wants one. I can't play it but I'm hoping she and I can take lessons someday. With any luck she'll have some of Gary's musical ability because she's SOL with me and Bryon :)

Do You Like My Pretty Hair?