Friday, March 27, 2009

Frazzled and Frayed

Life in the Big Cedars the past couple of weeks has been hectic at best. Between a changing territory (yes, my area is changing again), Bryon's Dad moving down her to live AND a new puppy, I really truely have about one nerve left and everyone is on it.

Bryon said last night,"You seem to be at your wit's end". Well that's pretty accurate. I was ready to drop kick that very cute puppy last night after he peed THREE TIMES in the house. This was AFTER the walk and AFTER letting him out every 30 seconds to roll around in grass and scan the woods for wildlife. He just doesn't concentrate on the task at hand.
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Again...good thing he's cute.

Work has been nuts. One of the reps is retiring May 1 and she has my old territory (Laclede, Phelps, Pulaski, Camden and Dent counties). I really struggled whether I wanted to change territories or not because frankly I have it pretty good in the four counties I have now. PLUS I get to eat regularly at the Keen Bean in Mt. Vernon which is really a job perk beyond measure. But it made geographical sense for me to make the move. I live the closest to the territory, I can truely 'work from home' and only have to go into the office on Fridays for our 'production meeting' and to pickup my stuff for the follwing weeks. The downside is that the new territory is 3,000 more units of blood larger than my current territory and most of those units are at Missouri S&T in Rolla and at Phelps County Regional Hospital, both of which will be VERY time consuming and need to be seriously babysat to continue their success. That means I'll be spending several nights in the Hampton Inn in Rolla in the months to come. Now staying a hotel for work may seem glamorous and it is pretty fun, the first few times, but it doesn't take long to start to wear on you and make you feel like 'the man' is sucking your life away.

We'll see how that all goes. They still haven't hired anyone to replace me in my old territory now so I'm trying to keep my old territory up and running smoothly, prepare for the dreaded summer ahead AND prepare for taking over my new territory May 1. Thankfully, the retiring rep is VERY helpful and is basically running full steam ahead up until her last day.

Meanwhile, back on the farm...Bryon's Dad has moved back. Bryon went up to Nebraska March 6 to pack him up into a UHaul and move him back to Missouri. He stayed with us for a couple of weeks (out in the the cabin) and then last weekend we moved him again to a little apartment in Marshfield that is only about six blocks from Grace's daycare/preschool. He's got the place fixed up really cute with all of his artwork and it's going to be a very comfortable place for him...for a few months...until they start remodeling and he has to move out again for three months...then move back in again...maybe into the same unit, maybe into another one.

Him being so close to Grace's school is going to be a big blessing especially with my work schedule so crazy now. He can run down there and pick her up and she can hang out with Grandpa until one of us can get her picked up. He already has the place stocked with snacks and yesterday when I went to pick her up from his place they were sitting at the kitchen table doing 'artwork' together.
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You can guess which was Grace's and which was Grandpa's art :)

My hope is that this fall we can enroll Grace in real preschool at Niangua and Grandpa can pick her up after school and keep her until we get home. That will save us a TON on childcare and she can learn her numbers and letters without one of us (mainly me) going completely insane. I quit teaching for a reason.... I only recently remembered what that was.

We are on the lookout for a quality used little car for Grandpa because he's been driving our gas guzzling truck around which I figure cost $5 or $6 a trip from his place to ours depending on how many detours he takes and the price of gas.

On the farm front... I pickup my dozen Cornish Cross fryers from Estes Hatchery next Thursday and start our 8 week journey to good eating. I'm a little worried because I cleaned out the chicken coop a couple of weekends ago and the girls (the remaining 6 hens) had to spend the night in the chicken tractor.
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The chicken tractor worked great and I covered it with a tarp and put their food and water in there. It's not a good long term option for them because they are layers and I'd need to put a nesting box in there for them to be out in it all day (which I could and we may build another for them later on ) but they were pretty happy to peck around for a day.

I don't think they were too happy spending the night out there because SOMETHING must have been terrorizing them in the night. The next morning when I went out to move them Back to the pen there was a ring of feathers around the outside of the tractor. They were all present and accounted for but not quite as fluffy as when the first started.

I'm guessing now it was a coyote. The other morning when I got up I looked down at the pond about 7 am and there was a coyote on the edge of the pond checking stuff out and sniffing around. He slinked off into the woods but I'd say that wasn't his first rodeo around the farm.
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This isn't the best picture but you can see him down there on his way to the woods.

My little fryers may have a terrorized 8 weeks out there. I plan to move them around to a fresh piece of ground everyday as soon as they are feathered out and ready to face the world.

I also want to get a couple of more ducks but now that I've actually SEEN a coyote down there I'm pretty sure their fate will be sealed. Guess they'll learn to swim and avoid them or not.

Paddle on.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Shamrock Shuffle

Saturday was the 1st Annual Shamrock Shuffle in Marshfield. It was a 5k race (3.2 miles) and a Little Lad race for the kids. The kids ran 1 lap around Marshfield HS and Shook Elementary. The grownup race was four laps. First of all, let me just say that I haven't participated in a "race" (very loosely used and in quotation marks) for at least six years. I was actually somewhat athletice a few, okay, many years ago. Not so much now. In fact, I had the exact same pants dilemna I was having when I was looking for hiking pants. What to wear, what to wear. I mean seriously, who I am I trying to kid with my Nike spandex pants? I'm not athlete. Sadly, spandex was all that would fit, so Nike pants it was. I looked like some sort of misshapen fruit. Think apple or pear...I'm never really sure which one I am. Definately fruit though and probably overripe and soft and mushy in the middle.

Grace was really excited though. We coached her and gave her sage advice like don't look behind because she might fall down and to just do the best she could, you know, really running gems like that. We all three paid and signed up to run. We didn't pre-register so we weren't assured a t-shirt. It's not like we NEEDED any more t-shirts but you know how it HAVE TO HAVE THE T-SHIRT or really, what's the point. Grace didn't know any different though. We got there way to early (my Type A fault) and paid up and then sat in the car and watched the race officials (Marshfield Optimist Club) try to get their ducks in a row. Let me tell you, it was cold. About 34 degrees. After about five minutes of waiting, dedicated athletes that we are, we decided to drive to McDonalds for hot cocoa. Grandpa Medley came with us (more on that story later), so the four of us killed twenty more minutes drinking hot chocolate while we sat in the parking lot at the HS waiting.

I got Grace a race number and we pinned it on the front of her fleece. She was READY!

Bryon decided he'd tag along with her because we didn't know if she would do it without one of us since most of the kids were older than her. Let me tell you, that girl can RUN! Bryon couldn't keep up with her and HE had to run too. Hehehehe. Sucker. She ran the ENTIRE WAY, and hard too. She finished about halfway through the pack and thought she won because they gave her a water bottle at the end. She was really excited. We were very proud of her.

Then it was time for the grownup race. Bryon wimped out when he figured out it was going to be four laps around. So Grandpa Medley decided he'd do part of it (walking) and I planned to walk too. We took our positions smack in the back of the pack and headed out like a herd of turtles. My goal was to just not be LAST and to beat this guy...

Grandpa and I did the first lap around then I tried to speed up a bit. About halfway through the second lap the front runners lapped me and I didn't see them again. I don't know how that happens but they were done before I finished the second lap.At the beginning of the third lap, Grace wanted to come with me. Grace ran the whole third lap AND the whole last lap but was finally slowing down the last half lap. She got stitches in both of her sides (no surprise there!). She wanted me to carry her. Heck, I could barely get myself there. I told her she'd have to walk. I finished in a blazing 52 minutes. I was NOT last. I beat the leprechan but Grace still beat me. That girl ran almost 3 miles Saturday. She's my new athletic hero :)

After the race we all headed to Freda's Cafe for stuffed french toast and hashbrowns. What? You think I got this shape eating fruit?

School Pictures

Twice a year First Kids invites photographers to the school to take photos. I love those guys. It saves me so much stress for them to just come to schoo. All I have to do is dress Grace and send her to school just like every other day and then WHAMO...cutie patootie photos that I DID NOT have to schlep to Sears for and spend a half day trying to keep her from getting ketchup or yogurt or SOMETHING on her clothes before the photo. The latest batch is just great. The problem then becomes that the photographers bring TONS of proofs and you just can't buy them all. Okay so you COULD buy them all but then what do you do with that many photos? It's a struggle. I bought four sheets today for $52. Money pretty well spent I think.

That outfit, by the way, is the FULL PRICE, NOT ON SALE, FRONT OF THE STORE outfit Bryon bought her at the Children's Place last month. See why she needs Daddy to take her shopping :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Problem with Puppies

Puppies are cute.

And it's a good thing because about the 27th time they poop or pee on your previously virgin carpet it makes it increasingly difficult to remember why you wanted one in the first place.

Then they fold their ears down all pathetic while you're scolding them and you remember, "Oh yeah, they ARE cute".

Ruger has about pushed me to the limits of my patience, which wasn't that far a trip as it turns out. We've been leaving him in the outdoor kennel for the past few days while we are at work and then bringing him in for the evening. One of us takes him for a nice little walk up the powerline, around the paintball woods and back down the driveway as soon as we get home. He poops. He pees. He poops some more. Then he comes inside and promptly poops and pees again on whatever piece of carpet he can access. He's not picky. He likes to spread it around.

I've got him gated off from our bedroom, the upstairs, Nana's room (the ONLY room downstairs he hasn't christened (you are welcome Nana), and Graces room but the little bit of carpet in the hallway between the downstairs bedrooms is his favorite spot. That and every other throw rug and area rug we have. We have ACRES of wood floors onto which he has only peed one time. Whatever. If we live through this (or he does) I'm sure he'll be an excellent pet.

I just keep reminding myself he's better than a new baby. At least I can leave him in the kennel when he cries and not get child services called on me :)

Now see there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

In the mean time, I just keep going to my happy place and surfing online for the best price on a Bissell Steam Cleaner.

Salad Days

I just ate a salad for lunch.

I know, I know, it's insane but true. Of course it was IN ADDITION to leftover pasta/spaghetti stuff from the other night but I actually had all the ingredients and put together and ATE a salad. Not a little spot of it on the side of my plate either but a whole entire BOWL of it. I even caught myself scraping the bottom of the bowl to get the last little bit out. What the...?

For those of you who know me you also know this is a BIG DEAL! As a lifelong salad denier it's a solid step toward greendom.

Here's what was in my salad:

Red leaf lettuce
sliced strawberries
diced avocado
honey toasted almond slivers
diced vine ripe tomato
diced cucumber
balsamic vinegarette

It was yummy. Really. I can hardly believe it myself.

The whole salad eating thing started for me when the Peterson's came over and Heidi taught me to make cheese. She made a salad and trying to be polite and not reveal my bizarre secret hatred of all things green, I took a tiny little bit of salad on the side of my plate and proceeded to choke it down. Except, I didn't HAVE to choke it down. It was actually pretty tasty. I was shocked and figured it was a fluke, some bizarre alignment of planets that only occurs once a millenium.

I called her to find out EXACTLY what was in it. Specifically what KIND of lettuce, dressing etc. I needed EXACT directions in order to duplicate the experiment. She left a note in my mailbox a few days later with the ingredients listed in the most general terms: lettuce, tomato, avacado, cucumber, nuts, vinegarette. YES but what KIND of lettuce? It was clearly not iceburg lettuce and it was cut up into small little pieces which I'm now sure was what made it more palatable to me.

I ventured out a few days later to Summer Fresh and studied over the produce section. There are a few different kinds of lettuce it turns out. Shopping for lettuce was like shopping for baby things when I first found out I was pregnant. I had never even ventured into that section of Wal-Mart for more than the cursory and obigatory glance to retrieve a baby shower gift for some other expectant mother. I had a whole NEW AISLE to shop in at Wal-Mart! Now, I have a whole new aisle at Summer Fresh too: the produce section.

I finally decided on the red leaf lettuce and the other ingredients PLUS the strawberries and went home to see if I could recreate the bizarre episode. Turned out I could eat lettuce. I liked it on my plate. I liked it in a bowl. I liked it on a plane. I liked it on a train. I'd eat it with a goat. I'd eat it on a boat...wait a minute, that might be Dr. Seuss.

Regardless, I discovered that under the right conditions, with the right sort of lettuce and various sundry toppings and dressing, SALAD was pretty darn good. Hmmmmm. Sometimes you can teach and old dog new tricks I guess. Now for all of you who are feeling all self-rightous and planning to tell me "I told you so". Save it, because CROW is NOT a tasty topping for my salad. Just be happy my gut has finally had some roughage in there that wasn't dipped in batter and fried in oil.

This new development is going to change the landscape of our garden this year. I bought three kinds of lettuce at Baker Seed two Sunday's ago when Grace and I made our little jaunt over to Mansfield. I spent $50 on seeds. I started our Mama Leone paste tomatoes and had Gary start the Millionaires, the Roma Rio Grande and Rev. Morrow's Long Keepers the other night. We've never grown tomatoes from seed so I'm hopeful it will work without a proper greenhouse. NEXT YEAR we'll definately have to get a greenhouse built.

The lettuce I chose was called Lollo Rossa, Devil's Ears and Red Wing Lettuce Mix which I guess is just a salad suicide because it has a minimun of 1000 seeds in it. Oh my.

I guess the chickens can eat whatever I don't like because the bunnies are moving to the White's house sometime soon. We just aren't spending any time with them and they'll likely get loved up a little more by Owen and Parker. With a new puppy in the house (okay so he's in the crate in the garage right now but THAT's another story) there isn't much time for rabbit lovin'.

Bryon already has a plan for the hutch: raising quail.

The adventure continues.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

She Sells Seashells

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Originally uploaded by trlrover
Grandpa Rice brought seashells back for Grace from Padre and she was thrilled. He talked to her on the phone while he was down there and she asked him to bring her some.

She spread them all out on the table to get a better look. Lots of them had a tiny hole in them that will be perfect to make necklaces out of so she's going to be the jewelry queen for a while.

Tree Hugger

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Originally uploaded by trlrover
Grace came home one night last week wanting to climb a tree. We have a lot of trees but most of them are hickory trees and not too condusive to climbing but she wasn't to be detered. I told her she was going to have to make it all work because I needed to cook dinner. So out she went. Then back she came. She needed a rope. We dug her jump rope out of her toy box and back out she went.

She finally managed to wedge herself up into the crotch of two hickory trees and knot her rope around the little scraggly branches that were squirting out about head high.

The next night Bryon went out with her and came and knocked on the window to show me she was halfway up a cedar tree. I'm pretty sure my eyes would have just swollen shut and there I'd have to stay, but she was like a spider monkey and one happy girl.

She wants a tire swing but we just don't have any hospitable limbs. She may have to talk her Daddy into a treehouse instead.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ruger Meets The Big Cedars

Meet Ruger. We've had a big weekend. Saturday after a week of anticipation, we went to Boone (3) and Garrett's (5) birthday party in Bolivar and THEN stopped by my Uncle Gene's to pick up our newest member of the Medley Family...Ruger. Ruger is a Brittany and 10 weeks old. Grace and I have been lobbying for a dog for two years now and FINALLY we have him. He's a cutie.
Bryon had been secretly dealing with Gene since Thanksgiving Dinner with the family while Grace and I were oblivious. Two weekends ago the call came and he had a puppy for us if we wanted it. Well, YEAH! Bryon had been wanting a Brittany to try to teach to bird hunt. He's been going a few times a year with the neighborhood guys to Lebanon hunting quail, pheasants and chuckars. They all have dogs. So it was a pretty easy sell that it made sense to get a Brittany but still he was holding out. Then POW, we have a puppy. Bryon didn't get to make the trip down because he and the neighborhood guys all went to Springfield to take a Conceal and Carry Class, great redneck man fun, while Grace and I made the rounds on a snowy Saturday. We had a postman's resolve that nothing was going to keep us from bringing that puppy home!
I took the cat carrier foolishly thinking he'd fit into it. He wouldn't. He's about 15 pounds and mostly belly. He's going to fit in just fine around here. Gene had a box so we plopped him in the box in the back seat next to Grace and we were off like a herd of turtles. He lasted about 5 miles in the box before he was out and stretched across Grace's lap. Our cat Pansy will lounge on Bryon and I but steers clear of Grace. She was delighted beyond words right up until Ruger got carsick and puked up what looked like three days worth of puppy chow all over her lap, the carseat and my car. It was disgusting. I pulled over onto a snowy shoulder and tried to clean the worst of it off with a towel and wet wipes. She took it pretty well considering what a drama queen she usually is. She was rolling with the punches because puke or no she had a DOG ON HER LAP and it was going home!
Ruger did not have a good ride home because it turns out he had a lot more puppy chow in him. Grace later reported that he actually threw up seven times. She should know, she's a good counter.
At one point I looked in the rearview mirror and her eyes were dreamy and heavy and I said, are you sleepy Grace and she said, "No I am not. I am happy." just like that. And she was. And she is.
Let me tell you, that dog was stinky BEFORE he puked and Grace was in the back seat tooting the whole way home because every 10 minutes she was like, "Sorry I tooted." Between the stinky dog, the puke and the tooting my car was a rolling stink bomb. Luckily Bryon was home when we arrived and EVERYONE got a bath. It was a rude welcome for Ruger but it was the only way he was getting into the house. Bryon scrubbed him down and fluffed him up and he spent the rest of the evening sniffing out every corner, driving Pansy out of her mind and peeing on three rooms of carpet.
Bedtime mercifully came and we put him in a crate in the entry way with a blanket, a squeaky duck and said goodnight. He continued to say goodnight for about three hours until Bryon had finally had enough and went upstairs to the craft room to sleep. I came up after him and suggested that the DOG could go upstairs instead and we shut him in the upstairs bathroom where we could barely hear him anymore: the dog, not Bryon. He cried until he wore himself out. When Grace did that as a newborn he stayed up in the chair all night with her on his chest. Not so much for the dog. He got Ferberized right away.
Tonight, after a long day of playing, a big walk and lots of family time, he's upstairs in the bathroom with nary a peep out of him. I'm hopeful tomorrow night he can come back downstairs. We'll see. It's still a long time til morning and tomorrow is a school day but for now we are all having puppy dreams.