Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Day of Grandpa's Visitation

I'm sad for me today.  And for my son never knowing his great-grandfather.  And for the rest of my family.  I'm not sad for my grandfather.  I do believe he's in a better place.  And that he had an amazing, long life that he lived the way he wanted to up until almost the very end.  He was so strong and determined and fiercely independent and I'm glad for him that the end came when it did and not a minute later because the man I remember would not have wanted to live the way things were at the end any longer.  So I can celebrate his life.  But I am sad for the rest of us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bath-time with Grandma

The Monster has ALWAYS loved bath-time.  But he especially loves bath-time with Grandma.  I have pictures of them from baths in the sink to baths in the tub with him laughing hysterically at the games she comes up with to  play in the bath.

We have been in Iowa for the last week for Thanksgiving and stayed on now for my grandfather's funeral.  Despite the somber mood in the house for the last few days, every evening the bathroom seems to be the place to be.  When I asked about the noise coming from the bathroom I was told they were counting to eight.  Which I found strange considering that counting to anything never seems that much fun at our house.

So I decided to sneak in and watch.

Eight ducks.  Eight ducks lined up and eight ducks knocked to the water.  Which apparently is hilarious.  Who knew?  

Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  It was also the day my 95 year old grandfather passed away.  I hadn't seen him in several years.  And hadn't seen him in several years before that visit.

Growing up he lived ten hours away from us.  As an adult, with us living in Arkansas and him and my grandmother in North Dakota, he lived twenty hours away.  I didn't see him often but I remember nothing but good things about him.  I never heard a cross word from his mouth and he was the kindest man I ever knew.  I wish I'd known him better.  Looking back at old pictures, I wish I'd known more about him when he was young.

In the last letter I received from him, last spring, he expressed how much he'd love to meet the Monster.  His only great-grandchild.  I wish I'd made that happen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Park Instead of the Razorback Game

Yesterday I chose hanging out at the park over the Razorback game.  III's been going to the football games with his buddy since before I knew him.  I've been going with them since before we were married.  And before his buddy was married.  III's parents usually babysit during football games now that the Monster is around.  But the friends that we have tickets with have their own little monster just two months older than ours.  The logistics of getting them together haven't been easy.  We thought about taking them to the game but War Memorial doesn't make that easy.  Not only would they each need their own ticket but if we had to walk out of the stadium for anything we wouldn't be able to get back in.  So we planned a day for toddlers in  Little Rock.

We started out at a place called The Wonder Place for kids eight and under.  It was an experience.  I'm not sure who was more shell-shocked, the Monster or me.  I think he did better with the sensory overload than I did.  I'm afraid that if this is what it is going to take to get him socialized he may become as agoraphobic as his mother.

Luckily the weather could not have been better for entertaining two little boys.  We left the Wonder Place after about an hour and headed to Reservoir Park.  We swung until we (the moms, not the monsters) were sick of swinging.

Then we hit the strollers and walked till dark.  The little monsters even made it through a meal at Olive Garden.  Finally the tunes of Barney put them to sleep in the parking lot under the glow of the K-Mart lights while we waited for the guys to meet up with us after the game.  It was a pretty good day.  Oh, and the Hogs won.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spiders I Live With

The extreme arachnophobia I've had most of my life has proven quite the challenge for my chosen occupation as a market gardener.  I feel like I have adapted fairly well although the occasional black jumping spider appearing from nowhere still elicits a high-pitched girly scream that causes me embarrassment even though the dogs are the only ones that usually hear it.  "They" say that you are always within six feet of a spider.  I think I might be more like within six feet of one hundred spiders most of the time.  I mostly try not to think about this.  When picking vegetables I try to focus entirely on the prize and not on what may be sitting right next to it.  For the most part this works.  However every summer I have a handful of spiders that become residents.  I appreciate the fact that I can count on them always being in the same place day after day.  This makes it easy for me to work around them, although I did take a lot of crap this summer from III every time he saw the mess of cherry tomatoes behind the webs of the two guardians I worked around.

The guardians were a pair of black and yellow garden spiders I never got around to photographing all summer.  I did, however, take a few shots of one of their sisters that lived next to the greenhouse all summer.

I think these garden spiders are beautiful and I love how predictable they are.  We have tons of them around here but this summer I let five of them live in my daily routine.

Another spider I had to make room for was a green lynx spider living in a volunteer zinnia plant.  On three Fridays in a row she was on a flower that I cut and nearly caused me cardiac arrest when I saw her practically in my hand.  Finally I conceded and cut around her for the rest of the summer.  I'm glad that I did.  This was her in November guarding her egg sack on a tomato plant.

While we try really hard to not kill a spider around here (unless it's in the house...all deals are off in the house) this weekend two spiders in particular are either going to die or be relocated.  For whatever reason my greenhouse has become home to a number of black widows this fall.  I relocated a few to the woods.  I killed two small ones.  But I have two large widows living in cinder blocks right now.  I covered them up with planters so that the Monster couldn't get to them until I decide what to do with them.  Man, they are pretty...and terrifying to me.  For some reason, I don't like to kill them.  But they make me nervous now that the Monster is running around.  He loves to stick his hand in the kind of places they like to live.  Unfortunately I know that getting rid of these two widows only opens up what is apparently a habitat they prefer for more to move in.  While I can live with an awful lot of spiders around here I may need to start researching how to repel a few....  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Monster's First Boots

I have this rolling slide show of my photos in the corner of my computer screen.  I love it.  It randomly pulls out photos from my hard drive, some that I haven't seen in years.  I love that.  The result of seeing these photos however is that I am easily distracted from the task I sat down to do in the first place.  But it's winter, do I really have that much else to do while the Monster sleeps?  Yes.  But that's okay.

I sat down at my computer to track a package...but when I opened my screen, this is what I saw.

My two favorite guys.  How could I not stop what I was doing and dig out the folder that held these shots and remember this day.  It seems like so long ago, but these were just taken in September.  The day the Monster got his first pair of boots.  His first attempt at walking in them went something like this...

But he's always up for a challenge.  

Especially when his daddy's waiting with open arms.

Man, I love these guys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Standard Unit Blocks for Toddlers

I spent yesterday researching wooden blocks.  I really had no idea what I was getting into.  I thought I was just looking for a quick set of blocks to purchase mostly because I was feeling lazy.  I know I could make him some blocks I just didn't feel like it.  Until I saw how much money people wanted for a little set of wooden blocks.  They almost had me convinced that my child would grow up unable to comprehend math if I didn't buy him the right set of blocks.  I became much more motivated.  This morning III took about five minutes before going to work to throw a scrap 2x4 on the chop saw and come up with a set of squares, rectangles and triangles.  I spent about an hour of the Monster's morning nap sanding them down as well as cutting a scrap dowel into columns.  This resulted in the first eighteen pieces of the Monster's future set of blocks.

Now they aren't "standard unit blocks" but they are made up of lengths that are fractions of one foot.  So eventually there will be a math component in play.  I didn't see any real advantage of making them true standard unit blocks but then maybe the fact that I never had any as a child is the reason math comes so hard for me today.  ;)  Just kidding, mom.  Regardless, they were well-received when the Monster woke up.

Now to check the scrap wood pile out back to see what else I can come up with.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Entertainment

This is River.   He is one form of our typical Sunday afternoon entertainment.

River lives for two things.  III and ducks.  And in the absence of ducks he lives for bumpers which are a training tool I typically get to see River work with.  River has two gears.  Sit.  And run fast.  These gears make him the easiest and the hardest dog on the farm to photograph.  When III says sit and especially when he's holding a bumper I get the above photograph.  Every time.  A million times.  When not sitting I get no photograph because he's crazy and everywhere.  

Sunday afternoons usually include River retrieving bumpers out of the pond.  It's a form of family entertainment.

It also involves graham crackers.

Last night I attempted to photograph this but I couldn't really get what I wanted.  The light was really getting too low for as fast as he was moving and I don't have a lens capable of getting in his face but I still ended up with some entertaining shots.  

When III decided River'd had enough it was time to do chores.  Horse chores have changed a little bit this year.  Last winter when the Monster wasn't even crawling yet I would wait until he went down for an afternoon nap and then I'd race outside and jump on the wheeler to haul hay to the horses and get back inside before he woke up.  This year he's big enough to help.

Well, kind of.

I do find him entertaining.

Maybe next year he'll be able to throw the hay out.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Buckets of Water

Ok, well maybe not buckets, but one big bucket.  And speaking of one big bucket, who left the bucket of the tractor in this position anyway?

Imagine the Monster's surprise when he realized that HIS "toy" tractor not only had a new feature on it but it was a water feature!

This was even better than the "toy" brush-hog on the back of the tractor that he likes to climb all over recently.

This was even more exciting than the gigantic whupping (ok, not sure how to spell it but that's how III says it) stick he found in the treeline and had been carrying around for an hour.


So, maybe if we go back to the stick in the water rather than the Monster in the water this game can continue for a while.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Border Collies

I've always had laboid dogs.  You know what I mean.  Those dogs you find on the side of the road or at a shelter and you can't tell exactly what they are but you can see some lab in them.  I like these dogs.  They tend to have all of the great characteristics of labs without having the bad genetics bred into them that a lot of purebred labs do.

My history with laboids is the reason my vet was so surprised three years ago when I showed up at the clinic with a Border Collie.  Jody Kay.

I never meant to keep Jody.  I felt sorry for her when I met her.  She did not live in a good situation.  For months I told her if I ever had the chance to get her out of there, I would.  The day her owner told me he was going to shoot her I offered to take her.  Voila.  I now had a Border Collie.  Much to III's dismay.  After months of trying to find her a home more suitable than our own it was obvious she wasn't going anywhere.

This dog has very few of the characteristics I've liked in every other dog I've loved.  She is crazy.  Like, institutionally, not right in the head.  She barks incessantly when in the pen with the other dogs.  Her herding instinct is strong.  She would love to move cars, or goats, cats, or horses, or Lina, the Monster, or me if I move faster than a walk.

She can't be still unless in the house and then she looks like this while I'm working at my computer.

She is territorial and has a hard time letting any of the other dogs come near me.

 III cannot stand her.

She drives us crazy.

But I love this dog.

I don't think anyone in my family can understand why I love this dog.  Last night though I ran across  a post on a blog I follow and the author summed up why I love this dog better than I ever could have.  

"Have I mentioned Border Collies need a lot of love and affirmation? They’ll sit at your feet and look into your eyes and the second you pat their head and say, “Good girl,” they’ll die a thousand deaths of happiness."  Pioneer Woman

There is very little like the ultimate adoration this dog has for me.  The Monster used to show it, and still does occasionally,

but he's become independent and interested in other things.

This dog remembers a promise I made to her years ago and lives to be by me.  How could I not love this dog?