Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three Things...

...about potty training.

(No, this is not one of those potty training posts.)



  • Potty training anyone after your first child is such a breeze.  Well, relatively speaking.  With Adelaide, I felt this incredible pressure to get her potty trained a) immediately after she turned 2, and b) before Atticus was born, which gave me a five month window to do so.  I didn't feel nearly as much pressure with Atticus (aka I didn't really care), and now with Caedmon I feel even less (I seriously don't care).  I know he'll get potty trained.  At some point.  Eventually.  But at this point the whole two-steps-forward-one-step-back process that is toilet training flusters and frustrates me a whole lot less than it did five years ago.  Or maybe I've just gotten uncomfortably used to cleaning up messes made up of human bodily fluids.  

  • Potty chairs were not made for off-the-growth-charts-sized kids.  This may not seem like a big deal, but believe you-me, when you're the one potty training a giant preschooler, it starts to feel like a bona fide crisis.  (It also feels like you're practically bathing in vinegar and water and soap.)

  • Atticus has been hugely helpful in keeping Cade entertained while the younger one spends long stretches of time attempting to take care of business.  Atticus mans the laptop and starfall.com (I'm not a big advocate of screen time of any kind- tv's, computers, tablets, whatever- for small children, but I do let the boys do Starfall a couple times a week; I like it because it teaches them letter recognition, letter sounds, and simple phonics, the boys like it because it's fun), and they take turns picking letters to learn about.  It's worked out so well, you might think I planned it this way, potty training Cade the week before Atticus starts preschool so I can get the former into underwear and the latter can brush up on his letters before school, but in reality yesterday afternoon I said something like, "Let's try that new Pinterest recipe tonight.  Oh, and start potty training!"  (Supper ended up being delicious, in case you were wondering.)  I feel like I do these things and God deadpans, "Oh, goody.  Another chance to cause something to work for good.  Thanks again, Kristy."
You're welcome, God.  You're welcome.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A List


  • Derek and I went to a wedding Saturday afternoon.  The ceremony was in a lovely Lutheran church that filled me with all kinds of childhood nostalgia but that also wasn't air conditioned.  Now, it's been a remarkably mild summer up here, but this past week we finally turned on our own air conditioning because temps have been in the 90's and it's crazy humid.  The wedding programs were fashioned into fans (something we did at our wedding, because we got married in Oklahoma in July, which is a great thing to do if you want your fancy wedding finery to be crispy with salt and dried sweat forever and ever amen), which I appreciated, but more than anything I felt so bad for the bride and groom.  It was (praise Jesus) a short service, but watching him in that dark tuxedo and her in that heavy, multi-layered (and quite beautiful) dress with full hair and make-up done, of course, I kept waiting for one of them to pass out, especially during the one song that was performed toward the end of the service.  The pastor obviously had thoughts aligning with my own, as he grabbed two program-fans and fanned the soon-to-be-newlyweds while we all listened to two girls sing a duet about love or faithfulness or something.  At a wedding!  Imagine that.

  • I spent Saturday evening watching Doctor Who and binge eating Oreos.  I told this to an extroverted friend the next day.  She looked at me in sympathy while I tried to explain that, "No, that really is a pretty ideal Saturday night for me."  Five minutes of insisting later and she still didn't believe I wouldn't rather have been at the big social gathering she attended.  *shudder*

  • The boys make up new names for themselves on a daily basis, but Caedmon's has been pretty consistent over the past few weeks.  There have been a number of times that we've been out somewhere, he's engaged a stranger in conversation (that kid is so outgoing I would question whether or not we're related if I hadn't, you know, kind of been there for his birth), and at some point or another they've asked, "So what's your name?"  And every time his answer has been, "Batman."  He then looks at them with confusion mingled with disapproval when they laugh.  I think maybe it's the laughter that prompts his monologue about how "I can kill this many *holds up ten fingers* bad guys with my Batman powers" and other specific points that I'm pretty sure to his mind proves that he is, in fact, Batman.

  • I recently discovered a meme that has probably been around for a long time but is completely new to me.  It's called the Socially Awkward Penguin, and I identify with it so strongly it's disturbing.  What's further disturbing is that I showed it to Derek and he went so far as to say that I am the Socially Awkward Penguin.  No idea what I'm talking about?  Here are a few examples:


I hate compliments      
 Socially Awkward Penguin Is it strange that I find myself doing this sometimes...okay most of the time?     Socially Awkward Penguin
Half the time is because I actually did stalk them...       Socially Awkward Penguin



Me, me, me, me, me, me.  Super.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Backyard Bully

Just a quick flower post.  If flowers aren't your thing, a) feel free to skip this one with no hard feelings, and b) what did it feel like to sell your soul?

I kid.




The Johnny Cash sunflowers are thriving.  I plan on sowing more than just a single seed of these next year (seriously, why do I do these things?); hopefully I'll be able to harvest the seeds from these beauties without incident.  If you want any, it looks like I'll have plenty, and I'm happy to share!  Just let me know, then keep reminding me over and over again until I actually hand 'em over.  It's how I operate.


See this plant?







Yeah, it's kind of a monster.



I snapped these photos a little late; it has been covered in small white flowers for the past few weeks.  While it is pretty, and obviously, uh, over-achieving in its growth, it's kind of a bully.  There's a purple clematis planted right next to it that's a downright puny; I usually see a few blooms on it before it's completely overtaken by Monstro here.  I've tried pulling it out, hacking it down to the ground, but its roots are apparently planted under the deck, and I don't hate it quite enough to break through the lattice down there.  Yet.

So... anyone know what it is?  It's crazy thick, and attracts plenty of wasps and even a few hornets, which is fun.  I haven't noticed a lot of bees around it- they've been congregating around the sunflowers and coneflowers, which makes me feel like I'm doing my part to help with that whole bee crisis.  That's right:  the dozens of bees our yard attracts is really going to turn the tide in the bees' favor.  Didn't you know?

Anyway, don't forgot:  Let me know if you want Johnny Cash sunflower seeds, and figure out what that crazy climbing plant is for me, mmkay?


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Revelatory

Monday I started watching after a baby.  That's right- someone entrusted me with the life of their offspring.  I'm assuming they're doing this, at least in part, out of sheer desperation; it would appear that despite the fact that our small town is seemingly teeming with daycares, there still aren't enough openings for infants to go around.  This sweet little baby boy is on a couple daycare waitlists- and has been since around six months before he was born- so I'm just filling in the gap before something opens up.  

Adelaide's school dismissed early that day, the first day of school, so part of the day I just had three kids, and part of it I had four.  

First of all, J is, so far, a pretty easy baby.  He's happy, he's cute, he's cuddly; he's a baby!  Even the first day in to this whole experience, however, I had a couple revelations.  

Number one:  I can understand why people keep having kids as their first ones get older.  Atticus and Caedmon were relatively helpful- as helpful as two- and four-year-old boys can be- but when Adelaide got home, it was a completely different situation.  Granted, J is still a novelty, but she kept asking if I could lie him down on the floor so she could play with him (yes), if she could feed him (no), if she could carry him around and show him "what the life of a cheetah is like" (no), and if she could teach him things like "patty-cake" and "itsby-bitsy spider" (yes).  I felt a little bit like Super Woman that day (minus the fancy spangled cape, although that would no doubt make laundry and 10 straight games of Memory feel a little more festive) because I was able to get all kinds of chores done with four kids in the house, but the truth is, without Adelaide, I would have accomplished very little.  Just playing with him for five minutes at a time allowed me to do extravagant things like use the bathroom and wash the boys' perennially smelly sheets (SERIOUSLY, BOYS.  I realize that males practically come out of the womb peeing all over everything, but I feel like I need to get "JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD" tattooed on some highly visible place on both of them.)

Revelation number two:  Before Adelaide came home from school, when I just had the three boys in the house, it was uncannily like going back in time about two years, to a time when I had (for those whose brains can't do the math) a four year old, a two year old, and a newborn.  

Can I just ask a favor of you?  If you know someone in that stage of life- someone with two or three or God help them four little ones- go out of your way to do something nice for them.  I'm talking small stuff: take them a cup of coffee (or buy it for them, it'll get them out of the coffee shop faster anyway, benefiting everyone!), smile at them when the spectacle that is their family careens through the grocery store, make comforting noises when the mom bursts into tears mid-conversation.  Yes, it's a short, often sweet stage of life and you should "cherish these years" (I cannot even tell you how stabby that phrase still makes me feel), but it's also desperate and exhausting.  

It's incredible how just two little years later how much easier our everyday life is.  All of our kids can buckle themselves into their carseats.  They're all capable of small chores and being pseudo-helpful.  You can kind of reason with them.  Let me tell you what, taking care of J caused quite the wash of memories to overtake my brain, and although I'm still in the throes of preschool- tantrum- fun and am just beginning the crazed can-you-fill-this-out and do-we-have-twenty-photos-of-me-that-I-can-cut-up-because-this-is-due-tomorrow and but-I-DO-want-to-do-cheer-clinic-again-even-though-I-hated-it-last-year, it is so much easier than life was only 24 months ago.

Hallelujah.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Little Girls

On the way to Branson a couple weeks ago, we stopped at my grandparents' house (of the heavenly gardens) for a quick overnight visit.  I also invited my sisters and their families over, which I didn't share with my grandma until the day before.

She loves it when I do that sort of thing.

This meant we got to start our vacation with a baby fix.  A toddler fix.  Whatever.

The little girls don't get to see Derek as often as the rest of us because he has this little thing called "work" that prevents him from taking many of our trips south with us.


Derek and Vada, whose favorite place to go is Wal-Mart because there she finds a load of people to smile at and interact with.




Click to embiggen.






Someday Charlotte's parents are going to submit a cute baby photo when she's a senior in high school and everyone's super interested in embarrassing the graduates, and everyone who sees it will know exactly who she is and say, "Oh, that has to be Charlotte," because hers is not one of those interchangeable baby faces; she's very distinctive-looking, especially in person and in action.  I have very few photos of her smiling, because when she sees me with my camera pointed at her, she shakes her fist defiantly at me and vows, "Thou shalt not take my picture without my written consent!"

Well.  It's implied.

I have caught her before, though!



She loves her aunt Steph.








In the background of this photo you can see her daddy helping her pet her favorite deer.  There are lots of animals to play with in my grandparents' house.  Sure, most of them are dead, but we don't quibble about that sort of thing in my family.








It was a good day. 






Monday, August 19, 2013

Adelaidey, Adelaidey, Adelaide-Hee-Hoo

I love singing the above phrase to the tune of that yodeling song in The Sound of Music.

She loves it, too.  Except not.


Still obsessed with cheetahs.  

Last Saturday she and I went on a Mommy- Daughter Date.  She chose to eat at Olive Garden for lunch, followed by going to one of those paint-your-own-pottery places, with a quick stop at a used bookstore before heading home to the men-folk.  I couldn't have chosen a better itinerary myself.







One last hurrah at the playground last night before...






Today.  The first day of school.  

Adelaide is in second grade.  I have no idea how this happened.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fancy, Fancy, Fancy

The reason behind last week's vacation was the celebration of Derek's folks' 40th wedding anniversary (Congratulations to the Crislers!  The other Crislers, I mean!).  While exploring possible ways to celebrate, they asked Derek and his sister if they could gather their families and meet them in Branson at this super-fancy house the family always stays at while visiting the Ozarks.  (They belong to a vacation club/ time share-type thingy.)  For our part, we hemmed and hawed and thought about it for exactly two seconds before saying, "UM, YES YES YES A MILLION TIMES YES."  Because we love that house.  (Actually, it's a couple rows of duplexes on the edge of Table Rock lake, but the're pretty much identical inside and I hate to call them duplexes because what comes to my mind when the word "duplex" is uttered is most assuredly not what these are.  They're like duplexes on steroids who've been assaulted by an interior decorator.  We still just call them "the Branson house," and everyone in the family knows what we mean.  Also, is the plural of duplex actually duplexes?  Duplices?  Who came up with that word, anyway?  I assume it's derived from "complex," so a complex of two would be a duplex?  I'm sure it's driving you crazy, too.)

Anyway.  I didn't take as many photos while we there as I meant to- I never do- but here are some of our Favorite Things, Branson Edition.




See that?  Not Mr. Incredible; well, that is Mr. Incredible, but that's not the point- nor is that awesome poster of Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves.  I have no idea who picked which movie posters would go in here, but rest assured it's extremely random.

OH MY GOSH.  It's not random at all.  They're all camping/fishing/wildlife related, continuing the theme of the rest of the house.  This is the kind of thing everyone else probably got about five visits ago, but has just occurred to me.  It's also the kind of thing that prompts Derek to say, "You really shouldn't tell people these things."  Which could really be one of the motifs of our marriage.

ANYWAY.  So that is Mr. Incredible on the screen and the entirely-appropriate Dances With Wolves movie poster next to him, but the point is...


...there's a movie room in the basement!  Now, maybe some of you have movie rooms in your actual homes, but we definitely do not, so this kind of thing is intensely exciting for peasants like us.  


Another favorite is the pool that's a short hike up the hill.  Atticus and Adelaide were afraid to even be carried out to the edge at first.

You really should click to embiggen.

It's one of those pools that appears to spill right into the lake, but when you swim out to the edge and peer over you find it empties into a trough.  Not like a feed trough (man, words are hard today), but a nice tiled trough with a pump and drain and probably something else to make the whole contraption work.  There was a hot tub that did the same thing.  Lots of fanciness here.  



We went mini golfing a couple times.  The boys loved it.  Adelaide brought a book along to read instead.  I was okay with that.  

The first course had a pirate theme, with animatronic pirates in the building where you paid and collected your clubs and balls.  Atticus took one step in, freaked out, and had to be slowly coaxed back in.  (It also probably didn't help that when he first looked in the door, he saw a big, wooden pirate, asked Derek if there were any more pirates in there, and Derek jokingly said, "Yeah, right after there," gesturing toward to the two people working behind the counter, upon which Atticus shot out the door.)  He loved the golfing, but was scared enough to skip the hole situated in a cave with a pirate prison cell.  

We don't have any photos of our zip lining adventures; they took plenty of digital photos of us, some of which were pretty entertaining to behold, but we thought THIRTEEN DOLLARS PER PICTURE was a teensy bit steep.  And highway robbery.


It was good times all around.  Now it's back to a normal schedule, especially with school starting Monday.  I'm not ready for Adelaide to go back to school.  She decided last night that she is.  The end.






Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Newest Potential Occupation

While it was on the air, I watched exactly one season of Oprah's talk show.  It was mightily entertaining at times, but mostly it just drove me crazy.

One of the grand pronouncements I remember Oprah making went something along the lines of, "You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it and work really really hard."  Just to be clear, she wasn't talking about doing anything you want in terms of betraying social mores like killing your co-worker just because he keeps eating your clearly-labeled food out of the office fridge or marrying your sister; she was talking more along the lines of dreams and goals and careers.  She believed you could be anything in the world if only you wanted it badly enough and were willing to work for it.

I respectfully disagree.  Vehemently, but respectfully.

I have run into all kinds of careers I couldn't do.  I couldn't be a veterinarian.  I'm guessing constant snot and oozing from my facial cavities due to animal allergies wouldn't exactly rake in the pet owners.

I couldn't be a firefighter.  I'm all for women firefighters, providing they have the strength to carry me and my family out of a burning building.  My upper body strength is terrible.  I'd have to be a firefighter specializing in small children.  A pediatric firefighter.

I couldn't be in any kind of profession involving nuclear materials or surgery on patients you wanted to survive.  I'm dead clumsy and get fine hand tremors when I'm tired or stressed or have had more than an ounce of caffeine.


Last week, I discovered something else I couldn't do for a living:  Zipline Instructor.

Yep, we went zip lining.  It was incredibly fun.  Also terrifying in a very debilitating way, at first.

I could probably help people into their harnesses.  I think.  (<-----Zip line customers love that kind of confidence.)  But there is no way I could ever so casually stand on the very edge of a wooden platform, heels hanging off, thoughtlessly bouncing on the balls of my feet as I gave instructions on how not to die and tried to make small talk with the crying girl (not me, thank you very much), with nary a thought to the fact that I was centimeters away from open air with its cruel gravity and several hundred-foot plummet to the forest floor.  Sure, you're harnessed to the line, but if you're a full-time zip line instructor, statistics indicate you're the one whose line will finally fray to the snapping point and will end up with a tragic if fascinating obituary.

The zip lining itself wasn't even the scariest part.  The worst was the part after you've been driven halfway up the mountain, then have to traverse a series of narrow, bouncy, puke-inducing rope bridges the rest of the way up to the first platform.  I hate bridges in just about any form, but these were the. worst.  I'd wait 'til my brother-in-law was about halfway across one to tentatively step on, and while Derek basically did the same for me, he still outweighs me by a good hundred pounds, and those things lurched and bounced and did all they could in their evil little bridge-power to buck me off once he stepped on.  Then I'd do super-helpful things like freezing and gripping the sides and whimpering, "Foolish, this is so, so terribly foolish."

Not exactly the kind of traits you look for in a zip lining instructor.

I did loosen up pretty much as soon as I went coasting along the very first line.  Derek's dad was right: the anticipation is definitely the worst part.  If you can get past that, it's pretty exhilarating.


Actually, you know what?  I guess I probably could do all those things.  I probably wouldn't be successful, I'd almost surely be miserable, and I would very likely cost people their lives, but with enough determination and drive, I could do it.

I stand corrected.  Right again, Oprah.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Because the Couple That Tiles Together Stays Together, Right?

About a week before we left for our trip, Derek and I decided that now would be a perfect time to finally tackle a project we'd been discussing for some time:  tiling our kitchen backsplash.  I mean, it wasn't like we had a trip to pack and plan for or guests coming to stay with us immediately afterwards, was it?

The thing about tiling is that it sounds like a good idea before you start, and when you're finished the transformation is a little staggering, but when you're in the middle of it you frequently stop and say, "I don't want to do this anymore."  But you can't give up because only half the wall is tiled and you and everything around you is covered in mortar and you haven't even begun to think about grouting.

It took us the better part of three days:  Derek manning the wet saw, making what felt like thousands of minute adjustments so that the tiles would fit just so around the outlets and window and in the corners, while I had the more satisfying task of actually applying the tile to the wall.  My job made me filthy.  Derek's job made him filthy and made him bleed, as the spray of water would fling tiny shards of tile onto his bare skin, and when he tried to brush them off they would embed themselves into his flesh.

And yes, it was Derek that repeatedly stopped whatever he was doing and hopelessly intoned, "I don't want to do this anymore."

He only allowed himself about twenty seconds' worth of riding the tiling depression spiral, however, before he'd shake it off and get back to the wet saw/ bloodbath.

That's what we did Saturday and Sunday, around trips to the hardware store and church.  Monday I spent all afternoon grouting and cleaning and sweetly pleading with the kids to Get Out of The Kitchen GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN GETOUTOFTHEKITCHEN!

Then Derek got to spend super fun times fixing all the outlets and the light switch so that they lay flush with the new tile.  Obviously he did all the fun parts of this whole business.

Still, we worked well together... although there toward the beginning I had a rather manic five minutes' worth of freaking out when Derek was out back cutting- the tile and his skin, one on purpose, the other on accident- and I had just started mortaring.  I had a big glop of mortar on my trowel and somehow managed to get in not only on the wall but also on the lamp I was using, on my face, in my hair, and on the dishwasher.  It was one of those moments where things just keep going wrong and every time you try to fix something you end up making an even bigger mess.  I felt like I was in one of those early silent films that relies on slapstick comedy for its laughs, except my soundtrack was to the tune of my helpless and increasingly hysterical laughter.  I got it together before Derek came back inside, and made sure not to tell him until the wall was half-done; I was afraid he wouldn't let me help anymore.

Monday night, we were both so happy with the way it looked that we decided to go ahead and paint the kitchen, too.  And by "we" I mean "I."  I was going to paint the kitchen.  We picked out a kind of medium green, I painted Tuesday, and decided Tuesday night I didn't like it.  Wednesday I went and got new, more greenish-gray paint, decided I hate myself, and painted again all day Wednesday.  (This decision was spurred along by a promotion Valspar paint is doing, where if you paint your wall with one color and don't like it, you can go ahead and buy a second color and Valspar will reimburse you for the price of the original unwanted color.  All you have to do is fill out a form, include both receipts, take a photo with both paint colors, cut off a lock of your firstborn's hair, and write an essay about what your obituary might look like someday.  I sent all that off in the mail yesterday- well, almost all that- and am hopeful that it will all result in an actual check headed our way soon.)

There's still a bunch of little things to be done in the kitchen- ah, the joys of home ownership- but Derek and I have both decided that we're done for a while.  Thank the good Lord.


Now for some quick, low-quality Before and After pics:

The "Before" backsplash:


We decided painted wood paneling just wasn't for us.  We're snobby and pretentious that way.

The "After" backsplash:








White subway tile!  I was the one who wanted the darker grout (because I'm lazy and didn't want to have to worry about keeping lighter grout clean-looking, and because I've read that darker grout is more vintage-y looking, and I think I've established what a sucker I am for anything with that label).  Derek was a little leery about the darker grout at first, but it's definitely grown on him.  I'm pleased as punch about the whole dang thing.

And the bigger picture "Before":



Fine.  It was fine.



Better.  




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Name That Flower! Again!

At this time of year, most of my plants are really looking like- to quote my mother- they've been "rode hard and put up wet."  Sad and parched and Japanese beetle-ridden.

Still, there are a few things blooming.  My white hydrangea is heavy with blooms, which is a relief, given how severely I whacked at it last fall, cutting it way down close to the ground.

Side note- did you know I can't grow any of those gorgeous blue or purple hydrangeas here?  The soil is too alkaline, which is apparently what provides the hydrangea with its color.  The best we can do is a slight pink.  You can go ahead and shed a tear for me.



Moving on... the other day Derek's mom said she found giant sunflowers creepy.  I decided to forgive her because although she may live in Kansas, she's not a native.  I figure she just can't help it.



"I'm not creepy!  Looooove me Becky!"


I've also got this shorter- about four feet tall- variety of sunflower growing.  It looks like it'll end up with several blooms on it, which I wasn't expecting.  If only I had saved the seed packet so I'd know what type it is.  I have got to start a gardening journal.



Never mind, I just found it!  It's a "Ring of Fire" sunflower.  I've got a Johnny Cash fan in my backyard!  


And now I need some help.  Again.  

What is this?



It has even more blooms on it today, and I think is scented, although it's hard to tell with my sad sniffer.  It doesn't spread, and is really low maintenance; it's been a really dry summer here, I haven't watered it a bit, and it's been stepped on a bunch of times by my goat-children.  




It's really a beautiful flower- those florets come off intact and blow around our backyard like floral confetti.  

Anyone?  Help?  Please?







Monday, August 12, 2013

Squirt, Idiots, and Tasty, Tasty Meat

Sorry for the radio silence, guys.  We've been gone and busy and whatever other excuse you want to concoct on my behalf.  The good news is, all the stuff we've been busy with has given me plenty of bloggy fodder!  You can expect more posts this week unless I forget, get busy again, or just don't feel like it.  (WHO'S EXCITED?)


Last Saturday our little family visited the Iowa State Fair along with Derek's parents, his sister and her family, and half the population of the upper Midwest.

One of the very first things we saw was Squirt.

Who is Squirt?  Why, he's a 3,032-pound bull, of course.


One of the great things about having grandparents come with you to the fair is that there's someone else for Atticus to ask uncomfortable questions like, "What are those things hanging from the bottom of the bull?"

Squirt was this year's Biggest Bull.  Raise your hand if you love that a massive bull is named "Squirt."


The biggest boar's name was a little less ironic but equally delightful.



Otis!  Otis is a 4 1/2 year old, 1,103-pound boar from Buffalo Center, Iowa.  I wanted to lay Caedmon down next to him so you'd have a basis for comparison, size-wise, but Cade wasn't having it.  Neither was Derek.

Next up was Abraham Lincoln made out of butter.  Mr. President can cross that one off his bucket list.  Except that he's dead.  And I'm guessing they didn't have bucket lists in the mid-1800's.  Whatever.



And here we have the butter cow, pre-desecration:


That's right, I wrote "pre-desecration."  Because some idiot- or rather, an organized group of idiots- decided that they would garner a little publicity for their animal rights' group by covering the butter cow in red paint and smearing the words "Freedom For All" on her glass enclosure Sunday night after the building was closed.  It's incredible how angry I am over this, but rather than giving those astonishingly imbecilic people more of my time and words, I'll just say that I decided Beef really is what's for dinner.  Every night this week. 


Speaking of the sudden urge to eat as much animal flesh as possible:


Adelaide went head-to-head (or rather head-to-thigh) on a gigantic turkey leg.  With a little help from her family, she emerged victorious.  And really full.


I had me some Caedmon for lunch:





The 4-H building housed countless gems, of course.  My favorites this year:  A restored antique ice box...


I can't even put into words how much I love this thing.




...a wheel barrow fairy garden...









...and a cake whose idea I'm pretty sure was stolen from me.



4-H'ers cake at the Iowa State Fair...



...the cake we made.



I've decided to let it slide.  This time.



And of course no Fair post would be complete without a photo of one of the kids who passed out after a mere 7 hours of Fair fun.  






Friday, August 2, 2013

Suspicious Previous Owners

Four years ago, I became convinced we had a dead body in our backyard.

Four years and two months ago, we moved into this house.


It's August of 2009.  In the short time since we've moved into our house, we've been doing normal cleaning and moving in-type stuff, mostly focused on the interior of our home.

One day I venture into the backyard to investigate the compost heap the previous owners so kindly left behind for us (<---- I've tried typing that statement several different ways and it always sounds sarcastic, but it's not- I really was happy that this was a feature of our new yard), digging through it a bit to see what they've been piling on there.

Then I notice the giant black trash bags.

There were at least a dozen of them, and they were piled high in the small space between the fencing of the compost heap and the corner of the fence that surrounds our yard.  They all seemed to be hugely full.  I tentatively grabbed the drawstring of one, pulled to test the weight, and discovered that it was absurdly heavy.

Obviously there was a dead body in there.

In my mind, there was no other possible explanation.  Yes, those were the huge black yard waste-style trash bags (big enough for a body), but why on earth would you put grass clippings and such in bags when you have a two compost bins, a fire pit, and miles of flower beds that need to be mulched?

I poked at the top layer of bags a bit with a stick, and while it didn't feel like poking a dead body (because I have so much experience in the "poking corpses with sticks" field), it was more than conceivable to me that they filled the top bags with leaves or whatever and buried the body somewhere in the morass of supposed yard waste.  It was quite brilliant, really.  The compost pile would help disguise the smell of decomposition (or so I'm led to believe based on my considerable knowledge gleaned from murder mystery books), and after a few years it would all be more organic nutrients for the garden, anyway!

This is really not where I meant to go with this post.


I decided a dead body was way more than I was willing to deal with and, thanks to my possibly unhealthy ability to compartmentalize, willfully ignored those trash bags for four years.


Until a few weeks ago.

I finally decided it was time for me to grow up and find out exactly what was hiding in there.  Astonishingly (to no one but me), there were no humans anywhere in that mess, dead or otherwise, although I did have a bad moment when one of the bags broke open when I was dragging it into the open, it burst open, and thousands of roly polies came swarming out.

I got the corner cleaned out.  The bags contained grass clippings, leaves, and pine cones.  And the roly poly family reunion.  And an earthworm that was so big I thought it was a snake at first.

Maybe in another four years I'll have screwed up enough courage to clear away the cinder blocks piled out side the back of our fence (why would they have left a pile of those things in such a strange, out-of-the-way location?  CLEARLY something is afoot here).