Friday, April 29, 2011

Crowning Moments! "Ice" Takes the Cake

Brooklyn, Weston, me, Katelyn-our b-day girl, Jentry, Justin, and Shaylie at Peaks Skating Arena.
 A few days ago, my little Katelyn turned nine years old.  For birthdays, we have a friend birthday party every other year.  The in-between years, we have a family-only celebration.  This year, Katelyn chose to go ice-skating.  We were able to go to Peaks Arena in Provo where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held.

I was amazed how well my little kiddies could skate.  Katelyn and Shaylie had been ice skating once each, but that was it.  After a few times around the arena, they were all flying by me, challenging me to races while I was "feeling" my way around the edge.  Even Brooklyn, my youngest, could walk without even hardly wobbling on the cushioned floor in her ice skates.  (Just a note: One and a half years old is not old enough to ice skate when the parents can't let go of the side to help.)

Although the whole experience was a "crowning moment" because it was just such a fun family night, the real "crowning moments" occurred during the not-so-fun times.  Every time somebody would crash, (which was often with five kids with no experience,) one of their siblings would race over and clumsily help them up.  Sometimes, the result would be a Daybell family pile-up, but after enough struggling, they would all end up back on their feet and speed off again in all directions.

You always hope your kids will love each other and be each other's best friends.  I love these glimpses of that friendship and love that come out every so often just to let you know that you are doing something right.  All of the speeches you give, all of the referee calls you have to make, all of the bonding activities you plan seem worth it at these "crowning moments." 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Finance 201:  The other day as I was pulling out of a parking lot of a grocery store, I saw a man reach down, pick something up, study it, and put it in his pocket.  I happen to know it was a penny because I saw the same one as I was coming out of the store, but since I was pushing an overflowing cart of groceries with one hand, holding a baby on my hip with the other, and my four-year-old was balancing precariously on the end of my cart, I figured the penny would have to stay where it was.  I did note it was "heads" and silently rehearsed the little saying in my head, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck."  I hope that man had a very lucky day.

I remember when I was growing up, there was value in a penny.  My excitement of being able to put a penny in my piggy bank was immense. 

There was a number of things I could do with a penny.  I would save them so that I would have enough to take on our family vacations and buy my own souveneirs. 

Gumball machines actually took pennies and gave you back those brightly colored, shiny, perfectly round bubble gum balls!  I loved the suspense of waiting for the gumball and finding out which color I would actually get.

There were also penny machines that looked like gumball machines, but instead of gum, you would get those fake tatoos, or fancy rings, (not real gold or diamonds I later found out,) or rubber bouncy balls.

I would even sometimes be able to pay my younger sister to clean our room with a few pennies or buy one of her toys that I wanted.  Yes, those were the days!

As I watch my own children get excited about a mere penny, I sadly think how many they now have to save in order to buy just one gumball.  This however, doesn't seem to enter their minds, and who am I to shatter their naive financial dreams?

I am just enjoying these times when, like I did in my childhood, I can still get a room clean or the dishes put away for a few pennies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tip of the Day: Using Hanging Shoe Organizers

Shaylie displaying our pantry "shoe organizer."
A few years ago, I discovered hanging shoe dividers for my kids to hang on their closet doors and avoid the jumble of shoes that results in the bottom of their closet without any organizers.  This also helped solve the problem of lost shoes.

About a year ago, I heard of using these shoe organizers in the kitchen.  I hung one organizer inside my pantry door.  I put in various items such as jello boxes, Kool-Aid packets, seasoning packets, and other items that fit.

I recently read an article that mentioned different uses for hanging shoe organizers.  I've listed some of my favorites, but the possibilities are endless!

Hang an organizer in your front hall by your front door.  In the pockets, you can put sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, dog leashes, water bottles, snacks, and any other items that you tend to forget as you're running out the door.

Place one organizer in your mud room.  Fill the compartments with winter items, such as mittens, hats, flashlights, extra socks, and anything else that might be needed in frigid temperatures.

In the gardening shed, the hanging organizer can be used to put seed packets in, different gardening tools,  various plant food packets, gardening gloves, and popsicle sticks to label garden areas or rows.

By hanging this organizer in your bathroom, you can separate hair elastics from brushes and combs, add toilet paper, washcloths, medications, soaps, etc.

This is such a versatile, inexpensive organizing tool and can be used anywhere in the house while at the same time being out of the way and hidden behind a door.  What a great idea!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Down on the Farm: Our New Arrival!

This picture was taken a few hours after this little guy was born.
One of the things I love about spring is all of the new things popping out all over: new spring grass coming up everywhere; snow crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths showing off their bright colors; buds coming out on all of the bushes and trees.  The list goes on and on.  But, the thing that tops them all is the new babies on the farm: baby chicks, baby calves, baby lambs, and new foals.

We have ran to the window every morning for the last week waiting for this baby!  Finally, he is here!  Mia, one of our mares, had this bay roan stud colt Thursday morning.  He has a perfect little moon shape on his forehead, inspiring me to name him "Eclipse."  Do you have any other ideas?  Let me know.  Maybe we can have a group vote!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Above and Beyond: Soccer at its Best

Katelyn practicing soccer in our yard.
Friday, Katelyn, my eight-year-old, had her soccer game.  Her drive and enthusiasm for this sport is something to note.  Her constant smile shines as she runs up and down the field.

The Strikers, Katelyn's team, were struggling against the Blitz that night.  To start it all off, the coach wasn't able to be there.  Without her leadership, the young team was struggling.  It seemed no matter how hard they'd drive the ball, it would disappear from them and end up heading the opposite way.

I watched the team we were playing and was very impressed with their coach.  The first difference in this team was their flag.  They had designed a flag that each player on that team had signed.  When they'd rally, they'd gather around their flag.  The second thing I noticed about this team was the coach's contant string of compliments for his players throughout the game.  He was intense, but in a very positive way.  The players really responded to him and played hard for him.

Right after half-time, the Strikers once again had the ball down within reach of scoring a goal.  I inwardly groaned as the Blitz, like so many previous times took the ball and brought it toward their scoring posts.  With my eyes on the ball, hoping they would not kick another one in, I became aware of a disturbance up the field.  I looked back to where the skirmish a second ago had been and there was my daughter, sitting on the field, surrounded by opposing Blitz players, and a ref looking toward the crowd as if wondering what to do. 

I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I could run into an ongoing game and then raced toward Katelyn.  She was in a ton of pain and was struggling to get up.  Apparently her toe, which she dropped a plate on previously, and then continued to injure thereafter, had gotten kicked.  The pain was not only in her toe, but her whole foot.  She couldn't walk on it and so I loaded her on my back and carried her, piggy-back style, off the field.

As we were walking back to our side, the opposing coach began clapping, followed by his whole team, on and off the field.  They were respectfully acknowledging and saluting Katelyn's game she had played and the fact that she was "up."  I have seen this a number of times in professional sports and college sports, but never at one of my children's youth games.  Instantly, tears sprang to my eyes as I thanked our opponents for their generosity. 

This coach went "above and beyond" not only for his team, but for my daughter, as well, and I am in awe of his abilities.  Maybe if more coaches would take to heart his teaching methods, our children would learn the real deal of playing sports.  They would gain more respect for themselves, their team, and others.  They would learn that sportsmanship is the greatest thing they can glean from the game, not just a win.

Thank you, Blitz coach and team, for your example.

(We did end up getting Katelyn's foot x-rayed and it is only badly bruised, which we were informed takes as long to heal as a break.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crowning Moments! Building Character

My little Ms. Smarty Pants
My original thought for my "Crowning Moments!" post was to hopefully get a little deeper than just reporting on family accomplishments.  While that may technically fit into this category, and I have previously used scrapbook page moments for my blog, I experienced what I think of as a true "crowning moment" with my daughter.  Although there were tears, true character was tested and refined, both mine and hers.

The fifth grade puts on a very involved program at the end of the school year entitled "Smarter Than a 5th Grader."  This program highlights moments in history from the time of Christopher Colombus, onto the slave trade, through the invention of the telephone and Model T car, the sailing of the Titanic, the immigration of people from all countries into the welcoming view of the Statue of Liberty, and caps it all off with a rousing rendition of "God Bless the USA." 

Shaylie was assigned a number of parts, and while I could base my "Crowning Moments" blog on the fact that she memorized quite a number of lines, recorder music, songs, and dances, which would be noteworthy by themselves, I couldn't help but focusing on an incident that happened just a few nights ago.

Shaylie has been very excited, to say the least, about one role in particular, that of Ms. Smarty Pants.  My beautiful daughter covered up those big baby blues with coke-bottle nerd glasses, pulled her socks up over her knees almost reaching the cut-off levis that were higher on one side than the other, stuck a calculator and pens in the pocket of her snapped-up-to-her-neck tucked in shirt and completed the part with a lisp like no other.  It was a remarkable performance.

Shaylie was originally supposed to play this role once with another girl performing it twice, but because she went all out for the part, the 5th grade teachers chose Shaylie to perform this particular part at two of the  three shows.  The night before the first performance, the other little girl's mother sent a not-so-nice email to the teachers criticizing them for their actions.  That's when I received a call from the teacher, very upset at this point, as to what she was to do.

Putting her faith in Shaylie's character, she asked my wonderful daughter to give up this pretigious part of Ms. Smarty Pants to the other little girl.  After working so hard to memorize and perfect her act, Shaylie was very disappointed.  She did, however, after a few tears, put on a brave face, conceded that she did have another good part, and graciously gave up her spot.

As a mother, a small part of my heart broke with Shaylie's and my tears, held in until I was alone, silently fell along with hers.  But, I was so proud that my daughter's teacher had enough faith in that little girl's character, that she would ask her to do that; proud that my daughter, although disappointed, put her heart into her other parts and held little animosity toward the other girl and her mother.

At one of the assemblies for the school, Shaylie was able to play Ms. Smarty Pants, and Richard, Grandma Daybell, her brothers and sisters, and I were able to witness her genius performance.  I inwardly cheered, not only for her perfect execution of her lines, but for the whole experience.

Throughout life, our children will face moments that test the principles that make them individuals.  These experiences will hopefully make them stronger people by increasing their moral, intellectual, and emotional qualities.  As parents, that is hard to see your kids have to go through those trying times, but it so necessary for them to develop that kind of strength now in order to make it successfully and happily through life, later.

I am so proud of you, Shaylie, for the way you handled yourself in this situation.  I am happy to know that whatever comes your way, you will deal with it bravely and with integrity; that discouragement will not get the best of you when you are put to the test: a "crowning moment" for both of us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tip of the Day: Easter Celebrations

Although I do give in to the commercialism of the holidays, I try really hard to throw in traditions and activities that indicate the true meaning and origin of the seasons. 

For Christmas, we stress the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Likewise, for Easter, we emphasize the reason for the celebration: the miraculous resurrection of Christ. 

Easter Breakfast Rolls are a tradition that our whole family looks forward to and is one that allows us to demonstrate and remember that first Easter morning when Mary arrived to find an empty tomb, instead of the beloved Jesus.

 I got this recipe from a book written by Janet and Joe Hales entitled, "A Christ-Centered Easter."

Easter Breakfast Rolls

Prepare these rolls the night before for part of your Easter-morning breakfast.

1 pkg. frozen bread or roll dough, thawed (or use the dough for your favorite homemade rolls)
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 bag large marshmallows
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.  Divide the dough into individual roll sized portions.  Press each portion into a flat circle.  Place 1 large marshmallow in the center of each roll.   Pinch roll dough very firmly around the marshmallow.  Roll each into a seamless, or nearly seamless, ball with your hands.  Brush rolls with melted butter.  Sprinkle sugar mixture over rolls.

Cover rolls with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.

On Sunday morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take rolls our of the refrigerator, remove wrap, and bake for 15 minutes until rolls are golden brown.  Just like Christ's tomb on Easter Sunday, these rolls will be empty!  One of the fun things about these rolls is no matter how many years we've done them, that first bite always seems to be a surprise to everyone.

Bonus Tip:  My kids love to help make these and even more, they love to help eat them! Make a lot because they go fast and furious. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Down on the Farm: A Warning for the Easter Bunny!

We have a big fluffy orange cat we call Maize.  Because of the high concentration of coyotes that we have in the area, any cat that survives around here is something to mention. 

We have had this somewhat unsociable, sometimes lovable, mostly snobbish feline for over seven years and he has somehow survived the harshness that comes with living next to nature.  He has been known to be mistaken for a bobcat because of his size and a mountain lion because of his growl.

My little girls have loved him because he occasionally lets them play babies with him and my little boys have loved him because he always lands on his feet when he goes parachuting out of the playhouse.  Maize has been a faithful and reliable mouser since we got him and has therefore earned a soft spot in my heart, as well, even though I don't admit to particularly loving the species as a whole. 

One thing that Maize loves even more than mice is rabbits.  I don't know if they are easier to hunt than mice, but our cat is pretty consistent about catching, (and also tearing apart) jack rabbits, and also those cute fluffy cottontails.  This has always been his specialty.  This brings me to the topic of today's blog.

I'm sure all kids are the same.  Mine start thinking weeks in advance how to trap the various holiday heroes. 

For St. Patrick's Day, various contraptions involving gold coins, tipping chairs and string always seem to pop up.  Although the leprechauns have been seen dashing behind the couch and heard laughing in the other rooms, they always seem to avoid our attempts to catch them. 

Santa Claus and his reindeer are just as crafty.  No matter how many cameras, fireplace traps, and lawn goodies we put out, we still can't catch even the slightest glimpse of them.

And so the story continues with the Easter Bunny.  I do have to admit to seeing his giant rabbit tracks in our sand box and also a blurry footprint in the flour we dusted the sidewalk with, but other than that, his fluffy tail and long ears remain an unseen mystery.

Easter morning had arrived a few years ago and the kids had slept outside in our sheepcamp for the night.  As they were heading into the house that morning, anxiously skipping to the door in anticipation of what the Easter Bunny had left for them, I heard a shout, some commotion, and then intense crying.  I rushed outside to see what was going on when I spied what the kids had stumbled across on their trek into the house. 

There, beside tufts of little cottony fur and a very content Maize, was what was left of a rabbit.  Between the unmistakable "lucky" rabbit's feet and that cute head and long ears, there was no mistaking what Maize had eaten for his bedtime snack. 

This wasn't the first time the family had witnessed this scene and it took me a minute to understand the sobbing cries of the kids.  They believed that Maize had captured and eaten the Easter Bunny. 

After assuring them that the Easter Bunny was much bigger than this unfortunate cousin and sharing my profound knowledge that the hopping hero also had blue or pink hair, the kids, with obvious relief, continued on into the house where we began out Easter celebrations.

And so, with the Easter holiday so close, I send out a warning to that lovable critter, the Easter Bunny.  Thankfully, you have avoided our bunny-loving kitty all these many years, but take care.  This holiday wouldn't be the same without you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Above and Beyond: Nursery-Time!

Brooklyn is 18 months!
 Well, my youngest is now nursery age!  Where did the time go?  What's it going to be like to actually sit through a whole Relief Society lesson and know what the topic is or play the piano in Primary without having an extra bass line? 

Although it could be a bittersweet time for me, I can only say "HOORAY!"  Not only am I thinking of myself, but my little sweetheart, as well.  It probably goes without saying that the church lessons that I prefer to listen to are really not all that entertaining to a one-year-old.

As I sat in the Nursery room with Brooklyn for the first time, I was amazed at the teachers, Shari Webster and Vicki Mitchell.  Their willingness to crawl under tables, make chicken sounds and gather up endless stray Goldfish crackers just to entertain and teach four toddlers under the age of two was impressive.  They definitely went "above and beyond" to make each child feel comfortable and to teach each one, as well.  It was reassuring to know that the principles that we are teaching at home will be reinforced in Brooklyn's new class.

Brooklyn only looked at me twice during the whole two hours and went about her happy play and learn session with such an out-of-character disregard for me that I was relieved and ecstatic for this new phase in both of our lives.

So may I give two thumbs up to those special ladies who sit, (or shall I say crawl, jump, lift, skip, sing, cheer, teach, feed, cuddle, read, etc., etc.) with our babies in the back corner room of our little church, separated from their peers and all socializing, thinking nothing of themselves, in order for the rest of us to walk away with our cups full.  Thank you so much for your service in our behalf.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm Going on Vacation!!!!

I don't tell my faithful followers and readers enough how grateful I am for them and their support.  It's knowing that you are going to be reading my blogs that gets me up earlier than humanly normal or staying up later than humanly healthy to write them.  I love your comments and feedback and look forward to it every day. 

I am on vacation for the rest of the week and will not be posting a blog until next Monday, April 18.  Unlike so many of you who have the kind of technology to perform amazing feats, I regrettably am not one of those. 

In the meantime, I'll look for those humorous things that just seem to happen when you have kids so I can report soon.  Talk to you on Monday!

Down on the Farm: An Original Coke Machine

A cat and kittens
 As I was growing up in Rush Valley, I went with my family to visit some friends, the Johnson's.  It just so happened that they had a cat that had just had kittens. 

The cat was very affectionate and was rubbing around on our legs and wanting to be held.  The neighbor's little boy, Sean, who was probably three or four, picked up the cat and cradled it like a baby.  From this angle, you could see the eight little nipples sticking out.  Sean proceeded to tell us, as he pointed to each one, "This is the Sprite, this one is the milk, this one is water...."

Who knew that's what keeps those farm cats so healthy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Above and Beyond: Supporting our Troops

Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
 I have to admit, I don't really personally know any person serving our country in the armed forces.  This may sound naive,  but it is true.  This fact does not, however, make me any less grateful for what they are doing for us as a country, or feel any less sadness when I hear the statistics of wounded and killed soldiers. 

I admire so much the families that send out their young sons and daughters to fight for a cause that sometimes seems lost in the politics of it all.  I share that feeling of love and support with them and pray for a safe return for each serving family member.

And to those who are serving our country and love America enough to sacrifice their time, energy, and possibly their lives  in our behalf, may I salute you and all you do.  You are truly going "Above and Beyond!"  Your courage and selflessness is amazing to me and is tremendously humbling.  Words do not suffice in these situations, but may I say   "THANK YOU!"

I was just recently made aware of people who are doing what they can to support our troops; people who are getting involved instead of just standing back and watching.  I found a website that announced the winners of the Microsoft Above and Beyond Awards.  These awards "recognize and honor those ordinary Americans who become extraordinary through their selflessness."  Reading about some of the organizations out there that are making the lives of our soldiers and their families a little easier was so touching.  It inspired me to see what part I can play in this effort.  I decided to start by making you aware of this year's winners of the above awards.  Maybe it will inspire you as it did me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crowning Moments! My Dino-star!

Justin's 1st Grade program:Dinostar
Last night was Justin's program and it was so cute!  The classes sang songs, performed dances, told jokes, and shared facts all about different dinosaurs. 

We learned the dinosaur with the longest name of 23 letters: MICROPACHYCEPHALOSAURUS.  What a great Hangman word!

Justin's favorite jokes at the program were:
Q: What do you get when dinosaurs crash their cars?
A:  A Tyrannosaurus wreck!

Q:  What do you get when a dinosaur goes to sleep?
A:  A dino-snore!

Q:  What do you get when a dinosaur wears a hat and boots?
A:  Tyrannosaurus-Tex!

Thanks to the teachers who did an awesome job with the students.  I was very proud of Justin for learning all of the songs and his parts.  Great job, Spanish Oaks first-graders!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Just one of Jentry's style-savvy outfits!

Fashion 204:  I don't really know when it happens.  One day you're dressing them in cute brown and pink striped booties that match the pretty striped bow in their hair, the onesie and diaper cover are identical shades of pink and you have a little summer dress that ties it all together.  The next day you are having to beg them to wear the frilly Easter dress they just got instead of the swimsuit to church.

I think some kids have that sense (or maybe non-sense is a better word) of fashion and some just aren't interested in it.

I have to admit I encourage my children's creativity but sometimes I have to draw the line when we're headed to town shopping.  "Honey, those goggles don't really match your princess shoes.  Why don't you change into your cowgirl boots instead." 

Heading to dance class is a real experience.  You have to have every item of clothing just right.  One constant is her black ballet shoes, which really helps.  And, even Jentry can tell that her tan arm sling she chose out today looks really great with her tan dance tights.

I have come up with four rules about fashion and a four-year-old:
  1. The female gender is more affected by this fashion malady than the male.  (Having said that, I think back to the little boy in kindergarten with my son who wore his Spiderman costume for the first five weeks of school.)

  2.  Roller skates match every outfit. (As evidenced by my above picture of Jentry.)

  3.  If your skirt doesn't fit there, put it on somewhere else. ("Oh yes, it does make a very nice headband when it's rolled up that way!")

  4.  It's a good day when they've only worn three outfits and it's almost 9 a.m.  ("The Diego beanie probably looks better with the shirt you had on fifteen minutes ago.")

  5.  When dressing for dinner out, always wear shin guards because you're never sure who will just come up and kick you for no reason.

All I can say is I just don't know where they get it from.  ("Oh Richard, if you look really close, you'll see the green bean baby food right there on my shirt matches these socks!")

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tip of the Day: Teaching Kids to Play the Piano

Because I love music and love playing the piano, I get anxious by the time my kids are three to start teaching them to play the piano.  Of course, I encourage them to play earlier, but to actually recognize a song, it takes a little longer.

The very first step to get them playing songs on their own is to teach them to recognize the numbers 1 through 5.   Through repetition, seeing these numbers written over and over will teach them what they look like and they are able to name the number long before they are able to write it.

You then assign those numbers to their fingers, both right and left hands; thumb-1, pointer-2, middle-3, ring-4, and pinkie-5.  My kids love playing the game of putting their hands up and I call a number and see how fast they can show me the finger.  This really enforces that knowledge so they don't have to even think or count which finger is which number when it comes time to play.

The kids also like to trace their hands and either tell you the finger numbers while you draw them on the paper, or write in the finger numbers themselves.

The final step in teaching your young children to play a song is to teach them where middle C is on the piano.  Middle C is a good starting point for their little hands because there are numerous nursery rhyme songs that can be played around this note.  (For those of you unsure of where Middle C is, it's the 24th white note from the left side of the keyboard.  Another way to find it is to observe the pattern of keys: two black key, three black keys, etc.  C is the white note just to the left of the set of two black keys and Middle C is the fourth C from either side of the keyboard.)  Until the kids learn where Middle C is, you can put a small piece of tape there to help them find it.

To play a song, I alternate finger numbers for songs with the right hand, and then the left hand, so that they develop the ability to use both. 

For the first song, I always pick one that they recognize.  This adds to the excitement when they can sing it or have other people sing it.

I start out by telling them, "Finger #1 (thumb) of your right hand goes on Middle C."  I then have the numbers written on a piece of paper and they just follow them along, playing the song as they go.  Sometimes it's easier for them if you point to the numbers one by one to help them follow along the first few times.

I have included a song here and have a number of simple songs that kids can play with one hand and then gradually get to the point of playing with both hands just by reading finger numbers.  If you want me to send them to you, just let me know.

And just for fun, let's see who identifies this song and tells me what it is in a comment!

Right hand, finger #1 on Middle C:

3 2 1 2 3 3 3
2 2 2
3 5 5
3 2 1 2 3 3 3 3
2 2 3 2 1.

Be sure to be patient with your kids.  They all learn at different paces.  Have fun!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Down on the Farm: #51

Last week was a busy week!  Two of the kids started spring soccer and they are assigned on different days, so I end up going down town Tuesday through Friday.  On top of all the running around I had to do, Richard ended up having to go move our cows out to the desert for a few days.  This put me in charge of feeding the cows and the horses, the dogs and the pigeons.  A friend chose the night Richard had left to deliver our twenty-one heifers he had been using, and so I was responsible for feeding them, too. 

As I walked over to start chores, a jerking motion caught my eye.  There was one of the calves with its head stuck between the welded metal panels and the waterer.  Of course these kinds of things only happen when Richard goes somewhere! 

I don't know how long the poor thing had been stuck, but it seemed worn out.  I studied the situation and, being at a loss of how to help, decided to do some more chores and then come back to it.

Ten minutes later, I was in the same position feeling the same frustration at my inability to do anything for the struggling calf. 

While I was trying to push the calf's head every direction, I became aware of an audience.  The twenty-one heifers, being on the opposite side of the fence from the stuck calf, had gathered in a semi-circle three feet behind me.  They were all silently watching, and if truth be known, laughing at my incompetence.

I led the little herd to the far end of the field and opened a gate into another pasture.  The animals trotted past me to the waiting feed.

As I turned back toward my frustrating situation of the stuck calf, I was astonished to find one of the heifers I have just mentioned, standing across the fence from the calf, licking it and rubbing it with her nose.  Usually, cows stay with the herd, especially when the herd is excited and waiting to be fed. This unusual sight touched me, forcing me to pause. I realized I needed to relax and enjoy life. I am so blessed and have no reason to complain.  Sometimes we get so caught up in life, we forget what's really important. This was a great reminder to why we had chosen this lifestyle. It gives us the opportunity to slow down and see God's hand in everything around us.

 The mothering heifer had a tag in her ear; #51.  I locked that piece of info away so that I could make sure to tell Richard.  She was definitely a keeper, sent to our little ranchette with a message.

I walked to within a few feet of the touching scene and watched for a time.  The heifer acknowledged my presence and then went on comforting the tired calf.

With it getting late and my own little herd of kids by themselves up at the house, I decided I needed to take some action.  I told #51 to go on and eat and I would take care of the calf.  As if she understood me, she gave the younger animal one more lick and then meandered off toward the open gate.  Just when you think those frustrating animals don't have an ounce of sense, they go and do something like this, proving you wrong.

Although I have already told the punchline of the story, some of you may still be wondering if the calf got out.  Well to continue, I tried again to push the calf's head in a number of different positions.  He was so much stronger than I am and he insisted on fighting me the whole time I was trying to help.  I backed up, and with a silent prayer running through my head, asked for a little Heavenly Intervention.  The calf immediately gave one mighty jerk and was free!  Just like that!

Just another glorious day "down on the farm!"

Monday, April 4, 2011

Above and Beyond: Mom

Me, Dawnean, and Mom: Happy Mother's Day "STRAIT" to you both!

My sister and I took Mom to the George Strait/ Reba McEntire concert for an early Mother's Day present.  All I'm going to say is there's a reason they're the King and Queen of country music.  It was awesome!  We had so much fun with Mom and she loved it.  So in honor of her, I dedicate this post to her and all mothers, who go "ABOVE AND BEYOND" for their children.

It was a short night, you didn't get much sleep,
Rocking and walking the floor.
With patience and love, you so softly spoke,
No Mother would have done more.

Although time passes quickly, the night is still short,
Sick kids don't give you much rest.
Checking on fevers and dosing out meds,
You hope you gave it your best.

A teenage child, the night passes by,
With you on your knees in prayer.
She can't fit on your lap, there's never the time,
You somehow show her you care.

Where did the time go, the night is so short,
Tomorrow she leaves the nest.
You've packed all her things, her hopes and her dreams,
You've prepared her for her own test.

Now you stand in her kitchen, as she's up all night,
She's up with her own this time.
Her patience and love, she got it from you,
You've helped her make this climb.

Although the time goes on, you don't sleep through the night,
You think of the tears and the smiles.
Through phone calls and visits you still are so close,
Your memories make up for the miles.

It was always worth it, those long, sleepless nights,
Time has only strengthened the bond.
She now sees what you've done for her, always right there,
Going "above and beyond."

I love you so much, Mom.  Thank you for everything!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crowning Moments! Family Vacation

Vacationing with goblins!
 This past weekend, Richard and I pulled the kids out of school early (the older kid's "crowning moment") and headed out to the desert.  We had to check some cows down by Green River and we decided to make a vacation out of it. 

We were happy to see that most all of our cows had calved and made it through the winter great, (Richard's "crowning moment").

I don't know if you can consider eight people camping in a twelve foot sheep camp with wind and rain every day a vacation, but we did.  And, we actually had a lot of fun.  There's something to be said about sitting in the middle of your living quarters and being able to reach anything without moving your feet. 

We were only thirty miles from Goblin Valley, so one of the days, we decided to go visit.  If you haven't been there, it is worth the trip.  The two little girls were asleep, so Richard stayed in the car with them while the four other kids and I got started.  He was able to join up with us a little later.  We hiked all over the rock formations and then played hide and seek.  It made me feel like a kid, (my "crowning moment")!

We were also able to hike up a canyon, not far from our camp, that had ancient petroglyphs along the rock walls.  Very interesting!  Jentry, my four-year-old, found a snake skull, (her "crowning moment") and looked for rattles the rest of the trip.

(Brooklyn, my one-year-old, discovered her "crowning moment" when we got back home.  She seems to be a little home-body.)

Even though it took five days to get caught up on the laundry, our little vacation was a much needed break from the every day.  The memories we are making now will hopefully stick with each member of our family forever.  Whether we're laying on top of each other in a sheep camp or possibly continents apart when the kids grow up, the effort of making these memories will keep us close, (the whole family's "crowning moment")!

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