Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

Hate me because I have sweet, chubby baby cheeks and ticklish, roly-poly thighs.

The kidlet is working on some new skills. She has been slowly creeping forward on her tummy the last few days using a modified army-type crawl. She can definitely get where she wants, that's for sure.

But lately she's been wanting to stand more and more. So, today, we let her.

She loved it.

Hey guys!

Yeah, I could stand all day...

Maybe I will!

Oh, hey! Lovey!

She fell shortly after that (daddy was right there to help catch her), but that hasn't deterred her.

She wanted to be right back up a minute later. Don't you just love the chubby thighs? My sweet, chunker monkey.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More scenes from the farm

I took these over Mother's Day weekend, the last time we were up at the farm.

You see a lot of these, and a lot of green tractors. This happens to be on a big combine.

Here's another one. This is on a smaller tractor with a front forklift loader. It's normally used to move hay bales.

This is in the feed shed. These are the minerals that get mixed in with the feed so the cattle get all the nutrients they need. There are certain ratios of everything that my dad and the guys have come up with after doing this for 45 years. When I was little, I used to think the stuff on the far right was pepper.

There are bags and bags of minerals stored in the feed shed. It takes a lot to feed that many cows. They were also lots of fun to climb on.

There's a big scale, so the guys know exactly how much of what is going into the mixture. It's fun to watch the little needle move.

The counterweight on the scale. See how everything is covered in dust? That's years and years of mixing feed and minerals. The feed shed is a noisy and dirty place, but it's awfully fun to play in.

This is the corn dryer and the Harvestores, where they keep the corn used for feed. I used to climb up to the top of the metal thing in the middle and survey the land. It's about 100 feet up and gives a spectacular view of the surrounding country.

Spring is one of my favorite times on the farm - everything is new and green and fresh. I can't wait until we get back there someday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pretty peonies

The peonies in front of our house are blooming.

I love peonies.

They're just so pretty. And they smell divine. I have five plants right in front of our house: two deep pink, two pale pink and one white. Well, there used to be two deep pink but the end one closest to our sidewalk got yanked out when our dog was a puppy. We replanted it with one last year, but I think it's more of a variegated pink/white than just pink. Oh well....

The white has the most blooms, it can barely keep them up. It also has the best fragrance.

The pale pink hasn't opened completely yet. I think it has the largest blooms. There aren't as many as on the white, but they're still lovely.

The deep pink has the most wide-open blooms. They're a bit smaller than the pale pink or white, but they're definitely the most vibrant. The scent isn't quite as good, either, but I still love them.

We started these from root, and they've come a long way in six years. I think these are also coming with us whenever we move from this house. Someday I'll have a gorgeous cutting garden. Maybe.
I ended up staying home from work today; I think I caught the Strep from the hub. I managed to catch up on some TiVo'd shows (GREEK and three episodes of Gossip Girl) while lounging on the couch and fighting over the blankets with the hub.

It was chilly and dreary, the perfect kind of day for staying at home, anyway.

We needed the rain, truth be told. It was starting to get a tad dry. But now everything has had a drink and is refreshed. Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 80s, huzzah! I can't believe it's almost June already.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who mothers the mother?

The hub is sick. It started last night with a sore throat and developed into having trouble swallowing, lots of sinus pressure and drainage and sounding like he swallowed a boulder.

So he went to the Doctor and it turns out he has strep throat.


So he's spent the better part of the day sleeping, which I know is what he needs to do, but seriously, he turns into the biggest weenie when he gets sick.

I've discussed this phenomenon with my [female] coworkers and they all say the same thing: their husbands all get whiney and wussy when they get sick.

And that's totally unfair because you know what? When I get sick, I don't have anyone there to baby me. I don't get to lay around all day and sleep. Because I'm The Mom. I suck it up and go on with my life.

I'm not exactly feeling like a million bucks myself, and both the kiddo and I are on preventative antibiotics because we've definitely been exposed. I'm tired. My head hurts. But too bad for me.

I got up and took the kids to daycare. Then I went to work for 8 (technically 9 because I worked through my lunch) hours. After that I picked up the kids from daycare, came home and made supper (all the while the hub laid on the couch). Okay, so supper was Cambells soup from a can and toast for us and chicken tenders for the kiddo, but still. It did require at least a modicum of effort.

Then I cleaned up, played with the kids, did a little work on the computer, put both kids to bed (which took longer than normal because the kidlet did NOT want to go to bed tonight) and came back downstairs where I did the dishes, played with the kidlet some more (I told you she didn't want to go to bed), finally got her to go to sleep, picked up a little, did a load of laundry and am now catching up on my internets time. If I really wanted, I could fold a basket of laundry, but I'm not feeling that ambitious.

And that whole time the most the hub managed to do was move his behind from the couch to our bed. Hmph.

So totally unfair.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

We had a lovely, albeit brief, visit with the ILs. The kiddo was ecstatic because Grandpa pretty much lets him do whatever he wants. The kidlet also had fun being held and cooed over by both grandparents.

FIL helped the hub attach a new hitch to his truck, trim the neighbor's honeysuckle bush so he can reroof the garage this week, and take the old toilet and vanity from the upstairs porch to the dumpster. MIL is a saint and folded two big baskets of our laundry.

After that, we ate. And ate. And ate.

The spread:
hamburgers made from home-grown beef, polish sausage and brats from the hog we had butchered last year, home-grown asparagus courtesy of the ILs, home-made potato salad made from Grandma S's recipe (the hub's favorite), cucumbers in a dill/vinegar/mayo/sugar dressing and fresh leaf/spinach salad. All that for four adults and the kiddo.

The we had dessert:

Homemade strawberry rhubarb pie (pie #2 in our house), rhubarb crumb cake courtesy of MIL and turtle fudge brownies.

It was delicious, and now I'm stuffed. Good thing we'd planned on only eating one big midafternoon meal today, though I'm sure a brownie will be calling my name sometime around 8 pm tonight.

The kidlet is napping, the kiddo will be going to bed early after a much-needed bath (he decided to use his [mostly] empty ice cream bowl as a hat and currently has very sticky hair). Who knows what the hub and I will do with a quiet house tonight. Probably nothing, unfortunately.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm ashamed

The ILs are coming later today for part of the long weekend. I am blessed with wonderful ILs, with whom I get along wonderfully, so I'm actually rather okay with them coming to visit.

However, as we are family of four that lives in a three bedroom house, there isn't an extra room for visitors. The kiddo has what used to be the guest room and I didn't think my ILs would appreciate having to sleep on a mattress on the floor surrounded by the kiddo's myriad of books and stuffed animals (not to mention the clothes that I have yet to put away in the closet). So the hub and I decided that they would sleep in our room and we would either cuddle on the couch (doubtful) or break out the air mattress (more likely, as long as it doesn't have any holes in it).

The only problem was that our bedroom hadn't been cleaned in, oh, about five years. It's definitely the most neglected room in the house, because it's the one that's used the least. We sleep and get dressed in there, but don't use it for lounging or watching TV (because we don't have a TV in there) or much else.

So last night the hub and I decided to do a deep-cleaning in anticipation for the ILs. It was a dirty, dirty job. Layers upon layers of dirt, dust and dog hair had accumulated on every surface. We had quite a battalion of dust bunnies mobilizing under the bed and dresser. We had clothes and magazines and books that we'd completely forgotten about stashed in random corners. I'm rather ashamed that we let it get that bad (and we wonder why we are constantly congested?).

But the room is now clean and sparkling. [Almost] every surface has been wiped and organized. There were two garbage cans full of dirt, old papers and the vanquished dust bunny army. We also filled two Rubbermaid containers full of the books and random things (including the Hulk hands that the hub received as a gag wedding gift from some of his coworkers) to be stored in the attic or basement with the rest of our random belongings we don't know what to do with at this time.

We just have to wash the sheets and curtains and remake the bed and it will be all ready for visitors! And we won't have to clean it again for another 5 years, or until we move, whichever comes first.

Friday, May 22, 2009

An interesting experiment

It's morel season here. Well, it was, but it's pretty much over now. Anyway, from late April to mid-May, people will scour the timbers looking for the extremely odd-looking, but very delicious mushroom.

We have a good barter system with one of the hub's coworkers - we give him home-grown rhubarb from the ILs and we get a bag full of morels in return.

Last night was a gorgeous spring night - perfect for grilling - so we had thick-cut pork chops, the rest of the asparagus and the morels.

The easiest (and best in many peoples' opinions) way to cook morels is to dip them in a beaten egg, then flour and fry them in a skillet.

And that's what the hub had planned to do last night until he looked in the fridge and discovered we had no eggs.

I was out on a walk with the kiddos at the time, so he called around and came up with a backup plan: thinned pancake batter.

They turned out okay. Definitely different than what we're used to, but the sweetness of the pancake batter actually was a decent complement to the mushrooms. I don't know if we'll be trying it again, soon.

I also got a new toy yesterday. Our seven-year-old PC was on its last legs (it was randomly rebooting itself at the most inopportune times, namely when I was surfing the internet), so the hub and I decided to buy a Mac mini.

I work mainly on a Mac at my job, and I love the ease of use and OS. Plus, if I ever do more with design or web, I can get Adobe Creative Suite, which is basically the Gold Standard of design programs.

Isn't it cute?

There was also a great deal on a monitor (with HDTV capabilities, you know, so the hub can see how cool his xBox games look on it :rolleyes: ) so now we have a lovely 24" monitor to go along with it.

Pay no attention to the cheap pressed-board desk. I've had that since I was about 10. The hub hates it, but it works and it was free. I told him we can get a new one when we move.

I love my Mac. It's so fast! And pretty! Hopefully I'll get to do more design work from home now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don't believe everything you see

I'm a daily reader of The Pioneer Woman. I think she's a fantastic blogger and I would sell my firstborn (some days) to have her lodge.

She has a Photography section on her blog where she posts tips and tricks she's learned on her neverending journey to take better photos. Occasionally she'll have guest bloggers share tips, tricks and actions, too.

Today's post was courtesy of a guest blogger, and it brought out some rather interesting comments from the peanut gallery (myself included).

It all has to deal with Photoshop editing, especially in regards to making oneself appear thinner. And how there's a magic percentage (4%, evidently) that you can stretch the photo to give the appearance of looking longer and leaner without completely distorting the photo so it looks all Fakey McFakerson.

I've been working with Photoshop for about eight years now. I love Photoshop. I think it's one of the coolest programs out there. I also hate Photoshop becuase you can almost doo *too* much with it.

I edit photos on a daily basis for my job. Granted, these are generally small edits - adjusting color, cropping or adding some sky or dirt and sharpening the photos so they look good in print. And most of my subjects are construction machines, so they can't complain that their arms look fat or their butt's too big.

Occasionally (and becoming more common lately) I'll have to do some extensive editing - remove a competitive piece of machinery, stamp out some extensive dirt or wear on a machine or add in dirt to a bucket to make the machine appear like it's working. I've even completely removed a person from a photo and rebuilt the machine behind it to look like they were never there. It ain't always pretty, but I *can* do it.

That doesn't mean I necessarily *like* to all the time, but if I want to stay gainfully employed, I will usually do what my boss asks.

Unless it deals with people. And "fixing" them. Without their permission.

This site ( has an awesome portfolio of before and after photos edited in Photoshop. [Click on portfolio and then click a small thumbnail at the bottom of the page. Roll your mouse over the image to see the difference between before and after.] Some of the edits are truly amazing - in both a good and bad way.

Now, I do realize there is a difference with celebrities and image because they make their living looking beautiful and it often takes a huge team of personal trainers, chefs, stylists, and hair and makeup artists to make them look so mind-blowingly gorgeous. But sometimes I wish the editing weren't quite so heavy-handed. Or there was a warning label on the photos, like there are on rearview mirrors - "Celebrities are not quite as perfect in real life".

I love that French Elle had a completely natural issue last month where the cover photo models were all sans makeup and had no retouching done to their photos. Granted, they're all exceptionally beautiful to begin with, but they all also looked real.

Sometimes, it's a hard line to draw. I completely understand the view of the entry's author, and some of the comments that say it's not a big deal and people should do what makes them happy, besides almost all [professional] photos are retouched in some way or another. But I also see the flip side of how photo overediting can (and does) sometimes get out of hand and has an impact on body image.

It's not always even easy for me to remember that photos in magazines are often all Photoshopped to heck before they go to print, and I know firsthand what can be done to photos. I often compare myself to these gorgeous people and (in my own mind) usually come up lacking.

I don't have the best body image. I strugged with my weight growing up and was teased for being the "big girl." I've worked really hard the past five months to lose some of the baby weight I gained with the kiddo (25 lbs down, w00t!), and I still feel I have a ways to go before I'll be okay (not necessarily happy, but okay) with how I look. So I guess if stretching a photo to make you appear thinner makes you happy, then go for it.

But I don't know if I would do it for myself.

As it is, I rarely edit my personal photos. At this point, I do enough editing at my job that when I get home, I don't want to do any more.

So what's the answer? I don't know. Do what makes you happy, but keep an element of realism in there, too. Often, less is more when dealing with Photoshop.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A little slice of heaven

When the hub came back from his parents last week, he brought two of my favorite things:

home-grown asparagus and rhubarb. Yum!

We've been having asparagus at almost every meal (usually steamed, though I did roast it one night, which was very tasty). And the hub had a request for strawberry-rhubarb pie. So I complied and made this beauty the other night:

My mouth is watering just looking at it!

Here's the pie before I put the top crust on. Look at all that sugary, buttery goodness.

Now it has it's hat on (that's what the kiddo says, anyway)

I never know what to cut in the middle, so I usually just end up making a star. It's easy.

And the finished product:

Pay no attention to my messy stovetop, or cookie sheet I used to bake the pie on. It's not pretty, but it beats cleaning up a charred mess from the bottom of my oven.

Plates? Who needs plates? Just eat the darn thing straight from the pie pan!

The pie crust is from scratch. According to my mom, I make the best pie crusts in the family and I'm the one who usually makes them for holidays. I don't know, I think it's just an excuse for her to get out of making them.

And I'll share a little secret. I use lard. Real lard. In my pie crusts. Personally, I think it gives it the best texture and flavor over anything else. I've used Crisco before, but nothing beats lard.

Last year the hub and I bought a whole hog from one of his coworkers and had it processed at a small locker about an hour north of here. We had them go ahead and render the lard so we would always have some on hand. We ended up with four half-gallon containers of it! We gave one to the ILs, one is in our fridge and the other two are sitting in our deep freeze. I try not to think of what it really is when I'm baking with it, but boy does it make some tasty pie crust!

The pie is already half gone and I foresee myself making another pie soon. I just wish I had a bigger kitchen. Rolling out pie crusts isn't very appealing when all you have is a 2'x2' section of counter on which to work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I love cows

It kind of comes with the territory when you grow up on a cattle farm.

I especially love the spring and calving season. They're just so darn cute!

Not even a speck of dirt on her (I think it's a her anyway. I was never good at telling the difference between boys and girls. I never looked that close at their neither regions.)

I was too busy admiring their big eyes and soft noses.

And wanting to pet the cute little whorl on their forehead. Doesn't it just beg to be scratched?

Cute little bugger.

Like mother, like daughter (or son? This one hasn't been tagged yet, so I can't tell. Plus, they're laying (lying??) down).

There are just so many different variations depending on the breed of the cow and the bull.

Look! Triplets!

Okay, not really. But we have had about 5-6 sets of twins. Unfortunately, twins never seem to do well. The mama tends to only take care of one and the other calf usually has to be sold. Occasionally they can get an orphaned mama to take on a twin. I like it when that happens. I feel so sad for the mamas when they lose a calf, especially now that I have my own kids.

I like the contrast of the dark black mama and the snow white baby. But the mama really should do something about her hair. Maybe she's a punk mama with her white forelock, she is double-tagged after all. I bet she was wild in her younger days.

"No pictures, please. I'm eating!"

Cute little buggers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When did

My sweet baby boy turn from this:
Into this:

I thought the fascination with farting and pooping and butts wasn't supposed to start until at least elementary school.

I mean, he already announces to the entire world he (and daddy) have penises. I was just starting to get used to that little gem. Now he has to throw in bodily functions to the mix? Oy.

His favorite thing to do as of late is to replace select words in songs with "bum" and then giggle uncontrollably. For example, he'll sing "Mr. Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on ... BUM!!!" look at one of us and then collapse in a fit of giggles.

Or he'll just bust out in random conversation with "Poopy bum!" and giggle uncontrollably.

I grew up with sisters. I'm not used to boy antics. And if his father is any indication, it's only going to get worse.

Heaven help me. At least I have the kidlet to balance out the boy:girl ratio in the house. The dog doesn't count as she was stripped of her reproductive ability a long time ago.

I fear for the middle school/high school days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The sound of silence

The four of us traveled up to the farm yesterday to spend the weekend with my parents and do a lovely Mother's Day brunch today (Hi mom and dad! Thanks for brunch!).

After brunch my dad, the hub and I took the kiddo out to see the baby cows and I brought my "good" camera (Canon Rebel Xti) along and snapped some pictures. I really don't use that thing as much as I should, or even as much as I'd like to, and I need to change that.

Anyway... I took lots of pictures of baby cows and mama cows and baby and mama cows together. I'll share more of those later this week.

It was a beautiful day out today. Gorgeous and sunny, with a brilliant blue sky specked by fluffy white clouds. A tad chilly (in the 50s) but still a lovely day.

We had this view in the pasture while we were out looking at the baby cows:
Sigh. So pretty. It's even more gorgeous in the summer when everything is lush and green. Well, as lush and green as a pasture can be that's had hundreds of cows tromping on it and eating everything in sight. The trees are lush and green at least.

When we got back to the farm, the hub and I just walked around for a bit, looking at everything and taking pictures. Even though I spent nearly every day for 18 years on the farm, I haven't walked around and just looked at things for a while. It was nice.

You notice things like the broken window to the old garage and how the sparrows like to sit on the wire (only the darn thing few away right before I took the picture. Oh well, I still like the old broken window by itself.)
You notice that someone either is very absent-minded or has a wonderful sense of humor:
(note the glove attempting to flash the peace sign on the post by the well)

You notice that the cows are nosy:
Can't you just imagine the conversation they're having?

"Psst. Hey, gals, what's going on? Who are those strange people? Can you see? Hey, moooove over, I want to get a better look!"

And then, when they realize it's nothing exciting or earth-shattering, they go back to what cattle do best: eat.

I call this not-yet-a-Mother's day brunch (these are heifers -- cattle who have never calved -- in the lots.)

And then I played around with my lens. This is the field as wide as my lens will go:And this is the same view as zoomed in as my lens will go:
Exciting! That field has been planted already, in corn, and in a few months will be lush and green and swaying in the breeze.

After our trip around the farm, the hub and I packed up and left: me with the kiddos to come home and he with the dog to go to his parents and help his dad out in the field for a day or so. Both kids are already in bed and I have some show on the Disney channel on as background noise, because it's awfully quiet in the house. I usually don't mind having a night to myself, but tonight, I really miss the hub.

It was a wonderful Mother's Day. I love you hubby.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I love spring

Because we have this right outside our front door:
Mmmm..... lilacs

Mmmmm blurry lilacs....

And these on the south side of our house, though their yellow brethren have bloomed and faded already.
And perhaps my favorite:

My grandma used to have gorgeous bearded iris in beautiful colors growing outside her house in town. I loved those and I'm glad we got some to put around our house.

They may just have to come with me whenever we move out of here, even if it's the dead of winter.