Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I hate vermin. We once had a rat living in our garage. It ate my car. Twice. Our dog, Frank, was pretty sick at the time so he had a live and let live relationship with the rat. Once I found its nest and disposed of the babies, it went away. Oh, life on the farm. It's so glamorous.

I think that is the one and only time I've been grateful for our detached garage.

Last week my husband left me a message at work. Pete (our current dog) got a rat. He brought it up to the house. It was half grown. It was dead. Thank goodness. I hope Pete got his brothers and sisters, too.

I love having a dog that goes after critters. My kids get pretty mad at him for chasing and being rough with cats. Not me. His job is to get critters. All critters. If he starts letting the cats by, what's next?

I love it so much, I think I may let him in the house to track down the mice that ruined my evening. I know, I live in the country on a farm. Mice come with the territory. But they're really gross.

Tonight as I flew in the house before flying back out to run my son to basketball practice I went to the pantry for a quick snack. I saw that I had caught a furry critter in one of my sticky traps. I cleaned it up then went back for my snack.

Did you know mice can climb? I certainly didn't. They had been on the shelves in my pantry. How they got up there, I do not know. But boy did they make a mess. One that I spent my evening cleaning up.

I think it's time to let Pete in the house.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happiness is...

1. A completed 25 page paper.
2. The last class of a very difficult semester.
3. My very own Christmas tree.
4. Time to read books that I want to read.
5. An upcoming weekend in the city with friends. Chi town here I come!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My future plans

I've been working, reading, and playing non-stop for the past few days. I know I shouldn't wish away Thanksgiving, but I. can't. wait. for next Monday. I am so ready to be done with this semester. Here's what I plan to do until my class starts mid-January:

1. Read the Twilight series. I got sucked into the second half of the first movie the other day. I fully expect not to shower or leave the couch for at least a week.

2. Make cookies. Jam thumbprints are my favorite.

3. Be a groupie. Two of our good friends have a band. We try to attend as many of their gigs as possible. They let me play the tambourine. It makes me happy. And, it gives me bruises.

4. Run! I have been so busy this fall. I need to start back up and get ready for Tampa in February, (hopefully) Mexico in February and Houston in March.

5. Clean. My cleaning angel is still on leave. Cleaning angel, please come back.

6. Kill. The weather finally turned and the mice are coming in. I started hunting them yesterday. I need to turn up the heat. If there is one thing that make me squirm, it's the thought of mice crawling around my house.

7. Enjoy Christmas with my kiddies! I have two full weeks off. I need to plan some fun things.

Any suggestions?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who's making the decisions?

I've spent the weekend working on my final research paper for the semester. I've spent over ten hours reading about Critical Theory (describing what is and what ought to be), Critical Race Theory (Doing the above from perspective of someone of color) and higher education.

One question keeps going through my head. How many important decisions affecting my life have been made by rooms full of only white men?

I'm not a man hater. I don't even consider myself a feminist. However, I do believe that women have unique perspectives as do men of color, women of color, women of faith, men without faith, Midwestern women, east coast men, etc. We all bring something to the table.

My class this semester, however painful, has reinforced that concept.

I suppose I should end my moratorium on volunteer activities, stop complaining and figure out how to make my voice heard.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


This fall my son's football team wore Superman stickers on their helmets. It was to honor a little boy who was an "unofficial" part of their team.

At one of their last games, the little boy was brought on to the field with his grandparents and given a team jersey with Superman printed on the back.

The little boy was laid to rest today.

I didn't know him or his family, but his story is heartbreaking. His mom passed away a few years ago. His step-mom stands accused of the heinous abuse that left him with severe brain damage. Authorities don't believe it was an isolated incident.

I can't even begin to imagine. How do you hurt a child?

So many members of the community have been touched by this little boy's story. To honor him, balloons were released when the funeral procession passed over a bridge on the way to the burial.

I can't imagine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Cards: Yes or No?

I had lunch with two of my oldest, dearest friends today. (I love that I have friends that I've known since junior high. They get me.) The topic of whether or not to send Christmas cards came up.

Postage is expensive. The cards are expensive. Writing a short, interesting letter to go along with the card is always a challenge. It seems like one more thing for a busy mom to do during a busy season. But, I love getting them.

Each year we put all of the photo cards in an album. We've been doing it almost nine years now. It's so fun to look back and see how much all of the families have grown and changed. I don't think it would be the same without ours at the start of each new year.

Are you sending cards this year? Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Reads

This fall I have been reading A LOT. Much of it has been for school. I had six books for my fall class. In less than two weeks, I have a 20-25 page paper due and lots of reading to do in the meantime. My paper will examine the persistence rates in higher education of African-American students.

To keep myself sane, I think, I've also been reading and listening to more books for pleasure than usual this fall. Here's what I've finished:

The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins) - I LOVED this series. I stayed up until 2 a.m. on a week night/day to finish the second book. I was truly invested in the characters and was so sad when it ended. I am so excited to see the movie next year.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larrson) - I did not love this book. I really didn't even like this book much. It started slow and took awhile to get into. I finished it. The story wasn't all bad but I didn't like the characters. I won't bother with the next books in the series.

Wither (Lauren DeStefano) - This is the first book in The Chemical Garden Triology and another one in the teenage girl genre. I LOVED it! I LOVED the characters! I can't wait until February 2012 for the second one to be released.

The Big Bad Wolf (James Patterson) - This is a mystery about good looking blond women being kidnapped and sold into slavery. I'm about half way through and am enjoying it. It's a nice change from my teenage girl dramas! The library checkout card was blocking the description on the cover of the discs. I didn't know what it was about when I checked it out. I had to stay late at work Monday night and walking through the dark parking lot alone creeped me out. I didn't realize until now that this is ninth book in a series about the main character. I may have to go back and start from the beginning!

With all my school reading, I am going to be in desperate need of leisure reading over the Christmas break. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 14, 2011

My mind is no longer small!

About a year ago, I was told "Consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind." I was arguing the importance of consistency in whatever I was doing with this person.

If quoting Emerson was meant to make me feel small and stupid, this person achieved it.

Apparently, this quote is one I missed in my undergraduate and Master's degree coursework. My face immediately turned red. I was shut down and all I could think was, "This person just called me stupid!" Our conversation was over.

Well today, after completing one quarter of my doctoral coursework, I came across the quote in print! I can now consider myself a learned person.

If I ever make anyone feel like they are less for not knowing some obscure thing written by a dead white guy, or anything else for that matter, please kick me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Guilty Pleasure

There isn't any snow on the ground. We haven't had a deep frost yet. I haven't done any fall garden tillage. It's not even Thanksgiving.

But this weekend, I received my first seed catalog! I will now spend countless hours pouring over my choices, trying to figure out my crop rotation and making lists. I love seed catalogs!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Things I wonder.

I was reading the Pioneer Woman's blog post from today. I have a lot of questions. Not just about today but in general. They've been building over time. With so many followers, it seems pointless to e-mail Ree. She probably gets thousands of messages and since I have nothing to offer, I doubt I would get an answer. So for my one confirmed reader (and anyone else), what do you think?

1. When a cowboy goes to work at a ranch, do they give him a horse to ride or does he bring his own? If he brings his own, does he leave it there when he goes home at night? Is that like leaving your dog at work over night? It kind of makes me sad.

2. How many people assist her? The laundry along makes me cringe. I would never see the light of day.

3. How do I sell my husband on building another house close by where I can escape to work and entertain my friends?

I get that her blog is her business. But wow, she's super woman.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Cleaning Angel

Last year I finally broke down (a.k.a convinced my husband) and hired a friend to clean. She has been such a blessing. Between work, the kids' activities, and my school, I am rarely home. When I am, I'm buried in laundry and reading. The last thing I want to do is think about the toilets.

My cleaning angel had to take some time off for medical reasons this fall. I miss her. My house is a mess. Not only are the toilets and floors in need of attention, there is stuff everywhere. One of the benefits of having her come every other week is that we keep the house picked up so she can actually clean. Since she's been off, we haven't been doing a very good job at picking up or cleaning.

I was off today. I awoke at 8 a.m. to my husband telling me that the house needed to be cleaned. Even though I fully agree with him, I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to acknowledge that it had gotten to that point. So I spent my day off cleaning the first story of our house. Washing floors, dusting, picking up. I did not enjoy it. Not even a little. And, I'll have to do it again in no time. Every crumb that falls on the floor leaves me bitter.

Cleaning angel, please come back!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanks Dad!

Our elementary school hosted a Veteran's Day assembly this afternoon. My dad, a Vietnam Vet, attended with me. The kids read stories, sang songs, and gave artwork to the Veterans to honor and thank them. Taps was played and we sang the Star Spangled Banner. This is the second year the school hosted the assembly. Both years my dad has gotten teary eyed. I have, too.

My dad volunteered for the draft. He was an Army Airborne Ranger and part of the 75th Infantry in Vietnam. He jumped out of planes into the jungle. He led hunter-killer teams. Until I was in third grade, he didn't talk about it. All we knew was that if we needed to wake him up, we were to do it from a distance. He woke up swinging.

My dad is sitting in the middle.

When I was in third grade, one of his fellow Airborne Ranger friends, John Rotundo, contacted him. We started spending almost every weekend with John and his family. The flood gates opened. In many ways, the Rotundos became my second family.

A year or two after their reunion, my dad and John got in touch with some of their other friends and they all took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the memorial. On the trip, they encountered a book editor and John and my dad began writing about their experiences. It had to be a lot like therapy for them both. A couple years later, Charlie Rangers was published.

Even with the book, I can't fully comprehend the horror my dad witnessed and was part of. I can't imagine how difficult coming home must have been. How do you renter a society so hostile to those who served? How do you really come home?

I am so grateful to my dad for his service and his sacrafice. And, to our school for the assembly. Watching the kids line up to give their artwork to the Veterans and watching my daughter find her grandpa and give him her artwork, was heartwarming. My dad is finally getting the thank you he so deserves.

Thank you, dad and happy Veteran's Day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Act like a professional.

Tonight I presented an etiquette workshop to a group of our business students. The focus was on how to behave in a reception environment. I covered things like responding to invitations, introductions, conversation, body language, how to stand, eat, drink and talk and how to make your exit.

My colleague who sponsored the event and asked me to present asked how I became interested in the topic. I think it was a combination of things. I think my parents, although not formal, taught me well. I've also been very lucky to be involved in the National FFA Organization and Farm Bureau. Both organizations hosted numerous personal and professional development workshops that included etiquette in which I got to participate.

Knowing how to eat at a sit down dinner is important, but I believe knowing how to network in a reception environment is even more important. Here are a few things I shared:

1. Etiquette is about making people feel comfortable around you. It's about minimizing the distracting things we all do. It's about making a good first impression.

2. Always wear your name tag on your right side.

3. Eat and hold your drink with your left hand. No one wants to shake a clammy, crumby hand.

4. Be strategic about who you talk to and what you talk about. Introduce yourself to people you wouldn't have access to otherwise. Build your network!

Social capital is one of the key concepts from my class this semester. It is the knowledge, resources, and opportunities we gain from our formal and informal networks of family, friends and fools. Not all of the knowledge we learn is helpful. Not all of our networks are positive. Not everyone has the social capital it takes to be successful in our highly competitive world. It felt good to share some of mine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A bit of summer.

Because it's November.

Because it's raining.

Because the rain is going to turn to snow sooner rather than later.

I needed a reminder of what warm looks like. These are from our stop in the Grand Tetons in August. I'm ready to go back.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Am I Really Priviledged?

Tonight I had to present with another classmate on racism, white privilege, sexism, social capital and Critical Race Theory. Click here to view our presentation.

I think I mentioned in a previous post how challenging this class has been. It's also been pretty eye opening. Even though I'm a first generation college kid, I was prepped for college more than I ever realized.

  • I grew up in a college town. I was on campus way more than a high school student should have been. I was comfortable in the environment.

  • I knew there was money out there to help pay for school and I knew how to get it.

  • Even though college wasn't pushed on me by my parents or my high school, I was academically prepared for it.

  • I had family support - financial and emotional.

  • I had peer support. Most of my friends were in college at the same time.

  • I was taught the importance of social networking.

  • Most everyone around me looked like me. I was never the only white girl in the room.
This isn't the case for everyone. As a society and as individuals, we can do a better job supporting the kids that need it. We HAVE to do a better job. Kids are not disposable.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Night Life

These ads sum up my fall. I'm ready for harvest and fall field work to be over.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

One to Go!

We have one field of corn left to harvest! Woo Hoo!

Corn harvest hasn't been too long, but I'm ready to get my husband back. Here's why:

1. I miss him.
2. I would like to sleep through the night. Waking at midnight when he roles in is leaving me with dark circles and puffy eyes.
3. I would like help parenting. Especially, my seven (16 year old) daughter. Nail polish on the carpet...Lying about nail polish on the carpet...I need some discipline assistance.
4. I miss him.
5. I would like to be off duty and not have to pay a babysitter.

Please pray for good weather, plentiful trucks, and a weekend without breakdowns!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The End of an Era

This weekend my son will play his last peewee tackle football games. We've traveled to a neighboring town for the past three years to play in this league. We started when he was seven.

Year 1

Since we've played in another town, we've been fairly anonymous. Which was nice. The first two years I became acquainted with some of the other parents, but this year I helped with the fundraiser and had to hang around at practice. I made some friends. And over the past three years, so did my son.

I'm pretty sad to be done. I'm pretty sad to leave behind the group of kids that I've watched develop as players and as a team for the past three seasons.

Year 2

As we drove home last night, my son said, "I'm going to miss that little field." We talked about the friends he'll miss the most and how lucky we were to have the same defensive coach all three years. A coach who really pushed him to be better.

Next year we will move up to Junior Tackle and play in our small town. I know we'll have a blast watching him play with his classmates and watching them come together as a team. I know I'll be typing a similar post when he's a senior.

As we transition, what I think I'll miss most is being a really LOUD, SHRILL, and ANNOYING fan. In this league I can scream (encouraging things, of course) as loud as I want and as much as I want, because after all, I am anonymous.

Year Three (on the left)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marxism and my Manicure

This weekend is my college's annual fundraiser dinner dance. At work we refer to it as the Gala. At home, I call it Prom for Adults. In preparation I got a manicure tonight. My shiny red nails look awesome. I should do this more often.

I had been warned about the limited English at this particular salon. I am NOT GOOD with Asian accents. I work with some great people who's native language is Chinese. I am always asking them to repeat themselves. I always feel like such a jerk.

So I walk into the salon and ask the lady at the counter for a manicure. She had to ask four times if I wanted fake nails. She finally had to show me the display for it to sink in. I was short on time and I was a bit frustrated.

This is where Marxism comes in, kind of. This semester I am enrolled in Adult Education in the Social Context. At home, I call it Marxism and Socialism in Education. It's a class about power, alienation, oppression, revolution, and hegemony.

Did you know that Disney is the devil? We had an 300+ page book on it. Next time you watch a movie, think about how they depict the villain. They are usually not American, speak with an Eastern European accent and don't reflect the white, middle-class ideal. Food for thought.

It's a good thing the class is required because there is no way I would have ever chosen to take it. It's been painful. Not just because I appreciate capitalism, but because I never took philosophy or sociology in my undergrad or Master's programs. It's pretty deep stuff and it takes forever to read and actually understand. It's all abstract and I prefer practical. Even though I don't like it, I'm glad I've been exposed to it. It's made the Take Back Wall Street coverage much more meaningful.

Before this class, I would have been very frustrated with my nail salon worker. Not mean, but internally frustrated. Instead, I spent my time thinking about our exchange from her point of view and how frustrated she must be living in the Midwest. I tried to do something that I am not good at. I tried to empathize.

My husband and I went to Spain for a week in June. We don't speak Spanish. The last three days we spent on the Mediterranean coast at a hotel. We didn't hear a lick of English. People looked at us funny. If there is an "American" look, we must have it. It was very lonely and we were ready to come home.

This must be how my nail salon lady feels every day. And she doesn't get to go home. Maybe this class wasn't all bad.

P.S. I am not the lady in the bikini:).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Has it really been a year?!

In looking at my blogger dashboard tonight, I noticed almost a year has passed since my last post. What have I been up to? What haven't I been up to?

So...hopefully to get myself back into the posting habit, I COMMIT to posting everyday this month. I also commit to not overthinking this whole blogging thing and to just write. So let's start with a list.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. The Yellowstone Association webcam. We took a family road trip to the park last summer and had an excellent time. The park is gorgeous. We hiked. We saw the thermal features. We saw an old friend. We enjoyed one another. I don't know if we will ever be able to top this trip. Today I discovered the live webcam that you can control remotely. All day long I gazed upon snow capped mountains and watched elk graze near the north entrance of the park where we stayed for two nights. It brought some peace to a day full of writing. Thank you Yellowstone Association!

2. Wonderful co-workers. Tonight we had a girls' night to celebrate boss' day. We had wine, chili and pie and watched one of our alum compete on a reality show.

3. Babysitters! My husband has been in the field for about a month and my mother-in-law has been helping. This means I am hardly ever off duty. I am ready to be off duty. Thankfully, one of my high school babysitters could watch the kids last minute tonight so I could celebrate boss' day tonight. Being off duty, even if only for a few hours was worth the money!