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Saturday, May 29, 2010


As you may have read in an earlier blog, my friend Dawn is working hard to build a Children's Living History farm in the St. Louis area. She has a grant proposal in the Pepsi refresh everything project that needs your votes! Why am I so excited about this? It is good for kids, it is good for farmers, which in turn makes it good for Iowa too. Yes, the farm is in the St. Louis area, but teaching people about agriculture anywhere is good for farmers. We all know that what is good for farmers is good for Iowa. Farming is the core of our economy. When farms have a hard time, Iowa has a hard time. When farms prosper, Iowa prospers. Teaching children that their food is a product of hard work and devotion of farm families everywhere can only be good for Iowa and ALL Iowans. If you sell groceries in Iowa thank a farmer for growing them and then thank him again when he comes and buys them from you. If you run a restaurant in in Iowa, thank a farmer for growing the food and then thank him again for coming to eat the at your place of business. Do you wear or sell clothes? Do you work at a tire store, a video store, a book store? Well, if a farmer is prospering, he's going to come visit you, too. It is the same everywhere, not just Iowa. Wall street may think they are the kings of the economy, but without the farmer they would have nothing to buy and trade.

Children everywhere need to understand how important farming is to our country. We understand that in Iowa, but even we don't stop to think about it much. We take it for granted that the food will be in the grocery store when we want it. We know that the white cotton undies, that are so comfy, but that we will never admit to wearing, will be at Target when we want to buy them. Let's help children, who may only drive past a farm once in a blue moon, get the chance to play on a farm. While playing they will learn more about their food. Maybe if they plant some veggies they will eat some veggies.

I am so glad that I will get to take Kahlen to our Living History Farms. That's why I'd love to see children in Missouri have the same experience!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Full Moon

So, the crazies have been out and about. People never believe me when I say that the full moon brings out the crazies. They laugh under their breath and think I am the one who might be a little crazy. I find that the older I get the more I really believe things like full moons bring out the strangeness in people, or if you say the wrong thing that it will jinx you. For instance, when it is slow at work, you do not say it out loud. The second some one says the word "slow" you get slammed. It happens every single time. Some would say it is only a self fulfilling prophecy. That you think it is going to happen, so then you perceive that it has. That just doesn't wash with me. When someone at work uses the dreaded "s" word and then we get slammed, (also a dreaded "s" word) I'm not "perceiving" it, I am living it. My superstition doesn't bring all those people in to the store, but every time some one says the word "slow" they come.

This all leads me to believe unequivocally that I am correct about the effects of the full moon on how people behave. I have had many different kinds of jobs, and in all of them, when there is a full moon, I have suffered! (New moons also have an effect, not quite as pronounced, but the effect is still there.) The last few days at work have been awful. People have been rude, they have been obnoxious and demanding. Wednesday was particularly stressful. We had one woman come thru our drive thru, who first of all would not speak up. It is very hard to hear at our drive thru in normal circumstances. Cars are loud, people don't turn off their radios, random street noises echo into our ears. I asked this woman to please speak up. She huffed at me, spoke up for about two words, and then went on and on in a hushed tone that I could not hear again. I apologized and again asked her to speak up. She got mad, yelled at me for a couple of words and then went on and on again in a hushed tone. She seemed truly desperate to tell me something, but I could not hear her. The more I apologized and asked her to speak up the madder she got. I finally gave up trying to hear her. Apologized again and told her I would get a pharmacist. This also made her angry. One of the pharmacists came and tried to talk to her. She did the same thing to him. Turns out that what she wanted was for us to get her a free gator aid. She was hot and sweaty and could not afford to buy one for herself. She ended up yelling and screaming at the pharmacist. He told her if she was that worried she should go see her doctor and walked away.

She was just one example of the joyful people we had to deal with that day. At one point I heard one of the pharmacists asking if there was a full moon. It got me wondering as well. I asked another pharmacist later, after another incident, if she knew if there was a full moon. She didn't know either. I got home that night, finally, completely exhausted. Went up stairs. Crawled into bed and rolled over to cuddle with Willie. There it was, shining as bright as can be. One great big full moon. Yeah, I know what I'm talking about.

Children and crazy people seem to be the most effected by the full moon. Children get unsettled and restless. Ask any school bus driver. They don't need a calander to tell you when there is a full moon. They just know. The younger the child the more restless they are. New parents and their babies have it rough during a full moon. Kahlen and her mom and dad have had a couple of rough nights this week. Is it because of the full moon? Maybe not, but I think it is. Laugh all you want, but the next time your child is particularly difficult, or you have an unusual number of people being rude to you at work, check out the moon that night. Do it often enough, and you too, will believe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Kahlen started crawling on Thursday! It isn't quite the normal crawl. It is half way between a normal crawl and the "Mowgli crawl." You remember Mowgli, from the Jungle Book. If you think a minute about the Disney version, Mowgli got around by "walking" on his hands and feet. Well, Kahlen crawls with one leg straight and one leg bent. It is so unique and so cute. Luckily, it also slows her down a bit, for now anyway. I'm sure that at some point soon she will either bend the one leg or straighten the other and the race will be on!

She also started pulling her self to a stand the same day. She was very proud of this accomplishment. She also figured out that she can cruise around a little bit. She was quite busy that day. It was very exhausting for her. She is growing so fast. Everyday she learns something new. You can see the little wheels turn in her mind as she discovers a new flower or practices a new sound. She is starting to make connections. Seeing how one thing relates to another.

She has learned that when someone puts her hat on her that she gets to go outside or bye bye. Her eyes brighten up and she smiles. She doesn't even try to pull it off any more. She loves being outside, and loves going bye bye, She has put that connection together.

We had a busy day today. We had lunch with Grandpa. Then visited Great Grandpa Bob and saw Uncle Ben, too. Then off to the store where she got to see Mama for a few minutes. We planted flowers and herbs in the back yard. She enjoys being busy.

It amazes me everyday just how much better this little tiny girl makes my life. Not to say she isn't a challenge at times. She was very whiny and inconsolable tonight. I think I may have gotten her a little over tired. I just wouldn't trade a minute of it though. Not even the screaming. She is healthy and happy, who could ask for more.

I had a friend ask me the other day if you have that instant bond with a grandchild like you do when you have your own children. I told her yes, most definitely. I was thinking about it some more today. I think as a grandmother, instead of a mother, it came even a little more quickly, or maybe just more easily. As Gramma, you don't have all the physical and emotional strain that comes with having a baby. No hormones raging through your system. No fear of the future that just changed drastically. No doubts, no worries. A Gramma just gets to enjoy the moment. Soak it in. We get to swim in it without the fear of drowning. Being Gramma, is plain old good!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nine Months Old!!!

Kahlen turned nine months old yesterday! She has been alive outside the womb as long as she was inside the womb. It is so hard to believe. She celebrated yesterday by starting to clap. We have been trying for a little while to get her to clap, and yesterday she did it on her own for the first time. She is not crawling yet, but is very busy rolling and scooting herself to get from one place to the next. She is "talking" in baby gibber jabber constantly, using facial expressions that just make you laugh. The things she is saying seem to be very important to her and us big people just don't seem to be smart enough to understand.

Ah, the sign of things to come.... "Mom, you just don't understand!" Grandpa is waiting, just a little impatiently, I believe, for the day a teen aged Kahlen lays that one on her mom. Ah, sweet revenge! You can just taste it, can't you. Mmmmmm so sweet, but best served cold. I met a man at a home show once who said " becoming a grandparent is the reward you get for not killing your children." I would personally insert the word teenagers in place of the word children. Really, as frustrating as the "terrible twos" seem it is nothing compared to the "you just don't understand" teen years. Of course the "eye roll" preteen years have their challenges, as well. You know what I'm talking about. The eleven year old who sighs and rolls her eyes every time you try to talk to her. Followed closely by the "duck and run" twelve year old who won't let you drop him off at school for fear his friends might see you. He would rather walk in the rain for 2 blocks then face the embarrassment of being seen with, do I dare say it, a parent. Oh, the humanity!!!

My kids didn't have a chance to do the "duck and run." Whether I embarrassed them or not was mute. I drove a school bus at their school. All of their friends knew who I was whether they liked it or not. While most of the time I tried not to humiliate them with my presence too often, I did enjoy pursuing the occasional red face at the expense of my kids. I look at it this way, after enduring the temper tantrums in public places. After sleepless the nights due to the loud, obnoxious slumber parties, allowed year after year. After the arm pit farts that interrupted a quiet evening at home. I deserved to see an occasional glare of "oh, Mother!" It just put a smile on my face. At least then the "eye roll" was a little easier to tolerate.

Yes, being a gramma is much more fun them being a parent. Partly because you can play all you want with your grandchild all day, but the sleepless night, that belongs to the parent. But also partly because of the secret joy we have in the anticipation of the eye roll that will be directed at your own eye roll queen. The armpit fart that will come quickly and unexpectedly at the dinner table. But especially, the "you just don't understand" that already seems to be on the lips, and will be directed at your child instead of at you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Alyssa

Congratulations for making it to your first Mother's Day with your sanity intact. For not having pulled all of your hair out. Congratulations on waking up thirty three times a night and resisting the temptation to become an ax murderer. For still being able to smile when all you really want to do is sleep for the next ten years. Congratulations on the 90,000 diapers you have already changed, and the 400 gallons of puke you have cleaned off of yourself.

Congratulations on the beautiful little girl you are raising. She is happy, healthy and growing like a weed. She lights up a room even when she is screaming at the top of her lungs. She is amazing. Her diapers are stinky, and she gets a little sticky at times but that is all a part of her charm. I can't wait to see who she grows up to be!

You have grown, you have changed and you have turned into a beautiful young woman! I am impressed with how well you have adapted to the stress and challenges that come with being a mommy. I think you are handling it better then I ever did. Dad and I are so proud of you. We love you very much!


photo by Katharyne Dunn photography

Growth Spurts

When my kids were babies, I was pretty much a stay at home mom. I was with them every day. Watched them do most every thing. The one thing I don't remember, is the growth spurts. I mean I remember them growing. What I don't remember is putting them to bed one night and then the next morning them looking noticeably bigger. I knew when the growth spurts were. They never slept very well and they were extra hungry. I knew their clothes were getting smaller. But I don't remember waking them up and "seeing" the growth.

Kahlen is going through a growth spurt. It is amazing, because every morning the last few mornings she has LOOKED bigger. Her arms are longer, her legs are longer. She is taller. It is physically noticeable. Yesterday, she was particularly fussy. Nothing made her happy. She didn't nap well and I was about at my wits end. I decided to put her in her car seat and we went for a nice long drive. She slept the whole time. We got back home and I went to get her out of her car seat. I swear she was bigger then when I put her in. It is absolutely amazing. Poor Alyssa hasn't had a decent nights sleep all week.

Is it because I am a gramma that I see it in Kahlen when I didn't in my own kids? Is it because new parents feel so overwhelmed that we just don't have the time to see it? I see Kahlen everyday, just like I did Valerie, Josh and Alyssa. I have thought before that I didn't "see" the spurts because when you see someone everyday you don't really notice changes. Like when a person is losing weight. When you see them everyday, it doesn't really click. You go with out seeing the same person for a month, you take note.

I see it in Kahlen though, it is hard not to. Maybe her growth spurts are just more pronounced then what my kids went through. I only know I am just in awe. It is no wonder she is cranky and hungry. I'm so thankful she is a healthy happy baby, that gets to be cranky because she is growing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I have a friend at work, Reanna, who is having difficulty conceiving. Her plan when she got married was to have had a child by now. Life has changed that plan. This is a woman who is going to be a wonderful mother, and her husband will be a wonderful father. But life and circumstances keep throwing her curve balls. I don't even pretend to know what she is going through. I know that she is heart broken with every negative pregnancy test. I don't have any idea how to console her except to say that God has a special plan for her. We just aren't on His level so we can't see it yet. I truly believe this. I quite often believe very strongly in my heart that there is a little girl out there already that desperately needs Reanna. I don't know why I say girl, it is just what I feel in my heart. I don't know that she is ready to hear it yet though. I pray for her everyday that she will become pregnant, I know that is what she wants. It has always been her plan.

Plans have a strange way of letting us down. We make them, we work for them, we count on them. Then one day, we look up and our plans have become out of reach. They seem to be getting farther and farther away. Like watching a train speed away down a track. We can see the way to get to the train, all we have to do is follow the track. But it is so fast, and we can't keep up. No matter how fast we run, the train gets away.

Funny thing is, we keep looking at the train that has disappeared, we grieve for it and forget that there will be another train coming down the track soon. It will be a different train. It will not have the accommodations we thought we wanted. It may switch tracks and take us a different direction then we had thought we wanted to go. It may change our destination, but the new destination might just be better. It may look much different, but doesn't that mean it has new opportunities? New choices, new hope? Is that what faith is really about? Learning to get on the train that God wants us on, instead of the train we thought we needed to be on?

When I had children, I imagined each of them going off to college, becoming professionals in some field and living happily ever after. My oldest, Valerie, is in college, working very hard to become just that. She has had many twists and turns but has determinedly stayed on her path. She waited for the next train, impatiently and regretfully at times. But her new train seems to be taking her to her original destination. If it switches tracks along the way it is going to be because she wanted it to.

Josh, my son, has not taken the train I thought he would. He seems to be off the train all together, getting to where he wants to go on his own and at his own speed. The way he has always been. He has never been one to be in a hurry to get any where. Not in a bad, lazy way, but in a "I'm not worried, and I'm not in a hurry" way. He seems to have the secret of enjoying life as it comes. It can annoy the crap out of people that might want to make plans that involve him. Which in turn can annoy the crap out of him. But, I think, if we admitted it, we all wish we could be more like that. I know he has plans, but he has his own way of getting there. He doesn't need one of our trains.

Sixteen months ago, my teenage daughter told me she was pregnant. Not the best day of my life. Not what I wanted for her. Not the train I had bought a ticket for when she was born. Not the plan I had for her.

Now, I can't imagine life without Kahlen. Alyssa has grown up so much. I don't know that she would have become the mature woman she is now if she hadn't had Kahlen. She still has her teen moments, but without Kahlen, I don't think she would be who she is today. She will be twenty in September. She has regrets about her lost youth, her plans have changed. She wouldn't give up a day with Kahlen though. I worry about her lost youth now and then, too. Then I think of who she is today, compared to eighteen months ago. God has a new train coming for her. He's busy teaching her patience in the mean time.

Did I ever in a million years think my life would be what it is today when I was 18, or 25 or even 2 years ago. No, I was going to be chief photographer at Time magazine back then. That train never even came down my track. I was never even at the right station for that one. The station I was at had this wonderful little train. I got on, not willingly at first and with much trepidation. It has been the ride of my life. It started out with just one little plain car. Together Willie and I have put it together to become this long, multi car train. It has hit a lot of bumps and derailed once or twice. Together though we have gotten it back on track. I can only hope for as much for my children and my friend Reanna as they lay their tracks for their trains.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stupid van

Alyssa, Kahlen and I all went to have lunch with Grandpa this afternoon. When we got to his work, Alyssa said she should probably jump into the back seat so that Grandpa could have the front seat. I told her, nah, don't worry about it, he will want to sit back with Kahlen anyway. The reason I know this, is one time Grandpa and I had Kahlen out and about. We stopped at Casey's and I ran in to grab something to drink. When I came back out, there he was, in the back seat with her, grinning his proudest grandpa grin. "She said she wanted me to sit with her."

Anyway, he comes out to the car and heads straight to the back seat. Kahlen, who had magically awoken, started giggling as Grandpa started playing with her.

We drove down the street to the restaurant and Grandpa proudly pulls her out of her carseat and walks in, beaming all the way. He goes to this restaurant very often for lunch so they know him there. Everyone, gushes appropriately and he puffs up even more with pride. I love taking Kahlen to go see him at work. It always brightens his day. He takes her around to show her to everyone. He is so in love with his little granddaughter and he just glows when he gets to show her off. I think it helps to see that little two tooth grin on a stressful day at work.

As we are driving back from dropping Grandpa off at work (and a little side trip to Babies r Us, my narcotic), Alyssa and I hear this thump thump thump thump from the front of the van. The stupid belt fell apart and flew off the van. Now, this van has had many, many issues with belts. When it rains too hard, it falls off. When I go through a deep puddle, it falls off. One time I was washing the car and went into a panic when I watched all the water running down my windshield, and into the motor. I almost rammed my way out of the car wash. I hadn't stopped to think before hand that it might make the belt fall off. I just knew I had a dirty car. Well, luckily that time, all was well. This time though, not so much. When the piece of crap comes off, the power steering goes out, I have to turn everything off so the battery won't run down before I get home, I hate this van. I used to be pretty strong and driving without power steering was no big deal. Now, well.... it really angers me.

We got home ok. We were close enough that the battery lasted. However, now I had to call Grandpa and tell him. He has been under so much stress, this was the last thing I wanted to do. I really did not want to add to his stress level. But, I have to have my van for work so, I made the call. I dialed his cell phone, got voice mail. Considered for about a second just leaving a message, at least I wouldn't have to hear the cussing. Thought better though, and called his work number. Got him on the line, took a deep breath, begged him not to be mad, and told him. It went much better then expected. No cussing, he was glad that we got home fine.

Apparently, the Kahlen tonic works even better than I had ever imagined!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Important Things

I have lived most of my life trying to be a good person. Trying to do the right thing as much as possible. Trying to get through each day with integrity and honesty. Mostly I think I have succeeded. Not perfectly, unfortunately, but I have always tried. But what I haven't done is been a part of something that is bigger than my own little world. I have worked hard, raised my family to the best of my ability. I have never really gone out of my way to do something for the greater good, though.

An opportunity has arisen for me to help, if even in a small way in a project that is one of those bigger than me things. My friend Dawn, is trying to start a Children's Living History Farm in St. Louis, Mo. We are both grammas now and she wants to do something to better her community. She has a plan and possibility of a land donation. Funds are what she is missing out on right now. She has submitted a proposal to the Pepsi Refresh project. What she needs right now are VOTES.

The idea behind the project is to give children a hands on experience with farming through the last 200 years. She is modeling it after our Living History Farms here in Iowa. But she wants to put it in an urban area, St Louis, because many children who live in cities do not understand the hard work put into growing the food they eat every day. Many believe that hamburger magically generates in the back of fast food restaurants. Vegetables come in cans. Many play Farmville on Facebook but have never seen an actual cornfield. She wants to get kids off of Facebook and out on a real working farm if even only for a day.

We have that here. Do you remember the last time you went to Living History Farms? Was It as a child? Do you remember having fun planting potatoes? Or maybe it was the tractor ride? Was it as an adult, getting to take your child there? Maybe chaperoning a class field trip? Point is you had that opportunity. Dawn wants to do the same thing for the children of St. Louis. It may be even more important there then here. We grew up, even around Des Moines, seeing corn crops and cows. We know how hard the family farmer works and how he is the mainstay of the American economy and even the American experience. Without the family farmer our country would not be what it is today. Children growing up in an apartment in a large city may never know this without a learning experience such as this.

Here's what you can do to help. Please vote for my friend Dawn's Project. go to this link and see what it's about.

It will take about 2 to 3 minutes of your time. Vote every day. Today she is ranked around 250 out of 1344. She needs to be number one or two to receive this grant. Please help. It will bring fun and laughter to children's faces. It will teach them new things and let them play in the dirt. It will teach them important stuff. It will get them out of the house and away from the video games. Maybe planting a few veggies will help them to eat a few veggies.

Childhood obesity is epidemic. Type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) is being diagnosed in 10 year olds. We need to teach our children and grandchildren to get outside and to eat better foods. What better way then letting them play on a farm all day.

Fun and learning, now there is a supersized combo we can all live with.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Anyone ever wonder when and why burps became bad manners. I know this is a cultural thing, but still why? We spend a good portion of a baby's first year trying, near praying for a baby to give us a good burp. We encourage it, we practically demand it. We say it is for the baby's good, but really it is in our own interest, we want peace and quiet, or to sleep or whatever.

Burps are good things, really. They are a natural function of the body. They relieve pressure in the stomach. They make us more comfortable. Let's face it, if that same air pressure doesn't come out in a burp..... It's going to come out in its less pleasant form later. The form that makes EVERYONE less comfortable. So... the question of the day..... Why are burps bad manners? Who decided this? Why is it that our society wants us to be uncomfortable with air pressure in our stomach? We certainly don't prefer the alternative, but yet seem to make darn sure the alternative is going to happen. Which, of course is also bad manners. (much smellier bad manners at that.)

We encourage our baby's to burp and then one day, "say excuse me" comes out of our mouths. Or, "that was rude, " or some other admonishment for a perfectly normal response to the ingestion of food particles necessary for normal growth and maintenance of the human body.

Why do we send mixed messages to our children. If helping a baby to burp, so she doesn't have uncomfortable pressure in her stomach is so important at age 6 weeks, why is it so necessary for the same child to keep that same pressure in at 3 years in the name of good manners? Why should a 3 year old, or a 10 year old or a 35 year old be in pain from holding a burp in. Why is that proper?

Don't get me wrong, I believe in good manners. I believe in saying excuse me when you need to slide past the person who is taking up the whole isle at the super market. Just because they don't have the good manners to move a little to the side to let others through, doesn't mean I have to be rude when going around them. I believe, when it comes to children, manners should be taught and taught early. Saying, please, thank you, excuse me, and not running rampant in a restaurant, all very important things. Taking time to stop and not make another person's day unpleasant by one's own actions need to be taught.

Burping though? Why?