Sunday, November 9, 2014

Go Pec Pacers!

A few years ago, a couple of 4th grade teachers at Pecatonica Elementary School started a running club for the 3rd and 4th graders.  Their intention was to get kids up and moving, to teach kids to set a goal and work toward achieving it, and share their own love for running.  The club is called the "Pec Pacers" and has a spring and a fall session.  The spring session always culminates with the Crooked River 5K on Memorial Day weekend, the fall season ends with a 5K fun run around town at the end of October.

The Pacers met Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from when school let out until 4:15pm.  The Key Club members from the high school came up and scanned each runner's lanyard bar code as they completed a lap around the middle school track.  Each runner got a charm after every 5 miles run and they got special charms if they attended fun runs, held on Friday nights or Saturday mornings. 

A few weekends ago was the culminating race, a 5K around town.  Another mom took this picture.  It pretty much sums up how it went:  Mom trying to gently cajole Holly into running "a few more feet".  I even at one point was singing "100 bottles of beer on the wall" just to keep her mind off of -insert whine here- how sore her legs were, how tired she was, how she was SURELY going to die any minute.



Drew loved being a pacer when he was in grade school.  He loved pushing himself and racking up the miles.  Holly, on the other hand, really enjoys the social aspect; whether or not she'll be a cross country runner, like her cousins and grandfather, we won't know for a few more years!  


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Another Sunday Afternoon... gone too soon...

Here's how we spent our lazy Sunday afternoon:

Danny ran the grain cart and caught corn all afternoon.

He's obviously settled right in, there are even happy messages written to him in the dirt and grime on the back of the combine.  (Still not sure how that got there...)

Drew watered the 4-H calves and spread some hay in the bunks for the load of cattle we were expecting in the night.

Holly and Emma practiced the piano, Holly's pieces are getting a lot harder as she becomes more "advanced", so she has to practice longer, clearly she's not so pleased.

And I put off grading my Business Math papers.  I usually am not such a procrastinator, but I just couldn't find the get-up-and-go to get them done.  Oh well, I technically have until Thursday morning to get them done... How much ya wanna bet I'm up til the wee-hours Wednesday night?!?!






Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The troll house...

The other night I was talking with Holly as we were getting ready for bed and she said to me, "You know that little blue house that Dad built out by the dryer?"

I said, "Yes, why?"

And then Holly proceeded to tell me this:

"Well, I asked Danny what it was and he told me it was a troll house.  He said that the law says that if we have grain bins, then we have to have the house for the trolls.   I asked Danny why the trolls need the house and he said it was because they eat corn and make things with corn, like corn stew, corn pie, corn casserole, and other corn things.  The state laws said that Dad had to build them the house if he wanted to keep the grain bins.   Mom, have you ever seen these trolls?"

I sat there in disbelief--utter shock!-- I think my jaw was literally hanging open.

Then, thank goodness, she said, "But I didn't believe him.... right?  There aren't REAL trolls around here, are there?"

And at that, I LOST IT.  I am STILL laughing about it.

Ahhh... Older brothers.  Everyone should have at least one!

Truth be told, the guys built that little house as a moisture testing station for the new drying system they installed this summer.  The dryer is pretty impressive, but as I lay awake at night listening to it hum, I try not to think about the power and propane burning through it...



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn...

Greetings from Northern Illinois!


The trees are gorgeous, the days are crisp and the nights are frosty, and the harvest is in full swing!

The calves are weaned and we've picked out the special ones to take to the fair!













This is all that is left of our garden, a big pile of rubbish to be burned next weekend.











And on top of it all, school is as busy as ever with papers to be graded, lessons to be planned, and help to be lent for my own little scholars!

I love this time of the year!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My contribution to "throw back Thursday" is...

The DEHYDRATOR!!!!

When we moved, I acquired this lovely piece of 80's kitchenware.  

Just about the time we got back into our crazy school life, the tomatoes started ripening by the minute.  This baby was the perfect answer to my lack of time plus too many tomatoes problem.

I washed, sliced, and spread the tomatoes out on the trays, sprinkled with Italian seasonings and sea salt, plugged it in and walked away. I let my tomatoes dehydrate for between 15 hours to whenever I remember to unplug it.  


I have big dreams of adding these lovely dried tomatoes to stews, soups and homemade pizzas all winter long.  












And come to find out, I'm not the only one who a) owns a dehydrator, and b) secretly loves it more than anything in the world, even the waffle iron.  As I've been bragging my phat dehydrating skillz up all over town, I'm finding that quite a few people my own age ALSO own dehydrators!  

Are you one of the cool ones, too?  Share your recipes, please!!!!



Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's been over a month...

since we left the fair and I haven't posted even 1 picture.  SLACKER!
Well... moving on...
We survived another year... barely.  It was exceptionally stressful this year for no other reason than because I think I may or may not be losing my marbles.
 Anyway, here are some pictures of the boys!




Every year we are SOOO ready to be done with 4-H by the first week in August.  It's a LOT of work, walking, washing, walking, washing... and no matter how much we work the animals, I'm always afraid that it "wasn't enough".  Like I said earlier, I think I'm just losing my mind and will look back on these days with regret for how much I worried and how little I sat back and just enjoyed it all.

But, now that a month has passed and records are turned in, it's time to start picking out next year's projects (times 3 since Holly will be a full-blown 4-Her this year!).   Today-- right now-- I feel ready, slightly less crazy, and I look forward to another year!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The newest member of the family!

When we went to the fair, I was sort of thinking about getting another rabbit (Spot died last summer), but hadn't figured out the logistics.  There are some coyotes that live a little too close to us; we lock our cats in every night for safe keeping.  Bringing the rabbit into the shop every night isn't an option and we're afraid that a rabbit left out would be easy bait.

The club that we were in as kids started a petting zoo (probably sometime in the early 1990s).  The kids always like to go feed the goats, see the llamas and this petting zoo is housed in the rabbit and chicken barn. Well, this year there was a cage full of baby guinea pigs with a "for sale" sign on it.  Totally out of curiosity, I went up to the leader of the club that puts on the petting zoo and asked how much for one of the guinea pigs.  She steered me toward her daughter's 5 month old guinea pig, who was also for sale--cage, food, pig-loo, and all-- included!  She introduced us to her daughter who explained that she is in high school and just didn't have the time to give the pig as much attention as it deserved.  So, of course, Holly fell in love.  We have been telling Holly that --NO MATTER WHAT-- she could buy a hamster with her birthday money in January.  But this kind of was a deal too good to pass up.

So, I spent the rest of the day mulling it over in my head and consulting with Dave  (not really, it was more like, "Hey, we're getting a guinea pig.").  Early that evening, after the cattle show was done, I went back and wheeled and dealed with the nice lady and then after dinner and finishing up cattle chores, we went back and picked up "Elsa" and brought her home!

She is a super sweet guinea pig.  The first night we had her, she sat in our laps and actually purred!  Just like cats, it's a sign of contentment!  Another night we had her out in the living room and she was sitting in our laps chattering away at us, also a sign of contentment, I guess!  I read that when they need to go to the bathroom or are sick of the attention, they'll nibble on your shirt or your fingers or whatever is closest.

Sure enough!  Elsa was sitting on my lap and started nibbling on my shirt, then nipped at my finger, so we put her back in her cage and immediately... um... well, you know... did her "business".

I think that Elsa will be a nice addition to the family.  Holly's really good about going outside to shut in the cats every night, so making sure this inside pet has food and water every day is definitely something I can trust her to do.

I've been reading up on guinea pigs and came across this quote by the French poet Anatole France:

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."