Dear Summer Vacation,

It was so fun to start you off by working cattle in a serious plethora of mud/poo because you decided to rain a ridiculous amount.  I, along with everyone else who helped, really thank you for the extreme leg muscle work-out as we trudged and trudged and trudged and trudged some more.  The cows thank you too, why you might ask?  Because, more were able to get away in the alley than usual because we were literally stuck in the mud.  Also, thank you for helping me come up with a new fashion statement.  It's called "Mud Boot Slouchy" and it is rather stunning.  So, Summer Vacation, please continue with the amazingness.  I can not wait for what comes next.  

Sick of Mud Boots      

Whew, the good news is is that I'm not bitter...not one little bit.  We did indeed work cattle this weekend.  Rain and all.  I'm too tired right now and my face is sun burned {Summer Vacation did redeem itself today because the sun did shine} and I'm covered in mud/poo and I smell, so there will be more later about the weekend festivities.  And, please, by all means, feel free to steal "Mud Boot Slouchy."  It really is quite the look. 

And, just in case you couldn't quite get the full effect of the mud/poo before, here's a closer look.  Enjoy! 



New baby.  What is it about a new baby? 

Some of my good friends had a baby yesterday {well, I guess I could say two of my good friends seeings as how it isn't really a "some" situation...more of a two} and I went to see the little guy this evening.  Except the thing is, he really isn't very little.  He's more of a big little guy.  Like almost a ten pound big little guy.  

His name, Hank, is quite fitting. 

I grew up only two miles away from Hank's great grandpa and new little baby Hank happens to be named after that great grandpa.  I couldn't help but smile to myself when I heard of the name; all I could picture was the original Hank leaning with his arms hung over a corral fence with Brother looking at cattle.  The original Hank would stop by our farm quite frequently when I was young and he always, I mean always took the time to look at the cattle with my brother.  I can still picture them both in my mind.  Hank up on the first board leaned over and Brother up on the third board leaned over discussing cattle like they were fellow ranchers even though Brother was a young boy.  The thing was that back then we didn't have a lot of cattle because Dad-o grew up on a dairy farm and was d.o.n.e with cattle and wanted to farm.  But, Brother loved cattle and he was convinced that that was what he wanted to do so Dad-o bought some cattle.  Hank took the time to talk to Brother about the cattle industry and now that Brother has a successful, larger than a few cattle, ranch, I can't help but think it has been partly due to the people in the world like Hank.  The kind of "grandpa" figure that encouraged and took time with a young boy who only had a few head of cattle.  The kind that realized that some day that young boy leaned over the corral fence would realize his dreams of being a real rancher.  That kind is rare these days.  So, little baby Hank, you have quite the namesake.

Also, little baby Hank, you are very cute and squishable and that is for sure. 

Little baby Hank is going to grow up living on the same farm as his great grandpa Hank lived on and I'm sure his great grandpa Hank has been smiling down this whole day, prouder than punch of the little boy that shares his name.        

Congratulations Kevin, Candice, and big brother Brennan...Hank is lucky to be a part of your family!



Nothing like a little rain the day after the Sprinkler Man comes to turn on your underground sprinklers.  It's not my choice to have a Sprinkler Man as I'm sure I could figure it out, I guess it comes with the territory of where I now live.  Sprinkler Man put the geysers on a schedule because apparently that's how this whole watering the grass thing works.  Now, I grew up on a farm and there was no watering of the grass, it was called rain.  Rain = green grass.  No rain = brown grass.  It was simple.  It was nature.  

So the day after Sprinkler Man came to schedule my watering, it rained.  So the day after Sprinkler Man came, I woke up to my sprinklers going while it was raining.  Seemed a bit ironic to me.  You should know that my scheduled watering happens at 5 o'clock in the morning so I wasn't quite with-it enough to take pictures then, but here are the after effects of having scheduled watering along with the natural watering.  It's called too much watering.   

I am aware there is probably a way to shut down the automatic sprinklers while it is raining, but I do not know how to do this because I'm not what you call "citified."  I also do not know how to do this because I didn't think to ask Sprinkler Man that while he was here because I was too distracted after this conversation that occurred while I was standing in my kitchen...

SM -- "You live here?"

Me -- "Yes."  

SM -- "You live here."  {Not a question this time.  A statement.  A puzzled statement}

Me -- "Yes."  

SM -- "Really, you live here?"   

Me -- "Yeah, well you know, I married an old guy a few years ago and he bought this house and then he died and now I live here."  

SM -- Silence.

Me -- "I know, seems crazy huh?"

SM -- Silence.  Walks back into garage.

Me -- Stand in my kitchen for a few minutes chuckling at my evil ways.  Then, finally walk into garage.  "I'm just kidding, that didn't really happen.  It didn't happen at all.  Yes, I bought this house and yes, I live here."  

SM -- Laughing and shaking his head, "Good to know." 

So, Sprinkler Man and I shared a little laugh.  But, I couldn't help but wonder what made him feel like it was so odd that I lived in my house.  I did shower that day and I had just returned home from work  and I had just grabbed the mail from my mailbox so I feel I looked as if I could be the owner of my house.  

Speaking of mailboxes, it makes my slightly neurotic OCD heart very happy that the mailboxes in my neighborhood are all lined up nice and neat.  

Also, I've decided town grass is wussy grass.  It doesn't have anything on farm grass.  And, that's all I'm going to say about that.  


Nine Years Worth

High school graduation.  It was today for most schools in this area, including the high school I graduated from way back in 2001.  As I was sitting there listening to the speeches, I couldn't help but feel a little aged.  It really seems like just yesterday I was giving my graduation speech, but it was nine years ago.  Nine years?  Where did that go? 

In those nine years, lots has changed.  Take for instance, I do my own laundry now.  I feel like I've learned some pretty important things in those nine years and I know I'm not an expert on life by any means, but if I had to give advice to the high school graduates of 2010, here's what it would be...
  • really enjoy this summer because you are in a very fun in-between place
  • spend some time with your parents this summer because it's the last time your relationship will be the way it is right now
  • don't go to jail tonight...run fast, really fast if you have to
  • work only as much as you absolutely have to this summer because it's probably going to be the last time you don't have to work to pay the bills
  • on your first day of college, let your mom hug you in front of your new roomie
  • have a lot of crazy, wild fun your first year of college, but go to class because your grades do matter
  • don't go to jail your second night of college...especially don't get hand-cuffed to your best friend and then thrown in a cop car on your second night of college {purely hypothetically speaking here}
  • call your grandma
  • when your parents come to visit you at college, take them shopping and have them pay
  • when your parents come to visit you at college, take them out to eat with a load of your friends and have them pay...believe me, they want to
  • live in the dorms your freshmen year
  • enjoy living with a stranger, even if they are way different from you...in fact, you might learn a little something or see a different perspective
  • call your dad for money sometimes, not a lot, just sometimes; it lets him know you still need him
  • meet as many new people as you can...spread your wings
  • buy Easy-Mac at Sam's Club
  • do what you say you are going to do
  • call your mom just because sometimes, not always because you need something
  • don't wish away your college years, instead, cherish them
  • call your older brother when you need to be bailed out because he'll really enjoy doing that for you {again, purely hypothetically speaking here}
  • remember your little siblings at home and when you come home to visit, don't rush off right away to your friends, hang out with your family first
  • do your homework and do it well
  • make mistakes and realize you made a mistake when your mom says to you on the phone, "You dummy" 
  • learn from the "dummy" mistakes
  • know that the friends you make in college will always have a special place in your heart
  • make an impression
  • don't bring a college algebra book to a party...it will get spilled on
That's just a short list and again, I know I'm not an expert and still have a great deal to learn myself, but I do know that being dropped off at college is a huge step in your life.  It's also a huge step in your life to walk out to the dorm parking lot your first week of college and see your car windows smashed in and your dash cut apart with wires hanging everywhere and then have to deal with that mess without your parents.  When I called Mom crying from the parking lot that day she said to me, "Amy, I'm four hours away, what do you want me to do?  You have to deal with this."  And, you know what?  I did.  I did because college is all about growing up and figuring things out and making mistakes and being ridiculous and having crazy-fun and doing homework and being young and realizing that there is a great big world out there for your taking.  Now, Class of 2010, go and take it. 

Also, a special congratulations to the seniors I had the privilege of working with this year.  I'm glad I could take your photos and make your graduation announcements.  You were all awesome! 

-- Elizabeth

-- Ian

-- Michael {I didn't take the photos on this one...just made the announcement}

-- Good luck in your future endeavors!


End of an Era

Aren't things in life just better with a partner in crime?  Take for instance, summer camp way back when.  It was way more fun to go to summer camp with a partner in crime.  Also, take for instance, traveling.  It's way more fun to travel with a partner in crime.  There are many times in life when you need someone to...share inside jokes, laugh hysterically at or with, work with on projects, etc.  Basically, someone to be your partner in crime.  

Grad school was no different for me.  I had a PIC.  Her name is Karen.  She is crazy.  Together, we equal a kind of crazy that gets us into trouble.  We just have the same sense of humor and have been known to be a complete gong show when we should be a complete serious show.  Her husband, Chris, put up with a lot while we were doing this whole grad school thing.  I feel the need to say that right now.  I also feel the need to thank Chris, which is maybe a bit weird, but I do. 

It was actually Karen's idea to do grad school in the first place.  We taught together for a bit {which was so fun}, but then she moved to a different school.  She called me one day and said, "Hey, let's start grad school this summer.  It will only take us two years and then we'll be done."  I said, "No."  Then, she said, "C'mon, don't you just want to get it done with?"  I said, "No, I want to teach for another year first since I've only taught for two."  Then, she said, "Please, I need someone to do it with.  I need a grad school friend."  I said, "Maybe, what do I have to do?"  


It was at that point that the next two years of my life were checked off the social calendar.  

Anyways, Karen said, "You just have to fill out a form and then I'll drop it off and then you'll be in grad school and then we'll start classes this summer and then I'm sure it won't be that bad and then we'll be done."  I said, "Fine."  

Seriously, she drug me in kicking and screaming.  But, we started grad school that summer and our lives no longer had any free time.   Our free time consisted of, "What paper do we need to write now?"  "What are you doing for that project?"  "Can you believe we have class Friday night and Saturday morning?" "Hey, do you think maybe we should have a drink after class?"  {Sorry for the last one Chris, but sometimes it was necessary!}

So, slowly but surely we chugged through our two years of grad school.  There are actually some good things that came out of those two years: great friends were made, we lightened up professors with our ridiculous ways, and we became better teachers.  And, please, look at these hoods.  You can't get a better look than that. 

I can't honestly begin to explain the many, many times the PIC and I have laughed so hard we've cried.  If you have ever been around the both of us, you know.  If you haven't, you should really hang out with us.  Let's just say that one time a guy came up to us in Menards and said, "You two should really have a show or something.  I've been watching you for the last twenty minutes and it's very entertaining."  Ok, that might be a bit creepy, but what you need to know is in that twenty minutes we had been ridiculous and all we really needed was some potting soil.

Well, we are done with grad school now and "The Dream Team" will no longer have to go to class, write papers, and go crazy.  I think there will still be some trips to Menard's for potting soil, but that's a cake walk.

The hooding ceremony was on Friday and it's pretty serious business.  I ended up sitting front row right in the middle with the spotlight blaring on me.  Perfect.  I actually told myself in my head, "Now, this is serious.  No funny business."  So, when it was my turn to stand in the spot and have the three big cheeses stand around me with my hood, I was really, really willing myself to stay serious.  Then, Big Cheese #1 almost knocked my hat off which then got me flustered which then caused me to forget to shake hands with Big Cheese #1 and #3 after Big Cheese #2 {my department chair} hugged me which then caused me to say to Big Cheese #3 as I tried to cover forgetting the hand shakes, "What?  You need a hug too?"  Which then caused Big Cheese #3 to say, "No, I really don't."  Which then caused audience to laugh.  And, all I really wanted to do was just not be noticed.  Why oh why can not that not just ever work out?

Karen was also noticed, not because of hugs, but because of a cow bell.  A cow bell rung by her mother.  I guess we just can't escape it.
After the hooding ceremony, we went over to the walk across the big stage graduation.  Well, one of us walked, and one of us fell in a hole.  I won't mention who did which but I will say that instead of asking if someone was ok, Karen just laughed. 

On the way back for the party, we were visiting about how this was really good for Karen's girls to see.  They might not remember the actual day, but they will know that their mom did it and that they can do anything they set their minds to.   

Dad-o came to the hooding ceremony, but it was sunny and warm for the first time in a few weeks so he jetted off to get some seed in the ground.  I was glad he could come for the important part and I dare say he might have been a bit proud.  I don't have a picture with him; I'm thinking I should take my hood to the field and take a picture with him there...seems like a good photo op.  Mom stayed the course. 

I didn't take very many pictures at the party because I was too busy enjoying the fun.  Sil and the kids came to help me celebrate {Brother was playing in the dirt with Dad-o} so I did snap a couple of the kids.  I have to do that. 

Firecracker has been wearing her Halloween head band for a long while now.  She likes it.  She likes it a lot.  She's also very cute with her very cheesy smile. 

Easy Rider. 

Little Man giving a sleepy time wave and smirk with his JD hat.  How can a baby be so dang cute?!

Karen's daughter, Princess. 

Firecracker and Princess are great friends.  In fact, they came up to me and asked, "Ummm...when are we going to play together again?  And, next time, let's go swimming."  Ummm...ok sixteen year olds.  Nothing like a little sun with your picnic huh girls? 

Sister Pister also came to the party for a bit after she was done with school.  I have no proof of that, but she was there.  She couldn't stay too long because it was Friday night, but still, she came.  Thank you Sister Pister.

When Mom was going to leave for the night, for some reason it ended up being Karen, her mom, Mom, and I up in the front yard for a bit and we were all laughing hard.  I think it had something to do with both of our mom's raising such goofy daughters.  This picture is blurry, but it's funny.

In all seriousness though, both of The Moms are amazing women themselves and obviously encouraged Karen and I to never back down.  I know I appreciate how my mom pushed me to be independent and I'm sure Karen is thankful too. 

If you noticed that Momma Debi's hair is different in this picture than the one from earlier in the day, do not be alarmed.  She got a hair cut in between festivities; no funny business was involved.  And, I really like it.  But anyways, I digress...

Then, Karen and I decided that after all of these years of putting up with two head strong, say anything daughters, our moms deserved a picture together.  If you have a head strong, say anything daughter, I'm sure one of these two ladies could give you some advice.  I actually think while we were having this little photo session, both Moms were thinking, "I can't believe she turned out alright."  Maybe they never had any doubts...ahhh, who am I kidding!  I'm sure there were doubts.     

So, it's the end of my grad school era.  I'm glad it's over, but I can't say that it was all bad either.  I do know, I'm ready for a summer without class, that is for sure!  So, if you see me actually living the dream this summer, please do not be surprised. 



I received my Master's degree this weekend; the hooding ceremony was on Friday and I have a lot to say about that later {when I'm done running around like a chicken with its head cut off}. 

All I want to say right now is this... 

We are almost to the days of Kool-aid smiles, playing, and no school.  Almost. 

I. can't. wait.  Although, I'm going to try to avoid having a Kool-aid smile myself.  I just don't think that it has same cute look on me as it does on Easy Rider. 

Here's to almost the start of summer! 



Alright, so I'll start this by just saying I think I've always been a little "off the beaten path."  When I was learning to ride a bike without training wheels, I guess I did something a little funny.  Now, I don't personally remember this, but have been told by reliable sources it actually went down.  

I was four and was attempting that ever frustrating task of riding without the tw's.  It was spring on the farm, well, I suppose it was spring for the town too, but anyways, Dad-o was working in the yard getting ready for seeding and Mom was helping him.  I was trying and trying and trying to figure it out by myself {ever an independent}, but just couldn't get the hang of it.  Then, apparently, this is what came out of my mouth, as I was in the middle of our circle driveway standing over my bike, that was heard by Mom...

"Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord."    

I was staring down at my bike saying, "Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord" over and over again.  Now, I'm not sure if I was actually praying for help with the whole riding without the tw's or what was going on.  I do know that is a line that is said every Sunday in the liturgy of the Lutheran church and apparently it had really stuck with me because there I was, four years old, standing by my little cute bike with a basket saying, "Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord."  How Mom and Dad-o could keep a straight face when they came up to talk to me is beyond me.  Maybe they were used to my antics...well, they had to have been used to them by then.  

Turns out, Dad-o felt a little sorry for me standing in the middle of the yard praying to learn how to ride without the tw's.  He actually jumped on my little cute bike with a basket and rode it {this part I do remember because if you know my father at all, you know this would be quite the sight}, all the while telling me how it wasn't hard, you just had to pay attention.  Ummmm, excuse me Dad-o, had you met me?  Pay attention; that doesn't so much happen.  So, anyways, Dad-o did succeed with teaching me to ride without the tw's that day.  And, I don't even think I had to say "Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord" again.

This is me asking Dad-o to take my training wheels off...notice he's reaching for the trusty pliers with his right hand.  Also, please notice the dog, Tina, she was a little bit better than fabulous and I don't even like dogs.  Also, please notice that my and Dad-o's outfits scream 1987.   

And, here is the actual taking off the tw's.  Right before the "Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord" incident.  I'm hoping this will help you visualize just how funny it was to see Dad-o riding that little cute bike with a basket.    

I feel like with the hectic-ness of my life right now, I could stand over a number of things {thesis mainly} and send out a little "Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord."  Maybe I'll try that strategy this evening...      


Half Smile

I couldn't not take any pictures when I watched Little Man on Saturday.  It's just not in me to not break out the camera for at least a little bit.  He's into smiling now and was happy as a lark after he had a full tummy, so I figured I could get a smile out of him for a quick picture.  Yeah, turns out Little Man is stubborn {I can't imagine why...it's not like he comes from a long line of stubborn}.  As soon as I brought the camera out, he was all, "No way you crazy kook.  No way."  So then I was all, "Well, fine, I'll just take a picture of your half smile becuase it's still pretty dang cute." 

A half smile at its cutest. 

Of course, as soon as the camera was away, Little Man was all, "You are the funniest lady ever!"  He was full of the smiles.  What a good way to spend a Saturday, half smile and all. 


Momma Debi

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there that others call MOM.  I have just spent the whole last week with my mom and it made me appreciate and remember what I love so much about her. 

I love that she encouraged me to be bossy when I was little because she wanted me to be able to stand up for myself.  I love that she also encouraged me to talk and talk some more so my voice would always be heard.  I love that she showed me through her example that sometimes we just have to do what we have to do.  I love that she taught me that humor goes along way.  I love that some of her quick wit has been passed down to me.  I love that she showed me how to care for others.  I love that she let us make huge messes when we were little in the name of playing and using our imagination.  I love that she encouraged a no fear attitude by encompassing one herself.  I love that she has shown me the value of homemade.  I love that she has shown me how to be creative.   

I love that she loves me.  

Happy Mother's Day Momma Debi {which apparently is your new handle given by many of my friends who love your homemade bread and your sewing and your everything}...love you more than my toothpaste! 

While in Rochester, Mom and I went to a hole in the wall, family style restaurant which served their water in mason jars.  And, they had lace curtains.  Loved it.  And, nobody looked at me funny at all when I carried my mason jar over to the window and proceeded to take a picture of it.  Nobody at all.  

Here's hoping you can remember what you love about your own mom {and tell her} today and that maybe you can drink water out of a mason jar with her.


Live It

Home.  And, at this moment, I have a sleeping baby next to me.  Nothing better than that.  I'm watching Little Man this afternoon so Brother and Sil can work some cows.  Great Aunt Corinna Boc Boc has Firecracker and Easy Rider so I plan to just do some major baby smushing.  As soon as he wakes up that is, even I know you never wake a sleeping baby.  

So, life just returns to "normal" for awhile.  Mom and I were visiting on the way home and we talked about that now it's just to live life between the scans and treatments because really there's nothing anyone can do to change what happens in the in-between.  So, just live.  And, live well!  She is actually with Sister Pister at a rodeo right now.  We didn't think we would be back in time.  Sister Pister would have never, ever said a word about being sad or disappointed with that, but when Mom told her we would be back in time, I could hear Sister Pister yelling with excitement through the phone.  Sweet.    

The last morning in Rochester, I grabbed my camera and just ran around seeing what I could find.  I'll end this Mayo chapter with those shots.  

The buildings are all full of beautiful art...

This is the art that caused me to end up in a STAFF ONLY section.  The double doors that screamed that warning were wide open when I walked in so I just assumed it was not a special area.  Imagine my utter embarrassment when I start to notice everyone has an ID badge and they all look important.  When I walked out of those double doors they weren't open anymore and I noticed the HUGE sign that said STAFF ONLY.  Perfect.   

This gentleman plays the piano for people who are waiting because he thinks it helps ease some fear and anxiety.  He had with him an old, beaten up suitcase full of tattered sheet music and he just played and played.  When I asked him if I could take a picture, he said, "Sure, but I'm nothing special."  I beg to differ.   

I love these lights and the colors in the marble behind them.  

If we all lived, truly lived by this motto, imagine with me what that life would be like.  

When I grabbed the elevator to go find out if Mom was done with her last scan, I was feeling pretty good about things; we were going to be leaving shortly and I had just found beauty in many inconspicuous places.  Then, a young couple joined me in the elevator and they were very obviously devastated; both crying and clinging to each other.  I couldn't imagine what news they had just received but my heart hurt for them.  It was then I realized it's important to always remember that life is fragile.  Live it while you can.