Stories and Steven

When we were in college, my friend Danae and I watched American Idol religiously.  We lived in the same apartment so it was easy to plan.  Our other roommate did not partake in the fun.  She did not so much care.  But we sure did.  Seriously cared.  Voted and everything.  Carrie Underwood was our favorite ever.  Three days ago, Danae and I watched American Idol together once again.  Only this time, we first had to put her two littles to bed and her husband was watching with us. 

Oh how times change. What once used to be chips, salsa, and margaritas at the local Mexican restaurant before the show is now cut up bananas, sippy cups, and bed time stories by Amy.  Although, EJ actually read her book to me.  She's little Miss Sassafrass.     

Owen was content with me doing the reading.  He's more of a laid back kind of guy. 

After their individual stories, I read a few excerpts from their children's Bible.  I think I learned a few things from this.  Blake {the dad} says he's going to buy me a children's Bible for my birthday.

Definitely a different American Idol pre-game than the college days, but it's a kind of change that is a good thing.  Although, at one point earlier in the evening when I was in EJ's room playing babies with her, I yelled to Danae in the living room, "Hey, do you remember when we were going to live right next to each other and have deck parties and rich husbands?"  She replied, "Yes.  Yes I do.  Ummm, yeah...something went wrong there."

But neither one of us would trade our lives right now.  Our friendship is just different than those college days.  We talk about real issues and have real problems and she has more responsibility than I can dream of.  I have a hard time taking care of myself sometimes, I can't imagine having all of those eyes, ears, noses, and  fingers and toes under my care.

So every time we can get together to watch the good ol' American Idol, it's like taking a step back.  Back to the time when we had only classes, papers, and minor bills to worry about.  Back to the time when she and Blake were just dating; not married folk sitting next to each other in recliners.  Back to the time when I did not clean my floor everyday.  Wait.  I think I did that even back then.  Maybe back to the time when I used to think it was totally fine to go out four or five days a week.  There we go.  I don't do that anymore.  See, I have changed.  I have grown up. 

And I will say...some things never change.  We all still laughed a ridiculous amount.  Danae still voted.  Blake still shook his head at us.  I still said things that didn't quite make sense.  Ryan Seacrest is the still the host.    

BUT.  Let me tell you this.  Some things on American Idol have also changed for the bett-er.  Case in point.  Steven Tyler as a judge.  For some reason, I find him oddly attractive.  Danae and I both used to find Simon rawr worthy, but she does not share my Steven feelings.  I just can't imagine why.  He's got that something something.  It's more in his demeanor than his looks.   

Yes, please walk this way Steven. 

And one more time. 

American Idol with forever friends after playing with and reading stories to their littles?  I'd say that's a bonus points way to spend a Wednesday evening.


Easter on the Farm

FINALLY!  There are some signs of spring popping up and I'm so very thankful to have some sun on my face.  I get this feeling of wanting to just sit in the warmth and smell it.  Like put my nose in the air, close my eyes, and breathe in.  The changing of the season.  It's so good.  

Walking out of church on Easter morning, we were all greeted with a bright shining sun and blue skies for the first time in a long time.  Easter with a side of sun...it was the perfect combination.   

Although when you spend Easter afternoon on the farm, it also comes with a side of green and yellow.  Green, yellow, and blue skies.  Dad-o's idea of an ideal way to spend a holiday.

Well, actually he would probably like it best if he had toes in the sand with a side of drink, but it's go-time on the farm and he's more than ready because he likes things done yesterday.  So Easter afternoon became "installing cameras on one of the air seeders" family bonding time.

Everyone was more than willing to pitch in because it's over.the.time when the rubber should be hitting the road.  Or the rubber hitting the dirt is more like it.  Seeding a road might be awkward.    

After spending some time out by the shop, it became apparent to me that I come by my "everything must be lined up and labeled and in its place" issue naturally...maybe even genetically.  Dad-o was down in one of the tanks zip-tying wire to a pole {or it could have been cable...I really have no idea what  it was that he was doing...something to do with a camera in the tank} and I laughed after he climbed out of the hole.  The zip-ties were all lined up and all cut off at the same length.  And then I went into the shop and all of the tool boxes were labeled and organized...that is thanks to Cousin B.  He also was in charge of running the wire, or maybe it was cable, along the seeder.  It was done perfectly neat.  He loves order too!  Seeing these things makes me feel normal.    

And really, even though we are not blood related, don't even get me started on Cousin B's wife who tends to be my farm partner in crime.  She takes neatness and order to a level even I am not at.  It's serious.  Almost as serious as her mud boots. 

Style while working.  She's got it.  Hers was appropriate style.  Mine?  Not so much.  I did not get the memo that Easter = working in the shop so my only option was wearing my church clothes.  Good thing I wasn't really helping anyway.  Just standing around, taking pictures, and visiting.  Seeings as how the world is extremely muddy right now, I did feel it was important to borrow boot shoes from Momma Debi.  High heels would not have worked.   

Oh yes, it's spring on the farm.  There's mud everywhere, the machinery is out and raring to go, Daisy the dog thinks it has become warm enough that she must lay in the shade {she has a low tolerance for sun}, and the horses are enjoying stretching their legs to start the process of getting in shape to whittle those large winter hay bellies away.  Although, I think it might be the 4th of July before they completely lose their winter shaggy coats...way behind schedule.

Besides horse noses in the sun, another sure sign that summer is right around the corner is Momma D. baking homemade bread like nobody's business.  She's just getting herself prepared to have teenage boys around again.  They are bottomless pits.

Dad-o did let us all quit working in the late afternoon to head into town to spend some time with his side of the family for the rest of the day.  I love my Grandma Audrey.  I love her for her perfect script handwriting.  I love her for the little labels she puts on things.  I love her for making two pans of brownies because "I know some of you all don't like nuts."  I love her for always being perfectly coordinated with jewelry abound.  I love her for her quiet ways.  I love her for her. 

No Easter is complete without the littles dressed in their best.  I swooned over Firecracker's hat with her side swept ponytail.  The cute factor was out of this world.  Then I swooned again over two little boys wearing black suits, white shirts, and lime green ties.  The cowboy boots might have sent me over the edge.  Watching these three run around and belly laugh at the end of the day was like adding a bow to my Easter basket.    

I do believe spring has finally sprung!  And if you ever wonder where I am if you can't find me, I'm probably sitting outside with my nose in the air smelling the sun.   


Smile for the Little Things

Three things that made me smile...

Spending a few quiet moments with Sil at their house visiting between Easter festivities.  With my niece's pretty head on my lap and another pair of little boy feet dangling close by.  Both wanting their backs scratched.  All the while, knowing the littlest one is sleeping soundly in the other room.       

Hearing, "Amy, you have to have an egg!  You need to take the yion egg!" as hands reach up to mine followed with a dimpled smile that could melt anyone's heart.

Driving on a Sunday.  Anywhere.  Because the countdowns are playing on the radio.  Countdowns playing on the radio remind me of the 80s and the 80s remind me of a time of listening in the backseat not having a care in the world.  Add to that nostalgic feeling, driving to the farm to spend the afternoon with the rest of my family and it's a double win. 

Never mind the train in the background or the dusty dash.  Those do not actually make me smile.  But, I'm trying to learn to appreciate the bigger picture.  Not care about a minor detour here or a little mess there. 


All Around

I think of God as someone, a friend even, sitting right next to me.  Pushing me.  Challenging me.  Loving me.  Forgiving me.  Rejoicing with me.  Grieving with me.  Accepting me.  Right next to me.  All the time.  

And on this Easter Sunday, the sun was shining and the evidence of His gifts was apparent through fellowship and family and the blue sky and the water rushing and the green grass emerging...all around.  Right there.  Next to me.  


For the Love of Words

This week, the chicken wings, myself, and my practicum student from the college have been studying figurative language.  More specifically, my favorite kind of figurative language...IDIOMS.  I tell you what, they are the spark of writing and the spice of life.  

The chicken wings are coming up with idioms left and right and doing research on them at night and using them when they speak and writing them and all of this makes my heart very happy.  Because just like I try my darnedest to get those chicken wings to become real readers who read for personal connections, I also am a bleeding heart for having them become real writers who write for a purpose...that purpose being their reader.  All year long, I run around the room waving my hands and clutching my chest yelling, "Your writing needs to make your reader FEEL something!"  Otherwise, there is no point in writing.  The purpose is out the window as no one will read the words.  We are at the point in the year now, when the chicken wings talk about their writing with each other, I actually hear them say things like "I don't feel anything right now.  You need to use stronger words."  And at those times, I actually pause and have a moment.  My thesis was all about my philosophy towards my own writing and teaching writing.  Passion is necessary when you have to write upwards of two hundred pages!  

Anyways, idioms this week.     

Here are some of our favorite new ones we have discovered...

Chickens come home to roost. 
Means that your words and actions will come back to you full circle.  

A leopard can't change its spots.
Means you shouldn't change who you are. 

There's no need to make a storm in a tea cup.     
Don't make a federal case out of that. 
Both means that you are making a big deal out of something you don't need to.  

Trip the light fantastic.
Means that you are doing well...more specifically, we found it means you are being a good dancer.  

Don't throw a bird. {very similar to -Don't have a cow!} 
Means to settle yourself down. 

Now, I'm going to talk about a funny moment for a second.  Yesterday I was sitting on a desk popping out idioms to the chicken wings and explaining that some idioms become cliche' and we were all laughing and having a good ol' time.  Then one chicken wing yelled out, "You make up idioms all the time!!  Like when you say -it's time to come back to Earth- you don't actually mean that we are floating around, you just mean we need to get our self control back."  Then I said to him, "That's right.  Your teacher will one day be famous for making up idioms.   And they will not be cliche'.  Now, get yourself back to Earth please."  

A face full of swing.
Means having something take you back...throw you off your game so to speak.  A girl chicken wing made this up when she was telling a story about her weekend at the park.  I like it.  We use it.  Maybe one day she'll be famous.  

The diamond does not make you happy. 
Means money can't buy everything.   

All around Robin Hood's barn.
Means taking the long way to get there.  

Use your loaf.
Means use your head.  Think smart. 

He's just talking through his hat.
Means nonsense is coming out his mouth. 

Get down to brass tacks. 
Means to become serious about something. 

We've been watching fireworks on the 4th of July this week while being submerged in the land of IDIOMS.  I sure do love my job.  I sure do love figurative language.  Next up is personification; maybe we'll talk about the grid roads breathing for the first time during the spring thaw after being locked up all winter.  

A twirl and a foot stomp for that!   

If you are wondering what a grid road is, you probably are not spending your days with a Canadian like I am.  My practicum teacher from the college comes from the land of the maple leaf and she says that gravel roads are grid roads.  I told her I would be stealing that.  Grid road.  I like it. 

These pictures have nothing to do with idioms, they are about another love of mine.  Jewelry.  Momma Debi bought that little birdie necklace and tree bracelet for me last Saturday during the crazy busy day and I'm digging them.  I feel as if I have been wearing roots on my wrist and wings next to my heart this week.  

Symbolic about jewelry even?  Someone please help me. 


More Prom

Last night, as I was editing prom pictures, eating grapes, creating graduation announcements, and talking on the phone...I realized one of those things needed to be eliminated from the equation in order to be more productive.  

I quit eating grapes.  

I kid.  

I quit talking on the phone.  Talking while tweaking the placement of every last letter on an announcement is not the best use of time.  

I kept eating grapes and spent my whole night in front of the computer working with pictures.

Then suddenly, in the middle of editing a picture of Sister Pister and her prom date Mr. Basketball, I got the giggles.  Actually started laughing out loud in my office by myself.  Because I remembered the two little first graders who were the homecoming court's little prince and princess my senior year of high school.  And now I was looking at them as juniors in high school, essentially grown up.  It's crazy how fast time goes!  At least now they are okay with standing right next to each other.  

Turns out two goofy little first graders can grow up to be two put together teenagers.  But don't let that acting normal appearance from above fool you though.  They are still just as ridiculous.  And I feel like it's the epitome of small town school-ness that these pictures are even possible.  Have I mentioned before that I love small town school-ness? 

Now that I'm done with that little sidetracked moment...back to the beginning of the day.  A redneck start with snow on the ground still, a KFC in the background, boots, and a plaid shirt.  Yeeeee-haw!!

I don't believe in wearing appropriate footwear for the conditions; my feet are thinking it's warm.  They just are.

It's a yearly tradition for Momma Debi, Sister Pister, Miss Hair, and myself to have a fun time together during the prom up-do creating.  Usually it consists of Sister Pister and I doing some crazy little skit type thing with Momma Debi adding in her little one liners and shaking her head at the two daughters she has raised.  This year, I had that 9 mile run looming ahead of me which means my nervous talk talk talk talk talk habit added to the mix.  All the while that's going on, Miss Hair works her magic while wearing a fabulous scissor bracelet...I had jewelry envy.  Mmmmhhmmmm.  At the end of the whole shebang, Sister Pister never leaves the chair disappointed.

As I said before, I ended up doing her makeup at my house.  She was a bit scared.  I told my sister I had put on my "I can do anything with some direction" cape and to just close her eyes and tip her head up and it would be just fine.  

Now...insert the big run here.  Maybe sometime I'll figure out how to capture some of that ridiculousness on camera.

And...insert drinking chocolate milk and eating cottage cheese to get some protein in the body  while rushing around my house to grab my camera and gear.  No pictures of that either...that'd be weird.   

Back up to speed...my sister is never embarrassed of me.  How could she be when I come cruising up sweaty and smelly wearing rolled up jeans and a sweatshirt with my hair all a mess and then proceed to jump in the vehicle and squeeze my way into the backseat with her, the date, and the friends?  I mean really.  Me?  Embarrassing?  Not even when I yell to strangers and star-jack down the street does she get embarrassed.  And not even when I'm crouched on a ledge in a train station window pretending to act fierce does she get embarrassed.  That's love I tell you.  Now, her friends?  I think they might have been a tad uncomfortable when I asked a man at that train station to move three times because he was in the shot.  Three times.  I don't think that's excessive for a nice man who is just waiting for his train.  I said please and thank you and told him he got a gold star for the day.

Okay, so I might be embarrassing.

But I figure since they all get fun pictures of their prom experience that we can just call it a wash.  An even trade.

When in a train station...in prom dresses...why not read some magazines?

So, after looking through these pictures yet again, I have made the decision that you can totally tell these two are the youngest in their families and that they both have "older" siblings.  Well, Mr. Basketball's siblings are not quite as old as Brother and I, but they are still in their twenties.  Anyway, here's why I made that decision.  These two both have a funny way of simply being who they are and are completely comfortable acting a fool {or fierce}.  I think their ability to "let go" comes from knowing their "old" siblings somehow all managed to come out of adolescence and find their way in the world.  And aren't the babies of families always attention clowns who like a stage?  Add to that being the extreme babies and you have yourself this... 

When in North Dakota...in April...in the winter that will never end...a dress must be held up and a stocking hat must be worn and a vehicle must be filthy.  It's extremely classy 'round these parts.  

Now...insert me becoming less embarrassing by actually showering and putting lip gloss on.  No pictures.  That'd be real weird.

Once at the prom, Sister Pister bossed me around and I took pictures of whatever she told me to take pictures of.  The junior class is in charge of planning the whole prom and Sister Pister is president of her class so she had to be the lead on the banquet the night before, the decorations, the DJ, the announcer, etc...  And well, that's a whole lot of planning and organizing.  Which makes me think her free spirited ways must indeed have a little bit of order in them.  Which makes my overly ordered self proud.

I stood back and let her tell me what to do.  Big step.  Big step people.  Except I did tell Mr. Basketball that he had to have a picture with his parents.  I mean c'mon.  You have to have a picture with your parents.  Other than that moment of bossy, I was laid back.  Two fist pumps and a star-jack for that!  I might even throw in a twirl and foot stomp! 

I had flash malfunctions during the actual grand march; I attribute this to never really using my big flash.  Sister Pister and Mr. Basketball were first down the runway so I didn't know the malfunctions would happen.  Look how lit up they are!  Pretend I planned that.

I was sitting cross legged on the floor next to my fellow crazy picture taking friend who is the mom to the girl in the hot pink dress.  In the midst of me feverishly pushing buttons and yelling under my breath, she captured a few of them where they don't look like they are walking towards the bright light.  Thanks fellow crazy picture taking friend for these!      

I had the flash issues figured out when her daughter made the trip down the runway so sitting on the floor in the middle of the gym wasn't a total loss.  Fellow crazy picture taking friend...I'll email you these.   :)

It was a completely filled to the brim fun day and I'm glad I can be here to experience memories with my sister.  She is growing up to be a fantastic person who I love dearly.  Even though she drives me batty sometimes, she also has a way of showing me through her actions that it's alright to let go and let happen.  I get to show her how to make lists, organize a closet, how to be not afraid to say anything in public...and she shows me that life will go on whether I control it or not, sometimes it's okay to not have a plan, how to be more fearless.  That's a pretty good trade off.

I heart you Sister Pister!  Or as Momma Debi would say, I liver you.

I did leave after the grand march.  Really, I'm not that embarrassing.  Sister Pister was on her own for pictures once the prom actually started.  I hear they all had a fabulous time!  Prom.  It's in the books for another year.