Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Oehlschlager Daily News"

Sometimes, Matt answers our house telephone, “Hoberg Daily News! How may I help you?”
Most of the time, I roll my eyes and get on to the matter of why I am calling, but recently, Matt’s salutation has got me thinking. I’ve started to think about the newspaper and its significance in history.
Birthday season began last month and with it, like always, I am beginning to realize that everybody was right.
This time in my life when the kids are little DOES goes by in a blink of an eye.

Bring it on!

“You should’ve been a nurse,” my Aunt Mindy (the licensed nurse practitioner) told me after we corresponded back and forth about yet ANOTHER medical situation.
Yep, having some medical training would definitely come in handy with the group we have.
Every day is an adventure and it is even more of an adventure during cold and flu and strep throat season.
Every morning I wake up and I have absolutely NO clue what the days will hold.
Not a clue. Not an exaggeration.
A week or so ago, Rylan developed a fever and cold symptoms. That grew into a chest infection, ear infection and chicken pox (yes, he’s been vaccinated — twice!).
He seemed to be responding well to a new antibiotic (he, of course, is allergic to amoxicillin), until literally an hour after his second dose when he developed a scary, crazy looking and itchy rash up his neck and all over his face.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Showing the calves who’s boss

Poor Matt has such little help on the farm.
Yes, he has me, but I am sometimes (let’s face it, most of the time) more of a liability than a help.
Sometimes the little relief I can provide is worth the liability.
(We decided early on in this little farm venture that my having life insurance was a must!)
On the Sunday morning Matt was loading a set of calves to transport to the sale barn, he came to the all-too-familiar junction where his job would be much easier with another body to help.
That other body was me.
He called into the house, “I need you to come out here and help me load these calves.”
Me: “Really? I have to go to the restroom and I’m wearing flip flops!”
Matt: “It will just take a second — HURRY!”
I obeyed.

Life at Roosterville

I’ve decided Oehlschlager Farm is not an appropriate title anymore.
Matt and I are now the proud owners of Roosterville.
At least that’s what it feels like after our last chicken debacle.
It all started with (what I thought was) my best idea yet.
We were ordering our spring chickens when I thought it would be great to add some flavor (no pun intended) to our rather uniform flock.
We ordered the “Grab Bag” of hens, which promised to feature a mixture of several different varieties of hens. Sold!
“Why not order our broilers at the same time?” I cleverly thought to myself.
So, I purchased another special — the “Pan Fry.” Later I learned this means a variety of birds that aren’t cross-bred for extra fast gaining, but a slower-growing meat bird.
They were all to arrive in the same shipment — all 50 teeny, tiny little tweeting creatures in one little box.
(At this point, I am still VERY excited. Ignorance truly is bliss.)
When we cracked open the box and I first saw the birds, I began to realize my mistake.
Since these were a mixture of varieties, it was nearly impossible to tell which were the hens and which were the meat birds.
They all looked different.
So I separated them the best I could and immediately got on the phone to the professionals who told me “There is really no way of telling them apart until they are older.”
But we kept trucking along. What could we do about it now?
Then one Monday (about dinner time, of course), I noticed something was wrong.
Something was VERY wrong. Half of our birds had this giant mass on their back ends. It was huge, nearly as big as their bodies.
Our “chicken professionals” were closed, I couldn’t immediately find answers online. Matt was too busy at work to help.
It was all up to me. The lives of these birds were in my hands.
“I can do this,” I reassured myself.
So, I confidently (yeah right) headed out to study the situation. Soon I realized the poor chicks were constipated on the outside.
The heat lamps had escalated “the situation” into a rock-hard, tumor-like mass.
VERY disturbing for us chicken amateurs.
I soaked them in this, I soaked them in that. Nothing was working. “It” was literally super-glued on them — tail feathers and all.
It was rapidly turning into a serious situation. Chicks go to the bathroom like every four seconds (or more) and with nowhere to go, I imagined they were at death’s door.
There was only one way left to save them.
I pulled out our hair trimmers off the shelf, grabbed a bird and flipped the on switch. I nearly cried with the poor creature while I attempted to shave “it” loose.
Thankfully Matt walked in from work.
“What in the world,” he screamed. “This is ridiculous!”
(At this point I’m crying hysterically trying to explain the seriousness of the situation and how, I feared, their was no hope.)
Frustrated (and thoroughly annoyed), he picked up a chick, grabbed hold of “it” and yanked it off.
He then set the bird free, minus all its tail feathers, as I watched in amazement.
The next day our birds were back to normal (well, as much normal as is possible here).
And the week came when we had to decide which birds were going to “go.” (At this point they all looked the same.)
So, we chose. We guessed. And hoped for the best.
Now, four weeks later, our “broilers” are resting comfortably in freezer bags and I have started to see some curious changes in our so-called “hens.”
It looks like we did an excellent job of categorizing our “Pan Fry” birds and the “Grab Bag.”
Unfortunately, it looks like we butchered the wrong group.
Can you say Roosterville?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Have you noticed that nobody waves anymore?
Well, not nobody, but most do not wave.
Sure people wave at those they really know, but just the good ole raise of the paw to a stranger is very uncommon in these times we live in.
Matt is a waver. I am not.
It’s not that I’m not friendly, it’s just that when I’m driving there is typically a “crisis” of some sort in the back and I am intent on staying on the road and not crashing.
But this is really no excuse. There are plenty of times I’m alone or the kids are behaving and I don’t wave because I just don’t wave.
We, as a society, are so busy. We are so connected, yet so secluded.
It’s very sad, actually.
We don’t have time for community. For shooting the breeze. For worrying about other people’s needs over our own. (I’m talking about myself more than anybody else in particular.)
Back in the day when life was slower (which I’ve seen only on T.V.), people visited each other’s houses, sat on the porch while the kids played in the yard.
The women stayed home so there was more time for friendships. People weren’t off here or there every single day like our lives are today.
I’m envious.
I hate the hustle bustle. Life is fast enough without the added nonsense. All the fill in the blank we pile onto our schedules takes away from the real fragrance, the essence of what makes a satisfying life.
I read an article about an elderly woman who really had no reason to be happy and content. Blind. Old. Moving into a nursing home. Yet she was pleasant and gentle. Satisfied.
How in this world we live in is there such a thing?
It seems so unattainable.
But she had it. She couldn’t see, but she had it. She was close to death’s door, but she had it.
Her secret was a choice. She chose to — despite her circumstances — get up each day and be content. To accept each moment, whether it was good, bad, boring, exciting.
She filled her “memory bank” with those contented memories and now, although she can’t see and is moving to a place most people dread, she is satisfied. She can make daily or hourly or minute-to-minute withdrawals from the “bank” of her youth, which she intentionally filled with memories.
Stopped me dead in my tracks.
Sounds like something I need to do. Something else I have to do.
But I’m too busy to do this.
Two kids have ear infections and are on different dosages of antibiotics. School is starting and there are school supplies to label, doctor check ups. Clean the house. Make dinner. Oh, I have a headache. The daily grind.
Nope, I am too busy.
Can I afford to be lost in the busyness. No.
I can’t afford to be carried away by the speed of this society.
I am going to stop.
This moment only.
Typing the words makes my pulse slow. Makes my ears more attuned. My eyes can see life. My vivid life. What I don’t want to miss. What I can’t afford to miss.
Because one day I will (God willing) be that old woman.
Someone will be dropping me off there at a nursing home and I will be alone.
If I’m too busy to enjoy and accept and choose to be content in my life now, how can I expect to be happy or content or satisfied then?
I have decided I am not going to put off living, breathing in and depositing the precious and sustaining memories of now.
Masen is nearly the age Kadence was when he was born.
It was only a blink ago.
My brother will celebrate his 18th birthday this week. It seems like only yesterday he was a toddler.
Didn’t I just graduate high school? Nope, my 10-year class reunion is this year.
Right now.
This life stage.
Breathe in.
Choose to accept.
Choose to be satisfied.
Take the time to wave.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I’m sure you’ve heard about those kid-lovin’ folks down in Arkansas, the Duggars.
If you haven’t, they are a family with 19 kids “and counting,” with very conservative values, a hit reality television show and two books.
I love love love the Duggars.
Everything about them is totally opposite of our culture’s definition of normal and I am so attracted to their way of life.
A mentor of mine told me the reason I’m drawn to them is because they are a light in this dark world. A breath of fresh air. Gentle, kind, peaceful, loving, forgiving, graceful. Seriously, these folks are living right.
I know I don’t KNOW them and I KNOW they aren’t perfect (they know that, too), but in this day and age, I truly believe God is using them as an example —truly a one-of-a-kind example of how He wants us to live.
Every aspect of the Duggars life has been based on Scripture.
We are supposed to relinquish control in all areas of our life to God. He controls all. We can’t pick and choose. It’s easy to believe we have control (vasectomy, etc.), but God has the ultimate say in whether or not a child is brought into this world. That is why the Duggars believe it is God’s will how many children they have.
They believe children are a gift from God. And that’s biblical.
And I find it very ironic that it is “PC” to offer a woman the “right to choose” as long as that choice doesn’t more than a typical number of children (China).
The Duggars also live debt-free (including the 7,000 square foot home they built together as a family project). They homeschool, wear modest clothing, have family focused pastimes, have daily family Bible times and watch very little television.
It’s easy to glance at the cover of this family’s book and immediately cast judgment.
What an irresponsible use of limited earthly resources!
How can they possibly give each child the attention he or she needs?
They are fake. Nobody can be THAT happy.
But I truly believe they ARE that happy.
And my answer to all the other questions people pose about their impact on the earth and the health of their children: Isn’t God in control of all that too?
Doesn’t He know what He’s doing?
From what I can see (and from the fruit of their works) their children are growing into happy, well-adjusted contributing members of society.
Two of their children own their own businesses.
Three of them are trained to be first-responders and volunteer on their area fire department. (When they got word of the deadly Joplin tornado, they immediately loaded up and lended a hand.)
While Matt and I both believe the Duggars are living right, we don’t live exactly like them. I don’t know about Matt, but I am afraid. (Isn’t that pathetic?)
I don’t know if I could take the ridicule that people would give me (even though that scorn is also biblical).
The Duggars take all the critiscm in stride and show love toward those that hate them.
Despite all the mockers and doubters, this family continues to rise above.
And they give all the glory to God. I am thankful for them.
Check the family out for yourself at


We never go to the movies.
An even more acurate statement might be that we, as a family of six, have never been to the movies.
You can imagine the reasons why.
All logical paths to the conclusion that the movies are just not in the cards for us.
It’s better just to stay home and contain the madness. Save the money.
It all made sense until a couple weeks ago I read that an area drive-in would be premiering Cars 2. Since the first Cars movie is an all-time Oehlschlager favorite, my mind began to churn.
“Maybe it would be fun if we ALL went to the drive-in!
Surely we could handle all the kids. It will be dark. They will sleep. The weather is going to be great...”
So, I convinced Matt that this a great idea. The kids needed no convincing. They were stoked! To say the least.
I popped popcorn to fill a giant paper grocery sack (just like Mom said Grandma Rosie used to do), and I stacked blankets and pillows higher than we could carry in one trip.
The excitement pulsed in the air. Smiles across the board.
The seemingly multiple-mile long line to get into the drive-in did nothing but boil the waters of excitement.
We eventually parked into the very back row. All the way in the corner. Movie screen barely visible.
At least an hour before showtime.
Soon the popcorn ran out.
The drinks were drained and turned into trips to the bathroom.
The bedtime hour arrived and the children’s patience left.
No one was happy with their “cozy spot.”
She’s touching me!
I’m hungry!
I have to go the bathroom!
I can’t find my shoe!
My wishful memory making trip was having a head-on collision with the reality of taking four young children to a crowded drive-in with little to no escape.
Mae (our 3 year old who is not capable of whispering), who also goes into super-sonic hyperactive drive when tired, transformed into a bundle of uncontrollable energy.
The movie began a little while after 9 p.m.
This didn’t stop Mae, who did everything EXCEPT watch the feature film.
He talked to our “neighbors,” “mowed the grass” and “pulled up thistles.”
And, true to form, he snuck in a few bathroom breaks. NOT where they were intended. Thankfully, the dark saved us.
Meanwhile, the other three had semi-settled down and we eventually quieted the fourth with about a half hour left in the show.
Not even 20 seconds later snores sang out from the Suburban, and Matt and I enjoyed the final moments of the movie in peace.
Don’t ask me how the movie was, because I honestly can’t say.
I did more chasing, refereeing and threatening than I did watching.
And despite the fact that the drive-in was (compared to my fantasy trip) less than perfect, my kids had a great time.
That’s all they could talk about the next day.
Then it hit me. My perspective was too tall. Too adult. Too much to ask of them.
Their lives have only been spent together. They know nothing else.
Quiet. Peace. No disagreements. Those are all foreign.
All of the “reasons” that made this trip less than my ideal are attributes to their age and factor into our daily life.
How could I expect that that would change because we paid $20 to sit in the back of a field surrounded by strangers?
When I look at the evening that way, we couldn’t have had a better time.
Memories were made. We smiled, we laughed, some cried.
But most importantly, we survived!

Broken arm

I will never again complain about not having a topic to chat about in my upcoming columns.
Because last Tuesday, only a few hours after I told Charlie I had nothing to write about, a column fell into my lap.
Well, it actually fell out of my son’s bed and landed us in the emergency room for a few hours.
Thankfully, we finished up the Back-to-School edition early, which NEVER happens, and my house was clean and the laundry folded and put away.
I was so ahead last Tuesday night, I indulged myself and stayed up way too late doing nothing worth the lack of sleep.
As soon as I forced my lamp off, I heard a thud upstairs. Not an alarming sound at my house.
After moseying upstairs to investigate, I found Rylan disoriented and crying in the girls’ room. Didn’t really seem out of the ordinary, so I put him back to bed and tried to soothe his crying.
You parents out there know sometimes when kids wake up when they are extra tired, they just cry, at least mine sometimes do.
I headed back downstairs to finish out the few hours of sleep left in the night.
But Rylan just wouldn’t stop crying. Then it turned to more of a wail. (This did not go on very long. We aren’t THAT mean.)
Matt decided to see what was happening and brought Rylan downstairs so we could calm him down.
At this point, it was obvious something was wrong.
He wouldn’t move his right arm and it was just laying on our bed like a limp noodle.
Pause for some background: I have a tendency to pass out at inconvenient times like medical emergencies. Just the talk alone of medical stuff can make me teeter on the brink of consciousness. Another note: this REALLY annoys Matt.
And, of course, with the broken arm chatter, I began to feel the fade.
I told Matt I was going down.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
By this age, I am an old passer-outer pro and I knew exactly how to handle it.
I slid off the bed and laid on the floor. A few seconds later I felt up to crawling to the phone and called my parents for back up.
Yes, you can laugh. Matt makes merciless fun of me (after the fact).
After I made contact with my folks and faded in and out of consciousness for a few more minutes, I crawled to the kitchen for something to snap me back into reality.
In no time, we were off to the E.R., where we found out Rylan had a “Greenstick break” in his forearm. They casted him up and we were on our way home in record time.
I couldn’t believe how well he did. Once he woke up and the ibuprofen kicked in, he was chatting it up and was in a pretty good mood.
Life around the farm has been pretty interesting since the broken arm.
Rylan has had to teach himself how to play the Wii, eat (yes, in that order), bathe and all the rest.
We go Thursday for his permanent (six-week) cast and he is going to pick Mt’neer green (if he can choose) because football season will be under way soon and he wants to represent.
Poor Rylan. It seems he is going to be “that” child in our family.
He has rode in an ambulance, been hospitalized, had staples, has had an allergic reaction to antibiotics, will soon have braces and now has the family’s first broken bone.
Even though he will start kindergarten in a cast and his summer swimming days have ended early, he is in pretty good spirits about it all.
After all, like he told his nurses, he is “as tough as a snake.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A mobile side show

A mobile side show.That’s how I most frequently describe our family outings nowadays.
I have never been more embarrassed, more out-of-control, more amused than I have ever been during some of our most recent adventures.
There’s been talking to strangers, puking, crying/whining, peeing, escapees, laughter, loud talking and more puking.
Typically, when we go “out” on an errand, Matt will go in, and I will be referee of the car. Since we aren’t that cruel, we leave the windows down.
I don’t really talk to strangers that are walking by. I’m not a snot; I just don’t. My kids do. ANYBODY that walks within a one-mile radius of the Suburban is a victim (much to my horror).
They will say “hi” over and over again until the stranger will submit and come over to the window. Then, they will tell them random things (this is the most embarrassing part).
Since my children don’t know these people, their way to make conversation is to say things like: “You’ve got a big nose. Look at his nose, Mom.” Or other personal quesions like: “Who are you? What are you doing?” and on and on.
Most of the time, the strangers (thankfully) acknowledge them and then leave, but sometimes they stay and stay and stay and I want to (die die die).
Rylan (my trusty carsick child) got a little sickly on the way to Monett. Our plan didn’t change: rush to Burger King and then scarf the grease and ketchup in the ballfield parking lot before rushing to the game.
We ignored his moans and cries (I know, we are mean) besides giving him my stashed gallon Ziploc (which I keep for this EXACT situation).
The parking lot was full as we wedged our giant wagonful of fun into a space with people on both sides in their cars also eating dinner. Matt rolled down the windows just as Rylan gave way to the sickness.
Our neighbors paused from their meal to watch in horror. But it didn’t seem to faze my family. As soon as the engine was off, kids in the way back began hollering for ranch for their fries and others wanted their nuggets.
I kept passing back food and drinks while Rylan “finished.” I know the unfortunate couple next to us watched the entire show. Yep, mobile side show.
But, we survived. Rylan eventually ate, and then the show moved to the ballfield, where Masen conveniently (to him) relieved himself behind first base. Great.
Not even a week later, five of the six of us had dentist appointments in Aurora. And I had not replenished my Ziploc stash. And Rylan started to show the signs that he really needed one.
I looked at Matt helplessly.
“You’ve got to empty your purse.”
“NO! Really?” I begged.
“It’s either your purse or the car.”
So, I reluctantly emptied my bag (a more appropriate description of my giant “purse”) and held it as the devoted mother that I am while my 5-year-old blew that morning’s two glasses of milk and donuts into it. Lovely.
Felt like we were making a drug drop or something as we did a drive-by ditching into a trash can at an Aurora gas station.
The dentist’s office was very accommodating and gave Rylan time to re-brush his teeth and gave me a trash bag for my belongings.
Just another day.
As the children grow and are more obligated, our family side show is bound to change. Bound to travel more. The only thing I have come to expect is to expect the unexpected. That’s the only constant.
Oh, and to expect to be embarrassed. Again and again.

For posterity

For posterity’s sake, here’s an update on the current happenings of the Oehlschlager kids.
Seven-year-old Kadence, the eldest of our clan, is finishing up her first grade year of elementary school.
I have been shocked by the changes in our tallest baby. Besides all the lovely attitudes and the like she has been exposed to at public school, she is now (horror of horrors) learning to spell!
Those teachers have inadvertently ruined one of our greatest parental conveniences: “parent code” (when parents spell words so the kids don’t understand what they’re talking about).
Kadence has caught us off guard on more than one occasion by not only breaking our code, but by then announcing said secret to the three non-spellers.
Kadence also has become a leaver of notes. One day, Matt intervened in an altercation between Kadence and Bella. Justice sided with Bella, and Kadence escaped to cry it out in her room.
Not five minutes later, a crayon-covered Post-it note floated down the stairwell.
“Dear dad,
You are mean.
Love, Kadence”
Second-oldest Rylan, who is now 5, is nearing the end of his preschool year.
His days off are spent building Lego creations. He even built a carwash after I took him with me to wash the Suburban one day.
One day Bubby (Ry’s nickname) thought it would make sense to use blinkers when you are walking around like adults do when driving. He blinks (winks) to let us know which way he plans to “turn.”
His most recent achievement is learning to ride his bicycle without training wheels.
Bella Rose, 4, is the diva of the family. She is constantly performing, which you would never guess because she is also our shyest — by far!
I turn on the radio, and she sings and performs for literally hours. But as soon as she catches you watching, the show is over.
She is also VERY particular about her clothing. I was ordering shoes online for the kids the other day and she looked for a long time before finding just the right pair.
Bella is excited to start preschool next fall.
Three-year-old Masen, the fourth and final, is also the liveliest firecracker we have.
If it were socially acceptable to have children on leashes, Masen would definitely be a candidate. When he decides he wants to be somewhere, I can barely catch up with him. The boy can run!
He is very animated in his speech and cares very much about his few interests: lawn mowers and tractors.
Masen is also the toughest small person in our clan. It seems in any physical altercation (of which there are a lot of around here), Mae Mae comes out on top.
The only constant thing around here is activity. Life is in constant motion. With all six of our very strong personalities swirling around, the mood changes quickly from quiet playing to laughter to fists and tears.
Literally the only quiet moments are bedtime and naptime.
Thank goodness warmer days are near. Every day is better with a little fresh air.

Farm, sweet home

When Matt and I moved to downtown Hoberg in spring 2004, a house on the way caught my eye.
“I want to live there some day,” I prophetically told Matt.
But inside my head, the statement equated to nothing more than a dream.
The place was not fancy. It was old. Very old, in fact. And it needed lots of work and updating. But it had my two musts: lilac bushes and a porch swing.
Since the land we were renting was neighbor to my “dream place,” Matt eventually became friends with its owners, Kenneth and Faye.
He was a World War II veteran and the couple had raised their four kids (coincidentally two boys and two girls) on the farm.
We became fast friends with the couple, and Matt spent many hours soaking in the wisdom of the gentle veteran.
When Faye’s health began to fade, Kenneth devoted himself to her care, and after her death, he gave us the surprise of our lives.
“Matt, you can have my place,” Kenneth said.
A chance of a lifetime.
Over the next few months, Matt and I devoted hours and hours to making that chance into our reality.
We had nothing worth anything (at least from a banker’s perspective). I was pregnant with our third child. The chance for success was bleak.
But circumstances cannot stand in the way of fate.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, all the pieces began falling into place and we signed the mortgage papers seven days before Bella Rose was born.
Another child and three years later, it still baffles me that we actually live here.
Despite all the problems associated with owning an old home, it’s heaven on earth for me. I love it here.
It is so easy to feel close to God on a farm. Step outside. Take a deep breath. Gaze into the blue skies. Feel the cool breeze on your face. Get swallowed up in the vastness.
Our farm is the perfect distance from town. Far enough away Matt is comfortable and close enough for me to feel “connected.”
We have a big garden and lots of space for the kids (and the chickens and cows and dogs and cats and ducks) to roam.
I love the summer evenings on the porch swing shucking peas.
Large cups of cut lilacs scenting the wind blowing through the old windows.
Clothes flapping dry on the line.
Washing the kids off in the spigot after they played for hours in a mud hole by the well house.
The sound of calves weaning in the pen outside our bedroom window. (Not really a love of mine, but a reality I have to accept.)
Picking blackberries and apples straight from our backyard with the kids.
Watching Matt shoo cows out of our hay lot.
The sounds of the kids running (some sliding) down the stairs in the morning.
When we are here, it feels like home. I know walls don’t make a home. People do. Love does.
It all boils down to memories. Our history we are making today.
Life on this farm has given our children opportunities to see and feel and experience life.
And there’s not much more I could ask for in a house. In a home.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The no-eating-out challenge results

A few columns ago, I challenged myself not to eat out for 30 days.
This is the follow-up to that writing.
I wish I had a glowing report to give you. I wish the four-week challenge flew by without as much as an inkling of desire for greasy fast-food.
But I can’t give such a report. What I can say is that for the first 2-1/2 weeks or so, I followed my challenge rules to a T.
Let me tell you, I had literal withdrawals from the lack of fast-food in my diet. Because I had taken away the option, it was all I thought about. That first week was torture!
True to form, I let my mouth get ahead of me and committed our family to this challenge without really giving Matt much time to think about it. Matt did participate, but his terms were MUCH different from mine. His rules seemed to go something like this: If Ginia’s not involved, all types of food are fair game.
Very soon into the challenge, I realized the rule differences. Matt had gone to the bank that first Saturday morning, and when he returned, I noticed a very suspicious blob of white gravy-like substance on the corner of his mouth.
Like the wanna-be prosecutor I am, I interrogated my poor witness.
He confessed. Biscuits and gravy. I was nearly sick with jealousy.
But the challenge continued.
The next week, I was starting to feel better. And by the end of the second week, the cravings were pretty much gone. My pants were more loose (really, they were!) ,and I felt better. Empowered.
“This is a piece of cake,” I told myself.
Then a long afternoon of working ran over into dinner time.
Matt wanted to know what to feed the kids (these little people ALWAYS have to eat).
The old, familiar fast-food chant began inside my head.
“Just this one time. It will be so much easier.”
But Matt kept me strong and fed the kids something fast (but at home) while I continued to peck away at the keyboard. When I was finally finished, my nerves were shot, along with my resolve, and I talked my conscience into allowing Matt to buy me some takeout.
I didn’t really want to eat the food inside that brown paper sack. But, on the other hand, it smelled REALLY good!
So I ate it. And liked it.
The next day, my gut was not right (caused I’m sure in part by my moral betrayal of you all).
I wish I could tell you that knocked some sense back into me. It did for a little while. But the last week of my challenge was one of utter devastation.
I relapsed. Hard.
Then came the shame. “Man, I’m such a failure,” was my internal dialogue.
“I can never change.”
Not far into one of my personal abuse sessions, a notion came into my head.
“You’ll never be as perfect as you want to be.”
“So get over it,” I told myself. “Move on.”
I did.
This challenge has taught me that at 28, it’s high time I start giving myself a little break when I fail.
After all, nobody is perfect.

Into everyone's life...

My Grandma Rosie used to say (and Mom continues to say): “Into each life a little rain must fall.”
More accurate words have seldom been spoken. To make this popular quotation even more descriptive of my life, it should be compounded with: “And when it rains, it pours.”
That is how I have been feeling lately. Bombarded. Rushed. Running. Drowning. It hasn’t really been raining on my life, but there have definitely been some winds, maybe even a tornado.
It’s not that anything major or life-changing has happened. Life has just gotten very fast.
I don’t like it. Every day I walk around in what seems to be “fast-forward” mode. At night, I catch myself wondering where in the world that whole day went.
It all shifted into high gear the afternoon I hit one of our dogs with the Suburban (not on purpose, of course). He didn’t die. But, like all the dramatic animals on our farm, he broke his leg in two places.
A few hours with the vet later, Wall-E was condemned to be a back-porch resident (for at least the next five to six weeks). Fabulous. But how could I really complain? It was MY fault the animal was injured.
And this winter has been especially rough on our family’s health. It seems that rarely a week goes by without some sort of illness. We’ve had numerous doctor visits, pharmacy stops and an urgent care and emergency room visit.
So what do I decide to do when everybody is healthy (for the moment)? Rest? No! I rip out 15 million-year-old, pee-soaked carpet from the boys’ room — on one of Matt’s 22-hour work days. Very smart.
And then we decided (like we don’t have anything else to do), to order 50 chicks! Sounds like fun. And I was fairly excited about the new additions until Wall-E had to have exploratory surgery last week and have a foot of his intestines removed and several days in the “hospital.”
He came home last Friday, cast and staples and all. Then Matt was sick. And, of course, our chickies (all 54 of them) arrived Thursday bright and early.
But nobody can hear me screaming over the dog barking at the chicks (who are chirping — loudly), the cat hissing at the dog, the kids handling and “loving” the fragile baby birds, Matt yelling at the kids to put the chicks down, the phone ringing, the oven timer going off ... Supper time!
It may not be raining here, but there are definitely some exciting (and gusty) winds a-blowing.
And after relaying to you all the reasons why life is so hectic, I can see (literally in black and white) that it’s mostly my own doing.
Please, God, save me from myself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Record's 7,000th issue!

(This column ran in the Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, edition of the Lawrence County Record — it's 7,000th issue!)
I am honored to be a part of this week’s paper. Not only because of this issue’s significance, but also because it gives me an excuse to explain the business and what it means to me.
Even before I was born, this newspaper — this 7,000-issue-old periodical — played an integral role in my future.
It is as much a part of me as the color of my hair or the way I walk or talk. Yes, it is that important.
See, both my parents were newspaper writers as teens. My dad, an Aurora High School graduate, wrote for the Aurora Advertiser and my mom, a Mt. Vernon High School graduate, for The Record.
The newspaper is how they met. And not face-to-face. But over the telephone.
Small-town community newspapers communicate a lot for various reasons and that is how my mom met the “fast-talking” writer from Aurora.
A courtship began. And the rest is newspaper history.
My parents’ lives literally revolve around the production of this paper.
No matter the circumstance, they are still working away — day and night — to get the news out.
Last week’s snowacolypse was no different. They worked through the night to get the paper done early in an attempt to beat the storm. No luck. But, thanks to the Internet, the paper went out on time in cyber space, actually a little early.
During the 2007 ice storm, The Record crew had to relocate to put the paper together.
My dad calls it his dairy farm because no matter what, it has to be tended to.
The life was instilled in me from early on.
Mondays and Tuesdays are/were always hectic. Wednesdays were recoup kind of days, and Thursdays and Fridays were spent in preparation for the next week.
I remember sleeping in the back seat of my parents’ van one night when Mom was out of town while my dad covered a horrible house fire.
There were trips to a fast-food restaurant during a break while running the newspaper route.
Sliding down the person-tall rolls of newsprint.
Looking up to (and bothering) the other newspaper employees, who became (and still are) more like family than anything else.
My family moved to different homes around town, but the office was always the same.
That’s A LOT of news. That’s a lot of work. That’s a heavy heritage. Hard to really wrap your mind around.
I’ve been around for approximately 1,456 issues and counting.
The magnitude of the history of this newspaper makes me feel both comforted and overwhelmed at the same time.
Since its founding way back in 1876, countless hours have been invested to relay information to this county’s citizenry.
In my opinion, this newspaper is one of the things that makes this community unique and it helps to keep alive the spirit of what small-town America is all about.
Here’s to another 7,000!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A day in the life: puke & possum

WARNING: If you are getting ready to eat, wait. If you are a community puker, be prepared because this is all about PUKE!
As soon as they give birth to their first children, most moms are baptized into the religion of bodily fluids, smells and other gross things humans do.
This isn’t a personal choice. It’s not something anybody wants or enjoys. It’s just a fact of life. A fact moms cannot avoid.
We moms spend the next 18 years of a child’s life learning to cope with these unpleasant things the little (and then bigger) creatures do.
One thing I’ve come to accept as a mom of four children is that my “new” role means I’m gonna clean up A LOT of puke!
Gone are the days when I can use the excuse, “Sorry, I’m a community puker.”
All kids want is Mom when they are sick. And when one is sick at my house, more times than not, everybody gets sick.
So, I’ve had to learn a few tricks to stay afloat when the puke flood hits the farm.
First off (and possibly the most important tip), I rarely (if ever) breathe through my nose — sickness or not. To me, it’s just a common sense part of motherhood and is absolutely essential if you want to make it out of a pukefest alive (or at least with your lunch).
When the first short person erupts, I go into survival mode. I make sure I keep all the laundry and dishes cleaned up. Lysol cans are strategically placed. Puke buckets (each puker gets his or her own) and bleach are lined up ready to go into battle. Gatorade and saltines stocked.
Bring on the sickness! Mom is ready (or not).
During one bout with the pukes, Matt had one kid in the bathroom getting sick. I had the other three sitting on the bottom of the stairs (waiting for the bathroom) passing the bucket among them. The flu is a good time to practice sharing!
Life with four kids sure can be fun. Especially during sickness.
Each child of mine has a very distinct personality. How they get sick is no different.
Kadence (the tallest) reminds me of a scene from “The Exorcist.” There’s screaming and flailing and a giant mess.
Rylan (the second tallest) is my best puker — by FAR. Just send him upstairs with a bucket and he’ll re-emerge periodically for a fresh one.
Bella and Masen (my babies) are both pretty easy-going when it comes to sickness. The first time Mae Mae had the flu, he puked all night. Never woke up once.
Bella doesn’t seem to mind getting sick, and she gives plenty of warning.
One thing I had never experienced was having the stomach flu, taking care of another sick child and then being in charge of three healthy other young children all at the same time.
I can say with absolute certainty, there’s not much worse.
This was the exact situation I found myself in a few Mondays ago. I took up residence on the couch while the other three (one was sick with me) ran wild. I only got up to clean up the other child’s sickness, and by the end of the day, the house looked like it.
One of my trips to clean out a bucket at the outside spigot brought me too close for comfort with an opossum.
Was I hallucinating? Nope, Patrick Star (resident feline) saw the slithering rodent, too.
And, of course, the durn chicken house was all open still. Do ’possums eat chicken? I didn’t know. (I know now they don’t.)
So, I made a call to my dad to warn him that if I’m not heard from again to put in my obituary: “death by ’possum.”
He laughed. I was serious.
I made my way through the night armed with a shovel to close up the poor, vulnerable chickens. Right as I entered the coop there was a rustle in the shadows.
My heart stopped as I prepared to defend myself in my puke-weakened state.
“Deep breaths, Ginia,” I consoled myself.
And then the shadowed attacker meowed.
I closed up the birds and retreated back to the house a survivor, in more ways the one.

Eater-outer-aholic asks for help

I love to eat out. I love almost everything about it.
I love the whole family hopping into the car to go pick up already prepared food in disposable containers that we will be able to consume all together on the living room floor.
I love the satisfaction of walking through my spotless kitchen with my “dishes” and throwing them straight into the trash.
I know. I know. I’m shaking my head typing these words. But please don’t judge me. Believe me, I judge me enough for the both of us.
There is nobody on this planet who knows better than I how awful-indulgent-wasteful-unhealthy-expensive this love of eating out is.
So, the first step in fixing a problem is admitting said problem, right?
OK, so here (reluctantly) it goes.
Hello. My name is Ginia and I am an eater-outer-aholic.
There, now I’ve said that I do have a problem (not that I am necessarily fully committed to changing).
Next step is to take a step to make it better. To stop the addiction. To get off my lazy tail and get into the kitchen and prepare some real food. Maybe even some food from our own farm. What a novel idea?
We already grow stuff, why don’t we just eat some of it?
I would love to be 100 percent self-sufficient (food-wise, at least). That’s a little far-fetched, especially in this day and age. Or is it?
Is it possible that the six of us mostly — if not totally — could eat only what we produce?
We have chickens and cows, and we plant a garden. That’s a pretty good start.
My cousin milks her own goats, and that supplies the family with the white stuff. (I already know about the risks of unpasteurized dairy. No need to enlighten me further.)
Our world really would change (for the better?) if my family and I took to the ground to produce food for our table along with greens for our bank account.
Hmmmm ...
And the reason I am literally forcing my fingers to type out this confession is this: I NEED HELP. I don’t want help, but I know I need it.
So, here goes ... For the next month (starting right now), we are not going to eat out.
Disclaimer: If somebody invites one or all of us out to eat, and they are willing to pay, that does not count in this month-long challenge.
I will report back on how it goes. How proud I am of my success and how much better I feel and how much more money we have.
(Talking myself into this ...)
I am not above asking you for help. I want (at least I think I want) to change.
As much as I am counting on myself, I am also counting on you. Every time I want to send Matt to pick up something in a to-go container, I am going to imagine you spies out there watching ... And, hopefully, that will be enough to keep us at home during meal times.
Gonna use that ugly thing called pride against myself as motivation.
This not-eating-out thing will be good for us — in body and in pocketbook.
Ready ... set ... eat (at home)!

This is what it's all about

I am almost obsessed with the Amish. And not like a fan club member or anything, but I am fascinated with the culture. The peace. The simplicity.
They are — as a whole —some of the most efficient, hard workers around. Unlike most Americans, they do their best to NOT keep up with the Joneses and mostly do the opposite of what everybody else is doing.
What strength. What faith.
I do not agree with their theology, at least some important parts, but I think they have the key to what we (the rest of us) are so desperately seeking.
Peace. Freedom. Kindness. Joy.
This time of year I find we are all so focused on getting it all and getting it all done that we are missing out on the simplicity of the season.
The reason for the season is not to get everybody the best present we can afford, send out a gazzillion cards to people we don’t really ever talk to, have the house decked out just so and cram as many family/social gatherings into the last half of December as humanly possible.
The reason is simple.
I wonder if I kept my home and my life as focused and driven as my Amish neighbors if it would be easier to settle down and get into the spirit of this special holiday.
See, I know (in my head) the reason for the season, but my body sure doesn’t act like it. I, like everybody else, get wrapped up in it all, all the worldly expectations that were forced onto this holiday to distract us from what God really wants us to celebrate.
I believe the real reason all the government buildings are closed on Dec. 25 of every year began a few thousand years ago in a simple barn. Very unimpressive in appearance. Very unlike how the world thought a king’s birth should look. So different. So simple. So peaceful.
On that first Christmas, our Lord sent us His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to earth — His Word in the flesh — to live a perfect life and then die. When He died, Jesus took the sin of this world down with him.
This act proves the love God has for us and His desire for good and peace in our lives. Who do you know who would sacrifice — kill —their only child for somebody else, let alone somebody who was a bad person.
I know I wouldn’t.
But God did.
And when His Son rose from the dead, the sting of death was no longer there.
But hope was. And the promise of peace — peace on earth and forever — is available to all who just accept the gift. The first gift on the first Christmas was Jesus.
God gave Him to you so you wouldn’t have to suffer with the expectations of this world.
He gave Him to you so you wouldn’t have to worry, and so you would know what is important in life and what is not.
God gave you Jesus so you can live and not die.
Christmastime is not all about Santa Claus. Or pretty lights and decor. Or Christmas trees.
It is about the birth of our Savior.
And there is no better gift.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fast-food fast update

Hello out there world. All you who are busy waiting in drive-thrus prepping your chomps to indulge in greasy "goodness." This is day 14 for me without fast-food (day 11 of the actual challenge), and I would have to say life is good. Life is very good.
I've got more money in my pocket than I would have if it wasn't for this challenge, AS WELL as a little more room in my jeans. What could be better?
Well, if I could kick this hankering for cashew chicken and hot wings, I would be tempted to call my current situation perfect. So unless this 30-day challenge doesn't cure that thirst, perfection will just have to wait.
I've been cooking A LOT. Here's a sampling of what we've had:
Honey glazed ham, mac & cheese and green beans
Homemade pepperoni and cheese pizza
Gooey oven-warmed sandwiches and pasta salad
BBQ roast beef sandwiches and brussels sprouts

Tonight, I'm serving up Boston Fish Chowder. Here's the recipe:
Fry up 3 slices of bacon. Remove from grease and crumble. Save for later. In the drippings, cook 1/2 cup celery, a chopped onion and 1 clove chopped garlic, until tender. Add 1/4 cup flour. Gradually add 4 cups water and 2 T. instant chicken bouillon (or six cubes). Stir until smooth and well-blended. Bring to a boil. Add 1-1/2 cups cubed potatoes. Reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes. Stir in 1 lb. white fish (cut into bite-size pieces). Cook 15 more minutes. Add 2 cups (1 pint) light cream. Garnish with bacon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not eating out challenge

Hello out there. Today marks Day 6 of my "DO NOT EAT OUT CHALLENGE." And boy have I been struggling.
I didn't really realize how addicted I was to the convenience of take-out food. I didn't realize how much my BODY was addicted to whatever the heck it is they put into that junk. And, like a junkie who is trying to quit, I have been having withdrawals. No headaches or physical pain, but I have been very anxious.
Since not allowing myself to eat out (unless it's on somebody else's dime — hey, I'm no fool), I can think of little else. Every time a meal rolls around I am forced to get off my tail and get into the kitchen and cook something. Anything. As long as it's not in a to-go container. I'll tell you what it is, it's pressure! I've got a husband and four children (oh yeah, and me) and that's A LOT of food. A lot of personalities to appease. A lot of dishes. A lot of everything.
New Year's Eve was my first real test. My heart's desire was hot wings from our local pizza place. I not only craved them, I longed for them with more fervor than most things.
I even contemplated breaking my rules. But, thankfully, my hubs saved the day. He simply told me he wasn't going to town (and he knew I would never go in). So that was that.
Instead, I watched the movie about that guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. That did it. Craving gone. (For the night.)
The next morning was Saturday. We ALWAYS eat Bud's Donuts on Saturday mornings. But we didn't. Ate at home.
Lunchtime brought some interesting news (from the scales). I noticed my sweatpants were a little extra saggy, so I decided to take a step on the scale. The numbers not only surprised me, they shocked me. I had lost a few pounds! Now, THAT is motivation.
Side note: We didn't eat out every meal. Some weeks more than others, but on average, we ate out once a week. Still way too much when there's six of us.
Now it's Monday. Haven't tasted fast food since last Sunday (even though the challenge didn't officially begin until Wednesday). My face looks a little less teenage-boyish, my pants fit better and I can tell you we have more money. (as of now) My kitchen is clean and dishes are done.
And I feel good. Like I've accomplished something. Like I actually may be able to break this habit, addiction, stronghold that is the fast food industry.
I don't usually blog in the contemporary since, but I am going to attempt to document this 30-day journey. Keep checking back. I may even post some menus and recipes.
Got any time-saving tips? I can always use them. Email me at
God bless you!