Saturday, October 13, 2012

We're moving!!!

Hello, World!

Just wanted to let you know that I am moving my blog to Please join me there.

Thank you for following my life on the farm and I hope you will take the time to sign up for email notifications at my new site. I've also made a new Facebook page for you to "like"

Have a great day!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kidney stoners unite!

Three weeks ago today the most intense pain I’ve EVER felt punched me in the stomach like a bolt of lightning.
No exageration.
I tried to walk it off, laid down to ease it, even tried to curl up into a little ball to make it to go away. Didn’t work and in no time at all I knew I needed help.
Matt was already gone to work and the kids were starting to rouse so I called my poor mom and awakened her with my panicked, pain-stricken plea for help.
At this point my kids were busy watching TV in the living room and I was moving around uncomfortably trying to Google my way to a diagnosis.
“Dr. Oehlschlager” (and my Google results) came to the conclusion that my appendix was sick. I was pretty sure of it because by the time my mom came over I started puking and it seemed like the pain was intensifying.
After a quick phone call to my Aunt (LPN) Mindy (our family’s go-to gal for anything medical), we hauled off for the Springfield. And then waited for what felt like the the emergency room.
Seriously, I thought I was going to die. No, I didn’t think I was going to die, I WANTED to die. The pain was that bad.
The intensity was literally equated to the peak of a contraction that never subsided.
More puking and IV pain meds later, I still was in agonizing pain. Morphine didn’t even help.
The doc’s third try at meds finally did the trick and my pain began to ease.
A few tests later, Dr. Oehlschlager/Google was proved a fraud when the CT showed a kidney stone partially obstructing my right kidney.
No exploding appendix. Just a “tiny,” jagged piece of matter making me want to cut off my toes to distract from the pain (which I think I actually told my nurse).
“It will pass,” the doctor told me with prescriptions for pain medicine and marching orders to follow up with a urologist.
And then the pain just left.
It disappeared as quickly as it came. If I wouldn’t have had the IV hangover and bandages on my arms from said IVs, it would have been like it was all a dream. Or a nightmare.
I waited (impatiently) for the stone to pass and Googled away on why this happened and what I could do to keep it from EVER happening again.
But the day I could hold my stone up in a sanitary Ziplock bag as a trophy to the pain I endured never came.
A secondary infection came, though, and so did more testing and then the threat of surgery because of the pesky stone.
I was preparing myself that I was probably going to have to have surgery the next day (at least a 75 percent chance, according to the professionals) when my urologist came back into the room all smiles with news that the turkey of a stone had already passed.
The doctor had more “good” news: There are apparently two more (very small) stones waiting in my kidneys!
But for now, all is well.
After going through that short, yet traumatizing, ordeal I have come to the conclusion that people who have survived kidney stones need to receive a pin or a bracelet or medal or at the very least a t-shirt.
Because kidney stones are no joke!

I want to write a book

I want to write a book.
Kind of.
What I really want to do is effortlessly and painlessly compile some words onto some pages and have somebody somewhere mail me large checks. I would gladly receive those checks at my farm where I’m content to never ever leave again.
If, due to only God’s power, my book is popular and doesn’t get me strung up by PETA (think back to my columns about chickens), I would retire. At 29. (Because of course this could happen in the next five months before I turn 30!)
But you know what I’ve been doing instead?
Everything else.
Lately, I have become a giant waster of time and avoider of work that in my bones I feel born to do.
Pinterest can motivate me for hours, but after all that cyber space motivation, I’m exhausted. Too exhausted to write.
So I take a nap.
Or convince myself that the items on that little shelf above my kitchen cabinets HAVE to be scrubbed today. It cannot wait. No time to write.
Or the garden needs tending (this is actually a legitimate distraction).
Or I need to do this or that.
This list could go on and on. And it has been for the last year or so that I’ve actually seriously considered that writing a book might be in my future.
Self-doubt. Fear. Similar road blocks in my brain detouring my motivation into self-made distractions.
I know I’m hard on myself (which may be a shocker to some people). But, I get real down on myself when I do something or say something or write something wrong. I can be a real bully to me.
And what if nobody wants to publish it or even read it? Or, what if it does create lots of attention but the negative kind? Lots of people in this country do not understand how we “hicks” live. (For the record, I believe we are the ones living right — most of the time!)
For my high school graduation, my Aunt Mindy and her family gave me a card with this Henry David Thoreau quote:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
I still have the card because I loved it so much.
It has lived on the walls of my college dorm, in my first apartment with friends, on the walls of my first home with Matt and now it is in a box of keepsakes.
I used to be so crazy. So vivacious. So bold. So ignorantly brave. I cared. I dreamed. I wanted.
But after all these kids and all these responsibilities I have found quite the stack of reasonable and understandable excuses.
It’s not that I’m not content with my life and need more. I just feel drawn for some reason to write something down (I don’t even know what I want to say).
Who knows what my future holds?
But I don’t want to live the rest of my life ignoring my innermost stirrings and settling for being fenced in by my own insecurities.
Makes me think of something my Aunt Sue told me about a year ago.
I was practicing with the church praise group, and she walked up to me and told me how great it was to see me up there. I told her I was so nervous and wasn’t sure about it.
And my Aunt Sue (somebody I’ve known to have incredible strength and conviction) told me matter-of-factly, “You’re a Seneker. You can’t be nervous.”
Then she walked off.
She was serious, and she meant for me to take it that way.
To live the life I’ve imagined by confidently following my dreams, whether it be in the praise group or writing a book.
My plan is to write a book some day. But today I plan to dig out that old card and display it in my current life. To motivate my current dreams.

New rugs

Sunday afternoon, April 15, I was taking a nap. A nap on a rug.
Not a literal rug, but a figurative one. Honestly, I had no clue I still even had that rug.
Because when I left for college and then when I had a family of my own, I was sure that I left the comfort of that rug and moved onto my own.
But when the phone rang, waking me up from my Sunday afternoon nap and I heard the words “Ginia ... don’t want you to be alarmed ... your dad ... hospital ...” Click.
Somebody, somewhere pulled that rug out from under me and I immediately began to sink. Suffocating with new feelings and emotions.
Logically, I know and have known that my parents are mortal and will die someday. Unfortunately, I have lost several close family members and I know how that feels. That pain. That loss. But my parents are really never sick. Ever. My dad especially. I suppose over the years I have taken for granted the health we have been blessed with.
But when I drove up to my parents’ house surrounded by ambulance only moments after being yanked out of dreamland, it felt like waking up in a new world. A new reality. Surely this was a dream. A bad dream, but a dream at least. And that meant I would wake up and all would be normal.
Instead we drove to Springfield in the fog of this new world and waited to hear word that my dad, an invincible pillar of strength  in my life, had suffered a stoke.
I was helpless.
Shock. Pain. Worry. Love. New reality.
At that moment I felt that my age didn’t match with how I felt inside. I didn’t feel like a grown-up. I remember thinking the statement one of my aunts had said when my grandma died, “It feels like the grown-ups should take over.”
That rug.
It was gone in an instant and since that Sunday I know that I am without a doubt standing on my own. Despite the fact that my dad is alive and recuperating amazingly, my perspective has shifted. A new rug.
And that’s a good thing, I suppose.
Empowering and scary at the same time.
It was very strange to hold my first staff meeting that Monday morning after and look into the watery eyes of my other family, some who have been with The Record since before I was born.
I realized a rug had been pulled out from all of us.
In that fog of my new reality, we worked together and put out a newspaper.
Accomplishment. Relief.
My dad came home from the hospital and began to immediately improve and life seemed to be veering along a new path.
That same week, Jackson, my “baby” brother, left for Kansas City and came back a Marine Corps Poolee.
My dad began his recovery, a recovery where he is NOT supposed to go to work for a few weeks (he has been working at this job nearly every day since he was 17 — he is 57 now!).
Yes, the rug is gone, but its absence has given me a new-found appreciation for my parents, for my family and for those who support us. The suddenness was a nudge (more like a push) out of the nest in some weird, unexplainable way.
My emotions on this new rug have been very confusing and they don’t look any clearer on the horizon.
Because Jackson will graduate from high school on Sunday.
And this new normal will shift again.
And we will shift with it.
On our new rugs.

Savor the noise

Constant noise. No release. No peace. No quiet.
Maddening. Cut your toenails to the quick. Makes you want to scream.
That was one thing I never anticipated being a problem back when our fourth child was born four years ago. Lots of diapers? Yes. No sleep? Of course! But noise? I never really thought about it.
Let me tell you though, the noise level  around my brood has become a constant threat to what’s left of my sanity.
It’s worse in the Suburban. Voices and opinions and arguments and children vying for our attention reviberate off the walls and bounce around in the limited space. Confusion is high. And since their voices aren’t being heard, each child kicks it up a notch.
The driver. You used to know her as Ginia. She is the worn-out, wide-eyed, frazzled dregs of what is left of a once upon a time fun-loving gal.
Tuning them out works some times. But that’s not how life should be.
And it is much harder to tune them out (ignore them) when we are all sitting around the dinner table.
Honestly, the threat of corporal punishment has been used  when my patience are thin (which makes the volume seem worse anyway). It works for a few seconds and then the dial turns back up.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to organize the noise madness because I truly want to hear nearly everything they have to say. They totally crack me up! I know all parents must say this, but I feel that our four are some of the greatest, most unique and interesting people I know! I love getting to know them and watching their personalities develop.
Being a parent is truly the hardest and yet the most fascinating work there is. Bar none.
But the head-pounding noise has to be contained or minimized.
Lately we’ve been spending as much time as possible outside, thanks to the gorgeous weather. That helps. Car trips are always precarious. And after spending all this time typing (venting) these complaints to you, a reality has settled in the pit of my stomach. The noise isn’t going away.
It won’t be like the diapers or the sleepless nights.
The noise is here to stay.
And that is comforting and disconcerting at the same time.
The noise means there’s life, there’s fire inside each one of those precious souls. Desire to be heard. To make a difference, even if it’s only in a car-ride conversation.
That shouldn’t be stopped or dampened or quieted down. And anything multiplied by four is going to be a lot.
So I’m going to get over it (I’m ordering myself to get over it). Relish it. Memorize it. File it away in my memory bank for later-in-life withdrawals when all is quiet. Too quiet. And all I want is to be the worn-out, wide-eyed, frazzled dregs of what I was before my life really began.

Don't feel sorry for me

I realize only a select few will feel sorry for me when they hear my story.
Because I should have known better.
It seems life has found me in nearly identical scenarios more than once.
What Bible says is so true: “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.”
That’s me. Getting myself back into situations I know should be left in my already digested memories of lessons learned.
But those road-side free puppy stands are so hard to resist. And we were in the market for an Easter present for the kids. What’s a better price than free?
So, Matt and I were suckered in by a cute, little poodle-dachschund 6-month-old puppy.
We called her Sally.
The kids adored her. I tolerated her because I knew  of my children’s and husband’s love of canines.
She road home on my lap to meet her new friends and they were shocked and elated to meet her.
Kadence wanted to snuggle and bond with the apprehensive pup (which I encouraged because I had hoped she would be Sally’s main caregiver), but the fighting began nearly immediately over who should hold her, etc.
And all Sally wanted was me.
“That was understandable,” I consoled myself. “She’ll get over me; this whole situation has got to have her overwhelmed.”
We soon realized that Sally had a very STRONG attraction to me. She never left my side. Ever.
If I went upstairs she followed me up. If I went downstairs, she was right at my heels. While I typed, she dozed at my feet. If I sat on the coach, she took a nap right next to me. She would only go to the bathroom for me. She whined when I put her on the back porch. She howled through the night, because she apparently thought she should get to sleep by me too!
A lot of people (I guess) like this sort of thing. I am NOT one of those people. I like cats. They do their own thing. Come around to eat and then move on. I am a personal space person. Period.
We tried having Kadence walk her around and play with her, sneaking treats along the way. Sally didn’t care about the treats or the attention, she just high-tailed it to wherever I was. Kadence found her and took her back upstairs. Sally baled on her for me and the cycle continued for at least an hour. Kadence gave up.
Then on the Tuesday morning after we got her (a mere three days), I had had enough. Trying to get everybody ready and out the door by 7:30 a.m. is chore enough without having to wait for Sally to “do her thing” and then trip over her for the next hour.
So the search began to find her a new home, and I was punished considerably through the process. I talked  to and e-mailed with dozens of certifiable wack-a-doos and the whole time I was kicking myself for picking up the “free” dog in the first place. For returning to my “vomit” of getting animals before thinking it through (ducks, goose, etc.).
Finally, it seemed we found a perfect match for the dog that couldn’t get enough of me. The little 10-year-old only child and her mom met us in town, took one look at Sally and fell in love.
As I handed the dog over, Sally looked at me with apprehensive eyes asking “What’s going on?” I almost took her back home. But then I remembered her unfounded attachment to me, the howling, the rejection of the kids ... and I made the decision to walk away from the folly and to never (hopefully) do it again.

First day of spring

Next week holds the first day of spring.
I am sooooooo excited, not that we really have a reason to be seeing as our winter has barely lived up to its name and reputation.
But still I am excited.
Totally pumped.
This time of year brings out the best and the worst in me.
I have a knack for getting really, really excited about something — like couponing, for example — and then obsessing for a while until I fizzle out, crash and burn and barely even remember the reason I began something in the first place.
See, I love to plan. I love lists. I love lists for my lists. And this time of year makes me crack open the hatchery catalogues, research different chicken breeds, lay out miles and miles of gardens (in my head and on paper) and create work lists for whipping this farm into shape.
But then reality hits.
Hits hard.
Chicks are A LOT of work.
A garden is A LOT of work.
And after all that work, accomplishing those projects I couldn’t wait to complete don’t even motivate me to create a new, more toned-down list of to-dos.
So with all this in mind, I am trying VERY hard not to be the maniac I typically am this pre-spring time of year.
Yes, my notepad is filling up with dreams of new breeds of pullets and the plans to make them more money efficient, etc., and I have compiled a HUGE list of gardening projects, but I am tempering it with the cold reality my now five years of farm experience have rendered me.
We aren’t going to buy any meat birds this year, but I can’t hardly WAIT to try out a few different laying breeds I have been reading about. As of right now (my chicken order has changed nearly every hour for the last week), I want to try Austra Whites (a mix of White Leghorns and Black Australopes), Black Sex Links and Cinnamon Queen. All of these are touted to be MASTER egg producers. Can’t wait!!!!!
In the garden this year, we are going to try to save money by raising nearly everything from seeds, possibly heirloom seeds (still researching this). I also want to try pole beans rather than my usual bush beans because the prospect of harvesting standing up rather than hunched over makes all the downfalls of the varieties seem worth it.
Other things on my never-ending new-to-the-garden list include: popcorn, pinto beans, pumpkins, medicinal herbs and okra — see, I am crazy!
Along with the chickens and vegetation, another priority is training our dogs NOT to chase and then chew on and ultimately murder our chickens. This will probably be the largest undertaking and will almost certainly constitute a column of its own.
So, until my pre-spring dreams come to fruition (or demise) and my dogs have stopped “playing with” the poultry, I will keep up with my tempered and toned-down, non-psychotic lists.
What’s on your lists for spring? E-mail your plans or tips to me at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My 'sensible' bathroom remodeling idea!

I have a history of doing things sensible people might avoid.
Like on Friday, the eve of a potentially great weekend with no plans and decent weather.
All I had left to do was  clean the house.
That was it; then the weekend was ours.
We haven’t had one of those in a while.
So, of course, at 11:45 a.m. I decided it was a fabulous (and sensible) time to start ripping out the floor in our downstair’s bathroom.
The kids were hungry. The house was still a mess. The laundry was unwashed, unfolded, unputaway.
One of my best ideas yet.
And, I forgot to enlighten Matt.
Sensible was unfortunately the opposite of this so-called “plan.”
But, like the pit bull I am, I forged ahead. Until I got nervous.
See, our very old house has a lot of “character,” a well-lived-in kind of quality.
Nothing and I mean NOTHING is square or level or fixable without some very expensive work.
Apparently, the teeny tiny bathroom was no different.
For weeks, months, years, I have been complaining about and in a constant war with the pee smell.
I blamed it on the boys for obvious reasons.
Even with all the wisdom Google could give me, the odor still lingered.
Previous owners had installed one of those fake hardwood floors in the bathroom (for some reason unknown to man), and the floor had started to sink in around the toilet trapping lots of lovely smelling liquids.
As I forced the hammer underneath to remove the floor (I couldn’t find Matt’s crow bar), I began to realize the mighty Ginia, the fearless home improvement pit bull, might be in over her head.
I confessed to Matt (that was a fun phone call!), and after a long day’s work, the poor guy hauled his gung-ho wife and four kinda cranky minions to the store to fix the project I had sensibly started without his knowledge.
The next morning, Matt called in reinforcements and they replaced an entire section of sub-floor (oops!) and did all the preporatory work so I could lay down vinyl tile (which Matt had to do the majority of as well).
Now it’s Monday. Poor Matt worked from sun up until midnight on Saturday, all Sunday afternoon and was up quite literally at the crack of dawn for the day’s cattle sale.
He is sore, battle-worn and probably still more than a little annoyed at my whimsical idea that cost him his weekend of catch-up on chores.
But he agrees that the room is a HUGE improvement.
And at least for a week or two it will smell like silicone grout and sawdust rather than pee.
Next time, I hope to think a little more BEFORE I get the tools out. Well, at least that’s the plan.
Check out the before- and after-pictures!

Oops! Not a simple project when floor is rotting under toilet. FUN!
Thanks to Terry, we have a whole new floor!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy peasy Grape Jelly - How to

How to make grape freezer jelly from frozen grape juice concentrate.

Step 1: Mix 1 pkg. pectin with 2 cups lukewarm water. Stir until dissolved. Let stand 45 minutes.

Step 2: Pour thawed 6 oz. grape juice concentrate into separate bowl. Mix in 1-3/4 cups sugar and stir until mostly dissolved. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar to pectin (AFTER the 45 minutes).

Step 3: Combine the grape juice mixture and the pectin mixture and stir until all sugar is dissolved.

Step 4: Pour into jars. Let stand 24 hours. 

Step 5: Label and then freeze or refrigerate!