Work Hard, Play Hard

DSC_6691

I wake each morning in the same ritualistic way, coffee, writing, a load of laundry from the dryer to fold, kitchen needs to be tidy, and all the other repeated tasks to follow suit throughout the day.  I repeat this day in and day out. The same beginning and the same ending.  In the last years, I have been putting some of these tasks in my boys’ hands.

I know these tasks need to be done or the house will fall in shambles but can I find a way to enjoy every day tasks? It’s robotic, it’s a mental list I drudge my way through just to get them done because no one else does. They need to be done.  For some sick reason, it would drive me crazy if I just let them go. Am I the only person who feels this way?  Is it something women, mothers, and wives force ourselves to do?  Lump ourselves in this dated way of thinking that all the “home” things must be done by us because it is our duty as women?  Can I change this way of thinking in my boys as they grow?

Now, I am not attempting to know anything that other women don’t but why can’t my 12-year-old boys rinse and put their dishes in the dishwasher, after all they used them?  Why can’t my sons fold laundry or set the dinner table?  And if I have to clean my room and make my bed, why can’t they do the same in their own rooms? Heaven forbid they ever learn how to push a vacuum around. I am behind this stereotype of what men do and what women should do.  I want my children to be an example and accept to this stereotype.  I believe they will be better for it as adults.

For as much as my children, love the outdoors and would spend every waking minute outside if they could, why can’t they learn to help out inside? Last week my boys and I spread 15 yards of bark dust together with shovels and wheel barrels.  They mowed, weeded and used the tractors to help on the farm.  I do not think I am working my kids to hard, they play hard everyday although often watering turns into water fights just like last night. This is joyful to watch.

I would like to say I am guiding them to be the best little men they can be. Also, I convince myself that later on in life whoever they choose to spend their lives with will be grateful they know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and vacuum, along with all the other outside tasks we are required to do to keep our home well kept.  This is preparing them for the real world.  We work to play harder!

My children are loved, happy, and enjoy life. Even after putting in some hard hours of working by the end of it, they are always smiling and laughing when they come in the house. So, how can we possibly be working them too hard? They are full of joy, filled with life, and excited about what comes next.  What else could I ask for?

Ice Cream Issues

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

IMG_8356

We climbed back in our car after losing about 2 hours’ time and drove on.  The chatter picked back up and our singing out loud filled the car. I think, we compete subconsciously at who sounds better but let’s face it, we both equally suck.

We made it the Oregon border, where we stopped for a potty break and decided ice cream was a good idea.  However, I don’t think I mentioned it was nearly 115 degrees outside and the minute I stepped out the door with my vanilla cone it turned to sweet cream.  It was running all over the place.  My hand was white and it continued down my forearm and as I begged for help with the one napkin we were given, she laughed the kind of laugh that was infectious.  We stood there for a few seconds laughing as I struggled to get my shit together. Tears streamed down my face and as we came to the back parking lot we passed a car with the bumper sticker that read “I have issues,” and at the moment, I had some serious issues!  I posed for a photo, we made it back in the car and I sucked down an ice cream cone in a way that most people would think was savage.

The scenery around us had started changing. The Oregon green had changed to browns of many and tumbled weeds were blowing in the distance.  The miles and hours passed until we made it to the Idaho border.  We needed to fill up the car, use the restroom, and gather snacks.  The gas station had two very unfortunate characters behind the counter. I attached myself to my sister’s hip, I knew she would always be the one to do the ass kicking on our trips.  We filled a tiny plastic bag with unhealthy snacks, drinks, paid for gas, and there was no bathroom.

Next door in the middle of nowhere was a questionable casino.  We knew it was our only chance at a real toilet. Although we were hesitant to enter, our bulging bladders drew us in and what was inside those doors was unbelievable.  If one could picture the most redneck version of a casino, the smell of dust, dirty body, sweat and a big room cropped dusted by cigarette smoke – that is what we walked into. It was some place I wish we never entered and knowing what it was like inside, in retrospect, I defiantly would have chosen to squat and pee between two cars rather than use that bathroom. As we left, a little person with a cowboy hat, cut off shirt, sitting on a stool so high it was twice his height, gave us a head nod.

As we exited the building of smells, a ploom of what was trapped inside that building followed us to the car.  It was my turn to drive, we jumped inside and in my uncomfortable state of glee, I left the parking lot over one curb and then another and we were on the road again.

 

Cline Falls Road

IStoekmw6dtozw1000000000

She arrived later than she thought.  We unpacked her car and repacked into my car.  The tank was full and we were off on the first leg of our trip from Independence to Redmond.  Not really considered a “leg” of the trip because we had 17 hours ahead of us to Utah.

She had just driven over four hours to my place, drained the bladder and jumped back in for almost another three hours. As soon as we were both trapped inside, the chatter started and we carried it all the way to Sisters.  We started at least 15 stories and only finished six of them but we always made it back around to one that we didn’t finish, sooner or later we always finished them but it might be on the fourth day we were together.  Today, we still have unfinished stories.

It was not our first trip but it always felt like the first time.  The excitement…for me was like a kid on Christmas morning.  As an adult travelling was with my sister was like Christmas morning.  Our trips were this way.  The entire trip wrapped like a huge gift under the tree and we never really knew what was inside, every step or mile of the way it was thrilling like tearing open the gift you wanted all year long.

We talked and talked, she made sure to toss in a bag of peanut butter chocolate cups and we shared them as the odometer numbers increased and emptied a Nalgene bottle of water.  Hours passed and carried us to our resting place. We made our way to Cline Falls Road, she turned left, left again, and as the curves in the road wrapped us closer to our destination. We realized how late it was.

We were both sleepy, the windows opened to keep us awake, and our long hair tossed around us. I told her to slow her speed and in the darkness police lights flashed around the car.  As she struggled to find a place to pull over in the central desert, she drove on…further than my instincts would have taken me.  As I insisted her pull over, we came to our left hand turn. She turns and pulls over to the right curb barely out of the entrance and as we giggle and are slightly nervous about what we did wrong.

She insisted she wasn’t going too fast…the officer walked to the left side of the car and just as he asks for her license and tells her she was speeding; I start screaming at the top of my lungs as a sprinkler hoses me down from the top of my head to the middle of the chest.  It passes by once, screaming, it passes and again as my sister tries to silence me and politely insists I roll the window up. The officer looks down at me and shines his flashlight in my eyes without a smile, I babble about the sprinkler.  He was not entertained as I struggled in the front seat to not continue laughing and as well as I know my sister…she would break at any time, I kept it together until she got her ticket.

We continued on to our resting place laughing so hard we couldn’t catch us breathe until we drifted to sleep. The next morning, we woke before 6am and we still laughing.

 

His Hands

handwashing

I watched his large hands under the facet sink every day when he came home from work.  Suds bubbled as he rubbed his hands together under the water and greeted us with a hello.  His hands were wet and reached for the dishtowel on the orange counter top.  Both wrapped around me in a circle when hugging me.

These hands gripped an ax during the summer as our family chopped wood to make money for school clothes. They threw wood into the bed of the pickup we drove. Gripping the chainsaw handle and showing us the way to work and work hard.  Our small hands stacked and organized the wood in rows in the bed and just high enough so he could see out the back window. His hands were often calloused and cracked in the summer but those same hands could be soft and gentle.

When I was sick, his right hand cradled a spoon and feed me nourishment and medicine, held a thermometer in my mouth and wiped my tears. His other hand would rub my forehead and push my hair out of my face. Those hands were comfort for me for many years, he cradled my hand in his as I learned to walk, and as an infant, I am certain my tiny fist was wrapped around one of his fingers.

All through childhood I watched those hands teach us right from wrong and sometimes showed us stern punishment if we needed discipline. As they could be tough, calloused, rough, and thick skinned they could also be the opposite. His hands were stable, strong, gentle, and always secure in their love for his children.

He could fix any car engine with those hands and stroke piano keys and guitar strings in perfect harmony in the same day. Those hands made music. Music that was so amazingly beautiful I will hear it for the rest of my life. I will always be able to see his fingers on those keys and on those strings; in only his hands purity dripped from those fingers.

The best thing about his hands were the way they looked in my mom’s hands. Her hands were small and delicate, soft and loving.  He took care of her hands and cradled her heart with them.  They fit together like puzzle pieces and the hours they were together far outweighed the time they were apart. I will always remember their hands together and the way it felt for one of his hands to hold mine and the other to be held by my mother.

The Great Wall

My Sister by Reba

IMG_0020

She and I weren’t always close.  We fought all the time.  Our room was divided down the middle with masking tape.  I was the tag-along to her, always sneaking her clothes and shoes after she left for school, borrowing her eye shadow, stealing a quick spritz of her Colors perfume.  I was the typical envious younger sister who wanted so much to be like her big sister.

Sharing a room was difficult for her more than me. The masking tape served as a barrier like the Great Wall, for if anything of mine crossed that line it was thrown in frustration on top of my bed or hurled into my closet. This was a frequent occurrence in our red, black, and white themed room. A table separated our twin beds with a boom box that we turned on every night at bedtime, the music ran all night, so low that we strained to hear it and drifted to sleep. My sister used to hum and sometimes whisper the lyrics. I loved sharing a room with her. Although there was always a point of contention in our room usually because of messy me, I think that I loved being on her heels because it was attention she was forced to give me because I was annoying the hell out of her.

I wanted to be where she was, I wanted to be like her, and I longed to be included in her daily life.  Even if that meant being tied up knee socks and tights by her at the ankles, knees, wrists and arms while she and a friend laughed at me as I struggled to move or fell on my face when I did actually get to my feet. I do remember feeling upset but I don’t remember if I actually cried. I suppose I deserved the friendly torture after all the little sister pestering she had to put up with. It’s funny how now, when I write about it, I remember it fondly.

She had the perfect hair, the prettiest dresses when she went to school dances, she had the coolest clothes and this amazing leather jacket that I took from her closet numerous times she wasn’t wearing it, I would pack it in my backpack and put it on when I got to school then pack it home and quickly hang it back in her closet.

She was beautiful, had everything I didn’t because she was older, and she did everything first. She was the best role model a little sister could have. What an impression our shared room has left on my heart and mind. This box shaped space she shared first selflessly with me and it became so much more than just a room we shared that I annoyed her in daily.  This room where she and I shared our childhood gave me great understanding of how simple acts of love, torture, companionship, frustration, and laughter would propel our relationship to break down the Great Wall. I love my sister for everything that she is, strives to be, and the relationship we have is like none other.

I am often told by people that they are so envious of the relationship I have with my sister, the way I talk about her as if I see her everyday, sharing simple details as if we lived next door to each other. We lift one another up every day, every step, one foot in front of the other as the time passes between our visits.

Quiet Introspection

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

180918_497890382580_6172386_n

Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants.  They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.

One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand.  The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.

The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.

I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.

Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.

Free Write\ing

IMG_8360

Recently, I have become very aware of how busy life is, no, I didn’t just wake up yesterday and realize it. Over the last few years my twin boys have gotten older thus a lot busier with activities.

I don’t know if it’s just my twins but since the beginning mine have been completely attached at the hip.  I constantly ask adult twins or people who know twins…. if they still get along as adults.  I have heard way more no’s thank yes’s.  I would say there is something special about having multiples…my twins are something else.  The connection is crazy real, crazy intense, and I hope it’s always crazy close!

This weekend we rocked the Yamaha Twin Engine for about 12-16 hours and two tanks.  Sun was awesome…like therapy for me. Burning energy, no worries…completely blissed out.

Sunday, we had our longest and closest friends come with their children for the day.  They live about an hour away with two kids about our ages, not twins, but just as busy as any other family out there, maybe even a bit busier.

So, I don’t get to see this friend of mine very often…I think one year we went 7 months without seeing each other maybe longer.  It’s tough as children get older and move up thru the grades in school. It gets harder and harder to plan and see friends especially if you live an hour from each other. Even friends that live miles away somehow find their way back to each other.

Yesterday, in my complete blissed out state I realized I was in these… numbered hours of perfection (and I have written in my blog about perfection not existing, so here I go contradicting myself). Sitting and laughing with my friend, screaming over the boat engine and the yelling kids. It was heaven! And oh, did I laugh.  The good kind, the belly laugh.  The kind of laugh where a few hours later, that moment pops into your head again and you start laughing out loud.

I can’t really give you (my readers) one specific example of the joy that occurred yesterday on the river in a boat with our friends.

I will try a few words/phrases:

Being in the water (I love the water)

Playing with a foam football in the river

Splashing a dry person before they splash you

Cruising in the boat, good music, drinks

Good company…

Jumping off the boat mid float

Laughing so hard you almost wet your pants

Chasing kids in the water

Splashing….

Tubing, floating, food

My twins finish school this week for the summer and my house is buzzing with excitement!! I hope you all have the kinds of friends we do and get to experience these moments of joy, bliss, and enchantment throughout life with them.

Enjoy your week, my friends!!

 

 

Yes! Agriculture!!!

Happy by Pharrell

[/audio

image

Today, I went back to a place that I haven’t been in awhile. Rather, I went back to an activity that I haven’t done in awhile. I found myself in three different classes in Turner, Oregon.  Each class was about 30 students and I found a passion ignite in me that I thought I didn’t have anymore or at least, I forgot that I had.

Side note #1: Back November 2015, after many years at the same job I painfully came to the decision that I needed to leave.  Not because I wanted too but because my children were struggling with school and had just moved to the middle school. It was a difficult transition and I knew if I didn’t leave my job I couldn’t give the amount of time and energy to what was my #1 job…being a mom. I remember the day, crying and saying, “I have to resign.”

I left something I loved doing and something I believed was important for students to know about (agriculture) because I knew I could never get this time back with my children. Years pass by so quickly with children and every day that passes, they change, and with the difficulties they were having I couldn’t possibly not leave my job.  Today, I know I made the right choice.

Yesterday, I went to the middle school and found that both of my boys were chosen by two different teachers’ for a “Teacher’s Choice” award.  They both were recognized for their smiles, positive attitudes, their drive, and they never quit when it gets tough – this made me very proud.  The assembly went on and without really paying attention I heard one of my son’s names called for Honor Roll.  I was shocked, fumbled for my camera and got one picture. This showed me I made the right choice.  Both of my sons are thriving!!

The job I left was with Oregon Agriculture in the the Classroom. I worked there for quite a few year’s and I loved it!  Still to date, my favorite job! I loved the people I worked with. I believed in the message of the program to share agriculture with students in the state of Oregon and to educate students about what agriculture means to all of us.

There all things about every job that we like more than others but for this job, it was simple. For me, it was teaching students about agriculture. I could be having a rough morning; the kind you really don’t want to get out of bed but when I walk through the door of almost every classroom I have been in I thrive! The curiosity in their eyes when they look at me gives me such a rush, I know that I will be able to teach them something they didn’t know before they arrived that morning and I know each one of them will take a piece of that information with them!! It’s a challenge. I walked in those rooms today, I knew how to present, how to grab their attention, what to talk about, and I knew they would listen.  It was awesome!!!

Side note #2: During my job interview, I couldn’t define the word “agriculture”, like at all! I couldn’t say farm, dirt, truck, tractor….and I actually requested that we come back to that question.  (Oh, the embarrassment!)

I have always had a goal to make sure I get an “ohh” and an “ahhh” out of a teacher during my presentations.  When I run out of those, I need to educate myself more. (Or at least that is what I think.) I research and I find something else, sometimes it takes a lot of digging.  Politely, I love having a teacher ask me a question I know the answer to and seeing the surprise in their faces.  This was always something I did in my job.  I wanted teachers to know without them noticing that I was one step a head. I took so much pride…. real pride, in teaching about agriculture and the importance of it when I was working!

I am confident that I am able to teach students something new but when I can teach the teacher something…that is what I want to do!! That is the good stuff – the sweet spot! I love love teaching students but when I can stump the teacher…that, is the sweet spot!

The students are amazing (not all of the time) but I know how to command the attention in the room…I’d like to say I inherited that from my father (a teacher for over 30 years).  He was an awesome teacher not because he was my dad but because now at 39, I still have people on the street ask me about my dad and what he is doing and they always, always share something about how my dad impacted their lives. Now, that is a good teacher! Who wouldn’t want to be remembered that way. I only wish that as I get older and when I perhaps pass that people talk about me the way they talk about my dad.

So, today after teacher three classes. I am honored to do it again. Monday, in fact I am lucky enough, I get to teach again. Not because it’s my job any more but because I truly love it.  I am passionate about it and it makes me see the world differently.  Seeing something through the eyes of a student or young person can change your life. I know when I am teaching about agriculture, I make an impact and I know I am good at it!

Today, I made a difference.  I taught about 90 students, three teachers, and someone peaking threw the door.

Metal Gate

FullSizeRender-7

We drove for miles, tracing the road with one headlight. In the front of the car there was chatter of fumbles, passes, and touchdowns during that night’s game. The asphalt curved around a bend in the road beneath the 80’s Honda Hatchback.  A dent in the front bummer from rear-ending someone.

The night was so dark, the windows were down and I could see my breath in the crisp moonlight.  She sat next to me, long locks of blonde hair curled around each ear, she smiled and giggled at the conversation in the front seats.  I never knew why because the conversation wasn’t funny.

She was so much fun and for a shy girl who never really knew where she fit, this was the girl everyone wanted to be around.  She was something!  She was beautiful, she was my friend, and her energy and laughter were magnetic.

Maybe that is how I found myself in this car. She liked this boy so much and I came with “her” to keep her company. The driver turned his conversation to her and he reached back with one hand and stroked her leg.  I was so cold, the window still down and the first words I spoke were, “please, roll the window up.”

The other guy, there to amuse me, I assume, didn’t seem to want to talk but I guess, neither did I. The road turned to gravel and it felt like we were driving on uneven ground for miles but to tell you the truth I have no idea where we even were…at all.  I had this uneasy feeling as we started up a hill and around a corner, the car slowed and we stopped in front of a huge metal gate like the entrance to a spectacular home.

We all got out of the car, it was still and quiet. Tree branches crackled under our feet, overgrown with weeds we found our way around the gate. He held her hand and the other tried to hold mine but I pulled away. Bats above our heads and the wind blew threw the trees sending the fall leaves to the ground. We continued on the incline up the hill, I was shaking partly from the cold and partly out of fear.

We broke off into couples and as we walked further we found the foundation of what looked to be the beginning of a building. We stepped further, he grabbed for my hand and this time, I took his. We crested a hill and found what seemed to be three walls of a home.  We stood there on the wooden floor in the center of this building.  The floor was covered in leaves, branches had fallen, two-by-fours cast about…I looked up to the darkness and closed my eyes. Whatever this place was, it had been abandoned and it seemed like years since anyone had been there.

The Douglas fir trees whispered around me and I caught a glimpse of the moonlight. I heard giggling from somewhere in the darkness. I turned around to face him and before I could speak he kissed me.

We never spoke again.

That’s one way to end a workout!

Poker Face by Lady Gaga (*the only song I could find to run too.)

FullSizeRender-8I am not a runner.  I would rather do anything else in the world to exercise than run.  The pounding of my feet on asphalt, joints in my knees slamming down into my ankles. However, if I was being chased, I think that would be different.  But I am determined to keep trying to like running. This morning I woke early and the fresh smell of rain drew me outside.

Today, I needed more than yoga. But I am encouraged to work out by my friend, her personality, dedication, and attitude is awesome! She makes me want to do better.  In my head, I am constantly challenged by her.  Every time I have taken her class I feel like I can take on the world when I leave.

However, I didn’t want to drive to the gym so as the boys got on the bus I took off with my old shoes (old Nike’s, Austin has adopted because he now wears my size shoes), these shoes have been through it all, with a 12-year-old running around in them rain or shine.

After the rain last night, the soil is moist under foot and I start with a fast walk.  The fresh air runs deep into my lungs as I inhale;  waking me from a long slumber. The sky grey – it could rain.  I start my run, really half run, half walk down the perfect isles of the hops that climb the twine to the sky. The row looks as if to drift into nowhere, I cannot see. Like looking out at the ocean – going on forever, you cannot see the end.

My shoes cake with moist soil and I keep lifting my legs and my feet get heavier. Running eight minutes and walking for 30 seconds – a goal I told myself I had to meet.

I am sure anyone watching me would think “what the hell, does she think she is running??” I feel less than graceful when I run.  I continue down the perfect isles – up one, down the other, up another, down the other, this lasts about five rows.  I walk toward the orchard.  Circle it once for a cool down and head to the garage for my own personal unorganized rendition of a gym instructor where I lift weights – arms and legs…sit-ups and push-ups and finally, lay back onto my yoga mat that I rolled out on to the patio.

My chest rises and falls, I feel slightly exhilarated, burning in my arms, legs, and abs, and I close my eyes. I look up to the grey sky and my to do list floods in. A few more deep breaths. I am calm, relaxed and without notice I feel Halo’s paw sharply jammed into my stomach, on my chest and a big slobbery kiss on my cheek. That’s one way to finish a workout! Happy Monday!