Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Raising Them Rich

During Sunday’s sermon, our minister invited us to get out our devices and visit the website This site allows you to type in your annual income and it then calculates where you rank in terms of wealth in comparison to the rest of the world.

I encourage you to visit the site and see for yourself. It is quite eye-opening; I noticed many folks shifting in their seat (or, pew) as they typed in their income and saw the result. I’ll admit, I did the same. 

I left the sermon with this thought: Regardless of my global rank in terms of wealth, I think it’s important to raise our children with the understanding that they’re rich.

I hope Caroline will look back and remember she grew up rich because one of her doll babies got a new bracelet each time mom took the rubber band off a new head of broccoli. 

Just this week Caroline wanted more plastic hay bales for her farm set. I let her know that’s all we had (or rather, all I’d buy). That night I was pulling the living room together and saw that she had improvised: She had taken the orange peels from snack time and disposed of them in all of her feed bunks. Her cows may not have all the hay they want, but they had a citrus by-product that should get them by. 

 How many kids these days can say their parents fill their dressers with a new set of clothes every six months or so? Our “rich” children can. Only because we have cousins and neighbors who are kind enough to deliver bags and boxes of hand-me-downs at the conclusion of every growth spurt. Caroline proudly marched up to a daycare instructor the other morning and told her, while twirling, “Mommy got me a new coat.” She didn’t know it still has her cousin, Georgia’s, name in Sharpie on the inside tag. 

I hope they’ll both look back and remember they grew up rich because we had a garden where you could pick the best tomato in the world, pluck a pepper and prepare it for dinner or watch a zucchini double in size overnight. 

We live in a natural watershed area, making us mud rich. And when you’re 2 ½ and not afraid of a little dirt, mud rich is the best rich of all. We can be in the middle of an August drought and Caroline can find a standing body of water to roll in. I can only assume her little brother will emulate her example once he gets mobile. 

I hope they’ll both look back and remember they grew up rich because we could take hour-long (that’s about as long as ol’ mom lasts) wagon rides and never walk in the same place twice. We always had fresh air to breathe to make us sleep better and never once had to come home and worry about finding a place to park. 

I hope they’ll both look back and remember they grew up rich because they had a castle right in their own back yard. It has a front entry and a back entry, but the middle gets a bit tough to navigate. In the spring it blooms the most fragrant lilacs. Earlier this winter Caroline got hung up in her lilac-bush-castle and I had to set Cyrus down in the yard to untangle her. While waiting on me to get her bibs off a branch, she did find a bone from a pot roast I disposed of six months ago. It is a very fancy castle, one which the barn cats apparently also enjoy. 

This is when she tripped coming in the back entrance of

the castle and got stuck. 

I hope they’ll both look back and remember they grew up rich because we never took a vacation without bringing along friends and paying all of their expenses. Each time we vacation west, we load the stock trailer with cattle that we know by name or number. We take our friends – Naughty 702, Big Blackie or even Sterling the Bull – on vacation so they can reside at their new home, Grammie and Grampie Sankey’s ranch in Kansas. Lucky for us, these friends never ask for snacks when we stop to fill up on diesel. 

I guess I don’t care if our children move off to college and wish they had a newer car, better wardrobe or faster computer. I hope they move off college and realize they grew up rich in ways that have absolutely nothing to money, income or social status.

I guess, if we’re being honest with one another today, I also hope that by the time they get to college this old farm will be paid off, I can loosen the straps on this budget and they won’t have to go to their first day of collegiate class wearing a coat with their cousin’s name on the tag. 

But if they do, it builds character. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Mom Takes A Nap

The recent activity of the Purdue Men’s Basketball team has my sleep schedule – early to bed, early to rise – completely out of whack. I simply do not have the genetic make-up for pacing, screaming at a television and texting college buddies in the eleven o’clock hour. 

So, Sunday after church I was admittedly dragging. We all had lunch, then Caroline went down easily for her nap, but Cyrus was really fighting it. Which is normal; the kid rarely sleeps when the sun is up. Cody noticed that I likely needed rest shortly after I cut the food on his plate into tiny bites, then served Caroline a plate full enough to feed a grown man. He offered to man the fort while I rested my eyes. I nearly wept in gratitude. I told him I only needed 15 minutes, and I’d be right back to my normal self. He gladly obliged. 

I crept up the creaky, farmhouse staircase, careful not to wake the 2 ½-year-old. I laid down on our bed, pulled a Purdue (bless their hearts) hooded sweatshirt over my body and I was asleep in less than a minute. 

It was only seconds later that a woman knocked on the door. I ran through the mudroom and answered. “You have a bunch of black cows out here on the highway,” she reported in a slow, unamused voice. The cigarette almost fell out of her lips. Of course, I began having a full-blown panic attack. I strapped Cyrus to my chest in a baby carrier, then bundled Caroline up and strapped her into the blue Fisher-Price swing that hangs from the 100-year old pine in our yard. I then proceeded to call cows off Highway 35 for an hour. Lucky for me, boss cow 001 was quite helpful and stood along the double yellow to stop the traffic while the rest of the herd filed back through the double red gates. 

And then I heard the fire alarm going off inside our house. I FORGOT ABOUT THE PIE! I had volunteered to make a pie for an auction, organized by a local church of which I’ve never even attended. This was to be my big break to 1) be noticed for my pie baking skills by someone (anyone), 2) collaborate creatively and 3) very likely become best friends with The Pioneer Woman in Oklahoma. But stray stock and a toddler still swinging in a lone pine tree now had smoke barreling through our farmhouse! 

I did what any clear-thinking, strong-willed mother would do: I drug a hose from the barn to the house and fought the Great Pie Fire of 2019 with a baby strapped to my chest. I was basically the poster woman for the next Duluth Trading  ad. The kitchen was a wreck, but the pie surprisingly turned out alright. I flaked off the black parts into the trash and added some butter for character. 

Then I remembered that when Caroline was in sixth grade, I never paid for field trip dues and she wasn’t allowed to go the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. (I know, this doesn’t make sense). And because of my lack of pay, she didn’t get into her first-choice college and basically never loved me in the same way again. 

Only seconds after that fiasco, Cyrus quit eating baby food and regressed to preferring only “almond milk”. Which is quite terrifying for a mother who clearly understands that you cannot milk an almond. Don’t get me started on the fact that I just bought 40 tubs of baby food at Meijer because they were on sale. 

My hands were sweating. My hair was falling out. My children were turning against me…and milk.

And then, I woke up. I didn’t make a move, but laid on the bed and listened. 

I heard Cody playing peek-a-boo with Cyrus downstairs. I heard Caroline talking about black bears in her sleep, one room over. I looked at my phone: I’d been asleep for almost an hour. 

This snoozy Sunday situation only confirms 
the fact that mothers never actually sleep, 
we just worry with our eyes closed. 

And I will probably never nap again. 
It’s just not worth the stress.