Embracing the Craziness

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I hope it’s true – ’cause a picture is about all I have time for!
4-HSo what’s going on?

My friend Kimmer’s here! And 2 of her kids. And Dagmar’s friend Lainers and a random nephew.

9 kids. At my house. Eating.

That’s the fun stuff.

Then there’s –

The county fair. 4H projects. Dead calf. Vet visit. Blown tire.  No rain. Stinky pigs.

But God is good.

And Kimmer and I picked up more chocolate last night. (sshh – don’t tell the kids or they’ll eat that, too!)

We’re loving the craziness and making some memories!

Lunching the Tractor Ride

We spent Saturday at the local park with the 4H Club lunching the Waubonsie Tractor Club’s annual Tractor Ride.

There’s nothing quite like spending the better part of a day listening to the putt putt of old tractors, the banter of a bunch of retired farmers  and serving food.
tractor rideSo what exactly is a Tractor Ride?

Well, first you take a bunch of guys who love restoring old tractors, then you invite them to bring their “babies” to the local park on a Saturday morning.

friendly 4H kidWhile the tractors are all getting lined up – just so – you wander over to the shelter house and buy a cinnamon roll (baked that morning by yours truly!) and some juice or coffee from the friendly 4H kid. (Yes – that’s Pedro with yet another hair style!)

admiring the tractorsThen you sit around in lawn chairs with your buddies and talk.

And laugh.

And talk.

And get up and buy some more coffee or another roll.

And admire the tractors.

And talk some more.

And tease the 4H kids a little.

Then someone will say, “I guess it’s time boys.”

 And everybody gets up, brushes the cinnamon rolls crumbs of their overalls and heads for their tractors.

tractor rideSoon the air is filled with the smell of gas and oil and the putt putt sound of old tractors.

You line those tractors up like a parade and head down the street, around the block and out of town.

Smiles on your faces. Wind in your hair.

You come back hungry and after parking your tractor – just so – you head back over to the shelter house and buy a beef burger or hot dog.

And tease the 4H kids some more.

And sit in lawn chair in the shade eating and talking.

And laughing.

Then you get up and buy another cookie and a can of pop.

And you talk.

And you laugh.

After a while you load up your tractor and head home.

Smiling.

And the 4H kids pack up the remaining food and clean up.

DSC_0205And count the money they made.

And head home.

Smiling.

County Fair 2011

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when my kitchen looks like a war zone but smells heavenly.
Rolls

When oven space is a hot commodity and that recipe that we’ve made a million times together without failing – fails.

Cookies

When my table is covered with entry tags and project write ups and we’re scrambling to find the 4H t-shirts.
PhotosWhen a year’s worth of work is condensed into a few paragraphs and pictures.

When this mama is weary – but proud.

It’s time for the county fair and today is 4H judging.

Fasten your seat belts – here we go!

Blue Ribbons, Free Food and a Flaming Monkey

The one reason my kids go through the blood, sweat and tears to produce 4H projects can be summed up in four words – The Iowa State Fair.

Their goal is to get at least one project to advance to the State Fair so that Daddy has to take them. It worked again this year!

The first stop is always the 4H building – always. “Go directly to the 4H building, do not pass go, do not collect $200.” These are men on a mission – just follow the red shirt.

Once there –  we begin our treasure hunt to find our 6 projects in the midst of the thousands there.

We only found five of the six – but those five did well – 3 blues and 2 reds.

The missing project was Matt’s editing work on the grandkid’s video for my parent’s Golden Anniversary. One 4H staffer said they were playing the videos this year on TV screens for fair goers to see. Oh my – they will get an eyeful watching that video!  Some of his cousins might be just a little embarrassed…

Once we leave the 4H building – we’re on the livestock barns to see the biggest boar, the biggest bull and the avenue of breeds.  We pass a one-man band in route to the butter cow.

My favorite part of the fair – the free food samples! We ate quite a variety this year – brats, meatballs, cookies, popcorn, salsas, a wide assortment of dips, and even a whole hard-boiled egg at the egg producers booth.  If there’s free food – my kids will find it!

Speaking of food…we hiked up the hill to eat our sack lunch while watching the amazing Sinbad diving show. It was a seriously funny show featuring pirates and a cool monkey searching for the golden pineapple. Aarrgghh….my kids loved it!

Really loved it.

They loved it so much that as soon as Sinbad announced that at the 6:00 show they would light “Cool Monkey” up in flames – they started lobbying to stay.

Even though they were exhausted from hiking from one end of the fair grounds to the other, wiped out from heat and humidity, nursing blisters and out of water, they still wanted to stay.

And who could blame them?! A flaming monkey is a pretty incredible way to end a great day at the State Fair!

4H Judging at the County Fair

The County Fair.

The very words put fear and trembling into the hearts of 4H moms.

It’s marked in red on my calendar.

D -Day.

This year we have all five children in 4H. That means a grand total of 19 projects and all of those projects are due at the same time on the same day.

In a perfect world my diligent children would have been working on projects all year – on their own – with little assistance.

My world isn’t perfect.

We worked on projects the week before the fair like our lives depended on it.  (For some of my children – it did!)

Despite the stress and the rush, each child was completed on time even if we did had to use duct tape. 🙂

Judging went very well. Very, very well.

Six projects were chosen for the State Fair.

One was an Outstanding Junior exhibit.

And all the rest were blue ribbons – except Buddy’s – he still a Clover Kid and only gets a rainbow participation ribbon.

And now it’s over for another year.

We’ll take a couple of days to rest up and savor the moment.

Maybe by then I will have all my brain cells back…