Chick Date

chick dateJan asked me on a date today.

He said he would pick me up as soon as he got home from work and then we would drive through the beautiful countryside on an adventure to pick up the week old baby chicks he bought from a guy on the Swap.

I like dates. I like baby chicks. I like drives through the beautiful countryside with my husband. So of course I said yes.

We took off in the Geo (the little tin can on wheels that Jan drives) across miles and miles of gravel roads.

And all those gravel roads were covered with new gravel.

Trust me when I say that driving on new gravel in the tin can car is not an enjoyable experience.

But we finally arrived at the farm of the nice older man who was selling the chicks.  This fella was quite the character and entertained us for at least 15 minutes with stories punctuated with “dadgum” and “cotton picking” before he produced the chickens from somewhere inside the house.

We pronounced them perfect and paid him.

Then he continued, without a breath, for another twenty minutes with more “dadgum” and “cotton picking” stories.

We finally pulled ourselves away and took our box of chicks to the car.

I climbed in first and Jan handed me the box saying, “You better hold them.”

So I did.

Off we go, in the Geo, down the gravel road covered with new gravel, with a box of week old chicks in my lap.

Did I mention the fact the Geo makes makes strange and wondrous noises – especially when it is bouncing along on new gravel?

All these noises and wild bouncing frightens the little chicks. Do you know what little chicks do when they are frightened? I immediately wished for a thicker box as that tiny car started to smell very ripe.

I, of course, got a nose full and was praying for deliverance when my husband announces, “I think the guy we get our honey from lives down this road.” And he turns down a gravel road in the opposite direction.

The bumpy turn on new gravel really sets the little chicks off and they attempt to fly out of the box on my lap.

So now we are taking the long way home, in the Geo, on gravel roads with new gravel, while I’m holding a box of week old chicks who are pooping up a storm and trying to fly in my face.

It was a long, smelly ride.

It is safe to say that I did not enjoy the beautiful countryside, nor could I enjoy the lovely fragrance of the wild plum blossoms that lined the ditches on both sides of the road.

At least he came through with the adventure part.

Trust me when I say that I plan to be the only chick on our next date. 🙂

Checking Cows

IMG_2029Every afternoon when Jan comes home from work, he grabs a snack while I grab a coat and we head out for a walk.

The official term for this jaunt in the winter afternoon is “walking the fence line” or “checking the cows”.

He can call it whatever he wants – but I call it the best part of my day!

It’s a perfect excuse to hold my honey’s hand and hike across the frozen pastures, catching up on the days activities.

And  – since it’s also the one time during the year that I can walk freely anywhere on the property with no fear of poison ivy – I’ve been in and out of ravines and to every remote corner.

These walks, however, are not without their hazards. There are always thorn trees, the evil multiflora rose bushes and the dreaded blackberry vines to scratch you and impede your progress.

Not to mention the the occasional slip on steep banks or frozen cow pies to trip you up.

And I guess one of these days we’ll actually find the cows.

And they won’t be where they are supposed to be.

And the fence will be down.

And our peaceful walk hand in hand through the pasture will turn into a cow chase and a trudge back to the barn for fence supplies.

But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

‘Cause there’s something pretty wonderful about soaking up the late afternoon sunshine while walking hand in hand with my husband.

Frozen cow pies and all.

 

Saturday Date Night

It was a Facebook post Saturday morning that started the adventure.

Some friends are building a home in northern Missouri and had discovered a little country church nearby. They were having a Sweetheart Dinner that night – would we like to come?

Lured by the thoughts of prime rib with all the fixings, followed by an evening of gospel music – it was an easy sell.

Jan and I drove the winding country roads of southern Iowa into the alphabetical maze of back roads the makes up northern Missouri as the sun was setting over beautiful snow covered fields.

It was so peaceful.

We found the church nestled in the hills surrounded by rolling pastures, just as it had been for the last 150 years.

This faithful congregation had been serving up a free prime rib meal and gospel music to the community every February for more than a decade.

They greeted us warmly – wayfaring strangers that we were. The conversation was lively. The company fun.

And the food! Oh my! The food was abundant, delicious, and homemade – a hunk of prime rib that covered half my plate, potatoes, salad, crescent rolls, green beans and bacon, and a table full of desserts.

Then the music began.

It was nothing professional – just some friends who played really well. A man on the banjo with his eighty something year old momma on the bass and his buddy on the guitar.

Joking. Laughing. Strumming. Singing.

It was comfortable – like being invited into someone’s living room for some music.

Gospel songs. Mountain melodies. Old Hymns.

The melodies rang out of the old church on the frosty February night.

And we were a part of it.

When the music ended – we reluctantly said our good-byes and started the 45 minute drive home, navigating those same winding roads under the light of  full moon.

The snow sparkled as we held hands, the music still ringing in our ears.

And my heart smiled.

Off the Beaten Path

What a blessing to have a little more daylight at the end of every day!

Now there’s enough sunshine to enjoy a walk in the late afternoon when my husband gets home from work.

Ice, Snow, Fun 017At first we followed the trails in the pasture, sticking to the known, the usual, the predictable.

But then yesterday –  in a spur of the moment decision – we veered off the path and walked right across the ice on the pond.

You know – it’s rather freeing to stand in the middle of a frozen pond and look back at the shore.

It’s a totally new perspective.

We  continued on our walk, but this time – enjoying that taste of freedom – we left the trail and took off cross-country through the woods.

We followed deer trails and scared up bunnies as we zig-zagged around low branches.

We jumped over the ravine, discovered bobcat tracks, and watched several deer running in the distance.

Amazingly, we were just a few yards from our regular trail – but everything looked different.

New.

Unexpected.

Yes, that’s the word. Unexpected.

After weeks of routine –  cleaning, school, laundry, meals, groceries – it was wonderful to find something unexpected.

The trails had become predictable. We had followed them so often we know what was around every corner.

It was time to take another route, to see things from a different angle.

To feel alive again.

Creative.

Refreshed.

We just needed to step off the beaten path.

Making Time for Date Night

As Valentine’s Day approaches, my friend Jessie Leigh asked me to join her and a few blogging friends in writing a series of blog posts about marriage.  I was honored, but humbled since I’m certainly not an expert! But since it is one of my favorite subjects – I agreed to give it a try. So for the next three weeks I will try to share some practical ideas on “Taking Your Marriage from Fine to Fabulous”. This week’s subject – Date Night.

Date NightsI came downstairs the other morning and heard one of my children exclaim, “Wow! Mom curled her hair!”

Okay – I wonder how bad I normally look that simply curling my hair would create such a sensation?

All eyes turned to me as they tried frantically to remember what big event was upcoming that would cause mom to actually curl her hair on a weekday?!

Then someone remembered that they would all be at a Youth Group activity that night – and Jan and I would be alone.

“Oh yeah! It’s for her big date with dad tonight!”

I’ve trained them well.

They know that we consider it a “date” anytime we are alone without children. We didn’t even have big plans. Actually – we didn’t even leave the house! We shared a frozen pizza and cuddled on the couch watching TV together.

But it wasn’t always that way.  My definition of a date has changed throughout the years. When we were first married it was easy and fun to plan special evenings out. Once the kids started coming things got harder. Our budget never allowed for babysitters and rarely for eating out, so we had to get creative.

When the kids were really little I’d put them to bed early and we’d enjoy a candlelight dinner at home. (This works best when you skip nap time!)

Or sometimes on Sunday afternoons we would take the kids to a state park and hike. Then we’d buckle them in their car seats and take the long way home. They would fall asleep exhausted and we’d have uninterrupted time to reconnect.  (To this day – car rides and long walks are my favorite times with Jan!)

In time I came to realize that the goal of a date was to be together. Period. The details really didn’t matter.  It didn’t have to be expensive – it didn’t even have to be planned.  I lowered my expectations to just one – we needed to be alone.

Then we learned to seize the moments whenever possible.

Watching a movie on the couch when the kids were in bed.

Sitting in the porch swing holding hands and watching the sunset.

Sharing a root beer float on the picnic table during nap time on a Saturday afternoon.

Occasionally Poppa and Nana would bless us by taking the kids for an evening allowing us some wonderful uninterrupted time together. Sometimes we would drive to the nearest large town and eat out before getting groceries and stopping at Wal-Mart. Other nights, we’d stay home and enjoy a frozen pizza and take a long walk.

Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.  We were alone. We were together.

Now that the kids are older,  it’s easier to get away for the evening – even for an overnight every once in awhile. 🙂

But I still love the simple dates – sitting by the bonfire talking, holding hands as we walk out to check the cows, or a Saturday morning at garage sales.

It’s choosing to be together. Taking time to reconnect.  Showing my husband that spending time with him is still my favorite thing to do.

Which is why – even after 21 years – my heart sings when he says, “I’m running some errands in town – want to ride along?”

Yes! He still wants to be with me!