Sunrise to sunset

Last weekend, we headed out to a show just as the sun was coming up.
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And arrived home just as the sun was setting.

I’d be hard pressed to think of a better way to spend the day than sharing an entire day with family. Beautiful photos courtesy of Kansas.

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Near the end

It’s about time to go to our last show of the year. I love showing. Really, I do. But I can say that I am going to be glad for a little break. Here’s where I should probably talk about the fact that I don’t have to do chores, but rarely do they trust me to do chores. And perhaps that has a little to do with the few mornings when they have asked me to feed and I get busy and forget. Until the next day. Not good. Not good at all.

Or maybe I should be saying that I be glad for the break on our bank account. And that’s real. This showing stuff is expensive.

But really, what I’m most happy about is that I won’t find this tracked all over my entire house.

 
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We bed on wood shavings and they stick to everything. Ev.ery.thing.

So next week when I’m sad our show season is over, (or maybe it will take until the week after that) remind me that I’m not constantly vacuuming, sweeping and picking up shavings. That should cheer me up.

Sometimes . . .

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Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say.

Sometimes, words fail you.

Sometimes, it seems that no matter what comes to you, it just can’t heal the ache in your heart.

And that’s how it is today. The ache in my heart is big and my tears are many. My friend, Tammy Draper, passed away.

In the time since her death, I’ve done nothing else but think about the huge hole she has left in her family and in our community.

Tammy had so many friends. She was involved in everything. If there was something that needed organized, she was there, lending a helping hand.

I knew her best in the role of 4-H leader. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a long discussion about why we felt 4-H was so important to our families. She wanted her boys to learn responsibility, leadership and determination. She spent hours volunteering for the organization just to give her kids – and mine – those kinds of opportunities.

I admired her for that and so much more. She knew what was important and didn’t let the little things like the fact her house wasn’t in Martha Stewart condition 24/7 bother her. It was infinitely more important to her to be at a ballgame cheering her kids on, or working in the barn alongside her family. She had her priorities straight.

She always had a smile and I can hear her laughing even now. She and her husband were a great team, working together always. Her mission in life was to raise her boys to be men that they would be proud of some day. And you know what? She was well on the way to accomplishing that goal.

I can’t think of that without the tears falling. But I know Tammy. And I know she wouldn’t want her memory to keep us from continuing on. She would much rather have us put our energy into continuing the things she loved so much. She would want the livestock shows and ballgames to go on.

And so I will. I will continue on, knowing that her spirit is with me. And if I pause, every now and then to let the tears fall, I know she will understand.

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Pretty much the same thing

If you don’t know my family, this essentially is their philosophy.

Courtesy of The Gift. (http://www.thegiftmn.com)

Except occasionally, you could replace “cows” with “pigs” and you’d be spot on.

Love me some state fair

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Note: I started this blog post oh, about 10 days ago, and then life happened. You know, the work project that has been in the works for approximately 10 months but all of the sudden goes into Fast Forward mode, the realization that 4-H record books are due soon, and 627 loads of laundry. So, instead of wasting a good blog post, I’m going to post it anyway. And then I’ll get caught up over the next few days.

Last weekend the boys (big and little) and I headed to the state fair. It was pig showin’ time again. We had fun, brought home a little hardware and saw friends. Here’s a list of highlights.

TV stars

So one of the dangers of knowing a writer is that your words sometimes end up being a part of a column or a blog post. Sometimes, if you are the kid of a writer, who has friends who are television reporters, your mom signs you up for a television interview that you really don’t want to do. But then your friends say they will be on TV with you, so it really isn’t that scary. That happened. At the fair. I was lucky enough to know it was coming, so I could set my DVR. OK, not really. I knew it was scheduled and had every intention of setting my DVR, but forgot. So my mother-in-law got a frantic phone call to ask beg her to set it for me. This was shortly after the frantic phone call to ask her to bring my son’s shirts. And shortly before the frantic phone call to ask her to bring my boots. Yep. I’m organized like that. Good thing she’s nice and was coming anyway.

Back to the point. The interview. My boys were interviewed about their pig projects at the fair and because I’m no technology whiz. I couldn’t figure out how to get a video off my DVR other than to play the recording and video it. I’m such a redneck.

Grand Drive

The show went well and Campbell made it to the Grand Drive. The Grand Drive is a standing-room only event where all breed champions and reserve champions have are announced in front of the crowd and show off their animals in the ring. The shows were held earlier in the day, but the Grand and Reserve Grand Champions are not announced until that night. It’s an exciting event, complete with an announcer and cool music. He didn’t win it all, and that’s OK. He met his goal of making it to that night.

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Fun

But as with so much of this pig showing stuff? It’s not about the ribbons and buckles. It’s about this:

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It’s about fun times with friends and family. Our kids work hard, but they have fun doing it. And they learn that all that work at home leads to being able to meet your goals.

The Ferris Wheel

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Fair Food

A state fair blog post without comments about fair food is just wrong. I love fair food. Not the price of the food, but the food. So the best thing I ate? A cucumber stuffed with crab salad. Yum. It was fantastic. And the good news? It was not fried and sort of healthy, right? Or maybe it just seemed healthy compared to the chocolate covered bacon or the Krispy Kreme burger.

Here’s the point where I should show you a photo, but alas, it was not to be. I was more focused on eating than I was on photography. Sorry about that. You are just going to have to trust me. It was good.

The good things

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Probably one of the best parts of the fair is the sense of community the county fair brings. Sure, there are those not-so-great moments when perfectly sane people lose their minds and throw a fit about things that don’t really matter. But I have chosen to ignore those moments for my own sanity. Instead, I’ll think about this year’s fair for the good things that happened. Things like:

    • The happy tears shed by more than just the mom of a last year 4-Her whose 4-H experience culminated in her winning the senior division of Round Robin. Everyone, including those she was competing against, were rooting for her. No, they didn’t throw the competition, but they did cheer as as loud as they could when she was announced the winner. And her mom cried. And so did a few others. She truly loves her animal projects and the experience it has brought her. She’s a sweet girl from a wonderful family. It’s just how things are supposed to work out. Hence, the tears.
    • Watching my boy, who was not a natural in the show ring, finally take home the champion buckle in the intermediate division of Round Robin. It took a lot of practice and a little luck.
    • The evenings spent sitting on tailgates, enjoying the cooler temperatures. Our 4-H club parks our trailers near each other creating a hang-out spot. At this spot, I saw kids high-fiving each other and people hollaring “Congratulations!”

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  • My youngest boy and his buddy making plans to bring their “trailer toys” the next day. What are trailer toys, you ask? Well, of course they are a nearly complete farm set that they can play with at the trailer. And then they way they shared those toys later on, up at the barn, when they set up what can only be described as a state-of-the-art farm scene.

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It all translated to one successful fair. Sure, I’m proud of my son’s purple ribbons and trophies. But, more than that, I’m proud of the what those ribbons represent: hard work, determination and responsibility.

Not practicing what you preach

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Back to the saga that was the fair. You’ll remember from yesterday’s post that I wrote this nice, warm and fuzzy column for High Plains Journal. How sweet. And every single 4-H mother rolled their eyes and thought, “Yeah, right.”

Yep. And they would be right because you know what? I absolutely forgot every. single. word. of that column. The part about don’t sweat the small stuff? Gone. Remember what’s important? Forgotten. Why, you ask?

The time is 5 minutes before the goat show. My oldest walks up to me and this is how it goes:
“Mom, I can’t open your car. It’s locked.”
“No, it’s not. I left it open so you could get your show clothes.”
“Yeah. But it is locked.”
“It can’t be.”
“It is.”
“Then the keys are locked inside it.”
“Huh.”

This set of a mild panic attack. You see, I KNEW the keys were inside. They were NOT in my pocket so there were two choices. Either the car was locked with the keys (and show clothes) inside. Or the keys were lost. Either option was not appealing.

So, out to the parking lot we went. We park near our trailers where our club has a hang-out spot. As we walked to that area, I head directly for my car. My son was following closely behind and soon says, “It’s over here, Mom.”

No, no it wasn’t. The locked car he was trying to open was another 4-H mom’s car. Mine, two cars down was wide open with show clothes hanging on the hook.

Panic over. Crisis avoided. But not before I acted exactly as I had preached NOT to act.

Well, no one ever said I practiced what I preached.

Whew. It’s been crazy around here.

So. I know. WHERE have I been?

I haven’t blogged in a while. I imagine you noticed that. I’m not making excuses, but we had our county fair. And any 4-H parent knows the down-to-the-bone tiredness that comes with the end of the fair. It’s all-consuming tired. And then there was work stuff. And more work stuff. And. And. And.

Can you relate? Well, it’s been like that around here. We are trying to catch up.

So to catch you up, let’s start at the fair. Remember last year’s favorite photo?

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Well, the friendship continued this year:
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Good friends two years running. Which inspired me to write this column:

The right priorities

In my world, it’s nearly county fair time–a.k.a. Stay-up-late-washing-clothes-finishing-projects-stress-to-the-max-week.

Anyone who has been a 4-H or FFA parent knows the feeling of the week before the fair. In a nutshell, it’s stress, excitement, tension and anticipation all rolled into one. There’s the legal pads with several lists–one for every day leading up to the fair, one for the next trip to the store and one for all the things that need to be in the car on the morning of check-in. It can be overwhelming.

But recently, I had to sort through some photos of last year’s fair. What I saw made me smile, and helped me change my outlook. <read more>