Today is unusual

One of the first things I do every day, is look at my calendar for the day. Ok. I don’t always do that and sometimes I miss appointments. Like last night when I should have taken my oldest son to a meeting. I forgot.

That was until my phone beeped at me 15 minutes before it was to start and by then, it was way past time to be able to get there before the meeting was over. I’ve recently switched to an electronic calendar that I can sync with my phone. It is supposed to keep me from making those mistakes, but hey. Nobody’s perfect.

Back to the point. This morning, this is what my calendar looked like.

And this is what my afternoon and evening looks like.

I intend for this to be glorious. I am checking things off my “To-Do” list right and left. Hence, a new blog post.

And if you are my friend and know that I’ve forgotten to put something on here, just don’t burst my bubble. Let me enjoy it. Please?

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Green power

4Hbest 

It’s National 4-H week. So to celebrate, the boys sported a little green power by wearing their 4-H shirts this week.

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And I finally focused and wrote my column about the power of green.

Green power

By Holly Martin

“You know, if every kid in the inner cities in this country belonged to 4-H, we wouldn’t have much of a crime problem.”

If that ain’t the truth. President Bill Clinton couldn’t have been more right.
I know he’s right because I’ve seen firsthand what 4-H teaches young people. As I write this, we are in the middle of celebrating National 4-H Week. The power of that green 4-H clover is great for so many reasons.

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One of those days

You know how people say there should be some separation between your work and personal life? Yeah, well. I’m not very good at that.

So here I sit at my computer at work and I’m supposed to be writing a column about work stuff – about agriculture and the stupid Congress that hasn’t passed the stupid farm bill. Or about the stupid drought. Or whatever.

And as hard as I try, I cannot make my brain head in that direction. All it wants to do is dread tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day that we will lay my friend to rest. And I worry about her husband and her boys. I wonder: Do they need dress socks? Are their boots polished? Do the boys even have a handkerchief? They are going to need one of those tomorrow.

You know, all the things that a mom should be thinking. And I’m a mom and they don’t have theirs anymore. And that’s just not right.

I know. I know. God has a plan. I get it. But crimeny, it’s hard to accept sometimes, isn’t it?

I was scrolling through the texts on my phone and there it was. Just a couple of days ago she was going to stop by my office to bring me some stuff for 4-H. And I told her not to worry about it. I’d see her soon. I’d get it then.

Only I won’t see her soon.

And so what I’m saying is this: Sometimes life sucks and today is one of those days.

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.

Getting the word out

Ever have a moment when you are ridiculously proud of a kid (or group of kids) that aren’t your own? Yeah, me too.

One of those moments happened last week when I saw this video. I wrote about their family here when my son stayed with them for a livestock judging camp. They are good people. The whole family. Those same kids, their friends, teachers, family and community are a part of this video. I’m writing about them in my column this week. It’s become a huge deal.

So big that while I was on the phone with the teachers who spear-headed this project, 20/20 called. Yes, THAT 20/20. And then ABC. And this was just after two segments appeared on the morning programs of NBC and CBS. It’s getting crazy.

The best part? The teachers told me as they finished their video they joked about it becoming as big as the Peterson brothers hit, “Farming and I Grow It.” “We looked at each other, laughed and hit ‘upload,’” one of them said. And now they are at a quarter-million hits.

The thing that makes me so proud? Is this group of rural kids and teachers are a class act. They speak with passion and conviction. They are good communicators. They didn’t just complain about something they thought was wrong. They stood up and did something about it.

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.

Reading material

I love my boys. Most certainly I do. The little ones can be sweet and helpful. The big one keeps me laughing and protects me from the things that go bump in the night.

BUT. (You knew there was a ‘but’ coming.) And speaking of “buts” this is where I tell you this post is about the bathroom. If you are squeamish about bathroom talk, just move on to The Pioneer Woman’s blog. Who am I kidding? It’s not like you would read my blog before hers. And, truth be known, she may have talked about the bathroom a time or two so you might not be safe there either. Where was I?

Oh yes. BUT. Every single day I find this on my bathroom counter.

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Every. Single. Day.

No, it is not always the same magazines, but the subjects are the same. Pigs. Cows. Tools. Farm stuff. (Notice there’s not a High Plains Journal. Sad, really.)

And here’s the deal: I don’t care that they read in the bathroom. There’s no “flagging” of magazines in the Martin household. George Costanza would get along fine here.

It’s just that I have a basket for the magazines in bathroom. They never get put back there, though. And I always find them on the counter, like the picture above. And every day I move them back the basket.

It’s a vicious cycle. Does this happen to anyone else? Anyone?

You know you are from the country (#2)

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You know you are from the country when a calf bottle becomes a permanent fixture on your kitchen counter for a few weeks.

(More on this development at the Country Chick’s house later.)

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>