One Day to Take My Daughter to Work?

I heard on the radio this morning that today was “Take Your Daughter and Son to Work Day.” I think that’s a great idea and appreciate the companies and schools that allow it to happen. It teaches children about what mom and dad do all day and opens their eyes to a variety of careers.

But I believe that on the farm, every day can be “Take My Daughter to Work Day.”

Riding in the sprayer with Daddy at a few months old.

Riding in the sprayer with Daddy at a few months old.

Since shortly after she was born, I was taking her with me when doing things outside. Sunny days found her napping in her bouncy seat in the shade while I weeded the garden. When she started walking, we went for strolls out to take care of the pigs. And now that she’s a little older, she loves nothing more than to help gather eggs (and try to pick up the chickens and give them “big hugs!”)

Her first experience driving a tractor - yes, she had control of the wheel! One nice thing about a harvested field - lots of space!

Her first experience driving a tractor – yes, she had control of the wheel! One nice thing about a harvested field – lots of space!

She loves to ride in the tractor with Daddy, PaPa, and Uncle J. More than once, she’s napped on my chest as we rode in the buddy seat. She loves to point out the difference in corn fields and bean fields in the summer, and knows tractors from combines.

Learning about the pigs last spring.

Learning about the pigs last spring.

She loves to be outside and usually the only way to get her to come in is to promise some chocolate (a girl after my own heart!). I hope as she grows, she will continue to enjoy doing things on the farm and appreciate the work that goes into making our operation successful.

She loved holding the baby chicks this spring.

She loved holding the baby chicks this spring.

I also like to take her with me when I do things for my “day job” when it’s practical. I want her to know what I do all day as well. and show her that there are many careers out there she may want to pursue. I want her to know that she can do anything she sets her mind to do, and to never feel inferior because she’s a woman, or because she comes from a rural area, or for any other reason that doesn’t affect her abilty to learn how to do a job well.

And hopefully, someday, she’ll be able to share her work, on the farm or elsewhere, with her own son or daughter!

A Very Happy Birthday

Two weeks ago, we had a family party to celebrate Little C’s second birthday. I still can’t believe she’s already two years old. I am already scared at how quickly two will turn into twelve, twenty, and beyond!

A big two-year-old smile - and pigtails!

A big two-year-old smile – and pigtails!

For her first birthday, I chose a book theme and asked all the party guests to write her a note in a copy of the book, so she can always have it as a memory. It went over very well so I’ve decided to continue to do that until she decides that theme parties are “uncool” or whatever the term will be when she gets that old. She’s starting to get into a few shows like Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins, but I made the mom-xcutive decision to go with The Very Hungry Caterpillar this year. Next year, she’ll tell me what she wants!

The food table.

The food table.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

After a few Pinterest searches, all the decorating ideas came together very quickly. Lots of polka dots and bright colors – and the menu was pulled right from the pages of the book. I was really excited with how everything turned out.

The book that everyone signed.

The book that everyone signed.

I made this banner with her name on it and hung the body circles at different lengths to look like a caterpillar. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

I made this banner with her name on it and hung the body circles at different lengths to look like a caterpillar. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

Of course she was spoiled by everyone and received many nice gifts. My favorite was the Raggedy Ann doll handmade by her great-grandma, which I know she will treasure. She was also very excited to blow out her candle, and actually got to do that twice because she blew it out before we sang Happy Birthday!

Raggedy Ann

Candle

In the weeks since, she wakes up almost every morning asking whose birthday it is. She even tells our new puppy “happy birthday” whenever we go outside. Good thing Big C’s birthday is coming up in a couple months and we can celebrate again!Family

The Plans, They Were A’Changin’

More than three years ago, before Little C was even a twinkle in Big C’s eye, we decided to take a trip for our tenth anniversary. We’d never been on a cruise, and it seemed like a good time to experience one to celebrate. We started a vacation club account at our credit union and put a little money away each paycheck toward that trip.

In the meantime, Little C arrived and changed our lives for the better. We kept saving up for the cruise, though, because we decided it was still important for us to do something special.

We celebrated our tenth anniversary last fall and started looking at cruise options for February, the least busy month for Big C on the farm and an easier month for me to get away from work as well. We checked out cruises within our budget and had a nice one picked out…

But the thought of being out in the middle of the ocean, with uncertain communication back home, in February, made it awful hard to think about leaving Little C behind, even though she would have been in the best possible care from both sets of grandparents.

And so the first change of plans took place.

We decided on a four-day weekend, to a location within a day’s drive (just in case), and Big C requested heading south. A pretty good idea for the end of February, I thought. Going back and forth with a few destinations, we settled on Memphis, a place I’d never been and he’d only been to once, in high school.

Hotel reservations were made, and after a little arm-twisting, he even agreed to go see the Broadway touring production of The Lion King. We planned to visit Graceland and eat some good barbecue, and just enjoy the time away.

Elvis may have left the building, but he's still on the wall!

Elvis may have left the building, but he’s still on the wall!

As our departure came closer, I started watching the weather forecast. A few days before our trip, Memphis was hit by an ice storm that wreaked a lot of havoc on local roads. Temperatures were supposed to warm up before we left, though.

So we set off on Friday morning, planning to stop at Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, Missouri for a late lunch. The weather was great the whole way there, and we enjoyed some delicious food and of course their famous “throwed rolls!”

Fresh from the oven - yum!

Fresh from the oven – yum!

After lunch we stopped at an outlet mall so Big C could buy some new jeans. He knew exactly the brand he wanted and we spent about 15 minutes in the store. In that amount of time, it started to freezing rain, becoming pretty slick pretty fast. We decided to take off, hoping to get out ahead of the rain and be on our way.

A slow, slippery eight miles later, we’d turned around and headed back to a motel in Sikeston for the night. Plan change #2.

Relaxing that evening, I looked at the forecast again. Travel would be fine the next day, but more ice and snow was expected Sunday evening into Monday – when we were supposed to be at the musical and then headed home.

The third plan change – we decided to try and sell the tickets online and drive partway home Sunday afternoon. (The sale was successful, which made me very happy!)

Saturday morning took us to Graceland on a very rainy day. The plus side – crowds were slim! We both enjoyed Graceland and were glad we spent the extra $5 each to tour Elvis’s private jets. The self-guided tour was very well done and it was very cool to see the famous Jungle Room in person!

The Jungle Room - complete with green shag carpet on the floor... and ceiling!

The Jungle Room – complete with green shag carpet on the floor… and ceiling!

The one thing we hadn’t done yet was eat Memphis barbecue – so Sunday we decided to visit Beale Street and had lunch at Pig. I had ribs, which were fall-off-the-bone tender, and Big C had a sampler plate with chicken, pulled pork, and ribs. We bought a bottle of their spice rub, and plan to try it on some of our homegrown ribs soon.

A couple hours at an antique mall added a few treasures to our collection, then it was back to Sikeston for the night and one more meal at Lambert’s, because, well, why not?

The trip home on Monday was blissfully uneventful and it was so good to see Little C again. Now we’re finally back to a normal schedule and recovering from the colds we all picked up somewhere, and thinking about where our next trip might take us…

But if this one was any indication, it’ll change a few times before we get there!

Good Boy, Waylon

A little over a week ago, we lost our dog. This has been the longest we’ve been dog-less in our 10-plus years of marriage.

I’ve been thinking about this post for that whole time, trying to figure out what I wanted to say about Waylon. Even though I’m not the kind of person to think of my pets as my “furbabies,” Waylon and the dogs we had before him were definitely part of the family and there is an empty spot in my heart right now.

We heard about Waylon’s litter through a friend who also chose a puppy from among his siblings. We had just lost a dog and were looking for another. I remember going to pick him out and falling in love with the shyest, fattest little guy in the litter. A couple weeks later I brought him home and he promptly hid behind our bushes, a favorite resting spot his whole life.

The day we brought him home.

The day we brought him home.

We were told he was a yellow lab, that both parents were labs, but not registered. His parents were also farm dogs, so it was only fitting that he came to be our farm dog, providing the intimidation factor to critters and delivery people. However, underneath his large (150 pound!) physique was the sweetest personality. If you spent a minute to pet his head, he was your best bud for life, nosing his way underneath your hand for more attention.

Love that puppy smile!

Love that puppy smile!

Like puppies do, he dug up a few plants, ate a pair of pants that fell (or maybe were pulled??) off the clothesline, and loved to chase the barn cats. But the strangest thing he chewed up was several sets of solar lights. I thought they would be cute, lining the sidewalk to the door. But no sooner did I put them out that I found bits and pieces of them in the yard. Not learning my lesson, I bought another set. Well, those solar lights must have looked at him funny, because Waylon destroyed them, too. I did not try a third time.

One of my favorite pictures of him.

One of my favorite pictures of him.

A couple years ago, he developed a small growth on his leg, which we pointed out to the vet at his yearly checkup. Told it was likely nothing, we decided to watch and wait, as surgery on a dog his size would have not been easy. Around Thanksgiving last year it was noticeably larger, but didn’t seem to bother him in the least. By mid-January, it was much worse and caused the vet to clear his calendar for surgery the day after we took him in. I fully prepared myself for him to not come through the procedure, but he did and seemed to be doing well, even though he hated the “cone of shame” he had to wear. Then about a week later, he stopped eating and it was clear something was wrong. A trip back to the vet confirmed he had more internal tumors, and there wasn’t anything we could do other than a few more days of pain management.

Making the decision to let him go wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do. He wasn’t going to get better, no matter how many more surgeries or treatments we tried, and his quality of life was rapidly declining. I sat at my desk and cried, thankful it was close to the end of the workday and most of my co-workers were out of the office.

I don't have many pictures of Little C with Waylon - too much activity! But I'm glad I have this one.

I don’t have many pictures of Little C with Waylon – too much activity! But I’m glad I have this one.

Big C brought home his collar and hung it on his pen. I’m going to do something with it, but haven’t decided what yet. It has two metal tags, vaccination verification from the county, and when the wind blows just right they jingle, just as they did when he would come walking up to see what we were doing.

I find myself looking around, reaching out to pet him, and then remember, he’s gone.

Good boy, Waylon. Good boy.

What’s in a Name?

Thanks for following along on my blogging journey! I’ve been trying to think of some fun tidbits to write about and tonight I decided to explain where the name of my blog comes from.

It started when I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. I was fortunate enough to have a car – a third-hand red Escort station wagon – and my parents let me choose what I wanted on the license plate. Of course, I opted for a vanity plate and submitted several different options to the state. The one I received was  “CTRY GL 7” – for “country girl.” The “7” was because an all-letter plate was more expensive!

I don’t remember what other words I submitted, but the Country Girl plate fit me just fine. In fact, it also fit my younger brother, who inherited the car when I was done with it and didn’t want to go to the hassle of changing the plates!

Fast forward about 10 or so years. I had an opportunity to do some freelance magazine work, writing and photography, and decided to form my own business to be more professional about the whole thing. I didn’t want to just use my name, and I wanted something versatile that wouldn’t tie me into just photography or just writing. I kept coming back to “Country Girl” and added “Creations” because I liked the way it sounded and it represented what I was trying to do.

Around the same time, my mom gave me a challenge: take pictures of objects around the farm that resembled letters and spell out words like “family.”

Family

The first letter print I made. This one hangs in our home, along with a couple others I’ve made over the years.

I took that challenge and began to look for letters all over the farm. I’ve built up a gallery of all 26 letters at least once, most in multiples, and sell custom framed pictures of names and words. They make unique gifts for weddings and other special events, and I’ve even used items special to people to make truly one-of-a-kind items.

A co-worker commissioned this piece for her parents. She brought in her dad's lasso and other personal items for several of the letters. I love the way it turned out!

A co-worker commissioned this piece for her parents. She brought in her dad’s lasso and other personal items for several of the letters. I love the way it turned out!

It’s a fun hobby and one I hope to put more time into as Little C gets older and more independent. Maybe she and I can even look for new letters together!

A Little Less Sparkly

Today our house is little less sparkly. I took down our Christmas tree for another year. It always makes me a little sad to take off all the special ornaments and pack everything away in the big white box for the next 11 months or so.

A new dress for the Sunday before Christmas. Her favorite part? The sparkly red shoes. We have definitely gotten our money's worth as much as she's worn them since!

A new dress for the Sunday before Christmas. Her favorite part? The sparkly red shoes. We have definitely gotten our money’s worth as much as she’s worn them since!

But at the same time, I’m amazed at the extra space I “found” that is already filled with all the toys and books Little C received for Christmas. It looks like someone dropped a Toys R Us bomb in our toy room. Every year I think I’ll find the right system to keep everything organized, and every year I find one or two things that work, but so far I don’t have the magic combination. I’d love to hear what works for you, if you have found one!

Checking out what's in the "big sock!"

Checking out what’s in the “big sock!”

I didn’t write much this month – not because I didn’t have material, but because we were BUSY! Plans every weekend, extra fun things to do around the holidays, and several projects at work kept me on my toes. It was worth it, though, to watch the holidays unfold through the eyes of my daughter. Seeing her joy at the Festival of Lights, hearing her laugh with delight at her new toys, and watching her interact with family members made it all worth it.

"You mean I can rip this paper and not get in trouble?"

“You mean I can rip this paper and not get in trouble?”

We had our normal busy schedule with seven different Christmas celebrations to attend, but this year the timing worked out that they were spread out from Christmas Eve through the 27th (which was also my birthday!) so we didn’t have to rush around much and could actually spend time visiting instead of worrying about when we had to leave to get to the next place. We woke up Christmas morning in our own beds and Little C was able to experience Santa for the first time when all the gifts appeared under the tree while she slept. She doesn’t “get” Santa yet but she definitely knows who he is and that he says “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

Big C and Little C testing out her new mini Pillow Pals!

Big C and Little C testing out her new mini Pillow Pals!

I hope you had a blessed Christmas time with those who matter most to you, and that you’re ready to start 2015 with a bang! I’m proud to say I did stay up last night until midnight, although by 11:00 I was REALLY ready to call it a night! Funny how staying up late gets harder and harder the older you get!

I’m thankful for each of you who takes the time to read this blog, and I hope to continue to make it worth your while in the weeks to come!

A Needed Break!

I’ve been quiet on here since the end of November – I needed a little break after completing the challenge! Thanks to everyone who read along and (hopefully) enjoyed what I had to say.

In the eight days of December, it’s been busy around here. Of course the Thanksgiving holiday meant a little travel and delicious food, and I also found time to put up most of my Christmas décor that weekend, since I had Friday off work as well. I did just a bit of Black Friday shopping, only going to two stores, but I was able to find almost everything I set out for at really good prices!

Last week I had some work travel on Monday, then we took Little C to her first farm show on Tuesday. She seemed to really enjoy looking at the equipment and won a few hearts by giving out high fives to most of the people we visited with!

She loved sitting in this tractor! Pretty sure Pa-Pa was about to pull out his checkbook so she could take it home (just kidding!)

She loved sitting in this tractor! Pretty sure Pa-Pa was about to pull out his checkbook so she could take it home (just kidding!)

Wednesday I was in a workshop related to my job all day, and Thursday morning I had the opportunity to work with a colleague to present information about agricultural careers to eighth grade students at a local school. They will be choosing their freshman year courses in January, and the high school ag instructor set up a “speed dating” session with eight different facets of agriculture for the students to rotate among. It’s a great idea, and it opens the eyes of a mostly urban student population to the variety of opportunities in the ag industry. And it reminds me that I’m not cut out to be a teacher – I’m exhausted after one morning! I do enjoy being asked to help out, though, and hope to be contacted again next year.

Then on Friday we traveled to the Wisconsin Dells for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau annual meeting. My company is a sponsor of the event and I went as a company representative and also served as a judge for one of the Young Farmer and Agriculturist competitions. It was the second time I’ve been to that meeting and once again, it did not disappoint. Great sessions, excellent competitors, and wonderful networking opportunities made it a valuable weekend.

However, Little C had another idea. On Saturday morning, she developed her first stomach bug and spent the rest of the day sick. I was so grateful that Big C, my parents, and brother were also there, because I had a judging commitment that afternoon I couldn’t easily change. She wasn’t able to keep anything down all day, and we ended up taking her to urgent care to make sure she wasn’t becoming dehydrated. Even sick, she still charmed all the nurses and both doctors who checked her over! After an anti-nausea pill and a cup of pedialyte, three hours later we headed back to the hotel.

Took this picture to check to see if she was asleep so I wouldn't have to move her. Yes, that's her swimsuit cover up, we were getting desperate on tops.

Took this picture to check to see if she was asleep so I wouldn’t have to move her. Yes, that’s her swimsuit cover up, we were getting desperate on tops.

Thankfully, that helped her turn the corner and by yesterday morning she was much more like herself. Being sick is never fun, and especially not when you’re away from home. But we made it, and I had the best support team I could have hoped for!

By the time we left this morning, she was ready to "ride" the elephant statue in the lobby!

By the time we left this morning, she was ready to “ride” the elephant statue in the lobby!

Like Big C said during the wait at urgent care, “I don’t want to be here, but since we have to be, I’m glad it’s with you.”

Amen.