Friday, March 13, 2009


Do you guys ever get that way? Being a homeschool parent has to be the one way to get paid even less than a public school teacher. But that's not my REAL issue, here. It's this one:

My kiddos wanna raise in their allowance. 

"You see, Dad," I'm being told, "toys just aren't as cheap as way-back when you were a kid."

Way-back? They're not trying to appeal by flattery, are they. But I do hear their point. An average action figure runs $10. And playsets smaller than my Omega-3 caps, range all the way up to a $20!

They already feel the pinch ravaging through a box of vanilla wafers. You see, they've cut the quantity and thickness down over the last few years. The once 20 oz box's been cut to 15 and then 12 before dwindling down to the current 10.78...

Modern economics is a tough lesson for us grown-ups, too. So I'm trying to be sensitive to the kids' request. One of the biggest obstacles I notice is overcoming this mentality, even for adults. When life was sweet in the pocket, we spent a ton on whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it. That's a hard habit to break, let alone not pass down. But like my wife and I learning the way to do more with less, we approach Bear and Jay's problem creatively.

We have shelves and buckets of rather forgotten and somewhat forlorn toys. "To think outside the toybox, how can use what we have in a fresh and fun kinda way?" I pose...

"Is this another recycling lesson, Dad?"

"Dudes... we can just give it all away to someone who WILL choose to have fun--"

"No no no, that's okay! We get your point!" they chime in, grabbing Barbie and superhero clothes. Next I see them walk over to the vat of stuffed animals... "Dad look! My bear with the stretchy arms looks good in plaid!"

And they're missing in playland a full work day. One can learn a lot from a Webkinz in a princess gown...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Our Recent Field Trip

This is one we take several times every year. The grandparents often can use help on their goat farm, about a four hour drive away. It's a "five" if you include the frequent u-turns back home within the first 10 minutes for forgotten items. Of course this time, I remembered not packing the camera after mile 25-- too far along to retrieve, so you will hafta use your imagination when prompted. I'm not worried. You're a creative bunch...

The Journey

It begins with piling into a cute little Mazda 5. Fun, because it has three rows of seating but still zippy. We pack two grown-ups in the front-- stands to reason-- two kids, in the not-so-far back-- they love it-- and all the loot in-between. A pair of poodles roam, one settling down at the adult passenger's floorboard, and the other changing laps and shoulders. He's our pup, and we think he has ADHD. (Imagine, if you will, a picture of a cream-colored miniature poodle with short hair and an Einstein mop and mustache on his face. Cute dog. Not real smart, though.)

It's rather ordinary the first half of the drive, a giant racetrack and municipal airport serve as the only interesting scenes. But around Thurber/Mingus, it get's interesting. The tiny town has an enormous smoke stack on the north, left over from something, and an intriguing castle on a hill to the south. Then, we get into the top part of hill country and quite scenic part of the trip. (Can you picture Hogwarts with dragons circling above? It's nothing like that. More of a towerless sand castle-shaped restaurant. Still cool though.)

Right off the bat we can see a wind farm with two dozen turbines towering over 400 feet each. (Unbelievable, even if I did photograph it.) For the following hour and a half we pass alongside a steady view of small hills, a few small towns and we're there at the farm.

Like I said, We're There

Upon immediate arrival, the kids have the unique pleasure of experiencing the miracle of goat birth. More disgusting than awe-inspiring to watch in real life, though. That made for 30 new Boers and 10 new milk goats this go-round. Plus another 20, mostly Alpines and Saanens, are on the way. We were there primarily to help with the additional feeding and milking, and we needed to move some pens around. 

Of course the wind made things a real challenge. It was straight outta the Wizard of Oz, I even thought I saw someone pedaling a bike in mid-air. Conditions like that really sap the enengy, but we knew we could count on a hardy meal when we were done. (Imagine Thanksgiving, every day; drumstick in one hand, corncob the other...)

The next morning we got up for more of the same, only less wind. Whew! Sat down for another big spread. This one, a heaping of eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, deer sausage, biscuits and gravy. Sure we were all glad to help, but it's this meal that always makes the work worth while. Thankfully, we packed up before it, too, because we could hardly budge from having such full tummies. (Pictured here are a couple giant beachballs, and their dogs.) We then waddle to the car, stuff ourselves inside and return home.

And even though the field was covered in goat poo, we look forward to another trip back. (Visualize a typical family of four, wearing dirty boots and smiles. Then thank God that mental pictures have no odors...)