Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Madness Begins

Let the cleaning spree commence.

Tomorrow Uncle Dave arrives at my house, and we are off to Little Rock, Arkansas for a classroom visit. I am totally excited about the classroom visit: I am NOT excited about Uncle Dave coming to my house.

And let me explain before I get in REALLY big trouble. I don't like to clean. I hate cleaning. If I could afford it, we would have a cleaning service come to our house three days a week to help us keep up.

Uncle Dave is like the cleanest person I know. If you've ever watched reruns of the TV show "Full House", you'll understand when I say Uncle Dave reminds me of Danny Tanner. He likes to have a place for everything, and everything had better be in its place. Even with three dogs, Uncle Dave manages to keep his house and pick-up spotless. Even the farm equipment is clean. And if it's not clean, he gets out the hose and Shop-Vac and goes to work.

I am not that kind of person. Why clean when it's just going to get dirty again tomorrw? If I tried to keep my house and cars as clean as he does, I would never sleep.

I would clean.
I would never eat, or play, or get any writing done.
I would clean.
The kids would never see mommy again, at least not without a vacuum or dust rag. There would never be any t-ball or other games for mommy to attend. My daughter would forget what I look like, and my husband would wonder what happened to his wife because...
I would clean.
This is not my idea of a full and satisfying life. I've seen lots of blog posts and magazine articles about people who looked back on their lives and said they never once thought, "Gee, I wish I had cleaned more."
I'm not sure why Uncle Dave and I are so different. We share the same gene pool, but he got the clean genes, and I got the 'clean only when the laundry is piled so high the door won't open, and when you walk across the hardwood floors they crunch' genes.
But I am so excited about this classroom visit, and Uncle Dave helping me with my first visit, and if that means I have to do a marathon cleaning event before he arrives to keep him from freaking out, then that's what I'll have to do.
Since the visit is on Friday, I'll try to post later that night. With any luck, I might have pictures to show everyone.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Planting Season

Another day, another blog entry.

This week I will have my first school visit. I am visiting the fifth grade class at Little Rock Christian Academy. Uncle Dave is going with me, and we will have a great time.

Spring has arrived in Oklahoma, and my husband and I are getting ready to build new flowerbeds. I don't know whether to say, "Yay!" or, "Booo!" I am not the green thumb type. Plants do not magically grow under my care. Plants mysteriously die by my hand.

And it's not that I don't like flowers. I think they are beautiful...the colors, the varieties, the sweet aromas, and even the gorgeous butterflies and ladybugs that are attracted to the fragrant blooms. But I have no luck keeping plants alive.

I have no house plants at all. And I am worried about the landscaping we will be doing over the next several weeks. It gets expensive. And I hate to go buy a bunch of healthy, lovely shrubs, bushes, and flowers only to have them croak under my supervision.

But who knows. Maybe when we go to the nursery, they can point out plants that can only be killed if they are set on fire. That would be good. I'm pretty sure I can avoid setting them ablaze once they are in the ground.

So wish us luck. I'll post pictures after we get the flowerbeds made and everything planted.

Friday, April 25, 2008

One of THOSE Parents

I am in big trouble here. I am going to be one of THOSE parents who embarrass their children to death at every event in their life.

Just to give a bit of backstory (a no-no for an author, I know, but it's my blog so I will): my 4 year old twin sons are on a T-Ball team. Picture a dozen small children running around in circles, sitting on top of their gloves in the outfield, sitting in the wrong direction on top of their gloves in the outfield, running to the pitcher's mound instead of first base (one of my sons!), carrying their bat with them all the way to first base, and on and on.

The first game was fun. Actually it was hilarious, but fun, too. (visit my Shoutlife blog for details All the kids got to bat. All the kids got to play different positions on the field, and they rotated every inning. None of the kids really knew what they were doing, the coaches on both teams tried to help all the kids out, and everybody had a good time.

Now we get to the game last night. The opposing team was a bit older, maybe 5 and 6 year olds. Their team had obviously played before. They actually knew how to throw the ball and what their glove was for.

While our kids were still trying to figure out how to get the ball and find a base, the coaches for the other team are sending their kids around the bases like they were running laps on a track.

The previous game, when a kid hit the ball they ran to the first base then stopped. Next batter, next base. Until everyone made it home. Not so with this game. They were trying to score on every hit, every time. my husband so calmly pointed out, the players on our team didn't know. They had no idea the other team was playing to win, not playing for fun. Our team doesn't even understand the concept of win vs. lose. And they did have fun. Lots of fun. But as a parent, I have to say I was very upset that the coaches for the other team were more interested in getting the win than in giving ALL the kids a chance to play the game for sheer fun.

In fact, I became so aggitated one of the other moms reminded me that if you cause a scene at a game, you are banned from the ball park FOREVER!

Any parent who has ever caused a scene at one of their children's events can relate. Any kid who has had a parent embarrass them at an event can probably relate, too. But remember, if your parents didn't care about you soooo much, they wouldn't make fools of themselves like that.

So from now on, I have made it my mission at every game to: 1.) Stay calm. It's only a game. 2.) Stay calm. The kids will learn to play in their own time, regardless of what the other team does. 3.) Stay calm. Getting banned from the ball park isn't going to do me or my family any good. It will be difficult to explain to 4 year olds why mommy jumped the fence and tried to beat a coach with a bat.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Animals on the Ranch...Not What You Think

Part of the reason this blog is called “Ramblings from the Ranch” is because I like to ramble on about nothing in particular. And today I decided to ramble about…Horny Toads.

As kids on the Ranch, my brother and I loved hunting for and catching Horny Toads (official name is Phrynosoma or Horned Lizard). And before I get bombarded with hate mail or death threats from animal activists, we absolutely NEVER harmed one of these fascinating creatures. We were far too excited to find one to even think about hurting it.

They live in the semi-arid environment of western Oklahoma, as well as other arid/desert environments in the Southwest, in the loose sandy or loamy soil.

We loved catching them and holding them in our hands (very carefully so we wouldn’t get poked by the horns or spit at; they can shoot a stream of blood from the corner of their eye into the eyes or mouth of a predator).

We would find them among the tall tufts of prairie grass, hunting for food such as ants and other insects. And the strangest thing about them, which I have been unable to verify with another source, but I swear it’s true: we would rub our finger along the flat middle part of their forehead, and the lizards would completely relax in our hands. They would actually sit and warm up in the sun while we held them and rubbed their heads. I have no idea why, but it was way cool!

Horned Lizards are listed as a Category II species with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, meaning they are a native species, possibly threatened or vulnerable to extirpation (being destroyed), but insufficient research exists to change their status on the list.

If you have a chance to check one out, do so, but cautiously. They are harder to find these days, but the best time is in the morning or early afternoon when they are out sunning themselves. Lift them gently by their sides, don’t point them directly at your face so they won’t shoot blood at you, and watch out for those spikes! And be sure to let them go when you are done!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend at the Ranch

The office organization had to take a break for the weekend while I took the kiddos and headed to the ranch.

My brother (we'll just call him Uncle Dave), suggested we all, meaning my mother (we'll just call her Grandma Anna), all the kids (we'll call them Brad, Charlie, and Zoey), and his wife (we'll call her Aunt Missy) go down to the 2C Ranch for the afternoon to check the cattle, let the kids play, and we MIGHT work on a project.

I should have known this was a trick from the beginning, but I believed Uncle Dave would be true to his word and not care if we spent serious time laboring at the ranch.


We got to the ranch and immediately the orders began to fly..."Herd the cattle out, Close the gates, Get the cubes in the bunks, Let the cattle back in, I'm going to get the tractor - you follow me in the pick-up, Move the pick-up and trailer over here so I can weld these posts for a new fence and gate."

Now, my next set of orders were, "Walk this fence line, and nail these loose wires up to these wooden posts. You're going to have to pull the wire tight as you go, and try to pull the wires as high as you can, too."

So I started walking the fence line to nail the barbed wire into the posts. I didn't make it to the FIRST post before Uncle Dave followed behind me, took the hammer away, and began to nail the wires himself and instruct me on the "right" way to do it. So I tried to do it his way. The nails bent in every direction instead of around the wire and into the post. So he dragged me to the next post, and the next post, and the get the idea.

Halfway down the fence line, I was furious, he was frustrated at my lack of proper nailing technique, and we argued non-stop until Aunt Missy arrived to shoo him away and help me out. And when I finally got to nail a couple of the wires in place, doing it my way, it was time to go.

But to give Uncle Dave credit, he is great at what he does. He can ride a horse, work the cattle, weld metal and make just about anything, he's good at carpentry, and especially good at fixing/building fence.

Even though I was frustrated and wanted to do it my way, he really does know what he's talking about. Maybe next time if I take his advice, we can get more done in less time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The First Blog

Welcome. I have yet to post a blog entry because I really didn't have anything to say.

And now I do.

Sort of.

My first blog entry will be about...organization. Why? Because I can.

And because I am probably the most unorganized person on the planet. We moved into a new house 7 months ago and I still have boxes stacked in the garage, the living room, the dining room, the bedrooms (all of them) get the idea. There are no pictures on the walls, cabinets still sitting empty with a box of stuff designated for that cabinet right in front of it, and piles of paperwork - oh, the horror! I shudder every time I look at all that paperwork.

So why don't I do something about it? Because I don't know where to start.

I become paralized with indecision when faced with the task of designating a place for everything. My mind races with questions: where should it go, how often is it used, would it be better in a different room, do I even need it, when was the last time I used it, what if I need it later, and on and on and on.

But this week I have taken my first step toward organization. I am promoting my new book, Where Would Cows Hide?, and as I spend money on office supplies, promotional materials (business cards, bookmarks, postcards, etc), print out receipts, and attempt to put these items in some sort of order, I decided I need to get my office put together.

I have been cleaning off a huge desk/book shelf set created by my fabulous father-in-law, Max. I have been finding a place for everything, and when the questions start to creep in, and the indecision starts to mire the process, I take a deep breath and tell myself, "Just find a place to put it. This is not its final resting place. You can move it later."

And it really is coming together. I may have a functioning office by Sunday night.

So if you have problems with getting organized, just tell yourself to put it somewhere, and remember it can always be moved to a more proper home later.