Monday, March 31, 2008

Inner Park Workings

Many have wanted to know how the Park system works, so all of you Wanna Be Park Rangers, pay close attention. First let me say, this is how our state park system works, this is not National Parks. I am sure the system is closely related in how they work, but a whole different animal.

There are Park Rangers, Interpreters, and Park Management. Customarily, many of the Superintendents were Rangers or Interpreters and have moved up to Park Management. Park Rangers are responsible for the overall safety of the Park; law enforcement, first responders (medical), and firefighters.

Interpreters are the ones who educate or actually "interpret" the park, good choice for a name, huh? With historical parks, they would be the people who give you tours and teach about the time period of that park, for recreational parks they would give "programs" about what weeds are edible and the animals in the area by identifying their poop. O.K. now my friend Flying Squirrel is an interpreter and she does much more than eating weeds and studying animal poop, but this is just to give you an idea.

Uniform staff (Superintendents, Asst. Superintendent, Rangers, and Interpreters) live on the park. This has its ups and downs, yes we have a nice home in a Park setting, but my husband is always at work it seems. This is one reason we have land and are building a get-a-way cabin. Previously, we were at a mountain park and now that we have been gone 3 years (this week) we can look back and see how we took advantage of such a wonderful place to live. I think since it is your home and you are immersed in it, you don't enjoy it like a park visitor does. But, for obvious reasons, living on a park is a great place to raise our kids.

Without you, the tourist, it is pointless. As The Park Wife, I just ask that you respect the resource --listen to the interpreter that is trying to share a piece of the park with you and take pictures but leave nothing but footprints.

Get out and visit the parks in your area this weekend. There are official Junior Ranger Badges with your name on them.

The Park Wife

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On Sabbatical? Sick Day?..

Did you miss me? Did you even know I was not around for a few days? That's alright if you did not notice, I am sure you have more going on in your life than worrying about where The Park Wife has wandered off to now. At least I sure hope you have something more pressing.

We just returned from our land where we were fortunate enough to have an engineer (a friend of a friend) that works for our State Highway Department come out along with a bulldozer guy to walk our land with Big Buckaroo and make some decisions about what to do with our road after the whole "stuck in the mud debacle".

I am going to write some posts soon answering the questions you left for The Park Wife last week. I think I will give you the "quick" version of our love story, as to not bore you nor get comments (again) that I am trying to be like that talented blogger from Oklahoma that lives on a ranch.

As I have said numerous times (maybe to convince you, maybe to convince me, I am not sure... I did not pay attention real well in my college Psychology class) I am very unapologetic for who I am and my beliefs, I do not want to be like anyone else, I just want to be me. Sometimes that is scary, and a bit boring, but that is how it is!!!!

Off to church for a wonderful parenting discipleship class.
The Park Wife

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cowboy Up!

It was a cowboy kind of day yesterday.

Littlest Buckaroo wears his gun belt and hat the majority of the day and Little Buckaroo decided he would indulge his brother by tearing himself away from his trains and play cowboy with him.

Whoa horse!

Our dog Lucky is a little, let's call him, um, wild. However, he is pretty patient at times with the buckaroos. This is about as far as the "horse" riding went. Lucky ran off in a tizzy wondering why in the world that kid would try to get on his back.
That did not stop Little Buckaroo, he improvised with his stick horse on his bike. It was a little hard to turn left since the stick was blocking his handle bars, but it was fun for him to ride around in a circle.

I feel very safe with the Buckaroo's on duty. Little Buckaroo is very serious about his job of protecting the homestead.

Littlest Buckaroo just likes to shoot at everything. The dog, mules in the pasture, goats, vehicles, nothing is safe. He even shoots me and then says "I shoot the princess" (what his daddy calls me), however he does apologize right after he shoots me. A cowboy with manners, you can't beat that.

A good friend of mine that I used to work with BB (Before Buckaroos) is driving to see us today with her children. Her son is bringing some old football pads for Little Buckaroo to wear while they throw the football. From cowboy one day to football player the next, he is so diverse.

Have a wonderful day,
The Park Wife

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ask The Park Wife

I hit my 100th post a few days ago and did not know the trend that you are supposed to post 100 things about yourself to celebrate. I am not too trendy these days, unless you count those new hip pants I bought at Old Navy a while back. And, I think those are already out of style.

Since I have always been a little different (even though growing up I wanted to be just like all the other girls), rather than posting 100 things about me, I am going to open up The Park Wife Manual on Life and answer your questions.

How do you become a Park Ranger or more importantly how do you marry a Park Ranger? What is the difference in The Park Wife's chicken and the chicken at the store? How does The Park Wife respond when a buckaroo throws her an attitude? How oftern do I get my haircut? You know, all the life-changing important things you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. O.K., I might be flattering myself, but it's my 100 post party so just indulge me please.

So, think hard and nothing is off limits.... well, except if I feel attacked, the answer is unflattering, or it has yet to be written in The Park Wife's Manual on Life and I can't think of an appropriate answer. Hey, I have 5 brothers so I learned to set boundaries early, right after I got shot with the BB gun.

Happy 106th post to me!
The Park Wife

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Celebration

What a beautiful Easter weekend!

Yes, I dressed them all in navy blazers. I have some handsome Buckaroos!

Little Buckaroo was able to express himself with his signature red high tops. Sometimes he reminds me so much of Opie on the Andy Griffith Show. I am sure Happy Days are ahead for him (sorry, I could not resist).

See, getting four people in our family to look into the camera and smile at the same time is close to impossible. But, it was chilly and the lure of the eggs all over the ground was just too much to handle. Maybe next year!

Littlest Buckaroo working hard to get a few eggs. Yes, that is a real wire egg basket. Isn't it amazing all the time it takes to get a church Easter Egg hunt organized and it is all over within 20 seconds?

The boys are so oblivious to the whole Easter Bunny thing. We have chosen to focus solely on Christmas as Christ's birth (no Santa Clause) and Easter on the resurrection (no Easter baskets or Easter Bunny). Our choice, our beliefs, I know everyone does not agree.

We did let them do the egg hunt right before Sunday School, they just thought they got to get some candy before church, the Buckaroo's do get to have fun. But, let me tell you, that wandering person dressed as a bunny running around Wal-mart the week of Easter tends to provoke conversation among the Buckaroos. I am sorry to any children that heard Little Buckaroo explaining to Littlest Buckaroo (a little too loudly) last Friday who the Easter Bunny was or actually was not and what Easter is really about.

Little Buckaroo and his friend checking out their Easter Egg loot.
Can't you imagine what they were saying:

LB: Hey Max, whatcha got?

Max: Shiny gold thing, do you think it is money?

LB: No, it has a rabbit on it, usually money has some old dead guy with weird hair on it..

Max: Do you think it is rabbit money?

LB: yeah, it is so big it would probably buy a lot of carrots.

Max: I don't really like carrots, what else could I get with it?

LB: Maybe some of those plastic egg things, it's not real money and they are not real eggs.

Max: Thanks Buckaroo, mom says it is time for Sunday School, I gotta go.

LB: See ya, I probably have to go take ANOTHER picture.

This is Little Buckaroo's Sunday School teacher and babysitter. She is one of only a few people that I have left my children with, ever. I adore her and her family. Her mom is my mentor mom I have written about. She has a heart for children and is exceptional with our boys.

It was a fabulous weekend focusing on Jesus' sacrifice and teaching our children about what He did for us. For that, I am in awe and so very grateful.

Have a wonderful week,
The Park Wife

Monday, March 24, 2008

Glorious Weekend

He is Risen Indeed! What an awesome God we serve.

It was a beautiful weekend here and we spent the majority of the time outside enjoying the Spring-like temperatures.

The Buckaroos started off the weekend riding their Go-Kart, yes, it is still working. We have not had a Go-Kart Debacle for a while, I better go knock on wood right now!

Little Buckaroo is a very safe driver, no they do not have on helmets. Believe me, they were not going fast enough for me to have to even jog to keep up with them. Not that I would jog, or run, unless someone was chasing me.

The lure of a mud puddle was too much to resist. Big Buckaroo was washing our vehicles and the water ran down the driveway and made this "oh so fun" pool of clothes staining mush.

For some reason, I do not think Little Buckaroo is remotely worried about getting the mud stains out of his clothes. Yes, his brother does whatever he does, and I would not change that.

Now, this is fun! I pray that they continue to delight in the strength and wildness that God created in them. I want them to grow into adventurous men, not bored boy's whose hearts are lost to emasculation. Alright, enough of my Wild at Heart preaching today.

I think this picture would be an ideal advertisement for a Gap and Old Navy outdoor line for kids.

We did have a bit of a "skunk episode" on Saturday. We were finishing up lunch outside on the deck and Big and Little Buckaroo had walked up to the garden, I ran inside to the kitchen and Littlest Buckaroo was still on the deck eating. I heard Big Buckaroo screaming for me, I ran out and a skunk was running across our yard. Our crazy boxer, Lucky, was chasing the skunk, right up to our house. As the skunk was trying to get under the one way under our house, he sprayed Lucky, well, he was not very lucky that day. All the windows in the house were open to get the fresh air from the beautiful day, but then, skunk smell!!!!! After putting out vinegar, turning on all ceiling fans, opening all house windows and doors, then leaving for a couple of hours, the house was almost skunk smell-less. Oh, the life of The Park Wife.

Have a wonderful day,
The Park Wife

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adventures in Family Photos

It was a beautiful day here yesterday and since it was Good Friday, I thought why not try to take pictures of the boys outside dressed up. No dinosaur shirts, knee torn pants, and an attempt at brushing their hair that I cut the day before (it really is not their fault their hair always looks like it does).

We started off alright. They were very patient for me. But, here is a Buckaroo family secret, well not really a secret if you look through our photo albums - it is nearly impossible to get a good picture of us if there is more than one person in the picture. Cases in point, our wedding photos...honeymoon photos...babies being born photos... o.k. there are many examples.

It is a fact that a good family photo of us is few and far between, it is a fact that I have had to come to terms with. So, to not try to gloss over or misrepresent who we really are, let me let you into what really happens during picture time.

Littlest Buckaroo adores his big brother and looks to him for answers to questions like why is the sky blue? what's Walker, Texas Ranger's real name? why does mom have us sitting in the grass with this basket between us while we are wearing these uncomfortable blue coats? Oh, the knowledge this boy is acquiring from his big brother will take him far in life.

O.K., I am not above just giving my boys photo grief. We had to go somewhere last night that required us to be dressed up a little more than just blue jeans, so I thought (scary sometimes) that I would get Big Buckaroo to take a picture of me with the boys. I want them to look back when they are old and remember that they did have a mom since usually I am the one taking the pictures and am rarely in them.

Now, if it is hard to get a picture with just 2 people in it, think how hard it is to get 3 people to all be smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Littlest Buckaroo is wondering why in the world did we come back outside with different shirts on and stand in the same place. Maybe he is looking for the basket that we had out earlier.

This is going to have to do, it was getting late and we had to be in town. Littlest Buckaroo was so tired of saying cheese that he might be lactose intolerant now.

We will try again tomorrow morning before church.... maybe, if we are not running too late, my hair does not look too horrible, the boys have not spilled food on their Easter clothes, Big Buckaroo gets dressed in time....etc. etc.
He is Risen!
The Park Wife

Friday, March 21, 2008

Budding Archaeologist

We had a fun, educational time at the Park yesterday. We went to the archaeological dig and Little Buckaroo loved it. Mostly because there was dirt and rocks, any little boys idea of fun.

They are digging around an 1840s home, the archaeologist is showing Little Buckaroo where they have just found the home's old well (see arrow).

The archaeologist was very kind and stopped what he was doing to spend time with Little Buckaroo. He explained how the dig process works and some of the things he had found. The fact that Big Buckaroo had his gun on his hip was not the reason (see left side of photo), I think the guy is just nice. Little Buckaroo is holding a medicine bottle they found. The archaeologist is so knowledgeable that he could narrow it down to almost the year that this type of bottle was used in this area.
Our Park Historian let Little Buckaroo get in on the action with a magnet. He was happy to find a square nail that was used for building back then.

The Park Wife released control of her camera and got down with the Buckaroo's to check out the loot. Little Buckaroo is holding a porcelain handle to what was probably a water pitcher.

Just so you will know, the Jonquils are still beautiful around here. And, this is one thing that the archaeologist can not dig up!
We are heading back out to the dig!
The Park Wife

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chicken That Is Bad For You Pirate

I am a little concerned with the fact that the word chicken has showed up three days in a row on my blog.

Here is more useless information about The Park Wife and family. On Wednesday nights, Big Buckaroo and Littlest Buckaroo stay home together for some one-on-one bonding time while Little Buckaroo and I head out for AWANA at church (he is a Cubbie and I teach TNT).

We started a tradition of picking up dinner on the way. Since we live a bit out of town, we don't eat out a lot so this is very exciting for Little Buckaroo. Of course, he always wants chicken nuggets which he has dubbed "chicken that is not good for you". Remember, the chicken I cook is what we consider "natural" chickens, no antibiotics, other gook shot in them and live on fresh grass not in confined cages. Plus, I am not a food frying kind of girl. So, this is a big night for him.

His favorite chicken is McDonald's, he is a bit of a chicken snob in that the Burger King chicken shaped like a crown kind of freaks him out and he says Wendy's is not as good. We get him the Happy Meal and the majority of the time I give back the toy that comes in it. For several reasons: they are a little freaky, bordering on evil looking at times, we really don't need a zillion little toys around here that will only be played with once, and I really don't want to fill the landfill up with these toys especially since the break the next day usually. I could probably list more, but let's just stop there.

However, last night as we were indulging our McDonald's habit, I asked what the toy was (they know me there now and expect this question) and they told me it was a pirate bandanna. Well, as you know, Little Buckaroo loves dressing up and imagining. So, we got the toy. And, here is the result.....

Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all.

Yarrgh! Ahoy me matie!
(yes, that is a plastic bucket boat, a pirate needs a ship)

You will always remember this as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow (AKA Cowboy Littlest Buckaroo).

We have a wonderful opportunity today. They are doing an archaeological dig at the Park. This has been done on several occasions in the past and over 250,000 archaeological artifacts have been recovered, some dating back 3 decades before the Civil War. Little Buckaroo sure is excited about "school" today. Check back tomorrow for the full report.

The Park Wife

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chicken Husbandry 101

My friend Pam thinks chicken's are funny and asked for some photos. So, welcome to our "farm".

We primarily have Barred Plymouth Rocks like the ones below. However, over time we have acquired a black orphan hen from some neighbors who moved and just left him, I mean her (thanks Big Buckaroo), and a few others that are a rust color. There is a little bit of chicken profiling that goes on, the rust ones get picked on a lot by the Barred Rocks. It's just a chicken eat chicken world sometimes.

We do not name our chickens, the laying hens nor meat chickens. If we started that, the buckaroos would want to name all the chickens that come through this place. Can you imagine them trying to name the 50 meat chickens we run in each batch? When they are little, they are fast, it is hard to just keep them counted in the chicken pen, so naming them would be pointless. Plus, when they first arrive (for you city folks, you order them and they come right to your post office for you to pick them up) they are very small and I don't know if they are male or female. I am The Park Wife, not the Chicken Lady for goodness sakes.

At dinner I would have to say, "alright boys, let's thank God for the food, especially Candace who in her 6 weeks with us became tender and juicy." I am sure that would be a good lesson for the boys about where food really comes from, but I think they got it the first time they watched slaughter day out the window. After watching the scalder and plucker, there is not really any question about what is happening.

When we first moved here we had two of the Parks oxen in our pasture, they never did real well pulling the surrey and were preparing to be sent "out to pasture". Little Buckaroo wanted to name them (I am sure they already had names) so I suggested Ham and Burger. He went along with it, it was my own funny little joke when he was calling them. He was only 2 1/2 so he did not get my warped humor.

These are some very happy chickens, so no need for PETA to hedge a campaign against The Park Wife for animal cruelty. They get to live their days finding bugs, eating grass, chicken feed and my kitchen scraps. All we ask is for a few eggs in return. It is a very symbiotic relationship. (symbiotic, big word, hey that Southern Miss education is paying off)

This is our second rooster, the first one was very mean so we gave him away. He also must have been blind as he crowed all during the night. I REALLY questioned the whole chicken husbandry idea during the "mean rooster's" reign.

I know, this is not a chicken, but look at that sweet beak. He came to the backdoor with a flower for me yesterday. After he gave it to me, he said, "I'm dirty mommy". Ya think?

I better go make the boys some fresh eggs for breakfast.

Until tomorrow, cock-a-doodle-do,
The Park Wife

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Au Natural Park Wife

I would not have ever imagined while living in downtown Memphis or working and playing all over the South that I would marry a park ranger and live 35 miles from the largest "city".

Whenever mom sees someone that I went to high school with, she says, "oh, she is doing great, she has a wonderful husband, 2 of the greatest little boys, and you know what, she has chickens." Can you imagine what goes through these people's heads? From head cheerleader, debutante, college soccer player, professional public relations practitioner to the chicken lady.

Anyway, we do have laying hens for fresh eggs (about 6 eggs a day) and during the summer we run about 100 meat chickens, pastured poultry. What that means in layman terms (for the non-chicken owners out there), we raise chickens directly on green pasture which allows the birds to receive a significant amount of pasture forage as feed. They are moved on to fresh grass twice a day in a floorless pen so they are raised in a cleaner, healthier environment. Then, after about 6 weeks, it is slaughter day. This is not my favorite day of the year, but it is worth it to have healthy, non-steroid, arsenic, and whatever else filled chickens. Yes, we do have the equipment so don't think I am sitting there plucking chickens, now that would be something to tell my high school friends.

Prior to preparing our garden for planting, we move our laying hens and the pesky rooster into the floorless pen on our garden spot. They are able to forage around, work on some of the weeds and leave their droppings behind to fertilize.

I just finished tilling the garden (for the second time) and am getting ready to plant soon. I can't wait for fresh tomatoes to use in my salsa!

You can see the chicken pen in the far back left corner of the garden.

How are your gardens going?
The Park Wife

Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Get Around the Park...

...during festival time.

Over the weekend, we witnessed many different ways to get to and around the big festival at the Park. It was crowded, so you had to be careful of all the people and at times very creative to get from point A (the bloomin' onion stand) to point B (the craft area with all the cool, creative people selling their wares).

The Park owns some golf carts. These are easier for Park staff to navigate than their big trucks when there is a lot of traffic. However, on Saturday it was so busy that you could not even get around good on these. So, the Little Buckaroo's were able to sit and pretend they were driving it. Well, pretend except for when Little Buckaroo figured out how to get the brake off and went backwards over my foot.

Now, who would not love a covered wagon ride, well, except for the people back in the 1800s that were on the trail West for months on end. With no hot showers, limited food, and the same people to talk to every day.

Well, then there is getting carried around by a Ranger. This is Big Buckaroo's Asst. Superintendent playing around with the Little Buckaroo.

Or, you could just get pushed around in a stroller all day. I figure that I am putting my time in pushing him around now in the hopes that when I am old, he will push me around. Sorry, ladies, this is the beautiful wife of the Ranger in the previous picture.

Then there is the surrey. Little Buckaroo is fortunate enough to be able to "help" drive the surrey whenever he wants to. This is a common mode of transportation around here. A word of caution- watch where you are stepping when walking around the town streets.

Now, who would not want to drive a Deere that is just their size? This one does not have power steering so it takes two Buckaroo's to drive it.

I guess you CAN take it with you. The occupants of this hearse were stopped to pick up some provisions at the food stands. But, thankfully they did not have a procession (is that the word?) behind them. I can't imagine the traffic jam that would have caused on a big festival day. I would like a corndog to go, please, to go into eternity.

In my opinion, the best way to get around the Park during festival time is walking around with a good friend. I was fortunate to have another park wife and other friends with their children to hang out with all weekend.

We have to wait a whole year before the festival comes back around. I am alright with this as I am about festivaled out and Big Buckaroo is definitely festivaled out!

(Postscript: Some of the Mennonite women were selling their baked products on Friday and Saturday and many of the Mennonite families took in the festivities. I was careful to only take a picture of the back of these boys to be respectful of their beliefs regarding having their photos taken. So, no need to email me about this.)

Until tomorrow,
The Park Wife

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Festival Fun

We had a blast at the festival yesterday. We met up with two of my best friends with their children. Yes, I did get to have a bloomin' onion, but I shared with Big Buckaroo. A festival food junkie has to have boundaries you know.

Here is the thing about festival food, you get so excited about ordering it, but then after you eat the grease you think, "why in the world did I get that?" Needless to say, we had a vegetable heavy salad for dinner last night to alleviate some of my guilt and to balance out the Crisco heavy lunch.

Littlest Buckaroo loved jumping in the dinosaur, yes, dinosaur (I can't escape them) jumping thing-a-ma-jiggy.
Of course the dinosaur loving Little Buckaroo had a blast too. That smile says it all! Behind him is a little boy whose family has a booth at the festival selling wonderful handmade wood products. We met them on Thursday as they were setting up and of course Little Buckaroo befriended him and he went to the jumping thing-a-ma-jiggy with us. Case in point: my homeschooled little boy has NO problem with socialization.

This is the Divine Miss M with Littlest Buckaroo.

Alright, if you don't want my child-rearing philosophy, please skip on down to the next picture because I am about to give MY opinion, this does not mean that everyone agrees, but it is MY opinion (and this is my blog, and I am the one typing here).

When children are this small it really bothers me when adults come up and see scene like the above picture and say "oh, look how cute, is that your boyfriend?" People, they are 4 and 2! If you allow them to give their hearts away at this age and start talking about boyfriends and girlfriends you are setting them up for a lifetime of heartbreak. I pray that our boys save their heart for their wives, not continually giving it away to every little girl that comes along. We are actively training them toward this goal.

Divine Miss M's mom and I talk about this often and are teaching our children that it is the job of the older children to take care of the younger one (as Miss M is doing above) and never even putting into their minds anything remotely close to boyfriends and girlfriends. I hear kids at church talking (as little as 6 years old) about who they are dating and talking about getting a kiss on the playground. Those kisses are for their future spouse. Parents who think it is cute, do you want your daughter to marry a young man that has been kissing every girl on the playground, making out with any and every girl in the movie theatre, or doing a lot more in the backseat of a car?

Then don't set your daughter up to be one of those girls that these boys are doing those things with. If you think it is cute when they are little, that will encourage it and you will have a big problem on your hands when they are teenagers. Please teach them (boys and girls) to protect their hearts and not only honor God's design for marriage but to honor themselves and their bodies.

Little Buckaroo and Ri pretending to be crashing choo-choo trains (they had to do something to pass the time while Big Buckaroo and I were eating the bloomin' onion).
Big Buckaroo took some time out of his BUSY day to sit with his boys while they ate. What an incredible daddy! And, he is rewarded with complete adoration from his little guys, look how Little Buckaroo looks at him.
Uh Oh! A radio call gets him back to festival reality.
We are heading out this morning for more festival fun, but no bloomin onion today. Not only is it too much grease but festival food and jumping thing -a-ma-jiggy will break the bank.
The Park Wife