Saturday, November 28, 2009

Leaf Raking Alternative

Big Buckaroo does not rake leaves. Thinks it is a waste of time. He is a park ranger, they don't rake the forest do they?

Now, he knows that the only real benefit of raking the leaves, aside of adult peer pressure to have a nice looking lawn which does not have any bearing on Big Buckaroo's decisions in life, is that the grass needs sunlight. So, he will mulch them with a mower, maybe, sometime this year.

Another reason to not rake leaves ~ it will take away our kids creativity. Yep, blaming my leaf strewn yard on my kids.

Little Buckaroo grabbed a rake, yes we do own one, and set out working. He spent hours on his grand plan.

He made a path throughout our yard that he said people could come walk on to see our animals. He thought $2.00 was a good price. Oh, the entrepreneurial spirit.

After leaving the big box by his playground, it went toward the chicken coop because everyone needs to see our over-abundance of hens milling around. He would charge extra if you picked up eggs. I bet he would throw in his mom cooking them for free, that's just the kind, giving heart he has.

The path then proceeded by a little pen that has a baby rooster. He has been living with the rabbit but I thought it was time for him to venture out on his own. We promote individuality and independence around here. Plus, I thought it was a little strange when the rooster learned to drink water from the rabbits waterer.

Hello rabbit whose name changes daily. Littlest Buckaroo likes to change it depending on his mood. I think she is going to have a complex, but I have other things to worry about. Rabbit psychology 101 is not high on the list, it is right there with ironing.

The path proceeded to the goat pasture and then back to his playground starting point. Thankfully, he did not charge me.

But, where was everyone else while our little entrepreneur was at work? Oh wait, we do rake leaves.....

into a big pile to swing into!

This is what leaves are for!
And for criss-crossing Little Buckaroo's paths on the go-kart. You can see everything in the yard much faster this way.

After he finished his path and took everyone on it a few times, he decided that he had worked hard and it was time for some fun! Ummmm, I think his daddy was having too much fun on Little Buckaroo's go-kart. He deserves it after all of the Go-Kart Debacle.

I know that raking leaves makes your yard look tidy and everyone else is doing it, but not at our house at the park. It would take away too much of the fun!

Going to mulch (or not),
The Park Wife

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Humbling Through Kid's Soccer

God is humbling me through U-6 soccer.

I played college soccer and have coached and refereed more soccer games than David Beckham has tattoos. I was not an exceptional soccer player, but I really loved it.

I even have a soccer ball tattoo on my ankle.

Ooooh, my mom is so proud. Now, let's not go judging that homeschool mom with a tattoo, GASP!!!!!! I am still a Southern Belle that loves the Lord....just have a little ink on my ankle.


As the Buckaroo's got to the age to play in organized leagues, we have introduced them to various sports, even though I would love to outfit them in the best soccer gear and explain to them that real football is really soccer and there is no need for basketball goals or tennis rackets. Big Buckaroo keeps me in check.

We let them choose one sport a year, we don't believe in over-scheduling. Gas prices fluctuate too much for we rural folks to be driving all over town every afternoon and it interferes in spending our days indoors teaching our first grader to split atoms and clone the cat, I love homeschool stereotypes.

We want to find what their bent is, what they are good at and what they love to do, not what every kid on the block is doing. Well, we live in a state park so there are not many kids on our block, but you get my point.

Little Buckaroo liked soccer last year and chose to play again this year. Of course, I had to be the coach because herding cats on a soccer field is my idea of party time.

We went to see one of my dearest friends who works at the city park office to sign the boys up. She got Littlest Buckaroo a jersey too because that's the way she rolls when she sees those sweet blue eyes. I jokingly told her to tell the guy in charge to stack my team please.

Oh, it got stacked alright. The majority of the teams are all boys with one girl. Lord thank you for the lesson I have received ~ Our team has 3 girls and 3 boys with 2 of the boys being half the size of all the other players. But, that has not stopped our fun!

They get to run and kick a ball, sometimes into their own goal, more often in the other teams goal. See, I am learning, I am not expecting Pele' here, I want my kids to have fun, learn the game and teamwork. O.K., I do want them to win too, let's be real here.
This is Littlest Buckaroo and Miss J, she was on our team last year and when she and Little Buckaroo see each other at games they act like long lost buddies. She is so kind and protective of Littlest Buckaroo on the field. I love how my children don't see race, age, rich, poor, good soccer player or flower picking soccer field player. They are all their best friends out there.

As we were walking off the field one night, Littlest Buckaroo asked his brother, "did we win?" Little Buckaroo said "no, they beat us 7 to 4". Littlest Buckaroo said, "oh that's alright, we'll get 'em next time". Oh the wisdom of a 3-year-old.

Jesus told us to become humble, to make ourselves like the children.

Learning from my kids (and praying they don't get a soccer ball tattoo),
The Park Wife

Ask The Park Wife ~ Cheesecake Dilemma

Question from my new friend Lumberjack's Wife:

Why does my husband not like cheesecake?
Honey, I do not see a problem here except that you think you can’t bring cheesecake into your home because hubby will not eat it. Big Buckaroo is not fond of cheesecake but that means more for me! That could be why I am still saying I am trying to lose baby weight when my son turns 4 next week. Does anyone have a deck of Deal a Meal cards lying around I could use?

If you want to be dessert compassionate, try to figure out hubby’s abnormal dislike for cheesecake. It could be a texture thing or a cheesecake ignorance issue or both. Maybe the only kind that he has ever had is the supermarket refrigerator cheesecakes. Those are an abomination; they get stuck in your mouth. Yuck! A real baked cheesecake, aka the good stuff, is thick and rich and made in a springform pan with a graham cracker crust, and takes lots and lots of cream cheese and lemon juice and sugar and eggs. Oh my!

The Park Wife’s 2-step program to cheesecake becoming a staple at your house:

Step 1 ~ Cheesecake introduction for hubby. Try a recipe for a light and fluffy cheesecake, nothing artificially flavored or plasticky. You can’t beat a smooth and fluffy cheesecake. Oooh, just rub it on my hips, that is where it is going. I know this great gal out of Oklahoma who part of her blog is targeted toward cooking, I bet you can get a good recipe there. Or, you can't beat Paula Deen, I love me some butter!

Step 2~ If he still does not like it, then I would not be too upset. Make 6 cheesecakes, at least one needs to have fruit on top, you have to get your fruit serving for the day. Next, invite all yours girlfriends over and have a cheesecake party. Friends, laughter, and cheesecake. It does not get much better than that. Oh, and the best thing is that you get to eat all the party leftovers.

Sweetie, I understand your confusion over your husband’s dislike for cheesecake, it is just not natural to not like a soothing to the soul cheesecake. I say make him a chocolate cake and move on into cheesecake land alone. We all need a little alone time.

So go ahead , eat and be jolly!
The Park Wife

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Live, Laugh, Love

I have this sweet, funny little boy. He will be 4 in about 2 weeks. Some days he comes out with his clothes on backwards or with two pairs of underwear on, looks at me and winks. He knows he is funny.

Here is the thing though, he is not flashy and out there like Little Buckaroo and myself. We love a stage. Too bad neither of us can sing. Not that it stops us, nope, we can belt out some tunes. We have not been invited to any caroling parties, hmmm, I wonder why.

Anyway, Littlest Buckaroo is reserved and soft spoken, unless he is mad at his brother. He's just a quietly exuberant kind of kid. He also is the spitting image of his dad. He walks like his dad. He thinks like his dad. He has the same quirks as his dad. He does not resemble me physically one bit. He is blonde as can be and I am not, even before Miss Clairol's help.

I am sure he is mine, I have the scar to prove it. Not to mention the baby weight I am still carrying around. Um, yea, I said he was going to be 4 soon. Don't I have until he is 5 to say, "I just had a baby"?

Just when I thought that he and I have nothing that binds us except for our love of vanilla wafers, I saw a flicker of quirkiness that is all Park Wife.

See, when I laugh, really laugh, I scrunch up my nose. I have even had a snort come out once or twice. No, nothing like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality (but I too want world peace), it is just a little snort. And, it has to be something really funny.

Then one day, I noticed it. It began to happen over and over. Yes, my boy scrunches his nose when he is very amused.

Nature? Nurture? I don't care, he is mine. Our bond is solidified by a snort.

Hardy har har...snort,
The Park Wife

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicken Coop Trauma

We have chickens. Lot's of chickens. We ordered 10 chickens for Little Buckaroo's 4-H project this year. I was excited, fresh eggs for the family and the extras we could sell at the Farmer's Market.

Yea, best laid plans. The 4-H truck delivers the chickens throughout the state to the different 4-H clubs. We were the last stop. There were 100 left on the truck. Yea, we brought home 100 baby chicks.

Thankfully, there were area 4-H'ers that needed chickens so we ended up with 28 chickens.
Then Lucky decided that he liked chicken, so we were down to 24. Bad dog.

They get to go out on fresh grass in the afternoons so now I have to chain Lucky (appropriate name because he is lucky to be alive) up. Then, at dusk when they go in, I let him off the chain.

The chickens started laying eggs the week of the last Farmer's Market for the season. So, now I get about 22 eggs a day. Call me if you need eggs, cluck, cluck.

Oh yea, the chicken trauma. So, whenever Big Buckaroo goes out of town there is inevitably going to be a chicken trauma. A few weeks ago, I heard a bit of a ruckus at about 10:30 p.m. and went out with a flashlight. All looked well until I looked up here (see photo below).
There were 3 hens up there roosting because they did not make it back into the hen house before I closed the door. I know, I really should count the girls. I spent the next 30 minutes in my pajamas with a boat oar trying to coax them down and get them in the hen house for the night. I kept looking around to make sure I was not on candid camera. Ugh, life on a mini-farm.

So, last weekend while Big Buckaroo was out of town hunting, I went to get eggs and there were only 5 in there with all the rest broken. Yea, I forgot to get them the day before and someone benefited from my absentmindedness, glad someone benefits from it. Plus, there were some wing feathers on the ground, uh oh, not good.

The next day I made sure before dark that all the girls were inside and all the eggs were picked up. I heard a ruckus at about 11:20 p.m. Lucky was inside with me so he could guard the family during the night (if he could hear anything over his snoring). It was the rooster and a couple of hens making it sound like a Desperate Housewives cat fight.

I went outside, did not see anything. I started back in, turned around and looked up. In a tree by the chicken coop sat.....

a possum!

What to do???? Where is Big Buckaroo???? I want my mommy! (not that she could help, she is afraid of chickens)

I went inside and got a pellet gun, I thought I would scare it out of the tree and maybe Lucky would run it off. Did not work. Neither did the rock I threw up at him.

At this point I am thinking how did I go from Memphis chic to chic defender?

I knew that if I did not take care of this situation I would have some dead chickens in the morning. So, I went inside to get the shotgun. Not a good idea because I am scared of it kicking back and bruising my shoulder. But, I was being bold, I had to defend Tara. Oh wait, I am not Scarlett.

I went back out with the gun, aimed, then stopped, talked to myself a while, aimed again. This went on for about 3 minutes. I finally got up the nerve, took off the safety There was not a shell in it. I could not go through that again. So I walked back to put the gun up and thought about what Big Buckaroo would do.

Well, he would have put a shell in the shotgun, but anyway, I decided to get the small animal trap, put some dog food in it and hope for the best.

The next morning I went out and SUCCESS. I had trapped a possum, I am a real country girl now. Just call me Elly Mae. Woohoo!

Next predicament ~ my husband was not home to relocate it, I was surely not picking that cage up, have it hiss at me and risk it rushing out and attacking me. What to do, what to do????

Thanks park maintenance for giving ugly, nasty possum a new home about 5 miles from us!

Going to make eggs Benedict,
The Chicken Whisperer

***Disclaimer: We are very good to our animals, all of them, from the rabbit to the dog to the goats to the chickens to the brand new Texas brown tarantula that I would rather not be good to, but I am. Just had to say that, there are some crazy folks out there who would want to cause a ruckus over me permanently eliminating (which I did not) a possum that was about to kill my chickens.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Power of Ree

I am going to get back to blogging about my life on a state park soon I promise. Actually, I had planned on posting pictures from our Civil War Weekend last weekend, but Pioneer Woman threw me for a loop!

After her posting about her book signing in Little Rock, all that sweet red head did was put a link to my post about my trip to meet her and KABOOM! My little blog was HOTTER than my hot park ranger pictures.

To all of my new followers, thanks for joining the chaos. And, I am thankful to all of you that have stopped by, all 8447 -- update: 9722-- you in the past 24 --update: 35 hours. My little blog did not know what to do, that is CRAZY!

Thanks to Ree, she has the Midas touch, and I am not talking mufflers.

So, for all of you that are first timers at The Park Wife, here is a quick glance at my life so that you will know what it is that I blog about.

***I reserve the right to change my mind and redirect my whole blog, I was thinking of taking up underwater basket weaving and telling the world of the interesting cricks (aka creeks) and ponds where I work on my masterpiece's. Then I remembered that masquito's love me and I don't love them.

I am the wife of a wonderful man that happens be to be a state park superintendent. He is an extraordinary man who walks with integrity and lives his life for the Lord. We have a wonderful love story, just like my "old internet friend" Ree. By the way, Ree and I are not old, just been meeting up on our blogs for what is considered a long time for bloggy world. I have not been invited to the ranch, maybe one day, but I think she is a little busy right now. I was saying, I am married to a hunky ranger (he will kill me if he reads that, don't tell him). He is an extraordinary dad, I could not have asked for more.

I am the mom of two little buckaroos that I homeschool, no we are not wiccaans (yes, some people think that and many other stereotypes of homeschoolers). Actually, we are Christians who are trying to raise our boys to be hard working, honest, adventure seeking warriors who love the Lord. I do think that flying on a broomstick might be cool, but my hair would look like Weird Al Yankovic's everywhere I went. Just Eat It! (that song will be stuck in your head all day, sorry).

No need to debate private school vs public school vs homeschool here, I think we all need to get along and respect that we are all doing what we feel is best for our kids, enough said. Now, let's all be friends and sing cumbaya.

I grew up a Mississippi Belle. I learned to sparkle at an early age. I try to still adhere to the most basic belle rules, like do not chew gum in public, no velvet after February 14, no white shoes until after Easter, if you wear sandals your toenails must always be painted, how to make ther perfect sweet tea, even though I don't like tea, oh mercy me. And yes, one of our sons is named Big Buckaroo's grandmother's maiden name. Now, since living on a state park in a rural area, I have let some of the other belle rules slide, but not so much that I would end up on peopleofwalmart dot com.

I believe in community involvement and teaching our children that they can make a difference in our community, in people's lives, in the world. We just started a Farmer's Market. Four years ago I could not keep anything alive, I couldn't even grow a Chia pet.

Did you know there is a new Chiaobama, nothing says Go America like a chia pet of our President. You can choose between the "Happy" or "Determined" poses - for the amazingly low price of just $19.99 (three seed packs included!). I am not kidding about this.

ANYWAY.....I get off track sometimes. Now I am growing veggies to sell to the public. I have also helped to start a community library in our small town and have just held our first community dinner in the street (we blocked it off so cars nor horses and buggies would run over our food or kids, you know, the important stuff). It is fun to be able to tell your kids to go play in the street, watch them play with a huge group of kids, and visit with your neighbors.

I love the holidays! I want our holiday's to be like a Norman Rockwell painting, but usually end up like a Griswold Christmas Vacation. Every year as the holiday's approach, I forget the chaos of the year before and set about my Rockwellesque plans.

We are building a cabin in the mountains. As you are driving up to the cabin site, there is an old rock well, that, along with my idealist tendencies had us name our place Rockwell. Yep, an idealist through and through. I have followed the journey from clearing the land until the roof going on which is the point we are at now. Stick around and help me decorate the inside, no dead animals on the walls, I prefer my wildlife in the wild.

There is more wackiness to be found at The Park Wife. Thanks for joining me, Ree's old Internet friend (yes, I was very excited when she wrote that).

Ch Ch Chia,
The Park Wife

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hunter Ed for Wives

Fall hunting season opens this weekend and Big Buckaroo has loaded up the trailer and 4-Runner and hit the road with his dad. They are going to our land to "put the metal roof on the cabin" ~ man speak for going to work on the roof around hunting.

Although Big Buckaroo hunted some growing up, it was not until we bought our land last year that he started going hunting in his adult years. The past few months, there have been numerous hunting magazines and catalogs around and I am amazed at the amount of time he and his dad can sit and talk about a pair of binoculars. It rivals all the health care bill talk.

Even though I am from Mississippi and have 5 brothers, I did not grow up around hunters. We were a little more citified. So this is all new to me. I have no desire to go sit in the cold on a deer stand, but I am supporting my husband in this because he needs something to get him outside (aside of building a cabin himself, hmmm) and get his mind off work.

When Big Buckaroo starts talking about hunting, I really try and pay attention but sometimes my mind wanders off to more important things like I need to paint my toenails, polish my silver, plan dinner, dust the ceiling fans, you know those important things that do not involve the quest for venison.

I am having a really hard time remembering some of the hunting terms. I really try to use the appropriate word but it just doesn’t happen. In one ear and out the other, that’s me.

So, in an effort to help other women in the same duck boat as me, I have compiled a few important terms you need to know to communicate with your hunter man and sound like you know what you are talking about. It will endear (pun intended) him to you.

The Park Wife term: Bambi ---Hunting term: doe (just think of do-re-mi)
The Park Wife term: Baby Bambi ---------- Hunting term: Button Buck
The Park Wife term: Caught a deer ---------- Hunting term: Doe down
The Park Wife term: Grunt thingymajigger ----Hunting term: Grunt call
The Park Wife term: Rattler thingymajigger ------Hunting term: Rattling horns
The Park Wife term: Williams-Sonoma -----Hunting Term: Hot Spot
The Park Wife term: Gifted or endowed ----Hunting term: Big Rack
The Park Wife term: Woman with a gun--Hunting term: Huntress or Not The Park Wife

Now that you have learned hunt speak, you must lay down some ground rules. Here are mine:

1. You must call each night and check on your family (if we don't answer, we are eating out so I don't have to do dishes).
2. He must strip all his clothes off in the mudroom when he arrives home (don't get any ideas, he has been in the woods for a few days).
3.Go straight to the shower and shave off that beard and lather up good. Dress in clean clothes that are not camouflaged.
4. Come in the living room and kiss your wife and hug the Buckaroo's.

Then, as he goes to clean all his weapons and take care of all the meat he has brought home to feed his family, slip out the back door and go shopping or to a movie. All the clean-up takes a while.

Happy Hunting,
The Park Wife

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Book Signing

As the time for The Pioneer Woman's book signing neared, I was back and forth on if I was going to go. The fact that I had to drive over 2 hours, miss one of the Buckaroo's soccer games, and no one else was willing to go that far on a "school night" with me, made me think twice. Bwaaahahaaaa, of course I was going. Ree (we are on a first name basis now, we bonded in the 2 minutes we talked) was my blog inspiration and I even tried once for her to be my best blog friend (more on that soon).
As soon as Big Buckaroo got home, I hopped in the car, turned on music that was not Veggie Tales and hit the road sistah. The traffic was horrendous, I do not miss that part of city life at all. But, I arrived at 6:20, it started at 6, and the line was HUGE, hundreds and hundreds of people.

Let me break down the night for you:

The Gals:
I told Big Buckaroo that I felt weird going by myself, he said you will meet someone in line and be fine. Since I am so introverted and uncomfortable in social situations, I was worried. I jest.

Anyway, as soon as I trekked all the way to the back of the store to find the end of the line, a very sweet young lady walked up behind me. I expressed my appreciation for not being last in line anymore and our friendship began. Thanks Beth for putting up with me the whole night!

When you are in line for 4 hours with people, you get to know them. These are my wonderful new PW stalker friends, I love some stalker camaraderie. There is a homeschool mom, a nurse, the gal who met her husband in the fabric section of Walmart and she does not even sew, an incredible photographer and her sweet daughter, and Beth, a nursing student.

We had a blast, we got a little rowdy and there were many strange looks from those around us. It was so much fun.

The post it notes:
Meet Romy, her name has been changed to protect her identity and for us to blurt out quotes like, "Um, I invented Post-Its". She walked around and gave everyone post it notes so that we could write what we wanted Ree to sign in our books. That would help expedite the process, it did help the 743 people in front of me go through faster.

Then, there were these clever notes along the way. I appreciate the humor and creativeness of those in front of us who thought to encourage us along. (This just in.... I found out that Julie from Eggs and Herbs knows the clever person who did this, her husband Richie!) As if we were going to give up after being there 3 hours, no way, we were invested by then. The gals got tired of me humming the Rocky theme every time we got closer, another hour and I would have broken into "I Will Survive".

Attention Walmart shoppers, there is a Wrangler special on aisle 4:

MM was not deterred as our rowdy group got closer to him. He is a real cowboy that is use to herds of mustangs and cattle racing toward him. Rattle, rattle, here come the cattle.

He was incredibly kind and has a gentle spirit. I contemplated a picture with him as I felt that it would have been disrespectful not only to Ree but to my husband to have a picture taken with just MM and myself. So, I wrangled Christy into getting into the picture. No harm/disrespect in two Christian homeschool moms flanking MM, right?

Meeting Ree:
It was finally my turn, Ree looked up and said hi. She then looked down at the post it note that I had written: To Stephanie, "The Park Wife" , my best blog friend. She looked up and said "Park Wife!" I forgot your live near here". I can not believe that she knew who I was even though I blog about my admiration and respect for her. O.K. you may be thinking, she was just being kind. Yea, I thought that too until she said, "you stopped blogging for a little while didn't you? Have you started back?" Gasp...choke..."um, yes, I got overwhelmed starting homeschooling, a farmers market, um, and my ironing got too piled up, but now I am back at it!"

I told her I was being funny when I wrote that message and she said, "I have no problem writing this, none at all".
Was I a little excited, ya think? I know, a little pathetic. Could my smile be any bigger?

Big Buckaroo, who knows hardly anything about blogging, asked me what all this Pioneer Woman admiration is about, why would I drive that far and stand in line that long. I thought on it for a while and for me, Ree is an example of someone who is like me, a homeschool mom thrown into a situation where you have to adapt and she has done so with creativity, wit and fun. She makes me think that although this season of my life is centered around raising/homeschooling our Buckaroos, that I can do something for myself that feeds my soul.

She is talented, has worked hard and she deserves every bit of what she is reaping right now. I am genuinely so happy for her and her success.

Grateful for Ree's kindness,
The Park Wife

I appreciate my old friend Ree (wait, we aren't old) linking my post, why don't you Follow Me, I know shameless. Come along and experience my life living on a state park!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Buckaroo's Big Adventure

The Buckaroo's have been planning a big adventure, also known as running away, for a few weeks now. They assured me they still loved me but needed to go out and be boys, spend the night under the stars, fending for themselves. They spent hours making plans and packing.

They occasionally came and asked me for things like sunscreen and band aids for their first aid kit. Thankfully, I would not have to worry about sunburned, bloody boys. As the sons of a park ranger they are always prepared in the wild.

Off they went. It was a bit of a sad goodbye, I thought it was because they were leaving me but in actuality it was probably the weight of all their gear. They take after me when packing for a trip, really, you need 4 pairs of shoes for an overnight trip.

I looked out the window to see their progress and it looked like they were resting.
No, this is where the set up camp, they got past the rabbit's cage and barn, but not all the way to the chicken coop. They spent hours out there.

I finally went ALL the way out to their runaway spot to check on them and the first thing they said was, "mom, did you bring us some food?" I told them they had to find their own food out here in the wild. Little Buckaroo said he could find some and then proceeded to the chicken coop to get some eggs that he asked me to go cook for him.

I am so glad our boys look for a battle to fight and an adventure to live around every corner.

Look at the heroes of the Bible: Moses did not encounter the living God in a cubicle. He finds Him (or is found by Him) in the deserts of Sinai, a long way from the comforts of Egypt. Where did the great prophet Elijah go to recover his strength? To the wild. And, what about Jacob, who has his wrestling match with God. It was not on the recliner in the living room in front of the television, but in a wadi somewhere east of the Jabbok, in Mesopotamia. And what about John the Baptist who went to the wild and of course, Jesus, who is led by the spirit into the wilderness.

I support their desire to be wild and adventurous, I love that they want to take that journey. I guess I better teach them how to cook first though because I do not have that need for adventure at my age. I just want a comfy couch, a good book and a Dr. Pepper.

Off to teach the Buckaroo's how to pack light,
The Park Wife