Too many stories to tell; too many pictures to post. I will post a few pictures and the pictures will tell a few stories.
Teresa and Lance: twin shirts, twin grins, and twin yellow tails!
Long ago, in the spring of my senior year in high school (1983), I made an incredibly important discovery; life is good. I remember parking the old Pontiac in the school lot, making my way toward the door, and becoming suddenly aware of the birds singing in the trees. The awareness sparked an epiphany and I knew, beyond doubt’s shadow, that life was good. Birds are still singing in the trees and life is still good, really, really good.
Life is good, that is, except when one has to go swim suit shopping. At that point life becomes hard. Happily, Tanah and I made it through our experience, we (finally) found a swim suit for her that we both like, and we are still talking to each other. This is good.
Shopping…a necessary evil. The kids split their egg money and Miles insisted on visiting the store at the next available opportunity, eager to spend his earnings on soccer goalie gloves. He created the opportunity by getting up at 6:00 and accompanying me on the morning car pool (to take Chick to the OWATC). After the drop-off we headed to the nearest Wal-Mart to spend his booty. At the check-out counter, I stood aside while Miles counted out his money and paid the cashier. The kindly gentleman standing behind us commented on the transaction. “What a good grandma,” he said, “to let her grandson pay for his own stuff.” The really sad news about the comment is that I had a hat on. The three inch stripe of gray hair that runs down the center of my head was not even visible. I just look grandmother-y I guess.
I may look old but I am not senile yet, at least not according to Lance. “You are brilliant,” he told me. “Why do you say that?” I queried. “Because you think just like I do,” he said. Hum………
My brilliancy is questionable but the fact that I am crazy is pretty well established. Thursday, the day before leaving the country for nine days, we had a little rodeo on our little farm. We gave the steer a shot in the neck and the two Suffolk sheep shots in the butt. We sheared the Suffolk lamb and the four Soay sheep. And we gave three pigs shots behind their ears.
Vaccinating the steer was simple; he is a docile creature. Shooting and shearing the sheep was a bit trickier. It took all six of us to get the Soay into the corral; they are wily, wild critters. Once we got our hands on them, however, it was fairly easy. The pigs, however, were a different story. Getting our hands on the pigs was easy; keeping our hands on the pigs was not so easy.
Miles and Grace can get the hogs to lie down by scratching their bellies. They go down without fuss but they don’t stay down. Lance thought he’d just hold them down; after all he is a pretty savy wrestler. However he’d never wrestled a pig before (not a literal pig anyway) and his first (and second and third) attempts ended with escapes. Chick joined the fray with similar results. Pigs are powerfully opposed to take downs and really, really do not like being stuck, not by wrestling moves and not by needles. Finally we used a panel to pin them, one at a time, in a corner. I stuck them quickly (no three count for me) and the vaccinations were done.
Friday we left at 4:01 a.m., headed towards Mexico. We left again at 4:08 and 4:18. (Whoops!) We made it to Tucson, AZ about 7:30 p.m. In Fillmore, UT the outside temperature was 48 degrees F; in Page, AZ the outside temp was 98 degrees F; in Phoenix, AZ it was 108 degrees F outside. We were warm enough in Fillmore and more than warm enough in Page and Phoenix though we all agreed that summer driving across Arizona without air conditioning is easier than summer driving across Nebraska without A/C; we’ll take hotter temperatures over humidity.
[NOTE: We joined Joe, Michelle, Eric, and Brandon Drago on a road trip to Mexico where we will stay in Joe’s company’s beach house while Joe supervises the installation of a huge machine in his company’s Mexican manufacturing plant.]
The border crossing into Mexico was totally smooth and blessedly uneventful as was the drive to Guaymas and San Carlos. Arriving at the beach house in San Carlos was FABULOUS!!!! Said Tanah of the beach house, “When all of you die, I want to come live here with a thousand birds.” (She’d seen some tropical birds for sale at an intersection and desperately wanted some; I am not sure where the “all of you die” part came from.) It is a spectacular house, only a block from a white sand beach that is caressed gently by bathwater warm waves. Yum.
Sunday we attended all three meetings in the Miramar (Guaymas) ward. Just before turning into the driveway Miles said, “Mom, what if there is no one in my Primary class that speaks English?” OH SWEETHEART! When I told him there probably would not be any English speakers he crumbled; I watched him visibly melt. He clung to me during Sacrament meeting. When I took him to his Primary class he sat huddled in his chair, pressed against the wall. The teacher was not there yet so I told the other children, in Spanish, that Miles did not speak Spanish and that he was a little afraid. I asked them to be nice to him and I left.
Children are so good. When I passed Miles in the chapel an hour later, he was happily interacting with his new friends; he hardly gave me a glance. Driving back to the beach house after the meetings he said, “Church in Mexico is SO fun. I want to come back next week.”
Youth are good too. Grace, Tanah, and Chick had similar positive experiences; the girls particularly had a fabulous time. I think it helped that there was a handsome young man who served as interpreter for them in Sunday School and in the Young Women’s meeting.
Sunday’s miracles continued. The kids were playing in the waves when Tanah got stung by a jellyfish. She went quickly and miserably back to the beach house. I stayed on the beach with the remaining children. Twenty minutes later, as I started back, a woman who was walking along the seashore, stopped me, told me she had counted 137 washed up jelly fish and asked me if I knew what to do for jellyfish stings. When I declared my ignorance, she gave me specific instructions: 1) vinegar (or something acidic), 2) hot water, as hot as you can stand, 3) scrape the area with a something hard, like a credit card. It works! Within 30 minutes of the treatment, Tanah’s angry red welts had disappeared as had the stinging pain.
God is good.
Life is good.
And, yes, the birds are singing.
URGENT! I interrupt this blog post to present you with an important question.
A Pew study recently reported that mothers are the sole or primary providers in 40% of American households with children under 18. In 1960, women were sole or primary breadwinners in 11% of households with children under 18. I associate with some intelligent, respected individuals who claim this is positive news; that the trend toward more working mothers opens the doors of opportunity for women and gives women greater chances for success. I (vehemently) disagree. I see it as an indication that more mothers are being economically pushed into the
workforce and that women’s freedom to choose to stay at home is diminished. To me, this is not good news. What do you
And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
“Well life on the farm is kinda laid back
Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack
It's early to rise, early in the sack
Thank God I'm a country boy.
“Well a simple kinda life never did me no harm
A raisin' me a family and workin' on a farm
My days are all filled with an easy country charm
Thank God I'm a country boy
[ JOHN DENVER - THANK GOD I&ACIRC;&EURO;™MCOUNTRY BOY LYRICS]
I love this John Denver song; in many ways it describes me. The longer I live on this great, green Earth, the more I realize I am a country girl—through and through—and the more grateful I am for that fact. However, life on my tiny one acre farm is not laid back. I am a country girl living in a city and life is frenetic more often than not. The following little re-write makes the song more personally accurate.
“Well life on my farm is rarely laid back
Though it ain't much a country gal like me can't hack
It's early to rise, early in the sack
Thank God I'm a country girl.
“Well this crazy kinda life never did me no harm
A raisin' me a family; we’re all workin' on our farm
My children and my husband fill my heart with charm
Thank God I'm a country girl.
Whaaa-whoo! Life on our city farm is not laid back as will be demonstrated by this week’s stories.
Monday I noticed that the sheep were not keeping pace with the pasture’s growth; something needed to be done. Two options presented themselves. I could 1) invite Dad’s horses over for a week, they would chop the grass down and leave mounds of poop or 2) buy a steer that would chop the grass down, leave me mounds of poop AND provide me with steaks in October. Easy decision. We now have a 635 lb. Holstein steer grazing in our pasture. [Lance finds it quite ironic that, after my vehement youthful determination to avoid Holsteins at all cost, I now own one.]
The steer has arrived. The rooster is gone. Friday night he attacked Tanah and, in the process, knocked over and destroyed the day’s egg harvest. It was his last mistake. Saturday afternoon Miles, Grace, and I invited the rooster to a gentle beheading under the apricot tree. Grace loves the anatomy lessons that accompany a butchering. She seriously enjoys reaching into the body cavity, pulling out the viscera, and examining the innards, organ by miraculous organ. It was Miles’ first poultry killing. Though he had no desire to put his hand into the chicken and the blood concerned him a bit, he was quite favorably impressed. “It is all so beautiful,” he said of the heart, lungs, tracheal tube, crop, gizzard, kidney, testicles, and liver. “The rooster was beautiful on the outside and he is beautiful on the inside too.”
[He also noted that the rooster’s testicles were bigger than his. However no side-by-side comparison occurred.]
Mice are not beautiful, inside or outside, though I definitely prefer them outside. Sunday night Grace called from the Bishop’s house where the youth were having a fireside (devotional type meeting). “Can I have six mice?” she asked. NO! “But no one else will take them,” she continued. THERE IS A REASON NO ONE WILL TAKE THEM. “Please, please!,” she pled. “If we don’t take them then they will be killed tomorrow.” THAT IS NOT MY PROBLEM. “Please, please, please,” she begged. Sunday night there were six mice housed in two cages sitting on an outside picnic table beside Zorro’s dog run in our back yard. Lance’s comment: “You are such a ‘yes’ mom.” My question: Is that a good
thing or a bad thing?
Having Chick attend the OWATC is definitely a good thing. In 9 six-hour days he has earned 270 hours of the 900 hours required for his Machinist 1 certification.
Having Tanah work as a 4-H summer camp counselor this past week has also been a good thing….except that it means I must drive to and from the fairgrounds twice a day. Driving is not so bad except when I hit a garbage can with my passenger side mirror at 35 mph and shattered the glass into innumerable smithereens. That was not a good
thing. I said to Lance, “I don’t know how it happened. I was not texting, I was not reading, I was not even talking to
anyone. How did I get close enough to the garbage can to clip it with the mirror?” He kindly pointed out that the question
was one I should know the answer to since I was the one who had done it. He was the person who was left wondering how….
While I was in Yellowstone Mr. Miles competed in the district Krypto (a math card game) finals and placed third. The
experience has converted him to a Krypto-maniac. In church Sunday he used the hymn numbers posted at the front of the chapel to created multiple Krypto challenges. He kept himself entertained.
Hope, age six, entertained us Sunday in Primary. Brother Ropelato taught that no unclean thing can be in heaven. He then asked what people do when they sin and become unclean. He anticipated an answer centered on repentance. What he got was a loud and emphatic “Go to hell!”
I know one person who is definitely NOT going to hell. I’ve sung Sallie Hislop’s praises before and will sing them again I’m sure. Tuesday night I learned that I needed to pick a book and make a meal for Wednesday morning’s book club. I mentioned my quandary to Sallie. She suggested I make a green salad. Good idea. Wednesday morning she showed up
with chicken for my green salad, a pasta salad of her own, cookies, and a chocolate birthday cake for Tammy, another Book Club member. Great idea!!
I heard some great ideas at my first meeting with the Standard Examiner editorial board Monday….and some not so great ideas. The first item discussed was one I thought was a no brainer. The other board members thought it was a no brainer also. Sadly our brains were going in different directions. As the new girl on the block and the only non-newspaper person present, I hesitated a moment before expressing an opinion contrary to everyone else there…and then jumped in. I
was not very convincing, however. The final vote was 6-1; I was the lone opposing voice.
Though the first vote went against me, I had a very good experience. It was enlightening, invigorating and empowering to discuss issues with intelligent, well-read people. I very much look forward to the next meeting.
As we walked out, Andy Howell, the paper’s executive editor, said, “Will you still be able to meet with us when school starts?” Initially I interpreted the question to mean that he liked having me on the board and was hoping that school’s start in the fall would not interfere. I felt great. Then the less confident me began hypothesizing that he did NOT like having me on the board and was hoping that school’s start in the fall would prevent my continued attendance. I felt insecure. The truth is probably that he was simply curious. Now I feel silly. It is funny what we humans do to ourselves.
It is also funny, in a beautiful, amazing, indescribable way, what our children do to us. I had an absolutely fabulous, glorious, spectacular, wonderful Saturday. Why? Because my house was messy in the morning and was clean in the
afternoon. The house was an attic to basement disaster; stuff covered every horizontal surface. Enter TeamHISLOP.
Armed with a mop, a vacuum, a broom, multiple rags, some squirt bottles and the mantra “No one is done until everyone is done”, we set to work. Everyone pitched in; no one complained. In 2.5 hours we made it happen, together. There seriously is no joy comparable to working together as a family.
Well I wouldn't trade my life for diamonds or a jewel,
I'd rather have my animals and a gardenin' tool.
Being here with my family is really, REALLY cool.
Thank God I'm a country girl.
In 1965 David Premack identified Premack's principle which suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more
desirable activity. (http://www.intropsych.com/ch05_conditioning/premack_principle.html)
1965? Premack? Mr. Premack gets credit for naming the principle but he certainly should not get credit for inventing it. Just as gravity was at work eons before Galileo, Newton, and Einstein quantified it, Premack’s principle has been used by mothers throughout the ages:
“You must eat your carrots before you can have dessert”, “When the wood is chopped, you may sled down the hill”, “Hunt the beast and then you can draw on the cave walls”. Many (dare I say most?) moms use Premack’s principle without his permission. Take, for example, me.
Miles does not read for pleasure. He considers reading a chore less desirable than cleaning toilets. [This is a true statement. Miles is an unreluctant toilet cleaner and he has been a very reluctant reader.) This year he inched into the “at grade level” reading category but just barely—“millimetered” would be a more accurate description than “inched”. Summer reading is a must.
Enter Premack. Though I was unaware of his existence at the time, I fully employed the power of his principle. Mr. Miles loves the Green Bay Packers. He particularly loves Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers. I promised my son that if he read 1,000 pages this summer he could wear his very own Aaron Rogers Green Bay Packers football jersey.
For Miles, summer vacation started last Friday at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday at 11:27 a.m. he called me at work to tell me that he had just read his 1,012th page. Wednesday evening he was wearing his Aaron Rogers jersey. Wednesday night he wore his Aaron Rogers jersey to bed. Thursday he wore his Aaron Rogers jersey all day and Thursday night found him in bed, jersey still on. The boy and his jersey are pretty much inseparable.
Chick has some Premack stuff going on this summer as well. He attends classes at the Ogden Weber Applied Technology College (OWATC) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily which would not be my first choice of summer activities. Of course, by going to school, he is avoiding being at my beck and call so maybe it is not Premack after all…..
Premack principle or not, it has been good. The Machinist I course is a 900 hour program. Friday he passed a math
competency test (algebra, trigonometry, and calculus) that gave him 210 hours. I wish I could earn 210 hours in a week!
Would gardening count as Premack? One weeds (less desirable activity) so that one can eat (very desirable activity). I
weed. I also plant, till, trim, hill, irrigate, and I admire. I think Premack does not apply here. There is something intensely, organically satisfying about weeding, planting, trimming, hilling, and irrigating one’s own garden. This is the first year of the past three that we have planted a full garden and I am amazed at how much pleasure those comparatively scrawny little green plants are bringing me already.
Tanah operated complete outside Premack’s principle Friday. For reasons much deeper and nobler than earning the right to perform a more desirable activity, she cleaned the house. She scrubbed the microwave, swept floors, cleared the bathroom counter, arranged the living room pillows, emptied the office trash, and even did a load of laundry. And she did not ask for money, permission to attend a party, or a trip to Hawaii. What a girl!!
Grace had a hang-over Saturday morning. (Is a hang-over, in the traditional meaning of the word, the antithesis of Premack’s principle?) Long ago and on her own, Grace decided that she would not watch any PG-13 movies until she turned 13 (which, incidentally, made picking out movies to watch as a family significantly more challenging). Saturday
she turned 13. [HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE!] Lydia, a friend, also has a June 1 birthday. The two girls decided to watch Grace’s first PG-13 movie together…..at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 1st. As Hislops don’t do sleep-overs with friends (period, no exceptions, no questions asked), the girls decided to have a hang-over; they would hang out, watch the movie together, and then, when the movie was over, Lydia would go home. At about 2:00 a.m. Lance took Lydia home and it was all good.
Premack got a lot of publicity for putting words on a principle that has been applied by mothers, teachers, and leaders for ages. Logic says that there are many more commonly recognized, universal truths out there that are just waiting for someone to “put words on them” so to speak.
Try this one.
Tess’ Truism: Raising a family brings joy that is orders of magnitude greater that the amount of effort invested. The joy inherent in being a wife and a mother is indescribable in mere words, unmatched by any other experience, and must be experienced to be fully comprehended.
What do you think?