Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Goats are Mowing my Front Lawn

You know how people sometimes exaggerate about how tall their grass is? Stuff like, “You could lose a small child in our lawn!” or “We could make hay!” Well, that crap is  for real, here, people!  I could blame it on my hubby being too busy, which is true. I could blame it on the weather, which would also be sorta true. But the real truth is we are straight up ghetto here at Layton Farms. If you have four lawn mowers and none of them work…you might be a redneck. If one of your lawnmowers is up on blocks in the yard… you might be a redneck. If you put temporary fence around your front yard and move the sheep and goat flocks in the paddock for the weekend so they can eat it down to a level that won’t choke out the one lawn mower that works when you air up the tire every thirty minutes or so…I’m not sure what you are, but I’m right there with you.

I’m writing this post partly to vent, partly to apologize to my neighbors, and partly to explain that we’re not total lazy trashy bums.

It started months ago. Our lawn was freshly mowed and beautiful for the Raney/Smith wedding extravaganza in May. We beamed with pride. Then it didn’t rain all the rest of May and June, so Ryan only had to do a little trimming to make our dead grass look tidy for our 4th of July party. July and August brought more drought – level 4 “exceptional,” record-breaking drought. So, we went into the school year having only mowed 1 ½ times all summer and yet not looking trashy. Win, right? Wrong. Because a few rains in August brought on some late-season growth. When Ryan went out to mow, he discovered his stand-by mower was broken. So, he went to use his back-up. Flat tire. Mowers 3 and 4 had been out of commission for over a year. I won’t go off on a tangent about why we find it necessary to keep worthless, yet large, pieces of equipment around. I won’t. (But I will think it in my mind every time I spy one of said worthless, bulky items taking up space in our shed – or yard) No biggie, he decided. Just let the lawn go a little until he could get some help from his dad fixing one of the two mowers.

Now I realize that normal people would probably pay to have their mower fixed, buy a new mower, or break down and hire a lawn service to do the job until they could get their own machinery up and running. If you haven’t met us, you should know that we’re not normal. In fact, maybe I should back up and explain a few things about us: 1) We’re incredibly cheap, 2) We’re incredibly busy this time of year, and 3) We’re not incredibly handy. So, this is a break down of the last month and a half
-          Visit to Dr. Dad. Mower fixed for about 1/3 of one section of the lawn. Conks out again.
-          Aired up flat tire. Mower makes it through ½ of a section. Weekend over.
-          Dr. Dad house call. Services include mini-lecture on upkeep and maintenance, section of lawn test mowed, and mower with clean bill of health.
-          Mower gets new injury. Won’t self propel. Ryan tries to force an extra-large deck (it’s one of those walk-behind jumbo mowers – not made to actually push!) through our extra-tall grass. Makes it a couple of laps around.
-          Air up flat tire. Twice. One section mowed! Weekend over.
-          Five Cross Country meets in four weeks.  Visits to family. Three failed trips to stores to find parts. Three family members, including Mower Man, sick. Grass keeps growing. Mowers keep being broken.
-          Attempt to hire high school students to  mow grass for a less-than-pro fee. One taker has to back out because their parents are worried our tall grass will ruin their mower’s blades. (That’s not embarrassing at all.)
-          “Green Slime” to fix flat tire. Fail.
-          Brilliant temporary fence with self-fertilizing mowers plan. Fail. Our regular fence won’t hold our livestock. Why did we think three strands of temporary wire would?

So, the hay (it’s not even grass any more) is still growing and there’s no real plan in sight. My folks are coming to visit next weekend and I’ve been assured the lawn would not be bowing in the breeze by then. But Mom and Dad, if you have to drag your suitcases through the amber waves of grain, please don’t judge. It’s not from lack of trying. And be careful - there might be a lamb or a small child hiding down in there.


There’s a new Rockband in town.

Daddy-o, the lead singer and guitarist, also sidelines as the baby bouncer. But watch out for his rocker edge. Known for his competitiveness, his eyes bulge and shoot dirty looks at his band mates when they can’t finish a set. Hot Mama does it all. You’ll be impressed with her unconventional drumming moves. She can play dueling drums with fellow rocker Baby Schmax on her lap. Her most impressive act is simultaneously singing, playing half of the drum set with Reed-man and running interference when Baby Schmax throws one his famous star tantrums. Schmax is all over the stage. He sings back-up and wanders among his band mates, trying to upstage them or steal their instruments. His favorite move is forcing the band to go unplugged for their performance. Reed-man and Cal-cal are a dynamic duo. There are rumors of tension between the two over who gets the “wireless” guitar. When they aren’t playing their fav instrument, Cal-cal prefers to sing and the Man likes to play half of the drums. Lyrics to their most famous songs include, “Hey! Oh! Let’s go!” and “Lalalala  la la” and “No! I’M singing!” When the seasoned rockers take the mic, they switch up some of the old classic lyrics to make them a little more family friendly. So check out this group, playing live in a living room near you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Uper-say Annoying-hay

I’d like to apologize first to my parents for all the hours I spent speaking Pig Latin. Then, I’d like to extend that apology to anyone who has had any contact with my children this week. For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to teach them the language that I had so much fun using during my own childhood. Oly-hay ap-cray! I never imagined they’d become fluent in the language, much less that it would become their primarily-spoken tongue. Reed speaks it as good as any grown up. Calvin is a little sketchier, but he’s got “upid-stay utt-bay” down to a tee! Potty humor is SO much more hilarious in a foreign dialect.

At a recent outing with Aunt Tavia (an outing that already involved time-outs in a separate restaurant booth by a certain medium-sized someone) I did what Ryan and I have had to do every day since – institute a English-only policy for the rest of the day. I explained that Pig Latin could get very obnoxious, so we weren’t going to use it ANY MORE! Reed replied, “Orry-say.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sports Widow

I am a widow from mid-August to early November. During this time, the wonderful hubs’ time and energy are consumed with cross country. He is the sole coach (and bus driver) of a co-ed sport. Anyone who has ever coached knows that the two hours a day of practice and the weekly (or more) competitions are not the only demands of a sport. There is paperwork, equipment hauling, stat-keeping and analyzing, and countless hours of strategizing, second-guessing, and re-strategizing. Even in XC, a sport where it’s pretty obvious who’s best and everybody gets the same amount of playing time (actually, the scrubs get more “playing time” than the studs!),  there is the most fun part of coaching – kid drama and momma drama. So I’ve gotten used to taking a back seat to the sport for a few months every year. How can I complain? I coached volleyball for four years and Ryan was a real trooper, making supper most nights, coming to all my games, analyzing players with me and listening to me whine and cry about the stress and drama. Now it’s my turn to return the favor – not that he does any much whining and crying.

Except, I do complain. Every year. Some worse than others. (Take, for example, the 2008 season, when we had a barely-one-year-old and a still-two-year-old and I stayed up late reading the Twilight series as an escape. At one point, I sobbed to Ryan, “I just wish you cherished me!” but that’s another story…) Or this year. Right now, our grass is up to HERE. There are probably 20 moldy Tupperware containers and pairs of socks (equally moldy) in the truck. I am greeted by fancy-free goats nearly every day, due to fence issues. I have taken on picking out Ryan’s clothes (actually kinda fun) and ironing them (actually not fun at all) and prepping the coffee maker each night to insure smoother mornings. I was watering the animals daily until we decided that arrangement was not good for our marriage (I’ve decided I’m not much of an animal person...) Supper has to be delayed until 6:30, which is not conducive to happy eighteen-month-olds. The great supper clean-up team effort has been thrown out the window. My man is usually asleep on the couch by 9:30 p.m. And when he’s awake, he’s a little more, shall we say, cantankerous, than normal. Nearly every Saturday is spent driving at least an hour, running around for four hours yelling at high school kids before I come home to yell at mine and try to catch up on all the grading, grocery shopping, and cleaning I don’t have time to do during the week. But it’s cool. Really.

There comes a time every season when we both wonder if it’s worth the stress it places on our family. But there’s always something that makes us agree that coaching is a calling for Ryan. He’s not only a good coach. He’s a mentor to those kids. Runners come back from college and tell him how much they learned from him. He gets mentioned in valedictorian speeches. One of his runners brought his girlfriend to visit us in the hospital after Calvin was born (they talked more about the meet that Ryan had missed than the baby I had just birthed, but whatevs). Parents comment on what a difference they see in their kid because of “Coach Layton.” He’s meant to do this, we decide.

This year’s realization came early. Saturday was the first meet the boys and I could make it to. We rocked our matching shirts and the bright red double-jogger stroller (Calvin only rode until we could safety-pin his too-big britches up, but I can’t bear to go back to a single stroller just yet…) I secretly enjoyed Ryan’s runners yelling, “Go, Mrs. Layton!” when we ran from spot to spot on the course. Then we hung out on a secluded part of the course and screamed our lungs out – even Max. We waved at Daddy as he ran around screaming his lungs out. Big kids played with the boys, calling them “Little Coach” and asking them if they were gonna be runners someday, too. Reed puffed up with pride and ran fast and loud everywhere he went. When the meet was over, they ran over to give Daddy a high five. Daddy obliged, then excused himself to comfort a crying runner. I watched him give her a pep talk, then an awkward half-pat on the shoulder, knowing he wanted her to know he cared without making her uncomfortable. She walked back looking much better. We followed the bus to McDonald’s and learned all the freshmen’s names. Reed and Calvin showed off their Happy Meal Transformers to high school kids, who acted impressed. Then we headed home, exhausted and sunburned, but also exhilarated. This isn’t just fun for Ryan. It’s fun for the whole fam! And I hope the athletes might see in us something that, sadly, many of them don’t see at home – a family that loves each other and makes sacrifices in order to serve God.

Ryan was home Saturday afternoon and most of the day Sunday. I took the boys to a birthday party and left him with some peace and quiet. I figured he could use the time to get caught up. When I came home, the lawn mowers hadn’t moved (in his defense, all four of them are broken, but that’s ANOTHER story…) and the truck was still littered with food and clothes. How had my husband spent his kid-free hours? Writing a personal note to each athlete.

I love that man!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Picture Perfect

Looking at our family photos, you might think we are the perfect family. After all, according to facebook comments we are the most beautiful family ever and our boys look like perfect little angels. I’m also, apparently, the happiest mother.

L. To the O. To the L.

If the photographer would have posted the OTHER 421 photos she took (ftr… I don’t have a real number, but that number is a close estimation, not a gross exaggeration) the truth about my family would be revealed. You would see:

-          Reed sighing, rolling his eyes, and asking if we’re FINALLY done, since, “we’ve been doing this for, like, six HOURS.”
-          Calvin pestering Max, “helping” him smile (with hands on cheeks), making goofy faces, looking off to the side of his eyeballs, and whining about being thirsty, hot, tired, bored, and having any number of other major maladies.
-          Max fussing and fighting to be out of my arms, in my arms, away from Cal-cal, on the tractor, off the hood of the car, out of the cute jumbo picture frame, over the edge of the bridge, and generally everywhere but where we wanted him.
-          Ryan yelling at the boys for the previously-mentioned infractions and shooting me several, “Seriously?” looks when I said, “Oh! Yes, let’s try that!” about a new pose idea.
-          Me with a fake smile pasted on my face and a nervous giggle about the boys’ various behaviors, while my eyes slowly grew and rolled into the back of my head.

The photo shoot was a favor from (and, she says, for) a friend/coworker of Ryan’s who is starting a professional photography business. She was awesome with the boys. She managed to capture several photos where we were all smiling, looking at the camera, and not throwing a fit. One of those woulda been a miracle! And then she actually thanked us for the experience afterwards, saying that she needed to know what to expect when shooting families with young kids. I, personally, would have been shooting us with something other than a camera, but that’s just me…

P.S. Linking up to my favorite blogger on her "Money Shot Monday" picture-themed post. Flower Patch Farmgirl is always the first blog I stalk - well maybe after I creep on my sister's...