Monday, September 30, 2013

Feels like Fall!

Fall is finally here!  Life is crazy busy between chasing these two crazies and keeping up with work and home but we wouldn't want it any other way!  This weekend we played catch-up from being out of town for Kal's birthday party last weekend {post coming soon} and to add to the chaos I turned around and went out of town for work during the week. 
These two kept their daddy on his toes while I was gone.  Tyler jokingly said, "we'll try not to burn the house down"  - prior to my departure.  So when I got a text one evening "everything and everyone is fine and the fire is out". I simply laughed and went on.  However once I got settled in my hotel room and called to check in Tyler quickly explained that he wasn't kidding!!  The boys had started a small fire with my blow dryer and toilet paper.  Needless to say, the blow-dryer is now stored in a high cabinet.  Overall, the boys did great while I was away.  I'm so lucky to have such a hands-on husband/daddy that can care and comfort for our crazy precious little cowboys.      
Something about this picture reminds me of my dad.  Maybe it's his stance or maybe it's the sophisticated tie?! ha!
We had a great Sunday afternoon outside soaking up the cooler fall temperatures and playing with the neighbor boys! 
Whitney and I joked that our little guys looked like "rag-a-muffins" but I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures after her dad dropped us off some pumpkins.  Our porches are certainly looking festive - I love it!
My mums are in full bloom as well.  Oh, the little things :)

Missing: Two Babies And A Huge Chunk Of My Heart

We had a crazy busy weekend and, although my children seriously drive me insane sometimes, when I get to spend so much time with them, I realize all over again how much they are the center of my world. Right now I'm feeling the weight of transiency. A friend of mine came over on Saturday and I gave her a pair of Ryan's old shoes. I desperately wanted to keep those shoes. I wasn't ready to give them up and accept that my baby is not a baby. But I knew she could really use them and she was so thankful for them.

But, a part of me still died. That set the undertone for the rest of the weekend. I kept going back to the thought that my children are slipping away much too quickly. Photos of Jacob just one year ago reveal a totally different person. He does not have an ounce of baby to his face. He is saying "like" every other word, much to our dismay and frustration. He is using big words and is in the pre-reading phase. He is so independent and is developing an engineer's mind. Today he tried to invent a contraption that would pull his box of blocks across the floor. Who is this kid?!

One Year Ago Today:

One minutes he'll stomp his feet and shout at me (in true teenage fashion). The next minute he will grab my hand as we walk down the sidewalk and say, "I'm holding the hand of a beautiful lady. I love you mama." While it is sweet and adorable, it also makes me want to melt into a puddle of sadness on the floor. Stop talking! Stop having your own thoughts. Stop using science. Stop learning to read. You're MY BABY. Where is the boy who used to keep me up at night? Who could fit into a Baby Bjorn? Who used to line up my high heels and try each one on in turn. Where is the boy who used to crawl all over the floor with a baloon tied to his wrist? Where is the boy who spent hours playing with wooden trains on the kitchen floor? Because I really miss that guy sometimes.

And then, there is Ryan. He is my broken heart walking on two feet. He learns new words every day and mimics everything he sees. Thanks to his brother, he gets to do big boy things much earlier than I would like. His new favorite words are "me" and "mine." When I ask the boys, "who wants a sandwich (or any other item of food), Ryan will throw both hands in the air and yell, "ME!" Today I asked him, "Do you want some cheese?" and he replied, "ME!" in the same fashion.

Today I took the boys to the grocery store and Ryan insisted on carrying his own shopping basket. He kept trying to hold mine so I asked him, "Do you want a basket?" He enthusiastically replied, "bako!" I handed him his own basket, he beamed and shouted, "bako!" as he pointed to it. He put the handles in his hands and followed behind me importantly as we walked aisle by aisle. He loves to walk in the grocery store. This way he gets to explore, and see all the items on the shelf. He loves to point to new things so that I will tell him what they are.

As I witnessed Ryan learning his new word ("bako") in real time today, I was very proud of my big boy. But also devastated. Where is my second born baby? The one who is protected from the world by his bodyguard of a brother but not protected from tormented by that same bodyguard. Where is my baby who took his time learning to walk and used to scoot on one knee? The baby that had holes in the right knee of every pair of pants as a result? Where is my baby who used to scrunch up his forehead in a grumpy scowl but would gift us frequently with broad smiles? Where is the baby who simply wanted to be in my arms at all moments of the day? Where is the baby who would take my fingers and make wobbly steps across the room? Where is my baby.


I don't even know what to do with all this mommy emotion I feel right now. I'm so overwhelmed with the transient nature of babyhood that I have no idea where to put my emotions. Do I just cry all the tears out? Do I tuck the sadness into the back of my mind? How am I expected to function on a daily basis? How is it that when my boss comes into my office tomorrow to ask me a question about trial preparation, I'm not supposed to say, "Wait! Hold it! My babies are growing up this very second and you expect me to discuss trial strategy?! MY BABIES. This very moment they are one SECOND closer to leaving me. How am I supposed to think about this case?! How am I supposed to think about ANY case?! How am I supposed to function?!"

For some reason, I feel like that would not be a good idea.

So what am I supposed to do?

The magnitude of life makes me feel really small and helpless sometimes. This is why I bawl like a baby every time I hear John Mayer's song "Stop This Train."

Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't but honestly won't someone stop this train

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Facebook Makes Me Rage-y

Warning: This post contains high levels of extreme, unprovoked bitchiness.

I cannot stand to be on Facebook lately. I can't even stand to look at it. There are a handful of people whose posts I actually enjoy. The rest of the posts are so obnoxious that it takes everything I have to not be rude in the comments. I've had this problem for some time. But no matter how much I try, I can't quit Facebook. I'm addicted. It's like a car crash. I have to see the horribleness and yet, at the same time, I have to shield my eyes.

I know I'm not the perfect Facebook patron. I'm sure my post annoy a lot of people. I'm just going to admit that right now. I post a lot of pictures of my kids. But this is my blog. So welcome to my rant (feel free to leave anytime). Plus, it's ok to do these things once in a while. But if your FB wall is dominated by these types of posts...omg, why are we still friends? Oh yeah, because I can't kick the stalking habit!

First, there are the parents who always post about how their kid/kids are the cutest kids ever. Really? What do you expect from the rest of us? You want us to agree? Because everyone thinks their own kids are the cutest ever. We can't all be right. Chances are, your kid is just as weird looking as the kid down the street. You are just too mom-blind to see it. (OMG. Am I'm going to hell for saying that?) By the way, the same goes for all the furry babies out there.

Then there is the friend who got married months ago and refuses to land the honeymoon plane. She is stuck in her self-obsessed bridal world. Her wedding is the most important event of the century and she is going to talk about it/post pictures of it everyday for probably the next ten years. I know it's hard to accept that the world actually doesn't revolve around your most perfect wedding. But dude, it's time to check into the real world. If you post one more picture of your Most Perfect Bouquet Arrangement, I'm going to shove baby's breath into my eyeballs.

Then there's the grotesquely dependent couple who are way too loving that their posts can only be a deliberate attempt to hide the fact that they are hateful serial killers. Hey, if you really love your husband/boyfriend, you wouldn't tell him on Facebook, you'd walk three feet to where he is standing and tell him to his face. There is no way that you two are always as perfect as you try to seem on FB. And there is no way anyone on the planet actually cares about the time your husband was so sweet that he bought you tampons at the supermarket. Also, you live in the SAME HOUSE. You see each other every day. Why do you feel compelled to post your love-notes on FB for the entire word to see? Unless you hate me so much that you are TRYING to make me barf in my mouth. Obviously I am not really in love because I only show my affection in person.

Then there is the gym rat. Can I just say... my day is not complete until you post your daily workouts on Facebook. I live in a world of constant suspense until you post that daily pic of you looking hot/sexy in your workout clothes. Earth to human, workout clothes are for sweating. NOT FOR PLAYBOY POSES. Also, how do you have the guts to stand in the middle of a busy gym floor to snap a selfy? If you look that good at the gym, you are obviously doing something wrong.

On a related note, there are the health nuts who believe they have achieved elite goddess status just because they think they are eating the same way less evolved humans ate thousands of years ago. What is so good about being like a caveman? What if I told you I was on the paleo hygiene plan. Would that be equally impressive? I'm not impressed by your ability to substitute all carbs with cauliflower. Gross. I don't need a play by play on what you are eating for every meal. Seeing your ridiculously self-serving posts about how much better you are than us lowly carb-eaters makes me want to eat five consecutive Snickers bars and drink a gallon of black-listed soy sauce. Maybe if you LIVED like a caveman it might be prudent to eat like one. But none of us in America rely upon physical prowess to stay alive. We don't have to fight for our lives on a daily basis. Your goal to achieve bodily perfection is just about as practical as my goal to obtain a copy of a Gladiator movie poster signed by Russell Crowe.

This segues perfectly into Overly Nutritious Mom. Your kid only eats the finest of organic fruits and foods made painstakingly from scratch. This is totally fine. For the record, I support moms who want to feed their kids healthy foods. My problem is when your obsession with healthy food turns into a militant tirade on FB. These are usually the same people who post things like, "Responsible parents use cloth diapers" and link to articles about how kids who were cloth-diapered generally achieved a 20 point advantage on SAT scores over the poor, disadvantaged kids who were forced into the physical abuse of disposable diapers. Stop trying to convert me already. Unless of course, YOU want to come to my house and make all my baby food from scratch and scrape the shit out of my kids' cloth diapers. Then by all means, convert away!

I can't end this list without mentioning the "woe is me" vague-booker. Statuses like, "something horrible just happened and I'm going to publicize it to the world but don't ask me for details because it is super private!" Clearly, these people need to be ignored. Forever. If you open the door on a topic, FBland should be allowed to cross-examine you!

If you will excuse me please, I  have to cut this post short so that I can check FB before bedtime.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Almost Perfect...But Not Quite

Bonus points if you know the reference behind the title of this post!

Warning: this post contains a highly concentrated amount of sunshine and rainbows which may be damaging to optimism-sensitive readers. Read at your own risk.

Life in Dreamland continues. As I'm getting used to my new schedule, I'm realizing just how much my new commute has transformed every aspect my life. Everyday I feel like I'm discovering new ways that life is more amazing without a 5 hour commute.

For example, I used to loath the fact that we don't have a dishwasher. Every time I stepped up to the sink (usually at 10:30pm after a long, exhausting day), my heart scowled at the large tub full of disgusting, dirty dishes and I wished many plagues on all the previous owners who were too lazy (or poor) to install one. And I'd vow to eat hotdogs on paper plates for the rest of the month (a horror I wouldn't normally wish on anyone, much less my entire family).

But now that I have 5 extra hours in my day and have the luxury of coming home at 5:15pm and taking a 30 minute nap (like I did today!), suddenly washing every piece of silverware by hand (every single tong of every single fork) has lost it's heinousness. In fact, I put on my favorite playlist and sing to the spaghetti-caked dishware (boy are THEY lucky) as if I am in my favorite bar on karaoke night. (Sidenote: someday, I'm actually going to figure out a way to eat snacks while doing the dishes without having to comingle soapy, dirty hands with my Cheezits).

That is just one example of how my life seems brilliantly better now. I've always considered myself to be an optimistic, happy person. Now, with so much more time and less stress, I'm so happy that people are going to stop wanting to be my friend. For some odd reason, people do not like to be inundated with sunshine and rainbows on a chronic basis.

Obviously, things aren't perfect. Our schedules are still hectic. It's not easy getting the kids out the door at 7:00 every morning, there is usually a lot of whining and repeated requests for the kids to get ready. Then, by the time I pick them up in the afternoon (on my days), they are usually beyond tired and very crabby. Yesterday, I did not let Jacob have a smoothie because he was back-talking. The entire 15 minute drive home he was kicking his feet, flailing his arms, and scream-crying "I WANT A SMOOTHIE!" It sucked balls. Dude, I'm trying to help you not grow up to be a spoiled brat. A little more appreciation is in order! He should be thanking me for not letting him have a smoothie. Psssh, so ungrateful.

But that's the weird thing. When you have the benefit of a complete 180, the little imperfections are actually quaint and tolerable. I mean, nothing can be perfect. But things are pretty darn close. So close that it seems petty to complain about anything.

This is equally true for my job. I love my work. I love my benefits. I love my office. I love my commute. I love my clients. I love my community. But, there are always going to be some little things that keep it real.

For example, while people are very, very nice, not many people in my office are overly friendly. I can go most days without talking to anyone if I don't purposefully go out of my way to find people. This is mostly due to the way the office is configured and how we are all tucked away in private little corners. This can be a little lonely. (It doesn't help that I am the youngest person in the entire office).

I don't expect everyone to be my friend (although, that would be nice- I like people to like me), but I kind of hoped more people would put forth an effort on a personal level to get to know me (not just at the welcome pizza lunch we had last week). At first, I took it upon myself to reach out and make friends. But, I think I was trying a little TOO hard and mostly things were just awkward. Lesson learned: you cannot pursue friendship, you have to let them happen naturally.

I also have the most uncomfortable chair in the entire world. It's the opposite of ergonomic. It was designed to make people crippled from spinal pain. But I may only be here 6 months. Do I go out of my way to complain when I'm technically a temp? Do I bring in my own chair? Is that a little presumptuous?

When it comes down to the work itself, everything is awesome. It's the perfect mix of litigation and general counsel projects. Due to my trial preparation background, I'm assisting in a big case that is going to trial in December. I've been told that I'll actually get to participate and co-chair the trial! I've jumped right into this case, which is really fascinating and has become my life. I was asked to get started on opposing the other party's summary judgment motion. In two days, I cranked out a very tight  27 page opposition. The attorney I'm assisting (with 20+ years of trial experience) told me she could not have done better which made all my inane legal research and headaches and criss-crossed eyeball stares totally worth it!

In addition to this case, I'm been doing the legwork on an insurance coverage case. I have a weird love for insurance law. It's my passion. I drool when I get to discuss tender issues and indemnification and insurance bad faith. This kind of stuff is a drug to me. If I could take insurance case law and regulations and make them into something tangible, I'd inject that stuff right into my veins.

I also get to help on a lot of general counsel stuff. One of our clients is the local sheriff's office. I spent 10 hours last week researching state and federal gun control laws and how they interplay and overlap so that we can advise on the issuance of gun licenses. Last week, I knew nothing about gun control laws, aside from what I've heard on news radio. Now, I feel like I could lecture on this stuff.

I think my fellow lawyers will agree that this phenomenon is probably one of the best things about being a lawyer. You are constantly exposed to new issues and topics. And within the course of a week, you can go from blundering idiot to bona-fide expert on any given topic.

So, things are very good around here. Throw in the fact that the office has an automatic hot and cold water dispenser (unlimited tea- yay!), and things are....almost perfect :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kal is 2!!

 Today was a momentous occasion... our baby boy turned two years old!

We headed to my parents after lunch today.  It was great to spend the day celebrating with family.  When we arrived at my parents my sweet mom had a cupcake with two candles waiting for big boy Kal.  He blew his candles out like a champ - you'd think he was at least a 3 year old!     
My sister came over when her kids got out of school.  The kids played and then we had dinner at their favorite restaurant that has a sandbox on the patio.
 "How big are you Kal?!"
It was great to spend the day celebrating and we're looking forward to more partying this weekend.  
We love you Kallahan aka Chumley aka Wild Man!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Happiness Guru Says

In high school, I knew a lot of kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. They had amazing concrete life plans. I, on the other hand, couldn't make up my mind. I wanted to be a pilot. An astronaut. A rancher. A film maker. A diplomat. Operator of third world orphanage. I was indecisive. Looking back, I realize that if I had just known what I had wanted to do, it would have been incredibly helpful to creating a road map for my life.

Instead, I've blindly stumbled through life. No goal, unsure of the end game, and without the luxury of a lot of viable options. I went to law school on a whim, mostly because I had no other idea what to do with my life and because I realized it was really hard to get an entry level job with just a political science degree. (I DID discover in college that political science, political ideology, and political philosophy were my intellectual passions...but yeah, try translating THAT into a paycheck!)

I stumbled blindly into lawschool. Which led me haphazardly into the only summer associate position I could get (insurance defense). Which led to my first real job (insurance defense). I thought I had hit the jackpot when I discovered litigation. I never saw myself as a trial attorney but, surprisingly, I loved everything about it. Oh wait. No I didn't. After my 3 year long litigation honeymoon phase ended, I discovered a LOT of things I didn't like about practice in a private firm. I didn't like the crazy billable hours. I didn't like the pressure to bill more and more and bring in more and more clients. I didn't like the stupid schmoozing. I didn't like that you had to sell your soul to get and keep business. I didn't like working for insurance companies who were doing their best to pay you as little as possible. I didn't really like my clients either: unsophisticated and, mostly, irresponsible (some criminals, others just bad people).

On top of that, I didn't like my 5 hour daily commute and a lot of other situations with my firm's organization and....certain, um, personalities. Basically, although I still enjoyed litigation. I hated everything else about my work. Once, again I made a rash and blind decision. After applying to several other jobs and going to a hand full of interviews, I only got one job offer. A job offer I didn't even want. But, I was so miserable that I took it. I decided that if I was going to dislike my job, I might as well dislike a job with a 20 minute round trip commute versus a job with a 5 hour round trip commute.

Turns out, this job that I didn't want is absolutely the most perfect job on the planet. If I had known that this job existed from the beginning and all that it entailed, I'm pretty sure I would have known right away that this is what I wanted to do. I sometimes regret that I didn't have this goal to zero-in on from the very beginning. I could have tailored my lawschool experience and my internships towards this goal. I could have focused a lot of energy and dedication to this goal. I probably could have skipped a lot of crap and I probably could have been much farther in a viable career. But, at the same time, I realize that the crap I dealt with and worked through and survived is a large part of the attorney I am today. Somehow, each sub-par experience gave me a little tool. Now, I have a collection of tools that I'm finding helpful and relevant.

I guess, in the end, I'm very lucky. Hindsight has shown me that every bad or less desirable experience has played an important role or learning opportunity that has become essential to where I am today: truly and wonderfully happy and standing in a great place from which to build the career of my dreams. Is this another career honeymoon phase? Maybe. But it feels different this time.

In kill-or-be-killed private practice, surrounded by predominantly overly-aggressive male attorneys, I always felt like a little girl trying to be someone I wish I could be but simply was not. In my new government position, work is still challenging and stressful, but the entire atmosphere is less intense and less testosterone-fueled. I feel like me. And no one expects me to be anyone else.

The experiences I have had in private versus government attorney work is amazingly stark. It's night and day! In private practice, I was afraid of being yelled at or chastised for everything and anything (I will never forget my former boss' email to the firm "WHOEVER JAMMED THE STAPLER AND LEFT IT THAT WAY, COME SEE ME IMMEDIATELY TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF!!!!"). I never felt like I was working hard enough. I never felt really appreciated, just a pawn for the partners to make more money. Everything came down to billable hours. You had to account for every six minutes of your day. This made every task stressful.

Now, I am still expected to keep track of my hours, but it is so much more laid back. I've found that since the billable hour noose has been loosened around my neck, I'm actually doing better and more thorough work. I'm taking my time and doing things right. I get to act like a normal human who does attorney work, rather than a spazzed out, over-worked attorney doing attorney work. Everyone leaves promptly at 4:30. People are not constantly on the verge of mental breakdowns due to stress. People have lives. People love their jobs. People stay at their jobs for 10, 15, 20+ years. People do NOT think they are God's gift to Earth. People are still a little (or a lot) weird. But they are nice. The short of it all: I am very, very happy.

Lately, even though I'm still only a baby attorney and not yet 30 years old, I feel like a happiness guru. I know what it's like to be unhappy, mildly unhappy, and apathetic about your job and life situations. The last four or so years have been short, but they have taught me a great deal about myself and about who I want to be. I know you can only be unhappy for so long before you are willing to make drastic and even rash decisions. But I also know that life is simply too short to waste it on being miserable.

In the beginning I stuck it out in situations that I did not like because I felt that was a necessary sacrifice. I learned that the exact opposite is true. Don't accept unhappiness as a necessary pre-requisite for eventually getting what you want. You may never get what you want, or what you want may constantly shift. If you are unhappy now, fix it. None of the other crap matters. Life and careers are both about your journey, not our destination. The destination of a life or a career is a purely abstract idea that may never come. So do everything you can to enjoy the journey. And if you don't enjoy your journey, CHANGE IT. IMMEDIATELY.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Daddy & Desserts

     "There is truly nothing sweeter than a Daddy's love!" <3

     Throughout this entire pregnancy the only things I have really been craving are fruit and juice.  I cannot seem to get enough juice!! This week we decided to take Savannah to Planet Smoothie, and introduce her to the best smoothies around.  Cocoa-banana for me, a screamsicle for Josh, and Savannah had a little of both.

     This week was a test of patience for Josh and I as we waited to find out if he had made Staff Sergeant.  Josh was scheduled to test the day after we found out about Savannah's condition, and I can only imagine all of the thoughts that were racing through his head as he set his mind on passing this year.  We eagerly awaited the results, and I will never forget the morning we found out that HE MADE IT!! Savannah wrote her daddy an email at work telling him just how proud she was of him, and how strong and courageous he was.  Later that week Savannah and I were able to celebrate Josh at his selection party. It was a special moment sitting with Savannah watching her daddy get tacked on.

     We celebrated Josh's huge accomplishment by going to the Melting Pot for cheese and chocolate! We were so excited when we found out that one of our close friends, Kathy, was working that night. She helped to make Savannah's first Melting Pot experience one to remember!!  Savannah's favorite part was the s'mores melted chocolate.  She was definitely dancing as we walked out of the restaurant!

     At the beginning of week 31 we had an ultrasound appointment as well as special lunch date with Savannah's best friend Sophie and her parents!
     We cherish every ultrasound we have and we consider it our special time with Savannah.  She is always showing us something new. This week she had her legs crossed, and we love that Savannah is already acting like a little lady!!

Pink boxes = Savannah & Sophie's massive cupcakes!! YUM!

     This week was Josh's birthday, and in honor of him turning 24 Savannah decided to bake daddy a cake!! There was no way we could have done it without the help of two of Savannah (and Mommy's) favorite boys!  These are the two little men that I am blessed to spend my days with. We made some priceless memories as we cracked eggs, decorated cupcakes, made a mess of the kitchen, and celebrated Savannah and "Mr. Josh" :)

     We continued celebrating Josh's birthday with Kevin, Lindsey, and baby Sophie as we went out to dinner and then headed off for special front row seats at a Delta IV rocket launch!!  The launch was absolutely incredible and unlike anything the 6 of us had ever experienced.  Savannah kicked and rolled as the rocket lifted off!  We had a wonderful time, but no birthday celebration would be complete without cupcakes, candles, and a round of Happy Birthday!

•   •   •

**We will be talking about our trip to the circus on the next blog post**

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cow Kisses

I earned major mom points this weekend. On Saturday we hung out in the alley and rode our bikes. Ryan even got to ride the big kid bike. But now he refuses to ride on his own bike. I guess it's just more fun being a big kid.

Then I took the kids swimming at the gym. We go to the gym all the time, but I usually make the kids hang out with drooly, hair-pulling, grabby kids in the baby jail, er, I mean the childwatch center. This time, they got to hang out with drooly, hair-pulling, grabby kids in the baby jail. But AFTERWARD, I took them swimming.

Jacob is very brave in the pool. He dunks his head and swims completely under water, a few feet at a time. He eyes the deep end with lust as he hangs onto the edge of the pool. He begs me over and over and over and over to watch him dunk his head or jump in with a floaty. 

Ryan is way more cautious. He clings to me and generally prefers to be in the very shallow end with the exception of the kiddy slide. He loves that kiddy slide. Probably only because he loves slides in general though. He would prefer the slide to be on land.

I'm not usually a fan of pools myself. So, it's a big treat when the kids get to go to the pool. I associate pools with being wet. And cold. And having to get naked in front of people in the locker room. And having to wear swim suits. These four things are probably my least favorite things on the entire earth. Id rather shovel cow poop. So, yeah, I tend to side with Ryan and his trepidation of the water. 

When we are done with the pool, the kids and I spend just as much time in the showers as in the pool water. I huddle desperately under the warmth. I close my eyes and can almost pretend I'm in a steamy spa. Until Ryan erupts into a tantrum because he can't reach the soap dispender. Ryan LOVES the soap dispenser. He demands to be in my arms where he is within touching distance of the dispencer knob. So my spa experience lasts about 30 seconds before there is a wet, squirmy baby glued to my arms dispensing foaming soap all over my body. But I'll never gripe about paying gym fees seeing as how we cost them about that much in shower soap every time we swim.

The next day, I took the kids up north to tour some local farms. I had no idea we had so many farms an hour's drive away! There were goat farms, fiber farms, produce farms, and dairy farms! 

Being farmers:

Before our hayride, I tried to get some good shots of the boys together. HA. Nice try mom.

They look so thrilled.

I asked them to be nice to each other. So Jacob went in for a kiss.

Ryan was clearly a big fan.

Then, conveniently, Ryan had an itch on his head.

SMACK. Didn't see that one coming, did ya?

Good thing Jake thought it was pretty funny. If Ryan doesn't stay cute, he's probably going to get the hell beat out of him on a regular basis.

Seriously? You can't both look at the camera at the same time? 

Please note: I am wearing my cowboy boots. And I stepped in real cow poop! Now they are authentic!

Jacob enjoyed the hayride.


Then we got a good look at all the dairy cows. Dairy cows are so pretty. I have a thing for cows. I think it started with a cartoon called Cowboys of Moo Mesa.

George Jetson was my first crush. Raphael the Ninja Turtle was my second crush. But Moo Montana...he was my first LOVE. I mean...look at that physique! And no, when I was in fourth grade it never occurred to me how odd it was that a cow was riding a horse. Now I see all kinds of wrong with it.

I imagine this is what it's like to eat in the Duggar household every night.

LOOK! A nine day old baby calf! If you thought you had a big baby, thank your lucky uterus stars that you are not a cow.

We couldn't leave without taking tractor pictures. I mean I have boys. Duh.

As we were saying goodbye to Stardust (who just happens to be the same age as Ryan), Stardust decided to give Jacob an unexpected kiss.

I love cows! Can I have a cow? No, literally. I want a cow. I can pretend it's my love child with Moo Montana.