Sunday, April 29, 2012

Snapshots on the Farm

Last night was our spring club pig (pigs for 4-H kids) auction. I am part of the clerking team that takes money and keeps records using a 20-year-old laptop and a dot matrix printer!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Mock the Lord's Toilet Cake

Last Sunday we Presbyterians were celebrating a much-needed gutting and remodeling of our Lyndon Johnson-era church bathrooms. In addition to thanking the volunteers and quoting Matthew 15:17, we dedicated our new facilities to the Lord's doody duty.

Do you not yet understand,
that whatsoever enters in
at the mouth,
goes into the belly,
and is cast out into the sewer?

In celebration of this momentous occasion, a cake was procured. Since I have three children who often spend Sunday mornings running back and forth to the church bathroom, I sit in the back and was able to snap a mobile phone photo of the official toilet-seat decorated cake.

And then I Facebooked the Lord's toilet seat cake. In the Lord's house. On the Lord's day. And the Lord smote me and my phone of iniquity.

My phone is gone. As of Monday night we have looked in the house, the car and asked the church secretary to search the pews. The phone, which I last held in my hand in the sanctuary shortly after Facebooking, has vanished.

Thou shalt not Facebook the Lord's toilet cake. Nearly 48 hours with no phone is getting very close to hellfire and damnation. And now that I've also blogged the Lord's toilet seat cake, please join me in praying that my laptop doesn't burst into flames.

UPDATE: After seeing me suffering for four days, my mother the Sunday school teacher took matters into her own hands and found my phone hidden amongst the hymnals. Hallelujah!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swine Barber

Hold on to your knickers ladies, international pig-clipping man of mystery, Claude' (pronounced Claude-A) is BACK! And if Claude' is in town, then there's only one reason--it's time to give some pig haircuts.

We were fortunate once again to get on Claude's busy, international pig-clipping schedule (I may be exaggerating here.) just in time for our annual spring pig auction. This year, Ryan is again studying and learning from Claude's patented pig grooming methods.

Husband and Claude' and Ryan have the task of giving haircuts to about 100 little pigs this week to make them look good for this weekend's pig auction. Our goal is to sell these 1-2 month-old pigs to 4-H families who will raise them to show at state and county fairs. (If you are in the market for a hog, please visit our farm page for details.)

Claude' is VERY camera shy due to the great demands for his services as a pig groomer but just for the ladies, I did manage to get this action shot from last year's auction. I believe he is putting the finishing touches on one of his most stylish pig do's ever--or he may be just wiring a fence. Claude' is multi-talented.

If you have been dying to see Claude' in action or you just need a few good swine grooming tips--and who doesn't--then come by the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio this weekend. Just raise your hand til the nice man on the podium yells SOLD. We'll explain everything later.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Overinvolved Parents Falling in the Forest

Lately I have been getting increasingly annoyed at the pressure and expectation for me to be an overinvolved parent. It makes me think of the old philosophical question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If a child participates in an activity and there are no parents hovering nearby, does the child still get the physical, teamwork, educational, performance (etc.) benefits the activity was designed for? I say yes.

Think about the Peanuts kids. When I watched those holiday specials as a child, the fact that their teacher sounded like she was singing into a French horn was funny. Now when I watch with my own kids I find myself thinking about how children aren't allowed to solve their own problems anymore.

What's a kid to do if their tomboy friend Priscilla calls and invites herself to Thanksgiving dinner. Would any kid these days even dream of throwing open the ping pong table and putting on some toast? That's a fanciful example (of course you wouldn't let the dog cook!) but when DO kids get to solve their own problems? When do they get to think through solutions and deal with the interpersonal issues of working with other people. God forbid if something isn't FAIR.

Can you imagine how those Peanuts kids:

  • Directed their own Christmas play
  • Organized their own baseball team
  • Trick-or-treated alone--after creating their own costumes
  • Dealt with school-girl crushes
My sons are on a traveling soccer team with great coaches and supportive parents--the kind that let the coaches do their jobs. Some of the other teams' parents had a tradition of standing on the sideline and giving high-fives to all the players after they do their good game pass with the other team. Some parents on our team wanted to start that for this season.

And for some reason it annoys me immensely. I have been trying to put my finger on why this bothers me so much and I guess it has to do with (over)involving ourselves in the game. The players like to give us high fives after the game but let's not kid ourselves--this is for the parents.

We are transportation to the game, we are clean uniforms, we are a snack to share with the team once in a while, we are to clap when they score and encourage when they don't, we are a hug after the game and rush home/McD's for some dinner. But are we high five? We have enough roles to play. Why do we want to interject ourselves in the post-game festivities that are for players and coaches. Why does every parent need to make contact with every kid on the team?Are we that worried that our kids are going to forget we're there?

Against my better judgement I just finished writing my son a note of encouragement that will be part of his packet for an upcoming standardized test. I have to send in two notes--since there are two days of testing. Really? I thought my job was to make sure he got a good night's sleep and a proper breakfast that day. I have to worry about his self-esteem now too?

I'm angry that I feel bullied into doing it. The note from the school basically said they want them turned in early--so they can see which kids don't have one. There's no way I'm going to have some counselor whispering in the corner about how I'm not involved enough in my child's education to even care how he does on the test. I believe the message and format of communication I have with my son about the importance of this test is something private to our family--not something for a test prep checklist.

We have been told over and over by the schools, by our peers, by society and by our own parents that being involved on our children's schoolwork and activities is how we show we care and how we can help them be successful. But good intentions (it's just a high five) and pressure (we want every kid to have a note so no one feels left out) are causing mission creep. 

If a child participates in an activity and there are no parents hovering nearby, does the child still get the physical, teamwork, educational, performance (etc.) benefits the activity was designed for?

In many ways, the less we're involved, the better.

Monday, April 9, 2012

PR Idea of the Week

As I bridge the world of corporate PR and bacon farming (the new consumer-friendly term the actual PR people for the Ohio Pork Producers developed), I always am intrigued to find stories where PR and bacon actually intersect

I was really interested to read about Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow of J&D's Foods who managed to develop a business selling a product made out of vegetables to people who love bacon.

The two owners have used PR stunts and innovative April Fools promotions to generate national media attention to their Bacon Salt family of products. Their pre-April Fools video and press release on the (actually real) Bacon Coffin garnered coverage on the "front page of the Financial Times in 26 countries,BusinessWeek, Fox News and Bloomberg."

In an interview with the Huffington Post they admit to launching Bacon Salt (actually vegetarian and KOSHER) by hanging out at an Ohio State football game in a bacon suit. What PR person hasn't DREAMED about developing a PR plan around a bacon-suited company CEO

Check out their pretty cool blog, where they also lay out how a PR stunt product, Bacon lube, has become a reality.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Retro Easter

When I saw this little Easter action shot by Husband I KNEW I needed an excuse to post it.

Is it his little bell bottoms? His mock turtleneck? The fact that my mother-in-law still had these drapes when we got married? I don't know, but this is one cute photo.

Maybe it's the fact that this photo was taken a whole 18 months before I was BORN that is so fun.

I do try to balance Husband's Brady Bunch era photos with a few 80s highlights of my own. This is me (left) with my six cousins and two siblings at Grandma's house, Easter 1987. My little sister is in the front left in a hat and my bother in the back right in a pink (!) shirt.

I've always been fortunate at Easter to be surrounded by family, to have plenty of good food and to have someone else to cook most of it. Thank you to my grandmothers for decades of homemade noodles and pies. Thanks to my mother-in-law who hasn't lost sight of the fact that holidays warrant china, the good silverware, tablecloths and passing food until your arm falls off.

I'm looking forward this year to taking the embarrassing, retro Easter photos of 2032.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birthday Boy

Today is my brother-in-law's 40th birthday. And I really couldn't let the opportunity pass to post some cute photos of him that I happen to possess because A) They were taken at my wedding. and B) The second cute boy in the photo is Husband.

My brother-in-law gave the toast at our wedding. He did such a great job on his own that it took all my speech-writing expertise, plus Husband thinking for weeks to try and do it justice when Husband was HIS best man a few years later.

Here's the birthday boy (left) and his older, toothless brother (Husband) circa 1977. That's not Instagram--the photo already looked that way.

I couldn't pass up this little gem. Husband is on the left, age 6. My future brother-in-law is on the right in the widdle red socks, age 3. Awwwwww.

I can't wait (actually, YES I CAN) to pass along photos of my sons to their future wives, although I'll probably just be handing over an ancient memory stick that they'll have to find some Radio Shack (because they can't seem to die) and figure out if they have one of those old fashioned"cell phones" that can read it.

Happy 40th to my MUCH older brother-in-law. I guess I'll find out pretty soon if he reads this blog.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Snapshots on the Farm

Out here on the farm, child labor is important. That's why pa and I decided to have such a big brood. Also, so I could sip mimosas on the porch swing.

Oh Cincy Tree, Oh Cincy Tree

2020 is CRAP. And no where is that more apparent recently than the Christmas Tree erected on Fountain Square in Cincinnati. Yikes. It look...