Friday, May 30, 2008

Correction and Addition

I want to apologize...I recently realized I wrote the wrong age for what my Grandpa would have been, had he celebrated this birthday. Gramp would have been 95!

And in my rush to finish my blog before getting ready for work, I forgot to mention one of the most important things everyone remembers about Grandpa...he was ALWAYS thankful. For everything! What a wonderful example to pass on to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

And like Grandpa, I'm thankful.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Today would have been Grandpa's 94th birthday...but instead, like Grandma, he is finally ageless. Grandpa went home to be with Jesus (and Grandma) last September.

We grew up living about an hour away from my all of my grandparents and usually went over twice a month to visit them and many of my cousins. Oh, we loved going to Doylestown (although that trip seemed pretty long!). Growing up, I didn't know Grandpa as much as I knew Grandma. Maybe that's just the way it is with most make noise and play with each other while Grandpas often avoid the noise and keep busy elsewhere. But Grandpa still enjoyed his grandkids, and as I got older, I realized what a treasure he was. I remember one time when I stayed overnight with Grandpa and Grandma and Grandma split open a watermelon for us to share -- I'm still not sure how she did it, but the half she gave me had no seeds, and Grandpa's had more seeds than I've ever seen! Boy, did he complain! With a smile on his face....

And as time went by, he loved spending time with his grandchildren and his great-grands. He'd tease them, ask about their day, tell them stories. Susi was always a bit afraid of going near the time she came along, he was usually in his chair with his oxygen tank nearby...but Luke loved talking and playing with Grandpa. Grandpa loved Luke, too, and gave him the nickname "Luke the Duke."

Grandpa was a world traveller -- going all over to visit with missionaries, take part in church meetings, and just visit friends. Argentina, Australia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Mexico, Canada, and all over the United States, just to name a few. As he got older, his common refrain before each trip was "This will probably be the last time I ever go there...." After hearing that several times before each subsequent trip to the same place, my cousins and I would just roll our eyes. Grandpa loved traveling.

It was especially fun as he would travel to Florida when I lived there then later California. I looked forward to those visits because regardless what he had on his agenda, he always took time to come over and share a visit. I delighted in finding unusual restaurants I knew he'd enjoy and taking him out for meals. There were a few times he would literally sit for over an hour not conversing or eating, just looking around -- like when we went to the Rainforest Cafe or Claim Jumper or some other fun place. And knowing how much he loved sea food, up until just a few years ago when he and grandma became more house bound with age and infirmities, I always sent them a gift card to Red Lobster.

Grandpa could fix anything. Growing up, he told me he would often go out and get whatever new-fangled thing came out on the market -- cars, trucks, radios, televisions, you name it -- just so he could take it apart and put it back together again. Who needed instruction manuals on how to run things when you had Grandpa?

Grandpa did probably just about any job you could think of during his lifetime -- farming, construction, gravel, repairs. And I found out during my last visit last spring that he was even one of the Watkins men! No wonder Watkins is so much in my blood!

There have always been funny stories floating around about Grandpa -- like the time when he was talking to a child walking home from school who told him that he could count. Gramp asked him how far he could count and his reply was "all the way home!" Or how he loved to dig through things at the local dump and once found a beautiful purse for Grandma only to open it up and find an even bigger treasure -- a white-gold watch with several diamonds! Or the time he was cutting something and his finger got in the way. After slitting it open, he noticed some white things hanging out and cut them off, too...I believe they were tendons!

He loved to talk. He loved to tell stories. And wow, do I miss those stories! We could often find Grandpa at family events later in life either talking up a storm or, if it was quiet, napping in a corner somewhere.
After Tony and I met then married, I especially loved talking with him and often called him at least once a month. He would relate all kinds of farming stories, give all kinds of farming tips, and ask for all kinds of advice from Tony for his garden. And Grandpa ALWAYS had a garden (even though in the last years he really didn't go much with Dad and uncles and aunts did!). Appropriately, his name was "George" which literally means "farmer." I cannot remember a summer going by when we didn't all get together -- aunts, uncles, cousins -- to pick, husk, blanch, and freeze unbelievable amounts of corn. Knowing how much corn we grow, Grandpa gave me that huge kettle we used outside for cooking the corn several years back. And Grandpa's corn was the best I ever tasted...until I tasted Carter's sweet corn (honestly!).
Grandpa also loved pie -- any kind, I believe. He loved especially later in life when one of his girls would come over and bake pie, or at least bring him some home made pie.

Grandpa could be pretty stern, too. When he passed on, one of the most common memories of him was of his finger thumping heads when there was noise in church or misbehavior. But I can honestly say I don't ever remember getting thumped! He was quite conservative in many of his views, and often wouldn't let visiting ministers preach at "his" church if they wore a wedding band (his church didn't believe one should wear jewelry). But regardless of his his views and opinions, he was also a wonderful mediator and was respected by people on both sides of the fence, regardless of what that fence was.
When I first met my future father-in-law, I was struck by how similar he was in so many ways to my grandpa. Personality, likes and dislikes, views and opinions, other's views and opinions of him. I couldn't wait for Grandpa to come and visit me here in Minnesota! Not only did I have the perfect restaurant picked out to take him (West Forty -- LOTS of farm and tractor memorabilia), but he would love to see our farm here, visit with my father-in-law (although I'm not sure which one would talk the most with all the stories they'd be telling each other!), and visit one of the places he always wanted to get to but hadn't -- the Antique Tractor and Engine museum that is only a few miles from us. However, Gramp never made it up here....and I miss knowing he never will. But, Grandpa is in a much better place!
I miss my grandpa. I miss our telephone conversations. I miss the stories he shared. I miss just going over to his house or taking him out for supper. I miss not being able to show him one of the things he would've delighted in the most...our farm. But I'm glad that one day I'll see him again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just some stuff....

My poor husband! Last night there was a frost advisory...the temps once again dipped below freezing...after we have several crops planted and some blossoms already out on strawberry plants. That meant Tony was up at 3 a.m. watering areas, rotating the water, checking things, covering things (although he did much of the covering before night-fall). He did catch some sleep here and there on the couch at the farm, but it didn't amount to much. After coming home around 7:30 a.m., he was able to catch a couple hours sleep...but not enough to make up for what he lacked overnight. Unfortunately, there is another frost advisory, so it'll be more of the same.

Susanna was a "farmer girl" today, pretty much "helping" Grandma around the farm while Luke went with me again to the nursery in Detroit Lakes, helping lug flowers to our giant cart to bring back to sell at the Market. And even though Susanna and Grandma took a 2.5 hour nap, I'm still not sure who is the most tired in our house!

Grandma joined us for supper -- Grandpa had quartet practice at church tonight; his old group is giving a performance on Sunday, June 8, in the evening...if you live in the area, you do not want to miss it!

The kids were begging Grandma to play with them after supper, so she asked them what they wanted to play. Susi was quick to ask her to be a doggie. Grandma asked what she was going to do with her...tie her up on a chain (the new farm dog experienced being tied up today for the first time and did NOT enjoy it!). Quite innocently and matter-of-factly, Susanna told Grandma, "no, I'm not going to tie you up, just put you in a cage." Gotta give Grandma credit, though. At one point, she was on her hands and knees "wagging" her tail behind her! And I didn't have my camera or video recorder near by!

Susanna also spilled the beans to Grandpa today about a little accident Grandma had last week -- from what I've heard, Luke was riding his bike when Grandma came by on the golf cart and didn't see him....he jumped off quick, but the bike wasn't as fortunate. One tire was broken...but the bike is fixable. And Luke is convinced that his wonderful Daddy can fix anything! Thankfully, it wasn't his new bike...and even more thankfully, he wasn't hurt. It did cause a bit of panic in me when I heard as that happened the morning after Stephen Curtis Chapman's daughter was accidentally run over and died as a result.

Things are going so-so at the Market so far this year. We have lots of road construction in town leading to the Market and it has definitely cut back on our business. However, business was better this Memorial Day weekend than it was last year! A cool spring has also cut into the plant sales that we usually enjoy, but I'm expecting things to really pick up this coming weekend. We're also doing another "sampling" at the Market on Saturday -- six different barbecue sauces. An apple butter BBQ, "Screaming Hornet" (very, very hot!) BBQ, two by Grandma Fosters (mild and spicy), and two from Watkins (original and mesquite). Along with the BBQ, we'll be sampling six cheese balls -- white cheddar and chive, mandarin orange, lemon, bell pepper and garlic, bananas foster, and my favorite, mint chocolate chip (see, all you out-of-towners, what you're missing by being so far away???). We'll see how it goes...

Folks, I'm tired! I'm signing off now...I'm finishing typing up an email from my mother-in-law for the family, then I have a few things to wrap up downstairs before heading to bed. Tomorrow is laundry day, planting flowers day (please, no more frost!), and I'm also having lunch with a dear friend who is leaving with her family on Sunday for Alaska. They've moved back and forth between there and here over the past several years, but this time really may be for good. I'll miss them all...they're a wonderful family, and Cheryl is a great friend...

I'm sure there are other funny things the kids have said and done that I want to share, but at this point, I'm too tired to remember them. If I ever do, you'll probably hear about them!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Food Fight!!!

So months ago one of my friends was telling me about facebook and how she has regained contact with many old friends from school. I thought...hey, that sounds pretty cool. I mean, I'm in the northwoods of Minnesota, a far cry from where I grew up in Ohio, lived in Florida and Southern California, and lost contact with many great friends growing up -- both from church and from places I've worked, not including my many cousins I don't see much any more. So...I gave it a try and wow! Lots of my cousins (mainly from my mom's side of the family, but at least one from my dad's) are on there as well as friends from my local church, but I've also reconnected with many friends from church I've had growing up -- "Apostle" John, Melinda, Sarah -- and several "kids" that were literally waist-high when I knew them (and sometimes babysat a few); one of my brother's best friends from school is on there -- who'd've thunk that Jeff H. had four or five kids now??? And wow! My weight-lifting aunt is on there, too! A sister-in-law, nieces and nephews. My up-lines from Watkins. I look at some of the friends of my friends and know the last name...and realize (gasp!) those are the GROWN CHILDREN of kids and cousins that I grew up with. How did they get to have kids that are so OLD so soon??? Did that much time REALLY go by?????

Facebook has lots of cool things on it -- there is this application with different world locations to better one's knowledge of where cities, countries, and landmarks are in this world (who knew Swaziland was in the middle of South Africa? or that Fungul was a small island waaaay off the coast of Portugual?) -- I'm getting a better mental picture of where my nephew Andrew is (at least location-wise) over in Iraq as well as where all those middle-eastern countries are located, especially in regards to each other.

There are fun things -- one of my favorites is pieces of flair, little "buttons" with different sayings. Granted, some are really tacky, but then there are some that click the nostalgia button with me ("My name is Inego Montoya; you killed my father, prepare to die!") or are just really, really funny ("We grew did this happen and why didn't anyone stop it?"). There are photo-sharing apps where I've seen some cool photos posted by friends and relatives -- nature, family, etc.

There are things that I will never look at on there...just like so many other things on the web and that one can encounter in daily life. (Which I'm sure explains why so many parents I know are part of facebook since their children are also part of it.) Some really tacky things, and lots of things where one can waste hours and hours of time quite easily.

But the most fun thing I've found so far (thanks, Mar!) is something I'm actively taking part in that we never were allowed to growing up. A FOOD FIGHT!!!! Certain cousins of mine (which are the ones I probably did have some food fights with growing pop cycle spitting to name one!) and at least one spouse have partaken in a food fight. Flinging food at each other. And in the best way for a grown up and parent -- it's virtual and not messy in real life! Yikes, can you imagine the mess from flan? Or ketchup? Liver and congers (what are congers???)? Whipped cream? It gives new meaning to hurling bitten off juju fruit at each other (although this is virtual life, not the movie theater!). And we're loving it! How often do you have 40-something (okay, and a couple 30-somethings!) "kids" throwing food at each other on a daily basis from hundreds of miles away?

Of course, there have been some misses. I think each of us have bean some innocent victims -- people who have no right getting in the midst of our food fights (sorry to that big, muscle-bound, mean looking guy who got in the way of the chocolate I was throwing at Martha!). But all in all, it's a fun and messy way of releasing some daily tension at some of the people I love most in the world...without having to worry about who is going to clean up the mess!

So, I gotta go now. It's time to get ready for another busy day at the Market. I'd stop on facebook first and fling some food, but there's no time for that now. Beware, though, I'll get you later tonight! (if I'm not passed out from exhaustion!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

I don't know how to title this one...

Okay, so I'd really like some feed back on this one...even from those of you who read but don't usually comment!

Something I ponder about often is the power of the tongue and how easy it is to say things we shouldn't. Things in anger, things in carelessness, things in gossip. Let's face it; we women especially are sociable people! It's easy to get together as a group, large or small, and "catch each other up" on what's going on....even when it doesn't pertain to us personally. It's something I struggle with, but with God's help, I'm getting better...but will never let my guard down.

We tend to share things under the guise of "prayer requests." After all, that isn't "gossip," is it? I mean, we're sharing a prayer concern....something someone is really struggling with...and hey, they need prayer, right? And how do we know how to pray about for them if we don't fill others in on what's happening...or at least give them enough information without really "telling" but still where they can fill in the gaps or assume things that may or may not really be true? Plus, what IS gossip? Something that isn't true? Something that may or may not be true? Something that we know is true but doesn't pertain to us or isn't our place to tell others under any circumstance? And what do we do if we spread gossip and are convicted by we go back to the person we spoke about even though they may not even know we said anything? Do we go back to the person we gossiped to and confess what we did?

Years ago, someone close to me called members of my family with a prayer concern regarding me. Something that wasn't completely true...they had certain facts that were completely innocent, but through their imagination, they assumed the worst. Things blew out of control when I started getting calls and emails from different family members. My reputation suffered a pretty big hit, and it upset me that those closest to me assumed the worse without checking what the facts were...and passed on those concerns to others as well. That incident has since been cleared up, everything forgiven between me and the other person involved, and I'm glad to say we again share a good, close relationship. It wasn't always that way...for about three or four years, the other person didn't think she did anything wrong because she was concerned for me and shared that with others as a "prayer request." Never mind that things had been assumed and not verified. Those lost years of friendship aren't something we can get back, but I can honestly say that I once again fully trust this person and we have both matured from that incident. However, I see this happen to so many other people.

How do you deal with it when someone tells you a "prayer request" that isn't really their business to share? Or just flat out gossips? And how do you know what is or isn't okay to share with others? Is it okay to share a concern that involves you...if it involves someone else and you've not gotten their permission to share it, especially if it's on a very personal level? And is it ever okay to share things with family without having permission -- or flat out having been asked not to -- if it involves another family member...or maybe someone that the other person doesn't even know?

And here's a hot-button question...what about sharing something with your husband that you know is confidential? I sometimes struggle with that...there are times that I know something he would be interested in or concerned about or would affect him directly or I share the knowledge that I have with him? On the one hand, I don't want to gossip...but on the other hand, I don't want to keep things from my husband. I try and go by the example set by a wonderful godly woman who has been an example to me in many ways...whenever I talked with her, she always asked if it was okay to share with her husband or if I preferred to keep it between us. But, honestly, I don't always do that 100% of the time.

The Bible is so clear about gossip and the tongue. And the Bible is so clear about older women being an example to the younger women.

This past week I faced a personal struggle and needed to talk with someone about it, pray with someone, vent to someone I could trust who could help keep me on track and could give me godly advice, make sure my focus was on Him and not what my struggle was. And I was thankful I have someone I could turn to here, someone a bit older than me who exhibits the traits of a woman of excellence. It made me all sisters in Christ have someone they can turn to for advice and mentoring, someone they can trust who will keep confidences and give them godly direction? I knew that with the myriad of emotions I was going through, this wonderful friend would be able to pick apart what I was saying, pray with me, help me weed through things, and -- if I needed to hear hard truth that I didn't want to hear or face-- she would tell it to me in a straight up but loving way.

So leave me a comment. Weigh in on the topic. Even those of you who I know read my blog but have never commented (I know who you least some of you!). Post anonymously or leave your name.

And if I ever share something with you that isn't my place to...confront me in love, okay? Cut me off before my tongue goes out of control. Even if we're in a group of people. Don't stay silent. Make me stay silent. Not only will I be thankful to you...but so will the person my "prayer request" is about!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Week

Wow, so much has happened this past week. Last Sunday was, of course, Mother's Day. I didn't write anything about my day since I wrote the tribute to Grandma and wanted the focus on that, so...we'll start with Mother's Day!

This Mama on Mother's Day

We actually got out of the house much earlier than usual, which was great, since Luke was singing that morning, and we wanted to take him up front to show him where he'd be, get him used to it. He was ready and raring to go, until the time actually came. Even then, Luke rushed up, hopped on the really tall stool like a pro, looked up, and.....froze. Kinda giggled, looked down, then sang. This Mama's heart was so happy! After first service was done, I reminded him to look only at me and not at everyone else then he wouldn't get scared. He informed me, "I have to look at the kids, Mama, that's who I'm singing to." Okay.

Luke on stage for his first performance
Then came second service and the second time around. Things were going well; Pastor Marty was up front giving announcements. The plan was that there would be a short video after announcements followed by Luke singing. Well, part way through announcements Luke (quite loudly) announced, "I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!!" Can't it wait? "No, I have to go NOW!" Tony rushed him out with Susanna trailing and muttering, "me, too!" Then Marty finished announcements and deviated from the scheduled. "Next we have a young man who will minister to us with a solo. Luke Carter!" NO!!! Show the video! I rushed out to the men's room, threw open the door (praying that there would be no one else in there other than my family -- thankfully, given there were about 400 people in the church at that moment, there was no one else except them) and yelled "He's on! Let's GO!!"

Here was the problem. Luke was wearing suspenders. That buttoned to his pants. And looped through his shirt. And his independence was in full swing. So he entered the stall and locked the door. By himself. I rushed back to the sanctuary...the video was playing, right? NO! It was over! Marty hid a chuckle as I motioned for another moment. Rushed back to the bathroom "Let's move it!!!" And Luke grabbed my hand as we both ran for the front of the church. The Praise Team was getting ready to start, so they made room for my little guy who climbed up on the stool. I helpfully pushed the stool closer to the mike...and knocked it over! Thankfully, I also had a hold on Luke so he didn't go down with the stool. But we got everything straightened out and Luke sang. The second half of the song. But....he got a huge round of applause and stars in his eyes...and kept telling me all the way home how much he loves me. Ahhhh....

The reason I can celebrate Mother's Day

Luke and Susanna sang off and on all week "I love Mama, I love Mama, yes I do, yes, I do, Mamas are for hugging, Mamas are for kissing, I love you, yes I do." And still today they told me, "Happy Mother's Day!" Hey, if they want to celebrate it more than one day, who am I to tell them differently?

My favorite people

Monday and Tuesday, Susanna and I went in to the Market to do more stocking on the shelves, getting ready to open. Diana was helping, too. She is an AWESOME employee, and we are so blessed to have her! Wednesday was Luke's day with me, and we headed over to Detroit Lakes to one of the nurseries where we get many of the flowers and baskets we don't grow ourselves. We had a blast, and he was a great helper, hauling trays of flowers to our cart before getting worn out after an hour or so. We stopped at Perkins for lunch, and he chatted nonstop (literally!) all the way home except for the five minutes he fell asleep.

I had another Watkins party Wednesday went pretty well. Got some more parties booked for later this summer and two who want to book in the fall, so that continues to be a successful endeavor, praise God. I really am amazed at how much He is blessing this Watkins business - I know I can't do it on my own.

Thursday morning, wow, what did we do Thursday? I don't even remember! But Luke had his last music class in the afternoon...he has a "recital" this week which should prove interesting! Watching him during music class, it struck me again how much of a "Wiggly Willy" AND "Social Sam" he is -- he cannot sit still for anything...but absorbs so much as he's moving around...and that kid HAS to be making friends with someone, anyone, connecting person to person. I realized even more watching him that there is no way he would survive in a traditional school room setting. We'd be getting calls and letters all the time about him not paying attention, wandering around, being a distraction. But again, I'm amazed at how much he learns and picks up as he's wiggling and as he's connecting with anyone near by.

After music class, we went back to the market to finish up a few last things before I trained in all our new employees. I'm really pleased with our gang this year, and I look forward to working with them!

Oh yes! Thursday morning, we uploaded the new and improved website for Carter's Red Wagon! Please check it out at -- and let us know what you think! And if you've shopped there or had our produce, we'd really appreciate it if you could go to and look us up (do a search by zip code -- 56470 -- we'll be the first to come up) and click on the ranking up to...and give us a rank!

Friday morning, the kids and I picked up Katie on our way in to the market for our grand opening. Katie is going to be their main babysitter this summer when I'm working at the market. The kids adored her so much that they never did take a nap Friday. Or Saturday. I'm not sure who was more worn out by the end of each day...her, them, or me. All I know is that I was afraid to even blink on the way home for fear my eyelids wouldn't go back up. And the kids asked on the way home, "Mama, can we just eat supper then go to bed without playing?" Yep. Fine with me!

Saturday, we also had a "Sample our Stuff" day where I sample several of the different items we sell. My thought is this. We have some really great things for sale, quick and easy to make, healthy to eat. But if people are like me, I'm often hesitant to buy something new, especially if it's pricy, without trying it first. What if I don't like it? Hence...Sample our Stuff! I made raspberry pancakes (just add water!), lemon pepper noodles with a chunky Italian tomato sauce, cheddar potato cream of wild rice soup (just add water!), a cinnamon swirl coffee cake, and also sampled two salsas -- Green Mountain Gringo Mild salsa (no fat or cholesterol, all natural, very low cal), and asparagus salsa (again, no fat or cholesterol, all natural, very low cal). Sales were low both days, but we also have MAJOR road construction in front of our place...and our asparagus isn't ready yet! Hopefully by Tuesday....

Today, when the alarm went off for us to get up for first service...well, actually after I hit the snooze the second time....we decided to go to Sunday school and second service. Wow, it felt great staying in bed until 8:00!

I will make a comment on another fabulous Watkins product I discovered....The original Watkins product, Red Liniment, is GREAT to use for getting rid of muscle aches and pains. Add one or two capfuls to your bath water before soaking, and it literally soaks out those pains enough for you (well, okay, me) to hobble to bed and fall asleep when one can barely walk or function! All I remember about Friday night (besides my bath and bed) is writing some silly comment on Karen's blog about Karen Day which probably made no sense to anyone at all besides me....sorry, Kar!

So there you have it. My week in a nutshell. I'm tired. How about you?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grandma

I know Grandma (Pavkov) isn't here on earth any more...she's having a marvelous time in heaven right now, to be sure, but I wanted to dedicate this blog today to her.

Ninety-six years ago on Saturday, May 11, 1912, a delightful baby girl, Helen Rose, was born to Mathais and Susan Pamer in Copley, Ohio. She was the third of eleven children, almost all of whom are reunited in heaven now, singing the songs of the ages. She married a younger man, George Pavkov, after writing secret love notes and signing them "Esor Remap," her middle and last name spelled backwards (or so I've been told!). Their love was so great that when she passed away last June, I think Grandpa lost his reason for living and joined her in eternity three months later.

Grandma was an amazing woman. She raised six children of her own (along with Grandpa, that is!) and passed on a wonderful legacy to not only her children, but also her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She served our God and Father selflessly and continually -- supporting missionaries in various ways, although most everyone will never forget the thousands of boxes of clothes she sorted through, washed, mended, packed, and shipped off for missionaries to wear and distribute.
(front) - Jorge & Kathy Nemec, Adena Pavkov, Janet Pavkov
(back) Endre and Peg Toth, Grandpa and Grandma, Russ Pavkov, Carole & Ralph Schley
(missing, Ken and Bonnie Pavkov)
She cared for each and every person in her life, especially her family members, as well as people she never met. She enjoyed her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, playing with the little ones even when she couldn't remember who they were. She embodied the Proverbs 31 woman, proving that such a woman actually could exist! And except for when she was battling Alzheimer's in her last years, she never forgot a birthday or anniversary. During those last years, she often didn't know who that "old man" was sitting in the other room, but she never forgot she was married to her beloved George (she just couldn't imagine him being that old!).

Grandma didn't let age stop her from doing things -- as she continued through life, she often traveled wth Grandpa on his trips to Australia, Mexico, and South America, but especially on trips to visit her youngest daughter, Kathy, who was living in Argentina. She even traveled on motorcycle...and photos suggest she enjoyed that mode of travel!

(I had a photo of that...but just can't find it!)

I have no doubt that if Grandma were still with us today and wasn't battling Alzheimers, she would be reading this blog...and probably posting her own on a regular basis (in between packing boxes, making cookies, canning produce, baking pies, and anything else that needed done). Grandma learned how to use the computer, and started keeping in touch with her children and grandchildren when she was in her eighties. I've kept on my computer some of the emails she sent me, even through several moves and several computer upgrades. She always took the time to comment on and ask about things that were going on in my life, and I have no doubt she did that for each of the grandkids that kept in contact with her.

When she was 93, Grandma published a book that compiled many of the poems she wrote during her life. Here are a couple that I'd like to rededicate in her memory:


Don't count your years by numbers;
They fade away.
Don't number disappointments;
They never stay.

Don't add up all your aches and pains;
Or worse they'll grow.
Just count your blessings and give thanks;
And your age will never show!

For Grandma, that was so true. I don't ever remember her talking about disappointments, worries, aches, pains, or anything but her blessings and thanksgivings.

Every few years, Grandma had a double celebration on May 11. Not only her birthday, but also Mother's Day.


What beauteous words the poets find
To write of "Mother"! Always kind,
Forever cheerful, always good,
And, oh, what she can do with food!

She understands when others do not.
She will sacrifice when others do not.
By bedside, too, all day and night
She will stay, until her child's all right.

She bravely smiles while others cry,
Sheds tears of joy for those who try
Then reach some cherished goal at last;
Forgives, forgets what is in the past.

With patience filled, a heart of gold
Is hers; with wisdom, too, untold.
Serene and helpful, day by day
This angel goes along her way.

So write the bards -- but what I long
To know is, what with me is wrong.
For I can strive both night and day
Yet never feel noble anyway.

And while Grandma may not have felt noble, she was. It gives me hope knowing she felt this way....there's hope for me, too!

My heart goes out for my mother and her siblings today, this first Mother's Day without their mother, this double celebration year when we would have celebrated her birthday, too, but we all have some idea of what she was going through these past several years...and I have no doubt she is much happier now, free of cares and worries and celebrating eternity with the One Who loved her before time began...and waiting for when God calls the rest of her family home, one by one.

Grandma, if you were here, I would tell you again how much I love you and appreciate you and all you've done and taught me both by words and deeds. Happy birthday...and happy Mother's Day...but better still, happy eternity!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Getting ready....

Well, unless something unexpected happens between now and then, we (Carter's Red Wagon Farm Market) are officially opening Friday, May 16! And there is still sooooo much to do!

I've just about wrapped up our website make-over and will post it one day next week when everyone has some free time (we have to upload it at Jon & Julia's house since they have high-speed and we don't). I still have work to do on about 15 pages, but they go by pretty quick. When we do upload the new site, I'll let ya know....please check it out and let us know what you think!

I've been printing out more brochures as the 300 + I already sent to our Chamber of Commerce are gone. We're also doing Customer Appreciation cards this punch for each $10 spent; fill the card ($100) and get $10 off your next purchase. So our printer has been quite busy...along with printing labels to stick on the dried fruit we buy in bulk then package in 8 ounce baggies (I don't know why I never thought of labeling the bags before!).

We have most of our products either in or in route to be delivered early next week...but they still need to be priced and stocked. I have a good idea in my head where I want to have each section in the market (pickled items, salsas, and BBQ sauce; Amish noodles and tomato sauce; jams and jellies; honey and syrups -- maple and fruit; Watkins products; all-natural/organic products; and the ever-popular snack cart). Produce, of course, takes center stage, although that will be a bit scarce in the beginning weeks as we'll only have asparagus then rhubarb along with bedding plants and hanging baskets. I'll be in the market all day tomorrow and as often as I can get in next week to get everything set up!

I'm having a "training day" for all our new market employees -- sit everyone down at one time and go over everything -- expectations, rules, dress code, give 'em the full run down and tour and show 'em what they'll need to do. Of course, with 6 kids between the ages of 12 and 14, I know I'll have to remind them several times about things, but this group of incoming kids seem to be very promising and good at taking the initiative, so I'm hoping everything will work out all right!

Meanwhile, on the home front, the heating element in my stove died for the second time in five years. Arg!!!! And I was gonna bake cookies with the kids this afternoon!!!

We are all fighting some kind of upper respiratory thingy; it's affecting Tony the worst (maybe because he's not able to get the rest he so desperately needs. I'm forever wiping little noses and encouraging them to "blow loud like Daddy!" Yet in the midst of all his running around at all hours of the day and night to make sure things are fine at the farm, Tony still took the time to take the kids to the library today as they were doing story time and projects for Mother's Day. What a man!

Luke and Susanna, meanwhile, have been very excited about the approaching holiday and continue to ask several times a day, "Is it Mother's Day yet?" Last week, both their stories in Sunday School were about Timothy with another story about Mothers. They've informed me they'll be making me breakfast in bed ("Well, Daddy will cook, but we will make it"), but I don't think that'll happen on Mother's Day since we need to leave here by 8:00 for church!

Watkins continues to grow for me...and I'm so thankful for how well the business is going.

And speaking of Watkins, I just had a big delivery from UPS on a party I closed earlier this I gotta go sort everything out and get that delivered since folks are expecting that before Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Iron Man Cubbie and other cute things

Okay, before last Friday I had never heard of Iron Man. Maybe it's because I'm so out of touch, maybe it's because Iron Man really doesn't have that big of an impact (although, from what I discovered later that weekend, Iron Man is some kind of super hero and is the star of some movie that came out last week....showing here in town....and supposedly was the highest grossing movie of the weekend).

Anyway, at Burger King, Luke got some snap together Iron Man toy and Iron Man became his new hero...based only on that. That night, having never actually seen a picture of the "real" Iron Man, Luke decided he would become Iron Man. Hence, the outfit. Please note, the entire outfit is all part of Iron Man -- bulky overnight underwear, Bob the Builder pjs, and "scary mask like Daddy wears for hunting." Oh yeah, and big muscles.

Last night was also a big man for my Iron Man. It was the last night of AWANA for this year (we go by the school year)...Awards night complete with ice cream sundaes afterwards. It's the first time I remember that we actually didn't have enough room for all the clubbers to sit -- we had to cram parents together to fit in all the kids that were there! Not something to complain about at all! We average 300 in attendance on a regular AWANA night...that count includes about 60 regular leaders and listeners, so we're reaching between 225-250 children from age 3 through 6th grade (before they go into a program directed at teens) each week with the gospel of Christ, training them to serve HIM! (if you're familiar with AWANA, you're familiar with that line!).
Susanna was excited that she finally got to go to AWANA again and even have ice cream! While the children took turns going up front for their awards (those that finished a full book during the year -- 32 sections with at least that many bible verses), she entertained the masses (okay, maybe a dozen or so folks) sitting behind her by pulling down her pants and shaking around her naked tushie...Daddy and Grandma being totally oblivious to her antics, Mama busy handing out awards and running back and forth to the kitchen making sure everything was ready for ice cream. Yes, she is my shy one, and NO, I promise you she has never seen that at home (unless it was done by her brother at one time or another).

Luke, however, did a great job when he was up front getting his award and singing with the rest of the Cubbies. I was pleased to see he was one of the few who were actually singing, jumping, and clapping...when they were supposed to! The photos are fuzzy, but you can see him in his cute Cubbie vest, pleased as punch.

He must have made some good we were eating ice cream, our music ministry director for the church came up to ask me if I thought Luke would sing a solo at church on Sunday for both services. Hm. Luke go up front and entertain hundreds of people with a solo? Yeah, that would be right up his alley...but I did check with him. We sang the song together for a few times, he got it down pat, and told Anna that yes, he wanted to sing. On the way home, he informed me that he wanted to sing a different song instead. Since his favorite song is Mary had a little lamb, I immediately cut him off and told him it was the song Mrs. Campbell gave him or nothing at all. He was content to "settle" for her song. Now...will he sing? And will he sing the song she gave him? Will we remember to bring our video camera? Will he do something even more mortifying than his sister did last night? He did sing it perfectly for his music teacher today. But on Sunday? Stay tuned....

For those of you who would like to teach your own children the song Luke is singing, here it is, to the tune of Fere Jacques (or however you spell that!):

I love Mama, I love Mama,
Yes, I do! Yes, I do!
Mamas are for hugging
Mamas are for kissing
I love you, yes, I do!

Now, if all goes well (and even if it doesn't), could I even dream of a better Mother's Day present (no, honey, don't get any ideas!).

And regardless of how happy Luke is to tell the world of his love for his Mama, Susi did put me in my place today. As I was brushing her hair into piggy tails, she informed me, "Mama, you are not perfect." "I'm not?" "Oh no, Mama," she reassured me. "Other Mamas might be perfect, but you are not!"
I forgot to ask her what she thought "perfect" meant! Sigh.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All about Watkins!

Last week I wrote some about Watkins awesome new laundry detergent, all natural, no chemicals, amazing cleaning power! I have really been enjoying all of Watkins cleaning products even more lately.

The fragrances are fantastic...scented only with natural and essential oils, you don't have to worry about artificial, overpowering, fake aromas. I'm personally not a huge fan of lavendar, but I'll tell you -- their lavendar scent makes you think you're in fields of lavendar!

The kids love to "help" me around the house, and I decided to let them help tackle the bathroom last week. Luke climbed into the bath tub, armed with Watkins Citrus Tub and Tile cleaner, while Susanna crouched down and aimed her bottle of lemon-scented all purpose cleaner at the floor. PLEASE NOTE! Even though these are chemical-free cleaners and safe to use around children and animals, make sure you supervise your little ones if they "help" you! The bath tub sparkled when Luke was done, and the one tile that Susanna squirted and wiped over and over and over was shiny clean.

My upline recently wrote something in our monthly newsletter that really got me thinking. She has a great write up on some of the cleaners and mentioned this thought....(paraphrased) "next time you clean your kitchen counters with a chemical cleaner, remember it is just a matter of time before someone makes a sandwich on that counter. Do you REALLY want your family eating food that was on top of chemicals? Yikes! I'd never thought of that...but I also don't need to worry about it. I use Watkins all-natural, chemical-free all-purpose cleaner on MY counters and kitchen table!

At a recent party I hosted, one of the guests is a nurse and reminded everyone that our skin is the body's largest organ. When we are wearing clothes that have been washing in "regular" detergents or have ANY kind of fabric softeners on them, we are unknowingly ingesting lots of different chemicals through our skin. Ewww!

And as I mentioned at my Watkins party last night when someone told me they like lots of suds in their sink when washing dishes (Watkins dish soap doesn't have alot of suds), you can either have suds up to your elbows while washing your dishes in chemical-laden dish soap (that doesn't fully rinse off in rinse water) or you can be assured that your dishes are food, grease, and chemical free when using Watkins lavendar, lemon, or aloe & green tea dish soap.

Got a dishwasher? We have a wonderful lemon-scented dishwasher detergent. To be honest, it doesn't leave my dishes sparkly clean and shiny like Cascade and Jet Dry did...BUT I also know that my dishes are thoroughly clean and not laden with chemicals waiting to come in contact with my family's food when I cook and serve.

Okay, am I going overboard when I bring all this stuff up? Some might think so. But more and more research is showing how cleaners and detergents are affecting adults and children. Schools are recommending that unscented detergents be used as many of the scents are causing headaches and poor attention spans in kids. There are studies out that show dish soaps do leave chemicals on our dishes. According to a Newsweek article a few months back, random blood tests on a wide array of people from different parts of the nation, different ages, different ethnic groups are showing alarming levels of chemicals in people that shouldn't be there. Infants and toddlers have high levels of certain chemicals that in the past took a life time of exposure for a normal person to have those levels. Where are they coming from? What is something we're all exposed to, regardless of our income levels, ethnic backrounds, and the location we live? Cleaners.

What is causing so many cases of ADD, ADHD, and other chemical imbalances in so many of our adults and children today? I don't know how much can be traced to the chemicals in our house holds from cleaners and other things, but I do know that with my family, I don't want to take chances when there is a very reasonably priced alternative available. Yes, the price is a bit more than your average household cleaner, but compared to other "green" products, Watkins can't be beat. Watkins all purpose cleaner costs $5.99 US but goes a long way and cleans a huge variety of things, including carpets, cars, tables, counters, stoves, and more. Their all purpose concentrate makes five bottles of cleaner and costs only $15.99. Their laundry detergent, while in a small bottle, is ultra concentrated and does 32 loads for $12.99, twice the loads if you have an HE washer (yep, it's compatable for HEs!).

If you're interested in learning more, drop me an email or a comment. If you're interested in trying the products, follow the link at the upper left side of this page to get to my website -- you can order and have it shipped directly to you. If you want to take the full leap and try all their all-natural, chemical-free cleaning products, there is a great package deal. For $64.71 US (plus tax and shipping), you get nine of their products -- the laundry detergent, all purpose cleaner, furniture polish, dish soap, hand soap, toilet bowl cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, window cleaner, and all purpose wipes. That's alot of bang for your buck! The dishwasher detergent is not included in the starter kit simply because many people don't have a dishwasher.

Can you tell I love these products?????

Monday, May 5, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I don't know how many of you have watched this's on ABC Sunday nights at 7:00 here (but since we live in a central time zone, our viewing times are messed may be on at 8:00 for most of you!).

This show is a favorite of ours, one we've watched probably when it first started airing on TV. Luke loved watching the demo teams when he was just a baby. I enjoy seeing the before and after shots of each home as well as hearing the different stories of the families featured on the show. It also drives home how very blessed we are, both in health and in home.

A few weeks back, we started realizing how much is sinking in with the kids on the show. We had a kid vid on for Luke and Susi to watch, and Daddy did the unpardonable...stepped between Luke and the TV. However, Tony and I both couldn't stop laughing when Luke yelled out, "MOVE THAT BUS!"

Today, I realized again how much the kids take in while watching that show. Susi went to the Market with me today as I am slowly starting to put out products and prices before we open for the season (hopefully one day next week...there's still so much to do! And the asparagus still isn't ready!). For the first time, she saw the playhouse that Tony has been building for the kids. "Oh my goodness! Wow! Look at that!"

It was like we were watching the "reveal" last night all over again!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Okay, my Dr. Seuss stories are all running together...and same thing for my daughter! Susanna WAS "reading" "Sam I Do" today (which is her take on Sam I Am) but that is a character from Green Eggs and Ham and I instead referenced The Cat in the Hat...which was the character she was reading about...but not in that book. She was instead "reading" from "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" which obviously is not a good idea.

Nor is typing a blog while trying to type in Awana certifications while still more than half asleep....

I need to start taking Brain Plus again!!!

Sam I Do

Susanna woke up bright and chipper this morning, well before her big brother. As Daddy left for work, Luke continued to sleep, and Mama input AWANA awards certification on the internet, Susanna read and sang to Mama....

"Sam I do, you are fun and so kind!"

Hm, I wonder if the kids and Mom in "The Cat In The Hat" REALLY thought he was fun and kind!

She also sang a little song, "Sam I do, you are so fun! God loves you and be nice to everyone!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Down on the Farm

Wow, usually by this time of year, we're gearing up to open the Market...but while we're still gearing up for this season, the weather has not been cooperating! It's still cold and chilly here with a few nice days scattered in for reassurance that yes, winter is going to end soon! Our forecast for tonight is rain, possibly light snow (since we are once again dipping below freezing).

Diana has been busy getting the inside of the Market cleaned while Tony and Clinton have been working on the outside with various projects. Some planting at the farm has been delayed because of the weather, but Tony's hoping to get much more planted outside in the next week or so. We're all eagerly anticipating the first asparagus of the spring...but have no idea when it will be! He's going to be quite busy as the weather continues to warm getting everything into the ground!

Next week I'll probably be doing some stocking and pricing of items at the Market, so everything will seem more real then...we WILL be opening this year! We've heard several folks tell us that weather predictions for this summer show a cooler and wetter year than usual; it'll be interesting to see if that affects the crops.

Out of 17 expected calves this year, 15 have come already, although one didn't make it more than a day or so. We had another calf born several days ago that was was a first birth for the mama and she had some problems, but after a couple days we knew things would be fine for the calf...although there were some potential leg problems that now also seem to have gone away.

We're still waiting for budding trees and blossoming flowers but know that can't be too far away!

And we have the reassurance that God is in control. How cool is that?