Good morning blog! Long time no see, again! I’ve just taken a bit of a break from writing just because I’m not feeling the urge to purge. Ha! A funny rhyme! 🙂
That urge has returned, though after the last week of chaos that is our life. It’s interesting how life runs in waves and the best thing we can do is grab a board and ride them. From last Monday to today, we’ve put on twelve hours of driving, close to 700 miles of driving, three nights in hotels, three days at the Iowa State Fair (more in one week than in the last three years), and much emotional stress.
The State Fair. The Iowa State Fair is a pretty awesome fair in terms of what there is to do, to see, and to eat! 🙂 Two new food discoveries this year at the fair: garlic cheese curds and ice cream nachos.
I’m not into the fried food thing that goes on there, but these things were AWESOME! For those of you still planning on attending the Iowa State Fair, they are located across from the grandstand, next to the Industrial Building. The ice cream nachos are cinnamon ice cream on cinnamon sugar chips, covered with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, and two cherries. Holy yummy stuff, Batman!! These are located on the food row that goes down past the cattle arena. So, you have my food stuff! 🙂
Anyway, the main reason we were at the State Fair was my youngest daughter. She left last Wednesday morning early to show her spring heifer, Skittles. She was in a line of Brown Swiss and a couple of Gurney, all organized by the family who pulled us into this showing thing to start with. They approached us in June asking if they could take our daughter and heifer down to show because the 4-H show fell on a Saturday. After much discussion, we figured this was as good a time as any, so we caved in, allowing her to show in both the open show that happened on Friday and the Saturday show! She had a blast working with the other kids who she was stalling with, seeing the fair without her parents, and cleaning up animals at 2:30 in the morning! 🙂 Her heifer finished 7th out of 13 in the first show, a respectable showing for sure. The 4-H show was a bit disappointing as she finished 8th out of 9, but she wasn’t bottom of the class which was the main thing. The best part of all this, she participated in the showmanship contest. If you aren’t familiar with this, this is a contest that is about how you present your animal to the judge. There are so many little things they have to do and remember (eyes on the judge, where are the feet placed in relationship to the judge, what happens when your animal misbehaves, etc) that I’d be out of the running right off the bat!
Our daughter was first in the ring with a smile on her face, which got her noticed right off the bat. Now, as we are watching the senior group, our daughter and those she was stalling with came in, but then more animals, and more animals, and more animals kept entering the ring! In all, there were 55 heifers (and a cow) that came into the ring. Our daughter got pulled into the top twenty, and eventually got placed 6th out of 55, which was a marvelous showing for the State Fair! She was on cloud nine from this, and is planning on bringing four Brown Swiss down next year (to which I say “HA!!” but that’s another blog). We hung around until Saturday and helped load some things up, then made a mad dash home.
Sunday, laundry, naps, and helping reload our minivan. Why? Because we were heading back to the State Fair Monday morning for my youngest daughter to present and sing. But this trip had two parts. Monday was about our youngest. Tuesday, we moved our oldest daughter into Iowa State as an incoming freshman. More about that in a bit.
We leave the house at 5:20AM Monday morning with much bickering and fighting because it was 20 minutes later than I wanted to leave. So, we start looking at alternative routes because at this point, she may miss her chance to present. We find a “new” route (one we don’t normally take) that knocks almost 20 minutes off our drive time to the fairgrounds, so my wife and daughter leave the van at 8:35, five minutes late to the meeting!
She does a presentation about the American Red Cross and it’s part in her life guarding at the pool. The first time she presented, she rambled a bit, and was nervous about doing this again. No fear, she knocked it out of the park, and with her grandparents there to watch her! The second thing she did was sing the song “Devoted To You”, sang by Olivia Newton John in the movie Grease. The first time I watched her do this, she was a bit nervous because it was for a few people at our 4-H contest. The second time, it was a competition to perform at the State Fair at a different show (where she learned that reading the rules of a competition is a good thing!). From first time to second time, huge improvement, but loud! My daughter has an amazing voice, and when she goes 100%, she’ll blow you away. When she sang on Monday, there was a nervousness as she had a ton of people watching, but there was an emotion and passion I’d not seen from the other two performances. I was so happy that my parents had a chance to see this in person AND that I could use Facebook’s new “live” feature so some friends could peek in on her too! I was so proud of her just for showing some depth in her voice, which is what I’d hoped for.
In the midst of all this, I got an email and text about our long time secretary at the elementary. She’d been admitted into the hospital at the beginning of the month, and we’d not heard much about what was going on. Early Monday morning, I received an email that she was not doing well, and by the time our family had driven up to Ames, my principal called to tell me she’d passed away. Being respectful of the family, I won’t go into many details, but this was a woman of boundless positive energy. She cared so much about our school, our staff, and most of all, our students. The relationships that she built over her time in our school can never be measured by anything but the outpouring of goodwill that’s taken place since people have started finding out. The last time I saw her, I had a chance to talk about the fact that my scans had come back clean, that my daughter was so excited to be going to Iowa State, and how she was going to get to her granddaughter soon. The surreal feeling of these last few months will continue for some time as I walk past the elementary office and she’s not there to wave me in for a quick talk.
So, yesterday, with my heart heavy from this news, I get to drop my daughter off at Iowa State. I’d been dreading this for some time because she’ll never admit to it, but she’s always been a stabilizing force in our family. If she and her sister were fighting, she could come talk to my wife or I. If my wife was ticked off at me, she could talk to our oldest daughter and make fun of me. My youngest never treated her older sister real well, but openly admitted that she didn’t want her sister to leave.
We made it to the dorm at 8:30 yesterday morning and got stuff unloaded, got the loft put up (with only minimum swearing), and met the roommate. After helping the roommate move her stuff up the stairs in Friley, we did some shopping.
It seemed like the city of Ames closed in on us as traffic was awful and people all around us were grumpy and snapping at each other. The joke of the family was “hey, I want to go to that store! Dad, get us there, across traffic!” By 2:30, it was time to go. We took pictures, hugged in the room, walked out together, took more pictures, hugged again, and made it a good old fashioned midwestern good bye. The ride home was quiet. We came with four people in the minivan, and arrived home with three.
I’ve been totally out of sorts since arriving home yesterday afternoon, and today’s professional development at school didn’t help either. I was almost late getting there and just couldn’t seem to hold it together. My emotions are raw with all these things going on around me, way more raw than I give myself credit for. Someone today said the “first times” are the hardest, and I see that all ready. Tomorrow, we have “intake conferences” and they’ll be the first conferences without our secretary. I’ll walk by the elementary office soon, and that will be difficult.
And as I walked by my daughter’s bedroom last night, that was tough one too.
I’m hoping a good night’s sleep will help, so I’ll sign off now. Thank you for keeping with me this far and understanding my rambling as I just do a little mind dump.
It’s been a week of highs and lows, one of emotional pain and celebration. I’m pretty well spent and somehow, I have to put on that face of everything is all right.