Surviving in a Male Dominated Household

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Bonus For Being the Only Female in the Family...

You've heard me talk about having all boys. Living in a home of men. Yes, I always check the toilet seat and even bathe with Aquaman.

While we were out shopping at Target last night, I had a revelation. When we go shopping, it is the ONLY time I can go into a bathroom and not have to worry about someone coming in. The restrooms are separate and as much as my husband tries to convince me, I AM using the Women's room...not the family room!!

It's those few minutes of peace and quiet that makes grocery shopping with three kids under the age of 6 manageable.

That being said, the picture below was a source of humor for Liam (who can now read--and knows what words he cannot say). Ummm Target? Might want to rethink the abbreviation.
Peace and quiet. Found in the bathroom at Target.

I also want to mention Julia's blog  which is a great blog about homeschooling, geocaching, living frugally and crafting!! Check it out if you're interested in any of these things...she also has some great giveaways and I was the lucky winner of the DiGornio Pizza Giveaway. I've made this one of my MUST READ blogs! You should too!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Iowa Weather

Yes, that was a funnel. It did go back up and David and the kids were in a safe place. But I love tornado season.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Discussing Death with the Kids

I knew the conversation would be coming up soon. I just didn't know that a topic with such gravity would be so well handled...thus far.

My husband is blessed to still have a Grandparent alive. I never knew my Father's parents, as they passed before I was born. My Grandma JoAnn died when I was 6 and I can still remember her house, spending the night with her and thinking she was the smartest person in the world because she helped me figure out a Rainbow Brite word jumble (it was backwards and she held it up to a mirror so I could read it). I remember Grandma's funeral and refusing to go to the cemetery. I remember how upset my dad was with me, but I just refused to go. I wanted to remember Grandma cooking in the kitchen, working in her garden and showing me how to make hospital corners on the bed when putting fresh sheets from the clothesline on.

My Maternal Grandfather passed when I was a Senior in High School. He and I were very close. So close that he gave me his Wings from WWII. So close that I was chosen to be the Lector at his funeral. So close that every day after cheerleading practice after school, I'd drive in to Carroll just to sit with him for a few hours...even if he insisted on watching "Wheel of Fortune". When he died, I took it hard. He was my last Grandparent. He was my Grandpa. He was my friend.

I didn't get to meet David's Paternal Grandfather but I did attend his funeral. We had been dating about 4 months when he died. Attending his funeral brought up memories of my own Grandpa and I think I cried harder than those who knew Loel (Dave's Grandpa).

But life and death is a cycle. Our second child, Sean, was born on the 5 year anniversary of Loel's death. Sean was 3 days before his scheduled date and just decided that's when he was going to be born. And Sean is ALL Bowman. A man of few words. A man of action. He may not say it, but you know he loves you. And from what I understand, his Great-Grandfather was the same way.

David's Maternal Grandfather is now in his last chapter. He's been suffering from Alzheimer's for some time now and his body is slowly breaking down. It's been a sad, slow process. We've allowed my in-laws to take Liam to visit him on occasion, but on Saturday we got a call we've feared. He's going fast. They're moving him from the nursing home to the hospital.

Liam was visiting my parents for the weekend and Dave took Sean. Sean is too little (he'll be 2 in April) to remember the visit, but it would be good for Great Grandpa to see him. I kept my parents informed as to what was going on and Liam said, "Great Grandpa Bob is dying."

I'm not sure how he'll take it once Grandpa does go. Liam has never seen a body. He hasn't been to a funeral or a wake. I'm not sure how he'll process it all once it does happen. But he seems to understand that when people die, they don't come back. He knows about heaven and Jesus (and thanks to a kid at preschool, "black angels") and that our soul lives on but the body dies. That's some pretty heavy stuff for a five year old.

I'm sure Sean won't know what's going on, but in the interest of being honest, we're planning on telling him the straight facts. We're not going to say "he's sleeping" or anything like that...just that he died.

How have you explained death to your kids? What worked for you and your family?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy? Ash Wednesday

I'm not sure if "Happy" is the word to use. But the more I think about it, the more I believe it is correct. So, I thought, why not make a "Top 10" reasons it is happy? Here we go...

Top Ten Things About Lent/Ash Wednesday

10. Even the Pope gets ashes show us he is a servant of the servants as well.

9. You can save money on all the food you won't be eating while fasting!!

8. All the good fish recipes are shared...and who doesn't like grilled cheese and tomato soup?

7. A convenient excuse to watch The Passion of the Christ.

6. Purple is a much more elegant liturgical color than green.

5. You don't need to hide or make excuses around your penance and sacrifices--because everyone else is supposed to be doing the same thing.

4. Recycling. The ashes for Ash Wednesday are burned Palms from Palm Sunday the year before. Catholicism was green before being green was cool!

3. Catholic camaraderie. When you see someone else with ashes today, you know they were at Mass, too! :) That and you can learn more about your friends and co-workers--I didn't know you were Catholic?!

2. Cool antiphons.

and the #1 reason Lent and Ash Wednesday is happy... the chance to become closer to Jesus Christ!

So yes, I say to you, Happy Ash Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for Lent: Doing It ALL for My Children

*As always, these blog posts are my own viewpoints and in no way are reflective of or endorsed by "Friends of Maplenol Barn" or Save the Barn Committee.*

As a Catholic, I always try to stay with the traditions and beliefs of our faith. For the last few years, I've always either been pregnant or nursing so the fasting and no meat rule hasn't always applied to me (The Pope says so). I am nursing Baby B still, and while I will try to adhere to the no meat rule, fasting isn't always an option.

Usually I try to give something up for Lent. Candy, pop, etc. This year I'm doing something different.

It was an inspiring night, last night, at the West Des Moines School Board Meeting. I was told by a fellow parent that we (the Friends of the Maplenol Barn) cherish a "thing" while he (and his fellow anti-barn people) cherish their kids. He also suggested that we use the passion for the barn for volunteering at our kids schools. (Assuming we do not?)

For someone who doesn't know me from Adam, to state that anything I do is not putting my children FIRST is beyond me. What a hurtful, sweeping generalization. My husband and I ALWAYS put our children first.

My husband served in Iraq. He has told me that he wanted to go so that our child(ren) hopefully wouldn't have to. Can this parent say he has been away from his wife and child for a year and put himself in a war zone so that his kids wouldn't have to? I doubt it.

We chose for me to leave my full time job at Principal Financial Group, and while finances may be tight, we did this FOR OUR CHILDREN. Our kids don't go without. They always have a full belly, warm baths and a warm bed. And they have love and learning. On the days when my oldest doesn't have preschool, I sit with him and work on math equations (yes, he's only five), teach him history, writing, language and reading. And sure, I drive a 1993 old minivan (yes, it was built before I even had a permit). But it's paid for and it serves its purpose.

Some nights, after the boys are tucked into bed, I stay up until 1, 2, even 3 AM writing and looking for additional work. Just to make ends meet. Sure, sleep would be great, but again, I'M DOING THIS FOR MY BOYS.

People have asked, Why all of the interest in the barn now? Where were these people 5, 10, 15 years ago? I can't speak for every person who supports the effort but I can speak for myself. 5 years ago we were living in Ankeny with an infant son. 10 years ago I was in College at Iowa State working on my Bachelor's Degree. 15 years ago, I was a 15 year old girl looking forward to turning 16, getting my driver's license and prom.

You may have noticed I said 5 years ago we lived in Ankeny. We lived there for three years. But after my husband returned from his service in Iraq, we CHOSE to move to West Des Moines because of the great school district. Again, FOR OUR KIDS.

And that's why I'm fighting to save history on the Valley campus. Not only for my kids, but every kid in the district. Our children have the right to see, touch and learn history. Without the physical reminders of our history, it's only a picture in a book. NO taxpayer money will go in to refurbishing the barn. NONE. It is all money that has been donated by fellow history lovers; people who see the value of keeping landmarks and reminders of our history.

I love my boys. I would do anything for my children. Everything I do, I do it for THEM. For someone to say otherwise obviously doesn't know me.

So that's what I've decided for lent. At times when I feel like I want to blow up at someone for making such a rude comment, I will pause and think, "Am I being a good example for my boys?" Last night I bit my tongue. HARD. Granted, I did tweet my feelings but the rage built up within.

I compare it to the hate of those who are stealing signs and putting the word DESTROY over SAVE. It's the same hate that turns people away. Hate is not a good thing to have in your heart. Hate is not something we should be teaching our kids. The word "Hate" is actually on the "we don't say that" list at our house.

I am my child's first teacher. Everything I do, I do for my kids. Heck, with the exception of 3 months in 2008, I have either been pregnant or nursing one of my boys since February of 2005. Think about it. We're at 6 years (again, with the three month exception) where my body has not been just mine. We're talking 70 months. 70 months where my body has either carried or fed one of my boys. But I wouldn't change a day of it.

I will continue to be a good role model and inspiration for my boys. Anyone who says otherwise apparently doesn't know me.

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” William Smith

I will not let their hate and anger consume me. God knows my reasons behind all that I do.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Traveling home...

*As always, these blog posts are my own viewpoints and in no way are reflective of or endorsed by "Friends of Maplenol Barn" or Save the Barn Committee.*

This weekend I went back to my parents house for a visit. After Liam's gymnastics class, I loaded up the car (with all three boys) and we went to Ma'am and Papa's house. I realized we haven't been home since Christmas (and all of the barn work started).

I love going home. Time seems to go slower. The pace of life seems easier. More relaxed. Maybe it's because my mom does laundry, diaper changes, makes the meals etc. It allows me time to work on my writing, gather my thoughts and nap. Yes, I get to take a nap. And I LOVE it.

While some may think traveling with three boys 5 and under could be stressful, I love it. I know what is ahead of me. My home. While it isn't the same house I grew up in, it's still home. The air seems fresher, people are's home.

It's the farm. It's the love of our land and history. So while I was distanced from the barn by space for a few days, I feel more energized and closer to it now. I'm ready for a fight to keep the barn in its original footprint. I'm ready to keep it and restore it for my children. I'm ready.

Let's go.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Character Counts? Parents Must Live It.

*As always, these blog posts are my own viewpoints and in no way are reflective of or endorsed by "Friends of Maplenol Barn" or Save the Barn Committee.*

Some moms say "I'm just a mom." And that makes me mad. We're not "just" anything. We're everything. Most importantly, we're the first teachers for our children. We're the most important teachers. We need to act as such.

I am not only involved with the Barn group, I'm committed. Kind of like breakfast. The chicken was involved. The eggs are committed. I'm the eggs.

My kids are learning that if there is something that is important to you, you work at it. When it seems like all is lost, you keep trying. You preserve history. You protect it. You stand up for what you believe in. You fight for it.

Let's look at what the program "Character Counts in Iowa" says:

Image from Character Counts in Iowa.

"Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship"

Why would I bring this up? This week we had people calling us for yard signs. People wanted to show their support for the barn. People donated money for a sign and placed it in their own yard.

And what happened? Two girls discovered the size and font of our words and printed out the word "Demolish". They then, under the cover of darkness, targeted our signs by using clear packing tape and taping the word "Demolish" over the word "Save". They even had the audacity to deface a sign in the yard of a West Des Moines Police Officer.

The teenage girls were identified. When a parent of one of the girls was informed about what her daughter had done, the mother replied, "She has her right to free speech."

Well, yes she does. But not when it is trespassing onto private property and defacing personal property. That, my friends, is a crime. The mother continued and, all while having Jesus fish on the back of all of her vehicles, used the "F" word in denying what her child had participated in was a crime. That's REAL Christian.

I'm all for the first amendment. If there are people out there who want to "demolish" the barn, they have the same right that we do. They can make signs of their own, ask people if they would make a donation and place it in their yard.

Respect? None. Fairness? Not so much. Caring? Not a chance.

But after hearing the parent's reaction, I shouldn't be surprised at how the daughter acted. After all, we as parents are the first teacher. Hate breeds hate.

But there we go again, getting back to Character Counts. Citizenship. We are following the letter of the law. Taking all of the appropriate steps and vocalizing our support (in a legal manner) of a historic landmark. We treasure history. If the original barn owner didn't have the vision he did for West Des Moines, Valley wouldn't be where it is and there may be a landing strip for an airport there.

Quite often I am complimented by strangers about how polite my boys are. Please, thank you, may I etc. I always respond, "It took A LOT of work," and I think that's the problem. Some parents fail to see parenting as a job. And why should it be? Put them in front of Spongebob, let them play their Nintendo DS, don't discipline them because they're just "expressing themselves." The Wii can raise kids, right?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Parents need to be parents, not friends. Parents need to be role models. Parents should NOT just play lip service to Character Counts. They need to live it. Children need to see their parents living it.

Which brings me to "the children". We've heard "think of the children" ad nauseam about the whole Valley expansion. But are we really thinking of the children? Really really thinking of the children? Let's look at the facts:

Keeping the barn in its current footprint does NOT hinder the Valley expansion at ALL.

Any funds put into the barn are funds we have raised and grants. NO taxpayer money is going to the barn. NONE.

No money that would be applied to education is going to the barn. NONE.

The school district (as outlined in the 28E) would not be responsible for ANY of the construction costs or costs of upkeep. NONE.

The benefits?

A historic and educational tool that would be available for teachers and students to use and learn from and in. WIN.

Bragging rights that they have a piece of Iowa history on their campus. WIN.

A beautiful, usable building on campus for the community to enjoy. WIN.

A landmark. WIN.

To quote Michael Scott, "This is a win, win, win." The school board wins, the community wins, the kids win. Win. Win. Win.

Yes, I may be biased as I am as committed as the egg at breakfast. But I believe in preserving history. As Edmond Burke says, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing," which is why I got involved.

I believe in showing my children we respect our forefathers and our state history.

I believe in showing my kids that even when adults disagree, they can come together and compromise to do what is best for everyone.

I believe and do take my kids to school board and city council meetings. I want them to learn how great our Government is and just how it works.

I believe in raising educated, polite, caring, respectful children.

I am a role model. I know my children are watching me. Character counts. We are the first teachers for our children. We must show them how to act, how to speak and how to care. How to be good citizens.

Yes, I know. I didn't attend Valley. I didn't walk by the barn every day for four years. But I grew up in rural Iowa where we still use barns. It is my family heritage. As Iowans, it is all of our family heritage.

If we destroy the barn, we destroy ourselves. Stop the hate. Save the barn.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Duffy Cartoon: 'Barn Razing' - Video - KCCI Des Moines

Duffy Cartoon: 'Barn Razing' - Video - KCCI Des Moines

The "Stew" Situation

*As always, these blog posts are my own viewpoints and in no way are reflective of or endorsed by "Friends of Maplenol Barn" or Save the Barn Committee.*

Last week I called Stew Hansen's dealership to let them know they lost my business due to Stew's disrespectful outburst at the City Council meeting.

I told the receptionist that I'm a mom and dodge minivan owner in the market for another vehicle (because we are) and I was disturbed at the comments by Stew Hansen at the City Council meeting. She asked me when the meeting was held.

She informed me that he does not and has not owned the dealership for some time. I told her that I was so irritated by his comments that I blogged about it and shared my feelings about his comments with family and friends. I also told her that I reviewed the video online from the city council meeting just to be sure I heard correctly.

She asked me for the web address of the video (I gave it to her) so she can share the video with her supervisors. She said she has had a few calls already about this issue and thanked me for bringing it to her attention. She said that maybe they will have to inform the public that Stew is no longer associated with their dealership so it doesn't affect their sales.

Until Stew Hansen's (the dealership) sends out a press release stating that they are no longer associated with Stew (the man), I will refrain from even glancing at the dealership that bears his name. I refuse to have the name of such a negative Ned on the back of my vehicle.

In this day in age, it's all about branding. If you own the brand, you must protect the brand. If someone created a fashion line called "Sarah Palin", I highly doubt liberals would be wearing "Property of Sarah Palin" shirts.

Just as if someone created a line of purses with the name "Nancy Pelosi", I highly doubt Conservative women would buy the latest "Nancy Pelosi Purse", just due to the name. Even if Sarah or Nancy had NOTHING to do with the company. That's what's great about our country. We can say what we believe and we can express our beliefs with our pocketbook. And until the dealership announces they have no relationship with the person (or change their name) I will continue to steer my business elsewhere.