What We’re Up Against

Without fail each flock we receive is full of attack turkeys. From day one, they come at you with fluffy wings spread and tiny beaks blaring battle chirps. The little guys in the video had been attacking my feet for a while before I finally thought to capture their assault on video. They might have been little but were definitely mighty.

Have you ever felt like you were up against something so huge it could never be toppled, but you went after it anyway?

It always helps to have someone with you no matter what you face. We may not always be surrounded by our flock of friends and family, but hopefully, we are continually reassured of the fact that we are not alone. Thanks to cards, phone calls, text messages, emails, and kind acts we can all show and know that there are others here for us in tough times.

Whatever we’re up against, it’s healthy to know that we can peck away at problems with the support and insights of our peers. As my family has faced some pretty scary health issues this past month, I cannot tell you how empowering it has been to witness the willingness of others to step up, do what they can, and provide support in all kinds of wonderful ways. From funny text messages, to food drop offs, and personal calls to health care providers, we have been flooded with folks willing to help conquer the beast that has consumed our focus and created much fear.

Cancer has proven to be a nasty illness that comes in more shapes and sizes than we can imagine, but if we continue to wage our war on its ravages, I have faith that we can find ways to wipe it out. We might feel like those tiny poults attacking the boots of a big bad monster, but if we work to do all the things that make us bigger, smarter, and stronger, I’m certain that we won’t be the underdogs forever.

The Intentergy challenge for today is to remember you are one of the mighty. The mighty ones who can bring hope and support to those feeling hopeless. You are one of the powerful people who provide joy, nourishment, and opportunity to those who need a boost. Your energy is what can lead the charge when something has gone very wrong or when others are feeling lost. If you happen to be lost, keep your head up, and don’t be afraid to call out to those who can rally around you.

It doesn’t matter what we’re up against, we have the ability to be bigger than our set backs and stronger than our fears.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. There were about 9,000 attack turkeys coming at me in that video. I am fearless.

Fish Delivery! Making Farm Pond Memories

After almost 25 years of too many other things to fix, last fall Hubby tackled the task of repairing a busted dam for a pond located on our farm. After hours of pushing dirt and packing it down with a dozer, the pond filled quickly with fall rains and winter snow melts. As March approached, we kept our eyes out for the fateful announcement of “Fish Days” at our local feed co-op.

Making our choices from the fish order form was almost as exciting as circling our wishes in a Christmas Toy Catalog. There were options of different species and sizes for every pond and lake. After careful consideration and research compliments of the Department of Conservation, we made our selections; hybrid blue gill, red ear, and a whole bunch of minnows.

Prior to picking up our fish, we had to fill portable tanks with pond water, so as to help the fish acclimate easily to their new home. Hubby took our kiddos with him to receive the fish at the co-op. They were eager to help and in awe of the process. (Those fish delivery guys don’t mess around. They get you loaded and out of there in no time!)

Once they arrived on the banks of the new pond, we questioned whether or not we would get the truck back up the bank without getting stuck, but into the pond the fish had to go.

Watching those tiny fries fly out of the tanks was exciting and nerve-wracking. How could such little fish survive the force of that water gushing out of the tanks and plopping into the pond?

Well, survive they did, and there is terrific anticipation for when that fresh fish delivery turns into a fresh fish fry.

Giving our kiddos the chance to be a part of the fish pond process has been fun. As the fish and our kids grow, that pond is overflowing with opportunities to spend time together, and the kids have shown great pride in the work that went into its re-construction and addition of fish.

While you may not have a pond to fill with fish or a task that requires thousands of gallons of pond water, you can always find joy in creating opportunities to be a part a project that is bigger than yourself.

Find ways to build, create, or grow with your loved ones or community. I promise it won’t be hard to reel in some fun and net some great memories. If things don’t always turn out the way you expect, it’s okay. Even fishing is called fishing for a reason. If you caught something every time, it would be called catching.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. We did successfully drive the truck up the bank without getting stuck.

The Name “Wilbur” for a Girl

Can you guess which one is Wilbur?

When March rolled around, it was time for the kids to select pigs for their 4-H Fair Projects. As I am not a huge fan of pigs, I left the duty of pig shopping to Hubby. I sent Hubby and our three minions to pick out pigs with potential to show well and provide ample entertainment and responsibility for the kiddos. I figured they would bring home four, maybe five, hogs, because only two of our kiddos are old enough to show at the fair, and we can only eat so much pork. I was wrong.

Hubby and the minions returned with SEVEN pigs!!!

Two of the pigs were a “Good deal” because Farmer Joe (our piglet supplier) threw in the runts for free.

Did I mention I am not a fan of pigs???

Continue reading “The Name “Wilbur” for a Girl”

Don’t Call Me “Mom”

There is no joy greater that hearing your child say “mama” or “dada” for the first time, except maybe the happiness that comes from silence when they are sleeping after hearing those words 1,000,000 times.

I love my children more than anything in life…. but sometimes they get on my nerves.

It’s not so much that they want to be in my space, eat my food, prevent my sleep, or destroy my house, but that they cannot seem to leave each other alone for one, blessed second.

In those instances where the temptation to pester one another is too great, I always find myself in the form of a fire-breathing dragon fully prepared to skewer and roast their little, antagonizing selves. (Then I remember how much time and money I have invested in them, and I transform back into a loving, caring mother.)

After a particularly arduous 25-minute car ride to town last summer, I declared that no one was to call me “Mom” for the duration of our trip. (We were going to two stores and pick up lunch, but I wasn’t too sure I could avoid eating my young at that point.) I announced that I was no longer to be called “Mom,” but rather my children were to address me as “Lady Madame Josephine” before speaking to me at any time. This command was met with silence and then laughter from my children.

As soon as the first child chose to say the dreaded M-word, I pulled off into a parking lot, stopped the car, and with the blazing heat of a true mama dragon, I seared them with my words, “My name is Lady Madame Josephine. If you want to have lunch today you will address me as such.” Silence again.

No one spoke until we arrived serenely at our first stop. My daughter tentatively said, “May I ask a question?”

My reply, “You may.”

My daughter’s inquiry, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame J… ‘; what was it again?”

I answered, “Lady Madame Josephine.”

My daughter again, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame Josephine’?”

Continue reading “Don’t Call Me “Mom””

Light from Last Year

As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.

I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.

The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.

At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.

I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂

Who Do You Think of When You Mop?

Who do you think of when you mop?

This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.

Who is Mary Scott?

Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.

Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.

Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.

I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.

Continue reading “Who Do You Think of When You Mop?”

Pansies in a Tin Cup: Memory in a Tattoo

Have you ever noticed someone’s tattoo and thought, “That’s different. I wonder why they got that?”

Interesting enough, it is because of an artist’s willingness to talk to three, crazy ladies sitting at a bar, that I came to see such a tattoo and definitely wanted to know the story behind it.

The artist’s name was Maddy. One of the three crazy ladies at the bar was me.

Maddy’s intriguing tattoo was pansies in a tin cup.

The story behind the tattoo stared when Maddy’s grandparents Kerry and Nancy welcomed the first of their six children into the world. Kerry wanted to surprise his wife with flowers after the birth of their son. He did not have money to purchase long-stem roses or a fancy arrangement from the flower shop, so he gathered a handful of pansies and delivered them to his bride in a tin cup from their pantry. The sentiment was well received and continues to be a story of simplicity and love passed down to their children and grandchildren.

Continue reading “Pansies in a Tin Cup: Memory in a Tattoo”

Forget Seek. I Just Want to Hide.

Forget seek. I just want to hide. I really, really just want to hide. No need to seek me out. I will be okay. I just need to disappear for a bit.

Have you ever sat in your car after turning it off and not gotten out? Did you let the quiet sound of car cooling and silence envelop you? It’s sort of magical, until your family realizes you are out there and bum-rushes the vehicle forcing you to begrudgingly get out.

As we navigate the noise of working from home and distance learning with our kiddos, the drone of electronic devices is deafening, the chaos all-consuming, and the need for privacy imperative. Sometimes I take out the trash, just to take in a minute of peace. (Of course the dog always joins me, but at least he’s usually glad to see me and never asks anything but for a belly rub.)

Continue reading “Forget Seek. I Just Want to Hide.”

Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old

I will be the first to admit that I often give the excuse that I am too busy to do what my kids want, especially when it involves going into the woods to see a “secret” fort, deer stand, or “special” rock. Not because I don’t like my children or am anti-nature, but I don’t always find joy in the trees or rocks that my darlings do and the matters in the house seem much more pressing. (The stick-tights and cockleburs are also on my list of unhappy things, and they are bad right now.)

This past weekend was no exception. I was not particularly excited about following my son down his “secret” path to see his “deer hunting” tree or his “special” hidden fort. Something told me that it meant more to him to share than it did for me to fold the laundry or finish the dishes. As he lead me into the woods, my 9-year-old chattered like a squirrel in a tree about the way he and his friends had discovered this place and how cool it was. His happy chatter was welcomed, as he has been in a bit of a funk lately unable to find kind words or pleasant things to say to his siblings or I.

When we arrived at the “deer hunting” tree, I saw a dead, dried up evergreen. What my son saw was an opportunity to sit up high, watching wildlife, with ample branches to share the spot with his friends as they “hunted” deer. I asked if the branches felt like they were going to break and he said, “No. They’re good. I know which ones I can stand and sit on.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall?” I asked.

“Nope. I’ll just catch another branch if I start to go down. There’s plenty in this tree.”

He was so secure in his answer I had to smile. As nimbly as a squirrel, my boy scampered down and said, “Come this way. Over here is my secret fort.”

Continue reading “Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old”

Playing for Research – Wise Words Wednesday

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Do you remember when jumping off a moving swing taught you that you couldn’t fly?

Do you remember when lightening bugs taught you that they die in a jar (even if you poked holes in the lid)?

Do you have any idea when you discovered that people don’t like to play with someone who smells “funny”?

I can’t say that I remember these exact experiences from my own life. I do know that it took a couple of these “real life” experiments for the lessons to sink in.

One such learning opportunity came to me in 2nd grade, as three of my classmates played “Annie.” They liked to pretend they were the sad and overworked orphans, while one acted as the mean and bossy Mrs. Hannigan.

Continue reading “Playing for Research – Wise Words Wednesday”