Titan – My best friend

via Photo Challenge: Friend

Titan is my beautiful 7-year-old yellow lab, golden retriever mix. We adopted him just before his first birthday. He has been my listening ear, my crying post, my snugglebug, my guardian, my friend.

Peonies with a trace of yellow

via Daily Prompt: Trace

Look deep inside so that you may find
A trace of yellow hiding behind
Delicate petals so soft and sweet
A trace of beauty in the sun’s heat

There are traces of beauty just waiting to be found if only we truly want to see.

Today we visited my grandparents’ farm. After exploring the barn, tractor, farm equipment and stopping by to say hi to the sheep and goats, we wandered around the house. The boys enjoy picking flowers, dandelions, clovers, anything they can. We always place them in a small vase or cup of water to show off the beautiful pieces of nature they’ve discovered. My grandmother’s peonies were in full bloom. Today, Grandma gave each boy a peony to add to their collection.

Traces of beauty in nature.
Traces of beauty on the farm.
Traces of beauty waiting to be found if only we look through the eyes of a child.

Late night thoughts – Patience

Wisdom from a teabag.

Patience is a key to many things. Tonight it’s good to remember that patience is a key to joy.

Where the green grass grows

Tim McGraw said it best…

“Well I’m from a map dot
A stop sign on a black top
I caught the first bus I could hop from there
But all this glitter is gettin’ dark
There’s concrete growin’ in the city park
I don’t know who my neighbors are
And there’s bars on the corners and bars on my heart

I’m gonna live where the green grass grows
Watchin’ my corn pop up in rows
Every night be tucked in close to you
Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed
Point our rocking chairs towards the west
Plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows
Where the green grass grows”

After graduating, I left Bedford without looking back. I ran to the big city where everything (shopping, nightlife, culture, vegetarian meals) was at my fingertips. Little by little, the shine dulled, cracked, and then shattered. My heart and attitude hardened. The ambiance of life in the city no longer suited me.

So we moved out to the suburbs, started adopting pets for our little family, and then had two beautiful little boys to add to our brood. I started to find happiness again. The bars on my heart opened. My jaw didn’t hurt from clenching my teeth in anger and irritation every day.

Although we had to leave our suburban happiness, being in Bedford I’m still surrounded by green grass and fresh air. Not bars on windows, skyscrapers, and concrete parks. The boys are excited to play outside, to plant in the garden, to truly live.

When we get to Texas my husband already knows…I’m gonna live where the green grass grows.

A child’s eyes radiate joy

via Daily Prompt: Radiate

“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling.” – Shanti

For children, this quote is especially true.

Even before they can express themselves with words, children can be read through their emotions. Every emotion, every feeling, every thought, every idea radiates from a child’s eyes. You can tell if they are happy, excited, frustrated, angry, or sad.

At the end of each day, I want my boy’s eyes to sparkle with joy and happiness. Wherever we were, whatever we did that day, I hope it makes them happy. And for my boys, being happy usually goes hand-in-hand with being dirty and messy. Those are just a given in their daily activities.

Dirty feet and hands + messy hair = sparkling eyes of two happy boys

From making rainbow slime to cars shows, from trips to the parks to feeding the animals on the farm, from the tractor pull to reading books at the library, there are many opportunities (even in this small town) to make the boys’ eyes radiate the joy of childhood.

Shawnee State Park – My own quiet reprieve

I wasn’t able to finish this in time for yesterday’s prompt but I’m going to continue on and post it anyway.

Shawnee State Park always has been a quick getaway for me, a place to mentally escape anything, or a quiet reprieve to just find peace.

Located along Route 30 just 10 miles west of Bedford, Shawnee is easily accessible. It is nearly 4,000 acres of possibilities. The focal point is generally the lake. At 451 acres, the lake offers room for water activities such as boating, fishing, canoeing, paddleboating, and swimming. There are trails around the lake for walking, running, and biking. Picnic tables and pavilions are spaced around the park as well. Campgrounds are located nearby. Shawnee has plenty of space for outdoor activities for the whole family.

Entering the park from Route 30, you follow a windy tree-lined road leading you away from civilization. You come to a stop sign and then have the choice of going right or left. Either way takes you to different areas of the park. I usually go right and follow the road to the parking lot located by a pavilion and boat rentals. It is just a short walk to the “beach” and the playground.

Serenity, peace, quiet, escape…you get all of them upon entering the park. It’s so quiet. You are far enough away from the main roads that you don’t hear traffic. It is just you and nature…and any other individuals or family who have chosen to partake in the beauty of this place.

In high school and college, the walking trails were my quiet place. Walking with friends or family, talking or not, just enjoying the sounds of nature. A sense of calmness just envelopes you as you wander the trails. Any problems or stresses drift away.

Now with my boys, the beach and the playground are our places to visit. Whether it is running their tractors through the sand or using the sliding boards on the play set, they too have found peace and enjoyment at Shawnee. I can still enjoy the serenity and scenery while they enjoy life as two active little boys. It gives me joy to watch them play and to hear my older son ask to go to the “beach” playground.

Surviving life in a small town

via Daily Prompt: Survive

Survive…for the last few months that has been my word to live by, my word to wonder about each day. How am I going to “survive” living with my in-laws when my husband moved across the country for a new job and we had to wait for renovations to be completed on our old/current house? How am I going to “survive” moving back in with my parents since that seemed better than living with my in-laws? How am I going to “survive” living in a small town that I fought so hard to escape growing up? How am I going to “survive” taking care of my two boys and 4 pets without my husband’s help? How am I going to “survive” without breaking down or going crazy until we can all be together as a family again?

When I write it down or say it out loud, it sounds petty and not at all like it would be about survival. We have shoes on our feet and a roof over our heads. We have a family that loves us and welcomed us home. Maybe I should term it surviving mentally…figuring out how not to go crazy in a small town without my own personal space. My personal mental battle.

And then I sat back and watched my boys…watched them interact with their grandparents, great-grandparents, and uncle, watched them play with farm animals and help with farm chores that I turned up my nose at growing up, watched them absolutely glow as they took in the sights at the tractor pull. Lesson learned. There is more beauty and wonder in the world looking through the eyes of a child.

I know there are others like me who are fighting or who fought to leave not seeing the good and exactly what a small town does have to offer. Hence this blog, we are searching for the good in the small town, the fun we can have here, the beauty waiting to be found. The negatives are slowly stepping back to allow the positive aspects to shine through (the parks, the libraries, the tractors).

It is no longer about surviving, although I would be lying if I said we don’t still have trying moments when I just want to crawl under the covers and have a few minutes to escape.

We are taking it one day at a time and trying to stay positive. Survive has become live…love…and enjoy. Live in a small town, love life in a small town, enjoy life in a small town.

Snake Spring Rec Park

The boys love to play outside. Fresh air, riding bikes, playing soccer, golf, or t-ball. Whatever they are doing, they enjoy being outdoors and it’s good for them. To break things up, we have been visiting various playgrounds in the area getting a change of scenery and finding out what is available.

First up, Snake Spring Rec Park…

I remember it as just a couple ball fields, a tennis court, a pavilion, and maybe an old metal swing set.  Times have changed and the entire area has been greatly improved for kids of all ages.

There are a few ball fields with bleachers and new, covered dugouts for softball and baseball teams. The old tennis court is still there and looks unchanged. There is a pavilion with a number of picnic tables.

Then, there is the playground area with a ship and play set with a fort. The architecture of the ship is beautiful. Whoever designed and built it did a great job. The ship design is appealing to kids of all ages. My boys were excited to see it as pirates and sharks are high on their list of pretend play ideas.

Obviously, we had to try out the ship first. The boys loved spinning the ship’s wheel as if they were driving the ship. They wandered around the top deck of the ship, looking out at the surrounding areas. We explored the lower deck as well. We sat on the benches and looked out of each and every window. There is a ladder as well as a sliding pole connecting the decks of the ship. However, my boys did not have the motor skills to do that on their own so we went down the slide from the top deck and walked around to enter the lower deck from the back of the ship.

The appearance of the ship fascinated them but at almost 2 and 4 years old, they were a little small to navigate everything themselves and needed some help. With help going up and down, they still had a great time exploring the various areas of the ship and pretending to be captains of the ship and pirates.

Then, we tried out the play set with the fort, slide, and swings. This was easier for them to explore on their own. Both boys were able to walk up the roped ramp independently and go down the slide. They enjoyed swinging as well. They were too young to understand how to use the rings but they didn’t care. They had fun on everything else.

After trying out each play set, they ran back and forth between the two enjoying themselves. Since school is still in session, we had the entire playground to ourselves which was nice. I’m sure the area is busy in the evenings when ball games are going on.

I wonder when the structure was built because it looks new. There are no scratches, scuffs, chips, or breaks. The colors are still bright and not dulled by sunlight and regular use. From a parent’s safety perspective, the entire structure overall seems safe and sturdy. The wood is thick, heavy, and sturdy so the entire structure seems able to support energetic kids. The slides, swings, and rings are in excellent condition. I like that the chains of the swings are covered with thick plastic tubes to protect children’s hands from being pinched.

My only concern is the gravel surrounding the ship. As kids go down the slide, especially younger kids, if they do not catch themselves and land on their feet, it could hurt to land on gravel. The plastic sheeting is visible under the gravel so I wonder if the structure isn’t fully finished, especially since the swing set with the fort on top has mulch surrounding it. I assume there will be mulch around the ship at some point too.

All-in-all it is a nice playground. The kids had fun and have already asked to go back.

Tractor Pull at Southern Cove Power Reunion

Growing up in a small town with family members who have farms or have raised 4-H animals, you would think I would know a little something about tractors or farming. And, you would be dead wrong. I had nothing to do with 4-H, the county fairs, farming, animals…not even the slightest bit of interest…and maybe a bit of stubborn refusal to participate.

Then fate stepped in and blessed me with two boys. To say they love tractors would be putting it mildly. “Tractor” (or “tack-tow” as he pronounces it) was one of my youngest’s first words. Being back in Bedford surrounded by tractors, going to the tractor pull was inevitable. The fact that their PapPap participates obviously made the decision to go that much easier and more exciting for the kids.

So on Saturday afternoon, we headed over the mountain to New Enterprise, PA to the tractor pull hosted by Southern Cove Power Reunion.

A car ride with a toddler and preschooler involves games and “I Spy”. This trip involved climbing up the mountain, all the way to the sky, with only the sights of trees and purple flowers around us and being able to see across the valley to the top of the next mountain. It was like being on top of the world. Then we drove down the other side. When we came back down, it was a view of rolling hills, stretches of land, houses here and there. Mainly it was fields, barns, and silos.

And of course, cows. Now, if you have ever been in the car with young kids, you know they love animals. If your kids are like mine, they absolutely must point out and let you know every time they see an animal. That led us into a chorus of “moos” coming from the back seat and further into making the sounds of every farm animal imaginable. It may have been a loud car ride, but it passed the time for the boys as they pointed out the sights.

Upon reaching our destination, the chorus of “moos” turned to the sound of “I see a tractor and another one and another one”. It was hard not to get wrapped up in their excitement, to see the pure joy on their faces.

There was a dirt track for the pulls. An announcement stand was on one side and bleachers on the other filled with an audience of all ages. Cars, trucks, and tractors were parked in the surrounding fields. (There was a concession stand but we didn’t venture over to see what they had to offer. A small playground with swings used to be there but it currently is not in use due to trees that have fallen in the area.)

Regardless of what wasn’t there, my boys eyes were glued to the tractors that were moving in front of them. They were not even the slightest bit bothered by the sounds or smells of the tractors but took it all in. We sat on the bleachers watching. PapPap was flagging the tractors in the beginning. Red flag to tell the drivers if they needed to stop, green to go. Two tractors stayed on the track most of the time smoothing out the dirt between pulls. Two different tractor classes were able to pull simultaneously thanks to the use of two different sleds (which apparently is what the large machines are called that the tractors were pulling down the track).

As I learned (because this whole thing was a learning experience for me), there are three categories:

  • Antique – tractors from 1959 and earlier
  • Farm stock – tractors from 1960 and later
  • Open – tractors that have been modified

The antique and farm stock class tractors must be in their manufactured condition. Open class tractors can be altered. Other specifications may apply. There are multiple weight classes for each category ranging from 3000lbs to 15,500lbs. Although some tractors may still be in use on the family farms, most of the tractors used in the pulls are now used just for pulls or tractor shows, not general farm use.

During the tractor pull, the contestant drives up in his/her tractor, a sled is attached to the back of the tractor using a chain, and the driver is off. He pulls the sled as far as he can until the tractor starts bouncing, the wheels spin out, or it just won’t go any further. The weight of the sled is changed for each class.

PapPap explained that he drives slowly and watches the wheels as he drives so he can adjust the brakes or speed if one starts spinning. It is still over my head. Clearly, there is a science or method to the way they drive when pulling. It is something each of these drivers, young and old, has worked to perfect, getting better with each drive. The weather, the feel of the ground each day, the weight of the tractor can impact a drive. Each pull is a good mix of luck and precise driving.

After one of his pulls, PapPap drove the tractor over to the trailer and started adding weights. Who knew weights could be or ever would be added to tractors. The added weights made it so he could participate in two different weight classes by making the tractor heavier.

All-in-all it was a great day. The boys enjoyed every moment of seeing different types of tractors driving around them. Both boys had a chance to sit on the tractor with PapPap which just put them over the moon. Day made. They talked about tractors (and cows again) the entire drive home. When PapPap got home with the tractor, they had another opportunity to sit and revel in their love of tractors.

Seeing a tractor pull is a must for anyone who has kids fascinated by tractors. Apparently there are pulls offered by other organizations as well. Southern Cove Power Reunion tractor pulls are done once per month. I am sure we will be headed that way again soon.

Bedford Car Show 2017

Let me preface by stating that I know next to nothing about cars. I can tell you what color they are and how many doors they have. That’s about the extent. Engines, motors, or any other technical car terms are all well over my head.

But, my boys love cars. They have more toy cars than any child could need but happily play with every single one each day. When we are out and about if they see a car, bus, truck, or tractor, they let me know all about it. If it has wheels, they love it.

The Bedford Car Show was rained out last weekend so we made a point of stopping by today. The hours were scheduled from 11-5 which unfortunately covers a chunk of their naptimes so we went as soon as it started. It was 60 degrees and cloudy with a light breeze so it was comfortable to walk around the town square.

There weren’t a lot of people there yet which made it easy for us to wander around slowly. The boys got an eyeful of the cars. They stared at every car we passed. Obviously, we weren’t inspecting the engines or interiors but just gazing at the different types of cars…old cars, old pickup trucks, sports cars, and more. Although they did ask why the cars weren’t racing (because clearly to a 3 year old, that’s the best part of cars), they enjoyed looking at everything.

One car owner was nice enough to give each of the boys matchbox cars which absolutely made their day. More cars to add to the collection. Thank you to Ron Plummer for the gifts (Plum’s 1980 Super Sport).

Thanks Downtown Bedford, Inc.