Sunday, August 10, 2014

to the great north we went!

The first week that Joel was here, we decided to the drive the 10-ish hours to the great north to see my awesome brother Andrew and our friends up there.

It happened to be the 4th of July week-end, and our friends made it extra special by helping Joel discover a LOT of various American cultural elements. It was great!

We started out by driving out to their little farm where we had our option between all kinds of activities, including great hugs from brothers!!! His and my favorite activity of the day! :)

Joel, Andrew and I decided to go canoeing. Hmm, do you know how easily canoes tip over? I was so scared. Of course, the guys thought it was hilarious to rock the boat, so I was clinging on for dear life about the entire time we were on the lake. 

We had some other activities, that I won't go into detail about, but just let the picture speak for itself. 

Hehe. Oh yeah!!! Great day at the lake! 

The rest of the week-end was full of other great things, like a Yankees vs. Twins baseball game -- first time going to a pro baseball game for Joel.

I had forgotten how long they could get... good thing they had entertainment...

like the "flex cam" so these guys could show off their guns!

or Andrew teaching Joel how to be gangter cool by turning your hat inside out and backwards,

taking selfies

and laughing everytime the player "plouffe" was called up to bat! :)

Andrew, aka the photo-bomber of our baseball mickey mouse picture. Love my brother. 

It was a great great experience, and we are so thankful to Allen and Sandi for treating us so well! :)

Our celebration continued with matching t-shirts provided by our hosts and some fun football throwing and home baseball games. 

It was such a fun fun and packed week-end! We loved catching up with a lot of our friends and just spending some good, quality time with my brother. He is one really special and quality guy!

Especially for putting up with the two of us! :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

and the tree came a tumblin' down!

We had this tree that was very close to our back porch, whose roots were digging up the sidewalk, and though it was a beautiful tree, it was too close to the house for any future changes that could be made.

When I first got back in June, it looked like this:

Oh, hi Kyle! That's my new brother-in-law!! He is so awesome. Couldn't ask for a better guy to have married my baby sister. But anyway, as you can see, the tree branches were so low and going every which way, that you couldn't even see Kyle's face. Each time we'd get out of the car, we'd be dodging branches and the only living thing that seemed to enjoy those branches was our cat, Sir William Othello, aka Billy O (Lindsay named him!). 

When Joel arrived, my Mom asked him if he wouldn't mind cutting some of these branches down with the hatchet. She even got him a new cut off kansas farming shirt that said USA to wear while he worked so he'd fit right in! 

He was such a hard worker and claimed to love every minute of it! :) He got so much done and was always so happy to do it. What a guy!

So Joel cut some small and medium branches down. 

Then Dad came home, and decided to trim the tree a bit more, and he cut off the bigger branches that were once holding the branches that Joel cut off. Following me? 

"Why are you cutting down branches, Dad?" I asked him as I stood by and watched. "We're going to cut the whole tree down, actually" was his reply. 

What!?! Gasp! I had no idea!! 

And sure enough, a couple of days later, Ben and Casey (awesome cousins of mine) came over and they chopped the tree down! 

Eventually, they'll come and pull the stump out, but man does it make the place look different! There is a lot more light that comes through the windows now! And some people claim we get a better internet signal, but I'm not sure about that. 

We still have lots of other trees, and there are a bunch of new ones that are growing really well and in 20 years... they'll be beautiful! Hi Mom! 

And what about Billy O's house and place of refuge? He quickly found another tree and made it his new home. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

French Farmer Joel

I had a very very special visitor come to see me in Kansas during the month of July. It was SO MUCH fun. There are so many things I want to blog about, but I thought a good way of starting out was to share with you, especially those that know him in France, how a French city boy became a Kansas farmer. I use the term "Kansas farmer" very loosely, as I am probably not the best to judge, being I grew up in Africa in capital cities of 2 million people... But you can decide for yourself after you see these pictures! 

One of the things I thought was very important to teach him right away, was the Farmer Finger Wave. You should have seen him on day 1. It looked like he was trying to give an air high-5 to the oncoming pickup driver. "No, no, no, no" I said ever so gently. Just kind of raise your hand, one of your fingers a little more than the others, but in a very cool, non-chalant way. 


After about 2 weeks, he had it down. Maybe it was only 2 hours. #slightexaggerationfortheeffect

Once he mastered the Farmer Finger Wave, he was the friendliest driver on Butler county roads. The day I drove him to the airport, I was driving, and as a car passed me, I waved, only to have them stare back at me and not wave at all. He just shook his head and said, "no no no no, you don't quite have the wave down..."

He took the wave back to France, but people aren't quite catching on there yet.

One evening during his time here, we were invited over to some of our friends' house for a delicious meal of pork chops and a promised grand tour of their hog farm. We ate first... of course! :)

We got all decked out in coveralls, caps, boots and the natural odor of hogs, which is really indescribable, but fairly permanent.

They had 10 sows that were having babies while we were there.
Oh man. It was cool, gross, cute, interesting, messy, smelly, and awesome all at the same time. Joel got to hold one just a few hours after he had been born, umbilical cord and all!

Look how happy that guy is! You would've thought he was holding a million dollars!

This is as close as I got to holding one. I was very content to just slightly touch Piglet's side. 

We went into another barn, and one of the older piggies had escaped and was running wildly and crazily around the place! (again, slight exageration). 

But Joel, being the farmer that he was, confidently walked over to Piglet, corned him, and picked him up by his back leg. Is there anything this guy can't do?! Sorry about the blurry picture. It all happened so fast! 

We had a GREAT time with our hosts and made lasting, smelling memories! 

Unfortunately, this farmer is now back in France... we all miss him around here! I was so proud of everything he was willing to do to embrace this rural Kansas country life! He is quite the guy!

Maxwell the Great

Anne and Loren had baby Max while I was in France, and while I was suuuuuuper happy for them that they had a cute baby boy, I was really sad not to get to meet him until this summer. 

But oh man have we been making up for lost time. He is awesome! 

I stayed at their house for a little while when I first came back from France, and not only did Anne help me get back into American culture with couponing, target and starbucks, but I got to spend a lot of time with my buddy Max.

He is such a big helper. Always wants to throw the trash in the trash can and looooved being outside and helping his Daddy mow, Mom sweep the grass off the sidewalk and watering the trees.

One day I was there we decided to go visit my cousins and dear Aunt Florene in Hesston at their garage sale and we found some awesome little toys for him for like $.25! 

But I think one of my favorite moments ever (so far!) was reading books to him before putting his diaper on backwards (yes yes...) and putting him to bed. I wanted soooooo badly to read Madeleine in Paris (for obvious reasons!) but he wanted nothing to do with that book, and only wanted to read about trucks. So we read it. Twice. And then read another book about cars. 

It was still so sweet to have him cuddle on my lap while I read to him, and then I put him down in his bed and was starting to walk out of his room when he goes, "pray?" OH MY GOODNESS. So I went back to his bed immediately, we prayed and then as I was walking out a second time he said "love you" though it sounded more like "luh-loo"!!! Melt my heart. What a sweet boy. 

And now he has a baby sister. Little Lizzy Sue. But more on that later. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Casey, the friendly farmer

I have a lot of great cousins. I love them all and love coming back to Kansas and spending some time with them.

A month or so ago, Lindsay and I were pulling into our driveway after having been gone to Bird City for a few days, and we noticed a lot of activity going on in the field by our house.

They had just finished combining the wheat, and so while some people were picking up bales and lining them up in 2 rows by the roadside, 

Casey, my cousin and quite the friendly farmer, got into his nice green tractor and started planting the double crop soy beans. And "nice green tractor" means that there is a buddy seat! Need I say more?! I was sooooooo hoping and wishing that Casey would be up for letting me ride with him. And before I could ask him, he opened up the tractor door and yelled out, "hey you want to ride, Melissa?" How did he know!? Maybe because I was standing alone in the wheat field stubble looking longingly at the tractor?

I was super excited to ride along! Planting was so fun! I had a million questions... as you can only imagine.

And Casey very patiently answered all of my questions and helped me understand lots about planting soy beans! I loved being in the tractor with him!

I had to try to sneak a picture of him when he wasn't looking -- proof that I was in the cab.

After we were done planting and later that evening, Jon (Casey's older brother) came over and we walked over to the bean field to exam the planting job Casey had done. Older brother supervision!

Jon dug a little bit and sure enough, 

a little bean seed had been planted! Today, 1 month later, I took a picture of what Casey's rows of soy beans look like, and they look so pretty!!

I'd like to think that I had a small part of it, but really -- I was just the buddy seat passenger! 

Casey is so friendly, kind, patient, hard working and funny; what a treat to ride with him!