Are you thinking “Wait! What happened between the hours of 12-4pm? What sort of shinanigans goes on during that time?” Well, to be completely honest, the hours of the afternoon are pretty much just a repeat of hours 5am – 12pm. We eat, we make messes, we get time outs, we have fun, and we get kicked outside to burn off some energy.
Alas, here we are, the homestretch of the day. Every now and then, we get out as a family of seven. We tend to take two vehicles even though we can all fit into one of our Chevys. This allows for an early exit if someone has an irrecoverable diaper disaster or is asked to leave. Tonight, we are going to a dinner at Perks Ranch, a local cattle breeder that’s just outside of Rockford. It’s the culminating event of the Northern Illinois Hereford Tour.
Hereford Cattle Tour
If cows aren’t your thing or you missed Part I, let me catch you up to speed. The red and white cows you see are called Herefords. They are a breed that’s raised for their meat. Each year, different farms will host other breeders so that they can promote their livestock. They will purchase animals to take them back to their farms to show them and then eventually, make more baby cows. *Yes, dearest husband, I will use correct terminology. Baby cows are called “calves”.*
Hold up! Show them? To who? If this all sounds a little goofy, think of the Westminster AKC Dog Show you see on TV. Now, insert cows. *Here’s a video of the National Junior Heifer Show * Just like the dogs, the cattle are judged on their phenotypic traits, their movement, and adherence to the breed standards. The only difference is that the cattle’s leashes, aka halters, are made of ropes, suits are exchanged for plaid and jeans, and if an exhibitor starts running it’s usually because one of the animals got loose. This is also termed a “rodeo”.
I digress! Back at Perks Ranch (which is a beautiful place run by some equally wonderful people), interested breeders are encouraged to grab a program and walk through the various lots to admire the available animals. It doesn’t really matter if you can read or not, as long as you can hop a fence, you can play along just like all the grown folk.
The culminating event of the evening is a big ol’ barbeque will all the fixings. Cattlemen are notoriously social people and even though I was not raised in the business, I’ve always felt welcomed at the table. (Sorry, no picture of the spread we enjoyed that evening, the Ms. Jana was not allowed to miss any of the meal!) The only drawback from being around such social people is that the pre-dinner welcomes can get a little lengthy for the 3-and-under crowd. It’s a good thing grandma is there to help bounce a few babies!
The party is over and now it’s time for bed. The process of getting five children through the evening routine gets a little hairy. The hardest part I have found is not actually the tubby time but assembling the supplies and getting everyone into position. This is when they start to display their hidden talents like “Did you know my hair does this when I hang upside down?”
The funny part about baths is that no one wants to take them but no one wants to get out of the tub either. However, the one thing that everyone wants to do is give the twins their bath. It often looks like a baptism with buckets but in the end, they are are squeaky clean. A little Johnson & Johnson, a couple diaper changes (warm water will do that do you), and a fresh set of pj’s and everyone one is ready for bed.
Oh yeah, I always forget… brush your teeth! We are usually halfway up the steps before someone says “MOMMY!!! You forgot to make us brush our teeth!” One of the benefits of marrying a herdsman is that he is already used to corraling wiley animals into small spaces for the purposes of health improvement. I’m not even really sure how he fits all 6 ft 5 in of his frame in that little bathroom with all the mirror concerts and flying elbows.
Magical Bedtime Stories
It’s bedtime. (PRAISE THE LORD!) We read stories, and drink glasses of water, and discuss the meaning of life followed by a Q & A session about the weather or who will likely hit a homerun during the next Cubs game. Yes, you can see the exhaustion across my face. And yet, these are my favorite parts of the day. After we read books, we say our prayers, and then they ask for a story. Not one from paper pages but from chapters of their life. It’s not a beautifully woven tapestry of words but here they are the main characters. I can’t get them to sit still for five minutes in church but they will listen, on repeat, to the goofy things that they did as babies for an hour.
Eventually, the lights are off. No one is sleeping, the questions keep coming, and there’s then there’s the inevitable stuffed animal grenade launch into each other’s room. And then, like the light we’ve shut off twenty times, it’s quiet. Yes, we check to make sure that they aren’t on the roof again. When we do, I get to look into their faces and if I stare long enough, I can see whispers of the sweet babes they were not so long ago. Then, I tiptoe down the stairs and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.