Lesson in First Time Motherhood #3 Daddy’s are Important!

20140729-095015.jpgI am very fortunate. I not only have a husband, I have the best husband on the planet. I know a few single mothers. Some the dad’s are in the picture and some the dad’s are not. I am amazed by these women. I lean on my husband A LOT. There is no way I could do this parenting thing without him. I’m eternally grateful to have such a wonderful supporter and partner. He works tirelessly to make sure that Mo and I have everything we need. For you single mothers out there, I applaud you and I marvel at your abilities. I’m not sure I could do what you are doing for your kids. For those of you ladies that do have Daddy on board, this one’s for you.

You are a team regardless of who has chosen to take care of the kid’s full time or if you are planning to have childcare a part of your day, you are a team. Daddy’s job started right when she came out of the womb. Since I had a C-section Daddy was in charge of all diaper changes, helping me to the bathroom, passing the baby to me when it was time to eat, walking and bouncing baby to sleep, etc. He was very busy as I was not able to move much and I was taking some pretty powerful painkillers. It was also Daddy’s job to watch Mommy closely so if I fell asleep while holding baby he could come in and put her in a safe place. There were many times I fell asleep mid feeding and he was there to make sure that both mommy and baby were safe. His job was never ending.

We had many challenges with breast feeding and continue to have challenges. My husband’s job in the beginning was to put together and then wash my pumping supplies for every feeding until I could muster up enough energy to get out of bed and do it myself. I can honestly say with all of my heart and without a doubt, I would not be breast feeding my child if it wasn’t for the constant support I received from my husband. Now that our daughter is 8 months old his job is still going. She is not the best eater so I pump frequently and regularly which means that a lot of the housework and cooking falls on my husband because I’m busy being hooked up to the “mechanical parasite” (as my husband calls the breast pump). He is not happy about this but he does it because he loves us.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Daddy’s are important!

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My First Jack Bauer Moment

Since my sister’s birthday is coming up this weekend AND Jack Bauer will soon be returning to television what better post to kick off my relaunch than this one? I’ve taken a little time off but I hope to be back up and running in no time. Enjoy!!!BekandIsleeping

As children we were always finding ways to get into mischief. It’s really all my parents fault. They were the ones who encouraged my siblings and I to be overly creative farm kids. Summer vacation is when my creative genius was at its finest.

Long summer days with 4 children home all day left my mother in a state of exhaustion. As we got older “nap time” slowly morphed into “be quiet for one hour while mom regains her sanity”. During this time the kids had two options: one, we could play outside for one hour. Or two, play upstairs quietly and don’t bother mom who was napping on the couch. Basically, you could either go outside and stay there or be upstairs and stay there but you couldn’t have it both ways.

The boys would retreat to do whatever boys do outside. While my sister Bekah and I opted to stay upstairs and play quietly. This arrangement worked well for a couple of days. But by that third day I grew bored. About 20 minutes into the quiet time I decided that I wanted to go and get the baby kitties from the barn and bring them into the house. However, there was an obstacle. Mom was napping downstairs right next to the front door. There was no entering or exiting the house through the only door. However, this would not stop me and my mission. My creative juices started flowering. There had to be a way, right? In all honesty, my sister probably tried to talk me out of my devious plans, but my plan required team work. I successfully convinced her that she wanted to play with the baby kittens too. And so my accomplice was born and I could execute my fool proof plan.

For whatever reason, my dad had taken the screen off of one of the upstairs windows on the 2nd floor of our 3 story home. I went into the linen closet and found an old mismatched sheet that my mom wouldn’t notice was missing. I slowly and quietly opened the window and hung the sheet out of it. Then I tied one end of the sheet to the couch leg; I asked my sister to hold on to the sheet for extra support and I lowered myself down. It worked! Bek threw one of our school backpacks down to me and I made my way down to the barn. I loaded the baby kittens into the back pack and climbed back up the sheet. This was our daily occurrence for several days. Mom and Dad would never find out. We were like secret operatives on a top secret mission and no one would ever know our secret.

That is, until the day Bek asked if she could be the one that was being lowered down. I opened the window and threw the sheet out just like every other day. However, my sister was small and my pride was as big as the state of Minnesota. I decided that I could just hold the sheet and not tie off the end to the couch.

Carefully, my sister made her way out the window. She began to climb lower and lower on the sheet. Then all of the sudden she looked up at me and her facial expression turned to panic…and then her hands let go. The shock of her letting go caused my hands released the sheet and both my sister and the sheet went falling to their doom.

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All I could do was watch as my sister fell flat onto her back. To my relief her head was inches from the cement opening of the cistern and she landed on the grass. To my detriment, my dad was working in the yard that day and saw everything. Well, he didn’t see everything. He saw my sister climbing out of a window, and me dropping a sheet. Let’s just say my dad was none too pleased with me that day, and yes Mom did wake up from her nap. And yes, I was punished for dropping my sister out of a second story window, but really, she let go… It doesn’t matter no one will ever believe me.

Happy Birthday!!! It’s a miracle you survived this long….

The Old Brown Recliner- Happy Birthday Dad!

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. :)

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. 🙂

When I’m feeling sad, I find myself snuggled up to my “Daddy” in the old brown recliner. This is where I feel safe. I know my mother is cringing right now because I don’t think there was ever a piece of furniture she hated more than the old brown recliner. When I was young, I remember sitting on my dad’s lap in the old brown recliner. I was safe there and there was nothing that could touch me. No brothers would pull my hair or try to wrestle me to the ground. In the old brown recliner in my dad’s lap, I was safe from any chaos in my life. This is where I go when I don’t feel safe in my adult life. I go right back to sitting on my “Daddy’s” lap in the old brown recliner. I say “Daddy” in quotes because I don’t want my readers to think that I go and snuggle up on Gordy’s lap in a recliner at 30 years of age. No, I sit on God’s lap in the old brown recliner. It is my safe place to fall when chaos shows it’s ugly face.

There are so many things that I am eternally grateful for in my life: one of them is my Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever given him the true props that he deserves so I’ll do my best here. I’ve always considered myself to have a really good grasp on who God truly is: His Grace, His Hope, His Love, etc. He has always been someone I can count on and who will never abandon me. I know I can trust Him. Through my interactions I’ve learned that not every young woman has the same outlook on God as I do, and I know why.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

When I was growing up, I was never told that I was ugly or worthless by my dad. At least once a day I was hugged and told that I was beautiful and could do anything I set my mind too. Even when my math homework wasn’t sinking into my brain, my dad met me with patience rather than anger. When I couldn’t remember my memory verse late Saturday night that I needed to remember for Sunday morning church, my dad sat in the old brown recliner into the night and helped me break it down to learn it. Of course, I had to do the dishes for a week because I SHOULD have memorized my verse months ago, but the punishment fit the crime and I learned self discipline. The only time my dad ever yelled at me (to my knowledge) was the day I spooked the cows and they went running the opposite direction from where he was trying to put them and then through the fence. Again, the punishment fit the crime and I had to run the furthest to get them rounded back up and help fix the fence. That day, I learned to respect others. My point being, I didn’t grow up with a push over dad that let me walk all over him. When I did something naughty or disobeyed, the punishment fit the crime. I wasn’t torn down and told that I was worthless or stupid. At the end of the day, I could always feel safe in my dad’s arms. And for this, I am eternally grateful. I was blessed to have such an amazing dad. He’s not perfect because he’s not God, he’s a man. A man who’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong and whom I respect more and more each day because of his imperfections. I learned from him to be self disciplined and have a high sense of self worth, I also have an amazing vision of who my Savior really is. I know God is always there for me. I can lean on Him and He will never abandon me. He loves me in spite of my flaws and inability to keep cows in a pen or calculate simple math problems in my head. He loves me for me. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but nothing will ever change that I am loved beyond my comprehension. Should I ever need a safe place to fall I can always find comfort in knowing that the old brown recliner lives on in my imagination. (Since I’m pretty sure mom burned the actual one.)

Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the whole WORLD!!! I am VERY fortunate to be your daughter!

P.S. I could have told Dad’s favorite story for his birthday but I already posted that here.

My wedding day...

My wedding day…

God’s Gift to the World!!! – just kidding :)

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I’m very fortunate to have received the gift of creativity from my parents.  So when I started asking questions about my birth story so that I could write my own version filled with drama and twists and turns, my mom offered to write it for me! So, today I give you all a special treat, a guest post today from my lovely mother Sheryl… Enjoy!

It was a cold dark December night and the weather was turning nasty.   As the family settled in to watch their favorite Monday night comedy shows, the father noticed that the freezing rain had begun.  Although the Mother was feeling uncomfortable she did not feel like she was in recognizable labor.   The family was watching the Bob Newhart show and the weather wasn’t getting any better so the father announced that as soon as the show was over the family would load up in the car and head to town just in case the baby decided to arrive on this blustery night.   Not long after the car was loaded and the boys in their places, the mother- to-be started to feel labor pains that she had been waiting for two weeks and she knew it “was time.”

The next plan was to drop the mother off at the hospital and take the boys to grandmas.  Is this where the song “over the river and though the woods “came from??

Or is this the song being sung on those icy roads 10 miles from the hospital?

The special child was born after several hours of walking up and down the hallways of the hospital which was and still continues to be the smallest one in the state of Minnesota.

Ok, ok back to the special baby…….yes, the baby was born and she was a GIRL!   Yes! A girl!!! Pink, bows, lace and dresses now could enter into the happy mother’s life.   You see the family before this special night consisted of a father, a mother and two little boys.   Now they were joined by a Girl!  A red headed girl!   This mother was so excited that she called her mother to tell her that she had been blessed with a daughter, a redheaded daughter!   The grandmother proceeded to tell her daughter that the little girl probably just had remains of her birth on her head and not red hair!  The grandmother was very surprised in the morning when 4 hours after the birth and her first bath the little girl still had beautiful red hair.  Red hair and an amazing interest in the new world around her.  The nurses were surprised at her alertness and interest in her new world! But where did this red hair gene come from???   As the child grew she used to tell people it came from the milkman!  Her mother said it came from the milk.  Well, it was true that the milkman did have red hair……..But with all kidding aside the red hair came from several generations back on both parents side.   The great grandmother sister on the maternal side had reddish hair and the great grandfather on the paternal side had a red beard.  God took out his red brush that night and created a beautiful little baby girl to bless this family and the world.  This beautiful baby girl, Joanna Kay Kopperud was born on December14, 1982 to two very proud parents and two very excited big brothers.   The mother felt like she had just received a special new dolly for Christmas that year.

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Can we all just take a moment to admire how incredibly adorable my brothers were???? So cute!!!! Joanna’s Homecoming and Christmas Card 1982.

Happy 30th birthday baby girl!

Your Favorite Story: The Case of the Heavy Boots

As stated previously, chasing cows is not only a big deal but a way of life at the Kopperud Farm. Like a doctor who is on call, you have to be completely ready for any situation at any time even from a dead sleep. Ya know, one of us really should have been a doctor… Oh wait! I crack myself up… Anyway, my point is,  many times you can be awakened in the early morning hours and you have to chase cows. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Get up and GO! You have 2 seconds to get dressed in the proper attire before you are expected to be miles away from the house and round up those thousand pound animals and make them go where you want them to go.

I really shouldn’t call it chasing cows when really it’s rounding up the cows and directing them where you want them to go. In the Kopperud family, we have a system that we follow. If you married into the family be prepared to get yelled at for being in the way at least for the first few times you join us. After that, you can do it in your sleep.

When I was around 10 years old, I had the wonderful privilege of being the only person home when the cows broke down the fence. This was before cell phones so without warning my Dad came bursting into the house and said “Let’s go! Cows are out and they’re headed to the tar road!” Sensing my father’s intensity I got up and threw on some old blue and white coveralls. Then I headed for the front porch to put my boots on. “Come on! What’s taking you so long?!” my father called out. “I can’t find my boots!” I yelled back. “Just put something on and let’s go!” The only boots that were available were a spare pair of my dad’s boots. He had several pairs so I slipped my feet into his boots and ran out the door. On my way up the hill through the tree’s and on my way down the gravel drive way I realized my choice in footwear was going to be a problem. Not only were his boots ginormous but I really couldn’t move very fast with their weight holding me down. “Hurry up!” my dad called out again. I could see him out in the field in waist high grass. My eyes went crossed. Not only was I doing my best to run in his giant boots, but I would have to run fast in waist high grass. I stood there wondering if I dare tell my dad, whose temper was already high, that I needed to run back to the house to change my shoes. “What are you doing just standing there? Let’s GO!” And then I knew what I had to do, I ran fast and hard through the waist high grass. I jumped and lifted my knees as high as I could so I wouldn’t trip on the grass. My boots were weighing me down. I did my best to keep up with my dad. I tried to stay right behind him so I could run in the grass he already knocked down. Then, the tall grass disappeared to reveal a small ravine. Dad leaped over the ravine like a graceful gazelle.  The ravine was only around 2 feet wide so under normal circumstances, this jump wouldn’t have fazed me, but since my legs were already feeling like lead weights from running in the boots, this small jump looked like the Grand Canyon. I looked up at my dad who was standing on the other bank, “Come on jump! I need you over here. What’s the matter with you? Jump!”

I didn’t want to argue with him because he was already frustrated that the cows broke down the fence that he would no doubt spend the rest of the day mending. AND to rub salt into the wound, his sons weren’t home to help him. All that was left was his little pip-squeak redhead.

I looked at him, and then back at the rustling water in front of me. “Okay Jesus, please help me make it to the other side.” I had full faith that I was going to make it. I took a few steps back so I could get a running start… “I can do this, I can do this”… step, step, JUMP! I jumped with all of my might. I threw my arms out to my sides like superman, spread eagle, as hard as my little body could handle and closed my eyes. I felt my feet lift off the ground. A small smile crossed my face and I knew I could make it. Just as soon as I thought “I’m going to make it” I felt my small feet hit the inside top of Dad’s boots. My lift off came to an abrupt halt. My face changed from the sweet bliss of a freeing smile to a look of terror. My body could make it to the other side, but not as long as those boots were attached to my feet. I had just enough momentum to make the toe’s of the boots slowly roll forward and shift. So there I was, the small bubbling water beneath me, mid air, and my face fast approaching the west bank of the ravine. “This isn’t going to be good” I thought to myself. Then, WHAM! I did a face plant straight into the other bank. From the waist down I was soaked in water. “Get up, Joanna, Get up! You have to chase cows. Dad’s already frustrated. Get up!” I thought to myself. It took all of my strength to stand up. When I got to the point where I had shaken the sense back into myself after the shock, I looked around for my dad. I thought for sure he would be angry at me for getting all wet. After all, this meant I would move slower with the water weight added to my already heavy load. I looked around but I couldn’t find my dad. I could see the cows grazing in the neighbors bean field, but my dad was nowhere in sight. Then, I heard him. He was breathing strangely and gasping for air. I saw some flattened grass on the edge of the field and then I heard his hysterical laughter. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. I walked over and stood next to him as tears rand down his face, he said, “THAT is the funniest thing I have ever seen!”

To this day, whenever we talk about chasing cows, this is the story my dad tells. If you ask him about it, he will start laughing and crying all at the same time. So, there you have it dad. I wrote my side of “Your Favorite Story.”

The Case of the Rolling Bull

I found this little gem from my college years. It was written sometime before May 2005.

Our families cows breaking out of their “fenced in roaming area” is nothing new. I remember such experiences as a child when death felt near. It is those times when your heart beats fast and panic sets in, then your mind and body come together in that short instance that saves your life.

My family had just gotten home from vacation. We notice many footprints on our lawn. These were not any ordinary footprints but they certainly were familiar to my family. They were the kind of footprints that we all dreaded to see. They were cow footprints. My whole family was so tired and did not want to deal with the cows wondering all over our lawn. Dad took it upon himself and said that he would go out and see what’s going on while the rest of us unloaded from the trip. We were all laughing and reminiscing about the trip when we all turned to see my dad running towards us. It turns out that my neighbor’s cows had gotten into the very same pen with our cows and we would have to separate them. This is a HUGE job. My sister, mom, dad and I went and put our clothes on and got ready to go.

When I had finished getting changed I went down the hill to where the cows were. Naturally, the two bulls had found each other. I made my sister round up the herd while I stayed up by the house. My life all of the sudden became slow motion. The two bulls were coming towards me in a not so orderly way. Rolling, rolling towards me. I looked around for somewhere to hide, but unfortunately this was the open plain of the Midwest. There were no trees or anything to hide from two fighting, 2,000 Pd bulls. I screamed and looked at my sister. To my shock she was laughing hysterically at me. I did not think that this near death experience was very humorous at all.

I looked back at the bulls. The neighbor’s bull was running towards me looking for protection because our bull was winning the fight. This only worsened my situation. Finally, I did what I had to do; the only thing there was to do. I ran. I out ran them. After all I was only 140 pounds and they weighed only about 1,860 more.

Well, that’s what I remember. During the rest of the day I had two more near death experiences. If you would like to know “the rest of the story” just ask. It is quite amusing.

Freckles on the Pasture

I found this little gem from my college years. This was written sometime before May 2005.

As I walk

I hear the peaceful sounds

The wind massages my skin

And I keep walking

I wonder far away

Not knowing where I’ll end up

I keep going

Through the woods and paths

My freckles are burning

The suns rays hit

They are stinging

Like they’ve been bit

I think of all the feet that have been before,

Walking my very steps

Wandering away

From everything

I wonder what reasons they had

Scared?

Mad?

Happy?

Their mind becomes important

What did they think?

Why were they here

What did they do?

I’m here

Sitting,

Thinking,

Wondering.

Why I came here

What I’m doing

How I got here

And if they thought of me too.

I love this poem and can’t believe I wrote it way back when… This sums up a lot of why I started writing again. I love knowing the history of our family and knowing who lived in our house before we did. There have been many times when a walk on the pasture is all you need to calm your nerves, share you happiness, feel the peace of the prairie, or just to pray. I’ve walked that pasture for many different reasons over the years but most of the time it’s to escape the chaos that can be normal life. The pasture at my parents house is where I go to breathe…

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The Day Before

It was the day before my wedding. Everything was looking bright and sunny. However, there was rain in the forecast which was casting a shadow on my outdoor garden wedding but I tried not to let that bother me. We had a girl’s day planned the day before and it was going to be a glorious day! We were headed to Marshall to get our nails done and have lunch together. We left the boys home to finish setting up the tents and chairs. My mom left them a list of things that needed to get done while we were getting pampered.

I’m not entirely sure how the whole idea morphed into what it became. Our first mistake was leaving the men alone. My sisters in laws were both in my wedding so that left the boys to play without supervision. I assume the idea started with an individual finding a long piece of landscaping plastic that was left over from the preparations of my wedding at my parent’s house. After that, it all went downhill… literally….

The ladies and I had a wonderful day. We got manicures and pedicures and went out for a delicious lunch. We were excited to come home to see all the work the guys had done but we were greeted with something else entirely. As we drove down the driveway I could see my oldest brother (I say oldest because I have 2) standing at the top of a large mound of dirt that was left from digging the pit where my parents burn their garbage. I remember “what the…” coming out of my mouth. He was facing away from us wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. He slowly turned and looked at us sitting in the vehicle. Straight faced, he slowly turned back around… and then FLUNG himself off the mound of dirt hands first!

After that, all the women started talking at the same time, “What was that?” “What have they been doing?” “They better have finished their list!” Upon further inspection and a walk down to where I saw my brother throw himself off the mound of dirt, I saw what they were doing. All the men, including my future beloved, were soaking wet. They had a garden hose hooked up to the barn and were spraying the landscaping plastic with ice cold water. They had made a slip n slide the day before my wedding.

My mom had organized everything down perfectly so there was a little bit of time to kill before the rehearsal started. Time to kill + Family from across the US gathering + 1 Texan+ God given creativity = DANGEROUS! My husband’s friend from Texas that flew up for the wedding suggested that we move the slip n slide to the sledding hill and proceeded to go into town to buy 100 foot landscaping tarp. And so they did… and yes, this is how I spent the day before my wedding. I did not go down the slip n slide for fear of injury but many did and I think it is now a family activity that will be passed on to the generations!

This last summer my nephew who is 4 years old continued the tradition.

The Squeaky Fan

Every once in a while the oscillating fan in my bedroom starts to squeak. Well, it’s more like little chirps than squeaks, but you get the picture. When it makes this glorious noise, most human beings (like my dear beloved husband) would be annoyed however; I fall into a deep sleep that is full of memories and comfort from a far off land…

My room was that very top window. This picture is before my parents repainted and sided and filled cracks….etc. They did A LOT of work to the outside.

When I was 14 years old, my mom and dad agreed that it was time for me to have my own room. I begged them for years to clean out the old storage room on the 3rd floor across the hall from my older brothers shared bedroom. I’ve always been the independent type so sharing a room with my little sister was cramping my style. My brothers liked to share their bedroom and had no need for their own space, and it helped that one of them was heading off to college soon. So, my mom agreed that as long as I did the work with her, she would allow me to have my own room. FINALLY!

As I recall, cleaning out the storage room was a “family affair”. My dad grew up in this house so there were many boxes of things from his childhood as well as items my aunts had left behind from their early years. There was also a home gym system my brother put into the room to prepare for each football season, along with old furniture and other little treasures the mice had left behind.

I had dreamed of this room being mine since I could remember. It seemed like such a waste to me to have it as a storage room, but in all fairness, with 4 kids my parents had to wait for the right time to decide who got the extra room. I used to love to hide and be by myself. I remember sneaking up the stairs, climbing over the exercise equipment and boxes, until I could finally reach my destination of the old wooden chair in the fair corner of the room. The old chair was an antique with broken wooden back spindles and a broken spring in the seat. I would sit on my “princess throne” for what seemed like hours dreaming of the day this room could be mine.

After weeks of hard work, and my parents teaching me how to wall paper, paint, and lay carpet, the room was finally mine. I felt like a queen in her castle. Mom had taken me shopping for wall paper and sure enough, right by the front of the store was the clearance wall paper. If you know me, you know I headed straight for that clearance section. I was trained at a young age to check those bargain bins! Sure enough I found the perfect wall paper stuck in the bargain bin. It was yellow with blue flowers. As luck would have it, my Grandparents put new carpet in their bedroom so the old carpet was laid in my new room…

Wait a minute… What was this post about? OH RIGHT! This post was about a squeaky fan… how I digress….

Every night as I was falling asleep in my bedroom, I could hear the “critters” inside the walls and roof. At first, they would wake me up. But after a while I got used to the sound of them leaving their homes that they had made in the cracks and crevices of our old house’s outer shell. I could hear the birds swooping and then landing to feed their young. I could hear the tiny chirps of baby birds feeding. I could hear the bats scratching, cooing, and squeaking. After a while, those little noises became a comfort. So now, whenever my fan begins to squeak it takes me back to the time when I was the queen of my imaginary castle… That is, until I’m awakened by my beloved violently ripping off the covers and smacking the fan until it stops squeaking, then proceeding to slam his body back in bed. I guess the squeaky fan does not bring him the same feelings of joy that it brings me. Perhaps I should buy a new fan?