Russell Ray

Brand spankin' new!

5 years ago, a little boy entered this world, was placed into my arms, and the journey of parenthood began for me and Justin.

Russell was born about 10 months after we were married.  A big surprise, but a welcome one.  I clearly remember the day I told Justin I was pregnant.  I had been “sick” with the “stomach flu.” It was the middle of May and Justin was out in the field spraying.  I don’t think I told him that I suspected pregnancy, but I did, and I had bought a home test.  It was positive.  I thought I’d be able to wait until he came home so I could tell him in person, but that lasted all of 5 minutes.  I called him up.  He wasn’t surprised.  He told me he knew it all along but hadn’t told me his suspicions either.

Super tired, super happy, me and my beautiful baby boy.

One of our first family pictures.

So, we were happy and nervous all at the same time.  I think back to those days and all the stupid things I did and worried about.  I remember fretting about the two alcoholic drinks I’d had at a wedding before I knew I was pregnant.  I did all sorts of exercises that were specific to pregnancy.  Cut caffeine.  I read book after book and followed them to a T.  Etc Etc Etc.

And then the long list of dumb things after Russell was born.  I drove myself nearly crazy, had him in the  room at night with us for 4 sleepless months, picking him up at every little stirring.  I was insistent on breastfeeding, he never latched on, and I was pumping every 2 hours around the clock for 6 months (yeah, seriously, I was insane), and never produced enough milk to even satisfy half his needs.  He had a strict bedtime routine, meal plan, and nap schedule, and if any one little thing got messed up, it was the end of the world (to me, not him).  Oh the struggles of first time parenthood–that first year of Russell’s life was definitely the hardest year I have ever had.

An early smile....awwwwwwww.

My little cheeseball baby boy.

But there were lots of joys too, and they made all the hard times worth it.  Seeing that very first smile, I would have sworn off sleep for the rest of my life to see that smile.  And his first giggle….if they could only invent a way to bottle that up.  His first step was an incredible moment, validation that maybe I really was doing all right as a parent. Although it didn’t seem like time was flying back then, today it seems like it was just a blink of an eye.

One of Russell's first times in the combine.

I was paranoid about taking Russell out in the tractor for the first time, but the fall season was upon us and work needed to be done.  Justin basically came into the house one day, and told me Russell was coming out to the tractor because I was needed in the field.  I hesitated, made excuses, and fussed.  Typical first-time parent anxiety.  But then, we got his carseat rigged up in the tractor with the help of some twine string.  And you know what?!  He LOVED it!! And so did I!!  I was so glad to be able to get out of the house and help on the farm, and take my baby along with!  I forgave, and even thanked, Justin for insisting we join him in the field.

He's about a year old here....this picture pulls at my heart.

He's right around Hazel's age in this pic. I love comparing pics of my kids side by side when they are at the same age.

Russell grew into an adorable little toddler who quickly developed an interest in letters, colors, and tractors.  We spent hours reading books and farming on our knees with him. (Still do!)  He has always been incredibly smart, especially when it came to discipline, he could (and still does) read his mom and dad like a book.  I do believe he has trained us just as much as we have trained him.  He knows exactly where the line is, and exactly how far he can cross it before he’s in big trouble.

Russell thrives on praise, and loves to please.  Now that he’s older it is so fun to watch him develop some independence, self-discipline,  and critical thinking.  His memory is sharp as a tack, and he can often recall situations I have long forgotten.  It comes in pretty handy, I give him a list of what we need from town, and he’ll remember all of it.

A farm boy through and through...he requested this cake for his 5th birthday. Yes, it has "manure" on it!

He is a farm boy without a doubt.  Last summer we implemented an “allowance” for him.  Every day he comes and helps on the farm, he gets $1.  He can’t do much yet, but he does come in handy for opening gates for the feedwagon tractor.  We have also trained him how to shut off the PTO and run the hydraulic levers on the tractor, which is nice for when we have to unload feed onto a conveyor belt and can’t be in two places at once.  He watches the feed coming out and will shut it off if a problem happens to develop, all from the safety of a nice warm tractor cab, while mom or dad stands out in the cold making sure the conveyors keep running properly.  He just puffs up with pride whenever he is given a “job” to do.  (And so do mom and dad!)

My little boy, really isn’t so little anymore.  The last five years have flown by, and have been a wonderful chapter in our lives.  I can’t help but look forward to the next 5 years, and what we will be thinking when we have a 10 year old in the house!!

Here is is lovin on baby Lucy.

Russell is a great big brother to his sisters.

He especially loves Hazel.

My big little boy, and his sisters, are all growing up so fast!!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Corinne on January 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I love your stories so much. I think you should put a portfolio together and offer it to a large newspaper. There’s no reason you couldn’t have your own column!

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