Little Spouse on the Prairie

Airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. CST (During Weekend Edition)

Each week, Valerie Brown-Kuchera brings us Little Spouse on the Prairie, the show where she pokes affectionate fun at her husband, her kids, her home and her rural life, even though she loves them all fiercely.

Little Spouse on the Prairie airs at this same time each week. It is a production of High Plains Public Radio. Written and voiced by Valerie Brown-Kuchera, with music by Kelly Werts, and produced by Ron Rohlf, with assistance from Angie Haflich.

More Little Spouse on the Prairie episodes can be found online at hppr.org.

Want to learn more about the show? Hear her interview with Jenny Inzerillo on High Plains Morning!

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I’m starting out today with a shout out to the Kansas City musician, Kelly Werts, who composed the theme song for this show, “The Little House Rag.”  I’d like to thank Kelly for writing such a catchy little ditty.  You can hear more of his folksy music at wertsmusic.com. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Recently, I began to notice that purveyors of print material and packaging designers have started using much smaller fonts than they used to.  This annoyed me, as any consumer study will clearly show that people don’t like to have to squint to make out instructions, recipes, and article content.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We’ve been talking about fears the last couple of weeks.   I’ve shared some of the phobias my teenager and my middle-schooler have inherited from their mother, who has more than enough to go around.  I’d be remiss if I left out my littlest child, Clementine.  I would say the jury is still out on her, since she’s only five.  But that wouldn’t be true.  I don’t think she fears a single thing. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week, I talked about how maternal fears impact offspring, even when those children haven’t been specifically conditioned to be afraid.  It’s almost as if they absorb their mother’s abject terror or ingest it in her breast milk.  It’s funny -- I’m not afraid of this program -- but they seem to be.  I would have no idea where they picked up that fear.  Surely their stepdad doesn’t fear it. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

 

I have many fears - probably more than most people, I’m afraid.  Do I have more than most?  I do, don’t I?  I hope my kids don’t inherit this flaw.  They will.  Won’t they? 

Hey, my anxiety is justified!  Research shows children really do inherit phobias from their mothers. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week, High Plains listeners got an analogy about how weight gain is essentially like compound interest – as you add kids, you actually have more surface space upon which to pack the pounds, which grows your bottom line more quickly.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

One of the lessons we’ve been learning through this long, long, long, long, loooooooong time at home is the difference between assertive, passive aggressive, and flat out aggressive. When a person is cooped up with family 24 hours per day for months on end, one hopes the best and noblest of intentions may rise to the top. A person’s mettle – a deep and abiding strength of character – could manifest. Trying circumstances should bring out a sense of community and make us all truly appreciate our loved ones at a visceral level. Or not.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

In the first weeks of what I assumed would be a month-long shut-down, I was determined to be one of those “use-the-pandemic-to-enrich-my-life types.” I firmly committed to transfer all of my teaching to an engaging online platform, write the best essays ever in my PhD program classes, read meaningful books to expand my horizons, build unforgettable family experiences (and document those experiences in a colorful scrapbook), and do some household projects that we had been putting off.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I remember a time early in my teaching career – this would have been in the early 1990s – when a particularly virulent strain of flu shut down our local schools for over a week. I have fond recollections of that bonus time. Since I hadn’t gotten sick, I caught up on projects, cooked special meals, and wrote letters to my grandparents and friends. Back then, I didn’t have children.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I’m prefacing today’s sketch, “Fearful Symmetry,” with a couple of disclaimers.  First, I am an incredibly lucky person.  I understand that to be able to poke fun at minor everyday problems is a luxury few people are allowed.  And second, in this episode, names have been changed to protect the asymmetrical.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I saw this meme last week: “During childbirth, a woman’s pain is so intense that she can almost imagine what it’s like when a man has a cold.”  I am very, very lucky.  Joel is rarely if ever, sick, and when he is, he actually retains most of his humanity.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I think I’m losing my romantic touch. The other evening I was attempting to flirt with Joel, and I said, “Hey baby, can you do that thing I love so much?”

He looked up from his newspaper and replied, “The dishes or the laundry?”

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Joel’s a saver to the point that he will continue to wear shoes until they are not much more than a few strips of worn leather clinging to a sole.  I’m as budget-conscious as the next person, but when the bottoms of Joel’s work shoes are slicker than snot on a doorknob, as a friend of mine used to say, the hospital bills when he falls off a roof he’s shingling outweigh the cost of a new pair of shoes.  Besides, I’m not a fan of seeing his big hairy hammer-toes any more than I have to.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I don’t like to cook.  I’m so glad there are people in the world that view cooking as an art because I do love to eat.  My husband, given the opportunity, would enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.  Joel loves to peruse cookbooks and magazines, and about every few months, he grandly announces that he’s going to start making one new recipe per week.  Not only that, he says going to eat healthier.  I guess along with the butter and syrup, he’s going to start putting fruit on his pancakes.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Nickers

May 16, 2020
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I live among thieves.  My teenaged daughter, despite regularly commenting on the utter hopelessness of my “old lady” wardrobe, sneaks into my dressing room and pilfers mascara, face cream, and hair accessories. Don’t even get me started on the criminal behavior that she exhibits now that she wears my shoe size.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I never camped out as a kid.  My parents weren’t campers.  We didn’t even own a tent.  At the time, I felt righteously indignant.  What kind of childhood doesn’t include sleeping in a tent at the lake?  I swore, when I grew up and had kids of my own, I would never, ever, ever, put them through the human rights violation of NOT camping. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

To be honest, I may put on a show of indignation about my husband’s old-fashioned ways, but secretly, I am glad that Joel feels it is a “man’s job” to gas up the car, change the oil, and complete basic maintenance on our vehicles in preparation for family vacations.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Other men swear they will never drive a minivan.  Other men, as they add children to their lives, progress from a tough, extended-cab truck on to a four-wheel-drive SUV before succumbing to the humiliation of the dreaded van.   Other men, especially out here on the plains, where men are men and trucks are trucks, sure as hell don’t need some foreign-made vehicle parked in the garage.  Not my Joel.  Joel has harbored an unfulfilled longing for a minivan since he was in his early twenties.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have trouble with pronouns in our house.  Oh, we are past the pronoun – verb agreement issues that plagued our early courtship.  Once I explained to Joel that I couldn’t, in good conscience, allow him to continue to say, “He don’t,” and “we was,” he eagerly eradicated those problems.  It’s only when he’s engaged in a particularly virulent argument that he regresses.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have trouble with pronouns in our house.  Oh, we are past the pronoun – verb agreement issues that plagued our early courtship.  Once I explained to Joel that I couldn’t, in good conscience, allow him to continue to say, “He don’t,” and “we was,” he eagerly eradicated those problems.  It’s only when he’s engaged in a particularly virulent argument that he regresses.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Several years ago, my husband went through a beef jerky stage.  Actually, it was more of a preserved meat stage, because he didn’t just eat beef, and he didn’t just eat jerky.   We had beef sticks, horseradish salami, summer sausage, pepperoni, turkey bites, steak strips, garlic infused pemmican, hot and spicy links, Slim Jims, barbecued bacon chunks, jalapeno pickled sausages, chili-mango pork nuggets.  Open our snack cupboard and you’d see the equivalent of Bubba Gump’s shrimp products in dried flesh in there.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Teenagers can level a person, especially if that person happens to be their mother. Any time I start feeling a little self-assured, a bit smug, or even relieved that I made a halfway decent parenting choice, I can count on one of my teenagers to pull the smug rug right out from under me.

Courtesy

Several years ago, my husband went through a beef jerky stage.  Actually, it was more of a preserved meat stage, because he didn’t just eat beef, and he didn’t just eat jerky.  

We had beef sticks, horseradish salami, summer sausage, pepperoni, turkey bites, steak strips, garlic infused pemmican, hot and spicy links, Slim Jims, barbecued bacon chunks, jalapeno pickled sausages, chili-mango pork nuggets. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

My son recently had a birthday. Dashiell, a big teenager, had broken three cheap bikes within the last year and a half by taking them on rough terrain and popping wheelies. And now, he was without a functioning bike again. I felt it was pointless to get the kid yet another inexpensive bicycle made for a small person, so all his parents, stepparents, and grandparents went together to buy him an entry-level mountain bike.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Recently, I underwent a process called “biometric screening.” This process serves as a way to identify health risks and plan preventative actions. Also, it is a way for my insurance company to monitor the overall health of the population it serves. And third, it scares me healthy for a few months following the tests. A side effect is the humiliation I feel during the whole rigamarole.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I come from a long line of jokesters. I may be the only person in my direct line who did not inherit the desire to prank the people I love. In fact, my family members tell me that their desire to play tricks on me is evidence of their deep and abiding care for me. Nevertheless, I don’t get too tickled when my family members decide it’s time to dust off the ol’ squirting lapel flower just about the time I have my hair styled to perfection.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I believe every family has its mysteries. Every clan has the old, unanswered questions like, “Whatever happened to Granddad’s ’57 Chevy?” and “Who ended up with Grandma’s peacock brooch?” and “What is the secret ingredient in Aunt Carol’s rhubarb pie?”

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Due to a technical glitch, Muddin' did not air on Jan. 26, 2020. So HPPR is airing it this week. Enjoy!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to spend more active time outdoors. It’s hard to get a good start on a resolution like this because: January. High plains. Wind chill. Need I say more?

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

A few Tuesdays ago, I noticed Joel limping a bit, dragging his right leg. I asked him what was the matter. “Knee’s a little sore. Don’t know what I did,” was his response.

“Maybe you should rest it,” I suggested. “Do you need some ice?”

“No, I don’t need ice. Good grief. Geesh. You think I’m a weakling?” he grumped.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

One evening, Joel asked if he should make two packages of cheese sauce for our hot, buttery pretzels. I said, “No. One should do. If we run low, we can always make another one.”

When we sat down to eat, a gigantic bowl of cheese sauce was sitting on the table. “This is only one package of cheese sauce?” I asked. I was impressed with the plentitude.

“No. That’s three. You said we needed another one.”

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