Monday, December 30, 2013

Joy Gets Nosy

As a year draws to a close, all the radio shows, TV shows, and magazines are coming up with year in reviews.  I love them.  I love that "Oh, yeah!  I forgot about that!" feeling.  I love to rehash the stories.  I love to be reminded of the good things that happened.  And while some things were quite difficult and painful to remember, I like to look back at them, too.  Those experiences changed us, gave us new perspective, taught us things, and provided blessings we couldn't have imagined.

Joy of I Can Say Mama fame, as well as TToT co-host, had a "blogiversary" back in November.  Back then, she announced she would be doing a wrap-up the year blog hop to celebrate.  She came up with quite a list of questions and asked us to join her in answering them.  Of course I'll join!

Joy @ i can say mama: 2013 Wrap up

Gained or lost weight?
Well, let's just start with a negative, shall we?  For the first time in my life, I have gained for no good reason.  The only other times I've gained weight in my life were during my freshman year of college (not the usual frosh 15, but the I'm lifting weights and working harder than I've ever worked muscle-building 15) and the years I was pregnant.  I've gained because I don't move as much as I used to.  More on this later in the wrap up.

Predominant feeling in 2013?
Gratefulness.  I have a good life.  There are snafus, but thus far, they are not so big in the grand scheme of things.  Many friends suffered the loss of loved ones this year, and walking through their grief with them only strengthened my appreciation for all that I have.

Predominant feeling for 2014?
I hope to continue to be grateful, and I want to add relaxed to it.  I can get mighty worked up when we are busy, and we are busy a lot.  I really want to stay relaxed and enjoy my husband, my kids, and our life together.

Something you did for the first time in 2013?
So many things.  I gave some pigs shots in the neck.  I built a fence.  I walked into a high school as the parent of a high school student.   I had an essay published in a for real book.  (It's on my sidebar.)  I learned how to post videos to youtube and put them in a post.

Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause?
Go to a doctor appointment.  I hadn't been to my ob/gyn since giving birth to Cuckoo four years ago.  Not even for the 6 week checkup after he was born.  I am supposed to get my blood checked every year to make sure my platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells are behaving, but it's been two years since I've done that.  And, I had never had a mammogram, which is appalling, since my mom has had cervical cancer and my grandma died of colon cancer.  This year, I went to the gynecologist and had a mammogram.  Still need to get a blood test, but I need to find a new doctor first.  Mine changed to a specialty.

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?
Get my memory back.  As a friend says, "My nouns were stolen."  They haven't been returned.

Word of the year?
Pants.  I have spent many, many hours searching for pants for kids who are hitting puberty and growing taller by the second.  "I need new pants" has become a sentence I loathe.  Almost as much as I loathed the "I need new shoes" of last year.  (Feet grow longer before the kids grow taller.)

City of the year?
Each year we take a week-long vacation with our good friends (this was year 10!) at a different location.  This year we had a marvelous time in South Haven, MI.  Going to swim at the lake is just like going to the ocean, but without the salt water.

Hair longer or shorter?
I only get my hair cut once or twice a year, so really short, then really long.  Every year.

More or less money spent?
More.  With 6 growing kids, that will be the trend for many years I'm afraid.

Highest mobile phone bill?
They are all the same.  We have unlimited text and calling, and we never go over our data limit.

Hospital stays?
none, but we did have a record number of bone breaks.

(Fallen) In love?
With my husband more and more every day.  (I know that's sappy, but it's true.)

Most called person?
My mom.

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
Turken and I went on a gorgeous trip to Hilton Head for his first trip sans siblings.

What did you spend most of your time with?
My van, followed closely by laundry.

Song of the year?
As much as I hate to say it, "What Does the Fox Say?"  We have sung it and its parody "What does the farmer say?" millions of times.  We even wrote and filmed our own parody.  One of these days, we'll get it put together and post it for you.

Book of the year?
You mean besides the one I was in?  That one there on my sidebar?  :)
I read way too many books to pick just one, but I did discover an author this year that I have really liked.  I have read three of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books in a row, and I've liked each one equally.

TV show/movie of the year?
It was the year we introduced the big kids to some of our favorite movies.  "The Sound of Music", "The Jerk" (edited) and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation".  Good times.

Insight of the year?
In order to have friends, I need to act like one.

Three things you totally could have done without?
(We're calling it) Lupus flares, snow, and the multitude of injuries our family experienced

Most beautiful event?
I know this is going to sound odd, but a funeral I attended for the father of our close friends.  People talked about it for weeks, saying it was the most wonderful funeral they had ever attended.  And they hadn't even gone to the funeral meal, where it got even better.  It actually inspired me to make some changes in my life.

More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2013? 
I started to write a deep, philosophical answer, but then I checked Joy's, and she actually meant my eyes.  As far as I know, I'm still 20/20.  Except I have noticed that in low light conditions, I find it very difficult to read.

The most dangerous thing you did?
Stick needles in the necks of live pigs.  Big needles, crazy pigs in the throes of temper tantrums, and I are one bad combination.

The most expensive thing you bought?
We had our kitchen remodeled and added a mud room.  By far the most expensive thing we've EVER bought, besides our house.

The most delicious meal or food you ate?
Basically, any meal I didn't have to make.

The best party?
I like just about any party, but the best ones are usually Thanksgiving (with 52 people, it's a party.), New Years at our friends' house, and Labor Day at our house.

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
I desperately want a friend of mine to find it in her heart to forgive.  I hate what it does to her to be so angry and bitter for so many years.  Things came to a head this year with this person, and she just can't see how forgiveness is an option.  Yet.  I won't give up on her.

The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?
I haven't given them yet, as we haven't had our meeting, but I will on Tuesday.  I specially picked Christmas ornaments for the ladies of my book club.  Each of them has gone through some rough times this year (some much more than rough) and I wanted to give them an ornament dealing with their year and a note as to why I chose it.

The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
The surprise ones.  Surprise packages from around the world, a birthday present which took some extra thought and time to get together.  I know it sounds odd, but the iPad mini COW got for me.  It's not that he got an iPad for me, but the reason why he gave it to me.  He knows I get thrown off the computer frequently by kids who need to do homework, and he wanted a way for me to do blog "stuff" whenever I want.  He got the mini instead of a normal size, because he was worried the normal one would cause too much pain to hold for my Lupusy hands and wrists.  He even had it engraved on the back.  "Christine...In the Coop".

The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
"I love you."  From my mom and dad.  While I have always known they love me, completely and unconditionally, it is only fairly recently that they've been saying it to me when we talk on the phone.  They both started doing it, and it makes me happy every time.

The most beautiful sentence you said to someone? 
"I'm praying for you."  Many of my friends have had major tragedies and sorrowful things happen this year.  There have been scary medical things and times of deep depressions they've had to deal with.  I have been much better about letting friends know I am praying for them.

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
Our book club gets together with the husbands for a super fun party.  It always includes games.  Last year we played The Newlywed Game.  We had an emcee and everything.  I have some hysterical friends.

What will you have for dinner?
Who knows.  It's a pitch-in.

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?
I'll most likely be the designated driver, so a glass of water for me.

Will you ignite any fireworks? 
- I think there are states in the US where it is not allowed to ignite private fireworks on New Year's Eve so for all of you who are not allowed (or other countries where this is not allowed): What is a special tradition you normally do on New Year's Eve every year? Will you do it this year, too?
No, no fireworks.  We never really had a tradition.  Before the book club parties, when the kids were little, we didn't even stay up for midnight.  A few years we hosted a party for the families in the neighborhood.  We counted down and did the celebrating early, to coincide with another country (with food from that country even) so the kids could all get to bed at a semi-decent hour well before midnight.  Once we moved to the farm, though, we stopped having the parties.

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous?
Comfy, with a bit of glam thrown in.  Think disco ball-type shoes.

Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014? 
I don't make resolutions just because we're entering a new year.  I make them whenever I see I need to make them.  Partway through 2013, I decided I needed to be a better friend, so I've made changes to improve.  As for 2014, I have to do something about my health.  I don't know if I'm having trouble because I'm out of shape or because the Lupus is kicking up a notch.  I'm always hesitant to work out or even play active things with the kids much, because if I do too much or a flare kicks in, I will be in pain and useless by the end of the day.  But by the end of the day, the thought of doing anything active is completely unappealing.  I have to figure this out, though.  I've gained 10 pounds in just a few months and I feel like crap.

What are your wishes for the new year?
For all my friends who have suffered so much this year to have a wonderful, peaceful, hope-filled new year.

In one word: 2013 was...
Lively.  As usual.

What were some highlights of your year?  I know Joy would love for you to join in with her wrap up!  Or you can tell me in the comments.  I love a good comment.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Belated Merry Christmas and a TToT

I just spent too much of my life debating whether that should be "Merry Belated Christmas" or "A Belated Merry Christmas".   I'm going with the dictionary and declaring once and for all that Hallmark is wrong when it says "Happy Belated Birthday" on all of its tardy cards.

I'm really on my own this week.  While I was out of town, Lizzi, with some nudging, decided to do a TToT as a year-end roundup.  I already had this planned as a Christmas roundup TToT.  You may do either one or none, seeing as how we are on break and all.  The secret rules say you can be thankful for whatever the heck you want.  However, you do have to go the extra mile and make it twelve.  Thankfully, twelve starts with T just like ten, so we don't have to change the name from TToT.  (That's not even one of my 12!)

1.  I am thankful that Cuckoo is healing nicely.  We were in Kentucky with my family on Saturday, and Cuckoo took a nasty fall out of a toy wagon my niece was pulling.  He landed on the tile kitchen floor.  Both he and I were covered in blood from his split lip.  The next morning, his lip and nose were completely swollen, there was an ugly scab/loose skin on his upper lip, and the bridge of his nose was a horrible shade of black and blue.  Six days out, his lip is back to normal, and there is just a bit of green tinge on his nose.

2.  I am thankful for a manageable amount of water in our basement.  We were delayed in coming home on Saturday because of a major thunderstorm that went through Kentucky and Indiana.  (It actually caused a lot of damage at my brother's farm.)  When we finally got to our street a little after midnight, we found it to be completely under a rushing river of water. We had to back up and take a different route to our driveway.  Our biggest concern was our basement. If the water gets too high, it kills our furnace and water heater.  We found this when we finally got into our house:

A few inches to spare.  We flipped the switch to the sump pump, and all was well.  Still wet, but not dire.

3.  I am thankful that COW came home from work early on Monday and had time to help the kids clean up the basement while I packed.  The floor was covered in craft supplies and dress up clothes and toys.  Between the melting snow and the 5 inches of rain predicted to fall, we knew there was a good possibility of a flooded basement. This would have been a disaster of epic proportions if not for the cleaning.

4.  I am thankful for our kids' naivete.  Every single Christmas since Phoenix was born, Santa has come to our house before Christmas.  There isn't a chance in this world that we are going to drag all of their gifts to Ohio (where we have spent every Christmas) for Christmas morning.  Not once have the kids balked at the idea.  Probably because they get their gifts before all of their friends.  I'm going to deny the probability of them balking if we said Santa came to our house after Christmas.

5.  I am thankful for traditions.  When I was growing up, my dad took a photo of all of us kids on the steps before coming downstairs to open our gifts (or find our Easter baskets).  We have continued the tradition with our own kids.

Ignore the missing piece of wallpaper.   One of the little boys decided he didn't like it one day a couple of years ago.  We'll get to taking the rest down one of these days.  Can you tell Cuckoo looks a little different?  A bit fuller in the face?

6.  I am thankful for our kids' delight in opening the gifts they receive from each other.  Every single year, every single child chooses to open the gifts from their siblings before they open the ones from us.  We never told them to.  They never discussed it.  They know that their big gift is from us, yet they are excited to open the gifts their siblings purchased from the Dollar Store.

I should have made Cuckoo wear the gift he gave to Star.  Star was smiling right before and right after this was taken.  He is merely posing for the camera.

6.  I am thankful that all of the kids were thrilled with the gifts we got them.  I knew Giant would be, as he gave us a specific list.  (Spin toothbrush, gloves he can wear while playing soccer, and an alarm clock to which he can hook up his iPod.  (That's another thankful.  Simple gift requests.)  Mostly, they don't have lists and we have to go in blind.  They were all happy, which makes me happy.

Each kid gets three gifts, and one of the gifts is a book.

You can kinda see the swollen lip in this photo.  He really liked the looks of his gift.
7.  I am thankful my kids don't know the phrase "cock fight" and don't know how to bet on them.   That gift Cuckoo is so excited about is a "jump-o-lene".  It took us two days to blow it up, each of the big kids, COW, and I taking turns with the pump.  As soon as I gave him the green light, Cuckoo was in it trying to jump.  It wasn't all that much fun.  And then Turken got in there with him.  I said, "Well, it's a great place to safely wrestle."  Before the "tle" was out of my mouth, Cuckoo was taking Turken out.  Game on.  The big kids circled them, cheering and talking smack within seconds.  It went on and on and on.  Roosters don't fight each other this much.

8.  I am thankful for the Bejeweled machine COW gave me for Christmas.  OK, he gave me an iPad mini, but so far, it has been used almost exclusively to play Bejeweled.  It's ridiculous, really.  The entire time I've been typing this post, COW has been sitting next to me, making groaning sounds and complaining, "I didn't do anything wrong!  How can I not have any more moves?"  Don't think he's the only one, though.  I spent a good portion of the 6 hour drive to and from Ohio playing, and Giant managed to get the highest score so far.  Turken is actually really good at it.  The only reason Star isn't playing is because he got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and has been playing Candy Crush instead.  Man, these games are addictive!

8b.  I am thankful for a husband who is happy with any gift I get him.  I got an iPad from him.  He got a new Purdue sweatshirt from me.  And I lost the annual funny boxers he always gets in his stocking.  I still haven't found them.

9.  I am thankful for time spent with grandparents.  I always enjoy going home to see my grandma and play cards with her, even if she accuses me of lying when she starts losing too badly.  (That was for you, Dad.  Don't you dare tell her I wrote that!)  The five biggest kids spent lots of time playing cards with COW's mom and going tubing with her the day after Christmas.  (Tubing:  sitting on an inner tube while flying down a mountain of snow).  While they were all tubing, Cuckoo and I got to have a lovely afternoon with my dad.

10.  I am thankful for great museums which both adults and kids can enjoy.  Canton has so many things to do.  Besides being the home of the NFL Football Hall of Fame, it is the birthplace of President McKinley.  There is a huge park and monument where he is buried, as well as a history/science museum.  My dad, Cuckoo, and I spent several hours having a great time at the museum.

A shot of air is coming up through the hole to make the ball hover/dance in midair.  There were so many fun, hands-on activities!

In the history part of the museum, there is an area where they replicated a street in Canton from the early 1900s.  This is in the fire station.  Cuckoo was so pleased to be able to go down the pole all by himself.

11.  I am thankful to have grown up in a historical city with a policeman father who also grew up there and loves history.  After growing up in Canton, and being a policeman for 30 years, my dad knows just about every nook and cranny in the city.  And he has so, so many stories about it.  While going through the replicated city street, he told me things I didn't know.  For example, at the toy store, he told me my great-grandma made tops at that store before marrying my great-grandpa.  There was a handful of tops on display, and it's quite possible she made them.

12.  I am thankful for ice cream, as always, but especially ice cream at a shop from the early 1900s after a mini-tour of Canton with my dad.  Those old shops always have the best tasting ice cream, and lots of it!

This was the child's portion, which was smaller than my "small" dish.

There you have it.  Twelve things of Christmastime Thankful.  I would love to hear about the things for which you are thankful this week.  Tell me in the comments or link up your own post!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

Friday, December 20, 2013

TToT, No Number, Because We're On a Break. Remember?

All day Friday, I had the feeling I was missing something.  This whole "take a break" from the Ten Things of Thankful just didn't feel right.  I was mentally keeping track all week of the things that made me smile this week, but I had nothing to do with them.  There was no email from Lizzi, giving us the HTML to put into our posts this weekend.  There was no banter.  No bickering.  No jokes flying between the co-hosts.

The weekend just didn't feel like the weekend.

I spoke with Lizzi a bit this evening, and told her I missed it.  I told her I was going to write one anyway, just because.

Before I could say, "I am thankful for", she was messaging me, telling me to reread her post for today.

Sweet lady that she is, she made up a new button.  It's the "Gone Renegade"  TToT!  No co-hosts.  Just a linkup for anyone who feels like I do, missing the writing of my gratefuls this week.

Ten Things of Thankful

1.  I am thankful for the stack of gifts under the tree, which means my Christmas shopping is complete!  I can sit back and relax for the rest of this Advent and Christmas season.

2.  I am thankful for some fantastically warm weather that blew in today.  Sure, it's coming with so much rain I could use some webbed feet, but rain isn't snow.  (We are under a flood watch for the next two days.  If this were snow, we'd be snowed in for a week.)  And warm weather melts ice.  The first thing Cuckoo said this morning was, "The snow is all gone!"  Yes, Baby, praise the Lord, the snow is gone.

3.  I am over the moon thankful that I didn't have to back into the driveway this morning.  The whole driving backwards on an ice slide of death in the dark was getting really old.  Really, really old.  Today, I easily drove up and down the driveway going forward.

4.  I am thankful for helpful, kind teachers.  The half-day kindergarteners stayed all day today, since there was an early dismissal for the entire school, and it was Christmas party day.  That meant Turken got to pack a lunch.  He was extremely nervous about having to buy milk.  As in crying his full head off when I mentioned it this morning.  I told him Buttercup would show him how to do it before school.  He started to cry as she walked him through it this morning, and the preschool teacher noticed.  She calmed him by saying she would be eating in the lunchroom that day and would be happy to help him get his milk at lunch time.  He felt much better and was able to get his milk at lunch.

5.  I am thankful for Phoenix's learned study habits.  The boy has had to learn some seriously hard lessons this year, but he has learned.  He had finals this week, and did extremely well on all of them.  He is ending the semester on a positive note, and we're hoping the second semester will be much better for him.

6.  I am thankful for Christmas break.  Really, for any break from school.  We can do whatever we want whenever we want.  It makes me so happy.

7.  I am thankful for gigantic box stores like Meijer.  I do most of my Christmas shopping in smaller, specialized stores, but some things are better purchased at Meijer.  Stocking stuffers and generic things like cardstock are cheaper here.  I spent 2 hours there this afternoon finishing up all the last minute little things for this weekend.

8.  I am thankful for Christmas music.  It's all I've been listening to since Thanksgiving, and I have gotten the kids to love it, too.  Even when the music isn't on, Cuckoo, Turken, Giant, and Star can be counted on to be singing carols a capella.  Loud and sometimes lyrically correct.

9.  I am thankful for the Dollar Store.  We used to let the kids buy gifts for each other at the school's Christmas store put on by the PTO.  Unfortunately, they raised the price, and I just didn't want to keep spending that much money for stuff we can get at the dollar store.  It is so fun (and funny) to see the kids be all stealth-like through the store, making sure no one sees the gifts going into their baskets.  I especially like watching the little boys.  When one picks something up, I always ask who it is for and why he's picking it.  There is always a good, thoughtful reason for each purchase.  For example, when we first walked in the store, Cuckoo started straight for the sunglasses display, saying "I know what I'm going to get for you!" I have been wearing broken glasses for two weeks now.  One of the arms is completely gone, so the sunglasses sit completely crooked in all directions.  It annoys me to no end, but I haven't said much about them.  Cuckoo knew exactly what to buy for me.  (Unfortunately, I stopped him at the time, trying to keep the illusion of a surprise.  By the time Phoenix took Cuckoo to pick out my gift, Cuckoo had forgotten what he was going to get me.  I'm pretty sure I'm getting a fake flower instead.)

10.  I am thankful for preschoolers.  I only work in the preschool classroom for two hours a week, but those kids are so sweet.  I love having conversations with them as we work on the letter each week.  As I left on Tuesday, I was knocked over by the force of the hugs and wishes of a Merry Christmas.  I carried a boatload of goodies, as many of the kids had brought Christmas presents for me.  I don't know what I will be doing next year, but I'm glad to have the chance to work with these cute little people this year.

Feel free to tell me what made you happy this week!

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Longest, Most Obnoxious Christmas Letters Come from Our House

As I told you last year, ever since we moved to the farm, we've been sending out 4-page, themed Christmas letters.   I write it, send it, and cross my fingers, hoping people find it funny.
Thirty hours after dropping this year's cards in the mailbox, I received an email from a friend.  "I laughed my ass off through out your circus of a year! Great Job!"

With that, I'm comfortable sharing it with you all.


The 12 Months of This Year
Sung to The 12 Days of Christmas (Yes, we expect you to sing!)
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 2 kids in new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 3 scary bats, 2 kids in new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 8 needles in pigs, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 9 livestock breakouts, 8 needles in pigs, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 10 dead creatures, 9 livestock breakouts, 8 needles in pigs, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 11 dozen soccer games, 10 dead creatures, 9 livestock breakouts, 8 needles in pigs, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.
In the 12 months of this year, fate did give to us, 12 funny comments, 11 dozen soccer games, 10 dead creatures, 9 livestock breakouts, 8 needles in pigs, 7 ortho visits, 6 messy cubbies, 5 baby turkeys, 4 shattered panes, 3 wild bats, 2 new schools, and a kid barfing in the front of church.

The Explanations
A kid barfing in the front of church:  That would be Cuckoo.  We were sitting in the 4th pew from the front.  During the first reading, he made a horrible coughing sound, and then let it fly.  Fortunately, only a few drops hit Star.  The rest went down the sleeve of the coat Turken was holding on his lap and onto the floor.  COW ran with the boy and left me to clean the mess up.  I will forever be grateful to the dozen or so elderly ladies who immediately started throwing hundreds of Kleenex at me. 
Side note:  Apparently, puking is a normal occurrence at the kids’ weekly all-school Masses.  They didn’t think puke merited a coveted spot in the Christmas letter.  To make their point, they regaled me with examples, such as the time a boy tried to catch his puke in his shirt to contain the mess.  Since I write the letter, and I was traumatized by this particular episode of puking, the puke stayed.  I promise I won’t say “puke” again in this publication.

2 kids in new schools:  Turken is in kindergarten, and Phoenix is in high school.  Turken is learning sight words, and Phoenix is learning how to turn homework in on time.  Turken started playing rec soccer, and Phoenix started playing high school soccer.  Turken grew 2 inches to be a tad above average in height, and Phoenix grew 6 inches to be one of the tallest kids in his class.  Turken’s parents are old as dirt compared to his classmates’ parents, and Phoenix’s parents are young whippersnappers compared to his classmates’ parents.  Turken spends little time with his friends outside of school, while Phoenix’s friends’ families are invited to his house all the time.

3 scary bats:  I am unhappy to report that bats have become so common inside of our house, that we don’t even get excited about them anymore.  (When I say “we” I mean the kids and me.  COW still loses his gourd a bit.)  Of the three bats in the house, we can’t remember the details of one.  One is memorable, as we found it in the cushion of the chair in our family room.  COW threw something over it, and then pushed the entire chair out the front door.  He then hid behind the chair and swung blindly at the bat, hoping to fling it out into the dark.  I simply laughed at him and took photos.  The other bat was in the big boys’ room.  They were all in bed (Buttercup on their floor, since houseguests were in her room), falling asleep, when it started circling above their heads.  Star and Buttercup calmly came downstairs to tell us, Phoenix just stayed in bed and watched it, and Giant slept through it all.  COW stayed in the safety of the hallway, while I caught it with a butterfly net. 

4 shattered panes:  The boys are getting bigger, and people keep giving them indoor basketballs and nets.  Five boys + indoor basketball games + 150 year old windows = a mother crying in the corner from all of the broken glass scattered about her house.  And don’t think they are limiting the damage to windows.  Two lights have been broken, too.  For the love of all that is holy, if you ever give one of my kids an indoor game that is normally an outdoor game, I will hunt you down and bring my boys with me.  They’ll be playing at your house. 

5 baby turkeys:  A new animal at the farm this year!  No, they weren’t being raised for our Thanksgiving dinner, and no, we didn’t get them on purpose.  They just showed up crossing our driveway one day.  We saw them frequently throughout the summer wandering around the yard.  I got a little nervous when it was time to mow, afraid I would scare the mom and she would come after me.  (I hear wild turkeys can cause some serious damage.)  I kid you not, the next thought I had was, “Well, if she does attack me, I’ll have something good to write in the Christmas card!”  I do believe the stress of coming up with a good Christmas card each year is getting to me.

6 messy cubbies:  In January, our kitchen and mud room renovation was completed.  All of the shoes, backpacks, crayons and coloring books, chicken feathers and bedding, overflowing recycling bins, outside toys no one plays with, coats and snowpants no one wears, flashlights that don’t work, an avalanche of plastic grocery bags, canning supplies used once a year, serving plates/containers we never use, pencil sharpener that never gets emptied, dog brushes we bought when we couldn’t remember where we put the old one until after we bought the new one, dog treats, broom no one uses, boots no one wears, hats, scarves, and mate-less gloves are living peacefully in our mudroom, making me one happy mom.

7 Ortho visits*Before 2013, not one person in our family had ever had an x-ray to check for a broken bone.  In 2013, we’ve had a broken foot (COW), a broken nose (Giant), a broken finger (Buttercup), a badly sprained ankle (me), a broken and shifted-off-alignment thumb, necessitating an extremely painful realignment and cast (Giant), and a broken toe (Buttercup).   We now have two rules in the house.  1.  Never, ever challenge an opponent on any field or court.  Never, ever.  In any sport.  2.  Regardless of how much pain you are in, you will wait until OrthoIndy is open to get that injury checked by a doctor, even if it means waiting a day or two.  (We found out the hard way that the ER costs ten times more than the OrthoIndy walk-in clinic.)

8 needles in pigs:  Our pigs got sick.  One was really sick.  There was diarrhea and lack of eating and low energy.  I couldn’t get a vet to test a fecal sample (even after I bagged (what I hoped was) it (you know, because of diarrhea and all the mud in the pen) and drove it to the vet’s office) or come out to look at the pigs, so I called my sister-in-law, Emily.  She is a trained vet tech.  This is what she told me to do:
Go to Tractor Supply and buy LA200 (an antibiotic), a 12cc syringe, and a 16 gauge, 1 in. needle.  Actually, buy lots of needles. One of you will need to sit on the pig to hold it down.  The one giving the shot should sit on its head. Because you eat the pigs, you have to put the shot in a place where you won't be eating the meat, which is in his neck.  Below the ear, between his jowl and shoulder. The pig will struggle, and when you stick it, he will really start kicking.  That's why I had you buy extra needles.  Since this is your first time, you will probably break a few off.  Good luck.  Keep me posted. 
The only thought I had after this conversation was, “Emily has lost her freakin’ mind!”  And I couldn’t shake the vision of an acupunctured pig running around the pen.  In the end, one pig died, and three pigs got their shots, but only because Emily jumped in her car and came to the rescue.  (COW and I had no idea how to actually contain the pigs in order to give them the shots.) Since COW was at work, she was in charge of grabbing each pig by the neck with a rope, holding on for dear life as it kicked and spun and squealed and threw a major tantrum.  I simply watched until the pig and Emily were worn out, then swooped in with the needles.  Two shots per pig.  Bam, bam, thank you, Ma’am.   Not one needle broke off.  You can now call us Christine “Fastest Shot in the Midwest” Coop and Emily “I Take a Beatin’ But Keep on Tickin’” Coop Sister and COW “There’s a Reason I Went to Law School” Coop.

9 livestock breakouts:  On a daily basis, we have to catch chickens who have managed to fly out of the “impenetrable” redneck fence COW and I constructed this summer.  It wouldn’t be so bad except they like to taunt us from the coop roof or a tree branch 20 feet in the air.  We also had to deal with the pig breakouts.  They were a feisty bunch this year, escaping their confines three times over the summer.  Once, they actually broke through the barn wall in order to go for a romp in the orchard.  We’ve found that we can successfully return a pig to his pen by dragging it by its hind legs.  We have also learned that Cuckoo yelling, “Get it back in, Mommy!!” when Mommy is single-handedly trying desperately for 20 minutes to get a 250 pound pig back in the pen doesn’t help at all.

10 dead creatures:  The count:  One chick which was sick upon arrival died 2 weeks later.   One chick was loved too much by a little girl, al a Hugo the Abominable Snowman and Daffy Duck’s “I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George”.  One chicken was internally laying (think egg constipation) and was found in a heap in the coop.  We can’t remember what happened to two chickens.  One pig you already heard about.  Three pigs met their intended demise to become meat in our bellies.  Finally, one opossum died when a 50 pound bag of chicken feed was dropped on his head while he ate crumbs in the bottom of the metal chicken feed can.  (It was dark, so COW didn’t know the creature was in there.  In fact, we didn’t even realize it had happened until a week later when I needed the food.  When I opened the lid, instead of finding a bag of chicken food, I found a can filled with maggots and a horrendous stench.)

11 dozen soccer games:  No joke.  We counted.  And then I cried.

12 funny comments:  Well, we found these comments to be quite amusing.  Or at least memorable. 
a)       “Hillbillies are innovators.” - COW, when he pulled out the rusty posts, rusty chicken wire, zip ties, and the gigantic wood post he had taken out of the dumpster when the kitchen was remodeled to make a “secure” fence for the new chickens.
b)      “This is NOT pie!  NEVER make this again!” -  Cuckoo, in complete disgust, the night we had Shepherd’s pie for dinner.
c)      “He cheated the deck!” All the boys, every time someone is playing cards, in order to annoy me to no end, because I once corrected them by saying, “You don’t cheat the deck, you stack the deck.” 
d)      “You have no right to say that phrase until you have actually stuck a pig and made it bleed!” – Me, after my mom told me of a cut on her finger, saying, “It bled like a stuck pig” one week after the big sick pig debacle.
e)      “There’s meat and there’s loaf.  Just eat it!” – COW, in frustration, after Turken posed endless questions about the ingredients of the meatloaf on his plate.  COW has no idea what is in meatloaf, and I wasn’t home to answer the questions.
f)       “I like the meat but not the loaf.” – Turken, the next day when I asked why he didn’t want leftover meatloaf for lunch.
g)      “Are you the mom or the grandma?” – a complete stranger at the local public pool, upon seeing Cuckoo having a ball jumping into the pool to be caught by me.  Yes, she was absolutely seriousNo, I didn’t punch her.
h)      “At least this injury is legitimate.” – Buttercup, (alluding to the torn finger ligament COW suffered when taking his socks off a couple years ago) when COW came home from the ER with a diagnosis of a broken foot.
i)        “Giraffes don’t eat people.  I know because they have small mouths.” – Cuckoo.  I could have included any number of quotes on the subject of animals eating people.  His ultimate goal seems to be compiling a master list of animals and their willingness/ability to eat people, so when he is an adult, he can make an informed decision on the safest place to live.
j)        “Why is my dad the only one without hair?” – Turken, referring to the dads of the kids in his class.
k)      “Says the woman who has this on her kitchen counter.” – Phoenix, carrying a very dead potted plant, in response to me telling Cuckoo the “flowers” he had picked were dying and needed to be thrown away.
l)        “No thank you, we have some of those at home.” – Turken, to the minor league baseball player who tried to give a game ball to him.
m)   “They were naked... Well, they had on underwear and that thing you wear under your shirt.”  - Cuckoo, when he was telling me about the cheerleaders at the Pacers game.

*Update:  As I was finishing up this long bit of Christmas joy, yet another injury required us to go to OrthoIndy.  Before the kids even knew what was wrong with poor Cuckoo, they said, “Now you have to change the Christmas card!”  Um, no I don’t.  We worked too hard to come up with the right numbers.  Cuckoo is doing much better, now that he is in the cutest little boot to protect his badly bruised and possibly broken toes.  Rule #3:  Cuckoo is no longer allowed to sit in the stools at the kitchen counter.

We pray you have a Merry Christmas and a new year filled with joy and laughter!

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

There's an 8% Chance All Will Be Well

1/4:  distance in miles of our driveway, which is currently a treacherous ice slide of death
12:  days we've been dealing with this ice slide of death
2: vehicles which park in the circle in front of our house
0:  number of vehicles which park in our circle that are 4-wheel drive and able to turn around in/drive through the snow/ice
1:  number of people in our house who can safely drive a car in reverse
3,826:  number of times that one person has had to back out of/into the quarter mile ice slide of death in the past 12 days*
14:  number of times that one person may have made fun of or complained about the non-reverse driving person
92:  percent chance my butt will be in a ditch on the side of our ice slide of death for mocking COW

Only one more day until the temps get above freezing and begin to melt the ice slide of death.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don't have to learn my lesson the hard way on this one.


*may be a bit of an exaggeration.  But not by much.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

TToT, Week 28, The End of the Hiatus

Just say, 'Thanks, Mom, for making my breakfast."
- me

Teaching kids to be thankful ain't easy, especially during weeks when they are cranky.  There's been some cranky this week, which means crying and whining and hollering about "that's not enough syrup!" and a child being banished from the kitchen for a while.

Despite the crankiness taking over our house this week, and the difficulty some of the kids have had being grateful, I have been working hard at keeping track of things for which to be thankful.  You know, so I can be a good example for the minions.

1.  I am thankful for icicles.  They're just plain beautiful.

2.  I am thankful for thoughtful people.  A friend surprised me at pick-up one day with a sweet card and a bag of M&Ms.  Her thoughtfulness made dealing with the crabby kids just a bit easier.

3.  I am thankful for the

Catholic Inspired

Even COW is getting into getting the wise men set up these days.

Perhaps the barnyard animals will know where Jesus is.

4.  I am thankful for my mom.  She came up to help us this weekend, so the kids didn't have to spend almost the entire weekend alone while COW and I go galavanting all around town.  The kids love it when she visits, and not just because she brings her iPad.

5.  I am thankful that the Christmas cards are ready to go in the mailbox.  I spend a lot of time on these cards every year.  As I hand-write an address, a little (or long) note to the family, and sign it with all of our names, I think about and pray for the person to whom I'm writing.  The recipient may not know it, but it is kind of like my little gift to my family and friends each year.  I certainly couldn't buy gifts for all 80 families I send them to.

6.  I am thankful for tree decorating excitement.  The kids get so excited to put the ornaments on the tree each year, waiting in line to see which ornament will get unwrapped and handed out next.  Cuckoo was exceptionally happy about it this year.

7.  I am thankful for my ability to overlook the "not perfectness" of ornament placement.

Yes, that silver ornament is hanging from the lights and actually resting on the floor.  And yes, there is a snowman simply lying on a branch on his face above the red ornament.  The tree looks it's best at night, when only the little white tree lights are illuminating the room. 

8.  I am thankful for the temperatures being just a tiny bit warmer, so we had rain instead of snow today, making the snow we had perfect for snowman and snowball making.

9.  I am thankful for eggs.  People, we are getting eggs!  Up to 9 each day!  Sure, that means only a third of the girls are laying, but I'm not having to buy eggs anymore.  It is especially fun when chickens first start laying eggs, as their bodies don't quite have it down yet.  We get lots of weird things.  Lots of double yolks, for example.  The most interesting are the ones without shells.

This was a day or so after we found it in the coop.  When fresh, it is nice and full and round.  It starts losing air immediately, though, and the membrane gets dry and brittle.
10.  I am thankful for all of the things I have at my disposal to keep me warm.  I have been known to complain about being cold, and that just isn't right.  I have a plethora of ways to fix that problem, while many people don't.

11.  I almost forgot!  I am thankful for my and my dental hygienist's sense of humor.  While I got my teeth cleaned, I let Cuckoo play Angry Birds on my phone.  At one point, he got really quiet.  At a break in the cleaning, I looked up to ask him what he was doing.  He replied, "I'm taking pictures!"

Who doesn't want a photo of herself getting her teeth cleaned?

A bit of business...

This will be the last 10 Things of Thankful link-up for 2013.  We're taking a break from the hop for 2 weeks, so everyone can do what they need to do for the holidays.  WE WILL BE BACK ON JANURARY 4!!!  Mark your calendar.

Although, my hiatus is basically over, so I'll still be posting through the three weeks.  I'll remind you.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Not You, It's Me

You are fine people.  Kind, caring, and funny people.  You'll make someone very happy this week, I'm sure.

Unfortunately, it won't be me.

I need to focus on other things this week.  Unless you all can come to the Christmas programs and parties with me, as well as come help me get my shopping, decorating, and card-mailing done, I won't be able to spend time with you.

Just know, it's not you.  It's my lack of organization lately, as well as the odd things thrown at us lately, that is the cause for the upcoming blog break.

Unless something crazy happens, like an ER trip to get a wise man out of someone's nose, I won't be writing this week.

And really, I'm only telling you because some of you (and you know who you are) get twitchy and nervous when I don't write for a few days, even around major holidays.  Don't want anyone worrying while I'm gone.

I'll see you at the hop on Saturday.  I hope.  Next weekend is going to be the busiest three days of all.  I even called my mom in for reinforcement.

I shall miss you!

Have a lovely week!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 27

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

1.  I am thankful Cuckoo's injury wasn't worse.  When a heavy, metal stool fell on his itty, bitty toes, I thought for sure the bones would be shattered.  After a trip to OrthoIndy for some x-rays, I was happy to hear that no shattering took place.  As it was explained to me, there was no clear proof anything was broken.  However, his 4 year old bones are still so young, they can't know for sure.  They fitted him with a boot and sent us on our way.  If he isn't healed in 2 weeks, we have to go back.

The only benefit of a foot injury:  wheelies in a wheelchair.
2.  I am thankful there is a company that makes itty, bitty boots for kids who break their toes.  Before the boot, Cuckoo wouldn't put any weight on his foot.  He simply hopped around the house or needed to be carried. That would have gotten old for all of us really fast.  With the boot, he's back to walking around. Still can't jump or kneel or go out in the snow, but he's mobile.

He wasn't keen on me taking a photo of him in the boot.  This is all I was allowed. 

3.  I am thankful for the new friends Phoenix is making in high school.  One came over to work on a project and got snowed in.  I had never met him or his parents before, so there's always some fear of who will be showing up.  This kid was so polite, not rambunctious, put his dishes away, and pushed his chair in when he left the table!  He made eye contact when I spoke with him, and actually seemed comfortable doing so.  And, it was no Eddie Haskel kind of talking, either.  Oh, AND, the boys were all asleep (there was a third boy here that we've known for years and years) by 11:10.

4.  I am thankful for our safety.  We had some nasty weather blow through from Thursday afternoon through Friday night.  The roads were snow and ice covered, and there were lots of accidents and slide-offs around town.  We managed to make it to and home from school and work both days safe and sound.

5.  I am thankful we didn't get stuck in our driveway.  Seven inches of snow has been known to give COW fits.  By positioning our cars properly in the drive before the really bad snow started, we were able to get out without a hitch.  No digging out of snow banks this storm!

6.  I am thankful affordable clothes.  COW's firm has a black-tie optional Christmas party every year.  This will be our 9th one.  I have rotated the same three dresses through these parties and various weddings of people in the firm.  It was time for a new one.  I managed to find one for a good price in less than an hour.  Now all I need is shoes...  Buttercup needed a dress as well for her Christmas program.  (I do look forward to the day when the kids stop growing and it isn't such an emergency to find clothes that fit each year.)  After school one day, we headed to the mall, where we found a cute dress for $20.  I even let her get an accessory since she found one on such a good sale.

7.  I am thankful for the boys who suffered through the dress shopping with no fuss at all.  I had them each bring a book to read, so while Buttercup looked and tried on dresses, they sat in couches or against a wall on the floor, depending on where we were, to read.  I couldn't believe how well they did.  All but Phoenix was with me, and not one bickering match, not one wrestling match, not one display destruction occurred.

8.  I am thankful for DQ mini blizzards.  Since they all did so well shopping, I surprised them with some mini Blizzards.  A little treat that didn't break the bank.

9.  I am thankful for family stories that help explain current behaviors.  I was talking with my mom today about the Nerf cannons (she read yesterday's blog post) and somehow the conversation turned to the fact I always get along with old people.  We laughed about the time I asked to take basket-weaving classes.  It was me and 10 old ladies in a classroom one night a week, weaving baskets.   I remember the classes, and remember enjoying them, but my mom said I would come home to tell her all about the fun I had and the stories the women had told me.  She also said I always got along well with the elderly, then told me a story of which I had no recollection.  When I was 10 years old or so, she was going to a nursing home to help residents write Christmas cards.  I was the only kid who agreed to go with her.  Apparently, I was quite comfortable at the nursing home, chatting everyone up.  I even helped one woman write a letter.  Here's the thing:  Buttercup has a special way with the elderly.  I have always said she would do well to work in a nursing home.  When COW's grandpa was alive, Buttercup would sit by his side for hours.  She goes to work with COW's mom any chance she gets.  (His mom is a physical therapy assistant in a nursing home.)  I have the same thoughts about my daughter that my mom had about me.

10.  I am thankful for sunshine.  After so many days of cloudy and foggy and snowy and icy, I am thrilled to have a bright, sunshiny day today.  Icicles are drooping off of roofs.  The ice and snow on the roads is melting.  The van is warm without even turning the heat on.  And best of all, as Cuckoo said, "I can see all the sparkles in the snow!"

11.  I am thankful for COW's not only willingness, but initiative, to do things with the kids.  This morning, he took Buttercup and a friend to a fancy gingerbread decorating event downtown.  He heard about it, he made it happen, and he invited Buttercup's two best friends to go along.  She had an absolute ball.  And she got to wear her new dress.

Nice hat, no?  
12.  I am thankful for my boys' ability to work hard, even in the most miserable conditions.  On Friday, Giant was scheduled to help a Scout work on his Eagle project.  It was cold and sleeting, but he stayed for an hour and half to get the job done.  He was wet and cold and covered in mud, but he didn't utter a single complaint.

Giant is way in the back in orange.  You can see Cuckoo running on the cement.  That is Phoenix in the foreground, but he could only help for about half an hour.
After you comment on my post, you should head over to Lizzi's blog.  She has put together a little contest in which you could win a prize.  To be eligible, you have to match up the co-host with the obscure fact about herself.  The facts have never shown up on our blogs, and we co-hosts don't even know the answers besides our own.  At least go see if you can figure out which one is mine!

Your turn.  What are you thankful for his week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nerf Cannons, OrthoIndy, and Wise Men. They Have Nothing to Do With Each Other, But Imagine if They Did.

******* 1 *******

It is 11:55pm, and I just sat down to write today's post.  I am putting all my eggs in the "This is a real storm and school will be cancelled" basket and staying up late, in hopes I will be staying in bed in the morning.  Despite the weathermen getting all excited with the talk of snow and ice and wind and general horribleness, it is not a good gamble.  Even if school is canceled, I'll still have to get up to get that info.  Plus, regardless of whether school is cancelled or not, COW will still want to go to work.  I won't be able to go back to sleep.
Only consolation is, COW parked facing down the driveway.  At least I won't be getting him out of a snow bank.

************* 2 **********

I may be heading to OrthoIndy again tomorrow.  This injury made me cringe more than any other yet this year.  Cuckoo was leaning up over the kitchen island to look over Turken's shoulder when the heavy, metal stool slid out from under him.  Somehow his foot landed first, and the stool came down across the toes of one of his feet.

Take a minute to cringe and gag and suck in some air.  I need it, too.

After icing it and elevating it and icing some more and elevating some more and giving him some Tylenol, he is still in pain.  There isn't much swelling or discoloration, even 3 hours later.  We'll see what it looks like in the morning.

Yeah, this whole staying up late is probably a really bad idea.

************* 3 ************

Before I forget, the FTSF prompt is "One of my favorite childhood memories is..."

The year we got Nerf cannons for Christmas.  Nerf used to be a much better company, making a great variety of products.  We didn't have guns back then.  We had cannon-like things you shot by smacking a bubble-thing of air.  The force of air shot that Nerf bullet a good long distance.  I will always remember my siblings and I stationed on opposite sides of the room, laughing our heads off, shooting the cannon, then fast-crawling into the line of fire to retrieve another bullet.  The best part of the memory, though, is the image of my mom. She was there, in her floor-length robe, laughing harder and louder than any of us, as she shot at us.

**************** 4 ************

Just a little reminder for those who missed the announcement.  There's a new book out this week talking about friendship.  I have an essay in it about my best friend, Amy.  You can just click that little button in the sidebar to read more about it.

************ 5 *********

Our chickens are giving us 4 eggs a day.  Sometimes we don't actually get to bring 4 eggs into the house, but there are 4 chickens laying eggs.  Sometimes an egg gets lost along the way.  Like when someone slips on her way out of the coop and lands on her knee and then her butt, carrying all 4 eggs in one hand.  On those days, we only get to bring three eggs into the house.

Since our one white-egg laying chicken passed, only brown eggs are being laid.  Those Americaunas are slacking.  Big time.  I want some green and blue eggs, dagnabbit!

*************** 6 ***********

The Christmas card has been giving me fits this year.  It took forever to come up with a theme, and now that I have one, it's taking forever to write.  This whole blogging thing is really putting a damper on my creative writing ability when I have to sum up the entire year in four pages or less.  And I've already told the stories with hilarious posts and drawings.  And there's so much pressure to make it good and funny.  I've already had several people tell me they are looking forward to getting our card this year.

Oh, the pressure!!!

********** 7 **********

Talking about pressure, we've begun the three wise men activity.  Each night, the wise men go looking for Jesus around the house, and in the morning the kids look for him.  Even the big kids are getting into this.  It's been fun for them.  It's been worrisome for me.  I'm not good at remembering to do it, first of all.  Secondly, I'm not good at finding new places to put them.  So far, our wise men have been here:

Day 1: a random crock decoration someone made for me 10 years ago.

Day 2:  They were distracted and played a game.

Day 3:  They tried to get on the Bible app to read about where Jesus was born, but they didn't know the kids' passwords.

Day 4:  I forgot to set them up.  I literally took my hand off of one of the wise men's heads as Turken walked in the room.  I panicked, jumped, and pointed, "Look where they are?" while Giant stood behind me and laughed his head off.

Day 5:  I was inspired by Melody.  She showed a photo of her wise men getting into a bag of M&Ms.  While I liked the idea, I wasn't about to sacrifice my M&Ms.  Our wise men are making off with the animal crackers.

Goodness, I'm the queen of link-ups today.  This covered three of them.

Stephanie and the gang host the Finish the sentence Friday, Jen has been hosting the 7 Quick Takes since time began, and Jennifer Marie is the one who started the Wise Men activity.

This weekend, as usual, will be the 10 Things of Thankful blog hop.  I hear it's a big one.  Lizzi is having a co-host quiz and contest, with the winner receiving an actual gift!  Mailed to her from England!

Bring on the snow!!

I can't believe I just said that.

Have a lovely day!