Saturday, August 31, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 13

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

This week, I see plenty of reasons to give thanks...

1.  I am thankful for relatives who come to visit.  Monday night, we had the Reverend Mother.  Sounds impressive and intimidating, doesn't it?  While her 50 year stretch as a nun is impressive, she is far from intimidating.  "Sister Susan" is COW's aunt.  She and her nun friend came through on their way home from a vacation.  We had such a nice visit, talking until way past bedtime.  It isn't often that relatives other than our parents or my siblings visit, so it's extra special when one of them does.

2.  I am thankful for great Catholic schools for my kids to attend.   In both the elementary/middle school and the high school, the administration and the teachers have high expectations for the kids.  These expectations aren't limited to academics, but in all areas of the kids' lives.  The teachers want nothing more than to see the kids grow in heart, mind, and spirit.

3.  I am thankful for online recipes.   Have I mentioned we have gobs and gobs of tomatoes from the garden.  I have canned enough for the winter, but I still have a bunch sitting on the counter and on the vines.  This week, I decided to try making tomato soup.  I googled "tomato soup from fresh tomatoes, found one that looked pretty easy to make and could be frozen if we decided we liked it.  We liked it.  Well, COW and I liked it, and we got three "It's OK" from kids.  Three kids "don't like soup" even though they have never tried it.  I will be making some for the freezer.

4.  I am thankful for strong boys.  We've been putting weed barriers and rocks around the new porch/stairs from our mudroom door.  Rocks are heavy.  I am so grateful to have lots of strong kids to help.

5.  I am thankful for the enjoyment Buttercup gets from mowing the yard.  Grass doesn't wait for anyone, so we had to mow before Lizzi could get here.  Fortunately, Buttercup was home, and she practically begged me to let her do it.  Well, if you're going to twist my arm...

6.  I am thankful for unexpected get-togethers with my best friend.  Remember my best friend Amy?  I wrote about her for Stephanie and Jessica's HerStories Project.  I called her to wish her a happy birthday this week, and she informed me that for her birthday, she asked for time with her friends.  We met at a restaurant in between our two cities and had a fantastically relaxed, three and a half hour breakfast.  While I was sad to leave, missing her more after seeing her, I am so grateful that we had the chance to get together.

7.  I am thankful for automatic ice makers in the freezer.  We go through pounds and pounds of ice in this house, especially in this hot weather.  The kids load up their water jugs every night, and COW and I like to drink ice water with our meals (and I do in between).  I know with every fiber of my being, if we had to refill ice trays, I would have no hair left.  Every time I went to get ice and found empty trays, I'd yank out another hunk of it.  So, yes, very grateful for ice machines.

8.  I am thankful for the low expectations of my children.  We have three kids with birthdays in a 2 week period.  Labor Day weekend is the weekend we celebrate with family.  I usually make three cakes to share with everyone, but this year, only COW's mom is here.  I made a Despicable Me cake in 15 minutes, and they are happy.

9.  I am thankful for an evening with all my kids at home before dark.  Friday was so nice and relaxed, all of us eating at the same time, hanging out together. 

10.  I am thankful for whatever it was that made me remember to take new blog photos of the kids for my sidebar.  I've been meaning to take them for a long time now, but only remember when half the kids aren't home or it's dark outside.  (That one of Cuckoo was his 2nd birthday.  He just turned 4.)  Friday night, I got it done.  I'll have them posted very soon.

This is what Cuckoo thought of the photo session.

Your turn!  What are you thankful for this nice, long weekend?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen for some quick takes.   After all these weeks, it really shouldn't be a surprise.

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

You know how when you're really, really nauseous, and you're writhing in discomfort, lying on the bathroom floor, and you've gotten to the point where you just pray your body will simply, finally get on with the throwing up because you know you'll feel better afterwards?  (Run-on intentional to convey feeling.)  Yeah, that's the kind of weather we're having around here.

Hot and humid, people.  Hot and humid.  And we're writhing in discomfort, praying it will simply, finally get on with the rain so we can all feel better.*

It's not the heat.  It's the ridiculous humidity.  It is so humid.

"How humid is it?" you ask?

It is so humid, sweat accumulates in my bra within 5 seconds of stepping out the front door.

It is so humid, even the pigs' hair is getting frizzy.

It is so humid, men are foregoing the gym's sauna and simply stripping down in their backyards.

It is so humid, pea soup is looking downright runny.

It is so humid, the chickens are actually coming outside to try and catch a breeze.  (Woohoo!)

It is so humid, after sitting in a chair watching a soccer game, I have a minor panic attack, wondering if I've wet myself (or worse) based on the amount of moisture I feel on my rear and between my legs.

I told you it was humid.**

*Drama, much?
**Some of these may have been made up.  Doesn't mean it didn't happen somewhere.

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

This product is completely unnecessary. 

And wow, this picture is completely blurry!

And dumb.

Just so you know, I found this while buying a brush for the dog.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that on July 22, I was looking for the dog's brush.  I had put it in a very logical place, since it took me a good long time to find it the previous time, yet on July 22 couldn't remember what that logical place was.  The dog recently got into some burs, so we can't wait any longer for someone to find it.  I had to buy a new one. 

When I put it away, I will tell you where it is.  In a couple of weeks you will need to remind me where I put it.

I'm not kidding.  I won't remember.  I just hope I remember to ask you when the time comes.

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

When my extended family gets together, the relatives oftentimes get annoyed with my youngest brother and me.  While they all find us funny, they don't find us as funny as we find ourselves. 


I'm the green text.

Really, we should be the ones annoyed with them.  How can anyone not find us hysterical?

************** 4 ************
I have an Instagram account, and I've realized I really, really like looking at photos on it.  Unfortunately, I only have 5 people I follow.  If you Instagram, would you mind putting in the comments exactly how/where I can find you? 

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

I finally got to walk the halls of Phoenix's high school last night.  Schedule in hand, I walked the path he walks each day, and met the teachers who work with him.  I came away with one thought:  high school is A LOT harder than it used to be.  Every single teacher made a point to stress, "This is a hard class.  Don't be too worked up if your child, who used to get straight As, isn't getting an A in here." 

Yes, I'm a bit worried for the boy. 

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

On a related note (though you may not exactly see the relation), for all you with young children, beware the easy kids.  The ones who rarely throw tantrums.  The ones who are happy to go with the flow.  Yes, they are a breeze when they are young.  They aren't when they are older.

I'm actually surprised my easy-going child hasn't had his pants go up in flames.  It's really only a matter of time, based on the number of fires I've had to set under him. 

What can you do with this info?  Nothing, as far as I know.  Just one of those "Wish someone would have told me" moments.  Kind of like after giving birth, women usually say, "Why didn't anyone tell me about all of the post-partum nastiness?"  Nothing would have been different if they would have known.  They'd still have to endure it, but they would have been expecting it.

Now you know.  Your tantrumless toddler will make you pull your hair out someday.

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

Kids are waking up, so I gotta run.  (Yes, they were given today off of school, too.  Love our principal.)

My US friends, have a fun, safe Labor Day weekend. 

My non-US friends, have a fun, safe, normal, everyday, two-day weekend.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

After Miley, My Boys Need a Letter, Too

My Dear Boys,

I'm sure you've heard by now that a certain individual, we'll call her Ciley Myrus, was very inappropriate during a recent performance.   There has been all sorts of uproar about it, but every bit of it has been towards and about Ciley.  Moms are very worried about their daughters.  Specifically, how they don't want their daughters to grow up to be like her.

Sure, I don't want your sister to grow up and act like that, but I am more focused on something else entirely.  Ciley wasn't the only one up on that stage.  And Ciley didn't get to be this way on her own. 

Throughout your life, you will run into girls/women who act very much like Ciley, just not on a national stage.  You will see girls/women who don't see any value in themselves as people, but only as body parts.  These girls didn't get to be this way on their own.  For the most part, these girls are looking for attention, and dancing around in their underwear (for example) is the only way they know how to get it.

Men in their lives have helped convince them it is so. 

I don't want you to be part of the problem.  I don't want you to, in any way, encourage this behavior.  So, I have for you some expectations.  Read them.  Print them.  Post them around. Memorize them. 

-  If you come across videos, TV shows, print material, or movies that depict girls/women in any inappropriate way, I expect you to turn it off.  Walk away.  Don't watch it.  Don't share it.  Even better, run from the room screaming, "My eyes!  Make it stop!"

-  When you dance with a girl, make sure you are facing each other.  And leave some room for the Holy Spirit.  Keep in mind, He's a big spirit, needing lots of room.

-  Girls may offer to do things for you.  Don't take them up on their offers unless you're willing for those girls to do those things in front of your mother.

-  Keep your eyes on the girl's face.  Even if she is dressed in a way to seriously distract you.  Be strong.  Eyes up.

-  Be a gentleman.  Always.  Hold doors open.  Talk with her about her interests.  Ask her for her opinions.  While it probably won't ever come up, I wouldn't even mind if you threw your coat over a mud puddle in order to keep her pretty shoes clean.

-  Never, ever gossip, talk about anyone's reputation, or write about it on restroom walls.

-  If you see a girl in trouble, pull out your inner McFly and solve the problem.

-  Just say no.  To drinks.  To drugs.  Your brain doesn't work very well under the influence of these things.  If you take them, you will do something stupid.  And it will probably be recorded by somebody.  Don't do something stupid to ruin your own or a girl's reputation.  

-  Talk to your dad or me if you are in trouble.  If you need help.  If you have questions.  We've been around and know a few things.  You know we love to share our knowledge. 

-  Study good role models.  Pay attention to what respected, honorable men do, and follow their lead.  (Your dad would be a good place to start.)

I love you dearly, so I will be watching.  While I know that you are good, kind boys, I also know boys sometimes have trouble using their brains.  They sometimes have trouble going against peer pressure.  Know this.  If I ever see or catch you treating any girl/woman in a way that isn't respectful, severe consequences will rain down on your head.   Because I love you.

Be kind.  Be respectful.  Be the boy I know you are.  Be the boy God made you to be.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm Going Back to M&Ms

Our printer has been broken for several weeks.

It starts to print, but then gets jammed and paper gets stuck, it keeps printing on crinkled up paper for a second, then horrible sounds emerge, and the "Something's wrong!" beeper yells at us to Fix It!

COW and I did all we could to fix it.  (This includes lift the lid, look around, shrug shoulders, close the lid.)

Today, Buttercup needed something printed, so we crossed our fingers, hoped it spontaneously fixed itself, and we'd be good to go.

No such luck

As I was trying the "lift the lid" approach (to no avail) Cuckoo came by and asked what I was doing.

"Trying to see if anything is stuck in there."

He immediately said, "There is!"

"How do you know?"

"I'm little, and I can see right in there."

I bent down to look into the area where the paper comes out, and yes, there was something silver jammed in the little slot paper comes through.

I couldn't get my fingers in there, so used a paper clip to push it out as best I could.

My fingers just couldn't grab it, and in desperation yelled, "I need someone with little fingers!"

Cuckoo, standing by, screamed, "I have little fingers!"

He managed to get his little phalanges in there and pull out some of the blockage.

With the paper clip, I was able to get the rest.

Bet you can't guess what it was...

A Hershey Kiss wrapper.

Remember when I said I traded my lunchtime M&Ms for Kisses, as I ate less at a time?  Yeah, I usually eat them while I sit and read/type at the computer, making a nice pile of the wrappers.  Apparently, one wayward wrapper got stuck in the printer.

So, for the sake of our computer, I'm going to have to switch back to M&Ms. 

The sacrifices we women make...

Don't know about you, but so many times, life reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Listicles - Oh, No You Didn't!

I have one friend who is an only child of only children.  She herself has two boys.  We have had conversations about how difficult it can be to see her kids fight, since neither she nor her parents ever experienced sibling rivalry.  Two boys was a bit of a rude awakening to how those of us with siblings lived.

I grew up with 5 siblings, so I knew exactly what I was in for when I had mine.  Doesn't mean I'm still not baffled by the things they fight over. 

For this week's Listicles, I give you...

10 Oh, No You Didn't Moments

aka stupid things my kids have fought about over the years
aka stupid things my siblings and I also fought over when we were young (aka through last year)

1.  One child clearly has to "go", and is quickly on his way to the bathroom, when another runs faster and slides into position in front of the child about to wet himself, despite the fact we have three toilets in the house. 

2.  While the table is still being set for dinner, one child sits down.  I then ask that child to get hot pads (or some such thing).  Upon return, he finds a sibling sitting in his chair, despite the fact no one is assigned a seat and no one is supposed to sit until the table is ready.

3.  These conversations:

Kid 1:  We went to PE today.
Kid 2:  We went to PE today.
Kid 1:  We played soccer.
Kid 2:  We played soccer.
(all possible, as all grades generally play the same thing at PE each week.)
Kid 1 (to test Kid 2):  I am 30 years old.
Kid 2:  I am 30 years old.

Game on.

4.  Kid 1 was reading a book/playing with a toy, then leaves it on the floor and leaves the room.  Upon return, finds a sibling reading the book/playing with the toy and claims, "Hey, I was reading that," despite the fact he left it on the floor 5 hours ago.

5.  When we first bought the big van, this happened on a daily basis.  Worst year of driving ever.  When the radio is on, one child sings along quite loudly.  Child behind the singer doesn't like the singer's voice, so tugs on the seatbelt of the singer, thus locking the seatbelt.  Singer is stuck in the upright position unless he unbuckles and lets the belt back into it's storage position. 

6.  I washed, dried, folded, and lovingly placed the kids' clothes on their beds for them to put away.  When children are putting clothes away, one finds that he was given a sibling's shirt.  He throws the shirt to the sibling.  (Oh, I can't tell you how many knock-down drag-outs have been caused by this move.)

7.  Two or more kids are playing a game.  There is a disagreement about the rules, and someone calls another a "cheater".  (My kids have done this countless times, but it never escalated to the extreme I took it with my sister.  She cheated (yes, she did!), my mom refused to get involved and make her play fairly, so I ran away.  I got about a mile away from home before my mom caught up with me.  (I was headed to Grandma's house four miles away.))

8.  Child 1 is pouring syrup on his pancakes.  Child 2 gets nervous that there won't be any left for him and yells, "Don't take it all!"  Child 1 continues to pour.  Child 2 loses his mind, despite the fact we have an unopened bottle on the counter.  (This also applies to milk, water, Legos, or anything else we may have at one time had in limited supply.)

9.  Child 1 is reading a book.  Child 2 is bored, goes to Child 1, and says, "I won, you lost."  Child 1 disagrees.  Child 2 repeats his claim.  Fight ensues, despite the fact that they never were even playing a game.

10.  Child 1 and Child 2 are sitting in the back seat.  Something is in the middle.  The thing in the middle slides a bit onto Child 1 when driver takes a turn.  Child 1 pushes the thing in the middle back off of himself, accidentally pushing it onto Child 2.  Child 2 finds this to be uncomfortable, and pushes it not so gently off of himself, which makes it slide back onto Child 1.  Fight ensues, despite the fact that the "something" in the middle is usually Turken and his booster seat.

Ah, kids.  Fortunately, we (usually) grow out of them.

As I type, I am not joking when I say two little boys are now standing in front of me screaming, "He did pull my shirt!!" and "He was blocking me!!" 

I must go now.

What do your kids (or did you and your sibling(s)) fight over?

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 12

Yeah, it's going to be all over the place today. 

1.  I am thankful for steroids.  My family is ridiculously allergic to poison ivy, and this week Turken was the victim.  It came on fast and furious, and as usual with us, it was all around his eyes, as well as most every other place on his body.  One dose of steroids calmed things down, and now that we are on day 5, he is doing much better. 

at the doctor's office, gettin' some meds.

2.  I am thankful for compassionate, generous people.  A day after I wrote about my friend's baby being born stillborn, I received a gift of an e-book and a very nice email from a complete stranger.  The author of the book, You Will See Your Baby in Heaven, Drew Kelly had read my post and wanted to help.  He gave me an e-book to read immediately, then asked for my address to send a paperback for my friend.  I read every page on my Kindle before I even received hers in the mail.  I am so grateful for the help in figuring out the best ways to support my friend through these difficult days. 

Product Details

3.  I am thankful for a cupcake maker.  Not a baker, but an actual gadget that has the sole purpose of baking cupcakes.  Buttercup got one for Christmas one year.  It is the only kitchen gadget we use semi-frequently.  Cuckoo's birthday was yesterday, and we were taking birthday cupcakes to the park to share with some friends.  It cooks them perfectly, and I didn't have to make the house even hotter by turning on the stove.

Product Details
This is the same one we have.

4.  I am thankful for Cuckoo.  I can't believe it's possible, but the little man turned 4 yesterday.  He makes me laugh out loud each and every day.  The entire day yesterday, everywhere we went, he asked me, "Do these people know it's my birthday?"  If the answer was no, he had no trouble marching right up to any and all strangers to say, "It's my birthday today." 

I shall tell you the latest thing that made us laugh the hardest.

COW had Cuckoo in the car, and they were listening to the radio.  At one point, Cuckoo started laughing hysterically, and screaming in delight, "She said taco!  Why is she singing about a taco?"  Cuckoo wouldn't let up, laughing harder and harder as the song went on.  "She said taco again!"  COW listened a little closer, and finally heard it.  At one point, she on the radio sang, "You're gonna miss me by my walk, you're gonna miss me by my talk, oh, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone."

Every time "Cups" comes on, our entire family stops, waits for it, then belts out, "miss me by my taco".

5.  I am thankful for our washing machine.  Despite the fact it doesn't spin my clothes dry, I am very grateful for it.  Between the kids' school uniforms and soccer clothes, my pig/chicken/garden clothes, and the towels, sheets and miscellaneous other articles, can you even imagine trying to wash it all any other way???

6.  I am thankful for my brother.  He stayed the night Friday night in order to take a flight out tomorrow.  His wife's sister's husband (complicated way of saying brother-in-law) came with, and we had our usual good time.  He and I can't help but laugh when we are together, and when there is someone in attendance who has never heard our family stories before, all the better.  Within 10 minutes of stepping foot in my house, guess which story he was telling the brother-in-law.  Yup, the stick shift story.  It sounds even funnier (and less true) each time he tells it.

7.  I am thankful for my kids' choices in friends.  Friends.  They are so, so, so important to a teenager, and those friends can be either a hurt or a help to a teenager's choices.  I am so grateful for the wonderfully kind, polite, fun, compassionate, responsible friends my kids have made.

8.  I am thankful for sunflowers, especially when they came up without our planting them.  We planted sunflowers last year, and they did very well.  This year, many, many sunflowers sprouted up in the same area.  We simply weeded around them and now have gorgeous flowers in the garden.

Even better when those sunflowers are back-dropped by a brilliant sky!

9.  I am thankful for COW'S willingness to coach.  We always let our kids start playing sports when they are in kindergarten, and Turken has been counting down the days until he can play soccer.  This was the week, and COW is the coach.  He did the same for the big kids when they first started playing, despite the fact he had never even seen a soccer game before that.  His knowledge has changed, but his coaching has not.  He's back to playing Sharks and Minnows with the short set.  Turken is happy, and COW is cracking me up with his Tales from the Soccer Field. 

10.  I am thankful for Steak-n-Shake's Half-Price Happy Hour.  For one, Phoenix had a rough couple of days with the new braces.  A milkshake helped him feel better and got some much needed calories in him.  (Don't even care that it wasn't the healthiest form of calories.)  For two, it means we can afford to get a yummy shake for our Friday ice cream treat each week after school.

Your turn!  Let us know why you are bursting with gratitude.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, August 23, 2013

FTSF + 7QT = 1RLP*

Linking with the ladies again today (Kate and Jen). 

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

Our FTSF sentence this week is...

I wasn't really myself when I...

My brother is going to love that I am finally admitting to this.

I wasn't really myself when I was learning how to drive a manual transmission.  (Is that the scientific name for stick-shift?) 

I was living with my mom for one college summer break, and the only vehicle for me to use to get to work was her old pick-up.  In order to drive it, I needed to learn how to drive stick.

My mom took me out, and I had the basics down.  We spent a good long time working on hills, as I was quite nervous about them.  In the end, I was passable, and there were no hills on my way to work.

One day, my brother (five years younger than me) was with me when I stopped at the grocery store.  Driving out of the parking lot, we got stopped at the light.  The light was at the top of a short yet very steep hill.  As we sat there, I got nervous.

At first, it wasn't too bad.  No one was behind me, so if I rolled back before getting my feet to do what they needed to do in order to get us going forward, no big deal.

But then someone pulled up behind us.  He pulled up so close I could no longer see the front of the guy's car.

I kindly asked my brother to get out of the car and ask the driver to back up a bit.

My brother refused.

I not-so-kindly told my brother that he really, really needed to get out and ask the guy behind us to back up.

My brother refused.

I panicked.

Not just a little.

Full on, head spinning, completely ridiculously panicked.

My heart was pounding, I was so scared I would be unable to get the car moving forward before I rolled back right into that stupid car behind me.  I don't know why I was so worked up about it, but I was. 

Oh, was I worked up.

I cussed up a blue streak, pulling out the F and the D and every other cuss word I ever heard and flung them at my brother to convince him to get his butt out of the car and tell the guy to BACK UP!

After giving me a look that showed me I had lost my mind completely and utterly, he refused again.

I had never been so mad at another human being.

The light turned green, and in my fury, I hit the pedals with such force, we went bolting forward, practically knocking my truck into the car in front of us. 

I yelled at my brother the entire way home.

He chastised me for expecting him to talk to the guy, but mostly he chastised me for cussing.  By this time, he had become Mormon and reformed his ways.  He was completely offended by my use of such foul language.

It was the one and only time I have ever said the words that came out of my mouth that day.

It was the one and only time I have ever panicked to such a degree.

My brother will never let me live it down.  As a matter of fact, he just brought it up at our August 10th 4th of July party. 

Fortunately, our family came up with a signal this year.  Anytime someone started telling a story we had heard one too many times, someone could raise her hand to make the person stop telling the story.  I totally raised my hand the second he brought up the pick-up truck.

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

As COW was heading to bed, something on our pink chair caught his eye.

Do you see it???  No, not the big, black thing.  The two little black things, that look a bit like the tips of something.

He got a little closer, than jumped back, saying, "I think there is a bat in the chair."

Me:  "You mean the glove sitting on the chair?"  (Now that I see this photo, it's clearly not a glove.  I have no idea what it is.)

Him:  "No, behind the cushion.  There is a bat wedged in behind the cushion!"

Me:  "Take a picture!"


What happened next pleased me beyond reason.  While I stood there taking photos, COW actually took care of the bat all by himself.  If you don't know why that pleased me so much, you may want to read about the time I discovered COW is petrified of bats.  (It was early on in my blog, so the writing is not the high quality you have come to expect from me.  (Ha! (But really, the writing is bad.)))

First, he covered it with the kids' butterfly net, then paused to ponder his next move.

He decided simply pushing the chair out the front door was the best solution.
"Can you please stop taking photos for two seconds and clear the crap out of the way, so I can get this chair over to the door?  Don't know if you've heard, but there's a BAT in this chair."
I don't have a photo of the chair on its back in the doorway.  It was really dark outside, so my camera wouldn't focus fast enough to catch COW in panic mode trying to fling the bat out of the chair and into the night.
I do, though, have a photo of the flung bat.
COW thinks he may have broken the poor bat's wing in the fling.  We never saw it fly, but it was gone in the morning.
Come to The Coop.  Conquer your fears.
There's a T-shirt in there somewhere.
********** 3 ***********

On Monday, the worst two years of Phoenix's life began.  He is now the unhappy wearer of a full set of braces.  After my own nightmarish orthodontist, I put the day off as long as possible.  Probably should have thought it through, though.  Getting braces on a Monday of the second week of school at the start of his first soccer season in high school probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had.

The poor kid can hardly eat.  At 5"11' and 123 pounds, he doesn't have any excess weight to lose.  He's had two soccer games this week, and only eaten about 2,000 calories all week.  Not good.

He's not exactly happy with me.

But he'll still cheese for a photo for me.  Such a good boy...

************** 4 ***********
Warning: Proud, gushing mom moment. 
Speaking of Phoenix playing soccer, I told you on Saturday about the high school soccer tryout debacle in which he was cut, then a whole week later asked to be on the team.  This week, they have had two games, each game being 90 minutes.  Phoenix is the only player who has not spent one single minute on the bench.  I couldn't be more happy for him.

************* 5 ************
The chickens and I now have a new routine.  Every morning, I go out to the coop to open the door, giving them free access to that gorgeous new pen COW and I made for them.

They refuse to go out, even when I tempt them with fruit.

So, we have resorted to shooing.  No pen of mine is going to go unused!

The first day, I cornered them in the room by the door, then moved in.  Chickens went flying, squawking their full heads off.  But, since there are 30 of them, a few had no choice but to go outside.

I brought in some help and scared even more out. 

In the end, I had about 15 outside.  Good start, I thought.

Since then, Cuckoo and I have gone out each morning for the shooing of the chickens.  It's to the point where some have even figured the routine out.  As soon as they see us, they head for the door.   Today, we managed to get all but 4 outside.

Of course, within 10 minutes of our leaving, they head back inside.

They are just lucky I have things to do.  Otherwise, I'd be planted right there next to the door, making them stay outside and enjoy the sunshine and the bug eating and the perfectly safe zone COW and I created for them.

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

I have a new favorite phrase.  COW was telling me of a co-worker's sister-in-law who has moved in with his family.  Apparently, she has no job and no inclination to find one.  In the explanation, he called her a "never-do-good". 

I immediately stopped him.  "Did you just say never-do-good?"

Yes, yes he did.  Bless his heart.

In this house, we will forevermore call "a person who is ineffectual, unsuccessful, or completely lacking in merit" a never-do-good. 

Which means once a year.  Does anyone ever even say "ne'er-do-well" anymore?

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

Cuckoo is 4 years old today!

The birthday boy, in photos:

Loving the butterfly exhibit at the zoo

The boy has style...

and a sweet tooth.

Always trying to do things like the big kids.

He now collects shells.

Have a lovely day!

*1 really long post
Finish the Sentence Friday

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Signs. They Break My Mind.

Today, I really, really wanted to move back to Bermuda.

Of course, when don't I want to move back to Bermuda?

Today, it was for one reason, and one reason only.

Signs are illegal.

There are no billboards.  There are no business logos.  There are no temporary, "Look Who's Having a Birthday!" signs. 

No.  Signs.

This was the conversation the boys and I had on the way home from kindergarten today:

Keep in mind, I drive a 12-passenger van.  Turken sits directly behind me, and Cuckoo sits directly behind Turken.  And, the first 10 minutes of our drive is on the most-developed road on Indy's south side.

C:  Mom! What does that sign say?

Me:  We buy gold.

C:  Mom!  Mom!  What does that sign say?

Me:  Which sign?

C:  That one!

Me:  Honey, I don't know which sign you are pointing to.

C:  We just passed it!!

Me:  Sorry.  There were about 50 signs, and I didn't know which one you meant.

C:  Mom!  Mom!  What's that sign say?

Me:  Which one?

C:  The one over there!

Me:  Honey, I can't tell where you are pointing.  You need to wait until we pick up the big kids.  They'll be able to tell you.

C:  We just passed it!!!

T:  What's that sign say?

Me:  Which one?

T:  The corn one!

Me:  (frantically searching, lest we pass it) I don't see a corn sign.


Me:  Don't see one.

T:  We passed it!

C:  Mom!  Mom!  What's that sign say?

Me:  I don't know what you are pointing to.  Wait for the big kids!

T:  There's another one.  What's that corn sign say?

Me:  I still don't see the corn sign, Honey.

T:  What's it say?  What's it say?

C:  Mom!  Mom! What's that sign say?


T:  There's a soybean sign.  What's it say?

C:  Mom!  Mom!  What's that sign say?

Me:  (realizing Turken has been completely messing with me, not pointing to any signs, but the actual corn field or soybean field, because he thinks he's funny)  Har-di-har-har.  Stop it.

T:  There's another corn sign!  What's it say?

C:  Mom!  Mom!  What's it say?

Some of you may be asking, "Why didn't you just read one of the signs, even if it's not the one he pointed to?  The kids would never know."

Oh, ye of little experience.  If I were to actually read a sign every time he asked me to, he would ask over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and, tomorrow, the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day...and I'd have to "read" every single one.

This way, there is a bit of frustration on both sides, but in the end, we all win.  The next time we travel down that road, they won't ask about a single sign.  I get a few seconds of quiet time. Plus, with this solution, Cuckoo won't go to preschool thinking the bank sign says, "$20 massage.  Walk-ins welcome."

Of course, the best solution of all is to just move to Bermuda.  If we lived there, we would never have to have such ridiculous conversations.   Besides banning signs, they've made 12-passenger vans illegal, too.  It would be impossible to hear his questions when he's wearing a helmet and riding on the back of a scooter.

*I realize the song's lyrics, once you get past "Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind," don't really match the post, but it's been going through my head anyway, ever since we got out of the van.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Redneck, Fake Farmer's Guide to Fence Building

"Hillbillies are innovators." 

It's our family's new motto.

Hubby came up with it while we were putting up our new "These chickens are going to live past their first birthday or we are done, DID YOU HEAR ME?  DONE, raising chickens" fence.

For those who haven't read and memorized every post I've ever written, when we bought this 147 year old house, it came with several barns, an outhouse, a chicken coop, and 14 chickens.  We had never seen a chicken, let alone owned a chicken before, so we just went with the system and setup the previous owners had.  And apparently, the other 3 families who called this property home before them.  They were free-range chickens.

The free-ranging hasn't worked out so well.  In 8 years, we've basically fed the local coyote and dog population about 100 chicken dinners.  We have decided this will be the year we put an end to the 147 year old cycle of buy chickens, feed chickens, get a few eggs, feed chickens to local animals.  (OK, I'm sure the folks who lived here 140 years ago were a whole lot better at chicken farming than we are, and they probably had much better behaved dogs.  They most likely didn't have nearly as many premature chicken deaths.)

On to the solution...

I really need to learn how to make a button...

Stop the presses!  My awesome Bible study friend made a button for me!

After you ooh and aah, you may continue reading the post...

1.  Buy a really expensive net 12 ft. by 100 ft. on which to base the entire plan.
2.  Gather decades-old chicken wire and rusty metal posts from around the farm.
3.  Have Trusty Assistant kneel down and hold the rusty metal post for Fake Farmer while Fake Farmer swings a 20 pound metal mallet over her head in order to pound the rusty metal post into the ground. 
4.  Unroll chicken wire and attach to poles, going as far around the pen as you can.  Once you get to the already existing fence, simply put the chicken wire fence in front of the existing fence.  It's fine if you leave all the already existing weeds between the two.
5.  Attach chicken wire to posts, wall, or existing fence any way you see fit.  Use nails, funky-shaped hooks, or hooked shapes on the posts.

Funky-shaped hook which caused lots of inappropriate language.
6.  Leave Trusty Assistant working on attaching the chicken wire while Fake Farmer goes to Tractor Supply to buy more chicken wire and perhaps a pole or two.
7.  Upon return, Fake Farmer and Trusty Assistant finish erecting and attaching chicken wire, leaving a gap in the fence for easy exit.
8.  Assign Trusty Assistant chore of putting nails into coop roof in order to hang net.
9.  Drag huge old post from porch roof taken down in the Big Kitchen Remodel.  It will be the post which holds the net up in the middle of the pen.
10.  Use post-hole digger to dig a hole in middle of chicken pen, then put post in the hole.  Fill the hole around the post with the dug-out dirt.  (Yes, some might use cement to keep it in place, but that's not how this redneck rolls.)

Redneck Fake Farmers aren't too worried about being level, either.
11.  Begin putting net over pen.  Slide end of net over nails on roof, then stretch the net along the chicken wire.  Secure the net to the chicken wire with zip ties.

 12.  When Fake Farmer gets to the opposite side of the fence, cut the net with scissors to the appropriate size.  Any scissors will do.

To prove our point, we used these scissors to cut the net.
OK, really, it's because our children have stolen and lost every pair of real scissors we've ever owned.  We really did use these scissors to cut 12' of net.  Three times. 
13.  Realize the net sags a bit in the middle, so find a REALLY rusty pole to stick in the ground to hold up the net.  (Trusty Assistant will REALLY want to wear gloves and say many prayers during the post installation.)

And if the post is bent, all the more reason to pray.  And maybe wear protective clothing.
14.  Repeat steps on the other side of the pen, thus sealing Fake Farmer and Trusty Assistant in the pen with no exit.
15.  Yell for Not-So-Trusty Assistants (children) to come hand you things still on the outside of the fence.
16.  Endure jeers from Not-So-Trusty Assistants.  Questions such as, "How are you going to get out of there?!?" should be ignored completely.
17.   Realize you don't have enough netting to cover the entire pen.  Decide to simply stretch it across the back fence part and attach, then zip tie the ends to the net already in place on the sides.
18.  Find even rustier posts and use them to prop up the droopy net.

19.  Realize the 10' post Fake Farmer installed in the pen is unnecessary, seeing as how he won't be putting net over the entire pen.  When Trusty Assistant is done laughing, give her the job of deciding how to decorate pole to make it less dumb.

20.  Toss all tools out to the children.

21.  Figure out how to get out of the pen.  We went with the "Trusty Assistant and Fake Farmer climb the ladder onto the roof, pull up ladder, Fake Farmer climbs down tree, goes around coop to retrieve ladder from Trusty Assistant, then comes back to cop a feel as Trusty Assistant tries to climb down the tree" plan.

This would be the roof and the tree we climbed down.
22.  Take a look at the craftsmanship and wonder if the bottom of the fence might be a wee bit loose. 

Straight and tight are not necessary when fence building as far as we're concerned.

23.  Realizing the gaps on the bottom of the fence would have been a much better exit plan for Fake Farmer, Fake Farmer may want to secure the fence a bit more so coyotes can't get in.  Find some stakes around the farm and secure fence with what you have available.  Then cross your fingers that nothing gets in before you can get some more stakes.
Do not ask me why I put a boring photo of a barely recognizable stake in this post.
24.  Stand back and admire your work.

Notice anything missing?  That looks something like a chicken?
25.  Curse the day you ever moved to this farm and became Fake Farmers when those stupid, pampered chickens refuse to come outside.  Ever.
26.  Raise those stupid, pampered chickens until their natural deaths.  (I have no idea what the natural life expectancy of a chicken is.)
Have a lovely day!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful, Week 11

Consoling a friend through the loss of her baby does not a good week make.  (Scroll down to my last post for the details.) Yet, somehow, there were some really wonderful things, too. 

Funny how Life, which can throw us down and make us crumble in despair, is also the same Life that will help pull us out of our overwhelming grief and back into the world of smiles and laughter.


Uno.  I am thankful for the prayers I have received this week.  So many people offered their well wishes, consolations, and prayers, and I am so grateful for them.  I am especially grateful, though, for the prayers offered for my friend.  They are an amazing family.  In their sorrow, they are thanking God for the gift of Isabel, and trusting Him to help them through.  Eventually, they will be OK.

Dos.  I am thankful for good friends who will do anything for me, even when I'm extremely rude.  I got the text from my friend to come to the hospital while I was sitting in the kindergarten pick-up line.  A Bible study friend was in her car two ahead of mine, picking up her daughter.  I actually followed her home (a 2 minute drive) and begged for help before she managed to get a foot out of her car door.  She very graciously watched both Cuckoo and Turken for almost three hours for me while I went to hold Isabel.

Tres.  I am thankful for the Wakefield Doctrine.  Looks like I'm finally starting to understand all of Clark's (seemingly) endless rambling about it.  I have really noticed through the ups and low, low, lows of this week why I was behaving/thinking the way I was.  At one point, when I uncharacteristically couldn't force myself to do or say anything but think, a thought went zipping through my head. "I guess a tragedy can turn even a hard-core scott into a clark." 

Cuatro.  I am thankful for Phoenix's wonderful, team-oriented attitude on the soccer field, and his ever-present ability to stay positive and hard-working.   I can finally spill the reason for last week's hatred of soccer.  Last week were tryouts for the high school soccer team.  Phoenix came home each night thrilled to bits, saying he was playing well, making lots of assists, and having fun.  He is not a kid who tries to shine on the field, but does all he can to make his team shine.  He will NEVER take a shot if there is a teammate with a better one.  He will pass the ball and let the other kid have it.  He knew there were several kids who were on the bubble to make the team, so during their tryout games, he passed the ball to them to give them the chance to score. 

Unfortunately, when there are 65 kids trying out, his type of team-playing didn't get noticed.  While all those boys he was passing to made the team, Phoenix did not.  He was absolutely devastated.  All the players were mad, the parents were mad, and his former coaches were mad.  We were getting texts and calls all night long.  (I'll get to his positive attitude and hard-work in the next point.)

Cinco.  I am thankful for coaches who listen and are willing to correct mistakes.   On suggestions from parents with kids who have played on the high school team, I talked to the coach.  At one point I said, "I am his mom, and I do not expect you to listen to me.  Please talk to someone else.  I don't care who, just talk to someone."  Later that night, the coach called.  It seems he did make some calls, because he said Phoenix could play with the team as manager.  When I told Phoenix, he immediately felt better.  He was thrilled to bits to simply be on the field, even if he wasn't on the team.

This week, he has gone to every practice.  He's worked his tail off, to the point where other kids were chiding him, saying, "You don't even have to be here to run these three miles.  I certainly wouldn't if I wasn't on the team."

On Thursday after practice, all three coaches pulled Phoenix aside to tell him they were happy with what they saw from him, and they were offering him a spot on the team.

Commence celebrations.

Seis.  I am thankful for our little farm.   It makes me beyond excited to be able to feed my family right from our own land.  One day this week, we had a meal consisting of potatoes with onions and bacon, beef roast, and green beans.  Every bit of it was from our land. (We traded some pork products for some of my brother's beef products.  He raises the cattle.)  I was over the moon about it.

Siete.  I am thankful for kids who don't mind jumping in to help.  Gardens wait for no woman, so of course there was plenty to can this week, too.   Giant didn't even bat an eye when, an hour before practice, I asked him to start snapping beans.  Even when he saw the five-gallon bucket of beans that needed done, he jumped right in without complaint.

Two nights later, I had 45 minutes to get tomatoes into jars.  Star actually offered to help, and became Master of Hot Water/Cold Water Tomato Skin Remover.  We got them done with two minutes to spare. 

Ocho.  (If you just thought of the movie "Dodgeball" and said, "ESPN the Ocho", you are my new favorite reader.)  I am thankful for COW, specifically his bravery when dealing with mice.  We're in the country and we don't have cats.  Ergo, we get mice every once in a while.  It is COW's job to dispose of them.  I cannot, will not, touch them.  Yes, I will drag a dead pig by its hind leg, but you can't make me get a mouse out of a trap.  Not gonna do it. 

Nueve.  I am thankful for the occasional dinner date with COW.  We have barely seen each other for a couple of weeks now, so a dinner out tonight was a special treat.  The service was terribly slow, for which I was extremely grateful, seeing as how we had to go home when dinner was over.

Diez.    I am thankful for perfectly perfect days at the park with a friend.   Sun + temperature of 75 degrees + big playground + hiking trail with bridges + fun friends + one jumping bug = perfection.  We had a gorgeous afternoon.  The kids ran and giggled, the moms talked and laughed the best kind of "bend at the waist, can't breathe, just might pee" laughter.  It was the medicine I needed today.

You can't even believe how much hilarity can come with the discovery of one not-so-little bug.  The shirt was completely coincidental.
While you are living your life and being thankful, please continue to pray for my friend, so that one day soon she and her husband will be able to do the same.

Link up and have a lovely day!

Welcome to our new co-host, Dyanne!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Isabel Anne

This post was written late last night.  I couldn't hit publish until I went back over it today, after I could get a little distance from it.  If you are at work, you may want to wait until later to read it.  There is a possibility you will cry.

I held a dead baby today.

It was one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. 

It was the most agonizing thing I've ever done.

My sweet, sweet book club friend delivered her baby, Isabel, this morning, after the baby's heart stopped beating in utero yesterday.  For months now, we've known the time would come eventually, but in the back of our minds hoped and prayed it wouldn't. 

This wasn't something anyone could completely plan for.  There is no telling how a mother will react in this situation.  Over the months since the baby's diagnosis of Trisomy 18, we discussed what she was going to do.  How she was going to prepare.  Not once did we discuss what we, her friends, were supposed to do to help her.  We simply waited for her to lead us.  Five hours after delivery, she sent a signal.

Along with a picture, she texted, "Our sweet baby girl.  I'd love for you to see her."

Fifteen minutes later, I found myself sitting in the hospital parking lot.  I wanted to go to the room.  I wanted to be there for my friend.  However, I was really nervous about doing so.  I'm not known for being the best in sad situations.  My friends don't call me first after a tragedy.  They call me a day or two later, when they are ready to forget about it all and simply laugh. 

There wasn't going to be any laughing in this room.  This wasn't a day or two after the tragedy.  It was mere hours.  And was still happening.  I didn't know how I would handle the situation, and I most certainly didn't want to make it worse by saying the wrong thing.

I stalled.  I called COW.  I called another book clubber, asking when she would be there.  Should I just wait for her?

Finally, though, I pulled myself together and went in.

At first glance, the room appeared very much like any other delivery/recovery room.  Basinet, grandparents and other family scattered around, Mom in hospital gown, Baby wrapped snuggly in a blanket, nurse checking in.  Yet after a closer look, it wasn't the same at all.  No diapers under the basinet.  Tears in everyone's eyes.  No balloons or flowers.  The nurse didn't actually check the baby.  There were no baby sounds.  There was a whole lot of quiet.

It was all very surreal.

After I hugged everyone, Grandma handed dear little Isabel to me. 

She was beautiful. 

A two and a half pound, darling girl.  She had a whole mess of fuzzy hair under her knit cap (that a nurse had knitted while my friend labored).  She had perfect, miniature hands, with tiny little fingers that fit across my fingernail.  Her skin was soft and flawless.  Her eyes were closed, making her look like she was simply sleeping. 

As I held her, I realized I was swaying.  Such a natural thing, to rock as soon as a baby is placed in your arms. 

I was there for two and a half hours, and in those hours, I said maybe 20 words.  I listened.  I listened to my friend tell the story of Isabel's birth.  I listened to relatives talk.  I absorbed every emotion in that room.  The grief, the uncomfortableness, the sadness, the peace, the concern, the hurt.  Most especially, though, I felt the love.  So much love was in that room.

I feel so blessed to have been there.  To see the love and support and gorgeous things that happened in that room.  To see family and friends come together to console each other, to honor a tiny angel, and to grieve for what was lost.

The nurses did a fantastic job taking care of my friend.  The little touches, like knitting a cap and taking photos and putting together a memory box, made it all a little bit easier for my friend to bear. 

As I walked out, I felt like I was leaving a tiny little island of tranquility.

But within seconds, I was smacked with reality.

I realized the wise ways of the nurses.  They had put my friend at the very end of a long hall, and kept the adjacent room as the "family room" for overflow visitors.  It was just a nice way of keeping laboring women with live, crying, cooing babies as far from her as possible.

As the day went on, I became more and more depressed.  For all these months, I have been in a kind of denial, never fully believing that this day would come.  But deep down I knew the time was getting closer, and the pain of it all has been oozing out.

I've been receiving texts and emails and comments from people worried about me, saying my recent posts have been abnormally down.  I've been reacting to things with much more emotion than normal.  I've been sarcastic and negative, which is very unlike me.  (Soccer post would be a perfect example, I think.)

Walking out of that room, out of that hospital, people were behaving as they always do.  No one cared that in a room four floors above them, a mother and father just lost their precious baby girl they have wanted for so many years.

My mood and my energy drained as the day went on.  Seeing people at pickup laughing and acting like nothing horrific happened to someone they know about did me in.   

At one point, I wanted to scream.  Why the hell doesn't the world stop when parents lose their baby?!?!?  Why can't everyone just take a day off to cry and acknowledge the loss?

But no, life continues on, whether we like it or not.

You'd think that after today I'd be home hugging and loving on my kids like crazy. 

I wasn't.

I was simply beyond exhausted, and the emotions I had witnessed and felt were building like a wild fire.  Standing in the center of the chaos that is my home after school, I became completely withdrawn from them.  I just wanted to be in a room alone.

I didn't care that my own kids needed fed.  I didn't care that there were soccer practices to attend.  I didn't care that Phoenix needed pants to wear to school. 

I didn't care about anything except what was happening in that hospital room.

Precious Isabel, her mother, her father, her siblings.  That's what I cared about.  Soccer is pretty insignificant next to something so tragic.

All night I have been praying for them.  All night I've been asking God to help them get through this.

He will, I have no doubt, but it's going to be a long road that will get harder before it gets easier.

Tomorrow will be the hardest day for my friend.  They will take her baby from her, and she will have to leave that hospital.  She will walk the same hall I did, but instead of simply being smacked by reality, she will be beaten to a pulp by it. 

Please, please pray for my friend and her husband. 

My friend did make it home from the hospital today.  They are now in the throws of planning a funeral service while also taking care of their three other children.  Keep the prayers coming please.