Monday, May 30, 2011

What Happened to Marshmallows?

I hope you were able to enjoy some holiday fun this Memorial Day Weekend. Also to pause and consider what it is we celebrate and mourn. Blessings, abundant blessings on all those good folk who serve, to allow us such freedoms.
Handy Man and I have alternated between very busy and very restful to our own tune this weekend. A tune I find most pleasurable. Due to endless rain and endless May activities, little had been done in the garden or yard. I was out by 7:00 this morning, planting corn, bulbs, flowers, etc. Handy Man helped with some unwanted flora that needed trimming and I drug it away.
This afternoon, we started on the house that has been just as horribly neglected. A lot to show for a day.
Tonight, a fire on the hill and some hot dogs to roast.
My mom always called me a firebug and actually worried about my love of a fire. It's one of those things that are hard to explain, but one of my great joys is poking in a fire.
I have quite an overactive mind. I fear I have limited success in quieting its roamings. A fire does that for me. The dancing, colorful flames entertain me with all their ease of movement, never still or dull. It seems my worries flee. If I had a fireplace, I'd never get a thing done. So Handy Man frequently fixes me up fire on the hill.
Handy Man is not quite so entertained by the fire, so it is necessary to feed him. How do people his size hold five hotdogs? Some of them with relish and onions, others with onions and his favorite Fire on the Ridge hot sauce he's eaten non-stop since I gifted it to him on his birthday.
Then, of course, marshmallows.Except those deceptive looking white puff balls are not really marshmallows. It is a trick. I want to know who is responsible! They say marshmallows on the lablel. They feel like a marshmallow and even smell rather marshmallowy. The similarity ends there.

I know about marshmallows. I'm not particularly fond of them in their room temperature state. S'mores don't do much for me either. I just think you can't improve on either Hershey's chocolate, or a perfectly roasted marshmallow. Don't bother detracting from perfection with a lowly graham cracker.

They have to be roasted very slowly. Then the outside is quite brown, not burned. You can pull off the entire brown crust, crispy outside, sticky inside, dee-wish-us, except when you can't. And you can't. I think it's been about two years since I've had a good roasted marshmallow. What happened? What is that alien marshmallow form in familiar Kraft bag? And why do I keep trying?

Not only are they alien, they are dangerous. I wasn't even close to flame when the stupid thing spontaneously combusted. As is my usual wont, I brought it to my lips to blow out, then pass onto Handy Man, who eats such things. Except, it isn't really a marshmallow, so I didn't get it that far before one jumped off the stick onto my ankle and the other my wrist, which now sport blisters for all my trouble. Fuss and bother.

So, I guess marshmallows have gone the way of Wink, perfect french fries, and other foods I've long had a fondness for. Boo, Hoo!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saved by the Dog

So, yesterday was the last day of school. I love to teach. I love the kids. I start the year full of ideas and excitement for what the year holds in store. Like a new fluffy dish cloth, I research and read and plan and soak up new ideas that I squeeze back out to my eager students. We do a ton of work, art and fun. By yesterday at 3:15, I felt like one of those dish rags that come out of the washing machine in pieces. That's it folks, no more, all done, tired, weary, finished!
Then, because some folks have to be out for a PD on our last teacher day, we had to have our "End of Year," meeting after school. Yes, you heard correctly. After every last bit of patience, ideas and goodwill had been put through the wringer and had come out on the other side in pieces, I had to talk about themes, and schedules and on and on and on, for four hours. I came home in a foul mood to say the least.
Good news! I slept well and returned to the scene of the crime this morning to retrieve my new chickie babies and bring them home. First, I stopped and introduced them to Arwen. She stuck her head in the bucket, as if to count them, then was no longer interested. Much earlier in the spring I planted the chicken tractor with wheat and chickweed, so I let them play in the sunshine and tasty treats most of the day.
I played in the yard, planting, planting and planting. Before my last bit of energy was spent, I decided I'd best return the wee babes to the coop. Now if you've ever raised chickie babies you know they run from you. I was catching them fairly easily in the small tractor and putting them, three at a time in a bucket, and transferring them to Cluckingham Palace. Of course, I'm trying to be calm, singing Amazing Grace. They are not impressed by my peaceful demeanor and hymn chanting and squawk their tiny heads off. When I put Holly, so named by my class, in the bucket, she climbs right on another chick's back and flies out of my bucket and the tractor into the VERY BIG chicken yard. Time for Keystone Cops!
Thankfully, as she is running full force along the fence line, Arwen the Wondergirl is running right along side her on the outside of the pen. I'm trying one trick after another, but am not catching Miss Holly. Finally, I get her cornered and pray I can grab her when she sticks her head through the fence. By now my heart is pounding, I'm dripping sweat and envisioning a lost Ameracauna. Oh, I'm also yelling, "Arwen, don't let her out! Don't eat her either!" God love that dog, she sticks her face right up the chicken, who is half through the fence, as if to say, "I double dog dare you to go another step." This terrifies the poor chick into submission and she plops her feathered hiney down in the dirt, and I pick her up.
Disaster averted, thanks to one faithful, smart dog!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Calm before the Storm

The midwest has endured a rough storm season this spring. We've experienced several storms, and much water here in southern Indiana, and tonight is no exception. Tornado and storm warnings abound.
It's my own kind of storm at school. Trying to wrap up this year and wrap my mind around the fact that I will have almost three times the students next year. It's a hectic week, always is. Still, I picked up Bean and Bugg and headed home this afternoon, wondering if we'd get any play time before scary weather presented itself.
As is his custom, Bean wanted a swing and a story. He had even drawn a picture of me swinging him with a speech bubble indicating a story. I scanned it, but couldn't size it to fit here. So cute. It was the American Revolution today.
After the story he asked if I had any honeysuckle, so I took Bugg and him over to the big patch in the side woods. They were thrilled. I putzed around pulling weeds and such and when I returned, they had stopped pinching and sipping and were instead collecting. Bugg said they were picking blossoms for a Honeysuckle Picnic. Bean added, "Could we have something to put on the ground and maybe some other things?" So I went in and grabbed a sheet, some cheese and a box of crackers. He found some juice to his liking in the pantry and brought that out as well.

I just handed them the things and they made their own decisions about where to put their picnic. I sat on the rocking chair on the porch and simply relished the calm. It is restorative to me, watching little ones take a few simple things and make a grand time of it. Bugg didn't finish until she polished off the honey from every last blossom in that pile of blooms.
We talked about the way fairies use honeysuckles for their honey pot. I told them I imagined their honeysuckle patch housed a fairy abode or two, and I would be on the look out.
Such fun.
I spent the remainder of the evening cooking up some goodies for my Handy Man, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow. Butterscotch dessert for breakfast. The man likes his sweet stuff. Russian egg salad on rye in his lunch. Bbq'd ribs for supper. He'll be a happy handy man which makes me smile.
Now, to unplug this before the storm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ewww, What an Ugly Word

Cancer, how do I loathe thee, let me count the ways- too many ways!
Cancer, leave the people I love alone- Aunt Bett, Bob, Dave, Dora and so many more.
Lord, help-please!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thirty Three Thousand Dollars

Thirty three thousand dollars is a bunch of money.

Today I went to snuggle that new grand boy for a few hours. He's growing like a weed. He is resting better, but still spends quite a bit of time squirmy, grunty and uncomfortable with the reflux. No, I didn't have to pay to get in and hold the wee one, but that is something to consider.
Rae-rae has long had a heart for orphans, and always wanted a house full of kids. She talked of adoption, long before she would have been able to pursue such an endeavor. That desire seemed to increase after she visited Ethiopia a couple of years ago.
Since her experience with Gideon did not go like we hoped and was in fact, quite terrifying, she's already looking ahead to coming by that next little poo-pie a different way. I imagine you've guessed it. Thirty three thousand dollars is what it costs to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.
Doesn't that break your heart? Babies who need a family, families who want a baby and only a few thousand dollars stands in the way. Gee, that is a bunch of money.
I asked about trying for an adoption locally. She shared the fear, perhaps all adoptive families have, of someone showing up at their doorstep to take the baby they've considered theirs from the moment said baby was placed in their arms. That is a terrifying thought and trust me, one I would never, ever wish on any poor soul, but it did get me thinking.
As a teacher, I feel the teaching profession has really taken a beating in our state and they aren't done (those doing the beating). Long I have believed they've chosen the wrong to tree to bark up and just continue to do so. Their belief- poor learning is a result of poor teaching. Don't get me wrong, poor teaching doesn't help, but teachers are not miracle workers. When you are given 28 children to teach 230 new standards to in one hundred and eighty days, much of your success is based on the type of learner you get. The type of learner you get is fashioned, in my experience and opinion, by their formative years 0-5. Do I feel like what happens in those years locks you into a situation for life? No, only because I believe God is a miracle worker and if you diligently seek to walk a different path, your life can take a different course. I do believe the role it plays in education is seriously overlooked. I have never had a child that wanted to learn that I couldn't find a way to teach. Children who don't want to learn, that's another story.
So what does that have to do with adoption? Oh, just meandering thoughts. When I had my first baby, I thought letting them go, as an adult, would be easy, because you know, they weren't little anymore. I didn't know that I would still feel the need to help each time they get in a tight spot, want to buy them things they want or need, hurt when they hurt, long after their childhood had ended. So, if they leave to a marriage, or to move to another town, or in rebellion as I know many parents face, it's so, so hard. Oddly enough, it's hard even when your thrilled about their choice of mate, or college, or whatever it is. You've just spent so much time, energy, emotion, etc. into them and they are gone.
All that to say, I just think that even if you risk someone showing up down the road and claiming your child, think about what they take with them, what a loving, stable home gave them. What a priceless gift.
Now, would that knowledge be enough? Not if it were me. I would be devastated, but would it have been the right thing? Just thinking, because thirty three thousand dollars is a bunch of money.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Games

For the past several Wednesday nights, Bean has had to leave early for soccer practice, which leaves me with Missy Bugg for an hour or so. Bean doesn't get all the time he'd like in the swing, or with playing with Gramerly, which is sad. I do though love the time one on one with her. Tonight she wanted to play games. She is a real puzzle/game girl. I reviewed about a million games trying to find some good ones. I must confess-I am not competitive, and not a big game player. I've searched high and low to find a few I could stand to play over and over.

This is a favorite. A tiny bee sits atop the hive. You spin to determine which color piece you push out without knocking over Mr. Bee. I usually deliberately lose all games with wee folk. Yes, I'm aware that is not teaching them about real life. I think they get enough real life at daycare and in the classroom. I don't feel like they need another dose from me. This game though I frequently win. The reason, if I knock off the bee, the action stops and it has to be set up again. However, losing is tempered by the fun of watching all the pieces fall and go clanging about. It also gives me an opportunity to pat Missy Bugg on the back and remind her that being a good winner is easy, but being a good loser is a wonderful thing indeed.

This is a pretty silly little game. Bet you can't guess why it tempted me. Bugg is happy with the simple matching color game.
Tonight was the first time we pulled out this Bible matching game. She was pretty good at it. She wanted to know the story to go with each character. So this will be a learning game too.

Rae-rae came over on Saturday and Pappy and I took turns holding the boy while Rae and Michael watched a movie. Gideon is still having a tough time with his reflux. I got out an old chair that I have. I hoped since it keeps them sitting up so much, it might be a good spot for him. He faded right off and slept for a good bit.
They are still trying one thing after another to get him some relief. Hopefully her blood is built up enough, because she is going to try to go off all her iron, in case that is the culprit. Poor little guy.
He is a sweetie.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Davy in a Bucket

Whoa, some kind of craziness going in Blogdom. Everytime I've tried to do something for three days, this blog has looked different. First a comment, then it was gone. Next, the whole last entry was gone. Then it was back with the comment, then gone again. Now it's back, but the comment is gone. Don't ask me, I haven't a clue.
Drummer Boy brought the kids over Wednesday. It was time for baby boy BJ to follow his sibling and cousins in the tub pictures. His are kind of late really, since as soon as it got warm, it rained, and rained, and rained. He was up for the tub that evening, so in he went.
Oh, me, I'll have a hard time choosing. You know Buttercup had to be in on the action too.
Need I elaborate on the humidity level that afternoon. So glad no one was taking my picture!
I had just returned the day before from our all day field trip to the Indiana History Museum and Conner Prairie. I really like both of those places and it's a very wonderful place for my students. After so many years, the wonder has kind of worn off for me.
Still, I seem to always find a few gift shop items for the gramerlings.
I'm sure this is exactly what Davy Crockett looked like at 8 months old.
Is this some serious cuteness or what?
Which one is your favorite?
I bought wee Gideon a hat as well. Poor littlest bit, he has reflux quite severely. Neither him nor Mama are getting much rest. We be praying for that boy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thirty Went In, How Many Came Out

I believe this is the 7th year I've hatched chicks in room 15. This was by far the most unnerving year, though it's always a bit unnerving.
Remember, I paid big bucks for rare eggs. I also added six of my own for insurance. First, next day postage was above and beyond what I was willing to fork over. Secondly, you want to get them in the brooder ASAP, but you have to turn them big end up for 12 hours so the air bubbles will all settle at the big end to make an air pocket prior to brooder placement. That of course all occurred the same day Gideon decided to make his appearance. So, Handy Man had to come to hospital, retrieve the keys, trudge over to school and settle them properly. You have to maintain a steady temp to grow a chick and we only had about three storms a day for the entire 21 days, producing not only loud thunder and lightening, but power outages. Thank the Lord, not at school. Lastly, if there is a chick in there and the temp and humidity are right, etc, etc, they still have to get out!
Never underestimate a praying child. My students hoped for at least nine, and prayed for them all 21 days.
I purchased six Ameracauna eggs, six Black Copper Maran eggs and twelve of the company's pick of rare eggs, cause that was the cheapest route.
I had hoped to get one BCM rooster and all the rest hens, cause I had a friend willing to take some them so then I could continue to hatch eggs of known origin.
Last Monday, I saw one Amercauna egg and two BCM rocking. I don't remember having ever noticed that before. By Monday evening we were hearing some peeping.
Remember that air pocket? Well the chicks first breakthrough to the air pocket so they can breathe and that allows them to start peeping.
I came in Tuesday morning to find a chick, not from a rocking egg, but one I never saw move, the first Ameracauna. Another of the same was pipping and broke out in front of the round, astonished eyes of my students. By the time I left, two more were pipping. The next morning we had two more chicks, but nothing was happening when I left at six. I was thankful there would at least be four, but I was disappointed overall. Those four were some expensive chickie girls (except two were already acting really cocky).
I came back at nine to check on them and five more were pipping.

We watched all day with bated breath. By day's end we had seven chicks altogether, two working hard on their shells and one that didn't make it.
There's a lot of controversy over whether or not it's a good idea to help a chick hatch. Some say, "No, it's mother nature's way." Others believe a chick, like a baby, can just be turned wrong and need some help. The blood circulation to the chick flows through the inner most membrane There is yet another membrane beyond that, then the shell. First, with an egg tooth that later falls off, it pips through to the air bubble, then through that first membrane. This sends a signal to stop the blood flow. If you aren't very careful when you help with the hatching, the chick could bleed to death. This type of stuff, while fascinating, makes me a bit weak in the knees to play a part in the bleeding to death scenario.
So, I return at 9 again and those two chicks still aren't out, but have made enough headway, that clearly there's no blood flow, so I did a few chips for them. I didn't want to risk them not making it like the one earlier in the day. Soon, they were out and doing well.
I was still very troubled by that one big chocolate brown BCM egg that I knew I saw moving. Finally, I decided I would try a to make a tiny chip in the large end, cause obviously, she wasn't coming. I did and it bled, so I immediately stopped. I was sad, cause I knew it had indeed held a chick that was alive and well on Monday.
That was at nine pm and when I came in on Friday morning, there she was, already hatched out.
Maybe the naysayers are right, she was fine on Friday, having trouble breathing on Saturday, and gone on Sunday. Somehow, I had to try. She was the sweetest little thing.
So, the end result, nine living chickies. My students are thrilled with their babies, that are named such things as JJ, Holly, Double Trouble and I forget the others.
Best of all, we have two hobbit chickens-be still my heart, with wee furry feet!
Now it will be interesting to see if the two I think are roosters, are indeed cock a doodle doos and the rest hens.
Speaking of roosters, either mine have gotten old and lazy, or my girls have improved their escape techniques, because not a one of my eggs hatched.
I ended up with four Black Copper Marans ( two of the feathered feet kind), three Ameracuanas (that lay blue eggs), and two that look like chipmunks with a name I'm not even sure how to pronounce-Penedesenca.
So that is the rare egg story!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Someone recently asked a question that gave me cause to pause and reflect, a lot.

"Are you sorry you ever had kids?"

That, with a statement Michael made, "When he does that (baby Gideon), it worries me." I smiled and told him, "Yes, and now you'll never stop having something to worry about."

So, I've been reflecting on being a mother. I grew up in the "Women can have it All," " I am Woman," "I can Bring Home the Bacon," etc. It never occurred to me that I couldn't be president, or run a company, but never did I aspire to such things. I wanted to be a mom, that's all. Ha- that's all, that, is in fact the most challenging job I've ever pursued and find it just as challenging now as then.

First you worry if the baby is healthy. Then I worried if the baby was a girl, cause at the time I wasn't too crazy about my brothers, and by comparison to my four sisters, thought boys were big trouble.
Then they lay that little wet, wriggling creature on your chest and you are smitten. Is it a boy, girl, alien, it doesn't matter- what it is - MY BABY. Then, for a whole minute, the world is bliss, until the next set of worries. Is he too hot, too cold, hungry, bored, what?
For a solid year you hold your breath every time you question if he's breathing because SIDS is never far from your mind.
Then it's his first birthday and you sigh, feel so happy, for a whole minute.
Next, since just like your own Mama told you, "Every ol' crow thinks her is the blackest." You worry that he'll be snatched, because who wouldn't be instantly attracted to the cutest, sweetest, smartest, little lumpkin ever?
Then you have two more, rinse, wash, repeat the above. Wow, seriously, you can love this many wee folk this much?
In two shakes of lamb's tail, he's big enough to know how to use the phone, tell where he lives and scream if threatened, so you smile and feel confident, for about a minute. You read an article about a kid finding a gun, and the tragic results that follow and question when it's safe to allow him to go to someone else's house, cause who tells you they have a gun lying about where children play?
And daily, you smile at the wonder of this magnificent child, and you smile and blink and suddenly his voice is changing, he's looking you in the eye and taking every opportunity to express in attitude and body language what a worthless no account he thinks you are. And you wonder, "Where is that sweet little boy of mine." But, other people are always telling you of his work ethic and politeness and you comfort yourself with the thought that you must of done something right.
The worries though, come faster now, because I can no longer see what happens. The boy drives. Car wrecks, drugs, alcoholism, unplanned for babies and a million other things linger in the shadow of my mind, playing peek-a-boo when I don't know where he is or what he's doing.
Still, there is much joy.
I was sipping my coffee this morning, thinking on past Mother's Days.
I hosted all my kiddos friends overnight and then fixed prom breakfast four years running. Three of the four were on Mother's Day weekend. I can still picture all those kids soundly sleeping and every available surface in the house covered with a body. Prom punch, cinnamon rolls and sausage, biscuits and gravy. I still run into kids who remind me of that.
Then you watch them graduate with much pomp and circumstance and think, "Well, we did it, we got here."
Then your kids tells you he's joined the National Guard and we're in a war. So far, I haven't mentioned guilt, but it comes in equal doses with worry. I want to pray, "Lord, please keep my boy out of harm's way." And, in spite of myself, my eyes are instantly drawn to the article of another brave soul who will not be coming back home. I wonder what right I have, and if there is a mom out there anywhere who wants her child to grow up, barely, and leave this world in such a way. Of course there isn't. I can't help myself. I ask anyway.
The very first thing that crossed my mind when I heard of the fall of Osama Bin Laden was a concern for the men that did the deed. My boy would have said, "Yes," to that call. It is the kind of man he is.

You teach your children what you believe is right, then you have to watch when they make decisions you think are wrong and you have to live with it. It is still hard and frightening and worrisome.
But thankfully for me, I have had the privilege of watching them do so many right things, good things, responsible things, and just tender, loving sweet things.
Ahh, then they bring a baby. A most perfect, precious wee baby, and all the love and the fear begin for the next generation.
Then more and more babies!
My boys jumped right into to parenting with both feet, heart over heels. Clearly, their sister is the same. All three are hard workers. Both my boys got an overdose of their Mama's ADD gene and are satisfied with status quo for, oh a whole minute sometimes. Running, bicycling, deer, pheasant, turkey, drums, yoga, bows and rifles, chicken killing, houses to rent, flooring businesses to buy, the next thing. I smile, cause I get it. I worry cause I know it's hard to have such an over active mind.
And that girl, surely inherited my momma gene. Being a mom is what she is all about.

So, back to the original question. I was born a mom, and looks like I'll leave this world the same. If I had not had children, I would have mothered something or someone all along the way. It is the fabric of my being.
I am joyful that I made a contribution to the world at large that will fall on the positive side of the balance. Handy Man and I truly did all we knew to do and I believe the world is a better place because of 1st. Lt, Drummer Boy and Rae-rae. In addition, they'll likely be better parents than we were, so the legacy will continue.
The world is fraught with worrisome things for true. That has always been. Being so reminds me of my need for someone who knows the end of all stories, and daily I must place those worries in His big hands. And daily, I will aim to thank Him for the gift of my children and their children.
The truest words I've read about being a mom and have quoted often, still strike a chord that resonates in all my parts.
"To have a child is to make the momentous decision to forever have your heart walk about outside your body."
The same is true for grandchildren. Now I my heart is walking everywhere in a multiplicity of directions.
No, I'm not sorry. I would do it all over again.
Even today, when I'm cooking and all of three of them are sitting at the kitchen table, making comments and cracking each other up, it is the deepest, most satisfying peace and joy I will know this side of heaven.
Happy Mother's Day - hoping joyful things for you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Oak's Day

Woo,hoo, we actually got to be off for one of our scheduled snow days. I spent Oak's Day as close to Churchill Downs as I likely ever will. Rae-rae lives just a couple of blocks from the backside of the track. As Michael pointed out, you can see the grandstand from their front porch. So between the traffic, funny intoxicated walkers (saying some rather inappropriate things I could hear in the house), and the fancy hat people at the day long party in the business next door, I was close enough.
I spent my day doing my favorite thing- gramerling wearing. My little Gideon is a happy boy snugged right against my heart (umm, when he's not hungry, when he is hungry, my beating heart is of no interest to him and necessitates me locating a different chest- speedily). Isn't he a handsome boy?

It is a little early to tell, but those eyebrows and hair on top are looking very auburn.
Raechel continues to regain her strength. I don't think she's feeling like running a marathon anytime soon, but day by day is improving.
Can I just say how sweet it is to me that she'll join the ranks in tomorrow's Mother's Day celebration?
For all the chicken farmers, or chicken farmer wannabes, watch for all the chickie news that is news in the next couple of days. Remember the gamble I took in ordering rare eggs through the mail? Well, I'll be telling you all about it soon.