Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Summer

Life is hitting a nice rhythm this summer in our little corner of the world.

This week was fabulous with NOTHING PLANNED! I've cleaned house, had a couple of play dates and played with the kids.

The second week the kids were out of school they (the older 3) attended a great VBS at a local church in town.
Then last week I sent Precious Jewel to another one and I spent the week pricing stuff for a garage sale that I was in that Friday.

I had been hoping that my 2 trips to town a day would end when school ended, but that didn't happen until this week and my gas tank and pocket book thanked me.

It's been fun though. The kids loved VBS and were so blessed with some great staff. Precious Jewel came home at the end of last week with a chunk of Scripture memorized and was proudly reciting them to anyone who would listen. We were all excited that it coincided with the current book we're reading together as a family...Little Pilgrim's Progress. Mr. Smiles got it for his birthday at the end of April, but we were in the middle of reading Ginger Pye (another old and fabulous children's story. So, we just started Pilgrim's Progress a little over a week ago. Some of the wording is a bit archaic, but I read about a sentence ahead while I'm reading out loud and change whatever wording they wouldn't understand. Sometimes I'll read what is written and they'll look at me like I've grown a third eye. I'll explain it to them and later that day hear them trying it with each other. REALLY FUNNY to hear a 2, 5, 7 and 8 year old re-enact the story and hear, "now get thyself up from thy despair! Let us go and make daisy chains for the baby to please him!" (drag un-willing, yelling 2 year old over to the dandelion puffs and try putting them in his hair). We're on the second half of the story where Christiana takes her younger siblings to the Celestial City.

Another fun tidbit....we are getting puppies!!! Yes, more than one! The kids are so excited and it's making it easier to let go of the dog we currently have. Leah isn't really ours. She is Jessica's, who lived with us a year ago during her Senior Year of college. We knew the day might come when we would have to give her back, but we are all really sad. Dear Mr. Smiles breaks out into random tears at times crying that she is leaving and then crying for Princess, the dog we had to get rid of because she kept burying dead chickens in the sandbox. (You all remember the maggot eating story). Anyway, a family in our church is giving the kids some sweet little black lab puppies and yesterday Luke and I took the kids to go pick out the two we wanted.

We decided on two because after getting rid of our ankle biting yappy little Thomas who naughtily chased Papa's cows and nipped at the heals of our new goats--even after nearly killing him with a shock collar, poor Leah became very depressed. She missed her annoying little companion (after she'd put him in his place by nearly killing him several times). The two had become fast friends and she moped for weeks after we had to take him to the pound and get rid of him. Mr Smiles has been crying for Thomas too now that I think of it. We haven't had a lot of luck with dogs. They have been sweet and great with the kids, but every dog we've gotten (all pound puppies and strays) have terrorized the local chicken, cows and now goat population. Not good when you are trying to start up a small farm from scratch or live next to any other people who own livestock or poultry. "Excuse me dad, but your cow's milk production might be low due to our ankle biting and un-trainable chihuahua-corgi."

We are hoping that by getting two: 1. they will keep each other company, and 2. getting a puppy instead of an adult dog, we can train it NOT to terrorize the animals. (Although, Leah doesn't and that makes us sad to let her go for that reason as well). I even trained her not to eat the sole chicken that has somehow survived the possums and coons in our woods. We need to name that thing because I find it in random places curled up with (I kid you not) the cats or Leah. Yesterday I walked out to find the chicken tucked in next to our very pregnant Nubian goat. that my animal tales are about done, we are naming the puppies Ginger (after Ginger Pye) and Junkyard. Of course the boys came up with that one. It better look mean when strangers come because calling out "Junkyard" to a happy drooling dog is gonna sound stupid.

Oh! On another note, the momma goat that I found sleeping with the lonely chicken yesterday had her baby this afternoon! She had JUST had it when we were walking out the door to get allergy shots. Needless to say, I'm sure the Allergy Care Center has not had a call that someone couldn't come to get their shot that day due to watching a baby goat being born. The kids insisted on seeing if she would have another and we waited for a good hour only to watch her deliver the afterbirth. GROSS! Not nearly as entertaining.

That's our summer so far!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Broke!!

My camera broke!!

I have a little hand held point and shoot, but takes good outdoor pictures Nikon that went dead yesterday.



I can't get a new one for several months! : (

I record EVERYTHING with this little piece of technology!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Never Thought I'd Google That One!

Ok. I thought my kids had eaten every gross, strange, disgusting thing out there that was (mostly) non-toxic. Was I ever WRONG!!!
Precious Jewel at the ripe old age of 9 months ate a dead fly on the kitchen floor. I was not a germaphobic mother at that time, but I was waaaaaaaay more so than I am now. I shrieked at this sweet happy baby drooling clear wings, snatched her off the floor and nearly drowned her, I'm sure, trying to rinse her mouth out. She flailed wildly and shrieked back and probably thought momma had lost it. (You ain't seen nothin' yet baby).
Then (a very short time later) along came sweet little Mr. Smiles who had this thing for our dog's tail. If he could stuff the tail into his pudgy little mouth before momma could get to him, he would. I had thought flies were gross, but a dog's tail was far worse. I'm convinced he soon began to use his little tail stuffing maneuver just to tease me because he'd rapidly crawl over to our sweet little hound and go to chewing on her tail while watching me leap across the room to try and stop him. My leaping usually involved impaling my foot on a wooden toy or two and hopping and hollering while on my way. He never seemed bothered. It just made him grin and shove the tail in farther.
Our dog. She just sat there soaking up the baby drool and attention.
The little traitor.
Mr. Smiles also ate a few dead bugs, but by then they didn't freak me out as much. What's a few dead bugs compared to a disgusting dog's tail?
I hadn't seen nothin' yet. At the age of one, our very oral Good Lookin' ate the grossest thing yet.
We were outside painting our tornado shelter that we'd just had installed in our backyard and I'd set him in his favorite location, the sandbox, to keep him from crawling off as he was apt to do. It was literally 5 feet from where we were painting and he rarely moved from it when placed there. Should be safe right?
Precious Jewel and Mr. Smiles were each given a paint brush at the ripe age of 3 and 4 and told to commence painting. They happily sloshed away painting everything from the shelter to the grass to themselves and our legs. I looked over to where Good Lookin' was supposed to be playing and saw him trying to dive headfirst over the side of our sandbox. Did I mention that it was a huge old tractor tire? I walked over to help him crawl out and noticed something peculiar on his face that did not look like sand. Then I shrieked my freaked out mother shriek that calls all good father's nearby to come running.
"He ate them! Oh my God! He ate them! Oh help! Princess (our dog) buried one here and he ate them!!! Help me Luke! Call 911 and help!"
Of course, Luke panicked not knowing what I was screaming about. Good Lookin' was spitting and I was still shrieking and causing every small person around me to dissolve into terrified tears. (I don't handle extra grossness to well, but I'm working on that).
Luke grabbed our wailing child from me and ran to the phone. I called poison control in a panic.
"He ate maggots!" I sobbed to the confused operator.
"He ate what?" I'm sure the guy thought I was drunk or something.
"He ate maggots!! Our dog buried a dead chicken in his sandbox. We don't own chickens but our neighbors do and our dog killed one and hid it in his sandbox. He ate maggots!" I blubbered away.
I don't know if the guys was laughing or not or thought I was just one of those highly neglectful mother's. I was too hysterical to care.
He told me to calm down and explain to him what had happened. I gulped (still gagging) and explained that we lived near a chicken farm (not ours) and that our dog loved to catch the chickens that escaped and eat them of course. "She's a good dog really! She just likes to eat them!"
He then asked if Good Lookin' had eaten any of the buried and rancid chicken.
"I don't think so, " was my tearful reply.
The guy kind of choked back (either gagging himself or trying not to laugh) that maggots have never been proven to honestly harm anyone, but dead chickens have. "Just keep an eye on him and maybe chain your dog."
We got rid of her instead much to our true sadness and the children's. They still ask about her and want to go visit her.
Then, this last week was our latest (and hopefully last) disgusting-toddler-eating-an-inedible-food episode.
Cat Poop.
Yes, I said cat poop. Are you nearly ready to pass out with me? I was.
This is the child who is mildly allergic to cats as well.
Nater Mater came to me grabbing at his tongue and spitting, "yucky, Cupcake yucky."
"What cupcake?" I asked wiping his mouth thinking at first that he'd eaten a rock or some dirt.
"Cupcake yucky" he repeated. (Cupcake is our baby kitten)
Where was I you ask when he ate this? About 5 feet away helping to tie his big sister's crazy double-laced shoes that I will never buy again.
I gave him some milk and cleaned him up and brushed his teeth still not realizing just what part of Cupcake he had eaten. I thought he had gotten some fur in his mouth. "Cupcake poop yucky." He stated again.
"Cupcake poop!?!" (insert slightly raised, squeaky, trying-not-to-shame-the-child momma voice).
I have gotten better at my reactions I have to say. I calmly gave him some more milk and then loaded all the kids in the car to head to a friend's house as planned. She was supposed to watch the 3 boys while I took Precious Jewel shopping to find some summer shorts.
He seemed just fine, so I dropped him off and continued on the afternoon as planned.
The I got the call.
My friend oh so sweetly said in my voice-mail that Nater Mater had just thrown up a large amount of whatever. That they'd cleaned him up and he was playing happily as normal. I could come get him or leave him. Whatever I thought best.
I turned around and drove back to pick him up.
He threw up about 6 more times in the course of 24 hours each time stating that "Cupcake bad."
"Yes dear, Cupcake's are not meant to be eaten."
I googled (I kid you not) Help! My child ate cat poop! You would be surprised at how many other children out there have survived this oh-so-disgusting cat poop and kitty litter eating disaster.
We also saw our Pediatrician the next morning who also told us to keep an eye on him over the weekend, but that he would probably be fine once it was all out of his system.
Can I add that these are the stages that I am glad my children have grown out of and are almost grown out of?
Now, if I could just get them to eat vegetables.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer's Bounty and a Dog Story

The delightful days of summer are officially here and we are enjoying them to the fullest.

The oldest 2 have been out of school one week and so far we have stayed very busy.

Thursday morning we packed up early (for summer) and headed out to a "you pick" blueberry farm about 45 minutes from our house.

We go every summer.

The kids begin asking when it's time to go blueberry picking as soon as there is even a hint of warmth in the air.

Sometimes, that can even be in the dead of winter around here.
The local patch we go to is so clean and well maintained and it's one of the highlights of our summer.
Nater Mater's first picking experience happened when he was about 9 months old. I took an old quilt to spread out between the rows and let him sit on it and play while we picked. He still wasn't crawling yet, so I wasn't too worried about him crawling off into the rows like his next oldest brother had done and scared me half to death with 2 summers before.
A collie dog came up to where I sat him on his blanket and curled up next to him much to Nater Mater's delight. He pulled on the dog's hair trying to stuff fist fulls into his little mouth before I could grab him. I didn't know the dog and even though he seemed nice, I had horror images of a faceless child and rushing to the hospital. (my older brother nearly lost an eye to a dog when he was less than 2 years old).
When I scooped Nater Mater up the dog jumped up on me and whined pulling at Nate's shorts. I was horrified thinking he was attacking us and pushed it away, pulling the other kids behind me. The dog continued to whine and follow closely behind me and Nater nipping at his shorts whenever it got the chance.
Finally, I figured out the dog thought I was kidnapping my own child! It hadn't seen me be the one to put him on the quilt and was trying to keep me from taking off with him.
Of course by now Nater Mater was screaming in terror at a large dog trying to pull him out of my arms.
I ended up going back to the quilt and sitting down and (yes, in public) nursing a then-frantic-baby just to calm him down. It was a hot morning and the car would have been over a 100 degrees and I wasn't about to drag the other 3 into it to sit with me while I nursed.
The dog licked my face and whined and then seemed to accept that I was the mother of this pudgy little guy who had tried to eat it's fur. It promptly laid back down on the quilt next to us and looked as if were sleeping.
Nater calmed down; finished nursing and I sat him back again next to this modern day "Lassie" who promptly licked Nater all over his face much to my disgust and Nater's delight.
Anyway, I will never forget that blueberry picking experience.

Needless to say, we enjoy the results of our hard work.
I bag and freeze and, if I am careful, enjoy fresh blueberries until around Valentine's Day of the next year.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Creeks and Such

We have found another spot on our little creek where the kids can actually learn to swim this summer.

I love the spot right behind our house, but it's calf deep at best and the only one in danger of drowning is Nathaniel. The others would have to knock themselves out and land face first in order to drown. Not that I want any of my children drowning!

But you can't learn to swim if the water isn't deep enough.

A pool pass is a bit out of reach this summer. We're saving for our first-ever-away-from-home-and-not-at-a-friend's-or-family-member's-house vacation.

I want the kids to continue to learn how to swim though.

I have taught lessons for years and all you need is water deep enough and a lot of practice.

Each of the kids made huge strides last year and I don't want them to lose that.

Hence, our hunt for swimming holes.

There is an absolutely perfect one just a couple of miles up the road from us where the water is over even my head in one area and ankle deep right next to it for those that still can't swim.
You can jump off the stair-step ledge....

....or wade your way into the COLD water.

Throwing dozens of rocks at the unsuspecting minnows is another favorite pastime.

And we mustn't forget to learn how to skip rocks!

I plan on going to as many different creeks and lakes as possible to enjoy every bit of this warmth and sunshine that we are finally seeing.

How are you spending your summer?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And...That's the End of That Great Chapter.

We placed each of our kids in an all-gender class at the end of the school last year.

During the summer we heard several "not-so-great" and downright awful stories about the all-girls class, so Luke and I talked and we withdrew Precious Jewel's name mid-summer... we thought.

We arrived at the beginning of the school year for Open House night and discovered somehow there had been in mistake in communication and Precious Jewel had been left in the all-girl's class.

We didn't know what to do, but after talking with her dear teacher from last year, we decided to leave her in the class with the option of moving her later if we felt she needed.

It was a God-ordained miscommunication because it was a wonderful year for Precious Jewel.

She had some of the typical nasty girl issues that every girl deals with no matter how they are educated, but the way her teacher and staff dealt with the issues was marvelous.

It made all the difference in the world.

Most importantly it Precious Jewel how to deal with conflict appropriately.

I just finished reading Bringing Up Girls and am now re-reading Bringing Up Boys by Dr. Dobson.

Precious Jewel's and Mr Smile's teachers epitomized what Dobson said every parent and teacher should do when kid's are getting picked on (which was Precious Jewel's case).

"One of the important assignments as a parent is to preserve the mental and physical health of your kids. You wouldn't think of letting someone injure them physically if you could prevent it. Why, then would you stand by and watch the spirit of your boy or girl be warped and twisted? The damage to the self-concept that occurs ...can haunt an individual for the rest of his life.

As a teacher, I made it clear to my students that I wouldn't put up with teasing. If anyone insisted on ridiculing another of my students, he was going to have to deal with me. I wish every adult would do the same. When a strong, loving teacher comes to the aid of the least-respected child in the class (not Precious Jewel's case. She was quite popular, but she did have a traumatic incident that involved several girls and parent and Administration) something dramatic occurs in the emotional climate of the room. Every child seems to utter an audible sigh of relief. The same thought bounces around in many little heads: If that kid is safe from ridicule, then I must be safe too. By defending the least-popular child in the classroom, the teacher is demonstrating that she respects everyone and that she will fight for anyone ho is being treated unfairly." (Dobson. Bringing Up Boys, pg 48)

I am a HUGE advocate of defending the "least" in the world of childhood. Probably because a couple of my own siblings were horribly picked on and I saw the pain it caused.

Precious Jewel came home from her second to last day of school sobbing uncontrollably (literally). It was the last day with her beloved teacher (the last day was a Saturday and her teacher had a wedding to attend). That did kinda' suck.

So we have decided to put her into the all-girls class again next year.

Mr Smiles had a wonderful year in his all-boys class as well.

He adored his teacher and his little fellow classmates.

The all-boys class was a good experience for him, but we did not sign him up for it again next year. (We are beginning to re-think that).

We got to attend his little award ceremony that his teacher held for her class.

It was so cute to watch each of their sweet little faces as she read their awards and handed them their (large) candy prize.

The eyes of those little boys lit up when she handed them that chunk of sugar!

Ben got the "Skittles" award for "exhibiting a RAINBOW of creative ideas in first grade. Your stories were so exciting to read!"
He beamed and we let him eat the whole bag of Skittles on the way home without having to share with anyone (a rare treat at our candy deprived house).
We haven't decided whether on not to enroll him in the all-boys class for next year or not.
We did discover that when you put a whole bunch of little boys together that the typical locker-room talk ensues. His teacher didn't tolerate it in the classroom and I know she put the "kibosh" on it when she did hear inappropriate speech.
I know with both kids the "issues" we had occurred on the playground and at lunch where it is impossible to supervise everything that goes on with every child. That occurred numerous times in my small private Christian School. Sin nature is sin nature and it's going to rear it's ugly little head no matter how young or where you are at. I've even encountered ugly situations on carefully supervised playdates.
All that to say, we want to see who the all-boys teacher is going to be next year and find out how she handles some of the concerns we've had and then we might put him back in.
The movement and activity in his classroom that looked like barely controlled chaos, was what he thrived upon.
Happy end of the school year and welcome to summer!