A Day Behind the Wheel

We survived our day trip retrieving the bus.  I think I did pretty well, considering.  I even drove over a bridge – no easy feat given my phobia.

It was a long, long day, though.  It’s about 3 hours out to where we picked up the bus, then 3 hours back plus all the various meal and potty breaks (Oona, Neve and Maddie came with us; Emily stayed with her grandma and grandpa).

I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it all came back to me once  I was on the road.  Kind of like riding a bicycle.  I do still think I may kill my husband for making me pull a U-Turn on a 4 lane highway right off the bat, though.

Neve loved it.  Maddie felt like we were breaking the law since there are no seat belts.  Other than the heat not working (we were popsicles by the time we made it home) the ride was nice. I am mad at the governor for shutting down all the rest areas, though – there’s just no way to get a bus this big into a Starbucks parking lot.  At least not on my first day back to this kind of thing.

Once the sun set I kind of felt like there should have been dozens of inebriated frat boys and sorostitutes causing all kinds of commotion behind me.  Too many late night weekend runs while at the university.  I was already a mother at that point, and I cringed seeing the make-up and the scanty clothes on those young girls as they headed out into the night.  Oh, if their mothers only knew.  And then there was the drunk boy that asked if he could kiss me as he stumbled his way onto my bus.  He got rather persistent.  I happened to be holding a long “poking stick” (to change the overhead route sign) and I waved it in his face and told him he could either sit down and shut up or get off and walk.  He fell down instead.

Nothing beats the night my bus caught fire.  It was almost midnight and the back end just started spewing flames.  I pulled over and got everyone off safely and calmly and shut the engine down……….just in time for another bus driver to run from down the road bellowing OH my GOD!  Your bus is on FIRE!!!!” Now that I think about it, I am not sure I really miss those days.

See?  Bridge?  The worst kind, too.  It’s like the Tappan Zee in New York state – kind of a highway low to the water.  *Shudders*.  This one happened to have a tunnel at the end of it.  But, I have to say that if I wasn’t white – knuckling it all the way across I could have admitted the water looked pretty.

And now, for your amusement……my first nervous moments on the road, from Maddie’s perspective.

Hopefully that works……..and I love how Neve says she’s scared.  That’s a great vote of confidence there! Also, though no one’s going to believe me, I did not tell Neve to call her father a “poopoo – head”.  I swear.

Still Digging Out

Everyone sick of Snowmaggedon 2010 yet??  Sick of the pictures?  Too bad!!!!!

The kids have been out of school for about 2 weeks now – I think they went 1 or 2 days last week and were out all this week.  Needless to say my house is a wreck, they’ve eaten the pantry bare and I am so very ready for them to go back.  Looks like Monday, as long as we don’t get that 2-3 inches they’re calling for Sunday night.  Oy.

UPS closed down completely for awhile there,  though USPS braved it out, at least in our neighborhood.  I was none too pleased, since I was expecting a cat fountain.  Yeah, you heard me.  I couldn’t wait for my darn cats to have fresh circulating water in fountain form.  Of course that was once our power came back.  All weekend it was on again, off again, and we had long stretches without – Friday around 6 pm through late morning Saturday, and again from about 3 pm Saturday to 7 pm Saturday.  I can’t tell you how gratfeul we were for those few hours WITH power, because a lot of people never got that, and ended up being out all weekend.  Our friend Mike who is further out in the county was off from last Friday morning until just a day or two ago.  We had no phones for a good 3 days – and no internet.

Paul broke the bobcat clearing the bottom of the driveway because the snow was so heavy – the bottom 6 or 8 inches was snow, the middle few inches were ice, and the top layer was snow again.   The meteorologists were saying if it hadn’t turned to sleet for that middle portion we’d have ended with with almost 4 feet.  So, heavy snow, broken bobcat.

We had to pay a guy to finish the job.

A portable propane stove/oven can be your best friend when there’s no power ( and your normal stove is a crappy electric affair).

It still looks like a bomb went off around here.  There are trees down everwhere and when I drove out to CVS today I saw dozens of downed power lines with huge pine boughs tangled in them, all along the main road.

Thankfully none fell on our house, though some looked mighty close.

These huge branches fell onto the front chicken coop.  Fortunately none of the fallen branches landed on any chickens.

Jerry doesn’t seem to mind the snow so much.  Milkshakes has a harder time getting around in it than he does, though.

So during all of this house-bound time I’ve been trying to keep busy.  And by busy I mean not just all the cleaning I have to constantly do behind my 3 slobs, but productive busy stuff.  I’ve been working at my knitting a few stitches here and there but my heart hasn’t been into it (except for a brief spell when the fireplace was roaring and it was snowing out and I was all comfy and warm).  I cut out some cotton jersey skirt panels and traced out a rose pattern for reverse applique and I’ve been working on stitching that together with some beads.

It’s slow going for sure, but it’s a satisfying project to work on.  I’ve been using ideas from the Alabama Stitch Book. What’s even more exciting is the NEW Alabama Studio Style.


Fabulous.  You must go buy it now!!!!   I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this book and the projects in it.  I think it will be occupying much of my time this spring and summer.

Along with cleaning.  Massive amounts of cleaning.

I don’t want to say I am spring cleaning.  I don’t even really want to do spring cleaning until, well, spring. But being cooped up with 3 kids (plus a husband, a sister, a dog and 2 cats) has forced my hand a bit in the “just how much cleaning really needs to be done” and I’ve taken to weeding through cabinets a bit and de-cluttering as I can.

I started in my bathroom vanity.  It’s kind of hilarious and kind of embarrassing how many tubes of varying types of Vaginal Fungicide and Jock Itch Cream I have in there.  And the thing is, they’re not mine.  Remember waaaaay back to last year when we first brought Jasper cat home – he had ringworm.  I tried about 8 different strengths of anti-fungal cream before one worked and it cleared up.  Meanwhile, now I’ve got all this stuff in there, barely used.  It seems a waste to throw them away, but then again…..I got to thinking about things lately.  If I were to die today and people had to come in and clean out my stuff…….what would they think of me?  Mostly that I hoarded fabric and yarn, had 31,000 knitting needles in various sizes (and many, many of the same size) , that I really like my animals, that I maybe never ever cleaned out my fridge……and that I had some seriously funky fungal issues going on.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?  What would people think about you?

Getting Walloped Again

We’re snowed in today, and most likely all weekend.  We’re expecting about 2 feet of snow, which means the kids won’t ever go to school again.  Funny.  Where I grew up (upstate NY) we’d have had to go to school in this mess.  Personally I really enjoy the snow, but I do have to say that here in central Virginia they are so very ill – equipped to manage it that it makes things difficult at best.  It’s beautiful to look at……but there isn’t any food left in the grocery stores or gas left at the service stations.,……if you can even find any that are open.  No mail will be delivered until the roads are cleared (that may take several days) and school won’t open until even the back country roads are passable by bus.

So here we stay and enjoy it as best we can.  Baking cookies, breaking up fights between sisters, watching Spongebob, sewing, knitting.  And fixing fences.  A big branch came down on the fence way out back and had to be cleared.  Simple electric wires and mesh (what we have) is generally more than adequate for this region…..it would never work up in the north country.  That’s been a bit of a pain, but we got to chop up some pine branches for Milkshakes and she was more than happy to dispose of it for us.

Speaking of goats…..remember that whole goat giveaway I entered back in the fall?  It was sponsored by Shepherd Susie over at Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm.  Since the giveaway she has relocated along with her flock……to about 5 minutes down the road from me.  Seriously.  How weird is that???  It’s actually pretty great because now there is someone very close by that I can go to for goat advice.

I love little chicken prints in the snow.

Also, to all you Amy Butler Fans and sewing enthusiasts: Amy Butler has a computer program out now with a bunch of great projects on it.  It looks great – you can customize your projects and visually plan them all out right on your pc.  I am all over it baby.

The Wooly Llama of Wooly Mama

I actually don’t have too much to add today.  We’re still working on the pen.  Mom and I worked hard to get it done only to discover (once we’d strung all of the electric wire) that one of the corner posts had come loose from its concrete mooring and basically brought all further work to a halt (have I mentioned my rotten luck?  Nothing ever goes right the first time around here).  We’ll attempt to fix it and get Jerry and Milkshakes into their permanent home tomorrow – just in time for Hunter the Saanen goat to be delivered.

So far the two newbies are doing well.  Jerry is rather aloof and does not like to be approached (which is fine for a guard llama) – but if you hum at him he will hum back and he has been eating hay I hold out to him.  He almost ate some grain out of my hand today but little miss piglet goat bucked at my hand in an attempt to ge the grain all to her cute greedy self and it spooked him.  Ah well.  Tomorrow’s another day.  As for miss goaty – she is like a little dog.  She calls to us when she sees us, she wags her tail when we pet her and she likes to lick our skin – and maybe take the occasional nibble on our clothes or arms.  The chickens have gotten used to their presence and have been sharing the hay with them.

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See Roo standing there?  I wouldn’t be surprised to find any of them sitting on Jerry’s back.

Speaking of hay….I think I may have ordered a *tad* too much of it.

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There’s two of them.  But, you know what?  I’ve never ordered hay before, and I didn’t realize how big they’d be.  It also didn’t help that I could barely understand the guy I bought them from, and since he was hard of hearing as well I am amazed he showed up at all, never mind with the hay.  On the plus side, it is nice to open the kitchen door into the garage and have the heavenly scent of hay waft into the house rather than the usual burning oil, paint, cleaning chemicals, etc.

And they LOVE the hay!

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Yummy hay!

My mother has become our farm hand – and it’s a good thing – our Mexico trip is back on and we leave next week.  Mom will be caring for the chickies (still no eggs!!!) and the goaties and llama in our absence.

Paul’s company is sending us to the Riviera Maya to a resort where we also get to tour some ancient Mayan ruins – I am very stoked about that.  Not so psyched to be stuffing myself into a bathing suit in November, but still.  Think of the photo ops!

Lastly, and I don’t really like to get too political here but I just had to express my dismay that Virginia has taken a huge step back with regards to womens’ rights with this election.  And I am not even talking about any hot  button topics. Ah well.  I’ll spend time with my growing herd and all will be right with the world.

The Long Drive

Several long drives took place this week – Maddie, Oona and I drove up to New York to visit family (roughly 9 hours each way) on Friday and back yesterday, and Paul drove up to Long Island Thursday night (roughly 7 hours) with the girls and back Sunday night.

Paul and the girls took the bus.  I was a bit nervous seeing them off on Thursday night.  It wasn’t until about 9pm that they got going and I guided them out of the driveway.  Paul’s quite capable with large vehicles, but as a former bus driver I worried about him making his maiden voyage without any real training.  I reminded him about 10 times about clearance and weight limits and pivot points (that would be your back tires) but he made it up north without a hitch.

Maddie and Oona and I had a smooth drive up Friday and enjoyed the scenery.  We took route 15 north basically the entire way from Virginia into New York and once we got into Pennsylvania the foliage was just spectacular.  Maddie quickly got bored of staring at farmland, but I kept wanting to stop and take pictures of all the beautiful old barns and farms (I didn’t).  Once we got into New York it got dark and rainy (and cold!) and we had quite a lot of fog.  Still, we made it safely and had a lovely weekend with our family.

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The maple tree next to grandma’s house is all golden and red and there was a delicious chill in the air (though I think I may have been the only one who enjoyed it – everyone else was less impressed with the chill).

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We toured the old cemetery at the end of the road.

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These graves had been largely overgrown and forgotten until very recently.  A neighbor took it upon himself to cleat out the overgrowth and find all of the broken, scattered and sunken headstones and repair, clean, and re-place them.  Many of them had been covered over by sediment for years after the Genesee River flooded (severely so) in the early 70’s.  You can’t see it from this photo, but the river is just beyond the trees in the background.  The river rose again in the mid 90’s and probably buried them even further – but now they’ve been taken over by a caring steward and some of the town’s history can be gleaned from the old stones.  It’s all very incredible to me since this was all forested when I was a child there.  You could see one, maybe two, stones poking out of the weeds back in those days, but the old site seemed destined for obscurity.  My grandfather’s ashes will soon be residing here, and I think I may even want my own here some day.

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Oona was her usual charming and energetic self, though she remained too shy to really warm up to anyone other than my grandmother.  Given more time she’d have no doubt demanded everyone allow her to treat them like jungle gyms.

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We got to explore the old hotel a bit and see the work the new owners have been putting into restoring it.  A lot of walls and ceilings are being re-built, along with new plumbing and wiring.  The outside is being meticuloulsy repainted and a new fire escpae is at the ready to be installed.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when finished.

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My aunt Leisa and uncle John drove out from Cayuga Lake and my uncle Jeff drove in from Buffalo and we explored a bit down by the river and collected fallen chestnuts from a tree Leisa had planted years ago.  It was funny to me to see the river so high – in the summers you could walk almost completely across on the exposed rocks.

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Oona “helped” Leisa dump the wheel barrow full of weeds near the river bank.

Sunday we had more family out – Aunt Leslie, Uncle Jamie and cousin Tyler joined us for a stroll in the park.  I completely forgot my camera, so I had to use my Blackberry.  I think it actually took pretty decent pictures.  Tyler pointed out that the camera on his phone had just as many mega pixels as my good camera and that made me a bit sick to my stomach – and all the more determined to get a REAL camera sometime soon!

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We focused our sightseeing on the water falls.  I’ve been there a million times but I always love it  – I could sit for hours just watching the falls and listening to the roar of the water.  Maddie, on the other hand,  likes to make faces.  (It’s ok – she was just being funny).

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See the rainbow?

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Leslie and I both think this waterfall – the Middle Falls – is the best.

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There’s another hotel right here in the park – just above the Middle Falls.  One day I’d like to stay there – it’s just beautiful.

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Check out Maddie’s Day-Glo pants.

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This spot is called “Inspiration Point”.  I must have hundreds of photos of this spot, but I took another one anyway.  People get married at this spot – isn’t that lovely?  And then honeymoon at the Glen Iris Inn – that lovely old hotel above the falls.  Very romantic.

From there we took a little trail through the woods and came out at a visitor’s center and gift shop.  I bought a few small things, including a jar of “Letchworth State Park Chocolate River Rocks”.  They’re candy – coated chocolates that look exactly like little river rocks.  I kid you not.  Oona loves them (so do I, actually).  The thing is, they really really look like rocks.  One of these days Oona’s going to be out in the gravel driveway thinking she’s hit the chocolate mother load.

Anyway we had a wonderful, wonderful visit.  I really needed to be around my family and it was just what I needed.  The trip back was longer than the trip up, not just because that always seems to be the way of it, but traffic was heavier and we sat for nearly an hour trying to get through Selinsgrove, PA.  It didn’t help that we had quite a lot of wind noise from the passenger’s side window (bad seal, I think) and all we had was an fm radio – Maddie complained of “radio finger” from constantly having to scan through all the static to find a decent station all 9 hours.  We made it home safe and sound just as it was getting dark.

Paul had gotten home around 5 am Monday morning after a much later than anticipated start home.  He and the older girls of course were at his brother’s wedding.  Originally I had planned to go – had been looking forward to it – until we were told we couldn’t bring Oona (no small children allowed).  So, Paul and the older girls went and had a good time, though we were all very upset that the bride’s nephew – Oona’s age roughly – was there.  I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to know that no one cared that I was unable to attend because Oona was not allowed but the bride’s small nephew was more than welcome.   All I will say is that I learned to whom  I really matter this weekend, and it’s clearly my own family – they were fantastic and kept me from being too sad and upset about the whole thing.  I need to spend more time up north with them.

Now it’s back to routine – I have a house to clean and chickens that need tasty recipes for rotisserie read to them since they still have not produced a single egg.  AND – a little purry boy cat to find and cuddle!

Old Farm Day (Lots of Pics)

I hope all of you have had a great weekend – mine has been even more crazypants than usual.

On to Old Farm Day!

Our county has been doing this “little” event for a few years now.  Generally it’s been a small gathering of local farmers and craftspeople showing off their wares and giving demonstrations, along with typical fair food – pork pulled barbecue, funnel cakes.  You get the idea.  A miniature style county fair.  Or, a farmer’s market on steroids, if you will.  Each year it has grown considerably.  This year the 5 minute ride to the fields took us a little over 20 minutes.  The crowds were unbelievable.  It made me happy to see so many people turning out for the fun and investing in our local community.

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Oona was thrilled that we went with Veronica and her two girls (husband Heath was out hunting – first day of the season here).

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We spent some time looking at paintings and photographs in small tent galleries but Neve complained rather loudly and repeatedly that she was bored.  She perked up when this nice woman allowed her to try her hand at weaving a basket for a few turns.

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Oona kept following around all the dogs and babies.  She was happy that she could pet the dogs (they were all ambassador dogs from local shelters) but not so happy we wouldn’t let her hold every baby we passed.

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See Emily’s new haricut?

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Pony rides!

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Emily wants a pony now.  Doesn’t every little girl?

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Pulled pork.  A “must” indulgence.  Sadly they were out of funnel cake when I went to buy some.  The crowds were far and beyond what anyone expected.

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They DID have cotton candy, which made this little girl very happy.

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And all of these little girls as well.

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That’s my baby.  “I has some too pees mama?”

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Livestock!  We got to feed the cow!

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SHEEP!!!  Aren’t they beauties?  I wanted to take them all home with me.  As it turns out, they are for sale, but I still have no place for them to be sheltered so it’ll have to wait.

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I don’t know this little girl, but she has an awfully cute llama.  I wanted to take him home, too.  Hmmmmmm………

So that was Old Farm Day.  We all got a bit of color, lots of fresh air, lots of bad-for-your-body but GREAT-for your-soul kind of foods, and some exercise running after Oona.  I got to drool over some ancient Farm All and Allis – Chalmers tractors and cute animals.  We would’ve stayed until they kicked us out, but we had a busy weekend!

My buddy from bus driving days, Hattie, came over (and brought us pizza, no less!!) and we caught up a bit, hung out in our new bus for a bit and had a great time.  Oona took to her right away.  It was a lovely and full day.

Today was equally as busy.  In the morning I headed out to the next town over to pick up some new babies.

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There are 4 Barred Rock girls, and 2 Rhode Island Red Girls.  They are beauties, and they should be laying eggs any time now – you know, just like the girls I already had who’ve been overdue forever now.

That rooster in the forefront is poor rescue roo Berry, or Barry, depending on how you want to say it.  He was Veronica’s chicken and when they were babies the girls named “her” Berry.  Well, she’s no she.  And poor Barry was getting seriously picked on by their other roo, Papi, who has more testosterone than any MAN should, let alone rooster.  So, we agreed to take in poor beaten down Barry and he’s pretty happy with his new gals.

While they all got to know each other out in the tractor, Paul and I were busy builsing a new coop and run for the 10 we already had.

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We got it all together and got them in it around dusk and I swear it was like they were new chickens, rolling around in the dirt to clean out their feathers, chasing each other playfully and clucking in appreciation.  The guineas were especially vocal.    I put the new babies into the old coop once I had it cleaned out and freshened up.  They’re in quarantine for a bit just to be sure.  I don’t think they really need to be, but it’s a safety thing.  Birds get nasty viruses from each other rather easily.  Eventually I’ll move 2 or 3 of our new girls in the bigger pen and then Barry will have the remaining 3 or 4 girls to himself in the older coop.  Unless I can get them to all live happily together in the bigger pen.  We’ll have to wait and see.  For now, my chickens are my babies.  Hopefully I’ll get my hands on a barn or barn – like structure before too long and I can get some dairy goats, fiber goats, sheep………………………………………………

The Balloon Has Landed!

This evening I was out weeding the front garden when I was startled by a rather loud WHOOSHING sound.  Having spent several years living near the Adirondack Balloon Festival in upstate NY I knew immediately what it was.  I looked up, and sure enough:

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It proceeded to land in the road in front of our property.  Maddie and I stayed out at the end of the driveway and watched as they methodically landed, deflated it, and packed it up.

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It was a lovely end to a relaxing day.  Have a happy holiday weekend!

Little Girls

Here we were getting adjusted to our new schedule (and doing rather well with it I might add) when what should rear its ugly head but the FLU.  Neve came down with it this past week and has been pretty miserable; Emily has no voice and a bad cough so I fear she may be next.  As for Oona, she took Neve’s ice cream spoon and shoved it in her mouth this morning before I could stop her, so I imagine we’ll all be pretty flu’d up by week’s end.

I am looking forward to fall getting here – though down here in the South it takes its sweet old time, unfortunately.  I spent a good amount of time out in the garden today pulling out the squash vines that were past producing and the weeds so that I can do a light tilling and prepare the spot for the fall plantings – arugula, spinach and an heirloom variety lettuce.  I may also try some peas again as well.    Most of the other plants are about done producing, though I did spy some small watermelons – we’ll see how they fare.  It was rather nice to be able to pick some of the ingredients necessary for dinner the other night:

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I made a nice chili with some fresh bread.  But as nice as it is getting fresh ingredients outside my door the cooler weather is beckoning me.

I took this weekend off from maid duties so I could actually relax and maybe get some knitting done.  I am sad to say that this did not go over well for all parties involved.  However Oona and Neve were  happy with the extra snuggle time (Emily was at a sleepover) and I did get past the heel of that darn sock Ive been desperate to finish.

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Still trudging along.  I even watched some Ice Road Truckers on Hulu.  I just wish they had more than 5 episodes.   It’s been a nice experiment to just let go of the need for clean, but I don’t forsee being allowed to do it again.  It was almost nice while it lasted!

The other thing I did this weekend was eat far too many cupcakes, because my little baby Oona turned 2!  Which reminded me that I needed to still mention Emily’s birthday, so I will do both now.

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That’s my Emily – born 10 years ago after the world’s shortest labor (My water broke at noon; at 2:45 pm she was out.  And let me just tell you.  Short labors mean intense pain, because it’s like having one long gigantic contraction that never lets up – I screamed.  A lot).

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At first she was colicky, but then she settled into an easy toddler – hood.  She didn’t hit the “terrible” stage until she was 3, and even though at the time I thought it was pretty bad, I now have the experience of 2 more babies that have been far, far worse.

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I was still going to school full time when Emily was a baby – she was 3 when I graduated with my BA.    That was tough at times – it was hard to be away from her all day and then have to still study.  She came to more than 1 class with me and even rode around on my bus routes at times when Paul was game to tag along on those late night shifts.

Emily was also my “poop – painter”.  Any time she went into her crib for a nap she’d sleep nicely for awhile, then wake up, fill her diaper, and use that fragrant medium to paint the walls, her face, and the crib bars.  It was a white metal crib that never came quite clean from that at all of the joins, and I refused to use it for any baby thereafter.

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She was also always our little princess and had her papa wrapped firmly around her little finger.  On one occasion she manipulated her way into getting half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s out of him before she startled giggling maniacally and we cut her off.

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Emily is my most sensitive one – she’s a lot like me.  She is creative and artistic and loves animals.  She has been a huge part of the chicken experience here and has proven herself time and again to be very responsible at pet – owning.  Even if she is a total slob otherwise.  She was absolutely thrilled when little Oona came along:

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And Oona, for her part, can’t get enough of Emily, either.

Oona as an infant was my easiest.  She ate like a champ (first baby that I did not once get mastitis with!), didn’t cry much and just loved to hang out and cuddle.

These days she’s a busy little booger.  Her vocabulary is expanding exponentially and each day she makes me laugh with something new she says (she still says “butthead”, much to my chagrin, and has recently added, “Oh Crap!”).

The other day she was crying because I wouldn’t give her chocolate (I know, I am so mean) and she stuffed her blubbery, snotty, wailing self into Neve’s play kitchen.

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That actually made her happy.

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Her Foofa doll makes her happy, too.   I’ve taken to telling myself that she will also become a great knitter one day.  Why else would she take such delight in grabbing at my knitting needles and yarn every time I try to use them?  She just can’t wait to learn, right?

She also must really want to learn to sew, because while I was trying to finish up her birthday dress she kept coming up and stomping on the pedal.  That’s always great when you’re trying to thread the needle.  Trust me.

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Happy 10 and 2 to my girls – stop growing up so fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now With Knitting Content!!!!

Yes!  I have been knitting!  I haven’t mentioned it really because it really gets done in bits and spurts at a snail’s pace these days.  However, I have gotten a sock and a quarter (almost).  It’s not a huge accomplishment, and boy oh boy I cannot wait for it to be over because I am SO OVER this yarn now (though it is quite lovely and soft, just, you know.  Months of the same barely progressing project doesn’t engender much charity towards it for me right now).

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I’m slogging away on the second sock.  I’ll let you know if it gets better.

In other news…..

We had a nest in one of the trees lining our driveway – I had suspected it was a Killdeer and turned out to be correct.  They’re pretty plentiful out in that portion of our property.  I dared a peek a few days ago and saw a little open beak craning up for mama.  I hadn’t even realized there were eggs in it yet.  I dared to venture back with the camera but had the weather working against me (it was way steamy out and the lens kept fogging over) and the mama bird kept screeching and diving me so I got in a few blurry shots with the camera held way away from me.  Only one is worth showing, and it still sucks.

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Can you make them out?  Anyway they are gone now – mama taught ’em to fly and they’re off.  It was cute while it lasted.

Also in avian news, we now have a chicken tractor.  This is not an actual tractor in the heavy machinery sense, but a bit of moveable daytime housing for the chickens.  You move it to a different spot each day so the birds get to eat all of the bugs in your lawn without pecking the spot muddy, as they have next to their permanent coop.  They really seem to enjoy being in it, but they really do NOT like it when we gather them in the morning to be put in it.  The girls are having a grand old time of it, watching the poor dumb things run around like, well, you know.  They don’t enjoy being held.  Except Ruby – she’s my buddy.  She’s our golden colored Brahma/Cochin mix.  She also loves to eat the Japanese beetles off of my basil plants, which pleases me to no end.  I may have plenty of pesto this year after all!

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Paul put handles and wheels on it so I can easily move it to whatever spot I fancy.

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See?  Chicken tractor.  Grand idea!

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Hopefully they’ll be happy enough to give me a decent amount of eggs once they start laying.

Paul also completed the bead – board facing for the window bed he made in the playroom.

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I recovered the back pillows with some upholstery – weight black and white toile I had and covered the mattress top with some black and white stripe cotton knit I had.  I’ll make two roll pillows to go on the sides.  I’m thinking this may be my favorite spot in the whole house.   Jasper loves it, too.   If only the girls didn’t consistently destroy the room in which it is located. They are wild ones, those girls.  But that’s ok.  My in laws are coming this weekend to take them away for a week.  A week!!!!!  Hooray!!!  I’ll still have Oona to contend with, but with the older girls away I may actually get some cleaning and organizing done in time for the new school year.

Yeah, you heard me.  They go back August 10.  A crime, right?  Makes us feel like summer is over when it really is nowhere near being over.  We’re trying to live it up as best we can.  Emily got an early birthday gift of Rock Band 2 for the Wii and they are loving it.  We also roasted marshmallows again last night.  Over the weekend we had my parents, my uncle and my grandmother for the day (Neve plum wore out my grandma, I can tell ya that) and ate lots of summer food (burgers, potato salad, peach cobbler, fresh homemade pickles).  Oona made grandpa very happy by hangning with him on the swingset and giving him lots of baby love.

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I took her out on the swings again today, and let her run around in just her onesie while I was moving the chickens.  Since being a mom is my job I often forget to allow “vacationey” things.  I get too caught up in trying to get things done! that I forget it’s a good time for Oona to play outside and for my older girls to enjoy chasing chickens.  It’s summer, and for a few more precous weeks we’re not on anyone’s schedule but ours.  If we want to take time just to look at the stars or watch the bats we can.  We may still be home, I may still be on the job, but you know what?  It’s still vacation.

Summer Turns to High

Good song, good song.  Double points if you can name that artist.

It’s not really been too hot around here.  Not the kind of sweltering, energy sapping, kill-me-now heat that I am used to us having at the height of summer, but then summer really did just start, didn’t it?  Which is why it feels so not right that in 4 more weeks the older girls are headed back to school.  August 10 is the first day – just when summer is at it’s dog days best.  The pressure is on to soak up every bit of summer relaxation and enjoyment that we can before homework and early morning alarms rear their ugly heads again.  In that vein, this week we spent a few days camping at the almost local KOA.  My in laws pop-up camper has been conveniently parked in our driveway for a few months so we thought maybe the kids could use some fun time away from home, and the KOA has clean bathrooms and a nice pool.  Ordinarily I am not much for camping – at least not with little kids, since they tend to get every bit as dirty and sticky as possible and stay that way. We had pretty decent accommodations, however, so it was rather fun, even with Neve’s embarrassing outburst upon stepping into the pool the firs time.  Jesus that’s cold!!! she yelled for all to hear.  Ah, Neve.  My inappropriate child. Sigh.

I brought my knitting and a David Sedaris book, but neither got touched.  It’s rough wrangling an almost 2 year old when camping.  Every 11 seconds she was yelling BUG!!!! and had to be convinced that it was OK.

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Our temporary home.  Next time I am purchasing an outdoor rug for Oona to walk around on.  She kept skinning her knees on the gravel.  And yes!  We brought Pippa!  She of the very loud mouth and too much barking!

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Our not-so-roughing-it quarters.

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Poor cute little skinned knees.  She kept making Paul walk her all around the campground, which was funny because her shoes squeak, so all you heard while we were there was that squeak squeak squeak squeak……

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When we were not in the pool we were playing cards.  Uno was the favorite of everyone but Neve, who cried when we didn’t let her look at all of our cards and then demanded we play Old Maid instead.  Despite the outbursts she won several rounds.

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Paul and Oona napped.  Notice his not-really-camping clothes?  This is how he is dressed at all times.  No matter how hot it gets.  Button – up shirt, pants, shoes.  Even at the beach.  It’s one if his quirks.

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Maddie got plenty of boy attention.  She even got “asked out” by one fellow.  She politely declined.  The only love she was after on this trip was some Oona love.

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I think we’re all after a bit of Oona love.

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They had maps there listing all of the KOA’s across North America.  It was a lot of fun to look at.  Maddie was especially excited by the one in Port Angeles, Washington, not very far from the town of Forks (that would be where Twilight is set, for those who dont’ know).

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And then there’s Pippa.  Pippa who got to ride in the truck with her man (and tried to jump out the window at the first stop light), got to go camping with her family, got to sniff at all kinds of new smells and meet all kinds of new people.  Pippa who got to sleep in style in a very comfortable, clean, dry dog house (the ginormous back of the box truck – all for her, complete with her food bowls, a cot and a carpet for her).  Pippa who got treated with bacon the last morning we were there.  Pippa the dog.  Who peed a stinky 2 gallon pee all over my living room carpet our first day home, 10 minutes before our neighbors stopped by, so that I couldn’t invite them in for a nice visit.  Pippa who just woke up the baby with her loud mouth barking.

Ah well.  Can’t win ’em all.  At least the kids had fun!