Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Forward Movement

Phew! So the permanency hearing happened last week. This happens every 6months and it's a time when the judge reviews where the case is and where it should go. Last time (in June) the girls' dad's lawyer requested he get unsupervised visits. The judge denied the request (which I wasn't in total agreement with, but I'm not the judge). Dad has continued to do really really well. Can he raise three young girls independently? I'm not convinced, but I do think he needs to be given a chance.
On the surface mom is way more prepared to parent her girls and does well at visits; she's joined treatment court (a big plus), and is working full time.

So the county agency requested that both parents get unsupervised visits with the intent of moving to a trial discharge (meaning the agency would still have custody but the girls would be living full time with their parents) - ideally by Feb. break.

Weeks before the permanency hearing there was suspicion of alcohol consumption on the mom's part, although this was denied. It's so hard to know what is the truth or not. But then looking back in the mom's history, there's fishy stuff happening the whole time - all minor, not worth saying anything about, but it's adding up to something worth noting.
So the agency pulls their request for mom to get unsupervised visits - but request for dad's unsupervised visits remains.

Court happens. Dad is granted unsupervised visits! I'm thrilled for him and for the girls. Dad doesn't really understand all that's happening, but when he realizes he'll be on his own (without mom) he gets a little worried. But this is forward movement and he'll do what he has to do, or not. His intent is positive, he will do his best, and we'll be here to support him as he moves into the next phase of this crazy fostering world.

Within a week after court, mom had more suspicious stuff come up.

So definitely still a roller coaster - but not a stagnant one, which would be worse.

Everyone is excited about Christmas - and we're going to live in the moment and appreciate one more Christmas with these girls, because maybe maybe by next year they will be living with their dad full time. It's bittersweet, but feels so so good to be giving these parents the best chance possible to get their kids back.

ps if you want a good but long read about the pictures going around on facebook of kids holding signs saying how long they were in foster care and today they are getting adopted - check out this blog post. I didn't write it, but agree with every.single.word!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mommy DO it!

I feel bad not blogging - but writing comes and goes, I suppose. Ren Man says I haven't been blogging because I've been too busy with the DO part of the blog.

It's been challenging to know what to blog. Things are mostly the same with baby steps forward. The girls have been here over a year, their next court date is in the beginning of December. The caseworker is going to ask for unsupervised visits whenever is convenient for us and her and the kids parents. Crossing our fingers that the judge consents to this - it would mean a step forward. Ideally the girls would then have a "trial discharge" starting over February break (or April break if needed) - meaning the girls would still be in dss custody but they would live with their parents day-to-day and we would be out of the picture as foster parents (although the parents are very interested in keeping us in the girls' lives, so I'm sure there would be a tone of contact after, especially at first). So that's where that's it. Until December though, we really don't know anything in terms of future planning and the parents take like 5 steps forward and half a step back. So mostly progress. I'm only sad it's taken this long. The parents have come so so far and made so many hard changes - what they have left to do is so easy-seeming in comparison. The longer these girls are here, the harder it is for them (and presumably us) when the move happens. The girls are excited about their weekly visits with their parents, but they are running into my arms yelling "MOMMY!" when I pick them up (yes, it's awkward somewhat - but right now, I am their day-to-day mommy). This is a big improvement because when they first came, the younger two in particular were not excited to be handed off to their parents. I left a screaming, reaching baby many-a-times. Now they happily go to their parents ... and are happy to come home.
I think back to how much the girls have grown and changed over the last 13+mos and it makes me so sad and even angry to think of how they were when they came - so many deficits, filthy, underfed, non-emotional, etc. But we cross our fingers that the parents life tools that they've gained over the last year have sunk deep and they can and will use those in times of stress - because their kids are independent beings with agendas of their own and they are not afraid to assert their desires. In a way I'm scared to death for these three little people making their way in the world - on a path that shouldn't be the norm. In other ways I'm just so excited for them!
People talk about how having kids is having your heart walk around outside of your body. I never really got that. Yeah, I love our kids, but they are fine and I'm not scared of the world on their behalf. But then these girls came. I felt it for the first time when I saw Child F. (now almost 6yrs old), walk towards the visit spot with her family, and turn back to wave and smile at me. I suddenly felt like the world was so out of control. She's be hurt so much by the very people who were supposed to protect her the most, and I am watching her walk away with these same people. Yes, it's a supervised visit and only for a few hours - but man!
So I'm really hopeful that their parents are ready to parent and their parents' support network is ready to support appropriately.

In farm land, we're frantically trying to beef up the barn (jacking, new posts, supporting solid beams) and get a creamery built! There's currently a ditch going from the barn across the driveway and into the yard that will house a grey water drainage system. This is good - it's huge progress.
There's a stack of rough cut lumber on the patio waiting for its purpose as structure for the creamery.
And today it's snowing.
And we're desperately trying to beat the cold in getting things built.
While at the same time feeling discouraged and unmotivated as the oppressive clouds never break .... and making daily chores the priority.
We thought we'd have the creamery done in the first year here ... But then I look at people who have been on their properties for decades and everything still isn't done.
So it's okay.
We've been here 2.5 years and have done a TON - but the creamery is our priority and it's discouraging that we're still working towards that goal.
It's kind of like we're taking 5 steps forward and half a step back too.
I tell people that occasionally I think I want to give it all up. But I would want some chickens, because they aren't a big deal and the eggs are SO much better. And we should have a cow for the milk/cheese/yogurt situation. And I love bacon, so we should get a pig ... so really I want our life ... the fantasy version, not the reality version :)

This has been the busiest fall wedding season for us yet. It was exciting and fun and over all awesome - but we're a little fried! We left the Providence area just as we were getting established, and now we've been here 2.5 years and based on our bookings - you can tell! People are finding out about Brown Eyed Photography and they are excited. Photography is such an awesome contrast to parenting and farming. But with all the busy, I have literally not taken any pictures of our life - except Child F.'s first day of school.

So that's the quick update with nothing really to update (note: I couldn't blog until I had an idea of what was happening with the girls - and the ditch for the farm was dug - and the wedding rush was done!).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of School

I didn't really intend to take a break from blogging ... and suddenly it's the first day of school!
So apparently I took a break.
How was your summer? (That's what you ask on the first day back to school, right?)

It's funny going through the first day of kindergarten ... when you unschool
Yesterday was an orientation for Child F and the principal asked the crowd of parents: "Just by show of hands, how many of you are doing this for the first time, sending your oldest off to school?"
Wait. Can you ask those questions again, more slowly? I think those were two different questions and I have two different answers.
I just kept my hand down.
I asked the nutrition specialist, in charge of the cafeteria, pointed questions about their food system. Not because the answers mattered (although I was curious), but because I wanted to raise awareness and point out that these were issues to be concerned about (where is the food being made? is it made from scratch? where is the food being sourced?).

Child F.'s mom came for orientation. We've had more reasons to be together lately (Child D. had dental surgery recently, for example) and it's nice to co-parent in real-time instead of catching each other for minutes before and after weekly visits.

Child F. is really excited ... and pretty nervous. I woke her up before her sisters, and she was still asleep in my arms as I quietly carried her downstairs. She sleepily got dressed, but was ready for breakfast. I packed a snack (panicking a little - what do I send for a snack!?) of yogurt and homemade strawberry syrup/jam and some homemade granola. Might this child live with hippies?

I found myself feeling all adrenaline-y when we were waiting for the bus. I'm excited for Child F. - she's ready. And the last few weeks have been challenging. I attribute this to the fact that we are very close to the anniversary of her removal and the weather took a sharp turn for cold at the end of August. The last few days have been better, but I'm assuming the break where Child F. is at school and away from us will be a good thing (but only half believe).

Child F. was mostly worried about the cat being in the road.

I'm nervous about her academic skills ... we haven't done anything over the summer ... on purpose ... that is purposefully academic. She was in headstart with special ed services and as we unschool, I'm a firm believer in "kids will learn what they need to know when they need to know it". For Child F. that was: how to heat food in the microwave, how to go to the bathroom, how to stay out of harms way, how to fill a bottle with milk when the baby was crying ... not: how to count, what sounds some letters make, or how to organize by shape. So I asked her to count last night. It was on a survey thing the teacher sent home. And she counted to 11 - without missing one number! This is huge! I've been told over and over that kindergarten teachers have a wide range of student ability that enter their classroom on their first day - and this girl isn't going to be the one needing the most academic forward movement. I took some deep breaths ... and then the child counted to 11. So cool. I'm really proud of all the gains she's made.

Here's the thing: she's going to be fine. Better than fine. She's going to excel. I know it. But it's hard (and I've only known this kid a year - imagine if I'd been with her day in and day out for the last 5.5 years!) to let her go do this by herself. She was nervous about where she was supposed to go when the bus dropped her off (there will be all kinds of adults there to help her on her way as she walks to the very end of a long hallway to her classroom). But she's got this. And you know how I know? Even if she would love to have a familiar hand to hold as she steps into the next big change of her life - she doesn't need it. She's done far bigger and scarier things than any other kid in her class (I'm guessing). Last year, she was taken from all she knew and brought to a brand new house with more questions than she could even articulate and no one answering in a way that made sense. And this was the scariest thing ever - even scarier than anything she'd experienced at home.

And she's done awesome. She can count to 11. She can check in with others who are sad. She can voice her wants and needs. Kindergarten is going to be easy-peasy.

Her teacher seems awesome and Child F. is excited. And the house is relatively peaceful with one less kid for the day. I can't wait to hear all about her first-day-of-school-adventures in about two hours!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 examples of disrespect

I will use Headstart as the example, although similar (or the exact same) things have happened through other service providers.
I assume this is a low income thing - you are treated disrespectfully in these ways because you are presumed low income (a correct technical assumption for us, but not the same, I don't think as culturally low income).

Example 1:
Our child comes home smelling like sunblock. This is the first we knew about sunblock use at our child's preschool. In our past experience, we would have received a note home for us to sign giving permission to use a certain brand (likely organic and "all natural") of sunblock on our child. Not at Headstart. Kids are sunblocked up with knows what, without our consent.

Example 2:
Our child is provided breakfast, lunch, and snack. The food could be worse. But ours is better. By far. But we bite our tongue, and minimize the fuss we want to make over the food choices (graham crackers and juice for snack anyone?), food sources (what's seasonal? what's organic? what's local? what are these questions?!), and food preparation (the person who cooks the food smokes regularly in her car and does not pre-wash her hands). At one point, we asked if Child F. could be limited to one serving. She was gaining weight very quickly (that's what happens when you are not fed adequately and then suddenly a buffet appears) and we knew we would prefer to fill her at home with whole foods. We were told that the policy is for every child to be allowed at least seconds (the children serve themselves so choose their own portions) because for many children this is the only food they get all day. Apparently the policy is rigid. We didn't talk about perhaps sending Child F.'s food home with another child. We've never been asked for input on the menu choices.

Example 3
Twice we have received notice of a parent-teacher conference days before the conference. The first time, we were told when the conference would be and that it would be happening at our house. Um, okay. Thanks for respecting me with a CHOICE. The second time, our child missed the day the notice was sent home and I was called an hour ahead of our conference time with apologies and stating we could reschedule. No, that's fine, we can do this. Oh, and this time it's at the school.

The assumption that one can put sunscreen on a kid with who knows what chemicals in it. The assumption that any food is better than no food (which I would concur with, but you can't tell me you can't do better - grow a garden at the school! That's a start!). The assumption that parents are sitting around with nothing on their schedules available at a moments notice for a meeting.
This all feels completely disrespectful. Except no one says anything (I'm guessing). Because they don't know? Because they are so beat down? Because there are bigger issues in life?

It's not hard: think ... Would I like it if someone did this to me?

Would I like it if someone made the choice to put a cream on your kid?
Would I like it if someone fed your child substandard food and insisted they have access to all they wanted?
Would I like it if someone sent me a note informing me of a meeting time without any input from me ... and worse, only sent the letter giving me minimal time to rearrange my schedule?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Returning empties. Grr.

Let's start by saying that my dad is an all around great guy.
But he has this thing, this "addiction", you could call it, and it's a bit maddening.
It could be worse.
It's not smoking after all.
It's Pepsi.
It's kind of a security thing. He always has a bottle with him when out and about and goes through about a bottle a day.

We're clearing out the "not-garage" and there are five bags of empties - or there were - mostly pepsi bottles.
The whole cleaning-out-the-not-garage is overwhelming. There is an awesome wooden chair we've had since forever ago, a kite, some camp chairs, various summer outdoor toys, some tools, etc ... and also these five bags.
I can do the five bags.
That would be huge.
So I load up the bottles into the back of the van.
My dad had suggested I bring them to the local redemption outfit in conjunction with driving Child F. to preschool.
We have no restaurant, grocery store, or bank - but we have a redemption center.

So on Monday I pick up Child F. and go a little out of our way on the way home to drop off the empties.
Only to find that the redemption place isn't opened on Mondays.
It's a small squat building painted red with a laundromat attached. It's dwarfed by the neighboring Methodist Church.

Grumble grumble.

On Tuesday I arrived with Child F. and found the front door unlocked. There were overpriced dusty bags of chips and a carpet that let's just say I was thankful to be wearing shoes. There was no one at the register, but I could see a small women at the back organizing many many bags of bottles.

"Hi," I began, "I have empties - where should I bring them?"
"How many bags do you have?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," I replied.
She looked around at the small mounds of bags surrounding her on the concrete floor and rough plywood tables.
"They have to be in clear bags," she informed me, "Are they in clear bags?"
"I don't know," I said, "I can check."
"And if there's glass, they can't be in the bag - they have to be in a box."
"Oh," I said, feeling less than confident about this transaction.
"Why don't you see how many bags you have and if they are clear," she suggested. "You can bring them to this door and I'll get you cardboard boxes to put your glass in."
"Okay," I replied, feeling hopeful.
In the van I discovered that there were 5 bags to be precise, white garbage bags with a mix of plastic and glass bottles.
I returned through the front door and reported my findings. After glancing at the bags in the store I said: "They aren't clear bags, they are like those ones," I pointed to be clear.
"Oh, as long as I can see through them, that's fine," she assured me. Phew. "How many bottles are there?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said, surprised at the expectation that I should know this information.
The woman looked uncertainly again around the room. "Well, I can't get to them right now ... maybe tomorrow morning. Leave your name and number and I can call you when I'm ready," she said.
"Okay, thanks," I responding, feeling certain that this was was not worth it.

It's impossible to fit all I need to fit into the van with the children when I need to bring them to their weekly visit - the only time I would be near another return-your-bottles-here option (a grocery store?). But I have a foster-training I need to go to with enough time between the visit and training to drop the girls off and switch cars. So I transfer all of the bags to the other car.

After a quick drop off of kids (one of whom was pretty sick, another one almost-sick, and all of the kids begging me not to leave (Del's exact words were: "you stay with us more, so tell them Daddy has to go instead of you!")) I made it to the training only 5 minutes late. Not bad. And there's free pizza. Yay.

The training ends, I talk to all the people who will let me (adult interaction is limited at times, and these are those times ;) )
I noticed that Target had a return station, so I try there first. It's closed. Grr.

Price Chopper is a short distance away and open 24 hours. So I head there. I lug the first two bags in and begin inserting the bottles. All the lids need to be off, a sign informs me. The bottles are all capped. I dutifully remove every cap, burning my hand with the friction. After a dozen, I give up on following the rules and just place them gently in the receptacle (you can't throw them, the machine informs me, even when I want to argue and say that I didn't throw!). I remember that I've seen others use a cart to move their many empties and I know I can only carry two bags at once and still have three more to go.
I find an empty cart and fill it with my remaining bags and ramp up the sketchy. I choose a different machine, hoping it's more tolerant of my throwing placing gently. I'm feeling slightly embarrassed realizing that it's not going to look so good if one of farm customers sees me returning five bajillion soda bottles!
But it's late, and the store is empty, more or less.
Most people probably choose to frequent the grocery store during daylight hours, at least this time of year.
Finally, finally all the bottles the machine will accept (they are ornery, these machines!) have been swallowed up by the machine. I print my receipt. Between the glass bottles and plastic ones (they have to go in different machines) and my two-trips-to-the-receptacles, I have five receipts. I do some quick addition and the grand total is $9.70.
It costs us approximately $8/round trip to go into town - town where the grocery stores, banks, and restaurants are.
One day, a long time ago, say 20 years ago, that was a decent amount of money. In the future, I will inform my father that his soda habit is going to cost him an extra .5/bottle. It's worth it to me to have the convenience of tossing the empty in the recycling bin at our house!
But I'm here, so I might as well bring the receipts to the service desk.
The lights behind the service desk are off.
I see the hours sign.
The service desk is not opened 24hours.
It's a warm dark night and it's time to go home.

p.s. In an ideal world I'm going to discover a beverage recipe that replaces my dad's desire for Pepsi. If I can find the time. And maybe maybe if I put it in a Pepsi bottle, that will help. Because Coke doesn't do it. He's specific.
In case you're interested, here's the first recipe I want to try.

p.p.s. I'm trying to blog, honestly. This post took no less than 4 days of me writing here and there. Busy life, you bet!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Busy in 4 paragraphs

So it's busy.
Actually - speaking of that, I've had two people in the last year who don't know me very well say: "oh, but we're all busy!" and I just smile and let them think that my busy is the same. There are busier people and people not as busy and it doesn't really matter. But so often I hear: "wow - you're REALLY busy!". So when someone has a small picture into our life (as the "farmer" or the "mom" etc), I think - everyone else can't be wrong.

Having said that, I don't feel too busy or even necessarily busy. So maybe everybody is right :)

But lately, we're busier. The weather has been spectacular so we've had a ton of outside work to attend to. So blogging (and computer time in general) has been minimal.
I know you need an update, even with the busy (or maybe especially because of the busy).
So here's the solution: quick paragraphs with updates in no particular order ...

Camper - The front and one side is off and the water damage isn't as bad as I thought. The bottom and top of the framing have the most damage. I need to remove some more luan from the ceiling inside and then remove the back and other side to repair the damaged framing that I'm sure is there. So camping in June will be tent camping, I'm sure. Fortunately I found two tents at a recent town-wide yard sale. Score! And less pressure!

- Ren Man (mostly) is busy cleaning out above the "not garage" and organizing to make room for the stuff stored in the not garage to make room for the creamery. Slowly but surely. In the meantime Ren Man picked up a cheese vat at an auction for a really awesome price - and that's the biggest equipment piece we needed. So yay.
The cows are all out of the barn, which makes for much more pleasant chores. Last week Ren Man went to an auction intending to pick up three cows ... he came back with five. He likes to point out that he came back with three cows and two heifers and somehow that's supposed to make me feel less overwhelmed. But this is all another giant step forward. So I'm excited and it's motivation to keep working on the creamery build!

Fostering - There's a back-and-forth on if I think reunification will happen or not. Depends on the day. I'm increasingly frustrated with the girls parents, which I hate to say. I want what's best for the girls and when I see parents making decisions that are damaging to their chance at reunification or when they say things that show they really don't see why the children were removed in the first place - I feel very frustrated. When they offer parenting advice or insist that the kids need this or that - something that is so not needed and was not provided in any way shape or form when the kids lived with them, I feel angry. But I remind myself that they are doing the best they can, that they really feel they are doing and have always done enough, and pointing at our shortcomings as parents helps them avoid face their own shortcomings. Having said that, I really like them and from what I can tell (and have been told) that feeling is mutual. The girls have now been with us for the better part of a year and the longer it is the more I'm dreading the transition process. We'll be okay, we'll heal - but I hate that the girls are going to have another loss to live through.

Photography - so fun, as always. I'm pretty excited because our wedding calendar this year is as full as I want and we have bookings for next summer coming in. This is so awesome because moving the business twice in 3 years definitely had it's toll. But the word is getting out, and it's all exciting.

Reading - I keep reading dystopian novels and I'm loving them. I realized I love young adult fiction. The latest series I'm reading is the Last Survivors series, about the moon getting pushed a little closer to earth by an asteroid and all that follows - a librarian said the book is like an explanation of how we get from here to something like Hunger Games,Divergent/Incarnate/Etc. I'm on the third book in the series, and yeah. Awesome. Thankfully got me out of the Divergent funk too.

What else?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Kid Speak

She's a fan of Nina
-Del speaking of the dog's preference for Nina

Del: Is it a "cupboard" or "covered"?
Me: Cupboard
Del: That doesn't make sense! "Covered" makes sense.

I know how to ride a horse, Noah told me! If you want the horse to stop you kick it in the sides hard!


I want the naked!
- Child D. in pre-bathing mode

Let's check the paper and see if it's a school day!
-Child F.

I'm a cowboy so I'm fixin' things!
-Child F.

Tortito = accidental mashup of tortilla and burrito

Octomber = accidental mashup of October and November

Poobah: You're a monkey! Are you a monkey?!
Child D: Yes! Oooh! Eee!

Mommy: We're going to Grammy's tomorrow to celebrate Child D.'s birthday.
Child F.: Is it her birthday tomorrow?!
Mommy: Just her pretend birthday.
Child F. (disappointed): are we having a pretend cake then?

Just because we look the same, doesn't mean we like all of the same things.
-Del to me explaining why she doesn't like grits

Child F: Chickens make eggs!
Mommy: They do! Chickens give us eggs. What do cows give us.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dear Noah :: 8 years

Dear Noah,
I've been trying hard not to be amazed that you're eight. Every year your birthday surprises me - not that another year has passed but that you're actually X years old! So I've been trying to think that this is normal - of course you're eight now. After all, you were born eight years ago and all that. But it's still hard to get my head around. It feels like you've been here forever, but then it's hard to remember the baby you were and fit that into the person you are now ... except, of course that baby turned into you. It's all very mixed up.

So you're eight and I still feel like I'm not that much older than eight. But then I think of how old my mom seemed when I was eight and she was almost the age I am now. So I know you see me as a grownup even if I don't always feel like a grownup. And then I can see in you that it's not too long until you'll be feeling this way too ... except, you'll only be 16 when you have 8 more years on you. Only 16. Ugh. I can't imagine! And yet, I'm excited to see you grow and mature.

The cool thing is, I get to see you every single day. Every 4-6 weeks you go to Grammy and Grampy's and I'm always surprised when you return, somehow bigger and more mature. But generally your growing and maturing is so very gradual because we hang out every day. Just like when you were a baby, you don't need much sleep. So you stay up late listening to Mommy or Daddy read (recently more Daddy because he's reading the never-ending Redwall series and you love it). Sometimes you stay up and we play boardgames instead or watch a movie. And like when you were a baby you still love to snuggle. So really, you haven't changed much, I suppose. Except, you talk some and you have figured out running, walking, biking, swimming - that sort of thing. Oh, and fine motor skills - that you'd like to use strictly for video game playing and detest writing of any sort ever.

You're a pretty awesome big brother, but you are passionate about your books, legos, boardgames, and your alone time (or also known as "thinking time"). You'll pick up the baby, ride down the driveway on bikes with your sisters, being sure everyone waits for the preschooler who runs in the grass beside the drive. You'll also let them all know in uncertain terms when you've had enough.
I never realized that you ate much. You're the first kid, so you set the precedent. If you eat an elephant every other day, then that's just our normal. Last summer you spent the night with friends while we did an out-of-state wedding. When we picked you up they said that they knew why we started farming - to feed you! I was a little shocked. I didn't think you ate much. But they were right. I think you'd gone through five peppers over the 15 hours or so you were with them. Apparently that's not typical.

If the world was precisely how you want it, you'd choose constant video game playing. I really don't think you'd stop for anything. No bathrooming, showers, clothing changes, eating, reading, or sleeping. You live and breathe and obsess video games. You save what little money you have for video games. You talk video games. You live video games. You are video games. So we set limits which is a big heartache for everyone. But when you are all video-game, you turn into a video-game-monster. You notice this about yourself and we all agree that you feel much better when you have a mix of life instead of all one thing.

A year ago you could barely read. Now you're sneaking away to lose yourself in the magic of Harry Potter or on a pirate ship or a treehouse or wherever. While I try to be as enthusiastic for your passion for videogames, it really warms my heart when you share your latest read in an animated fashion.
Speaking of warming my heart - when you carry the baby, hold the preschooler's hand, wrestle with the almost-kindergartner, or snuggle in with Del to read together, I just think I might melt into a proud warm mommy puddle. I always wanted younger siblings (okay, I have three - but they don't count as younger, I don't think, because they hardly are any younger) so I love seeing you enjoy your role as a big brother.

Recently I realized you're living my dream life. You're on a farm with not just one dog - but THREE with a whole bunch of siblings and a pretty free range life. But even if that's what I think is ideal - it's not necessarily what you think is ideal! So I'm curious to see if you decide to live in a city eating fast food and making a big salary. I can't really imagine my introverted, compassionate, stubborn, thoughtful kid doing that - but maybe!

I can't wait to see what the next year brings. We're all excited about the never-ending-winter finally showing signs of letting up. So camping adventures are on the brain as well as swimming lessons and eventually soccer! Our winter hibernation has been long, but it makes the summer more sweet. The older you get, the more homeschooling seems normal and I forget that it's not everyone's normal. And then at other times I am reminded that having an 8-year-old out and about in the middle of the day during the week is not the norm. But it's working for us - and mostly working for you and I'm so glad we get more time with you during your childhood.

I love you always,

Monday, April 28, 2014

A snapshot of life

With the warmer weather (or maybe more accurately: lack of snow?) the three older girls are spending more and more time outside - which is awesome. Mostly it's Del and Child F. exploring while making big make believe plans, that often dissolve before coming to fruition.
Baby E. REALLY wants to go out with her sisters.
It's been muddy and wet and cold - so less than ideal conditions for a baby who is pretty confident on her feet but not that great at uneven terrain. So she stays inside and looks out the window.

Yesterday I asked if Del wanted to play with Baby E. outside.
"Yes!" she replied enthusiastically.
"You have to stay with her," I said.
She earnestly promised.

So I brought Baby E. out and put her on the front walk next to Del.
Del picked up the baby who smiled, waved, and said "byebyebye" to me - a first for being happy to see mom go.
Off I went, back into the house unencumbered to tackle the winter-outerwear-laundry-marathon.

Time passed. Minutes or an hour.
I peaked outside.
No kids in the front.
I checked through the laundry room window - I saw Child D. holding herself - she needed to pee, and NOW.
I saw Del.
I saw Child F.
I saw no Baby E.

Quickly I opened the window and called out: "Child D., you have to pee! Inside NOW!"
Half-way between the front door and the back, she stood looking back and forth, unsure what to do with herself.
"Del!" I called out, "Where is Baby E.?"
She looked left.
She looked right.
She looked worried.
"I don't know! I lost her!" Del said horrified.
"ugh!" was my frustration and I ran to the mudroom, rushing into farm boots and out of the back door.

"Mom!" Del called as I bolted out the back door, "She's with dad with the chickens!"
Sure enough, I could see the baby's dark magenta fleece sweatshirt against the brown-turning-green pasture as she stood inside the chicken netting.
"Where's Child D.?" I called out.
"Behind the trailer!" Del replied.
I made my way around speedily, hoping to avoid an accident.
There was Child D. slowly waling towards the back door.
I scooped her up from behind, as I pulled her pants down and held her up in a squat so she could pee - we weren't going to make it to the house!

"And poop," Child D. informed me.
"What?" I said. "No poop! We have to go inside, we can't poop out here!"
All pee gone, I pulled up Child D.'s pants and we made for the house.

"What the heck!??!" Ren Man called from the chicken camper-coop.
"What?!" I asked. Now? Really!? I have a peeing-pooping emergency and have only just recovered from the-baby-is-missing emergency!

"Why is the duck coop opened?!" he called back.
"Child D.?" I asked. "Did you open the duck coop?"
"No," she replied all passionate innocence.
"I did!" Del piped up.
"Del!" I said. "Daddy closed the ducks inside, please don't just let animals out without checking with a grownup."
"Okay," she said.

In the end, the ducks returned to the coop and the poop made it into the toilet and the winter-outerwear-laundry-marathon is successfully completed. Oh, and the baby hasn't gone outside again yet.

Friday, April 25, 2014

There are no books left

I finished the Divergent series and now my life is empty.
I've lost my purpose.
Yes, I'm embarrassed about this.!

I've tried to pick up two (and I just started the third) books since, and I just can't.
At the same time, I can't face reading this again.
Not yet.

I think the writing and detail outshines Hunger Games, Incarnate, and Twilight. For all three YA series, I was ready to fly through the third book just to finish it!
Least of all with Incarnate.
Not at all with Divergent.
I've now not only finished the series but also every scrap of extra material I can dig up - because nothing is as compelling.

Eventually I will be able to move on.
But until then, you can find me in the Divergent bubble.