Monday, July 18, 2016

Detachable Heart

When I sleep at night, I like to tuck my arm under my head as I sleep on my side.
My hand is blissfully sandwiched between my now graying hair and my squishy, too old for my own good, pillow. 
But, this can cause problems for me. 
My wrist starts to hurt. 
I just can't get into a comfortable position with my hand and arm. 
Or, in the opposite manner, I don't want my hand and/or arm under my head. 
So it juts out in front of me. 
Hanging over the edge of the bed. 
The wood bed frame starts gnawing at my ever bony wrist and, well, it just isn't comfortable. 
So I try laying on my back. 
Arms at my sides. 
Too corpse like, I think. 
What I really want to do is this...
I want to remove my arms. 
I want detachable arms. 
A snap/twist/lock trifecta would be great. 
I'll wash my face before bed, scrub my teeth when I remember, grab the book from my bedside table to read, switch on my owl reading lamp, and hunker down into my covers and pillows in my regular nighttime routine. 
When I can feel my eyes getting heavy, I'll put the book back on my table.  
I'll take my eyeglasses off and tuck them in next to my book and take my arms off. 
A quick twist and pull and voilĂ , my right arm is off. 
Now, here's the problem. 
You can see the dilemma, right?
If I've already taken one arm off, how am I to take the other one off?
My eldest daughter, Zoe, informed me of this idea flaw when I was bestowing to her my fabulous plan of detachable arms. 
She's always been smarter than me. 
I guess this idea of detachable arms only works IF you live with others. 
Someone who can detach and reattach one of your arms for you. 
And please, try not to drink anything before bed, because peeing in the middle of the night will be a no-go unless you want to wake someone to attach at least one of your arms. 
Zoe is more interested in detachable legs. 
As she, for some unknown reason, has trouble figuring out where to put her legs at night. 
But detachable legs are easier to deal with than detachable arms when going about it solo. 
But if there's a fire, you better twist and lock quickly!

Of course, this is all just fun and games. 
I am in no way making a mockery of people who have lost limbs. 
I find that people who are missing limbs to be some of the most courageous people on this planet. 
For instance, people who lost their limbs while watching the marathon in Boston. 
Doesn't that sound strange?
People lost their limbs, and lives, while watching a running race in Boston. 
How did that happen?
Why are things like this happening?
My heart hurts so much when I think about families, friends, children, and strangers being brutally attacked by terrorists while doing mundane things like watching a running race in Boston. 
Or watching fireworks in Nice, France. 
Families and friends laughing and oohing and aahing while gazing into the night sky as beautiful lights converge into patterns overhead are then viciously run over by a crazy person in a giant truck. 
My heart can't take much more of this. 
My heart hurts so badly for the families of those innocents who are killed and hurt by these radical terrorists. 
And my heart wonders...when will it happen again?
Will I know someone next time?
Will my own family be affected next time?
I fear, it's only a matter of time before I know a name on a list. 
Before I recognize a face in a news report. 
If only I could detach my heart, put it in a drawer, and not care about the lives lost. 

We enjoy the big city and we take our kids to Chicago and St Louis often. 
Where we are in big crowds. 
The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was really hard for me and my husband. 
We lived in Chicago at that time. 
Being in such a large city was scary, and we don't live there anymore. 
We feel safer and more protected in our little town to the south. 
But we travel. 
And terrorism has no boundaries. 
As we have seen in Boston, NYC, France, and Africa (to name just a few).
I have to force myself to not watch the news. 
I have to force myself away from the sights and sounds of the carnage and into the serenity of my farm. 
And I want to detach my heart from my body so it doesn't hurt for the mothers whose children are dead. 
Because everyone who has died from a ruthless terrorist attack was someone's child. 

We've tried to instill the idea of wanderlust in our children.   
The want to experience other cultures. 
To travel around North America. 
And to travel beyond these borders. 
But the world is getting scarier every day. 
And my undetachable heart hurts for their future in it...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Supermom Sighting At The Frozen Yogurt Place

Being a mother is not for the faint of heart. 
You see things you never thought you'd see. 
And you do things you never thought you'd do. 
The smells you'll endure. 
Oh boy. 
The things you'll see that will make you want to burn your eyes out of your head. 
But then you'll remember that it's now embedded in your brain, so the eye burning will only be really, really painful. 
So, you nix that idea. 
Words will come out of your mouth that you never, in your wildest dreams, thought would exit your body. 
Words like...
"NO, you may not write your name on your forehead with permanent marker before you go to school."
"YES, the dog has a penis because he's a boy like dad, but we aren't going to compare them in the living room!"

Willingly catch vomit in your hands in a crowded restaurant...I've done that. 
Spray your kid with a hose when she wanders around the side of the house nude and covered in a not-so mysterious brown substance...I've done that. 
Hide your daughter's pillow because it's covered in her own hair that's coming out because she has cancer and you don't want her to be upset by seeing it...unfortunately, I've done that. 
All of these things makes you a stronger person. 
All of these things have made me a stronger mom. 
Sometimes I feel like Supermom. 
And the other day I got to use my Supermom powers to save the day. 
Well, I saved the frozen yogurt. 

Gigi would eat frozen yogurt covered in candy and whipped cream everyday if we let her. 
Now, we don't let this happen. 
But, we do seem to visit one of our local frozen yogurt shops quite often in the summer. 
We've even been known to drive over there and eat frozen yogurt for lunch or dinner. 
If you're unfamiliar with a 21st century frozen yogurt shop it's like this...
there are at least a dozen different varieties of frozen yogurt, sorbet, or gelato that you can fill all on your own into a very large cup. 
The flavors are varied and can be as simple as watermelon to as complex as sea salt caramel. 
Once your cup is filled with one or twelve different flavors (yes, some people get a little bit of every available flavor!) you move on to the toppings bar. 
Where you then fill your frozen yogurt/sorbet/gelato mix with toppings ranging from crushed cookies, cereal, and gummi bears to shredded coconut, maraschino cherries, and (at our yogurt shop) this little colored ball called a boba ball that bursts a fruity flavor in your mouth once you bite into it. 
Then you take your creation to the cashier where it's weighed and you pay a certain price for each ounce it weighs. 
Our favorite shops does a $4 or $5 Fill A Cup Day which is more economical for us because the youngest and smallest person in our group always makes the largest and heaviest cup of yogurt with toppings. 
She may be small, but never does anything small. 

Last week we were at our fav yogurt place when my Supermom powers quietly showed up. 
No one else in my family noticed my Supermom act. 
But the guy weighing the yogurt did. 
You see, Gigi had filled her cup with four flavors of frozen yogurt and, as it usually is, it was overflowing with gummy worms, boba balls, and whipped cream. 
There's a long counter in front of the toppings bar and she was suddenly entranced by the TV screen on the other side of the shop because The Disney Channel was on. 
Her arm began sliding her ginormous cup of sweetness down the counter as her eyes were locked into a green platypus named Perry who wears a fedora that was on the TV. 
I was at the scale waiting for her weigh-in when I noticed that her cup was not sliding down 
the counter as it should. 

She was sliding it at an angle because she wasn't looking and it began to slide right off of the counter.  
It was counterless for a millisecond. 
Maybe it was a ittybittysecond. 
I jumped into action and hit it with my hand to get the cup (that was about to cost me ten buckaroos) back onto the counter before it became a splatty mess on the floor. 
It all took a total of .045 seconds for me to save the day. 
Well, to save the day for the yogurt guy who would have had to clean up that mess once it hit the floor. 
Gigi looked at me with surprise. 
The yogurt guy looked at me with surprise. 
Gigi didn't really blink an eye at my save. 
She moved her yogurt to the scale, grabbed a spoon, then skipped to the neon green couch to sit with her yogurt to watch the mesmerizing show with the pointy headed kids who own the green platypus in the hat. 
The yogurt guy was still looking at the whole situation with his mouth gaping open and large dilated pupils. 
He squeaked out "wow, nice save."
I gave him a wink and said "I'm a mom."
And skipped over to the green couch...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Duck Sex

When we started adding critters to our farm, ducks were not on our radar.
Our zoo started with a pony. 
A pony that our daughter got for her Make-A-Wish in 2011. 

And since a pony shouldn't live alone, we acquired two goats to be her companions. 

The goats arrived before the pony did. 
And when that pony showed up in the barn the goats were terrified of her!
They are all besties now. 
Then we thought about getting some barn cats. 
So we got four kittens who are now cats.

Cats who spend a lot of time in our house. 
Go figure. 
We've always had a dog or two. 
We are down to one dog at the moment.

Chickens just made sense to us. 
We like to eat eggs and chickens lay eggs. 
So, we bought eight chicks from our local farm store.  
We perused the big metal tubs at the back of the farm store, gazing down at all of the chirpy little fluffy baby chickens. 
We chose our chicks and went home with them in a little cardboard box that Zoe held on her lap. 
They lived in our house for a bit until they were old enough to have grown some feathers. 
They now live in our barn in a fabulous chicken coop my dad built for them. 
We have five chickens currently. 

One chicken drowned in our water trough. 
One was eaten by some creature that was hiding in a bush. 
And one turned out to be a mean ol' rooster. 
He lost his head. 
When you get chicks from anywhere, there's never a 100% guarantee on which sex they are. 
We wanted all hens, but none of the chicks were wearing a pink sweater the day we were at the chick store. 
We ended up with seven hens and one rooster. 
Hens who lay lots of eggs. 
Which is what we wanted all along. 

We eat scrambled eggs.
Fried eggs. 
Hard boiled eggs. 
I make meringue desserts. 
We love eggs!
We spend a lot of time at the feed store since we have these farm critters.
Buying chicken feed and horse treats. 
Buckets for water and bags of dog food. 
Salt licks and hoof picks. 
And ducks. 
We bought ducks.
Because everytime we were at the feed store they were there. 
Looking all cute in their duckling down and with those big ol' duckie eyes. 

And we didn't need ducks. 
Not like we thought we needed chickens. 
Well, ducks do lay eggs, right?
So, more eggs!

Now I don't have the best track record when it comes to knowing the sex of a mammal. 
Most of you know the story of Gigi. 
We didn't get that sexing story right at all!
And the chickens. 
One boy in the mix. 
We didn't want a boy chicken!
And when you buy ducks you aren't sure what you're getting either. 
I ordered four runner ducks from the farm store. 
They don't ask you to check a box stating "male or female" duck. 
You just get a duck. 
And it seems out of our four runner ducks we have...
are you ready for this?
...three male ducks. 
I think Chad's first words upon hearing my declaration of sex were "well, they're completely useless!"
Three boys to one girl. 
Poor Daffy.  
Single white female. 
She has her own male harem. 
You may now be screaming at me "but you'll have lots of ducklings!"
But probably not. 
From everything I've read about runner ducks, they are not good nesters.
They are not, as we in the poultry world say, broody birds. 
Broody birds will sit on eggs in a nest. 
Runner ducks ain't sitters. 
They are runners. 
It's in their name. 
So, we would probably have to incubate eggs if Daffy were to lay fertilized eggs in her future. 
And that's not gonna happen!

We also have two Khaki Campbell ducks.

We have our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that they are females. 
We currently have no idea if they are.
How can I tell the others are indeed males?
A curly tail feather. 

You read that right, male ducks (or drakes as they are referred to in the duck world) have a curly tail feather. 
I have no idea why. 
It's weird. 
But true. 
And we have three ducks who are bigger, have a grovely quack (another sign of manhood in a duck), and who each have developed a curly tail feather. 

Let's hope the sides even out with the brown ducks. 
Time and a curly tail (or not) will tell. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On My Bedside Table

I have been neglecting this blog. 
This happens from time to time with me. 
I feel that I have nothing to say. 
Or I feel that no one reads it so why bother writing. 
People don't want to hear about ducks over and over again. 
I can't quite get over the fact that I'm a sharer, though. 
And I have been reading. 
So here's a post about books I've read recently. 
I usually only read once I get into bed at night. 
Once the day's obligations have been met. 
A few chapters each night and then I turn off my bedside lamp and doze right off. 

The Widow by Fiona Barton. 

My friend Ron in Chicago recommended this book to me. 
Ron and I used to be in a book club when I lived in Chicago. 
I think he was the person who told me to read Gone Girl and we both loved that (didn't everyone?!), so he thought of me when he read The Widow. 
The storyline involves a missing little girl, a man who's been singled out as her abductor, and his wife. 
There are twists. 
We see the story through the wife's eyes. 
The detective working on the case offers his viewpoint. 
The man accused tells his side. 
It's a puzzle and a mystery to discover who's telling the truth. 

I'm currently reading An Undisturbed Peace by Mary Glickman. 

This book had me really excited when I saw it at the library. 
It involves the mass removal of the Cherokee people from the southeastern  United States in the late 1770s. 
My maternal grandfather's side of the family hail from the Cherokee tribe that were relocated to Oklahoma. 
We are officially recognized, because our ancestor's name is on the Dawes List. 
The federally official list of native Cherokee. 
My mother is a member of the Cherokee tribe. 
The story told in An Undisturbed Peace involves three main characters. 
A young Jewish salesman named Abe who is making his life in America. 
A slave who has a storied past and who now lives in isolation. 
And a female Cherokee named Dark Waters. 
There's a strong female dominance within the Cherokee tribal family. 
I wasn't aware that women had such a powerful role in the Cherokee society. 
All three characters are intertwined in each other's lives and all must fight their own demons. 
I'm halfway through this story, which is one of my favorite genres, historical fiction. 
Historical speaking, President Jefferson declared that the native tribes people in the southeastern United States must be moved west to make room for those new to the lands, essentially immigrants. 
For their own safety and survival. 
It was the Indian Removal Act of 1776-1779. 
It's a harrowing piece of American history and so far, Mary Glickman has me hooked as she brings three people from this time period to life. 

Sometimes I'll get two books when I check out material at the library.
Just in case one book doesn't grab me I can have another book on backup. 
When I grabbed An Undisturbed Peace, I also grabbed The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry. 

I must admit the cover and title alone pulled me in. 
A book store owner who rediscovers himself. 
A story of redemption. 
I'll start reading it once I finish the Cherokee novel. 

I haven't read too much from the last post I did about the novels I've been reading. 
Chad and I discovered the Wallander DVD series from The BBC One Drama folks. 
There are five seasons so far and we have watched 1-3 and are hooked!
The girls really like it as well. 
It's set in Sweden and stars the amazing Kenneth Branagh as Detective Kurt Wallander. 
He's a very flawed man, but, by golly, he can solve a murder!
The series is based on the novels by Swedish author Henning Mankell. 
I learned about this show when I caught an episode last month on PBS and the sets and outdoor scenes really pulled me in. 
Thankfully our local library carries the series. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Menagerie Grows

Before we got Zoe's pony, I read up on the subject of horsery. 
I learned about the frog in the foot, growing a good pasture, and wood chewing. 
Before we got goats, I borrowed books from the library to tell me everything from how to trim their hooves to what diseases they could get. 
Chickens are coming?
I bought books telling me how to tell what color eggs my chickens would lay and how they would roost when dusk came.
So, when we decided to get some ducks I did my research once again. 
Why would we get ducks, you may be asking?
Why in the hell not, I'll respond.

I think getting farm animals is kind of like having children. 
Once you have a few, what's a few more!
You're already used to the smell and the shoveling involved. 
Kids and farm animals are similar like that. 
Adding to the menagerie has been fun. 
So, we ordered some ducks from the feed store and decided that we would get Indian Runner Ducks. 
Runners are supposed to be good insect eaters. 
I like that. 
Runner ducks are ducks that stand upright when they walk. 
They are sometimes called penguin ducks or wine bottle ducks. 
I just call them cute. 
And soon, I would be calling them dumb.

We brought them home from the feed store and, as we did with the chickens when they were newly born, put them in the kitchen in a plastic tub with a heat lamp and food and water. 
These things seemed to grow 3 inches a night!
We had to put a dab of nail polish on their heads to tell them apart. 
Charlie had blue. 
Monty had orange. 
Mandy was pink and Daffy didn't get any polish because she was shorter than the others. 
They quickly outgrew the plastic tub and since they didn't yet have feathers, we couldn't put them in the cold barn yet. 
So, we moved them to our bathtub. 
Our ONLY bathtub. 
Where they continued to grow 3 inches a night. 
And shit enormous amounts of duck poo. 
In the tub. 
On the dining room floor. 
On each other. 
In their water bowl. 
Chad was in the process of making them a duck house. 
A wooden duck house would be placed in the barn right next to the chicken coop. 
With a flip top lid and a window and cute door that looks like it came from a castle. 
And he was instructed to "GET THAT HOUSE DONE STAT!"
I was about to go bonky with the poo everywhere. 
And the bathtub needed to be returned to the people. 
He got it done in lickety-split time and we moved the crazy quacking foursome out to the barn. 
With their heat lamp and mess moved to the building behind the house, I felt my sanity returning. 

But then the runner ducks, who have lived with us since they were two days old, began to run from us as if we were duck killers. 
We would go out to the barn to feed them and they would run, in a straight line and as a group, away from us. 
Falling over each other. 
Running into fences and doors to get away from us. 
As if we were Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. 
Had they seen that movie?
How could they have seen that movie?!
If we took a step to the left, they would run in fear to the right. 
If we stepped to the right, fear running to the left. 
Our feelings were hurt. 
And then I remembered from my duck books that runner ducks are an excitable breed. 
Is this fear running what the text was referring to as easily excitable?
I guess so. 
Duck killer running mode = normal Indian runner duck mentality. 
Good grief. 
What had we gotten ourselves into?
I tried reassuring the husband that instead of being annoyed with the ducks and their fear running, that we should instead look at them in a comical manner.  They are a unit of four and will follow one another off of a cliff. 
Let's keep them away from cliffs. 

A few weeks ago we were at the farm store picking up some vegetable and herb plants for the garden. 
Of course we had to venture to the rear of the store where the chicks and ducklings are kept during the spring buying season. 
The girls and I found the sale bin.
And everyone knows I'm a sucker for a sale. 
I said "oh look, the ducklings in this big tub are only $2 each."
Which was a deal to me, as I had paid a whole $5 each for those dumbo runner ducks. 
"Step away from the tub!" my husband declared. 
So we did. 
Until we had gotten to the lawn seed that was six aisles over. 
And he saw me stopping my cart. 
And he knew I didn't want any lawn seed. 
"No, no, no" he sputtered. 
But the kids and I were peering back into the duck sale bin before he had expelled his third no. 
"But they're on sale!"
I had the girls pick out two Khaki Campbell ducklings. 
They are brown birds with a blueish bill. 
And not as excitable as runner ducks. 
My husband had conceded his fight against more ducklings the minute he saw the girls picking their choices from the bin. 
"What's two more?" I asked. 
"What's two more" he sighed...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Tooth

The girl has cemented teeth. 
We think her chocolate milk obsession has NOT helped in the "losing teeth" department. 
So much calcium in her bones and teeth that they aren't willing to part with one another. 
And it brings the girl to tears. 
Big, fat, rolling down her cheeks tears. 

Gigi has only lost two teeth and those fell from the bottom of her gumline last year. 
She's had a few other teeth in the "kinda loose" arena, but they seem to suck themselves back into her gums. 
She wiggles them and has her fingers in her mouth so often I think she's now become immune to all of the nasty germs she's depositing in there on her grubby 7 year old fingers. 
She's been eating apples for the last few days. 
Trying desperately to get that somewhat loose top incisor tooth out of her head. 

My children were very slow to get teeth as babies.
So slow that we were wondering if they were born without teeth in their little heads at all. 
All we could picture were gummy 10 year olds and visits to the denture doctor in their futures. 
Our dentist and pediatrician have both told us that kids who are slow to get teeth are also slow to lose those teeth. 
Gigi has been hoping for missing teeth since preschool. 
She used to come home and tell me about her 3 and 4 year old pals who had already lost teeth. 
She didn't seem to care when her father and I told her 3 and 4 year olds shouldn't be loosing teeth yet. 
These kids didn't have a proper diet, too much sugar and too little calcium. 
Time and patience would have to be our daughters' best friends. 
My kids hate those "friends."
And I think time and patience are now Gigi's #1 enemies. 

Yesterday, Gigi got off of the bus and came to find me emerging from the barn in the back yard. 
She had a napkin over her mouth and was walking towards me. 
I thought to myself, "oh, please tell me you have that napkin over your mouth because your tooth has fallen out and you're containing the blood that's oozing out, please, please, please, please." 
We connected on the path to the barn and she took the napkin from her mouth and started bawling. 
"EVERYONE at school is loosing their teeth and my tooth is NEVER EVER going to come out!!"
"Did someone lose a tooth today in class?" I asked. 
"YES! Cami did!" she howled. 
Oh crap. 
Crap, crap, crap. 
Cami is one of her besties. 
How DARE she do this to Gigi. 
I spent the next few minutes reassuring her that her tooth would fall out soon. 
It would, it just needed more time. 
She couldn't hear me over her despair. 
She went inside and ate an apple. 

At dinner last night her sister did the unthinkable. 
She pulled out her own tooth, a premolar, that had been loose for a few weeks. 
And the howling and bawling and giant tears flowed from her sister right at the dinner table. 
And the dinner table happened to be out in public. 
Where we were eating bacon cheeseburgers and fries and now we had blood and a tooth in the palm of Zoe's hand. 
Great timing Zoe. 
I need time and patience to get through this, too. 
And I need to restock the apple supply in the kitchen. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Books I've Read

I wanted to share what I've been reading at home. 
Other than books about duck care, because we now own six ducks. 
I'll write a post about the ducks soon. 
I've been busy with them and seem to have neglected this blog. 
Anyway, I've discovered the author Alice Hoffman. 
I'm sure some of you are saying "have you been living under a rock?!"
Well, maybe I have. 
But I've dug my way out and "Hey look!  Alice Hoffman novels!  They are really good!"

It started with this novel. 

I saw it at the library in their new fiction section. 
I'm drawn to covers. 
And there was something about the woman on the cover that drew me towards her. 
When I read the synopsis on the inside cover I was hooked when I read "island life, Paris, painters, love"
I'm a HUGE fan of historical fiction. 
I've read all of Philippa Gregory's historical fiction novels about the Tudors. 
Historical fiction takes a moment out of real history (as in Gregory's books about British royalty from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries) and fictionalizes conversations between these real historical figures. 
In The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman focuses her story on the parents of the Danish-French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro in the 1800s. 
That's the history part. 
They all live on the island of St Thomas and you follow his parents love story and their interactions with others on this hot, fragrant, colorful, and tantalizing isle. 
The story eventually turns to Paris, France and it's just as tantalizing and colorful in Paris as it was back on St Thomas. 
It was a great read. 
So, I went to the library and found another Alice Hoffman novel. 

This peeked my interest. 

Again, it was the cover. 
And the synopsis told me I would be reading about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in NYC in 1911, Coney Island freak shows, photography, and love. 
History and fiction melded together quite well in this book. 
I was as hooked while reading this story as I was in The Marriage of Opposites. 

So, I went to the library again and found my way to the HOF adult fiction section and perused the Alice Hoffman section once more. 
I saw Practical Magic.

Was this made into a movie?
I couldn't quite remember, but the story sounded interesting to me. 
Two sisters, witches, love. 
Hmmm, no historical fiction. 
But, I gave it a go. 
I didn't care for it as much as the others. 
It seemed too fluffy to me.
I missed the historical aspect of the other novels. 
This book focused on instant sexual attraction, the need to have a man more than needing yourself, and like I said...fluff. 

I did finish it and took it back to the library yesterday. 
I saw this on the shelf of books that needed to be reshelved (have you found that shelf at your library yet?!)

Judy Blume, the author who wrote all of those teen novels that were so taboo when they were written in the 1970s because she spoken about *gasp* sex. 
I've seen Judy Blume talking about this newest novel on TV recently and it's about history so I snatched it up. 
Three airplanes fell from the sky in New Jersey in the early 1950s. 
This is Judy Blume's historical aspect of her new novel. 
She lived in New Jersey when these planes fell from the sky, so she's also fictionalizing her own history a bit. 
So far, so good.