Monday, August 31, 2009

It could be worse...

To those of you
who have uttered disparaging things about my house--specifically about the 50's pink and black tile in the bathroom (or worse, where those tiles fell off!) with it's clashing pink paint...

OR who have criticized the oatmeal colored 50's wallpaper...

OR the 80's green plaid wallpaper that is surrounded by a slightly clashing green paint trim...

OR made comments about the algae colored paint in the dining room (who thought matching the carpet would be a good idea?)???

OR the fact that every single one of the afformentioned decorative elements has been written on by SmallDaughter, well, all I have to say to YOU could be worse....

You doubt me, but I have proof.


these images courtesy

See, I was right!

The WonderDog!

SmallDaughter just finished her first week of the school year. She has attended a self contained Multiple Disability class for the past two years, and the WonderDog has attended with her. I have been very pleased with her teacher and the classroom assistants. They genuinely love her, and have her long-term best interests at heart, and have helped her achieve many physical and academic goals.

The week before school began, SmallDaughter's teacher called me. For the first time since SmallDaughter started in this class, they were getting new students, and one of them was scared of dogs. Teacher wanted to know if there was a 4 Paws protocol for introducing a child who was scared of dogs to a service dog.

I called Jeremy the head trainer at 4 Paws for Ability, and he gave me good advice, which I passed on to Teacher. On Saturday, she called me to report on how the week had gone (and having the teacher call me still makes me nervous that there are major problems!). She said “I want to thank you for letting us have the WonderDog. One of our new students has lots of emotional issues, and from the information in his file, we expected him to have between 3 and 6 major meltdowns every day, lasting up to half an hour each. This is the student who is scared of dogs, so I was really nervous for the first day of class.

SmallDaughter and WonderDog came into class and took their places (SD at the table, WD on his “place”) and the new student looked pretty alarmed, but then he went over and inspected every inch of WD—including opening his mouth to look inside it! I was a bit concerned, but WD was totally mellow. Whenever the student was getting ready to melt down, he told me ‘I pet dog’, and went over to WD and petted him three times—one, two, three, then said ‘I better now’, and returned to his place. We have not had one meltdown, and I know it is because of having the WonderDog in our classroom.”

“Also when we had a Police Officer come in to visit our classroom, he asked who had the Service Dog, BOTH of our new students claimed WD was theirs! When we walk down the hall, SD holds onto her handles and the boy who used to be afraid of dogs walks on WD's other side, holding onto his harness, while the other new student holds onto WonderDog's tail like a rudder! WD just loves all the attention!”

SD has settled into her classroom routine perfectly, and the only time she has had any issues at all, was when Teacher corrected one of the new students, and SD thought she had done something wrong!

Also, the new Superintendent stopped by their classroom, and WD behaved so perfectly that he totally won him over! Yay for 4 Paws and for the WonderDog who has made our lives SO MUCH BETTER!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time moves on

This week has been one of "chilling" and recovering after the intense stress of the last few weeks. I have been doing a lot of canning (for me). I am not totally inexperienced with canning, but I have never done very much. This year I have done a LOT. You can tell canners, because during canning season, their main topic of conversation is how many bottles of ________ they put up. Realizing for yourself how much work goes into each bottle--be it cup, pint or quart, you can see why.

That said, here is my list:
6 quarts of spaghetti sauce. HOWEVER-- the big brag is that it came almost totally from my very own garden! Not only the tomatoes, but also the oregano, basil, parsley, bell peppers & onions.
3 quarts and 14 pints of pickled beets (another 3 quarts broke during processing)
7 quarts of potatoes
10 QUARTS of sliced, pickled jalepeno peppers.

If you know Mr. Prism (My Favorite Gentleman), you will know why I didn't bother with pint jars. 10 quarts is about a 2 month supply. However, all of the peppers came out of my garden, too.

BTW, it is painful to slice the tip of your finger off with the veggie slicer--but it is much @#$%^&* worse when it is in the middle of the jalepeno slicing! Don't ask me how I know this.

Wednesday was SmallDaughter's first day back at school. Preparing her for school is a different experience than when the other 2 were in public school. There is no anticipation or dread, because she doesn't understand the concept of time and things that will happen in the future. There is no big rush about back to school shopping because--1) she doesn't care about clothes at all, and 2) she still fits into all of her clothes from last year. Very mellow preparations. She does love her teacher, her "bus ladies" and her friends at school.

A "return to school" is a much less emotional event for unschoolers, too. All around me I am surrounded by hype about the excitement of packing your children away into the care of strangers and the dubious "socialization" of various more or less hostile peers. Hmmm.

We are settling into school by: canning, snuggling, reading some really excellent new book series (more on those soon), bike riding, tending the chickens, achieving a new level of championship on Pokemon (which means much more to LargeBoy than to me, but I was excited that I was with him when he achieved something that he really worked to do, and that he was excited to share with me), cooking (if I told you how excellent our last batch of brownies were, you would cry with jealousy--trust me!).

He is also coming up with lots of ideas for cool games of the future, and since his uncle is a talented programmer, who has designed several awesome i-phone game apps, I think it is very probable that at least some of his ideas will come to fruition.

BigGirl is deeply excited by the portability of her schooling--and by that I mean she is now clear across the country, assisting with 2 sweet babies to help out a Meggan in need. She has been anxiously awaiting the day when she would be big enough to go "stay", and it has finally arrived!

One of the sad things much of our culture has lost in it's quest to abolish the traditional extended family is the "stay". Growing up in my very large family, when a baby was born, surgery, illness, stress, moves or grief occured, help came, often in the form of a middle-teenage assistant.

At first they were my mom's younger siblings (My mom had done it for her older siblings). We loved having the aunts come to stay--besides being a very real help, they provided energy, excitement and a level of glamour that a "mere mom" could never hope to have!

(Just think of the glamour of being served
that most excellent breakfast in bed:
oranges--sliced glamourously in half, and cinnamon toast.
Well, maybe you had to be there, but it was glamorous as heck to me!)

I got older, and eventually it was my turn (and then my younger siblings and cousins turn) to go assist those same aunts, now that they had married and had little children. Then I recieved the assistance.
And so it goes.
It is valuable training in very real household skills and parenting, it provides true self esteem (which has nothing to do with praise, letter grades or programs, and everything to do with accomplishing or creating something that is really useful or that needs to be done.)

PLUS--She is now one of the "cool older cousins"--and that is just awesome!

Deep thought for the day:

Time flies like the wind--
Fruit flies like bananas.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poor Thing

Meggan broke her arm last night. Right arm. The humerus bone, just below the shoulder. Sigh. Poor thing (I know, I did it twice--same arm, same place!) She could really use your prayers.

A little bragging

The kidlets did very well at the fair. In showmanship (which judges their poise and presentation --while holding and showing a chicken!) BigGirl and LargeBoy each came in 3rd, and LargeCousin came in 4th. I am so proud of them! Also, BigGirl's chicken layed our first egg!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

brief update

J & A's wedding came off very smoothly. It was lovely, well attended, and fun. They were really laid-back about the whole process, which makes everything better, and they are now off on a honeymoon. Our "not-technically-family reunion" had lower numbers than in past years, but was good fun, nevertheless.

I am so tired (from exertion--decorating/undecorating the wedding, the reunion,attending the fair,etc., stress and getting up at 3:00 am this morning to take MFG to where he met his car-pool ride for work) that I am doing very slow, but reasonably steady trudging along on getting the house, vehicles and routines back into some semblance of order. Today is the day that LargeCousin's mom gets to take the largekins to the fair while I take SmallDaughter to therapy. They had their showmanship contest today. I think they will do fairly well, considering this is their first year.

However, the heat has been brutal this year, so we love any clouds that happen to pass over the fairgrounds. Since Sunday, 4 pigs, 8 chickens and a steer have died from heat related problems. Thankfully, none of ours. It seems to me that the laying hens and dual purpose (meat & egg) birds are much hardier than the "just for meat" birds--which are really suffering. They are so big they can't move around much, and just look miserable.

My largekins had "barn duty" yesterday afternoon (every exibitor has to sign up to help clean the barn). They did a good job, but they really enjoyed getting to check for eggs. Our hens still aren't laying, but they could start anytime.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


SmallDaughter believes firmly in "food jags"--for days or weeks or months at a time (or years in the case of eggs), she WANTS one particular food--all day, for every meal. Then suddenly, (with no warning whatsoever) she DOESN'T WANT THAT!

Her new jag is actually pretty pleasant--waffles. For every meal. With crying, screaming on the floor tantrums if I try to suggest something else--like eggs or peaches (she really does love both of those things--but not as much as waffles right now!). Fortunately, it is pretty easy to make up a whole day's worth of waffle batter to have in the fridge. Also, I am not opposed to the occasional waffle myself--and at least this jag doesn't gross me out, like some others we could mention!

On the plus side---if you were a non-verbal person, and you wanted to express your EXTREME delight and pleasure in the parental figure who figured out what you want, and just got down the waffle iron (from it's new storage place on top of the fridge, which is the only place she can't reach it, get it out and plug it in as a hint to me!) how would you do it?
SmallDaughter has figured it out in a most charming and delightful manner--she simply grabs your arm and while grinning happily, kisses your elbow repeatedly, to show her approval! It is actually much cuter than it sounds--and you KNOW she is happy with you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Update on the week

I got to hold 3 cutie babies this week--sweet! We had a very fun bridal shower, but that means I will be super busy this next week, decorating the wedding. It should be great, I will attempt to post pix.

Next week we have the county fair, where (for the first time) my
4-H'ers will have livestock (i.e. chickens), so instead of cooking the food/making the project, dropping it off and then coming back to see what kind of ribbon you got (blue for my kids, of course!), we have to be there with the chickens, every day. It will be a very different experience. Also, they are due to begin laying any day now. (the chickens, not the children.)

Mr. Prism, My Favorite Gentleman, is off being chivalrous (with my dad), helping a very sweet and quiet divorced older lady move to her new home--2 hours away. He got this job because he has a cargo van. And because he is super nice. I am really happy for Sue who found a fabulous new job (not so easy in this economy), a nice apartment with a nice room-mate and had all of the pieces fall perfectly into place for her. But my guys won't be back until late.

Several people are on the prayer list--Miss Peggy L, who is in really bad shape (physically)--and the doctors don't know what is going on. The "good" news is that the tests for MS, Lupus, etc. came back negative. The bad news is, "what the @#$% is going on?".
Andy P. had a bad fall, I don't know how serious. Sue B. had a heart-attack and the blood thinners caused her previously unsuspected ulcer to have a bleed-out. Natalie W. had rotator cuff surgery (her second)--which I have heard is the most painful of all surgeries. Melanie A. is still having tons of health issues. Maryann B. is still recovering from her heart surgery.

And, in the midst of all this pain and angst, life goes on--babies are born, weddings are decorated, people do kind things for each other (many of them are for or by the same people I just mentioned!) The joy is there if you can see it.

I have a visiting sister (Miss V)for a few days, which is always fun. I am also experimenting with getting out of my comfort zone and cooking with herbs. My sisters would be so proud--I am using basil. (ok, it was only in my spaghetti sauce, but it's a start, right?) This year my (long planned, but even longer procrastinated) herb garden didn't so much grow as EXPLODE. (Need chamomile, anyone?)

I did make a really yummy chicken soup--and the herbs made it crazy good. Also, sitting out on the porch near the herb bed, with the scent of the mint combining with the dill is surprisingly fabulous.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The most precious gift

I just talked to someone that I dearly love, that I have missed, lost and misplaced in my life for several years. My heart is too excited to sleep, and I am overflowing with love.

Last night I got to go and snuggle a sweet brand new baby boy. (Yep, the one from the previous post, who decided not to wait any longer!) His new parents are doing great with him, and I am confident that they will be wonderful parents.

I have gotten news of several expected new babies. How precious each one is. No matter how many babies come into my life, each one is a miracle.

Now, stop procrastinating, get off the computer, and go call someone who is precious to you, and tell them how much they mean in your life! Don't wait--procrastination only robs us of wonderful memories and good deeds that we could be doing.