Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tilly ~ a story of love, excitement, and international intrigue at the mailbox

Most people don't realize it, but donkeys are highly intelligent. Our little BLM rescue burro is a perfect example of that.

She might not look especially bright at first glance...

...but she is. That docile donkey demeanor is all an act.

For one thing, Tilly loves to read, and reads almost every day during her "morning siesta".

Her favorite books are about farm animals, of course... especially books that help dispel the "placid herbivore" stereotype and show farm animals for the partiers they really are!

So anyway... the other day Tilly decided to save me a trip to the mailbox and went up and got the mail herself.

She was happy and excited to find a package there for her and Tucker.

 Look at the excitement in those ears, she almost NEVER gets any mail! (I think she might have forgotten to fill out a change of address card when she moved from Al's place to ours...)
She had to open the package right away, of course...not even waiting for Tucker.
With her love of reading, she was especially pleased to find a book written by her favorite author... my brother!

The book isn't about donkeys, but it looked good to her anyway...

In fact, it looked like such a good book that she was going to start reading it right there on the road, but I convinced her to pack everything up again and bring it back down to the pasture to read.

She can't wait to start reading "Mairead agus an Foghlai Mara", and has already started looking around for a donkey who knows Gaelic and can teach her to read it...

I hate to disappoint her, but I'm pretty sure there are no Irish donkeys in our neighborhood. 
 Hey Steve, please tell Harry that Tilly says thanks tremendously for the package! And ask him if, when he has a minute, he could send a translation for her...

She's going to wear herself out staying up all night trying to learn Gaelic!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Keeping busy

This past week has been a blur...

One of our next door neighbors was out of town for 10 days, and her husband, who had a severe stroke just over a year ago, spent part of almost every day that she was gone with us. He hasn't recovered fully from his stroke and still needs a little help during the day. I hadn't known him well before this past week or so, and it was so nice to really get to know him... His wife came home yesterday and while it's nice not to have the responsibility of making sure he's eating, taking his meds, getting out of the house, etc., I kind of missed not seeing him at the dinner table last night.

We also have S again. There was an emergency is her family so she came here. She's been here for several days now but will probably go home tomorrow. She's been a little different this time...I could tell she was stressed, especially the first couple of days. She was very clingy with me, but also irritable and impatient. Thankfully she settled down again though, and I think she's had a good time being here...

The past couple times she's been here, she's asked me to teach her to knit. I've put her off, knowing that it would be a time consuming project (like M and R,  S is cognitively delayed) but this afternoon I finally sat down with some extra needles and yarn and taught her.

She's doing pretty well with it... Some of her stitches are beautiful, but some are still kind of funky... extra loops and things here and there.

She was so proud of herself though, as she worked her way through each stitch... I could see the concentration it was taking, and when she got to the end of each row and counted her stitches (to make sure she didn't add or lose any!) she was so happy to have the right number!

M and R had their last Special Olympics bowling practice on Saturday... I'm sad to see it end, I really hate to lose the structure of those Saturday morning practices. Weekends can be hard for M... but the extra structure of Special Olympics helped a lot. Unfortunately, S.O. is over until after the first of the year.
I might have to take the kids bowling one or two Saturdays a month just to recreate a little of that structure.

They had a mini-tournament during this last practice and each of the kids got a nice medal (awarded by some of the local police, who donated their time)...

... and a framed picture of themselves at the bowling alley.


The loved the pictures so much they insisted on hanging them in their rooms... immediately! :)

We seem to be having an endless Indian summer here... It's been really warm for late October, and almost no snow still, just the lightest of dustings the other night, so I've been working outside a lot. I've got the kitchen garden cleaned out, and the past few days I've been hauling mulch. A tree cutting business in town is giving away free mulch, so I keep sending dh down to town to fill up our little pickup truck.

I've mulched under my little fruit trees, and under the back porch where the weeds grow through each summer. 

The past couple of days I've been mulching around a big bush that grows outside my kitchen window. It's not my favorite kind of bush, it's just ok looking... It's been surrounded by weeds since we moved in and I'm hoping it will look better when it's cleaned up and surrounded by wood mulch instead.

Does anybody know what kind of bush it is? It gets fluffy, pink, feathery, flowery things each summer, and although it's looking a little rough right now, most years the leaves are just beautiful in the fall.  

Well, M is up... I'd better go.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We need some snow (and a long rant!)

This long, warm fall is strange...

 Usually, by mid-October or so it's cold and wintery enough outside that all but the necessary outside chores have ended. No more working in the garden, watering, cleaning the pasture or the barn (except for on the occasional warm days), by this time we are usually spending our days inside... staying warm.

It's been so warm this year though, it's like we are about six weeks off schedule, and I keep thinking of all the outside chores that I didn't have time to do this summer and could do now. (It's a shame to waste all this nice weather, you know...)

So I'm still hauling mulch (three pickup truck loads so far!), working in the barn, keeping the grass and trees watered etc. Honestly... I'm worn out, and hoping a little snow would help me to feel more like just sitting around and relaxing.

It's like I just can't sit still lately... yesterday I washed windows (first floor only, I'll finish today) cleaned the basement, raked leaves (again!) and got the laundry almost all caught up. Every time I would sit down for a few minutes, I'd think of something else I should be doing...

I don't know if it's the strange weather making me feel so driven, or the situation with M's pdoc. Maybe it's just the same old ridiculous garbage with the pdoc...

A month or so ago I started pushing her to talk to me about M. She called me once, and promised to call again the next week, but then dropped out of sight again. We've never talked about the recommendations that came from the second opinions I got, and at that time M was NOT stable enough on the meds he was taking. When I emailed her, reminding her that we needed to talk, and sending her a list I'd made of the different options that had come from those second opinion consults, she ignored the emails. I finally gave up connecting with her and increased his meds myself (something that will catch up with me when he runs of out meds before the month is over!).

I emailed and told her that I'd adjusted his meds, and she replied saying we needed to talk. She asked if I had "coverage" at home and could meet and talk to her without the kids.

I appreciated her finally emailing, but it also ticked me off...  No, I don't have "coverage" at home. She's been M's pdoc for 7 years... she should know my now that when M is unstable, I'm the coverage... there is no one else.  

So I replied that I don't have coverage at home, and that there seemed little point in talking now anyway... I'd already increased the meds and M was starting to calm down again.  
It took several days to hear back from her, but her reply was that she'd read the list of options and I hadn't included hospitalization as one of them, and she thought M should be in the hospital... now. 

There was no feedback on any of the six options the other pdocs suggested.

(I can't find the rolling eyes smiley, but imagine my eyes rolling here..)

So... now that he's doing better, she wants him in the hospital.... after ignoring us when he was struggling and in so much pain.

LOL, I don't think so...

I wrote back and said that I do always consider hospitalization an option (what family of a person with sz doesn't?!) but I thought we should explore the other options first...

Guess what? She's never replied...

Sometimes I think she just throws that "hospitalization card" out there to get rid of me. She brings it up, I back off from whatever I've been pushing her about, and she never mentions it again (until the next time I'm pushing her about something).

I think it's a lousy way to communicate (or, more accurately, NOT communicate) with a parent.
So I check my email... wondering if/when she'll reply and what she'll say. I look at the list of options collected from the second opinion consults, and wonder if any of them might be better for M then doing what I did... increase the medication that will surely make the tardive dyskinesia worse.

And then I go outside and shovel mulch, or manure...

So maybe my restless energy is connected more to pdoc problems then to the weather... but I do think I'll feel better (and be forced to stop all the heavy outside work) once it really starts snowing.


As the weather has gotten cooler, I've been picking up my knitting again after letting most of it lay around for the summer.

I'm not a great knitter. I'm pretty much stuck at the beginner stage... but I like it.

My sister pushed me into learning to knit a few years ago by giving me several knitted dishcloths. I loved those dishcloths, they were my favorites, but they wore out... and I couldn't keep asking her to knit me more all the time. So I had to learn to knit so I could replace them.

I still knit dishcloths, here is my favorite kind... soft and nubby...

Knitting dishcloths is nice and mindless. I can knit while the kids are bowling, or at softball practice,  I even knit in movie theaters sometimes. (It's either knit or doze off and the kids make fun of me when I doze off!)

Recently I joined an online knit-along, which has been a lot of fun. Each month we make a different afghan square. It will take a year and a half but eventually I'll have enough squares for a nice big afghan. This knitting has been more challenging than what I've done before (ANY knitting is more challenging then making dishcloths!) but the woman who put the knit-along together is wonderful about walking us through new stitches and techniques. It's kind of been an online knitting class for me...

This month we are working on one with a pink ribbon, in honor of breast cancer awareness month. My mother had breast cancer and I've been thinking of her a lot while I knit this square... Remembering when she told me she had cancer, and how we both cried a little, but how she was the stronger one, reassuring me... when I should have been reassuring her. And then, after the surgery, when she was in so much pain, she had a big purple stuffed bunny that another breast cancer survivor had given her to hug "when it hurts".  We have that bunny now... it's M's... and he also hugs it when he hurts... although his hurt is a much different kind than the physical pain my mother felt after her mastectomy.

Anyway (I'm so distractible, aren't I?) I've been knitting a lot lately. Working on the knit-along, knitting a few dishcloths, and... my most challenging project to date... working on a sweater for one of my grandkids. Jove inspired me to pick the sweater up again (after not working on it for months) and I'm happy with the way it's turning out. Both sleeves are done and I'm working my way up the body.
I do most of my knitting at night, after the kids go to bed, but I'm not alone... I always have at least one or two dogs laying at my (on my!) feet.

The other evening I had to make a couple of smaller balls of yarn for my afghan square... I had pulled about 10 yards of yarn from the skein and cut it off, but as I started to wrap it up again, I felt some resistance... I looked down and realized that Sweet Pea had sat quietly by me, not moving, while I covered her with yarn.

Isn't she cute?

I pulled the yarn off Sweet Pea and kept rolling it up, only to run into more resistance. I followed the end of the yarn around the back of the chair to the other side and found this:

Quin had somehow walked through the middle of my yarn before settling down and falling asleep...

Eventually I got my yarn wrapped and back to knitting.

Here are some of the afghan squares I've made so far (some of them aren't blocked yet)...

Here's the beginning of the breast cancer awareness square, the pink is the beginning of the pink ribbon that will be knitted into the square.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's been awhile since I posted... 

I have good intentions, but we've been so busy lately that by the time the day's "busy-ness" is over and the house is finally quiet, I'm too tired to write. I've got half a dozen posts rattling around in my head though, and I keep taking pictures to post... I'm just having a hard time actually getting anything done!

 Our little miracle baby turned 12 this past week... We celebrated with a trip to Casa Bonita with a few of her very best friends...

There was lots of screaming (Casa Bonita sets up a very tame haunted house for Halloween) and lots of giggling, so I think they had a good time!

R and S running screaming from the haunted house...

It was a fun and silly day...

We had S this past weekend which was fun, but challenging... (M had a couple of bad days and having extra people in the house makes those hard days even more difficult for him...)

Here are the girls with the pillow cases they decorated. Each time they get together they'll draw and write a little more on them as a remembrance of their friendship....

(It's impossible for me to forget the fact that our relationship with S may be transient... so I try to build memories while we are together.)

So, that's what we've been up to. We've had some really busy days lately, but this next week should be much easier... I'm looking forward to some low-key days at home!

Monday, October 13, 2008

a little picture post

As the days get colder and shorter, I find myself cocooning a bit... appreciating home, and wanting to just snuggle in and hibernate a bit.

Shorter days also mean doing the morning and evening barn work in the dark and semi-dark.

Some nights the sun is just going down when I head out...

But many evenings it's full dark by the time my last trip to the barn is finished. There is a full moon tonight, and walking back from the barn the house looked like this:

I love the way the house looks in the moonlight and the warmth of the light shining out through the windows.

I'm such a homebody, I even love the carelessly tossed mud boots, and the newly picked pumpkins, decorating my front porch.

Quin, my little barn buddy has already let himself into the house, but always waits for me at the door...

Hmmm... the way I'm feeling now, I might just hibernate all winter!

lapbooks and other stuff

I finally have a few minutes to post some pictures of the kid's Election Day lapbooks. I think they turned out well, and the kids definitely learned a lot from the unit study.

 It's been a busy week. K, the youngest of our birth children turned 21 (yikes!) so we drove up to see her on Friday, then R stayed the night and K brought her home Saturday afternoon. We had the big family celebration on Saturday evening. This is such a milestone for K, and I'm so proud of the person she's grown into... She just graduated this past May with a degree in Psychology, and works full-time at Crossroads Safehouse (for victims of domestic abuse). She is so excited and committed to the work she's doing... and she seems happy... so life is good for her.

R was over-the-top excited about spending the night with K, but she was also seriously stressed out by M and I leaving her in a strange town, 90 miles away from home. For the first couple of hours we were gone, she called me about every 15 minutes. She did eventually relax a little and the girls had their nails done, went out for dinner, and ended up eating ice cream while watching movies. All in all I think they had a wonderful time, and by the time Saturday came, R wasn't sure she wanted to come home after all!

 M is, unfortunately, really struggling right now. We're still adjusting meds (the endless medication adjustments... do they EVER end?!) and he's more symptomatic than usual. It was hard getting him through the birthday dinner on Saturday, but yesterday was a better day for him.

I'm supposed to talk to the pdoc tomorrow night... During the past really difficult month with M, she's been mostly absent from things. She's emailed a couple of times, but, for the most part, she's been too busy... for a long time... to be very involved. The good news is I've gotten used to being on my own... not counting on her for help or support. The bad news is that when she has a minute to be more involved, like now, it's hard to let her. I don't trust her to stick around for more than a day or two before getting impossibly busy again, and I'm the one who has to live with the outcome from whatever med changes she suggests (not her!) so it's hard to blindly follow her suggestions the way I used to. 

Sigh... I really don't want to talk to her, she always asks a lot of questions, then either makes recommendations of things we've already done, or comes up with ideas of things we haven't tried, but says she has to research them before we do anything. But she never seems to research them and doesn't mention them again for months (if at all).

Can you tell I'm feeling a little cranky about the whole thing?

 Anyway... here are the pictures of the lapbooks.

This is the project pack book I used to plan and put together the unit study and lapbooks:

Here's one of the lapbooks...

I'm happy with how they turned out. I think our next unit study will be something totally different... probably rocks and minerals.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

~first frost~

Last night we had our first frost of the year...

No, I don't have any pictures of everything coated with frost. While it was still frosty outside, it was too cold to go outside and take pictures and once it warmed up.....well... the frost was gone.

My brain is tired... I'm talking stupid... maybe if I post lots of pictures no one will notice.

The kids and I took a walk the other day through the prettiest little park not far from us... It has a long winding trail running through it, so the kids decided to take their scooters and follow the trail.
The colors of the leaves were just beautiful, my camera doesn't come close to doing them justice.

A row of cottonwoods along the creek...

We stopped to read the historical marker...

(Does that count for studying history that day?)

Seriously though, we just finished an awesome unit study/lapbook about the election. The kids are now very interested in the election, and I learned a few things I never knew before.  I'll have to post some pictures of their lapbooks... they are amazing... the kids did so much work! (The highlight of the unit study was rockin' out in the kitchen to the Schoolhouse Rock Preamble to the Constitution song. M plays a mean air guitar, and R and I both have the preamble memorized now!)

I'm still working with Tucker a little each day.

Remember when he wouldn't let anyone touch him?

He really did turn for me here... It's an exercise the trainer has me do, it's supposed to teach Tucker to pay attention to me. He's also picking up ALL FOUR hooves for me! (a major breakthrough... he picks them up with no kicking!) Of the three animals, Tilly, Blaze and Tucker... Tucker is now the best about picking up his hooves.

I've also been doing some winterizing around the house, getting ready for the snow and cold.

I bought a huge roll of bubble wrap on craigslist and have cut pieces to fit the sunroom and basement windows to help cut down on all the heat we lose through those windows.

It looks a little funny, but if it helps keep the room warmer this winter, it's worth it. I'm going to try and make some kind of a warm window type shade for the patio doors in this room too... anything to keep it a little warmer.

So fall is here and winter is fast approaching... My big garden froze last night, and it won't be long before the first snow. This is my favorite time of year...