Saturday, October 30, 2010

They're just spoiled!

Murphy, Tucker and Cubby had the whole big pasture to graze in this afternon...

But where did they want to be?

In the front yard.


I put up with a lot from these big guys... stinky piles of manure in the stalls and paddock to clean up (and try not to step in) each day... Cubby kicking and threatening to bite me whenever the mood strikes him... Tucker waking me up every morning before the crack of dawn, just to make sure there is no possibility that I'll inexplicably forget to feed him... klutzy Murphy, forever getting his leg cut or stuck in something, or stepping on something, getting into the grain, or breaking out in hives. They've stepped on my feet, sneezed in my face, and smushed me into the side of the stall.  But I (usually) don't complain. I'm pretty easy going.. but I do make sure they know who is boss around here.

It's ME... the human. They are just here to do my bidding and look pretty (I remind them of this frequently).

And one thing I definitely draw the line at is grazing in the front yard...

I refuse to have big nasty piles of horse (or donkey) manure in my front yard... even just for the 5 minutes it would take me to walk to the barn, get the pitchfork, and toss the manure into the pasture. They have 4+ acres of pasture to graze and leave manure piles in... they are NOT allowed in my front yard.

So when they wandered into the front yard today to graze, I ran them off...

... and as soon as I wasn't looking, they came back.



So I did it again...

... and so did they.



So I got tough and sprayed them with the hose...

...and they left until I went back in the house, then snuck back into the front yard. (Horses and donkeys can be very sneaky when they want to be.)

So I decided the best course of action was to give up, and pretend I didn't see them until it was time for R to take them back to the barn for their dinner.



When I went out later, I saw that they had left not one single pile of manure in my front yard.

I guess they know who's boss around here...

Friday, October 29, 2010

therapeutic gardening

I've started a couple of blog posts this week, but it seems like each time I sit down and start writing, I'm pulled away by something. By the time I have a few more quiet minutes, I'm no longer in the mood to finish the post I'd previously started... So I don't.

And no posts get written.

M had an awful day yesterday...  He's been not-so-stable for awhile, and it all just boiled over yesterday. Needless to say we didn't get any school done, but I did get a lot done outside.

M's episodes just wipe me out, but not in an "I'm tired going to bed" sort of way... even if I could just go to bed after one of his episodes, which I can't, of course, because then who would take care of M?

No they wipe me out in a mental sort of way... my body has tons of energy (nothing like a little adrenaline to get a person moving!)... but my brain isn't much good for anything for awhile.

That is, of course, the perfect combination for gardening!

We had our first freeze a couple of weeks ago, so I took all my extra energy outside and cleaned the dead tomatoes, peppers, etc. out of the little kitchen garden.

In the process I discovered even more vole holes than I thought I had... This caused my (sub-clinical? ;)) OCD to kick in and I virtually destroyed my own garden, trying to flood, and then dig them out.


The garden and I were both a muddy mess by the end of that little chore, but I think I managed to destroy most of the vole "community" that had apparently been living under my garden.


I went out this morning and found a couple of holes I'd missed in yesterday's vole frenzy, but overall I'm satisfied with my work. While I worked in the little garden I got all the fruit trees well watered, and did a bit more clean up in the area that used to be Lili the chicken's home.  All that's left is a little pruning on the smoke tree, and that area is done.



Even after all the digging, flooding, and ripping up of plants out back, I still had too much energy to sit down, so the kids and I went out front and I raked... and raked... and raked. I'd cleaned out the big garden last week, so it was ready for it's winter covering of leaf mulch.


I didn't have nearly enough leaves (even after raking the driveway!) but the trees still have plenty of leaves, and there is no hurry to get it done...


M's been better today... still edgy, but connected. He even helped me this morning with some heavy work out at the barn. He wasn't happy about it, but he did it...

I also worked a bit with Tucker and Cubby this morning. It's funny... my little "wild man" Tucker doesn't seem quite so wild now that we have Cubby. Tucker never kicks or tries to bite... for Cubby those are everyday things!

I don't think Cubby (the darker donkey), would ever really hurt someone. If he was truly aggressive he's had plenty of opportunities to hurt someone... I think he's just in the habit of trying to throw his weight around.

He's a pretty donkey though, isn't he?

We won't keep Cubby permanently... I think Tucker enjoys having a friend, but R and I have both said we'll be ok with Cubby moving on. Having to be so careful around him makes the barn work a lot more complicated...

Well, I'd better get moving... (but I'm so proud, I actually finished a post!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

October 25, 2010

Outside my window... it's dark... it's early enough that the sky in the east hadn't even started to lighten. These days I'm doing the morning barn work in the dark... I love the walk back from the barn... the sky is clear it is filled with bright pinpoints of stars glittering and twinkling above me. I try to pick out constellations, but I only know a couple... it's something I wish I knew more about.

I am thankful for... life, and my family... together and safe. Well, mostly together... B (dd#2) is still working in KC, MO but I just talked to her yesterday so it doesn't feel like she's that far away.

From the learning rooms... we need to hit the books hard this week to make up for missing so much last week. I'm looking forward to sitting in our sunny little classroom and slipping back into our school routine. I think that routine is comforting for me as well as the kids.

From the kitchen... I made M's favorite pizza the other night, chicken alfredo with whole grain crust. I just use my regular bread dough recipe for the crust, make up some packaged alfredo sauce to put on top, then add whatever toppings sound good. This time I just put on chicken, zucchini, mushroom and cheese. Mmmm...

I am creating... not much right now, although I've got a little sewing project in the works.

I am going... to have to make a bunch of phone calls this morning to make sure I didn't seriously mess up M's clozaril prescription. I'm required, by law, to have M's CBC checked every 14 days. Clozaril is his main schizophrenia med, and without regular CBC's they can't fill his prescription (we have it filled every two weeks). Well... with all that went on last week I forgot to draw his blood. The CBC was due Thursday and I didn't draw the blood and send it in until Saturday. It's only two days, hopefully it won't be a problem... but worse case scenario I'd have to bring his dose down to a starting dose and re-titrate it back up again... a process that takes months and would leave him VERY unstable for a looooong time. I'm feeling a little unsettled until I get this straightened out.

I am reading... not much of anything. I'm in one of those moods where it's hard to  get into anything. I keep starting books, then losing interest and setting them aside again. I did recently finish a book by James Patterson called The Murder of King Tut. R's really into Ancient Egypt these days (thankfully it's replaced her WWII fascination) and she wanted me to read the book and tell her what it said. It ended up being a really good book (and an easy read which was just what I needed!).

I am hoping... our friend "Big M" continues to improve and the adults who love her are able to put together a permanency plan that is just right for her.

I am hearing... Emma's deep breathing as she sleeps at my feet, the tick of the clock.

Around the house... things are pretty caught up, and I have no new house projects in the works. I'm sure I won't be able to let that go for long though... I'll think of something that "has" to be done. :)

One of my favorite things... the quiet of the house in the morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I don't have much on the calendar. I have a dog training class later today, and some fun Halloween stuff this weekend, but that's it. It's feels VERY nice to have such an empty calendar...

A picture I'm sharing...

the grandkids... ready for Halloween



Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

the day in pictures...

I felt like taking pictures today for some reason, and ended up taking a bunch of quick snapshots throughout the day...

The day started overcast and the wind blew cold and rain our way for most of the morning...



While the kids ate lunch, I read and researched the election issues and completed my mail-in ballot. After lunch I explained the ballot to M and he voted for the first time... What a milestone!


M's voting is forcing me to be a more informed and responsible voter. I had to really learn about the issues this time, so I could explain them to M in a way he could understand...

Later, while we did school in the classroom, Cody set a sleepy trap for us on the stairs...


He was easy to see from the bottom of the stairs, but not so easy from the top... luckily no one accidentally stepped on him coming down the stairs.

The mail truck drove my driveway while we were doing school also...  with a package for me from my sister!

I think my new little pilgrims will live here until Thanksgiving, and then they'll move to the table.


My sister knows Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Thank you Jackie, what a lovely surprise...I'll give you a call, probably tomorrow :)


The last chore each day is to feed the dogs. Emma gets to eat without "doing" anything for her food (because she's so old... there are certain benefits that come with age, you know...). But Quin and Cody have to do something for their dinner... usually a down/stay with their food bowls right in from of them... food they can't eat until I say it's ok.

Quin makes me laugh each time he has to do this... every muscle tense, his body is on the floor but he's in no way relaxed... he's so tight he's almost quivering. His eyes follow my every move, my every breath... his whole body ready to spring for the food the instant he hears the release word.



Cody, on the other hand, isn't as focused as Quin... He pretty much just lays there and waits.. figuring, I'm sure, that I won't let him starve.


Dogs are fed and let outside one last time... all that's left is one more cup of tea to finish up the day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a very long couple of days....


It feels like the past couple of days were several weeks long.

At least.

It was less than 48 hours ago that I first found out that my friend Lynn, and her younger daughter Mariah, had died in a car accident. Lynn's older daughter survived but is badly injured. Thankfully, they are expecting her to recover.

Lynn and I met about 8 years ago, and bonded over parenting our adopted children, and R and Lynn's daughter were friends. Only a month ago they were here visiting... and the girls rode Murphy, played Clue, and just wandered and played out in the big pasture.  Like M and R, Lynn's daughter have FASD. Lynn adopted as a single mom, and worked harder than anyone I know... caring for her girls, advocating for them, working full time to financially care for them, and working in the FASD community to support other parents. She was a powerful force, and amazing woman, and I'm so glad I knew her.

I've been rereading Lynn's blog and found this post... It, and many others like it that she wrote, that show so clearly her warmth, her love, her dedication to her children, and to the "cause" of preventing FASD and supporting families raising children with FASD. What a terrible loss her passing is...

Please keep her surviving daughter in your prayers.

I found this picture on Lynn's blog... I think this sign sums up pretty well how she lived her life.

Good-bye friend...







We went to court yesterday and were granted guardianship for M. So we're back to where we were before he turned 18 and became, legally at least, an "adult".  With guardianship, I will be able to continue to make his medical, legal and financial decisions. He will, of course, be a part of the decision making process... but there is just no way he is capable of making adult decisions on his own... at least not right now.

We visited our dear Granny yesterday too, we hadn't her seen for a while and missed her terribly. Since learning about the passing of her friend, R has wanted... has needed... to see Granny.... her "first" mom... and as we headed home after the visit, R said she that seeing her helped her to feel better.

After a quick quiet time at home, we headed out again to a Halloween party at M's girlfriends house. It was a good party, and R met some new friends and M renewed some friendships with kids he hasn't seen for awhile. It was a late night (for us), and we are tired today and spending  the day just hanging around the house. I'm cleaning (my therapy) and planning house projects (more therapy), R rode Murphy (her therapy) and M has laid around like a TV watching slug most of the day. If I had any energy I'd make him get up and do something else... but I don't... and a day of TV watching isn't the worst thing in the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I am still stunned...

... so I try not to think about it too much.

I haven't written much about S lately, or the drama that was her life this past summer. The agency (that has legal custody of her) threatening to move her from her foster home to place her in a group home... a place she didn't want to be. They'd moved her the previous summer (2009) from her long term foster home to this new one, and it took her months so settle in and adjust... and now they wanted to move her again.

That threat hung over her head all summer, and was the reason we started, back in July, to become re-certified as foster parents (initially a requirement to maintain contact with S while in the group home) only to stop part way through the process when the agency changed their minds and decided fingerprints and a background check was enough.

The whole group home issue seemed to be behind us though... All interested parties (S, foster mom, caseworker, GAL, group home foster mom, group home licensing agency rep, etc) met about a month ago, and at S's foster mom's request I kind of crashed the party.

Hey... they were having their meeting at a McD's for goodness sake! It's a free country, I can drive up to Brighton (or where ever I was, maybe Ft Lupton) to McD's if I feel like it... it's public place.

Once I'd "dropped in" they kindly allowed me to stay for the meeting. S spent the first few minutes I was there hugging me and crying. She whispered in my ear "I don't want to go" and I said "Then you have to tell them."... and she said "I can't". So I invited the caseworker to take a walk outside with S and I, and I talked to S about it's being ok to be honest with the worker. That it's important for her to tell people how she feels, and what she thinks is best for her... not what the worker thinks is best, or what I think is best, or the foster mom thinks... but what S thinks is best. And she was able to tell the worker she didn't want to move...

We went back inside and the GAL was still hot to move her, so I pulled out all my rusty advocacy skills and did what I could to basically "present" S's case. Finally the GAL agreed to let her stay where she was...

The GAL wasn't happy though.. and during the course of the meeting she was taking no prisoners... she was out for blood. She was angry (as any caring person would be) that in S's whole 16 years of life, NO one has consistently put S first. NO one has fallen in love with her the way a parent falls in love with their child; willing do anything in their power to make sure that child is well loved, and fed, and cared for... and happy. The GAL was right.. and then she turned angrily to me, and said I was no different... I hadn't put S's needs first either.

I hadn't adopted her either.

It wasn't a fair statement. I knew it wasn't... this childless lawyer knows nothing about loving a child enough to know that adopting them isn't necessarily what is best for them, or for the children you've already adopted. I tried to explain... especially about M and the schizophrenia, and how it wouldn't be right for any of the kids to adopt S.

But the GAL cut me off with "Don't make excuses to me."

In a way she was right. In this family, S's needs come after M and R's needs... but I can't change the reality of S's life. I can love her, but can't adopt her... It wouldn't make her life "all better", it would only add layers of drama and upset (sz is like that) that she doesn't need and neither do M and R.

So I did what I could... I advocated for her at the meeting, then came home made her a bedroom here. A concrete symbol of her "place" in our family.

I got a call Monday afternoon from S's foster mom. S had, out of the blue, done something so bizarre, so disconnected, so.......  Words escape me, I can't even think of a word that fits... so, whatever, that her life is forever changed.

The scary part (well one of the scary parts, there are many) is that S doesn't even "get it"... She is so disconnected from herself physically and emotionally that her reaction to the situation was nothing even close to a typical reaction (even for a cognitively delayed teenager). If she doesn't "get" the seriousness of what happened... there is no working with her to prevent it from happening again... or to discourage her from talking to M and R about it.

So I don't think it would be good for her to be around R and M for awhile.

My hearts breaks for S. I'm saddened by what's gone on this week...

... but at the same time I'm inwardly rejoicing that M and R are here... with us... in a forever family... and haven't been bounced from foster home to foster home... getting good care in one... and abused in another.

They've known stability, loving parents, the blessing and benefits of homeschooling... they've been protected.

Protected.

And cared for... as children should be.

I think about what happened to S this week and feel like I'm looking at "what might have been" in terms of R and M.

And I want to grab them both up in hugs and kisses... and hold them too tight... maybe never letting go... and thank them over and over for being my children. (But they would think I was acting weird and worry about me if I did!)

I have such incredibly mixed emotions... can you grieve and rejoice at the same time?

If so.. that's what I'm doing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Woohoo!

Exciting day today...  :)

It started with a loooong drive up north for a "sisterlock" consultation for R. Sisterlocks are tiny little dreadlocks, and something R's wanted for a long time. Unfortunately they are EXPENSIVE to have put in, especially with hair as long as R's is.

I love the woman we met with though, and it sounds like sisterlocks will be a wonderful option for R... No more messy, thick cremes and oils,  no more chemicals of any kind... just working with her natural hair for a "look" that is beautiful and easy to work with. I was sold on the idea before we even got there, and it will be hard waiting for the consultant we saw to have time to do the locks (probably not until after the first of the year).

Here's a link to information about sisterlocks... the picture below (not R) is example of how they look when they're complete...

R's will probably be shorter than the locks in this picture because I think we're going to have a few inches cut off her hair before it's locked.

The other big excitment today was that Cody passed his test and starts the advanced training class on Monday.  Sometime in December he'll test for the CGC (canine good citizen) certification.

High five Cody... way to go!!



Sunday evening ramblings...

R's birthday was Thursday and we celebrated with lunch out with K (dd#3) at Casa Bonita...


...and a family birthday dinner in the evening.

R REALLY looks forward to her birthday and has, in years past, started counting down the days to the next birthday within weeks of celebrating the previous one!

I think she was happy with her gifts...

:)



She keeps repeating that she "can't believe" she's 14.

To tell you the truth... I can't either.

Unfortunately, M's marginally working GI system doesn't care much for Casa Bonita food and he was sick all Thursday night, and even into Friday. There must just be a very high fat content in their food... he's two for two in terms of getting sick after eating there. I carefully limited his food this time, thinking he'd be ok... but no luck. I'm sad that we won't be able to go back there, at least for a while... the kids enjoy it so much.

M can't digest McDonald's cheeseburgers either, by the way... which I think is a little strange. They are small burgers, and only 7 weight watcher points (which I sometimes use as a guide for his food choices), so I would think that he'd be able to manage them... but no, they are seemingly undigestible (indigestible?) for him.

Speaking of McDonald's cheeseburgers... Have you seen the article about the woman who has had a McD's Happy Meal cheeseburger and fries sitting out on her counter for six months with absolutely no sign of mold or decay?? It's fascinating in a gross sort of way... you can read about it here.  (Hmm... maybe it's not that surprising that M can't digest them!)

Anyway... M seemed recovered by Saturday, and we spent the morning bowling with the kid's Special Olympic team, then took Cody to town to work on his training (his "final" for his current training class is Tuesday... so we were cramming). He's just finishing up his intermediate class and if he passes, will move into the advanced class. The advanced class is only six weeks and at the end of it, he'll be tested for the "CGC" (canine good citizen) certification.  I don't plan on doing anything with the CGC if he's able to get it, at least right now... but it's the certification he would need to go into hospitals and nursing homes to visit patients and residents. That's in the future though... right now he needs to pass the intermediate class.

I have the clicker and treats out... and I have Cody's full attention... he LOVES training.


Working on "on your bed"... on that command he goes to his bed, lays down, and waits (only a minute or so) until I give him the release word. He's good at this... he likes laying down doing nothing.

Long distance stay... I put him on a sit/stay then walk away... sometimes scattering dog treats behind me as I walk. He's supposed to wait for me to call him, then come without stopping to eat the treats. Amazingly he's pretty good at this one...

Skidding to a stop at my feet after a "come". What a great little dog he's turned out to be (and who'd have thought I'd ever be able to say that?!).

Saturday evening we went to church for the St Joseph Coffee House get-together they host each month for people with disabilities. There was a great band, and we enjoyed dinner followed by dancing. The only downside was S wasn't there (she usually goes with us and always has such a good time). Both R and I missed her and kept watching the door, hoping she'd come.  But she didn't...

Today we got the month's shopping done, and the kid's had more Special Olympics (swimming this time) and we had a lovely surprise visit with E (dd#1) and two of her three kids. It was so good to see them, and I was happy to have a little chocolate in the house to spoil them with...

The wind has been blowing hard this evening, and tomorrow's weather is supposed to be cold and wet. I'm thinking it's possible we'll get our first snow. I hope so, I'm ready for it... I love the hushed quiet of a soft snow.

One of last winter's snows.... I hope it looks like this outside tomorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On mattresses and ladders...

... and why they are not a good combination.

Six years ago, before we moved to the country, I didn't like ladders. I stayed off them, not even being comfortable a couple of rungs up on the step ladder, washing the windows of our one story home. I also professed to being afraid of heights... looking down from up high makes me slightly dizzy and not entirely sure which way is up and whether I'm leaning over (getting ready to fall?!) or securely balanced.

As it's turned out, being afraid of heights and ladders is a luxury I lost when we decided to do the "Green Acres" thing and head for the boonies...

For one thing, the hay loft in the barn is about 10 feet up. There are no railings around that open drop... because that would be stupid... can you just see Rick, our hay guy, lifting 60 lb bales of hay up OVER the railing to stack them in the loft?? No... that would never work (not that I haven't thought about it!)

The hay loft is only reachable by ladder... and our only "ladder" that is tall enough isn't really a ladder, but is a ladder shaped piece of aluminum that Joe found somewhere. It looks like a ladder, but as Joe insists on reminding me each time he sees me climbing it into the hay loft... it wasn't really meant to hold much weight... and could collapse at any minute.

He's really not being helpful when he reminds me of this, but it is good motivation to watch my weight.

I have to use this "ladder" though, because short of flying up into the hay loft, there is no other way to get there. So, I plant my feet carefully... stay alert for any signs that my "ladder" is folding in two, and keep going. I've even gotten to the point that I can climb up into the hay loft and toss hay bales down off the edge. I have to get close to the edge to do this, so it's not my favorite thing to do... but when it's winter, the animals are hungry, and the only hay is 10' above the ground in the hay loft... well, you do what you have to do (and try not to look down).

In comparison to the hay loft "ladder" the ladder into the loft in the house is a breeze. It's made of solid timbers, sits on a level floor, and huge nails hold it in place at the top.

We've always used the loft (rather than letting it sit empty like the previous owners did) so R and I have gotten pretty comfortable moving things up and down the loft ladder. On Sunday it was nothing to move the parts to S's bed up into the loft...they were heavy, but not too bad.  We left the mattress for the bed downstairs until the bed was put together.

Well... the bed was put together yesterday... all it needed was the mattress. I really wanted to get the bed done, but I kept looking at the mattress, and looking at that ladder, and wondering how in the world we could get the mattress into the loft.  I worried about it, and tried to make plans of how to move it (ropes? large burly neighbors or people hired off the street? build a scaffolding?) until finally, during M's language arts lesson (I can see the ladder from the classroom, and had plenty of time to think while M worked), I decided the time for planning was done, the time was NOW.

Do or die the mattress was going up the ladder.

I called to R to help me and we moved the mattress up the 1 1/2 flights of steps between the living room and the loft ladder. But that was the end of the easy part... I had to think of a way to move the mattress on edge (to fit through the opening at the top of the ladder), vertically, up the ladder. R and I rested the mattress, on one end, at the base of the ladder while I pondered the situation.

I looked up. Hmm...standing on end the mattress reached more than halfway up the ladder. That looked promising, and I began to have some hope... even though I still didn't have a plan.  I called M away from his language arts to help, and he came...  very reluctantly. He dislikes language arts, but he really dislikes it when I start climbing around in high places. He has a phobia (yes, real and diagnosed!) about heights, and is always afraid I'm going to fall and kill myself.

But he left his lesson and came... only complaining a little.

I set chairs up at the base of the ladder and told the kids to stand on them and lift the mattress higher, while still holding the edge against the ladder. I stood on the bottom rungs of the ladder, trying to lift and guide the mattress higher, while not letting it flop over one way or the other. It was a little like trying to push a giant string through a hole. Mattresses don't push well.

But after a few minutes the mattress was perched precariously, on end, on the same chairs the kids were standing on and the top of the mattress almost reached the top of the ladder! It was too floppy to go any further just working from the floor, and it was in danger of flopping over into the fireplace at any second (and M was complaining, loudly, about having to stand on a chair... even that height is too high for him!). So I decided to climb past and over the mattress, up the ladder, get into the loft and pull the mattress up behind me.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

I was able to get past the mattress and into the loft just fine, and with the kids pushing and me pulling I was able to begin moving the mattress into the loft. Unfortunately I'd only moved the mattress a little ways when the kids could no longer reach it to push... and I wasn't strong enough to hold it for long... or pull it any further... because it was way overbalanced on the ladder side and gravity was rapidly taking over.

M, being very astute, noticed things were looking a bit precarious as I tried to hold onto the mattress and keep it from falling back down and taking me with it. He started yelling, "you're going to drop it Mom, you're going to fall!" and bailed... jumping off the chair and darting out of the way in anticipation of the mattress and I making a quick exit from the loft.  I was pretty sure I wasn't going to fall, but it you are going to fall from loft this was probably a best case scenario... falling with a mattress.

I called to R to "quick, come help"... and she hurried up the ladder and grabbed hold of the mattress with me.  We pulled, M yelled about how we were both going to fall now, and the mattress flopped around and tried it's hardest to slip back down the ladder, but little by little we managed to pull it up until finally more of the mattress was in the loft than hanging out into space, and we knew we had it...

Victory is sweet, but language arts was waiting so after high fives all around, we put the mattress on the bed and M and I went back to the classroom and his lessons.

Later, I even found a quilt and dust ruffle I'd forgotten I had, so didn't have to remake the older king sized one. :)

Here's the bent wire photo display I made above the bed, the bottom piece of wire needs some fine-tuning, and the last of the photos attached, but it's almost done.

I'm love how this little project has turned out...




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the end of the harvest

It's been a chilly week so far... today is supposed to be a little warmer, but yesterday felt a little like winter and we had our first, light, frost Monday night. I knew it was coming so went out Monday and picked what I could from the gardens. A couple cucumbers, a lone tomato, some lettuce and bunches of cilantro and mint were all that was left.


The cilantro and mint I hang to dry and use over the winter.


I also brought in my geraniums and begonias, so they can winter in the sunroom... The begonias look terrible... the deer have just eaten them down almost to nothing. They look so bad I almost just left them outside to freeze, but I decided I'd probably regret that decision when I had to buy new ones in the spring... so I brought them in. A little TLC and they should be blooming again by Christmas.

I love the way geraniums brighten up a window...

I hope the weather forecast is right and today is sunny and warmer... We're off to the stable this afternoon, and that arena can get COLD when there is no sun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

October 11, 2010

Outside my window... Fall seems to have arrived... the temperature has dropped about 40 degrees from what it was just a few days ago, and it's been raining off and on for the past couple of days. Outside it's cold, and wet but the clouds seem to be breaking up... Hurray for the sun!


I am thinking... about an idea I had this morning and need to email my sibs about.

I am thankful for... the way little prayers are sometimes answered. I'm creating a room for S in the loft (she's not moving in full-time, but given all that's been going on lately I thought it was important to give her a concrete message that she has a place, literally as well as figuratively, in our home and family), and needed a bed for her. S will be here this weekend, and she was SO excited last time she was here when I told her I was making a room for her, that I really wanted to have something put together for her before she visited again. I had an idea of the kind of bed I wanted in the room (a day bed, good quality.. none of the cheap squeaky metal ones.. and whatever I got had to be light enough to move up the ladder and into the loft), but hadn't been able to find anything even close to what I was looking for that was in my price range and within 50 miles of me. I was thinking about it off and on Saturday, and sent up a couple of  quick "I-need-a-bed" prayers. Before going to bed Saturday night I checked Craigslist again (for the hundredth time!) and there was a new listing... for a bed even more "right" for the space than what I'd envisioned... and it was listed for exactly the amount I'd thought I'd be able to spend. I called on the bed and found the sellers were only 20 minutes away. :) M and I picked the bed up yesterday morning, and R and I moved it up into the loft. It's just what we needed... and I'm so thankful for the answer to that little, unimportant, prayer.

From the learning rooms... we weren't very productive last week. Between M being sick for two days, and having a field trip and a trip to the stable on another day, we didn't get much school done. We did enjoy the tour of the county courthouse though... we'll be back at the same courthouse soon for M's guardianship hearing, so the timing of the field trip couldn't have been better. M is well again now, and R never got his bug, so we should get a LOT more school done this week.

From the kitchen... Joe surprised me last night by planning dinner and offering to help cook. He grilled some buffalo burgers, and roasted chili peppers to go with. I made some fries and salad and dinner was done!

I am creating... I can't tell, it's a secret... but I'm happy that I've got them finished. On Saturday I sewed until my eyes were blurry and I started making stupid mistakes... then I stopped and finished up yesterday. I'm quite happy about how what I was making turned out... Now I'll just tuck them away for Christmas. :)

I am going... to pull out an older, very large quilt I have stored away and see about remaking it for S's bed. It's a king-sized quilt, and the colors and design (an Irish chain) are beautiful (and would look great on her bed) but the edges had gotten so worn, even worn through, that the batting was coming out and it could no longer be used. I'm going to look at it and see if it might be possible to cut away the worn through parts and re-make it as a smaller (twin or full sized) quilt for S to use.

I am reading...  a bunch of different things. I'm still reading Eat, Breathe, Love and it's sparking some wonderful phil0sophical discussions with my dear friend M, in Jakarta, who is also reading it. Then the other day I pulled The Awakening Land off my bookshelf and started reading it (again). I think of it as a "companion" book... for years it's been one of my favorite books and each time I pick it up it's like sitting down with an old friend. I'm also reading Listen to Your Life, a daily reading kind of book that I started a couple of weeks ago.

I am hoping... that M has a good week.

I am hearing... a quiet house; the clock ticking, a slow movements of a sleeping dog, and neighbor's rooster crowing.

Around the house... R and I will spend the week arranging and decorating S's room. I have the idea of creating a photo display, showing M, R and S over the years. (More concrete affirmation of her being an important part of our family...) At first I'd planned to frame and hang the photos I picked, but there were so many that I really liked, that I've decided to use wire and clothespins to hang the photos... That way they can be rearranged as she likes, or taken down for a better look. The display will also include the word friendship, possibly stenciled on the wall (I don't have that part figured out yet... )... I think we're going to have fun with it.

One of my favorite things... Mondays, and the possibilities that the new week brings.

A few plans for the rest of the week... an ortho appointment for R, a trip to the stable and... at the end of the week... R's 14th birthday! (She's not excited or anything... she's only been counting down the days since February!)

A picture I'm sharing...

~this morning's sunrise~




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Friday, October 8, 2010

a plethora of pumpkins

Our little pumpkin patch just went crazy this year... we ended up with literally dozens of pumpkins.

Last weekend the kids and I went to our close neighbors and invited the children to come over and pick a pumpkin for Halloween.

But we still had a bunch of pumpkins left...

So we've decided to have a "free pumpkin" stand through the weekend (or until we run out of pumpkins!). The kids decorated some signs to put up on the road...

...and we loaded all the extra pumpkins into a wheelbarrow, set it out in the driveway, and put a free pumpkin sign on it... (We'd already given away a few pumpkins when I took this picture.)

Our pumpkins were small this year, but pretty, and it's been very fun to share them with so many people. The kids want to make our neighborhood pumpkin patch a yearly thing. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I have absolutely no impulse control sometimes...

....like when it comes to musical instruments.

The kids and I took K (dd#3) out for lunch today for her birthday.  After lunch, just for fun, we walked across the parking lot to a thrift store that recently opened. We weren't really shopping... at least I wasn't... it just seemed like someplace we could extend the conversation we'd started at the restaurant (Mt Fuji... Mmmmm!) while M and R were occupied looking for treasures amidst the strange odds and ends one can find at a thrift store.

I'd told the kids it was time to go, and we were meandering towards the front doors when I saw this...


... it's a little lap harp. It reminded me of a little metal zither I had when I was a kid, so I asked to see it. When they brought it out from the glass display case I was surprised to see that it's a real instrument... not just a toy... and it was priced very low.

And here's my total lack of impulse control... do I need a small lap harp? Umm.. no.

Did I buy it anyway... of course!

It came with tuning instructions and some music (which slides under the strings... very simple, no need to read music).

I found the company that made the harp online and ordered more music for it and a tuning wrench.

I'm hoping R likes it... I've working a bit on teaching her the basics of the piano, but reading music is HARD for someone with her learning disabilities and although she loves making music, she doesn't have a good ear when it comes to the piano. Her pitch is good when she sings, but she can easily play a whole piece on the piano, entirely on the wrong notes (one or two notes off from where she should be), and never realize it.

Once I get it in tune I'll show her how to use the music that come with it and how easy and fun it is to play. I'm hoping she likes it and it's a way she can make music without as many frustrations as playing the piano.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Finally...

... there's a bit of Autumn in the air.

Today the air was cool and crisp, and after the dry heat of the past month it felt wonderful.

After lunch we drove out to the stable for M's physical therapy, and I took a walk while he rode.

It still mostly looks like summer, although I did  find some splashes of red on the scrub oak...


... but the old cottonwood tree out behind the stable still has only a few yellow leaves. Our temperatures have been nowhere near freezing yet, but they said it got down to 37 at the stable Monday night. It won't be long before those green leaves turn golden and drop away...

I'm so ready for cooler weather...

Monday, October 4, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

October 4, 2010

Outside my window... it's still dark, so early still that there is not even a hint of a light peaking above the eastern horizon. It's also quiet, the donkeys must not be hungry yet...

I am thinking... how it's was almost exactly one year ago that I made my first daybook entry.


I am thankful for..the weekend going well with S here.

From the learning rooms... R had to have an academic assessment done as part of the COVA enrollment process. The results were interesting, and I've been tweaking her school work to focus on those areas that the testing showed she is having problems with. The interesting part of the assessment results was seeing how her scores, even in just one general area, were all over the place.

From the kitchen... the gardens are still producing, so I'm still canning. I bought a little bookcase at a garage sale to hold all the home canned food, and it's getting pretty full. We have a ton of pumpkins in our little pumpkin patch, so many that yesterday we invited all the neighborhood children to come over and pick pumpkins out of our little pumpkin patch. It was so fun to watch the kids picking their pumpkins... I still have a few left, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them... maybe cook and freeze a little bit more.

I am creating... I just finished up re-doing the chalkboard wall in my kitchen. When I originally painted the wall with chalkboard paint I just painted over the texture that was there, not thinking about how the texture would hold the chalk dust. I've been meaning, for months, to smooth out the wall and paint it again. Finally, last week, I got it done. I smoothed the wall with joint compound, sanded a little, then primed it with magnetic paint, and put a topcoat of chalkboard paint on it. It looks pretty much  the same as it did before I started, but the wall is much smoother now and it's a magnetic chalkboard... which is really fun!


I am going... out to the barn as soon as I'm done posting. I'm trying to keep up better with the barn work, and an early start will help.

I am reading... Eat, Breathe, Love at a good friend's recommendation. I haven't decided yet if I like it as much as everyone else seems to.

I am hoping... that M settles down again soon. We are on week three of some fairly significant instability and I'm wearing out. I've had to increase his haldol, and the pdoc seems to have dropped out of sight... It would be really nice if M just settled back down again.

I am hearing... nothing but the tick of the clock. How wonderful!

Around the house... I've got some plans for the loft, I think I'm going to turn it into a bedroom for S. She's not here all, or even most of the time, but given all that's been going on in her life recently I think she's needs her own space here, and the message of our committment to her that creating that space implies.


One of my favorite things... a nice sweet cup of tea on a cool Fall morning. Thanks for the Barry's, Steve... I'm enjoying some right now.

A few plans for the rest of the week... a trip to the stable, a trip with our homeschool group to tour the county courthouse (this is really perfect timing, with the guardianship hearing coming up!), celebrating K's (dd#3) birthday, and probably a few more things I'm forgetting.


A picture I'm sharing...
Some of the bounty of the garden... I think the different colors are so pretty, and love that we'll be continuing to eat from the garden for at least part of the winter.






Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook