Saturday, May 31

Wildlife Seen in May

  • 12 mallards
  • 2 green-winged teals
  • 2 horned grebes
  • 3 lesser scaup
  • 3 turkeys
  • 46 deer
  • 5 sandhill cranes
  • 6 geese
  • 7 loons
  • bald eagle
  • gray squirrels
  • grouse
  • kestrels
  • merlin
  • rabbits
  • red squirrels
  • unidentified ducks
May's Backyard Birds

  • Baltimore orioles
  • bluejays
  • brown-headed cowbirds
  • Cape May warblers*
  • cardinals
  • cedar waxwings*
  • chickadees
  • chipping sparrows
  • common redpolls
  • downy woodpeckers
  • eastern bluebirds
  • goldfinches
  • hairy woodpeckers
  • indigo buntings
  • juncos
  • mourning doves
  • purple finches
  • red-breasted nuthatches
  • red-winged blackbirds
  • robins
  • rose-breasted grosbeaks
  • ruby-throated hummingbirds
  • tree swallows
  • white-breasted nuthatches
  • white-crowned sparrows
  • white-throated sparrows
  • yellow-bellied sapsucker*
  • yellow-rumped warblers*

Friday, May 30

Ah, the joys of spring in the land of 10,000 lakes

The mosquitoes have arrived. In fact, my dryer is full of them. I'm afraid to open it and subject myself to further misery. In Googling the problem, I found that Bounce dryer sheets are supposed to repel mosquitoes. I suppose I knew that once upon a time. I also suppose it's at least slightly less toxic than DEET, which I've been known to lovingly spray all over my dear children. My current wondering, though, is whether the use of Bounce dryer sheets will keep the mosquitoes out of my dryer. Unfortunately, I would have to open the dryer to insert the dryer sheet, exposing us to the hideous beasts right here in our living space, where they have no business being. I can, of course, run the dryer and kill them before opening it, but that's just silly. I will resort to silly if I have to, but I'd rather not. And besides, then I've got a dryer full of dead mosquitoes. Eww.

The garden is planted, but we had to cover it for the two nights of frost we just had. Everything seems to have survived, and some of the plants are perking up nicely (namely dandelions). I know this because I went out there in long pants and long sleeves (which I hate to wear, even in winter). Unfortunately, I forgot to wear gloves. I came in with 4 mosquito bites on my hands.

The crabapple tree is in bloom. (Grace thought it was "minisuckle".) I love watching the hummingbirds in the tree. But really, don't you think they look like well-fed mosquitoes?

Thursday, May 29

The computer shopping is over

Dell is building my kick-butt laptop as I type.

I'm nervous.

I think our first computer cost more than this one, but it's still a lot of money to shell out for something I will pretty much be the only one using. Of course, it will still be used for the good of the whole family, but only by me.

OTOH, I'm excited.

I remember all the times I took the kids to the playground and spread papers all over in the truck while I was planning a school semester... I can do that, grading, all sorts of stuff while we're on the go. Not that we have the time or gas money to go anywhere anymore. But still! I can move about the house, at the very least, and even that will be a huge blessing to all who live here. I know the kids get tired of sitting in the bedroom so I can supervise them while I work. And also, this computer will be a vast upgrade from the one I'm currently using.

Now I must ask you, dear readers... how long does it really take for Dell to build and ship a computer, in your experience?

Saturday, May 24

The garden is 95ish% planted

Today the guys tilled the last 3 beds. Then Lynae and I planted:

  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • kohlrabi
  • marigolds
  • nasturtiums
  • hyssop
  • thyme
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • sage
  • corn
  • cucumbers
  • butternut squash
  • bush beans
All we have left, I think, is zucchini, more kohlrabi, and a few other things to fill in the gaps. I think we'll also transplant some horseradish to hang out with the potatoes. I plan to keep it in containers; we're having a heck of a time with horseradish taking over elsewhere!

I still need to figure out where I want the asparagus. I don't even know if it's still alive. But that'll have to wait for another day. We're going bowling.

Friday, May 23

Gardening time, finally!

Friday was spent in the garden. I'm amazed at how much the children accomplished! Together, we weeded 5 beds, tilled 8 beds(some of which were new and didn't need weeding), added 15 bags of composted manure, and planted:

  • strawberries
  • lettuce
  • sunflowers
  • summer squash
  • two kinds of sweet corn
  • butternut squash
  • spaghetti squash
  • potatoes
  • cauliflower
  • onions
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • hot peppers
I hope to pretty much finish putting the garden in tomorrow IF I can manage to get out of bed in the morning. The work I did today was minimal compared to all that the kids did, but it was enough to aggravate a knee injury.

I also made a chicken saddle. Mm-hmm... we had an overbred hen who had to be nursed back to health. She had a hole in her back the size of a quarter. It was even nastier than that, really. I guess it was over a week, maybe two, that we kept her cleaned up with an ace bandage wrapped around her and isolated her in a dog crate. Once she was definitely healing, we put her out in the chicken tractor. I really wanted her to go back with the other chickens, but didn't want her to be re-injured. This morning I took a bit of fleece and cut it to fit over her back and around her wings. Now she's protected from the roosters, and she won't even suffer further sunburn while her back feathers regrow.

If I ever remember where I got the idea to make a chicken saddle as simply as I did, I'll put up a link. I may be able to get a picture of it tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, May 21

School burnout for real

No, really. See, Mom said that if I was caught up on schoolwork by the morning of May 19th, I could go to driver's education this summer. So Sunday night I stayed up pretty late doing schoolwork. Actually, you might say I stayed up pretty late doing schoolwork on Monday morning, because I was doing schoolwork 'til around 9:15 am doin' schoolwork. Then, I couldn't get a nap because I had to go to work, and by the time I got back I was wide awake. In fact, I didn't fall asleep until 5:00 that afternoon. Also, it may surprise you that I did this on just ONE CUP OF COFFEE!

So I have this rare chance to get a free Matthew West CD called Something To Say. Under normal circumstances, I would dive at the opportunity. But I'm supposed to call in, tell them something that I have to say, and then if my story is the best, they play it on national radio and give me what Matthew West has to say. I don't know if I'm brave enough. But I guess I'm probably gonna get that CD anyway, so I may as well try to get it free and save $15. (If you haven't heard Matthew West, you might want to listen to him online... you won't be disappointed.)

Friday, May 16

Here's what makes my stomach hurt

I've been sitting on this quote from The Common Room for over a week:

I think of the problems with CPS much like the arguments from those who try to say that slavery wasn't such a bad thing- I know, I know, this seems wacky, but bear with me a minute. Not all slave-owners were bad, they say. Southerners are known for their hospitality, how could they have been cruel? Many slave owners loved their slaves, they'll say. There are those who would dispute that, but my claim has always been that it doesn't matter- the system itself, the institution, the way the laws were written, were fundamentally flawed. As long as CPS does not have to abide by the Bill of Rights we have created a special class of government that does not have the checks and balances it ought to have. Are there good and noble CPS employees, foster parents, and judges- of course. Are there horrific and abusive parents who should not be in the same house with their own children? Absolutely. Should we have a special class of crime for which you are guilty until proven innocent and can be punished by the worst sentence a parent can face- losing your children? No.
I keep coming back to this as I read her frequent updates on the FLDS raid in Texas.

It's been a month

Spring break is nearly over. The garden has yet to be tilled and planted, for the most part. Every time we get a couple days of dry, they're followed by more rain. So the garden plots are still too wet to work. We haven't painted the coop or the boys' room.

But we have done a lot of planting and transplanting and setting up bird feeders and a new MySpace profile and spiffing up the coop and hauling away junk (to the tune of $115 profit after renting a U-Haul) and celebrating Gracie's 6th birthday and pruning apple trees and cleaning the yard and the windows and mowing.

I bet the kids are ready to take a break and do some math!

In Praise of Hot Sauce

Because I'm a really good mom, and
because I suspect my son may have some sensory processing issues, and
because he asked nicely...

We bought Jon his own bottle of hot sauce. He can eat it on whatever he wants, burning taste buds left and right.

The only other thing I've seen that makes him this happy is swimming.

Monday, May 12

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Last night we ate supper in the living room while we watched The Last Sin Eater. (Second time I'd seen it, and talking about it afterward still made me cry.)

When I left the room for a moment, Jon helped himself to more food. We have a standing rule against Jon doing that very thing, because he still has gorging tendencies. A while later, I paused the movie so trays could be taken to the kitchen. Jon gave a look like I'd just taken his best friend. I ignored that, and we moved on.

At 1am, I cleaned up a nasty mess on the stairs. (sigh) Natural consequences in action.

Ah well. This morning I'm enjoying the rose-breasted grosbeaks, goldfinches, purple finches, and bluejays out my window. Oh, and a deer just ran across the field. It feels like a pat on the shoulder from God.

Sunday, May 11

Seven random things

I've been double tagged by Dot and Mrs. Nicklebee*. So here are seven random things about me:

  1. I can easily forget entire phases of my life.
  2. I'm a control freak. I try to control this tendency.
  3. I once ran over a man lying in the street. When, at his request, I backed up, he stood up and I realized I knew him. I drove him to the hospital. When the ER staff saw a hugely pregnant woman run in, they pointed me in the direction of the OB floor. They were shocked to learn why I was really there.
  4. Long, long ago on a road trip, I woke my husband in the night to ask him where we were. Turns out, we were in Schenectady. We had no business being in Schenectady that night.
  5. Later on that same road trip, I woke my husband in time for him to watch as we spun around and backed across the median and two lanes of oncoming traffic to stop on an angle at the top of a ravine. Sixteen years later, I still don't like driving in the rain. And he still dares to sleep while I drive.
  6. Having my hair brushed/combed makes my nose itch.
  7. When I was little, I thought that General Hospital and Sesame Street both took place in my hometown of Rochester, NY.
If you want to participate, consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, May 7

I noticed Jon tonight

I noticed that he has adorable dimples when he smiles. He does it so rarely, I was surprised to see them.

Loren wanted to reward the kids for helping haul the rest of the junk out of the woods, so we went to Dairy Queen and let them get whatever they wanted for supper, even if it was only a dessert. (We do go to DQ occasionally, but often order a treat for the kids that's not too messy.) Jon ordered a waffle bowl sundae. I watched him start eating, since his was one of the first to be served. His hands were shaking. He practically dove into it, standing over it to reach the far side and scoop up one big spoonful after another.

I reminded him that he could slow down, no one else would be eating it. I told him to take "bite-sized bites" and enjoy each one before taking another. Amazingly enough, he did. That makes it a good day.

Tuesday, May 6

The value of time

For many moons, our morning routine has involved the kids getting up when called, making their beds, coming downstairs, and having the timer set for 30 minutes to do their chores before breakfast. We don't rotate chores, so everyone knows exactly what they have to do and how long it will take. There are consequences for not getting chores done right away, all the way, and with a good attitude before the timer goes off.

For about half as many moons, a couple of the children have consistently dawdled long enough to receive said consequences. I knew something had to change, but wasn't sure how best to go about it. Encouraging them rarely had the desired effect, and I'm not one for coaxing or bribing or compromise.

A few days ago, I was talking to one of the children about the fact that his chores often seem to take 31 minutes. It occurred to me that maybe the time designated for chores wasn't valuable enough. Loren and I discussed the possibility, and decided to see what would happen if we cut the 30 minutes down to 20.

Today is day three of the 20-minute chore time. Jon just said to me, "Mom, thank you for cutting down my chore time so I don't have time to fart around. Now I'm confident that my chores are getting done right."

Who'da thunk it?!