The Things We Do For Love

First, let me start by saying we adopted a new girl bunny today. I stinkin’ LOVE HER!!! She is a year old, came free from a woman in DC, and her name is Annie. She’ll be a breeding mama for our meat program, and she’s gorgeous. Best part is, she’s FOURTEEN POUNDS!! Poor Annie was stuck in a cage and over fed for too long. She took up half her cage with her bulk. She was tricky to lift, and believing that her parents are Dutch and Harlequin rabbits, she should be about 8-9lbs! Annie is right now outside in 1/5 of our yard with tons of space to “run around”. Poor Annie can’t run. But she can hop about 3-4 times in a row. That’s about it. She’s going to get a lot of recess time, all day, everyday, till she builds her muscles up and looses some bulk. She’s a girl after my own heart.

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The other thing that has me all happy about today is that not only did I get a new doe, but my kids are spending a few hours visiting Grandma and Grandpa, so my husband and I can get a few chores scratched off our “To Do” list. Like finish insulating the attic. Woot! Woot!

While deep in my heart I do not trust ladders, I watched Captain Schenanigans fearlessly climb up the ladder in our connected garage and disappear into an access hole in the attic. Taking a deep breath, I slowly, cautiously, joined him. Kneeling on the beams to avoid falling through the ceiling, I carefully crawled over to where he was unrolling the fiberglass insulation. We were having a hard time loving the previous owners, at that moment. They had left rolls of insulation, in the wrong size, just laying around beside a half-done job. I could have kicked them.

But then my cat walked by. Yes. My cat. He had joined us in the attic. “Jax? How did you get up here? ” I questioned him.

“He climbed the ladder” Captain grunted while face deep in insulation under a respirator. I was just tickled pink that my smart cat knew how to climb a ladder, AND wanted to be with us that much! I snapped a picture of the yellow tabby free ranging the attic, and sent it to the grandparents to show the kids. I knew they’d be just as fascinated as I was.

Looking around the attic, I could see light coming in from the edges, and was surprised to learn that several places under the eaves only have a little screen between the inside of the attic and the outside of the house. Not much protection there from creepy crawlies, if you ask me.

So we continue, I mostly run errands on the ground level now, Captain finds problems without quick solutions, and Jax circles the hole around the ladder a few times looking sad. We forget about the cat and focus on the task at hand (well, Captain Schenanigans does, I’m too busy texting every 4-H volunteer I know, surveying them for thoughts on Annie’s breed. That’s how I came to determine her parentage in the first paragraph). We forget about the cat. Until we heard the meowing.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one to see the light. Jax had managed to wedge his furry little ferret shaped body down into the mesh and was peering out into the yard, crying. Due to the slope of the roof, and the shingle nails sticking out through the whole attic roof, he was unable to get himself back out. While I found this hilarious and incredible, my husband found one more thing to make him dislike this day. Poor Captain.

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So I got the can of cat food, cracked it open, and tried to lure the cat to the ladder. No dice, he really was stuck. Next, I stood outside under the eaves, and held the cat food can up towards the roof and was ordered to keep the cat in one place. Done. His little yellow face pressed against the mesh separating him from the backyard was pitiful and loud. He wanted OUT!

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Captain was frustrated, not even knowing how to get to where the cat was, until he spotted a duct to the outside at the far end of the house. Using the cat food as bait, and my happy-kitty-voice, I lured Jax to the far side of the house as Captain Schenanigans stood on a ladder, unscrewed the brackets holing the duct in place, widened the mesh, and fit his bear paw inside to grab the stranded kitty. Being the agreeable, eager to please  cat that he is, Jax braced his feet, resisted Captain with all his might, and popped out of his break away collar. Crying the whole time because he was stuck!

Now Captain was annoyed! I suggested that if Jax refused our physical help, how about a more passive approach. Lay a board across the ladder and give him something to land on, after he works himself through the hole in the mesh. “Hand me that picnic table” I was told for the first time ever in my life. So I did.

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Standing on the ladder, holding up the picnic table, placing the cat food on the table Captain provided the perfect kitty escape route. Jax (peering through the hole in the picture above)  jumped out of the hole in the house, on to the table, knocked the cat food off the table (hitting the house and spraying the siding and Captain), before launching himself into the backyard. Complaining the whole time. He wasn’t happy that half his cat food was gone when I handed him the can either. But I didn’t force him to lick the rest off my house siding. That just would have been rude.

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So now we’re back to a regular Saturday afternoon, sans trapped kitty (thus avoiding a new smell to the attic). I am back to folding laundry ,and Captain has run to Home Depot to get the correct stuff we need. Whatever that may be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I married well. Because if I lived alone and got my cat trapped in my rafters/eaves, who would I call? It’s not Animal Control’s problem. It’s not a 911 emergency. It’s not even a Fire Dept situation. But it’s the the stuff I rely on the ever resourceful Captain Schenanigans to handle while I snap picture for my blog and laugh my fiberglass covered butt off! What a trooper 🙂

 

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UPDATE

Apparently Amazon is speedy fast! Blue Cottage Life, by Beth Schmidt,  is available NOW on Amazon.com. Happy hunting! 🙂 7699_10156485358145461_320586130272994127_n Cortez, Colorado, where I used to live as a nurse on the Navajo Reservation (in New Mexico)

YOU TOLD ME TO DO IT!!!

Greetings my faithful followers! After lots of encouragement from you all, I have FINALLY published my first novel Blue Cottage Life online at Amazon.com for Kindles.

WOOT!!!!!!! I’m so freakin excited!!! I also have plans to release an audio version (since I just happen to sleep 10ft away from a recording studio) as soon as possible, thanks to a request from one of my dyslexic friends. I would be my pleasure!!

So check it out, the book will be available online by 11/6/17. Just in time for holiday gift giving! Thank you all for your love and support, I promise to have another book done within the next 12 months (I already started, it’s called Almost An East Coast Cowgirl).

XOXOXOX Beth Schmidt, RN, BSN, Published Author

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We’re in the Bunnies Now, Boy!

Guess what? I am now officially a Maryland Department of Agriculture volunteer flock tester. Yep, that means I am qualified to swab poultry throats like a bad strep test, and draw blood under their feathered wings like nurse Nurse Ratched. All for the sake of the National Poultry Improvement Plan, annnnnd so that my kids get to take their hens to the fair next time I forget to arrange a tester within the qualified time period (and none are to be found).

This also means that I have a new friend who speaks my language, the Field Tester (let’s call her FT) who taught our classroom course, then came to my home to walk me through the wet lab. This woman is my idol. I want to be her when I grow up. FT shoots deer on her own 30 acres of private heaven, using a black powder rifle no less, butchers them herself, and does the same with bulls from her own HERD OF LONGHORNS. What?!?!?! She’s drives a sweet pick-up truck, raises her own meat rabbits, and is my first draft pick when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  I call dibs on having her on my team! I might have told her that.

That being said, when FT looked around my backyard barnyard, she was surprised to see that our bunnies are merely lawn ornaments and 4-H accessories. They could be more, she hints to me, you could raise your own dinner. Now she’s hitting at my weakness. I have always wanted to raise something I can eat here in the suburbs, and eggs don’t count. I want something that reproduces and replenishes itself on its own. Once that hen has spun out all her eggs, you have to get a new one. It’s not the same thing. And don’t even suggest the garden again, it’s taken us 4 years to learn that sadly, nothing will EVER grow in this shady, tree root filled yard of ours. Plus, the bugs and squirrels are hired by the local CSA’s to keep them in business. Plants are a dead end. But bunnies, I am intrigued at the thought of raising meat rabbits, especially since she told me they can be used in anything you would put chicken in. Interesting…

Now 2 weeks ago, someone had put 6 Serama chickens on Craigslist for free. They are the tiniest breed of chickens, never weighing over a pound or growing bigger than a football. The woman who gave them to me was raising 17 of them indoors because she wasn’t zoned for chickens where she lived. I had to chuckle. Anyway, I was curious about how much fun tiny birds could be, so I set up a cage for them in the mini-barn, and convinced Captain Schenanigans it was just a phase I was going through. Like tight rolled jeans or motherhood.

Due to space constraints, I took 4 of the 6 birds over to a friend of mine, who has a business taking unwanted birds. I told her they were free, but she insisted on paying me $15 anyway. So now I have made $15 off 4 free birds, and I still have 2 at home to play with.

About a week later, these birds with “big personalities” have failed to impress me, and I don’t have time to bond in the 5 minute increments they allow me between pooping on my shirt. I’d had it. I called my friend who runs an animal education program and has all the mobile animals you can think of, and asked if she’d like to add 2 miniature chickens to her dog and pony show. She would. They would be perfect for taking in to classrooms and nursing homes. On a whim, I ask her if she has any rabbits she doesn’t want (she breeds sometimes), and she does. She has a doe and a buck to swap me for my 2 tiny hens. Now I have 2 rabbits, and $15, from my 6 free birds. Kinda feels like I should have started with a paper clip.

Since we already have 2 intact (non-neutered) bucks here already, the plan was to cook the free boy, and if the whole family agrees that they like the taste of rabbit, we’d keep the girl and breed her when she’s old enough. The family was on board, especially Girlchild, who happened to love rabbit stew.

Saturday the kids are off to a birthday party with my hubby and I have 30 minutes to skin a rabbit, handle the meat ,and clean up the pelt to be frozen (Captain Schenanigan is looking forward to tanning the pelt and making mittens), and I’ve never dispatched anything with fur. Turns out, it was not that much different than chickens, and smelled much better. I rocked it. Captain later watched me via the security camera on our house. Kinda morbid if you ask me, but I’m sure I looked hot wielding a BB gun rifle.

Girlchild encouraged the whole family to heartily enjoy the rabbit stew on Sunday, she was already gunning to keep that sweet little doe Manchild had since named Lila. It was a go. Even Captain Schenanigans agreed that we should begin raising meat rabbits for our freezer. My farmer’s heart rejoiced. I finally had a way to provide for my family using our animals and my skills.

But now we needed an extra hutch. Captain offered to build one this week-end out of pallets from work. Sounded good to me, until I got the e-mail from a 4-H mom offering a free rabbit hutch they no longer needed. We snatched that sucker up like the last chocolate chip at a Keeblers Elf convention. Now we have a hutch, a doe, a plan for supplementing the 1/2 a pig and 1/4 side of beef in our freezer, and $15 extra in my pocket. All from 6 free Seramas on Craigslist. I am one happy lassie.

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Meet Lila the new doe. 

For those of you who are used to silly stories of my kids and humor from our life, here is a recent tidbit.

This Saturday morning Girlchild came into the kitchen in hysterics. “Manchild put my Barbie hat up his hiney!” she sobbed. Surely this could not be true. Even he is not that gross. Captain Schenanigans followed her in, confirming it was true, sorta. Turns out that when I ordered Manchild to pick-up his room, he opted to use his ever resourceful butt cheeks to do the job, to the point that his father had to turn away from him to keep from laughing. This would all have been much funnier, had the Barbie hat in question not been crocheted by my dead grandmother. It was not to be thrown out, as Captain Schenanigans had instructed, and was kinda special. Just like Manchild. Long story short, I had to wash the literal “booty hat”, and let the drier do it’s e-coli killing mission. My grandmother surely never had suspected the places this hat would go, and I had never anticipated the usefulness of the back-end of my 5yr old son. Drama.

Blue Cottage Life

Blue Cottage Life

Chapter one.

The air was changing Clare tugged her zipper to the tip of her teal Patagonia fleece, knowing it was too light to offer any more protection. In a few weeks it would be retired to the back of her closet, abandoned til spring to wait out the snow. But for now, she stood at the edge of the canyon and looked. A cold wind whipped and howled around her face, netting her eyes and cheeks with strands of long dark hair. The sun threatened to disappear before she could get home, but she had no fear. This was her canyon. This fed her soul. She knew her way back in the dark.

Jogging back down the ridge, keeping her breath even and pacing her steps, Clare made sure to watch her footing. This was no place to twist an ankle, no one would be passing by to help. As she neared the bottom, the last of the sun had just disappeared over her shoulder behind the mountain ridge. It cast a hazy purple shadow over the small, sleepy town, and the streetlights were just starting to flicker on. All dozen of them. She walked the rest of the way, reaching the road and cooling down as always by the time she reach her place.

The small blue cottage was hardly something to write home about, faded by the high desert sun and thoroughly absent of all modern updates. But to Clare it would suffice. It was just enough to meet what little needs she had.

The lights were off, telling her that Holly had not yet made it home and would probably be out for the evening. Much more the socialite than Clare, her roommate seemed to find plenty of activities to occupy herself in the tiny Colorado town. Most of which weren’t advertised in the brochures.

Dinner would be simple, as usual. She stretched out her legs, showered off the sweat, and yanked her faithful George Foreman grill out of it’s resting place under the sink. She and George. They had dined together on countless occasions, and tonight would be no different. Salmon, light and pink. She placed the fish steak on the grill, careful to watch it for just enough time, then covered it with lemon juice and cracked pepper. Healthy. Respectable. Far from gourmet. Clare didn’t like to cook, but she liked going hungry even less, so she made do. For the rest of her supper she would rinse and shred lettuce, chop a cucumber to top it, and drizzle it with her favorite poppy seed dressing. Dressing so good it seemed to be apologizing for the salad it had to cover.

The cooling house temperature was enough to encourage Clare to grab a book and snuggle down in bed early. Warming up beneath the thick, lumpy, familiar quilts she’d brought when she moved here from Iowa, Clare was comforted by her grandmother’s handiwork. Not quite time to turn on the heat in the house, but getting close. Perhaps next week. Clare always waited as long as possible in the fall.

A relentantless ring pierced the darkness and woke Clare out of a dreamless sleep.
“Mmmhuh?’
“Clare. Clarie! It’s me, your favorite roomie!” Holly droned into the phone. “Clarie, I need a favor. Me and my friend were just up here having some fun and I lost my keys in the dark. Can you come up here ‘en get us?”
Bleary-eyed, Clare squinted at the clock. Three-thirty on the morning, and Holly was drunk.
“Where are you?” Clare questioned flatly.
“We’re just up at Boggy Draw… not far. A couple miles past the alpacas, and you’ll see the bug.” Holly assured. “Can you hurry, Clarie? It’s cold up here, and I don’t have a coat!” She was whining now. Like a mosquito humming around her face while she drove, nothing made Clare crazier than drunk whiny women. Especially when they they live with you.

“I’m coming. But this is the last time, Holly I mean it! ” Clare replied with unmasked irritation. Who doesn’t bring a jacket when heading up the mountain? Colorado is cold at night, every night, all year. Period. What was she thinking? But Clare knew. Having grown up all her life in small town Sheffield, Iowa, Holly was dying to be a city girl. To wear the skimpy clothes, parade the flesh, and follow the fashion trends. The only problem was that Holly never actually made it to anyplace with an urban pulse. Hardly paved Dolores, Colorado was not the place for slinky skirts, tube tops, and stiletto heels. It wasn’t all that different from Sheffield. Dolores boasted less than three official clothing stores, and they mostly contained hemp infused hiking apparel or generic tourist garb. If so inclined, one could hoof it over to Cortez, 15 minutes away and 1,000 feet lower in elevation, but the results would be about the same. The most notable advantage being the new Super Wal-Mart.

Fifteen minutes later, Holly’s tasseled leather jacket on the passenger seat beside her, Clare was cruising through the dark. Half staring into the woods for her inane roommate, half looking ahead for deer or elk in the middle of the road, Clare reminded herself it was rutting season. She wondered who Holly’s “friend” could be this time. In a town with no stoplights or chain restaurants, Holly certainly managed to meet plenty of new people. Mostly a result of being a beer maid at the Mountain Bar, one of two very different drinking establishments in Dolores. The other, the Dolores River Brew Pub, was far more “outdoorsy family” oriented, and drew the liberal academic sorts with kids. No doubt Clare’s latest pick-up was another granola-breathed drifter, just hiking through. There was a chance he was a cycler, or one of the extreme sports type, blowing through town to bike a few trails, or having just climbed the red rocks of Moab. Either way, he’ll be gone tomorrow, and that was the way Clare preferred it.

“Took you long enough!” Holly’s voice echoed through the dark, haunting, woods as Clare stopped the SUV in the middle of the dirt road. She hated the dark, and didn’t get out. Holly snatched the passenger door open and scrambled in laughing as she sat on the jacket Clare brought her, ignoring it completely. A man Clare had never seen before, with a backpack full of what sounded like empty wine bottles and a blanket bunched up under his arm, shamelessly climbed into the back of the Rav-4.

“This is Erik -with a K!” Holly explained with a quick thumb jerk towards the back seat “He’s a road biker from Salt Lake. I brought him up here to show him our stars.”
“They don’t have stars in Utah?” Clare muttered under her breath.
“Great to meetcha”, Erik launched in. “Thanks for coming to get us. Holly must have dropped her keys while we were collecting wood. We tried to make a fire, but it didn’t work so well. Then we couldn’t find them in the dark. Anyway, I can’t believe she even has cell phone reception up here, isn’t that crazy?!”
“Alltell!” Holly chirped, proud of her service provider.
“Amazing. You know there’s a fire ban…”, Clare trailed off but nobody was listening. She turned her silver Rav-4 around and headed back down the mountain. Holly would have to hitch a ride back tomorrow with one of her many followers to retrieve her pink Volkswagen Bug.
“It’s a good thing you came when you did” Holly slurred with enthusiasm, “We heard coyotes, and they were coming this way!” Yep, Clare thought, and I hear they prefer inebriated blondes.

Flicking her eyes to size Erik up in the rear view, Clare recognized the lanky, wiry build, typical of cyclists. Erik fit the profile of the stubble faced, tight-shorted, men who rode through town on their way to find that ultimate trail. Or in training for the famous Leadville race. “So, Erik with a K” Clare began, “where are we dropping you off?” “Oh,” Erik stumbled, clearly thinking he would be riding home with Holly, “Um, I’m staying with my friend at the KOA”. Niiiice, Clare thought to herself, who considered KOA’s the K-mart of the camping experience, and hung a left at the Dolores Hwy.

After discarding Erik, Clare headed home. The moon was high in the inky night sky, and reflected brightly off the Dolores River, which was snaking silently along the road. There were too many trees in the way for Clare to see it, but she knew the scene was there, and the night felt familiar. Clare just passed the closed Koenig hardware, pulled over to the right, and parked in front of the ramshackle blue cottage tucked under the rock face. She roused a now passed-out Holly from the passenger seat, looped her muscular arm around Holly’s slender waist, and drug her wobbly carcass in the house. Holly had always been the lighter of the two. Clare had the stronger, more muscular build, and Holly the curvier, wispy, hour glass figure that society worshiped. Clare never competed with Holly, but preferred to focus her efforts elsewhere. Who has the time? There were better things in life to strive for.

Neither of them spoke, the routine was familiar. Clare shuffled Holly back to the smaller of the two rooms in the tiny cottage. She unbuckled the straps of Holly’s black platform wedges, yanked them off and rolled her under the covers. Heading back to bed she’d be lucky to get another hour of sleep before work. Clare dreaded these nights. The calls in the dark, the fishing for and retrieving of her intoxicated roommate, the responsible big sister routine. But somewhere in her heart, deep inside, Clare felt sorry for Holly. Floundering about inside, searching fruitlessly for direction and happiness in every dead end decision she made. Being two years older, Clare felt the need to look out for Holly. They were closer friends when they were younger, even if they had been drifting apart lately. People change, and not all friendships are meant to last forever. “Should at least get paid for being her nurse,” Clare mumbled as she sank into bed.

Sunday morning dawned gray and dreary. A light rain was misting the windows, blurring the houses outside. Clare took no extra precautions to be quiet while getting dressed. Partly to punish Holly for yet another night of poorly timed favors, but mostly because she knew Holly would never hear her. The girl could sleep through a bomb going off, and seldom arose before noon on these “mornings after”.

Clare dressed quickly in a calf-length khaki skirt, green cable knit sweater, and calf height brown leather boots. She stopped at the Dolores Food Market for her traditional Sunday morning breakfast, a fresh baked chocolate bran muffin with a Blue Sky Cola (her one vice), then got back on the road.

Clare pulled into the divot laden gravel parking lot half-way through the first song, sliding in next to Charli just as the music swelled. Charli shot a smirk Clare’s way, then shifted her gaze back to the words on the screen. The building surrounding them was a simple quonset hut, looking like half of a soup can from the road and the inside of a casket from indoors. But no one paid it much mind, too much life going on inside to worry about appearances. Proof that community blooms where it’s fostered, regardless of the setting.

“Late night?” Charli asked on their walk to the parking lot after the service. “Not by choice,” Clare retorted. “Where was Holly this time?” Charli questioned unsurprised.
“Boggy Draw. Escorting one of Utah’s finest to a spectacular view of the stars. Thank the Lord she lost her keys, or I’m sure she would have driven them both over the edge of the mountain.”
“That’s a little scary. Did you get around to ever mentioning her drinking to her?”
“You mean you don’t hear the screaming from your place?”
“Well, at least she pays her rent on time.”
“Yeah, until she wrecks her Bug and ends up in jail.” Clare stated wryly.”Where to for lunch?”
“Dolores Cafe?” Charli suggested.
“Works for me”.

Failure to Communicate

The thing about eBay,  is that you can spent hours on there looking at incredibly cheap items you never knew you needed.  And whatever you pick, will probably run you about eighty cents, American currency. So when I stumbled upon a toilet seat handle, for less than a buck, I knew it would be the answer to Girlchild’s complaints.

See, recently there was a re-distribution of bodies to bedrooms in our household, and as the chips fell, Captain Schenanigans and I are no longer sharing a bathroom with the children, they are essentially on their own. Which translates into a very responsible 7yr old girl sharing a toilet with a often reckless 5 yr old boy who will do ANYTHING to avoid touching things that may force him to wash his hands afterwards. With Mama no longer in the mix, this leaves Girlchild having to put the toilet seat down way more than before, and her complaints have not fallen on deaf ears.

Enter the toilet seat handle. Price: $0.81 each.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sanitary-Toilet-Seat-Cover-Lifter-Toilet-Bowl-Seat-Cover-Lift-Handle-White-/192243691919?hash=item2cc29df18f:g:5DEAAOSw2iNZY1hN

 

Granted, by the time this little slice of heaven arrived off it’s slow boat from China, I had already forgotten I’d ordered it. But none the less I was delighted to see it in the mail. I had told Captain Schenanigans about them, and laid the package out neatly to be installed correctly by my Beloved. Bear in mind, the ENTIRE package was written in Chinese, not a speck of English on it, and Captain likes things done correctly. It’s basically plastic with an adhesive backing, but you never know, these things might get complicated

So after about 2 weeks of moving the package to various locations around the kitchen, it became clear to me that this was not a priority to my husband (in his defence, he was building a pretty stellar tree house in that time), so I was going to have to do this install job solo. Girlchild came around and curiously investigated the package upon it’s arrival, but somehow the miracle of this device was never communicated to Manchild. Both kids were sleeping when I installed it at 10pm, and I figured they’d come pummel me with questions when they found it in the morning.

At 3:50am this morning, a small but mighty little boy came thumping into our bedroom. “Mom! Dad! There was something stuck to the toilet when I got up to go potty. I tried and tried, and I finally got it off, but then it fell into the potty. So I reached in with my hand and pulled it out, but now I don’t know what to do with it?” Manchild explained as he hold out his dripping wet hand and uncurls his little fingers from around the never-been-used lid lifter.

As if Synchronized Parenting were a sport, Captain Schenanigans and I both respond in unison “Wash your hands!” Manchild questions where to put the handle, and at this hour of the morning I suggest the trash. Captain began to offer that he could re-attach it but I will happily pay eighty-one cents to avoid this conversation at 4am, so I put the kibosh on that suggestion and rolled over.

The situation ended with one happily washed and snuggled Kindergartener sandwiched in our bed, and me laying awake for an HOUR, unable to fall back asleep while pondering if this was funny enough to post on social media (after talking with a fellow nurse this morning at work, turns out, it was).

So that is how an eight-one cent plastic object from China, that I ordered on August 3rd, and installed at 10pm last night, lasted a whopping 6 hours before being totally decimated by a finally potty trained boy-  who had not been properly briefed on it’s purpose. I never saw that one coming. Guess some little boys are territorial.

Welp, the good thing is that he was totally onboard with the plans for the tree house every step of the way. Well briefed and informed, it looks like that’s going to get to stay standing. Permission granted.

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Educate ‘Em Already!

I am so STINKING HAPPY about the start of school next week words can not even convey my feelings! This past week of parenthood/summer dwindle has been awful!! The kids are picking and gouging at each other every other minute, I’m screaming like a crazy woman and it’s been cool enough that all the windows and doors are open to let some of the pleasant outside inside. ‘Cause the Lord knows we need some pleasant in here!!!

Granted, I suspect half the reason this past week has involved everyone being cranky is that we all (I’m betting Captain Schenanigans fails his test tomorrow) have been diagnosed with strep throat, sans the symptoms. Weird, right? Manchild had a 24hr fever that went away, and 3 times in the next week he woke up complaining of belly pain in the middle of the night. It went away with Peptobismol. But finally I hauled him into the kid vet to get an answer, and it was strep throat. No sore throat at all.

Girlchild is always crying wolf for her ailments, but I knew she had been having seasonal allergy symptoms all week. So I called back to the pediatricians office and asked them just to run a strep test on her, it was 6:15pm. God bless them, they agreed! I had her father run her right from riding lessons to the kid vet again, and sure enough, she was positive.

Now I KNOW I have shared every inch of my food, drink, and air space with these two little petri dishes. I feel fine, but the odds are not in my favor. Though I have had a little more stomach acid than usual, that could just be too much caffeine. SO I drug the kids with me to my doctor, always a fun carnival of juvenile wrangling, and got my throat swabbed. Positive. Unlike the rest of my day.

My conclusion is that we wrung all the fun out of summer, and there’s just nothing left. Our most recent journey took us to the Grange Fair in  Centre Hall, PA. It’s a family tradition to attend, and watch extending farming family members show their animals. I LOVED it as a kid, and mine feel the same way. The extra icing on the cake was that on our way up to PA a man delivering wrapped mini doughnuts to a gas station gave each of my kids a free package of their choosing. Yes, a man fiddling in the back of a minivan called my children over and offered them free sweets and I thought it was a brilliant idea. Don’t judge me.

Turns out the man places and extra order of doughnuts each week just to give away. “To let kids know there are still good people in the world” he told us. Made their day! Then we got to the fair, and were allowed in for free with our Maryland 4-H Members card. Not an approved discount, just the kind heart of an old man working the gate. Smiles.

The day after the fair we toodled around Millheim, PA. Our favorite town in the world. The Manchild begs for me to put the windows down when the Amish buggies go by, and Girlchild can not get over the huge flock of less-than-wild ducks that hang out in an alley off the town square. Yes, Girlchild is in love with a bunch of alley ducks, and wants nothing more than to feed them goodies. Let alone that she can not stand when her mama asks her to feed our own flock of 6 chickens and 2 ducks. Old news. She’s a bit of a traitor, not gonna lie.

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So I also got the fun challenge of attempting to wiggle our minivan out of a parking spot where the spot next to me holds a live  horse and wagon. It’s a little, lot, different than parallel parking in the city.

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Our next fun endeavor was supposed to be camping this Labor Day week-end in western MD. We go every Memorial Day week-end and Labor Day week-end, or at least we did. I had the pet sitter lined up, it’s been on the calendar for a year, we get the same camp spot in the same campgrounds each time- same group of friends, too. ‘Cept this year. We hadn’t heard much chatter about it in our friend circles, and one by one it turns out each family had decided not to go this fall. One by one, dropping like flies. I was hot! We camped without friends for our kids Memorial Day week-end when people were afraid of pending thunderstorms, and it was MISERABLE having to entertain your own kids on your vacation. What? Who wants that? So upon hearing that we were the only ones still going, we called to cancel the trip. I ignored our grocery list of camp chow, didn’t go grocery shopping, and was happy not to have to pack the entire basement in the back of our van.

So, Michelle at the Maryland State Parks Reservation Line could not be sweeter. Especially when she told me that we never had a reservation in the first place! I vaguely remember being on the fence about camping again after the last trip, just needing a break, guess I never made the reservation online. Guess I am now praising Jesus above that I did not just shove all we need for 3 nights in the woods in the back of our car, drive 3 hours on Labor Day week-end, just to tell the family that we had no place to stay. DANG, that was a near miss!

Low and behold, here we are the week before school starts and this is the first year BOTH my spawn are getting on that blessed yellow bus 5 days a week to leave me home ALONE 2 whole days a week (I’m a part-time RN). I’ve waited for this moment my whole life. I kid you not, we are all more than ready. These kids need someone to challenge them, this mama needs to be child free for the first time in 7 years, and this house needs a cleaning schedule. Praise God for letting us all get strep this week. It would be a shame to waste those precious mere 180 days of educational bliss. That’s my tax dollars hard at work, you know. And I am happy to pay em! Go ahead and teach my baby to read…

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