There Is Always A New Bad Decision Just Waiting To Be Made.

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This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. But one of us woke up with strep throat this morning, and she’s been particularly lacking in rejoice-ability today.  It didn’t help that when we went to the doctor’s office (praise God they are open on Sundays) for a strep test, I requested Girlchild’s ears be cleaned out as well. The full 30,000 mile tune-up. Ear cleaning is the most dreaded procedure in Girlchild world. But she was not alone in her misery.

Out in the backyard, I had a small hutch containing 4 chicks that were sick. Hunched over, eyes closed, and puffed up, they did not look good. I was treating them with antibiotics, but wished I had vitamins and electrolytes as well. I was fresh out.

Just after a special take-out lunch of Panera Bread soup in bread bowls, hoping to get Girlchild to eat, we noticed on of my youngest hens was lethargic as well. I scooped her up, did a bit of doctoring, and decided at that moment we needed to go to Tractor Supply for supplements. While Girlchild may be ill, Tractor Supply was her favorite store. She grabbed the dog (who was welcome in this store) and hopped in the van. Manchild and Captain Schenanigans were at church, it being Sunday and all.

Typically, when walking Grover Dog, we use a regular leash. As recommended by Pet Smart’s puppy training class. But in the van, kept just for a pinch, we have a retractable leash. Girlchild suggested we just use that for our journey through Tractor Supply, and I agreed. We rarely see another dog at TSC, and Grover loves to follow his girl faithfully.

What I failed to know is that Sunday is the day a veterinarian comes to Tractor Supply for an immunization clinic of sorts. There was a line of 20 dogs just inside the door when we arrived, and happy ready-to-play Grover could not curb his enthusiasm. Girlchild was losing her control over him, and this little retractable leash was hardly doing it’s job.

In an effort to get through our shopping without any dog encounters (some pups were angry and scared), I scooped up 50lb Grover and plopped him into our shopping cart. He froze like a statue and we proceeded to gather supplies. A few moments later Grover was crying. I looked down and noticed that two of his toes on his left paw were wedged completely through one square of the plastic bottom of the cart. They were stuck, and they were stuck good!

I tried to pull Grover’s paw gently, but he screamed out in pain and tried to gnaw my hands off his leg. I tried to push up from underneath the cart, but the pads of both toes had gone completely through the small plastic square together, and the toes were beginning to swell. There was no wiggle room at all, and any time you attempted to free him, the dog howled in pain.

I eyed the line of dogs and people waiting in line for the vet, and didn’t have the guts to cut in front of them. Girlchild was panicking and asking if her dog was going to die. I needed some form of oil or grease. So we pushed through the swinging double doors to the back stock room, and found two female employees helping a man load sacks of pig feed.

“Um, excuse me. My dog’s toes are stuck in the bottom of the cart and I can’t get them out.” I began.

“This is the worst day of my life! Is he going to die?” Girlchild wailed, her big blue eyes filling up with tears. Immediately all three people were hovering over my cart, trying to free my dog without getting chewed up or causing pain. It was a dicey situation. Both ladies kept remarking that in all their years working at TSC, they’ve never had a dog with it’s toes trapped in a cart. Shocking, right? I would be the first.

The staff tried oil, and in the mean time sent for a vet tech. The oil only moved the toes a tiny bit while I gyrated the paw in a circle, and one staff lady pushed up from the bottom.  The vet tech walked in, declared she had never seen anything like this, and was unable to help. She left, and we called for the vet. I felt bad pulling the doctor away from the huge line, but it’s not like I could plop my dog in a car and go to a Pet ER. I can’t call 911. I can’t leave the store. Who do you call when you dog is stuck inside a shopping cart?

The vet came back, noticeably irritated, pulled out the stuck paw, told us to make sure Grover could walk, and left in seconds. I was elated!!! The staff and I rejoiced until Girlchild returned, and made her first happy face of the day.  Girlchild had ask at least 15 times if her dog was going to die,  before finally escaping to the bathroom and missing the big toe release. When she came back to the stock room, she was thrilled to find that her pup had gained his freedom. I lifted my mini-Holstein out of the cart and watched him walk. He was so happy and puppy like, it was as if the past 1/2 hour had never happened. I love that about dogs, they just live in the moment!

The staff ladies made sure I insisted that Grover get a treat at the check-out counter for his bravery today. I sure did. The first time I checked out. I was so flustered and unable to find what I needed that I ended up checking-out three times that trip.

After the first check-out, I learned where the vitamins were actually kept (NOT in the chick aisle) and told Girlchild and Grover to stand at the front of the store and wait while I went for what we needed.

“Are you going to come back?” Girlchild asked.

“You mean for you?” I questioned, not understanding and heading towards the back of the store. Girlchild stood by the only exit to the parking lot.

“Yes. Are you going to come back?”

“As opposed to leaving you to live at Tractor Supply with Grover?”

“Yes.”

“Girlchild, in 8 years of parenting, have you developed no trust in me at all?”

“I just want to know if you’re going to come back.”

“Yes, Girlchild, I am going to come back. I will always come back for you. ” I said in disbelief.

Girlchild made sure, several times, on the way home that I was aware that this was the “worst day of my life”. When you are an anxious 8 year old girl, I can under stand that. I was proud of myself for not crying in the stock room 25 minutes into a failing paw retraction. But once again the day did end in rejoicing. While my sad little hen did end up dying, the 4 chicks are improving, and my dog has all his digits. I planted several promising twigs that I purchased at Tractor Supply, for which I have hope by next spring will look more like the beautiful hydrangeas, loganberries, and roses promised on the boxes.  We have hope, we rejoice, and we endure, because the Lord goes before us.

 

 

 

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The Giver

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Today is the last day of school. We are all moving in slow motion, because the stakes are low. The kids will be in school for all of 4 hours, and it will mostly be watching movies, not learning. Like a public daycare.

I don’t care, because my goal for the morning is to finish painting the dining room yellow. So long as those precious angels are not in MY hair, you can educate them or not. Your call, have fun.

During morning chores today I was feeding the hens and could barely hear someone calling my name over all the cackling squawks of the feathered beggars. I have my own girls, plus ten extra birds that I am chicken sitting for some missionary friends. We get so many eggs a day, I’m excited to pick which neighbor I’ll share with next. My own flock is too small and rare (not high production layers) to produce enough to give away. But I love ’em just the same.

Anyway, I holler back a few times before Captain Schenanigains intervenes in a deep voice that carries over the noise. Manchild is looking for the fake cactus I brought him back from my Girls Week-end in York, PA this spring. Due to a tantrum he’d thrown after he’d helped me pick out my own decorative cacti (who will never turn brown on me and complain about watering habits), Manchild had exclaimed he thought by helping to pick some out, they belonged to him. I corrected him, thus the tantrum. Then I gave him his very own a week later, when he no longer wanted one or cared.

The minute I saw Manchild carrying around Christmas gift bag in June and asking for the special cactus, I knew. Manchild is a Giver deep inside, way down under the warrior exterior who loves nothing more than poking his sister with his light saber and making her yell. He loves his people deeply, and today was the last day of kindergarten, with his beloved teacher.

Manchild located the cactus, stuffed it in the huge green and red gift bag, then scurried off to complete his mission. I finished feeding and watering the hen, moved on to chirpy chicks, then finish with the ever patient, if not naturally silent, rabbits. They never complain, although the pregnant ones will huff at me, but I totally get that. I did my fair share of huffing when I was full of babies as well.

Back in the house, I get the full report from Manchild. He’s wrapped up the faux cactus, then moved on to the ceramic Irish Setter I’d given him last month from my childhood belongings. I’d saved an assortment of random, very breakable, farm animals for him that I had kept on a shelf in my room as a girl. One he had  given back to me as a Memorial Day gift (yes, my kids give gifts on Memorial Day – I had nothing to do with it), a perfectly detailed Boxer dog. Seeing how his classroom was decked out in canine paraphernalia as the Watchdogs, an Irish Setter with sentimental value seemed entirely appropriate for his teacher.

But as sweet as those two gifts were, it’s this last one that gets me right in the heart. See, we NEVER buy Oreos. That’s what we in the weight loss world call a Bad Decision. But yesterday I had no option but to take the kids grocery shopping with me, and as a celebration of summer, we picked out cookies. Manchild chose Oreos, and I upgraded him to Double Stuf (I hate the way they spell that). It was a BIG deal. So imagine my reaction when Manchild tells me he’s bagged up a Ziplock full of these delectable treats for his favorite teacher. I was floored. He was just so darn generous for being such a stinker much of the time!

While I doubt his teacher knows the value of each selected gift, and it’s a coin toss if you actually eat second hand cookies brought to you in an unlabeled bag by a six year old boy, I am pleased no less. My son has the making of an empathetic, strong, generous man. To a mama struggling against a short fussed boy with quick fists and an even faster temper, this was water to my worried soul. He just may turn out better than I’d dreamed of, and that is all God’s work alone. I take no credit for the inner workings of this boy. I love him to pieces, but I was not the designer of those pieces. Just the mama who keeps them oiled and working, scraping off rough edges when I can and polishing as much as I can reach. Really, it’s the fingerprints of God that are on each part of our children. Don’t you see it when you look at them?

So now as I sit on my back deck at 11:15am on a Friday morning, still typing instead of painting. I am once again reminded how much I love sharing my life with each of you, and writing up these blog entries. I am grateful for each of you who takes the time to read them, and completely understand everyone else in this busy world who doesn’t. After all, I’m just another mam who’s trying…

I’d taken two months off while I published Homemade Schenanigans as a book on Amazon, and that was a nice break. But I’m glad to be back. I hope today’s entry finds each of you well and hopeful, in every section of the world you are tucked in!  Go blessed, my friend, and keep reading!

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Same Circus, Another Monkey

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After 4 years of dragging home every animal I could stuff into my suburban backyard (ducks, chickens, rabbits, cat), and trying to force each one of them into dog-like lap pets (the rabbits were by far the best, but gave me sinus headaches), WE FINALLY GOT A DOG!

I had been holding out on anything dependant on me to let it out to potty when the kids were little and home all day. We relished our freedom to be spontaneous. But now that our lives and schedules are determined by the public school system… eh, what’s one more commitment, really?

Grover is a 15 week old Labrador/American Bulldog mix, that we rescued from the Canine Human Network through Petfinders.org. He came to us house broken, and chew-free. This is my 3rd dog off Petfinders, and I highly recommend them if you are looking for something very specific. For us, we needed low prey drive (please don’t eat my hens and bunnies; the cat is up for grabs), low energy, and low shedding. I don’t need more to clean. But unfortunately, any breed you look at will give you 2 out of the 3 criteria. The AKC is not on my side.

However, if you plug this info into Petfinder, you can get a list of dogs that meet your wish list, while being healthy mixes. I’m all about mixing it up!

So here we all, 4 days deep into doggy ownership and the kids could not be more thrilled! I have never seen 8yr old Girlchild spend so much time off her hiney, and running the puppy up and down the streets of our neighborhood. The young ‘ens have also discovered that Grover does much better on a leash if he has something to chase. Enter 5yr old Manchild as human bait. Cesar Milan would probably not be very proud of us, but I kinda am. Grover never used a leash or collar before we brought him home Sunday night. Now he’s a miniature pro, almost.

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However, not everyone in the Schenanigans Household is taking this new family member in stride. Jax the cone-free kitty is pretty sure he could live without Grover. This actually surprises me, since Jax has no less than 5 doggie friends that walk through the neighborhood on their leashes, and stop to visit him along the way. He goes looking for them at their houses, too! He genuinely likes dogs… outside of his home. Inside is a different matter.

After watching Jax hide under furniture and swipe his claws at Grover as the pup plows by, or sneak up behind him and scratch Grover’s doogy backend, Jax’s opinions became quite clear. This puppy, and it’s desire to chase anything willing to run from him, was not welcome in his kingdom. That’s a bit unfortunate, seeing as how Grover’s here to stay.

The funny thing is, Jax refuses to stay away. He’s almost always found in the same room as the dog, and they both greet me in the mud room when I come home. While Jax doesn’t want Grover here, it’ll be a cold day before he sits back and allows this rescue puppy to sop up all his family’s love and attention! He sticks close, jealous, but close. What a hater.

I’d say Grover’s FAVORITE animal on the property is Girlchild’s best rabbit Cotton. Cotton is one of those rare, world class rabbits who comes when you call him, LOVES to socialize with people, and doesn’t chew cords. Apart from unwrapping a few gifts under the tree before Christmas, and happily digging in the Lego bin, this bunny is a delight to let run through the house from time to time. Which leads us to today…

After the Schenaniganlets had boarded the bus to higher enrichment, and Captain Schenanigans and I were back inside the house, finishing our tepid cups of coffee. Grover came bounding into the kitchen, freshly off the leash from his trek to the bus stop. He took one look at the free range rabbit on my tile floor and could barely contain his enthusiasm. The front half of his wiggly little body bowed low, then popped up and down, while the back half remained high and wagged his flag of happiness. He took a couple sloppy lunges at Cotton to ask to play, and while the pup never used his mouth on critters, Cotton wasn’t sticking around to find that out. He started spinning out his little fluffy paws to safer territory.

While Grover loves to chase, what he loves even more is to BE chased. So when Cotton took off running through the kitchen and towards the hallway, Grover gleefully took off after him. Seeing a chance to attack a distracted enemy and break the Geneva Convention, Jax hopped into the fray and ran with the duo. While Cotton had the head start, Grover had longer legs, and soon jumped OVER the rabbit, and KEPT ON RUNNING. Now we have a scared rabbit, running behind a happy dog, being chaperoned by a spiteful kitty, and they all three hit the intersection of the basement stairs and the kitchen doorway at the same time. That’s when, just out of our view, when the hissing and crying kicked up.

Not being entirely sure what we just witnessed, Captain and I scramble to the top of the basement stairs and take inventory. What we find is confusing. There, having fallen/ran/slid halfway down the staircase is Grover, crying and cowering on the steps,  looking upward for answers. Lording over him at the top of the stairs is Jax, proud, angry, and hissing with vengeance- just because he can. Nowhere to be seen is Cotton, the socially defeated and rarely hiding gray bunny, who just had the start of a very bad day.

Walking out of the kitchen, through the art room, and into the living room, I called for Cotton. He responded by bravely crawling out from under the glider and presenting himself in the middle of the room. What a fluffy little trooper! While unhappy, he is also unhurt. I scoop him up for comfort snuggles and head back to the kitchen.

Captain has since freed the submissive Grover from under the hold of Jax-the-Stair-Master and both animals are timidly loitering in the kitchen. Only one of them looking guilty. Captain and I pause to do a verbal re-cap, and I have to lean against the wall, I am laughing so hard. I still don’t fully understand what Jax’s stake in the whole thing was, if any. Was the cat was concerned about the welfare of his friend the rabbit and jumped in to help (doubtful)? Or was he really just gunning for a chance to take free shots at the otherwise busy Grover (deviously more accurate). I have underestimated this cat for far too long! He is smarter than I gave him credit for.

After that, we sorted everyone out into their “safe spots” for the day, separating cat and dog by wooden doors, and head off for work.  While I never thought the puppy would put his mouth on the bunny (and he didn’t), I did know that rabbits can die of fright, and didn’t want to have to explain to Girlchild that her new puppy killed her rabbit. Esp. since we already had to explain to her that her new cat killed her baby bunny, once in the past. Family additions aren’t mess-free, no matter how you slice the pie. This is doubly true in human relationships!

SOooo for the moment, peace has been restored in our single-level sanctuary. But after you witness your dog, rabbit, and cat running in a three member huddle, you have to beg the question: If three runners are athletes toghether, wouldn’t this qualify that moment as a Triathlon?

Anyway, apart from that very exciting moment, our only complaint so far during doggy ownership is the amount of time our new pup spends sleeping. We literally stand around, waiting for him to wake up so we can train him! He’s fallen asleep during meals, and is practically narcoleptic at any point in the day. I don’t consider us a high octane family, but we must be wearing this puppy out! Or, there’s one other possibility. To paraphrase Cesar Milan, this dog is just acting like his sleep loving owner.

“A dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behavior. You have to ask ‘What am I doing?’ That is the right question to ask”- Cesar Milan

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While I never asked for a high sleep needs puppy, the Lord knew what he was doing when he gave us one. This is my favorite way to bond with my children, too! 🙂

You Know What Hurts Like a BEAST to Get in Your Eye?

Last week I told my husband that this month, we were going to catch up on our savings. I told him that I was going to skip all my riding lessons, we weren’t eating out, or doing anything that costs money. We are going to re-fill our savings account. Or at least part of it.

God chuckled. The cat laughed. The bunny snickered silently. And the DC speed cameras just went on clicking. We hemorrhaged money this month like a water slide at Disney, and the month isn’t even over yet.

It started with the cat, Jax, standing on 3 paws at his breakfast bowl last Wednesday. Naturally, that was the day all the schools were closed due to snow and ice. I picked up the cat, attempted to examine his back paw, and he protested wildly. There was a bloody glob of dirt and pus caked solidly between his toes. I needed to wash it better to have a look. This was going to get ugly.

In the bathroom, the howls of protest gained claws and momentum. This boy wasn’t messing around, he was NOT going to get his pretty yellow feet wet! Even if it did hurt to stand. I called the vet just to make sure they were open after the storm, and they agreed to see us ASAP. I grabbed the cat, grabbed the cat carrier, and tried to make the one fit into the other. Kinda not caring which way worked by this point. Eventually, it all worked out.

The kids loaded the cat carrier into the van, I head back inside for coffee, keys, and to make Captain Schenanigans aware of our plans while he was out of town. Naturally. I return to the van and the cat is standing on the driver’s seat, with it’s little paws on my window, looking sad. Crap. If he gets out, we are NEVER getting him back in time for the appointment. I’ve seen that cat keep up with flying birds- Jax is fast!

But he’s worried, too, and was too preoccupied with whether the dashboard of my van held any hidden exits, to even notice me scooping him back up. I plunged him into the carrier, decided to strap it in to the passenger seat by me for safe keeping (and away from little helping hands that spring lying kitties out of their travel crates to comfort them). Thankfully the closed schools encouraged people to stay home, because this cat complained, cried, and begged for freedom the entire ride to the vet. Relentlessly annoying.

One antibiotic injection that lasts 14 days, 1 rabies shot, 1 cone of shame, and 5 days worth of kitty narcotics later, we owe $180 for our “free barncat”. Sigh. We could hear him screaming from the waiting room, just prior to the vet coming out and telling us the paw washing didn’t go quite as well as they had hoped. Ya think? That’s the only reason I’m here.

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       Part of the pad of his foot was bitten off by a fox or cat, this prevents licking.

Proof of that is the fact that my son, Manchild, my own 5-year-old flesh and blood, came down with the flu on Sunday. He stayed home and down for the count until today, Wednesday. Fevers, body pain, puking, and head aches. I treated it all at home. Because he didn’t claw, bite, or scratch me. THREE days of a kid with the flu was easier, cheaper, and required less medical attention than one cat with a bitten foot who makes bad choices. Smh.

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                                The Tylenol kicked in, he needed some outdoor play.

This past Tuesday, 6 days after the Snow Day, the weather was so gloriously balmy and Spring-like that I let every rabbit we owned out to run in the yard in some capacity. They stretched their legs, jumped high in the air, and loved every second if it. Since I have several collapsible fences, I can fashion them in different ways to allow multiple buns to frolic at the same time.  However, caution must be used. Male rabbits can fight through the bars, and must be blocked from any contact with each other. Little did I know, female rabbits will fight with each other when a wife bunny is jealous of a single female bunny running around in front of her husband. I am dead serious. They are just like married people. The husband and wife bunnies I have will ONLY squabble with each other when there is a single female bunny present and the husband shows interest. It’s uncanny.

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That would be one sulking white wife bunny while her gray husband looks over the fence at my new Champagne D’Argent girl.

 

Little did I know the females will fight each other through the bars of the fences. Figured that precious lil tid-bit out when I went to put everyone away and found Fluff, one of Manchild’s spayed girl bunnies who has a husband, with half her bottom lip hanging off. My new doe bit her and hung-on until it tore, through the fence. Since rabbits are prey creatures, they heal very fast. I gave it a day to see how she would heal, realized there was no way to avoid infection, and hauled Fluff off to the vet for stitches.

Four bright pink stitches on a white and black rabbit lip are surprisingly un-noticeable. I picked Fluff up after she was knocked out, debride, stitched up, and brought back to life. I was also given 7 days worth of liquid oral antibiotics, and a bill for $216. For my free used rabbit. The vet called later, and explained that while he had instructed me to feed the rabbit yogurt (it replenishes the good gut flora knocked out by the antibiotics- works in people, too), he failed to mention that she would not eat it herself. I had to put the yogurt in a syringe, like the antibiotics, and feed her 1tsp orally twice daily. Apparently, rabbits prefer vanilla or orange flavors, in case you were asking. This particular vet owned 150 Dutch rabbits, so I took his word on that one.

One syringe full of Greek Vanilla yogurt from Aldi’s later, I’ve got Fluff cradled in my arm like a baby. I fumbled the syringe to the clamped mouth of my free rabbit, and hit the suture line instead. Fluff remembered she had paws, swatted the yogurt away with a vengeance, and landed it in my eye. OH MY MOTHER OF PEARL THAT STUFF STINGS! Who woulda though Vanilla Greek yogurt packed such a punch? Glad I didn’t opt for the orange!

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Our final money snatching surprise came in the mail. In the form of a traffic camera speeding ticket, showing my slow driving, law abiding, beloved husband driving though DC at ELEVEN miles over the speed limit. Gimme a break, I can do that backing out of my driveway on the way to church! That little vehicular portrait cost us a whopping $100. Cha-ching!

So now we’re $500 deep into random chance bills, and we didn’t even sped a dime on our children’s health. Well, not true, we did buy Pediatric Dramamine to supplement the Pepto-Bismol we hand fed Manchild, but that was considered an investment into domestic hygiene.

Did I mention all the while Manchild is missing 2 days of school, Girlchild is pouting, faking symptoms, and all but licking his hot little face in an attempt to stay home, too? She was so jealous of him! All Manchild wanted was to go to gym class on Monday, and his Library snack party on Tuesday. He missed both. Girlchild still moaned, argued, and pouted. After this, I pleaded 45 minutes away from the house for mental health, left Captain with the kids, and skipped out of the house to the second hand store at the end of the street. I had offered to help missionary friends find long skirts, and right that quarrelsome moment was the perfect time to look.

But over all, I’m not worried. While I am all for financial planning (we live a dept-free life, minus our mortgage), all the planning in the would will never account for the times God shows up. Never accounts for the lady in line who pays for your daughter’s meal, the day she was supposed to pay for herself to learn about money. Never accounts for the generous check from a relative who really wants your family to come to a cousin’s Louisiana wedding. Never takes in to account that there is a HUGE, wild God, who can laugh at our plans, change our plans, and majorly over bless our plans in ways we could never think to ask for. Accountants say the numbers never lie. But I say, the numbers never speak the whole truth, either. They can be just as deceptive as a lying cat in a travel crate, telling an 7 year old girl it wants to cuddle!

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