After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What's the matter with Violet?

Yesterday one of my friends posted a poem and I immediatly had a new favorite poet.  And I had to email it to the husband.  This is how the conversation went:

ME: Apparently Violet and Mary Jane have the same problem....though this offers no solutions, unfortunately.

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's crying with all her might and main,
And she won't eat her dinner--rice pudding again,

What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I've promised her dolls and a daisy-chain,
And a book about animals--all in vain--
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well, and hasn't a pain;
But, look at her, now she's beginning again!--
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I've promised her sweets and a ride in the train,
And I've begged her to stop for a bit and explain--
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well and she hasn't a pain,
And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!--
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
BRENT: Yeah, those symptoms really do seem to correlate to Violet’s condition, although at times Violet’s seems a bit more severe. Perhaps that author has written a subsequent description offering Mary Jane’s solution. We should check into that.
ME:  Correlate? Subsequent? Are those work words? You are smart at work, mister. Not that you aren't smart here. You know.....
Good Morning Heidi-
I really appreciate your sending the below narrative and thoughts as we consider Violet’s condition and explore ways assistance may be provided. In accordance with our parenting responsibilities vested as of the date of Violet’s birth (July 14, 2008), I concur addressing this issue (“crying with all her might and main”) is a high priority.
Your insight in connecting Violet’s condition with Mary Jane’s is great work and your observation on work words and status is, well, right on. Let’s ponder the Violet/Mary Jane scenario that a bit more… Perhaps exploring whether or not Mary Jane successfully resolved her issues will provide some meaningful insight as we move forward. I propose we add this to our agenda for discussion when we meet later today.
I understand Violet’s current condition is challenging at times, however, your work in this area is not unnoticed. You are (and have been) a great partner with this program as evidenced by successes gained with all the children, smiling faces and full utilization of the programs limited available resources. I look forward to opportunities whereas we can continue to partner together.
Thanks Heidi; have a great afternoon.
I love this husband of mine. 
Oh, and the poem is by A.A Milne and it's called Rice Pudding. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sneaky Sheep and a funny boy

Carsten is two.  And I find him hilarious.  He speaks in complete sentences, says the darndest things and does the darndest things.  He rules his world.

For example, complete sentences.  Last week we were dropping Violet, whom he calls by her French name of Why-Le, off at preschool when he spotted his dad walking down the hall.  My thought would that he just says, "DADDY!"  But no, he gets a goofy grin on his face and says, "Hey!  What are YOU doing here??" 

And yesterday he was sitting at the table and fell out of the chair, catching himself just in time but not in enough time that he could actually right himself by himself.  He needed help.  But instead of crying or saying, "Help!" he yells, "Hey!  I need you to come help me!"  And not just once, but several times while hanging off the table wedged between two chairs.

Today he did the same thing.  I said, "Carsten!" in an attempt to get his attention.  And instead of saying, "What?" he says, "What do you want, mom?."

He's a goofy kid.

He's a goofy kid who loves hats.  In fact, he owns five hats.  A bear hat from Glacier Park, a dinosaur hat I got for him in Washington DC this summer, a John Deere hat, a baseball hat he got for Easter, and a cowboy hat his great grandma gave him for his birthday. 

And he wears them all.  In fact, he picks which one he will wear depending on he outfit he is wearing--an outfit that HE picked out.  He also knows that he can't wear them at the table or to church.  It's funny. 

My personal favorite is the cowboy hat because he looks so cute when he wears it and he won't wear it without his cowboy boots, also a gift for his birthday. and his cowboy boots make him strut and apparently make him put his hands in his pockets.  Plus, I like to call him "cowboy" and he reminds me of my great grandpa. 

To illustrate my point:

But I also will admit that he isn't ALL perfect.  He's kind of a pill in church and I would love it if he would let us put him in the nursery.  But he won't have any of that, so one of us usually ends up out with him while he talks too loud and makes all kinds of odd observations. 
It would be so much more convenient if he would just go in the nursery.  Especially on Fridays.  I take the kids to a homeschool co-op every Friday and while I only signed up to teach two classes, I ended up with three.  Now, I love this whole teaching gig.  I really, really love it.  And I was thinking, and I have since realized that I was quite mistaken, that I might actually get to do it as a teacher and not as *mom*.  But Carsten would have none of that.
The first week I went to the nursery they provide, which is quite convenient because you know all of us crazy homeschool moms who drag all our kids with us everywhere we go.  But Carsten would have NOTHING to do with it.  In fact, I still heard him screaming when I exited the building after I went down TWO hallways and around three corners, up some stairs and out the door. 
He was absolutely hysterical.  But I didn't feel like I had a choice.  I didn't know who I felt more sorry for: him or the nursery workers or the other kids in the nursery.
You think I'm exaggerating.  But I'm not.  The next week was even worse.  He cried hysterically until I finally called Brent and told him to come get him.  By the time Brent got there Carsten had cried himself to sleep.
The third week I pretty much decided that I did in fact have all the tools necessary to not feel like I had to leave him in the nursery.  And I felt like I was emotionally damaging him if I forced him to go in there any more.  He told me all week that he didn't want to go in the nursery.  All week long.  "I don't want to go in the nursery."  And his little lip would stick out and he would look like he was going to cry just thinking about it.
So the next week instead of sticking him in the nursery, I got him out of the car and threw him on my back in a carrier.  He told me he didn't want to go in the nursery a half dozen more times before we even got into the building.  I told him he was going to stay with me.  And he did.  And he didn't scream like I was handing him to ax murderers.  That was nice.
He did pretty well in class.  Not too distracting and all the girls totally think he's the cutest thing ever.  Which of course he is.  And by second hour his was back in the carrier and headed for a nap.  He slept for an hour and a half. 
We have since repeated this several times.  Brent also has every other Friday off, so he takes Carsten when he can.  That works out nice, too. 
The kid also likes to read.  Sometimes I will realize that I haven't heard from him in a while and when I find him he is sitting with a pile of books just looking at the pictures intently.  And it is obvious that he has been doing it for some time.  He is quite mesmerized by them, actually.
One of his favorite books recently is a book we got from the library called Sneaky Sheep.  It's about these two sheep that are constantly trying to sneak away from the flock to go up to the high meadow because they are convinced it is lovely.  But the sheepdog always finds them. 
One day they manage to make it pretty far and they run into a wolf.
Now back to Carsten.  This evening he was sitting on the floor mesmerized by the book and then he got up and brought it over to us.  It was on this page where Rocky and Blossom find themselves face to face with the wolf. 

Carsten pointed to the wolf and told us it was the wolf.  I asked him, "What does the wolf want to do?" 

"He is hiding."

"Yes he's hiding.  What does he want to do with the sheep?"

"Put them in the nursery."

Yes.  Apparently he would rather get eaten by a wolf before he will ever step foot in a nursery again. 

I was laughing so hard I actually was rolling on the floor with tears in my eyes. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stupid fundraisers

Today Violet came home with a note about Box Tops for Education in her folder.  Yes, she is in preschool.  She LOVES it.  I adore her teacher.  It's wonderful all around with the tiny exception of the social nightmare that is other preschool parents.  Apparently there is some unwritten rule that you are not to make eye contact, and if you do, you are glared at.  Whatever.

Back to my tirade. I hate fundraisers.  I always have.  Particularly fundraisers where I have to save labels from horrible soup, tops of boxes from horrible food, buy coupons or coupon books I won't use, or purchase over-priced cluttery things that I don't want.   I distinctly remember Grace, my ever on top of things kid, coming home and explaining to me in detail that we needed to save these things and why.  Even at the store I cringed when she got excited about them and felt we HAD to buy that box.  Eeek!  All this simply out of guilt or some other sort of motivation.

I told Violet's sweet teacher as much today.  I told her that the whole premise was ridiculous and I intended to just write the school a check for $10 rather than seek out horrible food to feed my family and a chance to give the school mere pennies.  I may have shocked her some, but she was very gracious.  Did I mention I love her?

Now since then I have made a vow.  I have vowed that if ever I am blessed with the opportunity to organize a fundraiser for some sort of youth program, I will buck tradition (surprised?) and probably shock a few people in the process.  Hopefully I will start some sort of a trend.

My idea is that I will make up a pledge sheet to give each child.  It will say something like:

Because I realize that nearly every fundraiser I have participated in has been some marketing scheme by a rather large company selling me a product disguised as food with a promise to give mere pennies to my school, and because I really have no need for trinkets or coupons or any other form of clutter, I pledge ($5  $10  $15  $20) to the above program with the understanding that I get nothing in return other than the comfort that 100% of my donation will be used for the purpose stated above and I am free of clutter and guilt. 

And then there are a bunch of lines for names and amount donated.  (Yes, that is one huge sentence.  But it's effective, don't you think?)

If someone came to my door with something like that, I'd sign up in a heartbeat.  So refreshing.  And honest, dammit.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


My parents and two brothers (with their families) came over this weekend.  And since we haven't been enjoying summer like we normally like to (trips, moving, etc. take a lot of energy! And I'm embarassed that I haven't blogged more than once a month for the last four monts!), we thought we'd go enjoy the lake.

Mom and dad have a new kayak.  And a great friend of ours loaned us three of theirs.  Since mom and dad hadn't used theirs yet, they actually debated breaking a bottle of beer across the bow to christen it.  But they decided not to waste the beer and saved it for after we got home.

Brent and I went on a date.

Actually, it was something like 30 minutes paddling around the lake. 

But hey, that's about as close to a date as we've had since all the kids were in Sunday School or sitting with grandma at church for 15 minutes two years ago or something.
We take up a lot of shore line.  So nice to go enjoy the sun!

Daddy took Calla out in the kayak.  She was pretty scared at first, but decided it was fun. 

At least until daddy lost his hat and tried to reach it and almost tipped over.
Grace took every chance she could to get in and on the water.  She was all over it and had a great time.

Speaking of kayaks.  How about a YAK? 

Doesn't everyone bring their YAK to the lake with them? 
Oh, well this guy must think pretty highly of his yak.

It's name is McCloud.  And it apparently likes to get in the house too.  I only know that because I asked, sarcastically of course, if it slept in his bed. 
Oh, and he has something like four dozen yaks.
And if you google "yak" you get a lot of "kayak." 
I'm thinking that kaYAKing is a once in a lifetime experience.
And a date with your husband after four kids is a once in a blue moon or so experience.

 I love this guy.  He even let me go shopping with my mom and sister-in-law while he stayed home with everyone else and started dinner.  I found a great sweater and a new purse to replace my awesome red one that Carsten broke the zipper on. 

KaYAKing.  HA!  I'm going to laugh about this for a LONG time. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

She's the most beautiful 9-year-old I know

As of today, my first born is NINE!  And she is super excited about it. 
Of course, she's graceful about it. We had a little impomtu birthday party for her with two presents. One from Calla and one from us.
Calla gave her the cutest present.  She glued a plastic heart back onto a crown that was part of a Halloween costume a couple years ago and gave it to her all fixed.  She gave her a card that she wrote "I love you 100" in.  She's been saying things like, "I like it 100 percent!" lately and the card was so cute.  And she drew a little picture of Grace on the horse, folded it up, folded it into another piece of paper and stuck it to a giant bow.  And then she smiled and beamed the whole time Grace went through the package. 
We gave her what she wanted.  She's been asking for a stereo since her last one broke.  She also asked for a couple CDs.  "The relaxing ones like we have in the car." 
At this moment my beautiful nine-year-old is sitting in the livingroom reading while listening to a CD of classical piano music.  She mused, "They must have four hands to play like that, mom." 
"It's just a lot of practice, I said. "And speaking of, you need to do that today."
But she's just sitting there reading still.  And I'm going to leave her there so I can see her sitting there while I make her birthday dinner--spagetti. 
Happy Birthday, Grace.  You get more beautiful by the day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Birthday number TWO for the baby boy!

My baby boy is two. 

Here he is with his face over the candles blowing them out.  He was so excited! Actually, this was the third time he blew them out.  The first two times were premature.

Handsome little boy!

Instead of cake, we made peach ice cream in my blender.  Frozen peaches, some cream, a little maple syrup, and a little vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Put in little bowls and add two candles.  Everyone is happy and I didn't have to make a cake.  Or more accurately, I didn't have to clean up the cake mess!

And for his birthday he got a COWBOY HAT from his great grandma.  (Yes, he has ice cream on his face . . . )

An appaloosa horse from his sisters.  (He will tell you it's an appaloosa.  Smart boy.)

And (not pink) cowboy boots from his mom and dad. 

He's all set.  Except here he's telling us, "I need belt!"  But he pronounces it "b-ewt."

The kid knows what is going on.  And he's not afraid to tell you. We all giggled for a while over that one. And he was so mad at me because I took his hat before he ruined it so we could get him a bigger size tomorrow.  The kid has a big head.

Maybe that happens when you are the only boy.

And the youngest. 

And this darn cute.

Happy Birthday baby boy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

International Babywearing Conference, 2012--Awesome

This post originally published on the Babywearing International Blog.  And since I was the one who wrote it, I thought I'd put it here, too.  Hoping to get my other fun stuff up here soon, too!

Sometimes in life there are moments that should simply not be missed. Things that can never be repeated. I have several of those experience in my life, including when my babies were fresh, still wet, snuggled in on my heart cavity. It's those feelings you need to soak in and burn into your emotional memory so you can call them up later and revel in it all over again.

The Capitol! I was lucky enough to get one of the *special* tours thanks to a friend who has a connection through a Senator.
This last week at the International Babywearing Conference was one of those weeks. For two years, since I had helped plan the previous babywearing conference in Rigby, Idaho only to pretty much miss the entire thing, I have told my husband on a regular basis that I wanted to go to Washington D.C. to the next conference.

My husband loves me and he spearheaded the effort to make it happen. We got my tickets and he took a week off work to take care of the kids while I flew across the country to soak in the babywearing wisdom and the sights of our Capitol.

It was a week of wondering how it could possibly get any more amazing only to turn around and find that it just did. Much of what I learned and soaked in merely reinforced from a different angle what I have come to know and believe in regards to babywearing. But I also found some new, fresh and exciting perspectives that got me excited all over again.

First, babywearing is essential to new mothers who are learning to be mothers. With babywearing, new mothers are able to exercise (walk), take care of their new baby, take care of themselves, and take care of those around them. Exercise has been proven over and over again to be as effective at fighting depression as medication. Being successful at this new role while at the same time being able to take care of what they were taking care of before the baby was born makes the new mom feel like she can handle this new role. These feelings of success build a strong foundation that can keep her from slipping into a postpartum depression that she can't dig herself out of.

I learned that not only does the baby need the mother's body (as its natural environment), but the mother's body needs the baby just as much. If the baby is not with the mother, the mother's body actually believes the baby is dead and reacts accordingly. This disrupts the intended sequence of events and can cause issues with bonding and nursing and lead to a whole host of problems.

To go with that, I learned that there are three kinds of mammals. There are 'nest dwelling' mammals, like cats, that give birth to babies that have their eyes closed and can't move around much. Kittens are also quiet when left alone and are not feeding.

The second type is 'parent followers' like horses. These babies are fully developed, walk shortly after birth and if they are separated, both the baby and the mother seek to be reunited.

Humans were originally plunked into the nesting category. But then a third category was added: Carried young. In this category babies cannot follow the parents, their eyes are open and they are able to cling. Other members of this category are primates and marsupials. The mother and baby are made in a way that facilitates carrying.

The importance of touch and movement to these carried young was reinforced by the 1970s era documentary Rock-a-Bye Baby by Time Life films. Basically, removing even one of these elements made monkeys separated from their mothers at birth fearful, anxious and even aggressive. But even monkeys without mothers that were given the options of touch AND movement were much more normally developed than those that were not. Removing both elements resulted in monkeys that displayed symptoms of severe neglect, including rocking incessantly and aggression towards themselves.

In one class, it was stressed that it is not the carrier that makes the difference. It's the carrying. In-arms carrying will have the same results as the fanciest carrier (used correctly) will have.

One point that the film made was that we do not know how important a single element is until it is removed. This was an interesting angle on another thought I had--what we will NOT regret. By this I mean that I will NOT regret NOT giving into pressure to wean before I think it's time. I will regret giving up because I can't get that back. I will NOT regret investing in 1-2 comfortable, quality carriers and learning to use them to keep my babies close. I will regret letting that feeling that maybe I'll look weird govern my choice to ignore my curiosity.

Then I met Masayo Sonoda from Japan. She is in Japan trying to change the parenting culture. After the devastating tsunami she realized that in the next four years Japan will be experiencing MANY earthquakes. It is her goal to bring babywearing back to the mainstream so that WHEN (not if) those earthquakes strike, people have the skills to, without thinking, tie their children on themselves with whatever is handy and escape quickly and safely. If these parents are not proficient in using carriers in their daily lives, they will not be able to do that. Her goal is to make it happen.

This is me with Masayo Sonoda. Somehow her use of the fabric square is much neater than my effort to contain my Amauti. It was my second exposure to Furoshiki, a Japanese method of tying, at the conference. I *may* have suggested it as a class for the next conference.

Traditionally, the Japanese culture used gorgeous carriers to carry their babies. But as the country modernized, this skill was lost. The Japanese story is one that is common all over the world. But what we have learned is that even though the culture changes, the needs of babies do not change. Babies still need to be carried.

To advocate the practice of babywearing, we are changing the culture. Even if we are changing culture one family and one baby at a time, we are still changing culture. I met one mom a the conference who told me her heart wrenching story of how she sunk into and made it out of postpartum depression that was so severe she was hospitalized four times in a psychiatric unit. She was a brand new mom in a new community and had no real connections and her family was 1500 miles away. We will never know what could have prevented her experience, but it simply reinforces my goal to create a warm, welcoming, helpful environment at my monthly meetings. Expecting and new parents are there looking for tools to make their journey what they want it to be. It's my job to help them. It goes back to what we will NOT regret. We will NEVER regret helping a new parent discover the joy of carrying their baby. We will NEVER regret giving a new parent the tools they need to be functional again. We will NEVER regret seeing that look a new parent gets when it all clicks and their world opens back up to them again. We will NEVER regret giving them "permission" to go with their instincts. Even if it doesn't seem to help at the time, it is our job to share with them what we have worked so hard to learn for ourselves even if it doesn't seem to help during that moment.

This story ends well. We sat in a restaurant in Washington D.C. and listened to her story while she sat eating ice cream with a sleeping baby on her back. She also stressed that she was there, having taken the Metro several stops from where she parked her car, without a diaper bag! And she was okay with that! She was showing the world who was boss once again. Needless to say, I bought her that bowl of ice cream. It was the least I could do.

As I flew out of Washington D.C., I was thinking that really this trip could not have gone any better. It was phenomenally full of incredible people and incredible experiences I will never forget. I am on fire again. And honestly, I feel that by going and having the grand experience I did, I was able to honor all the people who went out of their way to make it happen for me. This includes my husband and his family, my children, my amazing friends and family both at the conference and at home, and in Oregon and Washington. It includes all the people involved in planning the conference and their support systems, the instructors and the people who showed up to share the journey. I am utterly overwhelmed by my experience and will do my best to pass the gift of babywearing someone gave me nearly nine years ago onto others. This I will NEVER regret.

Me and one of my sweet babywearing friends I got to hug a bunch at the conference. My life has been enriched on so many different levels thanks to babywearing!

--Heidi Donnelly
BWI Board of Directors

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Up from the ashes

I have a these two friends.  They don't know each other.  But one I've known since kindergarten and the other is one of my mom friends I met when Grace was tiny.  Both of them are super sweet, super talented, super smart, and just great people to know and have in your life.  Both of them have a couple kids about the age of my kids.  I also lost touch with them over the last few moves.  Not on purpose and not because I don't like them.  Both of them are also the kind of people that you just pick up where you left off.  I love them.

The last couple years have been tough on them both.  Both of them had their marriage end in divorce.  That in and of itself is a lot to deal with, especially with a couple kids in the mix. 

Lisa, my mom friend, kind of fell off the planet.  It's what she does when she's dealing with hard stuff.  I missed her and tried to touch bases with her every once in a while.  I rarely heard back, but that didn't really matter.  I just needed her to know I was still thinking of her and still loved her.  I knew enough to figure that her marriage wasn't going well and was probably ending.  And that was okay.  I also knew enough to know that she wasn't going to let it just happen without trying nearly everything in her power to make it work. 

My friend Stacey and I go way back.  Back to kindergarten.  We have a lot of great history.  She lives in the town we grew up in and teaches school there.  I was in her wedding and our oldest daughters were born just days apart.  She cheated, though, because she was induced.  Two years ago I learned that she and her husband were separated and headed for divorce.  I'll be honest, I really have no idea what happened other than bits and pieces I've picked up from mutual friends.  And I have never really asked.

It always makes me sad when I see marriages end.  Especially if I've been personally rooting for them.  But I guess divorce is a fact of this fallen world.  It just sucks. 

But the last few months have been great for my two friends and it's brought me so much joy to watch them both raise from the ashes.  First, Lisa emerges from her cave and takes her flamingo by the ankles and shows it who's boss.  She started writing, something she is really quite good at, declared to the world that she wanted a big tricycle, and landed her dream job.  She emailed me when she got word that she was hired telling me she was so excited she might just pee her pants.  I was that excited FOR her.  But I was even more excited that I got to hear her voice and she actually calls me back!  Funny how you don't realize how much you miss someone until they are back in your life. 
Then I catch wind that Stacey is getting married.  Apparently she met this guy at church and after a whirlwind courtship, they decided to get married.  After contemplating it for roughly five minutes, I told Brent that I needed to go to the wedding.  I need to be there to support my sweet friend in her new life.  I need her to know that I love her and want her to be happy.  I hadn't met this guy, but he has a nice smile.  I called our other friend-since-kindergarten to tell her that I'm going.  Bonus that I get to see her, too!  Without kids.  Double bonus that her husband bought a Porsche just days before the wedding--after I told her I'd be her date!  The wedding was really nice.  Her new husband seems like a nice guy and I look forward to getting to know him.  I got to hug Stacey and tell her that I really do love her and want her to be happy.  I may have even shed a few tears.  I also got to hug her mom and share a few tears. 

And I got a ride in a Porsche.  But that wasn't the point of this post.  That was just a bonus.  Thanks Sara!  One more thing I didn't know was on a bucket list I don't have.  But I'll be sure to check it off.

The point of this post is to tell my two Phoenix friends that I love them, unconditionally.  I want them to be happy.  I want them to know that I have really loved watching them raise from the ashes that they found themselves in.  I have loved watching them take their lives back and I am praying for them both.  You two have made my life richer.  And I smile when I think of you both.  Keep on keepin' on.  And come see me!  We have some catchin' up to do!!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ducks!!! They are growing like crazy!

Guest blogger Grace is here again to tell you all about her duck adventure.  We've been having so much fun with these crazy birds. 


My seven ducks that we ordered are between three and four weeks old.  This is a picture of two of my ducks when we got them. 

This is a pictures of me and one of my ducks when it was three weeks old.  

The ducks grew a lot in those three weeks. 

This is a picture of my ducks when Circles was a few days old. 

The other ducks decided Circles is a part of their flock even though he is smaller.  I think the other ducks thought that he looked enough like them that he was okay.

I think Circles is a he.  But we don't know yet. 

When it is warm enough we go outside and give the ducks play time.  We made a little pen out of hay bales and we put a tub of water in it so they could play in the water.  It was too deep for Circles, so he swam.

They like to chew on the grass and splash in the water.  They are fun to watch.

In this picture you can see Circle's webbed feet. 

We play with them so they can get used to us and when I show them they won't go crazy.  I like my ducks a lot. ( I took the pictures of Circles swimming.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm a duck's mama!

Grace, my guest blogger, tells you more about her adorable little duck.


This is a picture of me with my ducky.  This is the first time I got to hold it.

It was still a little bit wet when I held it for the first time last night.

I am naming the duck Circles, and its nickname is Lucky Ducky.

Today I got to play with it in the house before we took it out to the barn.  Its favorite spot is on my shoulder. It thinks I'm its mama.

It likes to peck and nibble at my earring and play in my hair. 

It got tangled in my hair once.

Ducks are very fun!  Especially when they are babies!

Friday, April 27, 2012

DUCK! Day 31


This morning when we left for co-op the egg had only a little crack in it. And when we came home there was a duck! The crack was no bigger than last night when we left for co-op.  Now the duck is asleep because it worked really hard to get out of the egg.  We are going to leave it in the incubator until it dries and then we will give it some food and take it out to the other ducks.  I hope it likes its home.

A fine line: life and death

Yesterday my day started with a weird dream.  The duck egg is overdue to hatch.  I feared that I killed it.  I actually dreamed that when I was checking it, I dropped it and it cracked open on the ground.  I picked it up and the crack had revealed an eyeball.  And then the eyeball opened up and looked straight at me.  It wasn't a creepy thing, but it was telling me that it was alive and I needed to put it back.

So I got up and went and took the egg out of the incubator and held it in my hand.  I could feel it tapping and pulsing in the palm of my hand.  I stuck it to my ear to see what I could hear.  I heard scratching and swooshing and a peep. 

Naturally, I went and woke Grace and the rest of the kids up.  They needed to experience this, too!  And it was time for them to get up anyway.

Checking facebook I learned that one of my friends, who I've met in real life, experienced the premature loss of a well-loved pet.  She has five little children that she now had to explain this to.  And she didn't know how.

Last week I lost an uncle to cancer.  He was one of those people who made the world a better place by simply sitting there and smiling.  He was the principal at the elementary school I attended all the time I was there and beyond.  He played the organ at our wedding and he and his wife, my grandpa's sister, were such a positive influence on the world surrounding me and my family on daily basis.  It was a long battle and he fought it bravely and with grace.  It's how he lived his life.

A few weeks ago I also received news that one of my former students was killed in a car accident.  When he was a student he was one of those guys that everyone respected because he earned their respect.  Respected, respectable, and most of all, respectful.  He went on to a reputable school, married his high school sweetheart and returned to work in the area he grew up in and coached at the school he graduated from.  But then one moment he is snuffed out and everyone is left in shock.

Life and death walk so closely in this world.  And we forget this so easily.  I am a Christian--particularly Lutheran.  I believe everything in the Bible is true. Nothing added, nothing taken away. I try to live by it as much as my human-ness allows with the help of God.  (And I'm always struck by how Jesus had to be fully God in order to fully overcome his fully human side.  I am not even a tiny bit God, so there is no way I am going to come close to overcoming my human-ness!)

The other night Brent was upset with a couple of our kids who weren't making very good decisions.  He wondered out loud as he walked by why he got so mad at them sometimes.  I said something to the affect of, "Because sin entered the world."  He just shook his head and walked off because he knew that was exactly the core of the issue.  And I wasn't helping.  Or maybe I was.  I don't know. 

Sin and death.  Both are so ugly and horrible.  And there is nothing we can do to avoid them.  Sin is in our face every day from the moment we open our eyes.  We are born sinful.  It's in our nature.  We can't be perfect no matter how we try. 

I'm not implying that anyone does anything specific that makes them deserve to die more than anyone else.  But the truth is, we are all going to die and death is a horrible, ugly fact of life.  We die because sin is a part of this life on earth.  But even in the face of that ugly fact, life is a supremely beautiful thing and such an incredible gift from God.  I am utterly in awe of this little duck we have trying as I type to get out of the egg.  This from someone who has seen any number of other animals give birth and also given birth herself four times.  New life is a miracle.  Every time.

But even with fresh new life comes pain and misery.  I had four normal, healthy pregnancies.  I had four normal, healthy labors that produced four normal, healthy children.  But pregnancy is not among the most comfortable things in this world.  Labor and delivery is also not something that is easy and pain free.  And while the mom is recovering from that, she is faced with figuring out what to do with this beautiful new person that came out of her. 

I don't know why my uncle had to go the way he did.  I don't know why my former student was suddenly gone.  Both of these deaths just keep coming back to me and I keep pondering them. And I hold my children close and pray for them and tell them to make good decisions and love everyone as best they can. I fear for their safety and sometimes I am overcome with fear that they could all be taken from me at any moment.

I'm not fearing or doubting God or shaking my fist at him in anger.  I know He loves us and wants the best for us.  After all, He made us out of love and after sin entered the world, He set into motion His plan to save us from sin and death.  We celebrate Easter with that joy because sin and death lost their sting that day when the tomb was empty.

I pray for the crazy little duck.  I want it to hatch so badly.  I want it for Grace because she's worked so hard at it for nearly five weeks now.  And we've been looking forward to it because it is always such an honor to celebrate a new life, no matter if it's a new baby born into our family or our circle of friends or a little duck working its way out of its egg. 

Celebrate life.  Celebrate it with vigor.  Mourn as deeply as you need to in death and find comfort in the promise of life.  Only God can take something as ugly and horrible as death and give us hope through it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DUCK! Day 30 (again)

At 2:11 this afternoon there was a CRACK in the egg!!!  We heard chirping to! PEEP PEEP!!! PEEP PEEP!!!  This is a picture of the CRACK. It is very small. If it dosn't hatch tonight I hope it hatches tomorrow morning!

DUCK!! Day 30

This morning when mom put the egg up to my ear I heard the duck beak in the shell of the egg trying to get out! I also heard a little chirp! Calla heard it too! Mom woke me up so I could hear it. I am very excited!

Here is a picture of the egg this morning at 7:58.   There is no crack in the egg yet. But there is hope!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


You may recall that I recently acquired a flock of chickens after scouring Craigslist for several months.  Today we got thirteen eggs out of these girls.  A record so far.  I think they are finally recovering from the move. 

I feel the same way about moving, frankly.

Then we got really crazy and ordered fifty meat chickens--they sent fifty-two.  These little things have doubled their weight in roughly four days.  I think they are doing their job.

We also got eight turkeys.  The instruction sheet said that they are "known for being somewhat dumb."  So far we've only lost one.  But I can see why one might think a turkey is dumb.  You stick something in their pen, like your hand, and they all run TOWARDS it like, "HEY!  SOMETHING SHINY!"  I did put a marble in their food and they peck at it constantly.  Eight turkeys would be SO great to have in the freezer.  We shall see.


And ducks.  These really are the cutest things ever.  It's fun to watch them and they are so different from the chickens and turkeys. 

The chickens and turkeys seem to be in it just for themselves, pecking at each other, running over each other, and just generally in competition with one another.  Not the ducks.  They are a team.  Where one goes, they all go because it's the right thing to do.  They support one another instead of compete with one another.  They don't pick at one another and they seem to genuinely enjoy each others company and are very concerned about the well-being of the other members of their little flock. 

Today I took a bowl of warm water out to them.  For about five minutes they just stood away from it and looked at it.  Then apparently a decision was made because something had to be done and one duckling slowly approached the bowl and peeked in.  There was a beak in the water doing duck things.  And suddenly it was a duck pile in the bowl.  HEY!  LET'S SEE IF ALL OF US CAN GET IN HERE!! THIS IS GREAT!  A party in a bowl!

They pretty much took to it like, well, a duck takes to water.  At least that's what ran through my mind as I was standing there watching it all go down. 

We also have a cat here at this place.  I will short stop of calling it our cat because it came with the place and we pretty much only feed it because we aren't that cold hearted.  For the first several weeks she would randomly attack our dog.  But then they became buddies.  Right now they have a bit of a tough relationship because of this:

She had kittens.  These kittens are getting into that really cute kitten stage and I'm letting the kids play with them more and more.  But the momma cat, who is really a pretty cat with her fluffy gray-ness, gets agitated sometimes.  And the dog seems to just rub her the wrong way more recently. 

Violet loves these kittens.  She spent the better part of the afternoon sitting on the table in the barn next to their box petting them and talking to them.  She was out there so long that we just left her there and then decided eventually that we should go check on her to make sure she wasn't stuck on the table and crying for the last 20 minutes.  But no, she was happy as can be. 

Why am I telling you about a cat in a post about birds?  Because the mama cat is apparently named Bird.  I find that funny.  And I think we should name the kittens Chickadee and Wren. 

Counting the cat, kittens, the two chickens that came with the place, the rooster and all the other birds, we have NINETY-THREE birds on this place. I will not be a crazy cat lady.  But I could be the crazy bird lady.  Except my birds will be in the barn.  And on my dinner table. 

Horse Show! A first for them both

Grace is eight.  She just joined 4-H this year.  In fact, we got her in at 4:50pm on the day of the deadline for this year.  Her projects are horse and poultry (as you may know from her guest blogging.) Today was her first horse show.  It was also specifically for first and second year horse kids.

A couple weeks ago she was still on the fence about whether to do the horse project.  But then we went to a meeting and she met a little girl who is just her age who also signed up for the horse project and it was also her first year.  They hit it off and that was the tipping point for Grace.  Horse project was a go.

Nothing like cramming for a horse show in a week.  We actually had a couple weeks, but I have never in my life shown a horse.  Yes, I've had a horse, this horse, for most of my life and he's never been in the ring.  I suspect that my parents didn't think too highly of the horse people in our area.  And they didn't have time to drag their daughter and a horse all over the county.  But, I respect that and actually commented to the husband on the way out the door that I wondered if this was the beginning of carting a horse and a kid all over the county.  It'll be okay.

Now, I'm new to this horse showing thing.  We missed the clinic for a variety of reasons, most of them being that I need to be more on top of things, and our horse leader graciously did a couple sessions with Grace and her little friend.  The other mom and I were very impressed with their progress. 

We also had the issue of a dirty horse.  He's old.  And he's had one bath in his life.  And he's white.  We had to at least get the chunks off.  So Grace and I did just that last night.  Then we tied him in the stall with some hay and told him not to go rolling in anything.  He complied.  I was relieved.

We also had to get Grace something to wear.  Boots and a western-style shirt was in order.  She also got a belt and a new pair of pants with the deal.  They both ended up looking pretty sharp!

Shamere was bored and decided to take a little nap while waiting for his turn.  He just watched the freaking out horses and then commented to himself that they were just making him look even better.  Even if he is old.

More waiting.  But it's getting a little more exciting.  I stood over in line with them and scratched him some just to make sure he was calm, cool and collected.  And give Grace some love to make sure that she was calm, cool and collected.

 They both were in great shape, so I went and stood with the husband.  But not before I took this picture.  Something about this angle makes me smile.

It's show time!   Honestly, I knew about as much as Grace.  But from an adult perspective.  So this was going to be interesting to watch.

They make a good lookin' pair. 

This picture makes me smile for a couple reasons.  First, I gave Calla a camera and told her to take pictures.  She took that very seriously and when Grace was walking by, Calla said, "Smile, Grace!"  Second, Grace smiled.  The horse might be smiling, too. 

The class was so large that they broke it into two and then those that got a call back from their first round got to compete for ribbons. 

Grace got bored after a while and I was just standing there on the side and couldn't do a darn thing to get her to set up and show that horse even though she was bored.

But, in spite of her bored posture and not knowing where the pole of a horse is, she got thumbs up (literally) to go to the second round to compete for a ribbon.  Go Grace!  And Shamere!

Second round was better.  But the judge went sly and changed it up on them a little.  Grace did better when the judge was one on one with her, but forgot to move when she was in line.  Much like the other ten kids. 

Eleven made it to the final round.  Grace placed 7th and got a ribbon.  She was thrilled that it matched her shirt. 

Grace's little friend placed 6th.  They were pretty excited for each other, too.  I hope that's a sign of things to come for those two. 

Shamere is thrilled to be done with the whole bath nonsense and is out in the field happy as ever with the new spring grass and sunshine. But I kind of think he likes the clean part because he has yet to roll in the mud.    Maybe he's showing off for the horses next door.  "See!  They DO love me!"

Grace has a ribbon on her wall and a smile on her face. And fancy new boots and shirt and pants and  belt. 

She should be proud. Her daddy and are are pretty darn proud of her.    And frankly, we'd probably drive those two anywhere if it meant we could see that proud smile.