Friday, January 27, 2017

Christmas Tree

Here it is, Jan 27, 2017 and our Christmas tree and Christmas decorations are still up.

"What?"  You say.  "It's almost February.  How can you still have your Christmas decorations up?  You're one of THOSE neighbors."

I could make excuses...... as we HAVE been super busy since Christmas.

But I'm not going to.

Our tree is still up because Techno likes it to stay up.

This is new for me to give in like this.

I always leave the tree up till at least New Year's Day.  However, I usually take it down ON New Year's Day or shortly thereafter. 
(Except for the year Jacob was born.  That year I didn't have the energy or ambition to mess with it so the tree was up until April when my mom came to visit. She couldn't take it and put it all away.  Don't judge.)

 It's a comical and loving 'battle' we have each December.

How early should the tree go up?  I vote for just before December 10 -- my birthday.  He would rather wait till closer to Christmas Eve -- say December 22 or so.   When should the decorations go back in storage?  My vote, NO LATER than New Year's.  His? April.  LOL!


Most years, we do a bit of a compromise.  I get the tree up 'close' to my birthday. Sometimes before but usually a bit after (mostly b/c we get quite busy) and we take the tree down right around New Year's Day or maybe a few days later depending on our schedule.

This year.... the tree went up a bit late -- for my preference.  Around Dec 22 or so.

That meant it really wasn't up long by the time Christmas rolled around and the time I'd start itching to disassemble everything.

January hit with it's hectic schedule right out of the gate.

Techno and I had our 4 day getaway; every weekend thereafter, it seemed we were going to Fort Collins for something -- appts; picking up computers; getting blood drawn; etc etc etc.

I could have delegated the task to the kids - but I honestly was fearful of things -- like my mom's ceramic Christmas tree that she made -- getting broken.  Not that I can't slip, trip, and fall myself causing disaster, but it seems my children are a little more prone to said accidents.  :-)

I could have also easily started and completed the Christmas dismantle during the week.

But... this year... I decided to honor my husband's wishes.

We left the tree up.

We left the decorations all around the living room.

The lights were on most of the time.

In the past, the chaos of all the decor drove me nuts after a week or so.

This year, simplifying our Christmas decorations made it seem less cluttered and claustrophobic.

In all honesty?  It was nice.  I might even say.... relaxing.

I think Techno's on to something.

So many put the tree up right after or even before Thanksgiving then remove all evidence of Christmas before New Year's Day.  Keeping all the holidays smooshed into a 4-5 week span.

Do we even enjoy the tree, the decorations when we do that?  Nov and Dec tend to be so busy - shopping; eating; visiting family; dinners; parties; programs at school; wrapping; planning; more parties; more programs.

Then a few days after Christmas and all the hub bub is over; we remove all evidence of the magical time; the twinkling lights are gone; the ornaments filled with memories are stashed away for another year.

Do we even have the time or energy to embrace it?  To really take notice of it all?

This year, leaving everything up for the month of Jan, I gained a new perspective.

The twinkle of the lights glowing in the evening.

The tree looming tall in the living room with all the precious memories carefully placed on it's bows.

I was able to appreciate WHY Techno prefers the tree to go up late and stay up long.

It helps with the hum drum days after all the buzz of the holidays has passed.

The winter months stretch on and on here.

Why not keep that magical look and feel for a few more weeks?

I'm pleased we did.

I'm overjoyed I honored my husband's wishes and kept Christmas displayed a little longer this year.

Yes, it's getting to be time to remove it all.  But... if another few days pass and it's still up?  I'm ok with that.




Monday, September 19, 2016

Time is Zooming Along

Last week, Bethany and Elijah had to take an Accuplacer exam so they could get college credit for 3 of their high school classes they are taking on-line.
Elijah at the 4H fair dog show.

Not a big deal.

Bethany this summer at the 4H fair fashion show.










Just an early drive into town to drop them off at the
University to take said test.


Not a big deal.

Until.....

It hit me....

They are taking this test because they are getting closer and closer to graduating high school and entering that new stage of life -- college.

What?  How?  When?

Yeah, time really does fly when you have kids.

That whole adage "they grow up so fast." is no joke.  They REALLY do grow up fast.

I've known this.  We have 6 kids, after all.  It's not like this is my first rodeo.

Jacob has already spread his wings and gone off to college - rarely returning to the nest.

But.... this day.... it struck me just how quickly it all goes.

2 years.  24 months.  104 weeks.  730 days.  That SEEMS like a long time.

However, those that are parents, know just how short that time really is.

Life continues to happen in those 2 years. School; housework; chores; work; activities; travel; sleep; illnesses; camps; projects; visits; vacation; church - it all just keeps going.  Soon, those 2 years turn into 1.5 years.  Then a year.  Then 6 months and you think.... where did the time go?  What am I going to do?  I have SO much more I want to teach them; do with them; tell them; show them.

Yet, time doesn't cease or even slow down for that matter.

It doesn't care about your feelings; fears; the fact you simply want it to stop -- if only just for a while.

It just keep ticking along.

               Second by second.
                            Minute by minute.
                                         Hour by hour.
                                                  Week by week.
                                                            Month by month.
                                                                       Year by year.
                                                                     
Until.....
             suddenly.....
                              seemingly out of nowhere, you are moving yet another child (or two) into the college dorms.

Broadsided by the reality that your little girl; your little boy is now an adult.  Moving on to the next stage of life.

Gulp!

Yes, time really is zooming along.  Our two high schoolers will be heading off to college in no time at all.  That means our little girls will be entering Jr High then High School in close to the same short timeframe.

It won't be long as these three littles will also be striking out on their own.  Say it isn't so.
Even though we still have 10 more years with our youngest - that time too - will slip away in a heartbeat.

One day I'll be thinking about and possibly writing a post about our LAST child heading off to college.  How the time with her was so, so short.

Remember those months, weeks, days that just tick away?  Yeah, that's happening as I type.

It's hard to believe that the day will come when all these precious gifts we call children will be on their own.  Out from under our wings. (Insert nostalgic tears here)

For now, I'm just going to embrace today.

I'm going to try to remember how quickly the time goes and therefore enjoy the moments I have left with the 5 children that are still living full time at home.

To talk and listen more. 
To laugh and play often.  
To teach and encourage daily.
To smile and hug as much as I can.

Time is ticking away.  They won't stay home forever.

As they shouldn't.

But, they ARE here now.  For that I am grateful.  With that I will take full advantage of the time I do have with them and teach them, guide them, love them.

With all I have to offer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rarely a Dull Moment

As many may recall, the past week greeted us with many wildlife adventures.

We noticed the new rabbit hutch was having visitors that destroyed the bags of sunflower seeds we have in a cage for the bunnies' consumption; stealing as many as they could through the wire bars.

We then had more visitors knocking over the chicken run fencing and getting into the chicken feed.

We quickly discovered it was a young black bear.

YIKES!

That same night a skunk snuck it's way into our fenced yard and sprayed our poor pup, Titus.

UG!

After a call to the game warden resulted in no action, I made the decision to move the younger hens into the older hens enclosed chicken run and coop.  The larger coop is much more predator proof.  I was initially waiting to move the younger hens until one of two things happened.  1) I was able to expand the current coop to make it larger to fit more birds or 2) We butchered the older hens that were no longer laying eggs.

Neither event had happened, but... I was fearful that our young hens would be a snack for our visiting black bear if I didn't take action right away.

The next night we had a reprieve and nothing was bothered.  Figures - now that we had made the hard introduction of all the chickens, nothing came to bother our little set up.

The day after that -- not so much.

My assumption was the bear had returned to get more chicken feed and possibly some chickens.

But... the camera showed a different culprit this time.

I guess you could say it was still a bear.  I believe this little guy is part of the bear family, but not quite the threat that a big black bear poses.  Just as destructive, though.

When I went out to check the camera, once again, the fencing around the little chicken coop had been toppled.  This time it wasn't disassembled though.  Simply knocked to the ground.

I was so very glad I had moved the young chickens into the larger coop a couple days prior, as this particular visitor had managed to open the nesting box door where the hens always slept at night when abiding in the small coop.  Had we not moved them - they could have all been killed by our unwelcome guest.

Here he is.  Also posing for his picture before continuing his mission of destruction and feeding.

Posing for his pictures before climbing up and over the fence.

Climbing back out of the fenced area.
I guess he knocked the fence over as he worked on getting the door of the nesting box opened.


I guess I made the best decision when we plopped our young chickens into the older hens coop.  Each night they are all tucked away in a mostly predator proof house where they sleep safe and sound.  Of course, if that young bear brings his friends, there's no guarantee our little coop will stand a chance, but... for now... all is well on our mini-mountian-menagerie and all of our domestic critters seem to be safe from the wild critters.

As our cousin said on my Facebook post - Never a dull moment.

Rarely anyway.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Always Something Exciting

Over the last several days, since we built our new, improved, bigger rabbit hutch and moved the rabbits into it.... we noticed 'signs' of critters coming to visit.  We assumed it was a raccoon b/c it was stealing hay and sunflower seeds from inside the hutch and leaving little 'packages' behind as it left.  (The hutch door had not been attached yet.)

Nothing else was really being bothered.

Due to this intruder, I worked to get the door on the hutch to prevent said critter from continuing to wreak havoc inside the hutch with the rabbits' food.  I had put the hay and sunflower seeds inside an unused cage, but our visitor was pulling the bags apart and spilling the seeds all over the floor of the cage.  My hope was the critter would realize it couldn't get anymore seeds and move on.

Naivety on my part.

The next morning, the younger chickens' fence that encloses their run was knocked down and partially disassembled while their food was tipped over, emptied, and eaten.  (Yes, we should have brought it into the house, but sometimes that step gets forgotten as the kids tuck in the animals at night.)

Hmmmm.....

Seemed a bit extreme for a raccoon, but... I know they can be quite destructive.

In addition, as we opened the rabbit hutch to feed the rabbits, 2 of the cages were on the floor that had previously been perched atop a larger cage.  Initially I wondered if they just 'hopped around a lot' and bounced themselves off the larger cage.  Seemed possible, but not super likely.

While putting the fence back up, the kids noticed a large pile of scat.
Any scat experts want to take a guess at what
animal may have left this lovely present?
I have my guesses.

It could have been raccoon. But, if it were raccoon, it was from the BIGGEST raccoon in history.  That scat was a good silver dollar size in diameter.  If not bigger.  It also had remnants of what looked like grain in it.

Hmmmmm.....

A friend let me borrow a couple wildlife cameras to place out near our coop/hutch to see what was actually messing with our chickens and rabbits.

The next morning I went out to investigate.  I couldn't wait to retrieve the cameras and download any pics it might have taken.  My curiosity was getting the best of me.

As I stepped out into the yard, it was obvious the chicken fence was once again pulled apart and tossed to the ground.  Would a raccoon really pull the fence down like that or just go over it????  I wasn't ready to make a conclusive decision.

Fixing the fence was top priority.

Accomplishing that, I then grabbed the cameras and headed inside.  I pulled out the sim cards and put them in my computer.

The first camera obviously took a few photos, but they were all washed out and just white light.

The second camera had quite a few similar photos, but one photo caught our little culprit red handed.

Here he is.

A young black bear getting ready to pull down and toss aside the fencing that surrounds
 our younger hens coop and run area.  
A young black bear!

Looks like he paused mid-tearing down of the fence to have his picture taken doesn't it?

My assumption now in regards to the rabbit cages being plopped on the floor was the young bear pushing upon the hutch in an attempt to topple it, thinking THAT would allow him back at those yummy sunflower seeds.  Obviously purely conjecture, but... seems more likely than the bunnies making their own cages fall seeing as they've been placed on top of other cages since we've owned them.

He's apparently been visiting and snacking on our chicken feed nightly. I think the raccoons leaked the information that seeds and hay and other yummy goods were easy pickings at the Williams' homestead.

Hence every critter in the neighborhood is showing up.

Did I mention that last night - before bed - skunks infiltrated the back yard and sprayed poor Titus?

Yep, I'm convinced the word is out that OUR house is the place to be.

Compost; chicken feed; sunflower seeds; not to mention chickens and rabbits are free for the taking.  

(Even when we take in the actual feeders, there's always spilled food on the ground - from both the chickens themselves and the kids as they transport food, not to mention scraps that the chickens don't fully ingest before retiring for the night.)

Gotta love mountain life.

Oh wait.

I DO love mountain life.

Now to figure out how to rid our little corner of the mountain of these little pesky pests -- at least for a short while.

I know it won't take long and they'll all return - looking for a handout and a warm place to sleep.  Seems under our house, shed, and porches are prime critter realty locations around these parts.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

School Begins - Again.

I couldn't believe summer was coming to an end.

4H fair was complete.

Vacation was over.

Only a week between all the fun activities and school beginning.

That week flew by.

Our books had arrived during fair week and I managed to get everything organized and unpacked during our many trips home to pick up and drop off animals.

We continue to utilize the Wyoming Virtual Academy as our 'homeschooling' choice.  Therefore our K12 school books and supplies always arrive a few short weeks prior to the start of the official school year.

A little excitement filled the air -- especially from Selah.  She was chomping at the bit to get back into her 2nd grade school books.

The other children -- well, we'll just say they weren't QUITE as thrilled about the lazy days of summer coming to and end and the timetabled days of school to begin.

Mama?  The teacher?  Her excitement was probably a rung below the bulk of the children in regards  to leaving the carefree summer days behind to begin the early start, pre-planned school days.

Summer had just gone by too fast.  There was so much I still wanted and needed to accomplish.  So many 'plans' and projects I thought about but never implemented and now? Now my days would be filled with planning, teaching, grading, and supervising school of multiple grades.

Don't get me wrong - I'm so blessed to be able to teach our children at home, but like most other teachers I know, I like the slower pace of summer -- even though they really aren't that carefree as we have such busy schedules, but .... yet .... it's different.

More relaxed.

Maybe it's simply the fact our schedule is less .... scheduled over the summer.

We can sleep in.

Move slow.

Lounge longer.

Read, play, go for a walk, ride bikes, handle bunnies, clean, cook, draw, go camping, build things -- all at a leisurely pace.  All on our own timing.  To some degree.

Even the many activities we are involved with feel like they are more 'optional'.

Once school starts that all changes.

Now?  Now we are on the 'school' schedule.

No longer our 'own'.

Nothing is 'optional'.  It's rather mandatory, really.  It is school after all.  Kids do need to learn and part of that is DOING the schoolwork.

Crazy talk, I tell ya.  But.... it is what it is.  I guess that's why it seems so daunting at times.  There's no 'out'; no option to just 'skip' the whole shebang and have fun day in and day out.

Despite the less than riveting desire to begin, the start of this new school year has been going quite well.

Another pretty easy first week.  Two years running, actually.  No significant glitches in computers.  No major meltdowns over subject matter.  No additional gray hair formation for mom.  (Well, not that I've noticed, anyway. ):-)

Success.

The house is a mess, but meals are being prepared.

The laundry is behind, but classes are in session.

The groceries need put away, but the children are learning.

Each year it seems to get easier.

More routine.

More fluid.

(I guess it should, seeing as how we've been at this homeschooling thing for 15 years now.  It's about time it's gotten easier.)  :-)

Only 2 more years with Bethany and Elijah.  I'm trying to enjoy each moment.  Knowing the 'first' day of school for them is coming to a close.  A new chapter will soon begin.

So, despite missing the laxidazical time of summer - I'm embracing ALL the days I have with my wonderful children.

It goes so fast.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Sweet Spirit

As we celebrate Charity turning 9 years old this week, I couldn't help but admire her sweet spirit.  To be reminded of her caring style.  To observe her thoughtfulness; her quiet nature; her introspective ways.

My sweet adventurous girl turning 9.
Watching Charity grow and mature has been such a blessing.

I know it's been hard for her this past year to be the 'only one' of the three littles to NOT have T1D; celiac; Hashimoto's disease.   I believe in my heart she's glad she doesn't, but I also see how sometimes she feels left out.  Not as special.  To be the only one NOT getting personal attention for pump changes; juices for low blood sugars; snacks before bed to keep her blood sugar stable; unique foods that don't contain gluten.

Yet, I watch her.

She cares for her sisters.

She helps Selah check her blood sugar - even though Selah doesn't 'need' the help.

She punches in the numbers on Selah's pump - even though Selah could do so herself.

She gets things for Trinity even if Trinity is fine and could walk over and get it on her own.

She carries a special bag of juice for her sisters and her dad on vacation -- even though she will not be drinking them.

She does some of the chores on her own as the girls have to eat because their blood sugars are low; or change their pumps since their insulin reservoir is empty.

She reads aloud to Selah - simply because she can.
Decorating cakes.

She works hard at all she does.

Making a nesting box for her rabbit.
Caring.  Loving.  Serving.

SACRIFICING!

She's our 'loner' girl at times.  Just like her big brother Elijah.

Two peas in a pod, those two.

So much alike in so many ways.






Their learning styles mimic one another.  They have similar personality traits.  They are both introverts.  Lovers of animals - of all kinds.  They both make 'piles' on their desks that drives their mama mad.  A little clumsy to boot.  (Charity a bit less so.)  Quiet, yet observant.  Meek, yet fierce when it counts.  Loving beyond measure.  Compassionate and passionate.  Both wearing their hearts upon their sleeves, often.

Loving on a burrow.
Snuggling her bunny.







I see her.












Her loving ways.  Her gentle heart.  Her sweet spirit.
Holding her favorite chicken.

She loves her family.  Cares for her friends.  Adores God's creatures.  Loves her Savior.

We called her the chick whisperer.
Bottle feeding baby goats.
















Her first rabbit show.



Lounging with her old pup!












She enjoys the little things.

                    Pretty rocks.
                    Weeds that flower.
                    Sunflowers.
                    Feathers from a bird found on the ground.
                    Caterpillars.
                    Moths and butterflies.


I'm so very grateful to be her mom.  To watch her grow and flourish.  To see her spirit soar.

I pray her sweetness continues to grow with her.  That her kindness and lovingness never wanes.

As we celebrate this precious life, I give thanks to God for allowing ME - meager old me - to be her MAMA!
Woodworking projects with mom.

To care for her.

To guide her.

To protect her.

To mold her.

To help her be all she's meant to be.

Our sweet, vibrant, talented, young lady - Charity!

That captivating smile!


One of a kind.



Such a joyful little girl.
Our precious little girl.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Daughter's Wisdom

In the last several years, I've had the privilege to watch as Bethany has gained wisdom and insight about life.

She's always been a smart girl.  She admittedly isn't a 'lover of learning' like her brothers, but none-the-less.... very intelligent.

Just lately she's made several comments that have shown she's listening.

               Growing.

                              Maturing.
           
                                            Gaining wisdom.

                                                                      Discernment.

She's had several 'crushes' through the years -- nothing overtly serious as we have chosen to travel the 'no dating until ready for marriage' road with our kiddos, but... she is a typical teenager and does find members of the opposite sex attractive and interesting.

Along with crushes on boys, we are astutely aware she's had boys have crushes on her as well.

Some a bit more obvious than others. Some just in passing.  Yet, all have impacted her emotionally to some degree or another.

These crushes have taught her a lot without being overly intimate.  They've opened up doors for discussion.  Observation.  Insight.

She's learned that putting your heart out there - even if only a little bit, opens it up to heartbreak.

She's learned that friendship is key.

She's learned that her heart, her emotions, her feelings are important.

She once said to me, "I think my feelings for X have waned.  I realized he is only interested in me when no one else is peeking his interest, and I'm worth more than that.  I don't want to be someone's 'fall back girl'."

What?

Where did such astuteness come from?  I'm not sure I was that sensible at 14, 16, 18 even 20 years of age.

I'm glad she's realized how important she is.  That God created her in HIS image and she is the daughter of THE King and as such, she is worth WAY more than being the 'fall back girl' or the 'part time girl'.

You go girl!

We've also raised our boys to protect and provide for their sisters, me, other girls in their circle of interaction, and one day their own wives.   Part of that is doing the hard tasks. Carrying the heavy stuff.  Taking the bulk of the load in more physical situations.

My perceptive young lady has taken note.

Another comment she made, that again, made my heart swell, was "I don't think guys realize we girls are watching.  We watch what they do.  How hard they work.  If they help and protect.  How kind or unkind they are to others.  I don't think they understand that we aren't going to want to marry the ones that DON'T do those things.  The ones that pick on others."

Be still my heart.

She's got it.  She's on the right track.

She's not just looking for a handsome face; a strong body; a hefty pocket book -- she's interested in character; integrity; a man after God's own heart.

What more could a mom wish for?

It's been neat over the years to watch her develop such keen circumspection.

Now we'll continue praying she finds a Godly man who is worthy of her heart.  Who fulfills the requirements this sage young woman is setting forth.