Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life with Kids is Fun-ny

Imagine if you will.....

You're doing household chores.

In typical 'squirrel' fashion, you head toward the bedroom to put something away when you see the overflowing bin of plastic grocery sacks.  You make a slight detour to begin putting said bags in the empty tissue boxes you save whenever the tissues run out.  (This was a FABULOUS tip I received from my good friend Heather.  Putting recycled grocery sacks into tissue boxes to toss in the car, camper, wherever.  BRILLIANT!)

This is a simple task.

One that requires very little thought processes.  Just grab a bag; shake it out; stuff it in the box.

Repeat until the box is full.

I actually had saved up several boxes so was hopeful I'd be able to deplete my bag stash.

As I monotonously went through this process bag after bag, I came across some that needed to just. be. tossed.

You know the ones - the handle was ripped while toting the groceries in.

The bagger at the store filled the bag WAY to full and the bottom exploded leaving a tube more than a bag.

Yeah, I chuckled wondering why these bags ever made it to the 'storage' space, but... it happens.

Then, I came across a bag -- a rather nice, thick bag that we had gotten when we were in California.   The bags there were thicker, more sturdy.  I had been saving and using them for more 'industrious' purposes.

These bags (there are only a few) are not kept in the boxes with the rest.  They are 'special'. LOL!

As I started to shake out this particular bag to put it aside for it's one-day-more-important-purpose, I noted it was knotted at the top.

Unusal.

Upon further investigation, I also discovered a small 'bump' in it.  What felt like a toy.  Maybe the girls had used this bag to transport their toys for one of our car trips?

I needled away at the knot and untied the bag to retrieve the toy.

I pulled the handles apart and peered in.

Much to my surprise, I did NOT find a ball or small toy.

No indeed.

To my HORROR I gazed upon a small. dead. mouse.

Apparently this particular 'special, thick, nice bag' had been used to dispose of a tiny mouse that our cat, Silas, had - at some previous point in time - killed.

However, instead of disposing of this wonderful little trinket, some child living in our home, just tossed it up with all the other plastic bags awaiting the day mom would come along and put them all in the tidy boxes.

This.... was..... that..... day.

My assumption is the mouse was bagged.  The little package was simply left in whatever room the   mouse was originally found - most likely the girls' room as that's where our cat likes to take his tiny, caught, treasures.  At a later date, someone else (who knows, maybe even the same child who had since FORGOT about the mouse they put in the bag) found that bag upon cleaning and just tossed it up with all the other bags to be recycled and used again.

Giving ME the joy of opening a bag to a dead, stiff, not-smelling-so-good mouse.

Yes, life with kids is never boring.

Always something new and fun -- or at least funny (after you get over the initial gasp, gag, and shock anyway.)

Yet, I wouldn't change it for the world - although, I am hoping to not repeat this particular scenario again any time soon.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Newest addition

In a quirky twist of fate, we added a new member to our Mini Mountain Menagerie.

While getting my hair cut a week or so back, my hair dresser mentioned she and her husband are fostering an adorable 10 mo old German Shepherd and wondered if we knew anyone who might want to adopt him.

She showed us the pictures and.....

Not THE picture she showed me, but still a cute photo of this awesome pup.
I.... Fell..... In..... Love!

This precious guy is a dreamboat.

Kuno is his name.

He was purchased by a family with children when he was a young pup.

He was a GREAT dog.

Loving and loyal to his owners and home.

He adored the children.  Was gentle with them.  Protective of them and their dwelling.

HIS home.

Apparently too much so for the grown-ups preferences.

He would bark and posture when anyone would come to the door.

Well - that IS what guard dogs do, after all.

The family was uncomfortable with his protectiveness so they relinquished him to the Front Range GSD Rescue.

My hair dresser and her husband are fosters for this group as well as raising 5 of their own german shepherds.

I half jokingly told Techno I wanted him.

He was THAT cute.

I love how he tilts his head when he's curious.  Which is often.
As we left, I nudged him more about the desire to get this dog.

We know Apollos is 'on his last legs' so to speak due to his age.  He's dwindling before our very eyes.  

(Granted we thought the same thing 2 years ago when he began having seizures and we got Titus, but....
 he's now 11 and losing weight despite eating and I don't foresee him making it another 2 years.  
Watch him prove us wrong.  Ha.)

Much to my surprise, Techno wasn't AGAINST the idea of another dog.  I won't go so far as to say he was FOR it, but.... NOT being against it is quite a stride forward.

German Shepherds are one of Elijah's favorite breeds of dogs so that was a huge 'advantage' toward Kuno.  Plus, it would be another dog for 4H dog training.  Not to mention, german shepherds are highly intelligent dogs so we could potentially train Kuno to be a D.A.D - Diabetic Alert Dog!!!

Bonus.... Bonus.... and... Bonus!

I contacted my hairdresser and she put me in touch with her husband

We went to their house and visited Kuno last weekend.
He's just so stinking cute.
We told the kids we were taking Titus to meet a new trainer - as it would be difficult to explain why we were taking Titus to Fort Collins -- that's not something we've EVER done.

They bought it..... hook, line, and sinker.

Little did they know, we were going to determine if this beautiful dog was a good match for our family.
Fortunately.... he was a PERFECT fit.
Once we were there, it initially seemed as though the 'trainer' was just showing us his training style.  Demonstrating with his own dogs to show what he was capable of doing with our dog. Then, he began talking about what to expect once Kuno was in our home.  I overheard Bethany whisper to Elijah, "Are we buying this dog?"

I believe Kuno knows he COULD take Titus out if he wanted to.... fortunately he doesn't seem to WANT to.
Titus holds his own, though.  He's just at a bit of a disadvantage size wise and breed wise.  LOL!
We talked more; answered questions; learned Kuno is already crate trained, housebroken, does well on a lead, has never run off even off-leash, and demonstrated he understands the commands for sit and down; we assured the foster family we were committed to raising Kuno for the long haul; that we were prepared for his guard dog nature as Titus is very similar; then we asked the kids if they wanted to bring Kuno home and welcome him into our 'pack'?

Without hesitation, they all bellowed, "YES!"

Even Bethany had a HUGE smile on her face, answering brightly and predominately in the affirmative.  (For any who know Bethany well at all, realize she is a CAT person all. the. way!  For her to enthusiastically root for getting this pup..... well, that spoke volumes.)

Titus also approved.
This was taken after Kuno came home and joined our pack, but they got along fine at Kuno's foster home as well.

The two dogs got along and played tentatively together.  Both were a bit timid with each other, but there was NO aggression between them.

Phew!
Now that they are home - they rough house quite often, but still... no knock-down-drag-out fights.

Techno and I headed back to For Collins the next day to bring him home.  We needed to prep the house for his crate and belongings.

He's officially 'OURS'.

The kids are ecstatic.

He's already attended his first 4H dog training class.
He did quite well after some initial 'barking' at all the other dogs
to show his protectiveness of our family when we walked in the door.
Now.... introducing him to our current 9 year old cat and our new 3 mo old kitten.... well.... that's proving to be a bit more interesting as he's never even SEEN a cat before now.

His crate is set up in our living room so he has a 'safe space' to go as he adapts to being part of the Williams' Mini-Mountain-Menagerie.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Change of Season Chores

I know all households have the 'change of season' chores, but our mini-mountain menagerie has brought all sorts of new-to-us chores to our list.

Before moving to the 'wild west' our change of season chores entailed bringing out the winter clothes, making sure the furnace was serviced, putting plastic on windows (this didn't happen all that often), and being sure the snow blower was ready to fire up when needed.

Now that we live in the mountains of the west and have added 29 animals to our family.... these chores have multiplied.

We still have to swap out summer and winter clothing; get out the winter boots; unpack the heavy coats; and gather up the gloves and hats -- but we also have to do a whole. lot. more.

We put plastic on all the windows in the office and craft camper - that was accomplished back in late Sept early Oct -- in the office, anyway.  I may not do the windows in the craft camper as I am not out there THAT often in the winter.

We have to get all the propane stoves serviced or cleaned AND we have to light all the pilot lights.  (Some  will most likely need to be 're-lit' multiple times throughout the winter as the strong winds often blow them out at the most inopportune times.)

We also still get the snow blower ready to run -- we just need to do this earlier than we'd ever have to do back east.

In addition we have to consider all our new animal friends.  Those we choose to have and those that just like to visit.  :-)  Much of our winter preparedness is to protect our animals from some of the visiting critters that like to hang out on our property.

The rabbits need to be moved this year because our current hutch is located in an area that results in heavy drifting.  Digging a trench in a 5ft drift each morning to be able to feed and water the bunnies gets old... fast.  Not to mention, our hutch is leaking like a sieve.

Our rabbit hutch than I assembled 2 years ago with old wood shipping crates.
It's leaking and the snow drifts in front of it tremendously,
so the rabbits have been moved to the garage.
Moving the rabbits before the first BIG snowfall was high on our priority list.  We managed to do this mid-November -- what a chore and adventure.  Our garage has rabbits E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!!!!

Then there's the rabbits we need to process.  It's best to do THAT task while the weather is still 'slightly' warmer.  The colder it gets, the harder it is.  One's hands get quite frozen as you butcher rabbits hour after hour.  (This has yet to be done, but I do keep selling a couple rabbits here and there AND have a phone number for someone who will most likely help us.)

Then there's the camper to winterize -- although, fortunately that has already been accomplished as Techno feared frozen pipes when our first snow fall was predicted back in September.

The ONLY picture I could find of our camper.  Weird.
Speaking of snow, the perimeter of the property needs trimmed to avoid drifting along the roads from tall grass from our yard.  Always a joy to compete this task on 3 acres of land.

The dog run needs to be set up in preparation for the drifting that WILL occur as the snow begins to fall.  Leads need to be tied out as it won't take long and the drifts will be so tall the dogs can just walk over the fencing.  (This was an easy accomplishment, but we now will need a third with the addition of Kuno to our pack.)

In addition to the tie outs for drifting, I wanted to extend Titus' little 'dog shelter' and make a 'front' for it so snow wouldn't simply drift right into the opening making it rather useless in terms of a warm place to get out of the snow/rain/wind.  I managed to finally accomplish this by adding a pallet and some old scraps of wood we had around the yard.  Now the shelter is bigger and has a front wall with just a small opening along one side of the house for the dogs to fit through.  Hopefully this will keep the snow mostly out and allow a place for Titus to huddle when the weather turns snowy.  (Not that we don't bring him into the house, we do.  He simply tends to prefer being outside as his thick fur results in him overheating when he stays inside too long.)

It ain't pretty, but so far it's functional.  Maybe next summer we'll paint it along with lots of other structures that could use some sprucing up.
Our 'make shift' dog shelter for Titus.  Made completely from recycled wood/pallets we had around the yard.

The opening near the wall of the house is where the dogs can enter their new expanded hut.
Hopefully this will keep snow from drifting inside the shelter making it less than useful.
Inside the dog shelter.  Where the beds are located,
 Titus dug a nice 'hole' to keep himself cool in the summer.
Then there's the chicken coop and run.  First a good deep clean to prepare for the cold months is always in order as deep cleaning in the winter just. ain't. happenin'!  Putting down bedding in the coop and nest boxes to help keep the temps a bit warmer is useful too.  Getting the heat lamps and water heaters set and ready has to happen along with timers for lights and warmers to save on the electric bill a bit.  (Some of this is done, some is still in process -- like getting timers and the heat lamp set up.  Plus with the extended warm weather we've had, I think we'll go ahead and do another deep clean of the coop.)

Finally, I'm attempting yet another plan for keeping the run a bit less snow filled.  Last year I tried to put tarps along the far side of the dog run to help prevent some of the drifting INTO the chicken run and the area directly in front of the run door.  That backfired, however, and the drifts were in fact worse.  Mostly as a result of the tarps being partially torn off due to the wind generating strange drift formations.

This year, my plan was to 'wrap' the chicken run with the tarps which would allow for a lot more points of attachment.  Not to mention, the wind will be blowing against them so hopefully they will simply plaster themselves more solidly to the run structure.  (Nice dream, eh?)  I finally accomplished this just recently since we've had such a mild fall.  Prayerfully, this will keep the run from 'filling' with snow and allow the chickens to roam a bit more outside the coop throughout the cold winter months.

The side of the chicken run w/the door.  I wrapped the door separately so it still opens easily.
The back/end of the chicken run.  Hopefully this holds up through our harsh, windy winters.
Can't be any worse than last year, anyway.
Phew!  Living in the mountains and owning animals adds a lot to ones 'change-of-season-chore-
list' but... I wouldn't have it any other way.

We still love our mountain home and adding the animals has simply made for a more interesting adventure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Right of Passage

Growing up it was the norm to ride in the back of dad's pick-up now and again.  Not daily, mind you. But... if you had a boatload of friends over and you were heading to the beach or park or some other venue - or... the cab was full of adults and no room for you - you'd all pile in the back and enjoy the wind in your face, hair whipping wildly about as dad zoomed down the road.

Now a-days, that's a BIG. FAT. NO. NO!

Unless living on a farm or ranch, most kids don't get to enjoy this wonderful thrill.

Yes, I know the dangers.  I understand why it's illegal (I think) and frowned upon to pile a bunch of wryly kids into the back of the pick-up and take off.

Believe me, I've been 'that mom' in my own vehicle driving down the road to see another parent with kids sitting in the open bed of a pick-up truck and thought, "How careless to put their kids's lives in jeopardy; how idiotic to allow their kids to be in the back of that truck on this fast highway."

Key words being 'main road or highway'.

Yet, this day.... as we prepared to go clean the cabin of Doug's aunt and uncle... our kids did just that.

They piled in the open bed of our Toyota pick-up truck along with our vacuum cleaner and away we went.

A quick trip around our private road to go clean a cabin.
They ended up doing this twice this summer - this pic was the second time.
Granted -- the whole trip is along dirt roads and my speed never reached much more than 15 mph during the duration of our drive.

Not to mention, the drive itself is probably a mile or three at most and we didn't pass a single car on the trip there OR back.  For all intents and purposes it was LIKE we were on a farm or ranch.

So... the kids got to experience the thrilling ride of bouncing along in the back of a pick-up bed as we hit and dodged a myriad of pot holes and boulders sticking up from the dirt road.

They were thrilled and in our Williams homeschool fashion, the girls got to ride and clean in their dress-up clothes they had put on earlier in the day for a tea party.  (Unfortunately, I don' have the pic of them in their dress-up clothes downloaded.)

Country living has it's perks.

Prior to moving to the wild, wide open, west I would have NEVER considered plopping my children in the back of the truck to go for a drive.

Now - with the private dirt roads, slow speeds, lack of traffic and other vehicles - I threw caution to the wind and gave my kids a taste of my own childhood.

I imagine I may be opening myself up to being flogged, flayed, and brought before the firing squad, but....

It was fun.

It was safe.

It was a quick ride on a bumpy, dirt road.

Another benefit to our mini-mountain-menagerie.

We simply love our mountain home.

Friday, November 24, 2017

False Alarm

As promised, here's the update on our 'potentially pregnant' 6 month old rabbits.

Fortunately, it appears as though our 'worry' was a false alarm.

Phew!

Although it is always fun to have kits - these were just a tad too young for my liking to be bred.

Not to mention, most of these rabbits are set to be 'freezer rabbits' not necessarily breeding rabbits and of course the worry of 'in-breeding' as it was siblings that were in the grow-out pens together.  As well as the fact that we are in our 'cold season' which - from previous experience - can result in the loss of baby bunnies.

With the worry that one or more of the young rabbits might be pregnant, we held off on moving the cages to their winter location.

After last winter - we knew that EXTREME drifting in front of the hutch doors would be the norm once the snow starts flying so... we rearranged some things in the garage to make room for our rabbits.

The kiddos were thrilled with this decision as it means not needing to dig out 5 ft drifts each morning.  :-)

Plus, our make-shift hutch has seen better days and is in dire need of some repairs - which I didn't feel would be easy to accomplish in the cold, snow, and wind of fall/winter.  (Yes, I realize I SHOULD have worked on that over the summer, but... hindsight....)

As of last week, we have now moved all the rabbits into our garage for the winter months.
These cute little guys will be toasty warm - until they hit the freezer, anyway.

They didn't fit quite as concisely as I'd hoped so we now have rabbits ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE!

But... at least they won't get drifted in or dripped on by melting snow.

Hopefully, by next winter we'll have their permanent home built - a pole barn - which will be better all around for everyone involved.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Discovery Days

As Bethany and Elijah are in their senior year of high school, they have had opportunities to visit colleges and attend 'fun' activities.

Just this month, Techno and I went with them to Discovery Days at the University of Wyoming.

An all day event where we started by visiting 'booths' of the various colleges/careers/activities that the kiddos could consider.

We spent a great deal of time at the psychology, engineering, and honors college tables along with quick stops off at the performing arts and research booths.  (Techno and I also grabbed a little information from the health services and scholarship booths - because, you know... parents.)

After meandering around the tables, we sat through the opening presentations to give an overview of UW.  Hearing from a panel of current students was informative and enlightening - although somewhat redundant since Jacob is already a student there -- this isn't our first rodeo.

UW really is a great school with lots of options for various types of individuals.

We divided and conquered as Techno and Elijah headed off to the engineering program presentation while Bethany and I went to the Arts and Sciences presentation as that's where the field of psychology falls.

Once these presentations were complete, we met up at the campus dining hall and had a quick lunch.

Some students feel the food at Washike isn't very good, but our kids, Techno, and I have to disagree.  Maybe it's just in comparison to the meals we were offered when we were in college, but... the variety is diverse, they have plenty of gluten free options, anything we've ever eaten there has been tasty, and if all else fails, there's always cereal, waffles, and ice cream -- what more could you ask for?

A quick pic after lunch.
I had intended to take pictures of each stage, but it just didn't happen.  Sigh.
Since the kids have stayed on campus in the past, we've seen the dorms since Jacob lived there, we skipped the dorm tour to give ourselves a bit more time to eat a leisurely lunch.

Following our meal, we headed off to hear about the cost of attendance for in-state students.

Again, somewhat redundant as Jacob is currently a student, but it was good to hear some of the minor changes and see the prospects Bethany and Elijah have for covering tuition.

To end the day we trekked across campus to view the Honor's House.  The house where honor's students can apply to live.

Techno and I had toured the house with Jacob when he was visiting campus, but I had forgotten some of it.  The atmosphere is quite nice; the living space and kitchen are amazing; the study rooms are spacious; the 'game/TV room' is open yet cozy; but the bedrooms are TINY!  Yet, they have carpet and look cozy and welcoming.

Bethany fell in love; Elijah not so much.

To see their differing personalities emerge in these areas is quite comical.

Bethany loved the Honor's House.  The camaraderie of being with like-minded students. The homey feel of living in a house with others.  The potential for building friendships and connections.

Elijah on the other hand decided it was too close for comfort with all those people.

Ha.

So true to their personalities.

They've both been accepted to UW and will most likely be among the students tromping around campus this fall.

Now we simply wait to hear about scholarships; acceptance into the Honor's College; housing assignments; and roommate determinations.

An exciting time.

A nervous time.

A time of change.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Turning 21

So many milestones.

Just a few weeks ago Bethany turned 18.

Now..... Jacob turns 21!

When you have adult children that no longer 'live' at home, you have fewer updated photos.
This was from Christmas 2016.
Whoa, how did that happen?

Not only did he turn 21, but today, on his birthday he will fly out to spend the week in Virginia with his girlfriend, Jenna, and her father to celebrate Thanksgiving.

WHAT?????

WAIT!!!

A new era of parenting all around.

We now have 2 adult children, one of which is old enough to purchase his own plane ticket and skuddle across the US to visit his girlfriend and spend a holiday with her and her dad.

On his birthday, no less.

Yes, times are a changin'!

Seems like just yesterday he was a mere tiny babe in my arms.  The perfect little being that made me a mom... Techno a dad.

Now?

Now he's heading out on his own - not coming home for the holidays.

<<Cue tears here.>>

Don't get me wrong - we are so very proud of who he is.  What he's doing with his life.  All he's done so far.  The strong character he imbibes.  The independence he exudes.

We love his girlfriend and are thrilled he's getting this opportunity to spend some special time with her.

It's all just. so. very. new.

Different.

We raise our kids in preparation for them to spread their wings.

To move out on their own.

To live a productive, purposeful life.

I'm proud to say, Jacob is well on his way to accomplishing all that and more.

So....

on this.....

his birthday.....

 I say....

Happy Birthday, fabulous young man!
I LOVE that he still comes home and decorates Christmas cookies with his siblings.
Not sure how many more Christmases we'll have this memory with him.

Now that those wings of yours are spread.... fly high.  (Quite literally, today, as you hop on that plane to go see the young lady who has captured your heart.)

Enjoy your birthday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

We'll celebrate once you return.

I'm confident this is merely the beginning of many changes in our lives as parents of adult children.