Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taking Some Time Off

This might last a day or a week or month or forever.

I'm just not feeling anything remotely interesting or creative anymore. Nothing to write about. Nothing to take pictures of.

Has my blog run its course? I don't know. Maybe. My original intent was to let my kids into a part of me that they may not know.
Let them see that I have interests outside being a mom.
Lately, I don't.
They know all there is to know about me right now.

Maybe this is important for them to know--
That sometimes, this stay-at-home mom has times when she is doing the exact same thing every day that she's done for years.
Sometimes my brain just shuts off and I get my chores done each day by remote control. Sometimes I'm just not interested enough in my own life (outside my family), that I even want to pursue something new. It would be too much work.
When I feel like this, I just ride it out.
Something will come along that interests me.
Right now, I'm just doing mom stuff.
It's important stuff.
It's just not something I can take pictures of or need to write about.

400th post.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Color Yellow

Saturday and Sunday, I spent quite a bit of time out looking for our missing cat, Lucky.
I was pretty beat down by Sunday afternoon.
I had come to some resolve about it, and needed to take an emotional break.

I took the chicks out in the yard, for only the second time in their month long lives.
It was finally warm enough for them to be out.
As I lay there, them dashing away from me, and then dashing back into safety, I soaked up the sun. I thought about how many different colors of yellow they are right now. Yellow is such a happy color. When I was a little girl, the sun was always bright yellow in the corner of every picture I ever colored. Even pictures I drew of snow scenes.
The color yellow was my salve on Sunday. The sun was out, and the chicks hovered close by.
Lucky was many shades of yellow as well. That was one of the many things that made me like him so.

August, taking a bath.

"I heard something, did you hear something?"

"You got any snacks in that thing?"

"Is it safe to be this far away? Will you watch for hawks for me?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Snowed!

He's Gone

Lucky didn't come home Saturday morning.
We walked miles, day and night, calling for him.
We posted on Craig's List.
We called our vet.
We mass emailed all our neighbors.
We have cried rivers of tears.

Helpful friends all have stories about how their cat went missing for weeks and then came home.
We would like to hope the same of Lucky, but reality tells us different.
He never wandered. He was never late for breakfast.
We hoped originally that he may be in a neighbor's garage or barn.
Once all the barns and garages had been checked, that hope left.

This is the one and only time, since we moved out onto acreage, that I wished we still lived in a neighborhood where the houses are close together. Then I could hope that he was just 5 houses away, hanging out with a neighbor cat, eating that cat's food. Neighborhood cats do that. Country cats do not. Besides, none of our acreage neighbors have cats---at least not indoor/outdoor cats.
There's a reason for that. Coyotes.
Lucky came with the property. He showed up during the framing stage of our house, 10 years ago.
He was predator savvy.
A neighbor saw a coyote, up in the neighborhood in broad daylight, just yesterday.
Our little acreage neighborhood borders hundreds of acres of wide open, undeveloped land. We know the coyotes are out there. We've heard them. We know they come up out of the brush at night, because they leave their calling cards in the middle of the road.

The hardest part on all of us, is not knowing. Is he hurt? Is he treed and just can't get down.
After 3 days of searching endlessly in the woods, pastures of the surrounding area, we're beginning to feel like the answer is no.
He talked. A lot.
If you called his name, he would meow loudly and come running.
He was not a hider or a wanderer.

We've never dealt with the loss of a pet in this way. There's something to be said for 'closure'. For knowing what happened to a beloved pet.
People all say it's not necessary.
It's necessary.

Yesterday, I put his bed away.
Today, I put his food bowl away.
I still can't walk by a door without looking out, hoping he's going to be sitting there.
I've done this before. It never gets one bit easier.

If you're the praying type. Please pray for Pearl. He's her cat.
The last time a we had a pet die that really broke her heart was years ago.
Now she's bigger. Now her heart is more tender.
Lucky was her cat.
"I love dogs, but I'm a cat person."

I wish for all of us, that some miracle would happen.
I think the miracle might be that we got to keep him for 10 years.
He showed us that cats don't have to be mental.
He was our first cat, ever. He was a fine example of why anyone would ever be a 'cat person'.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prickly Poppy

I haven't blogged in quite a while. I haven't posted much on Facebook.
A friend asked me yesterday if I was okay.
Thank you, JuJu for checking in. :)

Yes, I'm okay. I feel very much like this Prickly Poppy. On the surface, this flower is doing just fine. Getting her work done. Taking care of the business of each day. Just below the surface, there are spines. Spines that are painful, but not life altering.
My spines of late, seem to be centered around raising my kids.

Not spines like those of my Agave plant. Extremely painful and long lasting.
As another friend told me when I was expressing concern about my kids and decisions Lee and I have made, she said, "At least they aren't robbing banks."
She has three kids. One grown and doing great, the other two in college.
I remind myself of that when I want to strangle myself or my kids.

I'm just going through a place where I'm questioning decisions Lee and I have made with our kids.

Why didn't we set up rules regarding homework?
I guess because the kids have always been self policing. They've done it without being asked.
The challenge is, now homework is not required in many classes. It is assigned, but no one holds them to it. The problem with that----it doesn't get done and so vital learning is missed.
Scores on quizzes and tests show that.

Along that same vein. Can you really be getting the most out of homework if you are receiving texts, phone calls and listening to music? Their grades reflected, that you can indeed, do all those things AND get the work done.

Why didn't we help our kids learn to study for quizzes and tests?

I think it's because they've always scored well without us. We assumed they knew the information. Here's the rub. Teachers all throughout elementary, middle and some high school have handed out study guides. The test has been just a rewrite of the information on the study guide. What that has taught the kids, is that there's no reason to take notes or pay any attention in class, because the study guide will bring them up to speed.
I am the last person on earth to blame teachers. Don't read that into this. Goodness knows they are doing a job that I couldn't.
What we are finding, is that the upper, more difficult classes are doing three things.

1. Not requiring homework.
2. Not giving out a study guide.
3. Expecting students to take notes and be tested over those notes.

Novel idea.

We, as parents, fell down in this area. We assumed all those years of fabulous grades, that they were being taught more than just studying of the study guide. I never, in all my years of school, got a study guide. I think we assumed that note taking was being required and tests were being taken around those notes AND the study guide.

Here's the funnest new thing that's been implemented in Texas.
If you make a failing grade on anything, you get to have a do-over for a maximum grade of 70.
That's right, you can bomb a test, take it over and get a passing grade if you can..

Also, the due date on anything isn't really a due date. It's three days later. I kid you not.
If I were a teacher, I'd run screaming from the profession. As if they don't have enough to do, they get to regrade all the do-overs.

How many of us get fluid due dates and do-overs in college and in real life?
So what does this all mean?
It means that because Lee and I assumed certain things about our kids and our schools, that Tom may not get into his first choice for college. It means we didn't push hard enough. We took our kids and our schools word for it, that they were doing fine.
In looking back over this post, it really looks as though I'm blaming the schools.
I am not.
I am blaming myself for not paying close enough attention to reality of the situation.
The grades rolled in and I had faith they were a true compass of how things really are.
I blame myself for wanting to be the 'nice' parent and believing that music and texting and phone calls were a part of homework for kids today.
I blame myself for letting the "but that's not due until next Monday" be a legitimate reason not to take a look at it now.
I blame myself for letting study for a test only take place on the night before.
I blame myself for not sticking hard to a bedtime or a homework starting time.

Will Tom have a clue how to navigate what is required of him in college? I keep wishing there had been a Note Taking course and a How to Study Your Notes course in 6th grade.
There isn't space or time for those classes.
Unfortunately, it's too late for us to have a real impact on Tom. He leaves for college next Fall.
I don't think he'd listen even if we offered a study class of our own here at home.
It's not too late for Pearl and James.

Lee and I consider ourselves 'good parents'. We keep up with how the kids are doing. We know who their friends are. We held our heads high because we could see by their grade cards that they are doing fine.
Or not.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nobody Loves the Dogs

Our dogs are highly mistreated.

Somebody better call PETA and the ASPCA.
They never get special treats.
They don't get to lay in our beds.
They aren't allowed on the sofa.
They don't get to lick plates before they go in the dishwasher.
No one ever makes special trips in our house to find a dog to love on.
No one allows the dogs to lay on top of them immediately after the alarm goes off, and lick their face.
No one absent-mindedly rubs Mandy's belly when she parks it on top a foot when you have your legs crossed.
No one opens and closes the back door a thousand times a day to let them chase squirrels, and airborne vultures and butterflies and helicopters and deer.
No one appreciates the fact that Smokie has something to 'say' on just about every topic.
No one wants to be reincarnated as one of our dogs in the next life.
And most certainly, no one wants to roll up in a sleeping bag and snuggle a dog.

Our dogs are not loved. Not one bit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Is That Smell?

Last night, we began to detect the unmistakable scent of cat pee in our garage.
Cats, like dogs, mark their territory.
It took a bit of hunting, but I finally decided that the smell was coming from the rug that sits right in front of the door that leads into the house.

A short time later, Pearl said she smelled it in the house. I just figured it was because I'd had the garage door open and closed a half dozen times while trying to locate the smell.
We followed our noses and wondered if Lucky, our cat, had marked the rug (inside) by our front door.
If you have a cat, you know that the scent just about can't be removed. I usually just throw stuff out. I really didn't want to throw out a nice rug by the front door.
The thing is, it's not like Lucky to mark anything.
Marking primarily comes from a cat that wants other cats to know, "This is mine, stay away."
We don't have any other cats. We don't have neighbors with cats.
He is the the ruler of all he surveys, and thus has no need to mark.
That all changed on Tuesday.
Tuesday night after I'd gone to bed, my older kids heard Lucky outside. It wasn't a cat fight, but it was enough noise to draw their attention.
They opened the door and called Lucky in. He came, but they could tell he had something on his mind. Pretty soon, he was back at the door. He was making sounds only a cat can make. They said it wasn't angry noises, just meowing and general attentiveness toward something outside.
They flipped on a light, and there at the door was another large, orange cat.
Tom assumed it was looking for a fight, so he chased it off.

Fast forward to last night. After we spent some time discussing the smell coming from the front door area, Lucky came over to see what we were doing.
He began to sniff madly at the front door and roll on the carpet. He seemed as though he'd caught a whiff of catnip. Happy, happy kitty.
I opened the door, hoping to catch a sight of the stray cat.
No kitty, but the doorsill was wet. I bent down to sniff the wet area.
Sure enough, it was cat pee!
The stray had marked the front door. The smell was coming in the house! It's likely it had marked the rug in the garage as well. Now the rug outside the back door has the dogs and cat all wound up. The stray has officially marked all 3 doors that lead into our house.

Here's the rub. I think it may be a female. Lucky is no longer able to make kittens, but he sure seems interested in this kitty in a way he has never displayed before. When we've had strays in the past, he's run them off within a day or two.
I haven't seen this cat. I've only smelled her.
I've searched to see if she's hiding in my garage. I've rustled the bushes to see if she's napping somewhere outside. I know she's got to be around because it's been raining for the last 2 days. Cats really, really hate to be wet.

I have to catch her. This marking stuff has got to stop. Lucky has lost his mind and comes and goes all night long. In, out, in, out.
Wish me luck. I need some sleep and I can't stand the smell coming in all my doors.
Bad kitty, bad!

Monday, February 1, 2010

DO Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

If you don't then you'll never know how many you have.
Lest you think I'm clueless, I understand the old saying.
It means that it doesn't make any sense to try to figure out how many chicks you're going to have, because all the eggs rarely hatch.

It also means, "don't plan on something happening, cuz it might not". That doesn't sound so lyrical and folksy as the chicken one.

What does all this mean? Is something big happening in my life that is causing me to wax poetic?


In fact, it's just about trying to count chicks.
I have four. Luckily four are easy to count and keep track of.
What isn't easy is getting a picture of them.
They never, ever sit still.
I took over 40 pictures of the little fuzz monkeys. How many pictures were keepers?
And they aren't that good.
Thank heavens for digital photography.

So, in my case I would say,
"Do count your chickens before they hatch or at least get a couple good pictures of them. After they're up and running, you'll never get a good picture of them again."