Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Days Crawl By, But The Years, They Fly

I can remember when Jenna was tiny. 
Only vaguely though.
She didn't sleep for the first 6 months of her life.
She just didn't want to miss anything.
When she was able to get about on her own, she slept a bit more.

She was also a momma's girl.
She didn't want to be with anyone else.
Not even Daddy.

I think we can all agree that babies and toddlers are challenging creatures to be around.
Despite their cuteness, and silliness, and smiles and curiosity, parenting the tiny ones is the hardest job I've ever had.
There were times when I wished the days away.

"It will be so much easier when they can feed themselves."
"It will be so much easier when they can say what they want."
"It will be so much easier when....."

People told me to enjoy those days.
That the years will fly by and before I know it they'll be gone.

I thought they were full of hooey.
They'd just forgotten.

They were right!
The days of diaper changes, up all nights, snuggles, gooey fingers, and bear hugs are gone.
The days of complete wonder and curiosity are gone.
They've been replaced by busy schedules, homework, and teenage angst.

I wasted so many of those wonder-filled days by feeling overworked and underpaid.
I failed to feel the joy on so many occasions when it was right there in front of me, wanting 

"Up, please."

If you have toddlers and are reading this, please be aware that the years truly do fly.
The tiny, blue-eyed baby in the first picture is now 18 years old.

I was able to to realize, when she was still a little girl, that time was flying by.

I was able to watch with pride, while she magically got 3 toads to sit one on top of the other in her tiny, four-year old hands.

I was able to share her excitement at holding a just-hatched Monarch butterfly.

I was able to feel my heart ache with her, as she sat sobbing on her first pet's grave.

I was able to ferry her through some difficult times following the fall of the Twin Towers.

I was able to answer question after question about the world around her.

I was able to admit that I can't help with her math homework much past 8th grade.

There are 18 years of "I was able."
There were many, many, many times when "I didn't".
I missed so much.

Next year, I'll miss her birthday.
My bright, sweet, smart, happy baby girl will be away at college---in Iowa.
I have faith that her friends at school will be giving her a grand birthday celebration.

I'm so very proud of who she has become.
I don't know where the years went.  
I do know that I am amazed by her every single day.
Ever so grateful that she is a part of my life.

Happy Birthday, Peep!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Old Dogs Can Do New Tricks

Mandy, 9,  is my rule follower.  My shadow and my will-do-anything-you-ask-of-me dog.
Smokie, 6,  not so much.  She does only what she absolutely has to, and then grudgingly.

I recently, after 9 years of stepping over dogs in my kitchen, nearly fell over one of them.
It was time to make the kitchen a dog-free zone while I was cooking dinner.

Since there are no clear doorways to the kitchen, I placed a line of duct tape across each entry as a visual aid.
I was hoping what worked for the laundry room (where the dog food is kept), would work for the kitchen.  My dogs are required to be "out" while I'm dishing up their food.  
Small rooms and hungry dogs tend to be the perfect combination for a dog fight.  The difference is, there is clearly a doorway to the laundry room.

Duct tape in place.  Dinner being prepared.
"Mandy, out, out, out."
Ding, ding, ding---she got the idea on the very first try!
I really could have done something important with this very willing dog.

"Smokie, out, out, out."
Okay, but not all the way out.  Because she was feeling willing, not because I wanted it of her.

Mandy, only has to be asked once.
Smokie has to be asked, cajoled, and pushed bodily.  She then has to be reminded again and again as I prepare dinner.

Eric wants to know when the tape can come up.
When Smokie clearly follows the rules.
So, "never".
It doesn't look so bad, does it?

This is so easy, it makes me laugh.

Is Smokie doing it too?

Barely, she's barely doing it.  Does that count?

I'm embarrassed by her.  She always tries to get away with stuff.

I give up on the entire situation.  This bores me.

I don't know what she's grousing about.  I'm clearly behind the line.

I'm not in your way, am I?  So what does it matter?
Hey, were we going to get treats for doing this?
If so, don't give Smokie one.
As the saying goes, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades".

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Father's Eye

I was my father's hunting buddy from age 10 until I was 15, when I dumped him for a boy at school.
From September 1st (dove season) until January 31st (geese), we hunted every single Sunday.
We were bird hunters.
Dove, quail, pheasant, duck, and geese.
His dog of choice was Brittany Spaniel.
They were a dual-purpose dog.
Fabulous pointers and great retrievers.
To this day, I don't know how anyone hunts small birds like dove and quail without a dog to retrieve them.  
Finding a downed brown/gray/beige bird in brown/gray/beige brush seems impossible to me.

This morning I was doing something that is second nature to me----looking out the window of my car as I drove the kids out to the bus stop.
My eyes are always on pasture land, forest and sky (and the road, duh!).
All those Sundays, scanning the sides of the road for the perfect pasture to hunt, or the sky for geese and duck working in, has become a part of my makeup as a human being.
Eric says I see things that other people (him), don't see.

I get that from my dad.
I believe that I've passed it along to Jenna.

As I rounded the corner on my return home, something in my pasture most definitely caught my eye.
At first, all I saw was spots and red.  
My brain processed, "fawn that is bleeding".

It never entered my mind that it could be a ring-neck pheasant.
We don't have those in Central Texas.

Evidently, we do.

I carefully rolled down the window and he stuck tight.
Camera phone picture was ridiculous.
I pulled away and prayed all the way back to the house that he'd still be there when I returned with a real camera.

He did.

He sat like a stone.
They do that. 

I got back to the house and uploaded the pictures.
Or not!
The darned computer wouldn't recognize the camera I had used!!

Back in the car, new camera in hand, praying, praying he'd still be there.

He was!
He sat like a stone.
They do that.

The sun peeked through the clouds and provided some great lighting.
This was the best picture.
Of course, he had his eyes closed.
Isn't that always the way? :)

No matter.
If I hadn't spent nearly every Sunday from September-January with my Dad, I would never have seen this beautiful bird in my pasture at all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Birthday Boy

But where are his candles?

I believe I left them in San Antonio.
Quinn's birthday was strung out over nearly a month this year.

The first celebration was held in San Antonio at his soccer tournament.
Since most of his best friends are on the team and we'd all be staying on one hotel, I decided to surprise him with a little cake, ice cream and buddies.
He had the official number '14' candles on that cake from the grocery store.
It was held poolside.  
The boys all wandered in for pizza and cake and then wandered off to do whatever it is boys do.
Very laid back.

On the morning of his actual birthday, I got up and made him biscuits and sausage gravy.
We weren't doing anything special that night because of soccer practice.
Still, I bought him a tiny cake from the grocery store to follow dinner.  
I just couldn't stand the thought of not singing happy birthday and acknowledging the day.
He did get to open presents that morning.
Soccer slides (sandals), shin guard sleeves, Quench gum, and his favorite socks.
His new shoes are on order.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

It continues.
On the Saturday following is birthday, we couldn't go to our "family dinner" until after his soccer game.
Luckily, the game time got moved.  
It kept us from having to chase our tails between soccer and dinner.

Dinner was at his favorite restaurant--Madam Mam's.
Thai food.
The hotter the better as far as he's concerned.

Finally, we get to his real birthday dessert and this picture.
Homemade peach/blueberry pie.
No candles.
We sang happy birthday anyway. 

As seems the custom---the year has flown and the changes are dramatic.
He grew 4 inches in 12 months.
He's about to be taller than me.
His voice changed over the summer, rather quickly.  In one week while he was away at camp.
He's been put on the roster to mow the grass at our house.  He's not thrilled.
He is now an 8th grader.  Big man on campus.
I doubt he's being mean to underclassmen.  That's not who he is.

I don't know where this baby went.
Seeing his little face makes me sad.
Seeing his 14 year old face makes me proud.
He's a great guy and I love him madly!
Happy Birthday, Quinnie!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Ugly Side of Being Beautiful

I wouldn't go so far as to say that he is ugly, but the shedding of antler velvet is a messy business.
A bloody business, too.

 Some folks don't know that the velvet is rubbed off every year.  
It turns out that Texas Parks and Wildlife gets calls from people worried about the bloody deer in their garden.

 The velvet is vascular.  
It covers the antler as it grows and provides nutrients to the quickly growing bone.  When they rub the velvet off in the Fall, the bone (antler) dies, and falls off.
Very much the same way that the bark of a tree is necessary to the life of the tree.  Once the bark dies or is disturbed, the tree dies.
Ironic, since small trees are the main way the bucks rub the velvet off.

 Many small trees are lost to the bucks.  
Once the tree is "ringed"(bark rubbed off, all the way around the tree), the tree can't get any nutrients and dies.
I learned this lesson the hard way.  I now wrap my saplings in pipe wrap and secure it with a couple zip ties.  

I'm sure, for a few days, the dangling velvet is bothersome.  The bucks are always swinging their heads to seemingly get the stuff out of their eyes.  It also attracts a lot of flies.
Once it's all gone, the deer is left with a beautifully polished set of fighting swords.

The loss of velvet means the Rut (breeding season) is just around the corner.  
This poor boy has very little chance in the herd of winning a battle.  
The buck with the biggest rack always wins and I have two 10-point bucks in 'my' herd, and four 8-point bucks.