Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Am...

....Home from my travels. 
Two long weeks of fun, sun, heat, cold, fellowship, tears, sadness, frustrations, happiness, joy and dancing.
I will not be posting any pictures, as I don't really have anyone's permission to do so
We put 1,900 miles on 5 amazing 12-passenger rental vans.
I am tired, tired, tired and managed to catch a lovely summer cold.
Among the many things I found out about myself in the last two weeks---I am not as young as I used to be.  
Big surprise, huh? 
We met people from all over the world.  We met people from right here in the US.
We made friendships with people from Tahiti and friendships with people in our little group.

One of the highlights of the second week (sports competitions) was that Quinn got to be on a soccer team made up of primarily young men from Europe.  He had a steep learning curve as far as their way of playing and their way of interacting with one another.  The first game was very frustrating to him in many ways.  He stuck it out and got a "Ggooooaaaaallllllllll" in the second game.  After that, he was all in and the other players accepted his ability to play the game their way.  
I did my best to give Quinn his space on this trip.  I did my best not to be his mom.
I hope he would say that I succeeded. 

I am...
...Officially owned by two donkeys.

I've changed their names from Digger and Wishbone to Bill and Ted.
My friend SiSu, despite all the things she has on her plate, brought them home to me yesterday.

I expected two terribly stressed donkeys to get off her trailer.
Instead, I got two donkeys that willingly walked from trailer to paddock without skipping a beat.
I cut the grass very, very short but they're thrilled with it just the same.
They haven't lifted their heads since they came home.
They are gentle and sweet and come visit me in between bites of grass.

They are still jacks (donkey speak for, "Can make baby donkeys").
They will be visited by my favorite vet in early September to become johns/geldings
 (donkey speak for castrated).
Despite their small size, they could do much harm if they wanted to.
Owning intact jack donkeys is only for those that want to breed.
I am NOT that person.

I'll explain their names tomorrow.
Until then, I will be found in the donkey paddock.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Who Lives in Fargo, North Dakota? And Where is Lamoni, Iowa?

First, I must ask which of my readers lives in Fargo, North Dakota? 
Again, the widget on the right side of my blog called "Feedjit" has alerted me to a town name that I see every day.
Fargo holds fond memories for me, as does the entire state of North Dakota.
My whole family, on my mother's side, is from NoDak!
There are many, many of them.
My mother was one of 11 children.
Every summer we would leave Kansas City, drive north to Minneapolis to visit one of her sisters and her family.
We'd then all pile back in the station wagon and head west.
Bismark/Mandan was our final destination (Grandpa and Grandma Rothschiller), but we had kin all along the way.
While we had no family in Fargo at the time, it was the biggest town we'd stop in.
I have distinct memories of eating lunchmeat sandwiches in a park near the Red River that runs through the town.  
So, dear reader from Fargo---please announce yourself.
Are we related?
A long shot, I know, but I am terribly curious as I have spent way too much time on lately.


On a completely unrelated note, except for these states being connected to my childhood------
I will be out of town and out of Blogging for two weeks, starting on Monday.
Eric and Jenna will hold down the fort at home, while Quinn and I travel.

I and 9 other adults will be taking 43 high schoolers from around Texas to an event in Independence, Missouri (suburb of Kansas City).
It is called the International Youth Forum and is sponsored by our church.
It truly is an "international" event, as youth from Australia, Canada, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Fiji,  the Republic of Korea, New Zealand,  the British Isles, and of course the US will be in attendance.
There are 3 other events, exactly like ours, being held in Africa, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
It is a 4 day event in which the youth focus on Christ's true mission of peace, love and acceptance of all.

Following that event, we will head to Lamoni, Iowa for SPECTACULAR.

I went last year and it was a profound experience for me in many ways.
I am so proud of all these kids and find hope for our future.  
The media is always to full of bad news about kids.   
These kids are full of good news.
Friendly, accepting, open to new ideas, caring, awareness of what needs to change.....all good adjectives.

I'll ask for prayers for those of you that pray and good thoughts from those that don't necessarily prescribe to prayer.
We will be in 5 vans, traveling many, many miles.
I'm hoping for good weather, inclusive kids intent on making us one big happy family for two weeks, and safe travels.

When I return, I will focus my energy on bringing donkeys home!
Until then, I hope you all have a great couple weeks.
I will be reading blogs, but not posting any myself. 
Take care!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another Benefit of Rain---Spiders

Yes, I'm one of those people
Spider lover.
I am fascinated by spiders.
I don't know exactly why.

Maybe it's because I know they eat so many pesky bugs.
Maybe because their silk has been shown to be stronger than Kevlar in many cases.
Maybe it's because the Orb Weavers species spin such intricate and often perfect webs---while upside down and with their back legs.
Maybe it's because of Charlotte's Web.  

In any case, large spiders have been absent from my land during our recent droughts.
I haven't seen this particular spider since June of 2010.
She (yes, she) is a Giant Lichen Orbweaver.

She is one of the heaviest Orbweavers. 
 I would think spinning a big web would be difficult, just because she can't launch herself easily from branch to branch.
I am incorrect.
We have several on our property that have anchor lines that stretch 10' or more between branches.
I'd love to see that part of the construction, but I have only witnessed the spinning of the concentric circles.

You'll be happy to know that this pretty girl is not venomous.
In fact, she's terribly shy.  
It took me several tries over the course of a week to get these pictures.
Every time I'd approach her web, she'd high-tail it to the safety of the tree branches.

Just like in Charlotte's Web, this spider will live out her summer here.  
She will spin one, (possibly two) egg sacs and then die this Fall.
Until then, I walk carefully between trees. 
Ever on the lookout for enormous webs.
I can love spiders, but not love getting wrapped up in their webs, can't I? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why Does This Delight Me So?

I have raised 3 batches of chicks.

The first time was in October of 2004. 
10 Chicks.

Next was January of 2010.
4 Chicks.

This last time was February of 2014.
8 Chicks

I consider myself a pretty darned good chicken keeper.
One hen from the original batch is still alive and still laying the occasional egg.
I kid you not!

You'd think that in 10 years of chicken owning that the eggs would become no big whoop.
In fact, the opposite is true.

The whole process fascinates me.  
I know way too much about eggs.  
It often leaves folks shaking their heads, "Why do you know that?!"

The fact is, I find eggs to be a tiny miracle.  
A gift of the perfect food. 
 It requires nothing of me except the cracking of a shell and cooking.
I don't have to hunt, kill it or clean it before I cook it.
I don't have to clean, peel and chop it before I cook it.

The fact that they come from a docile, easily kept, domesticated animal only adds to my wonder.

I reach in the nest box and collect eggs every day.
Every day, I say, "Thank you for the eggs, girls."
It's nonsense, I know. 
They don't care.  
They don't 'speak' human.

I think it comes from something my father taught me when we were hunting.
"An animal gave it's life so you could eat.  Thank the animal for the gift."
I sorta feel that way about eggs.  That's why I thank the hens.  
They could attack me and protect the eggs (trust me, a chicken can attack), but they don't.

In the photo above, you'll notice the eggs on the left is half as big as that on the right.
It is the very first egg of the newest batch of chicks.
It took me two days (and two eggs) to figure out that wee Harriot---all grown up now---is laying eggs.

Soon the other new girls will begin laying eggs.

I'll be just as thrilled when their tiny eggs begin to show up in the nest box.
Why does this "first egg" continue to delight me?

Is there something that delights you that befuddles others?
When the first hummingbird returns each spring?
When seeds pop through the soil?
When you hear a baby belly-laugh for the first time?
Please share!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sometimes the Littlest Things Take Up the Most Room in Your Heart

There are balloons in this big black box.

Just a one picture after this one, the balloons were released.
At that point I began screaming and failed to get a photo of them floating away.
The look on Preston and Katie's faces was priceless and I'm sad I didn't capture it.

The balloons were PINK!

You see, only the radiologist and the kid at Party City knew what sex their baby was until they opened the box.
The kids received a sealed envelope from the radiologist that had the sex of the baby on it. 
(see photo below)
They took the envelope and the large box that Katie and her mom made, to a party supply store.
They handed them both over and then left the store.
When they returned, they paid their bill and left with a box full of balloons---either pink or blue.

They both were certain it was a boy because the radiologist was so quick to find was she was looking for.

It was a glorious 4th of July for our families.
We all gathered to share a meal, watch fireworks and celebrate the big 'reveal'.

I am simply beside myself with joy.
I cannot imagine how much more I can love this baby.
It is so very nice to finally be able to say, "She" and not "It".
I hear being a Grandma is a glorious profession.
One that I intend to excel at.

This wee being will be so loved by so many.
I fear Preston's whole being will be tightly wrapped around her tiny finger.
I can only imagine the two of them in awe of the gift that they have been given when she finally arrives.
We can only wonder about who she will be.
Whether she'll have hair or not.
Whether she'll be a have Katie's lips or Preston's smile.
Whether she'll be quiet and contemplative or boisterous and outspoken.

Until then, We wait and hope and dream and smile at the miracle of this baby girl.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When You Send Plans to Your Homeowners Association, It's Real

In case you don't know me very well, here's the deal on my property.
Eric and I have 4 acres.  
Our acreage is located in a neighborhood.  Our neighborhood has an Homeowners Association.
In the state of Texas, there are no laws regulating building rights.
If you live in an unincorporated area, your neighbor can build a concrete plant or a dump or junkyard if he sees fit.
Cities and towns have certain guidelines that protect homeowners from having something like that happen, but if you fall outside their umbrella all bets are off.
That's why Homeowners Associations exist.
Many, many people find them to be bothersome and nit-picky.  
In all honesty, many of them are.
You get people on the HOA board who get drunk with "power" and vote NO on every project any neighbor wants to undertake or hassle you because your lawn isn't properly manicured.

Overall, they are a good thing in my opinion.  They help protect the value of my property and that of my neighbor's property.

In order to build a barn or a fence or do anything to the outside of our house, we have to run our plans by the HOA.  
They review the plans and make sure we're following the guidelines set for things like building size, and overall structural good-lookingness (that's a thing, I know it is).  
In other words, "Ugly and badly built" is not allowed.

And so, Eric and I finally agreed on a barn.  
The barn I blogged about last week was not the final agreed upon barn. 
No surprise there.

When Eric finally agreed to a barn, I grabbed that sucker and ran with it.
I worked up the following proposal for the HOA and sent it out.
If they give the okay, we're off to the races.
Cross your fingers!