Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The End of an Era

On October 13th, 2004, I got a call from my mail carrier,
"They're here!"
My first ever batch of chicks was at the post office, cheeping up a storm because they were tired and hungry and cold.

My last hen from that first batch of chickens died on Sunday.  
If she had lived to see October 10th, she would have been 11 years old!

People always ask me, "How long to chickens live?"
I always say that I don't know, but that "I have one that is 10 years old".

Penny was an extra chicken that I did not order.
She was added "for warmth" (chicks need to be kept at 95* until their first feathers come in--more chicks, more warmth).  
That is chicken hatchery speak for "We're dumping a rooster chick on you because that's one less chick we have to kill because no one wants roosters."
Good for them, not so good for me.
I asked them to mark the head of the little roo with a marker so I knew who NOT to get attached to.

As the weeks went by, I noticed my little roo was not acting or looking like a rooster at all.
When the 12th week passed and there was nary a crow out of the wee bird, I decided that my little chick that was added for warmth was actually a little hen.
Better yet, she was an Easter Egger chicken.
Her eggs would be pink, green or blue.
They ended up being pinkish brown.
She laid dozens and dozens of eggs in her lifetime---right up until last year.

She was always a bit skittish, never one to climb in my lap like some of my other chickens.
She was also a loner.  For reasons unknown to me, she was never pals with any of the other chickens.  I worried about her the first year.  Worried that her being alone all the time when she free-ranged would make her more susceptible to daytime predators.
Nope, she outlived all her sisters.

In the last couple weeks, she began showing real signs of failing.
Walking very slowly, standing in one place for long lengths of time, eating with less vigor, drinking little.  
Part of me hoped it was the heat.  I provided her with cold water several times a day and put her in shady places when I'd find her standing in the sun.
She was living life in slow motion.  
I told a friend that it was she was like a helium balloon that was slowly losing air and drifting toward the ground.
Several days I thought, "Today is the day", and then she'd rally.

A couple people asked me why I didn't put her out of her misery.

The short answer is that it didn't appear that she was suffering
she was pretty darn afraid of me.
I didn't want to terrify her by picking her up, only to then wring her neck.

I let nature take its course and the course was completed on Sunday while I was at church.

Eric went out with me to check on her.
He then dug a hole while I cried. 
I finally held her, stroked her feathers.
The first and last time I would ever do it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Whole New Chapter

I got a job!
A paying job. I have long volunteered in many arenas of my life.
I decided that since Quinn is now driving,  I could take a job that required more of my time.
However, I wanted to still be able to look after the house and make dinner.  Especially dinner.
I was also hopeful to find a job that would allow me to keep my two long-term volunteer positions.
No nights or weekends either.
Sounds like a pretty tough list, huh? It has been.

It only made sense that I apply at our local school district. 
I'd have the same vacations that Quinn has, have nights and weekends off and have hours that meshed with my wife and mom duties.  
I also missed being with little kids (see yesterdays post).

I was turned down for one job that I felt I would be a shoe-in for.  I would simply be an assistant to a Pre-K teacher.  I was sent a nice email telling me that they'd had a large number of applicants and that I wasn't qualified for the position.  I was feeling pretty let down.  Geez, if I'm not qualified to assist in a classroom, what am I qualified for?  I raised 3 kids and I was room-mom extraordinaire for all 3 of my kids many times.  I let it go and decided I would look for seasonal work come Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, my cell phone rang at 7:30am.  I normally don't answer a call that doesn't have an ID.  I figured it must be someone I know or at the very least, a wrong number.  I answered.

I almost hung up because it was obvious that it was someone on their car's bluetooth and I honestly could barely understand him.  
I heard 3 things that made me stay on the call.  "Job" (crackle, crackle) "DSISD" (crackle, crackle) and "Haven't taken another job?" (crackle, crackle).

He did something in his car that made it easier to understand him, but I still wasn't completely clear on which job he was referring to.  I figured I'd find out when I went to the interview.
I went, fingers crossed.  I had to make it clear to him that my ability to do the job was not predicated on having recent past experience in the classroom.  You see, I spent 6 years in the classroom as a preschool teacher, but it was 30 years ago.  The preschool no longer exists, so they were just going to have to take my word for it.
He did.
We talked for some time and he was convinced that I was the exact person for the job.  In fact, he told me he wished he would have interviewed me first and saved himself the scramble of finding the right person.  You see, school starts on Monday.  They have to do a background check, I have to be fingerprinted and they have to check all my references.  I have to sign papers, get my picture taken for a badge, etc.  

So, what's the job?

I will be an aide to a beautiful, red-headed little girl that is visually impaired.
While I will never share pictures of her or even mention her real name, I can tell you that she had leukemia as a small child.  She lost her eyesight to a virus and she has small seizures.  Her service dog is for her seizures and not for her vision impairment.
I will, for the sake of this blog, call her "Jane" and her dog, "Red".

My job will simply be to help her navigate through her day.  

I can't tell you how excited I am!  I can't wait to meet her and her family.  
I can't wait to assure her parents that I will treat their daughter like my own and that I will come to work ready to make her day a great one.

I have so many questions and want so badly to make this little girl's life as wonderful as possible.
I have long, long recognized that teachers help us raise our children.

I want her parents to be at ease and feel without question that I am the perfect person to be with their daughter every day.

And so, I am not only turning a page in my life, I am beginning a whole new chapter.
Then again, so is Jane.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday

November 20, 2001

Some days I miss these kids.  
They've grown into such wonderful young adults though!

We had surprised them with this trip.  Packed their bags and then hid the bags in the van.
We took them out to dinner at a local pancake house and then told them we were going to Disney World instead of home. 
 This is the "We're going where?" look

 Quinn didn't exactly know what Disney World was, but he knew he wanted in on what the big kids were excited about.
 Eric had ordered special tickets for all of us, so we had plastic name tags with a magic bar code on the back. All we needed were lanyards and a plane to Florida!

 Dinner was quickly finished and we headed to the airport.
 A non-stop to Orlando, and a cab ride to the Contemporary Resort in the Magic Kingdom and we'd be ready to meet Mickey the next day.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer Birthdays

I guess technically, Dad's birthday is in the very late Spring.  
No matter.  It's a time for celebration and family and (in this case) fresh, homemade blueberry pie.  

It's mom's recipe and it quickly disappears.  Nary a crumb left in the pan. 

Wee Everyly isn't so wee anymore.
She's full of smiles and such a good natured girl.  
If you'll notice in my right sidebar,  Evie is going to be a big sister next year!

The birthday boy, and his boy, and his boy's boy. 
I just noticed how Eric's shoe looks like he wears a size 20 shoe.  
That's how small fish and rattlesnakes appear so much bigger in photos---perspective.

We celebrated Mom's birthday with the family tradition of German's Chocolate Cake.
Somehow I managed to not get one photo of Mom's special guest---my Brother-in-Love, Joel.
He comes to celebrate the birthdays for Mom and Dad with "Zeros and Fives" in the number.

Got one, now the other!

 Success! Now we eat cake!

Here's another photo where camera angle skews the perspective.  Evie is not, as the picture portrays, a giant's child.  
She got to try a a couple nibbles of Grandma's cake.  
Something she did not get to do with Grandpa's pie, because she was too little.

Fall is a huge season for birthdays in our family.
Quinn, Jenna, Olivia, Jody, Me, Katie, Evie, Nora and Beth.
Maybe one year, we can all get together and celebrate them all at one time.
What dessert should we have?
I vote for ice cream.
Always, ice cream. 

Do you have a birthday tradition?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bird Bath

At first, I thought this Great Horned Owl fledgling ended up in the drink on accident.
After looking at further shots, I can see he did it on purpose.
One day, I'll get a picture of a GHO in daylight with a decent camera.
Until then, I'll have to settle for my game camera.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Me, Again!

27 years ago, today!.
I have been married more than half my life!
Hills and Valleys and Mountaintops.
It wouldn't be marriage if it didn't have all that topography.

I have no wise words, no secrets for hanging in there when marriage hits a Valley or a Ravine.
Often, it is just one partner being completely unwilling to let go of the other's hand.
Hanging on by the slipperiest of grips.

I think making the most of the Hills and Mountaintops can be helpful.
Eric and I are guilty of not taking advantage of those high places.
We have been in the midst of careers and child-raising for nearly all of our 27 years together.
We are one of those couples who never took people up on offers of babysitting because........well, I don't know why.
We just didn't much.
By the time we paid a babysitter, watched a movie and ate some dinner, it was terribly expensive.
We saved our money for things like paying bills and yearly vacations.
Daily/weekly/monthly hikes to Hills and Mountaintops have just not been our style.
If I were to change anything about our marriage, it would be that.

We are within sight of retirement and having Quinn go off to college.
Am I worried about what Eric and I will do once that happens?
Not really.
I think we'll just pick up where we left off 27 years ago.

Is this the ideal way to do it?
No, but it has worked for us.

I have faith that we'll once again walk that path that brought us together in the first place.
It meanders through our marriage and we occasionally walk on it, hand in hand. 
One day, we'll stay on it permanently--Hills, Valleys and Mountaintops.