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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne



It's Been Almost Five Months!



It's been almost five months since I last wrote a line.  No big surprise, I guess.  But, over these past months I've gotten lovely little notes from some of you prompting me forward, saying that you miss reading my posts.  And that's why I'm here today (thanks for the most recent gentle shove, ex-cousin-by-marriage of mine)!  :)

One of the biggest hurdles that's kept me from blogging (aside from that great missing link called Time) is that I have to be very careful in what I share due to the privacy of others.  I've probably used this as an excuse, though, and so it will be interesting to see how much I can come up to share with you whilst (such a fun word!) keeping everyone else's privacy concerns foremost.

So, with that disclaimer out there, here we go!

I'm still nannying and doing (very abbreviated due to the larger matters at hand) office work for the family of which I feel an extended member.  Mama celebrated her 36th birthday just a week after my own 44th in July, but she is not doing well.  For all intents and purposes she is bed-bound now but at home!  There is a hospital bed residing in the living room now, directly under the big, south-facing window.  She is hooked up to a morphine pump, but it's portable via a little bag she can carry with her - vs. having to maneuver an IV tree.  This allows her to get into vehicles when she can manage it for short drives to see the kids or whathaveyou.

There is an amazing "support staff" of ALL volunteers who are dear friends, and someone stays at the house with Mama and her hubby 24/7*.  They've all learned how to administer the needed meds via IV (which have to be given around the clock), and the home health care nurse drives the 15 miles out of town daily to adjust meds, monitor, and advise.  *This allows him to sleep at night so he can get up and go to work each morning.  He's a contractor who, in this area of Minnesota, must make all his money in the summertime months when the ground isn't frozen.

Bundle of Joy, now 5 1/2, usually stays with Mom & Dad at the house each weekend evening.  That's getting harder, though, since it's difficult for an active someone of that age to remember to be quiet - all the time! - in her imaginary play.  ;)  The twins, now nearly 22 months old, see Mama when we bring them to her or she makes the (now more and more) infrequent 4 mile drive to them (courtesy of whichever lovely, wonderful, selfless day "nurse" is with her).

It's been exactly 13 months today since my dear, incredible friend was diagnosed, and the cancer has spread pretty much all over her body.  Treatments and the attached traveling (which she couldn't tolerate any longer and which kept her away from home and her children) are things of the past, and the focus is on keeping her comfortable . . . which is still a daily struggle given her insistence to wait as long as possible to press the button that will give her an extra morphine bump.  As you can imagine, it's so very, very hard to watch that physical pain manifest itself by her hunched, bony shoulders and the furrow on the brow of her still beautiful face.

A visit for the little man with his mama yesterday.
Up until now, my work weeks have varied between 4 and 5 days, depending on what's going on.  I travel the 19 miles each morning and evening to and from the daddy's sister's home where I care for the kids.  When this new living arrangement for them was established, Nahnee (the beautiful name the babies call her) and I sat down to look at each day's activities and our associated responsibilities.  And, thank goodness we did because we realized that - depending on if it was a work day or not for her, another little girl coming to be babysat that day, whether or not her husband would come home for lunch, etc., etc. - we'd have 11 people for meals!!  So, I prepare one meal each day for the whole crew.  That means that many of my short evenings are spent either grocery shopping or starting to prep the next day's meal.  (Too often, though - especially in the heat of the summer in my wee cabin - I end up hauling all the ingredients and cooking at Nahnee's house.)  Nahnee and I feed only organic food (at least 95% of the time, anyway), and so a decent bit of my salary just goes right back to the family of which I've been so lovingly absorbed.  And I'm happy to be able to do that!!  Of course, that also means renting a normal-sized place has been put on the back, back burner for now . . . but that's okay, too.

Nahnee & our littlest sweetheart.

I made vanilla pudding for dessert yesterday.  Bundle of Joy thought it was good enough to lick out the pan!  Matter of fact, with so many mouths, the double batch was GONE before the bowl hit the counter to be washed.
Quite the ham (especially for attention!), Bundle of Joy came into the kitchen yesterday to wail, "Bopi!  Something's wrong with my feet!"  ;)

 Some of the highlights of the summer have been:

  • Helping with and celebrating the graduation party for the oldest cousin (it's their house where I am each day).  She was home-schooled and finished all her high school work at the age of just-17.
  • Helping Nahnee to (try to!) pull a goat kid.  We ended up making an emergency trip to the vet with the results being a dead doeling (who was causing the problems) and a big buckling - named Donald for the vet's elderly but fiesty father who passed away the very next day.  It's not every day of nannying that you spend with your arm up the bum of poor, pregnant goat!
  • Having Bundle of Joy say to me, just yesterday when I told her she'd have to wait to perform one of her chores of putting away the dishes (which, let me tell you, you have a LOT of with so many people - are we are the dishwashers, NOT a machine!!) until I was done making lunch, "While I wait for you, Bopi, I'll just take my pet rocks for some exercise."
  • Helping unload 230 bales of hay on a hot, sticky day (showers for everyone after that, thankyouverymuch!)  Having hay stuck to every inch of you is NOT a comfortable feeling.  Matter of fact, I didn't even think about bringing a new bra with my change of clothes, so I had to jettison that for the rest of the day!  Quick fix?  I put an apron on that covered my chest!).  And what to do with the babies?  I just put them on the double stroller to watch!  ;)
  • Having Nahnee say, near the end of a day, "Do we have time to castrate Donald before you leave?"  We did.  Poor Donald.  What to do with the twins?  She got to sit in the stroller and watch.  He, thankfully, was still napping . . . or he may have been scarred for life!  ;)
  • Harvesting and processing food from the garden on occasion (feels SO good to be able to help like this when I can).
  • Taking EVERYONE to the pound to pick out a new kitten for Nahnee's family - making sure it was one who could deal with so many little hands and oodles of attention!  How many of us were crowded into that little room that day?  Well, I know there were at least six under the age of 13!  ;)
  • Taking care of "my" babies and Bundle of Joy!!! 
Waiting for the hay to be unloaded.  Thankfully, the farmer had a tilt trailer!!
The twins in their supervisory capacity as we moved the hay into the barn.

Nahnee's stunning oldest daughter.

Now, the excitement at hand has been getting Bundle of Joy ready for her very first day of Kindergarten this coming Tuesday!  There've been incredible lows that have come along with this, too, all centered around the mama and daddy and the knowledge that this will be the last "first day of school" Mama will ever see.

But, a new backpack and tennies have arrived and been delivered to the school at this week's intake conference (first school I've known to do this and a BRILLIANT idea if you ask me!) along with a special, handmade quilt for nap time.  Lunch and snack time Tupperware has been washed and is ready for packing.  Nahnee has prepared a great calendar chart for the first couple week's worth of lunches + 2 snacks each day.  I will do my part by special ordering, in bulk from our Co-op, what I can in organic crackers, cheeses and other snack items.  On my days off, I hope to get healthy muffins baked and frozen for the same purpose.

My BFF of 39 years came up to the cabin she and her hubby have built up here this past week.  I brought Bundle of Joy and the twins up for a play date one day, and she made fast new friends with E & C.  All three of these kiddos have my heart!

For the school year, Nahnee and I are also trying out a new work schedule for me which will consist of just three days each week (11 hours each).  Trying out the new back-to-school schedule this past week, today results in my first of 4 days off.  At the onset, that sounds amazing (for me!), but I'm not sure I can stand being away from the kids for that long!  ;)  And, whether or not it will be too much of an inconvenience for Nahnee (me being gone four days straight), who home-schools her kids AND has a goat farm, has yet to be determined.

Baby Girl wants to give the baby goats kisses!
So does her brother!

Now, my work schedule sounds like it must be pretty nice (previous to now having had 2 or 3 days off each week)!  But, no, such is not the case.

I also clean a cabin (small house, really) just 6 miles away.  In the past, this has been an occasional thing for the owners when they come up for a vacation from The Big Shitty (Mpls./St. Paul).  This spring, though, they asked what I thought about putting the cabin on AirBnB for short-term vacationers?  "Go for it," I said!  All of us thinking it would take some time to get any "action".

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!  Ho ho, hee hee!!!!!!!!!!!  (Hysterical, maniacal laughter!)

It has been rented nearly CONSTANTLY this entire summer!  That means that I have "turn-overs" anywhere from every 2 to 7 days.  This summer, the turn-overs were EXTREMELY frequent, many renters staying only 2 or 3 nights.  As fall has come, people are making longer stays of 5-7 days or so.  THANKFULLY!  I had to hire a dear friend, one of the 24/7 caregivers for the Mama, to help me out because I simply COULDN'T do the cleaning on some of the days as Nahnee also works outside the home two days a week.  I gave some serious thought to finding a replacement cleaner to completely take the job over, but the fact is that it pays well and I really like the owners . . . and having this extra financial cushion that it provides is huge.  So, over the busyness of the summer, it was often that I was home only 1 day each week . . . which leaves so little time for tending to the chickens, cleaning (!), organizing . . . just being the homebody that I love to be!  And as for condensing my two BIG storage units down to one this summer (also halving a big expense) . . . well, see hysterical, maniacal laughter above!

Okay, now for some pics (I wrote all of this before inserting any).  Pardon me while I go find another USB cord that my computer WILL recognize to hook up my phone (where the pics reside these days).

Duh, it wasn't the USB.  Chalk one up to User Error.

Lastly, the summer (and my jobs!) could not have happened as it did without the help of my folks, Mama & Papa Pea.  Tucker gets to stay with them each and every day I'm at work.  On the very few days I do take him with me when I nanny, Nahnee's 4 kids always ask, "Whyyyyy don't you bring Tucker more?!"  Well, he's 9 now, and sooooo over being cuddled and coddled (by 5 bigger kids) and squeezed and pulled (by twin babies)!  ;)

Bye-bye for now!

4 comments:

  1. Dear dear hard working, hard loving Chicken Mama, you have angel wings already! As does everyone you wrote about. I check your blog for updates every week or so and today I just thought, why not check again, and here you are!! Given all that you're doing and feeling your wonderful spirit comes through your words. Thank you for taking the time to share. Know that I have been and will be thinking of you and all those in your life going through life and this particular cycle. Here's a big hug for you!!!! And please give my love to Mama and her dear husband. I hold them close to my heart, and may their sweet spirits be gently tended by the great healer.

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  2. And I wanted to add that these photos are priceless! Especially the "Bye-bye for now!" one. Can't get any sweeter! Thanks for sharing your life, Chicken Mama.

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  3. I've been waiting to hear news, am dismayed at "Mama's" prognosis. I have been following your blog for years and enjoy your writing.

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If you are familiar with me and where I live, please respect my right to retain some anonymity by not referring to me by anything other than Chicken Mama nor mentioning city/town/villages by place names. Thanks!