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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

A Love Note

I received an early love note from one of my most irreverent friends on Friday.  All it said was, "You SUCK at doing blog posts, FYI."  Followed by a big heart.  ;)  And, sigh, she's so right!  Maybe my doable (?) goal for 2016 should be 1 post (at least) a month.  If I do that, so far I'll be meeting that goal!

One of the big reasons I haven't posted lately is because things were truly horrible, horrible, horrible at work.  I don't think it's a secret to say that the daddy (husband to the amazing mama we lost in November) and I simply don't see eye-to-eye . . . especially since the buffer of his wife is gone.  I'd been watching the kids at his house, but that set-up just wasn't working for a variety of reasons.  Despite best efforts!  And that included a counseling session for both of us with a retired family therapist and a dear friend who "knows" the whole situation.

During that session, we came to only one mutually-agreed upon "way of interacting" - knowing there would need to be more meetings to work through everything.  But, the very next work day, that one promise was soundly broken . . . and I was so upset that I walked out.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life because I felt like I was walking out on the twins (Bundle of Joy was still in school) - leaving them with their father.  But, I knew I couldn't be around them when I was so upset - I didn't want to pass that extreme level of stress, anger, an unhappiness onto them.

Afterwards, I went to the same friend who accompanied us on the counseling session, and I know I haven't cried that hard since I learned that I would lose Swamp River Ridge.  It.  Was.  Awful.  My heart was broken.  I didn't know if/when I'd ever see the kids again.

BUT, fast-forward to the dad's sister (where the twins live) making a miracle happen (!!!), and, within a day, I was watching the twins back at her house.  I no longer have an upset tummy and heartburn every day!  I no longer feel anxious every morning when I drive to work!  And (perhaps not so oddly enough), the dad is so much happier now, too - now that the stress of two very different personalities (his and mine) trying to force themselves to work together for the sake of the kids (which wasn't workin'!) is removed.

My hours have been greatly reduced, but no longer working 11-hour days is A-OK!  I can actually get something done when I get home at night!  And, my other job - the rental cabin I caretake - has been requiring so many extra hours right now due to issues, issues, issues (!) that I'm doing ok, financially.  Not great, but OK.  ;)  Plus, I'm hoping to spend my extra hours (as soon as I can find them!) on getting my Chicken Mama (photographic notecards) business online.

In other news, neighbors thought they saw a cougar (also known as mountain lion, panther, puma, or catamount) earlier this week.  And, indeed, I came home to a small massacre in my chicken yard Thursday night!  (I heard him/her crashing out of the fencing and then through the woods as I walked up to my cabin.)  I'm not too broken-hearted as the birds I have left are very, very old and not producing (I have chicks arriving in the spring), but still . . . .  Anyway, the big cat was very inventive regarding getting in/out.  I found one space that night where the metal fencing is overlapping, and s/he'd pushed under the outer layer and then up and over the inside layer.  Then, in the daylight, I found a large hole chewed right through the chicken wire on the top of the yard (which I have covered in an effort to prevent exactly situations like this!).

Image swiped off Web.

We don't often see these critters up here.  When my family had first moved up here in the early 70s, there was a black panther that was seen on occasion.  Then, a couple of years ago, I saw a cougar crossing the highway.  That was the only one I've ever seen, though.  I've found it such an irony that I've had way more critter problems now that I live so much closer to civilization vs. when I lived out in the middle of nowhere out at Swamp River Ridge!  Who woulda thunk?

I thought this was a fun, recent picture from my trail camera:  a deer with all four legs off the ground!

No ideal pictures of this critter (this and below), but I think it's a fat fox vs. a brush wolf / coyote.  What do you think?

Friday was a Teacher Workshop Day (no school), so I got to have 13 hours with these two sillies (below).  The one on the right is one of "my littles" who I used to nanny when she was a baby, and the other is particularly dear, too (the granddaughter of one of my BFFs).  Now, they're both in 2nd grade and fast friends!

They had an organic lemon eating contest.

And then figured they'd up-the-ante by racing to down the rest of the lemon's juice . . . but blind-folded!  ;)  Goofballs.

The twins have knit mittens that Mama Pea made for them.  They fit their little hands perfectly - except that the bands are a little small for us ADULTS to shove their little hands into.  So, all it took was one (not so subtle?) comment from me re same, and she made two new pair.  Here is Baby Girl modeling hers.  AND she just happened to be wearing an original Mama Pea sweater while doing so!

The kids' cousins (who live at the house where I watch the twins) are tough insane!  Taking a break from homeschooling lessons - and it being very, very cold out - this 11-year old tore off her socks and dashed outside for a quick swim in the snow.  Yep:  cuckoo!!  ;)

They also have incredible imaginations, and this creature greeted me when I came out of the bathroom one day!

I'll leave you with this pic from the twins playing at Mama & Papa Pea's.  Who needs toys when there's a big box to play in?!

I hope you have a sweet, sweet Valentine's Day!

A New Year

Well, one of my New Year resolutions is to try to blog more . . . and, since I was sick last weekend, I'll start now!  I wonder if I still have any readers?  Yoo-hooo . . . knock, knock, knock!  Anyone here?

I guess the first thing I need to tell you is that we lost Bundle of Joy's and the babies' mama on November 19th.

It was time.  She'd been unresponsive for about a week - 10 days.  Her mom and aunt were with her - and had been for about 5 days, 24/7.  She was never alone.  They placed a call to her dad and brothers back home, many states away, and held the phone to her ear.  About 30 minutes later, she passed away.

The time since then has fluctuated between horrible, okay, and, occasionally, actually good!  So, we (the family and myself caring for the kids) are making progress . . . finding the path to our New Normal.

The week of Thanksgiving was extra full with the addition of the visitation, funeral and burial, but I was able to enjoy a much-needed relaxed, quiet day with my folks on Thanksgiving, itself.  The week leading up to Christmas was a bad one, but - again - I was able to enjoy Christmas Day with my folks and then many other friends in the following couple of days.

Then, though, The Bug struck (us all).  The twins (whose #2 birthday was November 7th) woke up with cribs full of . . . yep . . . vomit.  :(   Since then, it's been running through all (10) of us (surrounding & including the kids) for nearly two weeks now, but we're all FINALLY coming out of it.  Only two people have escaped:  Bundle of Joy (who turned 6 on December 15th) and her uncle.  Let's hope they continue to elude it!

My most favorite 2-year old little girl in the world (& yours truly*) during their birthday celebration.

* I chopped my dreads off two days later in a fit of . . . needing a change?  Actually, the real reason I've cut them off - both times I've had them - is that they get to a point when I feel like I'm sleeping on rollers at night.  And since I've been struggling with insomnia, it was time for them to GO!

True to their personalities, Baby Girl ate about half of her piece of birthday cake and then pushed it away saying, "ah dun."

Baby Boy, on the other hand, gobbled down two pieces and then asked, "moh?!"  ;)

Little Boy Blue!

I try to bring the twins (Bundle of Joy is in Kindergarten now) to Mama & Papa Pea's every week or two.  Here, someone is helping Mama Pea make trail mix.

Hey!  Did you just pick out and fill your mouth with all the dried pineapple pieces?!

Little Boy Blue LOVES his Papa Pea!  "Papa?  Papa?  Papa!"  Here, they're building a fire together in the wood stove.  Often, they'll "work" out in the garage together.  I am SO glad that this little man has a solid male role-model in his life like my dad!  Both (well, three, actually) his grandfathers live miles away.

Okay, I'll stop there for today.  I'm really going to try to blog more this year.  Really!

Update on the Mama

Thought I'd share the post I got up on CaringBridge today.  For privacy, I've replaced her name with 'Mama'.

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Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid:  for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee, He will not fail thee nor forsake thee.

I have no way to better express what I need to share other than to use the words of one of Mama’s family members:  “it’s time for an honest CaringBridge post”.  By the same token, I don’t think this will come as a shock to any of you.

We are soon going to lose our beloved Mama.

Right now, and as per her wishes, the round-the-clock battalion of volunteer care-givers are able to keep Mama comfortable at home. The hope is that this can continue through to the very end.

She is still fighting, and she has already surpassed many of the “end of life” predictions the doctors have made.  However, her body is simply not able to do what her heart, her soul, her spirit is asking it to do.

Mama’s on a constant morphine pump, but the required higher doses (to keep her comfortable) are causing her to sleep the majority of the time now.  While she finds it frustrating (you know her:  never wanting to miss out on a thing!), the rest of us are ever so grateful for the rest and escape from pain that sleep provides.

The extremely small and infrequent bits of energy Mama can muster now need to be spent on her children and family, so we are once again asking people to not come to try to visit.  Not even that quick “I’ll just say hello and then leave!”  I know you can understand the need for this – even though it is so hard to do!  She is SUCH a magnetic person, and we all just want to BE AROUND her . . . even if it’s just to quietly sit by her bed.

Mama DID manage to see Bundle of Joy onto the school bus and then off it again that afternoon on the very first day of Kindergarten!  I’ll leave you with a picture from that day.

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!

Well! An Update!

Shocking, I know, but here I am after 4 months.  I still think about writing very often, but either exhaustion or other priorities trump me getting here.

(This is NOT a complaint as it simply has to be right now, but) my life is not my own these days.  The beautiful mama of the family I'm working for is not doing well with her cancer treatment.  She's been working SO hard - especially on the restrictive diet that the alternative treatment requires - and so it was heart-breaking to hear the results of the most recent scan.  I'm not sure what the next steps will be, but I hope - for her sake - that a new diet plan (should they choose that) will allow her a little more leeway and enjoyment!  She did splurge the morning after receiving the news and had a blueberry muffin that she said "tasted like Heaven and was the best blueberry muffin I've ever had"!  And her not having eaten any sweets, sugar or refined flour in 8 months . . . I can only imagine!!  :)

Bundle of Joy turned five in December, and she's a very mature 5 years old!  She's not on the best of terms with Bopee (yours truly) right now, though, which breaks my heart and has me questioning (in my weak, knee-jerk reaction moments) what I may have done.  But, once my brain kicks in over my heart, I totally understand where she's coming from:  the biggest reason for her seeming resentment of me is, I know, the attention I have to give the twins (and, therefore, not give her).

They are just over 17 months old now and still require 90% of my time.  And, even though I TRY to make time for just her and me (generally when the twins go down for their nap), invariably something comes up that I have to do, and she is - once again - disappointed and frustrated.  And, then, of course, there's the I-can't-imagine-WHAT horrors/fears/whathaveyou going through her little brain about her mama.  She sees Mama weak and sick some times or wearing bandages from surgeries, she hasn't had her normal time with Mama in these past 8 months, she sees her daddy scared and/or frustrated as a result, etc., etc.  It's just awful.  I can only hope with all my heart that, when she's grown up or even an adolescent, these memories (of the bad times and anxiety) will quickly fade.  All that said, she's really doing VERY well.  Considering!

The twins are a hoot, though, and - aside from the recent and occasional tantrums that the Little Man is throwing - doing oh, so well.  He's always been more "sensitive" to what is going on around him and so he, unconsciously, tunes into whatever vibe might be pervasive on any given day or hour.

They both have the majority of their teeth in now - the Little Lady busts 'em through like nobody's business and really handles the pain and discomfort like a champ!  She's just very laid-back - about pretty much everything!  (Unless you have to wake her up early from a nap for some reason!)  Sensitive Little Man seems to struggle through every tooth pushing through - especially those nasty molars.  But, I just think how WE, as adults, would handle such physical torture!  I'm sure we'd all be medicated up the ying-yang and flat on our backs!  ;)

They are both gabbling up a storm now - absolutely sure of what they're saying . . . although WE have no clue what that is!  Little Man started out with "bahh" for ball a couple of months ago and now he's up to "Bapah" for Bopee, and "uh!" for up.  ;)  His auntie, who covered the nights last week when Mama & Daddy were away for the medical appointments, greeted me with the news one morning that he'd strung 3 words together into a sentence!  I don't remember what it was, exactly, but it was something like "I drink milk!" when he'd finished his morning sippy cup.  I'm sure it came out something like "Ah dingh milh!"  :) 

Their mama was brilliant in teaching them sign language early, and I think this is KEY in communicating with babies who don't yet have verbal language skills.  We regularly use "more" (mostly for food), "please", and "all done" (eating).  It helps SO much!

We rather purposefully haven't taught them "no", so we have yet to hear this come out of their wee mouths . . . which is a blessing because, I know that once they DO learn it, we're going to hear a lot of it!

We had little real winter this year, and so, since spring has come early, we're often playing out on the deck in the mid-afternoon sun.  And, they HATE coming back inside!  Especially the Little Lady!  She hangs onto whatever she can and loudly OBJECTS when it's time to head back in.  :)

Speaking of the weather, look at what we're to expect this week:

YUCK!  We *do* need the moisture as we didn't get the regular amount of snow this winter, but . . . ugh.  So much for afternoons on the deck!

Excellent backing-up form!  ;)  This is the Little Man.  It was so warm on the deck on Friday that I was worried he'd get his fair little head burned.  We haven't pulled summer clothes out yet, so he didn't have any sun hats available.  And, since I was folding laundry out there while watching them and happened upon this t-towel . . . I made it into a handkerchief for him to wear!  ;)

They both feed themselves almost completely one their own, and here is a fun shot of the Little Man playing with his soup spoon.  He is absolutely a character and loves to be silly!

Bellied up to the bar:  I gave them popcorn the other day, and they MUCH enjoyed this over their organic mac & cheese with peas.  Note to Bopee:  food first, popcorn AFTER!  Little Man looks bigger here, but they're actually pretty much exactly the same height.  I think he will be stockier like his dad while she will be thin and willowy like her mom's side of the family.
Little Lady, waking up early from nap time, brought all the blankies and soft toys over to their dog and proceeded to (try to) cover her with them. 

Then, she sat down and pulled L's ear up to inspect inside.  :)  L is SUCH a good example of a Pit Bull mix who should help break all the awful stereotypes!

I talked Mama Pea into putting down her garden plans and come out for a visit last week.  Little Lady was very happy about it and passed right out in her arms.

Yogurt kisses / fish mouth!  He is hardly EVER this messy when eating, but I was letting him play with his almost empty bowl.  I couldn't get the camera out in time to snap a photo when he was wearing the bowl on his head!  ;)

Smiley Little Lady.
Tucker, who just turned 9, got his spring haircut a week ago, and now that I can see what size he really was under all that hair, guess who's on a diet?!

I had fun with this recent picture of Bundle of Joy and her little brother.  :)

I love this picture of Mama snuggling with her little man.  :)  She'd been watching something on her DVD player and he - who hardly ever sees TV - was enthralled, as you can see!
Bundle of Joy's daddy's favorite cookies are Peanut Butter, and since she wanted to make them the other day, we suited up and got down to business!  It was a nice treat for him when he got home.

The Little Lady LOVED her first-ever sip of apple juice that big sister Bundle of Joy shared with her!

My days off - which are generally the weekends although that also changes week to week depending on what's going on - are usually spent in a cocoon of as much isolation as I can get in plus work around my (as usual) disaster of a wee cabin.  I house and dog/cat-sat about a week ago, and it was SO much easier to eat properly just having, especially, the space to prepare food and work . . . but running water also made it nice.  I'm usually flat-out exhausted each work night and have no oomph to get anything DONE around here, so - since today is a rainy, inside day - I'm going to continue to work on getting things more organized and useable.

Yesterday was GORGEOUS, and I got quite a bit of outside work done - primarily cleaning out the chicken coop and doing a good bit of chainsawing, wood stacking, and cleaning up the yard.  (I sure can feel that chainsawing in the ol' bod' today!)

I'll leave you with this picture - I only tapped one birch tree this year, but it's started producing NICELY!  This is a half-gallon jar pictured below that I empty each night.  I was hoping to start boiling the sap today, but - since that needs to be done outside and today's weather is NOT conducive - it ain't gonna happen. 

May your sap flow sweetly!

Thanks for hangin' in there with me!

:)  XO - Chicken Mama


I have never . . . and I mean NEVER . . . had difficulty sleeping.  Waking (on time)?  Now *that* has been a problem!  Remember, I am the girl with 5 alarms - 3 of which require me to get up and walk across the room to turn off!  But not being able to fall asleep?  Unheard of.  Until lately.

It hasn't happened a lot.  But, it *has* happened.  And that, in itself, is super strange for me and this body I've inhabited for 43+ years.  And, it's happened / is happening tonight.  Last night.  Whatever.

It's 5:36 AM on Tuesday morning, and I have YET to fall asleep Monday night!  I finished an audio book.  I a-l-m-o-s-t fell asleep during that, but then my bladder made me get up and attend to its needs.  At 3:00 AM (or so), I gave up and put a movie in my laptop.  Pushing the damn cat out of the way the entire time so I could actually see the $#*@ing screen!  Then I got bored with the movie - another bizarre thing for me 'cause I LOVE movies.  And now . . . I'm writing to you.

It's pretty sad, isn't it, that I finally get a chance to blog . . . when I have insomnia!?

Thank goodness, though:  I don't have to work in the morning (which it is now).  I am on a short, much-needed vacation while the babies' mama (with the 3 of them in tow) visits family in another state.  I realize, now that I'm "into" the vacation, however, that Christmastime is not the most ideal time to have one . . . because I'm spending all my time on Christmas prep instead of the huge list I'd made in anticipation!  On the other hand, had I not had this free time to do so, I know I'd be SO much more frantic this time next week!  So, six of one & half a dozen of another.

* The above was written earlier this week.  Now it's Wednesday afternoon. *

I finally got to sleep around 6:30 AM yesterday - which pretty much shot my day to hell since I woke up at 1:30 PM.  I was wondering how I'd do last night, and so I took a homeopathic sleep-aid.  I guess it did (sort of) work because the last I looked at the clock was 2:00 AM.  So, definite progress, eh?

A friend suggested this could be a side-effect of menopause, but - starting that prematurely at 32 - I really thought I'd experienced all the ill from that (hot flashes) already!  Hmph.  

* * *

For the last couple of weeks, we'd been experiencing a horrible warm / melting period that was making me seriously contemplate finding a high bridge to jump off of!  Nearly ALL the snow was gone, and the places where there was packed snow had turned to ice.  Then, Monday (?), it rained and rained and RAINED!  Aaaaaaagh!  Fortunately, though and as predicted, the temps started falling late Monday night, and now we have a good 4+ inches of fresh snow coating everything and normal temps again (21° right now).  I was dreading a brown(ish) Christmas!

There's really nothing new to report in my life.  It's just been babies, babies, babies (and the now 5-year old).  No complaints (!), but it is tiring.  Tucker wasn't feeling very well a few days ago and was off his food - which made me VERY nervous (since this was what Maisy did before she died).  But, I think it was a combination of him getting into something in the woods and - oddly enough - some critter peeing in his food dish on the deck.  I say that because I was able to get him to eat out of another dish.  Weird, huh?

These first few days of vacation have been spent catching up with long-overdue friends and running errands.  Saturday night, a dear friend and I met up for a drink before attending a play . . . except we were having so much fun that we SKIPPED the play!  Ha!  And, we closed down the tavern . . . which maybe wasn't such a good idea . . . but we sure did have fun!  ;)  I had to atone for my sins the next day, though, as it was a scheduled cookie bake day with my dear friend from (where I used to) work.  Needless to say, I was moving rather slowly in the AM and felt no need for my usual afternoon visit to her husband's beer refrig in the garage!  ;)

Today will be the first day of my vacation that I don't have to go anywhere - 6 days into it.  SIX?!  Ack!  :(  I think of those fond, old days at Swamp River Ridge when I was a housewife and didn't go off the property for DAYS!  How I miss that!  I was hoping to get heaps done, but the late falling-asleep hour results in a late getting-up time.  And still, I MADE myself get up when I did.  I could have happily burrowed back under the covers for a couple more hours.

I got lots of wrapping done last night so I can get a clearer idea of where I am as far as shopping goes.  Because I have such limited space here in my wee cabin, I asked my folks if I could start bringing (their) gifts and "storing" them under their tree.  That will help me out.  Storing wrapped presents isn't bad - until the ribbon and bows go on!  After that, you can't stack 'em or things will get flattened!  And I'm ALL about prettily-wrapped packages.  As I say, you can make a so-so gift seem extra special by the wrapping!  ;)

I have a big Amazon order that I am working on, and I only realized last night just how close it is to Christmas and that I HAVE to get that in today!  Wonder how much I'll have to pay in expedited shipping to get things here on time?  Blech.  My fault, tho!

Is it just me who always thinks that there is "plenty of time" until . . . WHAM!?  NO time left!!

I'll leave you with a couple of pics . . .

Bundle of Joy, now a newly-minted 5 year old, likes to play at being a baby on occasion (I suspect because she figures she gets more attention that way!).  Anyway, she slipped into her sister's booster the other day.  I like Little Man's expression - kind of a, "ummm, you're not the sister I'm used to seeing there!"

One of these is not like the other!

This is my new friend who comes to visit and help with the babies when she can.  (So I can get mundane things like dishes done!)  I love N's expression here.  Remember, she's the well-proven biter!  It's as though she's saying, "Oh, no, you don't, Brother!  You KNOW I will bite that finger if you try to stick it in my mouth!"
Just hangin' out - looking at the snow (at the beginning of the month before it all melted!)

I'll leave you with a great one of The Mama - doesn't she look fantastic?!  She came to do some Christmas baking.  Bundle of Joy is going thru a period of very unnatural smiles when you ask her to pose, so I was trying to use reverse psychology here by warning her, "Don't laugh!  Don't you DARE laugh!"  (Didn't work.)  ;)