* * * * * * *

"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!


  1. Tough love, baby! We'll be thrilled with once a month! BTW, what kind of trail camera do you have? I'm thinking of putting one up. Those are mighty cute tots - I can't believe how they've grown. You know, I can still remember playing in a refrigerator box that one of the neighbors put out for that purpose. Gawd knows how long ago that was!

  2. Thanks for writing this blog! Glad the job situation got smoothed out. Holy cow! And the twins are adorable. Love the ponytail. The trail camera's mystery animal--it looks like a big house cat to me, but it can't be. The photo is black & white, and the "fox" looks white. Do they turn white in the winter? Mama Pea is an amazing knitter. Holy cow again--that sweater is beautiful.

  3. Sorry to hear about the "kid" thing. That's too bad.
    Can't see it well, but I was wondering about a gray fox. Need a better photo tho, can't see enough. :)

  4. Glad to see you found a way to work around the issues involving the father. Sounds like you love those kids like they were your own--what a shame if they would have lost you in the deal.

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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!