Monthly Archives: May 2016

Ben is a party boy!

Today was a big day – First Communion for Ben and his 8th birthday! We decided to do both on the same day (WHAT!?) so that he could celebrate his actual birthday. Somewhat thankfully his roller hockey game got rained out this morning (game and church within an hour!). I was at the rink at 0800 to figure out if we were calling the games or not due to rain…then home…take care of chicks…dress and head to church.

Disjointed post alert…this is one of the reasons I fall behind in posting anything here because so much happens in 48 hours, not to mention a week or two. Can you handle the off-road style post bouncing all over the place such that the seatbelt locks in place, pinning you down? Here we go…

Chicks – have I posted yet all the chicks hatching out here? I don’t think so – I have chicks coming out of my ears! I timed eggs to hatch on Ben’s bday so the incubator has been “cooking” them for 21 days. ย It is so exciting to candle eggs and see a little beak or foot moving. Two days ago the first chicks started pipping! We could hear them peeping from within the egg. Now we have two little cuties from our flock to add to the 8 that I bought in my chick mania a few weeks ago. In the garage hutch I have a “loft” for the newest ones closer to the heat lamp, and the other 8 are wandering around underneath. It is crowded, but I have a plan to re-home some…because…you know, there’s just no good intro for this: we’re moving to JAPAN at the end of August. We just found out a week ago that Dave was selected to transfer. We’re excited for the adventure and often heartbroken to leave our friends. This past week has been very busy beginning the overseas transfer process, starting with medical screening, collecting medical records and filling out forms.

Back to the chicks, though…I got into a chick mania because Dave said no to goats, and now I have too many birds!

Here is a movie of the chick hatching fun… Gordon (our rooster) joined our flock 4 years ago on Ben’s birthday, so it just seemed time for a new batch of fun…

Ok – so chicks started hatching out on Thursday (one arrived a day early) and another yesterday. Today we had 8 boys over for Ben’s party. I set up a chick hockey rink so they could all see the chicks and learn how to pick them up, and the chicks could get a look at boys. I am not sure who was more excited! There was lots of flapping and shrieking all around, such that I had to really be emphatic with the boys about not scaring the chicks so much. They were flying straight up into the air – about 4 ft up! It was nuts! Everyone had fun learning how to catch the little buggers. Ben and I realized chicks just don’t tend to back up, so if you kind of block them from the front you can gently catch them.

Here are some pictures from the day. I also tried to make a hockey puck cake. And because it was cold, and because I have been despondent about not being able to split wood or have a real fire in Japan, I had a FIRE, too. Gordon and all the big chickens came out for the party as well, and ran amuck all over. Ben and his buddies ran around the woods with hockey sticks, whacking weeds (which was good) and also managed to whack a mole (isn’t that ย kids’ game?) or a mouse and knocked it senseless. Poor thing. Lots of excited boys here. Every time I turned around it was something new. Only one Nerf bullet to the eye, and that boy will be ok. No one got hurt on the slack line or the zipline. Parents had a good time around the fire, eating some nice appetizers that Dave brought home. It was a great mix of hockey parents and school friends.

bens bday invite

A chick in the incubator - the egg behind is pipping!

A chick in the incubator – the egg behind is pipping!

Ben and his First Communion class

Ben and his First Communion class

The hutch with the bigger chicks, and the "loft" with the two newest ones.

The hutch with the bigger chicks, and the “loft” with the two newest ones. I love this little bird in the front. She is SO precocious! Always greets me at the door. Very very curious. The first one to climb on top of the loft, too. ย I cut a screen off a dead fan and put a ceiling in to keep the curious one from marauding the littlest sibling.

The chick hockey rink - one got away!

The chick hockey rink – one got away!

Sam (an ice hockey buddy) caught a chick!

Sam (an ice hockey buddy) caught a chick!

Enjoying catching a buddy named "Julian" :)

Enjoying catching a buddy named “Julian” ๐Ÿ™‚

J and his namesake.

J and his namesake.

Stack of hockey pucks...valiant attempt. Tasted good!

Stack of hockey pucks…valiant attempt. Tasted good!

Niiiice :)

Niiiice ๐Ÿ™‚

Poor mouse...or mole? Or vole?

Poor mouse…or mole? Or vole?

Jayne and me - she is another hockey mom. Four boys who play!

Jayne and me – she is another hockey mom. Four boys who play!

Dear Ben,

Happy 8th birthday, sweet boy, full of life and energy. I am so thankful to be your mom, and share this wild life with you. If it weren’t for you, Dear Ben, who would run around the market with me playing bumper cars with sour cream in hand? Who would giggle over silly games? Who would go for jogs and bike rides? Who would beat me up a mountain? And who would help guard baby chicks who need some recess and outside time? And split wood? And we haven’t even talked about ice hockey and roller hockey…you are an animal on skates with a great wrister. You love working on your shot at home, scaring the little chicks with all that loud whacking on the shooting tiles.

You also love reading very much and your favorite books right now are the Warriors series about a cat family. Your friend J loaned a book to you and you couldn’t put it down. You’re also very excited to build StarWars Millennium Falcon and a Creator Corner Deli.

How is school going? your grandparents are probably wondering…well, your teacher has been working with me all year to help you manage exuberant outbursts, but this week you managed to have a “zero” week as I called it. I knew you could go FOUR DAYS with ZERO reminders, and you DID! You’re an ace student, too, who pays attention to detail, does his homework expeditiously, and has an excellent brain with fabulous recall for details. Stunning recall, actually. And I regret mentioning this, but you’re a debater with a razor-sharp retort that is always accurate because it hip-checked nuance right out of the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

Most importantly, you’re a loving and kind boy who is usually the first to notice I could use a hug. How you bundle all this loud boy energy into a body that is also sensitive enough to notice how another person is feeling,ย I don’t know. I cherish you.

I love you, Ben.

Momย 

A day with Emmy

I’m so thankful to have this dear grey mare in my life. Saturday was a very busy day – starting out with our first roller hockey games (I’m a coach now! and thrilled!) then a soaking in the rain packing up gear, then 6 boys at our house, and hungry, then off to find some Magic cards which were accidentally thrown out (so headfirst in a trash bin) then back home, throw breeches and boots on…and head to warm Emmy up. But it’s RAINING again…so…here’s the whole story. The backstory first? Yes?

Training Level 1, 1st test Thanks to Janet (my instructor) for filming this and for bringing me so far in 2.5 years!

Emmy and I enjoyed a bit of a wild warm-up at home (rain on the arena roof, which must sound like jaguar claws to her or something) so she was pretty hot and full of energy even after warm-up. On the way to the show via the trails through the woods she was quite intrigued by rain on the leaves and how the woods sound in the rain (different than normal). Once in the warm-up arena she had no real desire to canter through the muck, nor did she want to canter on the rail (where there is a decent path and no muck), so she picked the next best option – try to leap 20 yards of muck! The woman coaching her client in the middle of the warm-up arena must have had some second thoughts, but she stayed put hoping I could steer this beast.

Janet arrived shortly after and held a constant refrain: “MORE bending! more LEG! FORWARD! Get her to pay ATTENTION!” Eventually we settled in a bit, and I thought the walk from the warm-up ring to the arena might go smoothly. JUST as we were walking by a van with a horse in it, the horse inside decided to let fly with a large bang on the rear door. Emmy spun wildly to the right launching me forward in the direction we WERE going, then wheeled (by the bed of a pickup, which I thought might be a nice clean landing spot if I got thrown) but by this time she was cantering and I was still barely mounted, so determined to stay on, and keep my white shirt clean. I steered her toward a cedar tree to induce a stop, got her turned around again just in time to see Janet turn back toward us, arms outstretched, going “What’s the hold up? Come ON!”

Once she was in the dressage “court” Emmy performed fabulously, not even “talking” to the other horses around like she did last year. You’ll note one effort to gallop away from the judges’ stand at “C” at the left end of the arena but I got her back under control and just barely transitioned to a trot and made the final tight turn down the center line. I wonder what my scores will be? The whole event was great to look forward to – an excellent motivation for focus and a good opportunity to keep Emmy familiar with the unfamiliar. Life should NOT always be groundhog day, should it? Thanks for watching! (This is the second half of the test. The first half is a mirror image.)

Mother’s Day!

Dear Mom!

Did you know you still have a daughter? I know it has been ages since I have called or written anything more than 3 words! Are you still reading this? I am so so so sorry to have been OFF THE GRID lately! How long has it been? Sooooo sorry. Geez. It’s Mother’s Day! Time to share what is going on around here, but it will be brief because guess what…I have practice plans to print for roller hockey and eat dinner because I’m STARVING! First, though, I’d like to say what an inspiration you are for being energetic and loving to those around you every day! I am so lucky to have you as a role model for investment in the kids. I love you!

We have chicks in a rabbit hutch donated by a friend…because Dave won’t let me get a goat or two. I have plans, though…on that front. If you board goats for a neighbor, they’re not REEEAAALLY your goats, right? Richard…fencing. Think fencing. Yes. Dave doesn’t read this. I don’t think.

Dave is so very thankful I didn’t make good on my goat-adopting plans that he didn’t even PEEP about the incubator set up on the credenza by our dining table with 7 eggs in it, incubating for Ben’s 8th birthday, just like we did 4 years ago. I think he’s happy I’m in a chick-hoarding mania instead of just two goats. He may find that two goats is preferable. He seemed a little mystified at the energies exerted to herd 8 baby chicks in the tall grass while I cleaned out their brooder, but Ben is very good at catching baby chicks (Sam prefers herding them with hockey sticks) and got them right back into the paper shopping bag to carry back to the brooder when I had it cleaned, which was, of course, just minutes before leaving for the rink to skate. Picture Ben with a paper shopping bag, twitching and cheeping in his hand as he carried it into the garage. Picture Dave standing in his socks, watching and wondering. I often drive around, thinking about things, and something Dave said recently – “Oh, there’s no managing her.” I wonder if this is what makes him think crazy things like that? It’s all under control…I’m sure that’s evident, right??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Baby chick catching strategy: after some study, I noticed that chicks don’t back up. Their first instinct is to run. So catch from the front and they’ll run into your hands. Then just lock down the little chick-cage you’ve created with your fingers. Once this is accomplished, be sure you have their wings pinned down and don’t let them get leverage with their little feet. Then you can safely carry them. Once, Ben thought a chick pooped on his hand and he dropped the poor little thing. I have concussion diagnosis training now thanks to hockey, but the little chick seemed fine. Nevertheless, I named her Helmut (as in, Kohl). She continues to make expected progress…

Ben is a good chicken herder. They get to go on "hikes" out in the grass with him!

Ben is a good chicken herder. They get to go on “hikes” out in the grass with him!

Sometimes chicken guarding is exhausting. One needs to take a little break :)

Sometimes chicken guarding is exhausting. One needs to take a little break ๐Ÿ™‚

The roller hockey team is very small (7 kids, 4 of them entirely new to roller hockey) so my mission is to make it fun to learn the game AND learn to skate, incidentally. I have two very able assistants (teen coaches) so I try to keep the big picture, develop practice plans to provide structure, work with corralling (some are very young and escape the rink to go flop around) and morale. Team spirit – yes, I can do that! Enthusiasm and strong female role model for our girl players – yes, I can do that! I love skating and love the game of hockey, so I am very very happy to have this opportunity. Dave is reviewing my practice plans and telling me if he can hear me contribute anything from across the rink during games ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m still finding my voice as a coach. I’m an ardent and NOT SHY fan…but coach voice? That should be developed intentionally.

Second practice - in sneakers because a light rain had made the rink surface waaay too slippery. That's ok - very easy to learning passing skills in sneakers!

Second practice – in sneakers because a light rain had made the rink surface waaay too slippery. That’s ok – very easy to learning passing skills in sneakers!

First scrimmages! hot hot day, then to a dressage clinic for me. Exhausting ;) But fun!

First scrimmages! hot hot day, then to a dressage clinic for me. Exhausting ๐Ÿ˜‰ But fun!

I also lead a Coder Dojo club at the intermediate school to provide those kids interested in coding a social group and mentoring opportunities. I have had a lot of fun with this even if I feel very underqualified. I have terrific mentors from the community (two tech folks who donate their time) and we have at least a dozen committed kids who enthusiastically develop programs each week in free sites available on the web. We provide encouragement, challenge, and direction. And from time to time, CUPCAKES for developing a game based on a group-decided theme! (I.e., must be interactive and include cupcakes, a unicorn or a horse, and a happy ending!)

Coder Dojo guest speaker - Mr. Roas presents how his company improves product development efficiencies with customized apps. The kids learned what it takes to develop a concept through design, sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery. It was terrific! (I launched and lead the club on Thursdays at the intermediate school.)

Coder Dojo guest speaker – Mr. Roas presents how his company improves product development efficiencies with customized apps. The kids learned what it takes to develop a concept through design, sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery. It was terrific! (I launched and lead the club on Thursdays at the intermediate school.)

Now it’s Sunday, Mother’s Day. I “slept in” to 7. The above things are all from the last 48 hours.

This morning I rode in a dressage clinic again (they are three days long) and then took Emmy on a trail ride. We rode around in the warm-up ring because I have a show next weekend (AGAIN right after a roller hockey game!) and while cantering my phone flew out. She tried to kick it on its way down into the sand. Pretty funny. So while I was off retrieving it, I decided it was time for a selfie. Emmy hates selfies. She was in the middle of rubbing her head on me and knocking me over. Thankfully I am very accustomed to being shoved - Sam likes to throw me around!

This morning I rode in a dressage clinic again (they are three days long) and then took Emmy on a trail ride. We rode around in the warm-up ring because I have a show next weekend (AGAIN right after a roller hockey game!) and while cantering my phone flew out. She tried to kick it on its way down into the sand. Pretty funny. So while I was off retrieving it, I decided it was time for a selfie. Emmy hates selfies. She was in the middle of rubbing her head on me and knocking me over. Thankfully I am very accustomed to being shoved – Sam likes to throw me around!

Before going to skate over at the roller rink with all three boys (Dave included) for our Mother’s Day outing, the boys and I tidied and cleaned the house (it looks great now!) and had a wrestling session. They don’t like to hug anymore so I lured them into our bedroom and got Ben onto the bed so I could really hug and wrestle him. Sam came in and saved him from me, and I foolishly tried to get Sam onto the bed so I could smoosh him and wrestle him, too. That went on for some time. We are a dead match now. If I can get my horse-riding legs around him, he’s sunk. But, I can’t quite do that anymore. He gets away quickly and is a terrible force to be reckoned with, especially if I’m in socks and he has sneakers on…on the wood floor…which was the case. I was handicapped. I will come back to this…

Off to play some hockey…then home for pizza. While waiting for pizza I decided to address the chicks’ naughty habit of putting their cedar shavings into their waterer, making for soggy shavings and a tough time getting water. It looked like such a nice, cushy place until they spread the shavings all over. (This was the boys’ idea – they should have shavings, not newspaper. Seemed reasonable. Seemed like Mother’s Day would be a nice day to make their nest even better.) Anyway – I got the hamster waterer from the grown-up chicken coop and cleaned it, then wired it up to the rabbit hutch. I thought it would at least be interesting for them, and perhaps make my life easier. Watch…how long does it take chicks to figure out how to use a waterer? I started filming about 10 min into the adventure.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms! Thank you for reading this tribute to the life force we all bring to the homefront. I love you, Molly, Tam Tam, Rebecca, Jenni…and of course my own mom, and my cousins, Leslie and Deborah! ย (I just got a note from Leslie – my cousins are alive! Andย actually read this post!!!!! Turns out they are frenetic, too!)

I know I know...JUST when you thought it couldn't get ANY better...I went out to close the coop (the BIG birds, the college dorm) I found EIGHT eggs - ALL 8 layers LAID! This happened ONCE before. On the vernal equinox. Amazing, right? Here they are! And guess what else? One of the older babies was ROOSTING tonight for the first time on his little maple branch in the hutch, under his warm red heat lamp! When I went out to check, there he was, ROOSTING like a big boy! (Not all is bliss...the garage door wouldn't go down all the way. Ben had knocked the emergency brake thing so that it wouldn't close but it took three people 3 minutes to figure this out.) Lest you think it's all cheep cheep cheep here...I did growl at that because I was the janitor at the time and simply wanted to close the darn door! ;)

I know I know…JUST when you thought it couldn’t get ANY better…I went out to close the coop (the BIG birds, the college dorm) I found EIGHT eggs – ALL 8 layers LAID! This happened ONCE before. On the vernal equinox. Amazing, right? Here they are! And guess what else? One of the older babies was ROOSTING tonight for the first time on his little maple branch in the hutch, under his warm red heat lamp! When I went out to check, there he was, ROOSTING like a big boy! (Not all is bliss…the garage door wouldn’t go down all the way. Ben had knocked the emergency brake thing so that it wouldn’t close but it took three people 3 minutes to figure this out.) Lest you think it’s all cheep cheep cheep here…I did growl at that because I was the janitor at the time (doing recycling and kitchen clean-up) and simply wanted to close the darn door! ๐Ÿ˜‰