Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Napping and potty training...

Why do my kids quit napping so early??? I don't remember when Cody quit, but I remember it was too soon for my liking. I guess Jamie would still be napping if I would allow it. Poor kid. He asked me to let him nap today, but I said no. Weird mom, right? I know. But if he naps at all during the day, he is up all evening and it's very irritating and exhausting. But Micah is only two. Surely he should still be napping, right? He's in bed right now, and I hear him singing "Rumour Has It", by Adele. I don't like that song. But he does, and I guess that's all that matters to him at the moment.

Quiet time in the afternoon has become a desperate necessity for me. Listening to Micah scream (and I don't mean cry, I mean deliberate shrieking), holler for me, sing, throw things, and make up stories about needing to poop on the potty all afternoon is really taking the quiet out of my quiet time. Don't get me wrong. At times I find it cute, and even downright funny listening to him. But sometimes, I just need a little silence. I guess that was not part of the job description.

I really should mention that since my last post, nobody else has thrown up. Well, nobody in our little family. Lots of others who were at our huge gathering have, but we have been extremely blessed so far. I am very grateful for that, and have even toyed with the idea of doing some Christmas decorating. But then I changed my mind. What I really want to do is wrap all the presents. True to my word, and my plan, I do have all of my shopping done, and it is not yet the end of November. I am beyond thrilled about that, and I suppose that means it will soon be time to bake. In two days, it will be December 1st, the day that, traditionally, I like to put up my tree. This year, I don't know. I'm just not going to say anything and we'll see when Mike mentions it. If the boys really beg and we are in to December, I guess we'll go ahead and put up the tree. It will be interesting to see whether it survives this year, with Micah at the stage he is at. And it's a fake tree, so survival should theoretically be much easier to achieve. Don't be fooled into believing that. Our tree usually looks nice for about one day. After that, there are continually missing branches, the garlands are hanging wrong, ornaments are all over the floor, sometimes broken, and often at least missing the string or hook used to hang them with. Hm. That does make it difficult. Last year I resorted to resting the Christmas balls carefully amongst the branches, but the tree was shaken so much they did not stay on. Jamie is much more interested in using them as hockey pucks than seeing them hanging on a pretty tree.

Micah is now shouting to me about poop. Hm. This is the tricky part about potty training. Micah has now discovered that as long as he yells that he needs to poop on the potty, I will come and get him. It doesn't have to be true. Just saying those words is his ticket out of his crib. Me, on the other hand, I am in a precarious position. Do I run in there every time, encouraging him to manipulate me? Or do I ignore him, and take the risk that he will indeed poop in his diaper because I ignored him even though I told him to tell me when he needed to go? The second option is also accompanied by him removing said poopy diaper in the crib, and that is all kinds of nasty. Sigh. I guess I better go find out whether he really went or not. I guess his "nap" is coming to an end once again, without a single moment of sleep. He is now singing about poop. Bye for now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Christmas Joy Begins...

I always found the movie "A Christmas Carol" disturbing, including every version I have seen other than the muppets one, which is just plain funny. I don't recall whether I have seen the Mickey Mouse version. In truth, I have never liked the story that much, though it has a powerful message for sure. As a child I found it nearly unbelievable that anyone could deliberately hate Christmas the way Scrooge did.

Sadly, this year I can identify with old Ebenezer. I am not an old business man (woman) with a larger-than-life hooked nose, nor am I obsessed with gold and all things financial. I also don't believe people should work on Christmas day, though I have worked Christmas Eve many times, and I do recognize that certain emergency services have to remain open every day of the year. In fact, even though I feel like I do, I do not actually hate Christmas. What I do hate is stress, chaos, and most of all, throwing up. Christmas 2009 we spent with stomach sickness. I do not recall how long it lasted. I do remember that Micah was only five months old and I was too sick to feed him. Christmas of 2010, I was desperate for a good Christmas. I spent all of December praying and begging God to keep us healthy that year. The puking started at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning and lasted until beyond New Year's Day.

This year, my dread has begun, though I am trying hard not to panic, despite the numerous people I know who have already begun the barfing. So we went to our first Christmas family gathering this past weekend, which I was kind of dreading for several reasons. The people are wonderful, so it is in no way because of them. But wouldn't you know it, at around 6 p.m., one of my nephews threw up all over the couch. Since then, including him, I have heard reports of four of my nephews, four of my nieces and two of my sisters-in-law also getting the stomach flu. Then last night, Jamie threw up. This is why I feel like shouting HUMBUG! I know some people may think I am being extreme, and maybe I am, but for two years in a row now my Christmas has sucked. Royally. I mean, so sick we have not been able to celebrate, and even at Jamie's birthday we couldn't handle cake and he barely cared about his presents. That's two years in a row. I am not interested in doing it again.

When I used to think about Christmas, as a child, I was excited mainly about Santa Claus, and also about our special aunt who came nearly every year from Calgary to spend the holidays with us. We had great fun as a family, and my Grandma was often there too, though sometimes she went west instead to see her other kids and grandkids. So yes, I loved all the music because it brought back those magical feelings. Excitement. Joy. Anticipation. Those were all things I felt. Of course, then I found out Santa Claus wasn't real, and perhaps that was the first blow to my Christmas joy. Now I know Christmas is not at all about Santa but rather about Jesus, no matter what some people may say, and I believe that with my whole heart. Sadly, over the years I have always sought out that magical feeling I had as a child. The music would still make me excited and I always anticipated Christmas with great joy, but every year I was disappointed.

My family and Mike's have both grown, so Christmas is a very busy and loud affair, but on his side of the family, there will literally be thirty-nine people just in the immediate family, and of those, twenty-four will be between a month old to fourteen years old. That, my friends, is a lot of chaos. Don't get me wrong. I love my family and I love Mike's family. But this year, I am really burnt out from the same old Christmas every year. This year I want to forgo the gifts and just buy a bunch of goats and cattle and chickens for third world families. I would like a quiet day at home, maybe even by myself. I don't know. It just feels forced to me. Doing the same thing every year when some of the traditions just don't work anymore, particularly in groups that large. My side of the family is now at fifteen people, which does not include my grandma because it is hard for her to come out here now. Fifteen people, to me, is a lot, and that only includes seven children. One of my sisters-in-law has seven children of her own. These seven are split between me and my two sisters.

I guess this year I am overwhelmed more than ever by the crowds. It has been a difficult year. I have other, deeper reasons for dreading Christmas. It's not personal against anyone. But already the sickness has begun, and I feel like the meaning, the true meaning, will be lost once again in the stress, chaos and of course, barfing. I guess I have dumped enough. I will have to keep this blog posted as to how everything turns out. I am hoping it will be okay. But I do also hope to have new traditions some time, maybe even soon. I'm off for now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cozy in our house.

Today the snow is falling softly, marking the true beginning of winter. Yes, it snowed last week some time, but the weather was pretty warm after that, and by yesterday, it was almost all gone. In fact, yesterday was sunny and quite warm. Well, for November, anyway. It was +5 and as I drove the dynamic duo to get the mail, I wondered why I was planning to go to town the next day (today) instead of right then. So I called Mike's mom and she agreed to take my boys while I went to town. Cody was in school, so I just had to get home on time to get him from the bus.

So I did it. I went to town and I finished my Christmas shopping for Mike. And now I look outside at the weather and I am so thankful I'm not going today. The roads are icy, and I suspect the visibility could get less than ideal later in the day. But I'm here cozy in my house with my three pyjama-clad boys...who have been fighting non-stop all morning so far. Hm. Outside it is very pretty, and any other year I might have even turned on some Christmas music. Maybe I would have even done some Christmas baking. But not this year. I am still not ready to face Christmas yet, and I'm not sure I will be at all this year.

This weekend we have our first Christmas event, a big family gathering of Mike's mom's side of the family. We do it every year, and it's in the big city, so it's a pretty big ordeal for us with the kids and everything. They always do it on a Sunday, and in recent years have not even begun until close to 5 p.m., so that has made it difficult as we had to make the three hour drive home afterwards. This year it is on a Saturday afternoon, which will make things infinitely easier for us. Last year I did not go at all. I stayed home with Jamie and Micah, and Mike went with just Cody, as we knew he was the only one who could handle the lateness of it combined with the long drive. This year we will stay overnight at my parents' place because Mike will not have to work the next day. Truthfully, I still don't know how I will handle it all, but I hope at least the boys will have fun. They are a great group of people, so I'm sure it will be nice.

Anyway, I guess I don't have much more to say today. It will be a quiet, and hopefully productive, day at home, seeing my shopping plans are no more, and my other tentative plans for the day fell through. Maybe I'll even do some more work on my book, which has been neglected now for almost two weeks. Ironically, I am also very tempted to do some Christmas wrapping, just to get it out of the way.

Before I sign off, I must mention that in the ten minutes or so that it has taken me to write this post, the snow has gone from "softly falling" to whirling around like the beginning of a blizzard. Instead of peaceful, it now looks cold and uninviting. I hope we don't get too much snow this week. I'm off for now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Productive day!

Even though it is Saturday, today was long and busy, but we got a lot done. This morning, I took all three boys over to my sister-in-law's place and they all got hair cuts. (Oops. I typed "hair cutes" by accident, but it applies too!) Cody is nearly bald. He insisted on a buzz cut, and he went shorter than ever before. Crazy boy. That's for summer, and I told him that, but he insisted and I figured it's his hair, so it's his call. He looks great and he won't need another hair cut for a very long time!

We brought them home for lunch, and then brought them back to the farm and left them with Mike's parents so we could go Christmas shopping, at my insistence. Remember, my goal is to be completely done before December. Already the stores are nuts and I told Mike, "That's it! Next year I'm doing it all in October!!!" He just laughed at me, but I don't do well in crowded stores. Maybe I'm too impatient, I don't know.

Anyway, we shopped from about 2:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. and we got almost everything done. We got gifts for seven people, plus stocking stuffers for 31 people (and we already had bought for three others), plus all the stocking stuffers for our own boys. We did not finish with Micah's gift, and we have not bought for each other. We have two additional people to shop for (and another that is already done) plus four other gifts to get, but those things will all be done online. So, basically all I have to do is go in alone and get all of Mike's stuff, including a birthday gift, as he is a New Year's baby. Jamie is New Year's Eve, so we have to do that yet too, but that can be a team effort, whereas Mike's gift will be all up to me. I have to buy his stocking stuff too.

So even though his gifts are the most stressful for me to buy, I now have a few full weeks to focus on only that. So much better than last year! That's pretty much my update. Mike has gone out, again, so I'm here "alone". The boys are all here too, of course, but they are asleep. That is a good thing, but it does leave me alone. I will probably read, as I am taking a writing break which seems to be lasting longer than I had intended. I thought I'd get going again yesterday, but I did not. That's okay. I have a good book to read, but it is a thriller, so it might make me tense being here alone! But the pets are all fed and I am cozy in my bed. The only problem is, I have laundry going and I need to put it in the dryer once this load is dry, but that will be quite a while from now. I will probably be up late, as I always am when I am home alone. That's all for now. Goodnight!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The snow has arrived. BOOO!!!!

Just two days after my last post, we were hit with snow. I was so hoping to avoid it for a long time this year, but I guess it was not meant to be. About two years ago, I remember playing baseball with Cody outside all through November, with no snow on the ground. I really wanted that this year. We did all right, considering our first snowfall didn't happen until November 6th, when usually we have snow by Halloween. I know all the snowmobile fanatics out there are jumping for joy, but I'm not. I still hope it will all go away and stay away for a long time, but that is not too likely, I'm sure. Here is a picture of the snow coming down yesterday.
It was snowing when we woke up and it was still snowing when we went to bed last night. The snow was swirling off the roof like we were having a blizzard or something. I half-expected the highways to be closed this morning, but of course, they were not. It is not that cold out either. Only zero degrees today, which is not bad. Come on, Sun! Melt that snow!!!

Here are a couple of shots out the front door this morning.

Yep. Lots of snow for the first snowfall, though in some parts of Manitoba they got several inches. I am thankful that did not happen here. 

Today I am being very domestic. I spent most of the morning sewing, after I finished my laundry. I am not good at sewing. I had two toques (winter hats, for you Americans) to repair and a pair of ski pants, along with a dog puppet whose nose had been pulled off. Anyway, it was all stuff that had to be done by hand. I figured it wouldn't look that great when I was done, but it wouldn't be that hard to make things functional again. I was wrong. This is going to sound so pathetic, but my fingers are still very sore from sewing the darn ski pants. Seriously, aside from poking myself a million times with the needle, those things were nearly impossible to get the needle through, so my fingers are really sore from fighting with the needle. At one point, I bent the needle nearly into an "L" because it could not get through the ski pants, and I was only doing the outer layer of fabric. I think they are waterproof and very non-porous, and that may be why it was so hard, but really! It took me a very long time. 

Then I made lunch for the Dynamic Duo. Cody is at school today, so it is quieter than it otherwise would be. After Micah went down for his "nap" (rolls eyes), I made a cake. We are very low on food in this house, and I literally have nothing to give the boys for a snack, so on a whim, I whipped up a cake. When Cody gets home, in about an hour, I'll make icing and we'll decorate it. 

Hm. I was feeling a lot more domestic than that, but I guess that's all I've done today. I am very tired and I would love to have a nap, but I will have to go get Cody in about 45 minutes, so there is no point. Maybe it is time to work on my book for a while...but you know, I think I will leave it for today. I'm going to read for a while instead. I'm off for now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


After yesterday’s fiasco, Radar finally redeemed himself in the afternoon. Apparently the cattle crossed a line when they moved into our front yard. We discovered this around 3:15 p.m. when Cody looked out the window and called me to come and see. So I grabbed the camera and stood out on the deck, where I was eventually joined by all three boys, and Radar, who was cowering there like the chicken he is. I took pictures, and the cattle moved around a bit at the sound of our voices.

But then, something inside of Radar seemed to snap. He finally decided enough was enough and he headed down to confront them. Maybe it was because Jamie was also headed down to rescue his boots, which he had left by the trampoline. Radar got there just ahead of him and had a stare-off with the bovines. Then, in a fit of inspiration, he spiked up his back and went in for the attack. It was fun to watch, and I got a few pictures, though I was worried about Jamie who was right down in the yard in the middle of the fray. He was standing by the trampoline, so he was okay, but I was yelling, “Get on the trampoline! Get on the trampoline!” He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Why?” Yeesh.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the adventure. Incidentally, only four of the cattle returned. I don’t know what happened to number five. 

So now I don't know whether I can count on Radar or not when I do my walk in the darkness in the early mornings. Maybe he just gets tough when he feels like it and cowers like a wimp when he's not in the mood. I'm sure they will be back today, so it will be interesting. It sure would be fun to get on a horse and chase them all the way back to their own pasture. 

Anyway, must sign off for now. Have a birthday party to attend this afternoon with the boys and have some other things to do first. By the way, please note the green (ish) grass in the pictures and the complete and utter lack of snow. That was November 4th. I sincerely hope the next time I post in here we will still have no snow, but apparently it is coming tomorrow. I am not looking forward to winter. The fall has been so lovely I really want it to last forever, plus precipitation is our enemy this year with the flood aftermath and the flooding to come. So I hope I can share more photos of the nice weather like this. I'll end with one to show just how nice it was yesterday.
Cody was pretending to buck like a cow and Jamie was pretending to be Radar.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Until the cows come home...

How many times I said I would be cleaning until the cows come home? I have fabulous news. Today, they came home. No more cleaning for me! Whoopeeeee! Wait, maybe it doesn't count if this is not technically their home.

If you know me, or follow this blog, you probably know that we have no livestock here right now. We moved our horses out in June or so, due to the flood, and though our fence is still standing...sort-of, it is not supposed to contain any domesticated animals. Our neighbours, however, have cattle and they share a fence line with us. They are black angus cattle, from my limited understanding of bovines. That is, they are black, so in my estimation, they must be black angus.

We have known for quite some time that the cattle in the area are quite taken with our property. Every time we walk down our driveway to wait for Cody's bus, we see hoof prints on our driveway, and frequently they are fresh. There is cow poop in our back yard. Additionally, we hear mooing very close by, and given that we have 80 acres, it's not hard to tell they are not far enough to be off our land. The boys once spotted on on our driveway, and the other night, Mike saw some in our yard, though I don't know how he saw them given their solid black colour and the darkness of night in the country.

But today the cows crossed a line. Our fence line, to be exact. Okay, that's the same line they had crossed many times in the past, but today they did it in broad daylight. They filed down the horses' path to the area by the round pen and began grazing. Three at first, then a fourth appeared. And then a fifth. They made themselves right at home, and why not? They have obviously been living here for quite some time now.
There's the first little guy, peeking at the house. Actually, I think that was the second or third. The others were already past the play structure. These are young animals, but quite big. Given that we have had a bear sighting by our driveway, I'd really freak out if I ran into one of these in the dim early morning light.

They provided some entertainment for a while as they showed off their bovine intellects. Note the huge gap in the fence where they could easily come in and out. Do you think they used it? Not even once. Instead, they squeezed between the top and bottom wire of the electric fence, (sadly turned off right now), and also, to my great irritation, between the top and bottom rails of the wooden fence. Seriously? The rails were bending to accommodate the bulk of their bodies. I had visions of our fence being destroyed.

Incidentally, doesn't our round pen look lovely? One year ago, brand new. Now, full of marsh and reeds, looking like something that was abandoned thirty years ago. You can see in the above picture that the back gate was closed. It was not chained, but just sitting in the closed position. Once four of the five cattle got inside the round pen, by busting through the electric fence on the other side and coming around through the open gate, the boys went outside and screamed on the deck, panicking the animals. I thought it was kind of funny until they somehow busted right through the closed gate. Huh? I don't even know how they did it. Have a look at the next picture and you'll see the result.

Zoom in on this shot and you will see the gate hanging, not even remotely attached to the hinges anymore. I'm not used to cattle. I'm a horse person, and horses don't do stuff like this. Cows are impressively stupid, and they don't seem to have a high degree of physical sensitivity either, hence the reason they go ahead and crawl through barbed wire fences without a second thought. (Or even a first thought, I'm guessing.) You can also see in the above photo that one of them is trying to get through the wooden fence, which it did. Repeatedly. Back and forth. Apparently it couldn't quite decide which side of the fence had the greener grass. Too bad they didn't check out the front yard, where almost all of the grass is green, unlike the stuff they were eating. 

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation I had in all of this had to do with our dog. Radar. Big scary german shepherd type. Here's a picture. Okay, two pictures. 

Multiple times in the last few weeks I have assured Cody and myself that Radar would never put up with any animal in our yard, let alone cows. He hates cows. In the mornings, when we take the trek down our winding rugged driveway in the trees, I take Radar on leash. Every time. A few days ago on our cold, dark walk, Cody expressed his fear to me over and over again. I brushed it off, being the mom, and made it seem silly to be afraid. But people, we live in the boonies, and the reality is, we were walking down what is not much more than a wide trail in the bush, in the pitch black. A trail where a bear has been spotted in the past, and an area that is reported to have bobcats, and where we have seen large coyotes that are unafraid of humans. (Not to mention the number of times we hear them, nearly every day, very close to the yard and sometimes in the yard.) When Cody started saying things like "Are those eyes??" and other lines right out of horror movies, my own imagination started to run a little bit. I laughed at him, but I started to get that feeling like there really were eyes watching us. He asked "What is that sound?" and "Is something following us?" and I was beginning to feel jittery.

My consolation? I told Cody to look at Radar, our big protector. I told him in no uncertain terms that Radar would react with extreme barking and growling if there was anything at all in the trees, and that was why I brought him along. I believed my own words. I was still creeped out walking back to the house that morning in the darkness, but I had my big dog, so what did I need to fear?

Today, Radar shattered my false security in him. When we spotted the cattle in the yard, I told the boys Radar must not have known they were there or he would be barking and chasing them. I had seen him do it many times in the past when we were walking down the road and he saw them in their own fence. He hates cows. But Radar was nowhere to be seen. After a very long time, we saw him come trotting around the back of the house on his path...the narrow path that he has literally worn around the house from circling it. We are certain that is part of his ritual of making his ownership known. If there are coyotes nearby, he spikes his back (which makes him look deceptively formidable) and trots around the house over and over again as though drawing a line in the sand that they cannot cross. I guess he thought that would work today too. He had a very large ball in his mouth too, the size of a coconut. That was his way of saying, "Look at me. I have a ball. You don't have a ball. This is my house. Stay away from my house. Please don't take a step towards me or I will have to take my ball to a safe place and hide until you are gone." He did one round, and that was the last I saw of him. A single bark or growl would have sent them running, but no. He had a self-imposed gag. 

Now I know the truth about my dog. He is utterly useless as a guard dog. The next time I take him down the driveway in the dark, I will be just as scared as Cody. Perhaps even more, seeing I know what's out there and Cody does not. I think maybe Radar needs a new name. I was thinking of Foghorn Leghorn. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christmas is coming...and I feel like Scrooge

I started my Christmas shopping officially yesterday, on November 1st. Do not mistake this for enthusiasm about the season. On the contrary, this year I am dreading Christmas like never before. I have many reasons for feeling this way, but please let me clarify. I am a Christian. I love God, and I am happy to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. But that's not really what happens at Christmas, at least in my experience. This year, I have many, many things I am dreading about the season, not the least of which is the stomach flu, which we have experienced now two years in a row from Christmas morning until New Year's. I guess in recent years, my bad memories of Christmas are starting to outnumber the good ones, so this year, I don't even want to hear a single Christmas song. It doesn't bring the warm fuzzy feeling it used to. In fact, when I hear songs I was listening to last year, my memories are of nausea and extreme discouragement.

This year I am not looking forward to the season. Not the music, not the food, not even the family gatherings, which, though I love the people, are fraught with chaos and stress, and not much chance to really visit anyway. So, I decided that in the very least, I will be doing my shopping early this year to diminish the stress as much as possible. In truth, if I did not have kids, I would opt out of gift-giving and receiving entirely this year and just buy a bunch of goats or cattle for third world starving families through an organization such as World Vision, or another one. In the past I have gotten swept away in all the excitement and the gifts and everything else, and I think that's okay. But this year, I am not there. It all seems frivolous to me. Not the birth of Christ, which technically didn't happen in December anyway, but all our traditions which seem to overshadow Him anyway.

These are just my thoughts as we move into November, and we are expecting snow late this week. I know this all sounds very negative, and maybe it is. But I am ready for some deeper meaning at Christmas, and perhaps I am too late for this year, but next year I want a different plan. Something meaningful and something that will truly honour the real meaning of Christmas, which is not just "family", contrary to popular belief. I hope this year will turn out better than what I am expecting, but whatever happens, I'll get through it. I'm off to read to my sweet Micah.