Thursday, September 25, 2014

Helicopter Parenting

Ok, so we've all been guilty of hovering over our children at one time or another.  It is only natural, especially with the first one, to be concerned about the well being of your prodigy.  I remember having dreams, when I was enormously pregnant with J, of leaving my baby, still in her carrier, in stores that I normally frequented.  It is a horror that no parent ever wants to experience - losing your child.

An article that I read recently really made me think more on this subject of parenting styles.  (You can read it here.)  The article discusses a unique playground in Europe, and the importance of experimenting and play in children.  Basically, it states that since today's children are so heavily supervised by their parents, and have big portions of their lives scheduled for them, they are becoming "less emotionally expressive...less imaginative, less unconventional...less perceptive..."

It is true that I was raised much differently than how my children are raised.  I remember spending hours on my own exploring outside.  My mother commented recently (at J's soccer game) that they didn't have these kinds of organized sports when I was growing up.  I did take piano lessons after school though, as did my middle brother for a time...before he became interested in other instruments.

I think I tend to spend less time playing WITH my children than do many of my friends.  This is a fact that frequently makes me feel guilty, but it seems that my children ENJOY going off and exploring on their own outside...just like I used to do.  True, since we live on a mini-farm in the country, that is safer and easier for them to do than their peers who live in town.  This doesn't lessen their pleasure (or mine) when I do sit down to play with them. 

They do have a giant portion of their lives scheduled right now:  school for 7 hours, soccer practice during the week & games on the weekend, music lessons and practice during the week, etc.  These are things they CHOSE to do and ENJOY doing, and so (even though I might complain mightily at times) I try to make it possible for them to do.

Is that the difference then - that we want our kids to have it all, so we go to great lengths to give them the opportunity?  Didn't my parents want the best for me as well?  So, society has changed.  It seems that there are many more Sickos out there, which is scary.  But (knock on wood) the only major injury that my child has suffered has been a fractured pinky finger...and that happened at school!

My mantra has been:  "Not on MY watch!"  If hovering over my kids keeps them safe, then that is important.  I wonder though, if they would be fine regardless?  I can fervently say that my children are astoundingly expressive, imaginative, unconventional and perceptive.  They are relatively healthy (ok, L is home sick for the 2nd day with a fever and sore throat, but I blame that on Public School!)  They are growing up with a freedom similar to one that I grew up with, and for that I am extremely thankful.  The only thing that I would change, in the end, is maybe trusting them a bit more with the things that scare me:  knives, fire (ummm...maybe not, considering the bathroom fire earlier this week), firearms, staying home alone...with limits, of course.  When they complain that they "haven't had a chance to play ALL DAY!", send them outside.  I keep forgetting that they are not small adults, how silly of me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Start a Fire

One of the girls (and I am not sure WHICH one) did a little experiment with conductivity this morning.

The experiment involved the handle of a Chinese take-out box, a night light, and an electrical outlet.

Needless to say, the result was a small explosion. 

Quite exciting for the frenzied moments before school!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cool Nights, Warm Days

I can definitely feel Fall in the air these days.  We have had the windows open more than not for the past week, enjoying the cool, fresh breezes.  Unfortunately, the cool nights have made the temperature in the pool drop and be unable to recover.  Leaves were also starting to blow in, so we decided that this weekend was the time to go ahead and winterize it.  Reading the literature, we may have been a bit premature - some people wait until the pool temperature is 65*, we jumped the gun at did it at 70*!

We decided to have one last swim before closing it up, which was a bit chilly.  It was actually kind of refreshing for the first 2 or 3 minutes. 

It took longer this year, since we did it the right way - adding certain chemicals and letting them circulate with the pump before adding others, etc.  It took us about 4 hours all together, including emptying some of the water, disconnecting the pump and filter, etc, and covering it.

That's done, check!

This weekend, we also:

- Did endless mowing
- Cleared out the corner of the barn in preparation for concrete being poured
- Dug red beets and potatoes in the garden, weeded and mulched 2 beds
- Dumped 2 tractor buckets of weeds into the woods
- 2 loads of laundry
- Caught up on our Hospital required continuing education
- Haircuts for JP and myself


Today, on Soccer Sunday, J's game was in the sun, and L's was in the pouring rain.  Fun times!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Autumn Things

Having my exam and the back issues behind me, I have started working outside in the flower bed and garden this week.  I am trying to be wise and only work a maximum of 2 hours at a time, and to remember to lift and bend correctly. 

Since I have not spent any time in my perenniel bed this year, it is in terrible shape.  I didn't start working on it right away in the Spring because I was waiting to see what came back after our terrible winter.  Now it is overgrown with grass and wild violets.  I have now spent parts of 3 days working out there, and have found my stepping stones again!  I have also dead-headed most of the flowers, and things are looking MUCH better!

This morning, I decided to head down to the garden.  I planted the corn in hills this year, and planted squash between some of the hills, trying to emulate the old Native American style of planting.  Unfortunately, it became jungle-like, with long squash vines climbing up and over the corn and asparagus and even the fence!  This made it difficult to pick the corn, let alone weed in there.  Consequently, because of that and 6 weeks of neglect while I was studying and recovering, the weeds are shoulder high.

I picked all of the winter squash, except for a butternut or two that appear to still be ripening.  I also pulled about 1/3 of the corn, and weeded about 1/3 of the corn patch.  Things are shaping up down there, and we got quite the haul of winter squash this year!

The chickens are beginning to molt again, thus the egg production is down.  We lost our last red hen (and excellent layer) a couple of weeks ago.  The girls found her in a nest box with her head tucked under her wing.  It appeared to be a peaceful demise, especially since I saw her happily pecking up corn the day before.

I must now extol the virtues of this stuff:

I have posted before about my naked hens.  Actually the aprons worked very well...that and getting rid of the rooster helped make them look pretty good!  They still are stupid birds, and enjoy pecking each other, so several have places on their back sides or back of their necks with missing feathers.  One poor lady, whom we have been calling "Baldy Butt" for almost a year, has had every single one of her tail feathers pecked out!

I found this lotion at Tractor Supply the last time I was there stocking up on chicken feed, and thought I'd give it a try.  The stuff is colored a vivid purple, and smells like grape lollipops.  I applied it twice to Baldy Butt's hind quarters, and now, 2 months later, she is sporting about half a dozen small tail feathers!

Of course, her tail SHOULD look more like this, but she looks so much better that I don't have the heart to tell her that she doesn't blend in.

Things are busy up here on the Ridge this Fall, but it's all good.  My next mission is to procure apples for the making of apple sauce...a definite Autumn tradition!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Two things got me through the long and cold January this year:  hot tea and Downton Abby.

I'm preparing for the coming winter.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hip, Hip Hooray! test scores arrived, and I passed my Recertification Board Exams.  Hooray! 

This afternoon we discovered that the last of our Black Swallowtails changed from a chrysalis to a  butterfly.  We found 2 little caterpillars on the dill in our garden about 6 weeks ago, and fed them a steady diet of Queen Anne's Lace and Parsley until they became huge and fat.  Not long after the last one changed to a chrysalis, we discovered another itty bitty teeny weeny little caterpillar on the greenery in our butterfly habitat, and then another a week or so later! 

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly

We were lucky enough to have 4 lovely butterflies emerge, but I only have pictures of the last two. 

Female Black  Swallowtail Butterfly

Tomorrow is J's Picture Day, so we have chosen an outfit.  (Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I found this dress at the thrift store last week!!)

L was doing cartwheels at J's soccer practice last week, slipped and landed HARD on her hip.  She has been complaining of pain ever since, so we got X-Rays on Saturday.  Finally found out today that they are ok...guess she just bruised herself and/or pulled a muscle.  At least we don't have 2 girls with broken bones to treat!

It's all good news for a Monday.  Hope yours is going well too!

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Been a Mad Mad Mad Mad Week

Piano lessons were added this week to our already packed schedule.  L has yet to practice (I hope her teacher is NOT reading this post!)

A sea foam green electric guitar arrived from Amazon for Miss J, who is starting lessons NEXT week.

To complicate matters, J broke her little finger in Gym Class yesterday.  I received my second call ever from the school nurse regarding the injury about 1 1/2 hours before school let out.  We went in to the Hospital for xrays last night instead of going to soccer practice.

I took JP's old truck down the road to the repair shop earlier this week.  They said they couldn't fix it, and recommended another shop.  I stopped by today to take it there, and it wouldn't start.  They kindly offered to jump start it for me, but when the gentleman snapped the cables on to my battery, the car alarm went off.  I had to return home for the key fob in order to attempt the jump a second time.

I arrived at the muffler shop 30 minutes late, so the proprietor told me it would be 30 minutes before he could put the truck on the lift.  I left it running in his parking lot because of the battery situation.  In my opinion, if someone wanted to drive off in it, 1) they were welcome to it, and 2) they wouldn't get far!

I assisted my Mom with grocery shopping in return for a ride home.

The Muffler Man called with an enormous estimate.

J is attending her first ever dance at the Middle School this evening.  She asked me if she had to have a date.  I told her that she was not ALLOWED to have a date, which led into the whole "how old do I have to be to date, anyway?" conversation, to which I responded, "21!"

Thank Goodness It's Friday!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Well, That's Over With!

For the past 4 weeks, despite summer vacation, peaches, school, soccer and back pain, I have been trying to spend several hours every day reviewing for my Board Exams.

I didn't really feel that much encouraged by my progress in spite of all the studying...kept getting 65% on my practice exams.

This morning, I took the darn test.

I think I got at least 65%.

Now I can move on and tackle my To-Do list!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer Projects

Just a follow up on some projects that I started earlier this summer...

The bank behind the pool has a steep slope and needed help to prevent erosion and weeds.  I tried planting Vinca last Fall, but it hardly had a chance to get started before winter hit - and hit HARD!  Half of the plants did not make it.  I replanted on Mother's Day, and then added some ground cover that my Mom was thinning out of her beds:  bright green Creeping Jenny, and lacy Sweet Woodruff.

Here is how things are looking now.  They are growing voraciously, and I have weeded and mulched the flat areas next to the pool.  I haven't been able to push the mower for a couple of weeks, so the grass is long...sorry.

Last month I did a bit more on a project that I have been working toward for a couple of years.  I wanted to separate the driveway from the house and my shade bed in the "coffin", by putting in stepping stones and growing a Moss Garden.  It took several years of saving up large, flat stones, and trying to rid the area of weeds and grass that seeded themselves in.

Then I used this Moss Milkshake, and several bits of moss that I scavenged from other areas of Poplar Ridge.

One month out, we are starting to see bits of moss growing here and there!

It is very satisfying to see projects come to fruition...especially ones that had shaky starts.  My back is feeling better daily, so I'm hoping that next week, after my Exams are over with, I can work on the next one...

Monday, September 1, 2014

One Week In...

We were lucky enough to have a long weekend after our first full week of school.  We used Labor Day Weekend to regroup, recover, and play!

After J's second day of school, she reported "I LOVE Middle School!"

L was a bit less enthusiastic.  She likes her teacher a lot, but she has moaned (several times) that "3rd Grade goes really slow, MUCH slower than 2nd Grade!"

A little bit of a back ache on the Thursday before school, turned into a major disability by the afternoon of the first day of school for me.  I ended up spending 3 mornings at the Chiropractor's last week.  I am finally feeling *mostly* better, but still trying to avoid strenuous activity.  I did get a lot of studying done, while I was lying around on ice packs or heating pads.  My brain feels full now, and by this time next week, my exams will be over!

Saturday was and sunny.  We had friends over to play in the pool, and JP cooked a brisket overnight for dinner that evening.  It was great fun!

The kids are ALWAYS starving after playing in the pool!
Enjoying "Let It Go"...or not!
Watching Totoro
Sunday was rainy and cool.  The girls put on a cute play with Grandmom about Rapunzel.  I'll try to post it at some point.  L wanted curls in her hair for the event.

Curls Before...
Curls After.

Today we watched about 5 hours of home video, while recording them to DVDs. We got to see J's and L's births, and lots of cute (and not so cute) stuff in between.

Tomorrow it is back to school and work for everyone, as well as soccer practice.  No more rest for the weary!