Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stress Relief

Do you know that feeling when you finally get rid of a bunch of things that have been worrying you - like you've just slid off a backpack weighing about 200 pounds?  That's sorta how I'm feeling today, or WOULD be feeling if I wasn't so exhausted.

For the past 2-3 weeks, a rather nasty cold has been circulating through our family, thanks to Miss J, who brought it home from school.  The primary symptoms are sore throat, congestion and cough, along with a general sense of wanting to stay under the covers and moan when the alarm goes off each morning.

I was lucky enough to be the last person affected, and for some reason, it is lingering.  I have been up every night for the past week sitting/napping in the recliner, because the cough is less persistent in that position.  It makes for a sore neck and excessive irritability.

Thankfully though, the other couple things that have been stressing me lately sort of dissipated this week, so now I feel light as a (lead) feather.

Last week I was approached by my Supervisor with the offer of a position with another local practice.  I was reluctant to jump on this because the Powers-That-Be recently told JP that they were working on ways that I could help out more at his office, and I am wary of getting in over my head.  I did agree to meet with the Dr. on Monday.  It ended up being the most awkward interview I have ever been at in my life - after being kept waiting for over 20 minutes in the office waiting room, I spent 5 minutes with the Dr.

I was informed afterwards that the chilly reception was due to a misunderstanding, but the interaction certainly made up my mind about whether or not I would want to work in that environment! issue gone.

For the past 2-3 weeks, I've been having numbness of my right hand and arm.  I was concerned that it was stemming from something in my neck, because of the positions that it happens in.  I finally had an appointment yesterday with the Physiatrist, who did EMGs (nerve conduction studies) in my arms.  He told me that it is coming from my neck, but there is no nerve damage.  He feels that there is likely compression at C6 in my neck, but that it should respond to Physical Therapy.  I was secretly worried that I would need to have neck surgery like my Mom, and the thought has been freaking me out.  Poof...another stress point vanished.

Today I am thrilled that I have nothing pressing to do except pay bills, do laundry, go grocery shopping, take L to the Dr., pick up J from school, and take her to soccer practice.  You know, all the regular stuff.  There is a slight possibility that I can slip a nap in there somewhere!

Where's the Bear? #45

The bear is watering the plants on the high shelf this week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Where's the Bear? #44

The bear seems to be engrossed in the Funnies!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dancing With 2 Left Feet

It has been absolutely CRAZY around here lately.  My afternoons are COMPLETELY full (and then some) with picking up, dropping off, encouraging homework, chores, and showers, and trying to get food into my family in a timely manner.  Recently I compared it to a finely choreographed dance.  To really make it flow, however, everyone has to be on their toes.  I am personally genetically predisposed to be a poor dancer, being of Mennonite and Amish heritage.  The rest of my family has similar issues, so typically the After School Activity Dance is stressful.  We're doing ok, but I wouldn't say that we are making any stellar memories at this point in our time for that!

Sunday afternoon was L's first soccer game.  They did fairly well, for only having 2 practices with their coach ahead of time.  L is the tallest on her team by an inch or two.  She also scored the first goal of the game!  Ok, that was a pretty stellar memory.

L had her first piano lesson of the year on Monday.  Her teacher was impressed that she practiced over the summer.  (Hooray, score one point for good parenting!)  J also had an orthodontist appointment, at which we were informed that the braces come off at the next visit.  She is thrilled.

Yesterday afternoon, J had her first away soccer game.  The bus left their school at 1 PM, meaning that she lost a good segment of classroom time, for which she had make up work to do last evening.  They won their game, but didn't arrive back in town until after 6 PM, which gave her precious little time to do homework, eat dinner and get to bed.  It was after 10 when she got there, and I was already in bed by then!

The garden is winding down, thank goodness.  On Monday, Mom and I dug the root crops:  potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beets.  We still have sweet potatoes to dig.  I have 5 beds ready to cover with leaves to "sleep" for the winter.  The potatoes did not do so well this year.  They were very healthy, but quite small and the quantity was fairly low.  I did plant potatoes from last year, so we actually came out ahead.  Perhaps it's time to buy new seed potatoes for next year?  The carrots did quite well.  This one has 8 "legs", so we've named it the Octopus.

We got quite a bit of rain toward the end of last week, so things are greening up again, and my rainwater cistern is filled to the brim.  The nights have been cool since then, and the days are extremely pleasant.  Most mornings look like this:

That's about it for now.  J has another soccer game this week, L has another soccer practice, we have parent/teacher conferences at the Middle School, and JP has another checkup with his Ophthalmologist.  Must.  Keep.  Going.

Where's the Bear? #43

The bear was helping out feeding the birds recently.  We feed all sorts:  songbirds, finches, woodpeckers and hummingbirds.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Where's the Bear? #42

The bear is giving award winning Chaz some attention.  He hasn't been getting much lately, as J has been busy with other things.  He's also molting, as you can tell by the moth-eaten appearance of his fur coat.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Happy Labor Day, y'all!

We had a pretty fun and much needed weekend.  On Sunday afternoon, I went out to take the cover off the pool so that we could swim.  When I got close to it, it was making a strange "plink, plink, plink" sound.  I finally realized that it was RAINING!  Little drops were hitting the cover, making it "plink!"  There was no thunder, so we went in swimming any way, although J complained that she was getting wet.  I'm sure that we got too little moisture to even register, but it's good to know that the clouds still remember how to do it around here!

Sunday night, after our cookout and Klondikes, we set up the first ever Poplar Ridge Drive In!  We hung a sheet from the gutter above the garage, set up lawn chairs in the driveway, and watched "Kung Fu Panda" while getting munched upon by skeeters.  It was pretty fun!

Today we got the first actual, genuine, guaranteed egg from the red pullets.  Maybe they heard me complaining yesterday that I was tired of feeding 37 hens and only getting 2 eggs a day?  In any case, I set up more nests for them this evening, and here's hoping for a BUNCH of tiny eggs tomorrow!

Hope your long weekend was fantastic.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Week 2 is Through!

The word of the week is Algebra.  This and soccer practice dominate J's life at the moment, and therefore, the life of our family.  A letter came home from the Principal on Friday that begins, "We have been made aware of concerns about our...Algebra program this year, including the level of difficulty and the amount of time spent completing homework."

The Middle School has moved to a new book this year, which supposedly incorporates the Common Core Standards (dirty words, GRRR!), and is supposed to encourage students to be "self taught learners."  It also requires the students to purchase a graphing calculator (which cost $88 at our local Wal-Mart.)

J's homework this weekend was 30 exercises involving various functions of the calculator.  Let me tell you something...even if your child did not throw away the instruction book on the first day of school, this thing is tremendously difficult to figure out!  The Principal's letter states that "...the teachers are using every minute of class time to provide the students with instruction on each lesson."  The truth according to J seems to be somewhat different - she says that the teacher went over 2 examples in class on Friday.

In any case, all told, J spent about 4 1/2-5 hours on Algebra homework this weekend, which includes watching several YouTube videos about the calculator functions (very helpful!)  So.  Glad.  That's.  Done.

L's soccer coach finally had all of his clearances come through, and was ready to have practice on Thursday.  We were all suited up and getting L's soccer ball in the car to head to the field, when she ran around the side of the car, and straight into the opening back hatch with her face.  She reacted so strongly that I was concerned that she might have done more than just get a giant goose egg on her forehead, but JP checked her out and thought she was ok.  So...she missed her first practice, poor thing.  The school nurse called me around noon yesterday to report that L had been in to see her, and requested an ice pack for her head.  I've heard nothing more about it today.

It is Labor Day weekend, which usually means that we work more than normal.  JP & Dad put the Brush Hog on the tractor and then JP mowed the fields.  I mowed down the weeds in the orchard, and removed the straw bale Kitty Kastle from the veranda.  (It was meant to be a temporary thing, but stayed out there for more than 3 years!)  I also broke down and watered the trees in the orchard, as it has been about 3 weeks since they've had any water.

Speaking of dryness, all of the forecasted thunderstorms have dispersed before hitting our corner of the world, so it is super dry.  I used all of the water from the 1000 gallon rain water cistern on the garden, trying to keep the Fall peas, the tomatoes, and the eggplants from dying.  I spent a couple of hours hauling 3 loads of water yesterday to fill that cistern as well...never did that before.  So far (*knock on wood*) our well has been hanging in there.

We are planning to take it easy tomorrow, hopefully with friends.  Possibly on Labor Day, we will also chill.  It would be nice.

Enjoy your long weekend everyone, and if you want to cook out and play in the pool with someone, come our way tomorrow afternoon.  It'll be fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Where's the Bear? #41

It has been SO hot lately!  Definitely NOT ideal for all of this soccer practice that the girls have been doing.  It is not the dog days of summer (July 3-Aug. 11), and it's not Indian Summer (late September - early November), so WHAT is it?

The bear thinks it's BEARLY tolerable.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week 1 is Done

We are well into our second week of school by now, and nobody is happy.

L is in a class with a teacher that was not her first choice, and with only one out of her group of girlfriends.  She is also disappointed that recess does not happen until the very end of the day.  Every day, she scowls and grumbles.

J has Jr. High soccer practice for 2 hours every night, and over an hour of Algebra homework as well.  I have been picking her up from school, so that she has 45 minutes more to do homework than if she would ride the bus home.  She comes home from practice at 8 PM, sweaty, exhausted & ravenous, and sometimes has more homework to do before a shower and bed.  She spends most of her life in a state of semi-consciousness.

This afternoon, we were asked to come to the Library for newspaper pictures.  Both girls were among the top readers in the Summer Reading Club.  J racked up over 42 hours of reading in the 6 weeks of SRC, and L read more than 36 hours.

At this point in life, I am extremely grateful that we had such a low key and laid back summer.  It allowed our minds and bodies to rest before the upheaval of school and Fall sports.  I only heard the girls complain a time or two that they were bored.  They read A LOT.  We got in the pool almost every day.  We made some day trips and did some fun things - nothing huge or glamorous.  It has been lazy and unstructured because of JP's continued eye issues and forced activity restrictions for the past 2 months.  We all slowed down.  Perfect.

And now for some REALLY good news:  JP was released from all activity restrictions as of last week.  Hooray!

Now we are sweating and math-ing and reading and grouching through another week, and looking forward to a 3 day weekend.  We'll need the extra break - J has her first soccer game the following week, and L will return to piano lessons.  (We've decided to wait to add on guitar lessons until soccer is over with in October, as we might be able to squeeze a lesson in weekly, but not daily practice time.)

Welcome to Fall!