Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The chicks are back....and hopefully they survive....

Yes, more pictures!!
How fitting that we got our baby chicks for the county fair the Wednesday before Easter!  This is the time of year when Jay gets a little obsessed with growing chickens into the size of turkeys.  I bet the topic of raising chickens gets brought up at least once a week in our home, even in our off season.  This year it was probably worse because Jay built the Taj Mahal of all 4-H project chicken coops.  He talked about this house continually even though I didn't understand a word he was telling me.  I just nodded....and probably poked fun at the whole situation a time or two.  He tells me that I don't appreciate how much money he saved me on this house because he has been scavanging the parts for this thing for at least the last 5 years.  If there was a board dropped along a roadway within 30 miles of us - it's been put to use.  The tin on the outside of it came from our rent place.  Jay saw it sitting in the weeds so he traded out labor for the opportunity to pick the tin from the dirt to use on the house.  In this picture it has a more rustic barnwood look, but it really needs a power washer taken to it.  Then notice the tire on the trailer....Jay pulled it home like that going about 15 mph.  Thankfully he got Lyle to follow him instead of me.  I would've been a wreck watching that wheel hobble along.  Jay said he preferred Lyle to help him over me in case there was a problem because I'd be worthless!   Those who are primarily city dwealers have no idea what I'm talking about....those who live in the country and come from a farm background are nodding your head because you know exactly what I'm've seen your own spouse hoard materials for a rainy day project, you've been involved in moving things in less than safe situations, you've seen the crazed look in someones eye when a 4-H/FFA project is involved, etc.   That's how the ultimate chicken house was born....that and free labor from one of Jay's shop classes :)  

This is Cade's Jay's  3rd year of raising birds.  Up to this point things have gone ok.  Wednesday night (the very 1st night we had them), after Cade was in bed, Jay got a call from a student.  The kid had not made it to pick up his chicks and needed to know where they were.  Jay told him he had them and they were fed and watered for the night.  After that call Jay left to go put his babies to bed...yes, that's a nightly 10 pm routine for the next 6 weeks.  A few minutes later he came running back in saying "I've just killed 15 chickens".  Then I panicked for a moment - killing Cade's chickens would be one of the most traumatic things Jay and I could do to him.  It would not be good...I'd leave the house and make Jay tell him by himself - that's how bad it would be.  Jay quickly told me that it wasn't Cade's chickens - it was the other kids.  He didn't know what had happened.  Jay called his dad, who is our chicken advisor and tried to describe the scene.  Yes, it was sad, but it was also hard to not laugh as Jay described the tragedy out in the shop…Dad, their legs are straight out and their heads are back and they are all wet…what do you think happened? Finally they decided that somehow they climbed in their water to get warm and drowned. Jay went back out and poked on them, five little chicks made some movements. He put those in a box to separate them from Cade’s, but still have them under the heat lamp. Unbelievably they came back to life. I called Jay the Chicken Doctor. Other people asked if he gave them CPR.

So we got through crisis #1 ok. Jay called another ag teacher because he had some extras so Jay’s student did get chickens. Jay didn’t want to give those 5 away in case there was something really wrong with them. But so far they’ve been mixed in with Cade’s and as of now you can’t tell the difference.

Crisis #2 occurred Friday afternoon – the day we were in Springfield. When we got home that afternoon Jay and Cade went out to check on the chicks. Cade came running back and said “they almost burnt up”. Again, anyone who farms will get this…you cobble things together all the time. Jay rigged up a cord that hangs from the shop ceiling down into the chicken pen. Then he takes a heat land and somehow makes a knot and hooks it onto the cord. The heat lamp is just dangling there right above the chickens. Somehow on Friday the heat lamp slipped through the knot and landed on one of the plastic feeders. Luckily feed burns slowly so nothing tragic happened but it could’ve been bad. The plastic feeder is almost melted completely through. Those who know Jay know his sense of humor and how he loves to make little comments…we were watching the news that night and there was an apartment fire in Springfield and X number of families had to evacuate. Jay said “20 chickens almost had to evacuate here”. That gave Cade the giggles and he has repeated the story to everyone. We are a little on edge this year with the chickens. I just hope they survive until the first weekend of June.

Again, you can tell we were trying to get profile pictures.  This is like only the 3rd time I've even been in the shop this entire year...Last year I didn't even visit them while they were babies.  I feel that listening to what I listen to in regards to chicken growing, securing the space in our budget to finance this operation, and the occassional lunch break spent either warming them up or cooling them down is what I contribute to the project....Oh and I usually end up taking the shop vac to them and cutting off nasty feathers from their bottoms the night before the show.  You haven't lived until you've cut off chicken dingleberrys.  I do plenty for this little adventure!!! 

You can imagine the damage the heat lamp did when it fell on this feeder.  Luckily no chickens got harmed in the process.

I love this shot of Charile.  You can see how mesmerized he is by the chickens. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!...and other stuff

We had a great Easter weekend.  Jay and Cade were out of school Friday and Monday so I decided to take some vacation time also.  I’m so glad I did.  We didn’t do much, but it was just nice to be together after all the craziness we’ve experienced the last few months.  On Good Friday we went to Springfield and did some shopping.  I have to show off my favorite purchase of the day.  I’ve needed some rubber boots for awhile.  It never fails that when Jay is gone and I have to feed the lot is a muddy mess.  I end up wearing his boots which are way too big and it takes forever to walk anywhere in them.  I’ve looked at Wal-Mart before and plain old ugly black rubber boots were around $30.  I refused to pay that for ugly shoes that I don’t need that often.  Friday I found these little cuties in Maurices of all places – ON SALE.  Of course I had to snap them up!  Then I had to lug them all around the mall for the next couple of hours….

And these boots came in hand on Saturday. Some friends from church were having an auction Saturday morning – and the day started out with it pouring! Thankfully it stopped before the sale, but things were still wet and muddy. I got to break in the new boots! Our church helped by running the concession stand for the sale and it was a fun day….fun but tiring!

Saturday night Cade and I dyed eggs. Can you tell I was trying to get pictures for our new profile? I’m never in any pictures because 1. I hate having my picture taken and 2. I’m always the one taking them. So we had to focus this weekend on getting some pictures of me. Yuck! Look closely – this is one of the only times you will ever see me in a hat. Saturday was a day of firsts….first time to wear rubber boots and the first time (in a very long time) I wore a hat. My hair just doesn’t handle dampness at all. I didn’t even try on Saturday.  On Sunday our Minister put his foot in his mouth - it's a good thing I'm not easily offended!  He told my I looked much better Sunday morning than I did Saturday...then he tried to get himself out of it and made it worse.  Later he asked if I had forgiven him yet!  It was funny. 

Sunday we celebrated that He Is Risen!   The men at church always cook breakfast so Jay had to be there at 6.  The rest of us didn’t get there until 8:30.  After church we went to Jim and Sharon’s for lunch and Terry and Megan were there.  Thanks to Megan for patiently snapping several pictures of us that day. 

Because of the monsoon that hit Missouri over the weekend – we hunted eggs indoors that afternoon.  We also gave Cade an Easter basket….a new outfit that he didn’t care about at all – and this Star Wars book that he loved.  This is classic Cade – he is always studying things.  You can see the wheels turning.

I also made an Easter cake like my Grandma Fowler used to.  Of course it was another photo op for the profile book.  Anyone looking at our book will wonder why there seems  to be a lot of Easterish pictures….and why are we wearing the same clothes in several of them....If only they knew about Jay needing to drag down the Christmas tubs so I can get some shots of things I didn't think about in December....
Monday I worked pretty much all day on our new profile book.  I really hope the old “3rd times a charm” saying is true in our case.  I’m a little sick of profile books.  While putting it together I realized that I have decorated with a lot of red in our house.  It used to be our bedrooms had red….then I started sneaking a little of it in the kitchen.  Since I have Fiesta dishes it works…..then with the new family room curtains I added a whole lot to the family room.  I hope that doesn’t appear to crazy to anyone looking at the book.  I was talking about Nana making our quilts and I was going to put a shot of our quilt in the book, but really it was starting to get embarrassing!    It seriously looks like I could turn in to one of those little old ladies who decorate in all one shade…red carpet, red couch, red curtains, red telephone, etc.  It’s time to lay off the red!

Also, can you tell when I spend a lot of time on the computer? When I do that, that’s when I tend to have lots of pictures in my posts. I have to include one more for posterity....See this purse.  It looks innocent enough, but it was almost the death of me last week.  It's the first time I've tackled sewing something like that totally on my own.  Things went really well until it was time for the lining.  I sewed that lining no less than 5 different times because I could not get it right.  Finally on Thursday morning it hit me like lightning - I knew what I was doing wrong.  I went to fix it before leaving for work and I immediately ran out of thread.  I used a whole spool of thread on that tiny thing.  I'd say 3/4 of the thread got ripped out of it.  It was like a mini party in the house for all of us when I got it done....I felt like I had accomplished something....Jay was just relieved it was done and I could get the mess cleaned up out of the family room. 

And I want to say congratulations to the parents of the two sweet babies born on Good Friday. How funny is that – we know two babies born on the same day. Congratulations Morgan and Leslie on Baby Josie and Daniel and Hannah on Baby Kaiser. Can’t wait to meet them both!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A few weeks ago I posted about three situations where our profile was being shown. I hadn't felt like updating it until now. None of those worked out. Two of them decided to parent, which is great. I had a feeling that was what would happen. After doing this for so long you kind of get a feeling for which ones will and which ones won't. Those two were young and typically that is what happens when the mother's are young. I know that is not the case 100% of the time, but in my 3.5 years of waiting experience that's what I've seen happen. Honestly, most of the time when I find out that the mother is under 20 I really don't get my hopes up too much.

But, (and there is always a but!) I was sad about the 3rd one. That one I felt like the mother was going to place – so that wasn't an issue, there were some father concerns, but I felt those would work out. I prayed and prayed and prayed for that one to work out. It was a little girl – even though I tried so hard not to I let myself vision what our house could look like on Easter, it was impossible to control all the daydreams. I love buying our Easter clothes…I would be in heaven if I got to buy a dress. My heart aches so much at Easter because it yearns to be able to buy a special outfit for a baby just one more time. It was really hard last year because I had thought we would have one at Easter and we didn't. I just love this holiday and it's hard going through it year after year. Instead, we plan to stage some pictures Sunday afternoon so I can complete Take 3 on our profile book (Grrrrr!!!). When we got the email a few weeks ago that another family had been chosen I was pretty sad.

I got through those grief stages pretty quickly that time. I let go of the Easter dreams. I knew that having another one by Easter was very unlikely at that point.  I should probably clarify here - it's not that I didn't/don't believe God can do anything...but I also know that if there was a cold call and we were chosen the baby wouldn't be in our home by Easter due to court and other legalities. But I've still been pretty emotional…and a little crabby. Like there is an underlying something going on but I couldn't put my finger on it. Today it hit me…If the transfer in July had worked I would've been due on Easter. That explains why I've been a little unreasonable lately. It's one of those cases where my body seems to know something is going on, it just takes me a little while to mentally catch up.

I really really do try to stay positive about this and I can about 99% of the time – but there is that 1% where I want to scream to God is this ever going to end?

But there is another somewhat bright spot…if you could call it a bright spot. The one situation where another family was picked and I was sad ended up being in our best interest. We got our monthly update and the birthfather will not cooperate. It looks like the mother will end up having to parent because the father is not to where he can parent. Hopefully that mom will make the best of it and will become a great mother. She will need a lot of prayers. But that whole situation is one that will make an adoptive family pull out their hair – I won't go into details about it – but it is maddening. But the "good point" is that I'm glad we weren't the family picked only to find out that the match would fall through. I do feel for the family who went through it, but I am selfish enough to say that I'm so thankful that it wasn't us. Definitely a time where with hindsight you know that God was looking out for us. I'm not sure my heart could handle another failed match again….I'm sure if it were to happen God would get me through it…but I'd really like to avoid that pain again if at all possible. Experiencing that twice in one lifetime is 2 times two many!

So we will just gear up to ride that roller coaster again. There is a chance that our profile could be shown again in the next few weeks. I do have a little more hope because I changed our short profile around….but that is a double edged sword. I think we sound really good, but then when we don't get picked I get frustrated because WHAT ELSE CAN I DO DIFFERENTLY????

This time of year I tend to get myself a little extra worked up because we are heading into summer….How great would it be to get a baby during the summer and I could take my 12 weeks off and spend it at home with a new baby, Cade & Jay. So the Easter daydreams are being replaced with summer vacation dreams….which this is nothing new. Happens every year around this time….

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Something said this weekend….

This was after I had to move our highchair in the garage to get to our card table. I noticed how nasty it looked…which it has sat there for 9 yrs collecting dust….And I was very practical with everything I bought when Cade was a baby, very neutral a/k/a boring!

Me to Jay: Just so you know, if we ever end up with a girl I'm going to buy the pinkest, frilliest highchair I can find. Our old one is ugly.

Jay to Me: Well, I hope you know that if we ever end up with a girl I am buying the biggest shotgun I can find.

And the boy/girl debate still continues in our house. Honestly we really do not care it's just every time we get our heads wrapped around all the good things of a particular sex another family is chosen and then a few days later we are shown to a baby of the opposite sex. Enough already!!! I'm just ready to be at the point where I can either buy the pink frilly high chair or the serviceable blue one. I REALLY DON'T CARE WHICH IT IS…either of them will be fine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eye Doctor

Yesterday was one of those days that after 9 years of parenting I should've known better…but even the best of us have momentary lapses in judgment. For whatever reason I scheduled Cade's annual eye appointment at the same time Jay was gone to Columbia for State Convention. Then on top of that horror, I had a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of errands to run after the appointment. What was I thinking?

With Cade's heredity eye issue (which did not come from my side by the way) we've spent a lot of time in the eye doctor the last 8 years. But yesterday Dr. A said we could wait 2 years to come back (yea!), unless Cade has symptoms of eye strain because he does have an astigmatism (which did come from me unfortunately). The bad news was that Dr. A needed to dilate his eyes. Cade hates having his eyes dilated – which I don't blame him. I've only had it done once and I didn't care for it. Then on top of that the Dr. mentioned that Cade has weird looking nerves….Ok, that was the first time this was mentioned. Because of these funky nerves we need to test him for glaucoma every couple of years. I about fell out of the chair….He's 9 and he behaved horribly with the eye drops from just that day. Could you imagine giving him eye drops every day for glaucoma? They had to put in numbing drops so they could test his pressure, which came out totally fine, but Cade did not like it one bit. I asked the Dr. If his pressure was normal and he said yes, that actually it was below normal. Then somewhat to him he says "with nerves like that you want the pressure to be below normal". Nice.

After that hour long visit we were finally on our way to tackle the other errands…I needed to go to a couple of fabric stores and then I had to make several stops for a wedding shower we are having at church Saturday and a couple other stops for some Icebox business. It was rough, especially when you glance in the rearview mirror and see the geriatric 9 year old ticked off in the backseat. They gave him some of those disposable huge sunglasses to help with the dilation. He didn't want to wear them outside of the car so he'd close his eyes and I'd help him into the stores. I did feel sorry for him because I know that hurts and yesterday was pretty sunny. But that did not help his mood…and either did driving, stopping, getting out, running into a store, getting back in the car and driving some more. You know those days…you are just exhausted from the getting in and out. Then twice my water bottle tipped over after I got out of the car and soaked my seat. Luckily at one of the fabric stores they put my material in a small garbage bag so I used that to cover my seat…but I missed one area and had to walk around with a wet rear for part of yesterday. I asked Cade if it was very noticeable and he said "well, we've all had wet pants at some point in our lives". That was helpful.

Our last stop was Starbucks. As Cade put it "we were pooped" so I felt like I deserved a coffee for the drive home. Apparently the lady working at Starbucks wasn't having a great day and she probably wished I didn't stop by and make her day worse. I got my coffee and was adding the cream, which I almost dropped and did one of those things where you just can't get your hands on it. Finally it hit my coffee and spilt the whole thing everywhere then my purse fell off my arm and landed right in the middle of the whole mess. The poor girl had to pull out the mop and move the counter. It was a huge mess and I felt horrible about it.

When I got back in the car after that disaster Cade said "what a day – we are pooped aren't we." I said "You have no idea…." Jay will now be accompanying us on any future eye appointments. It's not fair for me to have all the fun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

State Standardized Testing

Today is the first day of MAP testing at school. Cade is a wreck. He got confused and thought they were testing last week. The whole first weekend of April he stressed over it. The day we came home from my dad's birthday party he went over and over the injustice of taking this test. In 1st and 2nd grades he took the Terra Nova test so he sees himself as a testing guidelines specialist. He kept telling us that he wouldn't get a recess and wouldn't even get lunch during the week they were testing. We kept telling Cade over and over there was no way they were going to expect kids to do well with no breaks. And there was absolutely no way they would not feed him lunch. He swore that way back in 2nd grade he got no recess and no lunch those days. When we got home that evening I searched all over his bag to make sure I didn't miss the testing note. I told him I didn't think he would have to worry about it because there was no note. No school conducts a test without first sending home a note. He didn't believe me. The next day I picked him up from school so I asked how the test went. He said that the test was next week . He also said that they wouldn't get their morning recess but they would get an extra long one in the afternoon. I asked him if Ms. C told them that or if he asked….He said he asked but that he forgot to ask her if they'd still get lunch.

Thank goodness clearing up the lunch/recess issues seemed to have calmed him down about the test. I know fear is a useful tactic for some teachers to use, but it clearly does not work in our household. Cade is so worried about being tied to his desk, tummy grumbling from hunger and not being able to move on to the 4th grade that he isn't going to test very well. Jay told Cade that Ms. C only said that they wouldn't be able to pass just to get them to pay attention and listen. I think Jay felt a little guilty letting Cade in on that teaching secret, but it was necessary.

I'm sure Ms. C is ready to ship the Shepherd's off to the 4th grade. I wonder if she will grimace when she sees us turn in our permission slip to the field trip with all three of our names on there – because we both always go on his field trips. Every year I picture the scene…Teachers sitting around talking about who gets what kid the next year…I'm sure there are giggles when last years teacher hears who gets us for the next year. Not that we are bad or mean to the teacher….we are probably considered "high maintenance". Yup, we definitely have a file started on us at the school…..child seems to become highly stressed over little issues….after talking with parents we find the apple didn't fall far from that tree….parents may also slightly smother child….But it is a benefit to have father on field trips because he supervises the boy's bathroom….

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What we did Sunday...

Sunday was one of those much needed days where we did something together as a family.  I know I've blogged about this hundreds of times over the years, but March/April is such a hard time on our family.  Jay is unbelievably busy.  He is gone late several nights a week and every Saturday for over a month.  Then with the weather being so yucky, it's been hard to do much.  We all have had the winter blahs the last few weeks. 

Sunday was my dad's birthday so we traveled to Sheldon to have lunch with him. We had a very nice time just getting out and being together. I think just a change of scenery and doing something different did a world of good for our moods.

 As you can see Lawon loved his lunch

The kids sang Happy Birthday to Papa Kerry 
(Sorry for the chicken carcass on the edge of the picture)

 After lunch dad took the kids out to fly kites.  This is definitely a treat for Cade because we do not live in kite flying terrain

While we were outside flying kites Jay volunteered to stay in with Lawson.  I can't figure out why.  If someone does figure it out, please let me know....

How I spent my Saturday…

It seems that in the great state of Missouri we have had exactly 3 nice Saturday's since before Christmas. I've had to spend all 3 of them in Springfield. One was totally by my choice and I enjoyed it immensely, the second one was the week before Cade's birthday so it was a necessity and the third one was this past weekend. I spent a large chunk of my day helping at the district ag contests at MSU. Not necessarily by my choice, but I was asked to help. The person in charge of arranging the contests called our office to see if he could get some help. Since we are "the premier lender in agriculture financing" we are called on to help with a lot of different ag things. And since Jay and I personally know this guy, I think he knows it would he hard for me to turn him down. And I also know that I am the only one in our 3 man office who would understand the importance of Saturday so I agreed. The helping part isn't what's bad….it's the other stuff that stresses me with these contests.

Being at an ag contest is one of those things you can't comprehend until you experience it. Most would probably think what is the big deal? If you say that you obviously have never witnessed what goes on…and you sure aren't married to an ag teacher! This is the pinnacle of their whole year – this is a very large part of what they focus on…pretty much all the time. Even being in the middle of the 2011 contests Jay could tell you who he is going to have on the 2012 mechanics team. It is crazy. And since we are lucky enough to live in the most competitive area of the whole state, district contest seems to be more stressful than even the state contest. If you can get a team to state from the Southwest area, chances are you will do pretty well in the state contests.

So Saturday I got roped into looking at resumes, cover letters and job applications for the Job Interview contest. It really isn't bad – and as long as I'm not judging any form of public speaking I'm good. I happily sat in the MSU Ag office looking through papers. It was amazing the number of people who came in the office and thought I'd know something….where is the guy running the scantron machine? Where do the speakers need to be? Can I use that tape? Do you have a sharpie? There was probably one ticked off secretary Monday morning when she came to work and her supplies were missing. Most of the time I stopped the people before they even asked – I know nothing! I'm just here looking at papers. They would all look so disappointed as they walked away.

Actually, when I sent the people away without answering their questions I felt kind of bad. Again, you can not comprehend the stress in good ol' Karl's Hall until you experience it. There are kids and students lining the halls holding their breaths waiting for the results to be posted. You can cut the tension with a knife! I really hated walking to the bathrooms because 1 I would have to navigate through all the bodies and 2 the stress was very apparent on everyone's face. I can't think of anything to compare this to…those teachers faces showed more stress than any of the coaches in Saturday's Final Four games….it might compare to everyone waiting outside the courtroom while the jury deliberates on a very stressful case?

Another reason I don't care to be there is because of my husband. I firmly believe that you can have a wonderful marriage, and be best friends and all that stuff…but there are still times I don't want to be around him. An ag contest is one of those times. He is as nervous as a cat. While I and Carla (the wife of the guy who is in charge of the contests) were wrapping up the scores for the Job Interviews Jay came in the office and wanted to know what was going on. Miller didn't have a kid in this contest so he didn't do anything illegal. I told Jay we had the scores but we weren't sure what to do with it. We hadn't been told to post it yet. One thing about Jay and I you need to know – I am a rule follower. People who don't follow rules drive me nuts. Jay sees rules more as guidelines. This can cause conflicts between us. Jay told me to post it. Then he badgered me about who won, did so and so win , where did they place,etc. UGH!!! I was unsure because I hadn't been told to post it and Jay asking me all those questions was making me nervous and I know how serious these contests are taken. I did not want to do anything wrong. Let me tell you, Jay applied the pressure. He kept telling me we needed to post it and Carla was as unsure as I was. We did not want to mess this up. And most of the scores are posted online and we had no idea how to do it. Jay told me we needed to print it and put it on the bulletin board. He said the other teachers were asking and starting to get nervous (like it could get worse?). Finally the guy in charge walked in and gave us permission to post it. Jay walked it out to a bulletin board and put it up. It was like dropping a bread crumb in the midst of seagulls. I barely made it back before the crowd surrounded the board. Jay told me that was mild since it was a 1 person contest. He said I should see the ones where teams are involved. It's like 65 people pressing you against the bulletin board.

So Carla, Jay and I stepped back and we were saying our goodbyes. There was a shout around the corner and Jay just disappeared. I started to follow him to let him know I was going to leave. I had some serious grocery shopping to do. But I couldn't get his attention and he disappeared into one of the classrooms. I decided to just leave. I figured he'd text me later at least acknowledging the fact I had left and he'd see me later. Apparently he wasn't concerned that I had been kidnapped by aliens or something when he didn't see me again because I never got a text from him. I'm not even sure he realized I had left the campus.

The next day I was joking with him about it. I told him he just ignored me and walked away. He said but they were giving Creed results. I said I know, but you could've at least told me goodbye – I wasn't even sure you realized I had left. He said "I know, but they were giving Creed results".

Most won't get this, but maybe some other poor ag teachers' wife will read this and she will know that someone else in the world understands what she goes through every year. Carla and I had talked about it a little and she said just wait until Cade is in the contests. She said it gets worse. Then she told me she would be sure to pray for us then. And she wasn't joking!

Today is the last day of districts. Thanks goodness!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jay's Famous!!!

Jay was recently interviewed for a magazine article on ag teaching.  I had forgotten about it because it was a couple of months ago.  Charity called me today and told me a friend of hers had seen the magazine.  Here is an online view of it.....
Jay is the one that part of his picture is hidden but if you click on it the whole thing will pop up. 

Today's Farmer