Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Because I Can Not Resist

Yes.  They are adorable.  We hold them every day, and that is fine.  Two look quite like Podger - grayish tan, and the other has Polly's coloring.  Love how they sleep, all snuggled up.


Can you tell the boys have been picking blackberries?!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, August 27, 2012.

Outside my window...  started gray and cloudy, but now sunny, warm, and breezy.

I am hearing...  boys doing something out in the yard, Kerry in the shower, and the breeze in the trees out my window.

I am thinking...  school starts next week, and there's so much I want to do, yet!

I am praying...  for a friend in surgery today, for my mom (recovering with her new knee), and for all of us about to start schooling again.

I am thankful...  Kerry is still BUSY with work - thankful for God's continual provision and for Kerry's hard work, thankful for boys picking more blackberries for me this morning, and for a gorgeous-but-not-hot day :D

I am wearing...  blue capri pants and blue t-shirt with my blue faux-crocs.

I am creating...  well, I have fabric ready to go, time to just Do It.

I am going...  to get some ice water, or make some sweet tea.  Yah.  Tea sounds good :D

I am reading...  finally finished The Book That Made Your World, by Vishal Mangalwadi.  Boy did that book make me wish I was a whole lot smarter than I am.  Knowing facts is not enough.  You have to be able to put them all together and see the big picture.  He shows the reader things that seem obvious once he's connected the dots, but I wouldn't have seen on my own.  I think I'll have Wyatt read this with his World History this year.

Now I'm reading several women's books - skimmed through Damsels in Distress by Martha Peace (don't be put off by the "damsels" in the title - it's not anything to do with the patriarchy movement, just alliteration), and Women Helping Women, edited by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

I am learning...  better responses for stressful moments.

I am looking forward to...  school!  Getting back into a routine.  More structure in our lives.  Summer is like having some really fun company, with lots of hubbub and activity.  I love when it comes and then I love when it goes.

In the kitchen...  I am breaking out the last frozen (homemade) turkey pot pie for dinner.  And I'll
make another pie for dessert.

Wyatt and I walked down to the bus stop (to see how long it takes, not in a hurry - 4:46, if you're wondering) and noticed *score!* more blackberry bushes getting ripe!  (Around here, Himalaya blackberry bushes are a weed and are generally fair game for anyone who wants to harvest them.  Especially when they're overhanging the sidewalk.)  I promptly dispatched The Minions down to pick as soon as Wyatt and I got home.  They gathered enough berries this morning for three and a half pies.  I froze two lots, gave one to my neighbor, and I'm mixing in some peaches for a peach/blackberry pie experiment.  We'll see how it comes out ;D

In the learning rooms...  lots of preparation going on.  The boys don't admit to looking forward to school, but I know they're going to enjoy much of their studies this year.

Around the house...  I'm always happy about cleaning and purging, though the living room and dining room are looking very bare right now.  I often take my houseplants outside during the summer and it makes such a difference (in the plants and the look of the house)!  The plants do well in the fresh air, and I realize how much they do for the rooms they're usually in.

The Mother Load...  sewing projects waiting to be done, laundry always piling up, and just a bit more school prep to do.  I really wasn't feeling the love for the history program I had lined up for Wyatt this year.  It's probably a fine curriculum, but it's intended to cover two years.  Yah, sure, we could cram it into one, but only by stripping off the components that actually make it interesting, y'know?  And - I know this is kind of petty - but the text and photos were all black and white.  Very blah.  Kerry okayed me making a last minute purchase of a one-year high school level World History and I am anxiously watching for its arrival so I can start lesson-planning.

Noticing that...  the nights are cooler already, and leaves are starting to fall.  That has more to do with the stress of the week or two of hot weather than the changing season yet, but it's still a welcome sign of autumn to me :D

Something I want to remember for later...  how much all the boys (even the big ones) love to hold the baby bunnies.  They may be all carbonated testosterone, but they are very gentle.  Love it :D

Also, my brother brought his wife and baby up for a brief visit on Saturday.  As soon as Naomi woke up, guess who was offered the baby to feed?  Gunnar.

Something fun to share...  We've been using the new grill I got Kerry for Father's Day/birthday Our old one was a wedding gift... this would have been it's 19th summer and it needed to be retired.  The poor old thing still worked, but it only had two settings: Off and Surface of the Sun.  I like my meat well done, but not charred to a black crisp.  Anyway...  I made some sticky chicken marinade and threw in red pepper strips and pineapple slices, with some extra sauce to baste with.  Oh gracious.  My taste buds thought they'd died and gone to heaven.  The red pepper strips were better than candy.  (Excluding chocolate, of course.)  Must make that again.  Soon.

A favorite quote for toady...  If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.  Erma Bombeck

One of my favorite things...  flowers the deer don't eat.

I think these are some variety of carnation, and - no - I didn't mess with the color.  They're amazing.

And good old lobelia, a favorite of those of us who love blue :D

And alyssum.  I have tons of white, but like the way this purple overflows its pot.  Even the shadows are pretty - they look like fireworks to me!  And they smell exactly like honey.

A Bible verse...  good for the "season"
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
Ecclesiastes 10:2

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Wyatt and Tate have Civil Air Patrol tomorrow, then Wyatt has an orientation day on Wednesday (more about that later), and an orthodontist appointment Thursday morning.  Meanwhile, a neighbor is planning a big end-of-summer luau for Wednesday evening.  She had to let go of the idea of roasting a whole pig in the ground (how many days would that take?  and how would you lift it out of the pit when it was done?) but we're going to have a fun time :D

A peek into my day...
Here is the moment for you to applaud my bravery, because I'm just a wee bit (okay, a lot) afraid of bees...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer Brain Dump

How can it be August 25th already?  How is that possible?  Where did the summer go?

Well, since - in typical PNW fashion - we really only had about two weeks of summer, that last question makes more sense than you might realize.  Summer is kind of a time-warp anyway.  But here are a few random thoughts for you today.

1.  This is the first summer in five years that we've done NO schooling.  NONE.  With Tate being implanted and the flurry of medical, mapping, and therapy appointments that involved, he really didn't need much else on his plate.  Nor did I.

2.  He is doing fabulously with his CI.  It is the new normal, now.  We're all used to seeing him 'wired for sound' and he's taking care of all his equipment independently and responsibly.  Hallelujah.  We are thankful and rejoicing with him!

3.  Although (I have to admit) we've already had our first breakage.  He and Wyatt we're dueling with some foam swords they had made and somehow everything went flying.  Hallelujah, the processor is fine, but the battery/power cel was toast.  Hurray for Advanced Bionics, who had a replacement on our doorstep the very next day.  Wow.  And they threw in some "Snuggies".

Good heavens, Tate was appalled at the name, (isn't a Snuggie the equivalent of footie-pajamas for adults?) but the concept is great.  It's basically some clear tubing that attaches to the processor and goes all the way around the ear to try to keep it (the processor, not the ear) from falling off.

Well, Tate is free to come up with a more appealing name.  It will probably include words like "Special Ops" and possibly "Tactical".  And then it will be cool.

Here's a pic from the AB website (not Tate's actual processor.)

4.  Would you buy hair products from this guy?  His photo keeps popping up (thank-you-very-much-yahoo-mail) and every time I see his limp, greasy looking, straggly hair I ask myself, Who in their right mind would pay seventy-two bucks for a bottle of his hair mask?  Sheesh.

5.  Attention, boys:  If a summer rain shower comes through while I'm out on errands, and there is a load of laundry drying on the line, consider yourselves ordered authorized to bring it in.  Immediately.

6.  In spite of not doing any school this summer I feel like I've accomplished nothing.  I thought with all this free time I'd get a ton of projects done, but I've felt unfocused and unproductive.  Blah.  And the week Wyatt and Tate were gone it was too hot to want to sew.  I know, I know... you southerners can laugh all you want at how we "suffer" when the thermometer hits the 90s, but I have four words for you:  High humidity.  No AC.

7.  However, inspired by my friend Rebecca, as well as my mind-set that September is the time of new beginnings, I've been cleaning and purging.  Rebecca is aiming for 40 bags in 40 days (originally a Lenten challenge), but my goals are a bit smaller.  The boys and I recently went through the family/play room, so that's pretty good.  I've worked with them to go through all the toys in their closet, and got rid of this, some of which may be going to my brother and SIL, and...

this, some of which has gone to Goodwill and some to consignment.

And there's more.  Much, much more.  But I didn't think you were waiting on the edge of your seats for pictures of everything I got rid of.  (You weren't, were you?)

8.  And, hey, if you clean out your closets sometimes you make exciting discoveries - like sheets I don't even remember buying.  They must have been an end-of-summer sale, I guess.  They look kind of like these, but not really.  In fact, they were probably cheap K-mart knock-offs of these PB sheets.  Score!

Or I could just not be so lazy and get up and go take a photo.  You can see the pillow-cases, right?  They look sort of "watery", in Gunnar's words.

9.  Kerry's 49th birthday came and went without:
* a single photo - oops,
* a single member of his family (of origin)
* his favorite Fiesta Cake, because who doesn't want to bake in a sweltering August kitchen?
But we'll be having a Big Blow Out Party for his 50th next year, because - hello -

10.  Blackberries are just getting ripe.  I sent the minions out on an early morning mission and they came back with more than enough to make a blackberry cobbler (and more in the freezer for pies, later).    And Kerry got a Fiesta Cake Raincheck.

11.  Remember my mom-o-loguing about how much daylight we were getting?  (Here.)  Yah.  Well, change is in the air.  Sunrise is still six-ish, meaning the sun is still up before I am, but - hello - here it is 8:30 and already dark!

And tomorrow is Sunday, which means I'm heading for bed.  Have a wonderful Sunday.  As Frank Turk says, Be in the Lord's house, on the Lord's day, with the Lord's people.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Growing Bunnies

Good news, and sad news.  We lost the other 'runt' (The Politician) yesterday, but we have three adorable, thriving kits.  They're starting to grow fur, and are charming, wiggly and warm.  It's tempting to hold them (a lot!) and it's definitely okay to handle them.  They are pets, and Polly is well used to us. Still, we don't want to make her nervous by being at them constantly and they still sleep a lot, so we leave them alone for most of the day.

But they're so cuuuuuuuuuute!

One looks like it's going to have coloring very much like Polly's - white, with grayish-tan spots and a grayish-tan bottom.

This one is very wiggly, and I think this is the one the boys call Jackie Chan, (always kicking).

This one looks grayish and we expect it will look the most like Podger.

"He" is all roly-poly adorableness.  I love those little ears!
I think they call him Titanic, because he's the biggest.

This sleepy little one also looks solid colored, but a little lighter than the previous one.

I don't know if "he" has a name yet.

And if you're wondering, I don't know what the black spot on his ear is, but I checked on him and it wiped right off.  I think I'll have the boys totally clean out the nest box and replace all the shavings and hay, just to be on the safe side, though.

Just wanted to give you your "cute fix" for the day ;D

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Boys Will Be Boys

Kristen asked if we'd named the baby bunnies.

Well, the boys know that the future owners of the kits will want to name them, but in the meantime...

Of the three big healthy kits, one is constantly in motion and flailing his feet around.  That's Jackie Chan.  Don't know about the other two.  The small, kind of runty one always has his mouth open.  That's The Politician.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And Then There Were Four...

Our little Peanut didn't make it.  We tried giving him extra feeding "support", but he couldn't manage it.  From what I've read, "peanuts" got a double hit of the dwarf gene and are underdeveloped - probably internally as well as externally - and don't survive past three days.

You can see the loose, wrinkly skin that indicates he's not eating enough (or able to eat at all?)

He really tried, though.

Of the four remaining, one is considerably smaller than the others, though appears normal - probably a runt, but not a peanut.  We're keeping our eye on "him".  Can't tell male from female, so they're all "him" to me ;D

They're starting to grow fur already and are really cute!  I'll try to get more pics tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Congratulations, Polly :D

When we acquired our rabbits, we thought we were buying males, but Mother's Day of last year we got a surprise.  The boys have been wanting to breed the bunnies since then, but I put them off until this summer and until they talked it up with friends.  Assured of homes for three or four potential kits (baby bunnies are kits) we went ahead.

Of course, the rabbits are enthusiastic (and - frankly - kind of comical) about the breeding, but there was no way to be sure they were successful until just recently.  Not only did Polly appear quite a bit larger than Podger, she began pulling fur and nesting.  Before Wyatt and Tate went off to encampment I instructed them to build a nest box, which they began, until we noticed a high-quality, prestigious dish tub just the right size and decided to simplify ;D

And... ta daaa!

Tate was thrilled to discover babies this morning!

Four, wriggling, wiggling, warm, cute (in a baby hippo sort of way) babies.

Tate found one rather large one that was cold.  He warmed it for quite awhile, but no movement.  I wonder if, being kind of large, it took too long to be born?  Or maybe she had it first and didn't warm it?  We'll never know, but one didn't make it.

And we have one probable "peanut", that may not live.  Breeding animals is not for the faint of heart.

But hurray for four apparently healthy babies!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cascade Falcon Graduation

 The Big Day finally arrived - Graduation!

Grandma Grasshopper is still recovering from knee surgery and wasn't able to come, but Grandpa Grasshopper, Kerry and I all trekked down to JBLM - Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  Not only did the boys survive a grueling week of Boot Camp, they did it on the hottest week of the whole summer.

When we arrived, the boys had already been standing on the field for over an hour.  They were a sea of blue shirts, visible from I-5, but seemed so far away, across the Parade Ground.

The kids were divided into four squadrons, with two flights in each squadron - six male, and two female.  I knew the boys were over there, but had no idea where to look.  Turns out Wyatt was in Squadron 2, Delta Flight, and Tate was Squadron 3, Echo Flight.  They intentionally separate brothers and - as much as possible - kids from the same home squadron.  Wyatt and Tate had hardly seen each other all week.

Cadets who have already completed Basic Encampment can apply to come back as staff.  Of course there were "Senior Members" (adults) in charge of the whole thing, but experienced cadets ran much of the program.  Here they are, ready to start the ceremony.

After the national anthem the guidon (flag) bearers came forward for awards.

Wyatt's Flight had already won "Honor Flight - Day 4" (the yellow ribbon) and then won another award for being the best at Drill.  I don't remember what Tate's flight won, as I didn't yet know which groups were theirs and just happened to snap a photo of this one.  Guess which Flight/Squadron won awards for Neatest Barracks and Nicest Uniforms?  (I'll give you a clue:  XX.)

After awards, the cadets all marched around the parade ground by Squadron and Flight.  Here's Wyatt, fourth from right, looking sharp.

And Tate, harder to see since he was in the back, on the off side, third from left, all business.

I was more than happy to see them looking so well, especially since at least one cadet had fainted and was recuperating in the shade of that static jet behind them.

Because, yah, did I mention?
Why yes, yes I did...

It's hard to see in the photo, but as they announced and congratulated each graduating Flight, caps flew into the air!  And then we were invited out onto the field to greet "our" cadets.

The officer in the back, (don't know his rank) Lennell, was one of Tate's teachers and had very positive things to say about him.  That's always good to hear, and it was especially reassuring to know that he was very aware of Tate's hearing issues and working with him in noise.

I also loved that Tate had thought to swap out the lime green Neptune covers for blue, to match his uniform.  He - well, both of them - look so professional!  Love those dress blue ;D

Two of the older cadets, in charge of Tate's Flight, also spoke well of him and the effort he put out.

I was just SO EXCITED to finally get my hands on those boys :D

Wyatt's cadet leaders had equally positive reports of his Encampment week.

Ahhh, and this is Wyatt's "wingman" - Cadet Cox.  I think they made a good team :D

I think this young lady was Tate's drill sergeant.  And don't think that just because she's female she went easy on them.  But she had a big smile and kind words at graduation.

We finally found Victoria and got a pic of three of the four Cadet Basics from our home squadron.  We're so proud of ALL of them.  I think she was pretty homesick, but she stuck it out.

We got asked if these three were all brothers, but the guy in the center (from our home squadron) was working in "D-Fac" - the Dining Facility.  I think it was fun for the boys, and encouraging for Wyatt in particular, to see a familiar face at every meal.

We'll have to ask Victoria, but I think this other gal was her "wingman".  Aren't they cute?!

And another face from home, who came down to lead the female Squadron.

The whole sign-out process was not exactly a model of military efficiency, so Grandpa Grasshopper took the opportunity to find some shade.

I thought I was a genius, bringing an umbrella for shade, and I was not the only one!

We finally got the boys signed out, found all their bags, and staggered over to Grandpa's truck.  Wyatt knew exactly where the nearest McDonald's was (I told them I'd take them anywhere they wanted for lunch, and they picked McDonald's?)  All became clear when we saw the military surplus store right next door ;D

Once we hit the freeway, with the AC going?

Didn't take long for the chatter to peter out.

I'm so glad to have these guys back home, and so very proud of them.  Wyatt had a lot of anxiety going into the week and I was very concerned about his morale.  He mentioned the chaplain a couple of times.  He knew the chaplain had counseled other cadets and been an encouragement to them, though Wyatt didn't opt to meet with him.  Wyatt never used the word "quit", but referred to having a really low point (Monday or Tuesday?), but he pushed through and persevered.

Tate has the determination of Winston Churchill, so I was less worried about his morale but a bit concerned with how his hearing might affect his week.  First, would all his equipment (and his management of it) stand up to the whole, exhausting week?  YES!  But also, how would his hearing loss affect his relationship with the other cadets?  He doesn't always hear all the conversation and joking around, and I didn't want him to feel left out.

Well, hallelujah, the staff - adult and cadet staff - all seemed very aware of his strengths and potential weaknesses, and while Tate never wants to be babied, apparently all worked together in a helpful and respectful way.

And interestingly, a comment Tate made about his wingman revealed even more.  He said something to the effect that he liked his wingman, but he had a couple of annoying habits.  (Hello, welcome to the real world!  We all have annoying habits!)  Apparently the boy was always putting his hand on Tate's shoulder, and was a real close-talker.

Light-bulb flash...

I bet anything that when they assigned this boy to be his wingman they clued him in about Tate's hearing loss, and instructed him to get Tate's attention before speaking to him (hand on shoulder) and to stand near him when speaking to him.  Ta-daaa!

Okay, maybe the boy was over-compensating a bit, but how awesome!

They had also made sure that Tate was assigned a bunk near one of the (scarce) outlets, in the barracks.

Again, I'm just so proud of them both.  They rose to the challenge, and came out grinning :D