Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy turkeys at Thanksgiving!
     We knew this year we'd have a break from our old traditions at Thanksgiving simply because my mother is no longer able to cook.  She is in a lovely assisted living facility, which has been a blessing in so many ways, not the least of which is that we know she is always safe and well fed.  We had planned to have a family lunch at the clubhouse in her community, but she developed pneumonia and had to be hospitalized earlier this week.  So what do you do when the family matriarch is in the hospital at Thanksgiving?  You have Thanksgiving lunch at the hospital cafeteria! 
This picture of my mom in 2004 is on the wall at the hosiptal.  She volunteered there for 30 years and had the 2nd most hours of any volunteer at the time of her "retirement."  We passed it as we went to the cafeteria.

     Luckily our kids are used to lots of change and having to be flexible, so they were up for the adventure.  We took mom downstairs and had turkey, carrots, sweet potatoes, and dessert among all the staff who had drawn the short straw and had to work.  The food was good, and it was a low stress meal.  Before we left, Annalee got a frozen yogurt and since Chip is not a fan of anything too cold, he chose a Sierra Mist soda as his dessert.  On the way out of the hospital, Annalee exclaimed, "this is the best Thanksgiving ever!"  Chip was singing the praises (literally, and loudly) of turkey and Sierra Mist for all the other folks walking into the parking deck.  It reminded me what is important about Thanksgiving. 
     The kids I teach had made some lists of things for which they are thankful earlier this week, and had mentioned such things as family, food to eat, a place to live, and being able to get a good education for free.  A couple of students were even thankful for their "haters," elaborating that their haters spurred them on to be even better and reach goals they never thought they could.  That's pretty insightful, and a pretty positive way to look at a challenge.  I have been so overwhelmed by the challenges we've faced this fall, it was good for me to have a moment to reflect on what these children, my flesh and blood kids and my students, have already taught me.
Chuck snapped a picture for me a few weeks ago.  They had expanded quite a bit when I saw them today.

     I saw the goats with my own eyes today for the first time in months.  The does are huge, and thinking about possibilities for kidding season is a good way to give myself a mental break from the challenges of building courses.  I hope my entry finds everyone well, and that everyone has had the opportunity to spend time with friends and family on this special holiday.  My children's joy at spending Thanksgiving in the hospital cafeteria reminded me that it isn't about what you eat or where you are, but rather about who you're with and how you look at it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

So many apologies...

Some of the does bred to Shaw for early winter kidding.
     ...To all of you.  I haven't answered emails, phone calls, or anything else recently, and I am so deeply sorry for that.  I have not been to our farm in months, and I doubt I will make it up there before Thanksgiving break.  The only reason I am taking this evening to write is that we have our very first "days off" of the semester Monday and Tuesday, and I quite frankly need the mental break.  I miss doing the goat stuff.  I still have to go to work and to seminars Monday and Tuesday, but it is the first chance I have to really sit, and breathe, and reflect... and gather myself for the next months.  Something had to give, and it cannot be work, because the kids I am working with are a challenge as a whole, but are such amazing and interesting and wonderful individuals.  Even when I wish it were an option to wave a magic wand and have their mouths fuse shut like in that scene in The Matrix, I admire their ferocity and their courage.  My own children have been put on the back burner more than is ever fair, just due to my level of exhaustion, and I resolve to spend more time with them actually being with them mentally.  This, for better or worse, has dropped the farm to last place until I get this first year (or at least the first semester) behind me.  Chuck takes pictures when he has more than a moment up there, but we both are missing our family time at the farm.
     I keep telling myself that this is as hard as things will ever be, and it will get easier.  I keep telling myself that over and over again, and although I know it is true, I still have several months to go before I reach the point where I start over and begin to try to prefect this art of teaching.  Building the basic curriculum is huge.  I am trying to go through our texts and make sure I am current on them and all the research around them, and it just takes time.  I will not complain that Chuck now has a full time job, but I will say that the timing has been particularly unfortunate, because he so often has to close the store and that leaves me taking care of the young'uns on my own until their bedtime, and there isn't much time after that to create lessons, grade papers, look for fun ways to address the literature (I am determined to improve at this), and do laundry so everyone has clean clothes for the next day.  Now, I have to say that even on the bad days, I still prefer what I am doing now to what I have done in the past.  I made about three times as much before, but I was always waiting for an opportunity to get out.  Now, I find that I am just eager to have ten years of experience under my belt and be the teacher I want to be. 
A few does, mature and young, in the mixed field. 
     Chuck tells me that the does, or at least the early bred sets, are starting to look bred.  I had planned to sell some bred does to get a little cash, because Chuck totalled the family truckster (my Subaru) at a particularly bad intersection, but we haven't even had time to focus on which ones.  We actually don't even see each other all that often these days!  There are wrecks at this intersection in question all the time, and I am just thankful that everyone was fine.  The kids were not even sore, so the investment in a safe car and good carseats paid off completely.  I miss old Blue Car, though.  I was able to fit everyone in it, and put several flakes of hay on the roof, and it drove around the farm even better than the big truck because of its All Wheel Drive (which is a beautiful thing).  The kids miss it, too, and even saved a piece of paint off it.  When you travel 150,000 miles or more with a car, you just get so they are part of the family, too. RIP ol' Blue Car.  To everyone I have neglected over the past few months, I again apologize.  I will try to be a better correspondent, and get back to everyone is a timely fashion.  We at least have some breaks coming at school now.  These first few months without a single break or teacher work day have been one loooooong haul.
A few of the young bucks.  The cold snap has brought on the hair.