Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If You Give A Pirate Some Sugar...

So my mom's move is, for the most part, complete.  Now it's just cleaning the old place and arranging and organizing at the new place.

And my move?  How kind of you to ask.  Yeah, I haven't made too much progress.  I started with the front closets.  I did take a before picture, so I'll have that for you eventually.  I got them emptied.  So, in other words, I moved out of them.  Out to all over the dining room and living room.

Aaaaannnndd, that's pretty much where it stands.  I got a few things put back in.  But mostly now there's crap all over the place.  What can I say, it was a nutty week.

So last week I was getting ready to take the dog out in the afternoon.  Pretty routine.  It's been stupid cold here, and it's a  bit of a pain to get all bundled up just to take the dog out for 45 seconds.  So I've been clever and slipping hubby's big boots on to go out.  And this time I discovered why that's a bad idea.  Happy jerked on his leash and I sort of spun around before I could lift up my big-booted feet.  I fell down, twisting my knee on the way, and sprained it.

Holy bananas, it hurt.  Not instantly, but by the end of the end of the evening I could not put ANY weight on it.  The next morning we went to the Emergency Room and found out it was a sprain.  I came home with an eye-sore of a brace called the "leg immobilizer."  Perfect.  And I had so very much to do over the next few days, moving my mom.  My knee felt much better in the hideous device, but wow was it awkward.  I walked like a peg-legged pirate, but with zero percent of the cool factor.

And I am not known for my grace.

Here's where it got interesting.  So the hubby took off to run some errands, and I was left at home with the kiddos and my hopes that I would heal miraculously fast so that I could get back to helping out my mom the next day.  And as I said before, it's stupid cold.  So the kids are trapped in the house, and they're bored.  A has been itching to try an experiment he learned about at school where you can make your own rock candy.  I decided I could handle helping him try that.

You boil THREE CUPS of sugar with one cup of water, making a thick syrup.  He decided he wanted to make it cooler looking, and we added a few drops of BLUE food coloring.  (are you getting ahead of me yet?)  After you boil it and the sugar is all dissolved, you put the pot in the fridge until you get it to around room temperature.  So far so good.

Then I went to check the temperature of it.  I hobble to the fridge, open the door, and grab the handle of   the pot.

And lost my balance.

Flipped the pot out of the fridge.  In my memories, the pot goes flying in the air and spins around several times before bouncing on the floor and spinning to a stop, but I have a feeling it wasn't that dramatic.  The end result, however, was that bad.  There was BLUE SUGAR SYRUP All.  Over.  The kitchen.  And me and my hideous peg leg.  IN MY EYES, PEOPLE!  And my new, mostly white kitchen!  Oh, the horror.

So I start hollering like a lunatic at the kids:  KIDS!  QUICK!  GRAB TOWELS!  GET THEM WET!  WE NEED TO CLEAN THIS UP IMMEDIATELY!  As I can feel my eyes crystallizing shut from the syrup in my eyelashes.

They come running in, I'm throwing dish towels out of the drawer at them, hobbling around like a wacko as I try to run them under water and I CANNOT BEND DOWN to help.  So I keep rinsing their towels out and handing them back, trying to keep my breathing level as the open fridge and freezer drawers are causing my OCD tendencies to flare up.  The sweet children that I have somehow been blessed with are frantically trying to wipe up the slop, keep Happy out of the sticky floor, and not contribute to my meltdown.

When I could tell we were almost on top of it, I had to excuse myself to go shower.  I was turning into rock candy.  Peg-legged rock candy.

And that was pretty much it.  It's never boring here at the farm.

I made it to mom's the next day to help with the move, or at least try in my slightly hobbled state.  The knee is healing quickly, and I was able to wear the brace for only half the day, and we got quite a bit done!

Then two days ago we were packing up some stuff and I got double-punched in the face.

Two wood slats were leaning up against the counter (picture long, heavy skis).  A bunch of family members (moving helpers) and I were standing around planning our next move when they slid down, and in a blink of an eye, hit me on the face, one on either cheek.  You could not have recreated the moment if you tried.  Freak accident.  But AAAUUUUUUGH!  Why?????  Honestly felt like I got punched on both sides of my face.  Hard.

So now I have a bum knee and a bruised face.  Awesome.  I might wait before I finish my "fake" move.

Arrrrrr, matey.  Where's my rum?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm (Fake) Moving.

I spent the day on Saturday helping my mom pack and get ready to move.  She's moving out of her apartment and into a townhouse, where she'll be much more comfortable.  It will feel like a house, a home, and we're all hoping she will feel comfortable there as she continues to navigate this chapter of her life.

I moved quite a bit as a kid.  So much so that it's very special to me that I have now lived in my current home for over 15 years.  It's kind of my first REAL home.  Where I feel like I have roots.  At the moment, I have no desire to move.  I wonder about it a lot, wondering if we'd be happier living in town, closer to the kids' friends and grocery stores, with way less upkeep of the house and yard.  Always I am snapped back by the comfort of our privacy, the space we have, and the work we've put in to make this place ours in every way.

But helping someone move makes you think about it.

Moving is a fresh start.  Packing and unpacking is a cleansing time.  I know it's also a ton of work, it can be stressful and exhausting, but I enjoy it.  It's soothing to my obsessive-compulsive quirks.  The sorting, the purging, the cleaning.  And then, best of all, the fresh new place.  Deciding where things go.  Everything is so clean.  Hanging pictures on the new walls, and putting your stuff in the new bathroom.

It makes me want to move.

I don't want to move, really, but I want that process.  I wish it was logical to pack up my whole house as if I was moving, then bring it all out onto the yard.  Completely empty the house.  Then clean it and paint as if I needed to pass an inspection.  And then move back in.

Since that just isn't going to happen--it's bizarrely cold outside, there's lots of snow on the ground, and well, it's just silly--I think I'm going to try it on a smaller scale, but with the same mindset.

Today I'm going to start with a closet or two.  I'm moving out of my main closet and my front closets this week.  Hopefully I will move back in by the end of the week.  I'll take a before picture because I know you all love me through my shame, and post the before and after eventually.  But that's my plan for the day.  Writing about it makes it more of a pledge, so I really will do it.

No, it's not Spring Cleaning, silly.  It's January.  I'm moving out of my closets this week.  I think next week I'll move out of my office.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We've So Got This.

Today is not my birthday.  It isn't Mother's Day or Christmas.  But it felt like it a few hours ago.  My alarm goes of at 5:15 a.m. every morning.  I wake A up at 5:30.  Today when it went off, hubby pulled my arm back down and said, "you stay in bed.  I got this."

Oh my God.  Best.  Hubby.  Ever.

So I slept in until 8:00!  I wish numbers worked in ALL CAPS because that 8:00 should look like it's yelling at you.  It was a beautiful thing.

We're on a roll here at the farm.  After such a toughie the other day, yesterday was a good transition.  I spent much of the day on the phone with A's teachers, especially his case manager.  They are great people, and really want to help him out.  I'm so thankful that A is a nice kid.  I'm sure it helps his teachers want to work with me when he doesn't have any behavioral issues and so obviously wants to figure all this out.

I knew there must have been quite a bit of miscommunication.   My SIL1 (sister-in-law 1 out of 3, for you newcomers) has taught Elementary School, and she has told me the wise way parents and teachers of school-age-kids should look at the world:  "If parents will believe about half of what they hear about school at home, then we teachers will believe about half of what we hear about home at school."

Not to say that kids are all pathological liars, but they tend to have a distorted view of things, and they especially tend to miss or confuse varying percentages of information.  ahem.

It turns out that A seems to be spacing out much of the time in his classes.  BIG SHOCKER!  I told his case manager (we'll call her Mrs. CM) that this is not news to us--we even have a name for the world he seems to escape to in his head.  Unfortunately, we have no idea what to do about it.  We have tried everything over the years, folks.  Short of shock therapy of course.  I wonder.....  no.

But since he does do this, he misses so much information.  We are continuing to try different approaches to help him--he has "fidgets", which are like stress balls he can squeeze to occupy his hands.  He has little tricks like a notebook duct-taped to his binder where we can jot down things he needs to remember to ask his teachers.  We're working on it.  I kind of think it's just the way he's made and am hoping he gains some self-discipline as he grows up.

But we had a big night at home.  Hubby and I worked out a strategy to gently change the whole culture of our household, and we actually had a real Family Meeting last night.  I felt so Brady Bunch.

Okay, not quite.  But it felt like this.
Basically we're trying out a system where we can expect more out of them each day, and in turn they can expect more out of us.  Homework is now a family affair.  I gave them choices about every thing we are doing--Three choices of homework location:  Dining room table, breakfast nook table, or game table downstairs.  They can pick where, but we will do it as a group.  Even if you don't have "homework assignments", there is always homework.  Reading that needs to be done.  Words that need studying.

They have a choice of when to do their homework, as long as they start before 7:00 p.m.  They can do it right when they get home, or they can have some down time first and do it after dinner.  We talked about the pros and cons of both ways.  Last night we started at 6:45 because we went to Noodles to eat and have our family meeting.

In return, I said, we are all holding each other accountable as a family unit.  It is mom and dad's job to help them get through school successfully and learn skills as they grow up.  It is their job to do their best, be honest and kind, follow house rules, and hold dad and mom accountable.  We will be giving them a weekly allowance.  Not like we used to, where we had a list of chores they needed to finish in order to earn it.  Now, all they need to do is what's expected of them, but with a positive spirit.  Complete all their homework.  Try their best in school.  Help out at home when asked.  Including, if I ask you to clean the bathroom, no lip and no attitude.

Their reward is a regular income that they can supplement by doing extra tasks around here, and I told them that weekends are theirs.  As long as they finish what they need to do on Fridays, I won't expect much out of them on weekends.  They can stay up.  They can crash in the basement if they want.  Doesn't mean they can be monsters, they still are responsible to clean up after themselves and be respectful, but they'll have lots of free time.

Funny--it seems like a big deal, but other than the family homework time the changes are very subtle.  But they loved this.  They're excited about the whole thing!

We came home last night and spread out on the dining room table.  I went through A's whole backpack, cleaned out and re-organized his 3-ring binder, and had him walk me through how he does everything on his iPad, from checking missing assignments and grades to how he actually works on assignments and turns them in.  I showed him what my access looks like and how I can always monitor his progress and how dad and I are going to the school on Friday to learn more about the whole system.  Then we started his actual homework.  He had a lot yesterday, and we got all the necessary stuff done.  He was happy the whole time!  At first he was a little funny, saying he likes being at his desk in his room, but after a while he said, "this is working so much better for me!"  Goosebumps.

We worked steady until 9:45 p.m.  Three hours.  And not one moment of frustration or sadness.  He loved how we set it up with a pencil cup, all our supplies, extra scratch paper, and beverages.  I loved just watching him work.  He's so smart!  We did a map of the U.S. during the colonization.  We worked on spelling words.  We did two reading worksheets.  I know he can do this, I always have.  He just needs the right tools, the right atmosphere, and I need to never forget how to provide that for him.

It was a very successful night.  Now apparently when hubby ran through is spelling words with him this morning it didn't go quite as well as we hoped, but who cares?!?  I still feel progress.  And man, oh man, do I have enormous respect for the teachers of the world.

Our new system my not seem like Rocket Science to anyone else, and I applaud you all if you have systems in your house that you are faithful to.  I think we just fall into that comfortable rhythm in our house too easily, start letting things slip, and before you know it a couple months have passed since you've even wondered about things.  And after the crazy few months we've had, I'm giving us a pass on this.  And it's all good for my OCD tendencies.  I'm going to make a program in my iPad that will remind me once a month to refresh my "homework zone" and clean out the kids' backpacks with them. And the colored pen and highlighter uses are limitless.  God I love office supplies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Bout of Mom Guilt

I don't know how we are going to survive Middle School.  Yesterday was tough.  Poor A is struggling at school, and we found out just how much yesterday.

It started with a phone call from his reading teacher.  Funny, just yesterday I had started writing about how tough it is to parent and adjust your parenting styles to the changing ages and stages of your kids.  The reading teacher called yesterday shortly after A got home from school.  She wanted to let me know that he was almost failing the class due to several missing assignments, and that the end of the term is quickly approaching, so we have limited time to address the problem.

Instant gut rot.

I mean, not only was I dreading the imminent conversation with my 12-year old, but I was feeling like a failure as a mom.  Not that it takes much to make me feel that, as I am a master of MOM GUILT.  Like many of you, I'm sure.  We're never good enough, are we?

Not to make excuses about all this, but (there's the "but" that says I'm about to make excuses anyway) they have this system at the middle school that is super confusing to me.  Every student in the school district gets an iPad.  I know, crazy, right?!?  But in elementary school the iPads are kind of a bonus.  They use them to fill out their daily planner, occasionally as a study aid, and sometimes for some reading.

In middle school they're very heavily used.  They are where grades are maintained, where the assignments are listed, calendars, notices, all communication.  And most of their schoolwork is actually done on them as well.  I do all right with technology--I'm certainly no IT specialist, but I can find my way around a computer, and I have--and love--an iPad of my own.  But for the life of me, I can't figure out the whole school system.  I'm certain it would be a great tool to help A stay on track and follow along with his education if I used it correctly.  Clearly I am not.

I had a meeting with most of his teachers early in the year, to introduce myself and to hopefully make them understand a few things about my kid, knowing that they would only get him for about 40 very busy minutes per day, and would not be able to build the relationship with him that the teachers in his elementary school did.  I get it.  But I'm so afraid of him falling through the cracks.

In case you're new to my blog, you should know that my first born is an amazing, quirky little spirit who has been challenging teachers his entire school career with his unique learning struggles.  It's been a very tough road, but I continue to be impressed with his positive attitude and self confidence through the whole thing.

Anyway, I figured I was due to do a thorough search through the school programs and see if there was anything I needed to be concerned with, as every day he comes home, we see if he has homework, he does his homework, sometimes with help and sometimes he does it on his own.  He reads every night, he has an extra hour at school of one-on-one time with his case manager to try to help him stay on track, and I hadn't heard anything from the school in quite some time.  I was feeling pretty (falsely) secure.  But then the call came.

So after talking to the teacher and finding out the couple things A needs to do to get his grade back up, I went on and checked everything out and was horrified to find that he was doing REALLY bad in several classes.  I called for him to come up and talk to me, and he instantly started freaking out crying. I swear, you'd think I chain my kids to a wall and beat them regularly with how terrified they act when they think we're unhappy with them.  Sheesh.  I got him calmed down, sort of, and told him about my phone call and that it looks like he needs more help with several classes.  Thank God for band and Phy Ed, by the way.

The talk was very difficult.  He has trouble communicating anyway, and add in some anxiety and it's near impossible.  But I was able to figure out that he had no idea that he was falling behind.  He thought he's completely caught up with everything.  Turns out he had done several things that were missing, but it hadn't occurred to him that you actually have to turn everything in.  And he does not understand that you need to communicate with your teachers.

I ended up calling about four of his teachers and leaving messages that I'd like to set up another meeting for hubby and I to come in and figure out a way to help him out.  Whatever they're doing right now just is not working.  It's not all their fault, they can't be expected to figure out my kid in 40 minutes a day, for four months, when it took his elementary school teachers about six months of all day.

Oh, do I feel close to just yanking him out of school and homeschooling him sometimes.

Again, not the fault of the school.  I am not angry at them, I just need to get more involved.  I was thinking I need to back off a little bit, since it's middle school and he needs to start figuring out how to do much of this on his own, but I think I backed up a little too far, a little too soon.

The reading teacher did call me back this morning.  She's very sweet, and she's going to work things out with him today, and speak with his case manager about making a better plan for him.  I'm assuming they're all chatting about me and him today, after my emotional phone calls.  I was very nice, I just feel like my voice was shaking since I felt like I was about to cry...

But I will say this--I say it all the time--he's going to be fine.  School is tough for him.  It's tough for lots of kids, and we all grow up and survive it and find ways to make our way in the world.  He has a very supportive family, solid home life, and several friends.  He has interests outside of school.  He has talents.  He's sweet, funny, open and honest.  So I know he will survive school.  I just don't want it to suck the joy out of him.

Rough night.  J was in tears after he got home too, broken hearted that the district band concert had been canceled due to weather and was not going to be rescheduled.  He loves his tuba, he's great at it, and was so looking forward to it.  So sometimes it's tough even for the kids who glide through school.

I am endlessly impressed with the resilience of kids.  After all the miserable conversations last night, a pretty quiet dinner and an ugly homework session, A was instantly cured by an episode of Malcom in the Middle, and J was instantly comforted by a practice session with his tuba and his dad, and a cuddle with Happy.

I went to bed with gut rot, completely convinced that I am failing my kid.  Grr.

I feel a bit better today.  Amazing what sunshine and a cup of coffee, along with an hour at the computer, can do.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Judge Away.

I have many rituals over the holidays.  I overdecorate my house well before Thanksgiving.  So?!?  I listen to Christmas music beginning November first.  We have a ginormous Baking Day with my extended family every year.  I get a fresh tree, even though I'm probably very allergic (see this post).  I watch Christmas movies.  Over and over.

One of my favorite Christmas movies, and I'm sure yours as well--unless you haven't seen it in which case you need to see it immediately--is Love Actually.  I only allow myself to watch it between November 1 and December 25, because I don't want to overdo it and get sick of it.  ahem.  So I watch it several times during those few weeks.  The kids had never seen it, of course, as it is rated "R".  But they know it's one of my favorites.

So this year, I was faced with a dilemma.  A asked me if he could watch it.  He knows it's one of the movies I usually wait until they're in bed to watch.  I said "no", and he asked why--after all, he knows how much I love it, and it's a Christmas movie!  So what could possibly be bad about it?

Quick side note:  for those of you who haven't seen it (until later today since you're immediately going to find a way to see it), it's an ensemble movie about several different couples and their relationships, during the holidays in London.  One of the stories is about a sweet couple who happen to meet during their jobs as stand-ins on movie sets, where they must pose in different stages of undress and doing very sexual poses, so that the crew can get the set and lighting ready.  Awesome.  It's awkward and sweet and funny.  But there are boobs (gasp!).  And inferred sex acts (the horror!).  And I'm sure this segment of the movie is what earned it the "R" rating, since when they show it on TV all they do is omit the entire segment involving this particular couple, and cut out the occasional swear word.

Anyway, after A asked if they could watch it, I heard my brother's voice in my head.  During one of our extended conversations over lunch, we talked about sex in movies.  His theory was, why are we so willing to allow our kids to watch horrible violence in television and movies, but we don't allow them to see movies that show nudity and sex?  Is violence more appropriate?

Holy cow, when you put it that way....

Okay, so here's a mini-confessional:  Put on your judgy pants, you're going to need them:  I let my kids watch rated "R" movies.  As long as I've seen them, and I don't think they'll be too scarred from them.  A loves zombies.  I let him watch Zombieland.  We watch Die Hard.  And although they aren't rated "R", the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a regular thing around here, and what's more violent than that?  Oh and while I'm confessing, J loves coffee.  And they go to bed whenever they want on the weekends.  And sometimes I give up on parenting for an entire day and don't care what they eat for meals.  Go ahead, judge away.

But lordy, I haven't let them watch sexy movies.  And I still would be uncomfortable with it.  But there's a big variety of sexy stuff in movies.

So this one had me thinking.  I love the movie.  It's sweet.  It's romantic.  It has beautiful messages in it. I am trying, as hard as I can, to step out of my inner hangups and be very open and honest with them about growing up, sexuality, and love.  So far I'm doing pretty good.  They handled the boob in Titanic quite well (see this post).  So I made the decision.

I would let them watch it.  With me.  First, I told them what to expect.  I told them that there were boobs in this movie (I'm sure they were horrified).  I said "there's a couple in this movie who have jobs to act out love scenes on a movie set to help the crew make the set just right, and so they're pretending to do sexy stuff and sometimes they're not wearing any clothes, but they're not actually doing anything. It's just supposed to be funny because of how awkward they must feel."

And so we sat down and watched it.  And they enjoyed it very much.  Their favorite storyline was the one that involved the boy that's about their age.  And they didn't even seem interested in the "naughty" stuff.  So I guess it's my hangups, not theirs.  And I don't intend to pass them down.

I'm still going to be aware of what they watch, and I have no problem saying "no" if I feel like it crosses some lines, but I'm trying to be thoughtful about it, and allow them to grow up.  It's been several weeks, and they seem fine.  Apparently John and Judy have not scarred them.

But they still can't watch Superbad.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome Back.

I gave up for a while.  No good reason.  About a hundred lame ones.

I want to say, "this has been a heck of a year."  But really, what year isn't?  "It's been such a crazy holiday season."  Are the holidays ever NOT crazy?  Mine always are.

So I'm just going to start over.

Hello, readers!

I'm so happy you're here.  I'm happy I'm here.  I love to write.  I love it so much that I tend to look at it as a luxury, one that I can't always afford.  You know, I'm a mom.  There's laundry to do.  Bills to pay. Meals to plan (note I didn't say "cook").  Rooms to clean.  On and on.

"I'll write when I have time."

I never have time.

So damnit, I'm taking the time.  Selfishly, I am letting the laundry sit.  I'm ignoring the kids.  Pretending the mess isn't there.  Because writing is good for me.  It's therapeutic.  I feel best when I do it every day.  I wish I felt the same way about exercising!  I'd be in such great shape.  Although then I might find some clothes that need folding or a dishwasher that needs emptying...

My precious Freddy died November 30.  There, I said it.

I didn't know how to write about it.  I don't know what to say, and I feel like it's all that I have in my heart, so it's all I can write about for now, and maybe after I write about it I'll be able to write about other things.

It's hard to feel like it's acceptable to write about it, to be so horribly devastated by it.  He's a dog.  Just a dog, right?  I have a dear friend who lost her mom over the holiday season.  I know in my head my loss cannot compare.  I have lost my dad.  My mother-in-law.  Many dear family members.

Right around the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook, I was snapped back into reality for a little while--things were put into perspective for me.  These families were surviving the loss of their babies, stolen from them in such a violent way.  Did I really have a right to feel so lost because my dog died?

But I did.  I do.

I feel guilty about how bad it hurts and continues to hurt.  I hold myself together for my husband and my boys.

My Freddy was my baby.  I'm done having babies.  My kids are now 11 and 12, and the way they need me has changed over the years.  Maybe it was filling a hole in me to have a creature so dependent on me and so purely in love with us.  Maybe it was the first time I fell that deeply in love with an animal.  I don't know.  Maybe every person who loses a pet goes through loss this severe.  Or I'm just a mess, which would not be shocking.

The kids and I were on our way back into town when it happened.  We had been gone on our annual Thanksgiving getaway trip.  Hubby came back a day earlier, and was home when it happened.  Sweet Freddy had been acting out of sorts since Hubby picked him up at the kennel the previous day.  I'm sure he was wondering where the rest of his family was.  He ended up running out onto our road--recently paved--and got hit by a car.  It was quick, likely that he felt no pain.

So the last time I saw him was when I dropped him off at the kennel, gave him a squeeze and told him I would miss him.  I saw him bound in to play with the other dogs, and off I went.  It's good that the kids and I did not have to see him hurt.  Poor Hubby has to live with that image.  He took care of everything for us, like he always does, and now we have Freddy's ashes in a beautiful box, and a great big canvas photo of him on our dining room wall.

We also have a new dog.

VERY soon after we lost Freddy, the men in my life were making noise about wanting a dog.  I felt like it was too soon, I wasn't ready.  But they really were, and we made the decision to go ahead and adopt another one, hoping it would help fill the void in our hearts, and make us, well, almost whole.

After searching and reading, Hubby fell in love with the picture and description of this Shar Pei/Shepherd mix.  About a year and a half old.  We adopted him and Hubby brought him home December 17.  Seventeen days after Freddy died.

He's very sweet.  He's handsome and funny-looking at the same time.  He's quite a bit bigger than Freddy, and much calmer.

We named him Happy.

Hubby is madly in love with him.  The kids are so resilient, I can tell he his healing them.

And I think I am falling in love with him too.  I hope I am.  I want to bond with him.  I want to love him as much as I loved Freddy.  I want to miss him when I'm not home.  I want him to fill the hole in my heart.  Even though I still feel an ache when I look at pictures of Freddy.  Even though, after a whole week of crying, I want to cry every time I think of him.  I'm just better at controlling it now.

Happy doesn't know I am broken.  He's just a sweetie that needed a home and a loving family.  We are giving him that.  My three men love him to pieces.  I will too.


I still feel silly sometimes about the depth of my grief for Freddy, so I don't talk about it much anymore.  I know he was a pet, and that we will pretty much always outlive our pets.  I'm just in shock about the pure physical pain I felt, how it knocked me off my feet.  I try to look at it like it's a positive thing, like I hurt so much because I loved him so much, which is a good thing.  It's good to love that deep.  People and pets.  It's not silly.  Loss is never silly.

Freddy and Happy would have been good friends.  I know it.  And the way Happy instantly seemed comfortable with the level of affection we give him made it seem like Freddy was whispering to him, telling him all about us before we met.

So that's some of the big news from the farm this year.  I think it's changed me a bit.  It feels good to sit here and write this, even though I'm super rusty.  I have much to say, much to purge, and lots that I'm pondering, that I would LOVE your feedback on.  Thanks for giving me some time, and I hope to see you back often!

Just a test.

Hello, folks.  I'm just seeing if this works from my iPad.  I'm going to write today.  It's been far, far too long.