April 2012 Update

So it just took asserting how much I planned to blog (both here and at Untangling Tales) for life to expand and fill all writing time.

So let me just give a quick two week update, since a slow one would take two hours.

Jay was gone for one of the last two weeks. While he was gone:

  • I got an average of 6 hours of sleep/night (leaving me with a 14-hour deficit).
  • Both our baby goats got sick.
  • Buttercup (a rabbit) had a litter of *9* kits (though she was down to 7 three days later. Those all are doing well.)
  • I forked the compost from the outdoor coup and filled it with chickens.
  • One of our chest freezers died, and I had to do a Tetras/canning scramble to save as much as I could from the meat freezer.

On the upside the freezer-death happened right before the weekend my mom had offered to keep the kids, so my marathon work sessions didn’t have to fit around the needs of the kids. I just didn’t have the time/brain cells to do as much novel work as I’d hoped to accomplish.

Cream (the white faced doe kid) was close to skin and bones and she came back with a few days of focused care, but Friday night (two days after Jay got home) her twin, Sugar, died. It wasn’t really expected, since Cream had looked so much worse than her sister and recovered.

So now we’re left with the question of whether to get a second goat (because all the writing talks about how goats don’t do well alone), or to sell Cream so she’s not living as an only-goat.

We’d rather keep Cream, it’s the second goat that’s tricky.  The kids- all 4- and I went to see a Nigerian doe today, but “Molly” was much too rough and aggressive with Cream, so we had to pass. (Made me *so* grateful we’d brought Cream and knew before we brought a new goat home that they weren’t compatible.)

~ ~

The snow is almost completely melted here, Jay’s moat is doing it’s job just as it should, and we’re beginning to simplify our life here in other ways.

I’ve been looking at my choices and thinking about how much of what I do is externally motivated and how much intrinsically motivated.  I realized I was doing too much just because it was “sensible” and “could pay off later,” but that preparation was reducing my margin now, and margin is what I need, more than I need (say) rabbits that people might pay more for later.

In this case I’m referring to showing and keeping records.  The level of detail and engagement required to do them well eliminates my breathing room for things that matter more to me: like reading and meal planning.

Yeah. Reading and meal-planning matter more to me than a “potential” side business– especially considering the low level of payoff that looks to be available.

Anyway, we decided we’re not interested in stretching beyond what our family needs/is using, so we’re in the process of selling off extra/older rabbits.  We just finished selling all the mixed-breed chickens, today, so in a couple of weeks if we still have hens that want to go broody we should be able to let them and still end up with consistent layers.

We still want the eggs (since store-bought make me ill), and the “ethical” meat, but I’m sick of how much I’ve been trying to manage.

Along those same lines, I don’t anticipate a garden to be in our plans for this summer.  If it happens it happens, but I think for now we’ll just work at stabilizing our ballance. Once we find it.

(I’ve got other projects/ideas percolating– primarily having to do with food– and that’s where I want to spend “extra” energies.)

No promises any more. I’ll give what I can, and no more.  There will always be more to teach and learn than I can be a part of, and accepting that is part of accepting reality.

Admittedly, hard for me, but I’m learning.

Schooling (and a birthday trip TMI)

Melody wrote this story shortly after Grandma Florie let her bring a pillow home.

“The tale of Melody’s bed.”

“My bed is the best bed in the world. It has a pillow which came from Grandma’s house. It has a dinosaur blanket on it. Like I said, my bed is the best in the world.”

She read it aloud to me, which helped me translate it for you. This is the longest stint of voluntary writing she has yet done, and she was very pleased with it.

Her face and body language as she shared it reminded me irresistibly of a puppy, tail like a propeller, nearly jumping our of her skin with joy.

BTW, this is what school looks like at my house. When I’m not there with them (say, reading aloud) they have their set of workbooks they plow through.

I’ve been very thankful for how motivated they are by workbooks: being able to say they’ve done X# of pages, or that they’re this close to the end of a chapter spurs them on better than any of my praise or requirements.

And it seems to help, too, when they have similar subjects.  I can be frustrated by their attention to fairness, but it creates a mellow endurance for work they’re not interested in, and I am thankful for that.

~ ~ ~

Yesterday, for Jay’s birthday, he took they day off and flew our family to Tok in his mom’s 172 (it lives at the Fairbanks airport and is the plane Jay used when he learned to fly). Once we landed back in Fairbanks Jay and I had a forehead-smack moment where we realized we hadn’t taken *any* pictures on the trip. Continue reading

No Right to Not Be Offended

I have a pretty strict no-provoking policy among the kids.

For many years this has been enshrined in my mom-phrase, “Don’t. cause. problems.”

The idea is that many people (and children most-blatantly) find their ability to affect the emotional (or physical) state of other people to be quite entertaining.

It’s closely related to the delight of the small child who realizes s/he can knock over a tower of blocks.  After the initial shock, interminable repetition becomes hilarious and a delight: I, aware of my finiteness in this vast world I do not understand, nevertheless have the power to effect change!

Or something equally giggle-inducing.

So, desiring a maintenance-pattern that requires the least amount possible of my direct intervention, I taught my children from a very young age that this form of entertainment was a barely a degree more acceptable than swinging the cat by his tail.

The resulting problem is one I can see in our society as well:

When people become used to living in a neutral environment, where conflict is not blatant, anyone who makes life harder seems bad.

I am agitated, therefore they are provoking.

 ~ ~ ~

Earlier this week, while I was out in the barn, there was a small earthquake in the house. Natasha, in a blanket-sleeper and boots, staggered (having just awakened) out to tell me that Melody wouldn’t stop screaming.

Apparently Elisha (on his bed) began making a noise that Melody (on her bed) found “annoying” and he would not stop come pleas or high decibels.

In negotiating the situation, I asked if he had been following her around with the noise, and found out, no, they had just (both) gone back to their room after breakfast.

~ ~ ~

Because Elisha was the one causing Melody’s discomfort, she assumed he was the one that needed to change. But they were both in places they were allowed to be, doing nothing intrinsically bad.

In fact, both children frequently enjoy making random noises together, kicking the air and creating competing rhythms.

Continue reading