June 6, 2020

And just like that...

Baby Girl turns 19 today.

Not quite grown, but no longer a child. It's an odd age to be. Responsibilities but nothing like what's yet to come. I remember QM telling me 20 was the "nothing year." You were no longer a teenager but not really an adult. 19 isn't far from that.

We got word last week that she got into the OTA program she's been working towards for the past year. That means next year will be college with a dorm, living away from home for part of the week as opposed to this year's community college the next town over.

I keep telling myself I was living in an apartment, working, and going to school at 19. I left home for college at 18 and never went back. She can do this. Now I understand why QM was such a mess when I was 18-20 years old. Parenting an almost adult is not easy.

I've been looking back through old photos on my computer this week. Nostalgia isn't easy on a Mama's tender heart.

Guiding and protecting someone who doesn't always want guidance or protection is a tough task. Sometimes all I can do is sit back and pray and hope. Other times, she genuinely wants my help but it seems to be at times I have little help to offer.

Being the first, the oldest, the "practice child" doesn't help. We don't have experience to fall back on. Sometimes we flounder blindly and it shows. The fine line between overbearing and uplifting is a hard one to walk.

April 26, 2020

The Farm In Quarantine

Day 8,742 of Quarantine:

Actually I have NO idea how far we are into this crazy mess. Let's see, the kids last day of school was March 16th. The governor of the great state of Illinois declared a state wide Shelter-in-place order that Friday to go into effect the next day at 5 pm, so if my counting is correct, we've been in lock down for about 14 months. Right? Maybe closer to 37 days, 3 hours, and 14 minutes since we officially shut down. Yikes. I know we've had 6 Sundays of online church. I know I've packed lunches at school instead of serving kids outright for 1 day short of 6 weeks. I know my hair has grown at least 2 inches, my nails not at all, and my eyebrows...well, let's not go there.

I feel caught in the middle of a whirlwind of anger, fear, chaos, and and odd new sense of normalcy. Grief makes many of us lash out. Right now it feels as though the entire world is grieving something. People are swinging so far left and right that it's making my head spin. This week, I realized just how toxic social media (Facebook) had become for my mental well being. I've got friends on both sides of the political aisle and I was suffering from whiplash reading their posts. One side is decrying the evils of buying anything from China ever again, forgetting that the USA has little to no manufacturing capabilities to meet our daily needs. The other side is shouting that if anyone sets foot out of their house before 2021, it is tantamount to murder. The blatant falsehoods posted, the anger purposely stirred, the misinformation being doled out from every corner has left me spinning and spiraling. I finally came to the conclusion (many, many years later than I should have), that I cannot function in that head space. I've moved my FB app to the back of my phone and only allow myself a few scant minutes a day to check on the people I love most, and to visit my memories for good giggles and a few tears.

Lately I find myself firmly set in the middle and have found it a lonely place. I've become more politically moderate the older I've become. It's strange to me to read conservative posts and feel so disconnected from them when that has been my stance for so very long. I am still morally conservative, but cannot align myself with the nonsense that has take over the GOP. Neither can I toss my firmly held beliefs to the wind and side with the Democrats. I'm not quite Libertarian, so there doesn't seem to be a place for me in this new landscape where everything is polarized and political.

Perhaps I shall start a Utopian commune here on the farm. The only problem with that idea, is that I don't really want anyone else coming to live here. Can we be a Utopian commune of 6? And we should probably shuck the idea of a utopia since we argue too much amongst ourselves.

At the moment we're actually a commune of 5. BabyGirl has found her freshman year of college tossed out and replaced with online courses only. That's fine and dandy for anyone living in the land of fiber optics. But us poor, backwoods, DSL users are in a world of hurt. The boys are a freshman and junior in high school and Bitsy is in 7th grade. That means 4 laptop/chromebooks logging in to sloggingly slow speeds as they fight for bandwidth to watch assigned videos, work out complex math problems, and discuss the Civil War and reconstruction with a distant history teacher. Luckily we are not the only family in our area with connectivity issues, so the 3 younger FarmHands can get paper packets for portions of their homework. For BabyGirl, that is not an option. It's hard to dissect a cadaver on paper. It's even harder to take college level speech when you can't upload videos. So she has flown the coop temporarily.

BabyGirl brought a boy home 2 1/2 years ago or so. Mo has been a staple in our lives every since. His family (mom, dad, 2 sisters, 2 brothers-in-law, niece, nephews, and one on the way) has accepted BabyGirl as one of their own. For this I am ever thankful, but especially so now. She has gone to stay with his family until the end of her school year. He's a townie with that highfalutin', fancy, fast fiber stuff that she needs to get to her projects and hopefully finish out her year with a bang. As much as I miss her (she's been gone 8 days), I am glad she has options to keep her afloat. We video chat every few days and she keeps me informed about her life.

Husband's job is more essential than ever right now. But working for a Big Box Store warehouse means he is in contact with the entire world for 12-16 hours a day 3 days a week. So far, our little neck of the woods has been fairly safe. 2 cases thus far in the county where we live and he works. None in the county where I work. We're not sure if our regional isolation is to be credited with this, or if the shelter-in-place order has kept us COVID-19 free, or if this is just the calm before the storm. My prayers are that the first 2 are the reasons behind it. My fear is that it's the third.

This is not a world most of us, shy of the SHTF preppers, were prepared for. My vocabulary and conversation have changed greatly. The terms we use in every day life are like something from a dystopian novel. Late Night hosts are casting from their homes (or so I assume, I don't watch). Blue collar workers, the medical community, and minimum wage workers are suddenly on the front lines. Working-from-home has become the norm for many. Random Acts of Kindness are suddenly newsworthy in a world strangely devoid of kindness on many fronts.

My word for 2020 was Gratitude. It's hard to find things to be thankful for in the midst of a pandemic keeping me from the people I love, my grandmothers, my uncle, my parents, siblings, nephews, and dear friends. And yet, there is still an underlying sense of gratitude in every day life. Husband and I are both employed and would be paid should we have to be off. That is no small thing in this day and age. The kids are healthy and strangely used to being "stuck" on the farm for long periods of time, so they're adapting well. We have outside space- acres, miles of it- in which they can safely roam. Our rural area is, thus far, unaffected by this virus for the most part. Our stores still have the things we need, and we have the capabilities to keep nearly 2 weeks worth of supplies on hand.

And even though we cannot be there in body, I am more thankful than ever for a church home that is exactly that- a home to me and my children. There we are loved. There we are necessary. There we find peace, comfort, and support. Our church family is deeply missed right now, but we are still surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Someday we will meet together again. Someday we will sing, and weep, and praise, and take communion, and worship as a congregation. Until then we will be the church in our homes and to each other.

I pray anyone who still stumbles on my little corner of the Internet is well. I pray you are all supplied with your needs. I pray your mental health is robust and if not you have the means to reach out for support. I pray this virus is soon a memory we can share with our grand kids.

August 12, 2019

Year 8...and go!

As no one checks up on this blog anymore, I may start using it to journal. Or I may neglect it entirely as I have done for the past few years. Momentarily I'm in the mood to type something whilst I hide in my bedroom from my children, whom I'm OVER, and dread the start of school tomorrow.

My last post was about moving into a new phase of life (and being killed). We had a long, busy summer (as is becoming the norm) and I am not ready to give up my late wake-ups and days spent in pajama bottoms to return to my tiny, industrial kitchen. But such is life.

Our summer...let's see...first of all, we came VERY close to losing Uncle Gick back in May. His heart, which has been in bad shape for years, gave out almost entirely landing him in the hospital for weeks and ended in an LVAD being implanted. For anyone who doesn't know what that is, I suggest looking into it. It's amazing! I'd link, but my html skills are all but gone thanks to 10 years of FB's auto linking. By the grace of God, the skill of his doctors, and immeasurable prayers, he's still with us and doing better than he's done in years. He starts the process of being put on the transplant list very soon.

Bitsy spent most of her summer trekking across the western end of the country. She spent 2+ weeks in TN with QM and Pa, another week and a half on vacation with them and HD, and a week at church camp. She loved all of it....except maybe the bed bugs at camp that resulted in us tossing everything she took with her (absolutely everything). Not taking that chance, no way, no how.

B.B. spent a week in TN babysitting Bub and Beck's baby boy (who I just realized has never been given a proper blog name, so will henceforth be known as Jaws because I say so) and PG (Princess's baby who's now 4?!) while helping Pa repair their back deck. Jaws fell madly in love with his big cousin who packed him around and played with him all day long. B.B., who will be 15 in a few weeks, loved having his grandparents all to himself for the first time ever.

B.B. had surgery just over a week ago to stop the frequent bloody noses he's had since he was 9. They'd increased in frequency and intensity in the past 2 years. Our NP sent us to a new ENT NP who we absolutely adored! It took a few visits and a few different treatments until they decided surgery was the way to go. It was nice to have someone who finally took us seriously and was determined to help him.

#1 Son spent a week this summer as a camp counselor and loved it. He came home and was rather surprised when QM and Pa gave him their old car. The caveat is that he is in charge of taking care of Busha's yard work. I wish I could post the video of him finding out the QM's HHR was now his. It was absolutely precious. At 6'2", he nearly knocked his grandmother to the ground hugging her thank you. He's spent a few weekends house sitting for Uncle Gick and Unkie Di as they traveled for appointments and to visit their grandbabies. And a sweet couple from church has hired him to do chores for their animals when they're away from home. He's enjoying the freedom of a vehicle (even if I do keep him on a VERY short leash) and the responsibilities offered. He's so grown up!

BabyGirl starts her first year of community college in 3 days. I'm so excited (ie nervous) to see how she does in this new phase of life. She's spent the majority of her summer with her boyfriend, Mo, or hanging out with his family while waiting for him to wake up. He's working 3rd shift at the same factory I worked at before she was born and her dad worked at until just a few years back. I wish he could move to days/second shift, but thirds is where most new hires (especially the young ones) land. I'm pretty certain we're stuck with Mo for the long run. It's a good thing we like him. BabyGirl adores him and he thinks she hung the moon and stars.

She's been working weekends at McD's for the past 2 months, but that may come to an end once she starts school. She's got a pretty heavy class load and that's where her dad and I want her focus to be.

Tomorrow starts my 8th year as a lunch lady. Kids who were 8th graders when I started are getting married and having babies. I know I'm only a few more years from being able to say, "I fed your mommy/daddy when they were in school."

And then there's Thrive....but that will have to wait for another time because it's a post in itself.

November 28, 2018

Where we are now.

Today marks 21 years of marriage for FarmBoy and me. 21 years. Old enough to buy alcohol. Not old enough to rent a car. In 3 month I will have been married for half my life. That is mind boggling to me.

In the spring BabyGirl will graduate from high school. In the summer she will turn 18. There is talk of a job and an apartment. She's taking AP classes at school and can discuss Shakespeare with me. She's writing Comp papers and putting together presentations that would've left me gasping for air at her age. She has been dating a young man for more than a year and there is talk of a pending engagement. (Before you begin panicking and leaving messages of "she's too young, they need to wait, wail and moan, and gloom and doom" know that I am 100% OK with people getting married young. That's another post in it's self and I will deal with it when I see fit, or not, because let's be honest, I don't blog much anymore.) She's planning for community college and a career. She's planning for adulthood and growing up and things I have little to no say in. She has a vehicle and goes places unaccompanied (not often, but still). She is such a far cry from the BabyGirl who cried because her brother wasn't growing in her belly or chucked her shoes at me as I tried to drive her to school in the midst of an SPD meltdown. She's a young woman.

And it's killing me.

#1 Son got his class ring today. He's a Sophomore and has built an Adirondack Chair and welded things. He has his permit and begs to drive constantly. He's nearly 6'2" and outgrew his dad this time last year. He's studying geometry and reading Agatha Christie. He plays with the little kids at church and his tiny cousins and they all think he's a giant put on Earth to make them touch the ceiling. He helps his dad with the cattle, can cook dinner in a pinch, and is, hands down, my biggest helper around the house. He's going spelunking with his youth group this weekend and is super excited about it. He doesn't fit on my lap, can carry me easily if needs be, and is the most responsible of all the FarmHands at this point.

And it's killing me.

B.B. graduates 8th grade in the spring. He's playing basketball and had developed the oddest sense of humor. He spends his time reading, building LEGO sets, playing video games I don't understand, and watching hours up on hours of CW DC Universe television shows. He can talk for hours (literally) about The Flash, Arrow, or Tony Stark. He also plays with the little kids at church, who also think he's this super hero guy who will play chase with them for hours on end without getting tired. He is endlessly curious and mostly optimistic while being self depreciating at the same time. Next year he leaves my building for the high school.

And it's killing me.

Then there's Bitsy: tiny baby Bitsy who wasn't even a twinkle in my eye when I started blogging. Bitsy is officially a pre-teen. She's an 11 year old cheer leader who is mostly leg and mouth at the moment. She is rarely quiet, rarely still, and has a million questions she needed answered 10 minutes before she thought to ask them. She's loving junior high, except for math. She revels in having a locker and changing into gym clothes. She is one of only 3 6th grad girls at our school. She's the mother hen of the entire 10 6th graders we have in total. Next school year she'll be the only FarmHand left in my building. In 5 years she could be the only child we have left at home.

And it's killing me.

Did you catch the theme? Yeah, I'm not dealing well with the FarmHands growing up at the moment. Maybe it's because I'm 42. Maybe it's because FarmBoy and I have been married for 21 years. Maybe it's that we've lived in this house for 15 1/2 years. Maybe (most likely) it's because this could be the last year we really have a say in where BabyGirl spends her holidays. Maybe it's got nothing to do with any of that. Maybe my kids are just growing up faster than I ever thought possible. One moment I'm going crazy with all of the chaos in our house, all of the bodies and things and activities and I'm ready for them all to be grown and gone. The next I'm weeping over their "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments I've unpacked.

I know this is just a season I have to fight through. I'm not the first to do so. I won't be the last.

July 10, 2018

In Which Bubba and Beck Have a Baby

Readers, dears,

I don't want you to think I only show up here when I need to purge my brain lest it explode, but that's the reality of it. Once upon a time I wrote on the regular and loved it. Life has changed. Facebook taken over my online presence. It's lazy and condensed and instantly gratifying. But there are times I have too much to spill in a tiny status update mainly reserved for grievances against the world at large.

Yesterday was one such day.

Bubba and Beck have been expecting their first birth. They've miscarried 2 babies in the past 3 years so this pregnancy has been had us all more than a little anxious. At the midway point we found out baby was a boy. Bubba was over the moon as he is the only married grandson with our last name to be able to pass the name down.

Everything was going fine until a 2 weeks back when Doc told them Beck had too much amniotic fluid. Baby Boy was free floating preventing him from moving into delivery position. We knew a c-section might be a possibility. Beck has struggled with anxiety for years so this wasn't great news for her and she was really struggling.

Last Friday Pa called me and said Beck hadn't felt Little Man move all day so Doc was sending them to the hospital. A quick Doppler let them know he was doing OK. A very thorough ultrasound was done and they were sent home. Initially they would see Doc again on Wednesday of this week (tomorrow) to make the final call about delivery. The options at the time were to wait until the 39 week point and try to turn him manually and then induce labor or opt for the c-section. Beck was leaning more towards the c-section and I fully supported that. I would have hated to see her go through turning and induction just to have him flip back and have to have surgery anyway.

The excess fluid also meant he could easily wrap himself in his own umbilical cord. Family history has taught us to fear that. Beck asked me to be there for his delivery and I told her I would.

9 am yesterday found the FarmHands and me in Evansville for their dental check-ups. After a quick trip around town, lunch at the mall, and a visit to the Bible bookstore, we started the hour and a half drive home. As soon as we hit our tiny town, my phone rang.

QM said, "You need to pack your bags and get on the road." Doc had bumped their appointment up to Monday after Friday's excitement. When she looked everything over she decided it wasn't worth the risk waiting another 2 weeks for Becky to hit 39 weeks. She was going to do a c-section that evening. They checked Beck into the hospital and told Bubba he had time to run home and shower. QM packed up Princess's boys and ran to the hospital.

It was already after 2 pm. I was no where near ready to go and the FarmHands and I had already driven 3 hours. I called Bubba and told him my girls had vaccine appointments the next morning at 8 so we would hit the road as soon as they were done. He understood and was fine with that.

We got home, tossed our clothes in the wash and started cleaning the house in preparation to be gone. Of course, my house was a HOT MESS, so I was scrubbing bathrooms, stripping beds, directing the cleaning and vacuuming of the rest of the house, running the dish washer, and cleaning the bird cage all while fielding multiple texts and phone calls between friends and family members. I felt like I was running in circles for the next 3 hours.

At one point I called Pa to ask a question and he whispered, "Bubba is VERY angry." While he was home getting his shower, QM called and told him the doctor was there and ready and he needed to get to the hospital. He rushed back but by the time he got there, they'd already taken Beck back. We weren't sure what happened but Doc decided to put Beck fully under and Bubba wasn't allowed in the room.

Later that night we found out things had gone south very quickly. When they tried to set Beck's spinal block, Little Man's heart rate dropped. They couldn't get it back up and he was obviously in distress. Doc wasn't taking any chances so they knocked Beck out and got Little Man out as quickly as possible. The umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his torso restricting his breathing. His bowels had moved due to the distress as well. From what I understand, Doc got him out so quickly, the general anesthesia hadn't even reached him yet. His blood sugar was also low. We're not sure if that's a result of the distress of if Beck was beginning to develop gestational diabetes.

Had Bubba and Beck not gone to the hospital on Friday, this blog post might have had a very different outcome. Thank God I can, instead, announce that at 4:20 on July 9th, my new nephew was born weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 20 inches long. He has dark wavy hair and our Bucka's first name. He will spend a few days in the NICU due to his dramatic entrance, but it doing very well.

After multiple (and I'm talking a minimum of 20) phone calls back and forth between Pa, QM, Busha, Husband, Unkie Di, and myself, and almost as many changes in our trip plans, we decided to wait until Little Man graduates from the NICU before we head south. Princess's youngest was in the NICU when I went to visit and I wasn't allowed in the room. It was heart-wrenching. I told Bubba I couldn't do that again. He told me to wait at home until I could lay hands on our new boy.

The pictures I was sent today show much fewer tubes and wires, so he's already working hard to come home. I'm waiting, impatiently and thankfully, for the dust to settle.

October 9, 2017

Closed for Business

Our new preacher and his wife just had a baby girl. Their sweet heart will be an entire week old tomorrow. The FarmHands are twitterpaited. Especially Bitsy. She's taking it rather hard that she will never be a big sister. In fact, she's been a bit kidnappy towards our preacher's older child- a sweet little boy who just turned 1 a few weeks ago. Much to Bitsy's chagrin she cannot:
#1. Keep the preacher's little boy and let him live under her loft bed.
#2. Keep the preacher's new baby girl and let her live under her loft bed.
#3. Convince me to have another baby.

I've tried to explain surgical sterilization to her, but she's not having any part of it. Today's conversation went, "Well, you could just adopt!" I informed her that would take a lot of time and money we don't have to get a baby we don't have room for in our overstuffed house. "How much money?" Thousands of dollars. "Just for a tiny baby?! That's crazy." Guess she thinks they should be cheaper than an older child because they're so small.

She also thinks she can drop out of 5th grade to care for this imagined (purloined) baby while I'm at work. A totally legit line of reasoning in her mind. And when the baby cries in the night Bitsy had declared I can, "just get up and take care of it." Gee, thanks.

Her father, being the smart aleck that he is, has been egging her on. During today's discussion (when she so kindly offered to drop out of school to care for her new sibling), I asked her if she was going to be able to breastfeed too. Husband said, "We can just get formula." *Death Glare.*

For the record, there will be no more babies at chez Funny Farm. At least not from this mama.

October 7, 2017

Long time, no type.

It's been a long time. Like a REALLY long time. Like a really, really long time since I've written anything. I'm not even sure where to start. But I've got a day off, the FarmHands are outside (hopefully doing a rain dance because DANG do we need it), BabyGirl is holed up in her room (where she spends 90% of her free time), Husband is at work, and I've got a new laptop that can actually be somewhere other than my dining room table. Thus, I write.

Well, I half write and half watch Assassin's Creed on the DVR because Michael Fassbender. Right?

Because I can't even remember when I last blogged I shall attempt to catch you up on the goings on around here- or at least a few of them.

Husband took up hog farming. It didn't work out too well as I'm pretty sure we purchased a gay, mentally challenged, possibly sterile boar. Breeding was a bust so we ended up with 3 hogs in the freezer and the rest sent to market. I am officially over pork.

He had moved on to cattle. Our current count is 1 bull, 2 cows, 1 heifer due any day now, 1 heifer ready to breed, 1 heifer turning 1 next month, and 2 calves- one of which is 2 days old. Thus far we've yet to have a bull born on the farm. They just keep throwing heifers. Good for herd building, but leaves us nothing to butcher/sell. Honestly, I can't keep track of them all. I had to ask the kids.

Mini Donkeys and mini horses were threatening to take over our pasture. We bought  some for the kids from our cousins a few years back and they (unlike the cattle) have thrown only males. We sold 2 stud horses a few months back and have one horse and one donkey left to sell. Our mini horse mare is expecting a mule (SQUEEE!!!) any day now and our mini donkey mare should deliver sometime early next year.

BabyGirl and #1 Son are both in high school. A junior and freshman respectively. B.B. turned 13 a few weeks ago and is barreling into his 7th grade year like a champ. He joined the basketball team last week and Bitsy signed up for volleyball making me a sports mom. Last school year B.B. and Bitsy (who's now in 5th grade) joined band. We're a brass family with B.B. on trombone and Bitsy on trumpet. So band mom as well. #1 Son is in FFA and BabyGirl is conquering the art world when she takes a break from Netflix. As ever, we are rolling along and keeping busy.

Back in May we lost Bucka. He came down with pneumonia and spent 2 1/2 weeks before coming home in hospice care. He lasted about 4 days giving us all time to tell him goodbye. The hole he left behind amazes me in it's immensity. Having lost Grandpa M&M four years ago made me foolishly believe that I was prepared and could handle this loss. I didn't take into account the fact that Bucka was part of my daily life in a way that Grandpa M&M was not. Both losses have hurt but this loss has affected me much differently. I still find myself struggling to find a new normal.

I don't want my blog to become grief sounding board but it often threatens to be just that.

BabyGirl has been fighting with MRSA since January/February. This week she had to have a boil on her elbow lanced (EWWWW!!) and is on some heavy duty antibiotics. The doctor keeps assuring me that she will eventually develop a better immunity to it and will stop having recurrences. Right now I think we're at 9 boils (of varying severity) since January. Right now I'm thankful for an attentive clinic staff (they worked her in at the end of a very long day when they really didn't have time in the schedule) and that we haven't had to visit the hospital.

I'm still rocking the Lunch Lady gig- this is my 6th school year. Husband is still working for the Big Box Store's shipping warehouse. We rarely have a day off together so free Fridays are like gold.

Last Christmas Husband suggested we take a vacation, just the two of us, this year for our upcoming 20th anniversary. In the midst of the brainstorming I suggested the USVI. Much to my surprise and delight, that's where we ended up the last few days of March/first few days of April. After the devastation brought by hurricane Irma, I am so thankful we made our trip when we did. It was absolutely stunning. My heart breaks for the people of St.Thomas as they recover from this devastation.

While we were on our amazing trip (really, if you ever have the chance to go- just do it), Husband wanted to take a night kayaking tour. I was less than thrilled but decided I would go since he flew me 1,400 miles from home so I could lay on a beach and look at blue water for days. Surprisingly, my fears (ocean, boat, dark, physical exertion) were for naught and I absolutely LOVED it. A sea turtle swam directly under our glass bottomed kayak as did a manta ray, multiple sting rays, and what seemed like hundreds of tarpin. I even fell in love with the entire kayaking experience. So much so that we flew home, slept for a few hours, drove 3 towns over, and bought 3 kayaks. Our current count is 5 and mine is PINK! The fact that I can't haul them without Husband's help is killing me because it means I haven't been out since school started.

Ahhh, and the rain has come. Thank the Lord! I was beginning to think we were living in a dust bowl. With that I will say ciao for now. Perhaps I'll write again and next time it won't take me 2 years.