Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Day Like Any Other

"T, it is time for nap."

"No, thank you."

"I think you heard me wrong. When I said, "it is time for nap?", you must have heard "would you like to take a nap.""

"No thank you. I want to play with my cars."

"OK, let me try again. No thank you is not an option. Your options for nap time are: would you like to take a nap in Mommy and Daddy's bed, your bed, on the couch with the TV off, or... on the floor, or on a blanket on the fireplace?"

"Could I have a blanket on top of me on the fireplace and could Tigger sleep with me too?"

"Hmmm. Actually I was kind of kidding about the fireplace. You really want to take a nap on the fireplace?"

"I want to sleep on there with Tigger."

"OK, then the fireplace it is.

[caption id="attachment_661" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Don't worry, the fire is fake. "]nap by the fire place[/caption]

Some times coloring is such serious work that you need to put on your serious face and your silly wiki stick glasses to do it right. 

[caption id="attachment_663" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Serious coloring requires serious glasses"]Serious coloring requires serious glasses[/caption]

Monday, March 23, 2009

His First Two Wheeled Bike

Is it just me, or are kids not supposed to be excited about bicycles? I remember one Christmas my older brother and I got matching three speed bicycles. They were WAY too big for me. I mean sitting on the seat I couldn't even get my feet to touch the pedals, never mind put them flat on the ground the way they should fit. But as a kid, it was a new bike, and it was perfect. Dad offered to cut some wood blocks and tape them to the pedals to add an extra two inches. In today's world, that might even be illegal to ride like that, but to me, back then it was all I needed to reach the pedals and take off. It was December, in Wisconsin. Talk about bad conditions for getting a bicycle. That didn't stop us. We went outside and rode our new bikes on new fallen snow, on rural, never gonna see a snow plow roads near our house. I am sure I hit the road no fewer than four times that day sliding on patches of ice, but wearing a full snowmobile suit and winter mittens reduced the pain. It was the 1970's, don't for a minute think there was a helmet involved. People who rode bicycles didn't wear helmets back then. You just learned not to let your head bounce off the road when you fell. Now that I think about it, how am I still alive?
Fast forward to 2009:
For T's fourth birthday his grandma and grandpa bought him his first two wheeled bike. A green, orange and silver piece of machinery that would have made any kid wet themselves with excitement. It was hidden from view while he was opening his other presents, and I asked him to come into the other room to help me with something. To get to me he had to walk right past the bike. He turned the corner, saw the bike and said,"whose bike is this?" "It is for you!", we all shouted. "Oh, that's nice." he replied. While we were all excited about him getting his first two wheeled bike, four wheels if you count the training wheels, T on the other hand was much less enthusiastic.
A few days of bad weather came through where it wasn't possible to go outside and try the new bike, but even so, he never looked at the bike which was right there in the living room. He never asked about being able to ride it. It was as if he had received a chair for his birthday, but at least that he might have sat on. Finally the weather cleared up and we were able to go outside and try to get him on the bike. I talked up the bike and finally got him to feign interest in wanting to ride it. We got his helmet on and I put him on the bike. Granted, it was a little big for him, I think that's the way grandpa likes to buy bikes, but he could reach the pedals. I offered to push him around the driveway, hoping that just being on the bike and moving would in some way inspire him to want to push the pedals and take off on his own power. But, after one lap up and down our driveway he decided he wanted to go pick some of the flowers in the yard for his mommy. Nothing I could say after that would get him back onto the bike again. It is not as if he doesn't like to ride. He has a tricycle, and he cruises on that with no problem. He knows how to pedal that and can practically leave skid marks on the kitchen floor from taking off so fast. The brand new awesome two wheeler on the other hand, nothing, nada, zero interest.
Well, after trying to use all those expensive child psychology classes from college, I decided that the bike, being too tall made him feel insecure. The tricycle was low, and he could always put his feet down if he was worried. Following this theory, grandma and grandpa graciously came and took the big bike back and we exchanged it for a smaller bike. Not only that, I let him go to the store and sit on different bikes to decide which was the best one for him so it would be his decision. I don't know, call it kitchen sink psychology at this point. That helped a little, but still I couldn't get him to ride in the driveway more than five minutes. Out of frustration I put the bike in the house, and he has started riding it around in the kitchen. (It is very small, and he rides rather slowly, so it seems OK. Besides, it's a double-wide on a chicken farm, so, yes we are those kind of people right now who let their son ride his bike around in the house.) Finally, at bed time he wanted to drive his "motorcycle" across the kitchen to his bedroom. FINALLY! An unprompted, unforced ride on his bicycle. That's all this daddy wanted to see. Was that too much to ask? Just a little interest and enthusiasm about having your own bike. I know, I know. Patience...
Now, I can start looking forward to when he is a teenager and I buy him a piece of junk car for us to rebuild so he can have some pride in his first car, knowing that he had to build most of it himself and it probably took two years to get running perfectly. I am guessing that's not going to go over well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tales From the Toilet

Let's place a disclaimer here: For anyone who doesn't want to hear about the musings of a toddler about poop, come back tomorrow and hopefully I will have moved on to another subject. 

A month ago I was waiting patiently for T to finish his business on the toilet. "Are you done yet?" I asked. "Not yet! I made one on the left, and then one on the right. Now I have to make one in the middle." 

Today I was called in by the "I'm Done" call. What an honor that is. I headed into the bathroom, T leans forward and I see this huge monstrosity that could not possibly have come out of a child, laying there in the toilet. "Whoa!!!" I said out of shock. 

T looks up at me and says," It looks like a letter, but I don't know what letter it is." 

"That is the letter U" I tell him. "one of the biggest U's I have ever seen." 

He always did have problems remembering the U. Maybe this will be the thing that makes him remember it forever. "Remember the letter you made in the toilet?" I could use as a prompt. Oh how much fun this will be when he is 16 and his friends come over. I can tell the story of how T learned to recognize the letter U.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reading the longer books.

I am not sure how old kids should be when you move up to longer books. Where is the point when they go from those short books that take five minutes to read and don't require them to remember a story line for too long, to the longer books that you read a little bit each night and they need to remember what happened in the previous nights? I want to call them chapter books, but there are some books that are not quite chapter books yet, but long enough to read over a few days time. The ones I have started reading are Disney type big books. I grabbed Winnie the Pooh last night and T asked me to read that one. I thought I would give it a try. As long as he is a willing listener, I am ready to try it. 

He was a little tired already by the time we started, so he sat quietly and listened intently. I read for about ten minutes and saw that he was looking very sleepy. We were about a quarter of the way through the book at that point. I showed him how to use a book mark to mark your page so you know where to start the next night. I was assuming that stopping a story before the end would result in a little fight, but it went much better than I thought. We marked the page and put the book away. 

The next morning he remembered about the book, and was excited to keep reading. He brought the book out to me and along the way lost the book mark. Not really a problem, since I remember where we were. Unfortunately it was time to get ready for school so we couldn't read it then, but I liked the excitement and told him we would definitely read more of it tonight so he could see what happens to Pooh. Ahh Winnie the Pooh, how you pull at our heartstrings with your crazy antics. Why do you love honey soooo much?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Three Things to Say on Tuesday

1. My son just had his fourth Birthday. Happy Birthday T! It was a lot of fun for him because when you are little, birthdays seem to go on much longer. On Friday  he had to bring treats for the kids in his pre-school. So for the day he was King and everyone loved him because he brought the sugar. (Not that he isn't loved there anyway. As I mentioned to my wife one day after dropping him off at school, he reminds me of Norm on Cheers. I open the door, T walks in and since were always the last ones there the whole class turns and looks, and yells out his name.) The next day was actually his birthday. We had a family party at home with food, presents (My parents even gave him his first two wheeled bicycle), and cake, followed by a very off key rendition of Happy Birthday.  The next day he had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese with some of our friends whose daughter is just a little younger than he is. Lots of running around, pizza, video games, and more presents. I have to say I may be a little jealous. I'm thinking on my next birthday I want a three day extravaganza which should also involve Chuck E. Cheese. 

2. Happy end of St. Patrick's Day! Another St. Paddy's day slipped right past me. I remember those eleven years I was in college trying to get my four year degree I never let a St. Patrick's day go by unnoticed. It was a day I always looked forward to, yet somehow seldom remembered. I do remember they typically started early in the day with a special on Micky's big mouths at a campus bar named Kelly's in Oshkosh, WI. Ah, those were the days. 

3. I've been spending a lot of time with Baby Q this week since I am out of chickens. Yesterday I put her on the floor, in a tightly closed off area so I could get her a bottle. I came back in like two minutes and she is standing there with her pants in her hands playing peek-a-boo behind them. What is she, Houdini? Then I get the same thing when I came into her room after her nap. She is standing there in the crib in just her shirt and diaper, pants laying on the mattress over in a corner. All I know is I feel very lucky that after getting past the pants she didn't feel the need to go ahead and remove her diaper and fling that around. I think I need to look into baby suspenders or something.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Awwwwww Shucks!

Is it just me, or has life just gotten more and more time consuming. I guess that can be a good thing. I mean if you're busy it means you have a good chance to be doing something interesting. In my case however not very much interesting is going on. I do the same things, they just seem to be taking me more and more time. In fact, instead of being more interesting it is somewhat less interesting since I get less time to read other blogs. Yes, sadly some of what I consider interesting in my life is reading about other peoples more exciting lives. Hmm, I should work on that eventually... 

I guess one thing that I want to say today is that even though I have been extremely busy with life lately, and have consistently commented on how I was going to get back to setting aside time for blogging, and yet still hadn't gotten enough time in to do it frequently enough, I am lucky enough to have some people still consider me a friend. This week i received a note from one such friend  JB at It's Gonna Take More than a Hamburger to Make Me Happy . She let me know that she had something for me on her site. When I went there I found that she had given me the Friend Award!


[caption id="attachment_639" align="aligncenter" width="156" caption="The Friend Award! Thanks JB!"]Thanks JB![/caption]

The Friend Award

(for bloggers who aim to find and be friends & who aren't interested in self-aggrandizement)

That made my whole day! So, let me pass the happiness on to other bloggers who make good friends.

PeanutButter&Smelly'sDad Wife and Mom of 3

Oh seriously, I could go on and on with sites I think deserve this award. In fact if you have commented on my site in the past you are my newest bestest friend too. Feel free to take a friend award from me!

I need all the friends I can get.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Freedom, Oh Sweet Freedom!

They took my chickens away. This has been a long flock. A good flock of chickens that grew well, but a hard flock for me to survive. I mentioned in a previous post that it is a great way to lose weight. I started the flock at 183 pounds, and ended the flock at 165. You don't lose that much weight doing nothing. I work by myself for the greater part of the flock, and I go until I can't physically take it any more. Then I hire someone to help me for the last week or so. Oh man, it was so good to have help that last week. This flock went for 66 days. Those are some big chickens. Big, and I might add that this flock was very healthy, so they were well enough to think that THEY owned the houses and decided I was an intruder. By the time I was getting the houses ready for the catch crews to come I noticed something pulling on my pants legs. I turned around and had three roosters taking turns attacking me. They were just running up and grabbing my pants, pulling on them and backing up. then the next one would come over and do it. I scared them away, but when I turned around to go back to work they just came back and did it again. Luckily when I ran the drill to raise the drinker lines up they got scared and ran away. Can't be mad at anything that grew so big it thought it could take me on in a fight. That is all I want from my chickens. Grow big and make me proud. In case you were wondering, chickens are very soft. don't tell anyone, but sometimes when I am working in the houses on something broken they will come and sit next to me. Occasionally I will pet them. As long as you pet from head to tail, with the feathers they like it. Yes, I feel guilty sending them all to slaughter at the end of the flock. I just tell them it is time to move on to a bigger house. One where they can play outside all day and the weather is always nice and sunny. 

I also think they are smart and bond together. I often wonder why frequently I find two chickens dead next to each other. Did one die, and the other die of sadness for the loss of his friend? In a huge chicken house, what are the odds that two would die within inches of each other? I'm just saying. 

I will assume that my brother Joe is already revoking another of my man cards. I should just shut up before I completely run out of cards. 

On another note, one of the more difficult things about chicken farming is dealing with the pay method. Think you have trouble budgeting with your week to week check, or your every two week checks, or even on a monthly pay schedule? HA! My last check came the first week of December last year. It works like this: You get paid for the chickens when they pick them up and weigh them, then they wait a week to compare you with the rest of the growers for the week, and then pay you based on your ranking in that group. (I won't even go into my opinion on that lame method of figuring out pay rate.) 

So last November I had my chickens picked up, and then the first week of December came and I got paid. Yay! Money to buy Christmas presents! So December goes by, and well the economy is bad and the company doesn't need as many chickens so they extended the times between flocks. Instead of 10 days between pick up of one flock and drop off of the new baby chicks, they extended it to almost six weeks. December went by still no chickens and the first week of January they called and asked if I was ready to take chickens. Apparently someone else was not able to take chickens, so they needed some one who could take them right away. I wasn't scheduled for at least one more week. I of course said "yes". Let's see, already one month has past since I got my check, and I am just scheduled to get new chickens at the end of the week. Now I get the chickens and the flock lasts about nine weeks. This flock went 66 days. Then they pick the chickens up, and I have to wait a week until I get paid. That means I have not taken in a dime from the farm in all of December, January, February, and finally in the middle of March I will get paid again. That is three and a half months without a check! Good thing my wife has her degree in business management and knows how to budget money or I would be eating steak and lobster for about two weeks, and 'mac and cheese' and Ramen noodles for the remaining three months. 

Luckily things seem to be getting better in the poultry industry. The out times appear to be coming down a bit and are now down to about four weeks. Still it will be a long time until the next check comes. Let's all hope that something good happens and I get chickens earlier than expected so I can go less than three months with out being paid this time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Are You Sure This is Georgia?

As a chicken farmer I am always checking the weather. For the last couple of weeks I saw snow showing up in the weather forecast. After living in GA for a whole three years, yup that long, I have learned from experience that snow in the forecast means one of two things: either they are talking about up in the mountains, and in that case I won't see any, or it will snow, which in my experience means a very light dusting that will be gone as soon as the sun peaks over the horizon in the wee early morning hours. In either case, having been raised in Wisconsin, snow in the forecast really means nothing more to me than a chance to laugh at southerners and their concept of snow; until this week. 

The week started with heavy rain, an anomaly in itself, since we are in this terrible drought. Then the cold moved in. I think it was Sunday afternoon that I looked out the window and said something like,"The rain looks funny." We all ran to the window to find that it was snowing big heavy flakes. T has never really seen snow in his almost four years, so we wanted to get him out there to at least catch some flakes on his tongue and see what snow was like. We rushed the process, because as I said before snow doesn't seem to last long down here. I figured that at any moment it would be rain again. 

[caption id="attachment_627" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Yay! It"]Yay! It's snowing![/caption]

  As you can see the yard was already flooding from the rain. T had fun trying to catch snow flakes and splashing in the puddles, although the picture doesn't show it too much. I think he was explaining to me the way I should jump in the puddle to make it splash or something. 

We played out there for a short time and then went in because it was getting cold, we both had colds already, so we didn't want to be out too long. 

Fast forward an hour or so, and the snow was sticking like glue to everything. The puddles were even covered with snow. The trees were covered, and the power lines were covered... And the power flickered off, and then on. Then again the power flickered, and eventually it just 

[caption id="attachment_628" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ohhh it is really snowing..."]Ohhh it is really snowing...[/caption]

went out on us. The generator on the chicken houses fired up to keep the fans and heaters going in those houses, but for our house, where people live, we have nothing to keep heat going or lights on, or magically make my laptop work. L gathered candles and blankets as the night neared and the power still did not return. We kept hoping it would pop back on, but eventually we had to put the kids to bed bundled up like they were going to Antarctica. It was going to be a long night. 

The next morning we still had no electricity and the kids were looking a bit worse for the wear. T was getting sicker and no longer wanted to play, or eat. That is definitely a bad sign. As soon as it warmed up enough during the day L took the kids to my parents house in the next state. They had power, and the kids needed to be somewhere warm. Lucky me, I had to stay back with the farm and make sure the generator kept working and had fuel. The second night came. The house was freezing, and did you know that even double wides creak eerily at night when you are all alone in the dark with just a candle? Things went OK though, the generator had enough fuel, and didn't die on me during the night. Without fans running, it wouldn't take long at all to lose a whole house of chickens. There are so many in there and they are so big at this point that they would suffocate without the fans pulling in new air. Believe me, it was a long night wondering if I was going to lose my whole flock. 

The following day around noon the power came on and the generator shut off. I called L and let her know it was safe to return. It was so good to have the family back home in our house and have heat and power. It was two very long and stressful days and I am glad they are over. 

I now have learned that when the weather man says it may snow in Georgia, that I need to take it much more seriously. I also learned that we should really consider buying a small generator for our house so we can have heat when the power goes out. Will it actually happen? Maybe some day...