Because I love blogging, ███ ██████ ████████ ██████████ ██ ████ ██ ████ █████████ ██. ██████ ███. This has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A and has been removed.
I hope you all have enjoyed the holidays so far. Our family has agreed that this was ones of the best Christmases we’ve had in a long time. Health-wise, we are in a holding pattern and I’ll keep the blog updated if anything changes on that front. In the mean time…
The other night, my Hard-Working Hubster looked at me and said, we need to set some goals for the new year. Yeeah… I’m not so into New Years resolutions, and I sort of figured he was hinting at setting financial goals, which are my least favorite, so I was not really excited about what I figured he was about to say. But, it turns out that’s not what he meant at all. He was referring a bit to my 101 in 1001 list and some other personal goals, as well as to some things we’d like to do together.
Something that I’ve been working on in 2011 and really want to continue to work on in 2012 is building community. I loved that last year our next-door neighbor enlisted our help to put in a garden and then shared his harvest with us. He’s up for round two this year and I want to keep the momentum going on things like that. I’d really like to strengthen the community between our neighbors on our block. I also want to increase community between other friends that live nearby but are further out than our immediate neighborhood.
One thing I really want is to increase our self-sufficiency on the homestead. I want to grow more food and process our own chickens for meat. But by “self-sufficiency” I don’t mean by ourselves. I mean, “not relying on the grocery store.” And, I really want to make a fun special place for the kids in the garden… something they can look forward to, play in or around, and take care of.
So with those things in mind, here are my top five goals for the Schell Urban Homestead for 2012.
- Grow a giant pumpkin. The neighbor has already volunteered a spot in his yard for this. We’re scouring seed catalogs for the biggest one we can find. It’ll be a pet project, but out in his front yard for the whole neighborhood to see and monitor. And the kids can really get in on this one (I’m hoping). Maybe in the fall, when it’s time to harvest we can do something cool with the results!
- Grow enough in our own neighborhood gardens to feed ourselves for the summer. I’d like it to be our own garden in our own yard, but I’ve realized this just isn’t realistic. We eat a lot of veggies and have a lot of people to feed and not much garden space. So instead of setting our sights on the impossible, I’m hoping to make it possible between our place, the next-door neighbors and the neighbors across the street. I think they are all open to this.
- Process chickens. We wanted to do this last year – order meat birds or a straight run of chicks and then process them for the table. It didn’t work out in 2011, but I’m hoping we can work it out for 2012. This will include culling any hens that are eating eggs and getting egg production numbers to where they should be. Yay homegrown protein!
- Harvest Honey. Our bees are still here, doing well, and we’re hoping to get a good harvest this coming year. We even have a neighborhood contact to help us with the first go-round.
- Start a monthly potluck circle involving neighbors and homegrown or locally raised foods. I really, really want to do this. I’ve mentioned it to a few friends here and there, but gotten no real commitments. I might just have to jump in for it to take off. ??
What about you? Any gardening goals for the new year? Is community a part of the goals you are making? How do you plan to get others involved?
I’ve realized from about October to February, is our season of family. Hunting alone facilitates a great portion of this, and then the holidays manage to cement the rest. We just don’t have time to spend with many friends, as much as we’d like to. Family really takes priority.
During the harvest season, I think it is easy to start feeling like you are drowning in the work of a homestead. I generally feel like I tread water pretty steadily around here, but after a spastic comment on the Apron Stringz blog, when both CJ and Erica of NWEdible reached out to me to make sure that I was alright, I realized my Shiny-Happy exterior was cracking a bit. While I’m afraid that the comment I left came across way crazier than I intended, the truth is, I have been somewhat overwhelmed.
In April, Rick’s dad was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). I’ve sort of kept this under my hat, since Rick wasn’t keen on talking about it with anyone, even in person. He got pretty tetchy when I mentioned it to our neighbor (who is getting to be like family) and to our midwives while I was still pregnant with C. So I’ve kept it off the blog all this time. But I started bracing myself. I’ve seen diseases before.
I’ve had the unfortunate experience of watching my own father pass away. He was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was fifteen. Lung cancer has a 15% survival rate and a lot of people treat you as if you deserve to get it. But my dad hadn’t smoked in over 20 years before he was diagnosed. The cause of it was more likely asbestos from being a mechanic or possibly having the polio vaccine tested on him while he served in the Air Force. Or seeing as he had lost a sister to lung cancer, had a brother that got (and beat!) prostate cancer and a father that died of multiple myeloma at 58, maybe cancer was just in his genes.
But my dad was determined to live. He had surgery, most of one of his lungs removed, chemo and radiation. He beat the cancer. He was cancer free for 8 years before his body, racked by the treatments he received, gave up on him. I was so grateful that my dad lived to walk me down the aisle, to know Rick. It was hard to watch my dad, superman in my eyes, go from 6 foot tall to 5′-1″. To see him lose weight. For me to never sleep in peace, afraid that his oxygen machine would sound an alarm in the next room if my dad quit breathing, even for a moment. To see his big, strong mechanic’s hands turn soft and thin. He died at home in 2004, the day before my 23rd birthday.
ALS makes cancer look like the freakin’ flu.
With cancer, there are treatments, even cures for some. Hope. With ALS, there is nothing. Just waiting, watching, making your loved one feel comfortable as they lose the ability to make their muscles work. The prognosis for ALS is more than bleak. Stats vary, but we’ve been told that up to 70% of people diagnosed with it die within 18 months. It is always fatal. Less than 10% live longer than five years.
Rick’s dad was beginning to show symptoms last October, though we didn’t recognize them. He’d been feeling weaker for a while longer before that, but just chalked it up to being tired. He just turned 51 last month. Because of my experiences with my own dad, I keep expecting to see things plateau with him, but the disease has not slowed at all. In April, his words were slurred, by May he was hard to understand. By June or July, he would only answer yes or no questions out loud. Now it’s even hard to tell the yeses apart from the nos. His hands and arms are atrophied pretty severely, so he can’t write. This past weekend, they gave him a feeding tube.
Through this, my, uh… “greenisim” is wavering. I’m feeling the urge more an more to take the easy way out. To throw the proverbial grey water down the drain instead of out the window. (Here’s where the crazy comment on the Apron Stringz blog comes in). Part of me doesn’t want to care anymore where my food comes from. I want to turn the heat up to 69° from 67° and not feel any guilt. Bag the whole Riot for Austerity. Throwing in the towel looks appealing. Part of me is wondering why I should care about organically grown green beans when my father-in-law is struggling to swallow. I’m wondering if we can sustain our sustainable life style? And is it worth it?
The truth is, I know in my heart that it is worth it. But I need to find a way to be ok with what I can do right now. Maybe the Riot is beyond my reach at this point in our family’s journey. Maybe CJ’s Quiet Riot, or even just tracking our energy use is good enough for right now. Maybe I need to be ok with the things we are doing and hold the space while our family gets ready to walk through the coming grief.
I’ve known somewhat more loss than anyone in Rick’s family (all his grandparents are still living), and I know my strengths can be quite helpful in hard times like these. The loss of his dad is going to be a devastating blow. And I’m grateful to have this time with family right now.
So here I am, holding the space. And turning up my thermostat to 68°.
Sorry for the lack of posts this week and only minimal last week. We’ve been ridiculously busy between hunting and H’s birthday and such. I’ve got a couple of posts in the works that should hopefully be up soon. But in the mean time, I had to share this. Thanks to Erica for pointing me in this direction.
I had to share about this project – the reCAP Mason Jar Cap and the cool site, kickstarter.com, that is helping the reCAP’s inventor get funding.
The reCAP is a BPA free, recyclable, reusable plastic screw top cap to fit regular mason jars. It’s a one piece design, great for pouring. And it’s inventor is getting funding through people’s online donations on the site kickstarter.com. I believe she has already reached her funding goal of $10,000 by November 8th, but people can still back her project (as little as a dollar or up to $350) if they are interested. I did, and in return I’ll get to try one of the reCAPs as soon as they are made (projected to be January).
I had to share this because I think both the reCAP and the kickstarter site are great ideas.
Check them out here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1917107415/recap-mason-jar-caps
If you are an entrepreneur, check out the kickstart site. The site collects pledges for you and if your goal is not met, nobody looses out, but if it is, you get the money you need to get started. Fabulous! So much better than a loan!
I can’t wait to try my reCAP!
Saturday afternoon there was a march on the state capital. 4000-5000 people joined together to march down 16th street. I couldn’t get down there in time for the march, but I went with C and Manuel, my mom’s husband, to join the few hundred remaining protesters around 6:00pm.
I’ve never been to anything like this. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a peaceful protest, but the Denver police department and Colorado state patrol lined the streets in full riot gear.
As we walked down Broadway from Colfax, the citizens started moving into the street, chanting “Police are the 99 percent!” and the police line backed up. I got chills. I was almost moved to tears, and I wished I had my camera ready to get that on video.
We spent some time walking around among the protesters. We got a lot of warnings to “get that baby out of here, before they gas us.” One guy warned us that we were taking her into a “really volatile area.” I have to admit, after the third or fourth such warning, I was a bit intimidated.
Manuel shot a few videos with his phone and in one, you could hear a citizen shouting, “They have automatic weapons. Why do they need automatic weapons?” I was glad to be there and also nervous. I wonder just how far we are entrenched in this bizarre culture of fear. In reality, it really was pretty calm.
Rick and my mom were watching the news reports, and the police began making arrests. Around 6:30 we saw two people getting arrested for “blocking traffic.” Odd since the police were the ones in the streets, and the street was completely shut down anyway. The citizens stayed on the sidewalks and in the park for the most part. And after reading a few news stories I realized just how much is sensationalized.
The whole time we were there, we didn’t hear any people shouting “shame” at the police. We did however hear chants and shouts of “Protect the kitchen!” when the protestors gathered around the food tent, linking arms, to keep it from being trampled to the ground. And chants of “Peaceful. Peaceful.” as the police formed lines and advanced on the group in the park.
We stayed until about 7:30pm when we saw several more police vehicles show up followed by a couple of ambulances. The police had formed lines, seven or eight officers deep and started advancing on the crowd. As Manuel and I walked back to the car, I stopped and asked an officer on the fringe of things why they were in such heavy gear and out in such force for a peaceful protest (hey, I figured they wouldn’t arrest or pepper spray a lady with a baby strapped to her). The officers were polite, and explained their position (you know, being prepared, just in case, and all that). Of course they are just doing their jobs.
I realize that attending a protest for just an hour and a half, and leaving when things start to get heated totally makes me the diet soda of protesters. But it was more than nothing, and I plan to go back in the very near future without Cora. I still won’t be able to stay – she is breastfeeding and I can only be away for so long. But I plan to keep showing my support in little bites and chunks as I can.
There are probably a lot of people like me that might want to stand up, but for some reason they can’t be at the protest (or like me, have little kids and may not want them in such a charged environment). Here are a few simple things that anyone can do to help, without attending a rally:
- Close your bank account with a large bank and open an account with your local credit union instead.
- Buy local or handmade items for all your holiday gifts, or better yet, make gifts yourself using locally sourced materials.
- Buy your food at a farmers market instead of from big corporations.
- Make your own food at home instead of going out or buying it in a box (granola is just oatmeal, honey, oil and nuts baked in the oven – this is a great alternative to cereal).
- Gardeners, buy non-GMO seeds from seed companies not owned by Monsanto. Here is a decent list of which are safe and which to avoid.
- Sign a petition online or in person.
- Donate supplies to your local Occupation.
- Donate money to the cause.
- Spread the word. Facebook, Twitter, email, telephone, blogging, whatever!
- Pay in cash! Credit only helps serve big banks.
I also realized that a lot of people still don’t understand what Occupy Wall Street is all about. And why would I be posting this on my homesteading blog? Food Democracy Now posted that,
4 firms control 84% of beef packing, 66% of pork production and 1 company (Monsanto) controls more than 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the U.S.
Occupy Wall Street will affect us all. Here are a few good articles that might help in understanding what the Occupation is all about:
Now is the time. Spread the word.
Last weekend, we went to Palisade for our annual trip to Bracken Orchard to pick peaches. We drive 240 miles over the mountains, each way, so we want to make sure we make the trip worth it. This year, we came home with 368 pounds of peaches (slightly less, since about half a box was Fuji apples).
We had 15 pounds for my sister and 40 pounds for some friends, but the rest we’ve been working on getting put up for the year. Most of them are sliced and frozen in quart-size bags, and many get made into various jams for our use during the year and for gifts. We canned some a few years ago, but we feel like the frozen ones are more versatile and last us longer. Plus they are easier to put up and take up less space.
True to form, I decided to defrost 40 pounds of the plums that were given to us last year at peach time. We didn’t have time then to process them properly, so of course I thought we’d have time this year! What is wrong with me?!? I spent the whole week making plum jam while Rick sliced and froze the peaches. I didn’t get all the plums done before some started to smell “off,” but I got most of them taken care of. Smarter people would have just defrosted a little at a time. Then I moved onto the peach jams.
This has been the most fun I’ve ever had jamming though. My friend Kristen has been a godsend, coming over twice to make jams. We got a little crazy the second time, trying new recipes. I spent a good portion of my grocery budget last week on organic Madagascar vanilla beans, green cardamom pods and various liquors for our jam. Some combos we tried: Peach with Honey, Vanilla Bean and Brandy (wow – the smell!), Plum Lavender (AMAZING!!), Peach-Plum Ginger, Plum Noir (ooh lala!), and a couple of original creations, Kristen’s Honey Peach Cobbler jam, and my Jalapeno-Honey Plum. We’ve had a ball.
I’ve even ordered special jars. I hope they arrive by this weekend (I plan to make Peach, Blueberry and Grand Marnier jam and my favorite traditional peach preserves), but if they don’t make it, I’ll use them next year. I found most of these recipes on the Punk Domestics site, by the way. If you put up – you should definitely check it out!
So what are your favorite ways to use peaches? Plums? Any awesome jam recipes?
This weekend we got to go to a local U-pick berry farm. Raspberries and strawberries and a good time was had by all. We were so happy that this was suggested by our new friend, Kristen, and her daughter. Bonus – they live in our neighborhood. Also, as you can see, we got a new camera! Woohoo!
It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve made it onto the computer. I’m sure you were wondering if I had some sort of mysterious injury related to a grub hoe and a compost bin. But I assure you, everything is fine. The sun has been out, and things have been growing like mad, including both boys and C. So the blog has been collecting dust! In the mean time, I’ve been able to get a few things done around here.
We picked cucumbers up at our CSA and put up 48 quarts of pickles.
We got the tree trunk and stump hauled away to a mill.
And we put some 7 pounds of elk meat into the dehydrator to become jerky.
We harvested corn and our first potatoes with the neighbor.
I have to say that harvesting potatoes is one of the funnest things ever – it’s like a treasure hunt!
We ended up with 40 pounds of fingerlings and 50 pounds of Desirre red potatoes! We will have plenty for seed next year and hopefully enough to store through the winter.
We also have a neighborhood BBQ in the works and have been spreading the hens’ good will via eggs and some extra garden onions.
We are getting ready for some berry picking and peach picking in the next week or two. I am excited to get some preserves into the pantry as well. We are going to take a walk tomorrow to the house with the concord grape vine and see if the new family there will share some grapes with us this year like the last tenants there did. We are bringing some 2010 jam with us to give them as an incentive!
The late summer/early fall is one of the busiest times around our homestead. Harvests are coming in, the dehydrator is running, and we are trying to see if we can manage to get the yard back in shape in time to participate in the second annual Denver Botanic Gardens chicken coop tour. If you remember, I made some improvements on the coop this spring with the tour in mind, and last year was a lot of fun, so it’d be really great if we can pull it together in time. More updated posts in the coming days – I am finally getting back on the ball around here, I think.
Welcome to the Schell Urban Homestead’s end of July virtual garden tour! I was really excited when Erica at Northwest Edible Life invited me to participate in letting all you Nosy Neighbors peek over our garden fence!
Here’s how the Lazy Homesteader does the Nosy Neighbor Virtual Homestead & Garden Tour:
The first part of this tour that makes me really excited is that I’m actually documenting what the whole garden is doing at a given point in the summer. I never remember when we get the first tomato (this week! A Silver Fir Tree Russian heirloom). The kohlrabi is a giant variety that Rick’s grandpa brought us from Slovakia. It will get to be over 8 pounds and will not be woody. It also keeps great all winter, and it’s starting to bulb up to about baseball size in the last few days of July. Rick’s parents shared cucumbers with us last week and the week before, but ours have only just begun to flower.
The unexpected thing that I am loving about this tour is the truth of it. In the pictures of the onions and watermelons, you can see both the weeds I’ve neglected to pull, and the light-colored, hard clay that we grow in here in Colorado. Normally, I’d make an effort to hide both the weeds and the soil, because the shiny-happy blogger in me wants you to think that my garden is perfectly groomed and full of rich, dark, beautiful loamy soil. In fact, some people do think that. Rick’s grandparents even commented this week on how they couldn’t grow something that we could because their soil (about 25 miles from us) is hard clay. Rick and I burst out laughing. So here’s the proof. We don’t have perfect soil. This is how it looks after eight years of work amending it. And I’m glad I let it show.
Some of my other favorite highlights from the slideshow (the shiny-happy stuff):
Corn from our neighbor’s garden, actually. His corn is peeking over our front yard fence. Well, not peeking, so much as towering. We are actually sharing our harvests this year, so that is how I’m justifying including crops that belong to someone else in my garden tour.
The hundreds of tiny cherry tomatoes on H’s plants make me giddy. And I can’t believe how big those two plants are. Over six feet high!
The garlic I harvested in the week before C was born is drying in the garage, and the beets I pulled a few days ago are beautiful, although we might have pulled them about a week earlier if we weren’t in new baby mode.
We’re still waiting on the first eggs from the pullets, but we are getting two or three a day still from the older hens.
I was really hoping to include a picture of our raspberries this year, but they suddenly quit producing just last week. Luckily I found something in the strawberry bed to show you instead!
Be sure to check out the other homesteads and gardens in Erica’s Nosy Neighbor Tour. Thanks for stopping by!
Sometimes you begin writing about one thing, and it turns into something totally different. Be prepared, this is a more personal post for me than I’ve written in a long while. And it’s long. While it started as an intro to us beginning our homeschooling journey, it became more about my fears all last year, where I was at (since I was not blogging) and where I think we’re headed(?).
The idea of homeschooling has been discussed in our household for the last four and a half years. Since we had H, in other words. Rick was all for it from the beginning. Me, on the other hand, as the one who would be doing the “home teaching,” I’ve been unsure.
We can see a lot of benefits of homeschooling. One of the biggest draws for us is that our kids can move at their own pace, and hopefully will always be able to be challenged and not bored. Boredom, I think, is one of the worst things that can happen in education. I know it really made school tough for me, especially in high school when we were graded on attendance, regardless of test scores.
A big drawback/fear in homeschooling has been whether I can actually teach our kids. I’m pretty type A. Take for example the time that we did a craft project at E’s birthday party and three year old H started putting the stickers (a sun, some clouds) at the bottom of his project instead of the top. I started to correct him (the sun and clouds go in the sky, of course), when my sister, who is a preschool teacher, shot me the relax-and-let-him-do-it-you-crazy-control-freak look, wherein I promptly backed off. Quite literally. I had to leave the project table to prevent myself from squashing his creativity. I have to constantly remind myself that he is perfectly within his rights to color an alligator purple instead of green – without comment from me. The fear is that I will crush their creativity out of them and turn them into neurotic perfectionists or something.
Oddly, my fear has never been about socialization. That question just never made sense to me. We socialize with all kinds of people now, and I don’t anticipate that changing, no matter what kind of education our kids get. I also have always thought the structure of public school – where everyone is the same age together, is a little odd. As an adult, you have to work with and live with people of all age groups, and meet them where they are at.
When we put H in preschool one day a week last summer, he started coming home with all kinds of new behaviors, habits and sayings. Some of which were fun and cute (new songs, funny phrases), but the majority of them went from annoying (nose picking) to down right against what we’ve been working for four years to teach (foot stomping, talking back, fit throwing). Of course, some of those behaviors happen naturally at certain ages, but when my veggie loving four year old tells me he doesn’t like spinach (when I know for a fact he loves the stuff) and I ask him why, he says “Sam always says that – he doesn’t like vegetables.” I find myself cursing little Sam and having to hear for weeks now about all the things H “doesn’t like” even though he goes right on eating them. Annoying and now a habit that we have to try to change.
Of course that’s a minor example. There have been words we have to talk about not using, even though friends at school use them and behaviors (like that foot stomping). And it was helpful that my sister taught in the next classroom and could provide us with insights like, oh that Brady kid, he always throws fits when he doesn’t get his way… fits that look oddly similar to the ones H’s suddenly trying on for size. This is not the socialization I’m loving. I feel like that forces us to do more damage control than teaching.
One thing that has been extremely helpful to me in aiding our decision to start homeschooling has been the great variety of people we met at the farm that home school – all different reasons, shapes, sizes, etc. Some un-school, some follow a curriculum put out by the state, some do it for religious reasons. They all look different, but they all have a few things in common. Their kids are getting educated, they are well spoken, polite and very well behaved. And they have no problem conversing with both adults and the littlest kids on the farm. These were never the kids that I had problems with H being around (like the kid to wanted to torture toads, the liar, or the one who pushed him down in the sandbox every week).
But, even with all these great and different examples before me, I still felt uncertain. All last year, I really struggled as a parent. I had major symptoms of postpartum depression (or maybe just depression?), but not the more morose symptoms, I had the angry, raging symptoms. It was part of the reason we put H in preschool that one day per week. So I (and he) could get some tiny break and maybe take a nap once in a while. I was completely overwhelmed with life and parenting, and the idea of adding homeschooling to our lives was nearly enough to send me over the edge. I felt like my sanity was hanging by a thread as it was. I was taking supplements, trying to get out of the house and get some sunshine, trying to exercise, I even went to see a therapist twice. I was praying a lot. Mostly not to mess up my kids and that love would cover over everything – God’s love, since mine was not that apparent, though it was there, buried under all the rage. I knew breastfeeding hormones were contributing, but I wasn’t about to cut E off, and I didn’t want to be on medication.
One very helpful resource for me during this time was my friend, Annie. She is a doctor and married to a doctor and home schools four kids and has a real life and is honest and kind and genuine. She invited me to her house and to the zoo a couple times last summer. She shared bits of her homeschooling journey with me, and was a gentle listener as I lamented feeling alone and far from all my friends and scared of messing my kids up. I met her at the farm our first year and I wish we lived closer to each other.
When I got pregnant unexpectedly 31 weeks or so ago, I was totally freaked. I was overwhelmed with two kids and felt almost paralyzed with fear at the thought of adding a baby to the mix. But a good thing happened then too. See, when I’m pregnant, I have to eat an insane amount of food to counter the insane amount of barfing that comes with my pregnancies. I realized that food was the thing I had been missing for all those months of anger and depression. Not that I wasn’t eating – I love food and I was eating. But I wasn’t eating enough. I realized my habits went from a tiny rushed breakfast at around 7:00 to waiting until 2:00 when both boys were napping before I carb-loaded myself with lunch. Then dinner (the only real balanced meal I had everyday) around 6:30. This was not enough food to sustain anyone, let alone a breastfeeding mom. No wonder I was crabby all the time. Not to say that this was the only reason for the depression, but so much was relieved when I changed that pattern. I just didn’t see it until I HAD to eat more, being pregnant.
Another big change happened when I got pregnant. We finally realized we could no longer put off the bad situation we were in with Josie. Poor Josie. Our wonderful, horrible, funny, crazy, ill-behaved mutt. Things were never easy with Josie. She had food allergies that caused us to spend unreasonable amounts of money on her diet and separation anxiety that destroyed so much of our house and the apartment we had before it. She was ridiculously athletic, able to jump our six-foot privacy fence in pursuit of a squirrel… and she did this with some regularity. She was not good at socializing with other dogs, although we did all the right things when she was a puppy. And she didn’t like sharing us with the boys. Add to it the fact that at eight years old, her hips were really, finally hurting her, and we had a one-year-old with a toddler’s balance that could (and would) easily fall on her while she laid in her bed by the couch. She growled at E every time he came near her.
One day, E fell on her back legs and she snapped at him. All of this added up to a dog that was unhappily chained in the back yard when she was outside (so she wouldn’t jump the fence) and being shooed around the house from basement to kitchen amid a tangle of baby gates when inside (so she wouldn’t have to be afraid of getting fallen on and hurting her legs). It wasn’t working anymore. She was miserable, we were stressed. After months of me “jokingly” asking our neighbor if he wanted Josie, he wisely suggested that maybe we should honestly look at either finding her a new home or putting her down.
I don’t think I would have heard anyone else. He told us that he knew we were worried about her biting one of the kids and that it wasn’t worth the risk. And he even offered to take her to the pound for us. I am very thankful for his frankness in a really tough situation. I cried and he brought us smoothies.
It was still a few months before we decided to actually do something. I loved Josie, and I didn’t want to be one of “those people” who treated their dog like a child until they had kids and then just tossed the dog to the wayside. But we were in a holding pattern with her and no one at all was happy. We couldn’t risk a bite to one of the kids, not to mention the fact we now had another on the way and we couldn’t possibly ask Josie to wait out one more toddler.
We went round and round with trying to find her a new home, versus a shelter, versus putting her down. We really felt like we were asking a lot of anyone to adopt an eight year old dog with hip problems, food allergies, separation anxiety, who liked to roam and that could not be with other dogs, cats or kids. We really felt that no matter what, in the end, she’d end up in a shelter at least once, but most likely multiple times, finally getting put down. I couldn’t bear the thought of her thinking we abandoned her and then having her put down by strangers regardless of how we tried. We decided to put her down ourselves, out of respect for her… she’d never have to be frightened in a shelter and we’d be with her until the end.
We should have done it right away after making this decision, but by then it was only a couple weeks until Christmas and we wanted to wait until afterward (I don’t really know why, looking back now). So I spent that few weeks, incessantly crying and questioning whether we were making the right decision or not. We tried to make the last few weeks extra special for her – spoiling her with every kind of food and table scrap and letting her on the furniture. Then Rick took her and we switched roles. Now he cried and questioned.
Oddly though, as soon as it was over, a huge weight was lifted from me. I was suddenly much more patient with the boys and I realized I was yelling a whole lot less. We were all happier, even though we all missed having our dog. I’d like to get a dog again at some point (Rick says when the new baby is around two we’ll talk), but I have large reservations about it even then.
Now, I was missing H on his school days too. It was nice to have extra time with just E, but I dreaded the two days recovery H would need after his school day to get back into our routine. And we realized that his school’s new curriculum was not teaching anything to help him prepare for kindergarten.
Additionally, he missed the cutoff for being able to start school in 2011 because his birthday is in November. I have huge reservations about holding him back a whole year based solely on his birth date. The school district we live in is one of the worst in the state, and when I called to get info about School of Choice to enroll him out of district, I was basically laughed at for wanting him tested to see if he was ready for kindergarten early and wanting him to go out of district. The people I talked to were condescending, rude and impersonal. I couldn’t help but wonder why these are the same people who are always harping on the socialization question for homeschoolers.
I got off the phone and cried to my mom about not being able to put H through all the drama and cog-making that I saw happening in public schools. Once, Annie shared on her blog about how the neighbor kids “learned to stand in line” on the first day of school. Barf.
So Rick and I decided that I’d home school H for kindergarten. We figured it’s a year “early” for him to start anyway, so if it doesn’t work, we can always have him repeat kindergarten in public school (or private or charter?). And, maybe I’d find that I liked it. I already had plenty of friends from the farm doing it, offers to join home school groups, etc. I feel pretty supported in the decision.
And I feel good mentally and emotionally. I’m a little afraid of what it will be like with three kids. A little afraid the postpartum will come back and bite me again. But I do know that I learned a lot last year, and Rick did too. And we’re planning on being proactive on that front this time around. And I’m taking joy in my kids instead of just trying to manage.
All in all, I’m excited to start school with H this year. And for what the future holds for all of us, including the new little baby who helped clue me into what was wrong with me and nudged us towards taking care of things that needed taken care of – no matter how hard they were.