In Heat 01/30/2008

One of our dogs and one of our cats is currently in heat.  The cat isn't too big of a deal as she is just a little hussy, sticks her butt in the air,  meows and then hisses. 

But the dog leaves those little droplets all over.  What a pain!  This is how we solve the droplet problem.  Of course we had to buy Spear new wear-wear after this experience but on the bright side we have a supply for next time.  :-D

What an ingenious invention mens undies were.  A trap door for the guys and a tale hole for the dogs.  Cool!


Not sure where I originally found this at as I just found it on my computer while cleaning out files BUT this is us TOTALLY!  Scary isn't it?

Scrap Paper 01/26/2008

In my last post I mentioned we are trying the Old Fashioned Education for a while to see if it works.  That requires a boat load of printing.  Since most of the books are free from the internet and I don't think the kids really want to read a computer all day, that means I need to print. 

My mom brings us scrap paper from work.  Usually it is for the kids arts and crafts projects, paper airplanes, that sort of thing.  But, when I saw how much printing this new system was going to take, I dug out the scrap paper.  We have two full boxes of it in the big loss.

Since the paper is printed on one side I have to go through each paper and make sure the print side is up.  It takes a bit of time but the treasures I have been finding are wonderful.  I found a Christmas letter my mom wrote the family from 2002.  Sweet was only 4 years old and the boys were in <<eeeeghadzzzzz>> public school.  I also found this little poem.  I thought it was very nice and wanted to share. 


When you are sad...I will dry your tears.
When you are scared...I will comfort your fears.
When you are worried...I will give you hope.
When your are confused...I will help you cope
When you are lost...And can't see the light,
I shall be your beacon...Shining ever so bright.
This is my oat...I pledge till the end.
Why you may ask?
Because you're my friend.

Signed:  GOD


This just in...All hell has brooken loose in the Pickle Barrel...details at ten.

OK, that is a slight exaggerate, but things have been a wee bit (mountainously) tense around here.  We are revamping the way we homeschool, making major changes around the house and dealing with some medical issues.  Life has not been fun the past week.  I am hoping things will be better this week.

The kids have been hellions on two feet.  That is not an exaggeration.  It is a fact plain and simple.  They want to rule the roost and took the steps this week to show me they just might be able to over throw the dictatorship we have established.  So, Cool and I had to take steps to bring them back down to earth.  After the kids were sent to bed at 6:30 Friday night, Cool and I deliberated and came up with a punishment/life lesson, Dr Laura style.  I don't know if any of you like Dr. Laura but we love her. (1-8 HUHdred D-R-L-A-U-R-A) We used to listen to her all the time.  Anyway, we took everything they own away with the execption of clothing, school materials, educational books and magazines and the one security item they all still sleep with at night.  The rest of it has been locked up until further notice.  Not only that, they are grounded indefinately.  When they prove to us they can respect us, themselves, the house, their siblings and the rules established, they may then start to regain their posessions and privileges.  No time frame has been given as the trust is going to have to be earned back. Believe me, it will take some time.  It may seem harsh to some, but it is a step we had to take.

With cleaning out their rooms of everything but bookshelves, dressers, desks and beds it got me thinking.  "I really like the way not cluttered looks."  So, I am on a mission.  I am taking one area a day and purging.  It is outta here!  There are things I keep holding on to thinking I will need them sometime but ya know what?  I don't really need them at all.  It is fallacy.  It's outta here!

As for homeschooling, we are taking a different approach.  We have been very relaxed in the past and it has always worked well for us.  We like the freedom that it allowed us.  BUT, after the behavior we have seen spewing forth from our picklets, the fruit of my loin if you will, we have decided a more (dare I say it???) structured way of going about things is necessary.  At least while they are grounded from everything electronic, all outside influences and fun in general.  What better time to cozy up with the classics?  That's what I always say at least.  So, we are going to try the Old Fashioned Education curriculum out.  It is a tad bit on the religious side, but even with that, when we looked at it this weekend, Cool and I were excited.  He actually talked to me about their curriculum.  (alot of you homeschool mom's know just what I am talking about)  So, the decision was made, the papers printed and an Old Fashioned Education will commence in the mornin'. 

That is about all I have to say tonight.  It is 12:37 in the morning and I have to finish binding the work for the week and still be up at 6:00 to make coffee and start Cools car.  I should get a fricken raise!


OK, I know this year has brought a few things our way that some might view as bad luck. Cool, backed into a pole and knocked my rear view mirror off my van, he went in the ditch one morning on the way to work, my aunt almost died, Cool went to the ER with chest pains, the garage was on fire. It all depends on how a person views life as to how they handle these life situations. I have viewed these all as, "We were extremely lucky. Someone was really watching out for us." Some might say I was living life with my glass half full. Not today. What happened today is where I draw the line.

Let me back up. It all started yesterday, when we got home from all our errand running. Cool and I were on the driveway talking to some friends when Spear went into the house and came running back out yelling, "There's a dead bat on the floor!" What could we do? We had to be adults and take charge so Cool and I went in to find a dead bat. :shudder, gasp, spew: 5 minutes of debating the subject of who was going to pick it up and get rid of it happened after the shuddering. Speculations were made as to how a dead, bloody bat actually made it's way to the the kitchen floor. Speculations were also made as to why it ended up under the kitchen table. This will go down in history as an unsolved mystery as we interviewed the three cats and didn't get a straight answer. It seemed that none of them wanted to take the credit. We went to bed thinking, "That was strange."

We woke up today and lived life normally until about 4:00 when Spear says, "There's another bat!" (Now, I don't know why Spear has the ability to I-Spy all the bats but he has a real knack for it) I look down and see in the mouth of my sweet, little, innocent kitten, a horrible, ugly bat! He was pretty damn proud of himself and would show off by putting the bat down and pouncing on it as it would try to take off. Oh God!

Chip would say great and wonderful things such as, "Notice the way "Killer" keeps biting at the bats neck? He is trying to break it but he just isn't done playing with it yet." Oh God!

I ran to the neighbor and asked if he could come over and help. He was walking out the door and couldn't right away, but he would when he got back. Oh God!

Now, this is embarrassing to admit but I am gonna tell ya. I sat down and cried full fledged tears. In my kitchen, under a clear Rubbermaid tub is one pissed off bat. I am afraid of bats. Two of my picklets are afraid of bats because their brother was bitten by one two years ago and are freaking because the bat is hitting the sides of the container. The picklet who was actually bitten by one is a freakin' bat encyclopedia and keeps spewing bat facts at me. All I wanted to do was yell "SHUT UP!" and bury my head in the freakin' sand. Alas, I am a grown up and couldn't do that. So I cried. I cried because Cool wouldn't be home until 10. I cried because my neighbor was busy. I cried because I was afraid.

After feeling sorry for myself for a while I called the librarian to see if her husband could come over and take care of the flying rodent for me. "He is deathly afraid of bats," she tells me, "but I will find someone for you!" Half an hour later (when I was just thinking I would have to live with a bat in my kitchen for the rest of my life) she called back and informed me someone was on their way. OH YEAH!

Up the walk came "JP the bat taker person". "Are you my knight in shining armor?" I asked. "Nah, just JP." LOL He inspected the situation, moved the Rubbermaid tub, moved it again, looked all around and asked me for a towel. I dug through my drawer trying to find the perfect dish towel to sacrifice to the God of Rodents. He nonchalantly picked up the corner of the Rubbermaid and picked the clicking, hissing bat up. I asked casually, "do you want to flush it down the toilet?" He says, "No, I will just let it go." OH GOD!

Very calmly I ask, "Do you think you could do that somewhere else?" He looked at me, a sparkle in his eye, and said, "Yeah, I think I can do that. I will just return your towel tomorrow." I laughed and replied back, "no can just toss it!" He chuckled and said, "OK, I understand!"

And off my went my knight in shining armor, down the street in his 4 door sedan with a bat wrapped in my kitchen towel. Oh God!
I still view these little quirks as "Shit Happens." Life is constantly moving and if you don't hang on with both hands and yell, "WOOOHOOOO!" sometimes, it is gonna leave you behind. So, I am gonna hang on tight, yell, "Oooohhhhh shiiiiiiiiit!" and enjoy the ride!

The predator guarding his prey.

Update to the bat story. As I was writing this I hear Cool yell, "Oh shiiiiiiiiiit." I go to the living room, hoping that Cool is just enjoying the ride as I have vowed to do, only to find yet another bat! Yes, bat number 3! Killer was chasing him, Chip was spewing bat facts and Spear was disappointed he didn't spot him first. Sweet the lucky, slept through it all. I hid in the bathroom and yelled, "What's going on now?" Mr. Bat was captured on my picture frame, taken to the park by the resident bat expert and released back to the wild. I am holding on tight!

Ice Storm (2-07) 12/16/2007

A winter storm came through the area this past weekend. It was more of an ice storm than anything. We had an inch of ice on EVERYTHING. The town is a mess. There are trees down, electric poles down and no electricity for thousands upon thousands of customers. We lost electricity at about 11:00 Saturday morning and got it back at 6:30 Sunday night. We were lucky. All of the towns and farms around us do NOT have electricity and are not expected to have electricity for up to 10 days. Yes, we were lucky! When the windows started looking like this and the electricity had been off for a while, we snuggled in my bed and took turns reading stories to each other. The picklets were happy to have daddy read to them.

Cool and I decided to go out and clean up some of the brush that had fallen from the trees in the yard. Upon opening the door we saw at least 3/4 of an inch of ice covering the grass and sidewalk.

It covered the outside toy box.

The basketball hoop.

The solar lights.

And was plain beautiful.

After coming in, the picklets made deviled eggs by candlelight.

And finished up the president's Day file folder (by candlelight).

It was down to 55 by bedtime and so the picklets snuggled down on the floor and slept in the living room. Camping at it's finest!


Milk in a Bag 12/16/2007

One of the memories that stands out from visiting my Grandma and Grandpa is the "milk in a bag".

In that brick house, in the small redone kitchen, smelling the smell that you only smelled at Grandma's house, I enjoyed many a glass of milk. But not just any glass or any milk.

There were two glasses we grandchildren were allowed to drink out of. Both of them rather smallish in our large eyes. No matter how much it was stated that in fact, we could drink much more than just the small amount of milk the glasses would hold, we had two choices: 1. Drink out of one of those or 2. go thirsty. 2nd's and 3rds were always allowed in Grandma's kitchen, but not bigger glasses. The rules were simple, yet were always challenged.
Grandma (and it was always grandma, none of us grandchildren had a nickname for her, grandma just seemed perfect) always bought milk in a bag. And she didn't buy it at a grocery store. Nope, she bought it at the gas station a block down from the corner grocery store. Now for those of you who don't know what milk in a bag is, let me explain. Milk in a bag is milk, in a heavy plastic bag. Simple, huh?
I was the only grandchild who didn't live within a 20 mile radius of my grandparents house. I didn't get milk in a bag in the metropolis where I lived and because of that I always found the milk intriguing. I am almost positive my cousins thought I was crazy for making such a big deal about milk. They were used to milk in a bag though. They didn't understand that where I came from milk came in a jug. It had a handle and a lid. They didn't understand that my mom bought her milk in a grocery store on the same night every week. Their mom bought milk at the gas station too. Living in the rural farm area afforded you luxuries like milk in a bag that I just wasn't able to get living in the city.
I would examine the bag upon each and every milk pouring. I can still see the bag sitting in Grandma's gold colored Tupperware 2 quart pitcher, in the refrigerator section of her side by side refrigerator/freezer. I can hear the freezer door open and shut (whoosh) the way it always did when the refrigerator door was opened. I can see the white glass bowls of leftover peaches sitting on the shelf with cool whip lids covering them. She didn't put the left overs in the actual cool whip bowl, just covered her white and gold corning bowls with the lids. I found that intriguing too.
When I would get thirsty after doing important kid things like playing tennis on the school wall or climbing on the school roof to retrieved the lost tennis ball, I would take the milk out of the fridge (listening for that whoosh from the freezer) and put it on the yellowish island next the the basket that always had half a grapefruit and half a banana in it. Grandma would hand me the appropriate glass and I would pour the milk from the 1/4" slit in the corner of the bag. I would lift the glass to my lips and drink. Oh that wonderful bagged milk! Often times I would pour a second or a third. Whoosh, I would put the milk back to await my next thirsty spell.
In 1999 my Grandma died. There was no more bagged milk to be had. And the sad truth is I had completely forgotten about it until last weekend. On the way to see Geppetto I saw a gas station out of the corner of my eye as I turned a corner. Could it be? was THE gas station. The milk in a bag gas station. I told mom we had to stop there on the way home. Confused, she agreed but asked me why. I told her the whole story of milk in a bag. The wonderful, calcium filled memories. The dreaded glasses, the gold pitcher, EVERYTHING. She had no idea I had such memories. It seems Grandma deprived her of milk in a bag. Ha! I always knew she loved me more!


So, on the way home I bought milk in a bag (from a gas station). Now they have handy little pitchers to put the bag in and a slit in the plastic to close the milk up. I cannot tell you the rush I had. It was pure exhilaration! I bought skim white milk, chocolate milk AND orange juice.

I put the bags in the refrigerator and there they sat. Each day this week the picklets would ask, "when can we drink that milk mommy?" Each day I would answer, "Later honey." I didn't want to open it. I didn't want to drink it. It was a comfort to have it in my side by side refrigerator/freezer. I just wasn't ready.

This morning I decided today was the day. I took the chocolate milk (my grandma would NEVER have bought chocolate milk, "you can make your own much cheaper at home"), put it in the pitcher (that came FREE with the milk), cut a 1/4" slit in the corner and poured it into the wonderful milk glasses that I was given from Grandma's house. I swear she was standing there telling me to take care and not spill.


My picklets and I shared a glass of calcium enriched milk and a wonderful memory that was started in a brick house, in a small kitchen, with my Grandma handing me a glass. And just for a moment I thought I smelled that smell that only my Grandma's house had.



My aunt was born was downs syndrome some 50 or so years ago. My grandparents made the radical decision to keep her instead of sending her off to a home for the mentally ill. The doctors told them she would never walk, talk, recognize anyone, have a personality and if she did happen to have a life of quality, she would not live past the age of 30. Boy were they wrong!

Elaine is in her 50's. She walks, talks, feeds her self, has a great personality and just has a wonderful soul. My mom nick named her Geppetto after Geppetto in Pinochio. She is just like him, the kindly old Geppetto. She is the favorite sister of the 7 siblings. She is the favorite sister-in-law of four outlaws. She is the favorite aunt of the 16 neices and nephews. She was the favorite daughter of my grandparents.

She lived at home, with my Grandma and Grandpa, until she was in her 40's. She was then moved to a home where other's with the same disease as she live. She lives in an old three story home fixed up in a quaint neighborhood in a small town. She has her own bedroom, with her own tv and personal space. She has chores to do around the house. They all help with the cooking and eat together as a group. They all work together outside the house and are all the best of friends. The house is staffed with dedicated, freindly personel who genuinely care for them.

About three years ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The disease has progressed even though medications have been used to try to slow the progress. She has slowly lost skills such as walking up steps and has been forgetting things regualry for quite some time. The disease is eating her brain. It sucks. She is still able to live at the house, but her disease is starting to get out of the range of capability for the staff. She will stay there for as long as she can.

Friday Geppetto collapsed at work. When taken to the doctor she was diagnosed with bronchitis and sent home, much to the dismay of her personal attendant. Friday night she wouldn't eat and was trying to grab imaginary things out of the air. She stood up only to fall over. The staff in the home put her in bed and called a family member to alert what was going on. By the time my other aunt reached the home, Geppetto had a rash all over her body and was raging with fever. An ambulance was called and she was checked into the hospital.

She was diagnosed with pneumonia, a severe UTI and they feared she had toxins in her bloodstream. She was put on an IV and three different antibiotics. She couldn't sleep. She was shaky, fidgety and when she dozed off, she would jolt herself awake. Not only that, she had a blank look on her face.

My mom and I headed up there Saturday not know what we would find. We walked in the hospital room and the Geppetto we knew wasn't the one laying in bed. She was glassy eyed, shaky and not at all perky. She was polite. Stranger polite that is. She dozed on and off and then finally fell into a deep sleep. Those of us at the hospital sat around her bed and chatted while she slept.

When she awoke, I tried to get her to drink so her bodily functions wouldn't stop. She drank some water, grape juice and ate a dish of sherbet. She then dozed on and off. Mom and I decided we would stay the night since things were still so iffy. I left, checked into a hotel, ran to the store to buy a pair of pants and by the time I returned, Geppetto was sitting in a chair, eating toast and laughing. The antibiotics were starting to work!

Through the night she regained some of her strength. She responded with the sparkle in her eye again and would joke with us. She was very emotional with my mom asking her for kisses all the time. The Elaine that loved my mom was showing herself again warming my mom's heart emensely. We left the hospital about 8:45 for the hotel.

Elaine had a good night and rested most of it. Sunday morning she was still jittery, but the jolts had stopped. She ate a good breakfast and chewed on gummy bears through the morning.

When lunch came, the nurse jellied her toast and asked if she could cut up the pears for her. My mom took over and mixed the pears with the cottage cheese and jello. Geppetto ate two peices of toast all of her cottage cheese and was working on her jello when the nurse came in and said, "those are potatos, NOT pears." Mom took a peice of it out of the jello and sure enough, it was potato! It mattered none to Geppetto. She continued eating, as happy as can be. Of course the rest of us were laughing so hard we had tears coming down our face. We each made mental notes NOT to have mom help us if we are hospitalized!

In the afternoon the Dr. examined her again and diagnosed her with septic shock. Basically her blood stream had a raging infection. The Dr. then stated it was a good thing she was brought to the hospital on Friday because there wouldn't have been a Saturday.

If that didn't hit home. Geppetto has such a permanent place in all of our hearts. It sucks to see her losing her memory. It sucks that she doesn't recognize us most of the time any more. It sucks to see her laying in the hospital, wide eyed, not knowing where she is. It sucks the first doctor misdiagnosed her and wrote it off as "just downs". But it would really suck to lose her now. She is such a kind soul. She is loving and has never hurt anyone. She depends on all of us so much and to think we almost let her down sucks most of all.