Monday, November 05, 2012

Jumping ship on the Facebook grateful trend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time.  Growing up just north of Detroit we would always go downtown to the parade.  After, we'd come home, wrap up in afghans and drink hot chocolate.  That is, if we stayed awake past the warm, drowsy ride back home.  Later, we'd join the collection of the Sinki family at large for wonderful meal and even more wonderful laughter-filled visits.

I was just a kid, but was aware of how much more relaxed Thanksgiving was than the stressful joy of Christmas.  Taking time to be together to note the harvest (food related, and otherwise) of the year is such a simple ritual.

Over the past few years, it's become a growing tradition on Facebook to share something you're grateful for every day in November.  This year, I decided to hop on in.  Five days into it, I'm considering dropping out.

I have a zillion gazillion things to be thankful for: our insane transition into fall has started to calm down a little.  Henry's adjusted to his part-time school very well.  Willa continues to rock the first grade world.  Jim is doing some great things at work, will start teaching at the college again tonight, and still has energy and focus to be the loving and present dad and husband I knew he would be.  My big, scary exam is in the past (I hope, if I don't pass, I'll be taking it again in the Spring), my internship is challenging and teaching me so much, and I might be done with school on my birthday.  My little job is going well.  I have friends who are generous with their support and humor.  The dogs, the chickens, the fish are good.  [and typing all of this here is kind of counter-productive to my point, and makes me feel squirmy]

But I just can't get into this Facebook thankfulness thing.  Publishing good things every day seems like a slap in the face to people I know and love who are going through some life-altering times in their lives.  I help run a group for children who are staying in a homeless shelter.  My old Americorps team mate and her husband are trying to soak up every moment they have with their sweet infant son who was just diagnosed with a terminal disease.  My uncle and three cousins are adjusting to life without their wife and mother, my sweet aunt.  I know people who struggle with employment issues, major health issues, money issues, relationship issues...  It seems almost greedy for me to count my blessings publicly.

Not because I'm ungrateful for the embarrassment of riches I'm surrounded by.  Because clicking "share" after typing "I'm thankful for my son's health and energy and intellect, even after a very long evening" makes me feel like kind of an asshole.

So, friends, either affirm or challenge my thoughts, or help teach me how to be publicly grateful without feeling like a jerk.  What do you think?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lights in the Night

So, I've already admitted that I openly cry at church a lot.  I'm going further.
I cry a lot at the strangest places.  Do I cry at weddings?  Well, duh... I have tear ducts.  But I cry at parades, friends.  You get floats and clowns and marching bands down a street, and I'll be on the curb, wiping my cheek with the back of my hand.  I think my eyes leak when I see people coming together.

Tonight in my city, every parking ramp was full at 7:30 tonight.  The streets were clogged by families, couples, groups of happy people who were there to explore ArtPrize.  Willa and I were anxiously driving up and down streets looking for one spot that would hold the tiny Ford Focus.  We ended up across the river, and blocks away from our end destination.  We had to leave Jim and Henry at home because Henry was being a monster, and Jim was taking one for the team.

Willa and I walked down Bridge street, knowing we would be too late to get our own paper lantern to release.  We got to the river and stopped in our tracks, gasping.  It was stunning.  We sat on the lawn and just watched for a while:

And then we got closer.  We came to a tent where they had been passing out lanterns, but it was empty.  Willa's face fell.  We stopped for a quick pep talk, and then went on to soak up the beauty.  We stopped at a clearing at the park, and watched people release theirs.  A mom was holding one, and getting ready to let it go.  I whispered, "would you mind if my daughter just touched it while you let it go?"  She smiled, "we have one for her."
A complete stranger gave Willa an extra lantern she had in her stroller.    Willa's eyes grew wide as the woman lit it for us, and then handed it to me.  I smiled at the woman with tears in my eyes.  She instantly started crying, too.
We were 2 people in a giant crowd.
Willa made a wish and let the lantern go.  We watched it go over the trees that line the river.  We watched it sail over the river.  Up, and up, and up, joining with the others until we couldn't distinguish "ours" anymore.  I think it was more poignant for me, as it was never our lantern to begin with.  We held hands in silence, watching, and feeling the cohesion of the moment.
In all, over 20,000 lanterns were released tonight over the span of 30 minutes.  It was stunning.
 
 

The crowd was enormous, and Willa and I walked the grounds of the Ford Museum to allow foot and car traffic to thin out.  We stood at the reflection pool, and she asked me for a penny.  I dug out a penny for her and a quarter for me.  We tossed them in.  I don't know what Willa's second wish was for that night, but I wished that our generous stranger found joy in her act, and that she would find some lovely surprise in people tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday thoughts

What a beautiful day.

We woke up and played, then ate our scrambled eggs, and then went to church. 

Our church has a tradition of moving services from the sanctuary to the chapel for the summer.  First, because the chapel is air conditioned, second because there are less people attending in the summer.  Our ministers take hiatus during the hot months, so they can go in search of what stirs and pokes at their soul.  While they are away, lay people take over services.  I went once, but the low ceiling made me claustrophobic.  Nowadays, the Sinkis take the summer away, too.  We find God in the lakes, in the garden, in our sore muscles after a long and challenging hike...

So, today we were back. We brought the kids to their character school classrooms.  Willa is now old enough that she joins the other grades upstairs.  Henry joined his (mostly boys) class in the 4 year old room.

The service was wonderful. An excerpt of Desmond Tutu's "God is Not a Christian" was one of the readings.  In the middle of the reading, I looked around to see if anyone could see that lightening had just struck me and I was turned inside out.  The reading spoke to me.  In my teens I remember laughing when I thought of a heaven, partitioned off by faith traditions.  It seemed so ridiculous to me.  Today, the thought was deeply profound.  Of course God is not a Christian.  Of course Christianity (or Judaism, or Islam or any other religion) doesn't have sole ownership on virtue.  Or mistakes. I know this.  But someone said it out loud.  In a church.  From a pulpit. Reading the thoughts of a man who wears a white collar around his neck!

Our minister had written her sermon before the world got all crazy again.  Before someone released a video "in the name of Christianity/America" and upset people.  Before those people killed the US ambassador "in the name of Islam."  Before our politicians and pundits and media spun it all until the good guys were obvious.  Before the battleships were deployed, and before we all held our breath and let go a silent, pleading prayer for peace.  But it was timely, and brave, and important.
It was a beautiful service, and we all left with the message that was shared from the same pulpit months ago when Louis Farrakhan visited to speak to our city.  He's a divisive character, and raises eyebrows everywhere, but try this idea of his on and see how it fits.  He suggested that when Christians start acting like Christians, when Muslims start acting like Muslims, and when Hindus start acting like Hindus, we won't have any problems.

That is, when we all start acting like we should according to our own faith, we'll have that beautiful worldwide kumbaya movement.

I've been told that our church, because it doesn't follow specific doctrine, should not be called a church.  But I've never been anywhere else that encouraged and supported and challenged me to be a better citizen.  I've never been in another church that allowed me to see my own inner wisdom and ignorance so clearly.  I've never been anywhere that acknowledges the sacred texts of the Bible, the  Torah, and Dr. Seuss equally.  I find God in the first (and the 81st) ripe tomato in the garden, and my faith is in kindness and compassion.  I am home.  It was good to be home again today.

Service closed with the choir singing of of my favorites.  Here are the lyrics:

This is my song oh God of all the nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine
This is my home, the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
This is my song oh God of all the nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine

I know this is getting to be a long entry.  But I'm not done. 
I did, in fact, cry during the hymn.  Because of cold hearts who can't explore and accept people who think or feel differently than them.  Because some believe their faith encourages "being right" over "being good."  Because in other nations there are mothers who are worried about the safety of their children with more reason that I have to worry about the safety of mine.  Because in another city, my sweet, gentle aunt is dying after cancer greedily took over her body.  And her husband, and daughters are preparing to let her go. 

I cried and cried - because I was in my church home and this was the emotional parallel of putting on comfy pants.  Jim put his arm around me while I wiped my cheeks.  He's used to this.  Pals, I'm really  comfortable there.

Church was done, and we collected our children.  We stopped for our usual Sunday bagels, and then went to Kids Food Basket to volunteer for an hour.

The rest of the day was spent in the woods with a friend and his two daughters. The sunlight on the meadow with goldenrod in bloom, and the tall dried grasses swaying was amazing.  The laughter of the 4 kids was precious.  The sky was blue.  The song of peace, the prayer for peace continues.

Sinki breakfast, provided by our pet chickens

This morning, I walked from the front door to the coop.  There's a noticeable fall chill in the air in the mornings.  The dogs ran to the backyard to clear it of squirrels for me.  I was greeted with quiet rustling of the hens, and then a few clucks when I opened the coop door.  I smiled as I plucked the egg from their bedding, patted both Alice and Hazel (we don't know who is laying), opened the door to the run, shut the people door, and came back to the house with the egg in the pouch of my Americorps hoodie. 

This was our fourth egg.  Which meant we had enough for scrambled eggs.  Very small eggs means very small portions, but they were so, so good.


This is a salad plate.  Our eggs might be sized small by the USDA, but they'll get bigger as the hens grow.

 
Jim and I have been joking about the cost of each egg.  I'll tell you: making your own coop is not cheap (or quick).  I think we both agree that the experience of raising day old chicks to laying age has been worth it.  Yesterday Jim was inspired and spent a lot of the day working on finishing up the coop while I tried to will myself away from being sick (allergies, cold?  I don't know.).
I got an update on Penny the rooster yesterday.  He is making a farm family very happy.  They've never had a friendly chicken before, and their little girl loves to spring out of bed in the morning to collect eggs from Penny's friends, and cuddle him.  He's doing a great job as a second rooster, and today he meets 15 new hens that the people are bringing home just for him! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Henry goes to school

Almost exactly 3 years ago I lost my job, and - involuntarily - became a stay at home mom.  Since that day, I have been Henry's sole caregiver during the day. 
Today we shared "the awesome" and, Henry started preschool.
He did a great job getting out of the car, and strutting to the front door.  He bounced up to the classroom door.  When the door opened, 10 new little faces greeted him.  Literally.  They were right on the other side, and all said, "HI!"  That totally overwhelmed Henry who immediately grabbed my hand and hid behind my legs. 
We met his teacher, found his backpack hook, looked at the bathroom, and then it was time.  I got down on his level, and said some words about how I would be thinking about him, and sending him thoughts of bravery and adventure, and that I would be back in a few hours.  He nodded, and we hugged.
I stood up, the (wonderful) teacher took his hand, and led him to the carpet where the kids were getting ready to do some big learning.  He sat on her lap, and looked... a little lost, a little "out of body experience." 
I got in my car and sighed.  My sweet boy.
At the end of the day Willa and I picked him up.  He ran to us - smiling.  He's excited to go back.
His report from the day: "Well... I told those guys on the playground that I was a spy. But they don't know much about spies. I think those guys are younger than me."
It was a very good day.

20 weeks old

I checked on the hens today and was rewarded by this sweet, perfect egg.  It's small, and they'll get bigger as time passes.  I don't know if it was Alice or Hazel, but I'm proud of them.

When they got home from school, Willa wanted to call everyone she knew to share the news.  Henry walked around, cradling the egg and clucking at it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Some first week thoughts from Willa

 "Mommmm.... call my school and tell them I'll be an hour late. I'm too tirrrred to move fast today." Morning 2 was a little rough on Willa. 

Yesterday, she noticed I had made her a little beaded zipper pull for her backpack.  Last year I did the same with a little bead that said "love."  She tried to read the message on this year's bead and cocked her head to the side.  I helped her, "it says 'follow your dreams.'"  She thought for a moment and replied, "mom.... I can't follow my dreams!  I'll be in school."  We had a talk about how school will help her to follow her dreams.  "OH!  I get it now.  So, you don't want me to actually sleep in school, right?"  So literal.

I'm editing to include this from dinner: "mom, do you want to hear something sad?  v____ 's mom is in jail.  He said she's in jail for hiring kids and teaching them to kill people."

Big gulp there.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What a difference a day makes


He did it!

She's proud of him, and he's proud of himself.  Swimmer.

 
 
     Yesterday, we spent time with Jim's family in the pool.  The 88 degree pool where time doesn't exist, and in my head it was no longer the day before the first day of school, and the day before the week that all of us have some major change.  This was relaxing and nice.  It was also a huge milestone as Henry jumped off of the diving board.  This is HUGE here!  He's been nervous all summer.  Now that Willa finally tried it in June, he was feeling some pressure.  Yesterday was THE day.  He stood at the end and said, "one, two... world record!" and then jumped.  When he came up grinning and laughing, he spurted, "I'm going to do this EVERY DAY!"
 
     Today is the first day of first grade for Willa.  We had a very smooth morning.  Everyone was up on time, fed and dressed at the right time.  We were not rushed on the way out the door.  We took some photos, and then got to school.  Because it was raining, all of the classes were lining up in the gym.  The hot, hot, echoey gym.  Some kids were overwhelmed, but Willa hung in there.  I watched her make a new friend who I will call "girl with the red backpack" until I know otherwise.  When it was time, her teacher, Mrs. K. got the kids to stand up, and they filed out.  Willa didn't even look at me as they walked to the hallway.  This kid has got it under control.



Packing up for the day.
Happy first grade girl.
They all lined up in the gym this morning.  Hot, humid chaos.  Willa looks ready to wallop her teacher with the umbrella.  She was not.

Friday, August 31, 2012

updates

Some quick notes:

- Alice and Hazel are now 18.5 weeks old.  Hazel looks like she's just about ready to lay her first egg, Alice has a while yet, I think. 

- Willa starts 1st grade in a few days.  We're trying very hard to get back into he fall routine for the family.  It's hard right now, because...

- We just got back from vacation.  The Sinkis spent a week in the forests of Kentucky.  I know I always say photos to follow, and rarely post photos.  This time I mean it.

- We're also prepping to have Henry start a preschool/daycare program.  I'm starting my internship next week!

- We closed on the house refinance yesterday.

All of that, plus cramming in the last bits of summer.  Busy times!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tooth fairy visits

Willa lost her 3rd tooth today.  It was one that should have come out eons ago.  The root finally let go, and I had her tug a little.  When it came out, she looked shocked.  Standing there, with blood pooling, she wanted to call everyone she knew.  I made her wait a few minutes.  She called Jim, then my mom, then Jim's.  After that she ran outside to tell all of her neighborhood friends.
I was kind of excited, too.  Her other 2 teeth had the adult teeth pushing the babies out, so she never really had a gap.

*this was sitting in my drafts and for some reason wasn't published. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

15 weeks

Hazel and Alice are adjusting to life in the yard without Penny.  Alice - when under Penny's influence - used to run from people like a chicken with... well, her head intact.  This week, she's followed sweet Hazel's lead, and has decided that people are not the worst thing in the world.  She sat next to me in the lawn, and permitted me to pet her.  Now that she's not fleeing our hands, I can say that Alice has the softest feathers.

Penny, by the way, is living on a 30+ acre farm with a harem of more than 20 hens.  He gets to watch sheep, a cow, and her calf all day.  I asked his new caretaker for a report (he moved in with them on Friday).  Today she told me that he's a little nervous in the pen, so he keeps flying out of the electric fence, but grazes the whole day next to his soon to be pals.  Most of their chickens aren't very people familiar, but their 3 kids figured out today that Penny is sweet, and like to pet him.  Then she invited our family over for a bonfire next week.  So nice!

I'm deciding what to do with the Penny sized hole in our flock.  We might get 2 bantam chicks in the early spring.  We might pick up a hen in the fall.  I want no more than 4 chickens, and 2 isn't ideal.  In the meantime, it sounds like our 2 ladies and our former gentleman are all fairing well. 

I confess that I miss Penny.  It's weird to look at the chickens and see black, black and white, but no buff.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Cock-a-doodle

"Krrrraaaarrrararar."
Oh no, I thought, as I rolled over, squinted at the clock, and stretched.  "Krrrraaaarrrararar."

Ugh.

I got out of bed, and looked out the window.  "Krrrraaaarrrararar."

There, bathed in the morning light that was streaming in the top, east-facing window of the the coop, was Penny.  Penny's golden feathers were fluffed up.  Penny's beak was in the air, and "Krrrraaaarrrararar."

Penny is a boy sounds like the chicken version of puberty Peter Brady.  Soon, he'll have a big boy crow, but today it's "Krrrraaaarrrararar."

That is the big 14 week update.  The kids and are are feeling a little sad.  I was hoping to be wrong all along, but, well, "Krrrraaaarrrararar."  I'm putting the word out to my chicken network (ha!  yeah, I have a chicken network).  Jim is in Indy, and he'll make phone calls tonight.  Penny has been lovely, and is my favorite of the trio, but he can't stay here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

13 weeks old

13.  Tomorrow our trio of 2 legged pets will be 13 weeks old.  Somewhere along the way,   They were born on April 23, 4 days before my birthday.  I'm checking and double checking.  On average, hens start laying eggs at 20 weeks.  I don't want to stand by the coop tapping my toe too early.  Seven more weeks, ladies....
Ladies?  Yeah... we still don't know.  Here they are inside their coop.

The coop is done enough for them to live in safely and comfortably.  But... it's not done yet.  There's trim to add to the corners, and a run to screen off.  Here it is in the final placement.  A nice, shady spot under the giant maple tree.

Sometimes, they like to sunbathe.

And sometimes they like to cuddle.  Hazel is Willa's favorite.  They laid like this for 30 minutes today.  Many times, Hazel would rest her neck on Willa's.  She likes to have her neck rubbed under the feathers. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The chickens spent their first night in the coop last night.  It was kind of like sending them to camp.  I know they're safe, and they'll love it there, but I'm still a little worried about them.

Right now, in our backyard Henry is playing in the sandbox, Willa is walking around, carrying Alice like a baby, the other 2 chickens are poking around looking for bugs, and the soaker hose is getting our veggies some needed water.

I came in to refill my coffee mug, and couldn't resist recording this little moment of bliss.

Back to it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 weeks of fowl

It's been a few weeks since the last chicken report.  The truth is I don't see much difference between an 8 week old chicken and and 11 week chicken.  So, they pretty much look the same.

There have been major advances in the coop construction. There are 4 walls now.  Our trio of feathered pals should be evicted from the basement by the weekend - though throwing them from a nice 70 degree basement to 90+ degrees seems kind of cruel.* 

The coop news is huge.  First, because well meaning folks keep asking if it's done.  They do not know the hours and sweat put into this.  It's not just slapped together.  We need to think about ventilation, and warmth, and raccoons, and mites.  There's a lot of caulk involved in keeping out mites. 

Additionally, it is a fact that Mr. Sinki and I have brains wired in such a way that we do everything exactly the opposite from how it would be logical to the other.  Some might think this would be good for a physical project: the whole balance of strengths, right?  It is not.  Some might think it would be an opportunity to learn another style and practice communication.  Ha ha.  That's what I thought when we redid the kitchen.  No.  Now we laugh and hug each other while keeping our other unhelpful thoughts to ourselves and pray that we're done soon.

So... the coop being almost done is awesome.  There will be a coop christening party in August.  You should come.


Hazel, Alice, and Penny get a drink while in their favorite spot under the lilacs.
* Random fact for you: chickens pant like dogs when they're hot.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Dipping our toes

This evening we had a picnic at Townsend Park.  The kids and I took our shoes off and walked in the rocky creek.  I got in my walking over some rocks.  They got in by golmphing through the muck.  Ew.  They had a blast.  At one point, I walked behind Henry and overheard him giving himself his pep talk with every step: "I think you can do this, myself.  I think you can do this, myself..."


Friday, June 29, 2012

Grateful Henry

"Thank you God, for Mama, Daddy, Willa, the dogs, the chickens, the fish, the butterflies... for life!  And thank you for my matchbox cars.  And milk.  Amen"
                                                                                                      - Henry's dinnertime prayer

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sept - June photos

I made a family photo book on Shutterfly.  Here it is.  We've been a Snapfish family, but a free book offer came along, and I thought I'd give this a try.  I really liked the options I had.  Following are 2 commercial links:

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New socks $ < New washing machine $$$

Willa came to me nearly in tears this morning.  "Mom," she whispered, "we need to get a new washing machine."  I gasped, thinking about what could have happened in the basement and the dollars it would cost.  And then I asked her why.

"Because," she sniffled and then started to sob, "it's shrinking all of my socks."

"Oh, sweetie... has it shrunk any of your shirts?  Your dresses?  Your pants?"

-sniff, sniff, sniff- "nooo"

"Do you think that maybe your feet are growing?"

"Yes?"

"Do you think you can wear your flip flops for now and we'll go through your sock drawer this week?"

"Okay."  And she skipped off.

Report card

In baseball if a pitcher is throwing a perfect game, you're not supposed to talk about it while the game is still in play.  Instead, you may use code.  For example, "If you happen to be a Tigers fan, you may want to turn the game on.  Justin Verlander is doing quite, quite well tonight."

Pals, if a Masters of Counseling program was baseball, and I were a pitcher, we'd be talking in code.  2 years into it and I'm doing quite, quite well.

Our cohort has one class and then practicum, another class and then internship.  All of that plus a giant, scary national exam and then... then I'll be done.

Time flies when you're learning about theoretical models to best treat an array of clients.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 weeks

When humans are 8 weeks old, they might start to roll over.  Tonight we watched Alice and Hazel enjoy a dust bath.  They've found a bare spot in our "lawn" and have scratched it into a little bathing area.  They lay down,and then roll over, and then fluff their feathers.  Penny hasn't discovered a love of the dust bath yet.  Instead he/she stands over the other two and preens them.  Maybe check in for week 9 will include a video of bath time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 weeks

Hazel's face has turned red this week.  It happens younger in her breed than most others.  She kind of looks like a Mexican wrestling mask.

Above are some mighty happy chickens.  They are eating yogurt.  Chickens love yogurt, and berries, and lettuce, and  -I've only read - chicken (ick).  They got very excited about this outdoor treat.  It took them a while to figure it out, though.  We dipped grass in the yogurt, and they'd devour it off of the grass.  But they didn't think to eat right from the plate until 10 minutes into their feast.  Chickens: entertaining, but not so smart.  They are the Jersey Shore of the animal kingdom.  I have never seen even a minute of Jersey Shore.  Yet, I'm compelled to make that joke.

Surveying the progress of their new home.

The coop is coming along.  It's taking way longer than we estimated.  Everything generally does, as Jim and I are optimistic people.  This project though... well... it's important that every crack is sealed up because our princesses won't do well with winter drafts.  We need to make sure they get plenty of air in hot and cold weather.  It's also important to make sure it's predator proof.  We have racoons, hawks, oppossums, and a Greta we need to protect them from.  Small neighborhood hands, too.  Also, we'd like it to look nice.  While we're all anxious to get chickens out of our basement, it's not ready yet (though it is closer than the progress in this photo).



Penny/Abe really likes to cuddle with Willa and I.  She/he is less friendly with Jim and Henry.

     Henry is fascinated with this process.  He carries his play toolbox around the yard, pounding nails and asking every 10 seconds how he can be helpful.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

2nd to last day photos

Awards assembly: Willa getting her writing award from her teacher and principal.

She did this acrostic of words that reminded her of her teacher and Kindergarten

She wrote this while I was doing something else.  No help, no suggestions.  100% Willa.


Thank you gift for her awesome teacher.  I got this idea from Pinterest.  We filled it up with snacks,  tea/lemonade mix, a fun tiki ice cube tray, some homemade rhubarb-blueberry bread, and a gift card for target (with specifications that it was for something fun and relaxing: a book, camping or gardening stuff, fun socks?  Ok.  Laundry detergent?  No.

A big year

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Proud bragging inside

Um... wasn't it just a few weeks ago that I confessed to crying in the kitchen over peanut butter and jelly as I made Willa's first lunch for Kindergarten?  I thought so.  Yet, tomorrow, I'll make her last one for the school year.  How did that happen?!

This morning there was an awards assembly.  I was so proud of her as she collected awards for reading and math.  When her teacher gave her the Student of the Month award, I teared up a little (is this normal?  All this crying?  I don't think so.).  Each class has a winner every month based on a particular character trait.  Willa won the "Trustworthiness" award in the fall, and the "Caring" award in the winter.  Today's award was for "Responsibility." 

My daughter reads and writes well.  She has a firm grasp on math.  She's also trustworthy, caring and responsible.  I'm so proud of Willa.  I'm chalking this up as a win in the parenting column, too.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Six week check in


We've had them in the basement for 6 weeks now.  From fuzzy chicks to feathered out junior chickens... but holy hell, I'm ready for these three to move out.  The dust from their pine bedding has left a layer on the bookshelf above the brooder box.  Putting all 3 in a box, and then walking up the stairs, hoping the whole time that Greta doesn't tear them apart, is too stressful. 
So... we put the first layer of paint on the coop frame yesterday.  This color... oye... that's not what I thought it was going to look like.  It's a good undercoat, anyhow...

Supervisors

A man and his chickens.

A nice roost.
This is truly a family project.


Hey, lookie there!  Hazel's got her own wattles now, too.  I'm ignoring what that could mean.  Apparently this breed gets 'em early.  And look at how Penny is becoming so... handsome?  I really like this bird.  Fingers still crossed.






Sweet Alice.  Still likes chickens more than people, but will lie upside down on Willa's chest.  Also, in the sunlight, her feathers are showing some iridescent green.  Pretty little lady.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 weeks of illegal chicken tending

Our chicks made it through their first weekend with chick sitters (thanks Maribeth and Erin!), and when we got back, they looked HUGE to us.  The coop is coming along, and we're (well, Jim is) hastening construction.  As our trio gets bigger, so does their er... leavings.  And it's getting a little stinky in the basement. 
Yesterday, they were treated to a few strawberries from our backyard patch.  One chick would pick it up, and run away from the others to scarf it up.  Except one of the other two would be right behind, ready to grab and run.  I couldn't catch that on video, but here's a short look at Abraham Lincoln playing keep away.  You might also notice a hopping rabbit at the end, as the camera pans up.  She's a wild one (no pet rabbits here).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

4 weeks with chickens


Today marks four weeks since our ride home from the Family Farm and Home store in Allendale with a small box with 3 tiny fluff balls.  They're so huge already!
Abraham Lincoln, Hazel, and Penny sit poolside.  This is a birdbath, they neither bathed nor drank; they just sat.


Super Henry likes to pretend he's a pirate when he holds the chickens.  Willa just likes to cuddle.


Another bird hanging out in my garden.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Full, beautiful weekend

 Before eating dinner, we usually pray.  Growing up, both Jim and I would start dinner prays with "in the name of the Father..."  The Sinkis start prayers off with "Thank you, God, for this beautiful day."  Then we each take a turn saying a few things that we're grateful for, and sometimes ask for a little help on other things. 

Today, we didn't pray because dinner wasn't exactly on time, or organized.  We ate on the front porch at 8pm.  The kids had mac and cheese.  Jim had leftover pizza.  I had chickpeas w/ basil and tomatoes. 

We were late because we were off enjoying the beautiful day together.

Our house is about 35 minutes from one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.  We spent a few hours at Lake Michigan today.

Thank you, God, for this healthy, playful daughter.
Thank you, God, for this independent, creative son.
Thank you, God, for this kind, loving partner.
I am grateful for my family, and for the beach, and for friends who I got to spend time with on Saturday evening, and my classmates who I reconnected with during our first Lifespan Development class this weekend.

Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Willa's first sleep over

Willa is, I hope asleep right now.  It is 10:44 pm, and she is 2 houses away.  She's at her first non-family sleepover party.  She was worried yesterday evening about... every little thing.  This evening, it seems, was a different story.  I was in class tonight, so Jim helped her get ready.  I've asked him to record this little glimpse.  Ready?  Okay, I'm handing the laptop to him now.

Willa was pretty excited about being asked to sleep over at her friend Michaela's house. She wolfed down the grilled cheese sandwich I made her, and when I turned around she had her overnight bag slung over her shoulder and was heading for the door. I told her, "Willa it is only 6:20pm and your friend asked you to come over at 6:45." She said, "I know,but can I wait on the porch?" I couldn't say no to her, so there she sat, on the porch with her bag around her body and one arm thrust through her sleeping bag. Several times she asked if it was time to go.  At about 6:30 she saw the neigbor dad and told me- "I see Mr. Mark, can I pleeeze goooo???" When her friend appeared at the door to their house, she jumped up and literally ran over to her. I gave up trying for a hug goodbye and just hoped she had a great night... 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

chickens, week 3

We've been taking the chicks outside for little adventures on warm days.  Here they are three weeks old.  Most of the time, they like to scratch around in the bare spots of the grass.  They also like to hunt around in the flower beds.  Okay for now, but when they discover how good green leaves taste, I'll have to kick them out.  My reading is telling me that chickens can destroy plants.  A few times, while the other 2 are scratching and eating tiny pebbles (it's okay, they should do that), Hazel will burrow down in the grass and roll a little.  We think she's taking a dust bath.  In the grass.  I will probably never say that chickens are smart.

Though, they are good companions.
The chicken formerly known as Golda, Ida, and Penny.  We're experimenting with calling "it" Abraham Lincoln (get it?  Penny/Abe?).  The more I read, the more I think this animal could crow... or lay an egg at about 20 weeks.  Well, one of those options are right.   We'll see...

 And pretty funny to watch and play with.
They like to be up high.  That's Abe on Willa's head, Alice on the left, and Hazel on the right. We don't let the chicks perch on our heads usually.  This was just for the 5 second photo opportunity.


Abe Lincoln is in the dinosaur stage.  Most of the baby down is gone, and the grown up feathers are coming in.  They are not pretty right now.  These weeks are akin to human early teen years (minus the acne).

I've been somewhat obsessed over this one.  Rehomed roosters are often found on dinner plates, and not as a backyard pet.  My conscious is demanding that we hang on to this one until we know for sure that we can't.  Besides, it's a really nice pal.


It's fun to watch their dynamics take shape.  Alice does not do well alone.  If she can't see the other two, she stops in her tracks, stretches her neck, and emits loud CHEEPs until she's reunited.

When we were all outside, something spooked our little flock, and they all came running - as gracefully as toddlers - towards me.  Until they remembered that they still find me a little intimidating.  Then they were all "oh... we're cool.  We'll just be here, under the daisies."

Week three of chicken farming is in the books.  So far, so good.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The case against Nature... and Nurture

"So, high level competence for the test is 150.  Willa got a 192 in the math section.  She said she's never seen a score that high."

Jim took Willa to school this morning, and came back with that report on her MAP testing.

We were both very proud to hear that.  192!  I did a little bit of internet digging, and it seems like that is the low end of competent for 3rd graders.  I shared that with Jim via Facebook chat, and we patted ourselves on the back.

"... and let's stay humble here. I mean, this is also the kid who picked her nose while on stage at her music program last night," I typed. 

Neither of her parents are particularly gifted in math.  My own brain didn't have the right nutrients to let math really take root, let alone flourish.  I partially blame one particularly horrible junior high teacher.  And that fact that I just felt more at home with words than numbers.  As a result, when I started college, I was placed in Math 097.  Which means I had such a bad grasp of the subject that I didn't even get credit for the class I had to take and pass.

I am very careful to not let Willa in on that secret.  I don't want to dirty the fresh clean waters of math for her by saying I was never any good at math, or that I find it very challenging.  We'll let her figure that out later when I'm struggling to isolate x on one side of an equation.  In the meantime, it's very important to me that we reinforce all of her learning potential, and not the old stereotype that math is hard for girls.

We are a house a house of humanities.  We like reading and music.  At night the kids both get a story - every night.  We don't do math flashcards.  Jim and I are both going to have to work hard to engage her in more math practice.

I'm proud of my little girl.  But curious about where 192 came from.  Not genetics.  Not environment.  I'm glad her brain seems to be a better spot for math smarts to grow.  I'm also worried about being able to keep up: academically, as well as an math encourager.  Surely, I'll be able to get a book somewhere, right?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Day 14 of chick-tending

We've had our chicks for 2 weeks now.  They're losing their downy feathers, and are getting the real deal in now.  They're little personalities are starting to show.





Alice @ 16 days old







Alice is sweet, but shy.  She prefers the company of chickens over humans, and cheeps very loudly when she can't see the other two.  Once she's been held for a while, she snuggles right in and quietly observes.
Hazelnut (as Henry calls her) at 16 days old







Henry and Hazel

Hazel is friendly.  She was the first to get a little air under her wings, and fly to my knee to some cuddling.  I think she likes Henry more than any other human, and he loves her back often cooing back to her peeps.

Penny at 16 days old












Penny has me worried.  She is showing physical and behavioral signs of becoming a rooster.  Hens have combs and wattles, but they usually don't come in as early.  Fingers crossed, pals.  If Penny is really Paulie, he'll have to move out.  Which might break my heart.  This chick is the boldest: s/he is the first to check out something new.  S/he is very sweet, and likes to have her/his back rubbed.  We should know for sure in about 6 weeks.

Jim and I have finalized the coop plans and will start buying and construction this weekend.