I Hate Summer Vacation

It’s day 2 of summer vacation and the kids are going stir crazy.  They have no idea what to do with themselves.  The rain outside really isn’t helping matters.  I probably need to step up my game and come up with some things for them to do.   I hate coming up with things for them to do because I think that’s their job.  They’re kids, and they need to play with the wild imagination God has given them.  The arguing between David and Silje has been so constant.  We’ve had so many sit down discussions about loving one another, and considering others interests, and what interests means.  We’ve been having lots of talks of bearing one another’s burdens.  Helping our neighbor.  I’m doing my best not to throw these Scriptures at them, but sit down and talk to them and do some activities to help them understand.  I’ve been coming up with riddles for them to solve, going off the example of what Jesus does in the Bible.  “This person says this but does this.  This person says this but does this.  Which one is loving his brother?”  The like the riddles, but so far after having these talks with them multiple, MULTIPLE times a day I still find them screaming at each other.

This morning they actually kept busy with puzzles.  I’ve separated them to work in different rooms so I don’t have to break up an argument while Solveig naps.  David was very happy to finish a 100 piece puzzle, which I’m not sure he’s done on his own before.  He wanted me to take a picture.

Silje lost 12 pieces of her 100 piece puzzle, and somehow it’s all Elias’ fault, although I’m pretty sure she was the one who left it out for him.

I really need to get to “the big city” to get a few items for a project we’re working on, but there was such a big storm last night that I think I’ll wait until all the debris is out of the way before I venture out.  I don’t like running errands with 4 kids in the rain either.  So I guess I’ll have to try being patient too.

I hear them wrestling on the ground in the other room again.  I suppose it has been 5 minutes.  I better go save them from each other. 

Chicken Update

 Here’s our chicken coop.  Maybe I should say: this is what will be our chicken coop.  It still needs some work.  The building is no longer tipping over, and it’s been emptied out for the most part. 

 It still needs some work, but the little chicks aren’t ready for it yet anyway.  Knut’s been spending every waking hour he’s not at work, finishing up the fireplace mantel.  I think he’s more nervous about that job because we he kinda has to get it right the first time, and doesn’t want to stare at some mistake of his for years to come.  If he does a job on this coop where it works but isn’t pretty, the only ones who will stare at it is the chickens.  Everyone knows chickens aren’t judgmental about these kinds of things.

 19 of them are getting big.  Little “Celina” as Silje calls her, is still so small.  I can’t tell you how many times I go out there wondering if she is still alive.  For awhile, (sorry I’m not so eloquent with this description) she had poop stuck to her butt, and the poop just kept getting bigger and bigger.  We were wondering if her pooping issue was preventing her from growing.  Last Monday I soaked her bum in warm water and took an old rag and scrubbed it all off.  She didn’t fight me a bit, and felt so weak between my fingers.  Everytime I go out there, I just see her standing, taking long blinks and not eating or drinking.

“Queenie” the largest of the chicks will push her to water and food, but she didn’t move.  When I reach in to handle a bird, Queenie will pull Celina under her breast to protect her.  Now, even though she’s still tiny, she’s running and leaping like the rest of them, and I’ve even seen her eat.  I cannot believe she’s made it through the week and keeps trudging on. 

Knut said they’re finally getting to their “ugly” adolescent age, but I still think they’re kind of pretty.  I like to see their feathers come in, as it’s becoming easier to tell them apart.  I like watching them clean and primp up their new feathers and take care of themselves.  Whenever I put down new bedding, they all spend a good amount of time scratching it around.  All except Celina.  She doesn’t scratch, but she does clean her feathers.  As you can see from this pictures she’s at least half the size of the other hamburgs now.  With every day, I’m more and more surprised that she is still here, which gives me glimmers of hope that she’ll make it.  I’m not sure what kind of chicken she will be, but so far I’d say she’s a surprising one.

Our Dear Lena

Our dear Lena got sick this last week.  On Thursday we spent most of the day outside planting.  Since she always insists on being wherever we are, she was outside too.  She likes to run around when we’re outside, and since we’ve trained her on her boundaries on the property, to protect her from cars, we just let her run out all her pent up energy.

We all came inside, and I saw Lena was drooling like crazy, to the point of having a foamy mouth.  Concerned, I made sure she had some water, but I didn’t have to give it to her, since her bowl was still full.  I moved her over to the rug by the door so she wouldn’t drool in the kitchen anymore.  She looked so tired.

As I was running and bustling around, I just kept half an eye on her, and I could tell she looked very uncomfortable.  Her eyes were looking more and more glazed over.  Despite her getting water and rest, the drooling and foam by her mouth grew worse.  She was shaking from nose to tail.  I called her over to me, and she tried to obey, but she wasn’t walking straight, and I was wondering if she was trying not to put weight on one of her front paws, or if she was just dizzy.  I couldn’t quite tell.

Knut was having lunch with the guys on the farm that day, and I tried to call him, but I guess he left his phone in the truck.  So I called the vet, and they said they were booked, but they would squeeze her in somewhere if I could get her there.  So I loaded up all 4 kids just before nap time for the 2 youngest, and even though I gave Lena the command to get in the van, she looked at me meekly with her tail weakly wagging.  I then realized she couldn’t hop in…something our 2.5 year old puppy has never had a problem with. 

I tried lifting her, but she started flailing and I was worried if I touched the part of her that was hurting, she may bite me out of instinct.  I called Knut’s aunt who lives about a mile down the road.  She suggested I try to get Lena in a box and lift the box.  Lena couldn’t even lift a paw into the cardboard box.  So Aunt Sue came on over and helped me wrap Lena in a rug and lifted her into the trunk of the van.

So we dropped her off at the animal hospital/vet, signed her in and went home for naps.  Naps did not go very well as they were late and overexcited.  It just put me further behind in my quest to catch up from being gone last weekend, but what could I do?  Priorities are priorities. 

It was difficult, and I felt like a jerk, but when I dropped her off, I told the vet that I didn’t want them to do anything that cost a lot of money without calling me first.  I could not just drop her off and pick her up with an easy $300 bill from whatever tests they think up to run.  Let me explain, even though it might be very controversial.

Lena is entrusted in my care.  God gave her to us to rule over, and that means that it is our job to take care of her.  I know some people who never take their dog to the vet because they feel they are not worth it.  I know others who spend more on their pet’s health bill more than their own food bill.  Knut and I had some very serious talks about the value of a dog before we got one.  Having a correct value on a dog, in our house, is taking care of the dog’s basic needs.  She has toys, training, food, companionship, shots, tick treatments.  We give her baths and clip her nails.  It’s our job.

However, Lena is not a human.  She was not made in the image of God, and equating her to humans, is bad on 2 fronts.  First, it is not good for her to be treated like a human, because she is a dog.  Dog have their own set of unique needs that God has given them.  Recognizing their needs as unique is good for them.  Second, elevating them to a place of a human has a strange evolutionary vibe to it, in my mind.  I do not believe that we came from monkeys, and I do not believe that humans are simply evolved animals.  Humans were made in the image of God.  Dogs were not.  I try to run from any conversation that says “we’re really just the same,” or “we need to treat them as we would treat our children” or “there is really no difference between humans and animals.”  I love animals, but in order to love them as God wants me to love them, I need to love them for who they are.  They are part of creation God made for humans to govern.

I’m not about to give the “Do Dogs Go to Heaven” speech, but as much as Lena is my companion, and I love her, and I don’t want her to die, I cannot put my family in a difficult position for her.  I cannot spend more on her than we spend on missions.  I cannot spend thousands of dollars to save her, when I don’t spend thousands of dollars to save humans.  I would mortgage the farm to save one of my children.  Lena is not one of them.  I will not say that animals and humans are the same, and humans are evolved animals.  The only things that made us family is God made us all.  She’s as much my family as the mice who live in our basement. 

She’s not a pest (most of the time;) ) and we welcome her into our home and lives, and she lives to serve us.  She loves to please us.  She adores the kids, and I think would lay down her life for any one of us without hesitation.  Her devotion and love she showers on us are something we treasure.  When we got her, though, Knut and I set a monetary limit for how much we would spend on her healthcare, should she get sick.  It wasn’t a matter of how much we could afford, it was a matter of moral ethics.  We did not want to look back on our lives and say we put all of our treasure towards things of this earth (like our dog) and not to things in heaven. 

So I was worried that the rubber would have to meet the road with this whole “ethics talk” and something bad was happening to Lena, and it might cost more than the threshold that we set before she came to our house.  We weren’t going to spend more on her than missions.  We weren’t going to spend more on her than starving children.  We weren’t going to put her value above those made in God’s image.  In the same breath, we wanted to make sure she wasn’t in pain, and could have simple health problems fixed.  She’s our dog and we love her.  Bringing her into our home did not mean that we would unnaturally prolong her life as long as possible, but we would help her stay healthy as long as her natural life was supposed to be.

The vet said that she most likely ate something toxic, but just in case it was something neurological, she wanted to keep her overnight for observation.  They gave her something to stop her shaking and help her sleep. 

Fortunately, she was fine, and got sent home the following morning.  She’s energetic and happy.  It’s almost like it never happened.  We’re supposed to look out for if her liver or kidney might possibly have some kind of damage from this, so we’re keeping a close eye on her.  We don’t want to lose her, and we don’t want her to be in pain.  We’ve gone over each and every plant in our yard to see if any of them might have been toxic, and the only 2 that we presented to the vet, she said Lena would have had to eat her weight in order to be in the state she was in.  We have not sprayed our yard or the fields at this point, so she had no access to anything chemical like that.  She does frequent our compost pile, I know, so maybe something from there?  I’m not sure.  At any rate, we’ll try to keep her closer.  We’ll continue to love her for who she is…a dog.

Homeschool Friday…the finale

(picture used with permission from The Family Man.)
Well, this isn’t the end of me blogging about homeschooling, because I have some surprises in store for this summer.  This does mark the end of our family’s official year of homeschooling.  While I recognize now more than ever that learning is something that happens all day long at home, we are finished with the work and learning we set out to do last fall.  It’s so important, I think, to stop and mark the accomplishments that Silje has made.  It would be so easy for me to go on and on about how great of a success the year was, and credit myself for that.  Silje is the one who did most of the work, and I will not rob her of that distinction.  I’m so proud, and spoiled to have her for a student.
We took a field trip to a nursery to pick up the remaining plants for our garden.  All the kids were a great help.  Even Elias!  Silje learned about annuals and perennials, and different varieties of each plant.  (I picked up 2 raspberry plants completely on a whim.  I now have to figure out where to put them.)
In searching for some good books for her at the end of this year, I took the recommendation of another homeschool mom at the library and got Silje the first Nancy Drew book.  She loves mysteries, and she loves this book so far.  I can easily see how this may turn into her summer reading.
Silje seems so excited to be done for the summer.  She talks about it about as much as she begs me to let her read all of her 2nd grade books on the shelf.  They’re just sitting there, taunting her.
We had a little bit of history time line to catch up.  It didn’t take too long.  The kids are planning a party for the end of the school year, and why not, I ask?  They think that school will be replaced with play, and it will be for a some of the time.  However, school in the morning is about to be replaced with gardening in the morning.  There are more chores in the summer, and even more so now that we have chickens.  Soon we’ll be picking and shelling peas every morning, picking and snapping beans for the freezer, weeding, weeding, and weeding.  I don’t think I’ll break that to them just yet…I’ll wait until after the party.