Break time’s over!

1 04 2014

Well, I guess it is the school of hard knocks. K finished winter term on Friday, had one week off, and is back to school as of yesterday. Winter term grades came in with 2 A’s and 2 B’s – one of the B’s should have been an A, but she just missed making that jump in her Algebra III class. Yesterday, she started out her term with Geology Lab. She was quite delighted to find out a friend of hers also has the same lab class. Today is a bigger day. She had Business Law at the brutal hour of 8:00AM for 2 hours. With 10 minutes in between, she went on to Algebra IV for 2 hours, and her day will end with her Geology lecture. The one saving grace with her early class is that the same friend is also in that class. With only 10 minutes between each class, it is not an ideal schedule and she has to repeat it on Thursday with the addition of a 3 hour PE class later that day. I don’t know why, but figuring out a schedule was extremely difficult because about 95% of the classes she could have taken to meet requirements were only offered in one time slot – the same slot – on Tuesday and Thursday. It was crazy! There literally was only one class choice that she could have substituted for one of her current classes in her schedule that would have worked and given her the minimum credits she had to have. Last term, she had more classes that had on-line components. This term it is a lot more time with her bum in a classroom seat – 7 hours of it just for science! Hopefully she can suppress her inner squirmy monkey and be successful. She has some tough classes, but having a friend in 2 will help her enjoy it.

Last week was K’s last adult match for the season. She had two good things happen in the last couple nights. The first was that she finally hit a perfect score in prone position….on her warm up target! She was extremely pleased, but it was a groaner because she missed the same by 1 point during the match. She is still chasing that one a week and a half later. On the last night, the second one happened – she finally had a score that counted for her team. Basically the top 5 scores in each position are what represents the team. She has come close and been knocked out at the last minute, but she finally had her prone score of 99 (out of 100) count. It was a nice way to end, though she really wanted to represent with that 100. Her team is really really good, so getting a score to count typically means a perfect score. Her team is so good, that they took first place in the league. YAY! Now she has until next November to start perfecting her techniques and getting more scores on the board.

In other shooting news, in looking at her 4-H scores, we already know that she has scored high enough to go to the state competition in June. If she continues on this path, we would not be surprised that she will be invited to nationals in 2015. She has the scores to qualify her, now it is a matter of being within the top 4 shooters. Cross your fingers!!! Nationals are in Nebraska in the remote area of Grand Island – I am sure we can make an interesting vacation of it with lots of stops at Cracker Barrel along the way! Well, she is not there yet, but we can hope. Additionally, with a year to continue to practice, she would make a better showing. It is all fun and she enjoys the challenges she sets for herself.

Chickens!!! Lordy, it is like child birth: you forget how crazy it is. We have chickens. A lot of chickens. FORTY CHICKENS in 3 different age groups. We may be crazy (NO comment from the peanut gallery!) We already had our 6 laying hens. They are still healthy and happy (despite their on-going daily griping). After losing a couple over the last year, we decided we needed to up our flock with a few more. We planned on three and then the farm store sent me a coupon that gave me some freebies, but ended up getting us four…Mark and K just can’t help themselves. They are like kids in a candy store when picking out chicks. So that brought us up to 10. March rolled around and our newbies were growing – currently, they look like miniature versions of their breed because they are so young, but fully feathered. In March, one of the feed companies does an evil thing – they give you free meat chicks with the purchase of their food. Enter 30 more chicks for our annual chick raising freezer filling event. Five of the chicks are for our neighbor – after trying our hand raised chickens last year, they were on-board for some of their own this year. So now we wait for these chicks to get feathered out so we can get them outside….they are smelly! We start them out in the house, move them to the garage, and finally out onto grass. You would think that would make them happy to free range, but meat chickens are a mutant breed that only recognize their feed as food and don’t eat grass and bugs like normal chickens. It is crazy, but only lasts for about 6 weeks and is only once a year.

If that was not enough, the turkeys are laying and I need to get on incubating eggs because I already have a waiting list of people who want my babies. Basically, I juggle poultry! LOL! Some inside, some out, some hatching, lots laying, and all eating and pooping!

And if all that was not enough, pennies were saved and finally we have dug into our kitchen for a long needed redo. Doors have been falling off for over a year, most left are falling apart. Yep, it is confirmed that we are nuts! It wouldn’t be so bad a remodel, if it were not for the length of time you have to wait for cabinet orders to be filled. We are further put off because the old cabinets have to come down before that order is placed because of some mysterious places in the soffits. I am looking at a long period of time where my crock pot and BBQ are going to be my best friends and doing dishes will be a challenge.

When it rains, it pours, but what doesn’t kill us, will enrich our lives in all of this. It will help keep us young…I hope!

Stealing Croutons?

28 02 2014

K has been gearing up for this week for Oregon’s Youth Education Summit. She found out a couple weeks ago that she needed to take the essay she wrote and convert it to a speech. I thought she might totally freak out be a little uncomfortable with the idea of giving a speech. In addition to having to speaking, she found out that it was going to be a room filled with state Representatives/Senators. Surprisingly, she only had a moment of anxiety and then she exclaimed that she could “totally nail it”.

She rewrote elements of her essay to make it easier to read and added the niceties that would make it a speech. Then she practiced a bit, but in private. The essay was about the Constitution and government, so she did some more research to help aid her in conversations she might have over the three days. She was feeling pretty good.

Yesterday I dropped her off. From observation, it appeared, but was not confirmed that one of the finalists decided not to come. She may have come later – I will have to ask K next time I talk with her. The other girl that was there, sadly, looked terrified. The kids were just hanging out in the lobby and she just looked like she was ready to bolt. K said she later warmed up and was able to give her speech. The rest of the five finalists consisted of 5 boys – most looking well polished and clean cut. It sounded like everyone was getting along, though they are all competing for scholarship money and 2 spots to go to Washington DC to compete for additional scholarship money.

The activities from yesterday included taking a detailed tour of the capitol building and watching sessions of state congress. K said she enjoyed the tour and the group was treated like VIP’s and introduced during the session. Next they went to the state archives. They were able to go into back rooms and examine important old documents that were being preserved. After that, they went back to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner.

Dinner began with their speeches. They drew numbers and K’s was the second speech. She was a little intimidated because the first speaker had memorized his entire speech. She said she did fairly well and was feeling good and about her performance. One of the youth speakers started to give his speech and became flustered and was unable to finish. She said she felt really bad and gave him a hug right after and tried to make him feel better —- no matter how she did, it mattered more to me that she cared about the well being of the boy. It sounded like the rest of the kids came together to console him and they are, despite the competition, becoming a team. K did say that the boy made up for not being able to speak by being personable during the day, so she thought he had maybe not gotten counted out.

During dinner, K sat next to one of the Senators (forgot his name). They were talking and eating and (Mama shakes head here) she noticed that he wasn’t eating his croutons. She commented on it and he said he wasn’t a fan of them. Probably seeing the agast look in her eyes, he then asked if she wanted them. Now — she started out our phone conversation by EXCLAIMING “I stole a Senator’s Croutons!!!” Which just made us get screwed up looks on our faces. I felt better at the full explanation, but shook my head. Prior to her leaving for the trip we had discussed that the first night was a FORMAL dinner and what kind of expectations would be part of that. I guess I neglected to mention that salivating over your dinner companion’s salad garnishings was not really something that I would encourage…especially if it was a high ranking state representative. Note to self – explain more details next time!

Today, the kids are going to a water park as a special treat, but only for a couple hours. Their day is very full and includes two museum tours in addition. Hopefully it will be a good day to blow off a little steam from the stress of the previous day. Tomorrow, they are going to be doing some shooting at an Olympic style range and go through an education program. The three days culminates with a final meal (parents invited) and awards ceremony. This is when we find out about exact scholarship awards and who is going to DC. Very exciting!!!


9 02 2014

The title pretty much sums it up.

Mark and I had a really bad idea talked this morning about working on getting the driveway a little clearer, so we can get to the main roads. The plan was that Mark was going to take the Hulk and fish tail around trying his best to get stuck drive on our road a few times to make wheel ruts that would melt quicker. Since it is about 40 degrees, it just seemed like smooshing it would get things going.

Mark went out while I was taking care of something else. When I had a moment, I looked out to see if the truck was back in its spot. It wasn’t so I figured he made it out on the main roads. Just then, I heard the doors open and close and he came walking in. The Hulk had made it down our driveway, up the big hill on our street, and onto the main roads. Then he turned around and came down the hill, turned on the driveway, and started up our hill only to do a little truck sledding slide back down. He was able to park it safely and walk back.

Together we grabbed the snow shovel (thank you previous home owners!) and headed back out. We started digging out the wheel ruts that the truck had made on its previous trek. Then Mark jumped in the Hulk and started up the hill again. He got up fine, so I joined him and we started going up and down our very long driveway making tracks that would hopefully melt. Well, it wasn’t melting fast enough and we must have gotten snow and ice packed into the tire treads. On our last trip down our road to hell the hill on our driveway, we completely started spinning where we had been fine before. We were in the worst possible place, going down hill in a straight line instead of making the gentle curve the road actually goes. The straight line path was taking us toward a small ravine…worse…we just barely were starting to turn at the last minute putting us in a perfect position to flip down into the ravine…. Even worse, neither of us were wearing seatbelts (very strange for us), so, if we flipped, I would have slammed into the door that was going to hit first and he was going to be on top of me…at least until we were upside down.


Yes, I saw all this in slow motion. In the moment I did ask myself if there was now enough time to get that seat belt on or??? The conversation with myself was cut short as we sort of slipped into the ravine, this time the ice helping us turn back to go straight down. Now it isn’t that far and it does level out to the main road, but we did sort of clear a path in the brush, the hard way. At the bottom we came to a stop before going into the actual street.

While we checked our shorts caught our breath, we watched a car come slowly down the street’s hill; my one thought being ‘please don’t let it be our neighbors who always catch us doing the silliest/stupidest stuff. It was at the point that it passed that I was simultaneously thrilled to not be crushed in the Hulk with the fire department needing to come out with the jaws of life as well as happy as a clam that it wasn’t actually our immediate neighbors catching us in the act of mass stupidity. From the bottom, we were able to drive out on the street and turn back up to our driveway and onto our house. I couldn’t have gotten out quick enough and we both voted to crack open the 50 pound bag of de-icer.

Oh the worst part of being potentially stuck upside down in the Hulk waiting for help? A stupid mouse has again gotten into the main cabin and has peed like crazy. It smells so bad and we could have been trapped and breathing mouse pee air. GROSS!

We’re alive!!! Yaaaaaaaay!


9 02 2014

Well, after four years it finally snowed to a sleddable level….then it snowed more.

The big snow came on Thursday, but it all started on Tuesday. On Tuesday, there were weather repots talking all about the snow coming later in the week. What they forgot to mention was that it was actually going to snow on Tuesday. Now it didn’t snow everywhere and it didn’t snow much, but our area snowed all afternoon and evening. It was warm, so only about an inch stuck around, but it was there the next day. The result was a feeling of “Meh, give me something to sled on.” It was just inconvenient because you didn’t want to go out and get stuck in it. K did have to walk across her campus in it. Being a spread out college campus, it was quite the walk.

Well, Thursday came and by 10:30 the roads had swirling white bits of snow starting to collect. Not wanting to get caught anywhere close to the city center, Mark left work at lunch and worked the rest of the day from home. It turned out that it was a real good idea because people ended up with massive commute times, ran into accidents, and even got stuck. Traffic maps showed that all roads and freeways were red – Portland became crazy town. That night we got 3 or 4 inches.

Friday, we looked out and saw that it would take an emergency for us to try to drive off our property. While the nearby roads had been de-iced taking care of some of the snow, our street and our driveway were covered. Knowing our animals would need water, we filled up their waterers with warm water and made them warm oatmeal with peaches. Topped with scratch, the chickens and turkeys came running.

The turkeys had been walking around stomping on the snow and doing their best to ignore it, but cried out for us as we walked up with goodies and water. The chicken were basically hanging out in a small area that hadn’t gotten much snow and, conveniently, was also where their food was. The ones not in that spot were in the old dog house we have in their run. The chickens there could hear the feasting on oat-y goodness, but were skittish about making the run for it through the snow. Finally they couldn’t take it anymore and made a run for it.

After chores, I took a moment to try a bit of sledding. It was what I had been hoping for. I mean if you are going to get snowed in, you should have some good sledding. Well, it was…okay, but not great. I could get going on one hill, but it lead to the street where cars were sliding down the hill, so it wasn’t making me want to do more than an experimental run. While we were at the bottom of our driveway, we found that many cars had been on it. Apparently our driveway was the place to turn out when you car was either going out of control down or uphill. Looking at the big deeply grooved 4X4 tires from cars that weren’t able to make it, we decided that it would be awhile before we were going anywhere. Just to cement that in, a big red 4×4 truck came down the hill. He started sliding and turned away from our driveway (maybe because we were in view) and he started going across the way to the neighbors driveway. Well, we nearly watched a disaster because he didn’t quite make the turn and nearly went into a deep ravine. The truck could have easily gone over and rolled, but stopped at the very last second, spun for a bit, and then retreated to the neighbor’s driveway. Very scary!

Saturday, the turkeys were about the same, but the chickens were in their coop and growling at us. They stopped once I put their warm oatmeal in the coop with them, but they were not happy. While we had gotten very few eggs in the past week, we suddenly had 9 from both Friday and Saturday. It was either a case of just wanting to stay in and there was nothing better for them to do or they were trying to appease the weather gods. Either way, they were not amused, but we had eggs!

Sledding on Saturday was a complete dud, even though we had five more inches of snow. Anyone attempting it got on the sled and sunk into a hole with no hope of getting down a hill. So after chores, it was back in the house. Saturday, we survived, but all plans were out the window and munchies and TV were the main sources of entertainment.

Now it is Sunday. Overnight, we got freezing rain. Educational moment — I once had never heard of freezing rain. I mean, isn’t that just snow? Hail? Then I saw pictures of cars totally coated in water, frozen over completely. Roads that looked more like bobsled chutes. The term freezing rain strikes fear in peoples faces and, once I saw those images, it caused me fear as well. So now everything is coated in a super icy, yet snowy blanket of day-4-house-bound-hell. The good snacks are gone, there is no hope for sledding, and no hope for getting out in the world. Not that there is anything to go out to. Portland and areas from much farther south up into Washington, just shut down completely.

We are not sure when we will get out because the temps today are only about 35 degrees and there is a pretty big base of snow and ice. It wouldn’t be so bad, but with TV as a source of entertainment, the commercials are reminding me of the places I can’t go…and there are a lot of pizza commercials…and now I am wanting pizza in the worst way. AHHHHH!!! Even the stupid Taco Bell commercials are starting to look appetizing. The snow is just starting to drip, but with single drips, it is going to take a long time. Even K is saying she hopes to go to school – she actually likes her classes, so that isn’t a totally backwards statement….though I do question if she is going snow-insane because Mondays are Algebra III classes (YUCK!).

Super Bowl for Everyone!

3 02 2014

During yesterday’s big game, our family, of course, indulged in some culinary yummies. On the menu was the obligatory pile o’ nachos. Since we all like different toppings, the basic pile was just chips and cheese. After we had gorged ourselves into a food coma had enough and the Broncos were obliterated the game was over, it was time to clean up. Well, we hadn’t finished the nachos completely, but I didn’t want to waste what was left. Figuring that the squirrels could enjoy a little Super Bowl treat, I tossed the rest out onto the front lawn.

This morning, I had been up for awhile. The dog had come out for her morning living room nap for a bit. When she was done with that, she woke up and decided to go work on her morning bedroom nap and walked back to the master bedroom. I nearly peed my pants was so surprised when she went into hysterics upon entering the room. I ran back to see what was going on and found ten, TEN deer standing outside my window enjoying some nachos! Not only did they eat every bite, but there was some foot stomping and glaring when I wasn’t bringing any more out.

The chickens apparently heard about it too. They looked at me like I was insane when I put out scratch. Their little faces looked up with expressions that said “where are our nachos???”

Evil mom is vindicated

7 01 2014

First off, for those of you worried about K’s butt, it is all better now. Bummer! The butt jokes were so much fun, though the kid walking around like a little old lady was no fun…No wait, that was totally funny as well!

One good thing about her bum not hurting anymore is that she was back to being able to shoot well. Tonight she shot so well that she FINALLY got the standing score she needed to officially complete the Sharpshooter program. YES!!!! She was totally elated, as were her coaches. Next is to get the next highest score requirement in standing to become an Expert. Then it is just a matter of finishing out her scores to becoming a Distinguished Expert in all positions. When she can do that, we are talking scores that are truly high caliber (so to speak).

So…I am Evil Mom. K finished her school term with A’s in all classes and should have had three weeks off from school. But, no. She and I had found out about a scholarship program and the due date was January 1st. She could have been working on it for the month prior, but she told me she would “do it over vacation”. Now that might have been code for “I am just going to put this off until it is too late to get it done”, but Mama don’t play that way. I gave her a couple days and then it was whip cracking time. She had to get letters of recommendation; a series of letters and written descriptions of her shooting experiences, extra-curricular activities, leadership roles, and other criteria; her transcripts that included the term that had just ended, and an extensive essay relating to the constitution. We had all of it, except the essay. This is where the vacationing teen just wants to have fun and not do any work…and then her sleep schedule became all messed up. She was nearing the end where we needed to get everything compiled and turned in, and then she ended up with a night that she never got to sleep…and then worked a camp for the day…and then was just falling apart tired. UGH! She reached a point where she just wanted to throw in the towel, but Evil Mom reminded her that she had chosen to go out for it, that other people had helped her with letters, transcripts had been ordered and received, and that she had already put in a lot of the work needed. Well, she finally pulled it together and submitted the packet in time to be postmarked on New Year’s Eve day.

Tonight, in addition to hitting a major goal in shooting sports, she found out that she had been awarded one of eight spots that she had been going out for. The award consists of receiving a trip to the state capitol (yes, that is only 45 minutes away, but still!!) for a week. They haven’t named the scholarship amount, but last year the recipients received $3,000 each. After the week at Youth Education Summit, two of the students will be awarded a trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Summit — all expenses, plus a much larger scholarship opportunity. The odds are definitely looking good with 25% of the Oregon recipients moving on. After that trip, if an additional project is completed, a third scholarship can be awarded.

All this is through the Friends of the NRA, so shooting sports is definitely a component. For both the state and national level, part of the trip will include going to a range and doing some shooting, so K will love that. In addition, the kids visit historic sites and museums, learn about government, participate in debates, etc. All I can say is that, if she goes to Washington, DC, I am chaperoning!!!! So far the only down side in K’s mind is that the schedule for both trips is 6AM to 10PM for a week. SIX A period M period! Mornings are not her thing and at 6AM she is sort of…well the word “possessed” comes to mind. Full blow head spinning on her neck, scary voice, and crazy eyes. Aside from that, hopefully her normal outgoing personality will shine through and help her get to the national level.

Anyway, the details don’t matter as much as – Evil Mom was vindicated because she actually received the award!!! Whoo-hoo!

This week is also the first week of the new term. As of today, she has attended each of her four classes. She really liked all her teachers and she didn’t come out of her wilderness class with drool on her lips from all the young fire fighters, so I am happy.

Good week!!!! Happy dancing time!!!

By the seat of her pants…

20 12 2013

K’s grades posted this week. She received…drum roll please…four A’s! Whoo hoo! I am not sure exactly how it panned out for Algebra because at last look, she had a very high B and she was thinking that she may have been a percent away from an A. Then she said that three of the problems on her test were stumping her. I figured she would come out with a solid B, but either she did very well on the final or the teacher was merciful because an A never looked so good.

I’d like to say that K worked her butt off every week and was extremely studious….but no. There were a few weeks when I asked, “Did you finish xyz? Isn’t that due at midnight?” and she got the uh-oh look on her face…you know, at about 9PM. So a bit of nagging was also a contributing factor. She did take a fair amount of time on her final projects, I will give her that, and she did 99.9%..99.8%…well, most of her homework. Anyway, whew! It would be nice if she were able to have a completely work free winter break, but the time off from school is just giving her time to work on a lengthy scholarship application. She is finding time for friends and time to work at camp, so it is all good.

The next term, starts the second week of January. She is taking college writing, advanced advance algebra (how much does one person need???), health, and, out of the Fire Science department, Wilderness Survival…really hoping there are not a whole lot of really young firemen wanna-be’s in that one…yeeeaaaah, hopeful mama thinking there. She is totally enjoying college and looking forward to the next term, so we are all pretty happy with how this is all turning out and her early college program has been EXTREMELY easy to work with and her counselor is always super responsive and helpful. And now that I have put that out in the universe, she will quit and I will be stuck working with a demon.

K had her first adult team match and really upped her score, especially in the most difficult position, standing. She is just about shooting at 90% accurate in sitting and kneeling; almost 100% in prone (laying down); and more than 80% in standing. The adults competing are just exceptionally good, so she still has a long way to go, but it will be very soon when her score for prone is a contributor to the team’s standings. Keep in mind she is competing with a decent rifle, but not the level that the most of the adults shoot. Plus, the adults shoot with scopes, she uses a peep sight and a naked eye. When her scores finally make the next leap, it will really mean quite a bit.

K also went to a junior competition the other week. That one was obviously an off day for her. Her rifle was shooting rough (bolt was sticking), so she had it taken off the firing line to fix. Then when she went back she had to start where she left off and miscounted bullets. She got deductions for that —which she was told about before she was done — then she was given a little more info and misunderstood that…(sigh). Anyway, it was not her best score and once she didn’t score as high as she usually does in prone and the rest happened, she had pretty much lost her mental game. The targets were also different than she usually shoots, so that didn’t help. Oh well – experience points!

Last weekend, she was set to go to try out for the Junior Olympics —-keep you pants on, she was just doing it for the experience and would not have been a real contender (but stay tuned for next year! She just needs about a 5% improvement). They use electric scoring and we wanted to see that and see what the process was like. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it because she broke her bum. Talk about the seat of her pants! LOL!

Friday she was goofing off at PE and did a backwards roll on the hard gym floor when she heard a distinct “pop”. Then pain followed. She sat out for the rest of PE and could hardly walk within a half hour. Our weekend was filled with rounds of pain killers and lots of butt jokes. (Aren’t families awesome??) Tuesday, she had shooting practice and felt like she was better, but couldn’t do any kneeling because (apparently) a foot under a messed up tail bone is not too comfy. She is feeling much better and will (hopefully) be able to compete this week.

On Tuesday, she came (once again) really really very very close to moving up TWO levels in standing position….but two shots went wide and messed things up. She could almost taste the victory, but celebrated in her mind a second too soon. Well, I guess it will happen either this week at competition or next year. I mostly sit back and wait for her to show me her scored targets rather than watch every shot – it’s too nerve racking. I play cards or talk to friends to pass the time, so I don’t think on it. It is what it is. A night like that coming so close just makes you ach for your kid though. Fortunately, she is good humored about it and (after a little lamenting) says “next time!” A great attitude to have especially since we have seen a little bit of poor sportsmanship — parents who give their kids a hard time as well as competitors. At the last competition, we watched a teen leave in the middle. He saw his score, blamed it on the brand of ammo he was using, packed it up and walked out. His parent? She sat around talking about how the ammo was obviously not right (really?) and followed soon after. Honestly, the ammo does not drastically change a score. I felt like there was a learning opportunity here – push through, though things are not how you like – and it was lost. Not the first nor the last time this kid and others have walked out. I was able to at least use it as a learning opportunity with K, who did stick it out though things went really south, and she came out with a smile on her face. She could have gotten flustered because you shoot in timed rounds and her rifle needed to be quickly cleaned and lubricated, but she kept very calm and did what needed to be done. No throwing up of hands; she just dealt with it. KUDOS!


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