Veni, Vidi, Ricci

I wish I could say I promise more words later, but alas, that would make me a liar. So photos will have to do – and let’s be serious, that’s all anyone really wants to peruse on this here blog. Chris and I trekked to Jacksonville a few weeks back for a family wedding/anniversary/hang out with good people. Per usual, we went and hung out with this funky bunch and a few of our faves, the Riccis. I may adore them a little… or a lot.

Asher
Avery
Noah

Tanner

So, Ricci’s, ya’ll ready to head west so we can do this every day? 🙂

Judah, not pictured here, is the oldest. He had important business of school to tend to for such backyard shenaniganizing.

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Motley Crew

Wouldn’t it be great to keep your whimsical imagination that you had as a wee one  – who didn’t know any different than to dream to infinity and beyond and let Big Bird play with the Monsters, Inc. folks if your heart so desired? Who cares if Mrs. Potato Head is wearing Junior’s nose, at least she’s not wear Mr.’s feet for a hat this time…

Oh, fleeting moments of childhood – won’t you linger a little longer?

I was so tickled when I glanced at the passengers taking flight “up in da kyyy!” on Noah’s jet plane last night:

From L to R: Ice Cream Kid, Farmer Joe, Noah (or Baby Santa as he’s being called these days…), Barbara the Builder, and Hula Girl

Where else in the world would you find the five of these characters living in harmony on a four passenger flight? (Yes, four seats – one of them may or may not have been in the cargo hold.) Can you imagine the conversations they would have? Would they even talk to each other? How would societal expectations dictate their interactions? I mean, think about how different they are (I am aware they are plastic…just work with me here…) – language, socioeconomic status, race, religion, age, family, jobs, etc. Makes you wonder…


Lately.

Neglect doesn’t even begin to describe this little ol’ blog of mine. I won’t make excuses, we’d be here all day. However, this mama’s days as a working woman are soon drawing to a close (for now)… which means more times for the things that bring me joy. Time to cook. To read. To sew. To crochet. To play with a two year old before he turns three. To write. To hula hoop. To start my book. To volunteer. To love on my chickens. And my husband. To get my Dave Ramsey on. To dream about starting my own business (and then I’ll need to Dave Ramsey some more). To be.

Ahh.

And to hold you over a little longer, some photos of our recent(ish) happenings:

This kid turned two… I know, shut the front door.
Baby chicks were born… we’re not sure to which mama bird. They aren’t either. 
Who said chickens can’t fly?
Donuts (aka bagels) have been consumed in record number and Harry Potter scars have been worked on.
We’ve been honing in on our culinary skills – my sandwich, that he later finished, didn’t quite have the finishing touches it deserved.
Someone learned how to read a crochet pattern.
Camera strap orders – finisimo! (Order yours now if you would like one for Christmas!)
And remember this? We “decided” to give it another whirl. We’ve got plans for May 19(ish), 2012 – do you?

1972

Thanks to a visit from the handyman (and his – ahem – assistant),

the Ford Casa has officially cruised into 1972.

Yes, that’s right – we are rocking a ginormous antenna. Because that’s what you do when you live in the woods – where even satellite dishes don’t get the job done – and are genuinely to your wits end with the CW & PBS just puttered out on you much to your toddlers disapproval.  Yes, we are the proud new watchers, blip-free I might add, of ABC, CBS, & NBC.

Praise be.

No worries – we still get all the vampires, 90210, and Tyra Banks anyone could ever possibly wish for. Whoopee…

And in celebration of our new technology, Noah and I watched Saturday morning cartoons – sort of. The news shows were still on the main channels when we started so we had to watch 6.2 – usually the country music station – where we found Gina D’s Kid Club. If you haven’t seen it, it’s… interesting. Let’s just sum it up by saying there is a man, dressed as an old lady, and her name is Momma.

Anyway.

There was a segment about smiling – I think the parent channel is big on smiling, go figure – and there was a cartoon character a little on the heavy side and not the most attractive girl, intentional of course. The point was for the “cool kid” to smile at her to make her more attractive – because if she smiles she’s pretty inside and out. Blah, blah, blah…

So what does Noah say when the little girl was on the screen?

“hippa-pah-mih-muss?”

Oh dear…he’s cute enough to just let that one go, right?

To his defense, we’ve watched a lot of Madagascar lately…

The Chicken

In our case, this is the answer to the age old question: What came first the chicken or the egg?

But, great day, alas:

Dilly Bird’s first contribution to the coop.

 

I was walking home from the office and heard this insane cackling and cawing coming from the coop – almost two cartoonish for a real being to make.

My first thought: Dang raccoons again.

My second thought: Junior found himself a lady friend.

My third thought: I’m having omelets tomorrow!

My fourth thought: Whether it’s one, two, or three I’ve got to see what’s going on.

And sure enough, Junior was having a hay day in the run, fussing and squealing like a child who either just found out he’s having ice cream for dinner or mad as heck because someone took his toy away. The rest of the girls are trying to get out the trap door, but he’s carrying on so and I can’t really blame them for not wanting to cross his path.

As I peeked through the big window I see Dilly sitting in the first nesting box all by her lonesome. She’s rustling the shavings all around her, poking her beak around trying to find something to eat while moving as little as possible. She is perfectly content in her little spot, no matter the shenanigans going on at the other side of the house.

Oh, Dilly, don’t go getting sassy on me, mama. It’s a little early to be broody. We’re still recovering from the past weeks’ events… I promise, I’ll let you sit on them in a month or two.

Of course I can’t keep all the fun to myself – and I don’t really want to be the one to poke the sleeping bear – so I round up the boys, big and little, and we giddily march out to the coop. Chris opens the laying box hatch, Dilly scurries off, and there it sits. Pure, light brown bliss, still warm from Dilly’s interrupted diligence.

We congratulate the little lady and even giddier than before head back to the house, Noah inspecting our find.

About half an hour later I go back out there – most likely just to be nosy – but not to be disappointed:

I had to take the first one back out for this photo op.

I don’t know the culprit of the second one – she was clearly not feeling near as motherly and had rejoined the group quickly after her deposit. That’s alright, she can lay us as many as she wants,  we won’t make her sit…

As Ashley told us in her chicken class: An ounce of prevention is worth an egg in the basket.

Well double the first (and OH! we have) and, well, you can do the math.

Anyone care to join the Fords tomorrow evening for an omelet + farm freshness from the Colvins?

We Are Family

…Look at all my sisters (and brother) and me!

Remember the fella at the Farm Supply that I mentioned about getting chickens from when we were ready?

Well, yesterday we were ready.

We ventured over to Spring City to his farm with the intention of bringing back one, maybe two girls to add back to the coop – mostly in time to give Rudy company while we are gone to Florida for a few days, otherwise we would have waited until we got back.

Well, let’s just say that I am glad our boy goes to a wee-school, because his mama sure shouldn’t be the one to teach him to count:

A couple more than one or two…

 

Jim and Rose, the farm folks, are among the kindest and most generous folks I’ve ever met. They are originally from Miami, retired from law enforcement and nursing (Jim said, “I put them in jail and she took care of them” – she was a nurse in the prison), moved to their breathtaking piece of property in 2006 where they share it with horses, donkeys, chickens, guineas, turkeys, dogs, and ducks. Neither one of them had ever farmed or raised animals before then – and they have quite the thriving little homestead – my dream come true.

Introducing: Betty, Dilly, Junior, & Blondie

 

I asked them if they sell their eggs – “No – we give them away. Rose waits til she has about four or five dozen and then goes up and down the road giving them to our neighbors who don’t have very much.” Folks after my own barnheart

And of course, we didn’t owe them a dime. They couldn’t have been happier to gift us a few of their birds – even invited us back if we need more or happen to be in the area.

Junior, the rooster – Buttercup/Silkie mix; Blondie, Betty, & Dilly – pure Silkies

 

to not take any chances on the new flockmates falling victim to the same fate, we set traps – one in the run, one by the front door of the coop. I’d say it was a success:

These two bring the grand total to four – lucky for them they were “relocated” a little, um, differently.

It’s always good to know a raccoon guy.

The things he did to get those coons in the same trap were pretty impressive – especially after they were both in the same, wrong cage for a spell. And these raccoons won’t meet their end – they will be used for coon dogs. I can get behind that – who couldn’t when there’s even a sticker for it?

For now, Rudy gets to hang out in the kennel while her new friends get acclimated to their new home, and she to them.

The plan is to bunk them together tonight once they roost and they’ll wake up all together tomorrow like it’s been that way their whole lives. Wish us luck…

You Just Never Know…

Yesterday I visited my second home, Camp Crestridge,  for a little bit – to see old friends, hug some necks, breathe the mountain air, and introduce Noah to camp for the first time. We weren’t there but an hour or so and in that short time, amazingly, the part of my soul where my camp memories will always be near and dear was stirred and touched, and it was totally unexpected.

In my five summers on staff I met lots of folks, loved on a lot of campers, invested time and emotions I hardly knew I was capable of, became a part of the story for girls in difficult situations trying to figure out who they are and what they have to give, played hard, laughed a lot, cried a lot, and grew more as a young woman in those short summers because of who these girls revealed to me that I was and could be through relationships with them.

A handful of them I still keep in touch with – they call on me when in need of advice or someone to listen (and sometimes when I need them for the same) and I am always eager to hear about their adventures and what they are up to. A lot of my girls I loosely keep up with via Facebook or blog – checking in from time to time to see them happy in life, embracing their challenges, and overcoming obstacles I would never wish on anyone. There are even a couple that have left this world far, far too early. Regardless of the consistency of conversation, I think about them daily. Pray for them often. And am ever thankful for their place in my life – even if from a very far distance nowadays.

Which brings me back to yesterday.

As I was standing outside the chapel listening to someone lead the most beautiful worship I’ve heard in that chapel I just had to poke my head around to see if I knew who it was – not likely since I haven’t worked in four summers. The song coming from her mouth and her guitar was giving me chills – sure  enough she was one of my former campers, ten at the time, who definitely has left a mark on me. And if you ask her, I left a mark too when I “pushed” her down in the gravel during an intense game of Underground Railroad. Clearly I never pushed a child, but that’s our thing – our bond.  And she has been blessed with an incredible gift of music and she loves Jesus with all her heart. She will do great things in her life- she already is – and she’s only eighteen. (Katie falls in the “check in on from time to time” category, and it’s been a year or so since we last talked. She has sisters, Sarah and Caroline, who I keep up with somewhat regularly – they attended our wedding and Krystal’s last fall. Team Knowles, as I lovingly refer to them. And they are the best huggers ever. Period.)

Then another former camper comes strolling out of the chapel, squeals in excitement to see us standing there, and throws her arms around us both. It’s been since 2005 since I last saw or spoke with her – she I check in on from time to time, but at a distance. This is her first time she’s been back to camp in that long as well – it does my heart so good to see her.

And then she says this, in so many words:

I should have told you this a long time ago, but thank you for talking to me and encouraging me my last summer here. I probably wouldn’t be at Florida State right now if it weren’t for you telling me to go. You said I would find friends and good people there even though the school is crazy – and I have and love it so much. I remember sitting on the Cherokee bridge with you and you said “Just find some friends and go climb trees on campus!” – and that’s where I spent most of my freshman year!   On Landis Green climbing trees! God has blessed me so much and has done so much in my life it’s just amazing. I was a hot-mess, like a hot messy mess, that summer and you helped me so much and I just love you so much.

My eyes are teary as I type this.

She quoted me.

Word for word.

From six years ago.

Six. Years. Ago.

How many conversations can you do the same for that you had last week, much less six years?

The meaning that those words spoken yesterday carried far more weight than simply strolling down memory lane – and far more than she could have ever imagined. It’s for kids like her that I do what I do. The one in a hundred who really hear what you say and trust your words and then do something with them. The kids who may be harder to love – really love –  but are so full of love and laughter and joy, they just have to find the faith within to believe in themselves. The kids who,six years later, will be pouring themselves into teenage girls, just like you once did – and you know she will be blessed by them as she has blessed you. Kids who will keep in touch or come out of the blue to tell you that you meant something to them – even if it was a conversation about climbing trees.

I share all of that to say this – hug your campers/kids/child in your life ever single day, tell them that you love them – there’s never a time too many, help them believe in themselves by believing in them first, let them mess up and be there to listen when they end up hurt, hold the mirror up for them to see their beauty, show them the simple joys like climbing trees, acknowledge that they are children and let them be – childhood is too fleeting as it is.

It’s okay to not have all the answers, I surely didn’t at 21, but to love a child right where they are, in there hot messy messiness, is right where you need to be.

And right where they need you to be.

Up the Creek

No need for a paddle. This time.

These spontaneous adventures take me back to spending two weeks a summer in the mountains as a kid.

…collected “wittle wiver wocks” until my pockets were billowing over and my shorts were falling off…

…climbed hills that were far bigger than me…

…played in mud, to my mama’s chagrin, probably took more with me than I left…

…stomped through the creek, looking for the rock to make the biggest splash…

…posed for a bajillion (and one) photos to get the perfect family shot…

…learning how to use the “facilities” in the woods…

…turning over rocks and logs and being mesmerized by my findings…

…and exploring it all with people I love.

It’s crazy to think how far back these memories take me. And even crazier to be making fresh ones in similar backdrops with our little fella. I hope a million years from now he will splash and get muddy with his little ones, but that will have to wait – his heart belongs to his mama until at least 35.