So, this week I officially enter a new phase of parenting…my youngest is now an adult, gasp, where did those years go??!!
I always said I could have bought a second home in the islands if I had a dime for every time I took my kids to the grocery store and an older mom said to me…”enjoy these days, they go by quicker than you know.” They would always look at my kids with longing smiles and eyes seeing long-ago made memories brought fresh to the surface at the sight of my little ones-and now, I am that mom.
Yes, I am guilty of saying that exact same thing to moms I see with little ones in tow. And as I’m saying it, I’m thinking to myself, when did I become that mom, the older one, with kids no longer with me as I shop or run errands. Yes, it does indeed go by more quickly than we could ever even begin to imagine.
With each stage of their lives comes a new set of joys and concerns….the joys hopefully outweighing the concerns.
I taught pre-school before staying home with my own children, and I have to admit, it was the irony little, rascally boys that always brought a smile to my face. When the other teachers were wringing their hands and shaking their heads, I was laughing just a little on the inside at their harmless, mischievous little antics, totally oblivious to what my future held. Oh yeah.
Be careful what you wish for it’s often said, and before long I had my own little rascally boys, and oh what a ride it has been! I am convinced, though, that God needs fun-loving mischievous little boys in the earth as well as proper little chaps, and He seemed to know just the mom to give them to!
This belief was challenged just a bit when high school rolled around and I was convinced the school office had my cell number on speed-dial. I’m sure my hair color consumption tripled as the gray hairs seemed to increase exponentially during these years.
But now here were are, four months from having high-school behind us as well, and like the other stages of their lives, I’m sure it too will go by in a blink. I will greatly miss sharing an afternoon cup of coffee with my younger son as he relates the tales of his school day, and the tears of laughter I shed as he impersonates some very colorful characters. Yes, for all the gray, I’m sure the laughter he inspires has added years to my life.
So to my youngest son, happy 18th birthday “little buddy.” The joy, love, and laughter you have brought to my life and others far exceed what I could put into words. Follow those big dreams, climb those seemingly impossible mountains, use all those talents God blessed you with to enrich the lives of others, and always, always carry a bit of that playful, fun-loving little boy with you, as time keeps marching on.
Those were the words that awakened me from my sound, cozy, oblivious to the -1 degree temperatures outside at 2 a.m. sleep. “What? Are you sure?” Yes, he was sure…and he was, unfortunately, right.
A little back-story on Gabby…
She showed up one hot, summer day at our old home about 6 years ago, emaciated and timid, lurking in a row of trees behind our above-ground pool. My older son was the first to spot her so he named her Gabby. Now, I know the rule about not feeding strays, but I just can’t look at an innocent animal, half-starved, and not offer them a bite to eat. Not sure of her temperament, we put the food down and stayed at a bit of a distance, though we soon found out, that was how she was going to keep us anyhow.
We continued putting food out for Gabby, and she continued to keep her distance. I noticed she would follow me, however, whenever I would go into a certain area of the yard and soon found out why. I was taking care of our pet chickens one afternoon when I felt eyes on me. Amazing how we can sense that, anyhow, I looked up and saw two pairs of the most adorable blue eyes staring back at me through the bushes to my left. Gabby was a mom!
And, what a devoted mom she was! I was ever so glad I ignored the well-intentioned advice to not feed a stray, and she immediately gained my “mom” respect for taking such good care of her kittens even in her half-starved state. As time went on, I continued to feed Gabby, and her kittens, now weaned, would come out to eat as well. Only one of the three would allow me to pet her, and she quickly became my favorite. She was so pretty we named her “Pretty Kitty” and her sister, the shy, feisty one, we named “Bittie.”
Fast forward many months… my precious “Pretty” sadly died and my sweet dog, Princess, was now an accomplice to murder. Gabby was just allowing me to barely touch her, and Bittie, a.k.a. “Miss Pris” or “Fussikins” was slowly warming up. I tried to find homes for the remaining two, as I am more accustomed to dogs, but quickly found out that cats are very hard to find homes for. I got them both neutered, up on their shots, and added them to our menagerie of two dogs, seven chickens, and one rabbit, oh my.
Bittie soon showed she had no street smarts, literally, so was held captive inside for her own good.
She has adjusted quite well…
Gabby would have none of it, so has remained an outside cat to this day.
She earned the nickname “Gladiator Gabby” after we moved into our present home. We have a circular stone area below our back porch, and Gabby soon took to bringing her found objects of prey into the “ring” where she commenced to perform her gladiator show. I and my sons have rescued what we could by a quick knock on the window, and I have to admit, I have secretly cheered as well when a battered mouse or mole escaped her clutches.
Though she is now trusting of us and sweet, her love of hunting and the feeling of freedom has kept her from wanting to ever be confined to a house. Last night, however, I gave her no choice. With temperatures predicted to dip to below zero, I lured her in, untrusting that even her heat lamp could keep her warm in that cold.
I have to wonder if those in the mid-west, or northern states laugh at our reactions to these temperatures and snow. It reminds me of a Texan friend I had while attending college in Missouri, where it snowed in November and the ground remained white until April. On our first snowfall as freshman, we, that is those of us not accustomed to such snow amounts, were sure that all college classes would be cancelled. Not so. Leaving the dorm, my Texas friend fussed and fumed as we carefully picked our steps down the sidewalk to our classes. This was not until after she had called her mother, reporting the un-Godly conditions, that she, her daughter, was forced to face. I’m not sure if she thought her mother could call the college and convince them to cancel classes or if she was just so overwrought she needed to vent…either way, we were soon on our way to face the elements. Now please don’t be offended if you’re from Texas. I love the grit and spunk of Texans, but my dear friend just happened to have a strong sense of fashion, and heels, not snow-shoes (though she didn’t own a pair, thus the dilemma) were more her style.
But, back to Gabby and her 2 a.m. escape. She was put into a large, portable fenced area with a cozy blanket, food, water, litter-box, and a cloth covering to surely keep her from thoughts of escaping to wander the house. She has, in the past, “claimed” a piece of furniture in a way that neither I nor the furniture appreciated, thus the enclosure. Unfortunately, the fence was no obstacle for Gabby, and in the wee hours of the morning she was off to find another couch.
After coaxing her back into her enclosure, my son and I were quite the early-morning team of “walking” the fence to the nearest bathroom, with Gabby following along inside. Despite her howls of protests, and a few more escapes, she, and I, eventually fell back into sleep. I, dreaming of warmer days, and she, I’m sure, of future outdoor adventures.
Today I woke to -4 degree windchill, but it warmed up to a big °15 by 2:00. School is cancelled for a third day tomorrow, and I’m off to get a much needed 2nd cup of coffee. Gabby got her way and made it out today to play in the snow and has refused all invitations to come back inside, sigh. She is a gladiator afterall.
Christmas decorations have been put away and the New Year has cheerfully been rung in around the world…now to mentally adjust to the new date of 2018. I can still remember back in high school when we had an assignment on what we thought the year 2000 would be like….back then, that was like trying to imagine living in outer space. Eighteen years into this millennium and it still sometimes feels surreal to me.
We had our first snowstorm of the season in early December which gave me some beautiful pictures to look back on. As I sit writing this, we are in the midst of our first blizzard, dubbed a “bomb cyclone.” Thankfully, we have not lost power, and I have been baking off and on for two days. Something about snowstorms puts me in the baking mood, which my family always appreciates.
I was out early the day after the December snowfall taking pictures before I even had my morning coffee….for me that’s saying a lot. I wanted to get some pics before Princess and the neighbor’s dogs started leaving their tracks.
Something about the morning after a freshly fallen snow is just magical.
The snow was the kind that clung to the branches, and the snow-laden limbs overhanging the creek were indeed picturesque.
I had plenty of bird food, with one area in particular resembling a southern smorgasbord, minus the grits, of course. Between the sunflower seed, peanuts, a variety of suet cakes and mealworms I was a shoo-in for birder of the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, it has also become a natural hunting ground for the neighbor’s cats and at least one hawk. I try to keep everything in as safe an area as possible for them, which can be a challenge… a place with no hiding spots for the furry intruders but with a covered brush area for the ground feeders, to hopefully hide from dastardly Mr. Hawk.
Whenever I see the little dark-eyed junco around the feeders, I know a snow is in the near future-he certainly lives up to his nick-name “snowbird.”
He was caught below doing his happy little “snow victory dance.”
This is a good article about how to welcome the little guy and other wintering birds that may come to your area.
The snow only lasted a few days before the weather warmed up, only to plunge us into a bitter cold streak a week later. The birds kept me entertained as the cold brought them to the feeders early each day.
The secret to keeping blue jays happy and continually coming back is found in the power of the peanut!
Though the male cardinal is known for his beauty, I find the female equally beautiful…
The little group of finches gathered together at the feeder one morning reminded me of little old men meeting up at a country store to gab over breakfast…
The wood thrush is a rarely seen visitor, but he makes his presence known by his hopping about and flinging through the leaves so violently with its beak it’s a wonder he doesn’t give himself whiplash.
Besides birds, the squirrels are always good for a show, and I really don’t mind them raiding the bird feeders or grabbing the jay’s peanuts.
He was not the only wild mammal to visit our yard…before I had barely opened my eyes one morning I spied a fox trotting off with something in its mouth. I was relieved to see it wasn’t my cat but a little sad to think one of my squirrels had just become his breakfast.
The geese didn’t seem to mind the frigid water temperatures and they delight me each morning as they honk their goodbyes when leaving the peninsula. They don’t wander into our section of the creek often, so I enjoy it when they do.
I end with a morning view from our anniversary getaway. The deck was obviously too cold to enjoy, but the scenery was well worth waking up to.
I hope my dear blogging friends going through the blizzard with me are staying warm and cozy and enjoying the beauty of the snow and the wildlife it highlights.
Until next time,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8