Not a big fan of the holidays

I can’t wait until they’re done. Every year, I lose a little more affection for this season. Usually, it’s the time of year when we are really strapped for cash and can’t get the kids all the things we want to buy them. Or gifts for each other, or our parents. At least this year, we aren’t alone in being mostly broke. It’s something our 11-year-old seems to be cool with – she understands, even if she doesn’t really like the situation. But she’s seen people worse off than us, so she knows it could be worse. A girl who goes to our daughter’s school is a good example. She and her two siblings are being raised by their grandparents. The grandmother was working at a hospital, and was laid off two months ago. Grandfather is a disabled Vietnam vet. He helps get money to feed the kids by begging. He’s a good man, I’ve met him and helped him out with some groceries. I want to do so much more.

I have seen people advertising in the Craigslist “wanted” section for help in getting presents for their kids this year. People who didn’t get on the Salvation Army’s list before the deadline. People who lost their jobs – so many, it’s sad. I’m almost to the point of starting a new tradition of giving – eliminate Santa, and teach my kids that this is the holiday where we all buy things to give to those who have nothing.

Before anyone goes off on me about the “true meaning of Christmas” being about the birth of a savior – save your  breath. The birth occurred sometime in the summer. The star was a nova, science has figured out what it was and when it happened, and it was summer or close to summer. The “church” took it upon themselves to rob pagans of a very special celebration at the Winter Solstice. Yule included Children’s Day to honor our children, and to bring warmth, light and cheerfulness into the dark time of the year. I’m not sure what is demonic or satan-worshipping about that, so I’m stymied as to why the “church” stole the holiday. (I guess if you have kids who seem like devil spawn, then that would make sense.)

I used to love Christmas. It was easier to love when we had fewer bills and more money. It was even easier when I was a kid and didn’t have those stresses at all. But being an adult, being a parent, being far from family – all of those things conspire to change this holiday into a chore.

Okay, I’m done complaining.

(EDIT: http://www.shambhala.org/arts/fest/unconquered.html explains this season – I learned something once I read the whole page)

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Fortunately, we all have a chance to make sure that our children learn something valuable about giving this time of year, so that poverty can be eliminated some day.

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Oatmeal

I was going to start with the same title as yesterday, with a few more ‘C’s, but I figured that would be a little ridiculous. Everyone across the country is dealing with this bitter cold that’s come down from our Northern Neighbors. I can’t even imagine how bad it is for our family up there.

Canadians weather the cold much more stoically than we do here in the States. We tend to just be a bunch of complainers. I don’t think Americans are happy unless they have something to complain about.

Anyway, on to the subject of my post – oatmeal.

It’s actually about the chickens, so those who don’t want to read more about them can leave now.

So, the girls are clucking loudly this morning as soon as we woke up, leading us to wonder if there’s a dire emergency out in the coop. Hubbins had to go to work, so it was my duty to go check out the racket in the backyard. There wasn’t anything wrong – Jan just would NOT get off the nest to allow Marsha or Cindy a turn. Never mind that there are three other spots they could use. So Marsha and Cindy called us to come and get Jan to move.

It’s not enough that I have kids who tattle on each other – now I have chickens that do it.

(Damn, it’s cold. Are you cold?)

As I trudged through the snow back to the house, I remembered something I had read on backyardchickens.com  about things to feed chickens as treats (other than superworms). They sort of like the plain yogurt. They love broccoli. And lettuce. You should see how they destroy watermelon. But this morning, I think I found their new favorite.

Oatmeal. Prepared oatmeal.

I mixed it up with some TVP (that’s dried soy crumbles like they add to beef for fast food) and popped it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then served it to them in two dishes. Holy cow, that’s all it took to shut them up. Nice, warm, delicious, protein-packed oatmeal.

That’ll do as their treat until Spring, when I’ll start buying them their superworms again.

Well, I need to start working on my homework. It’s finals week. I’ll tell you about school one of these days when I have more time…

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Fortunately, we have a home that keeps us sheltered from the weather. I think today I will take some of our old coats down to the homeless shelter.

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It’s c-c-c-c-c-cold!

I woke up really early this morning. Peeked out into the backyard where the chicken run is glowing a warm, glowy, warmy glow. Nothing is burning, so that’s a plus.

Last evening, I skated drove over to Lowes to buy a heat lamp. The only ones in stock were 250 watt bulbs – I’m pretty sure that would have cooked the girls. I looked around, asked the guy in the lighting department, and ended up with a substitute 75 watt halogen bulb. I am nervous about halogen. But, we needed something to keep the chickens warm during this cold snap that promises us two weeks of icy misery. So, I got home and hubbins put it in the run. There was eventually a pretty big difference between the temp in there and the temp outside the run, so it was doing what we needed it to do.

So, I wake up this morning and look out there, and the lamp is now on the floor of the run. The shadows on the door tell me that he chickens are huddled around the lamp. And so far there isn’t a fire.

Yes, I would eat my chickens if they were to expire by fire. I’m sure they’d understand.

There is no way in H – E – double toothpicks that I am going out there. It’s 20 freaking degrees, with a breeze. The lamp will stay there. I’m sure the girls will be fine.  Even if the temp in the run is showing as 24 degrees, I’m pretty sure that where the girls are sitting is much warmer. Just gotta listen for chicken screams, I guess.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Fortunately, the tires on our Jeep are still good enough to make it until Spring.

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Later that day…

Hubbins had a great birthday. He found his 200th geocache. And then at dinner, he was carded. Yes, carded.

His theory is that his chances of being thought of as younger than 20 go up the greyer my roots are. Well, the waiter thought maybe it was his 21st birthday and mommy took him out for a pint.

So, I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

It is a wonderful thing, having this age difference between us. We relate better with each other than most couples we know. We talk about everything. We hide nothing from each other. There are times, though, that I just want to hit people upside the head for thinking we are mentally deranged.

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First snow, first post

Today is my hubbin’s birthday. He’s 30 now, and doesn’t look a day older than 25. Ahh, youth.

We woke up to find it had snowed a little overnight. Not much. But it continues, and now the kids are out front playing and making snowballs to throw against the window. The dogs were pretty quick to want inside after their morning constitutional. And then we have the chickens, who are used to having the door to their run opened every morning at eight sharp so that they can run around the yard, picking at the ground and harassing the dogs. Well, this morning it’s a little different. Marsha keeps poking her head out to glare askance at us, like it’s our fault the yard disappeared. Jan is convinced that the white stuff will not support her weight. Cindy just keeps yelling at us to come and rescue her.

They would all three love to be up on the porch right now. I should go get them, or at least shut them back in their run. But it’s cold, blowing snow, and I haven’t finished my coffee.

That’s a lie, I did finish. I just don’t want to face the cold yet.

So, the rest of the day should be pretty fun for my hubbin. He just handed me a wad of twenties so that I can take him out for his birthday, or whatever I want to do with it otherwise. I think he may be hinting at “go buy me a grownup game” for the new Xbox 360 that I bought him yesterday. It came with two “kid games”; he needs some of that hardcore driving and/or alien killing action. Right now, he’s cleaning the dust out of the old Xbox (HALO edition) so that we can put it on Craigslist. That should make us an easy forty bucks.

The kids are back inside. Soaked. I told daughter that she should take a nice, warm shower to warm up again. She may. Son is watching hubbin vacuum out the dust from the game system. Every time the vacuum makes a funny sound, son squeals and laughs, makes us smile.

Now hubbin has gone out to check on the “girls”. That’s how we refer to the hens. It’s been an hour, and they still haven’t come out.

Hmm. Guess I’d better start the day. I’ll talk to you later, I promise.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Fortunately, I am in a position to help people who can’t afford Christmas this year – even if I have to restrict myself to just two gifts for each of my own children. This holiday is about giving, not about receiving.

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