Sep 16, 2015

Four Roosters and Two Hens

The turkeys and chickens have grown in leaps and bounds this summer. We have come to find out that we have 1 Tom Turkey and 1 hen turkey. When we got them, we knew the gender of each was completely in the air. And I'll be sad when the day comes to say goodbyes to these two. They both have quite the personalities. Both are protectors of the coop and chickens and love to "talk" to us. 

Christmas, the hen, is not shy at all and basically comes running when we enter the coop. Just Monday night, when the lighting was right, I entered to try and take some pictures. Thanksgiving, the tom, put on quite the show for me, but I was slightly uneasy the whole time as I was afraid Christmas was going to charge or peck me. Instead, she just photobombed Thanksgiving a few times. And she made it very hard to get to the chickens. 

As for the chickens, we expected to get a Rooster or two out of the six chicks as the sexing of chickens is not always accurate and does have a fail rate. And while I was weeding the garden a month or so ago, I heard the first crow. And then a heard a second crow within seconds. Upon inspection I discovered that two of our three black chickens were in fact Roosters, as they proudly crowed for me. But, looking at them and comparing them to the others, I quickly began to suspect that two of our red chickens were also roosters based on the comb development on their heads. 

The next weekend my suspicions were confirmed when again, while weeding in the garden I began to hear some crowing. And this time it was the two red chickens I had suspected were roosters proudly crowing for me.

So yes, of the six chicks we purchased, we ended up with four freaking Roosters. And these aren't chickens good for meat. So basically we have been feeding them and giving them a plush little life. 

That's not going to last much longer. Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, which is why I was trying to get some good pictures of them the other night. Unfortunately, they did not want to cooperate. And we would consider keeping one, as I am growing accustomed to the crowing in the morning, and enjoying it. 

My mood changed about whether to keep one or not when I was checking the birds recently. I noticed Christmas had scabs all over her wattle and was even missing feathers at the base of her neck. The very next day I watched a rooster chase her out of the coop. And a few days after that I watched a rooster attack Thanksgiving from above. The rooster jumped down onto him while he he was walking under the coop ramp. None of this was ok with me and made me realize we literally had a giant cock fight on our hands as the roosters tried to establish the pecking order. 

We have actually already taken care of one of the roosters, which I have plans to make into a chicken pot pie soup. And most likely, by the end of the weekend, the rest will be gone as well. At this point we're just throwing money away feeding them any how.

The worst is we had just started to get eggs from our two hens. Now, either seeing one of the roosters "disappear" or the actual cock fighting may have traumatized them enough to stop laying. I'm hoping once the roosters are gone, the hens will start laying again. And next year, we're getting chicks from another place.

Sep 11, 2015

New Traditions Are Born - Labor Day Weekend

Since London began Kindergarten, Cameron and I have jumped right in, involving ourselves as much as we can with the school and associated clubs. We have quickly learned what a big deal Labor Day is to the school.

The school is one of three that feeds into the high school the girls will attend. All the students come from the surrounding small, rural towns in the area. And on Labor Day, the schools and towns come together for a day of festivities in the high school's town city center. The day starts off with a pancake breakfast and drinks. Mid-morning is the Labor Day parade down the main street and the afternoon is filled with lunch booths, vendor wares for sale, a Giant Vegetable Contest and a Silent Auction/Raffle booth. And all money raised throughout the day from all the different events and booths gets divided between the four schools.

The long, labor day weekend is spent prepping for the big day.

Saturday started off with all four of us heading over to one of London's classmates house to help with the Kindergarten Parade Float. We'd missed the original planning night before Back to School night as Cameron and I had an long weekend in Vegas with friends already planned. The least we could do was help with whatever concept had been created. And this way London would get to know some of her classmates better and we'd get to start to know some of the parents at the school.

Turns out, while the concept for how the kids would dress had been decided, how the float would look hadn't been discussed much. One mother was making long banners to line the float sides on either side, presenting our theme of "Not All Heroes Wear Capes" (the day's theme was "Small Town, Super Powers" but outside some patriotic streamers, bows and fringe, that was all for the float. The few other parents that showed up admitted they weren't very creative but were happy to help. One mom suggested a cityscape to put on the side of the float but with the banners, that wouldn't work. That's when Cameron & I suggested a larger cityscape made of plywood to go between the hay bales in the middle of the float. In a few minutes, Cameron was even able to draw it out to give the other parents a visual. They loved it. And so we agreed to meet back later that afternoon.

Cameron and I were tasked with creating the plywood cuts outs and getting the necessary paint, as well as priming the plywood before going back. Luckily, the same parents and more were able to make it back that afternoon to help paint the cityscape we had created. London and Sydney had a blast playing with the other kids and getting to tour the dairy that London's classmate's family owns and runs. The family was also quite kind to donate pizza and soda to the cause as we were there until about 7:30 that night.

Sunday we pretty much played catch up at home and got errands and chores done for the weekend. That evening I completed the giant toothbrush I was constructing for London's costume for the float. She'd decided to be a dentist for the float. I think that decision was based largely on her losing her second tooth that week.

The toothbrush was a big hit the next morning, when we met up with everyone once again to put the final touches on the float, including the patriotic streamers and flare, as well as the awesome banners the one mom had made. Sadly, our float only came in second in the competition. And most of everyone I have spoken to since then have agreed the kids float should have gotten 1st - London's teacher thought up the concept and it was the most creative. The float that one just had kids dressed up in Super Hero costumes and a plain cityscape backdrop. Did I mention our cityscape had a barn and silo, Sheriff's office, the kids' school and a Fire station? Yeah, way more creative. Oh well. It was fun and nice to get to know some people associated wit London's school better.

After the parade, Cameron took the girls home. After a week of mid-80 degree weather, Labor Day started the week at 95 and we have since gone into triple digits! So much for the end of Summer. I, on the other hand, stuck around. We've joined the school's Parents Club and I had volunteered to man the cotton candy/water/soda booth that afternoon. And since there was a lack in volunteers, it was really only one other mother and myself, along with her best friend for 3 hours. At least we were able to give the moms that had manned the pancake breakfast since 6 AM a break!

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. The four of us settled in on the couch to watch the 3rd Night at the Museum movie before the girls went to bed. I followed them shortly after, passing out from exhaustion by 8:30 PM!

Aug 27, 2015

London's 1st Day of Kindergarten

London just about jumped out of bed the first day of school last week. She was so excited to get moving on this new beginning in her life. Cameron and I both wanted to be there with her at the bus stop that morning, so he made sure to get Sydney to daycare early. While we waited for Cameron to get back we had a quick photo shoot in the front yard. I think London's smile tells you just how excited she was for the day.

We ended up waiting for the bus for a little while. We were told to arrive 10 minutes prior to it's arrival and were provided a 5-minute window of when to expect the bus. I think the bus was running a little behind that morning. And now my experience has found that we can leave the house 10 minutes later. I've even gotten to adjust my alarm clock by 10 minutes and may even get to add more time to it each morning. We're still arriving a bit too early.

The extra time that morning gave us more time to run through the rules of the bus and school, as well as what London's morning and after-school routine would be.

We are still reviewing all these items this week as well, even though she does have most of it down. London did skip breakfast Thursday and Friday last week. I think she just wants to go play. And she may not be that hungry - daycare doesn't serve lunch until about 9/9:30 AM and while we did send her off with a snack of cereal each morning for early breakfast, London had recently stopped wanting it. Luckily, the kindergarten class gets a class snack at first recess, which is at 9:30 AM and London was eating almost her entire lunch all 3 days.

London was one of only 2 new kindergartners riding the bus that first day. Luckily, it was the little girl she had made friends with the day before at orientation! The bus driver did a great job greeting the girls, too.

The first day didn't end there for Cameron and me. We headed to the school after London got on the bus and waited for her there. We walked with her to the lunch room where we got her set up in the school's system for breakfast and lunch meals. Most days London will be taking a lunch from home, but once a week we figure she can choose a day to get school lunch and it makes it easier all around to have her get breakfast there.

London has yet to get a school lunch since last week when we mentioned on Friday that she could get school lunch she insisted on a packed lunch instead. Luckily, all we really have to do is throw a sandwich together and that morning she wanted PB&J.

After breakfast and learning the plate clearing rules, we made sure London made a visit to the bathroom before heading for the playground. And good thing we did, because we had no control once we got to the playground - London literally went sprinting after her new friend and the playground. The bell for class to begin happened soon after so we all filed into the classroom. London was greeted by her teacher and quickly taught the morning routine of moving her magnet to what type of lunch she had for the day and putting her backpack in a cubby. We then gave London a hug and kiss, saying our goodbyes. We observed a few short moments more before heading out.

I needed to get to work and we still needed to get a few things cleared up in the office, plus we wanted to turn in our information for the Parent Council (it's like PTA).

Then Cameron and I had to survive the day at work worrying about how London's first day was going. We both had fears she wouldn't make it to the After School Care program and end up on the bus home instead. I had visions of her waiting at the bus stop waiting for us while Cameron worried she would get tired of waiting and try to walk home. We may only live 1 1/2 miles from the stop, but there is not sidewalk, nor a light to cross a street that people speed along. And there are sometimes unsavory people walking these roads as well.

Of course, then we were late picking her up due to a last minute need for ice from my work for an on-site event! We were only late by 15 minutes or so, though and London was none the wiser. She'd made it to the After School Care program and was just finishing up snack when we walked up. And bonus, her new friend is in the after school program with her too!

Within 10 minutes, London was asking if she was going to get to go back to the new school and was beaming ear to ear when she heard she would. She's doing well considering the change, though we expect to see more of an effect on her in about a month - it seems like changes take a month to sink in with her. Hopefully, she'll be the same as now, happy and enthusiastic!

Aug 25, 2015

Kindergarten Orientation

We survived London's first week of Kindergarten! And I'm happy to report things are going well.

As you know the day before school started, Cameron, London and myself attended Kindergarten Orientation.

London loved it. She got to meet her teacher, have a snack and go for a bus ride around the area. She even made a new friend before we left.

Orientation was only about an hour and a half in time. Unfortunately for Cameron and myself, along with the other parents, about 20 minutes were spent waiting. It seems there is a new school secretary and she is still learning the ropes. She wasn't aware that she was to start the parents' presentation before introducing the principal and then going over paperwork with us. I still think she could have figured it out going over the paperwork we received since it included a detailed agenda by time, but oh well. None of it took long or felt rushed so it wasn't too much of a waste.

In the end, paperwork got done and then we got to meet London's teacher. Ms. Tudor seems like the ideal kindergarten teacher. She actually attended this same school when she was little, as did her kids. She had a few handouts for us to help explain how the kids would learn to read and do math based on the new teaching standards set by the state. I think Math will be new to all of us with how Common Core Math is taught but so far it seems easy and understandable. Then again, we haven't had any homework sent home yet, either. We were told that the emphasis is on reading this year and that is what most homework will focus on.

We left with a few unanswered questions only because the Secretary needed to get the answers for us, but otherwise we were ready. As ready as any of us could be. Cameron and I both got a bit nervous for how the next day would go. I'm not sure London had those nerves though, especially after orientation. She showed more nerves for that than the first day. 

Aug 18, 2015

London's Preschool Graduation

Today London, Cameron and I head to Kindergarten orientation with her new school! And tomorrow will be her first official day. But before all this, I wanted to take time to recognize her Preschool graduation. It took place a few weeks back.

The "Stage" and graduates seats

The graduation itself was a relatively affair. The management and teachers there understand all too well the attention span of the graduating audience. 

London had her wave down as she entered - it just happened to be to the wall!

But she got the hang of it
We arrived a little early and I am so glad we did. There had to have been 25 kids graduating and each family was "supposed" to only bring up to 4 people total (outside the grad). I noticed several families come in with many more. Having arrived early, we were able to snag seats on the aisle in row 2. Before long, it was standing room only and while the room had been cold in temperature when we arrived, it quickly warmed up. 

London got a little bored during the opening remarks and decided trying to catch the tassel in her mouth was more fun!
After a few words of advise and direction from the daycare director, the kids marched in. They were so cute in their caps and gowns. London even got to keep her cap and tassel. 

London up leading The Phoenix School Graduation Song

After a few more remarks and teacher introductions, the kids sang a song about starting Kindergarten. The each child's name was called, and each kid walked across the "stage", posed for pictures and received their diploma. 

This definitely took the longest. London had a great time, even being one of the three kids selected to lead the kids in the song. Plus, she got to see some friends that have already left the daycare to move on to their new "big kid" schools. 

London was the first to get out of her gown. It was a little short and covered up her favorite dress.

After the ceremony, cake and refreshments were served, but not too many people stuck around. The ceremony was held in the evening, so most kids were pushing their bedtimes already.  

We have been talking about Kindergarten a lot with London, telling her how exciting it is going to be and all the new friends she is going to make. Soon after her graduation she admitted she was nervous for kindergarten, but in  the last week she has grown more and more excited. I think it has helped that she is one of the last kids to head off to kindergarten. In the mornings she gets to see some kids from her class before they get bused to school and then after school for those enrolled in after school care, so I think she is getting to hear what they get to do and has been able to see that they are doing fine, but now she's ready for it to be her turn. 

I'm still not sure if she ate her cake or just smeared it on her face! The piece she got had black lettering.
London won't be returning to the daycare until next summer though. We are very fortunate that the new school offers after school care and we are able to get childcare covered ourselves (with extended family) the few holidays and vacation closings we will be faced with during the school year. 

Stay tuned to hear how orientation and the 1st day go!