Friday, March 22, 2013

Fish are friends

In the sizzler's world every living creature is a potential friend. A moth that slipped inside at night becomes his friend "mothy". The earthworm stuck on the sidewalk in a rainstorm becomes "wormy" and gets saved by the sizzler. I know they have become friends because the critter has a name. If it has a name then it's "somebody". Just like Dory in Finding Nemo when she finds her new "friend", squishy. Well, until it stings her, then it becomes "bad squishy".
I find it quite amusing that kids love to name things with the ending "ee". And usually the name describes who they are or what they look like. A brown dog becomes "browny" and a white rat becomes "Snowball".
So, I would like to introduce our two new fish friends, Rainbow and Redface.
I'm totally shocked that one of them is not named fishey. I guess it's a sign of maturity. I'll take it!
However, their names totally describe how they look. Rainbow is black, orange and white (not quite the colors of the rainbow, but...) and Redface has a big orange splotch on his head (awesome! I love redheads ;)
Now the thought that pops into my silly brain right now is "I'm so glad our parents don't use this naming process when we are born!" My girl would have been named "cone head", big bubba would have been "bruiser" (he seriously looked like he just came out of the boxing ring) and the sizzler, well, maybe "bloody mess" or "hungry"! I'm sure my mother would have named me "peaceful" or "angel face" ;)
Back to our fish friends, or, should I say, fish family members. I blame it all on homeschooling. In our Zoology book we are learning about swimming creatures and just finished the chapter on fish. At the end of each chapter there is an experiment. This one called for a goldfish. Goody. Another mouth to feed. So we got two! Hey, they were only 10 cents each. Except they needed a bowl, colored pebbles, decorations, food, drops for the water........ So 20 cents worth of fish cost me about 10 bucks. Not too bad.
Guess how long it took the sizzler to name 'em?
Yep, about 10 seconds. He looked at them pronounced them Rainbow (because he has lots of colors) and Redface, well, you know. I love that he has to give the justification for the names.
As soon as they had names he begins the conversation. That's what you do when you have a new friend, right? He talks to them all the way home from the feed store (that's about 30 minutes). He's telling them all about life at Appleby Farm. He thinks they will like it. These fish sure got lucky!
I did warn him that goldfish don't always live that long. Then he told me where we would bury them. Poor kid. He has said goodbye to a few animal friends. He suggested we bury them next to Penelope the rat. I told him we need 't make burial arrangements yet. He obviously hasn't heard about burial at sea.
Yesterday we let them settle into their new home and waited until today to perform the experiment. The sizzler loved watching them swim around. "Mom, look, they're by the finger sponges!" "Look, now they're pooping." Who needs TV!
The experiment was to hypothesize (yes, we use that word, we are scientists after all!) about how the behavior of the fish might change if the water temperature was warmer or colder. Poor Rainbow got selected to be in the experiment. We had learned that there is less oxygen in warm water so the little guy had to resort to some serious breathing in order to get enough oxygen in 80 degree water.

Writing his hypothesis
Reading to Redface while Rainbow is under the heat lamp
Taking the temperature reading

Then we had to plunge the water temperature down to 50 degrees. Now our little friend could breathe easier! It was quite a difference. In the warm water his respiration was about 210/minute then when the temperature dropped he was breathing about 108/ minute. It's pretty tricky counting the breaths of a goldfish!
I would have to say Rainbow has earned a new name, "good sport". Even though he didn't really have a choice in the matter he did perform like a trooper.
Now we just have to introduce sissy to our fish friends. She comes home for spring break today. I think she will love her new "brothers".

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love my girl

I call her sunshine girl, snug bug and Ellie bellie. Never mind that she is in college now. A mama has a right to call her child anything she wants no matter how old they are, Right? Plus, she's my only girl.
This child is the one skipper and I call "the easy one". As a child she was creative, curious and easy going. She loved to play with her brother (15 months apart). They were best buddies growing up. They would play imaginative games for hours on end. Those were good times.
Throughout most of elementary school she was homeschooled. I just wanted to be with my kiddos and learn along with them. They did fine in school but we felt they needed "more". My girl used this freedom to pursue her interests of horses, reading, drawing (lots of horses) and writing. She wanted to be so many things and I wanted to help her.
At 9 she was in full blown horse crazy mode. She had a goofy pony named Sargent and she loved to ride him every day. She read every horse story there was. One of her favorites was Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague. She learned everything she could about Chincoteague ponies and she really wanted to go see them and experience pony penning day. Lucky for her she has a grandma that loves to send her grandchildren on trips, and since she was only nine, I had to go with her!
It was a girl's dream come true. We were in the water when the ponies swam across the channel. I cried. I couldn't believe we were there. To read these stories to your kids and then get to experience it first hand is just amazing.
She was so enamored with the Chincoteague ponies she wanted to buy one. Where would she get the money? She started a business. Yep, she did. Well, I helped her. It was called el's munchie crunchies. She baked and sold goodies at the local farmers market (back then you could do that without a commercial kitchen). She bought all the ingredients, baked up a storm and sold lots of her munchie crunchies. I had her keep all accounting records (that's real life math there!) She made $200 in four Saturdays. Not quite enough to buy a pony, but, she already had Sarg. She was content.
My girl loved to write. She would spend hours writing elaborate fantasy stories with elves and horses, of course. One day she decided to start a "newspaper". She called it Adventure News. She wrote about all kinds of things going on in our area and put in word searches and other fun stuff. The first issue was all hand done. Then she learned how to set it up with the computer. She gave copies to friends and our local librarian put Adventure News on display in the library (we have very cool rural librarians!). Her creative brain was always thinking up someone new!
At 10, the sizzler was born and my girl took on a surrogate mama role. She was my right hand gal. I don't know what I would have done without her. She was so loving and helpful with her little brother. She learned many lessons such as how much work it is to take care of a baby and how selfless you have to be.
When she was 11 she started a working student position at a local horse riding facility. She worked several hours a week grooming, exercising and helping with the horses and students who came for lessons. In exchange she received riding instruction. This was an amazing opportunity for her. The owner of the riding stable was hesitant to give her the opportunity because of her age. She soon learned that this girl was handy with horses and could work hard! She continued in this "job" until she was 15. The lessons she learned at that barn could not have been learned in a classroom. Real life. Raw. Smelly. Sweaty. She learned the meaning of work.
As a teen she went back to public school but kept up her creative pursuits and her riding. Soon, though, her love for the horses would take a back seat and music would fill her days. She taught herself to play guitar and sing. She joined the choir at school and the worship team at church. She stepped out of her comfort zone and sang and played guitar in front of an audience. I wish I was that brave. Just before she left for college she sang a JJ Heller song in church called When I Leave. I cried, of course.
Now she is finishing up her first year in college and has returned to one of her first loves; Art. She is painting, drawing and designing. She declared herself an art major with an emphasis on education/teaching. I am so thrilled that she has found her niche and is exercising her God given talents and passions. Love my girl.
My girl has always been creative. Whether it's the outfit she puts on, the way she decorates her room or the art she is dreaming up. She has ideas that want to come out!
I can't wait to see what she does next!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learning to change gears

I'm not a mountain bike rider but the sizzler is. When we're on the trail and we come to a hill he changes gears in order to make it up. He changes gears to make it easier to get up that darn hill.
It's Monday. Mondays are really hard for my boy. Changing gears from the weekend to the school week is painful, for both of us. I just wish we could skip Mondays and all the struggle they bring. Last Monday is not one I want to repeat so today I thought, hmmmm, why not change gears? Let's switch it up! Why has it taken me so long to figure this out? I have no idea. Hard headed I guess.
So after he got his morning jobs done (taking forever) I said we're going out for some sunshine and exercise. He looked at me strangely and then skipped out the door.
I grabbed his faithful canine companion, Tigger. He got his bike and helmet and we loaded up. We headed to one of out favorite spots and set out on a 2.5 mile loop. He was riding, I was walking/running and Tig was sniffing, peeing then running up to meet us. Did I mention it is a gorgeous spring day? Rolling oak studded hills, the sound of the rushing river, sunshine, blue skies and an empty trail - oh my goodness, pure heaven.
Back home and he is reading, outside, on his swing. Love.

He was able to finish his "must do's" without any hulla baloo. He even did his math in the car on the way to an appointment, without any asking or cajoling. A successful day. Yay!
Now sometimes you have to do more than change gears. Sometimes you have to change course. The trick is to know when you need a minor adjustment and when life needs a major change. I can be pretty stubborn and don't like to change my course, if it isn't in my plan. But then God reminds me that it's not my plan but His I need to follow. Why do I always forget that?
Have you changed gears lately? Would love to hear from you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Maybe you've read the children's story "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. Today I feel like Alexander. The sizzler won't do anything, well, anything I want him to do. It is frustrating and I feel like going back to bed or going to Australia.
These are the days I know he has ADHD. No question about it. He is falling out of his chair, flailing about, can't focus, singing, shouting, throwing things, touching everything around him, literally bouncing off the walls and furniture. And then when I'm completely over the top frustrated he wants a "huggie"! It's really hard to give a hug to a kid you are ready to throttle. Nope, not feeling the love little sizzler!
These are the days I wonder why I am doing this. This is too hard. I can't do this!
These are the times when there is nothing I can do but turn to my Heavenly Father and cry out. I can't do this Lord! I just want to crawl into His lap and cry. "Please carry me through Lord" I pray.
You see The Lord has entrusted me with this child and He will give me the strength, grace and courage to continue. He never says he will take away the burden but that he will guide me through it. I can't run away to Australia. I can't avoid it. I must go through it, but not alone. I am so grateful that His grace is sufficient. I also have to remember that my little boy is struggling too. There are real reasons for his behavior that are out of his control. I must stay steady, loving and consistent. And when I blow it (ahem, like today) I can be washed clean and start anew. Praise God for that.