Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Mirrors" Build Self-esteem

A developing inner self-image can be affected by the treatment children receive from others. If a child grows up in a family in which one or more members consistently relay negative messages, both verbal and non-verbal, the child may grow up accepting these views of himself/herself as his own.

Think of a time when someone has been critical.  How did it make you feel?  You may not have been thinking of yourself in a critical light until a perceived flaw was pointed out by another.  Did you begin to wonder if there was truth in what was said?  Did this affect your confidence or view of yourself?  Imagine how these things can affect the developing mind and personality of a child.  As adults, we can choose to ignore criticism or take it to heart, making any changes we feel are necessary if need be, but innocent children do not always have this ability.

Children, especially babies and toddlers, are also very perceptive to body language, voice inflection, and facial gestures. Even a hurried, rushed pace can convey anxiety or impatience to a child. This is fine for a child to experience on occasion. No parent is patient and unhurried all the time. Parents aren't always in the best mood. A stern tone is sometimes needed when a parent is correcting a child's unacceptable behavior. It's the constant criticism, however constructive, negative attitude, and an ongoing air of impatience that can leave a child feeling worth less than they are.

It is only natural that the children of detached parents who don't take time to revel in the child's valuable qualities, but go through life acting as if child rearing is a burden they'd rather not bear, will grow up mirroring this image in their attitude. Children will believe about themselves what they've been consistently told. Actions and non-verbal communication will be perceived as truths and accepted by the child. This makes for a sad situation if the child doesn't come from a good home. Even a bullying, critical sibling or peers that act in the same manner can keep a child from developing an accurate view of their own self. Later on in life, if the child is surrounded by different individuals that treat them differently, their personal view may change in a more positive manner. The positive attitude can also mirror in the child.

It is important that parents tune into their children at all times. We must actively work to build self-esteem in our children and protect them as best we can from those who seek to destroy it. After all, healthy children grow into healthy adults. So be a positive mirror in which your children can view themselves and remember that the image of them that you are projecting may be the one that they accept.

Your Child's Self-esteem by Dorothy Corkille Briggs
Doubleday Publishing Company New York 1970

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A good cup o' joe at $.03 per cup!

When we went on vacation recently and stayed with my aunt and uncle, we were spoiled rotten by endless cups of really good coffee, so much so, that it took me a good three days before I could tolerate the poor method of brewing I'd been practicing most of my life and the inferior cups of coffee that would result.

My uncle had been given a Keurig single cup coffee machine with countless boxes of different flavored pod refills to publicly demo. at a local department store.  We were amazed that all the hype we had been hearing about the Keurig was justified.  Each cup tasted like the best coffee shop cup o' joe, fresh and hot, bold and rich.  I was elated to see that Newman's Own had a pod of their own organic coffee.  Impressive all around.

We were told that, though the Keurig is a higher priced machine than traditional models and the pods are more expensive to buy than coffee by the pound, it prevents waste because you don't have to brew coffee by the pot and throw what hasn't been used down the drain when it gets cold or sits too long on the warming pad.  It made sense and we were definitely sold, especially when we learned that Keurig sells a reusable filter that you can fill yourself with any coffee you like in place of buying the pricy pod refills.

When we returned home from our trip, we began to research.  The lowest price we could find at the time in-store or on the web was around $100 for a lower-end model and the price increased with more elaborate versions.  The pods were pretty expensive at our local discount store and we figured that we would end up spending almost a dollar per cup after buying the machine, depending on what deals we could find on the refill cups.  Still a lot cheaper than coffee shop coffee, so buying one would be a good idea for people who frequently make stops to buy individual cups of coffee and a lot more convenient for almost the same quality and taste.

Still, though we love coffee shop coffee and LOVE the Keurig and find coffee in any form a daily luxury as well as a necessity, we just couldn't bring ourselves to commit to buying a system that would cost so much and would brew such high-priced coffee in our home.  We decided we would rather spend money on quality beans and use our French press at home, which we were doing often following our trip.  It didn't make sense to use the twelve cup brewing machine we had been using, even though we rarely brewed twelve cups, especially if we could really tell the difference in taste. 

Our French press is one of the best things we've ever purchased, but I have two problems with it.  The first is that to make a really flavorful cup, it is recommended that you steep the coffee for five minutes. The other thing I find frustrating is that even if I take it from boiling to the end of the required brewing time, I have to hurry to drink it before it gets cold.  It's very good coffee, though, and I love the fine silt that settles to the bottom.  I hate coffee grounds in my coffee, love the almost chocolatey silt of French pressed coffee.

Another thing I worried about with the Keurig is the plastic cups with aluminum lids.  Two things I try to avoid coming into contact with food that we eat often is plastic, because of the carcinogens that can be released, and aluminum, because of the possible correlation between this metal and Alzheimer's disease.  It is believed that lower quality plastics can leach into food over time, and that acidic foods can leach aluminum into foods, especially if heat is involved.  Keurig coffee cups are made with both.  BUT...they are only being heated once and discarded.  The coffee grounds are dry when stored in the cups so I don't see how leaching could be a problem.  Then I realized that I was brewing acidic coffee every day in a plastic coffee maker, through a plastic hose.  If I was going to reap the potentially harmful, possibly carcinogenic properties of plastic on a daily basis, that was how I was going to do it.  So I only worried about the materials the pods are made of for about thirty seconds and headed off to inspect the model offered at my local department store to decide if my husband would be getting one for an anniversary gift or not.  Gotta love a man who will be happy with a kitchen appliance as a gift!  That's how the French press and our espresso machine found places in our home.

When I got there I came across the old Senseo pods that had come out before the Keurig.  Senseo pods are made with our favorite coffee, Douwe Egberts.  Douwe Egberts is a commercially sold, originally Dutch coffee that is distributed by the Sara Lee company.  It is so good that the first time we tasted it, which happened to be in a little diner in Silverdale, Washington, just like in the old t.v. commercials we had to ask the waitress what brand was served.  When Senseo pods first appeared in our grocery store, we bought a package to see if it would brew in our regular home coffee maker.  It was terrible.  Weak, bitter...just awful.  We figured you needed the special brewing machine to get a good cup of coffee out of those pods. 

While looking for the Keurig, I noticed that Hamilton Beach had a single brew machine for use with the Senseo pods.  I couldn't find one of the old Senseo machines, just the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Coffee Maker which was under $30. It had an adjustable tray that lets you fill a regular coffee mug or a taller travel coffee tumbler. The wheels in my mind started turning while the Douwe Egbert label made my mouth water.  I took a gamble and put it in my shopping cart.  There was only one type of Senseo pod in the coffee section which was disappointing, but I guessed that if it made that great Douwe Egbert coffee we love it would be fine if there were not a multitude of flavors like the Keurig offered.

Gift-giving day arrived and along with other gifts I'd chosen for my husband, he seemed excited about the coffee maker and set it up immediately to try it out.  It made a weak, bitter, cup that tasted nothing like the Douwe Egbert's we love.  We tried again with a coffee filter and a single serving of coffee from a bag we already had, twisting the top of the coffee filter closed tightly to prevent any grounds from escaping.  It was perfect.  Fresh, strong, and very, very hot.  It took a little longer to brew than you would think for one cup, but no longer than the Keurig had taken when we used my aunt and uncle's.  The only problem was that I couldn't see using an entire coffee filter for one cup of coffee each time we needed one.  I was sure there was not a reusable filter basket available for the Hamilton Beach like the Keurig sold as an accessory. 

The next morning a solution hit me and I just had to try it.  I remembered that we have two of those stainless steel, mesh ball tea strainers with the little chain that you use for loose tea. 

I figured the coffee grounds would go right through it, but decided to give it a try. 

It's almost as if someone in the Hamilton Beach coffee maker testing lab had designed it for use with a mesh ball.  It fits in the hole perfectly, even when the top is closed.

Guess what I ended up with?  A perfect cup of coffee with no grounds, but a fine settling of dark silt at the bottom like my French pressed.  I couldn't wait for my husband to come home from work so I could make him a cup.  He loved it and went right out and bought three different bags of coffee to experiment with.  His favorite part I think, was doing the math to find out that because he had chosen coffee on sale, his cup had come to around $.03.  He stressed that regularly priced coffee would be about double that.  Gotta love it, and gotta love him!  We haven't used the 12-cup all month.  One thing we did notice is that with a certain brand of French roast, because it was a finer grind, we did get some grounds in the bottom of the cup.  We have four other bags going now with no problem.  

So I am not bashing the Keurig with my little review here.  I love the Keurig and I know that if we had one we would be happy as clams, even while growling at the price of each new package of refills that we would have to buy, but the Hamilton Beach makes so much more sense, even if I'm growling every time I spill coffee grounds on the counter when I'm filling my little mesh ball.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Either I'm getting bigger or my world is shrinking.

Walking through the supermarket over the last few years can leave you with the impression that the world is shrinking.  First it was the just under a half gallon ice cream tubs, tuna cans that just didn't look quite right, 4lb. bags of sugar rather than 5, an obviously smaller Cadbury Cream Egg (they thought they could fool me, but I knew as soon as I picked one up this last Easter season) and now this...

Now, I don't know if I got a bad batch, haven't done a weight or size comparison, don't have an intact bar of Ivory left over from another purchase, but as soon as I opened a new three pack of Ivory something didn't look right.  It was smaller and way too light.  When I unwrapped it I was shocked.  I actually dented it, peeling off the corner.  It was extremely soft and "fluffy" looking for a bar of soap, even one that is famous for being the "floating soap".

Then I found that if I squeezed it, it just crumbled under very little pressure. 

I was actually able to break pieces off with my hands.

I know companies are trying to save money in these tough times, but so are consumers.  One of the products that back-to-basics, frugal-minded individuals are using a lot of right now is Ivory soap.  We are using it because of its short list of ingredients in laundry detergent, for bathing, and an as an all-purpose cleaner along with other products.  I have read different reviews and some claim that Ivory has changed its formula and is not exactly the same Ivory that our grandmothers and their mothers were using, but it has been around since 1879 and is made from only a few basic ingredients such as tallow, palm and coconut oils.  Fewer ingredients means fewer chemicals dumped onto our kids and the Earth.
I am going to buy the large multi-bar pack of Ivory I was buying to make laundry detergent before Fels-naptha became more readily available in my area and compare the two.  I am also going to do more research and post an update here to see if this was a fluke or if Ivory really has changed within the last few weeks. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Went and got myself city slicked...but good!

Last night I had the awesome privilege of spending the evening with 7 of my favorite people thanks to a wonderful birthday gift given to me by the my absolute favorite 3 people in the world, my  husband and boys.  The 7?  My closest friend, who I've known since I was 3 yrs. old, her husband, and the band members of Def Leppard.

My friend and I grew up in the same small private school in Florida, from preschool to high school graduation.  We both ended up moving to the same state, which still blows my mind, and have settled into our "adult" lives just a 3 hour drive from each other.  In our school, rock music, dancing, skirts over 2" above our knees, public displays of affection, and chocolate were all considered abominations sent from the Devil himself to corrupt us.  Okay, chocolate was never preached against, I have come to that conclusion on my own, but the rest would bring fire and brimstone, lightning bolts, name it...crashing down on our very heads.  Needless to say, I being the good little private school child that I was, avoided all of these distractions from the straight and narrow path, until I was suspended for something really dumb (on my part and the school's) and finally decided, to heck with it!  If I was going to get in trouble for that, anything goes!  Well almost anything.  I'm proud to say that I've still never had a cigarette in my mouth and have never used any sort of drug unless you count that stuff they gave me following an appendectomy.  After two days of being certain in a hallucinogenic, paranoid state that my heart was beating way too slowly, I "just said no".  Anyhoo, (please excuse my rambling, I'm still jacked up on caffeine and loud music) that's when I discovered rock music and how much I really, really like it.  An 80's punk/new wave obsession started not long after and is yet to wane.  (A Psychedellic Furs ticket for an upcoming concert is sitting on my writing desk as I type, which is driving me to distraction now that the DL concert is over.  Can you say "mid-life crisis"?)

Def Leppard had just released their Hysteria album the first time I heard them and I was hooked for life, but had to wait over 20 yrs. before I had the chance to see them live.  Some people want to through hike the Appalachian Trail (I was one of them until I tried a few hundred feet of it), some want to climb Mount Everest, I wanted to see Def Leppard before I or they died.  They weren't getting any younger and neither was I.  Two summers ago, my wish came true when they made a tour stop in a neighboring state and I made it through the concert without even blowing out a hip.

Last night I got to do it all over again and with my best childhood friend.  It was amazing!  We both got to be 16 again for a few hours.  I'm ignoring the fine lines that are so obvious in my photos from last night and going to just pretend that it's true and that we are not just a couple of almost 40, old fart moms.  At least she's been such a good friend that she hasn't made me do this aging thing alone (actually, she still looks 16). Alone...that reminds me...Heart opened for DL and those girls can still rock!  Alone was one of our favorite songs as teenagers.  So cool to hear it live with my sweet friend.  Well, I'm very grateful for my husband, friend, and her husband for supporting my concert habit and Def Leppard addiction.  Here are some pics. of our fabulous night.  There was no hoeing involved.
Wouldn't you know, the power went out when it was time to get ready to go?  Fortunately, there is an outlet in the back of our van so we were able to turn on the van so my concert buddy could heat up her flat iron.  Cracks me up!!

Had to put on our makeup in the van too. 

...while listening to Def Leppard, of course.

It was a long drive to Charlotte, NC and the Verizon Amphitheater but we made it with a few minutes to spare.

A "mirror ball".  How appropriate for the "Mirror Ball" tour.
Nancy Wilson of Heart.  Amazing!


Nancy doin' her thing.  Goosebumps!!

Every time is like the first time...the moment when the lights go up and there they are!!

Acoustic bit of Bringin' On the Heartbreak.


The fake-out end, people screaming for an encore.

And for your listening pleasure...
Barracuda~ Heart, Charlotte, NC 6-22-11


Undefeated~ Def Leppard, Charlotte, NC 6-22-11

I guess some folks didn't adhere to the "no video recording" rule.  Already found Youtube amateur videos of last night's concert. Whoo hoo!!

I've just reread this to check for errors and realize that all of my excitement over a teenage obsession must mean that I've never really grown up.  Mission accomplished!!  Oh, and I had a "chemical laden", artificially sweetened diet soda during the concert.  But in the words of my hero, Scarlet O' Hara, "I won't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day..."  Tomorrow I will be my old, crunchy, organic self.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I have the BEST dad.

I know a lot of people, especially daughters, think they have the best dad, but I do.  He's the BEST!  I have discussed many times with his mother before she passed away, just how wonderful my dad and his siblings are.  She and Grandpa were the most honest, kind, and loving people I've ever known and they passed those qualities on to their children.

Dad is the second of five, the oldest boy in three.  While growing up, there was no place I would rather have been than by his side, whether he was fishing, building or growing something, or waiting in his office for his next patient to arrive.  We spent lots of time "exploring".  He loved to pack us all up in our VW van with snorkeling and tubing gear, fishing poles, picnic food and just head out with no destination in mind.  There was always somewhere fabulous at the end of whichever route we took from our Central Florida home.  As a Florida native familiar with the area long before Disney and the major attractions were even on the drawing board, he knew every back road and swimming hole.  I learned my way around by sight long before I ever got the road and highway names memorized because of the out of the way places we frequented with Dad.

My earliest memories involve my dad and the land we lived on in orange grove country.  My grandfather had always wanted to own an orange grove, so he found one available with a large house, lake, and outbuildings on the property.  When my dad graduated from college when I was three weeks old, we moved into the house on "the farm", as it was called in our family.  I remember a huge Live Oak behind the house and him nailing a big catfish he'd caught in the lake to that tree to clean it.  We moved to Orlando when I was two and Dad opened his chiropractic office.  I can still remember the smell of new construction as he carried me through the halls on my first tour.

When his practice opened, I stayed there with my parents in my own little playroom until I was school aged.  When Dad didn't have any patients, he'd let me go into his office and would fix me a half cup of coffee with lots of sugar and LOTS of milk in a styrofoam cup. I thought it was the best thing I'd ever tasted and that is exactly where my coffee addiction began.

I wasn't one to play with dolls much, didn't collect Barbies, thought Cabbage Patch Kids looked downright creepy, and Strawberry Shortcake and friends made me gag.  As a child, I loved being outside (all the time), tree climbing with my sister and cousin, and being anywhere my dad was.  He was the kind of dad who was always involved.  He read stories, especially from his mother's Uncle Remus book, accent and all, took us kite flying at a local park, backpacking in the Ocala Forest, snorkelling in springs, fishing at 5 a.m. from his motor boat, canoeing, sailing, camping, hiking, air shows, night fishing from piers, Shuttle name it!

My grandfather bought a 38 foot sailboat a few years before I was born.  He and his sons spent hours on that boat with upkeep and just having fun in the sun.  I loved to ride over to the coast with Dad in his little, red Opal GT.  He'd let me shift gears for him from the passenger seat.  After working on the boat, before we'd leave the marina there was always a stop at the nearby playground where we would count train cars as the train would come rolling through.  When I was a teenager and was certain that I would be a marine biologist and spend my life studying the wild dolphins of the Indian River, there were stops at Astronaut Park to watch for them.  I'll never forget the night we spent on the boat while it was docked in the marina.  It was the only time we kids were allowed to sleep aboard her, though Dad, his dad and brothers took her to the Bahamas and back.  I'd spent my life up to that point, playing on her decks and sipping grape sodas from the marina soda machine, but that night we didn't leave before dark.  We hunkered down near the galley and had our dinner.  Dad told us the story of the Hush Puppy and how a sailor had invented them by tossing bits of fried fish breading to his begging puppy.  I remember climbing into the bunk in the bow across from my sister and letting that boat rock me to sleep.  In the morning there were pancakes cooked on the boat's gas stove.  I can still see the blue flames.

When I had my heart broken for the first time, there was Dad, the only one.  He didn't say a word, just patted me on the shoulder as he walked by.  That was all I needed.  When I had my first baby, there was Dad, on a plane crossing from one corner of the country to the other even though he hates to fly.  He arrived within two hours of our hospital homecoming.  In a suitcase brought specifically for the purpose, he'd packed a rocking horse he had built with his own two hands for my son.  He had constructed it in pieces and then assembled it in our living room.  When my husband graduated from college, Dad turned around and made the same trip again, as proud as if it were his own son.  My boys' first sleepover, it was at Dad's.  Who was sitting in a chair nearby the last time I saw my Grandma, when I had to say goodbye and in her dimentia, she didn't even know that it was the last time we'd see each other?  Dad, smiling reassuringly.  He's always been there.  He made sure he was always there and not because it was the right thing to do, but because he genuinely wanted to be.

It's Father's Day and I spent it spoiling my husband with our boys. It was a great day, but I wasn't able to get a hold of Dad.  I called and was only able to leave a message.  I emailed, not the same as talking to him.  I think someone, everyone, anyone who stumbles across my blog should know just how great he is, and these few words can't even begin to describe what he means to me and how necessary his love and giving have been in my life.  I honestly don't know what my life would have looked like if he hadn't been so amazing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Farm Frustrations and a Grateful Spirit...Whodathunkit?!!

I have been trying to enjoy the growing season but everything seems so out of whack all of a sudden and I can't even remember what started it all.  Oh, wait, it's coming back.  I think it started with that sweet little Bantam whom I love probably more than any other pet on this farm.

I built the chickens a new run that is not enclosed on the top.  I was trying to figure out how to give the ducks more room, so moved them into the old chicken run and closed off the hen house door.  My garden planting was delayed because Bantam figured out that she could fly onto the hen house roof, (yes, I've clipped her flight feathers) hop down to the old chicken run wire roof and then hop into my raised beds which are about two feet off the ground.  She very quickly scratched up and ate all the seeds and sprouts we had planted for our cool weather crops.  Then there was the trip to Florida.  When we got home I still couldn't figure out a way to keep her in the run so didn't plant.  Then it was my husband and my anniversary/my birthday week and we didn't do much of anything.

The same week, my friend and neighbor began teaching me how to milk her goats in the mornings and the boys and I kicked butt on what was to be the last week of school.  Then my friend/neighbor's husband had a motorcycle accident back in the cove behind our houses.  I ran over to stay with her two children and her two foster children for the night.  I didn't sleep that night, but was determined to get my garden in that weekend.  I got most of it done and the minty patio cleared and planted with containers full of tomatoes and seedless grapes that I am growing up a series of trellises.  I even made a hammock cabana out of a recycled tarp which I turned into a sun sail, and blue striped vinyl tablecloths.  We never use that patio so it was so nice to have finally, officially done something with it.

The boys went off to camp the next Friday night for only one night, thank goodness, because last year only one of them went and it was for five days and I nearly lost my mind.  Well, as it turns out even though camp was only one night I still nearly lost my mind.  The little guy slipped on a very steep hill around 11pm.  His legs went in the air and he landed on his back knocking the wind out of him good.  He said it felt like his "whole spine shifted".  The chiropractor confirmed today that it had indeed popped out of place and worked his magic to put it back in.  Well my poor little guy was done with camp at that point.  He called to have us come pick him up.   We had gone to our favorite restaurant for dinner and bought cheese, fruit, wine, and Guinness on our way home to have for dessert.  I was about to pour myself a glass of wine and said to my husband, "I won't drink so that I can drive us out to the camp to pick up the boys at midnight."  Guess who ended up driving out to camp and getting us lost on old, mountain, logging roads in the dark around the midnight hour.  A mother knows...  Our stupid Tom Tom got us lost good this time, and the camp counselor's directions were no better.  I ended backing down a narrow 100 ft. or so of dark dirt road with a river on one side, fenced cow pasture on the other when we reached the point where a tree lay across the "road".  Never saw the river but heard it far below.  I don't think I've ever been so scared, knees and feet literally shaking on the gas pedal, hands vibrating on the steering wheel.  I was at my wits end for sure by the time we had backtracked enough to find the camp and get to my boy who wasn't feeling good. Took us two hours to make a 20 to 30 minute trip.

Well, we went back to pick up our other son the next evening and that night my friend's husband who'd had the accident woke up with pains in his shoulder and arm a week after recovering at home.  I saw her frantic Facebook post and left her a message that I would be sleeping with the phone by my ear if she needed me to come over and sit with the kids while she took him to the e.r.  He was in intensive care the next day with the doctors saying that he had clots in his lungs and had been in grave danger at the time that he woke up in pain.  I was still a novice, but took over the milking for her, very grateful that she had been teaching me, and traded with another of her friends in caring for the kids.  He came home earlier than expected and is doing well, but when I got back to mini farming it seemed like I had neglected it for months.

I spent the last two evenings trying to keep that little bantam out of the lettuce patch which is sprouting beautifully, and repelling honeybees that have decided that the tiny drip in our faucet that makes a little river down the sidewalk should be their watering hole.  I don't want to kill them of course, but we can't even get by to take care of the animals and collect the eggs.  I tried lemon zest, orange zest, and crushed mint.  It seemed to work, now I wait to see if they come back.

Last night I realized yellow jackets had moved into the outdoor outlet of the yoga patio and were nesting there.  I hate to use toxic insecticide, but when it comes to yellow jacket nests in areas that my family frequents, I don't fool around.  I hold a can of wasp spray in the hole after dark and empty it.  This usually kills the hive.  Once, they made a nest in the cracks between the vinyl siding of the house on the same patio, so I just took spray foam insulation and filled it.  Problem solved.  Neither method would work in an outlet.  I had to think about this one and did a lot today.  I decided that contact paper and duct tape were the answers.  Yup!  I duct taped my house.  Don't git much more white trash than that!  I'll see in the morning if it held.

I don't want to just whine about this week though.  It was a pretty amazing week.  I learned a lot about valuing friendships and relationships with my little family even more.  I love these mountains so much and even though it was frustrating trying to get to our boy, two days later we had to drive back out to where we were lost to see it in the daylight, it was so beautiful.  We found Victorian houses with original gingerbread and acres of stone walls like I've never seen before.  I kept saying, "Why isn't this in National Geographic?!".

More storms and tornadoes hit the area AGAIN last night.  Crazy weather this spring.  I was out planting potatoes and my dog, the one who hates thunder, started whining.   The sky got dark instantly and the wind smacked the row of trees to the left of the house so hard that I wondered if I could walk the twenty steps I had to take to the back door without getting hit by something.  The wind and rain blew right up my sundress soaking me.  I was standing in the back door laughing my head off because literally thirty seconds before I was stooped over my raised bed planting.  This morning over 20,000 homes were without power.  I didn't even realize the storms had been that bad.  I guess a good indication should have been the power company truck driving up, slamming on the brakes in front of our mailbox, power guy jumping out, hopping up to our porch to look at the meter, yelling "Power!" back to his coworker in the truck and speeding off to the next house.  I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful that school is finished for the year and my boys did so well.  I'm grateful that my son is on the mend, and for two little foster girls that I got to know who make me less afraid to have girls if I decide to have more kids.  I'm grateful for a quick trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park two nights ago to look at the full moon...magical!  I know my friend's goats are probably very grateful to have their "mother" milking them again, but I'm grateful that I have finally learned how to do it.  I'm also grateful for my very own raspberries growing and ripening before my eyes.  We won't ever again be going to the U-Pick raspberry farm, I guess.  Sad in a way.  So while there have been farm frustrations, I don't really have any complaints about the way the last few weeks have gone, though I do hope come morning I have lettuce and don't have yellow jackets.  I hate them!!  The yellow jackets, not the lettuce.