Yesterday ended our Christmas vacation here at Farm Suite. All three big girls (11, 9 and 5) were eager to return to formal (as it goes around here) school. They sat down, breakfast eaten, fully dressed and chores done, at a couple of minutes after 8 a.m. to master personal challenges ranging from multiplication tables eight and nine all the way through creating a book of alphabet sounds.
Laura (2 in a few days!) is finding that school mornings are a perfect time to create trouble. It seems I just get her set up with toddler-size Legos or crayons when I turn to help with a long division problem and then she's off and spreading someone's Polly dolls all over the staircase or pouring out an entire bag of cat food into the litter box. I must say, I've never parented such a busy baby before. On the other hand she knows her alphabet song and many of the letters (and their sounds!) by sight so she is undoubtedly picking up on Grace's kindergarten work.
After lunch it was a beautiful, sunny 55 degrees outside so I declared recess for all four of them. I used that time to clean up worksheets and books and set up our art project for the afternoon -- we have decided to do science experiments, art and other potentially messy projects while Laura naps. It's self-preservation mainly, plus we get to have fun without distraction of the toddler type.
Speaking of outside, we finally clipped the hens' wings. I know, I know, it sounds cruel. But the real cruelty was in letting them wander across the road after flying effortlessly over their six-foot fence. (Why does a chicken cross the road?) Anyway it took the help of Madeleine, Sarah and their 12-year-old friend Zoe for me to catch all nine hens one at a time. The first few were easy -- they are tame after all -- but after two or three they seemed to "catch" the general hysteria and their evasive techniques got fairly creative. Katie the Rhode Island Red even hid at the back of the compost pile before her haircut. Yuck.
So now the hens are all safely inside their chicken yard again. The rooster can still hop the fence with ease but he doesn't tend to go far when his harem is cooped up. (Har har. Cooped up.)
Seven, Madeleine's horse, is sold to a lovely neighbor who keeps her gelding Sun at the boarding barn. You might say he's the boy next door. So Seven's not actually paid for yet but after just word-of-mouth advertising for a week we feel blessed that she'll go to Michele, who's loved Seven for the past year but despaired that we'd never sell her. And a year ago, I wouldn't have. My love for Seven was all wrapped up in her resemblance to the horse of my teenage years, a black Polish Arabian named Shamarrh. Seven and Shamarrh shared that certain dreamy big-dog quality of appearing to listen. They also shared a love of coffee breath and granola bars. Shamarrh had to be put down when I was 17 after a dog ran her through our fence and her front foreleg was broken along with my sense of all-is-right-with-the-world.
The moment that I saw Seven five years ago, I knew she was mine even though she wasn't for sale -- just a beautiful dishy dark filly head peeking out of a stall at a property I was showing. I immediately felt a rush of (mushy and ridiculous alert) youthfulness and joy. That is what Seven is. But you really can't go home again, no matter what Bon Jovi says.
So today for afternoon projects the girls and I will be making resolution collages. We don't go too heavy on the resolutions at this time of year -- sometimes we make fun "predictions" for the coming year such as "Laura will be potty trained by June" or "we'll go to Disneyland in October" (more a wish than a prediction, I know). I think my collage will have some horse pictures. Probably not black and probably a lot slower and cooler of blood than the horse(s) of my youth. Because I'm a different girl than I was 20 (or even five) years ago, that's why.