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My Christmas Wish

December 26, 2016

​As I’m trying to tick off the tasks that need to be done before tonight and preparing to enjoy time with my family, I can’t help but think about the kids I know, or have known, who aren’t as lucky as mine this year. 

Gifts they could use from Santa are homes, a family who supports them, parents who learn to fulfill their basic needs of medical care and education, parents who will slow their flurry of whatever keeps them from being attentive parents in order to spend the time it takes to be a parent of Special needs kids. People who will honor their promises, be there when they say they will be there, folks who won’t force them to try and be an adult way before it’s time.  Food. A bedroom. A bed.

They need elves who will help them get support and services from the county for their families’ needs. More funding for mental health services, affordable health care, an education system that can afford to find the best teachers for the hardest kids and keep them. Educational policies that offer, no, guarantee them the same education as the kid who has all these things and more.

They need the magic of constant belief in them. People who believe in the impossible and root for the underdog every time. More people and strangers who will rally around their needs and  join in a community of people who make the magic happen. 

Many of you often commend me for what I do, but it’s really nothing magical. My strength is working directly with kids of all sorts and having a nearly endless supply of patience and empathy. Your strength may be volunteering for organizations who make these things happen. It may be in understanding local politics and how to help these things happen. It might be inviting those kids without a safe space to be safe in your space for a dinner or sleepover.

There is no one magical thing to do. As your Christmas gift to me, please remember that it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes we have to step up and give something others aren’t capable of giving  Remember that the kid who benefits from your tax dollars is of concern to you. They are our future. Investing in our future is wise. Volunteer in the schools to see how they really run. Volunteer in your community to keep kindness alive for others.

Take a moment to realize that the kid you see that looks like trouble might not really be. Or they might be and it is up to you to shine some light for them to guide the way, they might not have a light to follow.

All of us can be a North Star to others. Keep your star shining bright all year.

Sometimes the Only Thing You Can Do is (RE)Blog About It…

July 18, 2012

In a comment I made on Faecebook about “The Goat Incident of 2009”, a friend asked if she even wanted to know…. and rather than try to recall and summerize, I figured I could copy and paste an old blog entry for her. I decided to just reblog it, because man, it’s a good funny story now that I can look back!

From January 17, 2009:

(warning – long entry!)

School was canceled yesterday and today because of the bitter cold temperatures we are having here in Wisconsin. I also got lucky and the kids spent the night at their cousins house last night, which meant the only person I had to get ready today was ME. Mr. Frog was working 3rd shift, so I spent last night gloriously alone watching shows on the big TV that we normally can’t because of the kids like CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. I hogged the bed. I fought no one for the covers. I slept without the TV on!

I showered last night so the only thing I would have to do this morning is roll out of bed, let the dog out, start the car, put some logs in the wood burner, and get dressed (yes, in that order, it was like -15 this morning). 15 minutes – Tops! This meant I could sleep in another HOUR. It was going to be a beautiful morning – the kind of morning that busy mothers fantasize about more than they fantasize about butlers and maids!

I set my alarm 30 minutes early, because I know me. I have to hit snooze 3 times before my brain registers – that is with a walk across the bedroom each time to do it. When the time came I got up, threw on my coat and mittens, grabbed my keys and brought the dog out with me to start the car. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know the dog is notoriously a non-listener on occasion. She’s been real good about staying around in this freezing cold weather and when it’s dark, so I didn’t put her on her chain since I was out with her and she hasn’t not listened outside in months.

Please – hold your snickers until the end! Have you no faith?

And that is where it went all wrong. She did her business and ran right on down to the goat pen. One of her favorite past times is running circles around the goat pen at the speed of light. I called her. She feigned deaf. I called a few more times and she still didn’t come. I went in the house to get dressed – surely she would be ready to come in very soon with this weather.

Please, do try to contain yourself – it only gets better! Oh, this may also be a good time to use the restroom if you have a weak bladder. I’m just sayin… We’ll wait…….

Better? Good.

So, I get dressed and I’m ready to leave for work. I try calling the dog and she still doesn’t come in. I go outside and she’s still running circles like a loon. For 10 minutes I try to be all calm and nice and call her without sounding like the only thing I want to do is strangle her. I try to convince her that I really won’t yell at her if she would just come to me.

She just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I try to bring out my dominant side for another 5 minutes. I lower my voice. I stand tall and all calm and dominant like. I close my eyes, breathe in,  and summon the wisdom and spirit of the great Ceasar Millan while calling to her.

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

Mr. Frog calls me to tell me he just left work and he is on his way home. I tell him I’ll see him tonight and hang up.

I crouch down all low like and non-threatening. I talk sweet to her. I promise her good eats when we get inside.

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

And I am freezing, freezing, freezing. -15 degrees, remember?

I decide that I am going to have to resort to the shock collar that she is currently wearing. (Please don’t tell me how cruel it is, its only used when we absolutely must get her attention and that thing is not nearly as strong as the electric fence she keeps zappin herself on trying to get into the pen – that sucker HURTS – I’ve not respected the power of the fence plenty of times.) I go in for the controller and can’t find it anywhere.

I take turns between looking for the controller inside to trying to lure/call the dog inside. I try treats. I try toys. I try running away from her with my arms in the air all playful like. I try pretending that I’m going for a ride in the car. I leave and come back.

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I also try language that I am sure the far away neighbors may call the police on me with if they are outside long enough to get a good listen. F-bombs are flying like it’s World War 3 at this point. Calm assertiveness my arse!

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I decide if I had a BB gun I would be shooting it. I have clearly lost my ever-loving mind at this point and call Mr. Frog to ask where the bleepity bleep did he put remote for the collar??!

He tells me where it is, hanging, 14 inches from my head. I mutter and hang up the phone. I grab the remote, head outside, call the dog to give her one more chance, and then press the button.

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I press it again.

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I point the remote at her as if I am hurling a force of whoop-ass in her direction and I push that button like I REALLY mean it!

And she just keeps on a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I realize the batteries in the collar are dead because it’s been days since we used the thing and haven’t bothered to recharge it. I’m already going to be nearly an hour late for work.

Just then, as I hang my head to the ground I hear Mr. Frog barrellin’ up the driveway.

He parks, gets out, calls the dog, and she runs to him. I look at him and say
“Great. I’m going to work now, buh bye!” and I turn around to walk to my car and mutter swear words under my breath. It’s 6:55 am.

At 4:45 pm I get a call at work. It’s Mr. Frog telling me that if the dog isn’t inside when I get home she’s outside. He let her out off of her leash and she’s just a runnin around the pen and he can’t get her inside and he has to go to work. The morning hath replayed…

I won’t be home for at least 2 hours.

Immediately my head fills with visions of the dog dying at the door of hypothermia or frost bite; visions of the dog running away and bothering the neighbors horse and me having to go pathetically stand outside the horse pen for an hour trying to coax her that I’m way cooler than the horse again; visions of angry neighbors with my dog beating the door down; visions of the dog being hit by a car.

I’m a protector. It is my one thing I do to a fault. I protect things that breathe. Sometimes even things I am not sure I really like; like goats, and crazy dogs. It’s just what I do.  The thought of her outside alone in these temperatures was more than I could bear. Suddenly

I spent the next 2 hours stewing, worrying, and trying to practice my belief in not wasting energy on things you can’t fix. I had a plan for every scenario I could possibly imagine. I’m also a fixer. I prayed to god to have her be home or give me strength to deal.

As we were closer to home I felt better – soon I would know the outcome of this ordeal and I could deal with it. She would be freezing and happy to see me when she finally did. At last we got home, I got the kids out of the car and in the house then yelled for the dog. Nothing. I prepared to take the car to go look for her, but looked down at the goat pen first.

There she was – just a runnin, runnin, runnin.

I called all nice and sweet, I called all mean and bad, I had treats…

And she just kept a runnin, runnin, runnin.

For the next 2 hours I would call out the door for her every few minutes, go outside every 2o and try to get her in the house. I even offered her up a nice dripping, raw, delicious, venison steak. Surely she had to decide she was cold at some point – she’d been outside for hours, and it was freezing!

And she just kept a runnin, runnin, runnin.

At 8pm, an hour later, I went outside with resolve. She’d been runnin around that pen for nearly 4 hours. I decided she was retarded from the cold and incapable of doing anything other than try to get a goat.  If she wanted a goat, by golly, she was gonna get one. I was going in that pen and getting a goat as bait if it was the last thing I did tonight.

I grabbed a shovel and went down to shovel out the gate to the pen. After a few scoops it was clear it was iced into the ground and wasn’t going to budge even if I cleared the 3 feet of snow away. I figured I could push it in, but first I better disconnect the electric fence so as not to get zapped. I reached through the wire mesh fence and unhooked the connection for the electric fence. It fell and I knew it would shock Jill, the friendly goat I was going to use as bait, if I didn’t move it.

In one of my finest moments ever I grabbed the metal fence in one hand and grabbed the electric fence wire with my other. You’ve taken middle school science class, right? You know that I have just created a complete circuit using my very own body. I take a step to toss the wire out of the way and ZAP!* I feel the current run from one hand to the next in a split second. There is a distinct pain in my right fingers, my left palm, and my chest (thank you underwire bra) as I drop the wire and am in disbelief at what an idiot I am with that fence, yet again! I like to think the wool mittens staved off a bit of pain, but I had to remove them and put my hands in the snow to take away the sting.

With the stupid fence wire out of the way now I proceed to pull on the fence to see if I can get it loose or push it in. I reach to grab the shovel and trip over my own foot and fall on my face into the snow. I curse violently, get up, decide that this is NOT the last thing I will do, tell the dog she can freeze, and go inside.  Oh ya – the zipper on my coat is broke and it doesn’t stay shut – do you know how freakin cold I am?

And she just kept a runnin, runnin, runnin…

After warming up for 20 minutes or so, I decide to give it another go. I put my gear back on, walk down to the pen, trample the fence over, put it back up to keep out the dog, and try to convince Jill to come to me so I can put a leash over her head and horns. I realize I forgot the marshmallows (a goat will do anything for marshmallows). She’s apparently wise to the idea that I am about to lead her out of the pen, in 3 feet of snow, and allow the dog to chase after her as I get her up to the house, thus cohorsing the dog inside the house. She’s not getting close enough. Oh ya, it’s dark as heck – no lights, trying to grab a goat and not fall – entertainment for anyone. I told her I’d let her stay inside for a bit and enjoy the warmth and some nice fresh fruit as compensation.  No go.

Just as I was ready to give up on the plan again, I see the other 2 goats barrel past us. They  don’t come by humans because they weren’t handled enough as kids, so I thought it a bit odd. Next came the dog. She had somehow gotten in the pen, and not the way I did.

Now I had a barrel of monkeys on my hands. It’s one thing to annoy horned goats with a fence separating you. It’s entirely another to do it where they can ram you and cause bodily harm and big vet bills. It’s also another when the dog can actually bite the goat causing bodily harm and big vet bills.

So, I’m in a goat pen, at night in the dark, freezing my arse off in the middle of winter, with a crazed dog chasing goats, goats charging dog and not a soul around of any use.

I yelled to the sky, I hoped for the dog to get cornered where I could grab her, I wished for Ree’s Marlboro Man or Pesky Tim to ride in, lasso the dog,  and save me as I stood there crying and laughing at the hilarity of it all for just a moment.

I tried for a few more minutes to get Jill, but it was impossible. Just then Hansel**, our timid yet sweet  male, stopped right by me. I threw my leash around his head and tightened up quick. After I knew he was caught I told him that this was his finest hour. He was going to be my hero if he liked it or not.

It seems that goats don’t understand english much. While I am telling him what great honor he had stumbled upon he insisted on trying to drag me the other way in protest.  So, here I am, dragging a 100+ lb goat through 3 feet of snow, over logs I can’t see, all the while fending off a dog and trying to stay upright. Hansel fought me greatly and he was choking himself a bit with the leash by not following along all sweet like. I knew it was now or never though, for everyone’s safety (cuz dude, if this didn’t work, I’d have my own private rubber room and a pretty little straight jacket to match!), so I drug on and apologized all the while to poor Hansel. I drug him over the fence, I drug him to the path, I drug him up a hill, and then I drug him up the driveway. The dog was still in the pen with the others so I let Hansel have a breather, told him if he would just move his feet and follow me it would be over sooner, and made some noise to get the dog’s attention that “hey, there’s a goat out where it doesn’t belong – come get it”. Once we got to the house Hansel was much more cooperative. Jill has been in the house plenty (another story for another day), but he never has since he was just a little kid. Warm air however is a great motivator. I got him in the house and reassured Little Mr. that this time it was okay if there was a goat in the house and he was really sweet and not gonna hurt him (hey – you didn’t think the dog was magically gonna go inside with a goat outside did you?) The dog was about ready to follow us in, but somehow she was on to me and knew I would grab her the second she was in the house though and she didn’t take the bait. Just then Jill came a wandering up from the pen.  This was not helpful. A leashed goat I can control, a free one I can’t. I had to get her contained in the house so she wouldn’t distract the dog from coming in after the goat already in the house. I had Little Miss get on her winter gear and lure Jill in with marshmallows. She put Jill in the bathroom (hey, they don’t get to roam free) and then I had her hold the screen door open from the back. I walked Hansel in further and when the dog came back to the door she went in the house this time and Little Miss slammed the door behind her.

DOG IN HOUSE!!! yay!!!

Then Little Miss decided to come in  and before I knew it I had a dog/goat fight between my legs, an open door, and a 9 year old freaking out. Did I mention the horned goat between my legs – not cool. Not cool at all. I managed to keep the dog in and ride the bucking goat all at the same time while Little Miss slammed the inside door shut. I’ve only got a few large bruises on my inner thighs as souvenirs – thank god the horns missed you know where! From there we got the dog in the bedroom with Little Miss and shut the door. I took the leash of Hansel, apologized but explained that now he was free of the terrorist dog in the pen and he was a hero in his own right Then I gave him a few handfuls of marshmallows.

After that I let him back outside and went in the bathroom to get Jill. I took her out and tried to get her back in the pen, but she wouldn’t have it. It was okay – they deserved some freedom. (Goats don’t wander, trust me, I’ve tried that trick.) At least they could lick the salt off my car as a reward for their bravery. Goats really like lickin salt off cars and leaving them all polka-dotted with their tongue prints.

I went up to the house to barricade the garage door to keep the goats out during the night (They’ve butted and broke the door in you know). After getting the garage barricaded I went in, put the dog on her leash, let her drink some water, and put her in the kennel. I inspected her as best I could for signs of frostbite or injury and gave her a clean bill of physical health, but a severe case of retardation in the brain. It was now after 9pm.

And now that I have turned this story into something that you can only get over if you laugh at the hilarity and absurdness of it all, I am taking my battered, bruised, feelin like I’m gonna throw up, electroshocked body to bed – WHAT A FREAKIN’ DAY!

*electric fences do not emit a constant charge of electricity, they have more of a tick……tick…….tick……..tick intermittent charge.

** Yes, there is a pattern, first we had Jack and Jill, then Hansel and Gretel, then Mary, then we got off track with Little Feather, “the goat without a name” and Domino. We’ve got Jill, Hansel, and Domino left. Don’t ask why we have goats…that is a whole other story.

Edited to add: We no longer have goats… and that is also a whole other story!

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