Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday's Wit....Yup, gonna be a bear!

     We are going on a big family vacation next week. My parents, brother and sisters, spouses and all our 14 children are renting a house on the beach. It is the highlight of my summer and I can't wait! While I'm there, I'll transform into "Auntie Ayn, Activities Director".  I've got lots of fun activities and crafts planned,.... YES, CRAFTS! I also have a variety of materials for the kids to do self directed art if they wish. I try to do a least one planned activity each day. This year, we're making things that we can use at the beach. I have a kite project, water bottle holder, visors and a few pirate related crafts. We'll also have a real  treasure hunt and games. I started this so the kids that didn't nap would have a "quiet" time each day and parents can take a break from all the hawk-eyed watching of kids on the beach! I know we will have lots of fun ~ little kids on the beach are always tons of fun!
    So yesterday, as I was trying to get everything packed and still do all the things a mom does,  I got this in an email. It felt so appropriate at the moment, that I thought I would share it for today's Wednesday's Wit. We all have those days when you wish you had just a little easier! Hope you moms enjoy it!

Okay, so it's not that bad, but there are those days....   ;-}

P.S. I'll try to get a post out about some of the fun things we're doing, but I may be having too much fun! It may have to wait until I get back!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

E-I-E-I-O !!!

After the school year has ended, the three schools in our company each have a Pre-K summer camp and a School Age summer camp. Each class goes on 2-3 field trips a week. Our favorite field trip by far is our trip to Valley Hill Farm in Keysville, Ga.  So far, I've taken 3 groups so far this summer.This is hands down, the best field trip EVER!!!  It has become a beloved part of my summer and even though I am "officially" off for the summer, I am escorting the children on this trip again.

It's about a 45 minute drive out into the country. As soon as we get there, we are greeted by Chipper, a Jack Russell Terrier and Jessie, a Doberman Pincher. Occasionally, Chipper will hop on the bus to greet the kids~ I think he gets as excited as we do about these visits!

We make it to the farm by 9:30 or 10:00, but the horses have already been working.

As soon as we go over the "dos and don'ts" of the farm, we get ready to ride the horses. Mrs. Barbara, one of the owners, talks to the kids about rules and safety and talks about the horse's anatomy.

The kids line up and everybody gets a turn. After the first or second turn, the kids are free to pick whatever horse they choose to ride. Generally, we ride until the kids are tired or until the hay wagon arrives.

 A few of our kids have been so excited, that they dressed for the day!

Wish you could see this better. Joey has his hat, boots, bandana, belt buckle and even a Sheriff's star!

Yes, that's Woody, from Toy Story!

After our rides, we're all pretty hot and the cool breeze of a hayride is most welcome. The horses are ready for a little rest and water, as well! The temp here Friday on our last trip was 101 degrees, so it's hot already, even first thing in the morning.

Mr. Tommy, the other owner, plans special routes for our hayride covering a portion of the 100+ acres they own. Many of the animals are free range on the farm, so it's nice to ride and see them in their natural environment.

They have one area for the riding and work horses, a barn and area for the thoroughbreds, and other horses that have not been broken that roam freely on the acreage.

We love to see the foals on the farm with their moms. They are so precious!

The baby calves are pretty cute, too. They are not as skittish as the foals and often they will allow us to pet them.

We met some of the goats that live on the farm.

Harley, a Great Pyrenees, lives with the chickens and bunnies and protects them from foxes, wolves, coyotes and other things that go "bump" in the night!

We saw eggs that had just been laid and chickens pecking. The bunnies were a big hit with the kids!

Earlier in the summer, a wild boar was caught on the farm and they've been getting him fat for the July 4th BBQ. He's not real friendly and didn't appreciate having his picture taken, so many of the shots I got didn't come out.

All along the hayride, Mr, Tommy stops and tells the children about this or that. One of the stories is about a little shack that was like The Little House on The Prairie.

Here's a shot of one of the ponds we go "mud boggin'" in.

The farm is now situated on what was once a catfish breeding farm, so there are ponds galore. Part of the hayride fun is riding through the corners of the pond at a quick pace, and "mud boggin'" through the muck. It's a bit smelly and messy, so I always tuck my camera away for that part of the trip.

This year, we've discovered a mulberry tree and learned that the wagon is just the perfect height to stop and pick a few berries and feel the breeze. They are quite tasty, but boy do they stain your hands!
As we pass the ponds, Mr. Tommy tells them about an alligator seen on the farm on occasion. The children are always looking for the alligator near the ponds we pass. Finally, we reach the pond where the gator was last spotted and Mr. Tommy pulls the tractor over.

He tells everyone to get quiet and watch the pond. He's spotted one.

He reaches in ----and pulls it out and brings it to the wagon.

The kids squeal and get excited until someone notices that there are very large hole in the gator toy!
Eventually, it's time to head back to the stables and have a picnic lunch.

  By the time we return, the horses we rode earlier have been tended to, and are roaming free, often stopping to check if we have anything we'd like to share. We eat and then pack up to take buses full of happy and exhausted children back to school.

This is one of the best experiences I've had the opportunity to share with young children.They learn so much! In our technological world today, we forget how different life can be just a short drive away from you, many of our children had only seen many of these animals on tv and in books. This was truly an experience many of them will remember for a lifetime!

I haven't got a picture of me on a horse this year yet, but here's one from last year. I ride too, when time allows!

Thanks, Tommy and Barbara, for sharing Valley Hill Farm with us!

Happy Trails to you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ashley Across the Rainbow Bridge

I mentioned in an earlier post that our family had some stuff going on and combined with the end of the school year, I wasn't posting much lately. One of the "things" that has kept us so busy is the declining health of our beloved merle Great Dane, Ashley.

We rescued Ashley from a farm where she was being treated unkindly by both humans and bigger dogs. She was a birthday present for me, but she quickly endeared herself to each member of our family and became "theirs" as well.

Our dear companion crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. As much as we knew it was time, it was still so very hard to let go. Ashley had been declining for quite some time, but she took it all in stride and still tried to be playful and engaged in our family activities.

Last night, we had a terrible storm. There was some solace to know that she no longer had to cower under furniture or try to curl up in our laps because she was terrified of storms. She doesn't have to fear the storms any more. The thought of her waiting by the Rainbow Bridge is comforting. In case you're not familiar, here's the story of "The Rainbow Bridge":
 Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

 Great Danes have shorter life spans than many other breeds, usually about 8 years. We were told that merle danes have a slightly shorter life span. When we got her, she and our youngest daughter, Bailey, were both about a year old. Lyndsay was 8, the perfect age for a canine companion.They all grew up together, and Ashley was like a third daughter. We were fortunate to love her for 11 years.

I was sent this beautiful prayer and it is so appropriate.

A Parting Prayer

Dear Lord, please open your gates
and call St. Francis
to come escort this beloved companion
across the Rainbow Bridge.

Assign her to a place of honor,
for she has been a faithful servant
and has always done her best to please me.

Bless the hands that send her to you,
for they are doing so in love and compassion,
freeing her from pain and suffering.

Grant me the strength not to dwell on my loss.
Help me remember the details of her life
with the love she has shown me.
And grant me the courage to honor her
by sharing those memories with others.

Let her remember me as well
and let her know that I will always love her.
And when it's my time to pass over into your paradise,
please allow her to accompany those
who will bring me home.

Thank you, Lord,
for the gift of her companionship
and for the time we've had together.

And thank you, Lord,
for granting me the strength
to give her to you now.


- © Brandy Duckworth, 1998

Our house seems so empty right now. We still have our new little dog, Max, and I'm sure, in years to come, we'll open our home and hearts to other pets. Ashley will forever live in our hearts and memories.

♥ ♥ ♥ Rest in Peace dear Ashley


Beloved pet, loyal companion, best bud. 

We will always love you! ♥ ♥ ♥

Thanks for stopping by!

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