Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me!

Years ago, when I was younger, I used to notice toddlers having meltdowns, in stores as their embarrassed and seemingly strict parents read them the riot act,  promptly removing the child from the premises. I remember thinking,”oh… that poor child … if I was its parent, I would never let a child cry like that.” In those days, the parents in these scenarios were all monsters. After all who could possibly get upset at a two-year old? Had the number for child services been readily available I might have been one of those to register my disgust, especially in the case of one kid who literally was dragged out of the store. Back then, I thought I knew what saw. Clearly, no child should ever need to be wrestled with or dragged anywhere.

"...promptly removing the child from the premises..."

“…promptly removing the child from the premises…”

Fast forward about 25 years.

I am now the woman with the howling toddler who cannot understand why they cannot buy everything their baby-child brain decides should go in the cart. My three-year old has an obsession with baby dolls (stop laughing …the child, I am convinced, would be like this regardless of the fact she is the youngest of nine!) and thinks each trip to the store is about getting a “new” baby. If finances were not an issue, I might be okay with adoption of all these dolls, except that this kid insists on naming each baby “Meatball.” (I have no idea why.) This clearly indicates there is likely no recollection of the first half-dozen “baby” purchases or any acknowledgement that her crib is stuffed with “Meatballs”!.

Recently, while at a store, trying to get a hockey helmet for one of her brothers, my youngest decided that she should have some of the toys and candy, handily marketed at knee-level. Well, the affirmative answer my kid was expecting never arrived. Instead, I dared to tell her “NO…not this time! You have already had things bought for you this week.” I am thinking that this will be perfectly reasonable as an explanation and there will be no more fussing.

Wrong!

Howls and wails, stomping of feet and a torrent of tears as this kid loudly proclaimed she was taking the candy home anyhow. Husband-of-the-year was out with us on this excursion, and he offered to remove the screaming child while I continued checking out of the store. This was an offer I could not resist as by now the decibels were being appreciated (not) by the other shoppers who were nearby waiting to also check out.

Exit the possessed, annoyed toddler and very embarrassed husband.

"...the possessed, annoyed toddler... "

“…the possessed, annoyed toddler… “

My purchase was completed in stony silence as I think even the cashier was nervous to say much. By the time I reached the van (yes with this number of progeny …naturally I drive a bus) the toddler was belted into the car seat and all smiles.

As my husband tried to back out of the parking spot, a car was stopped, and the front passenger was staring at us. My husband asked why they were stopped right in his way. Well the diatribe of screaming from the passenger side of the car was deafening. I guess they had watched the toddler get escorted to the vehicle (minus the coveted treats and toys) with brisk and determined resolve on my husband’s part. The passenger continued to scream that she was going to call child services because no toddler should ever be carried crying out of a store. We are terrible parents and deserve to have our child removed. I have no idea whom these people were, only that they were out in their car and had no children with them.

My husband was incensed, as was I, for a moment or two; then I remembered what I used to think of tantruming kids before I had any. I realized that I would never be able, to explain adequately, why this little child, (obviously against her will) had to leave the store right at that moment…nor the million “Meatballs” at my house.

I am glad, that in my younger, childless days, I did not stoop to judge too quickly (other than to take mental note).  Otherwise, I am sure there would have been numerous, needless calls to child services, on perfectly decent parents. Until one is in the position of having to navigate the terrible-twos, out in public, purchasing the necessities of life, one will never completely understand.

Sometimes, it is just better knowing in your heart, you did your best, regardless of what any passerby thinks or dares to say.

"Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me."

“Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me.”

Please, walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me.

Garden-Goat-Logo-_JCA

Please note: I would not hesitate to call child services in the case of legitimate abuse. Just interesting how my lens has completely changed, as now, I am a parent and often in these situations myself.

THE GARDEN GOAT

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What really scares teenage boys

There are people out there that sometimes criticize those of us with larger families. One of the predominant negative reactions is based on the notion that the older kids are forced to “parent” the younger kids in a large family. Well, no, that is not the case for the most part. (Although many of us with larger families do expect the older children to lend a hand here and there when really needed.)

An example of how the opposite of just that is true happened a few years ago when my older teenage boys did a token few hours of babysitting for a noble cause (I was delayed at work). (Had my family been like the stereo-type image of the large family these older kids would have been mini-parents and known just what to do!)

What really scares teenage boys...

What really scares teenage boys…

My husband and I work opposite shifts. So that up until now there has been no outside daycare arrangement. Our hours of work have been scheduled and sought out to achieve a situation where the kids are continuously cared for by one parent or the other. This makes for very little impact on the siblings, is financially cost-effective and allows the other parent to not worry in the least knowing that the children are in the other parent’s care.

However, the odd time there may be a situation where an “older” kid is expected to care for a younger sibling. But on the whole this is not the usual scenario.

This one particular day I was delayed at work with a very important meeting that ran overtime. While on this day I was not terribly late leaving work I would be delayed by about an extra hour (even if I leave only a little later than I usually do, the delay in traffic commuting home often is as much as an extra hour or more).

This particular day my three eldest boys were home alone (as the teenage daughter was staying at school late for a music rehearsal). In order to appreciate what this meant, the ages of the teenage males were 18, 16, 15 years respectively and they were left caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour. Dad had to leave at the usual time and I was stuck in this important meeting. Not to much of an imposition. Although up to this point none of these young men had ever had (in their entire life) to change a baby diaper (not bad for being the elder siblings of a family of 9 kids!).

"...caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour."

“…caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour.”

This meeting was pivotal and involved senior management and government stakeholders. Sadly I totally forgot to turn off my cell phone as is customary protocol when attending one of these meetings. Just before the meeting was about to wrap up my cell phone goes off and it is my home number trying to reach me. All I can think of is the baby must be up from her nap and these guys would not be calling me unless it was an EMERGENCY.

I slink down under the boardroom table to figure out what can be such a crisis that this team of teenage boys had to call me. First question “Mom…when are you coming home?” I am now under the table trying not to be obvious telling them I “will be home soonest…why?” The middle boy proceeds to explain. “The baby needs a new diaper!” Hmm, okay… then change the baby…no big deal…right?

“Well mom it is not that kind of diaper (!!)…You have to come home NOW! We are not changing THIS!”

Great… I am still under the boardroom table feigning rummaging in my purse. Speaking in the most sepulchral of tones (so as to be completely inaudible to the folks up five feet higher perched around the meeting table) while maintaining the air of serious authority (!!). “That baby cannot sit in that diaper as I won’t be home for a least an hour! Take the diapers, wipes and change her on my bed (big queen sized bed). Surely the three of you can figure it out. DO NOT CALL me again. Love you all…bye!”

I stuck the phone in the bottom of my purse hoping to cover up the fact I had even taken the call. I then slowly squirmed back into my seat and continued with the meeting. Pretending all the while that my under-the table dive was merely to locate a throat lozenge hidden deep in the black hole known as my purse and nothing more.

As I drove home that evening from the meeting the phone was strangely silent. I smiled to myself and thought …silly me; three teenage boys…one messy diaper… these awesome guys of mine must have risen to the occasion.

When I got home the two-year old met me at the door. I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) but she was diapered all the same. I asked how it went and the boys told me it was “no problem.” Again smiled to myself thinking that a new level in maturity had been reached and I need not worry in the future the few times I might be late coming home from work. These fellows had it covered.

"I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) but she was diapered all the same."

“I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) …”

After supper I went upstairs to my bedroom en-suite bathroom to get baths started for the children. I looked at my queen bed dreading to see what small mishaps or spills might have occurred during the DIAPER FIASCO (possibly requiring a full laundering of my bedding). To my surprise none, everything was pristine…with the exception of a whole bunch of duct tape seemingly placed strategically all over my bed (????)-

Back downstairs to talk to the boys.

"why Duct Tape?"

“why Duct Tape?”

“Why the duct tape?”

The answer… “Well Mom you told us to just handle it and we did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us…so we duct taped her to the bed so she would be still. Don’t worry it didn’t hurt her, we put it over her shirt and socks (not on her skin) and we did not get covered in that nasty diaper junk!”

"...did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us!"

“…did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us!”

Really glad that this was not a day child services planned to drop in and visit me.

Thankfully the baby was smiling (even with Elmo facing the wrong way on her behind) and the duct tape was easy to remove from the bedding.

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

The Garden Goat

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

Bathroom Humour NOT

Not sure what goes on in other people’s houses but I am left thinking that indoor plumbing (although I profoundly appreciate it myself) is a concept completely wasted on the teenage crowd.

Garden Goat cleaning "The few miserable moments I take to pursue the call of nature myself are often lengthened as I find myself forced to whirlwind clean every time I happen to avail myself of the facilities."

Garden Goat cleaning “The few miserable moments I take to pursue the call of nature myself are often lengthened as I find myself forced to whirlwind clean every time I happen to avail myself of the facilities.”

Generally speaking the little kids (ages 12 and under) tend to use the bathroom for what it is intended for (within reason). You know a quick race in when nature calls (hopefully the younger crowd make it in time) a quick turn of the tap with some attempt at the soap and race back out to what they were doing before. Perhaps an entire two minutes devoted to the more basic functions in life (and hopefully not a scene from “Daddy Daycare” where Eddy Murphy rolls his eyes all around the bathroom ceiling after one of his little charges says “I missed”).

This stage is however counter-balanced by having to drag the same child hours later into a bath. Somehow bathing is a waste of time and the kids (especially boys) would just rather spent the time playing anywhere than the bathtub.

For years it seems that you are coaxing and insisting on regular bathing. Kids become experts in assuring you they have had their bath pointing to damp towels and less wet hair. That is when I head into the bathroom like a drug sniffing police dog to see if the evidence they have left behind truly supports the barely wet hair and the nearly dry towel. Most occasions they have forgotten some clue and are discovered for having feigned bathing.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I coined the phrase “skip-a-bath.” Basically the game was to spend the time we were allotted to bathe, dressing up the bathroom for the parental-detective audit making sure there was water spilt everywhere and most of a tube of toothpaste squirted in the sink. (No kid using toothpaste for the right reasons is EVER that messy!) Not to mention actually allowing our feet to step into real water (in the sink) so as to accurately leave “realistic” wet (as in water) footprints for the edification of the parental snoop team. When I think back I certainly wasted more time than a real bath would have taken trying to fake that I had bathed when I had done nothing of the sort. I still have no understanding as to why it was so important to not bathe likely because it meant it was the end of the day and I saw it as a waste of time.

This aversion to baths, (unlike with pets) does rapidly reverse once the child hits the teenage years. Not sure if it is part of the teenage DNA why this happens or if it is only driven by attraction and notice by the opposite sex. Either way the results are the same. The kids who were notorious for not bathing are suddenly spending every waking moment in the bathroom. The child that would not bathe regularly is now availing himself of your en-suite washroom for hours at a time and often several times a day. If that was not bad enough this age group uses multiple towels each time. The towel that is used on the hair cannot possibly be allowed to touch another part of the same body. This would explain the half-dozen towels on the floor. I really do not want to know what body parts rate getting individual towels or why this is…some things are just better left unknown.

(In the beginning I used to smell the towels or laundry to see if it in fact needed to be washed. Teenagers cured me of this. I sniff NO MORE and will wash everything just in case and to be safe!)

"If I worked for McDonald’s at least I would be paid for the bathroom breaks and not have the further insult of the mess makers sharing some of my DNA."

“If I worked for McDonald’s at least I would be paid for the bathroom breaks and not have the further insult of the mess makers sharing some of my DNA.”

The scene becomes much more complicated if you have female teenagers…then all of the above applies plus an array of sprays, lotions, hair products (not to forget a million hair clips, brushes, curling irons etc.) razors. Upon closer examination you realize that most of the mess left behind did not even belong to them. Your stuff has been raided, used and left dripping, broken and laying about the bathroom.

Parents with one child pretty much have it made. They clean the bathroom and when it is a mess there is only one person to blame. In this place where I am the minority with four blooming teenagers (not to mention 4 other younger kids) I am beginning to understand what it must be like to work either in a fast food or truck stop restaurant where someone checks off the list of chores on the public bathroom door hourly. The few miserable moments I take to pursue the call of nature myself are often lengthened as I find myself forced to whirlwind clean every time I happen to avail myself of the facilities. The ONLY thing missing is completing a checklist and signing it off (and of course a PAYCHECK). One 30-second trip devoted to my humanity in the bathroom is always followed by a full Tasmanian devil moment of pickup up the floor, clean up the toothpaste, wipe the counter, change the toilet paper roll and put out yet another clean towel.

"If I should use the ladies room again, even if in less than an hour has elapsed, guaranteed I will have to repeat the tidy up routine all over again. "

“If I should use the ladies room again, even if in less than an hour has elapsed, guaranteed I will have to repeat the tidy up routine all over again. “

If I should use the ladies room again, even if in less than an hour has elapsed, guaranteed I will have to repeat the tidy up routine all over again. If I worked for McDonald’s at least I would be paid for the bathroom breaks and not have the further insult of the mess makers sharing some of my DNA.

The other mystery that takes place is the toilet paper. My children eat it. There is no doubt. NO ONE could possibly exhaust the amount of toilet paper I regularly haul home. In the absence of Michael Angelo papier-mâché creations or the neighborhood decorated in “TP” one has to assume that the toilet roll was consumed…completely. (Of course watching the older kids help themselves to most of a paper towel roll to soak up two drops of water…perhaps the toilet paper is not that much of a mystery). Oh and yes we have a plunger in all the bathrooms. (!!)

Toliet paper

Toilet paper captioned “My children eat it. There is no doubt.”

The other reason I don’t like indoor bathrooms while raising teenagers is it becomes the perfect place to wait out any impending responsibilities. Nothing like assigning a child the dishes to have an “attack” of something strike rendering my workforce held captive in the bathroom. I have one child who has been known to watch a complete movie (while on the throne) being “indisposed” while the chores got all done without him.

I am thinking that perhaps the husband does have it right. Move out into the outback and look for a shack where a few satellite outhouses could be constructed.

The ANSWER ". Move out into the outback and look for a shack where a few satellite outhouses could be constructed. "

The ANSWER “. Move out into the outback and look for a shack where a few satellite outhouses could be constructed. “

I live in Canada so for at least 6 months of the year it would be doubtful that anyone would be brave enough to freeze their neither regions in the hopes of not having to do the supper dishes with a camp out in the outhouse. With the rest of the months here being either brutally hot or rainy I doubt that anyone would want to be outside in that little (no doubt in those months…”smelly”) place for too long either.

As for having to clean up the bathroom hourly… without a place to plug in the hair-straightener, no running water, no toilet to unplug… no towels…I would gain so much time…perhaps enough to drive into town and used a public washroom.

The Garden Goat

PS I have been nominated in TOP 25 MOMS WITH BIG FAMILIES – 2013 on circle of moms. You can VOTE for this goat every day until July 24, 2013. To VOTE go:

http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/garden-goat-quote

Does “family” have a limit?

Presiding over a family of eleven (sometimes twelve…depends who is home) I often find that our size of family is discriminated against in mainstream society. (!!)

I have yet to win one of those radio family vacations. However I can just imagine the radio announcer now… “Congratulations you have won a family trip to Disney!” …and my response “Will all 11 tickets be booked on the same flight?” Ah…then I will likely be told to pick and choose which family members I am allowed to take as the contest only provides for a family meaning… a mom, a dad and two children (and the small print likely indicates they have to be under 12 years of age). Thankfully I have not been in that position, however I often wonder how it might play out…and what the legal ramifications are (if any) regarding advertising “Family” and then limiting “Family” to only be a maximum of four people.

It begins at the grocery store with the limits imposed on sale items (quantities allowed of only four or less of a sale item…more on that later) but does not end there. If I go to a restaurant indicating that children under 12 eat free and then present 5 children under 12 for the free meal I am told that it only includes two children. (!!) Strangely enough the sign advertising this special said nothing about any limits. What are the other 3 children if not “family”? (Very difficult to explain on the spot whose family!)

I can be in the grocery store and spaghetti sauce is awesomely priced at a dollar a bottle but there is also a large notice indicating a limit of 4 bottles per family. Lovely …that is most reasonable as the average family (in Canada with 1.25 kids) is able to make 4 complete spaghetti dinners with this store imposed ration. I on the other hand would be hard-pressed to make even two dinners (for everyone) out of only 4 bottles. Some stores are very accommodating as once they realize my family is the size of a small private school I am usually given the deference of 3 to 4 times the store-imposed-limit to fairly purchase sale items for private use. (Most store limits are to prevent small restaurants and commercial enterprises from “stocking up”).

It gets better. Where I live we are now trying to cut back garbage collection services and in turn force all residents to become greener thereby reducing the neighborhood garbage output by taking advantage of composting and better recycling practices etc. The city planners in order to achieve such utopia have determined that each household will be allowed only four bags of garbage every two weeks. (!!)

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

Okay…if the average family is considered to be the sum total of 3 humans* and I have 12 then I suddenly have 16 bags of garbage every two weeks. This family has two babies living here. Not being someone who wants any more wildlife at my house than I already have (teenagers included) I looked everywhere for solutions. Basically my family size is almost institutional (stop laughing!). I looked up all the city’s policies and discovered that if you have family members using incontinence products (diapers etc.) you could qualify for a “bonus bag” picked up weekly from your house. While reading about this there were many admonishments about how those who misuse this service would face the full extent of the law. Key requirement was there was to be NO OTHER trash sneaked into this “bonus” bag beyond the incontinence material. Two kids in diapers YIPEE!  I can at least ditch that refuse weekly….so signed up for that.

"...could qualify for a “bonus bag” ...."

“…could qualify for a “bonus bag” ….”

Wednesday is the magical day where this “bonus bag” would be removed. I happened to be in the front room this past Wednesday and noticed a white, unmarked pickup truck stop in front of my home and a man dressed in a white (head to toe) mechanic suit, sporting industrial gloves and headgear (not quite a miner’s light attached) jump out and approach “the bag.” Not sure this was the city’s special garbage collection (perhaps more aliens checking on the earthlings…again) I thought I might spend a moment and observe through my front living room window. With clipboard and cellphone in hand, this guy summoned his fellow helper (the driver of the truck) with a look of such arrogant disgust. (Living here it is hard to tell if the million kid’s toys, bikes, helmets, hockey sticks, nets and pet bugs in jars strewn all over my front walk might have been the cause of such derision).

"I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the  national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?"

“I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?”

Obviously our “Bonus Bag” ended up being a large green back with several smaller white bags inside screaming “FRAUD.” There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out. (!!).. I think these two Garbage specialists felt they were on to something… clipboard was readied and both men opened my special bag together. My special pickup bag was clearly in contravention…that is until they proceeded to open the other white bags…after two bags were opened…an extra pair of gloves were donned, the clipboard was then hurled into the back of the truck and the bag carried about as far away from the guys’ body as his outstretched arm would allow ….then tossed through the air and into the back of the truck. I expect next week’s special pickup will not be subjected to any more audits.

There are actually a few of us around the country with more than the average national number of offspring. Good thing too…I should be recognized as having definitely contributed to society I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?

The Garden Goat

Goat in Garbage can

I am patiently waiting for the next “Garbage Day”

 
 
 
*Canadian census 2006

More Money in Your Pocket

Every single reader out there I know has pondered how this goat of many is able to finance everyday life. (Hey…don’t worry this is something often pondered by this goat.) The crew I preside over is based on average as eleven in numbers (inmates) and the associated costs of such a gargantuan tribe present for all meals, toiletries and sundries (give or take an occasionally few more here and there). I can wake up in the morning and be dealing out the rations only to discover some kid has brought another friend or two (sleepovers …after I went to bed…the teenagers…of course) and they are in the lineup right alongside the usual natives.

"In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month..."

“In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month…”

Considering the bunch here (and the option of “extras”) I have had to become a professional practitioner in the magical art of grocery shopping and the more important art of financing those outings. Some days it I am sure it would be considered outright WIZARDRY!

I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash)!

I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash)!

A very dear friend once was staying for supper and thought she would help by peeling potatoes. After the first dozen or so peeled she asks “How many more do you need me to peel? I am not sure when I should STOP!” I looked at her and said “Only when the bag (10 lb.) is empty!” The look was priceless.

The children have been known to ask will they ever receive for dessert a bakery item that is “not from that 50% off rack!”~ Short answer… “NO!” The reduced rack is about as sacred to our family as the Holy Grail was to Indiana Jones! Before there are hoards out in cyberspace thinking that the children are munching down aging and moulding food …I assure you…this is NOT the case. Often items in excess are reduced (store baked too many apple pies, muffins or whatever) or there is a truckload sale. Many years I would buy birthday cakes reduced on the half-price rack and then freeze them (lots of birthdays in this joint) until one year some kid complained that they were less valued because they got a fresh cake instead of the frozen 50% off edition. Sometimes there is no pleasing the faithful. (!!)

I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash

I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash

The few times I have watched TV (not really a whole lot of time or much interest at my end) and viewed snippets of the show “Extreme Couponing” (TCL?) I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash and a $1,000 plus of merchandise is reduced to some ridiculous amount like $12.50 (albeit US dollars) and this represents three carts full!   Granted buying 32 bottles of French’s mustard for less than a dime each is appealing however not really going to go too far to nourish the army at this end other than to perhaps provide ammunition! After being all excited to test my skills in this game I then realize I live in Canada and some of this is not even available (double couponing etc.) far less encouraged.

Until I discovered something else…

A few years back I learned that there was something here (in Canada) called the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (or “Scanning Code of Practice”). This is the link to further info (Canadian Government) at the Federal Government Competition Bureau http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/vwapj/ct02380e.pdf/$file/ct02380e.pdf.

Needless to say once I became aware of this program I use it literally every day. I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash). Errors of discrepancy between signage and the computer database running the cash register calculations in a given store can result in a product being labeled as one price but being scanned at the cash at a higher amount. Many people don’t notice. In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) PLUS the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised. If you are buying more than one of the same item, then “FREE” item is only on the first one …if BOTH are identical (same SKU numbers). However, if you have purchased similar items (as in Tide is on sale and you purchase varying kinds and with different SKU numbers) then if these items also scan incorrectly (different SKUs) you can receive these items also for free. I have been known to walk away with four different bottles of Tide for free all because the computer was not updated to reflect the price as it was displayed in the store. (It does help if you have a photographic memory!)

Scanning_Code_of_Practice

“Scanning Code of Practice” guidelines (Canada)

Sadly I am thrilled knowing that because of human error I will score a certain percentage of this family’s purchases every week for “FREE.” You will either recognize me at the store as the one stumbling into people as I leave the store reading the receipt, (line by line ensuring that everything did ring in at the right price) or by the group of children nearby hanging their heads while pretending they are not related to me (mostly those teenagers).

Then again with the tribe I feed, I pretty much know the price of any grocery item and any frills purchased would only happen if they were in fact “on sale.”  Another way is to watch for mistakes is while the item is being scanned. Sometimes the difference in price is only one penny but when you can receive the item free it certainly adds up.

Since the kids seem to think stuff might taste “better” if it was not on the “50% off” rack good job most of them have no idea it was in all likelihood completely FREE!  I will say that many of my teenage offspring, (already some of them mortified to be seen with me in public just because their chronological age has reached double digits) are not too thrilled to be in earshot as I challenge the errors made when the wrong price comes up.

In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month that helps this goat keep the little goats in oats and something everyone should check out at the check out!

The Garden Goat

. In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) plus the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised.

In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) plus the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised.

(P.S. Alas…as of late I have had to start taking my reading glasses to the store to ensure the item is in fact listed for less!)

Does having baggage mean I am on vacation?

If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime!

If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime!

Well… nearly everyone I know is either just returning from or planning for a holiday. You know one of those times you get to spend (with or without loved ones) on yourself. Hopefully away from where you live and definitely away from work. My whole life I have wondered what that might be like.

Catering to the tribe that I am responsible for has not afforded me to date any time to myself in which to have to weigh the intricacies of planning one’s life away from home. Though it does sound delightful to have to ponder where on the planet to go, what to see, how long to be there. Ruminating about how others are caught up with these specifics are about as close as I will likely get to such an escape until at least the smallest members are toilet-trained.

Many folks tell me that life is about choices. On the one hand, very true and yet in another way although we may choose (or think we chose) wisely, fate will sometimes twist the entire situation regardless of the stellar choice selected at the beginning. In some ways choices is a bit like a game show with doors one, two and three…all being of equal value but different. A five-thousand dollar ring money-wise is dollar for dollar comparable to your entire street being paved in waffles (10 feet high) but I for one would prefer the ring (unless it is dinnertime around here…of course).

Life is not made to order regardless of all the appropriate check boxes being selected. Some of the greatest plans get sidetracked and some of the most random, spur of the moment stuff actually pans out. I think vacations are like that. The weather might not cooperate, the attractions were not quite like the brochure, the perfect day for the beach is the day you are sick.  Not to mention other things like losing your luggage (not baggage that would be too easy) or finding out the hotel was slightly better than a group home.

Goat in bathtub

“I know several moms of little ones that would think they had died and gone to heaven to be able to spend 40 minutes ALONE in the bathroom..”

Relative to what you are used to (and what you need to) recharge your batteries… a vacation could be anything. I know several moms of little ones that would think they had died and gone to HEAVEN to be able to spend 40 minutes ALONE in the bathroom and emerge with hair, nails and relaxing bath all completed. I personally would settle for just ten minutes without the customary pounding on the door, crayon scribbled ransom notes slipped underneath, screwdrivers shoved in the door handle or shouts of “fire” as I try to forget (for as long as it takes to brush one’s teeth) that I am needed NOW….(again) by the natives.

Not really complaining…just noticing that I am content with less…and that is good thing.

A trip out to have my haircut without my loyal following is amazing. The thing that speaks the most to me is the space in my head (no… not because I was having my hair cut) but the ability to complete whole thoughts without hearing “mom….” I can only imagine that a true vacation would be hours, days and weeks without hearing “mom…” Sounds out of this world…perhaps I should plan one soon. I cannot imagine all the ideas I will have when I can be alone in my thoughts.

Then I come home from having my hair cut and the three-year old races to the front door throwing her little arms tightly around my neck “Oh mommy where have you been? I missed you!” Hugs and kisses from the littlest…I am done! I totally forget my resolve.On Second thought… while I like little snippets of time to myself…I think I will gladly postpone a longer vacation until this little one is older. (Although I think I would like to increase the time in the loo by a few more moments).

Part of making good choices is to recognize one’s limitations and plan for success accordingly. Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom. I will leave the ransom note ahead of time mentioning that I have been abducted and that I gave all my magical powers to Dad, (whom they never bother in the bathroom…go figure) oh and maybe leave some delectable snack (not chocolate or anything too messy) on the counter (in arm’s reach) in the kitchen while I pursue my mini vacation.

Goat in the bath

“Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom.”

It will be revitalizing to say the least. Clean body, hair, face and clothes all on the same day! If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime! (At the rate someone here tries to scream “fire” when the bathroom is occupied by mom, perhaps a better plan would be for me to yell “fire” call emergency services and while my progeny run all over the neighborhood in disbelief head into the shower for five minutes to myself.)

I now think I will plan such a vacation…wonder if I will have a chance to run the bath long enough to make some bubbles before the local authorities catch up to my moment of indulgence. If I get busted, I guess I will have to resort back to daily showering in the dark (before anyone wakes in the morning) for a whole three minutes and then slither out in the cold darkness, hair now frozen and damp (no need for hairspray) to my car and go to work. Where as I drive in to my place of employment I remember who is not at work but “on vacation.”

A Garden Goat with a plan.

"Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom."

“Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom.”

To have and to fold from this day forward…

or how to train the average male to do his own laundry…for life!

Many years ago I was at a friend’s wedding seated with other friends. A rather traditional bunch in which I was clearly the most forward thinking at the table. As a variety of speeches were made and toasts offered to the new couple, many innuendos alluding to old school expectations regarding housework were evident. The majority of these couples were young and many of them were one-income families with young kids. I was one of the few at the table from a two-income family. Everyone at the table decided to watch my reaction, which was observant silence, until the friend to the right of me talked about how to get her husband to help with the laundry… All eyes were on me.

how to get her husband to help with the laundry… All eyes were on me.

how to get her husband to help with the laundry… All eyes were on me.

Then it started. I asked what laundry was this husband not doing…his own or the family’s (i.e. the kids). It turns out that “Romeo”, being the chief breadwinner, felt he was exempt from any laundry duties including his own dirty clothes. Betty Crocker was busy taking care of four children and trying to keep up to Romeo’s extensive laundry. After a few moments of conducting further fact-finding, the dirty details were divulged. This boy was wearing many different outfits during the day, going daily to the gym, the office and then dressing down for casual outings with “his friends” and so on.

You know you are doing well when you hear that he has cancelled his workout at the gym and he wants to know if you have found ANY of his laundry

You know you are doing well when you hear that he has cancelled his workout at the gym and he wants to know if you have found ANY of his laundry

Answer from my end …really simple. Just don’t do his laundry he will get the picture. Well apparently this would not work for Romeo because he will just go out and by “more” clothes. This friend reminded me that I had been known (in the circle I moved in) as the one who motivated her newlywed husband to amazing ownership of his personal laundry in spite of being raised by a mom who did all the laundry in the house.

I had to start somewhere, “Where does your husband leave his laundry?” The answer was so typical “In piles on the floor.” Oh good this will be much easier than I thought.

Start collecting all the laundry the dear boy leaves around the house and place in a green garbage bag and then hide the bag. DO NOT REVEAL the location. Check for clothes in gym bag and do likewise. The most important item to collect is underwear. All of a sudden you will notice Romeo taking an interest in the dryer and where the laundry is stored. Do not get prematurely excited that he is now interested in the laundry. Under NO circumstance reveal the location of the intimates. You will have to get creative where you can store the evidence. Be smart and do not choose such places as his golf bag or behind the lazy boy in the TV room. Pick hiding places like where you keep the mop and bucket to wash floors (or where the vacuum and/or other cleaning supplies) reside.

Then proceed to the local department store and buy a package of the exact opposite colour and style of the undies he usually wears

Then proceed to the local department store and buy a package of the exact opposite colour and style of the undies he usually wears

As the circle of clean undies dwindles the gym guy will become more frustrated and head out to buy new underwear (preferably white). Either way just continue capturing the dirty linen and hiding it. Romeo will suddenly start paying attention to where he is leaving his laundry. He will suddenly become very considerate and mindful of where he drops his drawers. Do not give in and think this the training is complete. This is just the beginning.(!!)

Hiding the dirty clothes will get harder and harder as the dear husband begins to retrace his steps and takes better notice of where he is leaving his clothes. One day he will snap and announce that he has no more undergarments and demand to know what is going on. Smile sweetly and tell him you will make it a priority to locate his finer things and see they get washed. Then proceed to the local department store and buy a package of the exact opposite colour and style of the undies he usually wears (if he wears white buy dark coloured and vice versa hopefully in a size smaller and 100% cotton). Call up the husband at work and offer to do something like make a special dinner or watch a movie. Sweetly hand him the new (incorrect) underwear you just bought. This will hopefully be met with some appreciation for effort (although not always).

Next day husband likely to roar again when he realizes the only clean stuff he owns is the dreadful stuff you bought. You know you are doing well when you hear that he has cancelled his workout at the gym and he wants to know if you have found ANY of his laundry.  Wait until the husband has vacated the premises for more than a few just a few moments. Now locate all the dirty gym clothes /underwear lot and put everything in together (the more colours in with the whites the better). Throw some random favourite clothes (ones you never liked anyway) and then pour about a ½ bottle of Javex bleach in and set the wash to very hot and the most aggressive cycle possible.

Remove from washer and dry on hottest setting possible. Do NOT worry that certain prime locations in the underwear are threadbare (or less) nor that the once white underwear is varying shades of pastel tie-dye or that the dark underwear has large spots of what looks like a highlighter marker was used. JUST DRY and do not add fabric softener. Lovingly fold the fresh, moth-eaten, shrunken undies and stack in a laundry bin. If he is not home… phone him and tell him you have great news… you found the laundry and got it all done for him… it is waiting in such and such a place.

Believe me, when he catches up with his stuff you will NEVER again be ALLOWED to touch his laundry, (far less wash or fold it) and he will never again take off clothes and leave them lying around anywhere…even twenty years later.

Believe me, when he catches up with his stuff you will never again be ALLOWED to touch his laundry, (far less wash or fold it)

Believe me, when he catches up with his stuff you will NEVER again be ALLOWED to touch his laundry, (far less wash or fold it)

After regaling the table with my domestic version of “home economics 101” I do not think anyone believed me. Dark looks around the table as this crew of ladies all thought I was nuts.

Many years later, after forgetting about all of this a friend called me because the gal I had spoken with at the table (so long ago) had made the mistake of innocently shrinking her husband’s sweater and instead of passing it off as a random accident apparently some saucy girlfriend (myself) from years ago was blamed. (No wonder that couple never invited me over.) Too funny!

I hear all those guys from that table have been doing their own laundry for years…(!!)

I hear all those guys from that table have been doing their own laundry for years…(!!)

I hear all those guys from that table have been doing their own laundry for years…(!!)

The Garden Goat

Laughter… truly is the best medicine!

I certainly know time flies. Why only a little while ago I had my first baby and suddenly it is now twenty years later. (??) They (those I live with) tell me that baby is now an adult (I better tell her that!). Twenty years make me sound ancient (hopefully I don’t look the part or I might end up as goat soap!). I just did what I thought I should be doing day after day with the baby …and voilà …here we are two decades (and 8 more kids) later (!!). So I guess the same thing happened with this blog. While I was writing here and there a whole year has gone by since The Garden Goat made her debut.

Happy Birthday Garden Goat

Happy First Birthday Garden Goat! Looking forward to many more of these birthdays!

People have told me for years that I should write a book. So haphazardly last September I thought I would start a blog and post the occasional rant and might eventually have enough “rantings” to possibly collect into a book (at the pace I started I imagined it would take another 20 years to complete). So I posted a few grunts here and there from this Canadian Goat. I never knew that while using the blog to discipline my inner thoughts (or demons…same difference) I would be having so much fun or that I would be meeting so many people interested in what a goat with a herd of kids has to say (and/or complain about)!

None of this fun (not to mention the escapism from my day-to-day life) would have been possible without loyal readers who tolerate my twisted sense of humour and thankfully take what I say with a LARGE grain of salt (hence I have not yet had to spend a moment in jail)! I am constantly amazed at the number of kind comments and emails that I receive. In reviewing my readership’s responses I think the ones I like the best are the ones tell me I made them laugh…”uncontrollably.” This goat is so happy to be guilty of causing laughter, smiles and fun. I have tackled a few more serious topics (again with my demented sense of humour) still my readership endures and tolerates me!

Garden-Goat-Happy-1st-birthday

Besides as a Goat I get away with a lot. (!!!)

It felt a little odd in the beginning to just rant and then post it “out there” in cyberspace. I often wondered if it would only be the occasional alien life form stumbling around late at night on internet who might find this goat interesting. Au contraire, I have received many visits to my site by my fellow human beings! The Garden Goat continues to gain popularity…all thanks to you, my readers, (I would have said perhaps “followers” but that would just confirm my kids suspicion that The Garden Goat is some type of cult that I secretly belong to) for sharing with your friends!

One post in February was so popular it became “freshly pressed” on WordPress (chosen as one of the top ten posts for the week out of nearly a half million blogs!) and it was translated into several languages and is now available as an e-book online. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Answers-those-questions-families-ebook/dp/B008Y90R2K)

How this Goat actually got online is all because of a very precious friend’s encouragement to write and her reassurance that I was entertaining to listen to. This gal moved away to another town and so we began emailing each other between visiting, sometimes writing to each other as often as almost daily. Many of her emails would start with how excited she was to see my name in her inbox and how hard she was laughing (out loud by herself…”uncontrollably”) at what I wrote (I did not think it was THAT funny). I loved hearing from her (always)  and to learn that the laughter I caused her was often referred to as the highlight in her day. “Promise me you are going to write a book” was something she kept telling me! (This is the same friend that decided when reviewing the birthday signs that, I, as a Capricorn was not the “Mountain Goat” but a “Garden Goat”). Without her ongoing encouragement and belief in me I doubt The Garden Goat would have ever ventured out to graze and rant on the internet.

Many of my day-to-day challenges are made easier when I see the funnier side (or I would have given up years ago). Although another friend did tell me it would take her more than just a few hours/days to be able to laugh at a few of the disasters I seem to attract! It would likely take her several years!(!!)

Happy birthday goat

How this Goat actually got online is all because of a very precious friend’s encouragement to write and her reassurance that I was entertaining to listen to.

Not too sure what the next year will bring. (My children shudder at the thought.) Some readers have pondered why I am known still only as the Garden Goat (people have actually noticed this might NOT be my real name…No seriously?). The answer is that with the size and age of the tribe I preside over…I would be scared to lay my head down at night should one of my offspring (specifically the teenage crowd) be able to be identified in a story worse yet because of this be branded by his peers/brethren as “NOT COOL” – I might need to increase my life insurance (!!) Ergo my pseudonym is my identity.

Besides as a Goat I get away with a lot. (!!!)

So as I put a cloven hoof forward into new another year of Garden Goat adventures I hope to continue to be accused (and delightfully guilty) of causing you, my loyal following and new readers alike to laugh…uncontrollably.

Happy First Birthday Garden Goat! Looking forward to many more of these birthdays!

Gardengoat_polariod_angle-Laughing-text

So as I put a cloven hoof forward into new another year of Garden Goat adventures …

A “hairy bird” goes back to school

Well…summer raced by as I played cook, nursemaid, parole officer (same difference) and supreme ruler of my universe to the multitudes in the absence of my husband (gone for about 12 weeks of medical care in another city following serious surgery to his ankle). There are certainly many freedoms in being the only one looking after the entire tribe. Basically it looked like this…my way…or else. (!!) On the flip side…12 weeks of being the only parent 24/7 to a tribe of 9 (8 months and up) is completely…exhausting! Oh..and yes the husband was doing helpful “things”  all along that I took for granted and discovered this truth in his absence.

Sadly it is now time for school and the summer has come to a close.

Sadly it is now time for school and the summer has come to a close. The majority of my offspring are NOT looking forward to joining the ranks of their peers on the yellow buses headed for “higher learning.” With one exception, a little boy who starts Grade One this year can’t wait to start school and be “gone” for the whole day. Wait until he finds out the truth about school. Yep…I can see me in about a month dragging the same child out from under the covers and trying to regale him with “fun” things about school. The sad reality is more often than not Grade One heralds the end of a carefree imagination and is replaced by doing things “the right way.” It will be a year where his imaginary friends will die mercilessly …slaughtered by the cold words of “cooler” kids on the playground. I won’t hear about how he has packed all his toys and together he and the toys have had adventures all over the world in one day. Some other realist out there will be sure to let my son know this is also IMPOSSIBLE to do. I hope that after a year of Grade One he still believes in the IMPOSSIBLE. As belief in the impossible is the only way I can get through a moment (never mind one FULL day).

“Back to school” would not be complete without back to school shopping (very last-minute over here). This is truly very overrated. A national school supply chain heralds this season as “The most wonderful time of the year.” (See you tube ad at bottom of post.) Nothing could be further from the truth!

The younger crowd does not care about any school supplies other than having a “cool” back pack/lunch kit. The older kids would prefer NO lunch kit…as this is so “lame.” (??) Apparently to show up in school with a plastic bag in a world conscious of green decisions to protect the environment is somehow NOT lame (?). This is because “everyone else is doing it.” If I hear the rationale just one more time that “everyone else does this…” I will have a bird (Not to worry my kids and their friends really want to see this). This is just the shopping for the mundane luggage to cart one’s lunch and paraphernalia around in. It gets better!

Then we get to school supplies. When I went to school mostly everything was provided and it was a public school system (although throughout life I have been a connoisseur of private, and public and homeschooling). I used to be so excited for the new coloured pencils and crayons. Well that has all changed. Some schools want everything provided from the paper and pens, through glue sticks, rulers and scissors and on to calculators, tennis balls (for the feet on your kid’s chair) and then (let us not ever forget) huge amounts of KLEENEX. With the numbers I deal with… to be providing 6 boxes of tissues per child is way more than this crowd will ever use (or want to use…sadly) in a year. I got to wonder if the excess supplies are to stock the yearly school garage sale for future fundraising. No, perhaps the secret behind the copious amount of tissues required is the teachers are in dire need of Kleenex  themselves as they have to deal with a cross-section of humanity in dwarf sizes and varying degrees of maturity.

The older crowd are busy regaling me with the need that not only do they need calculators but now most of their buddies have their own laptops. So what? Then it is time for the (newly) teenager-daughter to pipe up that she CAN’T go to school without a cell phone in her possession. When I point out the fact that this child rides the bus to and fro school and is supposed to be in school learning … so “like” what would you need a cell for (?). The answer slays me. It is so that she can “text” her buddies…the ones sitting in class with her (you know the ones less than an arm’s length distance away)…oh and also to be sure she not ostracized for being not “cool” as she MUST be (at least) “seen” with a cell phone. “Mom a cell phone is a basic necessity!“ The phone is mostly for show, taking pictures, texting and in short a distraction to any school work that actually might occasionally occur. So, nah… a BIG NO when it comes to a cell phone for this kid. I am real popular at this point.

One a side note I love the “MUST-HAVES” list no one seems to care how all of this will be funded or afforded. I have learned in the eons of years I have been at this game that most of the requested school supplies are “nice to haves.” If I miss something critical you may be sure the teacher will let me know (in addition to many reminders from the child in question).

Chalkboard with lines only spend what I need

One a side note I love the “MUST-HAVES” list no one seems to care how all of this will be funded or afforded!

Moving on to the clothing (or lack thereof)…the little kids are fairly easy to please. A pair or two of shoes, some shirts and jeans (hand-me-downs) and everything is fine. The older kids…not so much. “Oh I can’t wear that”, “too lame”, “I look too fat” (child who is less than average weight), “I am too old for Disney” (did not think ANYONE was ever TOO old for Disney). The comments continue “I am not a nun…I am not wearing that!” The latest, “I need clothes that cover my hairy legs mom because you won’t let me shave!” (This kid is barely ten and I cannot locate “peach fuzz” on her…even with a magnifying glass!). Course then “the-who-is-allowed-to-shave” becomes the topic of conversation as we move on to the next store. Finally I offer to supply the new teenager with a disposable razor. Well the lip is curled up (Duh…Mom goofed again) “when I said shave I was sure you would take me to a spa and have my legs waxed like so-and-so’s mom does!” Again…a definite “NO” at my end. Disposable razor…take it or leave it. I know people older than I who t have worked all their lives and never been to a spa. Since when did “waxing” at a “spa” become the norm for a kid still in grade school?

Morale of the story …more is less. My kids have rulers, some paper, new shoes all bundled into existing backpacks (ones that weren`t overgrown with too much lunch mould from last year) and a few lunch kits and are now ready for school.  Decided to keep the bulk of the tissues here to mop up the tears from those disappointed from not getting “the basics” on this shopping trip.

No longer need to threaten to have a hairy bird…apparently one lives with me already!

Goat scrubbing bathtub spa

Have yet to find a SPA that accepts goats!

The Garden Goat

(Have yet to find a SPA that accepts goats!)

Water Bottle Bomb …don’t leave home without one!

Some families worry about being stalked by weird relatives, odd friends, strange neighbors or sales people (evangelical or otherwise) who regularly drop in and create havoc. This despite numerous attempts to discourage such interruptions, the stalkers persist visiting regardless. We have one such regular visitor, less normal than the rest and still not identified as belonging to any particular denomination…a porcupine.

We have one such regular visitor, less normal than the rest and still not identified as belonging to any particular denomination…a porcupine.

Yah, okay, laugh as you imagine I am making a mountain out of this molehill but believe me this is no ordinary porcupine. This is porcupine “a la Schwarzenegger”…this thing has got to be the size of a small couch…I kid you not!!! It is literally three feet high and almost as wide. This creature is built like a MAC truck. Tanks in the army are not as resilient as this fellow.

Furthermore, I know this critter suffers from a personality disorder as there is no way a normal animal would keep returning to our home, night after night, after the many efforts made by this family to discourage this mooch. There is no way our garbage tastes that good. With nine kids there is very little ever left for the garbage. Not to mention the two babies at our house both still sporting disposable diapers (“yummy” pickings in our garbage). There is only one word for this intruder….DIABOLICAL.

Porcupine quills

This creature is built like a MAC truck.
Tanks in the army are not as resilient as this fellow.

It is one thing to attract hangers-on but to consistently show up garbage or no garbage is an obsession. While starving on the very slim pickings in our garbage to then want to continuously sort through the same trash over and over again (despite the pungent odour of bad diapers left for days in weather where it has been 90 degrees or higher) means this animal is not normal.

I am convinced this porcupine is a spy. I wonder sometimes if it actually works for some nosy neighbor who wants to know more about the weird people with the nine kids.

The notice given to the porcupine of “YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE” includes spraying it with a power washer, hitting it with a hockey stick, fighting with our golden retriever (yep 120 some quills later), the 16-year-old launching a bicycle pump rocket-style at its head and numerous occasions of “frightening” it with sound (beyond just the frightening noise of nine children). This thing is not only impervious and tenacious but waddles around the property (day and night) as though it owns the place. I think it is biding its time until a real meal is served… like someone forgets that the 6-year-old is still outside.

Golden Retriever Porcupine Quills

Fighting with our golden retriever (yep 120 some quills later).

Recently I was out-of-town with all the younger kids (7 of them) and came home at 1:00 am from a four-hour drive. Made plans to exit the vehicle and start carrying the little sleeping bodies in, one by one. I head to the front door with the two-year-old passed out in my arms and suddenly I am aware of an ominous shadow on my front doorstep (I am now less than two feet away). Uh-huh, it is the demon himself. I run back to the van not before the 12-year-old (who was with me) SCREAMS at the top of her lungs waking up the entire van (who now in unison are all howling). So I turn the van around, drive up onto my lawn and shine my headlights on “bright” only to discover the animal is ensconced on my doormat totally obliterating my doorway.

Porcupine retreating

Is it possible that the creature finally got the message?

A moment of brilliance struck as I rummaged through my vehicle’s contents (swimsuits, towels, garbage, balloons, books, Legos, Barbie’s, crackers…etc.) and found a nice, icy cold, FULL (unopened) 500 ml water bottle.  I hurled the water bomb at the door. The critter moved the fastest I have ever witnessed before and beat a quick retreat into the bushes.

I am happy to report that in the five days since the water assault on this animal there has been no more porcupine sightings. Is it possible that the creature finally got the message? Or perhaps the beast is scared of cold water, or it is in neighboring brush nursing a concussion with the water bottle Either way it is not here and I am delighted.

porcupine and water bottle

Or perhaps the beast is scared of cold water, or it is in neighboring brush nursing a concussion with the water bottle.

Memo to self…always travel with a full water bottle. It is true water is good for both your health, your state of mind, your body and apparently the safety of your entire family and how. Who knew?

A well-watered Garden-Goat

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