Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Childhood Memories

A few days ago, we went to northern Michigan to see The Mister's mom and stepdad.  We were glad the weather cooperated while we were both on holiday break and allowed us another chance to go see them.  His folks are always thrilled to see us (or at least they convincingly act as though they are!) and we have a very nice visit for the day before heading back home.  Of course, as typical visits go, his mom had a stack of things to send home with us - old movies and books she though we would enjoy; chocolates they received for Christmas that she isn't allowed to eat; magazines and catalogs; and of course, beef.  They always send us home with beef.  (It's a good thing we aren't raising our cows for meat.  We'd never have the freezer space!)

This time, when we arrived, his mom had a special treat for us.  She was almost giddy with anticipation as she told us what we were having for lunch, especially when she added - "And I made cream puffs for desert!  With pudding - just like you used to make them, Amy!"

From a conversation in September, she remembered us talking about cream puffs.  While I can't recall what prompted the subject to start with, I do remember that she was surprised to hear that my mom filled cream puffs with vanilla pudding.  The Mister's mom always enjoyed the opportunity to make homemade whipping cream and fill them with that.  For this visit, she had cream puffs all made and ready to be filled with whichever (or, in The Mister's case, both) filling we preferred.

To say she was tickled is an understatement, but to say I wasn't touched would be as much of one.  I nearly cried.  They were exactly as I remember from my childhood.  I can't even say the last time I had one.  I'm not sure I've ever made them for Jacob.  But on a plate, in front of me, was this piece of my childhood, complete with powdered sugar on top.  Mom would have been tickled, too.

Thank you, Evelyn, for taking a stroll down memory lane with me, and for taking the time to make this memory possible.

The Bovines

Samson - without his halter!  He is making slow but sure progress in learning to trust us. We have been talking for awhile now about how much we'd like to get his halter and short lead off of him.  The other day, while he was eating, I was able to rub him quite a bit and I thought I might just be able to unbuckle the harness (while he was somewhat distracted with grain).  I hollered out to The Mister to make sure he was still in agreement with me taking it off.  I didn't know it then, but he later confessed that he actually rolled his eyes when I asked that, despite responding with, "Yes, of course!" as he didn't think I could possible get it off him.  Samson let me unhook it (it took a couple tries, with him scurrying away, but he comes right back to the grain bowl) and then it dropped right off!  We were all happy to see him run around without it on for a change!

The Mister has built a little pen for us to work with Samson in.  It's inside the shelter, so it's a little intimidating as two sides are completely blocked in with the walls of the shelter and the other two are fence panels and a gate. I went in with him today and gave him some grain and carrots.  He was fine as long as he had food, but got a little nervous when it ran out and he had to face the fact that he was trapped with me in this pen (I was a little nervous, too!) 

However, after much calm prodding, and being very still, he did finally take some apple quarters from my hand, the last time, I even got to scratch his head with my other hand while he took the apple.  We were all happy to have The Mister open the gate back up, however!  Trust works both ways!

Of course, while we are trying to work with Samson, we have to keep Delilah away.  The Mister ties her up to a nearby tree and gives her just a little grain.  Today, when she finished (which doesn't take long) she picked up her bowl and tossed it.  She did it over and over again.  I think it's bovine for "Waiter!  Waiter!  More carrots and grain, please!"

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Our Jenny Bird

"When you believe beyond what your eyes can see...
signs from Heaven show up to remind you love never ends."

Saturday, December 10, 2016



(She might be a little spoiled by The Mister)

Friday, December 09, 2016

The First Snow - Highland Style

Delilah didn't mind the snow one bit.

She headed right over to the hay feeder and dug deep for the yummy stuff!

Samson had to come see what was for breakfast.

His first snow!

He didn't seem to mind the snow...but he isn't too sure about Eli.

And Eli just wanted to go play!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Lesson Clearly NOT Learned

You'd think I would have remembered.  Perhaps it is akin to childbirth - traumatic enough to block out of your memory for survival.  In any case, when my sister nudged me a couple weeks ago, saying her birthday fell on a Friday this year and, like last year, did I want to take the day off and spend it with her, I should have found any excuse to say no, but for some reason, I emphatically agreed.

Maybe it's because I have a summer birthday, but in all my many, many years of having a birthday, I have never once had a to-do list for that day.  Especially not one written in ink on paper with many many items.  If anything, my birthday to-do lists include mental notes to sleep in, read a book, stay in pajamas all day and maybe, if anything, eat an amazing meal that I didn't make.  That's it.  Great day.
The fact that my sister takes the day off from work does not in any way indicate that she is not going to do things that I would consider work on her day off.  When I asked her the night before what our plans were, she said, "I have to get George on the bus, but then I'm ready!"  After reading this text, I turned to The Mister and said, "She thinks I am coming over to her house at seven in the morning on our day off?!?  What are we possibly going to do at seven in the morning!?"  While I am up with The Mister many mornings at 3am, and I can be known to be at school two or sometimes three hours before school starts, on a Friday, on a day-off, I see no reason to be anywhere or doing anything until after 8.

We ended up out the door and headed to, of all places Verizon before ten.  We actually had to come back to Verizon because they weren't even open yet.  We spent the day driving around town, crossing items off her list as I shook my head constantly and remarked how different we are.  Jules finds no contradiction in listening to "Silent Night" while shouting at the driver that just cut her off.  She was thinking of the location of stores she needed to go to as a deciding factor in where to eat lunch.  I had to remind her that it was her birthday and we could eat ANYWHERE she wanted.  But no, it had to follow a logical route.  The day was very task-oriented.  There was no browsing, wandering, lingering.

When we finally headed back home, we decided to head to my house for an adult beverage and some relaxing conversation.  I thought we were finally going to enjoy the day when she came out of her house and climbed into the Jeep with a bag full of presents and wrapping paper.  "What are you doing?" I asked.

"Bringing something to do.  I can sit on your floor and wrap gifts while we talk," she replied.  I stopped and stared at her.

"Koehns don't multi-task," I replied.  "You are supposed to just sit and enjoy and relax!   You don't have to DO anything else!"

I was fighting a losing battle, however.  She came and wrapped, and so I put together tomorrow night's lasagna.  We did, however, squeeze in a lot of laughter!

I think, next August, I will ask Jules to take my birthday off.  And I will demonstrate for her the proper way to spend a birthday.  We might watch a chick flick, or read an entire book without stopping.  I might make her lay in the hammock and take a nap.  I'm sure she will twitch without five things to do at a time, but she'll make it through.  Afterall, I survived Verizon, Toys R Us and Target all on my day off!

Happy Birthday, Jules!

Hey Teacher! Leave Them Kids Alone!

The Mister and I share the same Spotify account.  While this makes for some interesting "suggestions" from Spotify regarding songs we might like (when I give a thumbs up to the likes of Anna Nalick, Sarach McLaughlin and One Republic, The Mister is creating playlists of Hank Williams, Sr., Johnny Cash and Guns and Roses), overall, the shared account works great and saves us money.  The Mister listens to his account at work from time to time or if he's out in the barn working.  I might play some music on the weekends while I bake or clean, so there are few times when we both might want to play something.


This week, my students started writing fairy tales.  I used to have a whole playlist of Disney fairy tale songs on my iPhone, but since switching to Droid and Spotify, I had to resort to a "Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Songs" playlist for my kids to listen to during writing.  As it turns out, The Mister had been driving to another plant to grade cattle when his music was suddenly interrupted and changed to fairy tale songs.  It took him a moment to realize that my use of the Spotify account had booted him off while he was jamming to Van Halen.

The following day I shared with my students this story, eliciting many giggles from the eight year olds about Mr. James having to listen to fairy tale music instead of his rock and roll songs in his truck.  When it came time for writing again, and I picked up my phone to play more fairy tale music on Spotify, the whole class hushed and waiting for the ping that announced a text from Mr. James.  "What did he say?" they all shouted.  I replied, "Mr. James says, 'Again!?!?  Really!?!?', which made them all giggle even harder.

Later in the afternoon, with hopes to once again foil Mr. James, my class asked if I would play some music.  I responded by reminding them that we had our turn, and perhaps we should allow Mr. James some time to listen now.  While a lesson in cooperation and taking turns was appropriate, I was truly just afraid that The Mister might boot us off and my class might suddenly be listening to refrains of"We Don't Need No Education..." a joke he would surely find hysterical but my principal might not.