Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ocala's Natural Beauty

Some very confused cows pondering the crazy lady with a camera.


Roadside beauties.
Streets canopied with trees.
Rolling, lush, green hills.
Flowers springing up in ditches.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Locala Mom Goes Crazy at Publix

Friday afternoon at the last minute, I faced the task of purchasing FIVE (count them, F-I-V-E!) birthday cards and THREE gift cards. I opted to go to Pulix as they have their handy-dandy little gift card center, and I think they have pretty nice birthday cards too. I'm not totally sure where things began to *get weird;* maybe it was Jimmy's whining about having to go shopping after school for the better part of our ride over there (which is over a half hour), or maybe it was Kyla's maniacal screaming echoing throughout the store once we got there. . . regardless, it wasn't pretty.

Somehow when we arrived, the manager of the store was positioned directly in front of the gift card center. When I began searching for gift cards for which I hoped the recipients would appreciate, the manager lady commenced the process of engaging my children in a lengthy chat about their lives (everything from how old they were, to birthday gift ideas, to basic child development and parenting). Ten minutes later, she insisted upon getting them each balloons - one of which Kyla immediately lost (thus beginning her full on hysteria). Ms. Manager then insisted upon getting Kyla another balloon - this one with a special homemade hand tie that she was sure to not lose and for which Jimmy then insisted upon having too. Little did the woman know that she had thoughtlessly just used all of my allotted time for this highly thought provoking and necessary trip. Now I was left with a ticking time bomb. . The uncertain time period before which my children *blew up.*

I quickly gathered my three gift cards as Kyla began loudly announcing her annoyance at our presence still being within the store. I then scurried over to the other cards where I would attempt to read through various sweet cards commemorating different persons' wisdom, endless love, or sense of humor - which, by the way, was extremely difficult over Kyla's howling and jumping in the seat of the cart. Little Jimmy also got in on the action by picking out cards which he thought would be useful (most frequently the ones that played music), or announcing his discovery that some cards were for boys while others were for girls.

Several minutes later, and several comments by the old folks of The Villages later ('Oh, honey, you're daughter's gonna fall out of the cart the way she's standing up in there. . . she's just making me nervous", "Sweetie, you need to sit down, you're going to hurt yourself!') I rushed to the checkout hoping to maintain my sanity at least until my shopping endeavor came to a close.

As fate would have it, the man at the checkout appeared to be even older than the rest of his cohorts at the Publix of the Villages. . .He was sort of hunched over, and very slow (I have nothing against slow people or old people, but for goodness sake, HURRY IT UP!). I waited patiently for a few moments through Kyla's screams of anguish and annoyance (as Mr. Senior checked out the pack of gum for the customer in front of me. . How in the world could it take so dang long?), but I soon found myself biting my nails and pondering the voices in my head which told me to run for the hills.

I was so relieved when the senile gentleman was finally checking out my groceries, but my relief quickly turned to horror as I watched in sheer amazement at the painfully slow process of scanning and processing the gift cards - ALL THE WHILE, KYLA SCREAMING. In an attempt to distract my daughter, I helped her type in my debit card numbers for the ensuing purchase. Everything on my end was ready, we were simply waiting for the cashier to finish scanning our nine items. My anxiety in hearing Kyla's crying and hysteria soon turned a bit psychotic and I found myself attempting to calm my physical being down by practicing my own form of lamaze (which, by the way, I have never learned or had cause to use). . .

When the bag boy (another senior who was at least 65 or older) finally deposited the last card in the shopping cart, I headed out. I don't know what I was thinking really; I just know that something in me snapped and I had to go. I heard someone calling to me "Ma'am, MA'AM" but I assumed they were just wanting me to take my receipt for which I hoped they would get the hint and just drop in a garbage can. I rammed a shopping cart as I was heading for the exit, but I didn't care; I just needed to get to the open air and out of the confined space which Kyla's immense screaming had saturated.

Just as I was approaching the automatic double doors, I heard: "Ma'am, you forgot your lemons!". 'Damn those lemons!' I thought to myself as I recalled that I had made one other purchase outside of the gift cards and the birthday cards. "Jimmy, I need you to go get the lemons" I announced firmly realizing already that I was too ashamed at my *running* from the store to even walk the three yards back myself to grab the lemons.

I assumed Jimmy had run off to grab the lemons, but when I looked down a second or two later as I stood in the lobby area where the shopping carts are stored, I saw him still at my side. "Jimmy, I asked you to get the lemons! Please go get the LEMONS!! GET THE LEMONS, NOW! PLEASE!" I barked at my son in a manner that was truly all the control I could muster in the moment. Several gray haired folks, some with visors and golf shorts on, walked past shaking their heads and clucking their tongues in disapproval.

Ashamed of my own lack of self-control, I pulled my cart just outside the front door and waited a couple seconds for my son. When he didn't show up in the appropriate time period, I decided I should check on him (I could totally see someone kidnapping my kid on a day like this. . . ). Just as I entered the lobby area, the elderly bag boy appeared with Jimmy at his side. "Ma'am, you need to pay for your groceries" he stated dryly. "I already paid for them!" I commented trying to hide my utter horror at not only having to enter the store again, but also at being subjected yet again to the claustrophobia of the store combined with my children's screaming and antsyness. "I swiped my debit card and entered the number and all. . " I pleaded with the man. "Well, it's not in our computer, so you'll have to do it again" he stated blankly.

I then turned around to grab my purse from the cart just outside the door. "MA'AM!!! YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR GIFT CARDS! YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE!" the bag-man yelled at me. At this point, I did something I'm very much not proud of; I cussed at an elderly gentleman. "I HAVE TO GET MY ******ing PURSE! I may not have much money, but what I do have I want to keep!" I hollered back at him. It was here that I noticed the hush which had fallen over the whole front of the store while people pondered if they were watching an actual modern day robbery by an insane mother of two young children.

I grabbed my cart just outside the door and hurried back in, face down so as not to observe the disapproving looks of those elderly persons surrounding me. As I was retyping my debit card number, I heard in an altogether far too chipper tone from the checkout just behind me, "Boys, I just SO appreciate your good behavior at the store today. It's so helpful to me." I turned and saw a woman with three boys (all older than mine, by the way) who was waiting on her receipt. Needless to say, she received the look of death and few *voodoo-ish* sort of thoughts from me.

After scanning my card and receiving my receipt, I again exited the store - this time with no store personnel calling after me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my keys, so yet again I had to humble myself and enter the store to search for them. Luckily I quickly found them stowed in the far recesses of my purse.

As I drove home, I seriously pondered continuing the insanity I had begun. I thought about blowing through red lights and driving on medians to get around people and speed my exigence from the *scene of the crime.* I pictured myself being the driver of a blue Chrysler Town and Country (as would be broadcast on CNN) followed by a V-formation of police cars down the highway.

Luckily, I got a grip of myself before I went that far. I stopped at all the stoplights and followed the rules of the road (well, kind of at least). When I got home, the children were banished to their bedrooms where they were instructed to place nicely.

While little Jimmy totally did not understand what was happening around him at the store, he was clearly disturbed by it all. He asked me several times on the way home, "What just happened, Mom?". Later I explained to him that "Mommy just got upset. . It's not your fault at all. . I just got upset with the store. . ."

So now I'm left pondering if I should check myself into a mental institution for my little *incident.* I've decided I'd really be OK with it. White padded walls and a lot of sitting and nothing. No cooking, cleaning, preparing, teaching, guiding and encouraging. NOTHING. I think I could handle it should the day ever come. Feel free to turn me in if you feel inspired.

***As a side note, I'd like to share this media clip I came across on MSNBC. . Can I just say I TOTALLY get where this woman was coming from??? Not that I'm saying she made the WISEST choice in the situation, but I GET IT. . It also wasn't the wisest thought process of my own that led me make a complete idiot of myself at Publix. . Sometimes this stuff just happens.***

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Chickies from Altoona!

It is with much regret that I must announce some rather recent carnage on the Britton farm. Saturday evening, after a day of celebrating Kyla's 2nd birthday with the fam, we returned home to four frightened little chickies. The other two, sadly, were obviously Bear's entertainment for the evening. I feel terrible even having to say this as it somehow seems to reflect a measure if irresponsibility in both my husband and myself. Strangely enough though, Bear's assault was not the result of a couple stray chickens wandering the yard, nor was it the result of the hen house door being left open. No, Bear's brutal attack was the result of his physically tearing through the chicken wire. . . with his bare teeth and paws. . . Needless to say, Bear's temporary lapse of sanity has left him totally lacking for any attention from me. . . After a day in his crate, and another of my ignoring him altogether, we've made peace (sort of . . .aside from when he goes anywhere near the chicken coop. . .). The chicken coop is now surrounded by an electric wire that will send a little *reminder* current through Bear anytime he should attempt to play with my chickens again.

Despite our sorrow over the brutal dealths of Henrietta and Sissy, we realized the time to get any more chickens for our flock was now. Part of the reason for our haste in acquiring more chickens was the fact that they don't mix well with other chickens of different ages. Once they're about three months old, they're pretty set in their ways and in their friendships (think: *us four and no more!*). Left with only four, and having previously discussed getting a couple more, we decided to get four more for a grand total of eight chickies.

Thus began my journey towards finding four more six week old hens. I called various listings on the Ocala 4 Sale website, but was unable to find any chickens meeting our specifications. Finally I noticed a more prominent add stating: many young breeds of young pullets for sale (somehow, I've trained my eyes to overlook the obvious ads in favor of straining to find the more miniscule ones; thus my actually noticing the big ad was pretty commendable for me.). I called the number listed, and sure enough, they had six week old girl chickens for sale - all different varieties.

Immediately after speaking with Jay on the phone at Cunard's Corner Poultry Farm , I loaded Kyla and a large plastic bin (to bring the new chickies home in) into the van for a trip to Altoona to see what we could find at this place. Let me just tell you, these folks had it all! When we arrived, we were greeted by a humungo Turkey who followed us around sharing his company with us as we checked out different chickens of varying sizes, ages, and breeds. There were also a couple of peacocks, scads of ducks, bunches of cute and fancy chickens, and a couple of very talkative and proud roosters. Jay and his wife Danielle (hey!) were very knowledgeable about their chickens, and you could tell they took great delight in raising them, learning about them, and loving them. We ended up selecting a couple of gorgeous little white cochins, one brown cochin, and one little leghorn.

With a couple of tips on integrating them into the flock we already had, the transition went beautifully. There is of course a pecking order (literally) wherein the chickens determine who is the *alpah chicken* and so on, but there've been no big spars or disturbances. Our original girls are doing quite well with their new friends, and the new little girls seem to be quite happy in their new home.

A HUGE thanks to Cunard's Corner Poultry Farm in Altoona for making it possible to add a few more chickens to our flock, and for so kindly sharing with us newbies the knowledge you've gained over the years in the poultry business.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Annoying Observations

***To all innocent readers who may have inadvertently stumbled upon this blog, BRACE yourself. This is a venting blog.****

Observations from the gym:
-A man walked in wearing bib overalls with no shirt on underneath. . . Only in Locala. .
-While plenty of vacant treadmills were available, an elderly man opted to take the treadmill next to me (which is bad - particularly considering I forgot to put on deodorant), and then proceeded to actually *slap* the audio thing you can hook your headphones into to listen to the various television stations being displayed on screens (I guess it wasn't working right?). While still cowering on the opposite side of my treadmill after his brutal temper display, an even more disconcerting event occurred: he farted (it was definitely a SBD [silent but deadly]). At that point I seriously considered just quitting the run. . .

Observations from Facebook:
-I hate it when people attempt to display their nonexistent levels of perfection, wealth, and religiosity. It's all a massive farce and I'd LOVE more than anything to call everyone on their poo, but I can't stand drama so I'll attempt to refrain.

Good Friday Observations:
-I find everyone's sudden overwhelming Christianity to be utterly obnoxious. All morning I've been wondering why in the world everyone is suddenly touting their love of Jesus and the Christian Channel(s) only to find out that today is Good Friday. People, if you're actually so darn Christianly-minded, I personally would love to see a little more compassion and honesty (with yourselves especially) throughout the rest of the year and not just today (as people joyfully anticipate the chocolate they'll soon be able to have again as Lent draws to a close.
-While this isn't necessarily a Good Friday observation, it falls into the religious category, so I'm going to state it here: Just because you're a *Christian* doesn't mean your above screwing up big time, so APOLOGIZE when you mess up (I'm so over all the perfection that resides within the holy walls of *the church*.)

Observations from parenting:
-Naps are a must EVERY day.
-Poop and potty training are always gross and yet necessary.

OK - I feel better having aired my grievances. . . If the world could just hop-to now and change everything, that'd be great.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Uncle Donald's Farm Wins Ocala's Best in Show in my Book!

This week is little Jimmy's spring break, and given that we're going on 6 days of no school and not a whole lot of getting out (aside from a trip to the local Wa-Ma. . . .) we decided to go on an outing today. Our destination: Uncle Donald's Farm in Lady Lake (right amongst the Villages). While I'd heard about this little working farm from friends, I never could've imagined just how much fun it would be or I would've started going a LONG time ago!

While Uncle Donald's Farm is only about 2 miles off of SR441 it feels like you're right in the middle of the country. There is ample room for all the livestock to graze and play, and there is ample livestock for the farm's visitors to play with too!

We first enjoyed a hay ride wherein we were able to feed some hungry cows and a feisty llama or two (see picture below of llama chasing the hay wagon hoping to get some more eats!). After that, we fed some sheep and visited with all the animals in the barn (which included: newborn lambs, chicks, baby alligators (!), snakes of all sorts, Shetland ponies, donkeys and a ginormous pig named Wilbur. Next, we enjoyed an actual guided tour of some of the animals wherein various animals were taken out of their pens to be petted and fed.

After all our discoveries, we were hungry for lunch. There were plenty of picnic tables in the shade available for the farm's constituents to enjoy some fine dining. (Also, for those who are rather germaphobic like myself, it's worth noting that the farm had a humungo wash station complete with running water and antibacterial hand soap; after all the animals had licked food out of our hands, we figure it was best to scrub down before feeding ourselves.) While we ate, we enjoyed the pleasant company of chickens, a big white dog, several cuddleh kittehs, and a couple of proud peacocks strutting their stuff amongst us - the best lunch entertainment possible!

Next, it was time for pony rides. The kids LOVED this! Little Jimmy had the air of a real cowboy, and Kyla was simply awe-struck by the whole event (before we left the farm we visited their tiny shop where the kids each got a real cowboy hat for about $3.50 to remember their riding experience by).

Finally, we checked out their section of wild animals. There were various sorts of owls and vultures, otters (which unfortunately for us, were hiding in their little cave home so we couldn't see them play), a panther (fabulous to see one of those actual alive here in Ocala!), a fox, coyotes, an emu, and some funny little animals that I've never seen before that look like a cross between a bunny and a kangaroo.

For a total of around $25 (kids under 3 are FREE), I'd say we couldn't have possibly found a more fun adventure for the day! Uncle Donald's Farm easily takes my vote for the Best in Show of the Ocala area. If you're ever looking for a little outing with your kids for the day, this is most definitely the way to go!