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Friday, July 12, 2013

Duck Update: The Kiddie Pool

Have you missed Squackers and Buttons? I thought so. Here's a picture I took of them yesterday when I went to feed them.

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They still tend to huddle in the corner as far as possible from the human (me) even if the human is there to bring food, fresh water, and perhaps open the pool.

Pool? Oh, yes.

I felt bad that they hadn't been able to swim for a while, so I picked up a plastic kiddie pool at the store and set it outside their duck run.

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They will happily sit in that kiddie pool all day. Of course, I kind of had to scare them into it. They refused to come out of their house for about 6 hours after I put the pool there. I finally went out and used my powers of deterrence to shuffle them right into it.

After doing that everyday for a week, these past two days they've made their way to the pool all by themselves. After waiting. And hiding. And waiting some more.

Silly ducks.

With all the rain we've had this summer and now the pool that needs to be dumped periodically, I decided waterproof boots would be a good investment (both for tending to the ducks and working in the garden).

My husband thought they should be cute and insisted on picking them out himself. He went online and found these...

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In case you can't see them well enough, they are black on the foot part and black-and-white plaid on the leg part. Really cute and super functional. Instead of teetering around on toes being careful where to step, now I go tromping right through.

We still need to fence in the whole garden area to give the ducks room to safely romp (not to mention keep the deer and other critters out) and we still need to find a bigger, better house before cold weather comes back around. Those are our summer projects.

In case you were wondering, we gave the too-small chicken coop that we built earlier this year to friends. Those friends now have chicks, so I'll be watching to see how that goes to see if we should expand our little homestead.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Kind of Sucks

Ahh, summer. BBQs, late nights, fresh produce, family fun.

Supposedly.

We've had a little of that, but overall summer has not been easy. My teenager broke his hand, my debit card number was stolen, and thanks to a not-so-speedy passport expediting service, we had to cancel our vacation.

So, I'm a little over summer. It's just too much.

I took the hand thing in stride. It didn't seem to bother my teenager too much aside from minor cast-related annoyances.

I even remained calm through the debit card fiasco despite finding the whole situation really scary. Fortunately my bank was right on top of things. They notified me (by email) of possible fraud as soon as the fraudulent transactions happened. I checked my account and, sure enough, there were two purchases that neither I nor my husband had made.

The bank removed the charges, closed my debit card, and mailed me a new one. I called the company where the purchases were made and they were suspiciously ready to handle fraudulent purchases.

Me: "I'm calling about a purchase from my card."

Them: "I'm guessing you didn't make the purchase. Is that right?"

Me: "Um, right. Does this happen often?"

Them: "We've definitely seen a rise. Let me take care of it for you."

They blocked my card number from being allowed and said they'd be happy to work with my local police if I was filing a report. All good, but a little disconcerting because their response seemed like it happened all the time.

Then there's the vacation.

We had a wonderful long weekend planned for Niagara Falls (Canada side) that was originally planned for March. We postponed then because my in-laws were having a little trouble getting their passports and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to handle it.

So, we pushed the trip off a few months. Unfortunately it dawned on us a month before our trip, that it was now falling a week after my teenager's 16th birthday which meant he, too, would need a passport. (At 15 he only needed a birth certificate.)

We found an expediting service that claimed to be able to get a passport pushed through in as little as a day. I paid a fee to have them do it in 7-14 days. Three-and-a-half weeks later, we still don't have a passport and we had to postpone the trip. Again.

Granted, it's not a straightforward application because he's my stepson. There were extra forms and letters required from his mother (who lives in a different state), so the passport application got rejected a few times while they asked for more paperwork.

In retrospect, if we made the drive and did our time in a passport line, we probably could have gotten this done. However, we tried this expediting company and they served as a middle man going back and forth between us, telling us what was needed. We rummaged through old files and went to clerk's offices and got real familiar with the UPS folks.

A problem arose, though, when they gave us the wrong information. We overnighted paperwork the government didn't need while losing time on what they actually wanted.

In the midst of straightening that out the expediting service told me they needed copies of identification for both parents.

Them: "It says we need both parents' identifications."

Me: "You have that. The father's came in the original package. The mother's came separately with her letter and form."

Them: "Well, it says we need it."

Me: "Well, you have it."

Them: "Well, can't you just resend it? It can be scanned and emailed."

Me: "No, I can't just resend it. The father is on the road today and the mother lives in another state. You have it already. (and because sometimes you think repeating things will work…) The father's came in the original package. The mother's …"

Them: (interrupting me) "Okay, but ma'am, we need BOTH parents, not just the father's. We can't…"

Me: (interrupting them back) "Hold on. I wasn't finished. The mother's came separately with her letter and form."

Them: "What form?"

Me: "The form you sent us for her to fill out."

Them: "Hold on."

(A few minutes went by…)

Them: "Okay, that note was for someone else. Not for you."

Fascinating. That's how my experience went with this expediting service. And so, today I should be on my way to Niagara Falls.

Am I mad? I was. I'm still wondering if this passport application will go through. It was being resubmitted to the government today, so I guess we will soon find out.

After being angry and nervous for the last three days, though, today I feel relief. Because I spent so much time dealing with them that I wasn't prepared for the trip. So now, the pressure is off (until next month).

And you know what's perfect? Right after I woke up, it started to rain. Hard.

I love the rain.

With this morning's rain, the universe was saying, "You know what, sweetie? You just stay home today. Get comfy. Rest."

The toddler slept past his usual waking time and I let him. The teenager slept in because… well, he's a teenager.

I put on sweatpants and my super-softest shirt. I padded around the kitchen having a quiet breakfast, watching the rain fall, and flipping through a magazine.

It was just what I needed.

Hopefully the passport will arrive soon. Hopefully we will get to go to Niagara Falls next month. Hopefully there aren't any other problems in the near future. Of course, there is that pesky letter on our table stating that our town's taxes have increased. They were kind enough to include a bill for a few thousand dollars.

And none of this is anything compared to my friend Joules who may have to say goodbye to her dog. Or Jamie whose mother has been seriously ill.

My woes are woes, but they are small in the grand scheme of things. So thank you for letting me rant. I will be fine. If you want to send positive thoughts or prayers, please send them to the people who really need them.

As for me, I'm still thinking I'm done with summer.