Cold Walk On The Farm

Barn

The snow/ice came in relentless overnight. We woke at 5:30 both checking our phones to see what the driving conditions were; Carrie for work in Franklin and I for school. I quickly checked Twitter and found that schools were closed through out the whole middle Tennessee area. There was no traveling today, especially on our quaint backroad. We snuggle back in to the blankets to let our minds wander back to a restful but momentary slumber.

Carrie has the advantage of working from home when favorable conditions arise. I on the other hand am a teacher. So I get the advantage of being with “a” kid rather than a few kids at home. This kid is my favorite to work with. However, being cramped up in the house over a few days can be wearisome.

As soon as the ice began to dissolve, I decided to take a walk around the farm, smoke my pipe, enjoy the fresh air, spend time with the dog, communicate with God, and appreciate His favor on our life and where he has us. There is something to be said about the simplicity of farm life. Sure it can be a lot of work but it can also be a lot of joy in the peace and quietness of the countryside.

Maverick and creek

I like to hike. But this wasn’t a hike. It was a pleasure walk. A momentary freeze in life if you will. I first walked down the creek and enjoyed the rush of the ice/snow melting filling the creek’s banks with runoff. I then enjoyed the sparkling view of the snow as it glistened over fallen trees, fields and rocks. Afterwards, I climbed the hillside and gazed over the rolling hills that sparkled in the sunlight. I talked with God and petted the dog. I made my way down toward the pond and vaulted a few large rocks in the frozen pond enjoying the kerplunk as they broke through the ice and imitating a small geyser shooting pond-water from it’s small opening.  Water Fall

I then walked down to the barn where I was greeted by a duck parade. They always enjoy a helping of corn so I obliged and fed them a handful. I stood over them watching as they scooped up a corn shell in their beak and shook their head to swallow down the yummy golden morsel. They make a whirley whistle in appreciation. I tossed out the burnt tobacco from my pipe, shove the pipe and my hands in my pocket, inform Maverick that a cup of coffee and a good book is waiting for me in the warm kitchen. Maybe Levi and Carrie have woken from their midday nap.

Creek

Glistening Fireplace

Berries I

Berries II

Maverick Hilltop II

 

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Merry Christmas!

We hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

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I Watched God

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The sun was beginning to sink over the western hillside. The clouds were lit up like fire canvasing the hills. There was a slight breeze coming from the northwest creating a slight rustling effect through the semi-dried weeds. As I came across the horizon of the pond, I saw ducks awaiting the feed they have become accustomed to getting. The moment I stepped out from behind the lone pine tree that grows on the east side of the pond, five unfamiliar ducks were frightened and ascended to the air.

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Maverick, our border collie, was ripe with excitement as he hustled to the banks of the pond to kick up frogs.

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I curled around the pond and called, “Here duck!” They began waddling to the feeder where I poured corn mash from a bucket. For the next thirty minutes, it was a feeding frenzy among the six ducks and two drakes.

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As I sat smoking my corn-cob pipe filled withPrince Albert, I was entertained not only by the feeding but by they many flyovers the other estranged ducks made trying to figure out if the pond was safe in my presence.

I could here the air move as they flew over my head towards the west, then the north, then the south, back west then towards the east. With each flyover, I was astounded by such beauty of God’s creation. They finally made touchdown twenty feet away from me and slowly crept my way.

I watched as they settled five feet in the water from where I sat. I watched the other ducks enjoy their evening meal. I watched as Maverick kicked up frogs from every bank side he could manage. I watched as s spider meticulously weaved its webbing in the weeds just to my left and how it moved so gracefully among its web. I watched as the silver-bellies flipped in the pond water. I watched at the sun set ever so slightly.

I watched God!

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Being Neighborly

When Carrie and I decided we’d be moving back, we knew we would have an opportunity to have a garden. This is no secret because we have blogged a little about how we are learning some valuable lessons with gardening.

However, one of the reasons we wanted to have a garden was so that we could grow more than we needed and give it away to our neighbors. We felt what better way to love thy neighbor than to give them food. Most folks around here have their own garden or a few rows of tilled dirt with seeds of a few selected vegetables growing in their back yard.

We first planted potatoes and corn and okra and a few others but these were the main vegetables to give away. We planted eight looooooong rows of corn, one row of okra and five rows of potatoes. As they began to grow we realized we had our work cut out for us. Once they really got going, we were out there practically every day or every other day harvesting corn and okra.

Needless to say, we were able to fulfill our decision to give some away. I didn’t take the opportunity to take many pictures but I did take one as we were about to set out and bless the neighbors with some corn. While I picked the okra, Carrie grabbed the wheel barrel and filled it with corn.

10 bags of corn

10 bags of corn

I must have taken the picture before she was ready but she was putting the bags of corn in the back of the truck. The neighbors didn’t know we were coming. We surprised most of them by knocking on their door and handing them their bags of corn.

What better way to bless your neighborhood than to give them free food when they least expect it. What better way to serve your community than to bless them for no reason other than they are your neighbors, God loves them and you do to. This is what being on mission is all about.

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How I Became A Teacher’s Assistant

I, (Kevin), really don’t know how. That title is clearly click bait. Sorry to get you here on such standards but that’s how I roll. What I will convey in this post is my adventure to becoming a teacher’s assistant.

When we were living in Clarksville, I was trying to decide what I would do for a job when we moved back home. I looked for a job coach position locally but what I found didn’t pan out. Although a local Vocational Rehab does work with job coaches, the counselor I would have worked for only worked with people with blindness or deafness. I had never worked with those disabilities so I felt I needed to look further for something else.

One day, I was reading my Facebook feed where the local newspaper reported a substitute teacher was found stapling kids arms with a stapler. My first though was I can do that. I didn’t necessarily think I could staple kids but that I could substitute teach.

When we moved, I attended substitute teacher training and immediately began subbing. I still remember my first class. I walked in with absolutely no clue. I stood before the kids and said, “Congratulations. You guys are seeing history in the making. This is my first ever attempt at substitute teaching. You will forever remember this day.” Ironically, some of those kids still do and remind me of it. I still see many of the kids I taught when I’m out in town and I am continually greeted, “Hey, Mr. Riner. You’re my favorite sub.”

Summer came and I wonder what to do for the summer. I had to go to the Board of Education (for something I don’t remember) and saw all the job postings for the many teachers they were hiring for the 2015-2016 school year. I decided it was a lost cause but a lost cause I was willing to look for so I applied for two positions, a teacher’s assistant and office position.

They called me for my first interview and I thought it went well. There was only four questions but I batted above average. However there were about forty interviews that day. She told me there would be a second interview if they were interested. This is also where I found out I would need to take the para-professional exam. I had heard of that exam. Dear Lord, I had heard of that exam. Nothing good, I was told, comes from that exam.

They have to go into the bowels of the Board building where spiders with wings and fangs the size of medieval swords reside, open a creaky chest, knock the dust off an age briefcase, return through the halls lined with all Board employees with gaping jaws, bring the briefcase to the room while everyone floods in to watch in amazement and fear. They then take a key from the locked filing cabinet, unlock the briefcase, pull a file from the inner pocket and gently lay it on the table as all the employees back away in fear of its opening. Here I am left alone with only my #2 pencil, scratch paper, a bottle of water and my fear of what I may find in this exam.

Something like that!

I left hoping I would get a second interview but scared of the test that loomed over me as some ferocious cookie monster and I was a girl scout on its front porch.

Two weeks later I received a call for a second interview from the principle at Lewisburg Middle School. I was a little giddy. When he told me he wanted to interview me I immediately shouted, “SWEET!” That was a little unprofessional.

My second interview was such a great interview. I should know. I grilled my clients for three years on how to conduct a proper interview and be a great interviewee. I felt like I knocked it out of the park however there were two things that were still looming for me. The TEST and they had quite a list of people to interview for that one spot. I don’t have a degree nor teaching experience so why would they hire me? There were sure to be many many others who were far more qualified than I.

I didn’t hear anything for a while.

The

Phone

Stayed

Silent

For

What

Seemed

Like

Years!

Then the phone rang while I was working with my brother-in-law. The voice on the phone said she needed me to come in and sign some papers at the Board of Education. I asked her what kind of papers. She asked me if I haven’t heard. I asked her what haven’t I heard. She said that I had gotten the Teacher’s Assistant job. She asked if anyone had told me and I responded by informing her that was the first I had heard about it.

I got the job! How did that happen?

Oh Crap!!!! I gotta take THAT test.

I went in to fill out the paperwork and was given a study book for the test. I went home, looked over the book and decided to take the practice test in the back. I missed four. FOUR!!!

After our trip to St. Louis (we’ll write about that soon), I called to schedule my test for the next day. Before the test, I took the practice test again and missed one. Let’s do this!

I walked in to the Board, waited patiently (well, maybe not that patiently) until they called my name to come back. Take everything off your desk and shut your phone off.  Those words sounded so familiar because I had said those very words so many times substituting.

An hour and a half later, I hit the END  button and my score came up on the screen.

480

She look at me and said, “Congratulations, a near perfect score.” I had missed four questions. Mostly in math which I expected that.

And here we are, about to start the new school season and I will be working full-time at the middle school. How did that happen?

God! Only He could qualify me enough in the eyes of those who had the power to hire. Only He could help me pass a test that robust. Only He could sustain me through the process and bless me with such an opportunity.

Thanks for reading all this. That’s all I have to say about that!

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Cucumbers not so much. Pickles, oh yeah!

Now that the garden is beginning to come, we about have cucumbers coming out of our ears. I figured it was time I start learning how to can some of this stuff so on Saturday my mom and I laid out all the necessary items to begin making 14-day sweet pickle. We love sweet pickle especially my mom’s. But this year she didn’t touch a thing. At least in the beginning. Following the recipe and her guidance, I washed, cut up and threw the cucumbers into the crock jar. Two gallons of pickle now waiting and soaking.

We left this at her house as there are certain days during this 14 day recipe that you have to do something special to it and we are going on vacation next week so to make it easier on her to attend to, it’s all hers next week. After the 14 days are up we will can them and they will be ready to chow down on. Then, because we have so many cucumbers I will make another batch of 14 day sweet pickle at my house and I will do that batch all by myself. Let’s see if I can master this recipe to taste like hers. Maybe you will get some for Christmas! Oh how they taste so good.

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Oh boy, Levi’s all boy

As most of you know by now, because I’m slow at blogging, that Levi fractured his radius. On Thursday July 2 his preschool teacher texted me to let me know he feel off the couch and hurt his wrist but she didn’t think it was broken. He calmed down after a little TLC from her. When I got home we continue to ice and I wrapped in an ACE bandage. We didn’t get much sleep that night. I guess he just couldn’t get comfortable from the pain. 

Friday I was off for July 4th, so when we got up I checked it out and it still looked a little puffy and a little bruised. After I unwrapped it to let him rest without a bandage he immediately began complaining about it hurting. Something in me said to just go have him x-rayed just to make sure. It being a holiday his pediatrician was closed, so I ended up taking him to the walk in clinic who I knew had an x-ray machine. 

At this point, he didn’t really complain about the pain unless it wasn’t wrapped. They took an x-ray and the preliminary read came back as clear. They said to continue to ice and wrap like I had been doing the next 48 hours. Got it. 

Well Saturday came along and he continued to complain of discomfort any time he would use his hand without the wrap. I figured we’d just give it a few days to allow it to heal. On Sunday afternoon while over at my mom’s working in the garden, the walk in clinic called me to bring him back in because they received the final x-ray read and it was actually fractured. 

Running home to change clothes I took him back up there to get a temporary splint until we could get him in to see ortho. So, on Tuesday afternoon we went to see ortho where he received a cast for four weeks. He enjoyed all the attention and the doctor and nurses teasing him about chasing a girl. The doctor could tell this wasn’t going to slow him down any and it hasn’t. 

He really hasn’t complained about it much at all and only complained about the itching a few times in the evenings. It sure hasn’t stopped him from being all boy and I sometimes wonder if he even realizes it’s on his arm. I was hoping we would get it off before school starts but we aren’t. We will get it off that week but he will probably go a few days with it. Hopefully we can go the rest of the year with no accidents. 

When he first fell off the bleachers back in the spring, I wanted to put him in a bubble, freaked me out every time he did anything. After the broken arm I’ve come to realize that he is all boy and these things are going to happen. I can handle broken bones and cuts. What I can’t handle is head injuries and troubled breathing. So hopefully if we have any more injuries and I’m sure we will, it will be the former instead of the latter.

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Levi getting his temporary cast

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Levi was saying he “knew what the problem was”

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Levi picking out his color, black.

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Putting the cast on.

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He is just like me with this stuff….all up in it and loving it.

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He was pretty exciting.

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