Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Heaven?

I had an interesting conversation with Ella on the way home from the park today.  But first, a quick (ok let's get real here, I'm pretty long-winded) background: 

The last 2 weeks of April we had a wild turkey that lived in our yard.  I've never been a pet person, nor have I ever intended to be one.  But for whatever reason the kids (and myself) got really attached to this turkey...'Chitty' is what we called him.  Every time we looked out the window he was just out there doing his thing.  He even started coming up on the porch, which the kids got a kick out of.  Then one day just as shrewdly as he had come, Chitty was gone.  After 4 days of not seeing Chitty, I knew that he would not be coming back. 

"I miss the turkey."  I had told Brian.  "I'll just buy you one"  was his response.  It was from this conversation that we decided to get chickens...they were to be my Mother's Day present.  'Yeah, right' was the feeling that I had going to bed that night.  But much to my surprise, Brian, in his 'obsessive researcher' state, was dead set on getting me those chickens.  He carefully selected each breed...which ones laid brown eggs, which laid white.  Which ones were more 'kid friendly'.  Who are chicken predators?  When he wants to know about something, he practically throws himself into it full force.  It's endearing really.

So anyway, he decided on 6 chickens.  He ordered our chickens from mypetchicken.com.  One breed in particular he liked the best, but she wasn't due to hatch until a week after the others, you see they ship them at 1 day old all together...so I had to wait for my chickens.  Mother's Day for me was May 18.  That's the day my chickens arrived.  It was funny really.  We got a call from the Post Office that our 'chickies were here' and 'do we want to pick them up or have them delivered?'  Well needless to say, I got a knock at my front door about 15 minutes later and our chickens were delivered to us by a mail carrier.  They were in a little white box with holes in it and all you could hear was non-stop chirping.  "That was probably really annoying"  I told the mail lady.  "Not really" she said.  "They stopped chirping a few times and I had to thump the box to make sure they were still alive." 
The kids were SO EXCITED.  We had been talking about the chicks for 2 weeks now.  We immediately named all of them...Henrietta, Tuesday, Turkey (in honor of Chitty, who started this whole deal), Georgia, Olivia and Peggy (whom we waited on).  They then lived in our kitchen for the next month...all except Georgia. 

April 4 to June 7 was probably the most stressful time in my (and I'll speak for Brian) our life.  Brian was working on getting his Chiropractic office up and running.  We completely renovated the entire space (with an extremely huge amount of help from family) Laying floor, tile, knocking out walls, hanging dry wall, sanding, painting, re-painting, rock veneering a wall, building a front desk with rock veneer, did I mention painting?  I'll advertise for a second here and say if you are interested in how it turned out, or if you are local to our area, his Facebook page button is in the left hand column! 

By the time the chicks arrived the grunge work was done, and it was mainly decorating and touch-ups.  We were still spending practically all of our days at the office, so the third day we decided to bring the chicks with us.  The kids liked this, especially since they had spent the previous day away from them.  Instead of bringing them home that night (knowing that we would be back early in the morning), we left them up there.  It's a 30 minute drive, so we were trying to spare them all of the back and forth.  Keep in mind too, they were just in a box with a heat lamp, what's the difference where they are?  Well when we got in that morning, everything was fine, all chicks accounted for.  Ella noticed something was off.  "Look Mommy, Georgia has poop."  "Oh, Ella don't touch!  Let's go wash your hands!"  Then we all piled back in the van to go to Lowes.  Well, I never went back to check on Georgia.

When we got back from Lowes an hour later, we discovered that Georgia was dead.  In our pre-chick studies, we learned that in a chick's first week they sometimes have poop that will (for lack of a better term) 'paste them up' causing them to become constipated and ultimately kill them.  I had been watching them close, and even had to wash one once before.  This must have happened to Georgia in the middle of the night.  Ella noticed and I forgot to go back and check.  It's such a guilty feeling.  I knew I wasn't cut out for this whole pet thing.

Lucky for me though, Georgia has not been forgotten.  About every couple of weeks, Ella randomly announces, "Georgia died."  Like so random- during dinner, driving in the car, at bedtime...to which we respond "Yes, Georgia did die."  I'm just glad she doesn't continue to say "You killed her and I'll never forgive you!" 

Our chickens are 4 months old now, and Brian built them a lovely Luxury Suite Coop.  We've been letting them out during the day and the kids like to play with them.  It's funny how they have their same personalities as they did when they were chicks.  By personalities I mean they will let you hold them, or they will try to run.  None of them peck or are aggressive though.  Turns out the 'kid friendly' one is actually the kid friendly one! (Henrietta- Ella's favorite) Peggy did turn out to be our favorite, she's very plush.  We aren't going to eat them or anything- these are our pets, I use that term loosely.  They're more like patrons, I am expecting eggs soon.

So back to this afternoon's conversation with Ella.  I'll put her in pink to avoid conversational confusion. 

We pulled up next to a mail truck at a stop light.  "Look Mommy, the mail car!" They love it when the mail comes.  "Yeah, cool..."  "Georgia died."  "Yes, Georgia did die."  "Tuesday and Georgia came in a mail box."  "They sure did, you're really smart to remember that, Ella."  "Is the mail car gonna bring Georgia back?"  "No, Georgia lives with Jesus now."  Here we go.  The kids know the word die(d), but we never went much further with it.  "Is Jesus gonna give Georgia a blessing and give her back to us?"  Intrigued by her thought process I smiled to myself.  "No, Georgia is going to stay with Jesus and live with him in Heaven."  'Oh this is just getting bad' I thought to myself.  What's next?  Chicken Heaven?  "Does Jesus have chickens just like me?"  "Oh yeah, (I had to stop myself from laughing) Jesus has a whole bunch of chickens!"  She was content with this synopsis, although I don't think the "Georgia died" statements will stop anytime soon.  Brian and I have often wondered what the kids think when we tell them we are having chicken for dinner.  Do they associate our near and dear pet chickens with their dinner?  Oh, the innocence of a child...wouldn't it be nice if we all were that simplistic?             

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tough Love

Well, it's that time again.  I do not enjoy this.  Since Riley is officially a 'crawler' now, it's time for her to start taking on some responsibility.  I mean 7 months is more than enough time to be living the cushy life, don't ya think? 

The way I run things with my babies my cause controversy, but here goes.  I have never, I repeat NEVER let the kids sleep with us at night.  Since birth they go straight to the bassinet at night and that's where they stay.  None of that 'I'm too tired, I'll nurse them in the bed' business either.  I did this for 2 reasons:  (1) I need to sleep, which won't happen if they are in the bed.  Brian is lucky I let him sleep with me!  I have a 'don't touch me, you're in my aura' issue.  Can't believe I actually got him to marry me!  (2) I knew that doing this early would save me (and them) a lot of heartache later.  Now, I'm a compassionate person, so I've evened things out for them.  They can take a nap with me.
This was easy in the beginning.  When it was just Ella I just wanted to take a nap with her, she could probably care less.  But you know how that first kid goes...you're the one with separation anxiety.  And then when she was about 6 months, I kicked her out and made her start going to bed by herself.  She had a pacifier, so I didn't feel very bad about it...until it started taking an hour for her to go to sleep.  How is it that babies can just cry for an hour straight?  After what felt like forever, she was fine.  I could put her to bed and she would be asleep 10 minutes later. 

Then came Aiden.  This was a tricky one.  Ella and Aiden shared a room, and since I napped them at the same time I didn't want one messing with the other.  Keep in mind, they are 12 months apart!  So I opted to let him sleep with me.  This is a privilege in my book.  It was still easy though, because we always woke up before Ella. I never had to leave him alone in the bed.  So he stayed napping with me until he was 9 months!  Oh, the shame!   But then, he too got kicked out.  This time to a pack-n-play in our bedroom.  That lasted about a month until I finally decided to suck it up and room them together for naps.  Oh, that was such a pain!  Instead of crying for an hour, I spent the same amount of time busting in on their little parties.  I wanted so badly to hang a sheet from the ceiling in between their cribs so they couldn't even look at each other.  It was worse when they both were in toddler beds.  Now they could actually get into each other's beds and steal toys.  One of the best days of my life was when we separated them.  That was only just 2 weeks before Riley was born!  My 'nesting' set in and I completely switched all the rooms around. 

Now Riley and Ella share a room.  Ella has graduated to a bunk bed (which she calls her Tree house) and Riley has snagged her old crib.  Yet, I am still faced with the same problem.  They all nap at the same time and I don't want Riley keeping Ella up.  As far as napping goes, it hasn't been as easy this time around.  I don't get to nap in bed with Riley.  I just put her there because that is the only unoccupied room.  Now I have to sleep on the couch so I am available for the first one up, usually it's Aiden.  So this routine has been working out fine for us, until just recently.  Like I said, Riley can crawl now, so this changes things.  She's one of those that doesn't cry when she wakes up, and being in the back of the house, it's hard to hear her.  I just have always gone in there around 3:00 and she's awake.  I don't know for how long...but that's not the point.  Now, I can't just leave her alone and trust that the surrounding pillows will keep her from rolling off the bed.  She can just crawl over them and hit the floor before I even know she's awake!  So naturally, she's getting kicked out, like Aiden, to the pack-n-play in our bedroom. 

I don't know what it is about being in our bed.  Usually Riley is asleep in 5 minutes.  She's never taken a pacifier, but she sucks on her pointer finger and that has always done the trick.  I've never been one to rock my babies to sleep either.  I've taken more of a 'figure it out for yourself' approach.  So anyway, since exiling Riley to the pack-n-play the hour crying fits have started.  And now, once she finally gives up she only sleeps for 30 minutes!  What happened to the nice quiet 1-3 afternoons I had only less than a week ago?  This is no fun.  Riley is not going to have a good month.  Tough love.  I will say one thing, I can successfully put Aiden and Ella to bed without having to assist them in falling asleep, which is the whole goal here.  I'd just like to have a fast forward button right about now though.  I want to mention too that Riley rarely cries...I think she's the best baby ever.  And now that she is crying, it's because of me.  Mean Mommy!  Can I just skip this phase please?  I mean is this the kind of face that you want to see crying?      

Sunday, September 5, 2010

You've Got Your Hands Full

You’ve got your hands full. It’s these five words that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Thank you, complete stranger, for pointing that out to me, now I know! And all this time I thought it was easy…

Now this probably happens to most mothers when they take their kids out in public. Someone (usually older than you) politely comments on what a load you have. “Wow, you sure have your hands full don’t ya?” Which roughly translates to mean, “You do know about birth control, right?” OK can I just get one thing straight? I wanted to have my kids close together, this was no accident.

It’s hard to remember what my life was like before I had kids, or even just 2 kids, or 1 for that matter! I’m pretty sure there was a time when it was just me and Brian. But that is just kind of a blur. I remember wondering how my life would change when I first got pregnant. I guess I never would have expected this 4 years later. I’m not even a ‘seasoned’ parent yet and I feel that I have already had to deal with more than my fair share of bodily fluids, sleepless nights and just plain exhaustion. I’d like to think that the older they get, the less of these types of things I will have to deal with. Realistically, that’s probably not the case. I do have to say one thing, though. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The good and fun parts definitely outweigh the bad.

I love that Ella is 3 now.  She's at that dress-up/grown-up stage and says the funniest things. Where does she come up with this stuff? Just this morning she wanted to put her puzzles away, but the drawer was too heavy for her. “It’s no use!” she said. She's so dramatic sometimes.  On the way home from church she was telling me about nursery. Then she said to herself gazing out the window, “I love church.”

Aiden is really starting to develop his sense of humor. I have to say, he is funny. He’s recently taken up refrigerating his toys.  Last week I found a dragonfly in the cheese drawer. Blowing it off as a ‘well that was weird’ moment, I didn’t address it. Yesterday I found a beach ball where the milk should be. This was no accident. When I asked him about it (I knew it was him, Ella would never!) his response was “Ha-Ha, coldy ball!”
I guess I could see why he would think this is funny. Toys are not supposed to be cold, and now it is…heh heh. I don’t know if he’s old enough to scheme against me and think to himself, ‘Just wait till Mom sees this, I can’t wait to see her face.’ I don’t know, maybe this was his intention. If that’s the case I guess I should plan on being pranked by him from now on. Great…

Riley is finally starting to crawl, except she’s just so lazy about it. She gets on her hands and knees and rocks for a bit, then takes a few crawls, and  collapses. It’s like her arms and legs just give out, too weak to support her own weight. Next, she kind of wobbles her body back and forth, wallowing around like a seal (which only gets her a few inches). Then she will stretch her arms out in front of her as far as she can reach (which doesn’t help). Once she figures out that this is getting her no where she gets back on her knees again. And then the process starts over. If she would just crawl the whole time, we could really avoid all this back and forth. It’s very entertaining to watch though! I love how non judgemental babies are.  All I have to do is walk into the room and she just grins so big. She’s got those little twinkle kind of eyes too. It’s nice to know that somebody loves you that much. It goes much deeper than just being her main source of food. Oh, baby smiles…they give you such a satisfying feeling, whether you are their parent or not. When a baby smiles at you, in that moment…bliss.

I will admit though, I am not one to savor the baby stage for long. I want it over and done with and for them to be as independent as possible. The whole ‘they grow up too fast’ doesn’t apply to me. They’re not growing up fast enough! I like them being little people that I can converse with. There are times that I think that having triplets wouldn’t be that bad…it’s the age gaps that make things difficult. Most days I treat Ella and Aiden as if they were twins. I may stay busy but no, I do not have my hands full. I have my hands exactly where I want them. I stay home with my kids, I teach them, I play with them and most importantly I love them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where Did I Go Wrong?

So it’s official. I finally hit that stage in my parenting. I’m talking about the stage where you start asking yourself “Where did I go wrong?” I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with this until the kids were teenagers! I was wrong. Yesterday afternoon was the first time that I have actually had to deal with all three kids crying at the same time. Amazing, right? I can’t believe I’ve been able to go that long!

Well, here’s the inside scoop to the situation I was in, I should have seen this bout of crying coming. Riley had a fever all day, so naturally she was crabby and clingy. Ella is crabby if she gets woken up from her precious sleep…where as, when Aiden wakes up he is happy and ready to play. On the other hand, Aiden is also 2. So he is constantly looking for opportunities to dominate and aggravate his sister. So, as the story goes, it had been one of those days for Ella. She had taken longer to go to sleep at nap time, so I knew I was going to have to wake her up later. I never let any of the kids sleep past 4, and it was getting to be about that time. Riley had woken up at 3:30 and Aiden just shortly after. The three of us went in to wake up Ella. She proceeded with the usual moans and groans. “You want us to leave you alone?” I asked her. She said she did. So we left. I guess she didn’t realize that we would actually leave, so she started up with the fake whimpering cry…which I can’t stand by the way. I’ve taken the route of ignoring this behavior, which she should know by now. So I continued to the living room with Riley in hand and Aiden trailing behind me. He wanted to watch Finding Nemo, which slowly lured Ella into the living room. So at this point everyone was good, so to speak. No crying.

So I took this opportunity to go to the bathroom…we have an open door policy at our house, through no choice of my own. I mean my options are either lock the door and have them beat it down or just leave the door open and let them wander in and out. They seem threatened when I’m behind a closed door. Like now they’re all alone and I’ve vanished or something. So of course, when they realized where I was headed, they decided to come too. With Ella still cranky and on edge about being woken up and Aiden on his 2 year old power trip, this bathroom break didn’t end well. Aiden had come in the bathroom first, and when he saw Ella coming he quickly tried to shut the door and lock her out. Her being slightly stronger than him, fought to keep the door open. Unfortunately though, he fights back…which resulted in her getting whacked in the head with the door knob. So now she’s crying. Then Aiden starts to cry because Ella’s crying and because she won. She made it through the door. OK, I don’t mind having them in there with me, but is it too much to ask to be able to pee in peace? In the mean time Riley was crying too, just for the simple fact that I wasn’t holding her. Like I said, she’s clingy when she’s sick. So there you have it…3 squalling kids, 3 runny noses, 6 red watery eyes and 1 frazzled mother desperately wanting to eat chocolate.

You see, that’s how I deal with this kind of thing. Whenever the kids are fighting or I’m feeling overwhelmed I eat a Dove, or two. The cliche of women and chocolate didn’t just come out of nowhere! Unfortunately, in light of recent budget cuts in our home, we are fresh out of chocolate. Then I remembered this little key chain Brian bought me a few weeks ago. I’m not advertising or anything, but it’s $1.00 for a Wendy’s frosty key chain, and with it you can get a free JR Frosty with each visit. “Who wants to go get ice cream?” was my response to the kids and all of their crying. This seemed to do the trick. They sucked up their tears. Seems like a pretty good deal right? No crying=ice cream. I’m not gonna lie, the ice cream was more for me, not them. I need to have chocolate running through my veins in order to keep my sanity. Is this what addiction feels like?

And then it happened. Ella might as well have hit me with a brick. “Can I go outside and play?” ‘WHAT??? You mean you don’t want ice cream?’ “No, thanks. I just want to go outside.” ‘Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You want to go outside and NO ice cream?’ “Yes.” ‘Aiden, do you want to go outside and no ice cream?’ “Yes.” This is the part where I started to question my parenting. Where did I gone wrong? My kids are supposed to stuff their emotions with food, not exercise! I mean what kind of person doesn’t want to be an emotional eater? I didn’t raise them this way. I can’t believe I let this happen! Kids these days…

Well, needless to say, I didn’t get my ice cream or my chocolate. I set the pool up for the kids and pushed Riley in the swing. Aside from the mosquito bites and the heat, everybody was happy the rest of the day. This whole thing was actually important to Ella too.  In her prayers before bedtime she said "Thank you for playing outside and not eating ice cream."  It made me smile. 
As much as it pains me to say this, I was actually able to manage my emotions without the chocolate. Now if only there was a way to control these jitters I’ve been having.