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Archive for April, 2010

On Boys and Whips

No doubt about it, boys and girls are different. Just to prove it everyday, my step-son chases dear daughter, growling like a monster and she tries to dress him up like a princess. Different. Step-son got a bull whip from Grampa Jimbo that he uses to try to whip up cans or trees or sticks or anything non-living (I put a stop to boyishness when the whip is aimed at a living thing).

Sometimes a boy does target practice on Diet Coke cans.

Sometimes a boy tries to teach a girl how to use a whip.

Sometimes a boy accidentally whips himself. He makes this face.

Here’s a close-up.

Baby J feels his pain, then checks in to see if he’s okay. Boys.

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On Spring Cleaning

If you know my husband, you know a neat-freak. He likes everything put away. I think he uses the phrases “clean up” and “put away” more than any other. Behind closed doors? Thats another story. My closet? Yikes! But, as long as its not on the floor or the counters or the tables, its fine by Riley. If you’ve ever looked for dishes in our house, you’d know what I mean. And, not the plates, no, those are out in the open. The plates look like this pretty much all the time:

But, today we did some Spring cleaning of things behind closed doors. *shudder* I did not take before pictures. Wouldn’t want to scare anyone, but I did take after pictures. Here they are:

P.S. I did have a picture of the dishes and Riley wouldn’t let me use it. He cleaned the glass, straightened up the dishes and made me take another one. I think I’ll go take a picture of my bedroom closet next and threaten to post it…

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On Saying Good-bye

It is with sadness that I share that we will no longer keep chickens. After raising 2 “flocks” to adulthood and building both a chicken tractor and a coop, we have decided to give up backyard chickens for a while.

There are a myriad of reasons for this decision. First, and foremost, having 3 kids at home with countless activities, two full-time jobs and lengthy commutes, we no longer want to invest the time in keeping chickens happy. They are a relatively easy creature to get along with and care for, however, they still do take up time. There is the daily watering and feeding, letting them out, locking them up, collecting the eggs, checking for health and well-being, etc. Mind you, these activities continue in the dead of winter, trudging out to the coop, checking on the girls, tucking them in at night, constant fights to keep water thawed out… We only need to clean out their coop about 4-5 times per year, but that proves to be a challenge with the combination of three kids, poop, lots of dust, and, well, three kids.

The by-law in Menomonie, back when I read it in 2005, states that livestock shall not run at large within the city limits. Well, two of my chickens completely ignore this ordinance and free-range the entire neighborhood. They lay eggs in neighbors’ yards, roost on their cars, hide under their campers, and *ahem* fertilize their grass. This cannot go on!

I believe that animals (mostly pets, but pet chickens in this case) are meant to bring a person joy. When that no longer occurs, it is time to move on. My adult laying chickens will live on a farm in Chippewa Falls with a seasoned veteran chicken keeper, Jeff. Their new daily schedule (once they’re accustomed to the place) will be spending the morning in chicken daycare (a fenced-in area covered with deer netting to keep them safe) and afternoon/evenings free-ranging on the farm. The new baby chicks will go back to the farm where they were laid as eggs to reunite with their family! In any case, we will miss their presence and their presents (eggs!) but not their poop.

We will miss you: Sandy, Raven, Cleo, Dottie, Coco, Damn-Rooster, Salt, Pepper, Buffy, Goldilocks, Bobby, Chicky-Chick, Dixie, Honey.

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On Friends

I promised myself that my next blog post would be on the ‘lighter’ side. An observation I’ve made in the last 9 years of parenting children is that they make friends in the darndest places. My step-son had an imaginary friend named John Radger. John Radger (always both names, never just “John” for short) lived in paintings on the wall. I’m not sure how he traveled between paintings, but that is where he lived. Dear daughter thinks everyone is her friend. I have been telling her that not every random person is her friend; that you have to at least know a person’s name before he or she can become your friend. Now, she walks up to kids at the park and says, “You’re not my friend yet… What’s your name… Oh, now you’re my friend.” I’m not sure she gets the idea… Baby J thinks every living thing is his friend. He seems to prefer small dogs and chickens. This is a pretty typical scenario if you let Baby J out into the backyard:
“Going to see my friends, going to see my friends… la la la la la… going to see my friends.”
*squeal* “Hey guys!” *squeal*

“Jigsy! BoBo! How’s it going?”

“Hey buddy! Hey buddy! Hey buddy! Give me five!”

“Hey, man, give me a kiss!”

“Hey, where’d you go? Was it something I said? Guess I’ll see you around…”

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On Baby Sleep

Ha! I piqued your interest, didn’t I? You have a baby, or have had a baby that didn’t sleep through the night when he or she was ‘supposed to.’ Am I right? Well, if you’re here looking for the magic answer, you may as well click that little red ‘x’ in the top right corner of your window (left for Mac users). I don’t have the answer. What I am here to say today is, there is no magic answer.

When my daughter was a baby, she fell asleep eating at night just about every night. I had no tricks up my sleeve for her if she didn’t fall asleep eating. It meant we were in for a long night. When she was about 10 months old, I decided this dependency on bottles wasn’t going to work for me, so I started weaning her from her night-time bottle – started giving it to her earlier in the evening and then rocking, singing and dancing with her or patting her back until she fell asleep. This worked pretty well. I was able to basically just back off from these methods and she began falling asleep in her own. We had minimal periods of “cry-it-out” but we did ascribe to letting her cry sometimes. She seems fine. Sleeps through the night for about 11 hours and continues to take a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon.

Baby J is a whole different breed of kid. Be it that he’s a boy or just his personality, he is like night and day when compared to his sister. He cried a LOT when he was little. Except for his enchanting smile and snuggly personality, we may have considered throwing him out with the bath water. But, he did have his strengths – he has pretty much eaten anything I’ve given him and, in that way, weaned from nursing quite easily and by his own choosing. He has also been a good sleeper. He slept in bed with us when he was really little and then around 4 months, I started putting him in his bed at night and then keeping him in bed with me the rest of the night if he had trouble sleeping. He went so easily from co-sleeping with mom and dad to sleeping in his own bed – and has been sleeping through the night since he was 6 months old. Wonderful! From about the time he was 3 months old, James did not want a lot of fuss over bed time. I tried rocking and consoling him, but finally one day, I turned on some white noise and walked away – he had been crying for so long that mom needed a little break. Low and behold, just a few minutes later, he was sound asleep. He actually demonstrated a preference to “crying-it-out.” So, all has been well.

Enter an article I recently saw on a blog post about a woman who suffered from extreme morning sickness with her pregnancy that lasted all day. She went on to describe how weak she became, etc, and that she depended on her husband for everything. Then, she went on to describe that her husband would just decide it was her bed time, tuck her in, turn off the light and leave. Didn’t matter if she was thirsty or hungry or needed to use the bathroom. She tried calling out to him, but he just ignored her. Horrible, right? Well, about half-way through the article, I knew where she was going with this story. She was trying to paint a picture of how horrific it is to let your child “cry-it-out.” At the end of the story, she pointed out that while her morning sickness was a true symptom of her pregnancy, her husband did not treat her this way. It was a farce! Not a great method of getting your point across. But, it sure made me think…

What if my son began to resent me? To even hate me? What if he became a delinquent or socially mal-adjusted? What if he was unable to maintain relationships? Would this be my fault?

So, at 10 months of age, I stopped letting him cry in his bed. It has been disastrous. Today, while putting him down for his nap, I rocked him, bounced him, fed him, sang to him, patted his back, shushed him, etc… he continued to scream. I stepped out of his room to collect my thoughts and take a breath, thinking, “what the hell happened to this child?” I used the bathroom and strained my ear as I washed my hands… what is that? Silence? He fell asleep in less than 2 minutes. Ahhhh…. Could it be that the child knows what he needs?

The morale of this story is not to tell you that “crying-it-out” is the way to get your kid to sleep or that co-sleeping will work for every family. The morale of the story is, in the great words of my friend Jessie: whatever method works in order to get the most sleep for everyone in the house is the best method. Hey, maybe there is a magic answer; its just different for everyone.

PS, if you want to read the article I referred to, check out: http://womanuncensored.blogspot.com/2009/12/just-let-her-cry.html

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On Being Me

I am not a stay at home mom. I played the part of a stay at home mom once when I was fortunate enough to spend almost 6 months home with my kids on maternity leave, but I am not a stay at home mom. I am fortunate enough to have a great job, which I love. That job just happens to have great benefits, comfortable working conditions, and good hours for raising a family. (Did I mention I also love my job?) What I wouldn’t give to spend more time with my kids. They are, after all, the most wonderful things I have ever done. But, I love my job. I worked hard – went to college for 7 years to train for my job. My job has purpose. My job has merit. My job is to help those who are desperately in need of help. To help them develop tools they will use throughout their entire life. I teach them to communicate – effectively. I love my job.

My dad took me to a movie a couple of months ago. He asked Uma to watch the kids and took me out to a movie. I only texted her once during the movie to make sure that the kids were okay. I only texted her once on the way home. Its not that I don’t trust her, its just that they are mine to worry about… and I do. Dad told me that he doesn’t carry his cell phone around like he used to. He retired in 2007 from a long, strong career in the railroad. He is enjoying NOT being called upon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to fix this, or problem-solve that. He says that running a railroad has made him no longer desire being connected 24/7 via cell phone. I told him that being a mom, is kind of like running a railroad.

I take issue with people who judge me for being a working mom. Living in those shoes is very difficult. When Natalie was born, we were both working to put Riley through college. We were definitely not in a financial position to be a one-income household. And, we are still paying for college careers, loans from divorce, reliable vehicles to transport us each 30+ miles per day to our jobs, medical bills from two c-sections and two ear-tube placements in the last 3 years… the list goes on…

Recently an acquaintance, who is a stay at home mom, related that she was in need of some relaxation. I suggested she get a baby-sitter and go out, or read a book, or take a bath… all things I might try in the same situation. She replied that she did not believe in baby sitters. That if there is somewhere that she can’t bring her three girls, she doesn’t go. Its all in the choice of your lifestyle. I don’t judge any mother for the choice of working or not working. I think, as women, we have fought long and hard to choose for ourselves whether we work, bear families, or both. This aforementioned discussion took place on Facebook. Her comment spurred comments from her ‘friends’ about how they couldn’t believe how people cast off their children to any old person to watch them. Excuse me if that offends me. I did not judge you for wanting to be with your kids 24/7 – that’s just not for me.

And, I know working moms. I know stay at home moms and the decision is not taken lightly by any of them. Its a decision a family makes based on what is best for them. One friend was a teacher. She continued to teach to put her husband through school while her first daughter was young. He graduated, bought a business and they relocated. She has been able to stay home with her two girls since then. She has been on both sides of the fence. Another friend used to do research for cancer. A strong, smart, female scientist. She currently stays home with her wonderful girls, but plans to return to work at some point to continue her important job. Another friend went to school to teach and is currently raising her kids at home. She will return to work when her youngest starts school and looks forward to beginning her career at that time. Other friends have had to return when their dear little babies were but 6 weeks old… or 12 weeks old… or 2 weeks old… I do not judge.

I love every minute of time I get to spend raising my kids (okay, maybe not every minute). I see them through their milestones and trials. They are well-loved, well-adjusted little people in this world. I am a working mom. And I am proud of who I am.

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City Slicker Chickens

I grew up in the suburbs. My parents grew up in the suburbs. THEIR parents grew up in the suburbs. But, somehow, I have a love for all things farm. If you knew me as a youngster, you would know that I was afraid of all animals – even kittens and baby chicks. Once, when I was really young, I held a baby bunny and it peed on me. From then on, I didn’t want to hold or touch any animal. When I was a bit older, and knew better, I held a baby chick and promptly dropped her on the ground at first twitch. Oops.

But, that younger me wouldn’t recognize this older me. Now I love farm animals (although, admittedly, I am still skittish around other people’s farm animals). I raise chickens in my backyard in the city. They have a nice view of the city pool from where they roost. We have 5 hens who free-range in our backyard and 4 new chicks living in a wooden box on the porch.

These 4 new chicks are an adventure. A certain little girl of mine recently requested a jump rope and baby chicks for her birthday, thus an idea was born… A friend of mine hatched the eggs out for me in an incubator. I have no idea if they are hens or roosters or what kind of chickens they are, what color they will be, what color their eggs will be, how big they will get…

But, what I do know is that they are loved… and named. They’ve been handled quite a bit by a pair of sticky 3-year-old hands. Dear daughter has named all of the chicks. They are: Honey, Chicky-Chick, Dixie Chick, and Bobby. She had a little help coming up with Bobby. Bobby is the chick that has the most possible rooster characteristics, so we pointed her in the direction of a gender-neutral name. (last time, we ended up with a rooster named Sandy…)

Dear son, who is nearing 10 months of age, loves the backyard chickens. His second psuedo-word (after buh-bye) was “bak bak.” Whenever we go near the door he says “bak bak” and looks for the chickens. He has now started associating the baby chicks with “bak bak” although dear daughter informs him that baby chicks do not say “bak bak,” that they in fact say “peep peep.”

I mentioned to my family the other day that I had had a dream about moving to a new house. I described the house in its glorious hobby farm location. Dear daughter informed me “I don’t like farms. I want to buy a castle.” For now, we will remain in our city home, but if we do ever move, we’ll be searching for the best castle on a farm that money can buy!

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