Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fox: 0, Jackie: 1

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the sunroom when suddenly a flurry of feathers screamed by the window, followed by a fox. I leaped out the door to find the fox with one of the chickens, aracauna, in its mouth. I surprised it enough to let the hapless chicken go and it retreated to the edge of the woods while I made a lot of noise.

After the imminent danger was over, we looked to find the other one of the chickens that the fox was chasing roosting in an impossibly high branch of a tree. Sure, chickens can fly, but they're not eagles. Except for our white one ("Whitey") who really does have some species confusion. With the adrenaline she had, I feel confident she could migrate at least 100 miles....

There was also a whole lot of feathers on the ground from aracauna, but no trace of the attack victim herself. I was positive that the fox had released her, and that she had gotten up, but she remained in a top secret hiding place all afternoon and didn't emerge till supper time.

The fox then slunk around to our coop and started harassing the chickens in the chicken yard. Of course, our chickens didn't have the sense to be herded inside the coop itself, so we were pretty sure we were going to lose one (or more) over the course of the afternoon.

Maybe Ben put off enough canine scent to make the fox think twice, but all hens were on deck when we put them to bed. I have a feeling, though, we haven't seen the last of this fox.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How many illnesses can we collect at one time???

If you're wondering why this post initially published totally blank, all I have to say it has nothing to do with an attack baby trying to press all the buttons on his mommy's computer.

Anyway, in other news, we are a hotbed of illness still. We spent the morning going first to Tucker's doctor, and then to mine. The results? Bronchitis and an ear infection and wheezing for Tucker; bronchitis, a sinus infection and wheezing for me.

So now all three of us have inhalers, and two of us are on antibiotics. Have I mentioned that winter's over and I'm DONE being sick?????

I am even more done having Tucker be sick. I think lying down hurts his ear, because he's been choosing to stand up and scream in his crib the past few days rather than sleep. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.....

It is only uphill from here!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting caught up

We've had a busy week of being sick. And no, it was NOT from the chocolate doughnut that Tucker ate at church... it was a good old fashioned cold that Tucker and I both got, complete with fevers and coughs and all that fun stuff. Isn't it supposed to be Spring yet??????

In other news...
*We've embarked on cloth diapering this week. I got a whole lot of bumGenius and Haute Pocket diapers off craigslist this week (don't worry, they were all well cleaned). So far, so good. It really doesn't seem to be much more hassle than a couple extra loads of laundry a week, which I can handle. Buying diapers is definitely getting old.

*I've determined I'm insane. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Tucker has already drained my car battery once because we let him play in it and he turned on the hazards without us noticing. What did we learn? Absolutely nothing. Because yesterday he did it again, only this time by turning the headlights on unbeknownst to us. What did I learn? Time for him to play in Daddy's truck, not Mommy's car! (Maybe I have learned a lesson, after all....)

*We discovered buried treasure in our yard. We've been wanting to put in a patio in the back of our house, near the grill, but there are a lot of other things that need to happen around our house first (fun things like roof painting, brick re-pointing, rotten siding replacement, etc...). Anyway, we've been running into random pieces of buried flagstone over the past year around our yard, like when digging in flower beds, and installing new drainage from the gutters. Two nights ago we got serious and started hunting for this buried stone. We uncovered enough stone for a small patio!!! (There's more stone that didn't even make it into the picture).

Is this my son?

We are slooowly making our way through Tucker's Easter candy. Mostly, I've been using it in the car, on our way back from our morning outings, to bribe him to stay awake. If he falls asleep even for 10 minutes in the car, it destroys his afternoon nap.

He has this big blue lollipop that JoJo gave him, and I'll give it to him in the car. He will suck on it for a couple minutes then say "Mama" and hand it back to me to put it away. A minute with the lollipop is enough for him... after that, no more interest.

I am still in total shock. I'm not sure I EVER let sugar go uneaten as a kid.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I dig dirt!

I dig dirt, I dig dirt
Scoop it in a shovel
Pour it in a pile
Pick up more. Pick up more.
(Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

This is the song that's running through my head. It's the theme song to Tucker's new favorite video that I checked out of the library. The video is of big construction equipment basically digging a lot of dirt. Tucker is fascinated by it, which is a good thing because he is sick AGAIN. Here's hoping he didn't infect the whole church nursery yesterday....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A whole new world

Tucker got clearance from his allergist to begin eating milk and egg in baked products. He's still allergic to them in the raw form, but the potency of the allergy is decreasing and his allergist said Tucker would be find eating them in baked products.

This is a whole new world.

At the fellowship time after church, Tucker could eat ANYTHING on the whole table, except for the cheese cubes. He picked a chocolate doughnut, and needless to say REALLY likes these new rules.

Clowns are scary

FYI. We saw one yesterday and Tucker screamed every time the clown tried to make Tucker smile.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chickens say more than "bok"

There are a lot of chickens in our life right now: chickens outside, roast chicken for dinner, and 8 baby chicks upstairs. Sometimes I wonder if Tucker knows which one I'm talking about. I'm trying to teach him that baby chicks say "cheep cheep" instead of "bok bok." I'm not sure that lesson is taking hold.

In any case, the more important lesson for Tucker right now is how to treat the baby chicks. Another thing that is different with baby chicks is that you can't just throw food at them. The grown chickens think it's a treat when Tucker comes near with a handful of corn, but the baby chicks are terrified.

Tucker also tries to hang over the side of their box so he can touch them. Thankfully, the box is too tall for him to get his hands on any of them, but the end result is that the chicks get a little toddler earthquake when Tucker rams himself into their box.

He is pretty good at being gentle with them when I hold one in my hand and let him pet her. He also is getting more content with just watching them quietly from the edge of the box.

The chicks are absolutely darling to watch. We have four different varieties: barred rock, aracauna, white rock, and rhode island red. The aracaunas that we have look like little chipmunks, but it's hard to pick a favorite breed over another. They are all darling. They're like little puppies, or infants--they just fall asleep whenever, wherever. One of them has a habit of falling asleep in the middle of eating and sleeping with its head stuck in the feed bowl.

Oh, and I just need to clarify we didn't get these chicks on Easter on purpose... they were supposed to come in early March but our order was delayed. I was talking to someone this week who was given a chick on Easter as a kid... and rolled over it in her sleep. Personally, that doesn't seem such a good idea. I'm all for chocolate and jelly beans on Easter, and save the chicks for when you want to raise chicks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

He understands more than I think he does...

On Easter morning before church, we were talking a bit about the resurrection. I turned to Tucker and said, "Who are we talking about?"

He immediately answered (clearly): "God."

I had to get confirmation from Helen that I had correctly heard and wasn't just making it up. Tucker has never said the word "God" before, much less in a context that suggests he is picking up on what we're talking about. I was blown away.

On a related subject, you really have to check out my friend Kristan's entry about her twin 20 month old girls and what they say about God. It totally blew me away, especially the part where when her girls cry they say "Jesus" because they know he's going to wipe away every tear.

Totally done

When 5 pm rolled around, Tucker was totally done. He had come in from a serious afternoon of puddle jumping and pushing his stroller, and filling his watering can, and helping Austin with some carpentry in the shed. We took his boots off, and his soaking pants off, and next thing we knew, Tucker had found his ducky and his pacifier, and his yellow blanket and was crashed in the middle of the floor. When Austin went upstairs, Tucker moved enough to join me in the kitchen, again, totally sprawled out on the tile.

He rallied enough to eat a few bites of dinner, but was in bed before 6 pm. Silly little man, this is what happens when you wake up every hour all night long and then take a short nap!!!

My little yogi

Tucker is really into going into the yoga pose "downward dog." He loves putting his head down and his bum in the air and looking behind him. It's hard having the camera handy to catch him in the act, though.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter fun

We had a nice Easter in Annapolis, and are glad to be back home. Our chicks have safely made their way to our house, and Ben is sleeping on the sofa, recovering from the kennel. Some of the highlights from our trip:

Tucker enjoyed his egg hunt, and especially enjoyed the eggs once he found that a few had jelly beans. Do you think the jelly beans he ate had any correlation with the fact that he was so wired he couldn't fall asleep in the car till 8:45 pm?

This is Tucker feeding one of Henny's bunnies a carrot.

Easter pictures as a family! We're bad at taking pics with all three of us in them.

Exploring the Naval Academy while waiting for the Easter service to start. Tucker found a John Deere machine that he carefully inspected, and we managed to even keep him out of the puddle.

And some other odds and ends....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eastern Shore

Today we went to Austin's old stomping grounds on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to visit some of my college friends and their son, who is a day younger than Tucker.

The idea was that the two boys would play on the beach, but it turned out to be about 45 degrees with a cold, driving wind. Did that deter Tucker? Unfortunately, no. He would've jumped into the Chesapeake Bay if we had let him, and made several dashes to try.

In other news, we're up in Annapolis for Easter. Tucker is enjoying the limitless attention, and Austin and I are enjoying very few parental responsibilities.

The burden of a book

I was just talking to my father-in-law, David, about what to do with all the books you collect over a lifetime that you don't want. You know, the mediocre books, that you're not going to give to anyone else or read again.

It's a burden to see all those books staring me in the face. Where do you donate them? I don't feel like Goodwill does a very good job with books. No one goes to those stores to pick up old books. I guess I should donate them to the library which has an annual sale.

Speaking of the library, I love the library. It is the antidote to this problem I'm talking about. I can just return a book I don't like and never have to see it again. It is such a commitment to buy a book... you have to be SURE that it's the perfect thing, but even after tons of research, I still feel like there are a lot of duds, books whose covers are WAAY better than their insides. And why spend your time reading a mediocre book when there are so many amazing books out there?

It is true riches to be able walk into a library and to pick up every book you could ever imagine wanting to look at, to walk out with about 20 books, and to have no obligation but to explore them to my heart's content.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Chicks

Our chicks arrived at the Post Office in Charlottesville on Wednesday evening, but since our friend who is splitting the order picked them up, we didn't get to see them until today.

I am in love.

Tucker is not so sure WHAT the tiny little creatures are, but he quickly warmed up to them. Maybe a little too much... we need to work on what gentle means.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good gardening books

Anybody who knows both Austin and I, knows that Austin is the real gardener. He's the one who plants things, and it just works. I plant things and... well, it's getting better. :)

My friend Halvey wants to know what a good gardening book is, so I did the natural thing, and asked Austin. Here are his recommendations:

*Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman
*Ruth Stout's No-Work Gardening Book
*Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich (according to Austin, this one is the best)

As soon as Austin suggested these two books, I realized he's trying to make converts into our way of gardening. Of course, these books are good how-to manuals, but they also have a lot to say about the philosophy behind a certain way to do gardening (no tilling, few inputs other than compost/mulch, etc.). I'm not sure there IS an unbiased gardening book, because at some point one book is going to say "now you go and dig up a bed": and our book is going to say "now you're NOT going to dig up the bed."

What is our gardening system? Last year we established a dozen fixed, permanent, semi-raised beds, with paths in between. From now on, no human foot is going to step on those beds and compact them. From now on, we're not going to unnecessarily mess with the soil structure in those beds (apart from the specific act of planting/harvesting) and adding lots of good compost on top. We won't till our garden every season. We plant in beds, not rows, so we don't follow all the spacing requirements on little seed packages. And we suppress weeds by thick mulch/compost layer, not by chemicals.

Regardless of what you decide a good system is, the above books are good reads. It is pretty amazing what Elliot Coleman does for eating fresh out of his garden throughout the four seasons, even in Maine.

Oh, and good luck, Halvey!

Beasts at the Little Gym

Tucker and I went to a free trial class with Hilary and Henry at the Little Gym today. Of course I have no intention of joining (Tucker can have fun at a MUCH lower price), but why not get the experience once? The class was called "Beasts" for his age group, which I think is a really funny and apt name. I feel like he has been in attack mode lately... like he's on a personal search and destroy mission for anything in his path.

The highlight of today, though, was actually not the Little Gym. Instead, at about 8 am a flat bed semi truck pulls up at the circle in front of our house with lots of sod for our next door neighbor, and a forklift to get the sod off the truck and down their driveway. Tucker was in little boy heaven watching that forklift. When he gets excited, he kind of stands on his toes, trembles a bit, and shouts, he just can't contain his excitement.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Recycling, Part 2

It is pretty difficult to actually find concrete information about which products have the most and least environmental gain from recycling.

The two clear winners for household recycling are:
Aluminum cans

Glass recycling can be either environmentally positive or negative, depending on the application. If glass is made into new glass bottles, that is a positive environmental transaction. But, a lot of recycled glass is of low quality and can only be crushed to use as road fill and other similar applications, which is a net environmental negative.

And I gather that #1 and #2 plastics are much less energy-intensive to recycle than #5.

So... all that is to say, reducing and reusing are much better environmental choices than recycling. Thankfully, as the recycling technology improves, the environmental benefit increases.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: Because it was dumb and thought it should try to run under our neighbor's car.

I am so proud to have discovered the secret to one of life's profound mysteries.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Busy Saturday

We had a busy Saturday doing projects around the house. Tucker exhausted himself helping Austin build a sandbox, helping me garden, pushing his stroller unassisted to get the mail, practicing driving the truck (with no keys in the ignition, of course) and about a thousand other activities. He is already in bed (it's 6 pm here).

Tucker has an obsession with our shoes right now. There are at least 10 pairs of shoes strewn around the house, thanks to Tucker's busy day. He was walking around in a couple pairs of my church shoes and my clogs, which I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a picture of. When he saw the camera, he came over and decided it was time to snuggle (hence some of the Jackie-and-Tucker close ups).

The sandbox that the boys built today still needs a lot more sand, but Tucker seems to think it needs less. He was very busy this afternoon trying to throw all the sand out. At first I tried to convince him that sand was supposed to go IN the sandbox, but it took me about two minutes to realize this was not a battle I cared about fighting.

In other news, I just want to say that kids are germy little things (those are actually the words of a friend of mine, but I've adopted the phrase). I swear, Tucker and I have been sick just about every 3 weeks all winter long. Thankfully it's just the sniffles for me, but really, I thought it was spring already!!???