Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am NOT a kid person and I have no idea why

So after that lovely heartfelt post about loving my kids and how I'm so going to miss them at this age and so on, you are going to get this ugly guilt-ridden post about my issues with kids. I'll clarify by saying this is a post about my issues with OTHER kids that are not my own.
A little history, if you don't mind. I babysat probably 3 or 4 times in my life before having my own children. Why? Because I didn't like kids and so NEVER offered my babysitting services. I got a job at Wal-Mart instead to earn my spending money.
Brad and I decided to have kids because it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. We'd been kidless for 3 years and it was just really easy and I guess we were kind of bored and we just thought we were ready. If it weren't for joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I think I may not have had children at all which would have been terrible given how much I love and enjoy my own kids.
When I was pregnant, I will freely admit I worried a lot that I wasn't going to like my kid either. All of the experience I had had with kids told me that they were just horrendous little beasts. It didn't help that I had nearly 7 years experience working at Wal-Mart and thus experienced the worst behavior children had to offer first-hand. I was due with Novan in mid-November. In mid-October, Brad volunteered us to watch one of his friend's 5-year old boy for a week. I remember being willing simply because she really needed it but not at all excited about actually doing it. I disliked kids after all. He wasn't so bad except that I got a taste of what I could expect from a typical 5 year old. And the kid was super picky about food. He probably halfway starved while he was at our house. Brad made him eat a bite of salad one night and the kid nearly aspirated on a lettuce leaf because he was gagging so much. In all honesty, looking back, Novan is SO much like him, right down to the food sensitivity and frustration issues. Anyway, it wasn't a day after we gave the kid back to his mom that I went into labor. I tend to think that the stress I endured while babysitting that week contributed greatly to putting me into pre-term labor. I had dreams of PTA meetings and field-trips with snot nosed children. It was terrifying. I couldn't believe I had volunteered to put myself through this by getting pregnant.
Well... long story short, I LOVED Novan from the moment I met him and wanted 7 more just like him. Even as Novan has reached 6 years old I still think he's fantastic even though he does some of the same things that 5-year old did that annoyed the crap out of me (whining for instance which is possibly the worst of all kid-offenses). BUT, the fact has remained that overall, I do not like kids. I like having kids at my house that are low maintenance. They don't require much. They don't tattle about every offense done them. They know how to handle a little rough-housing, and they don't cry about everything. I think I might actually LIKE those kids. But I've babysat some in the past that if it weren't morally wrong, I'd put earplugs in my ears and completely ignore their existence. My attitude towards most children, that are not my own, is ambivalence. I babysat this 18 month old the other day for a gal at Brad's work and he just followed me around all day and wanted to be held. If I left the room (once I had to lock him out of my bedroom so I could make a phone call) he would cry and cry. It only served to annoy me and make me dislike him more which is really just insensitive and silly of me. An 18 month old should be expected to be a little clingy especially when his mom has left him at some stranger's house. But I can't seem to let that part of my practical brain convince the anti-kid part that I should have a little compassion. Sure, I can SHOW compassion by holding him on my lap while I'm checking e-mails, but I'm not actually FEELING compassionate as I should be. For some reason, I think all kids should behave a certain way and the ones that are least like my own kids (ie the high-maintenance ones) just turn this switch in my brain that makes me completely ambivalent towards them.
Anyway, I ended the day I babysat last week, crying because I felt so guilty about it. It's not that I did anything wrong. I attended to his needs. I fed him, I even held him a couple times. But I disliked it the whole time. And just knowing that I FELT that way was very hard to stomach. I really tried to dig down and discover the reason but it was nowhere to be found. I should be able to love other children more, I really should. I should be able to play with other kids and have fun doing it, but it just feels awkward because I'm not genuine. I can DO the right thing. I just can't FEEL the right thing and that really bothers me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keshet

Keshet is at my favorite infancy age: 6-12 months
It occurs to me that it is going by way too fast. I think I mentioned this before but every child you have increases how fast time goes by. With Keshet being my fourth it is going by exceptionally fast and every day I feel little sadness over this. I also of course, try to remember and compare her to my other kids at her age. It bothers me that most of the time I think "Oh yeah! I remember Novan doing that." I follow that up with "Why did I forget that?" To me, the greatest travesty of these mortal bodies is the HORRIBLE memory we have. There are so many things I wish to remember that were so beautiful and wonderful and full of joy. I simply cannot remember many things with the clarity and feeling that I did while living those events. Even a written down record doesn't properly convey the memory.

One particular feeling I get almost daily when I am playing with or observing Keshet is how she is just so cute that it hurts. You know that feeling inside like, "gosh if you were any cuter I might pee my pants!" I find myself wondering a lot if my other kids were that cute. I think they were. I've just forgotten how they were at her age.

The other thing I struggle to hold in my memory is how sweet Beya is with her. Keshet gets jostled around a bit by Beya but she either endures it patiently or she genuinely likes the attention Beya pays her (I think it's the latter).

I never want to forget the feeling in my heart when I walk into the room (either in the morning when I get her out of bed or just passing the room she's in) and Keshet flaps her arms and legs in excitement and big smile crosses her face when I acknowledge her in turn. All I have to do is smile at her and I've just given her the biggest gift. The simplicity of a baby's needs is so apparent and refreshing.

Will I remember how her head feels against my cheek or the smell of her neck? Will I remember how she kicks her right leg over and over again like a dog when you scratch their belly when I'm holding her because that's just what she does to pass the time? Will I remember how she reaches for my face while she's nursing?
Will I remember how she does nothing but kick her legs over and over when she's in the bath?
Will I remember how the fat roll on her right leg is lower than the one on her left and it always makes me laugh when I see it?
Will I remember what this is like? To have someone so wholly dependent on me and to have so much love in my heart that in the quiet moments as I hold her and she's falling asleep while I'm nursing her that it feels like I might be in paradise? When my other children are asleep and the house is quiet and I'm nursing her to sleep I wonder if this must be what it feels like to be full of peace and to know this simple act of nourishing my child has helped to get me there. "Everything is right," I think, "There is nothing that would make me happier at this very moment." And then there is nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to be a mother and experience this. "THIS is life," I think. "This is worth fighting for." And then I shake my head at the thought that this is but only a small part of what the next life has in store.
A lot of times we say that the thought of having an afterlife can be a great source of comfort when a loved one passes away. To me, this is true but I'm not sure I would want to live if I didn't know that one day I can have all these memories back. I look forward to the time that I can remember in crisp detail all these moments that I've had with all my children. To lose them and so many other joyous memories is as great as losing a life. Praise be to our Lord and Savior that they are not lost!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Chicken Whisperer

There are lots of interesting folks in my family with lots of interesting hobbies. I had a conversation the other night via Facebook with my sister Caroline. By the end of it I was rolling! It was so funny I thought you, my blog readers might get a kick out of it. Plus this kind of thing is always neat to record for my progeny.
The conversation started out like any other with me asking "What's new?" I have omitted some "integrated conversation" for the purposes of sparing you all the details that I felt were outside of the main subject of my sister's chicken hobby but I promise you the "chicken conversation" is word for word(except for a few typing errors I corrected). I considered making it shorter and only including the really funny parts but it's also quite informative although it's probably more than you ever expected to know about chickens ;-) And really, Ive heard about the meticulous care she gave a few of her injured chickens which really does earn her the right of being called the chicken whisperer.

Caroline:
I have more biddies
that's new
they hatched last week

Rachel:
cuteness!
I have a friend here who raised chicks last year

Caroline:
there are 6 of them
I bought a mini incubator
it holds at most 10, it keeps the addiction under control
hatching biddies is WAY cool

Rachel:
it was too cold when they got them so they kept them inside in their bathroom. Then they put them out when the whether got warmer and now they are getting ready to slaughter them now that the weather is finally cold. Apparently even a chicken coup with a light can't keep chickens warm enough in this kind of winter
addiction hahahaha

Caroline:
I know Beya would love to hatch biddies

Rachel:
oh i am sure she would

Caroline:
I handled them and was able to see a little heart beat at day five
You can see them move around in the shell

Rachel:
pretty neat :-) So are u just doing it for the eggs or are you going to kill them for meat later?
what am I thinking?
You could never kill your own chickens :-)

Caroline:
HAHAHA are you kidding?

Rachel:
yeah I know
me neither

Caroline:
Michael asked me about that once
 I said "Do you want to see me cry? Do YOU WANT TO SEE ME CRY?"
 "If you want to see me cry, we'll eat our chickens"
 that was the end of that conversation

Rachel:
hahahaha
 Yeah mom told me about those two chickens you nursed back to health

 a diaper on a chicken... sheesh

Caroline:
did she tell you I was able to integrate them back into the flock?

Rachel:
yes yes
you are "Caroline, the Chicken Whisperer"

Caroline:
I was really excited about that
I still am

Rachel:
You should have your own show on A&E

Caroline:
Michael says I'm CRS "Chicken rehabilitation specialist"

Rachel:
no no no. Chicken Whisperer... that sounds more mysterious and marketable

Caroline:
I really like my chickens, better than our dogs

Rachel:
I know... I felt that way about our fish when we had them so certainly chickens also apply
If I could guarantee myself another Spike I'd probably try to get chickens at some point

(For those of you wondering Spike was a chicken we had growing up that was super friendly and followed us around like a dog. Very personable and full of personality)

Caroline:
I have a few spikes
they are hard to come by though
scarlet is like that, the chicken I had inside
she comes at the sound of your voice

Rachel: 
do you think you could house train a chicken?

Caroline:
I've heard of house trained chickens
but it would be pretty hard because they don't have a natural instinct to be clean

Rachel:
do they typically go in the same place all the time like horses or dogs?

Caroline:
No, they poop wherever
but I swear scarlet didn't like to go in her cage
because whenever I took her out she would make the biggest poo like she had been holding it
I really don't want an indoor chicken if I can avoid it, but scarlet was special and I didn't want to let her die
the first time I put her out with the other chickens I came back to find her head shoved under the side of the stall trying to shield it and a pile of feathers around her where they had been pecking her

Rachel:
mom was all like "I've got to put and end to that!"
she was genuinely impressed with your nurturing skills but thought you were terrible at engineering chicken diapers
hahahaha

Caroline:

well I didn't engineer them, I bought them
but the design I got was flawed

Rachel:
oh so were they baby diapers?

Caroline:

it would catch the poo about half the time
no they actually make diapers for chickens

Rachel:
*blink*

Caroline:
a lot of people are realizing what great pets chickens are

Rachel:
seriously?

Caroline:
YES!

google it if you don't believe me
it's a little wacky actually
some folks are just nuts over their chickens
I found this one video of a lady who called her pet rooster her soul mate
it was funny and disturbing at the same time

Rachel:

oh. my. wow.
chickendiapers.com
soooo can't you just treat them like any other bird you'd have for a pet and give them a cage inside if you had to have them indoors?
and then let them outside a couple times a day just like a dog?

Caroline:

well, a dog can be trained to hold it till they are let out
chickens are much harder or impossible to train in that respect

Rachel:
yeah but I mean other pet birds that are domesticated live in cages. So why does a chicken need free range of a house?

Caroline:

and it's nice to let them wander around without worrying that they'll poo on something
well because they can't socialize with you if they are always in the cage
scarlet likes to sit on your lap and be petted, but you wouldn't want her to poo on you
that's where the diaper comes in, but I like her much better outside

Rachel:
ok so but... do you WIPE them when you change their diaper??

Caroline:

no lol
it just goes directly in the diaper without messing the feathers

Rachel:
sounds like a queer bit of diaper engineering it does!

Caroline:
the problem with scarlet was sometimes it would slip down below her butt, so when she pooed it would go outside the diaper

Rachel:
what did SHE think about the diaper?

Caroline:

which was about fifty percent of the time
I don't think she liked it
she would constantly preen around it, like it itched or something
but I don't think the design I got was made very well

Rachel:
were they disposable or washable?

Caroline:
I was looking at other diaper designs, and contemplating building her her own mini coup when I got her in with the rest of the flock; a huge relief

Rachel:
yeah i bet

Caroline:

they were washable
they came with a semi water proof lining
daisy was so cute with her

Rachel:
I feel my mind has been blown in the realm of the advancement of chicken domestication

Caroline:
she called her brock brock

Rachel:
haha cute!

Caroline:
scarlet was so tolerant of getting picked up and held by daisy, it was quite sweet

Rachel:

I think I'm going to take a transcript of this conversation and put it on my blog
spread some chicken love awareness :-)

Caroline:

yeah, I hope eventually people will start making a change in the way they are raised
for food and eggs and such
chickens are treated the worst out of any livestock

Rachel:
yes I wholeheartedly agree
that's why we only buy free-range chicken if we buy it at all

how many total do you have?
and what do you do with your roosters?

Caroline:
33 total, including the 6 biddies in the garage

Rachel:
gee golly jeepers!

Caroline:

the last roosters I had, I put on Craigslist for free
 
Rachel:
hahaha... out of sight, out of mind, eh?
do you get rid of them before or after you raise them up?
 
Caroline:
I had an email the next day and a day after that someone came and got them

I don't think they knew what they were doing
I got rid of them because they were mean
so they were of a fair size

Rachel:
oh well that's pretty much how roosters go most of the time

Caroline:

No not really
roosters can be very sweet
but certain breeds especially Rhode Island Reds are prone to being people aggressive
Rachel:
to you? or to the hens? Because I remember how "sexually abused" the hens were that dad had

Caroline:

I've decided that I absolutely will not keep a mean rooster
oh haha yeah, they do that, even the sweet ones
but you know they make chicken saddles
that help protect the hens from losing their feathers

Rachel:

i can't stand to watch a rooster go after a hen over and over and over and over
what the heck is a chicken saddle?
oh dear

Caroline:

It's a cloth that sits over their back
to prevent the roosters claws from hurting them
roosters always have favorite hens
I'm planning to use them for the hens that seem to get the most attention
but I don't currently have any adult roos, just two teenagers

Rachel:
*shaking head*

Caroline:
I bought a few chicken saddles the same time I bought the diapers, so hopefully the saddles will work better

Rachel:

so how did you find out about a "hen saddle" did you google "how to stop sexual abuse in the hen yard"?
i'm sorry... this is just hilarious

Caroline:
lol no, I forget how exactly

Rachel:
i think i'm going to cry I'm laughing so hard

Caroline:

but I do a lot of reading about chickens to find out how to cure various ailments and such
It's ok, I think it's funny too
but in all seriousness I hate to see hens loose their feathers because of an over zealous rooster
so either I get rid of the roosters, or I fix the hens

Rachel:

it's probably pretty insensitive of me to be taking your "trade" so lightly. I just never imagined that people were putting this much thought into raising chickens
oh dear. What would dad be saying about all this I wonder

Caroline:

dad loved chickens too
I think that's where I got it from
but probably not quite like I do
I can only imagine what he would have said about chicken diapers

Rachel:
well all I know is once he was talking about a necklace for a jersey cow... so I don't suppose chicken diapers would be wholly out of his chicken toolbox

Caroline:

it's ok to think they are funny, I laugh at them everyday, it's part of what makes them so enjoyable
one day I was watching the biddies and heared one of them let out a sharp distress peep, so I went to pick it up to see what the problem was and realized that it had pecked and held on to it's own toe thinking it was something to eat
they are just constant entertainment

So there you have it folks. Consider yourselves... educated!