Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hatching Chicks

We got our first chickens just over four years ago. Six sweet little day old chicks. Why I have no pictures of them at that age, I have no idea. Well, except for the fact that I had a active six year old, an even more active 18 month old, was seven months pregnant at the time and taking care of my two year old nephew. Why I thought getting chickens was a good idea at the time I have no idea. My husband certainly thought I was crazy. Anyway, this is the earliest picture I have of our original six chicks. They are about four months old in this picture, not babies at all anymore.

Our original six chicks.
Dear husband that puts up with (most) of my crazy schemes seems to have been converted over the last four years. It might have something to do with the eggs he now has for breakfast almost every morning. Nothing compares to fresh, organic, pastured eggs. I won't get into the nutrition benefits, they are just... yum. Really the chickens are sweet and well, soothing. I love watching them from my desk or going out to just sit and watch them. Which is why we were all devastated when we had a fox attack that left all but two of our chickens dead.

So what to do?  It was too late in the baby chick season to buy from any local sources. Mail order chicks were possible, but pricey on the shipping. And then our local veggie CSA farm offered us fertile eggs to hatch. We don't have an incubator, but one of the chickens that survived is named Broody, because of her tendency to go broody so often. "Broody" is when the hen is sitting on eggs trying to hatch them. Since we had not ever had a rooster, there was no way that she could ever hatch our eggs, but if she went broody, we could put in the fertile eggs and have her hatch those eggs.

First, Broody and her sister Buffy, needed to start laying again. Seems like the fox attack left them a little upset and they stopped laying. After about a week finally they started laying again. I started leaving the eggs they laid in the nesting box, hoping to encourage Broody to do her thing. Very odd, as for four years we tried everything to get her NOT to be broody. It took another couple of weeks, but finally Broody has been sitting on the nest.

I put a call into the farm and just picked up the fertile eggs today. We decided on putting nine eggs in the nest.  (She had been sitting on eight eggs.)

The fertile eggs in the nesting box.

DH grabbed Broody and took her out, while I did the switch. We quickly left and prayed that she would accept the new eggs. Well she took her own sweet time about it. Evidently she decided that since she was out anyway she had time to take a dust bath, do some grooming, get a drink and something to eat.

Broody, mom, er... adoptive mom to be. (Buffy is on the right)
But finally, she returned to her nesting box and is sitting on the eggs again! In what promises to be a very long three weeks, I hope to be posting pictures of cute little baby chicks!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Ocean and Heaven

Going back to the ocean for the first time as an adult is an amazing experience. It is probably one of the only things that you can go back to as an adult and say, "yes it is indeed as big and as powerful as I remembered as a kid". In fact I think as an adult I now have an even greater appreciation of the power and vastness of the ocean. Especially as I was there with my three (non-swimming) children. Eeek!

So, you are probably wondering what does the ocean have to do with heaven? Not quite the obvious, although I did do some praying to keep everyone safe. (Did I mention the surf was rough?) No, it really has to do with a random thought that occurred to me as I was watching the people on the beach and the ocean.

I think if you were to ask most people what heaven is like, you would get the typical responses: angels, harps, clouds, peaceful days, etc. It is where we are suppose to want to go, well versus the alternative afterlife that is. However sitting at the beach, staring at the awesomeness of the vast ocean, I couldn't help but wonder if we are missing something in our vision of heaven.

Would the God that has given us the oceans, the streams, the towering mountains, the rippling fields, the amazing animals, the vast canyons, the absolute wonders of this universe in this world which is imperfect and fallen, really only give us clouds, and harps and angels in the perfect afterlife of heaven? I think not. I think that heaven will be something that we can't even imagine. Something even more glorious then this world we live in now.

Of course I think we can all understand why God has been less then forthcoming about what heaven will be like. After all, we have our purpose here on earth to fulfill. If He were to tell us about what is waiting, why would be hang out here when there is something so much better in store for us?

However, the Bible tells us that the "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." Psalm 19:1. So when we are contemplating the Lord our God and what he has in store for us, both in this present life and the one that we will move on to, take a look around. God is not small. Don't expect small things.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


We always knew our oldest son was a bit different. We tried out various labels like challenging, spirited, high-needs etc. but none of them seemed to fully describe this child of ours. I would have conversations with other moms and be told that, oh yes, their child was spirited/high-needs/challenging/whatever as well. I would look at their child (usually playing happily) and just shake my head to myself and think, "no, you have no idea."

He was our first after all, what did we know? He was a boy and obsessed with trains. Weren't all boys obsessed with trains? Maybe. But I bet not all of them memorized the entire Thomas the Train catalog and knew every single train's name. A lot of babies don't sleep well. But how many wake up every 45 min until they were two and then still didn't sleep through the night until they were five?

Looking back hindsight is of course 20/20. Why did it take us so long to seek help and get a diagnose? First of all we did try to get help when his anxiety kicked in around age four. ODD was the diagnoses from that counselor. To which we said "no way". Although challenging and sensitive, he was only defiant when overwhelmed.  It is very hard for a parent to seek help and yet get a misdiagnose. It took us years to try to seek answers again.

It wasn't until I did my own research and came across Aspergers looking for answers to various behavior issues we were having that I once again looked to the medical community for help. This time armed with more information, I presented the idea of him having Aspergers to another counselor. The counselor agreed and we have forged a great relationship with her that continues to help all of us.

The book that I came across that really helped me pinpoint Aspergers as a diagnose was Parenting Your Asperger Child, by Alan Sohn, Ed.D. and Cathy Grayson, M.A.

In the book it lists six characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome which I will share with you.

  1. Difficulty with reciprocal social interactions. Contrary to my belief children with Aspergers can be highly verbal. Alex will lecture you for hours on his latest obsession but things like eye-contact and conversational turn-taking are difficult to near impossible for him. 
  2. Impairments in language skills. This doesn't mean Asperger children can't talk! Although very verbal, Alex sees conversation as a way to relay facts and information about his latest special interest. Sharing thoughts, feelings or emotions, does not occur to him. Some may also notice that his pronunciation or rhythm of speech is "off". You can't quite describe it, but you can hear it.
  3. Narrow range of interest and insistence on set routines. This varies by each individual but all Asperger children will have a specialized interest. As far as routines go, we always joked that whatever way you do things the first time with our son, you must be willing to do it that way forever. Cut his sandwich diagonally the first time, be prepared that no other way will ever be acceptable.
  4. Motor clumsiness. Many Asperger individuals have problems with both gross and fine motor skills. Alex continues to have difficulties with fine motor skills, but for the most part his gross motor skills are pretty good.
  5. Cognitive issues. Aspergers individuals have trouble with empathy. They also see most things as black or white, shades of gray do not exist in their world.
  6. Sensory sensitivites. This we knew from birth. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, Alex is sensitive to it all. As a baby he would meltdown in the grocery store every single time. The lights, smells, sounds of it all were just too much. We still deal with many of these, but of course, now they are easier since he can speak to us. Still it often takes us asking him what he is feeling to get him to tell us.
So what do you do if you suspect that your child has Aspergers? Get a referral to a psychiatrist, not a social worker. Although you may end up with a social worker as a counselor (as we have) only a psychiatrist can diagnose Aspergers.

How do you deal with a child that has Aspergers? The same way you would any other child, with love, understanding and maybe a little extra patience.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Does a Snow Day Look Like for Homeschoolers

Well if it is the first snow of the year, then it looks like this:

Not to sure about this stuff.

Pretty sure she doesn't like this stuff.
Absolutely sure he doesn't like this stuff.

To give them credit. They do like snow and are still outside playing as I am writing this. It is however, not quite snow, more of a slush. So to make them extremely happy (and warm) I am starting a fire. And we will probably have some hot chocolate as well.

 Do we do this every snow day? No. For the rest of the year it will be school as usual even if it snows. Homeschooling is flexible and after four years of this, Alex at least knows are traditions. He was the first one to remind me that there is no school for the first snow. Hopefully these will be good memories for my kids when they look back at our homeschooling journey.

Oh yes, can't forget the "snow dog"