Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two big changes that occur with motherhood

My life as a mother began after I had spent a LOT of years as a single person who had little or no responsibilities to anyone else, at least not day to day, what's for dinner? do I have any clean clothes? type of responsibilities. And I did not start motherhood after 9 months of putting my body through the most dramatic changes I think a body can go through. And maybe an even more important point is I did not start with a newborn who was totally dependent on me and kept me awake night after night for at least the first two years.

My start in motherhood began after 2 years of paperchasing (no stretch marks from that!) with a 6 year old, who had been fairly responsible for herself a good part of her life. My first day of motherhood included a trip to McDonalds, a nap, shopping, and sightseeing, not nearly what happens after hours of labor and delivery.

Anyway, because of all of this, I think I am still quite surprised in the changes I see in myself from the fairly recent days of no responsibility to being mom.

This afternoon reminded me of one that probably doesn't seem all that significant, but is a major change for me.

When my sister and her 2 young daughters stayed with me just before leaving to adopt Grace, I remember as I was doing laundry, asking if they had any wearable colored clothes that needed to be washed. Jana laughed so hard asking what in the world did I mean. I sorted my laundry carefully and would never think of washing towels and sheets that were a color with the clothes that I wear. This was 2 separate loads. I also didn't mind washing small, medium, or large loads, rather than risk mixing items.

Today, while doing laundry, which included my sheets, I was down to a mix of one sheet, some of my better pants, and some sweaters. Without batting an eye, I threw it all in together. Shoot, I just wanted to get finished with it, I didn't want to waste the time, much less the water, to wash one sheet by itself. If I had done that, it would have resulted in 3 small loads, so in the still "new" life as mom, I can more easily recognize losing battles, things that just don't matter, and that there is a limit to the amount of time I want to use on laundry.

For the majority of my adult life, I have had a problem with allergies that can lead to sinus infections and then quickly turn into bronchitis. Pre-mom days, I probably delayed going to the doctor until I was just sick of being sick and then I took however long it took to actually get well. This could mean a week or two, doing NOTHING in between. Thursday, by the time I came home from work and as grouchy as I was, I knew I had to go to the doctor, it could not be delayed any longer. One night of me being "off" and I knew I had to fix that. So even though I did not feel like dragging out of bed on Friday, I did, and went straight to the doctor where I got a shot and three prescriptions to speed up the process, because now as mom, laying around until I felt 100% would be too late. Life happens and you have to keep up.

By Saturday morning, I knew my list of chores was long, so it did not matter that I did not feel 100% better, I needed to get busy. After making a quick breakfast, doing some preliminary cleaning, Annabel and I got outside, hauling big bags of soil and compost, trying to get a few things planted before the rain started. We got the front 2 raised beds filled, then moved to the back yard to do them. From there, we cleaned out the chicken house, hauling out the old straw, cleaning out the nesting boxes, and filling up the compost bin with all we had collected. From there we moved inside and changed the air filter, put some things away in our tip top storage areas, which required all 3 of us, and a few other things before a quick clean up and out to Costco. When we got home, then we had to find a place to store all the large economy sizes of everything we bought, which is a LOT of work.

By the time I finally sat down for the night and thought about all we had accomplished, I still feel a sense of amazement at this huge change in my life. I would much rather get well quickly and back into the groove as quickly as possible, as I think my girls deserve it.

I like the change. This life is so much better.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring break plans???

Tomorrow my girls are out for spring break at noon. We are scheduled to go to Abilene shortly after that to visit my original alma mater, Abilene Christian University. They are having a college preview day for high school students. Their school takes trips each year to visit colleges, but I knew they would never include ACU in their plans and I want them to have a good idea of the wide variety of colleges available.

When I first got the notice and realized that the dates matched up with their school holiday, I made arrangements for us to attend. I even made a hotel reservation, a month in advance, which is really unusual because I generally wait until the last minute on those details. In the last week, I also filled the car with gas, got the registration done (only one month late, again something that I usually delay for several months!), and even got the oil changed 600 miles before I had to (another item I NEVER do early). I wanted us to be ready to embark on this quick adventure and know the car was ready to go. All this preparation made me recall the hundreds of trips I made between Dallas and Abilene in cars that were pretty much on their last leg, some with windows that would not roll up or down, missing windshield wipers, holes in the gas tank, cracked blocks, and the only one that ever actually caused a problem was a broken alternator belt.

I loved going to school in Abilene, just not at first. I spent my freshman year at home going to Mt. View, the junior college here, because I had spent the money I had saved for college and went on a mission trip to Scotland instead, so I stayed home, taking classes, and trying to earn enough to start in my Sophomore year.

The first year in Abilene, I think I cried on every return trip to school. Eventually I made friends, began working part time, and really appreciating all that the opportunity provided, so much so that by the end of my Senior year, I cried because I had to come home. I knew I was coming back to Dallas and was so sure of it, that even 2 different marriage proposals were not enough to keep me in West Texas (and neither of them would fit in Dallas).

So when I graduated, I came home, sure of my future, meeting Mr. Right within the first couple of years, before saying I do, and by the time I was 25 - 28, that white picket fence and a shared life would be my destiny.

Only the problem with plans is I did not know what the future would hold and instead of making dates to uncover Mr. Right, I was making Doctor appointments, trying to recover and stay well after my, well, I'm still not sure what it was, whether it was a stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage, or just a giant aneurysm that suddenly became a problem! Anyway, none of what I planned in Abilene ever happened and for a long time, I was just glad to have made it another year, especially the years I stayed out of the hospital. I even gave up on the plan to have 2.5 children, which was the norm at the time, and never expected to have children to show where I went to school.

See, this is where my life took a much better turn than I had ever planned and now I have my two wonderful daughters, who probably have very little interest in seeing Abilene, but for my sake will be troopers and never complain.

So back to planning. After doing all of this prep work, which is all unusual for me, I am now just one step up from being sicker than a dog. I don't know if it is a sinus infection, allergy attack, but I just know my head feels like it is in a vise, and my cough sounds like the bark of a rabid dog. Ugh, why do I try to make plans!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pulling the plug

We are very sad tonight. We finally pulled the plug on the incubator.

I kept hoping there was a chance of a maybe one more hatching, even though when we had candled, knew we only saw one.

I finally started looking at several resources, then got in touch with my local chicken professional, and she gave me instructions on how to check for any life signs in the eggs, after she asked if any had pipped.

I hated to ask what pip was so I googled it quickly, but after reading the first description of pipping, I knew that none of the rest had.

I went to the next step of using a clean sharp nail and poking a small hole into the large end of the egg. I even followed her instruction of chirping into the egg to see if anyone answered. There was nothing. I made the hole larger and saw that there was no sign of life at all and there had never been anything but an egg inside that shell. I grabbed the flashlight and looked at each one, then sadly announced to the girls that I did not think we had any more that would hatch.

Annabel wanted to help with the process of double checking and soon Grace joined in too. We took turns poking the initial hole, chirping into the egg, then carefully breaking back enough shell to see what quickly became the norm, an intact egg, with no signs of developing into anything else. With the last one, I went in and unplugged the incubator. It all seemed very dramatic!

It was really sad for Annabel because she had been so loyal about turning them, checking on the temperature, and the water. She bounces back quickly though and wants us to buy our own incubator and try again! She has caught chicken math too, evidently.

And a quick update on our 3 babies, this morning, there was not a peep from the cage, when I truly expected to be woken up quite early by their constant chirping. I lay there dreading to find 3 dead chickens in the cage. Thank goodness, they were just quiet for long enough to late me sleep until the alarm went off!

So here is a picture of Biscuit, the Cinnamon Queen that we hatched.

And here she is with her "sisters", Honey, which is a White Plymouth Rock, and Gravy, which is an Aracauna.

Let's hope everyone is still chirping tomorrow!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Our flock increases

February 3 - Saw a notice for a chicken place for a bargain - a dozen Cinnamon Queen hatching eggs for only $20.

Now, I will admit two important parts of this story - I had no idea what "hatching eggs" were, but hoped it meant the eggs would be hatching pretty soon and that I love a bargain, the thought of 12 chickens for only $20 made me gleeful!

So all you had to do was reply sold, along with your email address and they were yours, of course, after they received payment. I'm not sure what made me do some really quick googling, but I soon found out I would need an incubator, and at this point, you could not tell if they would be chickens or roosters. Still at that point, I was thinking you just used a little item, that probably looked like a quesadilla maker, pop the eggs in and within a short time - Voila! 12 baby chickens!

If you were around when we bought our first chickens, or within the month, you might have noticed that I promised I would NEVER have baby chickens again, or if I did, they would be in the summer, when you did not have to have them in the house, cleaning out a stinky cage, regularly.

So I'm not sure what happened or why, but common sense was thrown out the window and I went through with buying the eggs, sure I would find the quesadilla maker/incubator.

At the exact same time that this was happening, we were trying to convert to broadband from DSL and every single night, hours were spent trying to deal with AT&T, either on the phone or in person, with a tech trying to solve the mystery of why it would not work, so I was trying to do research about hatching eggs on my phone, and desperately seeking the quesadilla/incubator.

The eggs arrived on Wednesday. I finally tracked down an incubator on Thursday, and Friday, we got it all set up. The broadband, still not working, continued to force me to do research on my phone, but I found the details on temperature and humidity, that they needed to be turned about 3 times a day, and 21 days later, we should have babies.

Yesterday was 21 days. Last night we could hear an incessant chirping, coming from the incubator, which turned out to look like a very large foam cooler, with wires, and plugs coming out. This morning, very early, it was quite obvious that the chirping was no longer coming from inside an egg, but outside. It felt somewhat like Christmas, running in, and stealing the first look! Annabel soon was doing the same thing.

There, among 11 intact eggs, was a very tiny chicken jumping all around and chirping quite loudly.

I left out an important step.

Along the way we "candled" the eggs, powering Dad's tiny little, but powerful Mag light, to view inside each of the eggs, to see the progress of the development of the chickens. We weren't sure what we were doing but knew that one seemed different from the others. I reported to a group of friends who have done this before. They were surprised that I thought only one seemed to fit the pictures of a chicken growing, but I kept hoping that we were wrong.

Another important thing was that Annabel assumed total responsibility for the egg turning, the temperature, and the humidity. Each day, she was up early making sure everything was just right. Today she was up early wanting to open the incubator and get the baby out, but she also stood over the incubator singing songs of encouragement to the rest of the eggs, trying to will them to get the strength to break through their shell.

I knew the chance of any more eggs hatching was slim so when we went to get food for the baby, I knew we would need to get at least one more baby as chickens have to have other chickens to survive. as they are flock animals/birds. I didn't mention this to Annabel, as she was sure that the rest would hatch, but about halfway there, it dawned on her that we might want to consider the worst case scenario in case the others don't hatch, so what would we do.

Thankfully I knew this feed store usually always had baby chicks and today was no exception, so along with a 25 pound bag of beginner feed, we also came away with 2 more baby chicks.

So here's the math - buy 12 eggs for $20, one eggs hatches, so go buy more chickens!

A friend calls this chicken math! Tonight I am calling it craziness!