Thursday, August 7, 2014

bushel and a peck

Bushel & a Peck
Got eggs?
Bushel & a Peck
{We've got eggs.}
Bushel & a Peck
{We've got 19 eggs.}
Bushel & a Peck
{But we've eaten 6. So, 25 total.}
Bushel & a Peck
{That's practically a bushel and a peck!}
Bushel & a Peck
{In just 3 weeks.}
Bushel & a Peck
{We only have 2 hens laying so far.}
Bushel & a Peck
{Every day we collect 1-2 eggs.}
Bushel & a Peck
{A couple times we've gotten soft shell eggs.}
Bushel & a Peck
{But most eggs are top notch.}
Bushel & a Peck
{We bring them inside, and pack them away.}
Bushel & a Peck
{We put them into pretty turquoise cartons.}
Bushel & a Peck
{We need to start eating them.}
Bushel & a Peck
{When we first got chickens,
everyone said they would buy eggs from us.}

{I thought, "We'll never have 
enough eggs for all these people."}

{But now I'm thinking, 
once all chickens are laying...
Bushel & a Peck
...we probably will have plenty.}
Bushel & a Peck
{And I don't want to charge.}
Bushel & a Peck
{The eggs are a small blessing to us...
Bushel & a Peck
...and we want them to be 
a small blessing to others as well.}
Bushel & a Peck
{That is all.}
Bushel & a Peck
Keep calm and lay on, Big Betty!

Cheers,
Heather

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Foreskin: Trash it? - OR - Sell it?

I interrupt my regularly happy blogging of kids, chickens, and the occasional rant about Hillary Clinton to talk about this topic, which has become close to my heart. 
For our boys. 


I'm not sure which is worse when it comes to infant circumcision:
 throwing that organ away in the trash?
 - OR - 
the hospital turning around and making a profit 
off of what is actually a precious part of the body God knit him together with? 

Sadly, my research showed me that our society knows very little about what circumcision really is.

It is this: a $1-2 BILLION industry. Did you know our babies foreskins aren't just being thrown away? Hospitals make a profit on them (which is probably why they aren't helping to spread the word on how risky, painful, and unnecessary they are). Without asking anyone's permission--particularly the donor's--they are selling these body parts. Oprah is wearing them on her face (I'm not trying being crude, it's an ingredient in her favorite skin care line, SkinMedica).

The saddest part? While the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are making money off the foreskin--which my research tells me that baby needed more than Oprah's face does--parents often pay out of pocket for this procedure. A surgery performed on healthy newborns that even the American Academy of Pediatrics deems is unnecessary. You pay for it, your baby needed his foreskin, but never mind all that: the hospital gets to sell it like a commodity.

Since the mid 1800s, when Christians in America (most of Europe doesn't practice circumcision on infants, some countries even outlaw it) resumed the practice as a method of preventing...ahem..."sinning" (ironically, one 1992 study actually shows it has the opposite effect on young men), the medical industry capitalized on the practice and is--in my angry opinion--failing to fully inform parents and society about the truths of this money-making, pointless surgery. I don't blame the parents...we were once dead set on doing it to our son too. Society has told us an awful lot of great things about circumcision, and we've all believed it. But it's time to start sharing the difficult truths, for the sake of our sons. Look, this topic is hard to face, but it needs to be faced because the reality is...

It's tragic. I hope Americans continue to learn the truth, as the dropping rate in this practice suggests. At the very least, parents should make their decision for themselves, but fully informed. Many parents know next to nothing, other than "it's cleaner" (it's not) and "my husband had it done and doesn't regret it" or, my favorite, "my sister's co-worker's dog walker's friend from high school didn't have their baby circumcised...and then he got UTIs!!! So then instead of having him treated for the UTIs like his daughters were--with antibiotics--they HAD to perform the surgery when he was older! Can you imagine???"  I used to think like that. Now I know better. #themoreyouknow

P.S. Need a foreskin? Buy one here! Sadly, our babies can never recover what is lost during circumcision, but you can make Oprah some cold creams with it. See the going rate for the product of a surgery parents paid for and the not-useless organ the baby lost so he could look like his daddy (cosmetic surgery) or avoid a 1%* higher chance he'd get a UTI. Although my daughter and myself both have had during our childhoods and survived without surgery. Go figure.

* That 1% higher risk has been researched and is likely due to forced retraction of the foreskin, which ill-educated doctors have been telling parents to do to intact babies, when that really leaves them more open to infections. All this eventually led to "intactivists" coining the clever phrase:

If intact, don't retract! 
Only clean what is seen! 
Intact babies are 100% (no pun intended right there, but it's true, they are 100%) maintenance free as far as the foreskin goes. They don't need surgery.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eyesley

DSC_2557
I cried when I found out Eisley had eye issues and would need glasses.

Yes, I know. It's not a big deal. Kids in glasses are the CUTEST. Yes, I know. Many children suffer from FAR WORSE conditions than amblyopia. I know. I know. I know.

I am nothing if not emotional. Emotions are the first thing to bubble up before my logic, reason, and straight thinking come forward. So I cried when I found out Eisley needed to wear glasses, because I'm a mamma bear at heart and it hurts to see my kids have to "suffer" anything. Even eyeglasses.

We'd noticed her eyes crossing a bit as a toddler, and it was concerning since Justin has had similar eye issues. Then, as she grew a bit older, she started squinting and blinking when watching television or trying to concentrate. It was obvious, she needed to see the eye doctor.

My family has stellar eyesight, that is, until we age. I've always had 20/20, and Justin has been heard calling me "Eagle Eyes" a few times, because I can read a street sign from a block away and find Waldo in two seconds flat. Simply put: I've never had to experience eyesight issues. Although when I was in second grade I decided I needed glasses because I thought they looked cool, so I told my parents my vision was blurry and they got me some. {I was un-focusing my eyes on purpose.} To this day, my family still gives me grief for the time I convinced them I needed glasses.

I remember, when Eis first received her diagnosis, being irrationally resentful of Justin. The eye issues were probably from his genes. How dare he. {I know, I know. I know.}

But then she got her prescription for new lenses and we picked out her adorable purple frames, the compliments from strangers started pouring in. Everywhere we went, people commented on "that little blonde girl with the cute purple glasses, isn't she cute!" I realized, glasses are pretty cute! And they only add to her character. Nothing wrong here! I like Eisley with glasses!

A year later, Eisley was suddenly resisting wearing her glasses. We took her back to her wonderful eye doctor. But no, the presctiption hadn't changed. Eisley had been diagnosed with amblyopia, and the diagnosis remained. That's basically a lazy eye. One eye was stronger than the other. One of her eyes {her left} had much worse vision than the other. {Very similar to her daddy's eye issues.} Some cases require surgery, but Eisley was only prescribed glasses at the time. One lens was, like, +2.25 and the other +0.50 or something like that. {I don't honestly remember, but they were drastically different.} It was a pretty significant problem, and Eisley was fitted for glasses at at a very young age.

Today, I took Eisley to the eye doctor again. Finally! She has a really great eye doctor with a great reputation and a great staff. I'd missed the last appointment, which was upsetting because she's been without her glasses for a couple months now. They were broken beyond repair during play with her cousins. This appointment has been a long time coming.

I was so proud of her today. Usually Justin comes with us and sits in the big chair with Eisley while her eyes are checked. Today, she flew solo as I had to wrangle Violet and Pax.

The nurse did the intial exams, as usual. She seemed perplexed toward the end of her exam, and muttered things like, "That's interesting." and "Hmm..." Then Dr. Cohen came in, and he reiterated the nurse, "That's interesting." and "Huh...".

Dr. Cohen is a serious man who looks like he just stepped off the time machine; what, with his bow ties, his combover, and mustache. He has a cute, matter-of-fact way with the kids. I've been assured by more than one pediatrician that he is the best of the best.

It's been a year and a half since her prescription was last updated. I was planning on driving over to the eyeglasses shop right after her appointment, to order a new pair with her updated prescription right away. It had been too long without her glasses!

I was feeling like a bad mom. What if we'd made her eyesight worse by allowing her to go without glasses all these weeks? And also self conscious, even, whenever she's been seen lately without her glasses. People had gotten to know her by those cute purple frames. Justin and I were being neglectful in allowing her to go months without her much needed eyeglasses.

Only to find out today...

Eisley doesn't need glasses anymore. 

She has 20/20. In BOTH eyes.

WHAT?!?!

I'd been told before by Dr. Cohen, kids eyes are always changing. Apparently, Eisley's amblyopia has disappeared. Cured itself. The doctor says he can still tell a slight difference, one eye is still a bit more sharp than the other, but they are both 20/20, nonetheless.

Eisley doesn't NEED eyeglasses anymore!!!

Or at least for the time being. We need to go back once a year to have her checked, and her eyesight very well could change again.

I'm still a bit shocked, honestly. I told Dr. Cohen, "I was under the impression she would wear glasses all her life!" He shrugged. He sounded surprised too, that Eisley's eyes had corrected themselves.

"She no longer needs glasses, for the time being." he said.

I cried when I found out she needed them. Today I left the eye doctor, called Justin to tell him the good news, and then I looked back in my rearview mirror at my blonde eldest child. Well, shoot. I'm going to sort of miss those cute purple frames.

DSC_2578 Cheers,
Heather

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Bird's Eye View

For the Birds
We got our first eggs this weekend!
We had figured we wouldn't start seeing eggs until August, at the earliest, as chickens start laying around 20-24 weeks old on average. Our four older chickens are 18/19 weeks old. We have been looking in the coop for eggs anyway, just in case. Imagine our delight when I checked the coop yesterday morning, only to find a tiny brown egg smack dab in the middle. We were all so eggcited excited! {I'm trying to hold back on the puns, I really am.}

Thought it was Big Betty, but then this morning before church I went to check again and saw Miss Mabel in the corner of the nesting box, facing the corner like she wanted privacy. Lo and behold, when we checked again after church, there was an egg buried in the wood shavings where she had been sitting. So we think it must be Mabel laying--although I'm not sure she'd lay for the first time, two days in a row--so who knows? Maybe we have two laying chickies?
For the Birds
That's Big Betty on the left, Mabel on the right. Their combs recently turned bright red, which is generally considered an indication that they've reached "chicken puberty" and will start laying within a few weeks. We've placed golf balls in the nesting boxes so that the chickens know that is where to put the round white/brown things. It appears to be working.
For the BirdsFor the Birds
On the left in the carton is yesterday's egg, the right in the carton is today's, slightly bigger egg. The photo on the right is yesterday's egg, after being washed.
For the Birds
So, hopefully soon here we'll be gathering a few eggs every morning! We've been waiting and anticipating this for months now. All this work raising chicks and building a coop, finally we're seeing some reward!
For the Birds
Although that's not true, we've already been rewarded by the flock. They've been a joy to have around and watch. The kids have learned a lot. Our scraps from meals are avoiding the dump and feeding the chickens. It's amazing how backyard chickens can save hundreds of pounds of food from the garbage. Read here about how backyard chickens can help with the environment and even save tax dollars by eating your leftovers.
For the Birds
I was cleaning up the backyard this week while the kids played inside, when I noticed Percy and Leif swimming strangely in the pool. Suffice it to say, I got a lesson on the birds and the bees as far as birds are concerned. Having a male and a female duck, we obviously realized that ducklings might be part of our future. We'll see. We'd hoped for edible duck eggs. I'm not sure I can stomach a fertilized duck egg. Hatching ducklings might allow us to reduce our ducks to two laying females, however. We'll see what comes. For now, I loved to watch these goofballs swim in their kiddie pool pond. {Except when they're mating. Gross, get a coop, guys.} From what I've learned, ducks don't use nesting boxes. So even if Leif lays eggs, we'll have to hunt them down somewhere in the yard.
For the Birds
Percy's curly tail feathers are one way in which we identified him as a male. I love how his feather's are so black they snap blue.
For the Birds
The Sisters are still small, and they keep to themselves. They have yet to eat from our hands or befriend us. They like to fly to the top of their coop, or sit on the girls' tricycle handlebars. {Maybe that's why Violet started singing her own version of the Flobot's song, "♫ Chickens ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars ♫..." Though that song eventually progressed into, "♫ Chickens ride my bike to the piano bar, the piano bar, the piano bar ♫..."
For the Birds
Our dog, Cocoa--on whom I keep meaning to write a blog post about to explain where the heck she came from all a sudden--seems to have some cattle dog in her. She is such a good dog, and doesn't hurt the flock, but she has tried to herd them a couple of times.
For the Birds


Now, ahem, as if we did not have enough birds around here already...

...so almost a month ago now I purchased two hanging flower planters at Walmart. They were $5.88 each, which I thought was a great deal, so I got one for our back deck and one for our front porch. Two days later, I noticed some of the flowers were pushed down in the front planter. Upon inspection, I saw that some little bird had decided to make her nest in our planter! I couldn't believe how quickly and skillfully she built a perfect cup nest. Over the next couple of days, four speckled blue eggs appeared, and I spotted Mama coming and going.
DSC_0623
Noticing that she panicked and left every time we went through our front door, we started using our side entrance and stopped watering the flowers. I was able to identify her as a house finch. Soon enough, four tiny birds hatched. They looked like little grandpas with their fuzzy eyebrows. I snapped this photo when I was sure Mama was out foraging for food.
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Mama and Daddy Bird both came and went, Daddy appeared once the babies hatched and he had a beautiful red head. I've loved watching them feed their babies, and come and go. Yesterday, we saw them teaching the four little ones how to fly. The nest is empty now.
DSC_0501
So, you see, some birds will come and go. But chickens and ducks are forever.

{Not really.}

Anyway, we're all BIRD around here lately, it seems. What's next? A parrot?

{Heck no!}

A few days ago I was sitting in my bedroom reading when I heard a family passing by our house outside. A mom and her two little ones were on a walk, but she stopped in front of our house. Apparently, the chickens and ducks had wandered over to the side gate where they go every few days, or when the dog herds them over there. I heard her from inside my house, "Look, Poindexter!" she said to her son, whose real name I can't remember. "They have chickens! And...DUCKS?! They have ducks!"

They spent a good several minutes outside our house saying hi to the flock. It made me really happy. The next day, we were all getting out of the car when the same family--this time both our husbands were present--was passing by. They stopped and asked us a few questions about the chickens. It's catching on, you know.

Cheers,
Heather

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Paxton's 1st Birthday! ~ A Wynken, Blynken, and Nod Party

Paxton is ONE!
Paxton's 1st Birthday
It's hard to believe that I have three children already, and that my youngest is already one. The past year has gone by at an unprecedented warp speed. I wish I could hold on a little bit long bit longer to Paxton's infancy, because he has been such a joy to have around!

He is mellow, cuddly, and has just the sweetest disposition you could ask for in a baby. I love him to pieces. And I'm ashamed to say, I had once thought I didn't want a son. Paxton is a very undeserved blessing from God, that's for sure.
***

Would  you believe that almost a year ago, I found these adorable vintage party napkins in a thrift store? Still packaged and marked 49¢, I bought them thinking I could sell them on Etsy or something. Then, I couldn't bear parting with them, I thought they were so cute. So it was way back then that the Wynken, Blynken, and Nod party theme started to form in my imagination. I decided to run with it.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Here's the invite I whipped up using a vintage book, printer, and sewing machine. Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday

A charming nursery rhyme from the late 1800s, by Eugene Field:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night 
Sailed off in a wooden shoe — 
Sailed on a river of crystal light, 
Into a sea of dew. 
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?" 
The old moon asked the three. 
"We have come to fish for the herring fish 
That live in this beautiful sea; 
Nets of silver and gold have we!" 
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

As it turns out in the poem, Wynken is one eye, Blynken is the other eye, and Nod is the head...of a sleeping baby. The poem captures the wonder of dreams and childhood and imagination. You can read the whole thing here, if you wish, and see the photo of the fountain statue at our own local Washington Park in Denver. 
Paxton's 1st Birthday
So I somewhat haphazardly threw together a tablescape that included a moon face I painted myself, some blue tableclothes, nets, pompoms and stars, and a couple of yard-saled wooden shoes turned into sailboats. Because Wynken, Blynken, and Nod sailed off in a wooden shoe, you know. Probably the same wooden shoe that was discarded under his bed after a long day of playtime adventures.
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
I told Justin it felt a bit like senior prom decor, what, with the foil stars and all. Ha! 
Paxton's 1st Birthday
My friend Jess, whom I had made that baby shower cake for last month, so sweetly returned the favor by making me some of her delicious sugar cookies {an heirloom recipe, I'm told}. I had shared this photo with her for inspiration, but just as a general idea for the look we were going for. I can't believe how well she replicated them! 
Paxton's 1st Birthday
I enjoyed incorporating this vintage moon face from The Graphics Fairy into Paxton's party as well. I love a moon face. I painted this for the party, but I'd been planning on painting one for Paxton's room already. So now I can re-purpose his party decor as I finish up his room. {Almost done!}
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
And the outlet bakery down the street carries "double decker" MOON PIES---in three flavors!---so I sent Justin to get some for Paxton's party. {Because I didn't have to make them.}
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Moon juice.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Beer & vino.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Just a couple hours before the party I decided to pick up some balloons from the Dollar Tree to mark our house out front, and well, shoot, but they had a bundle of seven gold and blue stars already blown up and waiting for me.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
I found this vintage Hallmark centerpiece on eBay last week. I'm almost certain it's from the same Hallmark line that produced the napkins that inspired this entire party.
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
We had FIVE baby guests at Paxton's party...and I'm kicking myself for not rounding them up for a photo. {But who's kidding? That would have been like herding cats.}
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
In addition to close family and friends, we had Baby Eva, Baby Peyton, LittleM, and sisters, Charlie & Cameron all attended P-Town's first party.

They hit the applesauce pretty hard. They were a rowdy bunch.

Paxton's 1st Birthday


Paxton's 1st Birthday
Paxton's party started at 5 p.m., so if you will remember what I stated in the post about our most recent outdoor party, Eisley's 5th birthday:

"Murphy's Law § 102(3) states that if Heather is to throw a party outside during the summer then it must, at some point during the hours listed on said party's invitation,  hail or rain. Hail or rain must be accompanied by threats of lightning and audible thunder to that party guests are forced into Heather's small house out of fear for their lives and hairstyles."
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Do you see blue dye dripping? So you know, the tsunami started promptly at 5 p.m. I'm not kidding. I was just finishing setting out the food and cold drinks, starting to take photos, when the wind started blowing my decorations down, the rain began pounding us, and the cake needed to be moved.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I throw an outdoor party, there is foul weather involved. Oh well, good thing we have this big tent and a covered deck. This time we didn't have to take cover inside. Still, as seen above, my party was melting...right as it started.
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
The rain came and went throughout the evening. People still stayed {maybe out of pity? haha}. And note to self: even if it's a party for a baby, get more adult seating.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
We had delightful company yesterday. Could not have asked for a better turn out.

Justin made Alabama BBQ chicken {it has a white sauce instead of a traditional BBQ sauce, and it's smoked, yum!}, our moms helped out with sides, I made the cake...
Paxton's 1st Birthday       Paxton's 1st Birthday
We gathered 'round and sang to the little birthday boy.
Paxton's 1st Birthday

Paxton's 1st Birthday
And here's proof that he is not ALWAYS smiling. He was a little wary as we sang, and confused. I love watching the babies at this part during a first birthday party. Their expressions always crack me up. Everyone is looking at me and singing some some I've never heard before. And why is this dessert on fire???
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
Oh my stars, who cares?! It's delicious! 
Paxton's 1st Birthday
People, you can sing to me any day!
Paxton's 1st Birthday
And then Papa Erickson comes along and says, "You finished your cake! Here, have a cookie!" {He got his spoiling ways from my grandma who was known to profess, "Kids NEED sugar!"}
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
You know what I love about Paxton when he eats? He always crosses his ankles.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Most guests took off before we turned to presents. Paxton received such thoughtful gifts! Simple, useful things like books, balls, and blocks. A couple cute manly outfits and such. 
Paxton's 1st Birthday
These our our favorite things, balls and books and blocks. It took us three kids to finally learn that kids don't need gimmicky toys.
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
...and BOOTS! Okay, so I knew these were coming, but my mom has been on a cowboy boot kick these last couple of years and has been making sure our whole family is well soled. Aren't these baby boots adorable?
Paxton's 1st Birthday
He had to try them on immediately.
Paxton's 1st BirthdayPaxton's 1st Birthday
He wasn't quite sure. He's spent his past year basically barefoot. But as soon as fall comes, and his walking improves {yes, he's walking now!} then we shall get a lot of good use out of these. My little Colorado Cowboy. My grandpa would be proud.
Paxton's 1st Birthday
Oh, bittersweet time flies by and my little guy is already one. 

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, PAX!
Paxton1
My P-Town, Pax-Roo, Bo Boy, 
Bubsie, Mister Mister. 

We love you.