We're under fowl surveillance. The chickens want in.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

We moved!

About 4.5 months ago, we moved not more than twenty minutes away, but it has put us (just barely) in a different city. That has caused a few headaches, but it is all worth the price of ibuprofen. In an unexpected turn of events, we were able to buy a house a little more than twice the size of our previous dwelling. It's an old house, and it's not fancy, but it's in good shape. By the way, I LOVE IT.

It feels as if we have moved from this situation:

to one more like this:

However, it really is not a palace. It's an average home. Nevertheless, I LOVE IT. It appears I have stumbled onto the secret for appreciating a modest home: live for years beforehand in a tiny, nearly closetless house approaching the century mark on its timeline of existence.

MY BEDROOM HAS AN ATTACHED BATHROOM. I am, just maybe, a little thrilled about this.

The kids love it too (does that matter?). :) Sometimes W just starts running, in that toddler I-have-more-energy-than-I-know-what-to-do-with way, and he has space to run through. H, who does not, shall we say, always deal well with change, was a bit emotional about leaving the old house and neighborhood. And it's true that we were all sad to leave good friends, but, on the other hand, we did not go far. It is a testament to how good this has been for our family that H's emotional state returned to baseline soon after we were officially in residence. For him, it was a remarkably quick return to sanguinity.

So, I wondered if I would need to change the name of this blog. I also wondered if I would ever blog here again, but now I've answered that question! As to the first, the younger boys' bedroom has a sliding glass door out to the back deck (which has been treated with the installation of a sturdy, childproof lock), and yes, sometimes the chickens hop up and come to this large window. I call that good.

Speaking of which, the house already had a lovely, large standing birdcage in the backyard, perfect as a coop for our chickens (the previous owner was, by neighbors' accounts, a great bird-lover). It was meant to be, right?

Right. (Happy sigh.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baby needs a clean, clean floor

W has reached what we have affectionately dubbed "the baby swiffer phase." He moves, and he revels in his mobility. But he is not a sophisticated crawler yet. He army crawls, sliding along on his tummy and capturing any bit of dirt, dust, or hair on our wooden floors, even as he keeps his sights on that errant cheerio left over from breakfast. If my floors are not spotless, I get to see the evidence right away when I pick up my baby. But I can comfort myself in thinking my floors are not as bad as those in the Japanese commercial below. Check it out!

So I guess we should really call it the "baby mop" phase. Too bad I didn't see any of these for sale when we were living in Japan when T was a baby! He was an army-crawler too.

By the way, the commercial starts out by saying, "Your baby is not a mop! You are the worst mom!" And ends with, "Don't be a bad mom!" Quite the tagline, don't you think?
And what on earth is on that floor??

Here's our very own Baby Mop.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goodbye to Dot

We had a sad Sunday two weeks ago.

There was a bit of an accident. Our perfectly lovely neighbor turned her back on her perfectly lovely dogs at just the wrong moment, and they rushed with unerring canine savvy through the neighborhood, crashing into our backyard and into the middle of our chickens.

There is a reason chickens like to be in groups, and it isn't only that they enjoy each other's company, although I think they do. The other reason is survival. As in, while a dog manages to grab one chicken the other six scatter and hide. J chased the dogs away before they could do much hunting for the other chickens, but even so, I have to give them credit. Chickens may not have much in the way of brains, but they hide very, very well. I reflected on this often while searching for chickens in the pouring rain of that day.

We eventually found the six scattered chickens, but poor Dot, our beautiful silver-laced Wyandotte, had met her demise as soon as she met the dogs. At least it was obviously quick-- no lingering. We were all upset, of course, and sensitive N eulogized through his tears, "She was our best chicken!" She will be missed. Although, not, apparently, by the other chickens, who carry on without seeming to notice the difference.

It was Father's Day. When I called my Dad, I mentioned our misfortune with our chickens. Dad, who was raised on a farm in Idaho, informed me that all you can do with a dog that kills chickens is shoot it. Somehow I think trusting my neighbor's promises that she won't let the dogs get loose again is the better option in my case. We don't even own a gun. But I can still hear my dad insisting, "I'm telling you, they won't stop! You have to shoot them."

At that moment, I had the rather disorienting feeling that my life is rather bizarre.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We camped!

I have fond memories of camping trips with my family as a child. But somehow, I have been fearful of camping with my own brood. I grew soft as I aged I suppose, or perhaps I can simply blame inertia-- we just never got started.

To be honest, I had even forgotten that we even owned a tent. But when we decided to take a road trip to Arizona to see my eldest nephew get married (Yay!), J suggested that we take the opportunity to camp at the Grand Canyon.

"We don't even have a tent," I replied.

But we did!

It is a very small tent, and we are not a very small family, but we set off for the longest road trip we've ever undertaken, carrying with us our meager gear for the first family camping trip since the one we abandoned on account of rain when T was 4 and H was 2. That was a long time ago.

And guess what?? We did it! And it was fun!

Of course, one of the best parts was that my sister and her family (sans the son that just got married-- he had better things to do) went with us! And I have to admit I felt more confident with them in the next campground, because they are camping Grand Masters. Alaskan camping Grand Masters, no less. I felt sure that if anything went horribly,terribly wrong, they could tell us what to do.

But nothing did. Granted, the Grand Canyon campground isn't exactly deep wilderness, since the National Park people have kindly placed a large supermarket about five minutes away from the camp sites. This was useful, since we managed to arrive just as dark was falling and had forgotten to pack a flashlight. And there were bathrooms with flush toilets (praise be!).

But still, we went honest-to-goodness tent camping! The baby and I slept in the van, but that's because the tent is actually a two-man tent. Apparently J+5 kids = two men. Or maybe not. Upon emerging from the tent after that first night, J remarked, ala Jaws, "We're gonna need a bigger tent."

The kids loved the trip, especially since their cousins were there. But I could also tell that they really did enjoy the camping. B was a little confused about what was going on, though. I can't blame him. At three years old, what are you supposed to think when your entire family packs up, drives and drives, and eventually settles in a spot in the woods, cooking meals around a fire and sleeping in a tent? B apparently thought everything in his world had changed for good. At one point, after much fun and delight running around the camp site, he sat near the fire pit, grew thoughtful, and asked me, somewhat plaintively, "Is this home?"

"No, sweetie," I replied, surprised. "We're camping."

He appeared to consider this, and then confided to me, "We should go home."

I realized that he didn't really understand what "camping" means, and assured him that we would indeed go home after our camping trip was over. We only stayed two nights and he truly seemed to enjoy the time there! But it was a reminder that so many things we think of as simple and straight-forward can be perplexing to our small children.

Even so, J and I agree we should go camping as a family again.

But we're gonna need a bigger tent.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Total. Diaper. FAIL.

If you're not a parent, and have thus not become inured to discussions involving infant feces, you may want to skip this post. But I feel like sharing, so there.

W tends to have more than the usual number of infant blowouts. No diaper can successfully guard against all blowouts, no matter what the advertisements say. We've tried many brands. And in W's case, since he seems to store it up for several days before letting loose, all we can really do is diaper him, hope for the best, and clean up the inevitable when it comes.

But until today, all blowouts had luckily happened within the safe confines of our own home.

I was sitting in church with W on my lap. He really is a sweet and low-key baby, and very easy on us in general. He is generally remarkably quiet and content during Sacrament meeting. So I was listening to the speaker with him on my lap, when I felt a sudden warmth. I thought I was merely feeling this warmth through the diaper and our clothes. Oh no. When I lifted him up to see if this required and immediate diaper change or if he might wait the ten minutes that were left in the meeting, I was horrified to find that there was yellow poo dribbling down his chubby leg and on my skirt. It was as if I hadn't even put a diaper on him!

J and I had to quickly put together Operation Remove Poo from the Church Without Attracting Attention. I tried to arrange W's baby blanket both to cover the mess and stop it from spreading. J sent T to walk in front of me, as a sort of shield. So I went awkwardly up the aisle, holding W in an unnatural position and praying that the speaker was so fascinating that no one was looking at us, while T walked a step ahead of me, probably vowing to never provide me with a grandchild.

T went back to join the family and I managed to walk home, carrying W in the same awkward fashion, and get the two of us cleaned and changed. And I rediapered him. Which was something of an act of unaccountable faith, I suppose.

Good thing the kid's so dang cute.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Language acquisition with B!

I showed the video from my last post to N and B, and they were predictably thrilled to see their very own mugs on an electronic screen. B's little eyebrows shot up, and he excitedly exclaimed, "It's me and...! It's we! It's... it's..." He floundered, obviously sure that there was a some pronoun, somewhere, that would include himself and the siblings also in the video with him in one neat, monosyllabic package. He just didn't know, or couldn't remember, what it was. But he was undaunted. He was brilliant. He was impressive. I could see his mind working, scanning his little lexicon like my computer scanning for viruses, and when he came up short, he applied his version of Grammar Rules I Know Thus Far and settled on shouting, with unmitigated delight, "It's mes!"

How cool is that? I don't remember learning English, but I remember when I first started learning Japanese. If I didn't know how to express something, it was hard for me forge on, undaunted. I was typically very daunted. Too bad I wasn't more like B and other little language-learning children. And how impressive is it that a not-quite-three-year-old can do this? It's really quite sophisticated if you think about it. "I don't know this word I want to use, but I know the pronoun 'me,' and the word I want is like 'me,' but there are other people with me, so it's more than 'me'... so I'll make 'me' plural! I know how to make plurals!" And so we get "mes." Fantabulous.

"That's right, B." I said. "It's you, and N, and W! So say, 'It's us!'"

And that got me the best smile of all. "Yeah. It's us!" he replied. With great satisfaction.

He may move on to "us," but I will always remember "mes."

Climbing over every language obstacle...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A short post with two big brothers and a baby.

The other day I was checking my email when I noticed the almost-melodic sound of a 5-year-old and a 2.5-year-old singing. So I turned around and witnessed N and B singing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to baby W, much to his delight.


I had been feeling a bit blue, but at that moment all I could feel was very lucky to be me. Seeing my children love each other and enjoy each other's company is the best mood-lifter. I'm glad video exists, so that I can have that little episode forever.

Even with that teensy communication breakdown B exhibited at the end there in the video.

Well, see, life is good. It just ain't perfect.