Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Message for My Daughter

Dear Daughter:
I have had the privilege to be your mother for your whole life, and then joy of joys, I had the privilege of being there as you were granted the privilege of motherhood for yourself.  It gladdens my heart to watch you as you tote, wag, cuddle, and care for my beautiful grand-daughter.
And now you have been told that she is behind on some of her major developmental  “milestones”. You worry about her.  And you question yourself.   You think you should have done more of this…or less of that…or whatever.  Well, I’ve had the opportunity to live long enough to see the child-rearing process come to fruition, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
You and your cousin were only three months apart.  My sister was a stay-at-home mom and I was a single parent, forced to leave you every day to go to work.  I absolutely hated it.  But, I tried to make up for it by spending all the free time that I could with you, doing lots of learning activities.  I was so tickled because by kindergarten you already knew all of your “ABC’s”, numbers, and a few other things like that.  Then I learned that your cousin was already reading books.  Talk about “mother failure”!  I became convinced that you would forever be doomed to the task of trying to catch up with your peers, subjected to a life of squalor and struggle, all because of your loser mother and her shortcomings.  Well, we both know how that turned out!  Somewhere along the way you learned what you needed to know, in spite of me!  There are some things that can only be seen from the top of the mountain.
But even if things don’t progress as we would like, there is much to be learned and gleaned.  I KNOW that you remember the struggles that our family faced when your brother was younger.  They lasted for years:  The scary “possible” diagnosis, all of those doctor and counseling appointments, and wondering just how “normal” his life would be.  I was so worried and sad…so sad for him…my baby boy!  What would his life be like?  Would he be able to even have a normal life?  I’ve always wanted my children to live up their potential, but with some conditions, it’s hard to know what that potential is.  My heart ached for him.
I have to confess, there was a period of time when my heart ached for me, too.  I LOVE being a mother…I loved both of you before you were even born.  The day each of you was born was the "best" day of my life!  But just like the fact that I would like to live in a location that actually has seasons, I had wanted my life to have seasons, too, each to be savored for its own unique beauty.  When we were told that he MIGHT end up being with us forever, I was a little frustrated.  The prospect of an endless summer loomed large before me.
“Why is this happening to us?” I asked God one day.  “Why am I having to go through this trial?”
He didn’t answer right away…in fact, He didn’t answer for quite a good while.  But when the answer came, it was clear as a bell.
“It is not YOUR trial.  It is HIS.  HE’S the one who has to live with this every second of every day.  HE’s the one who gets made fun of at school.  It’s HIS trial.”
If that realization wasn’t profound enough, the next part totally changed my perspective and my life:  “You are just the person I placed in his life to help him endure it.”
I was humbled that God had enough faith in me to even entrust me with such a task.  Doesn’t He know how inept I am at so many things?  Surely, there must have been someone smarter, more patient, more EVERYTHING than I am.  But there I was.  So armed with this new perspective, I tailored my attitude and my life in order to help your brother endure his trials and to helping him find his place in the world.  My new knowledge didn’t mean that the struggles disappeared, but this, plus other revelations, have helped me to see being his mother as the privilege that it is.  The lessons that his particular trials were designed to teach were HIS to learn; I had other lessons to learn, but I was here to help him when he needed help.   And although it DID take him a little longer than some, he IS on his own, doing very well at his job, and finally having the success and the friends and fun for which he has so long desired.
I have faith in our girl, that she will be just fine…and I will do all that I can to help with this.  But I also have faith in you…to be her mother.  Don’t doubt yourself.  Paisley was sent to you because you have whatever it is that she needs to help her in this journey that we call life.  And the day will come that you, Paisley, and her Dad will stand on TOP of the mountain, hand-in-hand, and say, “All is well!”

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Good Egg!

I'm not sure which of our girls was responsible, but when I went outside this morning to feed the birds, I spotted this inside the chicken tractor:

Our very first egg!  Not exactly "extra large", but I am so proud of those girls anyway!  Hooray for chickens!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Color My World....

Outside it is rainy and gray, but here in the house things are colorful and bright:

May your day be wonderful, whatever your weather may be!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Silly Little Things

I have had more than one person tell me that they have never seen anyone get as tickled as I do over little things.  I explained to all those people that due to the financial struggles that we had for the early part of our marriage, I HAD to learn to get tickled over little things or there would have been nothing to get tickled about!  Although life is a little easier now, my ability to get tickled over silly, little things has continued.  I also seem to have the need to decorate common items and to find beauty in places where you would least expect to find it.
I have recently become a fan of the galvanized trash can.  I bought one in which to store chicken feed, another in which to store wood shaving for the chickens’ bedding, and a much smaller one in which to store my bird/squirrel feed.  They are practical and sturdy and fairly cheap, but a little ordinary for my taste.
I had hoped to perk them up by doing a little decorative painting on them.  I have always wanted to sit down and learn the “one stroke” painting method created by Donna Dewberry.   However, I have yet to really take the time to work on it.  Therefore, I just did not feel comfortable enough with my proficiency level to commit to painting something permanent.  One day the can with chicken feed will have a checkerboard design with some baby chicks, and the “bedding” can will have some painted quilt blocks on it.  One day.
However, I lucked out with my can for the bird feed.  A few years ago, Home Shopping Network carried a product called “tatouage”.  A decorative artist painted all sorts of cute things, and then her designs were used to create a dry-rub transfer that you can use to create your own mural on your wall (to learn more, click here).  I had decorated our foyer with some vines and yellow flowers, and I remembered that I actually had some of that stuff left.  Would it work on my bird feed trash can?
I cleaned the trash can first with rubbing alcohol and then with vinegar, just for good measure.  I then rinsed it with water.  I was delighted with just how easily and quickly the tatouage went on.  Before I knew it, my little can was fully decorated.  The only snag I hit was when I sprayed it with a sealant designed for acrylic paint.  This caused a little bubbling in a couple of spots, and the old, perfectionist me would have “trashed” the whole project.  However, the new, tired me just said, “Aaah, this makes it look vintage”, and called it a day.
Is it perfect?  NO!  But I still get a little chuckle over this silly, little trash can every time I see it in the yard:

Ruby and Opal Woodbury: Warrior Cuddle Chickens

It’s been awhile since I have written about the girls, so I wanted to do an update on how they are doing.  They have grown to be quite big now, and they certainly have personalities.  As I have stated before, I knew that chickens would be great to have for fresh eggs, but I had no idea just how much fun they could be (although there IS a little bit of work involved, too).
It’s fun to watch the crazy things they do, such as sunning themselves like so many teenaged girls:

I had read in a book that if it is at all possible, if you want, let’s say, four chickens (our goal), it is best to get all four at one time.  It’s not impossible to add to a flock, and I’ve seen that people do this quite often.  However, you have to be able to handle the squabbling and fighting that can occur between the new chickens and the older chickens in order to establish that “pecking order” thing.  “Pecking order” is not a myth – one of the reasons I picked Opal was because her little tail had been pecked at by all those other chickens until she was bloody, and I wanted to save her.  Since the girls are always sweet to me, and seem to get along well with each other, I thought we would be immune from this pecking order rule (which is good – I don’t have the stomach for squabbling and  bloody tails).  However, watching the girls in action has made me think otherwise.
I first noticed the “warrior chicken” come out in Ruby.  When they are running around in the yard, Opal and Ruby generally stick pretty close to one another.  However, every now and then they will go their separate ways.  Before you know it, here comes Molly, trying to sniff Opal’s bottom.  Ruby Woodbury, “Warrior Chicken”, springs into action and is across the yard before you know it.  She has no qualms about taking Molly on, and Molly is driven away from Opal, sent away to sniff someone else’s bottom.
The girls will often team up against the wildlife in the area.  I love feeding the birds and squirrels, and I usually put their food in the fenced area behind the garden.  But there are times that it is too muddy to go back there, so I will pick some random area in the yard to dump the seed.  If Opal and Ruby are out in the yard, heaven help the wild life!  I was shocked at how aggressive they were in chasing off a dove one day.  Even sparrows can’t catch a break – the girls become warrior chickens and make sure that everyone knows that this is THEIR yard!  STAY OUT!
Despite their warrior chicken tendencies, when it comes to interacting with us, they are certainly loving, especially as evening sets in.  Once the sun is low in the sky they feel the need to cuddle, and if anyone makes the mistake of sitting in a chair, the girls are on it!  (Although standing doesn’t always save you – I was out raking some leaves one evening and Opal flew up to my shoulder while I was still raking!)  Every evening, before they go in for the night, I try to set aside some “chicken time”.  Usually Opal ends up roosting on my shoulder and Ruby ends up sitting on my arm or lap (which actually allows for more petting).  Tonight, Robert was the lucky ducky who got to enjoy “chicken time” while I snapped some pictures:

So there you have it:  we are the proud owners of warrior cuddle chickens!