Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're Expecting . . .

What the stork brought

In less than three weeks, we will be the proud parents of as many as 53 bobwhite quail chicks. This will be our second time hatching quail. Last time, though, we only incubated 15 eggs and ended up with just 11 chicks. I may be going a little octo-mom on the program, but I'm really hoping to establish a sizable enough flock that they will be able to survive introduction into the habitat. But if you see me with my own reality show or as a guest on Animal Hoarders, you'll know things got out of hand.

So tiny!
Marked and placed in the incubator--where am I going to put all these birds?
The goal--aren't they cute?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The "D" Word

There comes a time in the life of every parent of a special needs child when you have to decide how to approach the topic of diagnosis with your child. For us, we chose to approach Austin's issues on a symptom-by-symptom basis. We felt that saddling him with the label of his autism diagnosis would discourage him too much and provide a too-ready excuse for not rising above his challenges. For the longest time, one of those challenges was a lack of initiative and motivation, so we had a real fear that a full knowledge of his developmental disorder would derail the progress he was making. With that in mind, we had always explained his interventions to him in vague terms.

But now, after so much growth and so many giant steps made, we decided that our sweet son, now 16 years old, was ready to know his own story. The facts-of-life talk was nothing to this hurdle for me. Even after making this decision, we delayed the actual discussion for three months. Yesterday, though, we pushed aside our excuses for delaying and plunged in. Austin seemed a little distressed over the news, but it opened the door for more open dialogue and he seemed comfortable in the end. We tried hard to stress the fact that all people have weaknesses and strengths and he is different only in the specific nature of his weaknesses. We also let him know that we will continue to stand with him and support him in his efforts to achieve a full, independent, and happy life.

I know a lot of parents choose to address these issues at a much earlier age, and I will be the first to say that I don't think there is a "right" time to do it, but I'm very pleased with the road we've taken and where it has led us. That doesn't stop me from feeling uncertain about where to step next, but there is a definite sense of hope when I look a little farther into the future. I truly believe in my son.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Best Homeschooling Week Ever

So, I'm completely ripping this idea off of CJane, who does a weekly "Best Blogging Week Ever". But since she ripped the idea off of VH1's "Best Week Ever", I felt that the concept was fair game.

This week saw me tearing my hair out repeatedly over Austin's geometry lessons. I'm having a very hard time impressing upon him the importance of learning math and why he will need it in life. His lack of interest could not be made more clear than by the fact that he has started randomly squeaking in the middle of my fascinating explanations of topics like "How to Find the Area of a Parallelogram" and "What Math Has to Do With French Fries". But I don't suppose this supports the premise of it being the best homeschooling week ever, so I'll just take a deep breath and let it go (which needs to happen a lot when you teach your own children).

Tuesday we blew school off early and packed off for a picnic at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It was great! We hiked the boardwalk trail and ate our lunch on the new observation platform overlooking the water. I could have done without the (freezing!) wind, but seeing the dozens of fiddler crabs popping in and out of the mud below us was completely (almost) worth it. We saw hundreds of northern shovelers (a small duck with a flat, wide bill) and four bald eagles. Oliver was really into it, pointing at everything and babbling a mile a minute. And, since Austin is studying ornithology this year, we could legitimately call it a field trip. Good times.

Northern Shoveler Pair

Friday, March 25, 2011

'Tis the Season

This is that magical time of year when my heart turns to thoughts of plants, mulch, and landscaping books. Spring gardening is my favorite, and not just because the weeds are still small enough that I can see my plants (though that is a real plus). It's also not just because of the relief it brings to my winter-induced cabin fever. I think the best thing about spring gardening is the boundless potential of it all. I haven't killed any plants yet or failed at my newest yard renovation project. It's also the time when I get to set the stage for the season of outdoor living that awaits. It's that feeling that this year everything will be perfect.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

I have a love-hate relationship with sleep. I really wish I could do without it entirely. For the longest time I thought I was a night owl. Back in my college days, I would stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning. The thing is, I would never sleep later than 8 or 8:30. I was the same way at slumber parties when I was a kid. I would always be the first one up. Even then I think I had a notion that sleep was a waste of time. It's very hard for me to have patience with my family members who want to sleep in. It's not that I'm driven to be up and productive, just to be up. I should probably work on that productive part. And napping is out of the question. I will prop my eyes open with toothpicks rather than go to sleep during the day. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the feeling of climbing into my bed at the end of the day, and I do aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, it's just that there are so many things I'd rather be doing.

I guess I can't blame anyone but myself for the fact that my little one seems to have inherited my anti-sleep philosophy. That won't stop me from whining about it a little, though.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poached Eggs

Homeschooling is the ultimate thrill ride. When it's good--when your child spontaneously says amazingly intelligent sounding things--you feel like the best mom ever. At least a part of you is in there taking all the credit for it. "I, being the most dedicated and insightful parent, have created a richly educational environment for my child and look how he has flourished!" But when it's bad--when your child spontaneously decides that guessing the answers to algebraic equations is simpler than solving them and so scores a grade too horrible to be mentioned in a public forum--you feel like throwing a good old-fashioned fit. If you're really lucky though, your toddler will wake you up at 4am and spend an hour poking you in the eyes, nose, and mouth, so that you will be not only too tired to throw that fit, you will lack the energy even to think about it for too long, leaving you free to finally score three stars on that pesky level of Angry Birds.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Fresh Start

In honor of the first day of spring, I am starting fresh with this blogging thing. I really love blogging. The problem is, I spend so much time loving other people's blogging that I forget to leave time for my own. So, in keeping with the optimism that spring always lures me into, I decided to recommit.

I first became a country mouse when I was 9 and my family (my parents, me, and our yellow lab) moved into a log house in the woods. Coming from suburbia, the rural life was something of a culture shock. Years of raising chickens and goats--complete with heading out to the barn for milking chores before school each morning--farmerized me just enough to be a country girl to the urbanites I was around at college, but was never enough to completely chase the city girl core out of me. For a long time, I tried hard to purge the country mouse out of my system, but it was no use. I'd like to say I claim dual citizenship, but now, over 16 years after moving my own family into my childhood home, I realize it's time to embrace my inner country mousiness.

I was going to include a list of the top five things I love about the rural life, but they all were pretty much variations on the same theme--epitomized by the fact that my children can relieve themselves outdoors (a practice I STRONGLY discourage, and one of the reasons I wanted girls, but that's another story) without being photographed by the neighbors. But most of the time we put all that privacy to much more respectable uses.