Social Distancing has Brought Me Closer to What Matters

Is it hard as hell most days? Yes.

But this time “apart” has brought me closer to so much more.

Closer to my children. Brewer is so much smarter than we give him credit for. EJ is so emotionally intelligent and a true empath. We are both still working- but we have so much more time to watch and appreciate their strengths. They’re remarkable kids.

Closer to our animals. EJ reminds me to thank the chickens for the eggs they lay us that we can eat and share with friends. We’ve so enjoyed hatching eggs and helping families join the chicken keeper club. Our dog is so patient and loving. Are cats so sweet and funny when they sunbathe in the day.

Closer to the land we live on as we grow our veggie garden.

I value conversations like never before. Last week I took some eggs to my in-laws (Mary’s parents). I sat on their porch 6 feet away and just enjoyed conversation for a couple hours. When was the last time you were just thrilled to sit in the sunshine and just thoroughly enjoy a conversation?

I enjoy watering our plants.

Cleaning up the garden shed.

Playing with the goats and bringing them our table scraps.

Just sitting down watching the kids put together the puzzles.

Watching the kids entertain each other.

Cooking with my wife after kids go to bed.

I actually feel closer to my students I teach. I make sure I go out of my way to create quality and entertaining content to keep them engaged in the “virtual” classroom.

Every night Mary and I sit on the back porch- okay honestly we are having an adult beverage out there too. It’s so nice to just sit out there with her listening to the crickets in our rocking chair on the screened porch. Sometimes she brings the wireless speaker and we listen to music her parents loved.

Sometimes we FaceTime friends. EJ loves to video chat with friends and family.

I find myself telling people-“Just call me if it’s too much to type- I’ll happily talk it over with you…” and I mean it sincerely. Like. I’d love to talk to someone over the phone to help them.

I’m closer to my family.

Our home.

Our food.

My village.

My wife.

Myself.

Maybe is my recent SSRI dose increase-

Or maybe this is just what we needed.

Hope, Faith & Love

When we were in high school, I think we were 16 & 14, our cat had three kittens – then died (car hit her) the next day.  

So my sister and I hand raised the kittens.  Bottle feeding, rubbing their little butts to make them poo (momma cat’s usually stimulate them), holding them to sleep every night.  

Anywho, we named them Hope, Faith & Love (the ugly runt).  

3 weeks ago, while preparing for the tough day that I face every year, the anniversary of my sister’s death- I decided to hatch eggs.  

I can no longer eat my way through the tough feelings- so I knew I needed something to help me prepare for and somehow commemorate her life- and how I still see her every day in our daughter’s eyes.

So- I picked a few eggs I knew were likely fertilized from our flock and got a small incubator.

And on the 11th anniversary of her passing, the three developed eggs hatched.  I got to watch the amazement in our daughter’s eyes as she saw new life.

As they were hatching- I remembered the kittens we raised….and I decided it would be a way we could celebrate her life and the celebrate the three new ones born that night.

So, introducing Hope, Faith & Love…three little bundles of joy we need this time of year.

0 Regrets

Everyday for 15 months after EJ was born I’d use my lunch break to go nurse her at the daycare. I’d often sneak out the back door at work and make a mad dash. I’d strategically schedule off site meetings so that people wouldn’t notice as much if I was gone so I could nurse her every day.

Every day. On this red velvet couch in the daycare’s kitchen/break room.

That, along with cosleeping were the two things I did to make sure that despite going back to work full time and taking a full time grad school course load we kept nursing.

I didn’t really mind- lunch break nursing and all night nursing were the only “just us” time we had. It helped me meet my breastfeeding goals. It was sacred time of just me and her- and I’ll never regret things I put aside or on hold to make sure I was able to meet her at the daycare. Every. Single. Day.

The eye rolls.
The “how long are you gonna do that?”
The “she doesn’t really need it…”
The “you have to pump again.?!?”
The “good luck with that- I tried it, it’s not possible…”

I’ve always had a streak of defiance- so thanks for making sure I proved you wrong.

She was about 4 months old here. I had just started back to work a few weeks prior. My classes had just started up again.

👇 This girl here didn’t know how long it was gonna last. I was making it up as I went along. Wanting to do it, Though not sure how or if I could. Would the baby ever sleep through the night? Will I still be able to pump enough to send to the daycare every day? Will she remember I’m her mom? I literally see the insecurity on my own face.

All this to say- 4 years later. What I know now. All the moms I’ve met.

I’ve never met a single mom who said, “You know- I really feel like I nursed my baby too long…I should have quit sooner…”. Whether they breastfed for 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years or more- I’ve never met a mom who regretted the journey or their efforts and sacrifices.

So keep on keeping on to whatever your goal is momma. ❤️. It’s your journey, not theirs. You’ll remember those precious moments forever. (And take a picture!)82057980_10100187037354031_2530521063524139008_n.jpg

You’ve Got Eggs!

Okay. So.
Jan. 2nd we found first round worm and started treating same day.
The wormer in the water x5 days – so they finished 5 days on the 6th/7th. It has to be their only source of water for 5 days = coop lockdown.
Repeat in 7 days as directed, which means we start again tomorrow. My big girls are already on lockdown because some of them started laying and I don’t trust them not to hide their eggs in the woods.
But I have some birds that aren’t mature enough to lay- including these two beautiful Ayam Cemani babes I’ve had since they were 4 days old. So before we go on wormer lockdown I let them “free range” a little (I stayed with them in the yard since they are still pretty little.) I promise next week after treatment is all over you guys can have some more supervised room to grow with the big birds ❤️

Another bath, blow out, ointment and genetian violet spritz for Buffy.

Squeak Squeak still holding her own- small improvements every day with her.

5 eggs collected. Day 2 of artificial light started.

While EJ was at school me and my homestead assistant/ side kick Brewer went to Home Depot to get the lumber we will need to build our raised vegetable garden boxes.

We didn’t know the girls would start to lay this morning- so I collected the eggs. But I assured EJ that tomorrow I will let her wear her egg apron and collect eggs with it for the first time.

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Not Always Rainbows and Sunshine

I had to euthanize my beautiful lavender orpington. I couldn’t let her suffer. I tried my best. It was heartbreaking but needed to be done. It was first time and I made it swift.

But on the bright side, the buff orpington pullet with a bit of vent gleet is doing well. I’ve been soaking her in warm dawn baths, blow drying, and using the antibacterial and antifungal treatments. She’s getting used to her baths and responding well to treatment. I’ve named her “Buffy”. She’s in the goat house in her own hospital coop and doing well.

Squeak, my buff seabright that mysteriously stopped walking is doing well in her hospital coop too. She’s eating and sitting up properly now. Still walking very wobbly but a little improvement everyday.

No more signs of roundworms in the main flock- but as directed I will treat whole flock again for five days next week to make sure any worm eggs that hatched are killed off.

I cleaned the big coops today. Scrubbed all the roosts with warm water and a bristle brush til they looked new. Fresh bedding everywhere. Sprayed birds and coops for mites. I know that people have varying opinions on DE but I’ve elected to sprinkle some in the coop. Made fresh dust baths. Scrubbed all the waterers and added ACV to the fresh water. When they go to roost tonight I’ll probably do a little more spray on them cause a couple were hiding today while I was cleaning. I’ve heard spraying with ACV might help too so I might do that on the spray down tonight.

Instead of adding the grit to the feed I’ve made a separate elevated bowl for it. Perhaps that could help with potential digestion problems. Cleaned all the nesting boxes.

And of course cleaned out the goats accommodations as well, fresh bedding and hay for them.

I know I was discouraged yesterday. But I’m determined to make sure my flock is the healthiest of the healthiest.

First Encounter With Worms

Today was a day…

The 6 month doctors appointment went well.

Came home and went to check on the birds. Found a roundworm in a dropping while cleaning. After panicking I got some good advice- turns out it’s pretty common in chickens and easy to treat. Ran to a local feed/farmer supply store and got what I needed to treat the whole flock. Spent all of naptime cleaning the coop, fresh bedding, mixing deworming medication in the water and feed, etc.

While cleaning one of my “hens” started crowing. Fuck. Another rooster.

Brewer woke up right as I was finishing and he was in a mood. Screaming for 45 minutes for god only knows why. EJ woke up and had a naptime pee accident in the bed. A rush to wash her bedding.

While trying to make a healthy-ish dinner and keep the kids calm I got an alert on the yard security cameras. Goats got out. Damnit.

So I ran outside in just my socks- luckily they went to visit their friends the chickens in their freshly cleaned coop and seemed happy to see me. I tossed them in the coop to keep them secure while I found some shoes and determined how the got out.

Mary got home and I spent an hour fixing the fencing and chasing chickens who didn’t want to go in for the night.

Anywho.

Thank god I’ve lost almost 100 pounds cause no way would I have enough energy to completely re-do the coops, chase goats and chickens, keep kids alive, make fencing repairs.

After dinner I laid down in bed to watch a show with EJ and was completely unaware the Brewer was drinking from the toilet and got stuck in the bathtub. 🤷‍♀️. Whoops. Thought Mary was watching him.

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Inclusivity can’t be scheduled. My family isn’t your child’s diversity lesson.

Believe it or not, this isn’t even the first time something like this has happened.

And trust me, I know that the request comes from a good place in the heart.

But I need you to hear me, you are doing more damage than good.  And it may be hard to see from a position of privilege, where your family is accepted as the “norm”.  But just hear me out on this, okay?

I got this in a FB message from an acquaintance on FB.  We’ve met a couple of times but aren’t close friends- though we have a few friends in common.

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So, if you see something like this, your initial thought might be like mine…

“Oh, that’s cool.  Yeah…that would be awesome…how flattering..”

But then I started thinking about it.

How come I don’t feel the urge to do this?

Why do I start to feel awkward about this?

What makes me the voice for the LGBT community?

I couldn’t quite put my fingers on it….and then it hit me.

It’s because teaching and exposing our children “diversity” can’t be scheduled.  In fact, doing so, only reinforces the “otherness”.  It must be organic.  It must be led by example in our day to day lives.

If you want your children growing up accustomed to worldly views, embracing and appreciating different views- exposed to different families and cultures…then you actually have to do it yourself too.  Everyday.

Its not something that can be done at a diversity table once.  And presenting it this way makes it seem like a show and tell.

My family isn’t here for your children to “learn about”.

I don’t sit EJ down and say, “Look, here is Laine…even though our family has two mommies, her family is different.  It has a mommy and a daddy.  Isn’t that neat?  Let’s hear what their family is like…all families are important….love makes a family!”

Nope.  We hang out with Laine and her family all the time…not because we want to go out of our way to “expose” our child…but because we like them.  They are friends…and I think that teaches children that families that look different than ours are still okay.  I actually don’t even have to talk about it- she just sees it herself.  She’s already exposed to families that aren’t like ours, and through our love of other families, she inherently loves and not only is “exposed” to them- but embraces them.

If you know me, you know that I’m kind of anti-religion.  But you know who my daughter talks non stop about every single day and can’t wait to see every Tuesday at dance?  Hadley, a.k.a. “Juicy”- who happens to be from a pretty religiously conservative family…but we are still friends with them cause they’re awesome.  And our kids like each other cause…who knows why really but they freaking love each other.

And sure, me and Hadley’s mom have some differences in opinions.  But I know that she’s a good person.  And although we have a difference in religion that’s okay.  I’d trust her with my child’s life…in fact, I literally have cause she was my post partum nurse by request.

I don’t need to attend a diversity table, because the table is already in my house.  We live and breathe it without much thought.

When we get invited to a birthday party, whether it be at a wealthy country club or literally in our town’s section 8 housing development- we go to both.

She sees families speaking other languages at story time, or even La Leche League meetings.  She probably doesn’t know that Penelope’s family is Latino and that her grandmother is from Mexico…I’ve never had to outright say it.  But she sees them all the time so it’s not even weird for her.

She knows about Lily, a friend from school who was a foster child but was adopted- we look at pictures on Facebook of her adoption day.

She knows about Ledger, another adopted kid with 2 moms.

In fact, she also knows about her donor siblings, and one of them is a single mom by choice.

We have family friends from different backgrounds, education levels, socioeconomic levels, ethnicities and cultures….and she hasn’t known it any other way.

She doesn’t even blink.  Because she’s been raised in a home where diversity isn’t something we have to try or got out of our way to expose her to.

It just is.

I don’t want her to be exposed…I want her to embrace- but it has to happen organically.

Scheduling it makes it seem disingenuous.   First of all, we are not even reflective of all LGBT families.

And more importantly…my family is my family.  If you want to get to know us, then befriend us…don’t bring us to show n tell.  We aren’t a lesson for your family to learn about.

What Did You Hear That Influenced Your Bias?

“Black people are a different species…” & Other Things I Heard as a Child

I’m still in the process and on a journey of exploring my beliefs regarding privilege, bias, race and inequality in our country.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how I want to raise my children differently than what I heard growing up.  And it got me thinking- what did others hear?  What if we said what we heard out loud?  Acknowledge it.  Discuss how this has probably effected our implicit bias as an adult.

White people always get uncomfortable when this comes us.  Lets just own our childhood experiences, even if we don’t agree with it now.

I’ll start.

Growing up- my “Nana” once told me that “Black people are a different species than we are.”  I was 16.

I was confused by this.  I told her that she was wrong.  I cited my biology class and book.  You see, we had recently learned in Ms. Beasley’s (yes, actual name, she was one of my favorite teachers) that “If two animals have an offspring and it is fertile, they are likely the same species, even if they don’t look alike.  If two species conceive an offspring and it is sterile, than they may be closely related, but they are not the same species.”

For example- horse + donkey= mule.  Mules are sterile. Therefore, horses and donkeys are different species, even though they look similar.

Chihuahuas and Great Danes look nothing alike, but they can have fertile offspring.  Okay- so maybe that’s a bad example.  We can say poodle and labs.  Different breeds- but same species.

Another example- Lion + Tiger = Ligers- and yup, they’re sterile offspring.

This theory pretty much holds up.

Obviously, we are human, not donkeys and dogs.

But I specifically remember this conversation- I presented my evidence that I learned in school.  I knew that bi/multi racial people existed, and they, to the best of my knowledge, were also capable of reproducing.  Therefore, we are all the same species.

I know this sounds weird- but I’m a very logical person.  And Ms. Beasley was a very good teacher- her word was the gospel as far as I was concerned.

My Nana become angry that I was arguing with her.  And I swear to God this is what she and my “Papa Vada” said,

“We heard it on Fox News.  It’s true.  Black people have an extra muscle in their leg- that’s why they have an unfair advantage in sports…they are a different species.”

Hand on the Bible- thats what my grandparents told me.

I learned that sometimes its best to keep quiet when you’re young  You can’t argue with an older adult who believes Fox News was the ultimate authority.  But that was when I learned that my grandparents were wrong about a lot of things.

I repeatedly remember my mother telling me that Asian’s shouldn’t be trusted.  Which was confusing for me- because she loved Chinese buffet restaurants- but my whole life I remember her saying,

“Just look at their eyes.  They show no emotion.  You can’t trust them.  They’re sneaky.”

Growing up- my parents never had non-white friends.

We never went to non-white birthday parties.

Our neighborhoods were all white.

I remember one day driving on the way to school, “Well, those thugs look like they’re ready to learn…”

It was just 3 or 4 black guys in a baggy jeans.

I remember my parents mocking a very Deep South/ignorant sounding black accent.

And look.  I’m not perfect.

I don’t seek out black/brown/asian people to be friends with.  I’m friends with people because I genuinely like them.  But I don’t go out of my way to avoid exposing my kids to families that look different than ours, you know?

And if I remember these interactions- what will my kids remember?

Am I saying things unintentionally that will shape my kids implicit bias in the future?

I don’t know.  I’m still on the journey myself.

And the older I get, the more fucked up I realize the adults around me growing up were.

What do you remember being said around you regarding race?