Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nature Therapy

I looked up the seven stages of grief because I am sure I have experienced all of them over the past week. Sure enough, it was clear that I went through disbelief, denial and bargaining right in the doctor's office when Oliver's pediatrician said, "It looks like Oliver has craniosynostosis, we should order a CT scan." What?! His head is like that because he was a preemie! I don't think we need to do anything. I'm sure he will grow out of it, he just needs more time.

Next, after Oliver had a nervous breakdown when he saw the CT scanner, dodging technicians as he ran the halls of San Luis Diagnostics, I felt depression and anger set in.

Then, because I had the whole weekend to do research, I oscillated between guilt, depression and anger. How did I not notice this when Oli was a baby!? Why did his pediatrician think he was fine, too? What will we do if our baby needs surgery?

One support group and two specialists later, we have some preliminary answers. Oliver does most likely have craniosynostosis. He does not need a CT scan (I'm so happy he ran from that room) and according to the top craniofacial doctor in Dallas, he probably will need treatment to relieve the pressure on his brain (separation and removal of a fused suture in his skull: a craniectomy).

So, how have we been coping? The only way I know how: nature therapy! We have spent the week splashing in big puddles, going on hikes, and boating and fishing for leaves in the "river" near the road.

Oliver, the paleontologist, acting like a T-Rex.

Sleep Hiking

Pearl worked up an appetite from all of her strenuous sleep hiking.

Oliver's pirate ship trailing my party boat.

This leaf fish tasted delicious with a little lemon and olive oil.

Finally, yesterday, as Pearl and I watched the boys bake a pumpkin pie,
I felt some acceptance start to creep in. Stage seven arrived with a wave of peace and relief. I have so much to be thankful for this year. Pearl was born easily, on time and has been the picture of good health. And I'm thankful for Oliver for putting a smile on the face of nearly every person he meets. Each challenge he has presented to our lives has made us better parents and more thoughtful people.

Either way this thing goes, I know Oliver will be fine. He's got the personality to pull of a slightly different head shape and gumption to make it through a difficult surgery. After all, how many four-year-olds can dress a baby AND bring sexy back? See for yourself!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Scarier Than a Hive of Angry Bees: Eighth Graders! and Beekeeping with Baby

Pearl had her first beekeeping experience on Tuesday. I can't believe it took me ten long weeks to get her out to the bee boxes during an inspection. Before you call Child Protective Serves on me, we made sure to keep her a safe distance from the boxes as the bee hat is a bit too big for her at this point. Here you can see Glenn in the background tending to one of our hives.

Oliver, Pearl and I sat in a field to watch. I couldn't take close up shots of bees, so I tried to take some good pictures of me and the kids. Pearl had her eyes on Daddy the whole time (or possibly a random tree-it's really hard to tell at this point).

Daddy and the newest member of our beekeeping clan.

In other bee news, Glenn and I were asked to give a presentation about beekeeping to eighth grade students this week. I have been afraid of eighth graders since the eighth grade. I had visions of the students calling me Dumbo (you can guess why) or chasing me around the room trying to poke me with a safety pin (yes, it happened and I am still traumatized). We love beekeeping so we decided to face the dreadful eighth graders on behalf of the bees.

I emailed my blogging friend Barbara in Canada (I just love Canadians-don't you?) to see if she could help us with our presentation. Barbara is passionate about educating people about the honey bee and had so many great tips to share with us.

As it turns out, the talk went really well. The students were polite, asked questions, seemed interested in bees and were eager to try the honey we brought. I'm not sure if kids are getting nicer in general or if these children were really special. They warmed my eighth-grader-hating heart.

I think Glenn and I are ready to take this presentation on the road. Anyone need a presenter?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegetarian Turned Scavenger Turned Poultry Farmer

I started eating meat this year when I found out I was pregnant with Pearl. Our bodies need so much protein to support a healthy pregnancy and I'm just not as creative with food as some of my vegetarian friends. The first meat I ate was what I call "meat without the guilt." Our friends at a local sheep dairy had recently had a mountain lion attack and leave a lamb for dead. They gave us a large portion of the lamb, which Glenn made into a fantastic stew. I tried to think of ways to scavenge all of my meat, but as it turns out, half eaten fresh meat is hard to come by. So I ate pasture-raised chicken and happy cows from a farm in Cayucos, CA. It's not that I have anything against eating meat in general, it's just that I think mass production of meat in the United States is disgusting, unhealthy and inhumane. Ideally I would hunt for my food, if only I had the cojones.

When Glenn brought up the fact that he would like to raise meat chickens, I was a bit apprehensive as I was sort of happy living on a "no kill" farm. We live close to a farm that sells pasture-raised chickens at the local farmer's market. The difference between pasture-raised chickens and free-range chickens is incredible. Pasture-raised chickens actually live outside and are free to eat bugs, seeds, plants and insects. They also have a shelter at night and nesting boxes. Free-range chickens are not confined to cages, but there are no rules about the size of their roaming area.

Glenn heard there is a demand for heritage chickens that are pasture-raised, so he started doing his research about different heritage chickens. Glenn would like to breed the chickens, then sell the chicks to our local farm to be pasture raised. Glenn ordered three rare heritage breeds from the Sand Hill Preservation Center: Buckeye, Mottled Java and Delaware. Several weeks ago he sent one rooster from each kind to the farm to be pasture raised. When the roosters reach optimal size, we will have a bar-b-cue to find out which one tastes the best. Next year Glenn will focus on breeding that heritage chicken.

The Buckeye was the first breed of chicken to be developed by a woman. It was originally established by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf in the late 1880s. Nettie wanted to develop a hardy chicken that could withstand the cold Ohio winters. This chicken looks like a Rhode Island Red, except it has a pea comb.

The gentle Delaware first originated in the state of (surprise) Delaware by a man named George Ellis. He created the breed in the 1940s and wanted to call them Indian Rivers (which I think is way cooler than Delaware). The breed was once very important to the poultry industry, but was pushed out by the White Cornish Rock. It is now critically endangered.

Also critically endangered is the Mottled Java. It is considered to be the second oldest breed of chicken in the U.S., developed around 1840 from Asian stock. These guys sell for $5.00/chick! Thank goodness they all survived (and three out of four turned out to be hens!).

I'm on board now with the chicken killing. People are going to eat chicken and isn't it better they eat a chicken that has climbed a tree or chased a butterfly than some poor soul that has never seen the sun? I'm also happy we will be raising endangered heritage birds. At least we will be helping in a small way to keep one of these breeds from going extinct.