Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Weasel

There are so many aspects of living in the country that no one tells you about. We, as a society, still cling to the pastoral ideals of the centuries past. There are whole social media groups dedicated to discussing and dreaming about small farm life. People even "hobby" farm. But there are many inglorious aspects to this acreage living. One of them being the profuse amount of little animals. Now all of these squirrels, voles, moles, gofers, possums, raccoons, field mice, rats, bats and birds were once on my nice list. I thought of them as very adorable creatures and would have saved any of their little lives in a heart beat. That was before we bought an old house out in the county. Once these creatures decide that your house is is war. I have been kept awake many a night by a squirrel rolling nuts across our attic and dropping them down the walls. One night a raccoon gave us a huge scare by opening a bathroom window and scampering around our basement trying to steal shiny remodel tools. We thought it was a human intruder. One broken closet rod (as a sub for a baseball bat), a lot of yelling and an almost call to 911 later, all that remained was the little buggers evidence of escape out the bathroom window. His little muddy hand prints were everywhere and he almost made off with one of our wrenches. We thought we had seen it all.
Then one day I was doing Zeph's laundry and found a hole through the drywall in his closet.  
A little hole through drywall that was not there a week ago. I cursed the little mice and squirrels who run rampant through our walls. I had no idea there was another culprit so we set a mouse trap.
Then a couple nights later I awoke to a strange smell and noise coming from the closet.
Poor Zeph had no idea what I had discovered until he was woken up by my surprised yell.

There was a weasel stuck in the mouse trap. A weasel.

 Now, I don't know this is a trait of all men or just Zeph, but in emergency or weird situations he acts like when I react I'm a crazy person. So waking up to me yelling, "Weasel!" it took a while before he believed me enough to actually get out of bed.

 Fun fact: Weasels are a lot like skunks; when scared they release a nasty smelling fluid from their bum-hole area.
 And this little weasel was scared. He flopped around the trap squealing and spreading his smell everywhere. By this point Zeph was out of bed but not happy about it. I think he would have been fine just going back to sleep and leaving the whole situation until morning. However, there is no way I was letting that thing spray our closet all night. 
I had a plan and like all great husbands, he was going to execute it.
 My great plan of throwing a towel over the whole weasel and trap was a little dicier than expected because the little bugger started spraying more and thrashing around. This resulted in a panic run to the front door and the little guy being flung into our front yard. 
Zeph was not happy about being outside in his under pants and even more unhappy about still being awake in the middle of the night.  

 I could not come up with any plans for what to do about the little critter and Zeph promptly stated he didn't care if it died in the trap. That's what it gets for invading our house. He, again, stated he was in his underpants and went back to bed. 
I, however, cursed with a merciful heart towards even the tiniest of creatures could not let the weasel suffer. I can't even squish a spider without giving myself an internal monologue to ease my guilt. And here was this guy giving me the "please help me eyes". I had to do something. No amount of pep talk was going to ease my conscience on this one.   
As I examined the furry flopper a little closer I could tell his neck was broken. Suddenly my help was going to be useless. Even if I set this guy free he would suffer and die. 
 I knew what I had to do. 
At first I tried to get out of it by looking around and not finding anything super convenient to do the job.
 But soon I laid eyes on a little shovel we use for scooping ashes out of our wood stove. 
 It was not pleasant, but it was the most merciful thing to be done. 
 Or so I thought. 
The shovel was not the best choice. It was surprisingly light weight for being metal and actually hard to aim. You can imagine what Zeph was thinking as he heard this unfold outside our bedroom window...

 Needless to say, a lot of work went into this whole "being merciful" thing without the intended results. It was finally accomplished.
 I returned to bed, guilt not abated. 
Naturally, sleep evaded us after all that excitement/trauma. 
 Hoping that finding out boring facts about weasels would lull us to sleep, we looked up what kind of weasels we had around our area. Because we had no idea weasels even existed in the wild around us not to mention in our house.
 Turns out we have short tailed weasels. And their adorable pictures were not helping with my guilt. They are so cute and fluffy and playful looking. Our fact finding led us to wonder what these sweet little things eat. Probably insects, but only the yucky ones like mosquitoes. We probably had just killed a sweet little protector dude just trying to rid the world of wasps and leaches.
Use the image tab on your search engine and look up what these little spunky fellas eat. 
Warning: Do not show small children.
 The first image that pops up is a little weasel killing a rabbit. Blood everywhere. Dead. Dead. Dead bunny. 
 Turns out that even the littlest weasels kill bunnies. Wanna know how? By latching onto the bunny behind its ears and RIPPING THE SPINAL CORD OUT. 
Needless to say our perspective changed from guilt to terror. 
 And no one slept that night. 
And that, my friends, is true country living. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What It Is Like Having a Newborn

Ahh babies. The oddest combination of the most lovey dovey feelings you have ever felt paired with the most grueling situations. Some mothers get off easier than others, but OCLB (Our Cute Little Bug) felt it necessary to initiate us into the parent club with some tests. Tests like extreme sleep deprivation, ear piercing cries for hours and always unsatisfied screeches no matter what. OCLB is a character to say the least, but like all babies and mothers we are learning as we go along. OCLB is training her parents. 

The first part of training involves hygiene. Turns out, babies hate it when their mother tries to take a shower. They are the only ones allowed to be bathed. Even then, screaming in protest is the only way to bathe. 
OCLB started her life sort of sleeping at least a little in the day. I would sneak off to shower...
But some how she knew. 
I was as quiet as a church-mouse. 
Buuuutttt to no avail. 
Screams would erupt as soon as that bathroom door was touched. 

This is why new moms look so uncleanly people. Their babies are against hygiene and it is a daily battle.
The average newbie mother has a lot of stuff going on and fashion is the last thing baby wants her mommy to think about. I distinctly remember getting a pity look while in Home Depot one day. It was like I was seeing the hot mess I was for the first time. I was wearing my husband's t-shirt and baggy athletic pants. I had not done my hair since getting out of bed and I had a clearly visible spit-up stain on my shoulder. I was still wearing my slippers. In public.
In fact, baby training is so against mother's looking nice that I actually felt dressed up when I exited my house one day wearing my own sweats that had no spit-up splotches. 
Unkept mothers and fathers are even more disheveled due to babies evil training scheme to draw all attention to themselves and their tiny daily activities. Soon you are sucked into the world of baby where you spend all conversations and time ogling, doting and adoring baby. 

Soon even the smallest of things your baby does becomes a cheering squad worthy event. Team Baby gets excited when baby just passes gas.
Burps after a feeding.

And the cartwheels come out when baby finally falls asleep. Like your baby has done something really amazing.

Soon your smug little squirt is the best at everything. And suuuch a gooood baby for doing...well, normal things. 

Normal things like eating. I was determined to nurse OCLB. From conversations I had with doctors about it beforehand it sounded like latching was going to be the hardest part. Baby latching=smooth sailing. 
The nurses I had at the hospital were either clouded by the distance of time or they had a better experience than I did. They cooed on and on about how nursing was such a sweet bonding time with their baby and how much they missed it. 

As I listened from my hospital bed I began to conjure up unrealistic ideas of breastfeeding in my head. 

A perfect breastfeeding world where I would join the feeding ranks of women joyfully. 
But as it turns out...nursing hurts. A lot. Latching is the least of your worries. I have come to the conclusion that OCLB had tiny invisible shark teeth. 
So there I was. In my dark, painful nursing land whilst my imaginary fellow women lived in a wonderful world where the hardest part of nursing was picking which lullaby to sing to their eater.
Between nursing and staying up all night and day and every hour and minute and second and millisecond, moms get weary. But unlike anything else you have done in your life where quitting when you are tired is an option, babies just keep sucking the energy out. There is no rest from baby training. Ever. Actually, there is eventually. I mean, I am writing a blog for crying out loud. But it feels like forever. I'd wager that not very many people understand the term forever until they have had a colicky baby. It feels like there will never be an end. Then you add in the ridiculous cocktail of hormones that rage through your body after birth and you get MELTDOWNS. I have had more meltdowns in the last seven months than any in my entire life. Including when I was a baby. I used to cry once a year. OCLB felt she should fix that with therapy. Scary, never ending, sleep deprivation that gets you very in touch with your emotions. 
This also scares husbands. My poor husband has woken up in the middle of the night to find me sobbing and OCLB screaming. 

What are they to do when both baby AND mommy are crying? Let me know if you come up with the answer.
And then, when you finally do get a break and baby is actually asleep. You cannot. You are running on 3 total hours of sleep and you cannot sleep. What is this?! All part of parent training. Learning how to sleep in a matter of seconds.  

But somehow sleep still evades you because the monster named Parental Worry creeps in. This monster does NOT care if you have slept only 1 hour in the last 24. The Parental Worry Monster fills your head with endless scenarios of how your baby could be harmed or worse. These worries range from envisioning you tripping while holding baby to unrealistic mobsters with AK-47s storming your house. But the worst weapon in the PWM's arsenal is the thought that your baby might stop breathing. Because of this thought, countless mothers have stayed up late just checking for breath. The struggle is stupidly real.

If that wasn't enough, the hours spent online looking up every tiny thing that could ever be wrong with your child is enough to drive anyone mad. Until motherhood I always viewed being able to ask life's questions with a click of an 'Enter' key as a blessing. But with motherhood it is an insidious temptation. Soon you know all of these strange acronyms. Like BF no longer means best friend. LO and DH and things like nappy from the British blogs because everyone knows they have their parenting perfect. There are mommy websites everywhere with every problem and solution under the sun discussed and dissected. Your baby training homework is endless. 

Despite all your worries and lack of sleep baby training includes keeping their parents fit. They can be completely asleep in your arms and still tell if you are standing or sitting. Sitting=bad. Standing and swaying for hours=good. It gets to the point where you are just swaying and bouncing all the time. 

Sometimes sleep is finally achieved by bouncing.
And baby gets into the crib asleep!

Aaaaand you're still bouncing. Its like some kind of baby Jedi mind trick. The baby still has you bobbing up and down wherever you go so you will always be at your peak soothing condition.

Training of parents covers all aspects of their skills. Even the parent who was an art student finds themselves challenged by never being able to capture the full adorableness of their baby. OCLB is a pro at this. She always does her best tricks while off camera. 

Bring out the camera too slow and you get the blank stare. Trying to capture OCLB's laugh on video is like trying to get a picture of a badger during the mid afternoon sun. 

Baby is not the only one training you though. There are people out there that just cannot wait to impose their 'wisdom' upon you. These Random Wisdom Strangers are everywhere and I am annoyingly prone to being caught by them in public places. OCLB cried a lot and sometimes I needed to go grocery shopping. She had acid reflux but every Random Wisdom Stranger salivated as we entered stores to offer their own theory as to why she cried. 

Random Wisdom Strangers are impossible to avoid once you have been spotted. I have been followed around a store with a monologue of everything I and my entire generation have been doing wrong with babies. 
Random Wisdom Strangers have the weirdest ideas of what is wrong with your baby. I have heard it all from the temperature of her toes to the fact that my child *clearly* and *obviously* does not like the color of her blanket.  

My favorite question: Why don't you have a pacifier? OCLB hates her pacifier. I have tried but she cries angrily if you put it even near her mouth. Either Random Wisdom Strangers think I am stupid or just plain mean to my child because any mother would have already tried that.  

Random Wisdom Strangers make sure you leave their presence with a clear understanding that parenting is a task only they were cut out to do. If you survived the rest of their advice, they leave you with one last nugget completely impractical if not impossible to follow.

By the time you exit the public place you are pretty defeated. Lesson? Be the HELPFUL Random Stranger! Nothing is better than being offered an open door or someone telling you that they remember how it all is to be a first time mom. But mostly....I wanna shop in peace. Please? Alas, OCLB is all about attracting Random Wisdom Strangers. She often gives one last really loud cry that echos across the parking lot in attempt to further help her mother in the training of humility. 
And as soon as her carseat clicks into place she is out. 
As much as I try to avoid the Random Wisdom Strangers, they are nothing compared to some of the people I have come across that seem to think babies should never leave the house or be in public ever. While flying internationally we were forced to grab all of our bags to be examined. I had bags on every shoulder while also carrying a 3month old. OCLB had just started teething and with that comes a tiny bit of drool. I'm standing in the security line barely able to hold everything and this TSA agent glares at me. In the most condemning voice she points to OCLB and states, "Your baby is drooling!" I have zero free hands but it is clear this woman is not going to let me through until I fix the issue. I had to set all my bags down and wipe her face before she would let me pass. Heaven forbid my child gets the drool on her chin past security. 

I used to think that the embarrassing parts of parenting were way ahead of me. I though I had time to wait until OCLB was two and throwing a fantastic tantrum in the store. But as discussed, she had proved me wrong. Not only does she scream and drool in public, but she also releases gas like it is going out of style. Her farts are loud and horrifyingly...juicy. It is the only way to describe it. I was grocery shopping one day when she let one of her better ones rip. There happened to be a stock boy right there.     

Despite his best efforts he reacted. And his reaction made it pretty clear he thought I had done it. After all, how could a baby make that much noise?!

I tried to laugh it off and made a comment about how babies have no manners. 
 His disapproving face told me he didn't think it was OCLB at all and now I was guilty of trying to blame a baby for such an indiscretion. I slinked away much more embarrassed than if she had thrown a fit. But passing gas is not the only humiliating thing babies have in their arsenal. Other bodily fluids come in handy. OCLB has peed on numerous people and slobbering on everyone's shoulder is a must. But perhaps the best weapon of mass embarrassment is regurgitated milk. This viscous weapon can be deployed in seconds with great speed and optimum destruction. It is also perfect for the most inconvenient places. Like the first time you go over to friends' house. On one such occasion OCLB decided that our friends had much too clean a house.     
 The burp exploded. Somehow she had turned what little milk she had into a fluid three times greater than what was consumed. 
There was spit-up everywhere. Everywhere except baby of course. Our friends so graciously helped clean it up and offered me a new outfit. But my training was complete. I didn't need a new outfit because moms just are dirty until further notice. Their couch, however, was going to need a bath. 
 But if you think that embarrassment will only happen in front of a few friends or a store clerk, baby will remedy that consolation. OCLB decided that another country and one of the more elegant buildings in the world was the prime setting for a parent shaming session.
There we were. Christmas Eve service in Ely Cathedral, GB. The majestic ceilings of this building were filled with the beautiful song of a choir as they ascended from the top of the cathedral down the the stage. Thousands were gathered for the service to worship on the special night.  

The song ended in a perfect pause intended to offset the first prayer of the service. 

OCLB felt this was the time to sing the song of her people. She screeched out a wailing cry that echoed out of every archway and dome. Thankfully everyone seemed ok with a baby crying so loud and I calmed her fairly quickly by whipping out my nursing cover. 

 Crisis adverted. Right? Except OCLB had not pooed in 6 days. And what better time to release all that pent up poo then the only other silent part of the service set aside for reflecting on His gift to us. 
It was a loud poo. Loud enough that I distinctly remember a guy three rows up from us jerking his head around in shock to see what and who that was. 
The lady straight ahead two rows from us gave a guff of disgust until she saw it was only a three month old baby. It was obvious this time that the noise came from her because she had this look of utter relief and self satisfaction all over her face. My sister, our host, must have been horrified. Her daughter and our niece kept looking at her cousin with great curiosity. My parents, like most grandparents, have joyfully past the parental humiliation phase onto their children and thought it was funny. I soon discovered the offense was as bad as it sounded. This was an event no diaper could contain. There was poo so far up her back it was in the sleeves of her outfit. So that is how OCLB perhaps became the first baby bathed in an Ely Cathedral bathroom sink.

If you survive the training your baby puts you through there are other tests associated with being the parent of an infant. You know how we have invented wonderful things like zippers and Velcro to make putting on and taking off our clothes easier? It would stand to reason that these easy ways of fastening clothing surely should be applied to the stage in life when affixing attire to the body is most difficult. Babies squirm like it is going out of fashion. So what is the primary fastener on baby clothing? Snaps. Buttons and snaps. Not just a couple of snaps either. Each outfit comes complete with a billion snaps. You have to become an expert at lining up these snaps especially with sleeper outfits. These torturous garbs not only have tiny little snaps, but you have to line them up perfectly while holding down a flailing little human.    

Let's just say it ain't a task for the faint of heart. You've gotta have lightning fast skills. 

If you're going to survive this rodeo, you'd better be quick on the draw. 
Parenting a baby is full of crazy ups and downs. OCLB has really kept me on my toes. But I wouldn't trade it in for the world. Soon all of baby's training will pay off and it will be mommy's turn to train baby. Cuz there's only room for one sheriff in this town.