I’m certain that the men and women who cut hair for a living have gone through some sort of training and licensing program. Whether or not that program was of high quality is a mystery. I used to think that the pricier the cut, the better the results. Generally, that seems to be the case but it isn’t always. I’ve gotten really great haircuts at one particular salon only to go back, have someone else at the same place cut my hair, and leave with a disastrous haircut and $80 less in my wallet.
Now, with four boys who attend a school that requires them to maintain a short haircut, we spend a lot in salon and barber visits. I’m using both terms–salon and barber–because we’ve tried both and in the nine years we’ve lived in this town, I have yet to find a place that provides consistently good haircuts. In fact, it’s more often than not that we’re leaving one of these establishments with the boys looking like either Lego characters or Amish kids, and we’ve spent a small fortune.
Then there’s the issue of the boys cutting their own hair. My youngest two have been especially bad at self-grooming, and I often find globs of blondish hair littering the bathroom sink along with a pair of blunt-tip school scissors somewhere in the mess. It doesn’t take long to find the culprit, as he’ll inevitably have bald spots scattered randomly around his head, sort of like a dog with mange. Or, he will have just worked on the bangs, taking them up to the scalp and leaving the rest in a jagged edge, creating a weird kind of moon-face effect. Some of these instances have led us to full-on buzz cuts, which really don’t suit any of my boys. Their hair is too fair, making them look like neglected urchins.
Recently, I decided I would take the matter into my own hands–literally. I bought a nice set of clippers, reasonably sharp hair cutting scissors, and a sleek black comb: just like the barber uses. After carefully observing the process during our last trip to either the barber or the salon, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do any worse than they, but if I did we’d just go back to the buzz cuts. I’m happy to report that after a lot of fearful looks, itchy necks, and “Sit still or I might cut off your ears,” the boys’ hair looks great!
Here’s a little something for the parenting realm: I have four boys who have all, at some point in their childhoods, become nature fanatics. Not the kind of nature fanatic who reads a lot about birds and trees and flowers, then asks to plant his own garden so he can really connect with the earth. No, my boys are the kind of fanatics who want to catch every living, breathing animal they come across (and some they only hope to come across–like alligators and tigers) and bring it into my house.
My son, Ben, has to be the worst (I mean, the best)! He is very adept at finding and catching frogs, turtles, lizards, and yes–snakes! What makes him stand apart from his brothers in this department is his ability to sneak these things inside without me knowing. I’ve come across poor little toads, stiff and lifeless, in loads of laundry pulled from the dryer. I once found a huge, brown skink (it’s a type of lizard that is insanely plentiful where I live) under my pillow as I was crawling into bed for the night. We have had aquariums house all sorts of “rescued” turtles over the years, but somehow the aquariums just aren’t as homey as a bath tub or the kitchen sink.
Since I’ve been parenting for over 16 years now, I’ve found my tolerance for these close encounters with all things creepy has become much stronger. My oldest son was probably scrubbed down with antibacterial soap and disinfectant after handling little outdoor creatures. Now, my youngest will come to the dinner table with all sorts of black who-knows-what under his fingernails and I’ll half-heartedly ask, “Did you wash your hands?” But only after he’s already picked up a chicken nugget with his fingers.
So, as proof of my cool-as-a-cucumber reaction to my kids’ fascination with nature, here are some pictures of Ben in action. Out of these two snakes that he caught, only the smaller one made its way inside…and I’m pretty sure I asked him to wash his hands after catching them.
Keeping a small flock of backyard hens has been much more rewarding and entertaining than I ever, in a million years, thought it could be! This is a picture of our current flock, which is a mixed breed of Rhode Island Red and some kind of white–Delaware, maybe. They are docile, hearty, and good egg layers. With the six hens, we typically get five to six eggs a day. Since we’ve been raising chickens for the past few years, my kids have gotten tired of eating eggs and are now very willing to share them with our neighbors. The freshness of the eggs really does make a difference in how they taste. The hard shells and bright yolks indicate a healthier egg than what we buy in the grocery store.
Aside from these healthy, delicious eggs, the chickens also provide quiet entertainment on a sunny afternoon. When we let the girls out of their coop or chicken yard, we eventually get to see their personality differences. There is a definite pecking order, which is apparent when someone tries to pick up a bug that a superior hen is already onto. Even the dog and cat will get chased away by the big mama of the bunch.
When we ordered our first batch of chickens from a hatchery, we couldn’t be sure of their sex. We split a batch of 24 chicks with a friend and ended up with 11 roosters! Some people are content to raise roosters and don’t mind their constant crowing, which does not just happen first thing in the morning! However, I am not that kind of person. Once we realized what we had on our hands and the noise level in our quiet neighborhood suddenly increased 50 decibels, I asked my husband to please….do something!
He and this same friend decided they would take it upon themselves to humanely kill and butcher these noisy birds for our dinner tables. What a learning experience that was! We enjoyed some nice, rich stock for chicken noodle soup, as well as a few dishes of coq au vin, but I’m pretty sure both my husband and our friend considered becoming vegetarians after the ordeal.
Overall, our attempts at raising chickens have become better over the years. We don’t lose as many to predators as we used to, and our hens have survived a very harsh winter this year. I’ve even gotten over my self-consciousness at being THAT family with chickens wandering around the yard…well, sort of.