R-bear said his first "word" today!! Very proud mama moment for sure. We've been signing with him over the last few weeks as we noticed he is starting to really take notice of our hand gestures, looking from hands to our face as we sign and say the word. I kept thinking: is this too early? Is he getting any of this? He seemed to really take notice of us and study things intently lately so I kept signing and having L-bug sign when we would remember to. She's been having a blast re-learning her signs and teaching her little brother.
Today Cowboy was holding him and said, "Milk R-bear? Milk?" R-bear looked right at me and pumped his hand in the sign of milk!!! Holy S**** I exclaimed! I know L-bug's little absorbent ears were right behind me and we hardly ever cuss in our house anyways but I couldn't contain my excitement. I was afraid the signing was a fluke so for the rest of the day I would ask R-bear "milk?" sometimes without signing and sure as day he signed 'milk' every time. Saying I'm so excited is totally an understatement. By the way, he is now in 18 month clothes....chubby babies is how we roll here.
I know it's been awhile so I'll attempt to backtrack a little bit. Turkey butchering went better than expected. We had our neighborhood teenage homeschooled boys who's father was an outfitter come assist us and educate us with the butchering. They were amazing and knew their stuff like no other. If they were my boys I'd be one helluva proud mama right there. By the second turkey, Cowboy was doing the butchering from start to finish with just an occasional verbal guidance from the boys. It was great.
We contemplated for quite a long time how to handle this with little L-bug but it turns out she helped us handle it! We prepared her several days in advance what was going to happen to the turkeys and how they were going to feed our family. We also mentioned that next year we were going to be getting more turkeys and some of those might stay on as pets to help breed new turkeys. The day of the butchering (I've noticed a lot of people try to soften this by calling it 'dispatching' but seriously....I'm not calling someone to deliver a message, I'm culling an animal for food. I'm butchering it and there's nothing violent or angry or evil about butchering your food humanely. Did I mention how we as a society are creating an overly sensitive population where people feel entitled to not be offended? No? well, I guess that's a rant for another day along with feminizing our men and creating horrific gender identity issues with this whole "what gender do you identify with today" nonsense). I digress....turkeys. Yes butchering turkeys.
My folks were down and really were opposed to L-bug being involved in the slightest with the process. Cowboy and I were on the fence and felt this should be treated as a normal part of living on the homestead and raising your own meat. At her age I didn't feel she was marred yet with the Disney-fied talking emotion-filled animals that we grew up with and were inundated from a young age with. I wanted her to be very animal loving, gentle and caring to nature and all God's creatures, but I also wanted her to be realistic and not a bleeding heart when it came to living in the country.
After we killed one turkey, beheaded and plucked it, I carried it into the kitchen to finish fine-plucking and rinsing it out before putting it in the ice chest to chill. L-bugs eyes got real wide as I passed by her and she followed me into the kitchen. She was quiet for a few moments and I made a point not to make a big deal out of the situation and just go about my business while she watched. After a few minutes I hear her drag her tower closer to the counter by me and climb up to my level. She tugged on my sleeve and said, "mama, can I help?" Absolutely! We talked a little bit about it and the next thing I know she's asking me to see a turkey with it's head still intact. Well, uh, ok I replied shooting glances at my mom. My mom looked at me slightly concerned but we held L-bugs hand as we went outside after the second turkey was killed and drained. It's head hung limp off the butchering table, the boys in the process of plucking. L-bug watched from a distance then started inching her way closer to the turkey until she was finally touching it and looking at its head. She was emotionally rock solid and I was impressed. She soon after asked to watch one being killed to which I drew the line at and Cowboy agreed. Not yet, and not with these turkeys that she hand-raised and was very attached to. We agreed that when it came time to butcher our neighbor's hens we would help and she could watch and participate with those. She had no emotional connection like she did with these turkeys. I also felt it was just too much to mentally process in one day. I found out the hard way that just because she appears to be unfazed by something doesn't really mean she is truly unfazed. Sometimes the too-big emotions erupt a few hours to a few days later. We had no way of telling how she was internalizing what she was witnessing. As it turned out she was fine and even talks to this day of her turkeys being "dead" and how yummy they were!
R-bear has started to army crawl around and is a much bigger explorer (read: gets into everything and puts everything into his mouth) than his sister ever was so this now brings a whole new level of excitement to our house. Not only do we have to make sure we close all the gates/doors and be careful of what is put in areas that R-bear can access but now we have to be responsible for keeping a very close eye on L-bug and what she leaves around the house. Unfortunately many toys that she previously was allowed the luxury of playing with have needed to be locked away until R-bear is older due to small parts and choking hazards to her little brother since she is a typical toddler and creates little tornados of mayhem as she runs through the house.
Finally, L-bug is starting to take art and crafting seriously! At 2.5yrs old she is learning to sew, play (i.e. plunk) the piano (we have a piano!), and her drawing is really evolving drastically. The other day as she sat waiting patiently for her pediatrician to finish with her little brother she drew a picture of him with arms, legs, and even his Yamika on his head! He was impressed.