The Comic Strip

Lily came home from school the other day EXTREMELY excited (as opposed to just her usual state of being: totally thrilled).

"Mom, I made you a comic strip!" she said, handing me this:

And of course I thought it was the Best. Thing. Ever! (You know, outside her terrible spelling....) 

So, as luck would have it, my to-do list was a mile long this week and I had no time to go online and make my own version....but I totally did it anyway because sometimes you just have to get sidetracked a little bit in order to live life to the fullest (and by fullest, I mean full of stress brought on by myself because I am constantly getting distr.....hey look! Squirrel!)

All that said, I would like to present to you, the first edition, in its very rawest form, of The Graceful Chicken Comic Strip. And because I am certain you cannot read it AT ALL, click here to see it online. 

And Part Two (click here)

Now THAT should totally make your day! Happy Thursday! 

(Seriously, I have issues....)


And then the Storm Arrived.....

So, while I was absentmindedly taking a blogging break, this happened:

It's like we can't quite grasp the concept of alleviating stress by simplifying......it's always, "Hey, I have this GREAT idea!" A statement that is often followed by the addition of something new....and usually living.

And while I was not exactly counting my blessings every morning at 3 a.m. while on puppy-potty duty for the first couple of weeks, she is growing on me, a little....or at least, she is growing. (She is not growing on the chickens I might add but Stormy is certainly all starry eyed about them....that's why they call it "puppy-love"....and by love I believe they mean she wants to terrorize them and then eat them. She needs to work on her chicken-courting skills, obviously.)

Apparently it's not just me that feels this way after a day with the kids.....


It's Been So Long I Almost Threw in the Towel.....

My blog post title got me to thinking (always a dangerous endeavor): what this world really needs is a Graceful Like a Chicken Towel....hand towels would be best I think. I'll get right on that as soon as the time in my life isn't completely eaten up by stuff like soccer and homework and hen-pecking-egg-eating-jerky-hens (that's probably the real history behind Jerk Chicken...it started out as some jerky hen eating the other hens and their eggs and well, that naughty hen became dinner with whatever spices were on hand and viola! Jerk chicken was created. Or maybe, they were hung out to dry and that is how Chicken Jerky came about.....Either way, the lesson here is: don't eat the other hen's and their eggs...you know, if you are a hen and don't want to become jerked chicken jerky!)

Apparently, it HAS in fact been too long. I mean, where else do I get to ramble ad nauseam about whatever the heck I want without anyone giving me that look? (Hey, put down that look!)

So, our life in 100 words or less (and if you believe that I have some really incredible stuff I want to sell you....):

Remember that beautiful favorite new hen Maddy? Yeah, she took a beating in the coop.....as in, flesh hanging off her neck and blood gushing.....and I had to remove her for what I was sure to be her slow and untimely demise. Fortunately, she made it and has been living peacefully by herself in a secure pen in the barn (formerly a rabbit house). She stopped laying eggs in protest though so now I have to figure out if keeping a hen is worth it just because she is beautiful. If you ask the kids then why yes, yes it is.....especially when that hen is named after your oldest daughter. (Note to self: don't name the hens after your loved ones! It's probably like the first rule of farming....."Don't name the animals and if you do, DO NOT name them after loved ones!" My bad.)

So, as winter approaches, there is a lot to consider on the make-believe farm. Ooooh, speaking of farm....did I mention my new business card that I stick in my egg cartons when selling my eggs? It goes something like this:

Graceful Chicken Farms

Karen Wolf
Chicken Tender

Hee hee hee. Hey, at least I amuse myself. 

Anyway, my plan is to try to unleash some new posts in the coming weeks. Life is just smoother when I am taking the time to notice the humor in things. And right now, I could use some "smoother" moments. I'm sure you could as well. Come back again soon to see what's up....(Like the fact that Kurt gave Madeline permission to get two bunnies to breed.....who DOES that?!...says the mom who has an entire flock of Silkies and assorted bantams for her kid to breed....Kurt said he thought it would make me happy to get more bunnies, plus, she was crying and ANYTHING TO STOP THE CRYING Y'ALL! You know, like the puppy we are now responsible for...oh wait, you have not met Storm yet....sheesh, I am so behind!) Perhaps I SHOULD throw in the towel.... (Or at least some Chicken Jerky!)  


How Summer Got Away From Us

It seems like forever since I was able to sit down and write. The stories of our recent past have become a jumbled mess and those moments I was certain I would remember long enough to write down later, are gone. Sadly, my memory is not what it once was. Perhaps I took too many soccer balls to the head earlier in my life or maybe it has to do with that dumb incident last fall where I banged my head against the ground harder than is probably recommended (something I possibly should have taken more seriously at the time), or perhaps it is just the aging process taking its toll, but really, this summer is a big blur and has somehow managed to get away from me with very little shared. And for that, I am sorry.

But all is not lost. Because, just when I thought "Shoot, an entire summer without a story to share," one popped up (as they tend to do if you just pay life a little attention!)

So the story goes like this: a friend ask if I wanted more hens. (Uh, yeah. Always.) He had a friend who needed to get rid of her four laying hens because apparently that happens when you go through a nasty divorce. (Note to self: stay married.)

I got really excited because I had just given away three hens alongside our roosters (in attempt to offset the fact that she was taking three roosters off my hands....I think I got the better end of that deal personally!) And so my hens were not laying enough to keep up with my family's consumption. More hens would be awesome. Anyway, at the end of the dialog, the soon-to-be divorcee gave the hens to someone else and I was left feeling a little let down. So I went online and found a family near Mars who needed to get rid of their six laying hens because they were moving. (Yay for Craigslist!)

The man and I emailed back and forth a little while about the chickens, their health, the reasons he needed to get rid of them etc. and on one of the responses in the chain, the name associated with his email came up as Spartacus Clover.

Now, I have to stop here for a second and say, this might be where curiosity kills the cat. So, hypothetically, if you were emailing back and forth with someone you didn't know and their name popped up as something curious and peculiar like Spartacus Clover, what is the first thing you would do?

Google it, of course.

So, I did that and um, well, let's just say, I had to think twice about showing up at this random guys house to pick up his chickens. Actually, I had to go back and reread the post to make sure I hadn't overlooked some other sneaky clue like: Hens in need of a good home (Join me for some S&M when you pick them up).

(How many of you already Googled Spartacus Clover? ......Yeah, I thought so.)

I happened to be in a text conversation with my soccer team's manager about that time and so I ran it past her. (Someone should know how to track me down just in case....) After she finished laughing her tail off, she offered to send her husband along with me (for my PROTECTION guys! Not because he likes that stuff....sheesh.)  And, living in small town America, I could already see the headlines: Soccer coach and mom of 5, gets mixed up with local Dom while her friend's husband runs off with six hens and two of her kids.

I politely declined the offer to bring along some third party and set up a time to pick up the hens. Solly and Liam came along (that would scare anyone off right?) and after passing several houses that left my stomach a little unsettled, we arrived at our destination where a young woman about my age was waiting on the porch while two kids ran around outside. (Oh, THANK. GOD!)

Long story short: the six new hens, Lily, Maddy, Haley, Bailey, Dawn and Kernel, are enjoying their new digs where their pink, brown, white and blue eggs are picked up everyday for consumption (unlike at their former home where the eggs were left to rot) and they have plenty of space to roam.

I have no idea what happened to Spartacus. (And every plan to keep it that way!)

The Rescued Six: Kernel is in the left corner, Dawn is up top, Maddy in the middle, the Twins, Bailey and Haley are to the right and the bottom right is Lily, although you can't see her fully. 

A new favorite: Maddy, the Buff Brahma


This, That and the One Eyed Duck

*Sometimes, when I am tired of telling the kids to pick up their rooms, I sit on the floor while they play and throw little legos and army men under their bare feet when they are walking.....it makes me feel better, and teaches them a good life lesson.

*Lily asked me the other day how her voice sounded since she had forgotten her nasal spray medicine that morning. I told her she sounded a little hoarse.

"You mean like a Miniature Horse?"

When we chatted about possibly taking her tonsils and adenoids out to prevent her from having laryngitis so often and that it might take away her raspy voice she said, "But I like my voice! I don't want to get rid of it!"

Yes, yes she likes her pony voice very much. Obviously.

*You know you have a true friend when they give you a "Fried Egg Mold" just because they saw it in the store and had to get it for you...because it so totally rocks! And it makes you smile every time you use it so really, it kind of does totally rock!

(Thanks Deborah! What would I do without you....or this?!)

*When your son asks you to help find "his" missing goalie glove (that he stole from his sister) because he can't find it anywhere, and so you search and search and can't find it either, take a break and grab a glass of ice water and while you are in the freezer, just peek in the back of the ice box on a whim. (Don't ask questions. Just trust me.)

*When the local farmer tells you he has a one-eyed duckling for sale, don't get all excited as you picture bringing home your very own Cyclops Duckling.....and whatever you do, don't let your kids talk about it on the way home because then they might decide on a name (like Bingo, the One Eyed Duck) and twist your arm into going back and bringing home Bingo and his sidekick, Dawson (because apparently they come in pairs). And that, my friends, is how these two little guys made their way to our house and into their very own kiddie pool:

Bingo, showing off his good side, and his little sidekick, Dawson
Dawson, too cute for his own good.....and the only reason he still lives with us (I suppose I should have heeded all the warnings about how messy ducks are....my bad!)

*And finally, when your newest little day old peep allows you to hold it and rub its tummy until it totally relaxes and looks stoned, don't just assume it is one chilled out little peep.....
It was apparently a very patriotic peep, however. 

Happy 4th of July!


A Glance Back in Time

Recently I ran across this little letter I wrote my grandma back when we we had just moved to California (again). I thought it was worth sharing since I apparently have not made time to keep up with my blog this year.....it kind of feels like I am running about 8 years behind so this is fitting. 

May 29, 2007

Dear Grandma, 

I am sorry it has been so long since I last wrote…I am beginning to sound like a broken record. Anyway, we are finally getting settled here in CA. It is a beautiful state, to which I’m highly allergic! I have been sneezing and stuffy since our arrival a month ago. Ugh! Hard to enjoy perfect weather when your eyes are red and puffy from the itching! Oh well. Such is life. 

We have started to make some new friends, a big feat these days it seems and we have been going fairly regularly to the Methodist Church right down the street. It is an unusual church, well, let's just say it's not as traditional as some, but it seems like a good demographic mix and it is the closet church to us, a big plus. We had tried a different UMC nearby, one located in the retirement community up the hill, and I almost had to up and leave about 20 minutes into it. I don’t think there were more than a handful of us under the age of 75, not a big surprise in a retirement community obviously but then the pastor got up to do a “centering” prayer and he began by saying, “breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out,” real slowly and I thought to myself, “I suppose in this church you have to remind people to do that,” and of course I started to laugh and laugh and I had to lean forward to suppress my tickle and try to hide the fact that I was giggling so hard and Kurt leaned over to ask if I was laughing or crying, hard to tell since I had teary eyes at that point but I was glad because I figured, if Kurt can’t tell, then perhaps no one else noticed…at any rate, I don’t think that will be the church for us. We’ll stick to the one closer to home and deal with the fact that the minister almost seems more like an old school priest than a Methodist preacher. Whatever though. You have to pick your battles and just because I feel like getting up and debating him on what John Wesley would’ve changed about his sermons, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good church…just an unusual take on the Methodist faith. And the pastoral intern, I know he says he comes from the Presbyterian tradition, but both Kurt and I would’ve guessed he grew up in a Jewish home. Nothing wrong with that of course but, anyway, it all seems to keep us engaged I suppose. 

So, I am sorry I couldn’t include any recent pictures. I have a lot of new pics on my very full camera but somehow in the move I misplaced the connection so I can’t upload anything into my computer. I have to figure out where to take the camera to get the information off of it…a much bigger deal with 3 kids. But, rest assured, as soon as I get some new photos printed, I will send them your way. 

I am guessing by now mom has told you we are expecting our 4th child. We just found out so it is still very early in the game. But, if everything works out, the baby will be born at the end of January, or something like that. I had not planned on being pregnant for my 30th birthday but, alas, God had other plans (and we were obviously not very careful) so, here we are. Somehow, it seems a little more stressful and a little less exciting this go around. 

Our house is quite lovely, although much smaller than our Midwestern home. We have snuggled in though and will be staying put for at least a couple of years. Kurt loves his new job so far but isn’t as fond of CA. There is something different about the way people interact here. Everyone is so individualistic, like an “every man for himself” type of feeling that doesn’t make you feel very connected to anyone. We need to give it more time but it isn’t like being in MN where people kind of wrap you up and take you in. No one has stopped by to bring us (the new neighbors) cookies yet but then, that is probably highly unusual these days. We just had GREAT neighbors back in MN. We have yet to sell our home back there so who knows, we may go back and live in the same place. We'll see. 

Well, I have to wrap this up. Lillian is making growling noises from the other room so I had better go check it out. It will soon turn into screeching I am sure…oh, there she blows!

I love you and look forward to seeing you sometime soon. 
Karen Diane

p.s. In the wake of my Grandma Mac’s death, I just wanted to tell you how special you were to her. She felt so indebted to you and your help early in her life. Thank you for being such a gift to her. She loved you very much. 


Tonight's Thoughts

These last couple of weeks and months have been a massive blur. Shortly after Fidgi passed, my good friends lost their son, also 47, to some heart and blood clot issues. Like Fidgi, it was completely out of nowhere. Like Fidgi, it was a total shock.

Truth be told, I didn't really know Christopher very well. He flitted in and out of the scene, occasionally stopping in to see his folks when we were around and once joining us and his parents for a holiday dinner at our home. But I only really knew him from stories and listening to him speak on the phone with his mom when the kids and I happened to be visiting. He was a sharp, eclectic and very private guy, their only child. His loss left us stunned and unsettled. Personally, I just can't make sense of it. I know his parents can't either.

After that horrible week, when he had been fighting to hang on and his parents, in utter dismay, were just trying to cope, I (almost guiltily) took my younger daughter's soccer team to their first tournament together. While I was so pleased with Lily's team, their sweet championship win was but a fleeting victory in light of Fidgi's and Chirstopher's deaths. Don't get me wrong: I am so proud of those kids and not just for winning. I am most proud of how hard they have worked and how much they have overcome to get where they are. When I think of all the good things that can come from youth sports, it is the will and drive to both overcome obstacles and create successes that I most hope these kids walk away with. Sure there are friendships and shared experiences and fun and laughter and physical fitness benefits, and even some tears of sadness and frustration; those harder lessons learned. But recognizing their power to create outcomes, learning to believe in themselves, to see the value in helping one other, and having faith in a future they cannot yet see and yet striving to get there anyway, those are the things I hope they learn above all else.

And when I ponder my place in it all, I realize I don't want to be just another coach who teaches a game. Anyone can do that. I want to be a coach who helps create better people; people who can figure out how to get the results they want while building others up along the way and most importantly, people who never, ever give up. They won't always get what they dream up, they won't always win that trophy or prize, but by giving their all until the bitter end and by helping others do the same, they will lead vibrant and full lives, lives without regret.

In the wake of another unexpected loss, the questions are far more numerous than the answers. But that one glaring lesson remains: we simply do not know how long we get to walk this path. We must make the most of the time we have and with the people we have in it. And that time is now.

I wish that lesson came easier.

Rest in peace, Christopher.