12.22.2014

Top 10 Warning Signs…..

Top Ten Warning Signs That Your Chicken Obsession Has Gone Too Far:

1. When someone asks your three year old what says, "Bak bak, bak bak, bak bak," he points to you.

2. Your spouse tells you that you are starting to kiss like a chicken….so you peck him on the cheek and waddle off.

3. Anytime you see something move in the grass, you quickly stop and scratch at the ground with your foot to see if you should catch it, you know, for the chickens….

4. You consider naming the store bought chicken you bring home because, 'that chicken was a somebody at some point too ya know!'

5. You talk to your hens as if they could understand you or would actually give a hoot even if they could. (And then get mad when they ignore your requests…..)

6. You tell your six year old son to go wake up his brother. He runs upstairs and you hear him crow: "Cock-a-doodle doooooo!" (Presumably right in his brother's ear….)

7.When your neighbor gets all giddy because he "got you some chicken poop" you know exactly what he means and you get totally excited too because you have never had the chance to actually use the Chicken Poop (chapstick) that you had blogged about years before. (I can now confirm it is better than the real thing….hee hee.) Thanks, Big E!

8. It takes you a week to get the lights on your Christmas Chicken Coop just right (including taking down the first batch because you are pretty sure the hens don't like the chintzy looking multi-colored lights that match the lights at the chicken-hating neighbor's house……because every time they, the hens, not the neighbors, are out they try to peck at the blue ones…..) And even after settling for red lights with a white star on top, you are already plotting in your head how you might do them differently next year.

9. and 10. (Yes, this one really deserves at least two places….) You are happily making your typical old Christmas cookies when you notice that your "harp" cookie cutter produces cookies that look just like little chickens! After several dozen little chicken cookies later (and irritating two little girls in the process, both of whom work very hard sneaking in a bell and a tree and a heart whenever they can) you vaguely remember the great big metal chicken form (wall decor maybe?) that someone gave you as part of a gift basket last year so you ecstatically send your kid up to grab it while you make another two batches of dough so that instead of making little trees, bells, ornaments and snowmen you make this:




The World's Most Gigantic Christmas Chicken Cookie



Or perhaps the World's Only Gigantic Christmas Chicken Cookie….
you know, not including the FIVE FOUR OTHERS you made (the first one took a dive for the worst as we got the hang of maneuvering these Gigantic Roos from parchment paper to baking sheet.)



It really puts a new spin on "baked chicken" doesn't it?
And then, as you are merrily baking, you begin telling your children the REAL story behind the Wise Men….you know, the one where it was actually the Christmas Chicken that lead the Wise Men to the stable….. it was dinner time, after all, and those Christmas Chickens were TERRIBLY hungry. Thank goodness for the Great Christmas Chicken or else poor little Jesus's birth might have been completely overlooked, he'd have gone totally unadorned, the Wise Men wouldn't have delivered any gifts and we'd be out a Christmas carol or two, at least. And THEN, as if that weren't bad enough, Santa would not have thought to start bringing presents to all the little girls and boys and Christmas as we know it would not even exist! (And all us modern parents would sing praises of joy!) So YOU'D BETTER BE THANKFUL FOR THE GREAT CHRISTMAS CHICKEN!!!!

My kids didn't buy it either. Whatever. These little cluckers are gonna rock as Christmas gifts for my neighbors though. They will be iced and decorated and wrapped with a little tag that simply says: 

Merry Clucking Christmas.

And the best part, if you receive one of these as a gift, you know you are either one of my very favorite people ever, or one of my least favorite…..it's like a clucking Christmas mystery. And if you just don't care one way or the other, simply bite the little pecker's head off and forget it ever happened. 

Best. Christmas. Cookies. EVER!

Thank you, O' Great Christmas Chicken!*





*Keep shaking your head Kurt….it only gets better from here!



12.20.2014

My Kids Have Issues (But Would You Expect Anything Less?)

****

Solly: Mom, how do you spell naked?
Me: N…..A……wait, what?
Solly: No, I mean, can you write the word naked on my picture? (He hands me the picture he has scribbled and I write "naked" across the top.)….. Now can you write the word "teacher"?
Me: Um, no, absolutely not. 

****

I sang to the boys the other night. It was the first time in years….Twinkle, Irish Lullaby, Little Bunny Foo Foo, Hush a Bye Baby (which somehow included "if that diamond ring don't shine, papa's gonna buy you a porcupine….if that porcupine's no fun, papa's gonna buy you an air soft gun….." it was all smooth sailing from there…) Then I took requests, Baby Beluga, The Star Spangled Banner, Take me Out to the Ball Game, and when I said, "Ok, one more," Liam requested I Drive Your Truck and Solly insisted, "No, let's do Ten Rounds of Jose Cuervo!"

Oh, if only they would..bedtime would become a piece of cake. 

****


So, a friend posted on Facebook a link to watch James Taylor playing Christmas music on the guitar. It was delightful, as JT tends to be. Aidan was watching over my shoulder and at the end he says:

"Wow, if that guy could only sing he'd probably be famous."

really don't think he is mine actually. So, I sent him to bed hungry and told him he couldn't come back out until he could play or sing even half as well as JT. 

I'm gonna miss that kid……maybe.  

****

Me (after running my fingers through 3 year old Solly's freshly washed hair): Solly, what is that in your hair???
Solly: Ah, it's jus' some ticks. (I swear I heard a country twang.)
Me: Um, if you have ticks on your head we should probably remove them.
Solly: Nah. I like 'em there. Ticks belong in the hair.
Apparently I'm raisin' me up some hillbillies folks! Next thing you know, he'll be out there punching the chickens to keep them in their place…..oh wait, he already does that, too. 

…Kids these days, I tell you what….. 

****




12.19.2014

Thanksgiving Highlights

While Thanksgiving is long gone and far away from what is the week before Christmas (ALREADY!) I had to share a couple of my favorite moments from our first Turkey Day trip down to Florida in what has been far too many years.

My mom is a true southerner……when she talks about it "being cold up north" she is referring to where my brother lives in Gainesville. (Look it up if you don't know where that is.) So we had just arrived, after 18 traveling hours, and were in the kitchen, getting dinner ready when I realize I am sweating.

Me: "Mom, I'll be right back. I'm just going to turn the air conditioning down a little."

My mom, sounding a little surprised that I need to adjust the air: "Well, I just turned it down to 78 degrees."

Uh, yeah, and there in lies the problem!

*****

After a couple of days at my folks' place we traveled inland to my Grandmother's house. GiGi just turned 96 this year. She is doing fabulously and we were excited to spend some time with her. But it can be a little much for all those kids and cousins to take over her house so I kept sending the kids outside to play. On one such occasion, the adults decided we would sit outside on her patio and get some fresh air as well. Solomon came over with a cup full of ice cream and was complaining because he had blue marker on his fingers and wanted me to wash it off. So enraptured by our conversations, I really didn't want to get up and take him inside (or perhaps that is laziness….) so I kept telling him we would wash his hands AFTER he finished the ice cream. Stubbornly, he didn't waiver in his request. My uncle took over:

Uncle: "Solomon, did you know that eating ice cream helps get rid of blue on your fingers?"

Solomon didn't seem to believe him but he was listening.

Uncle (full of enthusiasm and sincerity): "It's true! Start eating your ice cream and the blue will start to disappear. Go ahead, try it!"

Solomon slowly started eating the ice cream. Then he remembered his blue fingers.

Solomon (holding out his hand): "It's not working."

Uncle: "Oh Solomon, you have to eat more ice cream than that. It just takes a little more ice cream to make the blue go away. Keep eating!"

Solomon started eating his ice cream again and just as soon as I thought he had forgotten the fingers my uncle says:

"Oh look, Solomon! I think it is working! Your fingers are not as blue as they were a few minutes ago. Keep on eating that ice cream!"

Solomon obliged. And of course, after he finished his ice cream, he had completely forgotten the blue fingers and off he went to play with the other kids.

A few hours later, we were in the kitchen about to prep for dinner when Solomon walked in on a mission.

"Mom," he frantically says, with as much seriousness as a three year old can muster. "My fingers are blue again. I need more ice cream!"

Smart boy…..sort of.

*****


Have a great day everyone and all the best in your holiday preparations. For those of you who are (smartly) simply awaiting the birth of their lord, kudos to you. Enjoy yourself while the rest of us are frantically cursing at the school because, SERIOUSLY?! A TWO HOUR DELAY TODAY????? Good heavens! Are you TRYING to give all us parents (who were using this last day of school before break on last minute Christmas preparations) heart attacks??? Sheesh!

WHAT! YOU ARE NOW CANCELING SCHOOL TODAY!?!?!?!? 

You have to be kidding me.




12.15.2014

One Year

It has been one year since Pennsylvania welcomed us.









We have learned. We have laughed. We have cried and cried some more. (And I'll admit to a little cursing here and there along the way……that Solomon, I tell ya….) It has been nothing short of an adventure. And that is why we are very sorry to see it come to an end so quickly…





The first glimpse of our home last December.








JUST KIDDING! 

Sheesh. I almost gave myself a heart attack just writing that! Anyway, it has been a while and I just thought I would share this important milestone with you. We landed here a year ago and have not been the same since. And that's not such a bad thing as it turns out. 

The days we live for here in Western PA
Here's to a year down and many more to go! Cheers!

11.08.2014

When Executive Functioning Takes a Vacation, Part 2

So, I had gotten through Pumpkin Math and reset my mind to Liam's class party. I had volunteered to buy and bring the snacks because I couldn't see myself organizing crafts or games right now and even if I could, I was the only mom at the planning meeting who didn't bring a million printed Halloween Party ideas with me so buying snacks seemed easy and mindless. Money might not be able to buy happiness, but it can certainly get you out of ruining Halloween craft time for 20 first graders!

And if it weren't for the fact that this school has a very specific snack list, one in which you have to get certain brands and not others of the exact same item, or the fact that included in those other moms' lists were decorated snacks like mummified juice boxes and pumpkin faced fruit cups, things I was now on task for, this would have been a total no brainer. But after buying all the snacks at Costco and then having the school nurse turn them down, each and every one, because the brands were not on the "approved snack list" I realized my easy role actually required a little more thought and planning.

So, it was the day after Lily's Pumpkin Math, the day before Liam's party and I had finally gotten all the food and had finished mummifying the juice boxes. (If you have no idea what that means, go to this article in Parents Magazine  to understand why I might hate Parents Magazine and the crafty moms that are behind it…..) My most endearing neighbor had searched high and low for googly eyes and I had just finished gluing them on the juice boxes, telling her that the party was tomorrow and I was totally ahead of the game because I had already finished most of what I had to do, when I sat down to my computer to give myself another Mommy Star and saw this email sent from the class mom's iPhone:

--Karen, is everything ok????…..

It was 2:30 and I was about to go pick up Solomon and his friend from school but wanted to get back to her before I forgot so I wrote back: "Yup. Just finished the Mummy Boxes and will put the faces on the fruit cups tonight. See you tomorrow."

Then horror struck and I wrote again:

"The party IS tomorrow right????" I went to my calendar: the party was scheduled for the following day.

Ding!

---No, it's today!---

What followed was sheer chaos. I had put the party on my calendar for the wrong day. It had started at 2 and would end at 3 and it was now 2:35 and I HAD THE SNACKS!

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! KURT! The party is today, I have to go, I have to go! You have to go pick up Solomon, Oh my gosh! I can't believe I did this! Oh my gosh! I have to go!!!"

Kurt was so pleased with me.

"Where's my phone? Oh my gosh! I can't believe I did this! Oh my gosh!"

Kurt calmly grabbed his keys as I loaded my arms with two boxes of UNFACED fruit cups, a box of mummified Juice Boxes, three bags of assorted cookies and snacks and "Where's my phone!? Oh my gosh, I can't call you, I will call you, just go, go, go, oh my gosh! WHERE THE HECK IS MY PHONE?!"

I will not say how fast I drove down the curvy back country road, or how many times I honked at other drivers to keep them from pulling out in front of me, but I was in the parking lot by 2:40. I ran inside the school, Mummies falling out behind me, frantically explained to the front office that I hadn't realized the party was today and I had the snacks and for the love of God can someone please help me! She buzzed me through without a question (note to future bad guys, just act like you are supposed to be there, like an hour ago, and they will let you in, easy peasy!) and darted down the hall, bags ripping, people staring….I may have even knocked into a kid dressed up like superman but I am not certain…..without a breath left in me, I reached the classroom and dropped everything on the nearest desk. The entire class looked up in their costumes (except poor Liam who DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A COSTUME YET!) and the other moms rushed to help (I think more to calm me down than to worry about snacks) as I repeatedly apologized for my blunder…..

Once I caught my breath I asked to use one of their phones to call Kurt.

Me: Kurt, you have to pick up Cody too.
Kurt: Ok, who's Cody?
Me: That's our neighbor's kid.
Kurt: Which neighbor? I don't even have car seats. And I am driving around but have no idea where the school is. Where am I going? (I began to suspect a hint of frustration in his voice.)
Me: It is the church across from the gas station (the benefit of a small one-gas station town….) and it's around back. Just stick them in your car and go home. I will come home right now and take Cody.
Kurt: I missed a business call for this. (Yup. Definitely frustration.)
Me: Ugh. I am sorry. I'll be right home.

When I finally got to Liam's table to distribute snacks, Liam grinned up at me and eagerly announced: "Mom! Guess what, Mom?! I'm on Yellow! I'm having a good day today."

Deep exhale.

"Awesome job, little buddy. Keep it up until the end of the day, and I'll see you at home!"

The little girl across the table held up her Mummy Juice: "I'm done," she said, rather defiantly.

"Great. You only get one. Hope you liked it. Now you can play with the mummy," I said.

Another kid told me he didn't like the Twizzlers I was passing out for them to use to make Spider Legs for their Oreos.

"Awesome. Then I don't suggest eating it," I replied, teeth now slightly gritted, though still smiling, kind of.

Apologizing again, I left the classroom and rushed back to the house to find Solly and his buddy playing quietly upstairs. Kurt was tickled pink with the perfection of my mess…at least that's what I'm going with, and he went back down to work as I took Cody home. On the way back, Solly and I stopped by my relaxed-and-totally-on-top-of-things neighbor's house to pick up the tickets Aidan needed for the hockey game that night. As I recounted my day, my neighbor's mom, who was there to celebrate my friend's son's birthday, chuckled delightedly at my tale of woe. I was glad to offer some amusement for their day and then they asked if I might have some birthday candles they could have. Happy to help, I told them I would go get the candles, pick up the kids at the bus stop and be right back. They offered to keep Solomon until I returned since he had already dumped out some toys and was playing quietly. Back to the house to grab the candles and then to the bus stop to grab the kids, I went. As I got close to the bus stop, the kids were already half way up the street so I sent Aidan running up to our friends' house to give them the candles. Apparently Liam had not been very kind to one of the neighbor kids on the bus so I had to speak with the two boys and have Liam apologize for his behavior. By the time we finished the conversation, Aidan was in the car and on home we went.

The babysitter arrived as I was getting the dinner on the table. I proceeded to tell her what her job was that night and when I got to the part where she was going to bathe Solomon, I stopped short: Wait, where's Solomon?

Out the door and back to the car I ran, and back down to the neighbor's house where my dear friend was sitting on the floor playing with Solly.

"You were just waiting to see how long it took me to figure out you still had my kid weren't you."

"Yup."

That's when you know a friend is a keeper.

And that your brain has officially left the building. Let's just say, I plan on giving my Executive Functioning System a raise if it ever comes back. Apparently, it, too, is a keeper.

11.07.2014

When Executive Functioning Takes a Vacation, Part 1

Last week, without giving me advanced warning, my Executive Functioning System decided to take some unpaid leave. (Yes, this is a system….it's like the Cardiovascular, Endocrine or Nervous systems only on the cognitive level. And I might be making this crap up but just go with it for the sake of this VERY NON-SEXY post……shoot, I think I just lost half of today's unintentional readers…..)

So, earlier in the week I had awoken to this feeling that there were way too many balls being juggled in the air and I was surely about to drop a dozen or so of them (which Kurt repeatedly confirmed in his panic attacks over having too many balls up in the air…..) I checked my calendar and everything looked normal (which means it was a constant stream of insanely crazy chaos….how's that for redundant?!….but nothing out of the ordinary.)

At any rate, this year I decided I would make an effort to volunteer in each kid's classroom at least once before the school year was out. That may seem weak to some of you ├╝ber-awesome-moms who are in the classroom weekly and live your life to be the teacher's pet, er, I mean, to be engaged in your child's education, but for people like me who are consistently skating by, hardly able to keep up with the bare minimum of household responsibilities (because chickens are so much more enjoyable than laundry….seriously, they totally are….but really, so is stepping on legos in the middle of the night when your three year old has peed his bed for the third time that week….), the idea of making it into a classroom and being held accountable for helping another 20 kids is like standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest, getting ready to trek up the mountain only naked……and without gear….. or legs. Ok, poor choice of images but really, some of us are just not the classroom volunteering type. I'd rather attempt Mt. Everest with a pack of live hens than have to go judge a teacher by their class for two hours. Wait, what?

Anyway, so I missed out on volunteering for Lily's class parties (she forgot to give me the form which I found a week after the deadline up in the attic being played with by the cats) and so I volunteered to do "Pumpkin Math" instead. She brought home the packet for me and told me repeatedly we needed to bring in a pumpkin. I questioned her regularly because NOWHERE in the packet did it mention needing to bring in a pumpkin but the night before, we went and picked out a small white pumpkin ("Because we will be the ONLY GROUP TO HAVE A WHITE PUMPKIN, MOM! I. MUST. HAVE. A. WHITE. PUMPKIN!") just to be safe. (She was totally right on both counts.) I read the cover letter twice the night before, making sure I understood my role; flipped quickly through the packet, skimming the instructions so that I knew what we were doing; and then put a HUGE GOLD STAR on my mommy chart for being so on top of this volunteering thing. Bam! I got this.  

The day of the Pumpkin Math, after my alarm had gently reminded me that I needed to be at the school, I calmly grabbed the packet, the very WHITE pumpkin that would make our group Lily-original….Lilyriginal….. and headed contently down the lane to the picture perfect school. Which is a complete and total lie…..what really happened is that I was outside trying to wrangle the chickens back into the coop when my phone reminded me a gazillion times that I needed to get to Lily's school but there was this one hen who would not cooperate and after chasing her around and around the coop for over twenty minutes, while simultaneously burning the three Halloween Cookie Cakes I was making for our neighbors and sending away an electrician because I misunderstood what he was there for because I had failed to communicate at all with my nearly frazzled husband, I scrambled into the car, forgetting to grab the pumpkin, bolted back inside, realizing I had burnt the cakes, cursed a few times while I dumped them into the trash, grabbed the pumpkin, and drove like a bat out of hell to get to the school, praying all the while that dumping hot, burnt cookie cakes into the trash wasn't going to burn my house down…..and shoot, did I turn off the oven?

I signed into the office, right on time, (the last parent to arrive but really, did you guys need to be ten minutes early? No! Suck-ups.) and then noticed I was the only one carrying a pumpkin and the only one NOT carrying a bag of accessories like bowls and spoons and carving knives.

Me: "Ok, so, apparently I am THAT parent and didn't realize we were supposed to bring knives…..where did it say we needed to bring that stuff?"

EVERYONE ELSE: "It was in the packet."

Me: "Seriously? But I read through the packet. There was no supply list in mine. Where in the packet was it?"

Silence. No one knew how they knew but EVERYONE knew to bring the supplies. Everyone but me.

Goody-two-shoes: "Oh, don't worry about it. I brought plenty of extras just in case. You can borrow mine."

Me: "Of course you did." Ok, so I just thought that; what I actually said was, "Ooooh thank goodness! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. But at least I remembered the pumpkin." This was met with quizzical looks by every last parent. Because they are all jerks. And they obviously don't understand the work that goes into getting hens back into the coop…..shoot! I left a hen out….dang hen.

As we walked to the classroom, I flipped back through my packet. Still no supply list. Then, as we began the group project, I saw (on page three), the very first instruction was: Parents, please bring in a bowl, spoons and a carving knife.

Come on, seriously? PAGE THREE?!?! Don't you think that little bit might have been on the cover letter where those severely challenged parents (you know, the ones who only skim the packet) would actually have the chance of seeing it?

At any rate, it all turned out just fine. And even though I was the only parent whose phone camera had no more space left and so could not take a nifty group photo of my child's class behind their five orange jack-o-lanterns and ONE WHITE ONE, I left feeling like I could at least keep my gold mommy star another day, after all, ours was the only jack-o-lantern with 3D cat ears held in place by toothpicks…..and it isn't like I totally failed to go or anything ridiculous like that……

-To be continued-







11.06.2014

Sorry to Disappoint (But What Did You Think a Sexy Silkie Was?!?!)

Boring Fact: Graceful Like a Chicken averages around 70 page views a day. After a post has been published, the views reach closer to 200. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

These are not bragging rights. The Graceful Chicken has a very small but lovely following. I have conversed with many readers, some I know well, some I have only just begun to know, and then there are those who have contacted me for all sorts of interesting reasons; very nice people I will likely never meet. And I thank you all for stopping in, whether a loyal fan or an unintentional reader just passing through. (Except Mr. Anonymous who keeps spamming my comments in attempt to get me to click on junky links…..you can go away now[insert juvenile name calling here].)

Interesting Fact: My last post, Sexy Silkies: A Pre-Halloween Tale, generated 1,773 page views. Seriously. It really begs the questions: WHAT THE HECK DID YOU THINK I WAS WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE?!?!? I mean, come on! Sexy Silkies….really?! Chickens people, I write about chickens! (And other non-perverted topics like kids and annoying things and God and humorous sufferings and a little lingerie along the way but that was funny and embarrassing and not meant for ogling!!)

One can only guess what that many wandering readers were looking for (and if you are sitting there thinking about it for more than a second, please remove yourself from your computer and take a nice brisk walk to collect yourself…..and retrieve your head out of the gutter!)

The best part is that as the large number of page views caught my eye this morning, I got all excited: I FINALLY wrote something that got some attention! Yay! They noticed my story and liked my writing enough to pass it along! YIPPETTY-DO-DAH! So, of course I wanted to know what the difference was between that and every other post I have ever written……

Hee hee hee…..it all comes back to sex folks. I'm a slow learner here but apparently there are some key words that need to be included in a post title to grab some (unwanted) attention. So from now on, I am going to make sure to give each post a scantily dressed name, douse it in cheap perfume and send it out to the streets where it can generate scores of hits. I just wanted to give you a fair warning in case you see the Graceful Chicken standing on the corner in stilettos with one, fish-net covered leg exposed through an extra high slit in her tight leopard print skirt. I worry she won't be able to get away from the neighborhood bear in an outfit like that but alas, we can't hold their hands forever.

Sheesh.