Chicken Squawk

"Making a chicken squawk and bob like a quail might seem like the ultimate stupid pet trick, but by accomplishing this task by cross-species brain cell transplantation, brain researchers truly have something to crow about."

"My brain is telling me I need a popsicle Mommy!" Madeline said. I gave up a little prayer of thanks that there was no whine to the tone in her voice, nor any screeching or drama of any kind actually. (I also turned to make sure it was in fact my child and not some alien taking over the body that she usually occupies.)

We were leaving the grocery store and against my better judgement, I handed her a popsicle in order to reward the calm way in which she had just made her wishes known. Meanwhile I was thinking how nice it was that her brain wasn't telling her to pinch Liam's nose to awake him like it had this morning, or, like a few days ago when her brain apparently told her she could have her way if she were only to yank out a chunk of Lily's hair, leaving the back of Lily's head in a frizzy ball as if someone had taken a zippo lighter to it...without the smell of course. (When I had walked into the room to see why Lily was in hysterics, Madeline was standing there with an innocent expression of concern and said theatrically: "Look mom! Some of Lily's hair is falling out!" ...as if she had NO idea how she was holding enough blond hair to have strung a nice little violin bow...)

Of course, I later regretted the popsicle decision because as luck may have it, they were oversized pops and it was 90 some-odd-degrees outside and we were in the car going to pick up Aidan and oh yeah, she DROPPED the darn thing, which of course led to the drama and the screeching and the whining and I am certain had she been at home, or anywhere else that didn't include a 5-point harness, she'd have been rolling on the floor, arms and legs flailing and perhaps smoke coming out her ears and nose. Oh yes, I thought, it is my child.

And thus, we learn why moms have judgement in the first place. Perhaps the scientists would like to transplant some quail brain cells into the human child next. Some squawking and bobbing might be a welcome addition!


Fight or Flight

Chickens will sometimes fly to explore their surroundings, but usually do so only to flee perceived danger.

Recall several posts ago when I said we had never seen a female Black Widow Spider in our house....yeah, scratch that.

The kids and I were getting the house picked up and vacuumed yesterday when I came across a lovely young widow spider in the corner of the window IN THE BABY'S ROOM! Argh! Also recall how fast I mentioned they were...she even outran the vacuum. Now, I have never been one to vacuum spiders because I know that they will live through the experience and come out angry and bitter and full of revenge..."Hi," they will say, jumping on me. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." And they won't listen to reason when I explain to them that actually, their mother killed their father (I won't mention the possibility that I may have killed their mother of course.)

So, I am full of trepidation knowing, not only did we try, TWICE, but we failed both times to suck her up and now Ms.Montoya is probably out gathering her forces, telling all her widowed friends it is time to implement the plans for Operation Desert Idiots (that's us). How on earth can two educated people possibly FAIL to vacuum up a little spider? Life is often about timing and apparently, ours was poor.

Anyway, this left us with a little problem last night. You see, Lily has been transitioning into her big kid bed in what will now be the girl's room. But, because she is a rascally 22 month old, she sees no reason to actually stay in her bed once we leave the room. And our only recourse is to put her temporarily in her crib until she sees the wisdom of staying in the bed instead.

Last night, being much like the previous 5 nights, Lily waltzed around behind the closed door, gathering toys to put under her sheets, since she obviously has no intention of using them otherwise, and "making mischief of one kind or another" (like jumping on Madeline's pillow, where Madeline's HEAD happened to be sleeping and did NOT appreciate the rude awakening) when I finally decided it was time to give her the crib reminder. But when I entered the baby room I remembered, argh! Ms. Montoya is still in here, plotting her revenge! And then another thought occurred to me, is it considered cruel and unusual punishment to lock a kid in a room with a potentially deadly spider?

Well, I left Lily in the crib, screaming with indignation, and went to tuck Madeline back in bed. (She had made a mad-dash to the door behind me when she realized Lily was leaving which would mean she might be left alone for more than a breath or two.) That's when I heard the KERTHUNCK and the yelp and crying that followed. I rushed back in to find Lily dazed and rolling on the floor, having jumped overboard, trying to get herself into an upright position. She can't have understood about the spider, I thought. But then this is the same toddler who did a spider dance over a strand of hair touching her leg. Perhaps, when it is between fight or flight, Lily chooses to fly, and um, gracefully so. Much like a chicken.

To be continued...


The Lord's Prayer...kind of.

Madeline and I were coloring at the dining room table when she starts:

"Our father....who arts in heaven....how little be my name.........my kingdom come....I will be done....earth is in heaven."

"Very good, Madeline," I say.

She replies, "Give me my bread!"


Pet Chickens

Google provides a special service that promises to post ads relevant to your blog...

So far, the ads on my blog have been for: chicken eggs, pet chickens, free chicken coop plans, baby chicks for sale, and spider/bat competitions. And I think they may have given up trying to figure my blog out because lately they've gone all public-service on me...as if maybe, at the very least, one of you will want to make the world a better place perhaps?

Seriously....I don't even need to write about that...it's just funny.

But of course, I have to write about something...it's been almost a full week. How time dost fly.

Speaking of flies, did you know that CA has some of the LARGEST flies in existence? I know this to be true because as I was chuckling over the ad about building my own chicken coop, daydreaming about sending our 10 kids out to feed the pet chickens before milking Bessie and churning the butter, I noticed that what we really needed was something to keep our pet flies in. I'm afraid to actually kill the darned things for fear that the rest of the gang might come after me later, when I least expect it..like when I'm gathering the chicken eggs to make breakfast.

And I know that having chickens would be thoroughly entertaining to my kids. (Actually, having pet flies would too...) I know this because today we had a door-to-door salesman come by the house and my kids actually sat on the doorstep with the widest grins, thoroughly taking in what he was saying about the most incredible cleaning product ever, as if he were a traveling one-man circus show. And I am certain I would have ended up with a stockpile of cleaner had Kurt not come to the door, far less amused than we were. (He apparently missed the part where the guy SHOWED us it is so safe you can LICK it off your arm...because that is what makes a product a good cleaner...have you licked your bleach lately?)

I will admit, you could sell me practically anything. I do come from a family that owns SEVERAL leather bound encyclopedia sets...so it's not ALL my fault but still. How many magazines does a person need? I've got it down now so that when they come to our door, the conversation goes like this:

"Good day ma'am. My name is...."

"I'll take two. How much do I owe you?"

"But you don't know what I'm selling."

"It doesn't matter because in the end I will be totally convinced I need it so let's save us both the time and trouble."

A matter of fact, just a few weeks ago, Madeline and I were at the local farmer's market when one of the vendors (A.K.A. Evil Cake Guy) said, "Here, try a sample of cake."

"Oh, no thanks." I said. "If I try it, I might like it and then you will convince me to buy one."

"Oh, you don't have to buy one, I promise. But you and your daughter should try one. They are really good. I won't pressure you to buy one. I swear. It won't hurt hurt my feelings or anything like that."

"Ok," I said, handing a piece to Madeline while biting into THE MOST DELICIOUS CAKE I EVER HAD!

"Argh, I'll take two!"

And he actually tried to talk me OUT of buying the cake...

I know it has gotten bad too because recently I saw this infomercial for a product called ShamWOW! and in my half delirious state I convinced myself that I was really missing out. I mean, who couldn't use a towel that holds over 21 times its weight in liquid? Did you see how they dried off that sweater by just rolling it in the sham? I mean, THAT is awesome! So, we have this leak in the caulking under the shower door and the water puddles there if you aren't paying attention and when I looked down and saw it the other day I thought, "Too bad we don't have a shamwow right now." AND I MEANT IT!

Seriously, just send me my bill...and I'll lick that cleaner right up with my shamwow! And perhaps it will even clean up the coop for my pet chickens.


Chicken Trucks

Chicken Truck- an 18-wheeler with lots of lights on it. It can also mean a truck that hauls chickens (well, duh.) (Thanks to UrbanDictionary.com)

This morning, we decided we'd treat the kids to an hour at McDonalds where they could eat an unhealthy breakfast and play in the gigantic play structure while Kurt and I took it easy, sipping hot coffee and relaxing before our busy day began. And, with four tiny tykes, it went EXACTLY like that...without the taking it easy while sipping and relaxing, of course. 

We were leaving the parking lot afterwards, when what to our wondering eyes should appear but a truck load of chickens so lively and dear (or they may have been cornish game hens or something else, live but certainly edible.) And I had to stop and point it out to the kids who didn't seem the least bit amused but seriously, how awesome is that! Here I am in need of a connection to chickens to make this blog run more smoothly, and there I was, watching several hundred birds in a giant truck right there at McDonalds (and who says their food isn't fresh?!)

Anyway, I've heard it said that if you give a little boy a banana, he'll make it into a gun whether he has seen a gun or not. This is also true if you give the boy a pirate ship pool complete with a canon water shooter, pirate flag, steering wheel and slide and a couple super soaker water guns...

The thing is, the options were few for the particular sized blow-up pool we wanted. We could get a cool pirate ship or a huge alligator and something about seeing my kids in the belly of a gator was a little too close for comfort having seen my fair share of gators; both in FL zoos and along side the highways and in the rivers and lakes and well, it seemed more disturbing to play the role of gator grub than that of Captain Cook. 

Of course, unlike FL, we don't have alligator crossing signs or see gators walking along side the highways here in southern CA. That spot is reserved for illegals (a.k.a illegal immigrants), whom you will see being chased down by border patrol with vicious looking dogs and you can't help but feel for them. Down in San Diego, there used to be an illegal immigrant crossing sign and that is no joke:

And then someone got their feelings hurt about the insensitivity of the sign and they took it down which seems even more insensitive to me. Think about it. What is worse: a sign that might hurt someone's feelings or that same someone getting hit by a moving truck because the truck driver was not on the lookout? The truth, as sad as it may seem to some people out there, is this: there really are people who risk everything to get into this country. And who can blame them, when, for just under a days wage as a day laborer, you can get this:
....and still have enough for a fresh chicken dinner at McDonalds!

(Eat your heart out my MN friends...it was actually TOO hot to be out most of today!)


Baby Chicks in Church

After the eggs hatch, the hen fiercely guards the chicks...she keeps them warm and she leads them to food and water, but rarely feeds them directly. She continues to care for them until they are several weeks old, when she will gradually lose interest and eventually start to lay again.

It began Saturday night. Aidan, goofing around while climbing out of the bathtub, slipped and fell back into the tub, slicing some skin off a couple of toes. He cried out, in fear mostly, but when I picked him up and he saw the pin-sized drop of blood, you'd have thought he'd been shot. Since it had been a long day of cleaning and prepping for a dinner party at our house and the kids were a bit overtired and wound up, I played it up, carrying Aidan like a wounded soldier across the battlefield, all the way to our kitchen where we proceeded to take great care dressing the wound. He was laying on our counter, wrapped in a towel, and I was bandaging the toes when Madeline peered over me. Her huge eyes widened and she shouted dramatically: 

"There's BLOOD! There's BLOOD AIDAN! BLOOD!" (And I wouldn't have been surprised had she pulled out a paper fan and started fanning herself before gracefully collapsing on the floor under her full petticoat and tightly fitted bodice.) 

A now squirming Aidan started to wail, "It hurts, it hurts! I need ice!" and well, it was all down hill from there. 

After settling Aidan and Madeline down for the night, way past their bedtime, Liam made me work for my right to sleep and right as he finally settled into his crib (around midnight) I hear Lily crying in her room. I think maybe I can just "lose interest" and ignore it but of course she persisted to call out and um, I'm not a hen. 

I opened her door, peeking in to see if she was really awake, and there I find a naked toddler, half-mast eyes leaking a stream of tears surrounded by a dozen stuffed animals swimming in a lake of, well, you can figure that out. It seems that in her protest at bedtime, she decided she would show us who was boss and strip herself down to nothing. Unfortunately, that backfired because we never came back in...then again, I did have to come in and rescue her from drowning. After doing what good moms do and making it all right, I returned to a crying Liam in my own room...and thus went my night. 

So, after ephemeral sleep, a long early morning run and a quick "children's choice" breakfast of cereal, cheesy hamburger meat, hot dog buns and strawberries, (hmmm, it doesn't read any better than it was) the kids and I headed for early church, or should I say Madeline Stand-Up Take 2. (I probably should've stopped with breakfast...)

What can I say, the kids ran ahead of me and right into the unusually quiet service in which the substitute preacher was saying an unusually long prayer and since my kids are young, oblivious, and acting as if, instead of breakfast (if you can call it that) I had shot them up with an overdose of those sugary Robin Eggs laced with speed, they ran right TO THE FRONT of the church, sat down in the FRONT ROW and started frantically fighting over who got to draw on what envelope. And as if that weren't enough, while I was trying to catch up with them, Liam in the snuggly, decided to put in his two cents, and according to him, well, it was time to eat again, duh! Then the prayer is over but my kids aren't. And all I can think is 'twas grace that brought you safe thus far and it is by grace the two of you will make it home!

I finally get it under control (myself, not the kids) and the minister calls for the children to "please come up for Children's Time." (You may regret this, I think, keeping my eyes down so as not to have to look at anyone.) Sure enough, after tripping each other and dragging at each other to make it the few feet into the spotlight, they take their place in back of all the other kids because somehow, even though we were a couple strides away, Curly and Moe were the very last ones up front. And all the time I am reminding myself to apologize to my mother for anything and everything I may have done in church to embarrass her because, oh...now I get it. 

The preacher starts talking to the kids and although Aidan has managed to settle down and pay attention (phew, relief), Madeline starts rolling off the step like Humpty Dumpty with her eyes turning round in her head and shouting, "Whoaaaa" and then, because someone mistakenly found it funny the first time, she does it AGAIN! And right before I have the chance to call out "Will that girl's parents please get control of her!" a miracle occurs and she stops....and listens. Hallelujah! There IS a God!

But I was worn and weary and at the start of the next hymn, I picked my stuff up, and took Liam to feed him in the bathroom where I could listen to the service in peace and convince myself to actually claim the kids at their class afterwards. 

Precious Lord, take my hand, because unlike chickens, I will hopefully be blessed with 18 years or so to brood my chicks...putting me far along the road to earning some wings...I hope.


Chicken-Eating Spider

"Spider expert Martin Nicholas traveled to South America's Amazon in search of a spider known as the chicken-eating spider... With the help of a tiny "spider cam" that can see down spider holes, Nicholas came face-to-face with a huge spider that is nearly a foot across and could easily eat a chicken." -NATURE

For the love of God! A foot-long spider?! Are you kidding me? As if the little spiders aren't scary enough! (Add that to my list of places I never need to visit...)

So, speaking of spiders: spider hunting and trapping season is upon us. I had hoped that we could go a little longer without our nightly spider-hunts but alas, it is here. I know because, beyond the growing presence of cellar spiders, Callobius spiders and numerous webs I am finding IN my house,  I found this resting on our wall outside a few days ago:

And although this little bugger is not a real danger (unless he bites you...OUCH! But at least he isn't lethal), he symbolizes that the weather is just right for breeding and thus, we will soon be seeing this (again):

Ain't she a beaut?
And she can kill ya too!
Gotta love 'er... 

Although there haven't been any human deaths from a Black Widow bite in over a decade, I don't intend to let anyone in my family be the first. Hence the reason my dear hubbie and I have declared a hunting season. And since today I found the first of the Black Widow spiderlings hiding out in our cooler we keep outside for lack of space anywhere else, it is time to start our nighttime reconnaissance missions: hunt and kill the mammas because they ain't gonna let my babies grow up to be cowboys...they sure as heck don't let their husbands...matter of fact, I have yet to find a female widow spider in my house and I am guessing that is why I have found several males inside...I mean, if you thought you might get eaten by your mate, wouldn't you try to hide where they were not?

One day, I hope to establish a healthy respect for these not-so-little ladies of the dark but until then: Widows Beware! 

Having grown up in Florida, where it seems most creepy-crawly things are poisonous, I am familiar with deadly snakes and spiders (shoot, aren't they all?) but I didn't actually know there were Black Widows  (and Brown Widows....and Brown Recluses and...well you get my point) in our backyard until my mom mentioned it to me about this time last year in her oh-that's-not-such-a-big-deal way.

"What, were you trying to off us?" I wanted to ask. I mean, I understand the stress that might lead a mom to that feeling but seriously, it's just not cool. But no, people seem to take the 'don't ask, don't tell' approach to deadly spiders. Think about it, when was the last time you saw warnings about these things in the tourist brochures or new resident info packets? My neighbor has lived here 30 years and she had no clue there were widow spiders in our neighborhood until I happened to ask about how they controlled for them. Her husband, standing behind her, kept giving me that "please don't keep asking about this in front of her" look as he pleasantly admitted he may have seen one or two here and there over the years. One or two?! We killed hundreds last year! (Granted, only a dozen or so were full grown, the others were ballooning from the egg sac we happened to watch hatch before frantically trying to beat it down with a folded magazine, but still.)

At any rate, my mom somehow instilled in me the belief in the catch-and-release method of ridding the house of annoying pests. The problem with this is my hubbie has a GPS system and just keeps coming back...(kidding, only kidding.) Seriously though, the problem with the catch-and-release method is that I would then have to have deadly spiders alive in my car in order to take them far enough away from my house to where I felt comfy letting them go. The problem with that is, I would first have to catch them and if you have ever seen a Black Widow move, well, you know that they are about as fast as cheetahs. And the problem with catching them, even if I could, would be that I would have to open up the container to let them go and I am absolutely certain that at that point the Mamma Pest would get even by jumping on me and biting me and worst of all, CRAWLING on me!

Which reminds me of a scene from yesterday when I was running on the treadmill in the garage and Lily was playing with a broom.  All of a sudden, the broom drops and Lily comes running at me frantically squealing: "Spida, spida!" while marching her legs up in down in place and wiping at her clothes with one hand while trying to grab at one of her feet with the other. 

I'm like, "Seriously? You know what a spider is?" and she didn't find it amusing when I started laughing at this, thinking how funny it is that at 21 months she already knows to do the spider dance... (similar to the chicken dance only a little more yelling and squirming and not so much dancing and music.)

"Spida! Spidaaaaaa!" she screams at me. 

"I don't see anything Lily. But if you have a spider on you, take off your shoes," I tell her, as if that were the cure-all. 

She takes off her shoes and hands them to me. I look and sure enough, no spider in sight. But there IS a nice long hair attached to the velcro which I am guessing had been tickling her leg and I know for certain that THAT is the feeling of a deadly spider on you and if I had to guess, it is at least a foot long and could gobble a chicken right up! (She comes by it honestly for sure.) 

Chicken Growth Hormones

Chickens grow much more rapidly than they once did and some consumers have concluded that this rapid growth is due to the use of hormones in these animals...However, hormone use in poultry production is illegal in the United States...Furthermore, several scientific studies have documented the fact that chickens grow rapidly because they are bred to do so.

Thank goodness because I was afraid that we might find ourselves taken over by several billion sumo-sized chickens.

And anyway, who needs growth hormones when you have In-N-Out right down the street??? (The chickens are thrilled as, much to my kids' chagrin, they are not on the menu there....the chickens, not my kids.)

Well, it has been almost a year since we moved to CA (again) and I would title this year as "A Year of Growth." We grew a baby from scratch (and subsequently a rounder body that seems to be a little too comfy that way), we grew our three seedling children, we grew to realize southern CA wasn't so bad if you could overlook the incredibly screwed up values that many people seem to have here (oh wait, yeah, it is THAT bad...) We also grew an incredibly high yielding crop of MILDEW in our bathroom, and some mold elsewhere, though I can't quite put a finger on it. (But never fear! My lungs call it to my attention regularly...WHEEZE!) We grew our debt, some extra stress, some weeds, some flowers, and currently, we are growing peas, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, basil and strawberries.

Put it all together and what have you got? Bibbidy-bobbidy-boo!