Earthquake Causes Chicken to Lay Massive Egg

Seriously, here is the headline: Earthquake causes chicken to lay a giant egg 

Ok, so it is well documented that animals often know things are coming before we do and they behave differently when natural disasters are near. I can recall as a kid when a hurricane was coming, our cats acted nutty well in advance...or maybe that was just the sugar we had fed them or the daytime paranoia they experienced living with kids who would often do things like stick a tube sock over their heads to watch them try to wrestle it off, or push them out into the middle of the pool on a boogie board to see if they'd just jump and swim or wait it out (they always got wet eventually!) 

At any rate, apparently, this couple in the article above thinks an earthquake caused their chicken to lay a gigantic egg. You have to click on that link and check out the size of that egg too...it is rather large. 

And that is the only thing I could find that related chickens to earthquakes....

So we had only been home from the FL madness a few days when we were greeted by the gentle roll of THE EARTH! The kids and I had just come back from the coffee house, caffeinated and ready to get things back in order, when the quake hit. For those of you in FL, if you recall seeing the shuttle go up and then a few minutes later there is that sonic boom and the windows shake and it jolts your house a little, well, it is kind of like that....only, the ground actually moves and you start to feel like maybe you had one too many espressos, (or margaritas), or like you are finally going over the edge into insanity (for those of you not there yet), and it takes you about as long as the tremor to realize what is going on.  

In our case, I had just unloaded all 4 kids and we were headed to the door when the ground started rolling and the kids stopped in their tracks. Seeing that I was not the only one noticing the swaying of our garage walls (phew), I calmly stated, "This is an earthquake. See the car moving back and forth, that's because we are having an earthquake." You know, kind of like we are having a drink of water or a bath or a swim with an alligator....no big deal, right? 

Aidan and Madeline got excited and one of them said, "We have to get inside and go under the table." They headed for the door. At that moment, I started to feel a little like Dory (in Finding Nemo) when they get to the trench and Marlin says "Let's swim over it." Dory says something along the lines of, "...red flags going up. Something tells me we should swim through it, NOT over it."

It occurred to me that perhaps running inside while the ENTIRE HOUSE was swaying back and forth was not the best laid out plan. But by the time I told them we should just stay put, it was over and we headed inside anyway. Liam of course slept through the entire thing and Lily, well, she probably didn't feel it at all since she seems to somersault from one place to the next as it is. 

So, that was the major excitement for the week...you know, outside of our side adventure in Atlanta, the new spider hatchlings layering the kids bathroom and our newest family addition, cousin Montoya...oh wait, no, she's actually just the latest black widow spider who thinks our bathroom windowsill makes for a cozy deadly animal dwelling. It's no wonder Aidan has been asking to go back to school for the last few days. I called to see if they would take me too but apparently they're afraid I might lay a gigantic egg...



Q. What's even better than flying across the country with four kids ages 5 and under?

a) Boarding the airplane and then sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours due to rain delay, with 4 excited kids
b) Missing your connecting flight in Atlanta, which was the LAST FLIGHT OUT to your destination and then standing in line in order to deal with "friendly" airline employees at a "help" desk, with 4 kids past their bed times
c) Fighting a huge, irritable crowd of stuck travelers outside in the sticky, mosquito-filled air, to get to the shuttle buses and then having to chase down the correct bus in order to get to the hotel, with 4 kids WAY past their bedtime
d) Doing all of the above after having had a child (naming no names....hint: she's 2) pour their apple juice all over your only clothes during the flight

Good, good times....

(More about our trip after we recover from it....) :-)


FL (Chicken-Eating) Spiders

Remember the post about Chicken-Eating Spiders (4/4/08)? Oh, it gets better…

Previously in Florida:

“Mom, do spiders only have 6 legs?” Aidan asked two days ago.

“No, spiders have 8 legs. Insects have 6 legs but spiders are not insects.”

“But do they sometimes have 6 legs?” he asked.

“No, all spiders have 8 legs,” I said.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Our friend Sarah was here visiting when mom says: “What is that above the door?”

Holy YOU-KNOW-WHAT! That is a flipping spider! No wait, my mistake, IT’S A MONSTER!

“Oh, that’s nothing,” Sarah says. “I’ve seen ‘em way bigger than that.”

I think it is the mixture of heat and humidity, and one too many mosquito bites perhaps, that allows a person to nonchalantly dismiss this Guiness Book of World Records fit creature. (That is also the reason why, as a massive storm appeared to be approaching today and we were getting the kids out of the pool, the other adults thought we should just wait it out on the patio….next to the water….I mean, I’m no genius and of course, I did run into a wall yesterday… but perhaps sitting next to a swimming pool, outside during a thunderstorm isn’t the best idea???? Just a guess though….) At any rate, this is a big spider. Maybe not of chicken-eating proportions but nonetheless, big.

So, although my mother offered it a house key and a room of its own, it snuck back into the woodwork and we went on our merry way, avoiding that door frame at all cost because I know saw those legs poke out again a little later, as if just to freak me out. (Already a taunting sibling?)

And then, later in the day, we saw this up under the tiled roof:

An even bigger spider, WITH 6 LEGS!

“Hey Aidan, see that spider up there?” I say.

“Yes.” (Phew, he sees it too…)

“How many legs do you see?” I ask.

“Um, six.”

“How many is it missing?” I ask.


“I stand corrected. If a spider gets some legs torn off, it CAN have only six legs….”

And as I ran to get my camera, I think I saw some chicken feathers floating inside his den...


Graceful Like a Latex Chicken

The graceful part, from what I understand, was not my Grandma’s fall. No, I am guessing that was pretty similar to the chicken-like fall I took years ago that resulted in the title of this blog. What was truly graceful was the way in which GG so peacefully sat in the doorway, all movie-star like, waiting for someone to come help her. Fortunately, Warren the Third (cousin) was on his way over and found her sitting, full of grace, ready for him to call 911 so that the hospital limo could pick her up and take her to the overnight spa….well, a girl can dream right?

And I know that she TRULY appreciated me coming in and taking pictures of her after she had been there for three days, un-done-up, as you might say here in the south.

GG, Aidan, DiDi and Madeline

And for sure, the hospital staff thought terrific thoughts of me and my 2 kids as we walked out with four latex chickens, courtesy of their Grandpa. But seriously, with all those latex gloves hanging there on the wall, who could possibly resist blowing a few of them up? 

I am surprised you don’t see a dozen or so clucking through the hospital at any given time.

Anyway, it has been a week of accidents. First there was GG’s fall, which brought us back over to Polk County for the second time this trip. There’s really nothing too funny about an almost 90 year old falling but I will report that she has had a partial hip replacement since the incident and seems to be doing fairly well.

Then there was Madeline’s enthusiastic leap toward Liam, who happened to be laying next to the ancient coffee table in GG's house. Well, Madeline, having dove head first (is there any other way?) came to understand one of the laws of physics very quickly. I am extremely surprised her forehead didn’t take the opportunity to burst open and do a little red dance for us on the floor while simultaneously dying her hair pink, but she lucked out and is only sporting a pretty, colorful little knot under her overgrown bangs. (And she accessorized later with another lovely bruise under her chin. I think it might be a knock-off Dolce and Gabbana.)

Finally, this afternoon’s incident took the prize for most ridiculous: the girls had done something that required me to chase them down in order to dish out some consequence or another but, as I rounded the corner to the front room, my head hit the corner of the wall (apparently I needed a physics refresher course myself) and I went down.... down.... down (whoa-uh whoa-uh whoa, duh duh, duh duh duhduhduhduhduhduh…) to the floor, straight into Child’s Pose, for you yoga buffs. As I slowly thought about picking myself up, I noted that the pain coming from my head seemed quite disproportionate to the accident and that’s when I realized that I was wearing one of my headbands. 

Now, in order to fully understand what that means, you must first understand that this particular headband has been compared to a pirana due to the incredibly large number of tiny teeth that are supposed to grip it to your head. 
Secondly, you have to know that when I first bought it, Kurt said to me: “Man, that looks like it could hurt.” And of course I snickered because “it’s not like I am going to hit my head or anything”…DOH. Long story short, it gave me several tiny little puncture wounds that bled heartily and stung like the dickens. Fortunately, I thought it was so funny that I could hardly help but laugh…I mean, who put that corner there anyway? (Sneaky kids...)

And there you have yet another Graceful Like a Chicken moment.


Hide the Chicken

Hide the Chicken: a game I made up (when I found this awesome little plastic chicken in the grocery store) to entertain the kids in an extremely unchildproofed house (think Lily in the china cabinet....no seriously, she was in the china cabinet!)  
Because my grandma fell and unfortunately landed in the hospital, we ended up trekking back over to her neck of the swamp. I knew from the get go that the trip was going to be one of THOSE trips. I knew this because, although we started getting things packed and ready around 10 a.m. Sunday morning, we didn’t get out of the town until about two days later....not really, but it was after 12. And then, what should have been a 2 hour trip, took us three and a half (years!) with all the bathroom and feeding breaks. And I am pretty sure the kids screamed the entire trip…which was all up hill….both ways….and our car had no tires…and it snowed. Seriously though, it did have some rough spots but I decided to make the most of it and took some pictures to help tell the story of our little visit. 

The first few are just a little taste of the center of the state, the way all of Florida USED to be, in the good old days, before that darned squeaky mouse took over the state and the tourists started coming by the droves, apparently to visit huge, oversized stores and buy cheap t-shirts with FLORIDA written in big neon letters across the front….with a palm tree….or a flamingo. 
A Cyprus Dome

The view from our picnic table at the park

Next is proof that there are still a few gas stations here with gas under $4. (Eat your hearts out CA friends!)

Here is Lake Hollingsworth, down the street from my grandma’s house. The thing to note in this pic is the plethora of Lily Pads growing at the edge of the lake. GG is credited with having thrown the first Lily Pad seeds into the lake, not realizing how fast and furious they grow and that they would one day cost the city TONS of money to keep up with so that they don’t take over the lake entirely. Go Grandma!

One of my favorite Florida signs is this Alligator warning sign:

Apparently, there are alligators in this body of water (DUH! and EVERY OTHER BODY OF WATER IN FL!) and it’s against the law to feed the gators (here gator, gator, gator…come get this chunk of ARM I am DANGLING out to you) and just in case you didn’t understand the first big warning, they put up a similar sign as well….It says "NO SWIMMING" (EEGIT)
 And finally, if you are dumb enough to ignore both these warnings, well, go on and get in there before you have time to procreate!

Here are two random houses. The first is the house I wanted to buy when I was little. Somehow, it doesn’t seem as big and fairy-tale like now. The second is an old southern home with a wrap around porch…what I would give for one of those! Nothing says "hey ya'll, come on over here, sit down and do absolutely nothing productive" like a porch that wraps around the entire house! How can you not just love that?

Here is a sign in one of the small towns we drive through to get to GG’s. It struck me as funny because well, heck, I never thought of leaving ma and pa and granma and cousin billy jean home when I went to vote…

This is one of many, many osprey nests up in the lines on the highway, I4. Apparently this particular bird has been practicing feng shui...you can tell by the way he completed his nest with a sweet little house plant sticking up from the middle. Nothing says cozy like a little greenery.


 Another personal favorite. This is Reptile world...in case you didn't catch enough of the FL wildlife on your visit you can come see it up close and personal...and then just in case you should peek in a little too close there is this place, a few minutes later:
  Just don't go praying for a miracle during a thunderstorm as they never quite got around to adding a roof on this chapel...

 Liam, getting in touch with his heritage, right before getting carried away by a swarm of giant mosquitoes...

True white-trash...and who said Florida had no mountains? 

And lastly, no trip to FL is complete without noting one of God's most graceful, mosquito-eating creatures: the birds. 

Here is the Common Egret we got up close to while looking for stupid people swimming with the gators. 
For the record, my game wasn't such a hit. It lasted all of 10 minutes and when it was my turn to hide the chicken, the kids followed so close behind it wasn't much of a challenge. And when it was my turn to find the chicken, Madeline, being sweet, overexcited and terribly too helpful, would walk ahead shouting: "Do you see it mom? It's right over here! See it? Look, under THIS chair, right there...see it? Oh GOOD JOB MOM, you found it!"

Well duh...wanna go swimming? 


Sentinel Chickens

Sentinel Chickens: Sentinel Chicken flocks are strategically placed throughout states where mosquito-borne illnesses are possible. The chickens are tested regularly during the mosquito season to detect evidence of infection. Infected chickens are often the first sign of virus (like the West Nile Virus) activity.

Go chickens! I feel so safe now knowing that the chickens are on watch...don't you?

Fortunately, we didn't come to FL during the "peak" of mosquito season (who said Florida doesn't have seasons? There's Jellyfish season, Sea Lice season, Mosquito season, Alligator season....) Nevertheless, it has been the mosquitoes that have been most on our minds this trip. It might be because Aidan had 22 bites within the first 24 hours of getting here, or because Liam has only had one bite, ON HIS EYELID, which swelled close to shut for much of yesterday. Oddly, Lily and Madeline have had nothing...no bites. Some people are just more prone than others I guess...especially when the mosquito is in bed with those people.

But FL is kind of like that....full of bold wildlife. I have killed two roaches during this visit. One 3-incher was found eating a slice of apple next to the baby seat...in the middle of the day. (Roaches are nocturnal, in case you are unfamiliar.) And although I delight in feeding the wild animals as much as the next tourist, roaches are not high on my list of house pets. I'd put them right down there with Earwigs...or Black Widow Spiders. I have also personally fed a HUGE flying ant that happened to land under my arm and bite me ON MY ARMPIT! And if you have never been bit by a flying ant in your armpit, well, step down on some glass sometime....it's THAT kind of fun.

On the brighter side, the kids and I enjoyed feeding a very friendly squirrel at the park today. He walked right over next to us and probably would have jumped up in the stroller for a little ride on top of Liam had I not pulled out the remainder of our picnic and dumped out some popcorn. He was so excited I think he peed himself. And no matter how close the kids got, he kept coming back for more: animal crackers, apple slices (the ones uneaten by roaches of course) and an old, mushy, pretzel stick found somewhere in the dark crevices of the stroller.

And just the other day, we enjoyed watching a pair of green parrots fly overhead while we chased lizards next to the pool and listened to the peafowl yelling "Heee-eeeelp, heee-eeeelp, PEACOCK!" (I think they had just noticed the burnt-orange curtains in the lime-green house across the street.) Some people have sentinel chickens but our neighborhood prefers the larger birds...perhaps, after scaring off the remainder of the small cats and dogs they will scare the bugs away too...


Birds For Sale: Chickens, Peacocks, Mosquitoes...

For sale in FL: Rooster-$4, Bantam chicks-$4, Rhode Island Red-$15, Peachicks-$40, Peacock pair- $250

Well shoot, if you come by my folks' neighborhood, you can catch a couple free roaming peacocks and a half dozen peachicks for free! And no one will stop you!

There is something very special about Florida. It’s the only place I have ever been where I need to carry a fly swatter with me while running on the treadmill. My parents own a mosquito farm, I mean, garage, and if you are not careful you can actually get eaten alive by the swarm of mosquitoes they are breeding. Looks like a feisty batch this year, too, if you are so in need….party favors anyone? 

In my parents defense, the mosquitoes aren’t usually quite so bad but apparently the people "remodeling" next door left the pool unattended for quite some time (like 2 years) and it has become a perfect nesting place. We thought about pouring gasoline in it and lighting it on fire but in the end, mom called the city and they had the contractor dump 10 gallons of chlorine in it to help prevent the next generation….Unfortunately, they are a dozen generations too late.

Since we are on the topic, Florida is the only place I have ever been bitten by a mosquito while taking a shower. And if you have never been bitten on your derriere, well, it’s really a delightful experience...especially once it starts to itch. If you look in a Florida bird guide you will very possibly find another fabulous creation credited to God: the Toilet Dwelling Mosquito. Let’s just say there are far more awkward places to get bit than the derriere…and just for the record: Minnesota, you have NOTHING on Florida when it comes to Mosquitoes! 

Florida is also the only place where, upon walking outside the other day, we were fortunate enough to watch the mating dance of a male peacock in the neighbor’s driveway. It was a show for sure. Also watching were a half dozen albino morning doves, the neighbor's ultra-fluffy, off-white cat, and the lucky female peahen who happened to catch his attention which of course had gotten him excited in the first place. And in case you have never seen this ritual, the male peacock spreads his amazing tail feathers and chases the peahen down, trying to corner her. Then he ruffles up his behind and starts rattling a second row of feathers behind the colorful display of tail feathers. It sounds like a rattlesnake and looks hysterical and apparently the peahen thinks he is ridiculous because she took one look at him and burst out laughing before walking away. Then she came back to mock him by ruffling some of her own feathers and walked away again. Of course, the kids and I and my brother and his wife thought the whole scene was great fun. I’d have gone over to give the peacock a high five for effort had we not, at that very moment, been chased inside by a bunch of free-range mosquitoes. (We were incidentally eaten by the house-pets instead.)

It is also a surreal moment to be swimming backstroke in the pool and look up to see the peacock lifeguarding from the roof....or likewise, coming up for air during breaststroke and hearing the screechy sound of the peahen, which is quite difficult to differentiate from a distressed cat in heat, or a child calling for help...take your pick.  

My parent’s neighborhood wouldn't be complete without the neighbors across the street who painted their house lime green before planting a 50 foot row of prickly pear cacti out front because you know, that is a sure sign of normal, welcoming, warm and friendly people. They’ve also thrown a tarp down around the cacti (and the ENTIRE front yard) on which we are guessing they may plant some rocks or mulch…I suppose that is one way to get rid of the crab grass and make mowing easier. SCORE!

But I think the people in Florida can be summed up with a conversation I had recently at Grandma's. We were visiting her house the last few days and my mom commented that that was the first time she had ever slept on flannel sheets. I remarked that normally flannel is used in colder climates not the heat of a Florida summer. That’s when Grandma said with all the seriousness in the world: “Oh Karen, it gets cold here too you know…. I mean, I can turn the air conditioner WAY down!”

Holy Cow! That's a HUGE ROACH! Gotta go save the baby!


Bird Games

Duck, duck, duck......GOOSE!

We are in Florida to visit my family and today, I found myself with six kids, playing games. Duck, Duck, Goose (or Duck, Duck, Gray Duck if you are from MN...) was rather interesting with two 5 year olds, a three year old and two 2 year olds (and Liam in my lap). It went something like this:

At first, things seemed to run smoothly. Then Madeline became the "ducker." She went around the circle, bopping us on our heads as she called out "Duck" and finally got to Aidan. 

"GOOSE!" she yelled, bopping Aidan on the head. This got Lily excited so she jumped up and Madeline says, "Lily, chase me." 

Meanwhile, Aidan is already on his feet, running since he was goosed. Somewhere in the chaos, Jonathan (2-yo cousin)  decides he should run around the extremely dwindling circle as well. Ian (5-yo cousin) and I (still holding Liam) scoot in as the others run madly around, forgetting to return to their places. 

After a few minutes, I stop laughing and tell them it's time to change games. It is Aidan's turn to lead us in a game so he picks "Tiger Life" (invented by Aidan himself...picture Calvin ball in the old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.)

"Ok," Aidan says. "I am going to tell you all what animal to be." (We all understand this game because a few games previously he had taught us to play "Elephant Life" in which we sat in a circle, pretending to be elephants who slurp up water and then spit it out all over with our long trunks...happy times...)

"I want to be a Tiger," Ian announces. 

"Ok, Ian, you are a Tiger," Aidan says. "Now Jonathan, do you want to be a Giraffe, an Elephant or an Earwig?" 

"Roooooooooar," Jonathan replies. "I'm a Bear!"

"Ok, you be an earwig then," Aidan says. So, when he got to me and told me I was a Penguin, I didn't feel so bad...at least I wasn't the Earwig!


Flying Chickens

The world's longest flight of a chicken that has been recorded is 13 seconds. The world's longest distance a chicken has flown (that has been recorded) is 301 1/2 feet....and now I know why...

Chickens, like kids, are not meant for flying. Flying is a last resort for them. And quite honestly, after we (my mother, myself and my four, lucky-to-still-be-living children) flew from CA to FL yesterday, flying now ranks up there with watermelons being pulled slowly out of ones nostrils, the labor pains of unmedicated childbirth or PAPER-CUTS, UNDER YOUR FINGERNAILS...DUNKED IN LEMON JUICE!

You see, we started the day in a hurry to get everything packed for our three week stay in FL. The kids excitedly packed things that would not be coming with us and I ran around unpacking and repacking and yelling orders and cleaning and well, that old saying, 'like a chicken with its head cut off' comes to mind...we managed though and drove Kurt to work so that we could stop by the Sprinkles Cupcake store before picking Kurt back up and heading to the airport...perhaps that was the first mistake...oh wait, no, that would be BUYING THE PLANE TICKETS.... 

Anyway, apparently, a little extra sugar goes an awful long way on a 4 hour flight to an Atlanta layover where we would have an hour in a busy airport to burn off the contagious energy of three wild kids before the last leg that would take us to our destination, at midnight, so that we could hop in a car and drive a little over an hour to get to the house...but, I am getting ahead of myself here. 

Lessons I learned about flying with children:
1) Don't.

Seriously, if you can rent an RV, complete with separate holding cells for each offending child (which would be all of them) you would be much better off paying the million-dollars-a-gallon for gas than buying plane tickets. But if you must fly with four small children in tow, I would give this advice: kennel them up and check them with your baggage...then you can enjoy the other passengers' screaming kids with compassion and bemusement all the while knowing your kids are safe and snug and unable to kick the seat in front of them while simultaneously doing bodily harm to each of their siblings to produce all sorts of frantic screaming and whining. 

There'd be no arguments with a stubborn-know-it-all 5 year old ("Hey Madeline, you know what those flashing lights are on the wings of the plane?" (No) "They make the plane go faster and faster." And then, as if on cue, the plane starts speeding up for take off. "See? I told you.")

There'd be no running for the 3rd time in five minutes to the airport bathroom with a streaking three year old who gives loud, live commentary from the stall ("Mommy, did you know that poop can be green? That's when you're healthy but when your body gets interesting, the poop is black and sometimes it's lots of colors.") but fails to actually finish the job so as to avoid having to trek back again, and again...and again...did I mention the pants half down?

There'd be no inconsolable two year old who wants mommy, but then, really doesn't; who wants to use the big toilet, but then falls in; who wants cookies but "No, not that cookie!" (or sippy cup, or treat or...).

And there would be no facial injury to an unsuspecting mom who, upon trying to get the fancy, outside-sound reduction earphones plugged in, managed to pop them in her own face, leaving a bruise along the entire left side of her nose and cheek so that when the plane started the decent, her face felt like it was imploding. (Hey, at least I didn't use Liam as a shield...)

Speaking of the baby, he was perfect. 

WAIT! Did you read that? The baby was perfect! So perfect that if they were all that way, the trip would have been extremely boring...Maybe it wasn't so bad after all and we can still return to CA by air without first sticking the kids on a train. And maybe on the way back, I will also avoid the ultra distracting in-flight trivia game...even though I won 2 out of 3 on that last leg and, being a tad over-competitive, really want to keep my lofty status of Traveling Trivia Champ...(granted, it wasn't like it was hard given they asked things such as "Who was the first NFL coach to win 4 Super Bowls?" and that was for sure part of the Steelers quiz I had to take in order to marry Kurt...oh, and also because after the first few hours, the questions started to show up again here and there...but who's counting?)

All things said, there are reasons chickens don't need to fly. And where kids are concerned, I would say 301 1/2 feet is surely far enough for all of us.