Chick Bios

Aunt Marge and Aunt Petunia
These two hens are New Hampshire Reds and are good layers. Basic big brown hens, they are always busy, clucking and scratching and keeping the other hens off their few inches of dirt. Named after muggles in Harry Potter books, these girls waddle about, bossy and complaining, rather like their namesakes. To tell them apart take a close look -- Aunt Petunia is the skinny one and Marge is fat, just like in the books. (taken from The Hen Cam)

I decided that since a bunch of chickens on the Hen Cam have bios, I ought to do some bios of my kids as well. I mean shoot, if their chickens deserve them, I certainly think my kids should have them...they are at least as special as Aunt Marge and Petunia....

Aidan, 5 years old, a "basic" kid, somewhat "bossy"...
After giving Madeline a special treat of M&M's, she exclaimed: "Thank you Mommy, I love you! You are the best mommy in the whole wide world!"

Quick-on-the-draw Aidan, saved my heart from melting with, "No, she's not, Madeline. You don't know if she's the best Mom in the whole wide world because there is no way of knowing who is the best Mommy."

Although I had to use our large, red pancake spatula to scrape my deflated self off the floor, I realized this is very much Aidan in a nutshell. He needs to be the one with the most knowledge in any given conversation, with the last word edgewise, feelings be damned! I will be the first to admit, he is right: I am not the best mommy in the whole wide world. BUT HE ISN'T SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT YET....(It has been said that the truth will set you free...if by that they mean it will completely wipe out your entire ego, then yeah, I buy it.) The thing is, Aidan takes everything very literally and almost like a philosopher his life mission thus far is to find, and then point out, the truth; that is "the truth according to Aidan."

Another example is when we had to stop by the side of the road for him to go to the bathroom while in Florida. Madeline started screaming she had to go, too. Knowing she could probably wait until we got home I said, "Just hold it, Madeline," to which Aidan replied, "Mom, she can't hold it. She only has a crotch and a bum." He's my literalist.

Madeline, 3 years old, potentially "a good layer" (hopefully later than sooner)
Underneath the theatrical three-year-old is a very sweet little girl who ADORES her brother. We went around the table saying why we loved Aidan the other night and she said, "I love Aidan because he is my sweet brother." Nevermind the fact that he treated her like a rotten piece of liver the entire day. All she sees is her hero. In fact, last year at some point she told her daddy she was going to marry Aidan. When Kurt explained that she couldn't marry her brother, she burst into gigantic tears, which flooded the bedroom (the same reaction Aidan had at this age when told he couldn't be Darth Vader when he grew up). 

"Well then, who AM I going to marry?" she wanted to know. And it doesn't stop there. Just yesterday she asked me the same thing:

"Mommy, who am I going to marry?"

"I don't know, Madeline. We won't know that until you grow up," I said.

"But Mommy, I need to know NOW! Who am I going to marry?" and after a short pause, "How long until I grow up?"

It's amazing to me (and quite terrifying!) that she thinks like this already. And I am guessing she will have a long list of boys she is going to marry by the time that day actually arrives! 

She is the girl who actually doesn't mind cleaning because it makes her more like Cinderella and will sometimes ask me to talk like the evil step-mother while telling her to do her chores. She is also the girl who will spend 10 minutes yelling and crying that she can't make her bed and then turn right around and make my bed as well. But what I find most endearing about Madeline is her utter honesty at this point. Today she had a rough day with her little brother and had bit him on his arm and had done something else to make him cry as well, but I wasn't certain what. During dinner, we were talking about the Lord's Prayer and I was trying to explain what "trespass" meant. 

"Trespassing is when you do something bad, that you know you are not supposed to do; like when you bit Liam today," I explained. 

"Yeah, you shouldn't bite Liam, Madeline. Not even just once," Aidan said. 

"Oh....well I bit him twice," she admitted. That's Madeline. 

Lily, 2 years old, "always busy"
If you have kept up with The Graceful Chicken, you know Lily well. Like most two year olds, she is into everything (or in her case, on top of everything!) She is the child who licks iced coffee off of the coffee shop floor; who asks for daily random bandaids ("For my bummy, Mommy, see?"); who is comforted by carrying around an ice pack (hey, she was born in the North Pole, I mean, Minnesota); who has become ULTRA territorial over the kids' toilet and refuses to let anyone else use it (she actually runs and jumps on the thing if anyone even suggests they may need to go in the near future, which has become quite the game to her loving siblings...); and who was found sitting with the (plugged in) power cord to the baby monitor which she was using to shock her tongue, over and over again! (I did it once to see if it did anything and HOLY SMOKES, BATMAN!) She is full of energy (especially after that!), and a bit on the feisty side, to say the least.

One night, a while back, she was having a hard time getting that energy settled down for bed so I went back to sit there next to her (so that she wouldn't jump on Madeline's head and wake her up like she had a few nights before). Lily was apparently setting up shop on her bed which she had filled with every toy she could find (think books, puppies, dolls, superheros, plastic and wooden food items, an entire tea set and a few random Mega Blocks.)

"Close your eyes, Lily," I said.

Lily closed her eyes and continued right on playing, groping around for toys that were in her reach, picking up this or that, feeling a toy and putting it in her mouth or rubbing it against her cheek. Finally, after some time, she gave up and spent the next few minutes trying to balance a teapot on her forehead, eyes still shut of course. (She's truly talented.)

And just last night, she had climbed up on the bathroom counter to brush her teeth and I heard her start yelling, "Mommy, mommy, get it, mommy!" Then silence......THUMP! 

"Got it!" she exclaimed.

And sure enough, she had used the end of her toothbrush to squish a little spider. That's Lily. 

Liam, almost 7 months, "named after muggles" (hee hee)
What can you say about the perfect storm? He is sweet, cuddly, and has such a infectious belly-laugh it is hard to refrain from eating him up! But when he's hungry....well, it's best just to keep him fed! At almost 7 months, he isn't quite the mover and shaker just yet but he does have a huge fan base and a rather adoring audience. And we plan to keep him this way...at least until he learns to cluck and scratch, keeping the others off his few inches of dirt...


Made in China

YanQing District, CN -- The three million chickens on a farm about 30 miles north of Beijing are now providing power and heat for the farm via their manure.-GreenBiz.com

Wow....and I thought human poop was potent! Speaking of China...

Having just finished cleaning their rooms, the kids were sitting down to a TV reward of Scooby Doo when Madeline asked:

"Daddy, what's a mummy?"

Kurt was about to respond when Aidan said, "I know all about mummies, Madeline. They're.... they...they make them in China."

And Madeline was completely satisfied with that answer. Conversation over. 

Earlier in the day however...

We were on the way from church to Costco when Aidan popped the question: "Mom, when you have a baby, how does it get INTO your tummy?"

I sounded a bit like Barack Obama in his Saddleback Church debut: "Uh, well, uh," ....big pause. "God gives a mommy the baby," I finally said.

"I know," Aidan said. "But HOW does the baby get into your tummy? I mean, what is the process?"

Are you frickin' kidding me? You're five! Crap! I'M NOT PREPARED! ARRRRRGH! 

And here is where I can relate to Obama. He knew the "when does life start" question was coming and he also knew that no matter how he answered it, it wasn't going to be so comfortable sitting there in that great big, crowded church. At least I wasn't on National Television...or running for president...

"Well Aidan, you see, when girl babies are born, they have lots of tiny eggs inside of their bodies," I started. This met with a minute or so of gigantic giggles as I watched the you-have-to-be-joking look on his face think through a dozen chicken eggs lined up inside his mom. I waited. "Then, when she is an adult and gets married and she and her husband so decide, God makes one of those eggs grow a baby." Phew, I thought. That wasn't so bad.

"Yeah, but HOW?" Aidan insisted. Ack!


"Well, you see when boy babies are born, they have the ability to make lots of seeds," (pause for the continuation of laughter, a few chuckles and a snort as he thought through a garden growing inside himself.) "And when a boy becomes an adult and gets a wife," I continued, "God lets the seeds meet one of the eggs and it makes a baby-Hey, what do you guys want to eat at Costco?!" 

"Pizza!" (Aidan)
"Churro!" (Madeline)
"Emonade!" (Lily) They shout.

Next time, I'm trying the "they make them in China" approach.


Cleaning the Coop

"Keeping the chicken coop clean is very important. During the summer months this isn't so bad since they will be outdoors most of the day. I don't put much of anything down for litter in the summertime. In fall and winter, I begin to put down fresh litter. They do better if their feet aren't cold and they can walk in some clean straw or hay. If you put down some fresh hay every couple weeks, you should do fine. I like to clean my coop with pitchfork and shovel every fall before winter sets in and in early spring when it gets to stinking and you've added about all the litter you can." -Home-Made Living

You know it's beyond time to clean (and organize) your house when:

-You move the couch for your kids to sweep under and there are creatures living there.

-The stuff growing in your toilet starts to bloom and you think, "oh, how lovely!"

-You can't tell the difference between the toothpaste build-up and your kids' play doh.

-The deadly spiders in your bathroom window have put in a mailbox.

-You give the spiders first names...and everyone in the house knows who you are talking about when you use them.

-The kids crawl under the dining room table to look for an afternoon snack.

-You mistake the weather for being cloudy (when it's sunny and 90 degrees), because you can't see through the windows.

-The kids start naming the spots on the floor and ask if you can keep them.

-There's a tumbleweed (of hair, dirt and other unidentifiable stuff) floating through your bathroom and it moves around on its own accord.

-Your kids hide under the laundry pile during hide-n-go-seek and even when you look there, you still can't find them.

-You have not one, not two, but THREE SMOOSHED FLIES where your window closes against the frame.

-You start connecting the dots on your bathroom mirrors, just to see if it will make something.

-You go to iron your husband's work shirts and they ask for Botox.

-Your kids ask if they can draw pictures....in the dust on top of the piano.

-You go to help your daughter find the princess dress in her closet and you can't find the closet.

-There are creatures in the vacuum doing the Macarena.

-You give your kid some Lego instructions for a Star Wars ship, they follow it perfectly and come out with a Starfighing-Bionacle Man-firetruck, with two heads.

-You get under your child's bed to look for something they dropped and find an entire new bedroom set.

-You can't recall what color the tile in your shower is but you are fairly certain it isn't supposed to be orange.

-You turn on the bathroom exhaust and it chuckles before asking, "Why bother?"

-You go to empty the trash can and realize, there is no can under the trash.

Of course, these things never happen at OUR house....with all that fresh hay and litter down, it stays real nice.....


A cockfight is a blood sport between two roosters, held in a ring called a cockpit. Cockfighting is now illegal throughout the United States and in most of Europe....Cockfighting is considered a heinous blood sport by animal welfare activists and others, due in some part to the physical trauma the cocks inflict on each other. -Wikipedia

Shoot, if they pay attention to homes across America, they may outlaw having more than one kid! Seriously, I don't understand why anyone would breed roosters for the sake of watching them fight. Just have a couple kids. It's legal and their fights are much more creative.

For example, a couple nights ago, Madeline came running out of her room, screaming that Lily had bit her. Sure enough, there was the Lily-sized bite mark, on her back, right near the shoulder blade.

Lily came waltzing in, a concerned look on her face and said, "Mai Jane bite herself. Mai Jane bite HERSELF." You know, because Madeline Jane has the bloodline of Elastigirl (from the Incredibles....oh come on, tell me you have seen the Incredibles! It's only the best animated Superhero movie of this decade!) and she can bend her neck at a full 180 degrees and down to her shoulder blade. And not only can she bend herself like a Gumby toy but she likes to bite herself for amusement...you never know when we'll need a good dental impression. But, you have to give Lily credit for trying. She's only two and already understand the importance of maintaining the illusion of innocence.

And then last night, after finally getting the kids settled into their rooms (and by settled I mean they had finally stopped coming out every few minutes to get one last hug, or kiss, or ask again what we are doing tomorrow, or what day it is, or whether it is night yet, or "QUICKLY, I HAVE TO GO PEE AGAIN!" and were playing somewhat quietly before actually getting into their beds), Lily came running out, whimpering pathetically. I swooped her up, prepared to put her in bed and lock the door. We entered the room and Lily pointed to her arm and said, "Mai Jane hit me, Mommy. Mai Jane hit me."

Madeline replied, "I didn't hit you, Lily.....I bit you."

"Mai Jane bite me, Mommy," Lily said enthusiastically.

"I didn't do anything, Mom," Madeline casually responded....again, we're still working on the deception around here...obviously.

Then there are the fights with inanimate objects, if a treadmill can be called inanimate. Picture this: Rotisserie Lily jumping to the bar of the treadmill, WHILE I AM WORKING OUT ON IT. I react by placing my hands on top of hers as if to keep her from slipping. This is one of those times where initial reactions should have been tossed to the wayside, you know, like trying to swim against the rip tide, or feeding that cute, little alligator...your initial reaction is simply not always the best reaction, especially when there is an actual STOP BUTTON for accident prevention. Duh!

At any rate, she laughs and when I let go, she lets go! Down tumbles Lily, onto the treadmill as I jump out of the way and helplessly watch her roll off the thing, landing on the floor with a thud. Quite unfortunately, her shoulder gets stuck under the belt so when she tries to get up, she ends up with a big patch of road burn....ok, treadmill burn, on her shoulder. Treadmill: 1, Lily: 0, Mommy: Idiot. Doh.

And finally, there are the fights that some kids have with their own bodies. This morning, as we were getting ready to leave I asked Lily, who's in the throws of potty training, if she needed to use the potty before we got in the car. She hopped up on the toilet and sat....and sat.....and sat....and sat, until my patience jumped up and ran out the door looking for the next unsuspecting victim TO TACKLE...

"Are you done yet?" I asked.

"No, Mommy," Lily grunted, straining with all her might. Then she looked up, the red draining from her face and added, "My bummy's broken."

You just can't get that from roosters.


Lily's Perch

"Chickens do better when they roost at night up off the ground. And they're happier, also. It is the natural way for a bird to sleep. It helps prevent external parasites and keeps them from lying in their own droppings." -Raising Chickens

We have apparently bred a chicken-child.

Found sleeping on her perch last night, we decided we were wrong about her lot in life. She is not going to be the next Shawn Johnson. Rather, she is destined to scale mountains, sleeping with her tent securely staked into the side of the rock....where she is safe from parasites...and from sleeping in her own droppings...


"McNuggets, Fries and can I get a Boy Toy with that?"

Overheard today at McDonald's:

The cashier asked the next customer, "Hello sir, can I take your order?"

The man replied, "Yes, do you have any more boy toys?"

A stranger nearby was overheard LAUGHING HER HEAD OFF....oh wait, that was me! And they both look at me like I was the crazy one...as Lily-bear frequently says, "That funny, mom." 

After the kids finished their Chicken McNuggets and ran off to play, I sat getting pointers from another mom whose three children are practically grown. She then watched as Lily asked for help getting socks off and instead fell, with such grace, into a sticky soft-drink puddle on the floor, while Madeline jumped on my back, pulling us both down and Aidan tried to lift Liam up in his car seat while making his argument for why he shouldn't have to wear his shoes on the way home. The other mom laughed and said, "If you can handle that scene with such calm, you will be just fine."

Phew, for a minute I thought I might need to send a couple back...by a different road of course.

Not much time to write today so I will just brief you on today's casualties, three of which happened during a peaceful moment...that is, peaceful up until the phone rang and I made the common mommy mistake of answering it

Unfixable: One chrome-finish toilet paper holder (while fighting the toilet paper roll, Lily pulled it off the wall) and one computer mouse (while fighting her brother for it, Lily pulled off its 'tail'). (She is obviously over the Fever-Spiking-Just-so-Your-Kid-Feels-Like-Crud Virus.)

Broken, but fixable: One sliding glass shower door (while fighting to keep it closed, Lily pushed it out of place), one computer keyboard (while fighting to keep it away from her, Lily threw it on the floor, breaking off half a dozen keys...who needs the control key, space bar and every other key on the bottom anyway!) Oh, and then there are the dozen scratches or so on Lily's back from the fight she got into with Madeline while they "picked-up their room." Oddly, the room was in fantastic shape when I came in to find them tussling, both in tears. I'm pretty sure Lily was fighting for the right to make the beds....

So, I think what Lily probably needs is a good boy toy...

...like a punching bag or demolition truck or something! Sheesh, crazy person.


Pop Quiz #2 (Or: Parenting Paranoia)

Q) What could possibly be better than having a Black Widow Spider living in your bathroom window frame?

A) Having TWO Black Widow Spiders living in your bathroom window frame! After calling pest-control to see what they suggested ("spray around the windows with Windex to keep them out"...well shoot, no one told me there were benefits to actually cleaning the house! I wonder if it works on grumpy kids...) we've decided to take my mom's approach instead and give them their own room.

And since we are running a deadly-spider refugee camp behind our toilet (Don't they say: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?), I have decided it's time to set some ground rules. So I have taken some of our normal house rules and simply applied them to our new "friends".

Rule #2 No climbing in bed with us
Rule #3 No roaming the house after lights-out
Rule #4 No mating so long as you live under our roof
Rule #5 Once you're too big for the house, we'll see you out...(by way of the toilet if you aren't careful!)
Q) What is even better than housing two Black Widow Spiders in your bathroom?

A) Housing two unidentified "bugs" in your two youngest children all weekend. YAY US! 

Not only are we granting sanctuary to the spiders, we have also become a certified infirmary. And although one might think that having 4 kids would exclude me from the occasional nutty-paranoid-parent-of-sick-child-syndrome, ah, think again. I was first put on alert when Lily told us she needed a band-aid for her tummy-ache:
"A band-aid won't help your tummy-ache, Lily," we told her.
"My tummy-ache hurts and is bleeding," she replied. My mind raced: An ulcer maybe? An intestinal bleed? She could be the first 2-year old on the planet who is THAT in tune with her body, right? (Uh, wrong, as I twirl my finger around my ear a few times and point to, um, myself....)

As Lily awoke screaming and inconsolable at 11:00 p.m. (and 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.),  she looked to be suffering from some combination of ruptured appendix, UTI, meningitis and double ear infection caused by the hand-foot-and-mouth disease that she was exposed to earlier in the week. The internet surely confirmed it all and I spent much of the wee hours of the morning traipsing between feeding a feverish Liam and holding Lily upright to keep her ears from hurting while poking at her tummy to see if it caused extreme pain, trying to force her to use the potty to check out her urine (this is totally recommended while trying to potty train a toddler) and sticking a flashlight in her mouth to check for sores (I'd be screaming too if I were her!). The only thing I can say for sure is she has had a long 3 days of fever, poor appetite and restless sleep.  (Bonus points for an accurate diagnosis!)

On the other hand, Liam, competing for the happiest-infant-in-the-universe award, has maintained his sunny disposition, even as his temp has soared into the stratosphere and the sweet, Roseola-looking rash has spread up his torso and neck and down both arms. (Oh, except for this morning when he woke up fussy and didn't stop crying until, um, this evening. But hey, who's counting?) I think he just knew he was destined to "cry-it-out" over the weekend and was able to will himself ill. He IS, after all, amazing like that. 

Extra Credit Q) How many kids does it take to pull a bathroom door off its hinge?

A) One. And she's only 2. And sick. But very, very strong. Come to think of it, I think we might put her in charge of our refugees. 


Voter Registration Card=Free Chicken Wings!

As seen in FL:

A man saw me shopping at Target today with all 4 kids. He looked at the kids and then stared me straight in the eye, waiting just long enough for it to be a little on the freaky side, and said, "You should be running the country."

Just so we are all clear, although the 5 of us made it in and out of Target, ONLY buying what we went there for, in less than 20 minutes, without a single melt down or even hint of whining (HOLY COW! We stayed in our budget, were expedient and didn't end up in a war! WE SO TOTALLY ROCK SQUIRT!) I should definitely NOT be running the country. And after Kurt gives you his top 100 reasons why that is the truth, I will invite you to come and watch inside our house a few evenings so that you can see things like tonight when we found Supergirl (Lily), an hour past her bedtime, sitting in the sink of the bathroom, painting herself with toothpaste

Now, that wouldn't be such a "running-the-country" show-stopper if it weren't for the fact that at least twice in Florida I found Lily getting into mischief in the bathroom when she was supposedly sleeping: once she had poured out an entire bottle of bubble bath onto a step-stool...(I mean seriously, that is real talent right there. She was so careful that there wasn't even any on the floor!) And the other was this lovely finger painting she did around the sink...
....with the toothpaste...that she had ALL OVER HER BODY as well. (Sound familiar? You'd think I would learn eventually.) Point: I could not run the country. Then again, most of our country-runners can't either...hee hee hee..."country-runners"...and they let me vote! Free chicken anyone?