Overheard the other day:

"Ok, let's play house. I'm the daddy," Aidan said.

"And I am the mommy," Madeline excitedly replied.

"Lily, you be the cat," Aidan finished. Hee hee. That's close but I think they'd be more accurate making her their adopted creature from outer space and calling her Stitch.


Chicken Food

The lesser prairie-chicken’s diet consists of insects, seeds, and leaves, catkins, and buds of forbs (broad-leaved plants) and cultivated crops. -Wildlife Habitat Council

In short, chickens eat bugs.

Since school started a few weeks ago for Aidan and Madeline, I have had a small but significant issue on my hands: an un-entertained Lily. Although it is nice having some time with just her and Liam, today I simply needed to get some stuff done. And when I soon realized leaving Lily to her own devices meant finding her snap-crackle-and-popping around in a huge pile of Rice Krispie Cereal, of which she had dumped HALF A BOX all over the kitchen floor, I quickly came up with a new tactic: I gave Lily a cup, sent her out back and told her to find some bugs. After a while she came back in unannounced and soon we went to pick up her sister from school.

Fast forward to dinner...

I was browsing the refrigerator, deciding what to fix for dinner when I noticed an empty tupperware container on the middle shelf. I pulled it out and much to my surprise I saw a big, black and well preserved beetle sitting in the corner of the container. Apparently, though some chickens eat bugs, others just save them for later. Good ol' Lily.


Nothing about chickens...

We have this gene in our family (both sides of the family) that seems to give people the grand delusion that they know everything, and then some. So, last year or so I found the perfect birthday card for one of our family members that went something like this: On the front there was an old man and an old lady. The old man was pointing to a piece of land jutting out into the water and saying, "You see that land there? That's called a stick-out." And on the inside it said something along the lines of "You are finally at the age where you can make up all the answers." (Or something like that.) I thought it was funny anyway....

I regret to inform you that the Lily of yester-week is no longer with us. I went to get Lily out of bed the other day and HOLY TORPEDO! There was a TWO YEAR OLD MONSTER in her bed...and it had eaten Lily! I don't know what happened to the sweet, calm (ha ha) child that was Lily but the NEW Lily is out of control crazy!

This week alone I have had to incorporate my knee into the morning routine of getting a pull-up on her, an elbow to get her buckled into her car seat and an arm's distance for carting her into the time-out bathroom while she flings every part of her strong little body in my (and every other) direction. For sure, this is all par for the course (assuming you are playing the back nine through Dante's Inferno), but compared to our sweet, tiny Liam (whose blood work confirmed he is in fact just a Hobbit....related by some rare mutation to Bilbo Baggins himself....), she has gone totally mad.

Today I have had to:
1. Drag her out from UNDER THE TRUCK where she was half asleep and still somehow arguing that it was there she wanted to take her nap. (What child wants to take a nap under a car?)
2. Teach her how to use a Magic Eraser (God's gift to motherhood!) to scrub purple crayon off tile floors, wooden cabinetry, and marble countertops (Where the heck was I? Apparently NOT standing right next to her like I had thought!)
3. Explain to her that the towel racks in the bathroom are NOT called "Monkey Bars" nor are they meant to be hung on (Now I know how we have lost two of four toilet paper racks....and she actually used the term Monkey Bars: "Mai Jane, see da Monkey bars?" Swing, swing...)

And it doesn't stop there. Today she has also:
1. Spit her vitamin out all over the couch and then proceeded to lick it all off again (eww).
2. Took the new pack of bologna out of the refrigerator, opened it and very carefully placed each piece end to end on the kitchen floor (so much for mopping yesterday).
3. (after being told to try to keep her new undies dry) went outside, turned on the faucet and sat down in the middle of the running water (so much for potty training).
4. Swung on the master bedroom door by holding the door knobs on either side (and now I see how one got pulled out of the hinges) and lastly,
5. Readily admitted to having drawn on the side of the house in pink and blue chalk (Me: "Who painted on the house with the chalk?" Lily: "That MEEEE!" If only it were always so easy.)

She keeps me on my toes...And apparently I am not as fast as I used to be!

But, with her older siblings, she still shows an extreme amount of grace. During quiet time today, Madeline and Lily went back to their room and immediately Madeline started screaming at Lily:
"Okay," Lily said calmly, reminiscent of her former self. "Do you want to go into my room, Mai Jane?" Lily asked
"Sure," Madeline said. It's funny because, well, they share a room.

What about Aidan you might ask? Well, later this afternoon, Aidan was looking for the Sharpie marker and asked Madeline where it was.

"What's a sharpie?" she asked.

"It's a big marker that is very sharp," Aidan answered.

The apples just keep falling right under the tree...."Hey look, a stick-out!"


Chase Rooster

Apparently, in the midst of the political "discussion" going on out there, some people have a little too much time on their hands. Here is a new site out: The Sarah Palin Name Generator-The idea is you plug in your name to see what she would have named you.

For the record, I do not advocate making fun of what people name their kids nor do I think the names Sarah Palin chose for hers are all that outrageous. True, some people name their kids absurd names, names that make you feel sorry for the kid come middle school; names that make you think there ought to be fines for such ridiculousness. But truly, baby naming is a personal issue and in all but the few irresponsible cases (like the parent who named their kid Abcdef) I believe it is important to go in with a loving and non-judgemental heart. But I, like George, was curious. So I stuck in my name and those of my kids and I was pleasantly surprised because I got me a chicken! Liam came up as Chase Rooster! Truly ironic...really. (And who has too much time on their hands?)

Speaking of Chase Rooster, recently he has had a serious of tests done to try to figure out why he isn't growing (he has gotten so far below the normal curve, we are wondering if he is possibly just an elf.) Today he had to have a sweat chloride test done to rule out Cystic Fibrosis. It is a bizarre test. First, they hooked these little electrode thingys (the medical term for sure) up to his arms to make them sweat. Then they taped on this other contraption to the sweat which contained tightly coiled ultra-tiny tubing (think angel hair pasta) and dye. Finally, I was given the instruction to get him hot and sweaty over the course of the next 45 minutes so they could collect a sweat sample.

Ok, so when was the last time you tried making an infant sweat? Seriously now....trying to obtain the proper stool sample a few days ago was one thing (at least that comes pretty naturally and there's a diaper to catch it!) but this? It's not like I can say, "Ok Chase Rooster, now make it count! Crawl 10 laps around this room and then give me 10 push-ups..." Well, I could say it, but he'd just give me his I-will-melt-your-heart-with-my- toothless-grin look and with a little luck, maybe flap his arms. So, out we went to sit in the hot car. That was super fun...especially when Liam started crying and I, sweat rolling down my face, was like, "Good job Liam! Make it count!" I imagine the little old lady in the car next to me was probably texting Child Services while adjusting her oxygen mask.

When we got back to the lab, the tech said, "Just so you know, we rarely get enough sweat from a baby for the test to be conclusive." (Gee, really?) "We have run about 40 of these tests in the year and a half I have worked here and none of them have been positive for CF." That was one of those moments like in a football game when the announcer says, "An interesting stat: this kicker hasn't missed a field goal attempt in the last 150 games." And then after the kick: "Oh wow! I can't believe it! He missed the game deciding kick! How about that?" Well duh, you just jinxed him two minutes ago. I hadn't felt the least bit worried until that moment.

But, we were lucky, our little champ gave them enough sweat (all of two tiny blue droplets carefully squeezed out of the tubing) to run the test. And we were blessed: the test came back negative.

And that folks, wraps up our grace filled day. Now it's time for me to take Tangle Jig back to her bed so that Luger Otter and I, Khaki Salmon, can retire for the night. :)


Chicken Nose

"The effect of protein malnutrition on the susceptibility of the chicken nose to Newcastle disease virus (NDV) was studied." -Springerlink Journal Article

So, there was this guy sitting there thinking, 'Hey man, I wonder if a protein deficiency makes a chicken's nose more susceptible to a virus.' And it did. The end.

And here I didn't even realize chicken's had noses.

Last night, I was sitting there reading a magazine when Lily, having crept out with her pillow and blanket and quietly made a nest next to the kitchen trash can, found an old, half-popped popcorn kernel....AND STUCK IT UP HER NOSE! Now, I know it was an old kernel because it has been over a week since we last ate popcorn and I know she stuck it up her nose because she came running over, snorting and snuffing, and then flung herself on the ground, finger up her nose (you know, because shoving the thing just a little farther always makes for a good story!) and then, finally coming up for air, blood squirting out of her nostril, she gave me that look of "COULD YOU PLEASE HELP ME NOW? DON'T YOU SEE I AM IN CRISIS WOMAN?!?!?"

After wrestling her still in my arms, I finally got a good look and saw the kernel up her nose (phew, it isn't in her sinuses!) and began to think back: how did we get that piece of chicken out of Madeline's nose when she was younger? (Apparently this seems to be a common trend among our girls.) Oh yes, Kurt sucked it out with a straw! Ewwwwww.

But, being the good mom and knowing I needed to get that thing out before it did more damage, I grabbed a straw.... And then I got wise, grabbed a tissue and said, "Lily, you need to blow your nose...out, not in."

I put a little pressure on the top of her nose, just enough so she couldn't snort the thing up, and she huffed and she puffed and she blew it right out! THANK GOD! And, EWWWWWW!

So, there was this kid sitting there thinking, "I wonder if this small, prickly object will fit up my nose." And it did. The End.


At LEAST it wasn't the Bird Flu

"Diseases can be introduced into a backyard flock through many ways unnoticed by the owner. This could be through visitors to the farm or a neighbor who also has a backyard flock. Co-mingling young and older birds predisposes younger birds to diseases from the older birds." -Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Yet it mentioned nothing about how the younger birds seem to bounce back in a fraction of the time it takes the older birds...hmph. 

(Recall a couple posts ago when I said Lily wasn't actually sick....WRONG!) Which leads us to:

The Top Ten Things to APPRECIATE about a Good Ol' Fashioned STOMACH BUG!

1. Good-bye to that extra 2-5 pounds!

So what if all but about a quarter of the pounds lost was water weight. Stepping onto that scale and staring face to face with numbers that come a tiny bit closer to what you want to weigh is inspiring....perhaps the rapid loss of all excessive bodily fluids mixed with a little starvation can work for you, too! 

2. Hello to Extra help from the Rooster

Seriously, when you have just held the sheets in front of your 3 year old in order to spare the entire room from needing cleaning after she pukes her entire days worth of calories out, and then, upon getting her into the tub you turn around just in time to spend some quality one-on-one time with the porcelain throne yourself (a truly "Graceful Like a Chicken" moment), it is nice knowing you can yell out at your hubbie between lurches, point him toward your daughters bedroom and know that at least he is starting to clean up the mess so that you don't have to do it all by yourself before going in to check on the baby, accidentally waking him up and having to nurse him back to sleep...fun stuff...

3. A few hours of down-time.

Ok, now let it be known, I would not choose to take my down-time in bed with the chills while trying to entertain a 7 month old who apparently doesn't believe in taking naps next to his ill mom. BUT, it was kind of nice having a few hours in bed, mostly quiet and dark and still. Granted, I spent much of the time trying to determine what fatal illness I had drawn that was taking me out and whether or not the morphine they would have to give me in the hospital to get through it at the end would make me less tolerant of my beautiful children who would never truly get to know their mother, but hey, it was some almost-alone-time on a weekend! Wow.

4. A TWO DAY BREAK from my Workout routine!

This is unheard of for me. I'll admit, I did do a few little exercises before I realized just how bad it was going to get but once it hit, man, I kicked back and relaxed, (between the hot flashes and vertigo) letting my body just take it easy...well, as easy as you can get in misery while hugging the toilet...

5. Discovering My Compassionate Kids

There has never been a time I have seen the kids so compassionate as when they saw me sick in bed and proceeded to drag out every last colored pencil, crayon, marker, stamp, sticker, tape roll, scissors, etc. and using the majority of our printer paper made me pictures, which they so preciously labeled by child and placed in piles on every last clean surface in my bathroom. It made the day so much cheerier, really. (I especially liked the fact that once I was better, they wanted me to reciprocate the effort!)

6. Wearing PJ's most of the Weekend

Outside of going to the pool before we all fell ill, and the trip to Madeline's school the day after for an orientation we had to cut out of pretty much before it started because the dehydration was still causing me dizzy spells, I wore pajama's ALL weekend. I never knew how nice it was to just be comfy and know I was going nowhere. Ahhh.

7. Getting to witness your husband's dedication to his football team.

Ok, now I know for certain that my husband is the #1 Steelers fan out there and I plan on letting them know it, too. Kurt was the last of the Mohicans. He knew the bug was coming and quite unfortunately the worst of it for him hit in the middle of the Steelers' first game of the season! But, with bucket in hand, he actually sat there, game still on, as his body took over and rid him of the excessive liquids (and anything else) floating around in his stomach. I don't know that he would have even bothered with the toilet had I not urged him to. He truly is inspirational in his allegiance. 

8. Praising Digital Video Recorders

For those of you behind the times, get a DVR already! How could you possibly stand missing the football game, your favorite soap, drama, sci-fi, comedy or whatever you watch because of some little lightening bug going through the house? With our DVR, we can go back and watch the Steelers' first win of the season, again and again and again, our stomachs churning every time we get to the spot of Kurt's solo number...who wouldn't want that?

9.  Bleaching the bathrooms, 3 times each!

So, the only reason I appreciate having been forced to do this is because now I don't have to do it again for a while. Yay me! The bathrooms are scrubbed, the sheets have been changed, the laundry washed...I do need to go find the kids but I am sure they are around here somewhere...

10. Last, but not least, Some Serious Family Bonding. 

There is no bonding quite like the lovely experience of coming down with a gastrointestinal illness, and then every member in your family getting it, too. I can recall our last major stomach bug, the nasty Bug of '04. Madeline had just been born 5 weeks or so earlier. Kurt and I took the kids to our good friends Mike and Kathy's new digs in Dana Point. They had just given Aidan a cup of red juice when the Bug of '04 struck, all over their new light colored carpet (of course)! Aidan wasn't done yet either. We were not yet accustomed to the viciousness of some viruses but wow! Needless-to-say, after spending a good half hour disinfecting their entire downstairs bathroom (why Kurt held Aidan over the sink instead of the toilet at first is still beyond me)  and their hallway and trying to get red juice out of white-ish carpet, we took our yummy dinner to go and within the next few days, Kurt and I both experienced the most horrifically amazing virus....one that makes you really get in touch with your primitive roots. Madeline, held it in her just long enough for us to get to FL for our Christmas break and then she, at 5 weeks, spread it to MY ENTIRE FAMILY! Merry Christmas! Now THAT is what I call some good, family bonding. Talk about creating memories! And, by the way, if you are ever feeling that ill, don't make boiled peanuts...trust me, you'll regret it. 

As for the co-mingling chickens, there's just no way around that and quite honestly, most diseases, though unnoticed at the time of "introduction" will usually make themselves quite known; best to just embrace them, letting them do their thing, and then let them go...kinda like children. 


Gizzards, continued

The gizzards of poultry are a popular food throughout the world. Chicken gizzards are popular food item in Potterville, Michigan, where a Gizzard Festival is held every year in June...pickled turkey gizzards are a traditional food in some parts of the Midwestern United States. In the Southern United States, the gizzard is typically served fried, sometimes eaten with hot or honey mustard, or added to crawfish boil along with crawfish sauce. In Chicago, gizzard is battered, deep fried and served with fries and sauce. -Wikipedia


Today in the Life of Madeline

I took Madeline into her well visit check today at the doctor's office. She was very excited about the special time we were to spend together (kinda sad that her "mommy time" involves a doctor's appointment) and the only glitch was she absolutely refused to pee in a cup....Seriously, you try getting a 3 year old princess to pee in a cup. If it would've been Aidan he'd have been like, "Woo hoo, really? Do I have to be right up close or can I aim for it from a distance?!" 

Then there is Madeline. I told her she would have to pee in the cup and her response was, giggle giggle, "NO." After several attempts (bribery included), I gave up and we walked back to the exam room where she did a great job answering the doctors questions while drinking some water.

"How old are you?" the Doctor asked. Madeline held up 3 fingers and said, "This many."

"What's your favorite color?"

"Red and Pink."

"Oh, those are nice colors," The Doctor said. "Do you eat good food for your mommy?"


"What's your favorite food?" the Doc asked.

"Granola bars."

"Do you eat junk food?" (Uh, hello, didn't you just hear? She eats granola bars and contrary to popular belief, they are basically junk.)

No answer from Madeline.

"Do you know what junk food is?" the Doc asked. Madeline shook her head no.

"I guess if you don't know what junk food is, you probably don't eat much of it," the Doctor said. (She obviously got her medical degree from a lesser known institution where they use fake kids as lab rats. I mean, Madeline also doesn't know what oxygen is but I am fairly certain she breathes it...)

"Do you know your phone number?" the Doc asked met by a blank stare from Madeline. I explained we had moved several times over the last few years so we hadn't worked on it yet.

"Maybe you should get her a cell phone," the Doc suggested. (You have to be kidding me. She's 3! But then, this is the OC.)

Apparently clueless that a mom wouldn't put sweat pants on a kid in 90 degree weather, the Doc then asked, "Do you dress yourself in the morning?" (Yeah, and right before Elevensies and lunch and at least twice during quiet time and then once before dinner and....)

"Yes, but sometimes mom has to button this button right back here," Madeline said, turning to show where there would be a button had it been the ONE shirt she has with a button in the back. The doctor looked at me confused. Madeline continued, "The button isn't on this shoyt; it is on another shoyt at home but mom has to do it because I can't reach it. And sometimes she has to button the button on my nightgown, too...."

The doctor looked up at me and asked, "Does she speak in complete sentences that you can understand the majority of the time?" Uh, hello? Were you not listening to the last 2 minutes of Madeline's treatise on dressing?

"Yes," I said. "Since she was about 18 months."

The Doc turned back to Madeline. "Do you brush your teeth?" she asked.

"Yes," Madeline said.

"When do you brush your teeth?" the Doctor continued.

Madeline answered, matter-of-factly, "On the weekends."

Hee hee hee....that's just funny. I was going to explain that we are on a very strict toothbrush budget so we try to conserve them, use them only after eatin' our fried gizzards and on special occasions, like before our yearly doctor's visit, but decided I would pass up the opportunity.

After playing 20 questions with us, the doc went on to do the rest of the exam, making sure to note all the bruises Madeline had accumulated in the last few days. When she got to the third bruise, which was suspiciously identical to the shape of the dental impression of a five-year-old boy, I about asked her if she would count mine too, to see who was winning, but figured I would save the court system from another "smart-ass-mom" case.

At the end of the appointment, the nurse came in and asked us to try again with the cup...

Princesses don't pee in cups.

And although I half thought about peeing in it myself just to satisfy them, we came back out with the cup, still empty.

"Well, that's not a problem," the nurse explained. "I'll just give you this take home cup and you can bring it back when it's half full."

Again, funny. But, we took the cup and can I just say that Madeline has an INSANE bladder?! She had not peed since almost 3 hours before that appointment, and because she refused to pee in the cup, we ran some errands, came home, ate lunch, she took a nap and it wasn't until she awoke, screaming that she had to go to the bathroom that she FINALLY was able to pee in the cup....7 hours since she had gone last! And it STILL took her about ten minutes to relax enough to pee in the darn cup. (But, that could be because Lily was standing there, screaming at her to get off her toilet while pulling at Madeline's clothes and hair....never fear, we disciplined her with some pickled turkey gizzards....)


Chicken Gizzards

The gizzard is an organ in the digestive tract found in birds, reptiles, earthworms, some fish, and other creatures. This specialized stomach constructed of thick, muscular walls is used for grinding up food. -Wikipedia

Recently in the Life of Lily:

Someone asked me the other day if Lily ever felt pain from her run-ins with things (like when she runs head first into walls and trees and such). Before I could answer, my friend went on to ask if maybe she had one of those nerve-sensory issues where you don't feel pain (ie. Congenital insensitivity to pain). 

"No, she doesn't have that," I said. (If she did, she would have lost a couple limbs months ago I'm sure.)

But, that same day, I had to laugh because after her bath while traveling through the house as naked-girl, hooded bath towel trailing behind her, she tried running under the dining room table, as upright as she gets and THUNK! She hit the table head on, leaving a rather significant indention on the bridge of her nose and up her forehead. (Note to Child Services: that is not the reason I laughed.)

I actually gasped (a big mommy no-no in the case of accidents and injuries) and of course she came up crying. I thought to myself, "See, she feels pain." And then, in the most pathetic voice, she said, "My towel fell off, Mama!" and handed it to me, turning around so I could put it back on, after which, she kept on going, happy as a clam. So much for feeling pain.

So, I was cleaning up the dining room floor yesterday (since I never got a chance to vacuum the day before after Lily puked up the entire contents of her gizzards underneath my chair as I was breastfeeding Liam, and my friend, who just moved here from MN, was sitting on the other side of the table, feeding her baby...good times, no stress....I am guessing my friend thought I was a little odd since my reaction was to calmly sit there, continuing to feed the baby while watching Lily as she hurled not once, not twice but three times underneath me. I sat analyzing the contents in awe and wonder before finally getting up to plop Liam in his crib so I could address the situation hands free. She wasn't actually sick of course. She had just eaten too much junk and topped it off with too much juice, neither of which we usually have in the house.) Oh, sorry, I got sidetracked. So, I was vacuuming when Madeline started banging on the sliding glass door:

"Mom! Lily has a Black Widow Spider! Lily has a BLACK WIDOW SPIDER," she yelled, loud enough to remind the entire neighborhood that we are the reason the average age of resident dropped to 50 last year.

"It's big and black and has red on its belly!" Aidan added. (You know, in case I didn't happen to notice those characteristics in the last TWO DOZEN!)

I ran outside and found Lily holding a red light saber and sure enough, hanging off the end was a long, dirty web WITH A BLACK WIDOW DANGLING FROM IT!


Really, who needs fiction when life has so much to offer?

On closer inspection, the spider was dead. Phew... Now, I don't know if she killed it herself (very possible) or if it was already dead (perhaps the exterminator really does work?) or if it was just playing dead (a less well known but extremely significant survival trick of spiders) but I very carefully carried the spider wielding weapon inside and plunged it into the watery abyss of the toilet where the spider was flushed away (again and again....and again, just to be certain). 

And Lily watched on, waiting to get her light saber back and seemed a little put off by the fact that she had just lost her pet spider. (She must have been saving it to replenish her gizzards.)