Worms to Scratch: A Snapshot

"Tomorrow is a busy day, we got things to do, we got eggs to lay, ground to dig, we've got worms to scratch, you know it takes a lot of sittin' gettin' chicks to hatch! Besides - there ain't nobody here but us chickens, there ain't nobody here at all." -Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Louis Jordan (1946)

Still quite wet and dreary out this morning from yesterday's rain, my two princesses and Aidan went out to "rescue the worms." A little under the weather myself, it took me a few minutes to realize I had three kids out in the driveway, (two in their princess pajamas) squatting down, searching for any worms still alive (albeit barely) and helping them into the soil-pit they had been digging in a few days earlier. You see, my kids are "worm-people." Some claim to be cat-people, some dog-people, (as if it is entirely impossible to like both?) but my kids, they are worm-people. Sure, they like cats and dogs but you show them some fresh worms that they can get their fingers on and you will be their favorite person for days to come! I can hardly wait to see how they react when we teach them how to fish. I am guessing the girls will insist on using rubbery, fake worms so as not to hurt the real ones!

Anyway, it was time to get Aidan to the bus stop so I rescued the remaining baby-wipes from the hands of Liam who, having realized he was not being watched as thoroughly as usual, had found the new pack of wipes accidentally left in his reach, and was enthusiastically enjoying the thrill of pulling them out one by one and throwing them in the air behind him. I grabbed Liam, a few wipes and headed out to gather my brood and herd them across the street, wiping Aidan's hands in the process. 

We arrived at the bus stop where my neighbor started laughing hysterically at Lily: her face smeared with soil, the feet of her footed princess pj's completely black from the muddy mess, and her eyes bulging with excitement by the prospect of all the half-live worms at the side of the road. My neighbor's daughter started to help Lily find a few more and as we looked down to see Lily opening her hand to accept them we noticed the inside of her opened fist and saw what looked like a squirming human brain. It was at that stomach lurching moment I realized something: although I may be many things, I am NOT a worm-person. 



In the dead of the night last night I was awakened by an ear curdling scream:


I jumped from my bed and ran to her side where she was sitting up next to her bed, screaming at Lily.

"Madeline, stop screaming," I said quietly. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Lily won't help me make my bed," she softly cried. I looked over at Lily, sprawled out like a log across her mattress AND SNORING. Did I mention it was 3:00 in the morning? Of course, given that Madeline is the same child who, after taking a hard fall on the sidewalk yesterday, was able to stop herself just short of total hysteria when she realized she had gone face first into an ant hill and was now staring eye to eye with dozens of ants ("WAAAAAAAA!"....abrupt hush...."Look Mom! Ants!"), it doesn't surprise me.

And now for something totally different: we went to the Como Zoo today with my good friend Stephanie and her two kids. (Lily and Madeline are bookends here.)

We saw reindeer and seals and thought about adopting the sweet kitty cat below:
But I didn't think he'd make such a great indoor cat....

What really got the kids attention though was the primate house where we saw spider monkeys, sloths, and a baby orangutan riding on its mommy's back. 

And then we got to the gorillas.

I'm not sure why but I get the distinct feeling the gorillas were trying to tell us something:

And to that end, have a great weekend! (hee hee)


The Graceful Chicken Theme Song

Yup, you read that right. We now have a theme song. (Please note, the following link will play an irrelevant video but using the theme song, sung by Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five.) Now if I can just figure out how to make the song play when you open the blog.....hmmmmm.....

One night farmer Brown,
Was takin' the air,
Locked up the barnyard
With the greatest of care
Down in the henhouse
Somethin' stirred
When he shouted "Who's there?"
This is what he heard:

There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So calm yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
We chickens tryin' to sleep,
And you butt in
And hobble, hobble hobble hobble
With your chin

There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
You're stompin' around
And shakin' the ground,
You're kickin' up an awful dust
We chicken's tryin' to sleep
And you butt in
And hobble, hobble hobble hobble
It's a sin

Is a busy day
We got things to do
We got eggs to lay
We got ground to dig
And worms to scratch
It takes a lot of settin'
Gettin' chicks to hatch

There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So quiet yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
Kindly point that gun,
The other way
And hobble, hobble hobble off and
Hit the hay

Is a busy day
We got things to do
We got eggs to lay
We got ground to dig
And worms to scratch
It takes a lot of settin'
Gettin' chicks to hatch

There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So quiet yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
Kindly point that gun,
The other way
And hobble, hobble hobble of and
Hit the hay

"Hey boss man
What do ya say?"

It's easy pickens,
Ain't nobody here but us chickens


The Argument for Chickens

Although certain adults in our house see no good reason to have pet chickens, I like to focus on the positive. Several excellent reasons to keep chickens as pets include: Great tasting (and practically free) eggs, a step closer to sustainable living, they have incredible personality, your lawn is healthier as they eat the insects and leave some fertilizer instead, they eat table scraps, as well as leaf, weeds and grass clippings, are fairly low maintenance and besides, you'll have the coolest pets in the neighborhood (unless of course you live in the country and then that really won't be so fun and different!) (See My Pet Chicken for more info.)

It is easy to feel like you are a prisoner to your children. They truly do tie you down in ways you cannot know until you have them. But, I find life is much better when I focus on the things that only life with children can offer. So, here it goes. This week's top 3 (so far)...

Because of having kids I have had the privilege of:

1. Straining the bathtub

Ok, now, I don't know many single people or kid-less couples who have ever had the experience of straining the bathtub. For those of you who have never known such joy try this simple exercise: fill the tub full of water, add half a roll of toilet paper, let it sit for about 10 minutes before stirring vigorously. Now, DO NOT TRY DRAINING THE TUB (just trust me on this one, it won't work.) Instead, get out your fine metal strainer, like you use in cooking, and get to work. It's kind of like mining for gold, only, you get to swipe the toilet paper off the strainer in big, mushy balls (think wet globs of dryer lent). It's almost satisfying....almost...

At least it was only toilet paper this time and not other, um, bodily....things....

2. Teaching "Stranger Danger"

Recently there was an abduction attempt right down the street at a local church. A girl was waiting to be picked up by her mom and someone drove up and told her that her mom had asked him to pick the child up. The child immediately ran back into the church and told an adult.

It made me think: what would my kids do? We had never really talked about this and well, really, unless you are a parent (or teacher) you probably don't talk much about it to anyone. So, we sat down and I asked Aidan, Madeline and Lily: "If you are outside and someone drives up and tells you to get in the car, would you get in the car with them?"

They stared at me blankly and then Madeline said with a gleam in her eyes, "Oh, yes!" And that is probably the most honest answer because I am certain that until that moment, she would have jumped right in and probably asked, "So, where are we going?" We spent the next ten minutes repeating the scenario in various ways until they understood that each situation should end with the kids running the other way and telling me or another known-to-them-adult.

Needless-to-say, Madeline awoke screaming at least twice last night. Even so, I started lesson two today: "If a man you don't know comes up and tells you his cute kitten is lost and asks you to go with him to find it, would you go?"

Without hesitation she replied, "Oh sure!"

ARGH! Back to the role playing we go!

Tomorrow's lessons will include ice cream and cake....and maybe bunnies!

3. Becoming (married to) God 

For typical, healthy individuals, there are only a few moments that make you feel a bit God-like. I would put childbirth and the very creation of children right up there. And, if you play your cards right, the results may just put you right up there with God.

"Mom, when you die, do you still have feelings?" Aidan asked.

"Um, do you mean can you still physically feel things?" I asked back.

"Yeah," he replied. 

"Nope, once you are dead, you don't feel things anymore," I said, relieved that the answer was a pretty straight forward one.

"Why not?" Aidan asked. (Darn it.)

"Well, because when you die, your body rests in peace and no longer feels anything," I said, opting not to go into details about the cessation of electrical activity in the brain and other such things. 

"Do you get to take your body with you to heaven?" he asked on.

"Well, now that is a good question. I don't think you get to take your body with you but some people think you will one day have your body back," I said. "But really Aidan, we don't know what happens when we die. No one knows actually."

"Well, God knows what happens," Aidan told me.

I asked, "Well, are you God?" 

"No," he said.

"Am I God?" I asked.

"No," he said again. 

I was about to say, "well, then we don't know what happens, do we" when Lily chimed in. 

"No Mommy, you aren't God," she said. "Daddy is."

To which Madeline responded, "No, daddy isn't God, he's just Jesus."

As Larry the Cable guy might say: Lord forgive me for that and bless the pygmies in New Guinea.


Chick Quips

We were driving away from the gas station the other day when Lily asked, "Do you have gas now?" 

"Yup, I have lots of gas," I said and then quickly clarified, "in my car."

"But you don't have grass in your car, right?" Lily questioned.

"No, but I do have these," I said,  holding up the palm branches conveniently left in the car from Palm Sunday.

"Hey, I know what those are!" Madeline exclaimed. "They are, um, what do you call them again?"

"Palm branches," I said.

"Yeah! Those are palm branches," she said. (Gee, how did you ever know that, I humored silently.) She continued, "Jesus came in the town riding on a donkey and the people wanted to say hi, but they didn't know how to say hi so they just waved those at him instead. Some people don't know how to say hi, did you know that mom?" 


Another car conversation went like this:

"Mom, who's the black guy who brings you presents?" Madeline asked. 

Hmmm, now that is a tough one. I rummaged through my mind to think of any friends who may have brought us presents in the recent past. 

"Um, what kind of present did he bring?" I asked, stalling. 

"No, not a guy that is black," she corrected herself. "He wears black." (Gee, that sure narrows it down....)

"Well, can you tell me what he brought us?" I asked.

"No, he doesn't bring kids presents, just adults," she continued. 

"Ok, what kind of presents does he bring adults?" I asked. 

"No, he doesn't bring you presents, he brings you boxes," she clarified more. 

"Oooooh, does he drive a big, brown truck?" I asked, understanding now.

"Yeah! That's who I mean!" she said, excitedly. 

"He's the UPS guy," I said, thinking, what can brown do for you? A little extra confusion to our day is always nice....


And then there is my favorite recent conversation. I was loading the girls up in the car to head to the store. Lily says, "Madeline and I are the princesses!" 

"Yes, you certainly are," I replied.

"And you can be the queen," she continued. 

"Am I a good queen or an evil queen," I asked. 

"Um," she thought for a moment, a puzzled look on her face. "And evil queen?" she asked.

"Ahhh, I don't like being evil!" I said.

"No, you are a nice queen," Madeline joined in.

"Thanks, Madeline," I said.

"Yeah, and Liam is the prince," Lily said. 

"Great! So, if he is the prince, and I am the queen and you are the princesses, who is daddy?" I asked. 

"Daddy's the king!" they agreed. 

"What about Aidan?" I asked. 

There was a moment of silence and then Madeline spoke up, "He's the dog." 

Sometimes I would describe their sibling relationships as full of adoration. Sometimes, not so much....


The Last Supper

A few years back, our church here in MN did an "enactment" of Leonardo DaVinci's painting The Last Supper. We all hoo'ed and haw'ed over the fact that the minister had asked Kurt to play Jesus. Although he looked more like a Roman Soldier than a devout Jewish man, Kurt played a fine Jesus, I must admit. He sat up there, a serious look on his face as he told his disciples that that very night one of them would betray him. Each of the 12 apostles went through their personal monologue, telling us who they were, their relationship with Jesus and then questioning, who could do such a thing as betray the Son of God....."Could it be me?" 

A few weeks ago, the minister asked if Kurt would be willing to step up to the plate again and be Jesus once more for the The Last Supper. Although I told the minister that he might need to find another Jesus, so as not to give Kurt any grandiose ideas, Kurt agreed to play the part yet again. 

So last night, Maundy Thursday, we loaded the kids up and went to church so they could watch their daddy "play Jesus." Aidan and Madeline sat fairly patiently eyeing the shots of grape juice in the center of the table. After a minimal meal, hymn singing and scripture reading, Jesus and the 12 disciples walked in and positioned themselves at the head table, mimicking the famous painting. The scripture and painting, melded together and came to life before us. It was a touching depiction of the solemn scene. 

As we were getting into the car afterwards, Madeline asked, "Why did they say it was the last supper?" 

Sensing she was a little scared she'd never get to eat dinner again I responded, "That's what they call the last meal Jesus had with his disciples."

"But why was it his last supper?" she asked.

"Because he didn't get to eat again," Kurt said.

"It was that very night that one of his friends turned him in to the Roman soldiers who took him away and then hung him on the cross," I said. 

There was a short pause. If there were wheels in Aidan's head, I am sure we would have heard them spinning as his next question was:

"Um, are they going to put daddy on the cross now?"

Thus ended the solemn mood.....


From the Mouth of Mother Hen

We recently survived the week known as "spring break." And as I am still awaiting the "break" part of that title (actually, I suppose we are still awaiting the "spring" part too!) I have decided that the idea for such a week was definitely arrived at by a working man (or at least someone with enough money to hire help for the week....or perhaps someone without kids...or maybe someone who had hired help to watch the kids at home while they were on a very quiet and calm tropical island...) At any rate, the kids had a great time being home with not a whole lot to do, and other than a few rain and snow showers (and a meltdown or two, both outside AND in), we had weather decent enough to get out some. Yay us!  

I think a few recent things that have come out of my mouth are worth noting however:

"Remember Karen, you chose this." -- reminding myself, as I looked out the window at an April snowstorm, that we moved back to MN by choice.

"I don't, even, want, to know." -- said to Aidan when he came screeching over to tell me that Madeline bit his tongue. 

"Lily, we don't drink from the milk jug." -- said to the 2 year old daughter (going on 17 year old son?) when I walked in to find her half naked on the kitchen floor in front of the open refrigerator chugging milk from the jug. 

"And that is why we don't jump on the couch." -- said to Madeline as she flew off the couch and head first into the adjacent wall and came up looking for sympathy, to put it casually.....

"Um, I'm not really sure." --in answer to Kurt's question, "Is Liam laughing or crying?" when we took him to see the Easter Bunny....I think the answer is somewhere along the lines of both. He was certainly shaking when that thing stood up and honked the horn at us (seriously, what kind of bunny honks a bike horn at the kids?!?) but by the end he did smile for the camera so he couldn't have been THAT terrified, right?

"No, you can't make a spider-farm either!" -- said to Aidan: after having told him he couldn't make his own ant-farm, he came running downstairs a few minutes later with "an even better idea, Mom!" What's next, a snake-farm? 

"Remember Karen, you chose this." --my mantra for the week spent with all four kids and nothing at all planned. I burnt through at least one "calming" candle and although I am not so sure it worked on me (and I'm certain it did nothing for the kids!), it at least smelled sweet. But I'll admit, for the most part, it was nice having the kids all together for the week. (And by most part I mean the part like now where they are all sleeping peacefully and quietly upstairs!) 

Aspirin anyone?