Have Chicks, Will Travel

But the question remains: WHY?! Why would any mother hen drive four chicks down the road, FOR 16 HOURS????

After a grueling move and not near enough time to get settled in, we are now on the road, this time going east to Kurt’s family’s 4th of July party thrown each year. It may have been a bit more cozy if not for the addition of one of Kurt’s college buddies who came along for the week, (the more the merrier right?) or perhaps if we had stopped having kids after one. We are happy to be a little less outnumbered but my legs (and back and head and….) are certainly screaming otherwise!

About two hours in, the mood of the trip was set by 17 month old Liam who started choking on an apple; turned blue (and terrified), had to be whisked out of his seat for fear of needing the Heimlich before puking all over his blanket while Kurt slowed the car from 70 mph to completely stopped in about 7 seconds. I was able to catch the subsequent puking spells in the blanket, layering each bout with napkins while maneuvering my way over Aidan and out of the car to hold Liam outward for a few calm moments as his color came back and he stopped crying. That would not be the last time we had to pull over on the side of the highway for one reason or another (like later when Kurt learned that it isn't wise to stand downwind from a six year old relieving himself), but it was definitely the scariest. If what my friend Deb says is true, that it isn’t a real road trip until at least one kid vomits in the car, then we’re off to a fantastic start!

I must admit though that I am not sure what is worse: being at the house, boxes scattered and dumped everywhere with four overly excited kids running around asking “Where’s my favorite __________” (fill in the blank) every three point two minutes or being strapped into a car in the middle of four restless kids asking (and others calling to ask) if we are there yet, every four point five minutes. Where are those battle droids when you really need them?

And no: while we may have arrived at our current destination and already secured at least one sun burn (darn that overcast sky!), we are not, in any stretch of the imagination, there yet!


Urban Chickens

Inspired by a recession and rising food costs or by food safety and animal welfare concerns, people who have never raised livestock of any kind are setting up small chicken coops and buying a few baby chicks....a growing number of cities across the country are changing their rules to allow some controlled poultry raising.-From the article Personal Poultry

Yesterday, the day my in-laws left, and the day before our 14 hour car trip to Pittsburgh (a trip we are taking because moving again was not punishment enough), my sister Eileen and her spouse, Kevin, came from New York City to Minneapolis for his family’s yearly reunion. We drove to the next suburb over to pick them up at his brother’s house, took them to lunch and brought them back to our dwelling place which currently resembles a FEMA disaster zone that has subsequently been caught off-guard and hit by incoming battle droids. We spent a couple pleasant hours avoiding the boxes before I had to drop Eileen and Kevin off again. On the way back to Edina, I asked Kevin how he liked being out in the suburbs.

“The suburbs?” he questioned. “I thought this was the country!” he teased.

I proceeded to tell him all the reasons why this was in fact suburbia and NOT the country and just as I was finishing my lengthy argument, we watched two gargantuan wild turkeys float down next to the highway.

“Um, yeah…..it is country,” I surrendered before explaining that those were NOT big hawks as he had originally thought but actually some darn good poultry, Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 50 to be exact…I'm not so sure he is ready to go out and buy a few baby chicks but then, what do you expect, he’s city folk…

Moving (like a graceful chicken)

After 8 moves in the last 10 years or so, I have decided there is no such thing as a graceful move. Moving, in and of itself, lacks all grace. Or perhaps, that has just been my experience.

It all started over a decade ago as my parents and I were driving a U-Haul containing all my earthly treasures (which amounted to a bunch of secondhand furniture and thrift store dishes; my wardrobe, much of which I had been wearing since High School and much of which I still wear today, some stacks of crap I still can’t seem to part with or at the very least lose in transit and the only thing of any real worth: my violin) to Washington D.C. where I had been accepted into graduate school. I should have known as the three of us were crammed into the cab together and the air conditioning stopped working in that muggy summer heat, and even more so, as we were broken down on the side of the highway, awaiting a tow truck to come pick us (and our U-Haul) up, that this was not going to be my very best adventure ever.

A few years (no grad-degree but one husband) later, I fondly recalled the U-Haul adventure as Kurt and I pulled a U-Haul trailer behind my old Ford Explorer, across the country to begin our lives together in California. We crossed our fingers and said a prayer or two to the automobile gods to forgive us for all our past transgressions and to please, PLEASE, get us over the next mountain range. We held or breath as Kurt held the pedal down to the floor and our truck still got slower….and slower…..and slower yet, sometimes just barely making it to the top and over the hill at 30 miles per hour. Somehow though, perhaps a belated wedding gift, the gods found favor on us and we arrived without incident, though a little too late to actually get keys to our apartment. After having to spend the night in a hotel that we would eventually come to realize would be the nicest place we stayed in the first few years or so of our marriage, we felt lucky to have arrived at all.

And so, a decade since that first U-Haul adventure, and with several other successes under our belt (like four kids in as many moves), Kurt and I moved back into our Midwestern home this past week. God bless my in-laws and the plane they came in on for being able to come help us. And for providing me with the humor of yet another U-Haul memory. It simply would not be much of a move without one.

Picture it: the house we were moving from was just across the street and slightly uphill from the house we were moving to. We rented a big truck with plans to pack and unload, pack and unload and we had several days worth of volunteers, to which we are forever grateful. Kurt and his father arrived with the U-Haul and proceeded to back it up into the driveway, and straight into the front gutter on the roof of the house. (“I was looking down….who’d’ve thought it would hit up top” Kurt explained, or something like that.) No biggie. Just a dent we may have to pay for…But it didn’t stop there….

We were about half way or so through the move when Kurt’s father went to drive the truck back to the rental house for one more load. In order to “expedite” the process, he decided to do the "convenient" thing and turn it around in our neighbor’s driveway. I can’t help but think all Poltergeist-like in the following scenario, as in, “We’re baaaa-aaack.”

He turned up into our neighbor’s driveway and started backing up and although the three other men directing from behind were all yelling stop, he backed that truck right into the street, grinding to a stuck halt in the middle of the hole he put in the middle of the road. I am almost certain the automobile gods were cracking up at the scene that ensued because well, I know I was.

As the neighbors all came shuffling out to watch, I ran in to grab my camera. If there was anything about the move worth capturing, four men trying to pick up a 24 foot U-Haul with a miniature hydraulic jack and a few pieces of plywood was definitely it.*

A special thanks to Craig and Jack D’Alessio and Todd Rosso for sharing this memory with us. And to my in-laws: we truly thank you and want you to know we don’t hold you fully accountable since we have come to realize a very essential and universal law of nature: U-Hauls are possessed creatures unto themselves.

*Unfortunately, in a purely Graceful Chicken gesture, during the move I set aside my camera’s firewire that enables it to upload pictures into my computer, so that I wouldn’t lose it, and now I can’t remember where I put it. Pictures will follow sometime in the next six to twelve months, I’m just sure of it…


Are you Graceful Like a Chicken?

I was thinking about it today. I know I am not the only person out there that is Graceful Like a Chicken. I know this because recently one of my CA friends posted that her daughter recently fell into the fountain at a local mall....that is just plain funny....because it didn't happen to one of my kids....and because, hee hee, how is that NOT funny? Another said she fed her girls cold pizza and chips for breakfast today. This totally qualifies them for the Graceful Like a (Mother) Chicken award.

That said, I would like to hear from others who have something that would qualify them or their family for the Graceful Like a Chicken award. So, if you, or someone you know, are Graceful Like a Chicken, send me a quick note and I will post the best ones here.

Some recent examples from our life are:

You know you are Graceful Like a Chicken if....

1. You take a couple of your children to the Jiffy Lube only to find out that the one STILL has explosive diarrhea and after helping her make it to the gross garage bathroom just in the nick of time, somehow managing to NOT drop the squirming baby who is eagerly trying to get down on the disgusting floor, you discover the toilet doesn't really flush as well as you might prefer....

2. You feed your toddler goldfish and popsicles for breakfast and feel like it is completely justified by the smile on her face and the fact that at least it won't kill her....

3. On the way to teach 3 hours of consecutive music lessons, you get peed on by a wild turtle....

So, get to it and bring on the funny stories!

Speaking of funny stories....Yes, I did in fact get peed on by a wild turtle! You see, springtime in MN, one of the states with the VERY most water around, means turtle season. They post notices to be careful on the roads since turtles cross back and forth from one lake or pond to another. Taking these warnings to the extreme, the kids and I have been on a mission, one handed down to me inadvertently by my mother, who I am almost positive stopped a time or two to help an innocent turtle cross the road when I was a child. Admittedly, although most cars swerve to avoid hitting the turtles, they don't stop. We just think it a good deed to take it one step further and carry them across...(perhaps a sign we have watched one too many Diegos.)

Anyway, I was on my way to teach violin and piano lessons when I saw this sweet little turtle trying to cross the busy street. I quickly pulled over, put on my hazards and snatched up the turtle to help it safely across. Who'd've thought the darn thing would PEE ON ME! All down my arm, soaking my jeans and at least one foot! So much for "Why did the chicken cross the road!"....Why did the turtle cross the road? To pee on an unexpecting human! And man, did it ever! Who'd've thought something so small could carry so much liquid! Good, good times!

But the best, or most disturbing, story was the fourth turtle we helped this year. There was this little baby turtle crossing the same busy street. I pulled into the turn lane, jumped out and quickly placed the baby turtle in the nearby grass to which it was headed. There was an older woman pushing a kid in a stroller watching from the not-too-far distance. As I glanced back in my rear-view mirror to make sure the turtle didn't start back into the road, I saw the woman KICK THE BABY TURTLE! And not just once, BUT TWICE!

What kind of sick person kicks a turtle? And a baby one at that! It's not like you are going to get the thing to come out from hiding IF YOU KICK IT! For the love of God, Lady!

I can hear the turtle gossip now:

Says one turtle to another: "So, I was on my way home the other day, just taking my time crossing the road, when these two hands came out of nowhere and just snatched me up, whisking me into the air...."

"And then what happened?" the turtle friend would say with eyes bulging and head extended.

"Well, what do you think happened? I peed myself of course!" he'd answer.

"Well, I'd've done the same thing I'm sure but that's better than what happened to poor little Hermon. Did you hear that one?"

"Oh no, what happened?"

"Baby Hermon was minding his own business, just crossing the street for the first time when he found himself floating up through the sky, similar to your story only he's too young to know that isn't supposed to happen and says he really enjoyed it. So next thing he knew he was in the grass when all of a sudden this foot came out of nowhere and kicked the S#!T out of him!"


"Yep, literally kicked it right out of him!"

This reeks of an Eddy Murphy skit to me....sick, sick, old woman!

(Now, don't forget to send me those stories!)



This is a fair warning to our incoming company....

We have been hit, again, by that lovely thing known as the stomach bug. Sneaky little devil it is. It's especially fun when you are in the middle of giving a piano lesson to a brand new student, at THEIR house, when you hear:


I probably should've known then that this was more than a little runny bowels....too much fruit, I figured.....Not quite. 

No sooner had we crawled into bed when I heard the unmistakable sound of a sleeping, yet vomiting, child. How any sober person can sleep through that is beyond me but then, what do I know? I also assumed the runny stools bit was just too many berries....my bad.  It must be something about this house: it welcomed us in with the stomach bug and is sending us back out that way....perhaps I should make it a little more clear in our next house that as far as temporary gifts go, we prefer flowers.

I am sure there will be many more delightful stories to come about this but until the wildfire subsides, TTFN (ta ta for now!)


Graceful Chicken Garage Sale: Round 2!

Summer has officially begun for my family. Aidan had his first day out of school yesterday and by 9 a.m. I was already cursing the school system for thinking it actually needs summers off....sheesh. Now I know why so many parents think working outside the home is pretty darn awesome. And you know things have gone down the drain when the highlight of the day had to do with worm poop. 

So, the 4 kids and I were in Target (yes, I am a glutton for punishment) and after grabbing 4 gallons of milk and a few edible items to get us through the next few days, we went to the garden section to find the right plant food for our new outside shrubs. Who knew it would be so hard to find 5-10-5 plant food (whatever that even means!) That is when I came across the organic plant food spray with the BOLD distinction of containing Liquified Worm Poop

I am not kidding. I read it about ten times to make sure I hadn't made it up the first nine times in my head. Liquified Worm Poop! This item begs so many questions I hardly know where to begin! Like, WHO first decided to gather up worm poop to feed to their plants? And, HOW in the world do you even know you have harvested the poop of worms? And, ok, now call me ignorant but, from WHERE does a worm even poop? It had my mind rolling so fast (with images of scientists in their latex gloves squeezing worms over vials....) I failed to notice the collision of our cart that sent a gallon of milk flying out from the bottom.  And even after Aidan got me to stop and gathered it back up, I didn't notice that we were dripping milk from the new, and unwanted, hole in the carton until we had stopped for a brief moment at the farthest other corner of the store and Madeline started freaking out that there was a puddle of milk behind us. Had I taken the time to follow it, I am guessing it would have lead us right back to the worm poop aisle and we'd've started the process all over again.

At any rate, I recovered from yesterday in time to take part in the neighborhood's garage sale today. I had all my stuff in boxes, was up until about 2 a.m. baking and getting ready (finding every excuse plausible to take a break every few minutes) and we were up and out there by about 7 a.m. By the time the sale officially "started" I had already spent about $16 on stuff from the neighbors garages and by about 9:30 a.m. I had already had two items stolen. I am not sure if it was just an oversight or outright theft but I would like to think it was a simple mistake by an honest person....may they rot in, oh wait, no, I'm just teasing...they are quite forgiven as I am glad to be rid of the stuff (shoot, in Graceful Chicken Style I'd have probably given it to them if they asked outright!) 

Since Aidan ran the bake sale table, we actually broke even by about noon, assuming I don't give him any of the profits of course. I figure I did all the baking and bagging and given that he was trying to give a penny back to everyone who paid 50 cents for a 50 cent bag of cookies (obviously my kid), I don't think he really has a clue anyway. 

So, our summer is off, and we are $11 richer than we started (which amounts to about a dollar an hour...I knew that college degree would start paying off eventually, hee hee.) Now, I'm thinkin' I might just have to go celebrate by gettin' me a bottle of that Liquified Worm Poop.... 


Moving the Coop....again

Note to my dear readers (or should that be singular: reader?): Due to our upcoming move, all the way across the street, Graceful Chicken blog activity (among other things) may suffer. Of course, if you are reading solely because you like self-inflicted torture, your brain may be pleasantly surprised to know posts may be infrequent these next few weeks. Then again, I may find every opportunity NOT to pack and this may become a blogging boom for me (doubtful...).

At any rate, I only have one little story to relate this week (mainly because I spent the week ignoring the kids...kidding...they just weren't funny, hee hee). Yesterday, the girls REALLY wanted to go to the park so that Madeline could "practice pumping" on the swing. So, I gathered up the girls, put on their helmets, got them on their bicycles, stuck Liam in the backpack carrier (which he could very well fit in until he is old enough to drive!) and we headed down the street to the little park. 

After taking FOREVER to walk to quarter mile and cross the somewhat busy street to get to the park, Kurt called me to ask me if I was ready to come home as he had made the dough and it was ready to be made into pizzas; a Friday night event in our house. So, we packed back up and started home. Lily was struggling to ride her tricycle, partly because she paused every time she saw an ant, or piece of grass, or for no reason at all, and partly because she had gotten a thorn stuck in her foot that she would not allow me to touch, so I pushed her on ahead and told her we would follow behind. She actually started peddling and was about half way to the busy street when Madeline yelled:

"Liiiilllly! Stop!.......Liiiiiiiiilllllllly! STOOOOOOOP!" (Lily doesn't need too much reason to stop mind you but since Madeline was saying it she seemed to find humor in doing the opposite.)

And then, talking really fast, Madeline tried reasoning with her sister:  "If you ride into the street you might get hit by a car! If you get smooshed you might die and then YOU WILL MISS!     WATCHING!     THE!    MOVIE!    LIIIIIIIIIILY!     STOOOOOOP! YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THE MOVIE!

Hmmmm, maybe we need to work on priorities....

And now for the most recent, hen-heart-warming moment:


It's always nice to see the chicks getting along but I must admit, I fail to see the cuddliness of a rubber chicken!