Conversation Starters

"Wow," said Lilly. That was about all she could say. "Wow." -from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes.

So, I ran into an acquaintance of mine last night at Aidan's school music performance. Long story short, she and her husband have had some serious and significant issues the last few years, both individually and between them. She saw me with my four kids as she walked into the gym, gave me a big hug and sent her husband off to find seats.

"How are things going?" I tentatively asked, knowing last time it lead to jaw-dropping answers of trashy-novel proportions.

"Great," she said. "But my shrink keeps asking why we are still married. How are things with you and Kurt?"

"Fine. Could be better, could be worse," I said before exchanging more pleasantries.

"Well, are you very religious?" she asked.

"Define very, " I replied.

"Well, I consider myself a very Christian woman but," she pauses and goes into whispers, "I'm also a swinger."

And I waited....maybe she was going to bust out with a "gotcha" and laughing right? I mean, that would be plausible.

"Uh, excuse me? What did you just say?" I asked.

"I'm a swinger," she whispered again.

"Yeah, that's what I thought you said."

Then to answer your question: no, I am not "very" religious. I'm more like Mother Teresa on Miracle Grow, patiently healing and single-handedly supporting the poor, sick and downtrodden with my holy hands while I await my sainthood. HELLO? What Bible are you reading because I'm pretty sure there are some pages missing.....I mean, I don't want to be speaking with a log in my own eye or anything here....you know, I don't wear head coverings and though some days I certainly feel like it, I don't sacrifice the firstborn of each animal in my flock (you're lucky Aidan!) but I am pretty certain that most people would agree "swinging" is only Christian when it implies flying alone through the air on a little seat hanging from a crossbar by way of chains, or something one does at a sporting event that doesn't require whispers! But before I could tell her that maybe she was taking the whole "love one another" thing a bit too far she went on:

"Well, I swear it has saved our marriage......"

Right, and by "saved" you mean almost completely destroyed and totally complicated what might otherwise be a pretty straightforward, albeit sometimes difficult, relationship between two people. As Kurt says, you can drop an egg off a ten story building, go down, pick up all the pieces and put what's left in a zip-lock baggie and technically say you "saved" the egg, but really, do you want to eat that later?

"Um, do you think maybe that lifestyle might be adding to your issues?" I asked, envisioning an ever growing can of worms.

"Oh, gosh no. I mean, it has been what has saved us," she assured me, as she went on to tell me about how he did end up having an affair with one of the women from the swinger parties but other than that, it has totally helped. (Let me make note that we also have very different definitions of the verb "helped.")

"Where's Kurt?" she asked, looking around.

"He came to the earlier performance so that he could go watch the NFL draft with his buddy," I said, not thinking anything of it but feeling wholly relieved that I hadn't had to prep the house as originally planned.

"Well, maybe I should invite YOU to our parties," she teased (at least I think she was teasing....).

"Yeah, ya know, I'm pretty sure that isn't in our game plan actually. Thanks though," I replied, ever-so-kindly.

"Oh girl, it wasn't in our game plan either but look at us now!" she laughed. "I was just looking for a clothing-optional campground and here we are four years later." Right, clothing optional....got it.

Wow. Oh wait, we are about to watch our FIRST GRADERS sing in their elementary school show! For a second there, I thought we were having an insanely crazy conversation covering topics about which I truly don't need more information. And no, I don't want to know all the OTHER parents at this school who are involved in this group. I want to watch the show, go home, play naive and pretend that this conversation NEVER. TOOK. PLACE! or at least that maybe you are really talking about swing dancing, yeah, that's it, you must have meant swing dancing.

Sheesh. And some people think I speak a bit too bluntly.

"Wow," said the Graceful Chicken. And that was about all she could say. "Wow."


Finger-Lickin' Good (or The Costco Trip)

"Bolivian President Evo Morales doesn't want his countrymen eating chicken. Why not? Because he seems to think it makes them gay. Speaking at a conference on climate change, the leftist politician gave a stern warning against genetically modified foods. "The chicken we eat is loaded with female hormones. So, when men eat it, they tend to deviate from their manhood." After the audience broke out in laughter, he also claimed chicken causes baldness. "Baldness that appears to be normal is a disease in Europe, almost all of them are bald, and that is because of the things they eat; while among the indigenous peoples there are no bald people, because we eat other things.” Bloggers are having a field day...." -The Atlantic Wire

So the question that comes to mind (other than what does eating chicken have to do with climate change?) is: does that mean the more chicken a woman eats, the more matronly she becomes?

Last Saturday, I ventured out with all four kids on a lovely trip to Costco. Perhaps you question the sanity in that decision and wonder why I would set myself up like that, but quite honestly, the kids do very well in those situations....especially when they know they will only get fed if they behave. (I don't recommend that strategy for day-to-day parenting of course; I'm guessing the Department of Children's Services frowns down a bit on it....) At any rate, we went through Costco in record time, and upon getting to the register realized we had only forgotten one item. (Woo hoo! Progress!) After deciding the cheese could wait, I loaded our items on the conveyor belt and asked the kids what they wanted to order for lunch.

"Pizza!" Aidan shouted over top of Madeline who was shouting "PEPPERONI PIZZA!" over Lily who yelled "PEPPERONI, NO WAIT, CHEEEEEEESE PIZZA!" while Liam just screeched "Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Eeeeeeeee!" And then Aidan, in second thought, yelled even louder, "I change my mind, I want a HOT DOG!" at the same time Madeline was saying, "NO, NOT PEPERRONI, CHEESE PLEASE!" Until they about sounded like a chorus of confused, sizzling cheese pizzas crashing into a hot dog vendor.

The guy loading the basket looked at me and chimed in, "You must like Advil........A LOT."

Then the guy at the register impressively asked, "Soooo, that will be two cheese slices and one hot dog, right?"

Things quieted down upon arrival of the food, that is, until Liam realized he didn't have anything but a drink (which Aidan was only letting him hold while he ate his hot dog). By the time we got to the car, Liam was no longer satisfied with the arrangement and he let us know it, loudly. So, I'm loading the kids into their car seats, Liam is screaming for someone to SHARE THEIR FOOD NOW! as the girls each begin tearing off some pizza for him and when I turn around to get out from the back of the truck, this older lady is peeking her head in behind me.

Without a flinch, I tell her I think the baby might be telling me he is hungry. She just chuckled.

"He seems to be quite clear about that [dearie]," she said. "I just don't know how you young moms do it. I can hardly stand going to Costco with him," she said, pointing over to her husband who was loading stuff into their trunk, "much less four kids in tow."

I just shrugged my shoulders and laughed. She went on: "I had seven kids myself, five of them were boys! Blech! But I think I was a little insane back then actually." (Ok, I have to pause here because, didn't she just claim to not know how moms did it? Helllllooooo! YOU HAD SEVEN KIDS! You know better than anyone!)

"Well," I said, "I can certainly relate to the insanity part."

After the brief interaction, we said our goodbyes and I finished loading up my truck. She got into her shiny car (notably free of crushed Cheerios might I add), closed the door, turned the car on, started to fumble around the front seat as she talked to her husband, turned the car back off, got back out and said, "Well, I can't seem to find my purse anywhere and don't recall what I did with it. I suppose I'll just go check to see if I left it in the trunk then." And off she went to search in her trunk.

And that is when it occurred to me, the insanity she acquired many years ago raising seven children, may not quite have been cured by their leaving home. I have to admit, I was kind of counting on that myself.....And so I watched as that last ray of hope disintegrated like a popping bubble right before my eyes. (Camera, fade out on bubble of hope.....aaaaaaaand.....it's gone.)

But wait! Perhaps she just didn't eat enough chicken while raising her kids. She did have a rather full head of hair now that I think about it....(Quick! Send in more bubbles! And a 15- piece bucket of chicken while you're at it!)

Lily's Pet Store

"But I don't know how to draw a pet shop," Lily told Kurt as the other kids and I waited for them to return to the kitchen table.

"Just draw a building with pets in it," Kurt told her.

"I don't know how to draw pets," she said. "But I CAN draw a puppy."

They came back and before the rest of us could even get back to the table and flip the timer to start the game again, Lily eagerly told Kurt, "I'm going to draw the building like this," and she drew a big, oval-like shape.

She then proceeded to draw the three-legged puppy in front. All the while, I am shouting out completely random guesses as somehow, I haven't heard any of the above conversation. At one point I yell, "Um, a pet!" and Lily stops dead, looks at me with the most astonished and brightest eyes I have ever seen and within moments I am shouting, " A Pet Store!" She'll never be able to play poker with a face like that but it sure helps in Pictionary!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this contest. While no one was right on, here are some of the great entries:

man in the moon
bug on a pillow
crab on a boat
bug on a rock
Liam on the potty
Kurt driving a car (actually, it looks more like me freaking out while riding in the car Kurt is driving!)
chick in an egg
Lily in a tent in the church
three-legged dog swimming down the river
baby in the tummy....

But, the closest guess was from a mom here in MN. She said it looked like a dog in a doghouse.
Not surprising, she has 5 children and I suppose the equivalent of a doctorate degree worth of experience deciphering kid-art. (Really Deb, it is hardly fair!) So, she will be receiving her "Graceful Like a Chicken" t-shirt very, very soon (which means it might be sometime this year, assuming a miracle from God). I know, I know, the rest of you are teetering on the verge of jealousy but let your heart be at peace; I am sure there will be another chance to win your one-of-kind Graceful Chicken paraphernalia. Just hand Lily another piece of paper will ya?


Random Lessons from Easter and Beyond

Although it's only been a few months, I have learned a lot so far this year. Here are a few examples:

** I have found out that when you open the world of reading and writing to your children, you will find all sorts of interesting thoughts laying about. For instance, take this sign that Aidan wrote and then posted outside his bedroom door a little while back:

I'm thinking we may need to work a bit more on his spelling (among other things)....

** Then there was Easter morning. I had really prepared well (so I thought); the girls and I had made the dough for Sticky Buns the day before since it has to rise and then get beaten down and then rise again. We awoke (way too early!) on Easter morning, excitedly found Easter baskets, went on an egg hunt and with about an hour left before heading to church, we went to roll, cut and cook the Sticky Buns only to find that it is very important to read ALL the directions beforehand, not just the first page. (As usual, you were right mom...) I had missed the fact that the dough has to rise a third time after you cut the buns and get them ready in the sugar-and-nut coated dish. (I think the recipe must be straight out of the Bible: "And on the third day, the Sticky Buns arose and went to sitteth next to the half-chewed chocolate eggs and Easter candy for all of eternity, or at least until the next religious movement.") Needless-to-say, we had Easter Bagels instead. Betcha didn't know there was such a thing, eh?

** Kurt and I had volunteered to teach the preschool class that morning. After sitting there for a good ten minutes, no kids other than our own had shown up. I looked over and saw Kurt slumped over exhausted in a chair and suggested he go sleep in the car; I'd just wait a while longer to see if anyone showed up. He couldn't have been gone for more than 5 minutes when about seven more 3 to 5 year old children arrived. No biggie, what's seven more?! After we painted...ok, I have to stop here to say that it is very unwise judgment to have a bunch of squirrely, sugar-loaded preschoolers paint IN THEIR EASTER CLOTHES! (Not sure what I was thinking actually...maybe that I was hungry for sticky buns?) Anyway, after we painted and cleaned up, went over a simple bible-verse and did a good ten minutes of the bunny hop to jump out some of that excited energy, I sat the kids down to discuss the meaning behind Easter.

"Do any of you know why we celebrate Easter?" I asked.

"Oh, I know, because Jesus was raised from the dead!" Aidan exclaimed.

"Can anyone tell me the rest of the story?" I asked.

"Well, they hung him on a cross and then he died and then he was put in a tomb with a big rock in front of it," another child said.

"And what happened when the women went to the tomb on Easter morning?" I asked.

"He wasn't there!" they said.

"That's right, the rock was rolled away and..." I started to say.

And then one overly eager little girl shouted, "And then the Easter Bunny came out and hid lots of chocolate eggs all over for us to find!"

Hee hee, right. About the time an angel told Jesus' groupies that Jesus was "stayin' alive, stayin' alive" and was all, "go tell the others," out hopped the Easter Bunny, hiding eggs all over Jerusalem. It was just like that....you know how history gets a little fuzzy sometimes....

** I also learned that the same child who exclaims, "This is the BEST DAY EVER!" a dozen times on Easter morning, might very likely be the same child who is screaming, crying, and cursing the very fact that Easter exists by the end of the candy-overloaded day....it's almost routine for any holiday actually...I wonder why it isn't a disclaimer on any of the candy wrappers?

** Finally, yesterday I allowed Aidan to do some "cooking" on his own and we learned that Lily likes Cheesy Cheerios (it just proves that melted cheese can work on about anything....ew.) And I also learned that it isn't necessarily common sense to not put a plastic cup (filled with smashed grapes and water...I was told it was going to be "grape tea") in the toaster oven. I suppose I need to also warn Aidan about the effects of metal in the microwave one of these days. Hmmm, on second thought, I'd better not....

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to put in your entry for the latest contest! I've had some really great guesses so far....can't wait to see what the rest of you think!

Enter to Win....

Ok, so we taught the kids how to play Pictionary Junior tonight. They all caught on quickly and had a great time. Aidan is old enough to play all aspects of the game and does a great job drawing for the team. And although we weren't planning on having the girls do any drawing just yet (they can't read the card), they both wanted a shot at it and were both so proud of themselves for drawing well enough that I could guess them correctly. And of course, we had a good laugh when it was Lily's turn to draw, so I thought hey, this would make a pretty funny "contest" for the blog.

That said, below you will find the picture our three year old (Lily) drew. Your job is to guess what it is and leave your answer by commenting on this post for your chance to win. (Click on the red "Post a Comment" at the end of the post....your guess will not be seen by others.) I haven't decided on the prize yet, but rest assured there will be some sort of chicken involved. One entry per person (try having your kids guess too for even more amusement) and all entries must be received by the time the Pictionary game loses its appeal in my house, or by April 16th, whichever comes first. Good luck! :)

P.S. By entering the contest, you give me permission to use your guess as blog food. Hey, you never know!


Happy Holy Chicken Day!

Hippity Hoppity Easter's here! (Click here for a little peppy Easter music!)

We here in Graceful Like a Chicken World wish all of you the happiest of Best-Chicken-Holiday-in-the-World-Day...Seriously, not only is the chicken off the hook for being the family meal today (for the most part) but when else is it so glorified that there are aisles in the store dedicated to chocolate and plastic reproductions of its reproductive vessel? It's a pretty amazing accomplishment to be second only to the cute, lovable (hollow, long-eared, milk chocolate) bunny! And let's face it, it's not like the Easter Bunny could complete his task of "bringing every girl and boy a basket full of Easter joy" without the help of the Easter Chicken!

Blessings to all this Easter! May we all remember to come out from behind the shadow of the cross and into the light that is God's gift to us all! (And while we're at it, let's enjoy a deviled egg or two for the Graceful Chickens of the world!)

Now, where is that "orchid for mommy" the song tells us about? Apparently Peter Cottontail forgot to leave it this year...hmmm, I bet he hid it in the floral department of the grocery store, again....silly Rabbit, tricks are for kids! ;)