The Drive

"Chickens also travel well! When we moved from California to New Jersey just a few months ago, instead of giving away our favorite hens we decided to drive across the country with them, and our two rabbits. We had no idea how they would react to 5 days in a car. I had premonitions of being driven mad by continuous screeching and wondered if we would consider chicken salad somewhere around day 3." --From the transcript for the piece: Adventures with Chickens. (This person is like my new hero....chickens AND rabbits! Now THAT is the good life!)

As it turns out, there isn't a whole lot on the web about traveling with chickens. I am guessing that's because most people don't travel much with chickens in tow. Not so with children since it's not like you can just leave them in the coop by themselves and hope for the best. So, when it came time to make our annual pilgrimage to Florida this summer, my mom flew out, we packed up the four kids, and off we trekked, 1600 miles from Minnesota down to Florida, by car...I understand something about considering chicken salad around day 3...the chicks are lucky it only took us two days!

Actually, truth be told, the drive down was pretty non-eventful. The kids were fairly good; we had no major kid-fits until a certain dramatic child completely broke down in the very last few hours of the drive, and except for being bored out of our mind driving through Iowa (no offense to my Iowan friends) and not being able to find a hotel with vacancies for over an hour somewhere in Tennessee late Saturday night, it really went well.

Oh and there was that one lunch stop on Saturday that wasn't perfect as well. It was Lily's fourth birthday on Saturday and so I told her she could choose what she wanted for lunch. Quite unfortunately, she wanted cheesy noodles. (I suppose I should have been a little more specific in the options!)

So, because I am truly my father's child, I did what he would have done: stopped at McDonald's for the other kids, headed over to KFC in hopes that they would have mac-N-cheese as a side dish, in the drive over realized Aidan's burger wasn't cooked to order, arrived at KFC only to find that it had no power, thus no chicken (and mac-n-cheese wasn't even on the menu, doh!), headed to Jack-in-the-Box with fingers crossed that their menu would include cheesy noodles of any sort (nope) and ordered almost the identical order there that we had at our first stop. Lily then announced she needed to go potty while Aidan found that they had forgotten the cheese on his cheeseburgers...sent mom inside to work out both situations while I tried to eat as much of my salad as I could since, as it turns out, driving and salad eating are not so very compatible. And I wonder why it took us so long to get here!

One of the funniest moments of the trip was about half way through day two when Lily started crying, seemingly out of nowhere. After a few minutes Aidan turned around in his seat and said, "Lily, I told you not to join Madeline's club. She executes EVERYBODY!"

And apparently she does it very, very quietly.

And then there were the teaching moments. My favorite was upon finally reaching the south. You know you are in a southern state when you are looking for exit 4, so you start counting exits in the beginning of the state. We passed exit 1 and then exit 4 came next.

"Wait, there wasn't a 2 or 3," Aidan said. Yes son, they do things a little differently down south. Take counting for instance....(I know they have a reason, well, I am assuming there is a good explanation but it was funny nonetheless.)

It was also interesting to watch the different billboards in the differing regions of the country. In the mid-west, you have pro-life signs followed by those telling teens to prevent the stork from showing up unexpectedly through "waiting" to those telling you to give kids over 2 years of age fat-free milk instead of whole. You get to the southern states and you have just as many "life begins at conception" signs but they are followed by signs for the next adult superstore or "entertainment" club. Just an observation.

And personalities are very different between the midwestern states and the south as well. You go into a gas station in the midwest and you're lucky to make eye-contact with the clerk (although they are polite when they do address you.) In the south however, they start tellin' ya all about their family, asking abou'cher kids and where yer headed while making sure to let ya know to just holler if ya'll need anything now, ya hear?

I could go on but having just been on the road for two days straight, I'm in need of some serious shut-eye. Plus, the peacock next door keeps calling me to come see something....either that or it is just a highly annoying bird!

G'night ya'll!


How Do they Find Me???

Crazy Chicken is a fast card game in which players try to lay as many different 'crazy chickens' as possible ... but if their opponent lays more than they have, they must discard all those chickens!

I have come to the conclusion recently that I must have a stamped forehead: Come all ye crazy people, Speak to me. (But since my forehead isn't that big it probably reads something more like "...crazy...me...") Really, am I a magnet for this stuff?

You see, I had this neighbor call me up and ask me if I would help her sell some stuff on eBay. She knew I had done some selling there at one time and really needed to learn how to do it. That's certainly innocent enough, so I said, "Sure, why not?"

Well, let me tell you why not. I had already said 'sure, I'm happy to help' before she went into the back story... but before I can tell you THAT story, I have to tell you this one: (Sorry, too many Captain Underpants books...)

A few years back, this neighbor burnt down her house. Not all of it mind you, just most of it. (Like in the Princess Bride: "Your friend here is only mostly dead. There is a big difference between mostly dead and all dead." You see, it wasn't all burnt down, just mostly burnt down....) Now, for some people, like most of the other neighbors, this is reason enough to assume she is a nut and should be avoided at all cost. But, in my very unassuming way, I just figured she made a big mistake (leaving that candle burning under the bathroom window, complete with curtain drooping down....) because she is kind of spacey, and that shouldn't necessarily be held against her. So, after burning her house down she had to go buy the stuff she lost in the fire. In comes her story.

So, apparently when she was having to go buy stuff with the insurance money as quickly as possible, this "mentor" of hers, who happens to be a witch (according to my neighbor) put a spell on her and made her come to believe that they were best friends and that she should buy all these high ticket items for her witch-friend, and matching everything for herself too, of course. We're talking Prada this, and Marc Jacobs that. Shoes that cost more than my wardrobe and sweaters and hand bags that cost thousands of dollars a piece. (Brand names I have never heard of because you have to shop somewhere other than Target and Costco....and the towns they do business in....) There were matching emerald rings (and even one for the witch's husband) and man, the list goes on. And the scam went on for well over a year.

Ok, I have to pause here. Really? A witch? And a spell? Are you NUTS? She claims she spent over $30,000 on this woman, who assured her she would pay her all back for everything and that they were best friends and that this is what best friends do for each other....yadda yadda yadda. This is where I have to hold back from shouting: HELLOOOOOO?! What planet are you living on?! And how did you survive almost 60 years of life there?

So, there I am, day one of "Selling on eBay 101" listening to this bizarre story. She goes on and on and then tells me her siblings offered to help her sell it all but that she can't have them help her because she knows they will just think she is nuts....(you know, unlike the rest of us.) Funny thing is, I think I must have told her she was crazy at least half a dozen times as she spoke.

"At what point in all this buying did you realize you were being scammed?" I asked. "I mean, if she is never paying you back and keeps saying she is good for it, didn't you think maybe you ought to wait and see if she would ever come through?" (Why Karen? Why are you presenting rational questions?)

"Oh, then she started trying to get me to leave my husband and move in with her and now I know it was because she wanted me to be her slave....turns out she is a part of a group that sells sex to put people under their control and...."

Aaaaaand, you lost me. WHAT?

So, she's in my house, my kids are playing nearby, mostly out of earshot fortunately, and I begin to tell her the ins and outs of selling on eBay versus Craigslist. I ask her the logical questions: Have you tried taking this stuff back to the high-end stores you bought them from? (Yes, they would only take some of it.) Have you thought about maybe just selling them at a Consignment Store? (Which lead to a thirty minute debate over why couldn't she sell them and keep all the money rather than let someone else sell them and take half of it? My rational answers of course landed themselves on my ceiling fan I think because she couldn't comprehend why she couldn't get the majority of her money back from these items. Her argument? Her sister-in-law had sold her mother's entire estate on eBay and made over $80,000 and it was all high end stuff, so why couldn't she get her money back for her high end stuff? Uh....ok, you're right. My bad. We do in fact live in an ideal world. It always works that way and I am sure she made that much money.)

So, after deciding it would be best to post for free on Craigslist to begin with and see how it goes, we got to work. We spent an hour the first day setting up her various accounts and posting a few things. Then she came back the next day and we took all the pictures for the entire lot of items when we were interrupted by the arrival of my piano student (whom I lavishly thanked for coming hours early). And finally, we finished up all the postings the third day, yesterday. Phew. Good deed done. I'm washing my hands of it right......

And then I get the phone message today:

"Karen, I had someone respond to the post for the man's emerald ring. He says he will pay with paypal which is totally legit, but that he is currently traveling and can't come see it so he will pay extra money to have it sent and insured. He wants it for a gift for his cousin. What do you think? My husband says I can use his paypal account but I thought I would check with you. It sounds legit right?"

Sigh. So, you want me to tell you that the guy who is not going to come and look at the ring, didn't bother asking what size it was or any other relevant questions about it, who so happens to be "traveling" and needs it right now and is offering to pay you MORE money than you ask sounds legit? Hmmm. I could be wrong but USUALLY if your gut feeling tells you to call and ask someone else whether it was a good offer....I dunno. What do you think?

I think, in the hand of Crazy Chickens, I win. You guys can go ahead and discard now while I go scrub the stamp off my head....

p.s. If you are a friend of mine and want to tell me your crazy story, just get it over with quickly will ya? I'll add you to my pile. (And somehow still love you none the less.)

Note to the future

"Ok you two, you guys decide whose book gets read first and I'll be right over," I told the girls the other night, while finishing up the dishes. They were sitting on the couch together in the adjacent room, each holding their book selection for the night.

"Mine first!" Lily shouted, half laughing.

"You guys need to decide together, Lily. Talk it over with Madeline, " I said.

"Lily's first," Madeline declared.

Lily looked at her, a confused expression sliding over her face.

"Really? Why?" Lily asked. (I imagine her eyes squinted with suspicion...)

"Because I LOOOOOOVE Lily sooooooo much!" Madeline said with glee.

"No, Madeline, your book first, because I LOOOOOOOOVE Madeline, SOOOOOOO MUCH!" Lily shouted in suit.

This continued on until I arrived on the scene to prevent fighting over who got to selflessly go second.....

I had to write this story in here so that in about 10 years, when puberty has struck our house, I can prove to the girls that at one time in their lives, they really did get along. And actually love each other.