Things that make you go “hmm…”

I had six kids today. So in the interest of reducing chaos and causing disease, I took them to McDonalds with the Play Place. On a day when I bought 30 minutes of sleep with pop tarts, McDonalds seems to fit the theme. I’m not proud of this. You can scoff quietly to yourself. I do have a backyard garden. There’s just nothing alive in it right now.

At any rate, we all got happy meals because it’s $1.99 day.  And then the kids ran off to climb in the tubes. I was watching them and spacing just a little. It apparently doesn’t pay to look away from your table in a spacy way, because when I looked back over, there was a squatty toddler eating one of our happy meals.

It was a strange moment.

“Hey!” I said. That’s all I said. It’s all I could think to say. His mother was at the next table, engrossed in her smart phone. I do mean ENGROSSED. She never looked up. Her older kids were watching the younger ones. Or not.

I guess that’s what you get when you go to McDonalds.

When I got home, I forced all six kids into some role of cleaning the chicken coop. This was way, WAY more disgusting than eating a stranger’s happy meal. Honestly. Chickens. I had no idea…not one…what I was getting into. Did I think they were going to take showers and cuddle with me? Did I really believe my kids would remain interested in them after 90 minutes and help me take care of them?

What I would actually have is a new task that no one would help me with. I’d have poop, pecking roosters, and maggots. Yes, maggots.

Ick.

So I decided to google how to keep a coop clean. I figure I’d let some experienced chicken farmers help me out. So I began my research.

I read. And I read. And my eyes grew large. And then squinty. And I kept reading.
Finally, I stopped. Because it became apparent that, not only do I not keep a quality chicken coop, I don’t even know the correct vocabulary to discuss keeping a quality chicken coop. Manure box? I don’t have one of those. Laying mash? What is that?

Here’s a quote from one site:

My hens always have plenty of fresh water and quality laying mash. I supplement with greens, fruits, and vegetables every day for treats. Any uneaten treats also go into the compost bin. Chickens love their protein, as much as their grain. Do not be alarmed if your chickens eat a mouse, small lizard, grasshopper, snail, worm…these are also perfectly natural foods for chickens.

She gives her chickens treats. Her chickens have a manure box and laying mash and fresh bedding in their nesting boxes. My chickens have the ground. And the thing they sleep in. And that other thing.

Ground and things. And no treats.

I think I need to find a more remedial website.  Or just get my eggs at the store like other posers.

I did make the kids help me do things all wrong, though. And somehow, for today, that makes it all right.

Summer lazies

My husband just pointed out that my answer to the “I’m hungry” at my bedside this morning was, “Get yourself a pop tart. I’ll be up in a minute.” When he pointed that out, I defended myself with, “Some families don’t promise to be up in a minute.” I probably should tell Family Circle that I’ve moved to the country, in case they want to write a feature story on me. I’m not sure they’d be able to find me back here.

We have been taking it slow the last week. Once July 14th arrives, we’ll be moving at breakneck speed and the summer will pass me by.

After I sent my boy into the kitchen with his cooking instructions, I fell into a brief sleep and had a very strange dream. In the dream, I was in a locally owned downtown toy store. The owner was a 60something-year-old woman named Mary. She showed me around. I liked what I saw. I kept saying that I needed to come back and buy a skateboard. By all means, Missy, buy a skateboard for the country where there is no pavement. That will go over GREAT. Anyway, when I walked out of the store, Mary invited me onto the company jet and said that my husband and family should join me for a quick tour of New York City at Christmastime. And then we were off. Without warning. Without strapping in. Without even sitting down. And without the husband and kids she invited along. The next thing I know, I was on a rickety wooden back deck that had been added to the tail of the plane. We were walking around back there. In space.

There were stars. There was conversation. Never in the conversation did I ask, “Why can’t we sit in the seats INSIDE the plane and have a coke?” I never asked why someone thought rotten wood porches were good on the backs of jets.  Then Mary got very close to the edge and I gasped as a section of wood crumbled under her weight.

“Watch out!” I yelled to her. She stepped closer to me, unruffled. I pressed my back up against the jet and grabbed a handle. When I turned back toward Mary, she was gone.

She fell off the back.

Dead.

And then I woke up. Disturbed. Maybe if I hadn’t sent the child off in pursuit of a pop tart, that would have gone better…

I’m going to go fry some bacon now.

Masters of Distraction

There are people who are really good at distracting a child away from distress. My mother in law, otherwise known as Barrel Flap, is rather talented at this. I am not. When a meltdown occurs, or just bad behavior in general, my sense of panic sets in. What if I can’t stop it? Why is it happening? Will they pull it together before we have to walk through the doors of the church building? Maybe I should raise my voice. Maybe I should lower my voice. Maybe I should try duck voices.

I never know.
I often panic.
I have been known to sing the Brownie Song. This amuses some and totally frustrates others, depending on the day and the child and how well I perform it.

Today, we were on our way to VBS at my parents’ church. Beloved began to unravel before we were out of the driveway, because she had forgotten her dear little Pinkwee, a pink stuffed penguin. I couldn’t go back. We were already barely scraping by on time. We needed that 2 minutes. Plus, they do need to learn to remember their own things. I can’t get the essentials, the people, AND the Pinkwees out the door.

I had to let that one go.
She didn’t think she could.
And so it began.

Then there was this big conflict over Zoobles between the girls. Sometimes I just look at AG and shrug. He shrugs back. The difference between him and me is 30 years and the fact that he doesn’t have to do anything about it. I’m supposed to.

Today, in a Distraction Stroke of Genuis, rare to me, I assure you, I remembered the Space Ghost soundtrack on my iPod. It’s ridiculous. It’s the Musical Barbeque CD from the old Space Ghost cartoon. The kids have always laughed at the songs sung by Brak. So, without a word, I selected this directory.

Here are some sample lyrics, if you’ve never listened. It’s very refined stuff.

I love Beans. By Brak
Here’s a lovely song about my favorite food
Lima, lento, soy, and pinto
Navy, northern, and garbanzo
Kidneys and frijoles negros… I love beans
I love beans Woo woo woo!
I love beans How ’bout you?
High in fiber Low in fat Hey, I betcha didn’t know that
When I eat beans I sit in my own little cloud
Nobody comes to visit me In my little cloud
(I don’t know why Maybe ’cause I’m cuttin’ muffins)

Two songs into this play list, the conversations in the car were peaceful and harmonious. I was thankful I had gone this route, over making a speech.

I did have to make one speech. I had to explain what it means when no one comes to visit me in my own little cloud.  It’s possible I created a situation worse than my first…

six fabulous things about kids

  1. They always say exactly what they are thinking. Recently, SisterSpoiledPants asked me to take her outside. She wanted to ride her Dora bike.  I told her I couldn’t right then. I needed to work on dinner.

Is it Chick-Fil-A?

No, honey. We’re eating in.

Is Daddy cooking? Good grief.

2.  They love unconditionally.  Well, mostly. I did just get kicked out of my own bedroom by the recovering Beloved who said, “Ugh, I can’t stand the smell of you.” All I can attribute it to is the turkey dog I had for lunch. But she loves me. I think. Unless I’ve just exercised. Or mowed the lawn. Or eaten a turkey dog for lunch.

3.  They crave your presence. They’d rather play a simple, chaotic game of Monopoly with a parent than have an expensive night out on the town.But beware of the one that gets houses on Baltic Avenue. Seems like a cheap piece of real estate until your son adds houses to it and begins to charge you rent every time you land on it.

4.  Fat is still cute and stinky isn’t as bad on the under-5 set. I shouldn’t admit that I like the smell of SnuggleMonkey’s toes after she has been wearing stinky sneakers.  Stinky toes. Mmm. I know. That’s messed up. Could be causing some of Beloved’s aversions from Item #2.

5.  They don’t understand compliments. For instance, “Fleshy” is not a nice thing to say to a mother who has been running lately. And dropping all soda. So please, choose a different term of endearment than Fleshy. “Your hair is so tangly?”  Also not a compliment.

6.  They offer you hope that they will sleep through the night. There’s always hope, even for the Sleep Nazi. Even with Snugglemonkey. Maybe tonight….

Rain, as it pertains to me, chickens, small girls, and bugs

That is the dumbest title for a blog, ever. But I am not going to change it. Instead, I may try to make a limerick out of it later, if time permits.

It is raining here. Not the kind of rain you let your kids play in. Not the spring showers poetic kind of rain. This is the kind of rain that kills old ladies and fledgling plants. This is the kind of rain that wakes up children and lures bugs indoors.

This is crazy rain. Pounding rain.

I knew last night that SnugglePants would never make it through the night without coming down to me. She’s been in a strange sleep pattern anyway, waking up at 3something each night. This, I do not prefer. But it is very difficult to be mad at her when she is whimpering and scared and begging you for help right there at eye level. At 1:30 a.m., she came for me and dragged me out of bed. I walked her back up to her room. After the whole go-back-to-sleep song and dance that we do, I noticed a sizable roach on the ceiling, oh…about a foot from Beloved, who sleeps on the top bunk. This was not ideal. My choices were very limited. Run for Todd? No. No time for that. Our room is like 6 miles from the kids room. By then the roach could be anywhere or in Beloved’s bed. No. Not running for Todd. Paper towel execution? Not so much. I don’t like the paper towel method of murder. It just leaves too many nooks and crannies. Too many things can go wrong with that one. Bug spray? Nope. Too toxic for Beloved and who even knows where it is at 1:30 in the morning?

There was only one way to do this.
A book. Waiter style. Kung fu strength.
I got a thin, but large, hardback book off their book shelf and climbed the ladder into Beloved’s bed. This killed me to do, because (1) I was about to be really close to a bug, and (2) I was about to have 2 wakeful children instead of just one.  I moved Beloved aside, which of course awakened her. She was very cool about the roach thing. Surprisingly so. Chalk that one up to sleepy, I guess.  Like a fancy Disney waiter, I raised up my book and

SMASH.

Done.

It was a beautiful thing to behold. I was a bug ninja. Of course, we were all wide awake now.

Beloved went back to sleep rather quickly. Not so with the other child. I ended up falling asleep in the girls’ recliner, just to be a presence in the room with the little one. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. with a crick in my neck and went back to bed.

The rain pounded all night. I do mean pounded. It was relentless. I’ve been in Florida all my life and haven’t seen much like this, I can tell you. It looks like the last day on earth when you look out and see thick sheets of rain being blow about by the forces.  Apparently the tornado sirens were going off at the university while we were on our way to church.  I did think more than once that maybe we shouldn’t be out in it. At one point, AG leaned in to me as he watched the storm outside the church windows, and said, “Why are we here??”

Well, we went because we wanted to and I wasn’t sorry we did. The lesson tonight was amazing. Very inspiring and uplifting and I felt changed by it. So inspired and changed that AG talked us into Dunkin Donuts after church. Yeah, that’s what you should go do in the middle of a tropical storm.

The good news is I haven’t eaten any and we still have plenty left for breakfast.

And then, after all the short order cooking and getting ready for bed, I felt it necessary to walk out into the storm to deal with…the chickens. I know. It’s almost boring now, isn’t it? Maybe we should get a mountain lion and splash things up a bit. They were all in a tizzy. Hungry. Freaked out. A little more tender than usual. So tender that I thought about cooking one up.

But I’m not yet the chicken ninja and it was raining really, really hard. So, I did what I needed to do with efficiency and speed, wearing a trash bag for rain gear. And I went back in.

And I’m not going back out until Friday.

Proud Moments

Sometimes I find my own idiocy rather enigmatic. I can’t always put into words why I’m an idiot.

Tonight, however, it is clear. I will share, because I know my being an idiot is the only real draw to this blog.

It occurred to me at 11 p.m., just a few minutes ago, that I hadn’t fed or watered the chickens today. It also occurred to me that they had appeared hungry.  In retrospect, I wonder why I chose to care.

I was sitting in the brown chair watching the Miami Heat spank that other team (not gonna pretend to care) like bad pet goats. I knew I had to go feed the dirty beasts. I was wearing pajamas. None of that was going to change. I just needed shoes. So I rolled up my pajama pants to my knees and put on my turquoise Keens. No sense in going into the coop with a bad sense of fashion. Just my appearance alone was going to demand their respect.

Like any smart idiot farm girl, I got myself a high powered flashlight and went out into the night, forming my plan in my head as I walked. I would turn on the lights to the pole barn. I would go into the coop and use the food in the red tupperware. I would quickly feed both sets of chickens, check their water, and get out.

The lights on the pole barn definitely made things less scary. It took the ax murderer element out of things. But it added the scary big spider element and I had to take a detour from my plans to go grab the spider killer. I am much braver in fights against spiders now that I know they make aerosol cans of toxic spider killer. I win every time. Even against this bad boy.

OK. Back to the chickens. I went into the coop where I stupidly left my red tupperware and stopped dead in my tracks. The little boogers had gotten the container open and had made a huge mess. It looked like a crime scene. Apparently they were NOT underfed today. They fed themselves like kings and then pooped like this was their last day on earth. Guess who will get to deal with that? Me again.

“You little stinkers,” I said to them. “Look what you’ve done.” All four of the big ones looked very guilty. Trust me. They did. This was a cartoonesque moment for me. They totally hate me. They totally know what they’re doing.  But then there were the little guys, inside a bunny hutch in the coop. They weren’t privy to the thieving going on just outside their cage. And they were still hungry.

So I got some food, cleaned the water containers out inside the house (normally I do this in the garden using a hose, but the garden was the most frightening place on earth tonight), and washed my hands both literally and metaphorically.

Many mistakes were made in this process. They are as follows:

  1. Forgetting the chickens early in the day when sunshine was my ally.
  2. Remembering at 11 that the chickens were hungry.
  3. Caring at all that I forgot and then remembered.
  4. Getting up to do something about the caring and the remembering and forgetting.
  5. Turning on the porch light, thus inviting every fly and scary bug in the county to come to a party at my back door, where my face was.
  6. Leaving the extra stored food in the actual coop (pretty sure this was an oversight, not a conscious decision).
  7. Traipsing through my downstairs with chicken water bottles, wearing the Keens that have just walked in a chicken coop. Yes, there were souvenirs.

It’s done now. I will leave you with this.  I have at times heard the “Cost of Eggs” conversation between people who’ve never met an actual chicken. Eggs cost so much. Why does it cost $2.59 for a dozen? How do they get them so white? Should I buy organic? But eggs cost so much.

If you think you are paying too much for eggs, you are not.

You are not paying NEAR ENOUGH FOR EGGS.

That is all.

Wednesday Morning

I thought about not writing this morning, because, truthfully, I’m way out of things to say. My life is not that interesting. The rooster has only attacked his own kind this week. He has left me alone. And I’ve given you every boring last detail about running in a field. Really. I’m actually sorry about that. Sorry for you. From me.

But it’s a beautiful morning. Gorgeous. And since there are a whole bunch of city people out there, I can share my quiet rural morning and then skulk away.

I am sitting on my porch, reclined with a laptop in my lap. I awoke to a blanket of thick storm clouds over the whole area. The only break in it looks to be over Lakeland. Unfortunately, that area is right in front of where my eyeballs want to look, so I am squinting right now. Squinting is not ideal when you are 3 days from your most recent Diet Mtn. Dew. The kids are inside, but continue to pop their heads out the front door to ask for some morning ice cream. I keep saying no, but they are wearing me down. I haven’t had caffeine. They are preying on my weakness. Right this second, the breeze is my only companion. And the leaves of the sycamore trees are shimmering like each one of them is posing with jazz hands. They seem to know some weather is coming.

Oh, wait. That’s Lord of the Rings.

Also, I have a house plant that has been in my possession since June 9. It is still alive.

BooYAH.