Pix of Chix

First of all, a different kind of Chick.



Someone is ready for Halloween! Melody's and Charlie's are also ready, but have no pics yet. Mine is two sleeves, one zipper and an apron short, but I don't need it for 12 hours, so I'm good, right?

Okay, onto that other chick.

This is PennyVann, cocked and loaded:


The view inside our Cheep Motel:


Crossing the road can be a struggle, even for chickens.



Chapter 2: A Chicken's Tail

At the end of the day Thursday, children in bed, chicken on porch, I realize that cannot load this chicken by myself, so I find myself texting coach something along the lines of, "Hey, can you follow me home from school tomorrow and help me load a six foot metal chicken onto the roof of my van?"

Coach, who began teaching at this school the year before I was born and was probably thinking, "This is the weirdest music teacher yet," is a man of few words who replied merely, "Sure."

I call Kevin, dad of the family we stayed with last year, to ask if he can be my Plan B in chicken loading. He is agreeable.


The next morning, as I drive my family to school in the pre-dawn moments, I find myself seriously wishing I had the chicken already strapped on. Belly down, beak over the windshield, tail held high. A racing chicken. Alas, it was not to be, so I merely went to work.

At some point during the day, Coach did turn to me to ask me just what it was I needed help with, but to his credit, said not a word. Followed me home, loaded up the chicken, strapped 'em down. Mid-hoist, his cell phone rings. He tells his wife, "Uh, I'm helping the music teacher with something. I'll, er, explain it later."

No you won't, Coach. This defies explanation.

Chicken strapped into place, we head down the road. At a light, I text Kevin's wife Mindy, "Tell Kevin 'The Chicken has landed. The Agency thanks for your willingness to participate, but your assistance will not be needed at this time.' "

Mindy, not hip to the mission, wondered why delivering this message through the bathroom door inspired such fits of laughter.

When we stop for gas halfway to grandma's, I check out the straps to make sure, well, that my chicken is choked. Then, about ten miles down the road, the steady rapping of the flapping tarp is suddenly louder. I look out the side window to see the shadow of PennyVann on the shoulder of the road and notice the distinct shape of a flapping tail in the shadows.

I wish I had a video. (Shoot, I wish I had pictures of any of this right now. They're on my phone and HYSTERICAL but technology currently hates me. I happy I can type right now.)

I pull over to the side of the road, unload my foot stool and, there on the side of the lonely West Texas two-lane highway, I use my remaining ratcheting tie-down to batten down the hatchling. As pickup trucks drove by, nobody stopped to help. This in itself is unprecedented.

With no further ado, we arrive at Grandma's to gather her and daddy, who are probably rather glad my monstrosity is not currently occupying their seats.

Four hours later, we arrive at the hotel.


The Great Chickening; Chapter 1

Now that you've all done your homework, let me give you some more backstory.

At the beginning of the summer, I walked up to my local grocery store to find six-foot tall metal chickens available for sale. I thought, "Who the hell wants a six-foot tall metal chicken?" completely innocent of the epic journey ahead.

See, I have a small group of Mommy Friends that is sprawled over two continents. (If you've been around long enough to remember the time I was stranded in California, know that this is the same group of friends. Not that stranded me--that put up with me a few extra days while I meandered my way across the state before heading home.) Earlier this year, we read the chicken story from the Bloggess and found it hysterical. Sandy and Tracy were particularly enamored with the tale.

This summer, when our third annual meetup met at Sandy's house, Tracy and I had a conversation that went something like this:

You know what Sandy needs?
A six foot metal chicken?

Since Sandy blogs about green living, simplicity and is perpetually encouraging us to declutter our houses and our lives, it is particularly amusing.

Over the long weekend (we like our weekends to begin on Wednesday night and end on Tuesday morning,) we kept disappearing on urgent side trips of a mysterious nature, but, alas, the North Dallas runs distinctly classier than West Texas, and no spray-painted rebar-and-oil-drum avian structure was to be found.

Never give up. A plan was hatched that, next time I found myself up hoity-toity way, I'd take her a chicken from West Redneck. Her Home Owner's Association needs that kind of pluck introduced.

After quite a bit of comparison shopping, I found this chicken for the bargain price of $99. For those of you gasping, know that identical chickens at other locations were double the price. How could I, a bargain shopper, turn down $100 of free chicken? At half price, it's an absolute steal.


(For the record, it did not cross the road.)

I go in and tell the cashier, "I want to buy one of the chickens outside."

"Really? You want to BUY one of those chickens?"
"Yes. But there's no sticker or sign. How do I get someone to ring it up? I'm not carrying it in."
"NO! Don't try that. Let me call someone." He calls, then curiosity gets the better of him, "What do you plan to DO with the chicken."
"Drive to Dallas, put it on my friend's porch, ring the doorbell and run."

I've never been on the receiving end of such a look of awe. Especially not from a cashier. He has a manager look it up so that he can ring it up. The chicken is all mine.

The only problem is that I now own a 6-foot-chicken and a five-foot wide minivan. Jeremy, from the pharmacy department, spent a good twenty minutes stuffing that bird in Penny only to discover that the sliding door could not be closed. Jeremy was full of helpful pointers like, "You know, with the money you're saving from buying this bargain-priced chicken, you could buy the other bird left in stock." I paused from my wing wrangling to tell him, "Why in the world would I want two chickens?"

Assuming I was not willing to drive 300+ miles with this added 'feature' we aborted the mission. I told him, "I need to get my son from therapy. I'll be back."

"Don't worry. We won't sell this to anyone else," he says, probably thinking he knows exactly why a son of mine would need therapy.

"I wasn't overly worried. Nobody wants this chicken."

After getting Charlie from OT and speech, I return for the bird. Jeremy is on his dinner break but his supervisor has a plan. Once back, Jeremy will load the chicken into his own truck and deliver it to my front porch. While on the clock.

"You must really want to sell this chicken." I comment, knowing it has been there for roughly 5 months.

"You have no idea."

And that is how it came to pass that, at 10:00 on a Thursday night, Jeremy AND his manager unload it on my porch, quite careful to secret into the shadows.

"It might get stolen," they theorize.

"Trust me. No one wants this chicken."



for the next few blog entries to make sense, you need to have read The Bloggess' post on And That's Why You Should Learn To Pick Your Battles.

Well, 'make sense' may not be the correct term. An be warned that her language is in the PG-13 range.

But the weekend was Epic and Glorious.

Read that, and I'll get Chapter 1 up tomorrow.


I was asking for it, really

Today was picture day at the girls' school. Adding hairstyles and proper attire into our already stressful morning routine was not something I was looking forward to, but their increased cooperation helped a great deal.

Having not really planned out any outfits for this event (and knowing the pictures will be adequate at best) I hadn't put a whole lot of thought into what they were going to wear. As an added bonus, it recently got chilly and their warm clothes are out of reach in the attic. I did find two pretty sweaters in the top of their closet that had matching scarves and paired them with jeans.

Here's where it got dangerous.

Dixie's bright red sweater looked great with a pair of dark denim jeans, but none of Melody's jeans really worked with the colors in her sweater. Feeling brave, I busted out the rhinestone-studded white jeans purchased from Gymboree in a clearance+coupon+5%offwithcard fit of madness.

This morning, as I roused the Melody child (naturally, in my bed, where she had found her way in the night) I tossed her the sweater, scarf and white jeans. She sits up, puts her clothes in her lap, takes off her pajama top and yells, "NOSEBLEED!"

Oh, great.

I follow her to the bathroom to help her get it cleaned up. She informs me, "I aimed away from the white jeans, so they didn't get a drop on them."

Oooh, good girl!

That evening, as we're getting out of PennyVann at home, once again, she shouts, "NOSEBLEED!"

This time, there is no aiming. It is everywhere. Gushing. Of course, I'd just cleaned out my van and had no napkins or other random paper products. I grab the sock off Charlie's foot and hand it to her to use until we get inside.

Thank God he wasn't wearing his Imbisible Stink Shoes.


Halloween time!

Having firmly denied the requests for Leia in her funky underwear and Hans Solo in his funky underwear, I needed a trump. I needed something to offer Dixie that would toss Slave Leia from her thoughts.

One morning, while braiding her hair, I was inspired.

"Do you want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder for Halloween?" I asked her. Her eyes sparkled as her face grew into a grin. She bounced on her toes twice before saying, "Yes!"


Charlie pondered being Indian Of Jones (Indiana Jones) but didn't really seem too inspired by it. We tossed around the idea of several Star Wars characters to pair thematically with Melody's Leia aspirations, but nothing clicked until Dixie proposed that he be 'Master Yota'.

(I'm always amazed how my kids can watch a movie, read a book, play a game AND reenact with Legos and still don't have a firm grasp of the character names.)

Yoda is little. He carries a lightsabre. But, best of all, he is gween.

Over the last few weeks, I started on the prairie dress. Yesterday, I finished it off and had time for a matching apron and bonnet.

This morning, I made Yoda's robe. After heavily contemplating how the heck to make Yoda ears, I decided to simply buy a knit yoda cap off ebay.

As soon as I'm motivated to put actual clothes on, I'm off to the fabric store for Melody's cloth and notions.

I love this time of year!


I knew he was feeling better

The day after the all-night wheeze-a-thon was a long one, made longer by the fact that we couldn't just sleep. The two doctor's appointments, three trips to the pharmacy and three scheduled relocations of girls were all too spaced out for us to be at home for even two hours at a stretch. By the last trip of the day, picking Melody up from gymnastics, we were all running ragged.

With the aid of Albuterol and steroids, Charlie had started to come around. He wanted to play with Legos and had started to chatter a bit. That last trip out to the car he walked on his own two feet instead of being scooped up, lugged out and poured into his carseat.

Halfway home, Charlie takes off his shoes and the cloud of toxic stench instantly fills the van.

Dixie: Charlie, put your shoes back on!
Charlie: I can't.
Dixie: But the smell is awful! Your feet stink!
Melody: Charlie, PLEASE put your shoes on!
Charlie: I can't put on shoes, I am wearing shoes.
Dixie: Charlie, your feet are bare. And they stink.
Charlie: I am wearing my Imbisible Stink Shoes. I cannot put other shoes on top of them because my Imbisbile Stink Shoes are in the way.

Yeah, that kid feels just fine.


I'm going to have to be a bit more picky

I firmly believe that, when you borrow something from someone, you should do all that you can to return that item in the condition it was when you got it. If you have my book, it shouldn't come back all dog-eared and water-stained. I can understand if the spine is a bit more ragged, but the book returned should resemble the book lent.

I think I get this from years of camping at sites that instructed you to 'take only pictures, leave only footprints' and the whole mantra of 'leave it better than you found it.'

So, when I left three children in the capable hands of two grandmothers, a grandfather, a father and a great-grandmother for three days, I assumed I would be returned three children.

Instead, I got two lovely daughters and a small puddle of boy.

At first, he was complaining, 'Dis is not my voice. I would wewwy wike my weal voice back' as he draped himself across my person. He went to bed without protest and I assumed he'd been thoroughly played out over the preceding three days.

Oh, so very wrong.

About one this morning, a small rasping flame burrowed its way under my covers. I keep hearing this choking sound and sitting him over the trashcan only to realize that he was not going to be 'all fwow-uppy'again. This was the best cough he could muster, given how restricted his airways were.

I dig around in the linen closet then the 'cabinet o'kitchen randomness' before finding the nebulizer and Albuterol under the window seat. I about thirty minutes into what should be a fifteen minute breathing treatment, I realize that nothing is coming out.

This equipment hasn't been used in about a year.

The third set of tubing and dragon mask later, he's finally puffing the magic dragon. But there's not improvement in his breathing. Nor does our medicine cabinet contain the much-needed Tylenol and Mucinex (as his fever is 103ºF). I'm up much of the rest of the night, watching him breathe and contemplating waking all three of them up for a middle-of-the-night pharmacy run.

I nod off for a bit, then wake up panicked and checking. His little belly muscles are having to force every breath in and out and the sound is gruesome. About five, he gets his second breathing treatment and his breathing finally soothes a bit. At six, I get up the girls and get everyone in the van to head to meet the buses at quarter til 7.

Dixie is adamant that I cannot possibly make Charlie go along. I am equally adamant that I cannot simply leave him here and we go back and forth until it dawns on me that she thinks I'm going to make him go to school. Once I explain that we are getting the girls on their bus, getting things ready for my sub, then coming home to let him sleep until the pediatrician can see him, she happily hops into her booster.

As I head home, I call my mother to inform her that this is simply not acceptable. I sent her a boy in 'like new' condition and was returned a one in 'poor' condition. If we were on amazon or ebay, her feedback ratings would not be so hot.

The pediatrician prescribes steroids, runs flu and strep tests (both negative) and rules out meningitis. We go home for a brief nap (and more meds) before heading to my allergist appointment. Then home for a brief nap before going to school to get the girls.

After retrieving the girls, I once again call my mother to say that she is clearly not alone in returning my children all willy-nilly in a haphazard state. There is apparently a grand conspiracy, or perhaps an epidemic of poor supervision.

Because Dixie had more teeth than that when she went to school today. I can't believe public schools are content to send children home missing body parts with no notice save the little necklace that dangles around their necks, containing the missing bits.

The nerve.

I think I need better help.


. . . and some days it doesn't

(click, that is)

This morning I woke up and reluctantly stumbled through the house to get to the bathroom. On the way, I saw the incredible (as in 'not believable') sight of the microwave clock reading 6:46. I assume it got stopped in the middle of a timer function, so I look at the stove.

The stove agrees with the microwave.

I tell myself it must be wrong--it can't possibly be time to leave in four minutes, I never heard an alarm--and stumble the rest of the way to the bathroom. There, thankfully, I wake up enough to be alarmed.

I shake both girls and let them know we're leaving in five minutes. Fortunately, they'd gotten cool new Halloween clothes yesterday and had asked to sleep in them, so they just had to put on shoes, glasses and brush their hair.

I throw some clothes on, brush my hair and put my shoes on. No glasses in sight. This is particularly amusing because yesterday, as I opened up the box of Halloween decorations, I found the pair of glasses I'd lost in July. How my glasses, in July, had gotten into a box of Halloween things in the attic, I have no idea. But I amuse myself for a moment with the idea that yesterday I had two pairs of glasses and today I have none.

I go the the room of the limp rag doll and dress his reluctant form as it makes every attempt to burrow itself further under the covers. Relenting, he plods sulkily into the dining room.

Three backpacks, three Poptarts and one dose of medicine later, we head out to PennyVann and begin the prayer to Mister Bus Driver. It goes something like this:

Slow down, Mister Bus Driver.
Don't leave, Mister Bus Driver.
Wait for us, Mister Bus Driver.

Two blocks from the school, I see that the girls' bus is pulling up to the school. A sigh of relief.

Somedays, like yesterday, I have this gig down to a science. This morning, I did not. But we made it nonetheless.


Somedays, it all clicks

And today is one of those supermom days.

Over the weekend, Dowlan came home. On the first anniversary of home-ownership, we tackle the final pile--the sewing and craft area. With about six hours of work, it is transfigured from a 6'X6'X10' pile of boxes, piles and miscellany to an organized workspace. We had some delightfully fun moments as well, like a civilized meal out as a family, nighttime trampolining with glow sticks and spare children, dancing in the sprinklers with the monarch butterflies as they pass through town.

As far as Monday mornings go, this one went delightfully well.

We made it to school early, with everything we needed. After school, the kids got to play with the instruments in my classroom a bit while I wrapped it up. We head home and Charlie's bus-induced motion-sickness finally gets the better of him right as we're pulling into the driveway.

No big deal. The girls grab backpacks and head in. I get Charlie out of his carseat, his carseat out of the car and proceed to the porch where I strip them both down. Charlie into the bath, the covers into their own bath.

He instantly feels better and is ready to bound and play. They have a snack and do homework while I get dishes done and things tidied away. Dowlan brought all the boxes of Halloween things down before he left town this morning, so I decorate a bit and give the girls their halloween clothes from the 90% clearance rack at Target two years ago. I hang the carseat covers out to dry and get rugs and sheets into the wash.

Then I surprise the girls with good news--tonight we're going to our first Girl Scout meeting!

It's a quarter of a mile away, if that, so Charlie hops in the stroller and the girls walk alongside. The autumn air is perfectly warm and breezy. After signing them up, we head home to play with Legos and hang the first washed rugs out to dry.

We walk to get the girls, his Pediasure in hand. By the time we get home, they've all had a half-mile walk and I've had a mile-walk. Just about right for the evening. While I make beds, they get their vitamins, brush their teeth, pick out clothes for the next day, dress for bed and climb into their clean sheets, ready for bedtime stories.

One Lego Star Wars book and one chapter of Laura Ingalls Wilder later, I have three children asleep in a completely clean house, completely unpacked, completely settled, completely complete. (Minus the Daddy, but that can't be helped right now.)

I've got a carseat to reassemble and reinstall before I sit down in my newly-organized sewing room to work on the hem ruffle for Dixie's Laura Ingalls Wilder dress for Halloween and go to bed on clean sheets of my own.

Sometimes, I've got this motherhood thing down.