Saturday, August 31, 2013

Coming home to roost

I have a lot to learn about chickens. And dogs. And not mixing chickens and dogs.

The boys and I brought home our first two chickens yesterday. We drove out to Pittsboro to Hickory Chickery and purchased two Buff Orpington pullets. They are about four months old, but aren't laying yet. However, they are both most definitely hens, and that's what I wanted to start with since we can't have roosters in the city limits. And I don't want roosters. Even though they are gorgeous.

I digress.

Even with trying to keep the chicken cost down as much as possible, I still ended up buying a little carrier to bring them home. I was going to just use a box or a laundry basket, but since we are going to get some chicks in a month or so, I went ahead and bought a small crate.

I think they were pretty cozy.

Meet Mrs. Weasly and Professor McGonagall
Let me stop here and say, I have the nicest dogs. Two of them are bird dogs, granted, but they are old and incredibly sweet. The third is little and a feisty when it comes to squirrels, so I was planning on keeping a good eye on her. But the others? They are such nice dogs.

Nice dogs eat chickens too.

I brought the chickens through the house and let Gibby, the Lab, and Macy, the little dog, sniff and say hello. They wagged their tails and completely fooled me into thinking that they happy to have new friends.

We ventured out into the backyard, and I let the girls out, sending Gibby into some kind of primal hunting dog frenzy. Poor Mrs. Weasly became the target, and Gibby was going to have chicken for dinner. 

Macy Moo and I joined in the chase, Macy just to have fun, and me, screaming, "NO! GIBBY! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I caught up to him just as he got a half a mouthful of feathers. Nearly tackling him, I grabbed his collar and started dragging him to the backdoor, yelling to Christopher to go get Macy Moo away from poor Mrs. Weasly.

On the deck, Macy had chased Mrs. Weasly into a corner, and Gibby had slipped out of his collar right at the back door. I managed to scoop Macy up with one hand and tuck her under my arm. Then, with my knees and my body, I corralled Gibby inside while issuing the dreaded, "Bad Boy. Bad Boy, Gibby."

I gently picked up Mrs. Weasly from the corner of the deck, where she was willing herself to be way smaller so she could fit through the railings. We sat down together, and I checked her for any wounds (there were none) while I sang her one of my boys' lullabies. 

Then, we went to the back corner of the yard where Professor McGonagall had her head shoved through the chain link fence, simultaneously delighted that she wasn't being chased by a 100 pound dog and horrified that she had been brought to such a savage new home. 

She's still kind of pissed at me.

Other than that, they are settling in nicely. We will have to split backyard time instead of having the Utopian dog and chicken playground that I made up in my ridiculous head. But that's alright. I finally have my chickens, and I already love them.

Because, let's face it, I'm more than a little bit crazy.

Mrs. Weasly after a soothing lullaby.
Professor McGonagall snuggling in right on top.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School: and a VolunteerSpot giveaway for Donors Choose

I wasn't all that prepared. No new outfits. I didn't have his backpack ready. I didn't even know for sure what time we needed to leave. As much as the end of the summer has worn my nerves down to the rawest roots, I wasn't ready to send the boys off to school.

Kindergarten is such a long day. It will be so late when Christopher gets home, and we have something everyday after school. I feel like I will never see him anymore.

So last night, when he had a nightmare and came downstairs, I abandoned whatever Kevin and I were watching and went to lay down with him. He fell right to sleep, and I lay with him, watching his eyelashes flutter and his lips twitch. He smiled, he wiggled some, and he cried out a little.

I imagine all of yesterday was filled with many emotions, just like his dreams.

Walking home from school with Miss Katharine. It's the best.

It was the first day of preschool for Colin as well. He has been so excited about "graduating" and getting to go to Arts Together now. I hope it was everything he has anticipated - with the tragic exception of his discovery that his best friend Rory is in a different class. That didn't go so well.

All in all though, I think they both had a positive experience. Because at 6:30 this morning (a morning they don't even have school), they arrived in my room to announce they were dressed. Colin was especially excited. I know this because he arrived in his "fancy clothes." Clothes that I battle to get him to wear once a week to church. He even buttoned his shirt himself.

I think it's going to be a good year.

Why, yes. I am still in bed horizontally taking this picture. It was SO EARLY.

This year, I hope to be very involved with my kids' schools. Last year, I signed up for VolunteerSpot and even used their iPad app. It's been great to get everyone together and organize activities for school. 

VolunteerSpot saves you time and money, and makes signing up easy. They are celebrating back to school month by giving away $50 gift cards for you to use at Donors Choose, my favorite place to give online. If you win, you can use the $50 for any school project you find on Donors Choose - hopefully to help your school!

To enter, just leave a comment. You could tell me about your back to school memories. You could tell me how you would use your Donors Choose card. You could tell me about how you can use VolunteerSpot this year. Or, you could just say hi. A winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 PM on August 31.

Then, while you are entering things, head over to VolunteerSpot and take their Pledge to Volunteer. You could win an additional $1500 for your school!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Backyard projects and a new house for Colin

This weekend was wildly productive. Kevin and I did one of my favorite things - yard work. While that sounds sarcastic, and while sarcasm is usually a good assumption when listening to me - it's not. I do love to work out in the yard. I don't love mosquitoes though, and that makes working in the yard a little tricky here.

But this weekend? Was gorgeous. Not humid. Not hot. Sunny and beautiful.

Our backyard is a blessing and a curse. When Kevin bought the house, it was a waste land of decrepit trees, dirt, weeds, and a scary tree house that had to come down. Slowly, we've removed the trees that were dying and dropping limbs dangerously close to the house. We planted grass. We built a playset.

Over the past year, a lot of the mulch has washed away and Aja the English Setter has decided she's part pig and enjoys nothing more than laying in the mud. She dug holes all along the edge of the house, and Colin helped her out by finding it great fun to turn on the faucet randomly and creating mud pits for her to enjoy.

The first order of business was to clean that up. Of course, we didn't take before pictures.

Aside from the Setter trying to dig to China, we just needed some pretty. A crepe myrtle, some gardenias, and some random purple type plants helped this area tremendously. We are also hoping that Macy Moo will walk further than 10 inches off the deck to pee from now on because holy stank, that was disgusting to weed out and dig up.

Yesterday morning, we let Kevin and Mallory sleep in while I introduced the boys to the flea market at the state fair grounds. They each got a 50 cent car, and I got a metal dragonfly. I was hoping for a metal sculpture for the corner of the dog toilet flower bed, just to fill it up and discourage the pee party there, but all I got was this dragonfly. He's cliche, but cute.

Ignore those random bags of extra mulch. Digging deterrents for right now.

Finally, we got around to doing the project that I've been most excited about since June.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a coop. A chicken coop, to be exact. I'm so excited I could hardly go to sleep last night. Mallory and I have already named the chickens, but I'll wait to introduce them as they come home and I can get pictures.

For now though, here is the chicken estate. Right next to the fig tree, which I'm sure I'll decide was a terrible plan when I never have figs to eat. Of course, Gibson the Labrador has been eating the leaves and flowers off of it, so it's not like I have figs now. I have hopes and dreams of figs, but that's about it.

Casa de la Chickens:

Don't you want to just move right in? It seems that Colin did.

We are looking forward to getting a couple of hens soon, and then maybe some chicks in late September. And by "we" I mean "me" because everybody else in my family is just tolerating my desire for chickens. They'll come around though, I have full faith.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Love Wins Ministries: Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal in Raleigh, NC

Last night, this post was a copy of Hugh Hollowell's story about what happened near Moore Square yesterday morning. Citizens of Raleigh were trying to feed other citizens of Raleigh. The homeless were being provided a meal on Saturday morning, just like they had been every Saturday morning for six years. Then, out of the blue, the Raleigh Police show up and threaten to arrest the citizens who were distributing food. No explanations other than an ordinance that they couldn't even name.

Last night, the traffic on Hugh's post had crashed their servers. Now, they are up and running again. So please give them the hits. Give them the traffic. Give them the support.

Go read Hugh's story and see his pictures from Saturday on the Love Wins blog.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The picture

“Is that your real smile?” he asked as he raised his iPhone to take a picture of me.

I have never been good at pictures.  It’s as sure as a dog drooling at the dinner bell – the sight of a camera causes me to show all of my teeth, open my eyes as wide as possible, and throw my head back into triple chin territory.

“I guess. I don’t know. I’m no good at this.”

I wished he had snapped something while I wasn’t looking. Something covert. It was my fate to be the first bad picture of a woman he ever took.

We had just watched a parade of beautiful women walk past. Women who had spent hours in hair and make up for the fashion show that night. I had spent less than an hour, as I usually do, on myself. Hair in braids, glasses instead of contacts, minimal make up. I’m alright with that. It’s not a lack of self-confidence that makes me hate to be photographed.

I just don’t know how to look spontaneously happy.

Over the past couple of days, we had talked. A lot. I had been nothing but completely honest with him. I trusted him with things that I haven’t trusted in writing. We talked about relationships, addictions, dreams, and whatever else friends talk about when there are no children or time constraints involved. I never gave a second thought to showing him myself with my words, developing an image that showed the negative and the positive. 

But when he started looking at me, to preserve that image, I felt completely unsure of myself. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Summer winds down, and I find myself both anxious for fall to really get here and already regretting the things I didn't do over the past couple of months.

A trip to see friends and a new baby didn't happen.

We didn't go to the pool enough.

We watched too much TV when it rained outside.

I didn't get a garden planted.

These things clog up my brain, pushing aside the memories that were made.

Colin learned to swim. And by "learned," I mean, took off his floaties and flung himself across the pool declaring himself independent and capable.

Christopher learned to ride his bike. And by "learned," I mean, I took off his training wheels, and while I was busy turning my back for five seconds, he got on and rode the bike down the driveway declaring himself a big boy bike rider who doesn't need my help, thank you very much.

In June, we drove down to Mississippi and spent a week with my family in which the children played until they collapsed at night, snuggled in Nana's bed to read stories, and got to spend unstructured and unscripted time with their cousins. And as a bonus, I actually stayed the whole time this year with no erupting fights with my brother.

I got to go to BlogHer again and room with two amazing people who just so happened to enjoy hanging out in the room late at night unwinding together - which was exactly what I needed. I met some fabulous people. I saw some old friends. I was inspired - which, let's be honest - if you go to BlogHer and don't leave inspired in some way, you may have no soul.

Good things happened this summer. Momma is still brave, still taking chemo, and still watching it work. It's been harder on her than ever before, but she does it anyway, and I love her so much for doing it.

I don't know what's wrong with my head that all of these good things happened, and yet when left idle, my brain says, "You didn't take the kids to DC," and "You didn't go to the pool all last week," and "You didn't do any of the writing and reading you said you were going to do with the boys." These things, while I wish they had happened, I let them define the summer.

Why is that?

Good things. Bad things.

I need to find the balance.

Friday, August 09, 2013


This. When you've bought the boys a Happy Meal because you didn't have time to get them dinner at home because somebody thought karate for a five year old at 5:30 in the evening was a good idea and then when you get to the karate place, the three year old is completely over his fast food and wants even faster food from the vending machine. Because,

"But I neeeeeeed dessert!"

This. When your three year old never hears you tell him that it's time to eat his lunch, get his shoes, clean up the toys, wash his hands, buckle his carseat, leave the library, come inside, quit touching his brother, wipe his bottom, put his clothes back on, turn off the TV, play outside, take a bath, or leave the dogs alone, but then when you think he's heard nothing you've ever said in the world, he tells the nice lady handing him a sticker at the store that happened to not be the sticker he wanted the one thing you wish he had never heard,


This. When the boys are so tired of being at home together that you get them suited up, sunscreened down, snacks packed, floaties inflated, water bottles cooled, bag loaded, helmets secured, bikes mounted, and you head to the pool the minute it opens. Then you when you arrive, ready to let them burn off their energy with all the other children there,

"Don't touch him! That's my brother! I'm playing with my brother!"

And no one else in the world will do.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Pee hole

Since we're on the subject of penises (What? I have two small boys. We are always on the subject of penises), there is this conversation I accidentally had and now they know how they got here. Dang.

Colin, the three year old, started it. I had to pee, and I opted to shut the door. Gradually, I'm attempting to reestablish some privacy in this house. When I came out of the bathroom, Colin throws out,

"Did you pee out of your peeeeeeenis?"

He shrieks with laughter, because penises are funny.

I knew that he wasn't confused, but I felt obligated to correct him.

"Colin, Mama doesn't have a penis. Only boys have penises."

Christopher, who is five and always eager to share his vast knowledge of all things potty related, piped up,

"That's right! Mama has a vaginis!"

Don't judge. We are close to the right terms, but dang it. The way he rhymes vaginis with penis is just so cute.

Here's where I could have stopped, but noooooo. I just had keep talking.

"Actually, pee doesn't come out of my vagina."

Christopher raised an eyebrow and asked, "Well, what does it come out of?"

Dang it. All I could think of was "pee hole." Not exactly the right response. I issued a guess of "urethra" and mumbled that we would have to look it up to be sure.

Of course, we weren't done. Christopher was still curious.

"What's your vagina for, then?

Okay. Easiest answer. Go for the easiest answer.

"Well, it's what babies come out of."

The look on that little boy's face was one of pure and utter disgust. He couldn't believe what he had just heard. First came the denial,

"Nuh-uh! I did not come out of your vaginis!"

Oh yes you did, and I have the scar to prove it.

Then came the arguing,

"Babies come from a mama's tummy!"

Right. Wishing I had stuck with that one for a few more years.

Next he went for the potty punchline,

"Ewwwww! You got pee on me when I was a baby!"

Yep, but not from my vagnis, little one. And if you think that's gross, then we certainly don't need to talk about the rest of it.

Finally, the logic,

"But Mama, there is no way I fit through your vaginis."


"That's what I thought too, sweetheart, but here you are."

And as quickly as we moved into that treacherous territory, we moved right out again thanks to  Popsicles and the insatiable appetites and short attention spans of little boys.