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April 15, 2014

All winter I have been thinking about resurrecting the old chicken farm. A couple of weeks ago I started seeing fuzzy yellow chicks for sale on Craigslist.  Then I got this vision of four Easter baskets with newborn chicks in them, for an Easter surprise.

After much research and Craigslist shopping and calling various chicken farmers and deliberating, I settled on “Easter Eggers”, a mix of Americaunas and Wyandottes, known for their sparkling personalities and colorful eggs.

This morning at 7:00 a.m. I met a chicken farmer in the parking lot of the Champs in Maplewood.  There in the parking lot, I experienced a phenomena familiar to all Craigslist shoppers.  I call it “Craigslist-colored-glasses”.

It happens this way: after many hours of looking you finally make contact with a seller.  After multiple phone calls to a particular Craigslist seller, you grow fond of that voice on the phone: that voice who talks to you about chickens and other items for sale, that voice who sets up a convenient rendevous in Maplewood relieving you of the burden of driving to Delano, that voice who assures you that these chickens are babies worthy of an Easter basket.  By the time you drive all that way, and finally see your merchandise in person, you are emotionally committed. You can’t help but see  through your Craigslist-colored-glasses, and hardly anybody backs out.  (I’ve sold a few things myself this way).

Let me just say that Easter morning will definitely be surprising.  It won’t so much be “Happy Easter here is a baby chick” as it will be “Happy Easter here is a teenage hen (probably pooping) in your Easter basket”. The chicks are at that awkward stage. You know, when you have lost your fuzz, but only grown about half of your feathers.  We’ve all been there. They look more like little ostriches than anything else.

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Perhaps to soften the blow, when he handed off the chickens, Brian the chicken farmer, also handed me 18 multi-colored eggs.  “To eat”, he said, “or incubate and they will hatch in 21 days.”

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I really had no choice but to swing by the school and pick up an extra incubator.  The eggs are incubating in our basement as we speak.

Now, on Easter morning I will be able to present the children with, not only, four teenage hens, but the also the great news that in 21 days we will have 22 chickens!  It’s all very exciting.

For me at least.  Not for Dan.  He didn’t protest too much.  Just shook his head and muttered, “This is not a chicken farm,” on his way out the door this morning.

We are not only hatching eggs this month.  We are also hatching Tonja. We have been incubating her in our basement for several weeks.  As you can see from the below photo of Tonja (with a little ostrich) we have been very successful! As the birth partner, I have been learning many things about the wonderful world of natural childbirth.  Something I have never chosen to enjoy myself, but find very interesting for others.

We will miss Tonja this week.  She is spending Easter with family in Albert Lea, Minnesota.  Hopefully, she will not have the baby without me.

I think that if Tonja has that baby in Albert Lea I will never speak to her again…

Until she brings her little chick home.  Then I will have to speak to her if I want to get my hands on him…which I do.

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April 6, 2014

We celebrated Miss P’s Birthday last Thursday.  She received her main gift on her real Birthday, an intestinal polyp….the wish of every four year old girl!

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Even though we knew we couldn’t top the polyp, we still wanted to give her a little party.  There’s just something about that middle child that makes you want to go all out.

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Inner Beauty

March 24, 2014


On Friday, Elizabeth and Mrs. Lindmark had their first discipleship meeting, with tea and cookies.  Charlie was the first one to the door when Mrs. Linkmark called to collect Elizabeth. Charlie ran to get me with a loud whisper: “Mom, there’s someone at the door.  It’s someone from our church.  And I think she’s here to DISABLE Elizabeth!

I am glad Elizabeth is attending to her inner-life.  In fact, last time she was putting on her princess dress she remarked, “I would rather be pretty on the inside than starve to death!”

I hope it rubs off on Annie.  It is hard to stay humble when you wake up every morning and your hair looks like this:


I mean, women work for hours to get volume like that.  And she just wakes up with it.

It is also hard not to be vain when your new skirt fits like this:


Not to mention those legs!

Below: Mrs. Lindmark disabling Elizabeth.


Vini, vidi, vici … the colonoscopy

March 21, 2014


Today is Miss P’s Birthday.  Don’t anybody tell her.   We aren’t celebrating for two more weeks, when we will party in Birmingham with both sets of Grandparents!   I am screening her calls.  Aunt Brenda called this morning and asked, “May I speak with Miss P?” I had no choice but to say, “No, you may not.”

Mostly we aren’t telling her it’s her Birthday, because nothing that happens today could compare with the glories of her colonoscopy yesterday.  Arriving at the hospital, new purse on her arm, she was understandably nervous:


We checked in without incident, and she was given a room and purple pajamas.  Then, as Elizabeth would say, her luck turned, and she heard those fateful words: “Do you like stickers?”

Does an alcoholic like drink?

In some rooms, I am sure patients were frantically pushing the call button for more morphine.  In ours the cry was for more stickers!



If I had known it was going to be so much fun, we would have invited friends and family and called it her Birthday party.  I’m telling you, that place is better than Chuckee Cheese.  After two hours of sticker joy, she was wheeled down the hall in her rolling bed, her mouth frozen as wide open as any muppet in excitement.  She didn’t close her excited mouth until it was time to breathe into the mask.  The anesthesiologist hugged her and whispered in her ear and stroked her head until she was out.

About a half hour later, into the room strode the doctor, waving a jar containing a sizeable intestinal polyp for my inspection.  From his enthusiasm, you’d have thought he found an Easter Egg in there! Apparently, this was a very satisfactory colonoscopy outcome.  So we’ll take it.

As I wheeled Miss P to the parking ramp, she asked if we could swing by the cafeteria.  Since she had been fasting for 48 hours without complaint, I could hardly say no.  We found a table and she enjoyed a plate of fried chicken, a bag of cheesy Doritos, and a chocolate milk:  a soothing post-op “first meal”.  When Miss P paused between pieces of chicken to treat the other diners to a round of “Castle On A Cloud” from Les Mis, I knew we were back on track.

Below: The patient resting comfortably at home with three young surgeons at the ready.



The Big Win

March 17, 2014

In a big family, it’s good for everybody to have their special niche.

Annie is getting a lot of attention from friends and strangers for her face this week.  She fell down Patty’s front steps and caught herself with her nose.

Elizabeth is on cloud nine after receiving a letter in the mail from her new mentor (who didn’t even know that Elizabeth prays regularly , on her knees, for a piece of mail) with an invitation to tea.

Miss P’s special niche is her upcoming colonoscopy on Thursday, the outcome of her recent “poop conference” as we called her appt. with the poop specialist last week.  (She has an aversion to doctor’s appts. as she always thinks they are going to “open her tummy”, so we avoid the phrase).  The children are all a’buzz.  I heard Charlie following her around this morning saying, “Miss P, we are going to take you to the doctor today for your colonoscopy.”  I yelled down the stairs that the colonoscopy isn’t until Thursday, and besides, he is not invited.  He was understandably devastated.  Miss P, on the other hand, is raring to go and feeling like a celebrity.

Charlie may have found his own niche this week: the world of gambling. We were pleased to be invited again this year by Patty to a Friday night Lenten fish fry at St. Albert the Great’s Catholic Church.  While eating fish I overheard someone say something about BINGO in the gym.  Patty has been holding out on us.  BINGO!

We made straight for the gym.  Bingo, we discovered, is fun for the whole family. Miss P and Annie were content to arrange chips on their cards, for free.  The rest of up played for big money.  Charlie played two cards at a time.  I would guess there were around 70 people in the gym.  The winnings depended on how many people bought into the round and whether it was your “traditional BINGO” or your “cover-all”.  Out of all those people can you guess who BINGO’d? Only the shortest guy in the room. He proudly carried his card forward for verification of the win, and collected his $14.50.  A fortune!  I am glad he won the 14.50.  The next round’s winner won $119.00.  We wouldn’t have known quite how to handle that.  And Elizabeth would never have recovered.  $14.50 in Charlie’s pocket was almost more than she could swallow.






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Lately with Elizabeth

March 9, 2014

As usual, in February I lost my strength.  It is hard to keep a sense of humor when it is 20 below.  And how can I blog about the children when for weeks, all I have gotten is little peeks of them through their snow clothes.

Blog pics 1Also, I no longer have a computer due to a terrible virus that my computer caught from Quint’s online school program.  Lack of computer is a challenging situation for any blogger.

Also due to Quint’s online school program, I have been suffering from an acute lack of free time.

But yesterday, the temperature soared to 26.  In lieu of our coats, we donned hopes that spring could be just around the corner!  And today, Elizabeth found this:


And cheerfully instructed me to: “Please write on your blog that your daughter has discovered a berry on a bush, which is the second sign of spring.” The first sign was a lady-bug in the kitchen.

As I write, Elizabeth came into the room to ask me if we could send a picture of the berry to Mrs. Lindmark.  You see, this morning during the sermon, the pastor asked anyone desiring to be discipled to raise a hand.  Around 19 hands went up. 18 big hands and one very tiny Elizabeth hand*.  After the service, (to the envy of women throughout the congregation) Elizabeth was approached by Mrs. Margo Lindmark, widely known at our church to be a master discipler, with an offer, which Elizabeth readily accepted.   And just in time, for there is berry to discuss!

In addition to recording the first two signs of spring, I have hijacked Dan’s computer today to record the rapid and unexpected shrinking of the population in our home.

Last week, in the course of 24 hours, we lost Quint (a student), Nicole (a renter), and Mr. Tumnus (a rabbit).  To protect the privacy of the aforementioned residents I won’t go into detail.  I will tell you that one of them went home to his mom, one of them bought herself a house, and one of them died at the paw of Corn-dog.  (Or Korn-dog, as Charlie insists he spells it with a “K”).

The death was a real shock for us.  Elizabeth keeps insisting that she doesn’t think it was Mr. Tumnus’s “last day”.  Well, apparently it was.  And it has got us all contemplating our mortality.  As Elizabeth explained to the other children:

“God decides when it is time for a person to die: some people die when they are young, some people die when they are old, and some people are squeezed to death by a python.”

I would also like to record the details of our recent trip to Hawaii, but that might be too much for my first day back on the blog.  Later, then.

*Note about the hand: Elizabeth reports, with tears, that the other children at school regularly laugh about her hands being so tiny.  Last week I volunteered as sewing helper.  And no sooner had the children taken up their needles, than a little boy leaned across the table to peer at Elizabeth’s hands and ask: “Why are your hands so tiny?”

**Please be advised, death by Corn-dog is highly classified.  The children think Mr. Tumnus choked on a carrot, and that Daddy laid him to rest in the woods under a shady tree, since you can’t bury anything in the ground this time of year. Both are sort of true.  There was a missing carrot after the death.   And we hope he is laying under a shady tree, but the snow was thigh-high so Dan just hurled him over the fence and into the woods.

So, we are down to just Theresa, but I’m sure we won’t stay small for long.

Little Queens for the Day

February 1, 2014

While putting on her princess dress, I heard Miss P whisper, “Oh thank you God for making Santa Claus come and bring me this princess dress.”  Then she broke into a round of “Bless the Lord O’ My Soul”. I’m glad she’s giving credit where credit is due.

(The giggling you see is due to the fact that one of the Queens was passing some very loud gas.)


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