The chickens were received with open arms. Mary Olson helped me hold them in the baskets while Dan brought the kids down and at the last minute we let go. There was just enough time to see them in the basket before they jumped out and started running (and flying and pooping) all over the dining room. The children, who fortunately had never shared my vision of fuzzy Easter babies, were pleased as punch. I think the most fun for them was getting to name their own chicken. The naming part was the least fun for me. Well, actually following chickens around the dining room with a roll of toilet paper was the least fun for me. I just think it was better when I named the pets. Then we stuck to dignified literary allusions like Mr. Tumnus (known to his close friends as Mr. Thomas), and Diddee, Dumps, and Tot. Now that the children are involved we are getting names like Corndog (with a “K”).
There are many problems with the current chicken names. For instance, the Ella confusion. For many years now, Ella has been one of the most popular chicken names of the year, so of course we have more than one Ella in our barn. So the girls had to pick first and last names for the Ellas. Then there’s David, the hen. Charlie proudly introduces David with the disclaimer, he’s a girl. At least we hope he’s a girl. If he’s a rooster (God forbid) then it’s back to the farm. The same goes for Ella Lehmer and Ella Wang. We hope they aren’t roosters. Then there’s the confusion of family names, as in the case of Annie’s chicken who she insists is called Nini. At some point in the middle of all the chaos somebody shouted, “Nini has diarrhea!” It’s just not right.
A word about the pictures: I would not recommend photographing moving chickens with a cell phone. But if you must, then make your pictures black and white which says “artsy” instead of “blurry”.
Without further ado, I present to you:
David (he’s a girl):
Nini (from whom we kept our distance due to her diarrhea)
Easter Part II:
This is Part II because I can’t talk about Easter baskets and chickens and the Resurrection in the same breath. Every night at dinner we all say our high and low from the day. And I want to remember my high from this Holy Week.
Dan invited the children and me, along with his parents to a Good Friday service at Hope Academy. We walked in to see the gym full of 350 children dancing and singing, “Jesus conquered the grave! Jesus conquered the grave!” And Mary Olson whispered to me, “This, this is the joy that was set before him.” That sight (the joy!) was my high.
Miss P (with something big in her shirt) to Annie: “Look Baby Dear, see how my tummy is big? That’s because I have a baby in my tummy. Oooo it’s starting to come out. Isn’t this exciting? I am going to have my baby now. Here it comes. (Gasp!) Oh my it’s a roller skate. I thought I was having a baby but I had a roller skate. Now I can skate. Here I go. Wheeee! Wheee! I am skating, Baby.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you could birth your own roller skates? I birthed my own Canasta partner. That was pretty great. Now we play a hand every day. And in his words, “I like nothing better!”
Below: My Little Partner
At some point, in his sleep last night, Charlie lost his first tooth. We can’t find it in his bed, so we are thinking he must’ve swallowed it. He was a little upset, so I told him we would pay close attention to the contents of the potty today and maybe it would turn up. But then, Dan and I went out to lunch, and upon our return were informed by Charlie that he may have flushed it down.
Charlie: “There was this poop floating in the potty, and I just didn’t want to get in there, so I just flushed it on down.”
I’m not sure what exactly he was picturing when faced with the choice to flush or “get in there” but I think he made a very mature choice. Charlie’s going to miss wiggling it with his tongue. I am sorry to report this, but Corndog is also going to miss wiggling it with his tongue.
In honor of his first lost tooth, Charlie received a commemorative blue ribbon from cousin Thomas Anderson of Pryor Lake, Minnesota. And to celebrate, we walked down the block to the Chef Shack for mini donuts this morning. They threw in five extra donuts for the occasion.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.