November 27, 2012

Chicken in China

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I recently had the unbelievable privilege of visiting 56 babies in a orphanage in China.  I got to spend 12 days playing endless rounds of Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes, of wiping some very smushy boogies, getting peed on a couple of times, and of course, falling completely head over heels in love with these tiny pieces of sunshine.

There were 8 of us women on the trip, and we adopted an honorary 9th member (Chloe, the best intern that ever was!) We spent 10 hours a day sitting on the playroom floors of New Hope Foster Home, and all we did was play and hold.  We held all the little ones, and chased all the big ones, and ate lots of rice, and we laughed a lot, because the kids were just that fun.  They would attack us for love the minute we came into the room.  They wanted to swing on the swings with us, or have us put flowers(weeds) in their hair, and they wanted us to read to them, and to tickle them non-stop.  They climbed all over us, and sat in our laps, and played with our hair, just like any other child would do.

But, I am not going to lie, we cried a bit too.  See, all these children are special needs.   They had cleft palates, and club feet, and metabolic disorders, and cerebral palsy, and down syndrome.  They have big needs, and big problems for such tiny, little beings.  Thankfully,  the couple running New Hope are fighting hard for these kids.  They are fighting for these kids to have the surgeries that they need, and they are fighting for these kids to have the kind of care that they need, and they are fighting for these kids to find the love that they need.   And they are doing a fantastic job of fighting for these beautiful kids.  Because once you meet these kids, you see that they are names, not statistics.  Once you spend time with them, all you can see are the big smiles, and the even bigger personalities of these little charmers, and it becomes very personal.

It was in one word, a game-changer for me.  It changed once again how I view my cushy, sweet life over here in the Land of Plenty.  It changed once again how I view being a mom, when there are so many wee ones with no mom to fight for them.  It changed how I view my God, because he expects more.  He expects that we should care, and that we should love, and that we should fight for these little ones. 

June 28, 2012

Bird Brain Administration

The resume for a good Mom is a far cry different than a good Buyer resume.  With buying, I could happily avoid most administrative tasks, and just spend my day buying pretty stuff for the stores.  One task that I always despised the most - scheduling!  Thankfully, scheduling wasn't a huge part of my job description, until...

After a peaceful, snuggly and rainy morning on Day 1, I decided to "pop over for a quick second" to the market....at 11:40 am with slightly hungry, but still happy kids.  Two hours later, I look down at my hungry, cranky chicks, who were two hours behind schedule for their lunch, not to mention their nap, and see Pollo devilishly licking his sister's arm, followed by a headfirst dive into the full grocery carriage in search of a bag of M&M's.   Birdbrained Chicken Plan #1!

Then there was today.  Today all the little Chickens and I went and had our eyes examined.  In retrospect, this Chicken should have had her head examined for scheduling 4 eye appointments, back to back.  It sounds like a smart plan - knock them all out in one fell swoop, with only one drive down, and one morning tied up and then we can all move on.  Extremely efficient use of time, one might even say.  Totally how I would have set up my travel schedule with vendor appointment in my previous position.  However, as I was restraining Pollo from breaking a mirror with one hand, while comforting Chicken Nugget with the other, and calling down Chicken Little as she nearly broke one of the instruments, all while the optometrist had me pinned behind the giant eye lens machine.  Today, it felt less efficient, and more like an insane game of Whack-A-Mole, all from an optometrist chair.   Birdbrained Chicken Plan #2!

I suddenly came to the realization this afternoon as I was driving three cantakerous children around dropping off 3 vacuum pumps as a favor to AMP, that I am now the DeChicken family administrator - all scheduling and planning,  (or lack there of) goes through me.   Lord help the wee little chicks sanity as this Birdbrained Momma develops a whole new set of Chicken skills!

PS - We did manage to have a fantastic picnic lunch with AMP in what he called, "The Secret Garden" on campus!  Look at these happy faces!

June 25, 2012

Peace, Rain and Love

I went to sleep last night wondering about today.  Today is the first real day.  No school to take the children to.  No breakfast plans with friends to celebrate quitting.  No vacation impending to visit my parents.  Just me and the chicks and a whole long day (for that matter, a whole week) stretched before us.  And all that wondering/worrying probably prompted the "work-mare" that caused to wake up in a dead panic at 3 am this morning~!
Fast forward 5 hours.  I woke up to morning to cuddles and giggles, as we listened to the thunderstorm crash all around us. Cocoa puff cereal, Big Sissy Teacher giving spelling lessons, and now a rousing game of house/dance party taking place upstairs as I sit by the front window, drink my coffee, and absorb.
I prayed several times over the last few years for peace for me and for my family - We had happiness and laughter and most of all, each other, but often times over the last 5 years, peace has been in short supply here in DeChicken land.  Today however - and I say this before anyone decides to smack his sister and happy chaos ensues - peace seems to be raining down on my family. 




June 23, 2012

Crossing a lot of road

18 hours of driving later- the DeChickens are home! I never thought we could one day 931 miles with 3 kid.... But we did! And I have discovered that the little chicks actually road trip surprisingly well when peppered with enough mid day surprises, DVDs and McDonald Playplaces. The only casualty of today's trip were Esther's "Silky" (Her favorite soft blankie) and Aleah, her best baby. AMP somehow abandoned both of them on the baby changing table in McDonalds...and then didn't remember to pick it up until we were three hours up the road! Thanks to the miracle Of iPhones, we triangulated an estimate of which exit/McDonalds it was, and after 4 phone calls, Silky and Aleah are being shipped, in all of their men's public restroom, germ infested glory back to our house! Tragedy averted and we are all safe and sound!

June 20, 2012

Chicken and Sweet Tea

Picture this with me for a moment. You are driving down a road on a hot, summer day, with the windows down on the car. As you head down the road with your fourth glass of iced sweet tea in your hand, you pass your 19th church and you 7th decrepit auto body shop in a mile. You pull up at a on open air tin building that has been a fruit market/vegetable stand for the last 20 years at least. As your mother collects her salad "fix-ins", you wander down the aisle and discover a nearly empty crockpot of boiled peanuts, directly under a handwritten sign that states"don't overfill your cup- you shouldn't have to force your lid on!". After ensuring that your mother has the necessary cash to purchase said peanuts (since there is another handwritten sign over the register that states "NO, NO Credit or Debit Cards) you serve up your generous portion of delicious peanuts and meet your mother in line at the one open register. She politely says "Hi Dee," to the lady behind the closed cash register across the way, who in turn beckons you over. They exchange pleasantries and then you are introduced to the nearly toothless women with cherry red hair, who apparently knows both of your parents by first name and she inquires whether your father is "takin' time to visit with ya'll while ya'll are down?" But the real kicker is when she informs your mother that "Francisco (later determine this is her husband) is all worked up, cause he had to whoop Blue's butt 'cause he didn't do his business in the litter box and now Blue's done run off!"

With much effort, I kept a straight face and collected my peanuts and mother and headed for the car. This really only could happen in my home state- the Chicken has gone South!

June 18, 2012

This is how he rolls..,

...In a squat red minivan, full of Burger King crowns, Disney movies, and squawking little Chickens. Our hero spent his Father's Day driving us 400 miles to see his in-laws and we heard not a peep of complaining from him - in fact, the only thing he asked was that the wee chicks, "self-regulate", and shockingly enough, they did! All this driving and patience, from a man covered head to toe in poison ivy and quite heavily medicated (No worries, this Chicken took over the wheel when his head started to bob!) Four cheers for our favorite guy, who long ago gave up his cool ride for us, and now rolls in a banged-up, popcorn and crayon-littered "Swagger Wagon"- it must be love!

June 16, 2012

Cranky Old Chicken

There seem to be these moments in time when you realize you might not be a spring chicken anymore. One of those moments was tonight for me. I spent the morning at an elementary awards ceremony, the afternoon with a new friend, our littles, and a slip-&-slide. Mature events and happenings, but I didn't feel old. I then had dinner with an old friend and we had a truly fabulous time discussing financial planning, hydrangeas and irrigation systems, and travel plans to celebrate over-the-hill birthdays- still didn't feel old. No, I only felt like a cranky old Chicken today when I realized I was actually on the phone with Walmart's private label customer service department expressing my dissatisfaction and disappointment with their lasagna noodles- who only puts 13 noodles in box? Don't they know that there has to be 16, so that you can get the proper layers...and oh my! I was so hysterically embarrassed that I had called, that I turned down their offer for a free reimbursement giftcard! Cranky old Chicken doesn't even begin to describe this escapade- feel free to judge me in your hearts in this one - I don't blame you! I know AMP and Jo did!

June 14, 2012

Chick Burglars

Does this seem like an innocent face to you? Yes, my little Chicken Nugget is usually not the source of the trouble, or drama in our family.  But today, in her own precious little way, she caused a heap of trouble.

So I went and got the kids from school this afternoon, and we went to McDonald's for ice cream and germ infested playzone time.  The kids had the time of their life, and then we piled back into the minivan and drove home.  When we got home, they all three wanted to ride their bikes, and I had a little weeding to do, so we headed outside for a while.  It was drizzling a little, but nothing to bad, and I was getting a ton done - even cleaning up the garage.  I saw Chicken Nugget go in the house for the bathroom, and then a few minutes later heard her squeaking at the basement door that the door was stuck - Pollo and I both ran and let her out of the house to join us outside.  I returned to weeding, and Pollo and Chicken Nugget ran for their bikes.  A few minutes later, Chicken Little calls out to me, "Mom, the door is locked."

Now, it might not seem like a big problem to you at this point, but will let you in on the thought flow at this point:

Me: Outside the house - Standing in the rain, which is starting to really come down
Chicken Little: Outside the house, asking me to just open up the door
Pollo: Also outside the house - just staring at me quizzically
Chicken Nugget: Outside the house, with a slightly guilty expression on her face
AMP: Away at Church board meeting until, well, he still isn't back as I write this
My keys: Inside the house
My Phone: Also....Inside the house
Are you beginning to see the problem?

"Chicken Little, you go check the front door, and I will try the back patio," I instruct as I run for the deck.

We can see each other through our respective locked doors, and I see the sad shake of her head.

Three little chicks continued to offer the ever so helpful advice of "Let's call 991", (With what phone? and I swear, my children can not remember that it is 911 - heaven help us if there is ever a real emergency!) and "Let's just sleep outside until Daddy comes home," to "We are all going to die!".

By this point, I have tried all the windows, and all but one were shut tight.   However, one little window,  probably 10 ft off of the ground is slightly open, and so I proceed to teach my eldest the finer arts of breaking into one's own house.  Just before we ascended the ladder, I instructed both of the little ones, "Run to Ms Missy's and say 911 - my Mommy has fallen and can't get up,"  should Chicken Little and I's plan end badly.  That being done, Chicken Little and I proceed up the ladder and after breaking in the screen, I hoist her through and into the sink.  Chicken Nugget's response to all of this from her perch on the stairs: "Sissy, you are a Super Hero!"

All is well and the funniest part of all of this - It isn't the first time this has happened to us.  Not even the first time Chicken Little has been hoisted through a window (you can read about the first time by clicking here).  Such wonderful skills I am instilling in this child!




June 12, 2012

So, what am I going to do with all of this time?  Perched here in my home, I have been pondering this question in all of the weeks leading up to the end, and the week and a half that I have been home.  I have had breakfasts with a lot of friends, I have mulched all ("almost all" is probably a more honest description) my flower beds, I have caught up on paperwork, phone calls and errands.  I have made plans to be a mystery shopper (surely this is something I could do!), volunteered my services at our church, talked about fostering kids, and made Mango Curry Chicken (who knew that sweetened condensed milk could be put on chicken and be edible?).  I have even started up this blog again, and made more writing plans - all good things, and things I probably should continue to do, though my little Chicks were not fans of the Mango Curry Chicken in the least!

But all of that aside, the answer to the question, "what to do with all of this time?", came just about half an hour from little Pollo.  Tonight, Pollo couldn't calm himself down to go to sleep, which might have stemmed from the lack of nap today.  About 10 minutes after I put him in bed, I hear an "I'm hot." and then it progressed to "I have a headache", to "I want a hug!" all interspersed with shouting, crying, and frantic tossing and turning.  I tried everything.  I counted with him.  I patted his back and spoke soothingly to him.  I went in and retucked him in (4 times). I was stern with him from the bottom of the stairs.  Nothing worked - the boy was in the midst of full-blown tantrum, and Momma was two seconds away from a tantrum of her own!  Finally, I stood at the bottom of the stairs, and was telling him to take deep breaths and calm himself down, when I hear this: "I need you to help me!" I reminded him firmly, "I have been helping you, Pollo." What did the crazy boy think I had been doing for the last 45 minutes? But then I heard him say desperately,  "But, I still need you to help me more!"  I walked back upstairs, and grabbed his little hand and my worn-out Pollo closed his eyes and fell sound asleep.

Now, my son's English has gotten better over the last 18 months, but 90% of the time nowadays he is practicing his "Spanish", which is code for complete gibberish.  And he has never been great at articulating...well, anything. So this complete and very clear sentence, in the middle of rousing tantrum, got my attention.  Because those three still need more of my help, and more of my time, and more of my love and attention.  It has been so easy to focus of other things over the last few years,  mainly just keeping the house and family running.  But now, the main project that is going to require most of my time and engagement is those three little sleepers upstairs.

June 11, 2012

Chicken Comes Home to Roost

A year ago, as many of you know, the DeChickens moved into a new coop - in a new part of the old state.  Both AMP and Chicken were quite sure it was the right thing to do for everyone, though it would require Chicken to keep working full time for quite some time.  This was a good house for the growing family, and a great new house for AMP who no longer had to work on the extremely old, old house, so life was good.

Six months ago, small massive miracles began to take place, and AMP and Chicken made a new plan to make an old dream come true - Ultimate Chicken Mama would stay at the new coop with the three crazy chicks. And the plan seemed to work, and all was good.

Three months ago, Chicken got very scared about the new plan - the old job was a very good one, and very safe.  Chickening out began, but AMP pressed on and made this Chicken stay on the path, and all was good.

Two months ago, Chicken gave her notice on a random Wednesday, and despite more nervousness and cold Chicken feet, all of the awesome friends and family around her told her that all was well, and all was good.

One week ago, Chicken woke up on Monday morning, drove the little chicks to school, but did not cross the road to get on the highway and drive to the good job.  Instead, this Chicken turned around and drove home - to a greater job.  And so begins a new chapter in Happily Ever After, and all is good.