December 24, 2010

Visions of Bolts, Batteries and Plastic Ties

The children are tucked safely in their bed, and the process of making the magic of Christmas begins in 20 minutes. "Santy Claus" or AMP as he is known throughout the rest of the year, has rushed off to the last store remaining open to buy a bottle of Green Magic Maker (Mountain Dew) in preparation for the insanity set to begin. Presents to wrap, presents to assemble (Pollo's new fancy bike), presents to build (The girl's are waking up to new bunk beds in the manana - shhh...don't tell them.) and only t-minus 10 hours to pull it all off. Never mind the small detail that AMP, or insane "Santy Claus", is insistent that we will also finish every last detail of the basement and upstairs bathroom before his parents arrive at noon (or therebouts I would say after checking the weather - yikes!). So all I want for Christmas this year is a strong drink of coffee, and maybe a nap tomorrow afternoon - but when I add this to my existing Christmas wish list of a pair of slippers, and a four-slice toaster, I realize that I am very, very old.
Time for this old bum to stop procrastinating with my Christmas gift (the computer), grab my scissors and dive right on in.

December 20, 2010

White Christmas in a Box

Yes, there are small flurries drifting outside our house tonight, and there is more in the forecast over the next few days, but that is not the kind of White Christmas I am referring to. Imagine if you will, three small, very rowdy, extremely giddy children and a 4 foot box of Christmas presents. Sounds like fun, unpacking all of Grandma and Grandma's presents and placing them, after orders of severe punishment, under the tree - of course shaken and slightly worse for the wear. But where, you ask, does the White part come into this Christmas story? Did you forget about the peanuts? Thousand of tiny, white protection agents, that are now scattered over every inch of my children, me and of course, my house. I know the box is always better than the gift to a child, but I have never seen Pollo laugh so hard as when Chicken Little tipped the whole box sideways... from her spot inside the box. At one point, all three of the hysterical chics were inside the box together, and smashing peanuts into each others' hair (don't even ask about Chicken Little's hair) and into each others' mouths?? I even saw one go up little Chicken Nugget's nose.

Currently, AMP is shop-vacing the entire house - including me. (I just felt a little suction on my leg as I typed this.) There was some laundry waiting to be folded in the living room where the explosion occurred, and Chicken Little and I have lost already lost a pair of underwear, both to the shopvac beast. I think this White Christmas is here to stay!

December 14, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

AMP and I have been watching The Sing Off together (I feel like he might have lived this show back in Iowa - deep Acapella roots in that boy), and one of last night's themes was Guilty Pleasures songs. This seemed to inspire this evening's events - though spending an entire hour watching television together, despite also folding laundry at the same time, seemed like an enormous Guilty Pleasure all by itself:

GP#1: The pleasure of a roaring fire in the fireplace. The guilt - it seems kind of like Cannabalistic torture to have such a beautiful fire right in front of the poor tree - "This will be you in a few weeks!"

GP#2: The Pleasure of making homeade chocolate chip cookies (of course using my mother-in-law's famous pudding recipe) with my best friend Becky after the kids went to sleep. Wait, I mean the kids went to bed, and not actually to sleep. The guilt came when Chicken Little kept asking from her bed "Mommy, what are you making?" every time the beaters turned on and as I licked the spatula...and maybe the bowl.

GP#3: The Pleasure of eating chocolate chip cookies with our best friends and just catching up. The guilt - enjoying the conversation so much that I missed the timer on the last round of cookies. Just when I was taking pleasure in my new found fame as a decent cook/baker, I magically transformed myself from the Maker of Amazing Cookies to the Creator of Hockey Pucks.

Oh well, easy come, easy go. I am already snuggled down by the fire with my plate of milk and cookies - just hoping my little wee friends, the mice, don't want to join in on this guilty pleasure.

December 13, 2010

The Great Cheese Slice in the Sky

Jerry met his maker and went to the Great Cheese Slice in the Sky the very next day after he tried to snuggle with me. However, I had a eerie premonition that he wasn't alone. Everyday since Thanksgiving when The Horror occurred, I have tread very carefully upstairs. Well tonight, I explored my premonition by checking the trap upstairs that was expertly positioned by our paint supplies. I didn't see anything, but apparently, I am blind, because his cohort in crime, Jerrette, had recently joined him in the Great Cheese Slice in the Sky. AMP just descended the stairs with the wee monster, and panic is back in the house.

I am currently debating between my own personal rock and hard place - new house (get ready to be bankrupted selling this one) or getting Chicken Little the cat that she so desperately wants (never mind the small, very insignificant fact that she is insanely allergic to them). Just as a note, I am a badge-carrying cat hater.

December 12, 2010

Chicken goes AMP

I am looking for an excuse, if any has one, for what just happened. I wandered into the kitchen to start up the Keurig, and then jumped back into the dining room to manage the wee chicks eating their eggs, AMP's best batch in 10 years. There was some polite discussion (pushing and crying) over the seating arrangements, and a little animal game being played (including some cheating and "Dora is not an animal!"). So I guess it is no wonder that I found this in the kitchen - coffee made and dispensed.....must remember the coffee cup next time.

December 10, 2010

Fa la la la lah!

Last night we went to get our Christmas tree at the local Catholic church, whose men's ministry sells them. For the third year in a row, they are oddly enough closed each time we arrive (Dare we say warning call?). So while the three chicks did have a blast chasing each wildly in and about the trees - it was not as a picturesque as it sounds. 19 freezing cold degrees in the concrete jungle of our neighborhood Home Depot, but I still got some pictures, and we got an amazing tree - carted home on the little red minivan.

Tonight, after 3 hours of pizza, 30 minutes of Grinch on TV, 2 cups of hot cocoa, 1 massive roaring fire, 0 broken ornaments (still surprised about that one), and the 4 strands of new lights that AMP read my mind and surprised me with, the deChicken Family Christmas is proudly and beautifully glowing in the corner window. Christmas is coming-and we deChickens are almost ready!

December 9, 2010

Little and Nugget Sayings

Just as a note, my charming little Pollo is also saying hilarious things, but it is primarily the way he says things, in his small little spanglish accent, that is what cracks us up the most and doesn't neccessarily translate well into this forum. The other two are just plain crazy:

"I want to get on an airplane - I miss Jesus and want to go see him." announces Chicken Nugget at the dinner table

"Does the Devil brush his teeth?" Chicken Little at bedtime to procrastinate

"How do you spell their number?"Chicken Nugget trying to call Grandpa to wish him a Happy Birthday

"Mommy, you have a gobble-gobble," as Chicken Little grabs the skin under my neck

"I no poo-poo in the potty" Chicken Nugget in rebellion mid-situation as I scoop her up and smack her down on the toilet, barely clearing the saw blade resting on the back of the seat - no judgment people, we are in construction!

"Mommy, Evan is my boyfriend and he LOVES me!", Chicken Little annouces to which I reply, "I thought Evan and Camilla (Chicken Little's best friend) were together and in love?" The response: "Nope. Now Camilla likes Jada." Jada is the third girl in the three best friends, so this surprises me a little. "Why does Camilla like Jada?" I ask nonchantly as I fold my pants.
"Because Jada is pretending to be Justin Beiber, and everyone loves Justin Beiber!" Obviously.

December 1, 2010

The Numbers

Children & AIDS - The Facts:

1,000 children a day are infected with HIV
2.5 million children are currently living with HIV/AIDS
16.6 million children have been orphaned by this disease.
280,000 children died of HIV/AIDS in 2008

3 and a half years ago, I came face to face with this disease for the first time. We were in Ethiopia, picking up Chicken Little, and we went to visit an orphanage for only HIV+ children, AHOPE for Children. At the time, HIV+ children were not allowed to be adopted, so they wanted to keep the children in a separate place, so they would not experience the pain of constantly seeing their friends going home to new families, and not have false hope of someday doing that themselves. Now that is not true, and more and more of these unbelievable children are getting a home and a family of their own. Also, at the time, AHOPE was hospice, as none of the children were getting the medication that would save their life. Now that is not true as well - since 2006 the children there have been receiving the ARV's and they are living.

Those two hours that we spent there that week were some of the most moving moments of my life. AMP and I walked up to that blue tin gate, with a couple packs of stickers, and some donations. We left an hour later, crying. Not because of the sadness of the children, but because of the complete "normalness" of the children we had just met. They wanted to be held, they wanted to show us their four new bikes someone had given them, they all wanted to play with the stickers we had brought, and the sunglasses we were wearing and to tell us about their school, and their friend, and.... I just sobbed when I left, the one and only time I cried in Ethiopia. Those kids gave the daunting numbers and statistics I had always heard, a face and name. That was "B..'s" or "E's" story - Now I knew some of the over 16 million children affected by HIV/AIDS. And once you know them, and know how very normal and wonderful they are, it is something you can not just push aside as "not my problem".

So, here are more facts about "our problem". This is an entirely preventable disease, if condoms are used, people don't share needles, and mothers that are HIV+ get access to treatment for childbirth. Once contracted, HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence like it once was. HIV is now listed a chronic illness, not a terminal one like it was before the introduction of the ARV drug cocktail in 1996. HIV/AIDS is a more manageable disease then diabetes, except that people with diabetes don't have to deal with the horrible social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

What can we do? We can advocate and educate everyone we know, so that the stigma goes away, just like the death sentence associated with the HIV+ diagnosis disappeared. We can give money to help support those 16.6 million children dealing with the intense repercussions of losing both a parent, and possibly their own health to HIV/AIDS. We can hope and pray for the imminent vaccine, and all the advancements in HIV/AIDS care. And most importantly, we can let one of the individuals with this disease into our hearts and our homes - to be our friends and family. They need us for support, for acceptance and for love.

Today is World AIDS Day - and I am reminded of one of the most stirring calls to action I have ever read:
"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"
Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, U.S.