Joke for God

Tonight after reading bedtime books, Manchild told me a joke, then it was time for prayers. As I was praying, he interrupted to say he had another joke.
“Tell it to God”, I told him, getting him used to the idea of chatting with God anytime.
He closes his eyes, the room is silent. I ask if he is praying. He indicates that he is praying in his head.
Then I see his head shake back and forth, no. Then stop.
Then he shakes it no again. Then waits. 
Then he nods up and down and a big grin spreads across his face.
“Did God get it?” I ask him.

Almost Made It To WOW

Today, I played hooky, AND IT WAS DELICIOUS! My drive to church was so pretty that, instead of attending my Wednesday morning women’s group (WOW- Women on Wednesdays), I hopped on the highway and left town. I wandered up through the gold and red fall foliage to my favorite spot, southern Pennsylvania. No particular destination in mind, I wanted a dose of freedom and all the eye candy I could take in. God’s fingerprints are all OVER fall, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Speaking of noticing things, I know, I know, I didn’t post anything new in October. But I have great excuses! First, my family drove down to New Orleans for our cousin’s wedding on October 13th (Girlchild was the flower girl), and then both Girlchild and Manchild had their tonsils out at the same time (while Captain Schenanigains was out of town) on October 19th. Throw in Halloween, and all spare time going towards building our new rabbit colony, and that pretty much sums up October.

Anyway, back to my stolen day alone. Since I missed the apple orchard I had vaguely considered going to, and was in the mood for a bit of exploring, I exited I-83 at York, turned right a few times, and found myself in Red Lion, Pa. A town I had heard of often, but never seen (lots of people selling chickens there on Craigslist).

It had a pretty little main street. The usual car parts stores and banks, along with a few places that had clearly been built for some other purpose. Like the Karate building that was obviously a store in it’s past life. But I’m happy the people of the township are able to breathe new life into these old buildings so that nothing stands empty. One particular  new store used to be a hair salon. Not bad for a small town!

As I poked along, I prayed for somewhere to pick up a few fun Christmas gifts and make this trip a bit more worth my while. Something to show for my time. About a minute later I came to Shadesville Hub and Corner Cafe. I was drawn in by the lure of the pink sign, and a promise of vintage and handmade goodies. ‘Nuff said! I parked around back, hustled up the steps, and found myself stepping into Etsy.

It was a seriously great idea for a store! There was a lunch counter with homemade food and desserts right inside the door, and then multiple other rooms of vintage, second hand, and crafted goods. But my FAVORITE part was that each of the 15-20 various display sections were run by a different seller. So you want chemical free soaps and shampoos, there’s a seller who makes that. You want jams, preserves, and sweet treats, there’s a seller for you. Are you looking for upcycled wine bottle gifts? Farm house decor? Pottery, unique jewelry, antiques, gourmet dog treats, knit gifts? It’s all there, sold by local citizens, just trying to get by. I love that. LOVE THAT!

I spent all morning pouring over each display (I never even made it upstairs to the used motorcycle wear section, what was I thinking?), and selected a bunch of gifts. I even treated myself to a few farmhouse themed must haves for my kitchen, along with a hand knit washable cover for my Swiffer mop. It can be used wet or dry, and keeps you from buying and throwing out replacements. Perfect! Some woman was very clever! She had sold so many of them I had to take the orange one off the display, the rest were all gone. It warms my heart to see good ideas flourishing at the grass roots level. Plus they were all very well priced. It pays to go off the beaten path (or offline)! 🙂


On the way home I stopped at Captain Schenanigan’s job to get some HUGE cardboard boxes. I need to get a start on next year’s new garden beds, and planned to use the cardboard as a bottom layer against weeds.  I also snagged a few nice pallets, because what can’t you make with pallets?

I stopped by my good friend Marti’s farm to pick up two bantam chicks. One sweet fuzzy gray mix, and a black and gold Sebright with a mullet that I suspect is a cockerel. I wanted to test out my new birthday present, a chick brooder heat plate (that won’t set my barn on fire). For that, I required volunteers.

When the school nurse called, I knew my day of hooky was over. Girlchild, my hypochondriac, had been complaining of a tummy ache since breakfast, and I agreed to pick her up early from the nurses office. While my freedom was fun while it lasted, I’d still sign up for the rigors of motherhood all over again. It’s painful and priceless, as most good things in life are.

So tonight, as wood smoke wafts into the air all over the country, and pumpkins decorate countless front steps, please know that I am grateful you stopped your autumn evening to  read my blog. I appreciate you, my faithful reader, and apologize for infrequent postings. I’m hoping for a very slow winter, with some quality stories to share. Just  between you, me, and the internet.

So when possible, eat local, shop local, and give local. Community is rare these days, and good relationships bloom wherever you water. Go in peace.



Love Knows No Age

Nothing personal, but I almost decided to shut this blog down. I had run out of things to say, and felt bad that people were checking and checking, with nothing new to read. Until today!

This morning was our family trip to the dentist. I had scheduled all four of us in back to back time slots, so that Captain Schenanigans is on site to help wrangle whomever wasn’t in the chair. I pulled the kids out of school mid-morning, loaded them into the van, and headed over to the dentist’s office.

En route, Manchild began to tell me about writing notes to Amelia, a little girl in his first grade class. Suspicious, I asked Manchild what the notes said. “Love,” he answered (written vocabulary is limited when you are six). I was a little surprised, and asked how Amelia reacted. “Oh, she cuts them up with scissors,” he told me, “The last one I had to say ‘stop cutting up my notes’.” My surprised heart was then saddened at the thought of this foolish little girl, who clearly did not see what a prize tender hearted warrior son was. But, oddly enough, Manchild was no worse for the wear because of it. He spoke about the whole situation as if he were discussing his school work. Very matter of fact, no disappointment in his voice.

Tucking that in the back of my mind (and by that I mean texting all of his grandparents and his dad from the waiting room), I let the subject drop and intentionally didn’t make a big deal over these first love notes. Bitter sweet as they were.

By afternoon I had returned the kids to school and  noticed that I had another hen with a coccidia parasite. This facilitated a run to Tractor Supply for mdication, and a 30 minute drive each way. Pleeeeenty of togetherness time for the three of us (Captain volunteers with the middle school youth group on Friday nights and has a get out of jail free card).

After our errand, as we were winding through the Maryland countryside heading back to suburbia, Manchild made a statement. “I wish you were going to have more babies, Mom. Then I would marry Marti ,and introduce the babies to her so they can see how nice she is”. To explain, Marti is a close friend of ours. I met her through chicken dealings on Craigslist, and she’s become of on our favorite friends. Marti has grown-up children who are married, and never fails to spoil my kids rotten with candy and soda whenever we drop off unwanted roosters. Marti has a farm, a chicken business, goats, plants, and a full time job. She is my chicken & garden mentor, and the first person I call when I get in over my head with livestock. It was Marti who told me what to buy at Tractor Supply.

I pointed out to Manchild as we drove that we don’t need more siblings in the family to bring Marti into our family. If he wanted Marti to become part of our family (because he loved her so much), he could just marry her himself (Marti’s husband passed away a few years ago). Manchild pondered this, then asked me to text this information to Marti. I explained that I was driving, but he could call her if he liked. “I’m feeling shy”, came a small voice from the back seat. “Can you call her?” he asked.

Enjoying the situation immensely, and knowing Marti would get a kick out of it, I called her. I told Marti that Manchild had told me she does such a great job taking care of us when we visit, and being so good to us, that Manchild would like her to join our family by marrying him. She laughed!  HARD!

“You know, ” I told her, “You’re not going to find a sweeter guy than Manchild.”

“Nor a more handsome or daring one,” She agreed.

Marti stated that she would accept Manchild’s offer of marriage, despite a 50 year age gap, and have a big hug and a kiss ready for him next time we visited. We giggled and laughed as Marti stated this had been the highlight of her evening!

Getting off the phone, Manchild asked me how Marti responded. “She accepted your offer, Manchild.” I relayed teh entire conversation back to him.

“Really? She’ll marry me!” Manchild stated with excitement. “Yay! Now I can stop writing all those notes to Amelia!”

      And that, dear reader, is the end of my day! 🙂




It’s Not Just The Good Times

I’ve been waiting for yesterday to come for months! It was the day of the Hereford Junior Farm Fair, but that wasn’t what I was excited about. The fact that one particular chicken, Hank-the-Hen, won first place was exactly what I was hoping for. Not because everyone loves a winner, but because it makes for a better thank you note for my pharmacist, after he let me lure him into practicing veterinary medicine in the absence of a poultry vet. Grocery store pharmacist would be your the next logical source of help, right?

See, back in April Manchild’s favorite hen was mauled by our large puppy…twice. The first time I sewed her up with dissolving sutures. Then I went on a Girls Week-end and Captain Schenanigans had to sew her up the second time with regular thread and a straight needle. No fun for anyone. Given the antibiotics my friend had laying around, I just needed to know how to dose her. Enter my invaluable local pharmacist, who told us how to dose a 5lb child with that medication, and left us to draw our own conclusions.   Worked like a charm, no infections, and the hen healed beautifully. Enough that she just won a first place blue ribbon at yesterday’s fair. Isn’t that crazy!? I snapped the picture below, printed it out, and tucked it into the note of gratitude for our pharmacist.

20180804_124849 (1)

While that was what I was hoping to gain from the fair, it was by far not all that we took away from this day of fun (well, for the kids and I, Captain Schenanigans told me he is not a farmer). Both kids earned $20 in premiums for entering their animals, won ribbons for every animal they entered, and LOVED educating anyone willing to listen about their livestock. Several friends came out to support the kids and their little chests swelled with pride!



20180804_115208 20180804_114954 20180804_120929 All our girls got ribbons!  


After the exhaustion of yesterday’s many wins, I slept in and we went to the late service at church today. In an effort to beautify herself, Girlchild drenched herself in strawberry scented body spray. It has a nice smell, in small doses. I now limit her to 2-3 sprays per dosing, but never considered she’d re-apply an hour later. But shortly after the service started, my girl reaches into her miniature purple duffel bag, whips out her bottle of spray, and anoints herself.

Moments later I hear the woman behind me sniffling. I wait, and the sniffing continues. I realize I failed to turn around and greet this couple during the meet and greet portion of the service, and feel bad about that. After one more sniffle I turn around during a song, lean into her, and apologize if my daughter’s aroma has kicked off her allergies. The woman told me in a heavy Korean accent that no, it wasn’t allergies. She was going through some hard things in her life and was actually crying. I lean into her, wrapped my arms around this stranger, and squeezed hard.

Near the end of the service, the couple behind me got up to leave early. Before they left the row, the woman leans in, taps me on the shoulder, and thanked me for my warm hug, it was just what she needed she said. I pondered the fact that if it wasn’t for the fact that my blonde girl coated her body in perfume, I would have never felt responsible for this woman’s sniffles, and would have assumed allergies and never turned around. I’m so happy my girl has no olfactory self-awareness!

But in all seriousness, it is those imperfect situations that bring us into the lives of others. And us into theirs. The real stuff of life, like blizzards and downed tree, that bring neighborhoods together and form relationships. I appreciate how God made this the side effects of hardships. I know this was part of his grand design all along. That sounds like my God. 🙂



There Is Always A New Bad Decision Just Waiting To Be Made.


This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. But one of us woke up with strep throat this morning, and she’s been particularly lacking in rejoice-ability today.  It didn’t help that when we went to the doctor’s office (praise God they are open on Sundays) for a strep test, I requested Girlchild’s ears be cleaned out as well. The full 30,000 mile tune-up. Ear cleaning is the most dreaded procedure in Girlchild world. But she was not alone in her misery.

Out in the backyard, I had a small hutch containing 4 chicks that were sick. Hunched over, eyes closed, and puffed up, they did not look good. I was treating them with antibiotics, but wished I had vitamins and electrolytes as well. I was fresh out.

Just after a special take-out lunch of Panera Bread soup in bread bowls, hoping to get Girlchild to eat, we noticed on of my youngest hens was lethargic as well. I scooped her up, did a bit of doctoring, and decided at that moment we needed to go to Tractor Supply for supplements. While Girlchild may be ill, Tractor Supply was her favorite store. She grabbed the dog (who was welcome in this store) and hopped in the van. Manchild and Captain Schenanigans were at church, it being Sunday and all.

Typically, when walking Grover Dog, we use a regular leash. As recommended by Pet Smart’s puppy training class. But in the van, kept just for a pinch, we have a retractable leash. Girlchild suggested we just use that for our journey through Tractor Supply, and I agreed. We rarely see another dog at TSC, and Grover loves to follow his girl faithfully.

What I failed to know is that Sunday is the day a veterinarian comes to Tractor Supply for an immunization clinic of sorts. There was a line of 20 dogs just inside the door when we arrived, and happy ready-to-play Grover could not curb his enthusiasm. Girlchild was losing her control over him, and this little retractable leash was hardly doing it’s job.

In an effort to get through our shopping without any dog encounters (some pups were angry and scared), I scooped up 50lb Grover and plopped him into our shopping cart. He froze like a statue and we proceeded to gather supplies. A few moments later Grover was crying. I looked down and noticed that two of his toes on his left paw were wedged completely through one square of the plastic bottom of the cart. They were stuck, and they were stuck good!

I tried to pull Grover’s paw gently, but he screamed out in pain and tried to gnaw my hands off his leg. I tried to push up from underneath the cart, but the pads of both toes had gone completely through the small plastic square together, and the toes were beginning to swell. There was no wiggle room at all, and any time you attempted to free him, the dog howled in pain.

I eyed the line of dogs and people waiting in line for the vet, and didn’t have the guts to cut in front of them. Girlchild was panicking and asking if her dog was going to die. I needed some form of oil or grease. So we pushed through the swinging double doors to the back stock room, and found two female employees helping a man load sacks of pig feed.

“Um, excuse me. My dog’s toes are stuck in the bottom of the cart and I can’t get them out.” I began.

“This is the worst day of my life! Is he going to die?” Girlchild wailed, her big blue eyes filling up with tears. Immediately all three people were hovering over my cart, trying to free my dog without getting chewed up or causing pain. It was a dicey situation. Both ladies kept remarking that in all their years working at TSC, they’ve never had a dog with it’s toes trapped in a cart. Shocking, right? I would be the first.

The staff tried oil, and in the mean time sent for a vet tech. The oil only moved the toes a tiny bit while I gyrated the paw in a circle, and one staff lady pushed up from the bottom.  The vet tech walked in, declared she had never seen anything like this, and was unable to help. She left, and we called for the vet. I felt bad pulling the doctor away from the huge line, but it’s not like I could plop my dog in a car and go to a Pet ER. I can’t call 911. I can’t leave the store. Who do you call when you dog is stuck inside a shopping cart?

The vet came back, noticeably irritated, pulled out the stuck paw, told us to make sure Grover could walk, and left in seconds. I was elated!!! The staff and I rejoiced until Girlchild returned, and made her first happy face of the day.  Girlchild had ask at least 15 times if her dog was going to die,  before finally escaping to the bathroom and missing the big toe release. When she came back to the stock room, she was thrilled to find that her pup had gained his freedom. I lifted my mini-Holstein out of the cart and watched him walk. He was so happy and puppy like, it was as if the past 1/2 hour had never happened. I love that about dogs, they just live in the moment!

The staff ladies made sure I insisted that Grover get a treat at the check-out counter for his bravery today. I sure did. The first time I checked out. I was so flustered and unable to find what I needed that I ended up checking-out three times that trip.

After the first check-out, I learned where the vitamins were actually kept (NOT in the chick aisle) and told Girlchild and Grover to stand at the front of the store and wait while I went for what we needed.

“Are you going to come back?” Girlchild asked.

“You mean for you?” I questioned, not understanding and heading towards the back of the store. Girlchild stood by the only exit to the parking lot.

“Yes. Are you going to come back?”

“As opposed to leaving you to live at Tractor Supply with Grover?”


“Girlchild, in 8 years of parenting, have you developed no trust in me at all?”

“I just want to know if you’re going to come back.”

“Yes, Girlchild, I am going to come back. I will always come back for you. ” I said in disbelief.

Girlchild made sure, several times, on the way home that I was aware that this was the “worst day of my life”. When you are an anxious 8 year old girl, I can under stand that. I was proud of myself for not crying in the stock room 25 minutes into a failing paw retraction. But once again the day did end in rejoicing. While my sad little hen did end up dying, the 4 chicks are improving, and my dog has all his digits. I planted several promising twigs that I purchased at Tractor Supply, for which I have hope by next spring will look more like the beautiful hydrangeas, loganberries, and roses promised on the boxes.  We have hope, we rejoice, and we endure, because the Lord goes before us.




The Giver


Today is the last day of school. We are all moving in slow motion, because the stakes are low. The kids will be in school for all of 4 hours, and it will mostly be watching movies, not learning. Like a public daycare.

I don’t care, because my goal for the morning is to finish painting the dining room yellow. So long as those precious angels are not in MY hair, you can educate them or not. Your call, have fun.

During morning chores today I was feeding the hens and could barely hear someone calling my name over all the cackling squawks of the feathered beggars. I have my own girls, plus ten extra birds that I am chicken sitting for some missionary friends. We get so many eggs a day, I’m excited to pick which neighbor I’ll share with next. My own flock is too small and rare (not high production layers) to produce enough to give away. But I love ’em just the same.

Anyway, I holler back a few times before Captain Schenanigains intervenes in a deep voice that carries over the noise. Manchild is looking for the fake cactus I brought him back from my Girls Week-end in York, PA this spring. Due to a tantrum he’d thrown after he’d helped me pick out my own decorative cacti (who will never turn brown on me and complain about watering habits), Manchild had exclaimed he thought by helping to pick some out, they belonged to him. I corrected him, thus the tantrum. Then I gave him his very own a week later, when he no longer wanted one or cared.

The minute I saw Manchild carrying around Christmas gift bag in June and asking for the special cactus, I knew. Manchild is a Giver deep inside, way down under the warrior exterior who loves nothing more than poking his sister with his light saber and making her yell. He loves his people deeply, and today was the last day of kindergarten, with his beloved teacher.

Manchild located the cactus, stuffed it in the huge green and red gift bag, then scurried off to complete his mission. I finished feeding and watering the hen, moved on to chirpy chicks, then finish with the ever patient, if not naturally silent, rabbits. They never complain, although the pregnant ones will huff at me, but I totally get that. I did my fair share of huffing when I was full of babies as well.

Back in the house, I get the full report from Manchild. He’s wrapped up the faux cactus, then moved on to the ceramic Irish Setter I’d given him last month from my childhood belongings. I’d saved an assortment of random, very breakable, farm animals for him that I had kept on a shelf in my room as a girl. One he had  given back to me as a Memorial Day gift (yes, my kids give gifts on Memorial Day – I had nothing to do with it), a perfectly detailed Boxer dog. Seeing how his classroom was decked out in canine paraphernalia as the Watchdogs, an Irish Setter with sentimental value seemed entirely appropriate for his teacher.

But as sweet as those two gifts were, it’s this last one that gets me right in the heart. See, we NEVER buy Oreos. That’s what we in the weight loss world call a Bad Decision. But yesterday I had no option but to take the kids grocery shopping with me, and as a celebration of summer, we picked out cookies. Manchild chose Oreos, and I upgraded him to Double Stuf (I hate the way they spell that). It was a BIG deal. So imagine my reaction when Manchild tells me he’s bagged up a Ziplock full of these delectable treats for his favorite teacher. I was floored. He was just so darn generous for being such a stinker much of the time!

While I doubt his teacher knows the value of each selected gift, and it’s a coin toss if you actually eat second hand cookies brought to you in an unlabeled bag by a six year old boy, I am pleased no less. My son has the making of an empathetic, strong, generous man. To a mama struggling against a short fussed boy with quick fists and an even faster temper, this was water to my worried soul. He just may turn out better than I’d dreamed of, and that is all God’s work alone. I take no credit for the inner workings of this boy. I love him to pieces, but I was not the designer of those pieces. Just the mama who keeps them oiled and working, scraping off rough edges when I can and polishing as much as I can reach. Really, it’s the fingerprints of God that are on each part of our children. Don’t you see it when you look at them?

So now as I sit on my back deck at 11:15am on a Friday morning, still typing instead of painting. I am once again reminded how much I love sharing my life with each of you, and writing up these blog entries. I am grateful for each of you who takes the time to read them, and completely understand everyone else in this busy world who doesn’t. After all, I’m just another mam who’s trying…

I’d taken two months off while I published Homemade Schenanigans as a book on Amazon, and that was a nice break. But I’m glad to be back. I hope today’s entry finds each of you well and hopeful, in every section of the world you are tucked in!  Go blessed, my friend, and keep reading!