The Times They Are A Changing

Exciting things have been happening here at the Schenanigans Homestead! For starters, 7yr old Girlchild invited me to “go jogging” with her, completely out of the blue, on Sunday afternoon. I was surprised, but since I am not in shape, I am into promoting healthy lifestyles in my kids. So of course I said yes! She tried to to get me into a tank top and bike pants like her, but even I have my limits.

We warmed up, set off down the block, and kept a fairly evenly matched pace. Girlchild was a lot more springy than I, sort of like a crack addicted gazelle cheering on an elephant on roller skates, but we looped the block (walking on occasion by mutual agreement) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I thanked her for inviting me, and requested we do it again soon. And I really meant it!

Monday morning Girlchild woke up sick. We took it easy.

Today, after I picked up the kids, cooked dinner, served the family, combated the complaining, and settled into my evening on the deck, Girlchild invited me jogging once again. Right after dinner. Captain Schenanigans brewed me a cup of coffee, Girlchild tried again to get me into a tank top (they just aren’t long enough for leggings, trust me), and I donned my shoes. Off we went, same hilly loop, but the opposite direction for extra spice.

Then a funny thing happened. Manchild talked Captain Schenanigans into taking him on a bike ride, each man on his own cycle (when you bike with a 5yr old, sometimes it’s just easier to remain on foot), riding through the neighborhood on their own exercise regime. Girlchild and I crossed paths with them during our cool down walk, and informed them of her plans for us. First we walk. Then stretch. Next we take turns lifting the 5lb hand weights I kept in the living room for decoration.  Then we finish up by eating fruits and vegetables. The perfect plan by my 4ft Coach. I added hydration to our plan, but we stuck to the rest. Ending with carrots and hummus. I am amazed that a 7yr old girl can start a chain reaction that ends with the whole family getting exercise. Not too shabby.

The next piece of exciting new is that I have a plan for getting PUBLISHED!!! Not sure I ever shared this with you, but 8 years ago I wrote a novel. It’s a fiction piece, loosely based on my life during the 2 years I lived in Cortez, CO, working as a nurse on the Navajo Reservation. I finished the book, titled it Blue Cottage Life, and then had a baby.

Since my kids are priority over writing novels, I was not a publishing agent’s dream. I had no contacts, no reason to believe I could get anyone’s attention in order to publish my book, and no time to write another. So I shelved it (figuratively, anyway), until life slowed down.

However, in that 8 year time period, unbeknownst to me, online books, kindles, e-books, and Amazon all ramped up in popularity. Publishing in that capacity had gotten easier, and this week I came across a an online link explaining how to publish your novel online and sell it for a couple bucks a pop. Apparently when you factor in binding costs and a whole bunch of other stuff that happens when you publish a hard copy of a book, the amount one makes from an e-book isn’t that far off from a real one. Who knew? Either way, I’m just excited to have a shot at getting published in any form. Along with a reason to write a second book… one day.

Lastly, we have a new chicken in the backyard. Her name is Sunset, Sunny for short (they all have nicknames). I had to cull Girlchild’s beloved Lavender who had been limping around the yard with a double foot infection for a week. I had tried to treat this chronic infection multiple times in the past year, but she just couldn’t kick it. Then it got bad enough to make her limp. It was time to send Lavender to see Jesus; and to tell Girlchild she died peacefully in her sleep. In God’s typical perfect timing, that night an old friend randomly texted and asked me if I’d like to buy a new chicken- he had too many. Now, with in the same moment that Girlchild learned her hen was dead, she learned that she was on her way to pick out a new bird in 30 minutes. It was an almost painless transition. Almost.

I walked back into my bedroom after the hard moment of telling Girlchild the sad news, and found her curled up in a little ball, silently weeping. Manchild was curled up behind her, arms around her body, holding her as her little girl tears rolled down her face. It was a beautiful moment. Man they can be sweet sometimes.

Anyway, so tonight I am all hopped up on endorphins and coffee, and my AMAZING husband shows me an artfully altered picture from our past. It has the words Blue Cottage Life across the top, and my name on the bottom. It’s the mock-up of the cover to my NEW BOOK! So dear readers, if you love me at all, or even kinda like me a little for helping you fall asleep at night, pray that I make it to published author status! It’s on my bucket list, and I do love to write. Then I can tell all the people who tell me “You should write a book”, that I already did!


Nothing a Little Tractor Can’t Fix



Bark/cough, thump. Bark/cough, thump. Bark/cough, thump. Whining cold, wet, sleepy boy thumping down the stairs and crawling over me waaaaay too early before the sun was scheduled to arise. Manchild had a croup cough (plus had wet his bed), and my desire to keep him calm so he could breathe was strongly influenced by the fact I had no interest in steaming up the bathroom at this hour of the day to open up his airways. Who gets croup in August anyway? As a nurse, naturally, my kid does. He settles down, dozes til we get up, then sits through a steamy shower. Much better. For now.

Thus began the trickle down effect of modifications and cancellations that must occur each time a child wakes up ill. Yes, we could still meet the 4-H volunteers at the State Fair Grounds to help them pack up chicken crates for this week-end’s fair at the Baltimore County Ag Center, but instead of helping, Manchild would now be lounging on a portable cot while playing the Dots game on my tablet.

No, we could no longer keep our play date with some dearly missed friends, and Girlchild was beside herself with Feelings (not to mention suggestions) about how to rectify this situation. We were all fighting post-nasal drip, and the plan now was to lay low and keep it to ourselves. Easier said than done.

Starting with an unscheduled trip to the local second hand store to donate extra furniture leftover from this week-end’s game of Schenanigan’s bedroom roulette. Then off to the Fairground where I stayed out of the sight of the Schenaninganlets for 19 minutes too long during my 20 minutes with the volunteer, and returned (10 yards around a corner) to 2 crying children with mottled red faces. Cue the Mama Guilt.

We press on to deliver a 4-H Membership Card to a friend and help his mama with fair registration, then meet FunAuntJessie for lunch. It really was fun.

By now everyone is drooping and Manchild is hacking, so we return home to re-dose on antihistamines and regroup. Realistically, drug the kids and let them watch Netflix. During this a woman came to buy a wooden table we no longer needed after changing bedrooms, and I sold it for $10. Not much, but considering I lifted it from a curb in our neighborhood last year and invested no work into it, that’s a deal to me! The money went into the Skateland fund in which the kids are saving up (via me selling my possessions on Craigslist- go figure that one) for an afternoon of family skating with lots of friends invited. The Schenanignalets love to watch the money in the pot grow (or in this case, our gravy boat).

Now for the sticky part of the day. SOooooo, it turns out that the sophomore slump of Fair Exhibiting is real. While I had managed to meet all the deadlines, clear my animals health,  and show up with extensive paperwork in had at both fairs we entered last year, that was due to a LOT more hand holding than I gave myself credit for. This year was different, by a lot!

For starters, Girlchild nearly missed showing her artwork in the Baltimore County 4-H Fair last month because the deadline was over 5 weeks  before the date of the Fair. I assumed I misread the information, surely no one was ready to make decisions on entries that early in the game, right? Oh, so, so, wrong. I ended up calling and e-mailing anyone I could to bend the rules so my little Clover (too young to be a real 4-H Member, so they are called Clovers) could enter her dearly made 6 art projects in the Fair. Then proceeding to cry in my cubicle at work over my own lack of organization. She was going to miss entering the 4-H Fair and it was all my fault.

Thankfully, the 4-H Board had mercy on me and allowed this ONE TIME late entry, along with a stern letter arriving later in the week, informing me that this shall never happen again. I got it. Scared straight. You betcha!

Except that I didn’t have it ALL. Today is Wednesday, the only fair Girlchild and Manchild are both able to enter their animals in is this week-end, and guess who forgot to get their chicken’s blood tested for a disease that no bird in Maryland has had in 20 years? This mom. In my defense, last year an e-mail went out in the required 10 day span before the Fair instructing us to bring our birds to a designated place for testing at a certain time (the results were only good for 10 days). This year, there was no e-mail, it was every man (or mama) for themselves, and I had forgotten about the whole darn thing.

By now  I am downloading the very short list of approved Baltimore County bird testers from the Maryland Dept of Agriculture Website, and leaving pitiful voicemail messages on stranger’s phones. No one calls back, and only 1 woman answers her phone. She has no testing materials, and lives 2 hours away. I would have driven it! That day, packed up both sniffling children and hauled 6 hens on the 4 hour round trip mission. But it wasn’t an option. Only cancelling my plans for over half our Fair entries was an option, and it stunk.

So I found the kids with my head hung low, broke the bad news to them that none of the chickens could go, and apologized like a champion. Girlchild could care less, she had 2 rabbits going already. Manchild was devastated. His bunnies are a little more, um, resistant, to his personal contact, so I had planned to leave them home and load him up with poultry that can be shown without touching them. No chance of anyone making a break for their freedom since they are shown in cages.  But now a tearful Manchild informs me that so long as he can take 1 rabbit, he’ll be okay with missing the birds.

Back to the phone. I contact the volunteer I helped this morning and threw myself on his good graces. I know the admissions forms are no longer available on the internet. I know the entries are closed. But I messed up, and could we puh-lease just add one more little bunny to the list? He was gracious, allowed the change, and informed me that while Manchild may win ribbons, it was too late for him to win the $1 premuims that each child entering would be awarded for their animal. That was fine, I’ll pay him a dollar myself and he’ll never care who it came from, just THANK YOU for letting me enter this doe!

Then I e-mail the MD Dept of Agriculture and requested registration information on becoming a flock tester ASAP. We will NOT have this problem next year, I’m going to do it myself!

Sushi for dinner (no, I didn’t make it, who has that kind of time?) and say bye to Daddy (who was headed to worship team practice at church), then the kids and I head north to nearly the PA line. We are meeting a farmer who advertised having a steer going to slaughter on Craigslist and 1/2 to 1/4 of a cow for sale. I’ve already got a local pork farmer who I buy half a hog from yearly, so this process isn’t foreign to me, but I need to lay eyes on his land, his animals, and him before I make any promises. You gotta be sure he’s not just some guy living in a condo, wearing skinny jeans and Ugg boots, and scamming people for money online. Farmers never wear hipster clothes, tip off number one!

The farmer meets me at the bottom of the lane, and directs us over to a couple of Jersey (dairy cow) steers (bulls that are castrated)that he has been raising on 7 acres of pasture. For 3 animals, they have it made in the shade with all those lush green plants and grass. We chit-chat a while, check out the market ready steer and his 2 new calves, then decided to head on up to the house to review the paperwork.

As I head to my van, Manchild looks at me, looks to the farmer, and declares he wants to ride on the tractor to the house. Our farmer doesn’t hesitate a beat before agreeing to this manly request, settling Manchild on his lap and proceeding to lead us up the lane. Halfway there he puts his arms out to the sides, indicating that Manchild is now DRIVING the tractor, and doing a darn fine job of it!


Girlchild and I are now left to follow this stranger, who tenderly has my son, up this long gravel lane to the house. I allow Girlchild to sit in the passenger seat instead of her booster- it was the least I could do.

We go through paperwork, settle on a plan, and then I am handed a plastic bag full of 3lbs of frozed ground beef and 2 very large steaks. A parting gift, vacuum sealed by the local butcher, intended to seal the deal. It works. Between the beautiful scenery of winding through green country at dusk, a farmer grandpa letting my 5 year old son drive his tractor, and enough red meat to feed us for a week (for free!), our day has settled to a gentle ending.


As the kids lay re-dosed in their own rooms now, I am now surprised at how easily we all (mostly me) adjusted to the loss of plans to show our beloved yard birds. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers, and I am happy to have learned that my kids are now old enough to wash my van windows at the local gas station during our pit stop on the way home. They were TERRIBLE at it, never once using the squeegee part, but I didn’t care. Just watching them try was entertainment enough. A sweet ending to an all-over-the-map kind of a day, with not enough coffee in the world to make it feel right. But God fixed it up quite nicely in the end. Bonus tidbit, my   ‘Save A Farm, Eat Local” car decal should be arriving in the mail tomorrow! Woot-WOOT!


Here Chicken, Chicken!

The summer began with a splat. Actually, it was more like a gentle thump. The sound of one small triangular bite of boiled potato rebounding off the cheek of my 7yr old daughter- who happened to be refusing to eat her vegetables. Now normally I am against wasting food, I have chickens for leftovers after all, but the truth of the matter is that I made (and served) 10lbs of these boiled red potatoes 3 days ago, and this was the 3rd round of leftovers. What we did with them today wasn’t going to have any impact on the starving people around the world. I’d just as soon of have had all the guests eat them, than be stuck with the last pound in my fridge. Not to mention my 2 children who don’t care for spuds much beyond french fries.

So there we were, dining in the backyard during the last week of school, waiting for daddy to come home. Girlchild was refusing to take a bite of her vegetable and so I tossed a chunk at her mouth. The direct hit surprised her, and got her laughing, which opened her mouth. So I aimed another chunk, and fired. Should have been a clear shot, what with the gaping holes in her mouth where her baby teeth used to reside. But she whipped her head to the side and this one glanced off her nose. I kept going, one at a time. Persistence. I’ve heard it can take 11 exposures to a food to get a kid to like it. Surely 11 shots of potato fired at your pie hole couldn’t be all that different?

It wasn’t long before Girlchild started flicking spuds back. Now Manchild wanted in on the fun, and drove up in his power wheels gator, mouth open for a clean shot. But I can’t do distance any better than up close, and potatoes don’t arc quite like popcorn does, so all of my shots fell short and land on his shoulders. The young ‘ens begin to argue, naturally, and I ask Manchild to please do something (I can’t remember what). He fails to acknowledge my request, and ends up with a whole hand full of buttered taters splattering across the side of his face and into the yard. I’d grabbed a handful and launched to get this attention. Mama doesn’t like to be ignored. Now we were all howling with laughter so hard we barely noticed Captain Schenanigans stepping on to the deck. The children catch him up to speed on our Mommy-induced food fight, and he silently shakes his head. There is minimal surprise on his face. This should tell me something…

One week later we are our own band of gypsies going down the highway, heading to Birmingham, AL (catching up with close friends and reconnecting our children to their pre-arranged future spouses), then Liberty, MS (visiting one of our favorite aunts and a great-grandmother), before landing in New Orleans, LA (staying with more beloved in-law family, attending a cousin’s wedding, then going on a swamp tour in Lafayette).  It was a grand adventure, and thanks to GPS, Manchild never once asked “are we there yet?”. Nope, he now requests to know “When are we going to reach our destination?” 🙂

Did I mention this was our kids first time staying in a hotel? All totaled they spent 4 nights in 3 different hotels and it blew their little minds! They piled the excessive amounts of pillows on their dad and sat on him, watched strangers below going to the Garth Brooks concert at the Cajundome, and slept as though they couldn’t get far enough away from each other!unnamed (20)unnamed (19)

But I believe I speak for all of us when I say that one of our favorite parts of the trip was the Swamp Tour!  We visited Basin Landing, after repeatably reassuring Girlchild that we knew what we were doing, we were relatively competent parents, and no children had ever been eaten during a gator tour. She had her doubts, but since we gave her no other options, she decided to tag along.    

I think our tour guide was Tucker, at least I recall it starting with a T on his faded camouflage shirt. He was as native as they came down there, and even spoke to the gators in French. Essentially, the swamp boat was your basic food truck for the alligators, and Tucker would call each gator he recognized in a certain area by name, feed them chicken, and in return they would let him pet and show them off without de-limbing him. It seemed like a fair trade to me. What didn’t make sense to me was the overwhelming urge I had to pet the gators. We had been warned against reaching for them on the dock, and it seemed like a no brainer at the time. But each time I thought one of those giant marsh lizards wasn’t looking I was wanted to reach over the boat and give him a pat. ‘Cept 2 Schenaniganlets would do it too, then we’d all have to walk the plank of shame as we were kicked off the boat. Least that’s how it plays out in my mind.

Tucker had some great history and stories of the swamp, even hunted and raised gators himself at times. I’m sure he had even more to tell, but Manchild kept stealing his thunder by interrupting with stories of the Crocodile Hunter; Tucker’s Aussie nemesis (or so I like to think). As per anytime we go out into public, there wasn’t a person in a 40ft radius who wasn’t subjected to one of Manchild’s tales. The boy does love to share.

But after we got back, had a lunch of alligator and crawfish parts, and recounted our favorite events of the day, Girlchild had to admit she enjoyed the tour. Despite the fact that we all think the hunting cabins floating in the middle of the water are just plain crazy, we did like blasting through the swamp and running over stuff, just so long as the boat didn’t linger anywhere too long.


So now we are back home for a while, fully immersed in Summer Bible Camp at church and sorely missing sleeping in. I’ve had all the fried food I can stomach til Christmas, and Jesus is gonna have to help me to tolerate another 8hrs in the van next month (heading out on our Super Family Camping Trip). But for now, I’m going to attempt to relax in the moment, enjoy being home, and thank God I don’t live in gator country. ‘Cause they like poultry even more than I do, and we just hatched a fresh batch of ducklings!


Summer Crazy, Summer Not.

If you happen to mow your lawn, and find multiple pairs of toddler socks that your wounded hens kicked off during their last bout of Bumblefoot, you might be a Redneck.   You could just be a child of God, uniquely made, eternally loved, and kind to animals. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t also be a Redneck.


If your cat is tied to the front yard light, dead center in the middle of your lawn, right there for all the neighbors to see as they return home from their commutes, you are not so much a Redneck as a law-abiding citizen. One who acknowledges that this hood has a leash law, and your cat is a complete tool – who likes to make your neighbor cry. This is further evidenced by said yellow cat giving you the stink eye through the screen door as your husband walks past him with pizza boxes.  Welcome home, Honey, ignore the crying sack of fur.

But if like us, you, too, are in the antechamber of Summer, just itching for the fun to begin but not quite free of school yet (Baltimore County doesn’t let go until June 13th), you might be feeling a little crazy. You might feel a bit fidgety to get on that family road trip. So much that you take a short week-end sprint up to PA. Perhaps convince yourself to sleep in your van with 2 spawn, and to call it camping because you are at a campsite. Feelings are crazy things, you know, and they make you do a lot of stuff.

Like deciding to take a cave tour at Woodward Campground in PA, bumming around the town square in beauuuuutiful Millheim, and feeding the town flock of ducks as though it were a novelty and you don’t own a single fowl at home. But that’s not enough. I’m ready to go. I want more out of this summer, and I’m full of ideas! 20170603_14511120170603_12511420170603_144251



Ideas such as renting my chickens to fellow suburbanites in order to help rid their back yards of ticks. The new Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI- see the CDC link plus the ever present Lyme disease has the Public Health Nurse in me in high gear. Chickens love to eat ticks. HOA’s hate having chickens. Enter my brainchild of renting a few of my girls in a portable pen on wheels to those who could benefit from a day of old fashioned tick removal, without bee killing chemicals. Sounds crazy, right? Yeah, 99% of Craigslist agreed with you. They didn’t call.

Except for that one lady. The one who texted me and asked if I would charge the same price to provide my rented hens for her kid’s birthday party, and by the way did I have any chicks? I believe I’ve covered the chick/divorce inverse relationship here on my blog before, so needless to say, no, I do not have any chicks. Buuuuut, I will have ducklings next Friday…

SO now, apparently,  I am open to doing kids parties. Because if you have 5 bunnies, why not share one, right? No, I’m not looking to make a side hustle out of this, too much room for drama, but since we do have the bunnies, hens, ducklings, and I can get my hands on a turtle; for the right price we will travel.

I do enjoy getting the public to interact with livestock (at least that’s what Captain Schenanigans calls our lovely little backyard petting zoo). To be truthful, I also gave the Craigslist lady the contact info for my friend Val, who does animal encounters for a living, is licensed, and has way better stock than I do. I mean, if you really want to have an animal party, why not do it right?

I also learned today, a week after posting my ads on Craigslist, that the mobile pen I have doesn’t actually fit in my van. Another reason God didn’t have anyone call me from CL. Thank you God, that would have just been embarrassing.

But as you can see, I am ready for a new adventure. Camping in the rain, check (Memorial Day week-end with friends). Driving 7 hours round trip to deliver a flock of rare breed hens as a wedding gift for a pending bride, check. Starting barrel racing lessons on horseback at the ripe ole age of 37, check!  What else new and different can we get into that makes one come alive inside, despite looking a little crazy (ahem, Redneck) on the outside?

I am visiting Birmingham, AL and Lafayette, LA this summer, and I am ready to go! I have never spent any real time in Alabama (except for Ono Island, which is practically Florida), and we have a family swamp tour planned for Louisiana already. WOOT! I can’t wait to see old friends again. The kind of friends we wanted to name our kid after, ‘cept it was the wrong gender. Eh, we tried.

So this summer my dear friends, lets do what we love, and not what is normal. God made us passionate for a whole world of different things that don’t look like Sandals vacation brochures. Lets get to it! And if anyone wants to dump an unwanted alpaca in my backyard, I won’t complain. I’ve never had one of those before…





You Know It’s Been A Week When…

You know it’s been quite a week when:

  1. You forgot you have a blog, and can’t remember the last time you visited it.
  2. You help the kids make a glorious water-filled frog habitat out of the ole turtle sandbox. Assist in adding 2  recently captured tree frogs who fearfully jump into the water, then learn online that tree frogs can’t swim. Google first, act second. Google first, act second. Google first,…
  3. Your son pre-whines about dinner in the car ride home, then  attempts to reserve the right to make a PB&J should your first stab at pleasing his palate fail royally.
  4. Your daughter interrupts your shower ONLY to request your help in emptying the dishwasher.
  5. You get an e-mail whilst sitting in your cubicle at work round about 10am, reminding you that this was your week to send snack to preschool, and they eat in 40 minutes. You sent nothing
  6. You learn that NO ONE delivers pizza before 11am, let alone to a preschool classroom.
  7. Your jerk of a cat ate your Neighborfriend’s beloved wild bird, and then picked a fight with her elderly golden retriever, earning himself indefinite house arrest.
  8. You are thrilled to literally get back in the saddle for the first time since getting married, only to learn your horseback riding helmet has expired…14 years ago!
  9. Your stab at homemade calzones fill the house with the stench of “burnt”while you blog about messing things up. But you still aren’t going to cave to the PBJ request!
  10. You realize how much you are paying in health insurance and begin e-mailing your husband alternative jobs you have found online for him. Without his request. Because he isn’t searching for a new job. That he knows of. You’re a helper!
  11. You are having Trader Joe’s chocolate covered frozen banana bites for dinner because those calzones don’t look so appealing, and after all you are headed out to a jewelry party anyway so what do you care about having dinner.
  12. You lost the rabbit you were watching for a friend who went on vacation. Outside.  In your backyard. But thankfully find it later.
  13. Your daughter approaches you with a butterfly net and safety goggles on her face, asking you where the cat is. You tell the truth.
  14. You re-visit the family budget, decide the cost of a mortgage in Baltimore is ridiculous, and do a real estate search of Texas land instead. You cry a little inside when you find the perfect house for $65,000!
  15. You are the ONLY one playing in the hose in the backyard because it is freakin’ hot here all of a sudden and your kid WILL NOT play with you! For once.

This, my friends, is why you have not heard from me in a while. Well, that and we haven’t actually done anything funny since April 24th (last blog entry)!


Picture of Manchild, who refused to stop being the World Sweatiest Spiderman for ONE MINUTE in order to join me in the sprinkler! Sigh. Awkward is our word of the day.20170517_145625

Zucchini Bread.

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Can we make zucchini bread now? ”

My oldest is interrupting my sacred Sunday Afternoon Nap with questions. She should know better by now. I have had a longer relationship with this weekly nap than I have with the whole entire family living in this house. What is she thinking?

“After my nap” I mutter, and roll over to continue my slumber. Eight thousand interruptions later, I begrudgingly get up, stumble to the kitchen, and growlingly announce to Girlchild the time has come for her bread making.

“Grab that grater and grate the zucchini” I direct her first.

“Wait, what?” she stammers uncertainly, as I continue to gather ingredients. I repeat myself, which does nothing for my mood.

“Um, that seems like a lot of work. I don’t want to make zucchinni bread anymore,” Girlchild announces to my disbelief. Then saunters off to the living room to sulk in a chair, as I begin irritatingly relaying the story of the Little Red Hen. Teaching moments should not occur when the teacher is irritable.

Enter happy little Manchild. Oblivious to his surroundings as usual, he bounces through the kitchen and offers to take over the making of the zucchini bread, as Girlchild has gone AWOL. I consent, and direct him to begin grating the zucchini. After shredding 3/4 of the needed amount of zucchini, Manchild quits. “That’s a lot of work. I don’t want to do it anymore,” he announces, and bounces out of the kitchen on his way.

“Is the zucchini bread done yet”, Girlchild shamelessly calls from the living room.

I light into a second rendition of the Little Red Hen to everyone in earshot, and inform the entire household that only Daddy and I shall be partaking in the consumption of zucchini bread, since I did the baking and Captain Schenanigans cleaned out my van, earning himself a free pass.

I take the remaining 3 inches of un grated zucchini, and pick it apart with my fingernails in to pea sized chunks, throwing them unceremoniously into the mixing bowl. Quitters don’t get finely shredded vegetables, they get chunkies.

By now I’m elbow deep in this recipe, and realized that we are out of baking soda. Mad and cooking are a poor combination. I omit the ingredient, certainly not about to make a trip to the store for a recipe I had no desire to be making, for children who had no desire to stick it out and help. Laziness does not equal baking soda for you!

I’m also too irritated to bother reading the direction on the recipe, which was the result of a hasty google search and unfamiliar to me. I had no time for flipping through Betty Crocker books. So, the batter became stiff, crumbly, and did not look right. Naturally, I added water- which was NOT an ingredient.

I divided the strange batter into 2 loaf pans of differing materials and thicknesses, threw the whole darn thing in the oven, and left the kitchen without knowing what time it was, or when it would be done. Great plan.

Roughly an hour later, I guess, I check the bread. Not cooked through, back in the oven it goes.

Check again, the bread had a strange gray look to it, but has baked through, and is easy to pop out of the nicely greased and floured pans. The family flocks around like seagulls at spilled boardwalk fries. Equally chirpy and demanding. The Little Red Hen story is all I can see in my mind.

The bread is weird, there is no doubt this is not normal. There is no moisture, no raisins, and more crumbles. We compensate by adding extra butter to our slices. And the peasants rejoice.

The next morning, after a breakfast of more strange zucchini bread, Manchild heads to preschool. Now each morning, the children have a question of the day. That particular day’s question was “have you ever eaten zucchini bread?”

Turns out, Manchild was the only one in his class to have consumed this normally tasty treat. Not only that, but somehow he must have been bragging on his mother’s culinary skills and ability to churn out this American delicacy. In his bag I find a handwritten note from his teachers, asking something along the lines of this “Mrs. Schenannigans, we hear you make wonderful zucchini bread! Would you be willing to make some for our class to taste?”

Of course I would.

On my terms, with my scheduling, after all the children have gone to bed. Perhaps I’ll even double the batch, for Captain Schenanigans. Because there is no end to the rewards one ought to reap for detailing one’s wife’s van, especially on a Sunday, without being asked. This time, I’ll even spring for the baking soda! XOXOXO


Exclusive Invitations

My kids are having a sleepover with chickens tonight. They did it last night, too. Now before you get your feathers ruffled and notify some form of authorities (the victim could be on either side here), let me explain. Girlchild’s fluffy Silver Laced Cochin, Lavender, showed up with bumblefoot during a routine flock exam. Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection that shows up in chickens via a cut in the foot, and requires surgical removal. And for the record, that’s a DIY project don’tcha know.

Secretly, I love treating bumblefoot. The nurse in me high-fives the farmer in me, and I go to town! Girlchild has a fondness for gathering supplies and wrapping bandages, but averts her eyes during the actual removal of the infection, my favorite part. She did sneak a peak yesterday during the procedure, when I had the top end of a knife inside the foot of a chicken, and asked me “Mom, does what you’re doing now make God happy?”

That fact that she even ASKS that question makes me happy!! I told her yes, because this was the only way to prevent Lavender’s foot from getting worse, and help her heal. But to always, always, keep asking yourself that question with everything you do in life, and you will always stay on the right track!

Since the yard was muddy from rain, it took only mere seconds for Girlchild to sweet talk me into keeping her chicken in a cage instead of the germ infested coop/run this evening, and slightly more persuading to get me to put the cage next to her bed. Thus, the elusive Chicken Sleepover.

Now, when hens are disturbed and relocated, it can mess with their egg production. Since this is prime laying season, I wanted to keep Lavender as stress-free as possible. Enter Neigh-Neigh, Manchild’s fiercely loved little Light Brahma bantam. She’s a crappy layer at best, so I had no problem swiping her out of the run and plopping her behind bars with the other fluffy butt in the kid’s room.

Things were all well and good here until I kissed Manchild good-night. Thus began the complaining over the fairness of keeping HIS chicken on HER side of the room. Talk about your First World problems. Annnnd now the chickens are condemned to 2 nights in the nursery with the Schenaniganspawn. Just to make things fair. For everyone but the chickens.

I did create a clean coop area for them in my grain room during the day, so they were not caged all day. I just want a good scab to form before I let them back in the run tomorrow. Much to my delight, both girls laid eggs in the grain room with no nest box in sight. I think they were trying to bribe me for their freedom. But since they aren’t nearly as loud as an insulted Manchild, I ignored their requests and plopped them both in the cage on Manchild’s side of the room tonight. Under a Cape Cod beach towel to discourage any feline curiosity whilst we slumber.

So this is how the Chickens and Children Sleepover Club was formed.  I am looking forward to it’s disbandment tomorrow, as are the chickens. But for now I am hoping this moment etches it’s self deeply in my children’s memories as “one of the good times”. Because it’s not likely to happen again.