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.

 

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Traditions That Last It was the perfect day for an Easter Egg Hunt. The sky was blue, the air clear and crisp; not too hot, not too cold, and not a chance of rain in sight. The wind laid low as the morning sun danced through the trees, down the long lush driveway to the Sherwood House. Hundreds of anxious Baltimore County children had ants in their pants as their cars were being parked, baskets gathered, and they eagerly awaited their turn for an old fashioned hunt! Good thing they had something to do while they waited. With the various start times for each age group, there was ample opportunity to explore the grounds and tour Sherwood house. After meeting the Easter Bunny with her basket full of candy, attenders could see chicks in one room, do crafts outside, or come face to face with the real animals that have somehow come to be associated with this Christian holiday. The rabbits! Once again the Baltimore County 4-H Rabbit Club was in attendance at Cromwell Valley Park’s Easter Egg Hunt. A tradition that goes back long before even the oldest egg hunter attending was born. The Rabbit Club members (and their faithful parents) have been showing up with their best bunnies to share the joy of rabbits with the grand public for nearly 20 years. Just because they can. And enjoy those bunnies the people did! Children of all shapes and sizes walked along two long tables to encounter rabbits of all shapes and sizes. They pet them, patted them, one-finger tapped them, and some just stared, unconvinced by their parents that touching was a good idea. But that’s why we’re here! To expose, educate, and encourage animal interactions that might not have happened otherwise. There were many questions, and the children visited with many breeds. There was big Delilah, the English Lop, little Hope, the tiny Hotot, shaggy Cotton, the snow loving Mini Lop, and tiny Bella, who was still just a baby. The kids wanted to know what rabbits ate, what they didn’t eat, are they nice, do they bite, and how hard are they to take care of? The parents often seemed to remember rabbits were a pet option they had forgotten about, in the battle of getting a dog or not getting a dog. Why not get a rabbit for your tiny humans? Loving pets don’t have to bark! An a blink of an eye the day was over. What had to have been hours and hours of planning flew by from 10-12pm. Soon the last hunt was over, the last kid pet the rabbits, and it was time to go home. But the impact of having shared what you had with others, one of your most prized possessions, would not be erased. The pride of ownership, the confidence in educating, and the comradery of showing up together has instilled more in these 4-H members then they have given away. We are making men and women of purpose for tomorrow, by giving and sharing today. That is one tradition that must go on indefinitely!

Because We All Deserve A Second Chance…

I don’t know about you, but some days, it feels like I’m just living on the second chances people give me. Grace is a hot commodity in this world, and it seems like we generally prefer to get more than we give. I know I do. I was born judgmental, and it’s real work for me to knock it off and show some freakin’ mercy, sometimes.

Case in point, I am in a women’s small group at church that is presently reading No Drama Discipline. It’s a great idea. For those of you who like being told your wrong. Now, that’s not how the book is written, it’s a solid read with great science behind it. Totally legit- I’m not knocking it. But I don’t like being told how to act when I’m angry. It doesn’t feel good to change my habits. Plus, I forget a lot of new concepts in that heated moment between me and my spawn when I need them.

Thankfully, those attending the class were provided with these neat little laminated note cards that we can put in easy to see places, reminding us of what to do if any of our blessed lambs stay off the beaten path. We simply ask ourselves 3 questions. Why is your kid acting this way? What do you want to teach them? How are you going to do it? These are the foundations of the book.

Meanwhile back at the Ranch, I have my little notes up in the kitchen. The kids love ’em. It gives them hope, I’m sure. Yesterday Manchild was fussing on the floor, rehashing my reaction to a fit he had been having previously. He disliked what I had asked him to do, then disliked even more my reaction to his initial disobedience.

“You didn’t ask me if I was hungry! You didn’t ask me if I was tired! You didn’t try to find out why I was acting this way…!”

Now, it’s one thing to be annoyed at failing to meet the goal of a parenting book (and in my defense, I had just fed him). But its a bird of an entirely different feather to have your 5yr old pointing out to you exactly which step you failed at in the parenting book, AND HE CAN’T READ!! How did he know this stuff anyhow?! How can he learn how I should discipline him, but he can’t manage to learn do the things that would alleviate the need for the discipline in the first place?! Argh.

Anyway, I’ve learned to accept my short comings for the most part. My feelings aren’t even hurt anymore when Manchild tells me tonight that he would stay in his seat more during dinner if the meals I cooked tasted better. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. I generate forgiveness for his statement, then continue on my feed-nurture-bathe-repeat, cycle of parenting. Tomorrow night, he’ll get another chance at the dinner table. This is grace.

Today I opted to give a second chance to a different area of my life. Chickens. See, for the past 3 years, all I want is one loving, snuggling, cuddle-able lap chicken. If you Google “Friendliest Chicken Breeds”, I have them all. Or I have at some point. But they have all failed me. None fly up to my shoulder to greet me, or jump in my lap like other people’s adoring hens do. No, mine prefer to run. Away. From my loving hands.

The breed to fail me the most was the Silkie. This is a truly soft and fuzzy chicken who has unique feathering that is unlike anything else. They look like woolly Muppets.  Now this is the ultimate passive, low-man-on-the-totem-perch, docile breed. Anything gentler would be dead. I had 2 a few years back, both were scared poop-less of me. I don’t know why, I bring the food! But I sold the cute one and ate the ugly one, and that was the end of that. I wrote Silkies off as never to be purchased again. Google  LIES!

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Until today. While shopping for rare breed chicks as a wedding gift for my cousin, I saw a pen of Silkie chicks. My heart melted just a little. They sure were cute! I questioned the sale price…then picked one out. For the Bride, of course. Not for me.

But when adding this cottonball with talons to the cage of other chicks I had acquired, I noticed she was getting picked on. My heart surged for this super, super, cute little fuzzbucket, and I had to scoop her up for some love. I melted. My flock was going to be less bossy and aggressive than the Bride’s would be. Maybe I should keep her… And that’s how I ended up starting tonight’s blog with a white/gray/blue (“Splash” is the technical color in Chicken Speak) chick sleeping soundly on my chest, with a good buddy for comfort.WIN_20170322_19_43_27_Pro

It’s definitely good for the soul not to be so rigid, but to take another chance in giving someone (or something) the benefit of the doubt. This is the stance I take on potty training Manchild. One day, not this week, not this month, he WILL get it. He will take ownership of his bowls and plumbing, and not wait for external forces to govern his next move. Like the effect of cold wet pants on your  wee bits. That is what I was hoping for when, after loading 340lbs of pet food and bedding at Tractor Supply, then strapping in 2 kids, Manchild yells “I HAVE TO POOP”!

Back out of the van goes Manchild,  back out of the van goes Girlchild. Running after her sibling as fast as she can, both kids head to the farthest, way far away, back corner of the store towards the restrooms. Thanks a heap, Tractor Supply. Moments later, after locking the car (knowing my mad wiping skills will soon be required), I burst in through the doors of Tractor Supply, sprinting past Lauren-the-cashier, who literally just checked us out 3 minutes ago. “POTTY TRAINING!” I yell towards her confused face, as I jog past her like the 3rd Billy Goat Gruff in this deranged fecal parade. Good grief, I think, he’d better get the hang of this soon!

Second chances can come in handy, and we all need them whether we like it or not. So let’s hand out a little more grace than we’re used to, assume the best in each other, and pray that Manchild learns to stop peeing in his pants. After all, one day he may be seated next to you, and you’ll have to show him mercy when he flashes those big blue eyes up at you and smiles, as your seat slowly grows damp.

 

It’s In The Way That You Use It

Helllllooooooo SPRING!!! I know it’s not technically time for the seasons to change yet, but with the way I’m feeling now Spring has already shown up early to work, swiped her key card, and officially punched in. WooHOO!!

As with every Spring, the negotiations begin around the Schenanigans Homestead, and it all circles around the sensitive topic of poultry ownership. See, round about July, when the days are hot and effort has melted onto the sidewalk and run down the storm drain, I promised myself (and probably my husband) that I would never again raise hens from chicks again. I’d sold my incubator, I’d sold my heat lamps, I used up all the remaining chick starter crumbles (baby chick chow), and assured my dear husband that I am down for the count when it comes to selling and raising chicks. Whew. Glad that’s done.

But mysteriously every year just, after the New Years resolutions have been made and forgotten, I get that same old fever. First the Meyers Hatchery catalog comes in the mail, and I take a peek just to daydream. It’s soon followed by Hoover Hatchery in Iowa, and Murray McMurray- the Gucci hatchery. Next my inbox fills with offers for broilers on sale. Those are the meat chicks, and in my opinion, gross to raise. They are easy to ignore. I mentally high-five myself for my will power and keep checking e-mail like I never saw it.

But then the day comes that during a routine run to Tractor Supply that I find that the egg layer chicks have arrived, and I suffer acute will power amnesia. Never heard of self-control. My mission is clear. I need chicks. I need chicks, AND my marriage. This means, I need Captain Schenanigans blessing. The Holy Grail of wifely chicken ownership!

This is gonna take work.

First, we lay the groundwork for negotiations. Captain and I discuss where we are at currently, and what needs to be fixed regarding the hens we have. This means,  I need to find a way to keep our free range hens in their run (which they hop over and get bumblefoot upon landing), and all of their millions of droppings off our back decks, shoes, and lawn furniture. Ew. Like I said, this is gonna take some work. But I hatched a plan (get it) to increase the height of my current fence, ALL. BY. MY.SELF. This was part of the deal- my hens would not add to Captain Schenanigans to-do list. That seemed fair, and I nailed it! Not literally. By using a borrowed post sledge and 7-ft metal posts (not easy considering I am 5ft 7inches and that sledge is HEAVY), I added a second layer of green mesh fencing. Under the watchful eye of Manchild, who sat in the hammock and munched fistfuls of Lebanon Bologna, I zip tied like a champion. My promise fulfilled.

DONE!

I then had to promise the Captain that he would neither see, smell, or have to walk around my chicks in his living space, recording studio, or garage. Clearly, I had abused these privileges in the past.  But where, in this small rancher, could I stash peeps and a heat lamp in a space that was mine? Most nights I barely had my own side of the bed, thankyouverymuchchildren.

“Well, there is your Spa Bathroom in the basement.”, Captain Schenanigans helpfully pointed out. The one I recently outfitted with a brand new plush memory foam bathmat, a lavish soaking pillow, thick towels, 5 new scented candles, and bath bombs galore!  I paused.

“Okay”, I shrugged.

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I then had to promise not to keep any new chicks. They were for fun and educational purposes only (I planned an Animal Education Open House for our young friends, and the chicks will travel to Manchild’s preschool class as well). Not new family members- we had more than enough of those, I was informed. I promised to sell these chicks to my chicken friend (she and I had agreed to this before I approached Captain Schenanigans) after they stop being cute and needing a heat lamp.

Finally it was all settled. We knew our agreement. I was permitted to purchase whatever the heck kind of chicks I wanted, so long as they stayed in the a fore mentioned boundaries. The kids and I were it hog heaven!

I showed up at the house after work on Tuesday, announced that we were heading to Tractor Supply to buy chicks (3 hours after the Agreement), and the whole living room erupted into bouncy cheers. The children lost control of their emotions as their elation hit the ceiling, and ricochet back down upon my mildly surprised mother. It was her day to watch the young ‘ens, and I don’t think she has ever seen them this animated.

I began doling out orders, not knowing if the kids were physically capable of achieving them or not, in an effort to make it to the store and back before dinner. “Girlchild, go in the garage and find a heat lamp!” “Manchild, bring in our biggest recycling bin and rinse it out.” Amazingly, my children are quite capable on Chick Day. How my 4yr old was able to locate a heat lamp that his 7yr old sister couldn’t unearth, in a convoluted tangle of tools and boxes, is bewildering. And the fact that both kids could scrub clean a recycling bin that was temporarily being recycled into a chick brooder, without soaking each other with the hose, was purely  astounding.

We settled on 8 bantam (miniature) clean legged (no leg feathers) chicks, as they would make lousy laying hens, and decrease my temptation to keep one forever. I rigged up a heat lamp situation in my Spa Bathroom, with a sack of open feed next to the tub, and a space heater taking a chill out out the air. We were in business.

Now I’m not going to tell you that having chicks in your home solves all your issues. I still find dirty cat foot prints on the toilet seat from when Jax gets thirsty. I still managed to throw my cell phone away at Chickfila, then proceed to go rummage through the trash like a teenager missing a retainer with Ms. Jean the sauce dealer. But it does add an element of excitement to the quite moments of the day, when you can scoop up a tiny feathered creature, wrap it in a poop catching paper towel, and hold it close against your chest like cheap (cheep) therapy. I named the smallest one Squeaker.

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Tonight I experienced a new type of chick “bonding”, shall we say. It had been a long day, and I was desperately in need of a soak in a hot bath. While I had not counted on using my luxury bathroom during chick season, I decided to give it a try. After moving aside my plush bathmat, lighting ALL the candles to cover the musty aroma of warm chicken poop, and popping in a fizzy lavender bath bomb to ensure my nasal pleasures, I found my spa bathroom-turned-chick-brooder not such a bad thing at all. The gentle cheeps and chortles of small baby voices was soothing to hear, the space heater keeping the air  balmy, and a 50lb sack of Chick Starter makes an excellent place to lay your open book when you decide to submerge. Now, I’m not saying the Spa/Brooder room will ever take off in Better Homes & Gardens, but for the occasional plush cowgirl, this might could be a real asset to any home! Just saying…

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Whatcha Doin’ This Week-end?

When my dental hygienist asked me on Thursday, as I basked in the childless “me time” in her chair, I told her my plans for this week-end were to assist my handy husband in hanging drywall in the basement. Creating his recording studio as promised, nearly 3 years ago, when we decided to buy this house.

But as of 12:15am this morning, MY plans no longer included drywall. They looked a bit more like nursing. One very warm little Girlchild climbed into our bed with a fever. After complaining of a sore throat that afternoon, I suspected strep throat, and knew the next day would include a trip to the pediatrician for a test. Untreated strep bacteria can travel to the valves of the heart, and cause pulmonary stenosis. I will wait and see on an ear ache, or a junky cough, but a sore throat with fever gets my instant attention.

Being sick is one of Girlchild’s favorite activities. She happily requires the attention of all able bodied persons in a 90 mile radius, and demands her mother stay in the room with her at all times so she will not have to yell for her desires. She’s a peach.

At 7:12am we hear Girlchild attempting to get her little brother’s attention. “Manchild, I am sick today. I’m going to need help getting things that I want. Do you want to be my nurse today, Manchild? Do you? Manchild, do you want to be my helper nurse and get me things I need? Manchild? Manchild? MANCHILD! Okay… you think about it.” Manchild has family members, Girlchild has wait staff.

Unfortunately, the doctors office opened at the same time as my Saturday morning water fitness class. Thus, the job of medical scheduler fell to Captain Schenanigans. I coached him ahead of time:

“Okay, the office opens at 8am, sick visits only, and closes at noon. You have to beat all the other moms to the appointments by calling the minute they open! Who is your kid’s doctor? What are Girlchild’s symptoms? When did they start? Do you have the number to the office?” He answered with flying colors, retrieved the number from my phone, and scored an 11am appointment. Cuttin it close, but still very nicely done!

Her strep test was positive.

Isn’t it always the day when the weather is the nicest that you are doomed to stay inside? I got the mail barefoot and balmy today, Manchild’s shorts were actually weather appropriate, and the backyard animals were reveling in a glimpse of summer. Enough that Lolan, our bad news bunny with Cat Attack PTSD, managed to free himself from the exercise pen, leave the fenced in backyard, and was found cornered by the cat by the trash cans. Praise God that Captain Schenanigans was there, yet again. FYI, bunnies have excellent memories when it comes to past attackers.

Not 3hrs later our favorite buck Cotton had run out of an open gate during his recess time (Captain S was carrying drywall through the backyard) and as I am doing all my Saturday chores AND Girlchild’s chores (seriously, if you feel good enough to ask to ride your bike, you can clean the bathroom, Girl!) I get a text than immediate call from our new neighbors. “I think one of your rabbits is running down the street, I’m following him in my car!”

AAAAHHHHHHHhhhhhh! NOT THE SHOW BUNNY!!!!!! She loves him more than all of us!

I throw on the only pair of shoes I could grab, tall wedge sandals, and jog down the street behind our house. At the next drive down (it’s a 1.5 acre piece of property, to give you an idea) I see my neighbor’s car and jog up to her. She points out a small gray lump halfway up the driveway, in the yard. I scramble over and find Cotton, kicked back in tired bunny fashion, taking a rest. I have not felt that degree of grateful in quite some time! It was God’s doing that anyone even noticed a 6lb gray bunny, hiking unattended.

While catching my breath and re-telling the tale to our friends next door (who suggested I blog it), my husband steps out on the porch with a red eyed little girl and calls over “Girlchild was looking for you! Oh, were you aware that the cat peed in our room?” Oh for pete’s sake, I’m about ready to sell the next furry-bodied trouble maker that crosses my path. Curvy women don’t run in wedges unless they love you, but even love has it’s limits when it comes to  thankless critters (children excluded).  The only reason the cat was trapped in our room watching Veggietales in the first place was because he loves to zip out the door like a hairy ninja on nice days (or any day), and take colossal naps in the street! With basement framing being carried in, and Manchild running out, it was just safer to lock up the cat. Jax-the-cat-of-Bad-Choices chose that moment to scoot down the sidewalk and across the street. I give. You do what you gotta do buddy, I’m out of it.

Heading back inside, it turns out the ammonia smell my hubby noticed was a result of a bit of a bleaching situation I got into while cleaning the bathroom for Girlchild, and not cat pee.

I was only halfway through vacuuming the living room when Manchild spilled a huge container of perler beads in my bed, Girlchild demanded my company, and Captain needed help carrying drywall. For those of you who don’t know, drywall is freakishly heavy! I was starting to resent my decision to use the dumbbells in the pool that morning.

Dinner was every man for himself. Manchild had Spaghetti-O’s and sea weed, Girlchild had a horse trough full of popcorn (in my bed no less), and Captain had nachos. Ten minutes later Manchild asks for lunch. I explained that he and Daddy went to Denny’s for lunch together. No, he explained right back, that was breakfast. Upon questioning my husband, it came out that Manchild had, indeed, not had lunch after such a heavy brunch and afternoon filled with power tools. Having now completed eating his dinner, Manchild would not be satisfied until he had his lunch on=board as well. Captain complied, handed him a PB&J, and watched this little blonde stripling bounce down to the den, happy as a slightly disorganized clam.

Did I mention we were supposed to pick up half a pig this morning that was back from the butcher? While we had had this day on the calendar for weeks, right until our plans ended up being swirled around and splattered on the wall like modern art. The pig slipped through the giant cracks in our mind, and thanks again to the unusually high temps, was about to defrost. Geez Louisa, and this day just keeps going!

As I type this, I can hear the construction sounds echoing up from the basement as the love of my life continues to hoist FREAKISHLY HEAVY drywall sheets into all the right places. I stay upstairs, knowing the children fall asleep faster if one parent is on the main level of the house. I have already had 2 post bedtime visits from the Strep Fairy, and I ushered her back to bed with promises of checking on her in 15 minutes. She drug a small mattress into our room and plans to sleep at the foot of our bed in case she needs to beckon me in the middle of the night. Basically, parenting is one life long assignment of being On Call.

So while I may look like an abuse victim with 2 black eyes, the circles are so dark and sunken on my weary face, I already know I am not going to church tomorrow. My husband earned it today. I am the nurse who stays on call forever in this house, and the requested person whenever anyone under this roof becomes ill. So I’ll look forward to tomorrow’s slow morning as a time to shut life out and snuggle my Strep infected girl. These days are busy, but numbered, and mornings always seem so much easier than evenings.

We have the perfect reason to reject all plans, one of my favorite things to do, and sit side by side as we read our own chapter books in bed. With the popcorn crumbs. And the occasional perler bead.

Exposing Pets and Growing Kids

The day dawned chilly and bright. We were up with the sun that morning, operating in full gear. Today was the day we had volunteered to man the Baltimore County 4-H Rabbit Club table at the World Pet Expo, and when you’re an excited 6yr old girl, being late is not an option! We packed up our gear: one furry blue mini lop on whom the world revolved in Girlchild’s eyes, one large coffee for Mama, various treats for all of us, and 2  bright red camp chairs. We loaded the van, found parking behind the pole barns, set up the table just in time for the crush of pet owners, and took a breath. We were ready, and they were, too!
   Hundreds, upon hundreds, of pet owners and enthusiasts trickled, marched, and were dragged past our table. There were dogs in carriers, dogs on foot, and one petrified cat riding on a man’s shoulders. Despite the signs requesting some distance, many dog owners brought their pets right up to our bunnies for a sniff. The bunnies held their own likes champions, and didn’t bat an eye as the canines took a closer whiff. But the magic wasn’t in the dogs. Or even the crowds of consumers. It was in the kids. The 4-Her’s to be more specific. Gone was the shy child who doesn’t like to play at other houses, and prefers all her friends to come to hers. Gone was the girl who was intimidated by strangers, and doesn’t know what to say. In her shoes now stood one very proud, very confidant, rabbit owner who was more than happy to do her 6yr old best at educating the public on rabbits. Now she spoke freely, smiled widely, and rarely looked to Mama for help on what to say. With her best bunny in front of her, a fellow 4-H friend beside her, and an enchanted crown around her, this child stood straight and did what she came to do. Share her love of bunnies with the world, and they loved that bunny right back!
Whether any of the hundreds of people who stopped by the Baltimore County 4-H table to pet the bunnies ever went on to become bunny owners themselves doesn’t matter. Yes, many of them shared tales of rabbit ownership themselves as children, and a few fondly recalled their own 4-H membership days. But watching our 4-H kids grow in their confidence, communication skills, and animal care knowledge, right before our eyes, was fantastic. It was why we were there. The club is fun. Sharing your pet is fun. But teaching strangers, as a child, is empowering! And she nailed it.
We hated to leave, the day flew by, but our precious bunny was stressed, and it was time to give our spots at the table to another family with a love of bunnies and children desperate to share them. They day had been a raging success. Our chests swelled with pride as we packed up our camp chairs and headed back to the van. We came, we shared, we taught, and we conquered!

If You’re Happy And You Know It..

When my husband came home from work and asked me how my day was today, I told him the truth. “It was wonderful!”

I’ve found that while making plans for big fun is nice, it’s mostly the little things on the average days that give me the best moments. Today was one of those days. For starters, it’s Freedom Friday. Manchild and I are off on Fridays, and always trolling around for adventure. On this particular Friday, Girlchild asked to be driven to school instead of taking the bus. This week her anxiety, dormant all year, reared up with all it had and sucker punched her right before bus line up on Tuesday afternoon. Each day has gotten better, but in an effort to help Girlchild enjoy her 100th day of school (and the tantalizing goldfish cracker buffet her teacher had planned), I agreed to both drop off and pick-up Girlchild today, a rare treat (for her, my time management stinks).

That being said, we had an extra half-hour this morning after getting ready for school. So, on a whim, I showed the kids funny cat and dog videos on Youtube. Rarely do I laugh out loud at movies, but we were all cracking up over these feline/ canine accidents and antics. By the time we got to school we were all very well relaxed, and in extremely happy moods. Girlchild’s worries were gone, and she shuffled off in to school about 4 seconds before the bell rang – I hope.

Manchild and I crossed over the Mason-Dixon line to visit our favorite place, Tractor Supply, then hit the local Walmart for a few groceries. Our major scores of the day were $3 sneakers for Manchild (who wore holes in the toes of his last pair by laying through the tire swing & dragging his toes behind him, and using them to stop his bike), and a $1 shirt for Girlchild. Nice! Half of Tractor Supply was on sale, too, so we took our sweet time shopping and discussing.

Manchild and I had a date at McDonalds, and I tell you, I just never get sick of going on dates with that boy! He’s gone on as many dates with me this past year as Captain Schenanigans and I did while we were dating. Knowing he begins full day Kindergarten in the fall, I just can’t get enough of this boy. I’m going to lose my sidekick soon enough, so budgets to the wind, I’m going to soak up every moment and outing I can with my mini-warrior.

Manchild and I talked about yesterday, and what a sweet surprise we had at Dunkin Donuts. See, Manchild and I had to mail a UPS package. But the store wasn’t going to open for another 10 minutes, and Manchild was positive he was going to dehydrate in that time. Since we were heading straight to a preschool field trip afterwards sans refreshments, I agreed to go a few stores down in the strip to DD and get him an orange juice. JUST a juice, we are not getting doughnuts! As we stood by the juice cooler, debating orange over apple, a large gaggle of old men sat gossiping at 4 tables, and a policeman went through the line. Finally, we select our juice and approach the counter. As I pay for the juice, the girl behind the register informs me that the policeman who was just here was entitled to a free doughnut, but declined it. He kindly instructed the girl to offer Manchild the free doughnut in his stead. An offer Manchild had no problems accepting and selecting. “I want the one with the blue frosting!”, Manchild proclaimed pronto. Despite my best efforts to hurry us along, the cop was long gone by the time we got outside, and we never did get to thank him. Such kindness warms my heart for a few days afterwards, making even today look a little brighter as a result.

Back at home we unload supplies, then I go to put the bunnies back in their cages. They had been in exercise pens all morning, and while I spotted Manchild’s 2 does easily enough, I could not see Girlchild’s 2 bucks. Since one is super aggressive, we place them in separate exercise pens, and the girls always stay together in a 3rd pen. I checked each exercise pen, no bunny. I call their names, no bunnies. These are very friendly (to people) bunnies who ALWAYS run to us when they see us. They do not fear us in the least and never, ever hide.

Noooooo! This is not good sign. It’s too quiet out here, they are either dead or gone-  out of our privacy fenced yard. Something else they would never do, since they LOVE to stay as close to the girls pens as possible. They would never leave the girls alone.  Things were starting to look very bad, and I was dreading telling my anxious little girl that her 2 favorite pets in the world had disappeared. Then I looked over at the top to the turtle sandbox. I keep it tilted against a wall to make a hawk cover for the bunny in that pen. But now it lay face up, flat on the ground. Clearly, Lolan, the aggressive buck, had left his pen, broken into Cotton’s pen (his sweet tempered father), and started trouble. As a last ditch effort, I reach down and pick up the dome shaped sandbox cover and flip it over.

Underneath were 2 very alive and mostly healthy bucks! They were trapped together, but the dome was so low they were unable to fight (without us home to stop then they could have fought to the death in the yard), and apart from some bleeding scratches in Cotton’s ears, both bunnies were okay. It was a miracle! Lolan is missing chunks of his ears from previous fights with his dad- and that was with chicken wire dividing them! One day Lolan escaped from his cage, charged a free ranging Cotton, and it took Captain Schenanigans to pull them apart from each other, they were lock jawed onto each other’s haunches. Thank you Jesus, for looking out for the little bunnies of the world today. And for protecting the fragile hearted little girls that love them!

The icing on our cake of blessings was heading out to dinner tonight to the home of some new friends from church. Not only did I not have to cook (woot, WOOT), but the whole family got to delight in good company, and enjoy some deliciously un-burnt food. It’s pleasing to have a friend you click with, but when each member of your family has a counterpart in the same family, it make socializing easy breezy lemon squeezy. That means Manchild only made 2 of the 3 children cry and one adult nearly land on the floor. Not bad odds, considering our track record and the fact that all children are born feral.

After a day of retail therapy, socialization therapy, and finding a forgotten stash of Halloween chocolate, I’d say this day was a keeper. I have no complaints, only gratitude. And with a small blonde girl pre-heating my side of the bed til her papa tucks her away in her room tonight, I have even more cozy feelings to look forward to. I tell you, it’s the details of the day that make all the difference!

20170114_092352 Cotton posing for yet another portrait.

20160514_102346-1 The domed sandbox lid, just big enough to safely cover 2 bunnies for who knows how long!