Friday, October 15, 2010

A Coop Full of Crazy (Part 1)

I have chickens.  Four chickens- to be exact.  Their names are as follows: Nettie Buttercup, Lily Sparkles, Esme Chrysanthemum and Sketchy Longneck.  Yep, they are all double-namers.  And yep, I know the names are hilarious.
I have had nine chickens since May of 2009.  In January of that year, I decided I wanted chickens.  I started the frontal assault on Black Hair.  It went something like this:
Earth Momma: I want chickens.
Black Hair: No.
Earth Momma: They would give us eggs and eat all of those pesky mosquitoes.
Black Hair: Hell No
Earth Momma: They would teach our child where her food comes from and how to be a good steward of the earth.
Black Hair: They stink so…NO.  Besides, where would you put them?
Earth Momma:  Oh.  Didn’t I mention that the neighbor down the street is willing to give me his rabbit hutch if I use your truck and get it out of his side yard?   And they only stink if you don’t keep their living area clean.  I can put their poop in the compost pile.
Black Hair: No.  I think they’re illegal.
Earth Momma: OK. Sure, I’ll make you a Power Point presentation of why we should have chickens and the laws don’t actually say I can’t have them.  It was a little vague.  And I won’t get roosters so the neighbors won’t even know they are here.
Black Hair: Whatever.  You don’t know how to make a Power Point and…No.
So in February I did a Power Point presentation (because I needed to prove that I could) and in April I brought home a rabbit hutch, which I cleaned up, rehabbed and painted bright red.  Black Hair wanted it to be orange and blue & GC 1 wanted purple but I trumped everyone and chose red because the mis-tint cheap paint I found was red.  Besides, red is very farm-like and I had visions of urban farming dancing in my deluded little brain.
In May, we took a family outing to the local Feed and Seed and we picked out our chicks.  It went something like this:
Black Hair- I want that one.
Earth Momma:  You don’t get to choose.  You don’t want chickens, remember?
CG1: I want that one.
Earth Momma: Are you sure?  That one looks like it might be a boy and it pecked me.  I think it might be mean.
CG1:  Yes, I’m sure.  I feel sorry for it.  If we don’t take it no one else will.
Black Hair: I want that one.
Earth Momma:  Fine.  But if you choose one you can’t fuss at me later about chicken stuff.
Black Hair:  I’m not making promises but I really like that one.
So, home we went with five little chicks in a cardboard box and enough feed to feed them for a century.  This was the easiest & cheapest pet I have ever purchased.  Or so I ridiculously thought at that moment.
To Be Continued
I'll post the rest of the story next time I have a minute.
Earth Momma

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Girls and Trucks

We have a truck.  It’s a big truck.  It’s the kind of truck that ecological advocates sneer at and rage against as the big evil that is helping to taking down the ozone.  I know this because I am one of those people who rage against giant American automobiles as polluters & wasters of gas.  I am also the proud partner of a woman who is harbors a redneck teen-aged boy deep down in her soul. 
Black Hair is educated.  She comes from a good family.  She has a well paying job and she is a good provider.  However, lurking inside her is a teen-aged boy who dreams of driving a giant tricked-out red neck truck with huge tires and a muffler with noise issues.  She wants one that is painted orange and blue.  She wants one with four-wheel drive so she can go deep into the woods.  I don’t know what she plans to do once she gets in the woods since she’s afraid of spiders and snakes but none the less, she wants to be able to go there.  She wants a truck that will make other teenaged boys dizzy with envy.  Because she has so many great qualities, I accept this about her. I just laugh a little when we pass those giant trucks while we’re out running errands and she heaves a huge sigh of longing and stares after them as they rumble past us full of testosterone and teenagers.  This is also one of the reasons I am now the co-owner of a large, hard to park Chevy Silverado. There are other reasons but I’ll get to those in a minute.
When Black Hair and I met, she was the owner of a tiny little black foreign car.  I don’t remember what it was but it was little and affordable and a good steward of gas money.  I drove a Mazda covered in grateful dead stickers and filled with take out bags.  It didn’t take long before she traded the little black box for a little truck.  I think it happened right after I convinced her that we could bring four landscape timbers home from Wal-Mart if we lowered them through the sunroof.  We did get them home after having the Garden Center dude stare at us like we were insane while we loaded them in the car (picture me standing on the hood lowering them in and you’ll get why he was transfixed) but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t long after that that the first little truck came home.
I didn’t complain.  It was little and got decent gas mileage and she was so happy I just couldn’t say a word.  Besides, now I could pick up stuff off the side of the road with abandon and she really couldn’t complain.
See, that’s the real reason I don’t complain about the trucks.  I admit it.  I have a touch of Sanford & Son deep in my little soul.  I like to think of myself as an ultimate recycler but many might just call me a collector of crap.  That’s what my mother thinks anyway. Every car I have driven as an adult has to have a trunk big enough to pile stuff in and having a truck is even better.
The first thing I convinced Black Hair to help me haul home was a little red table that I found out by the curb in front of someone’s house.  We had to shove it in the back seat of the little black car.  She was humiliated and accused me of stealing.  When that didn’t work she mentioned dumpster diving but I was unmoved and that little table cleaned up nicely and is still in my house to this day.
Since that day so early in our relationship, I have brought home many treasures from the side of the road.  Black Hair now just rolls her eyes and asks where we’re gonna put it and then rolls her eyes again when I say I don’t know yet.  My oldest girl child has even become my accomplice, and helps me spot stuff we could use.  The truth be told, Black Hair even slows down the truck without having to be asked when we pass a pile of stuff on the side of the road so I can check it out for “recyclables”.  My chicken pen was free, my chicken coop was free, my raised garden beds were free and some really cool architectural elements in my house were free and are mine because Black Hair has a truck fetish and I like to sift through other people’s cast-offs.
OK- back to the trucks.  The first little truck just didn’t cut it when Black Hair decided she wanted a baby.  No back seat.  Therefore, off she went to the dealership and home she came with a four-door truck with a backseat.  It was still small but she was pleased.  Until Girl Child 1 got big enough to turn the car seat around and began kicking her with reckless abandon.  Not so pleased any more.  Plus, we looked like the Clampetts when we travelled.  She got a bed cover but you had to have a PhD in engineering, and the muscles of a linebacker to get the thing snapped correctly over the back of the truck.  It wore me out…it really did.  So then, we traded the truck for a very nice SUV, but for various reasons, one being it looked like a drug dealer’s car, we both hated it.  This could be incorrect in terms of sequence but the theme remains the same.  Black Hair needed a big truck.
So…this leads us to our current Chevy.  It’s huge.  It’s a serious gas guzzler.  It looks like a farm truck, and when she called & asked me if I wanted to look at it to buy, I was at the Humane Society holding a Cheweenie that weighed 17oz and was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  She drove over, picked up the dog and I, and home we drove in our new giant truck with our tiny little dog.
She still sighs dramatically when we pass the monster trucks but she is more content now that she has her own giant truck.  And I’m not complaining much, because as I drove to work this morning I glanced in the rearview and saw the free side-of-the-road toddler swing set in the truck bed.  We saw it on Sunday and she drove the kids and me home and went back for it in the truck without a single comment or eye roll.
 I plan to throw it in the garage with the two free couches, various garden implements, “art” parts and tools until Girl child 2 can sit up on her own.  And, just for the record, it’s Black Hair’s fault the garage looks like it does.  If she didn’t just HAVE to have a truck, I wouldn’t be able to bring home so much crap.
Earth Momma
PS- Does anyone need a couch?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

For the past several weeks Black Hair has been working mucho overtime.  This means that I have been a bit of a single parent to our children.  This was not the plan when we decided to have another baby and it has taken some adjustment.  While my mom has been around to help out, I have still have to remember more than I am used to, be more places than I am used to and schedule my life within an inch of ridiculous to keep it all together.
This also means that our home is a tiny bit messier than I am comfortable with.  I just can’t keep it all the way I would like for it to be while providing the oversight and love that two children require and still get any sleep.  As it stands, I get up before 6 am most mornings and keep going until after 10pm most nights.  I am quite sure all of you with children can relate. I decided a while back that happy kids are more important than clean floors.
That being said let me tell you about my day.  I got up around 6:30 and hit the ground running.  Black Hair was out of here around 5am headed for a full day of work.  Baby care, breakfast, pet care, laundry, more baby care, time with my oldest child (girl child 1), vacuuming, straightening, throwing away (no matter how much I recycle, we still have a ridiculous amount of trash that has to be handled), cooking for various functions we attended today, chicken wrangling (more about that later), pumpkin decorating and then getting us all basically clean and dressed and out the door to the first party we attended today.  I was exhausted before I even cranked the car.  But I took a vitamin (which taste like gummy bears laced with fish. Something about Omega 3s and cod liver oil) and rinsed the fish taste out with a swig of cold coffee (don’t worry, there were mints in the car) and off we went to a birthday party.
Where Girl Child 2 promptly lost her danged mind and started to scream her head off the minute we walked in the door.  GC 1 headed for the back yard to play with the other kids where she promptly got herself stuck in a tree.  Literally.  Her thigh was wedged between some branches but thankfully a very handsome tall dude managed to extricate her sobbing self from the tree.  Another mom tried to calm GC 2 while I tried to make sure GC1 was not broken (again).  When I look up from wiping the snot off of GC 1, I notice that GC 2 is covered in long blonde golden retriever hair.  Completely covered.  Did I wipe her on the dog before we left?  I don’t remember it but it sure looked like I did.  I calmly took her back from the helpful mom (she was still screaming. GC 2, not the helpful mom) and took her to the birthday girl’s room and pulled out my handy hair remover roller thingy and rolled the hair off of the baby.  I almost started to maniacally giggle at this point because she was still yelling and having me use tape paper to roll the hair off of her wasn’t helping the situation.  I finally got her fed and calmed and rejoined the party. 
All was going well until GC 1 realized we had not brought a gift for the birthday girl.  Now, the parents specifically asked that no one bring gifts but apparently everyone but us did anyway.  I had to talk GC1 off the embarrassment ledge by promising that we would make a gift and bring it to the birthday girl next week.  This worked and everything else went pretty smoothly (except GC 1 fell down at least 2 more time and required one band-aid and one magical healing spell). 
Did I mention that GC 1 fell out of her chair while eating her lunch earlier today?  This required a magic healing spell on two different body parts and her pride.  Sometimes kids just have accident prone days but falling out of your chair while eating is…well, I don’t know what it is but this is about the 3rd time she’s done it and I have to force myself not to laugh when it happens.  She is definitely her mother’s child when it comes to this area of her life.  One minute she’s eating a pb&j and the next she is on the floor.  I’m laughing just thinking about it.  She can’t sit still while eating and sometimes she just wiggles herself off into the floor. 
Anyway- Birthday girl smeared cake and icing all over her parents and was totally adorable and we left this party and went on to the next function.
Where GC 2 promptly woke from her car induced nap and lost her mind again.  I tried everything short of drugging her but finally just packed up our stuff (minus GC 1 and the cookie bars I made for dessert) and went home.  Black Hair arrived soon after I left and she is responsible for bring home GC 1 and bringing me some dinner.
When we arrived home, I stripped the baby, put on her pjs and stuck her in the bed.  I turned off the lights, turned on the sound machine and humidifier and as I exited the room she took a deep breath, stuck her thumb in her mouth and promptly conked out. I feel ya GC 2.  I totally feel ya.
  This lasted about 35 minutes.  She started to howl again so I fed her, swaddled her (minus the sucking thumb arm) and put her back to bed.  Yes I still swaddle my 4 month old.  I’ll swaddle her until she’s 10 if it means I get to sleep through the night.  Don’t judge me.  I’m tired.
Now I just have to feed all the critters, count chickens, wash and prepare bottles and maybe I will get some sleep sometime soon.  Who knows, maybe I will actually get to eat a meal prepared by someone else after I tuck a cranky, slightly bruised, kinda dirty GC 1 into her bed for the night.  I’ll worry about the dirt tomorrow.  One night of sleep while slightly dirty and maybe a little sticky from desserts at various functions never hurt anybody did it?  Black Hair may do the actual tucking but I have to perform the goodnight song complete with birdie cheeps before actual sleeping can commence.
Sure- dinner I didn’t have to cook is still tasty when eaten at 10 pm at night.  My life is often chaotic and sometimes stressful but I wouldn’t have it any other way and yes, I realize just how blessed I am.
Earth Momma
PS- GC 1 and Black Hair just came in and GC 1 promptly tripped over a toy in the floor and fell on Black Hair.  Maybe we'll get her into bed without her breaking anymore of her bones.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Boot Season

FYI-Today is the official start day of “Boot Season”. 
Never mind that we live in Alabama and while today it may be a balmy 70 degrees, tomorrow it could be 85 degrees or 65 degrees.  Alabama Fall is bipolar like that.  We never know if tomorrow is winter or summer again.  We adjust.  We keep short sleeve shirts and Capri- pants handy for a while after we unpack the winter sweaters.  It makes for messy closets but it is what it is- Fall in the South.
Anyway, you may be wondering who decided today is the official start of Boot Season and why today is the big day.  The answers are me & because I said so.  There’s a story here.  Just keep reading.
In August, my neighbor cleaned out the closet of her 9-year-old and sent a trash bag of shoes to my house.  My 7-year-old was awed by the wide variety and had to be sternly told that she could not wear the shoes that were two sizes to big for her out of the house.  She was shuffling around like an old lady in bedroom slippers.  This girl child of mine is a bit accident prone on a good day.  I couldn’t imagine that wearing huge shoes would improve her odds of making it through a day gracefully so I put my foot down.  Next, she found a pair of black knee high dressy boots, put them on with her tank top and shorts, and then didn’t take them off for 2 days.  She even tried to sleep in them but again, I put my foot down.  She looked like a go-go dancer but she was so obviously in love with these boots that I had to smile. 
Have you ever been in love with a pair of shoes?  I have and it is all consuming .  If they give you blisters, you forgive them because they are beautiful.  If they eat your socks, you make excuses for their eating disorder.  You do whatever you can to make the shoes feel loved because they make you so happy when you look at them, you almost can’t stand it.
So, I let her wear them while in the house but I still said “Absolutely not.” to her request to wear them to school or church.  It was August in Alabama and I am a southern girl who can’t make myself wear white pants after Labor Day so a boot wearing 7 year-old was out of the question.
Seven year-old girls are nothing if not persistent.  At least mine is.  We rarely fight about clothes.  We came to an understanding years ago that she can wear what she wants as long as it fits and it is seasonally appropriate and as long as it’s not a special occasion.  I just don’t have the energy to duke it out daily over clothes so I am the proud mother of a child with a “creative” interpretation of what matches what and how clothes should be worn.  Whatever.  Peer pressure will dictate her choices soon enough so I just smile when she goes to school looking a bit “colorful”.  She has a theory that socks don’t count and can be as colorful as you want them to be.  They are for fun, not fashion.  This theory means that she usually sports Halloween ghost socks in May or furry Christmas socks in July.  Again, I say whatever.
Anyway, back to Boot Season.  In August, I told her that she could wear the boots when boot season started.  She asked when that was and I told her I would let her know.  Every day since then she has asked if it is boot season yet.  EVERY day.  Seriously. 
When she saw some college girls at a football game wearing tiny dresses and cowboy boots even though it was 800 degrees outside, she asked why I wouldn’t let her wear her boots.  I tried to be diplomatic and non- judgmental when I told her those girls were nuts and probably had blisters and sweaty feet.  She just heaved a huge sigh, rolled her eyes and stomped away. And asked again the next day when boot season started.
Well guess what.  Boot season started at 6:30 am this morning because I was just too darned tired to say no again. And again.  And again.  I did tell her she would look silly but that I supported her need to wear the awesome knee high boots with a tiny little heel. 
Imagine my surprise when I entered the kitchen to see her wearing pink plaid sneakers.  She said she changed her mind.
She was wearing Easter bunny socks with her pink plaid sneakers and Halloween shirt. 
My oldest baby gave me the gift of being my baby for at least one more day. 
Thank you, baby.  Meme loves you.

Introduction to me.

I am starting this blog because several important women in my life told me I should.  Now, I am not really known for doing as I’m told but after serious consideration I realized that I think my thoughts as if I am telling someone a story.  Even in my own head I craft how I would tell a thought as a story were I telling it to another person.  So- here I am.  Telling stories.  Mostly I am writing it all down to clear the clutter from my head but I hope you enjoy the results of that process.
A bit about me- I am a 36-year-old mother of two daughters.  I have been with my partner for 13 years.  We have the same name.  Yes, it can be confusing.  People often think I am talking in third person when I tell a story.  Usually, I’m not but it has been known to happen on occasion. 
We live in smallish southern college town and we have 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 chickens and a turtle.  We have had various fish and once had a visiting guinea pig but he had what looked like a nervous breakdown and went back to his nice safe classroom at the end of summer.  My home is nowhere for prey animals to live and enjoy a sense of safety.  However, I digress.  I will do that a lot.  I can’t help it.  It’s just how I think.
I work very hard at being a mama.  I didn’t really plan to have children and wasn’t one of those little girls who played with baby dolls and dreamed of having kids so when I was presented with the fact that my partner wanted a child and she wanted one NOW I was a little freaked.  Obviously, I adjusted and now we have two seriously amazing girl children that completely fill up our lives and give me more things to laugh about, cry about and freak out about.
 I work full time as does my partner.  Between us we have about 4 jobs.  She has three of those and luckily two of them are very flexible and are done from home.  These have been a blessing in a time of financial instability and even though getting it all done is taxing, we are grateful for every bit of it because it means Christmas will happen, clothes will be purchased and cars will continue to run.
Ok- last paragraph for today.  I am 36 years old.  I am “Generation X”.  I have tattoos. I have piercings. I have a college education.  I have kids, animals and a loving relationship.  I have funny thoughts and have been told I should write them down.  I like commas, run on sentences and useless details.  I love to cook.  I am a bit of a conspiracy nut and I have weird dreams on a regular basis.  Maybe I will remember to write stuff down and maybe it will make you laugh or think a little differently.  Maybe not.  I guess we’ll see.