Ten years ago, I chose to take on the responsibility of a baby. I weighed my options, thought about the implications and ramifications, and decided to turn away from the future I had planned for myself. I chose a child and the life that came with him.

Earlier today, he chose me back.

I can't begin to describe the surge of emotions that flooded me when he turned to me in the middle of a store, wrapped his arms around me and said, I know you're not my biological mom, but from now on, for me, you are, okay? From now on, you are.

Tears. Laughter. Hugs. In that order. That's all I had for him there, but since then, I can't stop thinking about it. My son, the one who has never been given a choice, made one on his own without any pushing or prompting from anyone else. His first big-kid decision and he used it to choose me.

As parents, it's our job to make decisions for our children. We do it because we love them and we (hopefully) see a bigger picture and act out of love, concern, and wisdom. This is an unspoken contract established between parents and children that we all agree to in one way or another.

And I have made some huge decisions for Javi in the past years. I decided he'd be my son, that he'd have the Mountain Man as a father, and that he'd have a younger sibling (but only one). I decided that he would have no contact with his biological father. And recently I decided he'd have no contact with his biological mother.

Obviously, I don't think it was wrong to make firm, drastic decisions for my child (such as barring access to him by people who put him in psychological or physical danger) and I stand by every decision I've ever made for him. In fact, I wish I'd made those strong decisions earlier and more frequently in his life.

But not once have I consulted Javi on what he wants. I haven't allowed him to make big decisions for himself. Many times it hasn't been necessary. For instance, Javi called MM "daddy" way before our wedding in 2006 or MM's adoption of Javi in 2007. And the other times -- well, you can't ask a child to decide whether a person is a bad influence or dangerous presence. (Or, at least, I don't believe it would be fair to ask him to make that decision.)

But standing there today hearing him make and voice such a big decision? It opened my eyes and my heart. My baby boy hasn't just lived the past ten years; he's gained tremendous wisdom and experience from them. He's learned and processed and suffered consequences. He's made mistakes and accomplished goals. Right in front of my eyes, that baby is maturing into the man he'll soon be.

Today, I heard him, for the first time, choose me (us, this family that came about as a result of him). I know you're not my biological mom, but from now on, for me, you are, okay? From now on, you are. Ten years in the making, sweeter words were never spoken.

I know that our road will still be rocky and that the days will be long as we hurtle toward the teen years, but we're all here because we want to be. We have chosen each other, and that will get us through.

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Ten years ago, at this very minute, my big kid's biological mother began feeling cramps spread along her midsection and back. In another 30 minutes, she would be in a rush to get to the hospital. Finally, ten days after the original due date, she was giving birth to the baby girl who would be born (despite three ultrasounds) a boy, my baby boy. (That birth lasted four hours thanks to a sunny-side-up delivery that left no time for an epidural. To say it was a rough birth would be an understatement.)

Ten years is a long time, and yet it has passed in a flash. That tiny baby is now a 4'8" 75-pound boy who loves football and dinosaurs, who can spend hours drawing but can't remember where he left his pencil, who seeks understanding and asks questions all day long, and who is currently drilling himself for the upcoming spelling bee.

Because it's his birthday, we are having all his favorite foods -- pizza, orange Kool-Aid pie (pictured at top), rolo stacks, and chocolate ice cream for dinner. He celebrated with his little friends this weekend and will celebrate with family tonight.

Meanwhile, I'll be wandering around wondering where the past 10 years disappeared to. One thing's for sure -- life's been good to us so far.

Happy 10th birthday to my sweet boy.

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What's this thing you call vacation?

Today marks the first day of my first time off since Labor Day. Technically, I still worked on Labor Day, so maybe it's my first time off since July 4th. Or maybe since this time last year.

That's the huge downside of working from home and for yourself. There's no door to shut or boundary to cross that signals a work day. Work happens when it happens, whether it's a Wednesday night or a Saturday morning, whether I'm in my "work chair" at home or hunched into a booth at a coffee shop at the beach.

That's the freelance life. It's also furiously and frantically typing to squeeze out 400 more words while one child taunts his baby sister (Don't touch my things! My picture is better than yours! Ooh, I'm going to my room ... and you can't come!) and the baby sister plots clumsy revenge (Haha, Javi! I broke your toy/threw away your picture!).

And so I am putting down work for four days. Of course, I'll still be working. The kids will be home fighting over everything they come into contact with, demanding my undivided attention, crying over ... anything they can find to cry over.

But! I'll get to play stay-at-home mom for four days rather than bust-my-ass-to-do-everything-mom. I'm looking forward to it (kinda).

What are your plans for the holiday? Will you be decked out in full armor to keep from being a casualty in the battles your warlords wage? (Please tell me I'm not the only one.)

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Cluck of the Week: Circle of life

We've been a chicken family for exactly six months as of yesterday. Six months which included brooding baby chicks and chasing crazy-fast guineas and introducing a chicken mama and counting down to eggs.

In our short time, we've learned to say goodbye. First to the pasty-butt chick who was so sick and frail that she couldn't get up on her legs. Then to the guineas who simply didn't belong in a neighborhood. Our hearts broke when dogs dug into our backyard and killed our girl Stella, the black star who was the first to earn the title of pet.

After ten broilers, four chicks, two guineas and one Here's Your Last Chance Fancy Don't Let Me Down, we had settled into our flock of three: Lulu2, Maisy, and Fancy. They traveled as group during the day though they roosted in separate places at night (Fancy in a tree, Lulu2 and Maisy in the coop until Maisy turned traitor and went to sleep in the tree with Fancy).

But, as is the nature of life for a chicken, our triad has been broken. We lost Maisy this week. She was the youngest, the weakest, the follower.

Tragically, her survival skills weren't as advanced as the other girls'. From what we can figure, Maisy was trapped in a corner of the yard by a cat. We buried her feathers and pieces in our burgeoning chicken cemetery along our property perimeter.

There were none of the tears that came when Stella was killed. We have toughened up, as you do when you're raising chickens. We're adjusting yet again. We've decided the chickens can't free range, no matter how much we all like it. And, yes, the BB gun will have to come out for cats now, too. And so it goes.

But there's always a bright spot in this tunnel. Today, while preparing the yard for Javi's birthday party, my mountain man stumbled upon these under our deck:

I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. Lulu2 is an official layer. We know they can't be Maisy's eggs because her comb was still chalky pink, not vibrant red like Lulu2's (and Fancy lays her eggs in the nesting box). And while I can't figure out why these chickens don't just behave (you know, like roosting in the coop instead of trees and laying eggs in the nesting boxes rather than on the ground under the deck), I'm delighted to watch them grow and exhibit their unique personalities.

UPDATE: Mountain man found 5 more eggs under there! That's 10 eggs total. Here's the crazy part: We think Fancy switched her laying location and egg production isn't actually off at all. Some of the eggs are Fancy's large ones and some are Lulu's small ones. These chickens love to keep us guessing!

We miss seeing the three reds nibbling their way around the yard, but there's always new life and new experiences. Lulu2 and Fancy may have new girls to play with in the spring (since egg production is off for the winter), and our hearts will swell just as strongly as they always do.

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QOTD: Words of wisdom

My big kid is turning 10 in one week. Four school days. One weekend. Eight straight days. 192 hours. 11,520 seconds. And he'll be 10. Ten years of Javi.

In those ten years, he's learned enough to drop some genuine gems of wisdom. Allow me to share them with you.


A fellow student who's younger than Javi complained that his parents don't love him. If they loved him, the student posited, they'd buy him the things he wants.

J: You're only 8. You don't understand the meaning and concept of parents and the things they do. No one does.


After relaying this story to me, Javi shared that he was slightly confused by the kid's parents' actions.

J: But, mama. They live in a house. If they live in a house, why don't they buy toys for their son?

Me: Maybe they spend all their money living in their house and paying the bills for it, like the heat and water. And then they have to buy food to go in the house, too. So maybe they don't have leftover money to buy toys.

J: Like poor people?

Me: They could be poor, or they could choose not to spend their extra money on toys. Maybe they save for vacations or for when [the kid] goes to college.

J: They're probably poor, like Daddy's life was. When I become President, I'm going to give some of my money to the homeless and to the poor and I'm going to ask everybody to help give money to the homeless and the poor for their food, their healthiness and their homes.

Me: That's really great, baby.

J: And when that happens and I'm still President, I'm going to ask everyone who was poor to come up on the stand and say how good they feel to have their new life and their new homes, food, and all that stuff to help their bodies. And then I'll say, well let's have a celebration.

Me: A celebration?

J: Yeah, to show what a great President I am.


After further discussion on the point of being a president and the role a president plays in our government, Javi began asking people what they would want him to accomplish as president. He then reported back to me.

J: Okay, I know what else I'll do as President.

Me: Let's hear it.

J: I made a speech. [unfolds paper] "We need to fight to stop the bad people on commercials. They keep telling us to give them money when they know their stuff doesn't even work. We order it and it doesn't work but they won't give anyone their money back. That's wrong and your President is fighting to stop it."

Me: Hm. Okay, that's a really interesting platform. What made you think of commercials?

J: It's not a platform, it's a speech. And Daddy told me all about it when I wouldn't stop asking for a Fushigi.


Unrelated to his future career in politics, Javi was introduced to stepping this week. He was fascinated by it and his body started moving with the music. 

Me: Would you like to learn to do this? I know where they have lessons.

J: No.

Me: Are you sure? I bet you'd like it.

J: Mama, just because you like something doesn't mean you should do it. You have to have watchers, too. If everyone is doing it, then there's no one watching it, and then who'd clap?

Me: ....

J: I would be fantastic at it, though. I have great rhythm.


And later, when I was relaying this story to the Mountain Man.

J: That's not what I said.

Me: Yes it is. I was there, I heard you.

J: Well, I guess you just don't know how to translate my language then.


And lest you think Meanie Weenie has been silent, I give you my most recent favorite: "Mama, I don't want Santa to figure out I'm mean. Let's don't talk about it, okay?" You got it kiddo.

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The aftermath

Last night was parade night. That means today I never got out of pajamas. I had planned to wear my "going out" pajamas to take Bella to preschool, but her tum-tum decided today was a good day to be upset so we both stayed home.

Side note #1: You know you're worn out when you're thankful that the runny butt happened today and not yesterday. I fully understand the meaning of 'God doesn't give you more than you can handle.' If runny butt had happened yesterday, I may have exploded into a thousand glittery pieces. End side note.

True to form, I didn't let in-pajamas-and-with-runny-butt keep BayBay and I down. We cleaned and organized the mess that's collected in the past week(s). We built a block city and painted people to live in it. Then we started the first layer of the peppermint bark we make every year.

The intention was to wait for Javi to get home from school and finish his homework and chores and then we'd complete the bark together. Instead, Bella snuck into Javi's room to destroy his lego creations and Javi kicked her out and they were both screaming in the stairwell and I tried to diffuse it until Bella wailed, "But I want walls like Javi has!"

Side note #2: When we moved in, a friend convinced me to paint Javi's room as a landscape. Since the moment he saw it, Javi has begged us to paint over the rolling hills and blue sky with "something for boys, not babies. Gah!!!" He loathes those walls. End side note.

You see where I'm going with this, right? Yes. The day after the parade, while dealing with steady diarrhea, exhaustion, and a semi-destroyed home, and after painting, building, and candy-making, the two kids and I embarked on a mission to swap their rooms. One room is almost put back together (needs the correct curtains, wall art, and tv hookup) and the other is a disaster, but both kids are pretty excited.

Yes, that's a glittery pink tinsel Christmas tree. She asked for it okay?! And the line
across the upper walls is Javi's art line. He said he's coming back for it so she'd better
not get any ideas. At least he warned her, right?
Moral of this story: I have a problem, dude. If there's a 12-step program, please direct me to it. But don't tell my kids. I think they like Mama just slightly manic.

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Hectic Holiday

I'm feeling a bit like this right now:

And here's why.
  • I haven't been paid since October and the payroll department at the company I'm waiting on literally told me the check's in the mail. Direct quote.
  • I have three work deadlines to finish in the next 13 days. Those deadlines amount to 30 pages, 24 sources, and hours of research.
  • I'm coordinating my city's Christmas parade, which takes place on Monday night. This means my phone has rung off the hook and every free brain cell has been focused on the line up order, which dignitaries are riding in which car, who still needs to pay, and why the hell did I agree to do this?
  • Someone told my husband that he had a 1950s housewife. He comes home and immediately gets huffy if he has to do anything but sit down and turn on the tv. I'm doing 18 things at once -- including micromanaging homework and chores, making sure we have dinner, keeping things clean, answering the damn phone, etc -- and he's pissed off that he has to check homework. (Like checking it is somehow worse than getting him to sit and do it.)
  • On top of everything else, there's my little side project that I love dearly and enjoy doing. But I'm only one person and it's a challenge to do it well without a single back up. I have something in the works for it in January that may change the whole ballgame ... but until then, I am underneath it and barely hanging on.
So yeah. I'm one disgruntled elf right now. Actually, this image might be a better indication of how I'm feeling:

The good news is I don't give up and I don't quit. I may answer the phone "What can Brown do for you?" or not all. I may roll my eyes when the Mountain Man starts acting like he just fell off the mountain. And I may lose my ever-lovin' mind with this parade.

But I'm alive and kickin' and likely to forget all this angst long before all of it's resolved. Let's just say today I'm grateful I can't hold a grudge!

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Cluck of the Week: All the reasons big and small

I can't count my blessings. They are numerous and multi-faceted, both obvious and obscure. Just when you think you know your blessings, something happens to make you realize many blessings are so profound, you don't even realize they're there. Counting seems an exercise in ego.

But I couldn't let the 'day of thanks' pass by without giving our flock a virtual squeeze. Our chicken flock, that is. This is our first year with chicken-children and I can tell that the past few months have definitely changed us.

Notice those combs. Maisy is standing straight and has
a small, pale pink comb. Lulu's is larger and flushing into
red. We've heard from a reliable source that with a red
comb comes eggs! Shouldn't be long now!

We are more connected to where our food comes from. We are more tuned into what makes a healthy chicken, a healthy egg, and a safe living environment. I've cried and laughed more over those birds than I could've imagined.

Case in point: Fancy, our most skittish and least-people-friendly girl, has become accustomed to getting kitchen snacks on the back deck. She waits on the picnic table for us to notice her. When that doesn't work, she bawks like a dang rooster. If we still don't move tail, she bangs on the glass.

It's like having a third child ... only this one will draw blood if the oatmeal in your palm runs low.

Yes, we are thankful. For all the reasons, both big and small.

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On blood

Laying across my son's bed with him beside of me. Both of us on our backs, fingers entwined, alone without any distractions. A quiet moment at the end of a tough conversation that I wasn't ready to have. That's when he whispered it.

Sometimes y'all don't feel like my blood.

It's a sharp punch right in the chest and I lose my breath for a moment. I realized I've been walking on eggshells for nearly 10 years. Not wanting him to feel different, not wanting him to feel less loved or less wanted, not wanting to show preference, never wanting him to be the outsider.

Every adoptive parent has to make a choice: either tell your child another woman gave birth to him or pretend otherwise. Both choices have their consequences.

I chose to never keep my son's birth a secret from him. The questions began a few years ago. Why am I your son if my Nahnee had me in her tummy? Why are they my brothers if they aren't your sons? Why did my Nahnee give me to you but keep my brothers?

The answers have been simple. Age appropriate. Teetering on the edge. There's a hidden question that he's groping for, that he'll find. Inevitably. With maturity comes the heartbreaking quest to pin it all down, to keep pushing into the dark, to know everything.

Soon enough, he'll uncover the answers and I'll tear at the decisions I can't take back. I kept no secrets, and so my child is always searching. The weight of it propels him forward and forces him to wonder: Am I one of them?

Is blood is irrelevant? Why am I here and not there. Who were they? Where do I fit? Why don't I fit there? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

There's an answer that involves loss and pain and sadness. There's another answer that involves hope and forgiveness and faith. And honesty.

He's slowly moving into the dark, reaching out for the variables that will lead him to himself. When he finds them, my affirmation will be: You belong right here with us. You are etched into our bones, and we have shaped you in ways DNA can't fathom. We aren't just your blood, we're your marrow.

The questions will get tougher, but my legacy will be honesty. Honesty and love. Pure and endless, transcending birth and blood. Love that soothes the scars that form.

Lying there together, fingers entwined, I said to him: We're greater than blood. We're family. I pray everyday that will be enough.

***November is National Adoption Month. If you're interested in adopting, I'd be
happy to answer any questions or share my experiences with private, kinship adoption.
Learn more about general adoption issues here

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Growing out of it

I haven't written here about Javi's attention and impulsivity issues in a while. For one, I have a dedicated outlet for those types of posts. But also? Things are getting so much better.

I've been told in the past that kids often "grow out of it" and I always rolled my eyes. My mother and father never grew out of ADHD. My sister hasn't grown out of it. As I simplify and try to redefine my life, I see how I've never grown out of it.

But what I'm learning is that maturity makes a huge difference. Add maturity to a host of other variables like a stable, organized home life; a consistent, reliable schedule; an experienced, proactive teacher; and a medication choice that works. I don't think "huge difference" states it strongly enough. Life altering success comes close.

Yes, things are so much better than they were. We haven't grown out of ADHD, though. It's still there. It still must be managed and planned for and adjusted to. Only now when it rears its head, I take time to laugh, see my role, spot what might have made things work out differently, involve him a strategy session, and then move on.

Every few days I get little visual reminders that none of this is natural for him. Calm and orderly and organized may never be labels that feel comfortable on his tall, skinny body. Take this for instance:

This is what I encountered when looking for a container for leftovers after dinner yesterday. Can you guess whose chore it is to put clean dishes away? Ah, yes. My child who has been identified as academically and intellectually gifted and does above-grade-level work and is the darling of his social circle. That's the one.

And after me coaching him through a re-do, we currently have this:

Such is our life. Such is his life. We both have to work at it, and over time that work will seem easier even if it never seems natural.

It could be so much worse.


Update: In response to laziness/disorganization/"he's a man!" -- the difference between the Mountain Man's sloppy disorganization and Javi's sloppy disorganization is that the MM (and probably you, too) is capable of organizing a cabinet. For most, it's a matter of motivation and caring enough to do it.

In Javi's case, he will work with those containers all night and still be unable to organize them. I should take pictures of his multiple attempts. He has to be taught organization and then have the lesson hammered home to him again and again. No amount of motivation or desire to succeed (or just be done with it already) will change how he processes the job of putting the containers away.

He also struggles with stacking cups and completing puzzles. It's a processing thing that requires strategies. For the containers, I've taught him to find the biggest item first and put it next to the next-biggest item. He makes a line of descending order and then starts with the smallest thing and moves backward. The different shapes threw him off. Now he has learned to separate the shapes and then start the process.

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On friendship

A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. ~Anonymous

I have several close friends, but none knew me when I was a pudgy, inquisitive toddler who loved playing dress up and wearing lipstick and carrying pocketbooks. Despite growing up in a neighborhood full of single mothers and more children than one could count, I'm not friends with any of those kids anymore.

Seeing my children making memories with other littles makes me both yearn for a lifelong friendship of my own and dedicate myself to maintaining and encouraging the friendships they make. I hope they look back 30 years from now and sigh with the contentment and gratitude of knowing that this person beside them knows exactly who they are and where they came from.

I am thankful for the friends I have now and those who've graced me with their hearts along the way. Friendship is a beautiful gift that I haven't always treasured. Lesson learned.

***This post is part of Wordish Wednesdays and Wordful Wednesdays.***

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Return of The Nutcracker

If you've been around these parts for a while you already know that my girl is a serious fan of The Nutcracker, thanks to the unlikeliest of sources.

We spent the last holiday season watching the movie, play acting the details, scouting out Nutcracker ornaments, and dreaming of a day when we'd see The Nutcracker onstage.

Guess what? Yesterday, my little girl and her friend behaved like the most mature of three year olds as we watched a live performance The Nutcracker Ballet

Everything was lined up for a meltdown: the production was in the afternoon so there was no nap, we were right on time -- meaning we were late -- and had to sit on the front row, the Mouse King only appeared for half a minute (he's her favorite, you know), and people clapped throughout (not at the end ... so Bella was worried the entire time that it was over already).

But she didn't just make it through. She enjoyed it. She clapped and stared and danced in the aisles. She whispered, "She's beautiful!" and "That's amazing!" as she watched, eyes never leaving the stage.

Who would've thought that a $5 Barbie movie bought on a whim by a cringing parent would lead to such a magical afternoon? Welcome to the first year of our first mother-daughter tradition!

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QOTD: Tacos

I'm drowning in work: deadlines for the paid stuff, fielding calls for the city's holiday parade (that I wound up managing), kids home from school, dogs stalking the chickens .... and the list goes on. I'm barely surviving. Enter my children.


Me (to my sister while wading through work crap and spotting the term): Hey, Ash. How would you like to have a hypersensitive clitoris?
Bella: I'm having tacos!
*silence and giggling*
Bella: What? I am having tacos. I don't want no yeeforish.


Javi: Mama, how many syllables are in happiness?
Me: How many do you think?
Javi: 3?
Me: That's correct.
Javi: Dad marked it wrong.
Me: Let me see what you have.
(visual: ha-ppi-ness)
Me: That's not how you break it up. Which sounds right: happ-i-ness or ha-pi-ness?
*everyone begins laughing uncontrollably*

I totally needed that.

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Cluck of the Week: Healthy Breakfast

I looked over the other day and realized our baby chicks are as big (or bigger) than the big mama chicken we brought in to "guide" them in the ways of chickenhood.

Like, how chickens should eat anything. Lulu and Maisy were picky eaters who only wanted feed, grasshoppers, or worms. But then Here's Your One Chance Fancy Don't Let Me Down taught them to eat what's in front of them. Hence them eating a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and diced apples this morning. They still won't eat bread, but bread is nowhere as good for them as oatmeal and apples so I'm not complaining.

However, despite looking massive, these big ol' chickens still aren't laying any eggs. Javi came in from checking the nests this afternoon and had two eggs. We had a mini-celebration until he remembered that he didn't check the nests yesterday.

Yeah. Celebration over and dessert revoked for the kid who skipped his chore yesterday. Another week in chicken rearing.

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Happy Halloween!

From Sir Javi and Pippibella to you and yours, Happy Halloween! Let the sugar coma begin! (We'll be slaying dragons and acting impulsively on purpose rather than to drive each other crazy. How about you?)

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Getting the spirit

We didn't do much to celebrate Halloween last year except for trick-or-treating. This year, I have two children who beg to make crafts and a holiday that begs you to use your imagination. So we did.

We painted pumpkins.

And turned them into Frankenstein and Potato Longstocking.

And rather than carving anything (and probably cutting off a finger), we made Halloween-themed lanterns. Not pictured is the Frankenstein lantern  that will be finished up on Thursday (because football practice sucks up most of Javi's free time over the next two days).

Want to make the lanterns with your crafty kiddos? See my post at From the Monkey Bars for a step-by-step!

What fun crafts are you doing this week?

***This post is part of the 30-minute blog challenge.***

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I should be in bed, but...

Look at how much these kids changed in a year. I mean, I could've noticed it tomorrow, but where's the fun in that?

 And while I'm at it:

The years really do feel like minutes right now.

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Cluck of the Week: Eggtastic

We visited with some friends today who established their flock (that's chicken terms, people!) about a month before we did. They have a Black Star, an Ameracauna, and a Golden Comet -- which means their flock is much more colorful than ours.

However, they also lay a much different egg. For instance, the Ameracauna lays a blue or green egg commonly called Easter eggs. Very pretty! Our Rhode Island Reds lay your standard brown farm egg, but they find a way to make their breed stand out.

You see that ginormous egg up there? It's Fancy's. The other egg was laid by the Ameracauna. Take that you colorful show offs!

And speaking of eggs, #1) I learned you really should rinse them off, but #2) only right before you eat them and #3) only with warm water (unless they are super dirty, which is when you could use a weak bleach solution. Also, #4) chicken eggs have a protective coating that allows them to go unrefrigerated for up to 10 days. Who knew?!

In summary, yes, we are still refrigerating our eggs and, yes, we have been singing "Fancy got eggs!" to the tune of Baby Got Back. What else would we do?

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The learning life

I'm so excited to join in with some great bloggers to announce the launch of From The Monkey Bars, a blog for parents written by parents that tackles the good, the bad, and the crazy.

Each week, I'll offer tips and strategies for fun, creative learning experiences with your child whether you have a demanding and precocious toddler or a surly and inattentive grade schooler. And for kids whose ages fall outside of that bracket, I'll be sharing ideas straight from the experts, including homeschooling parents, traditional school teachers and administrators, folks who are trained to work with children who have special needs, and those whose creative genius should be shared.

And, of course, I'd love to share YOUR experiences, so let me know if you're interested in guest posting. Any ideas or experiences you have for creative learning are welcomed.

Now come on over and give us a big, hearty hello!

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When I was young...

At the ripe old age of 9, Javier has penned and illustrated his first memoir. I would be jealous of his 8-page tome, but, well ... it's only 8 pages. And he only had access to five colors for the illustrations. So there.

His autobiography is aptly titled "When I Was Young" and each page highlights a favorite memory. They aren't necessarily the ones I would've chosen for him (I mean, the first page is a huge slice of pizza), but they are pretty accurate for my creative, funny little boy.

These are my favorites:

Poor beheaded flowers. I love that yellow brick, though. Did you know we are the
brick capitalof the entire world? (Imagine huge brown eyes staring at you now.)

Only a dedicated waterbug would use his arms as "pedals." Paddles are for wimps!

I think my favorite part here is how the slide empties into nothing. I bet that landing hurt!

Who doesn't love a "recidal," especially when everyone sings the same note?

These aren't Javi's most detailed drawings, but I think they're pretty fantastic. Fittingly, I'm writing about ADHD and creativity over at {a mom's view of adhd} today. You can see I have lots of experience to share!

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QOTD: The rules (!!!)

It's official. My kids run me. But for every day full of yelling and combativeness and argumentative behavior, there are days that make me wonder where the hidden camera is. Today was one of those days where I chose to be happy without qualifiers or expectations.


Thirty minutes after picking at the delicious and nutritious meal I had prepared for lunch:
Bella: Mama, I'm still hungry.
Me: What do you want?
Bella: Um. A Twizzler. A big red one with strings all on it. You can't cut it!
Me: You aren't getting a Twizzler.
Bella: Okay, an icy pop.
Me: No
Bella: A cookie!
Me: No. If you're hungry, you can have a banana.
Bella: I'm not hungry. I'm thirsty! I'll take an icy pop!

While trying to have some special pre-school time with a new connect-the-dots workbook:
Bella: Mama, you say "Homegirl, you are really getting the hang of this!"
Me: Homegirl, you are really getting the hang of this!
Bella: Don't talk!
Me: But you told me to say it!
Bella: Okay. Now you say, "Girl, you are really getting the hang of this!"
Me: Girl, you are really getting the hang of this.
Bella: I said don't talk! (x 100)

In the first 20 minutes after Javi arrived home from school:
"My teacher makes a weird noise every time she talks. Like she can't breath. Don't you think she's taking the talking too far? I mean, she did say she loves to talk, but that's just too much!"

"Listen to this! I was just looking at my stomach, you know, with my shirt up, minding my own business, and Jasmine said, 'Javi, you have six pack!' And then Lilybeth came over and said, 'I want you to sit by me!' I was just minding my business, but obviously they weren’t!"

"Oh, yeah, mama. I forgot to show you this. [Points at left arm] Frank. [Points at right arm] Sarah. Get it? I named my muscles. This one’s Frank and this one’s Sarah. Husband and wife. And my six pack is their babies. I named all six of them Bobby."

After finally having time to watch the remake of The Karate Kid:
Me: Go ahead and put it in the envelope so we can send it back.
Javi: I need to keep it.
Me: We can't keep it, it's not ours.
Javi: I need it mama. I need the kung fu.
Me: The kung fu? What is the kung fu?
Javi: Mama. Everything is kung fu. Duh!

So tell me -- what did your kid say today that made the nasty stuff fade into the background for a while? (And for more posts on intentional happiness, check out Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments.)

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Cluck of the Week: Size matters

When we introduced Here's Your One Chance Fancy Don't Let Me Down into our flock, she was the grand dame of chickens and towered over Stella, Lulu2, and Maisy.

A few months of free range living (and daily fresh eggs later), she isn't looking so ... meaty.

We still miss Stella (and have to remind Bella every day that she's not coming home), but these little red girls are pretty cool. Word on the street is we may soon have THREE fresh eggs daily.

New source of income? I can't say for sure ... but someone I know is talking about a new round of chicks in the spring. (And it's not me.)

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Being present

I talk about it a lot: being present, living in the moment, cherishing the small moments.

Today, after my sweet girl slept until nearly 10am, I decided to put my time where my mouth was. I closed the laptop, left it in our bedroom behind a shut door, and told myself that today I'd be like the moms who devote themselves to their children.

An hour and a half later, I had unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher (with my mini-me putting away the "tay-ba-wahr" aka tableware); washed down the counter tops, stove, and table (with my mini-me drying behind me); magic erasered the doors, door frames, and walls in the kitchen and living room (with my mini-me using a baby wipe to help); put away all the mini-me's bathing suits (an entire box) until next year; gathered up a bag full of toys to give away ("I onyee wanna keep my monkeys. Okay, mama?"); and changed out both kids' sheets and pillowcases.

Coming back downstairs with my arms full of dirty linens and my girl trailing behind me in her underwear with banana smeared on her chin and her hair matted in the back, I wondered, "Why the hell can't I just chill out and be HERE with her?"

Thanks to that extremely late (and abnormal) wake-up time, there was no nap. Instead, I cleaned the kids' bathroom while Bella took a bath. But she play-acted the entire script of Toy Story 3 with her Buzz, Woody, and Jessie dolls as I scrubbed. And after, we went outside to do some Halloween decorating (as evidenced by the photo above where she's begging me to lift her up), so, technically, I found some balance. Right?

Please tell me how you manage to be "present" with your children. I can't be the only one who (apparently) needs a valium.

***This post is part of the 30-minute blog challenge.***

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This is his brain...

It's no secret that we give my son medication to manage his ADHD. Correction: The mountain man usually gives it to him because I am usually still asleep when he takes it during breakfast. Technical word: Usually.

We're pretty sure MM forgot to dole out the Vyvanse this morning. How do we know? Because it's Day 31 of school and we've received our first call from the teacher. (A new record!)

The bad news: All morning he has been extremely talkative, in and out of his seat, argumentative, disorganized, and forgetful. On a bathroom break, he and another child were kicking other boys' feet under the stalls. And then the final straw. While working in groups, the teacher looked over and saw Javier "dancing a jig" next to his desk. (Classic!)

The good news: He's been fantastic all year, his teacher said with surprise and frustration. This is a whole new side of him that she's never seen. I am more than ecstatic about that because it means we really are effectively managing his disorder. Also, it's pretty damn awesome that he was actually dancing without music (while staying next to his desk -- as though he couldn't stop the beat, but at least knew to keep it to himself).

Because we find it really hilarious, and to punish my MM for his forgetfulness, I present this video:

And, no, there will be no disciplinary action against the child for today's antics. He really can't help himself.

In similar news, I've been around the adhd/special needs neighborhood this week. If you're interested in that kind of stuff, I posted about our journey with medication on {a mom's view of adhd} yesterday. Today I posted at Living with Special Needs about bullying and labels. I'd love you to read it if you have time.

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Fairly Awesome

Weeks and weeks ago, the fair came to town. We went and rode and ate and enjoyed all the carnie goodness a Southern fair offers (including thin, twisty fries with vinegar and ketchup and banana pudding ice cream ... mmmm).

This trip also marked Bella's first time riding a roller coaster without trying to beat the ever-livin' crap out of the person beside her as she did last year. (Ah, what a great memory.)

And Javi was super proud to be the only person under 20 on the pirate ship. And, yes, he was smiling for me to take his picture. He wants it framed. ;)

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, though. Because Javi refused to ride with her, Bella kept getting paired up with other kids her age. She was not happy about it. As evidence by her facial expression here:

And how she clambered out of the car here:

And Javi spent at least $10 throwing darts at balloons but only walked away with a $1 teddy bear that he wound up dropping somewhere.

But we made memories and enjoyed a hot, should-be-fall-but-isn't-yet school night at the fair. Oh, and Bella made my mountain man ride a horse on the carousel. Man. It was classic. Can you imagine the deep discussions they're having?

***This post is part of Wordful Wednesday and Wayback When-esday***

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Catch and Release

Some days I feel lost in the hectic routine of daily life. But just when days start blurring together and I begin wondering (again) when I'll ever have time to carve out the slow-paced, even-more-purposeful life I want for myself ... something crazy magical happens.

Like finding a chickadee trapped inside your bird feeder. You almost can't believe that this is your life and you look around for the candid cameras.

But instead of a camera crew, to the rescue come your son and husband. You watch in awe as the mountain man and his mountain-man-in-training gently extricate a tiny bird without hurting it, and then you shake your head in disbelief as they pet its little head -- slender child fingers and thick man hands and easy, honest smiles.

And you realize that your days aren't passing you by and your moments are precious and your desperate grasping for meaning is what's keeping you from feeling it. So you relax your hands and let life happen. Crazy magical.

***This post is part of the 30-minute blog challenge.***

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I'm thinking pink (for the record)

For the record:
200,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer
in the US this year alone.
1 of 8 in her lifetime:
Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends ...

Following the rules won't protect you.
Doing everything "right" is not enough.
We need more research and testing
and talking and laughing and sharing.

We need to remember we are
Strong. Confident. Intelligent. Brave. Talented. Aware.
And we are never, ever alone.
For the record.


We all know someone who has fought cancer. This is the month to share our stories, their stories.

I am partnering with Bigger Picture Blogs to listen and laugh and share in stories of loss and survival and strength.

And to further show my support, I've taken the the Love/Avon Army of Women pledge to help recruit ONE MILLION WOMEN of all ages and ethnicities to sign up and participate in breast cancer research studies. Go to Army of Women to take the pledge and join the campaign. Do it for all of us.

Won't you take the pledge to Write Pink: from the Head, Heart and Feet?

Head over to Bigger Picture Blogs to start on your journey toward making a difference.

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