Round-robin at Sense of Story: ‘Laughed in her Face’

I was super-duper honored when the ladies at Sense of Story asked me to take part in their most recent Round Robin.

Sense of Story is the work of three of my favorite blogging mamas: Brooke, Gwynyth and Rozanne.

Reading their words so often reminds me of the universal experience of motherhood, and that we are all connected, really. How can we not be?

I was just incredibly excited (and a teeny bit terrified) to be able to take part in this project, and even more thrilled when they embraced my silly ideas. :)

I had so much fun working with them! They made me brave.

Come on over and take a peek at our story: “Laughed in her face.”

The double-edged cyber sword.

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I had this thought recently, that I need to sit down and write myself a letter to be opened in the middle of winter next year.

“Dear Kara,” it needs to begin (because, you know, it’s a letter …)

“Dear Kara, Don’t worry that you are losing it a little. I know that you have been asked roughly 78 times today, ‘Can I get on the computer?’ and you are doing everything you can to stay strong.

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I know you are trapped inside, along with two active kids.

Maybe it’s not 15-below like last year, but it’s cold, and you can’t be outside all day like you are three other seasons of the year, so you are sort of slowly going insane.

But it will be OK. The snow will thaw, and your children will remember other activities besides building virtual tacos for angry virtual customers.

You’re going to get through this.”

I will pull that letter out at my lowest moment, and I will remember this past winter, when I thought electronics were gradually taking over our entire household.

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And then I will recall the first day of the year when it hit 40 degrees, and how the kids and I pulled every.single.thing out of the garage: bikes, scooters, pogo sticks, skateboards, wagons, tennis rackets, baseball bats, basketballs, soccer gear, a small shovel, a watering can and a bag of birdseed …

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And it was good. And I remembered then that electronics are a mostly seasonal endeavor.

And I rejoiced on my front lawn.

But the thing is, I still have such a love/hate relationship with electronics and homeschooling/parenting.

I go through stages where I think that my kids need to be more computer savvy than their mother, who still doesn’t know how to Twitter.

I don’t know how to watch a DVD without help, and my 10-year-old son (I’m not making this up) is the only person in the house who knows how to scan my work contracts so they don’t disappear into a mystery folder.

(That’s right, people I work for — my 10-year-old is smarter than me and without him, I would have to ask a pigeon to bring you my paperwork.)

But on the other hand (and it’s a darn big hand), I worry that electronics are sucking my children’s creativity right out of their heads. I worry about violence, even if that violence is a Lego guy poking another Lego guy with a Lego lightsaber.

I worry that Minecraft is telling kids not to eat their vegetables and to disrespect their parents.

But then, I walk in and realize my kids and their friends are all building a community together, and helping one another …

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I OK’d the Christmas Kindle, which now resides in the time-out cupboard because I never considered that it was  really just a portable game device, and that so many quality kids’ e-books cost money, but many not-so-quality games are free.

I just don’t know. I am so torn, and so very thankful that as the days get warmer, our new routine is eating lunch in the grass and chasing chickens around our yard.

(Because then I don’t.have.to.think.about.it.)

I want to be the cool mom, really — the one who gets their interests and lets them go deeper, who gets them Kindle Minecraft books and helps them make the tacos faster.

But the kinds of memories I want my kids to have aren’t made in front of a screen, and childhood is so darn short.

I search for balance, desperately, and always seem to come away bleary-eyed and confused, knowing it will probably all be OK and someday I will wonder why I spent my kids’ childhood worried about something so very silly.

And still … And still it’s there, which tells me it is important.

Still it’s there, and I wish I knew the right thing to do.

Spring chickens: One year of life with our girls

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I have been having a silly week, talking about flaming garlic bread and apartment horror stories, so I am wrapping it up by talking about our chickens, who are now a year old.

Forgive me. Next week I will talk homeschooling and mama self-care and books and parenting and all that good stuff, I promise.

But for now, allow me to get a little fowl.

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A long time ago, I decided I wanted chickens. My mom’s best friend has raised chickens for years, and the kids loved going to her farm to visit them.

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My daughter especially was a natural born chicken wrangler. Introduced to them at such a young age, she had no fear, and would scoop up the crankiest rooster without hesitation.

My little girl dream passed on to my children through some blend of genetics and my talking about it incessantly, and after moving a year and a half ago, we decided to pursue chicken acquisition last spring.

Or rather, I woke up early one morning, and by lunchtime I had decided the only logical course of action was to adopt three chicks from the local feed store.

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Chickens are a gray area in our town — they aren’t illegal, but they aren’t officially endorsed like in so many places.

But no one I spoke with could give me a legal reason not to get them, and so we called the store and placed an order for a Silver Laced Wyandotte, a Golden Comet and what we were told was an Araucana. (We later learned that true Araucanas are rare, so she might be an Easter Egger — we don’t care. She lays pretty green-blue eggs and she looks like a falcon.)

Bringing them home was incredibly exciting, followed by intensely scary, much like bringing home babies except you don’t have to keep a light on babies without setting your basement on fire.

But raising them was indoors was easy.

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Our friends built us an amazing coop, and introducing them to the outside meant many spring afternoons spent kneeling in the grass; watching them turn from fluffy chicks into awkward teen dinosaurs.

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We lost one on Mother’s Day, and the other two immediately went into a holding pattern. They were nervous and didn’t want to go outside their coop, so we went to my mom’s friend and she gave us two new girls to love.

We now have our flock: Pepper, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, Sriracha, the Araucana, Butterscotch, who we think is an Easter Egger, only because she likes to roost in trees and lays pinkish eggs, and Pearl, who is white and gentle and has the biggest comb of all, but is last in the pecking order.

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Pepper

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Sriracha

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Butterscotch

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Pearl

That’s one of the things we learned this year — that pecking order is real. Pepper was in charge until she came down with a somewhat common chicken ailment and we brought her into our pet ICU (the basement bathroom) for almost a month.

When we returned her to the outside, she and Butterscoth had a brief squirmish and Butterscotch in now in charge.

Pepper and Sriracha, the former Michael and Dwight, are now happily somewhere in the middle, and poor Pearl will always be at the bottom, I think, no matter how many hens we have or who else we adopt.

I talk about them as if they have personalities because they do, of course.

They are generally funny and entertaining, even when they are alerting the neighbors to their presence.

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We wonder often if a neighbor will at some point report us. We know folks with chickens who have had to find them new homes because of alleged noise issues, but we also know people who get visits from officers who visit and tell the owners to carry on with their backyard farming.

I try not to worry. For months I worried and it kept me from feeling like the dream was real, so now I just try to enjoy them.

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We bring them yogurt and fruit and vegetable scraps and we poach up their beautiful eggs and we fall more in love every day with the experience.

We are so lucky, really, to have had this year, even if something changes. Even if it all ends tomorrow and they have to go to one of the many friends we have who raise their own girls.

People ask us sometimes if we’ll ever eat our chickens, and we won’t. They are pets.

And as such, they are family. Although I know for many that’s different, and I get that too. I do.

It’s just that when you spend so many days dreaming of what you are going to do when you finally have hens, you rarely consider what they will taste like.

No, instead, you picture yourself doing what we do now, watching them dig for bugs and bits of green; and enjoying the experience of raising chickens, for however long it may last.

 I don’t know how many of you have your own chickens or are thinking of getting some, but I’d love to hear from you! Tell me about your own flock, or send a question or two my way. We don’t know it all by any means, but I’ll try my best to answer! :)