Ok, I get it. If people were listening in on Jason and I having a conversation about our family, they would think we were some new age hipster farmers that obsessed over the wellness of their indoor chickens. As much fun as that sounds, as cool as that reality show would be, we’re not that cool. So, I get it. If you don’t know us, we can be hard to understand, hard to follow. So that’s why I’m working on some chicken lingo, dictionary style. Here are just a few entries to get you started.
Artillery (noun): what Jason calls male parts on Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “Are you done with his bath yet?” “Just finishing up on his artillery.”
Chicken Cork (noun): paci. “Quigley, do you have a cork in your mouth?”
Chicken Cuts (verb): haircuts for Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “On Wednesday we have an appointment for chicken cuts.”
Chicken Hug (verb): a hug from Ryder or a headbutt from Crews (yep, he thinks a hug is a headbutt, our apologies in advance). “Dada is home. Go give him a chicken hug!”
Chicken Pics (verb): pictures of Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “Don’t forget we need to schedule chicken pics this fall for our Christmas card.”
Coop (noun): crib, or more broadly the chicken bedroom. “It’s naptime, let’s go to the coop.”
Goats (noun): feet. “Get your goats off your brother’s face.”
Greatness (Proper Noun): the official title of Aussie White. Also goes by (but does not always answer to) Her Majesty, Pooperson, Poopie McPooperson. “What does Greatness want for dinner?” (hint: the answer is always cheese)
Nub (noun): The leftover tail after a dog has been docked. (Proper Noun): The nickname of Quigley (also called Mr. Wiggles, Quiggles, Mr. Little Dude.) “And how was Nub today?”
Poofs (noun): unofficial name for “Happy Baby Organic Superfood Puffs.” “Snack time! Do you want some poofs?”
Rally Hair (noun): a Mohawk created by combing chicken hair straight up post bath time, no product need. “Nice, Mr. Chicken. I see you got your rally hair and are ready for bed.”
Worsh (verb): sounded phonetically instead of wash in honor of Uncle Reggie, Tennessee born and bred. “Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken, you ready to worsh?
Ok, friends, is this helpful. Can you now follow?
It feels like we’ve been in a perpetual season of summer. And not just because we’ve hit 99 degrees in the middle of September (but that certainly doesn’t help). With just five days away from October, my sons are still sporting tank tops and shorts. When we go outside to walk and play, their cheeks and calves turn pink. The leaves are finally starting to turn but not because of cooler weather ahead because of extreme drought and dehydration. And with all of that it really feels like summer and man, of man, am I ready for a change. And not just the desperate change of season. I’m ready to embrace change and maybe, just maybe, break free from this schedule I’ve been white knuckling these past fifteen months. Yes, if you’ve tried to schedule anything with me since my sons were born then you know the schedule I’m referencing. The 7-11-3-7 schedule. That’s right, the chicken schedule. Fifteen months in and we’re still going strong with meals at 7-11-3-and 7 (yes, four full meals, they eat non-stop) and two naps in between at 9:30 and 2 (here lately the second nap is more wishful thinking). Now before you get all judgy, we’re not militant about this schedule. I mean, I don’t wake my sons up at 11 from their 9:30 nap with a peanut butter sandwich in my hand. If a chicken is sleeping, you let the chick sleep! But . . . we have been saying “no” to a lot of things we could be doing because this schedule is what holds us together, better yet, it’s what holds me together. And the boys know it. By 9AM, the boys are walking over to the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs ready to go up (smart chickens!). But am I teaching them to be rigid? Am I preventing them from learning flexibility, resiliency, whimsy? These are the things that keep me up at night. You know, how I’m potentially damaging their future selves. I better make sure my counselor is not planning on retiring in the next eighteen years. Just in case. In all seriousness, I’m now down to three months left in the year. My sons are never going to learn to be brave, if they don’t see that action in me first. So, baby steps. We’ll stretch them a little along the way, and who knows by the time cooler weather does arrive, maybe I’ll be stretched too.
I recently confessed to a friend (over Voxer, of course) that I think I’m really bad at beginnings and endings; first impressions and lasting impressions. She immediately gave me some push back and reminded me of our beginning. Huddled in a corner in a concrete conference center in downtown Salt Lake City. About to read AP Seminar Research Papers for 8 days! The very first AP Seminar reading. We were divided into small groups about to be specialized in a very specific task. Two rows of Dell desktop computers curtained off by heavy navy flame-resistant (I remember reading that specific label) on white pipe tubing. Some of us were teachers, college professors, curriculum writers, one was even a lawyer. Critical thinkers and over analyzers, we were up to the task. But I felt really out of my comfort zone. I looked around our cubicle for a friend, and I spotted her. Blonde, denim jacket, stripped shirt, hipster glasses, my age but way cooler. “There she is,” I thought. During breaks I would Diane-Sawyer-style interview her asking all the things: where she was from, how long had she been teaching, what she was teaching, does she have anyone to share her heart with (points for anyone who recognizes where this question comes from), where does she buy her clothes. You know, hard hitting questions. Over those eight days she became my break buddy, my dinner companion, my Salt Lake City excursion partner-in-crime, and now a lifetime friend. She got married the week we returned home; me to Northeast Georgia, she to Tampa, Florida. We don’t see each other often but Instagram and Voxer keeps us up to speed. She knows my home is always open to her come flood or hurricane. Randomly, I have a lot of close friendships that have started that way. They may call them chance encounters; I call them involuntary friendships or friendship under duress. I find someone, I introduce myself, and that’s that. We’re friends. Dave Matthews knows this, it’s all about “the space between" and I plan to fill it!
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At 6AM, I had already stepped in poop then pee in two separate rooms. By 7AM, I was cheffing up cinnamon rolls (It’s CinnaMon-day, in our house, it’s a thing!), eggs with mozzarella, fresh pears, answering emails, and drinking cold coffee with Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. By 8AM, I had been bitten twice (same chicken), broke up a chicken fight, hunted for pacis, already given the twins puffs in a cup (because we snack immediately after breakfast), and started several more emails but too afraid and unfocused to hit send. By 9AM, it was all quiet minus the cathartic hum of Joey, our faithful Roomba. After getting up exceptionally early, the boys were down for what I hoped to be, a three-hour nap. Although I’d settle for anything at this point in the day. It’s Office Monday, what some people say is my luckiest day of the week, I call it my most stressful. Yes, I am enormously blessed to be able to “work” from home on Mondays but with 15-month-old twin boys who are climbing champs . . . it’s hit or miss how much I feel like I’ve accomplished. But in the words of my perceptive husband, “We’re aiming for no head injuries.” (We’re in the season where my sons need everyday helmets. Is that a thing I can buy on Amazon with two-day ship? Just asking.)
So, the start of my work week typically begins at 5AM with emails and ends with more emails by 10PM. I’ve been embarrassed to tell people that I work from home on Mondays. I don’t want anyone to feel that I’m phoning it in, just enjoying a lazy day in my pjs with my sons. It’s exceptionally hard to be productive, to be a good mom, to not text my husband a hundred times, to get through my to-do list so my Tuesday doesn’t feel as chest-tightening as my Monday.
But I’m not complaining. I don’t ever want to seem like I’m complaining. I love this new life. I’ve wanted nothing more than this life I’m leading this very moment and I’m not going to be the one who spoils it by not ringing out every drop of joy from it. Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, I hit my Apple Watch stand goal every day before three. And yes, sometimes it thinks I’ve started a workout when all I’m doing is scrubbing animal crackers off the hardwoods or chasing one chicken to change his extra heavy diaper. I get up early. I stay up late. My meals consist of whatever the boys don’t eat. And I work in the crevasses of the day or type and design while standing at the bar in my kitchen while they play pick-a-boo in-between my legs. As one twin mom tagged on Instagram, it’s #twinsanity.
At thirty-five, I am starting all over. I am figuring out this working mom thing my own mother master decades ago. My Pinterest is full of twin parenting blogs and toddler family meals. I haven’t had a pedicure or a hair appointment since June. I can’t remember the last time I went to supper club (and I’m the one who started it!). I miss my friends, and date night, and showering without starring at a baby monitor.
And YET! I have never felt more alive, more joy, more “Natalie” in all my life! I feel like I am finally coming back-to-life after years of waiting, restlessness, infertility, anxiety, insecurity, bitterness, and resentment. To God be the glory for everyone who hung around during those years. To God be the glory for choosing us to tell His story. To answer our prayers. To restore our hearts. I am humbled. And honored. And unworthy.
So, what will I do with His gift? I am going to keep on. I’ll write. I’ll share. I’ll pray. And I’ll celebrate!
I constantly think to myself, am I too old for this? Too old to be learning what it means to parent? God’s resounding answer: “It’s never too late to start!”
I hope you are following along, faithful friends. I am going to attempt to complete the Hope Writers Fall Writing Challenge. 10 days. 10 topics. Short or long, I’m ready to write. I’m ready to start!
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The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation