Not in a Million Years

This morning I woke and did the, now routine, emptying of the dishwasher while brewing my tea. Right now, I like drinking it on the front porch with a view of the garden, the kid's sand pit and the chicken coop.

It's important, that first cup of tea. It deserves my full attention and I sometimes have to force myself to just relax and enjoy it. It's taken years for me to be okay with the fact that I am not an early or quick riser and, that it's okay to take that extra 10, 15 or 20 minutes every morning to let myself fully wake and prepare for the day. And, today was going to be a day I knew, I'd need that slow start.

So, I sat enjoying my tea, ignoring the nagging voices telling me to water the garden, wake the kids and just start our busy day already.

As I drank my last sip and contemplated taking a few extra minutes to just stay there and soak in the fresh morning air, the chicks decided to pay me a visit. You see, they have figured out that there is an unfenced, poorly tended, little garden growing along the walk leading up to the front porch and, that those tiny pea plants, small tufts of lettuce and ripening strawberries, are quite delicious.

Now, I'm really okay sharing a bit of the harvest with our sweet new pets but, after spending an afternoon with a grumbling 9 year old scrubbing the front porch, because it was covered in chicken poo yesterday afternoon, I was not about to let them anywhere near that sidewalk or my front stoop.

I tried shooing them away with my hands but, they seemed to think I had some yummy offering from the kitchen, I tried scootching them with my foot but, they thought my shoe looked quite interesting and tried inspecting it, I tried shouting at them, they looked at me with blank stares of confusion so, I did the only other thing I could think of. . .

I grabbed the broom left behind from the previous days cleaning and brushed those birdies away like some crazy lady from an old western film. And then, I started laughing (making me look all the more crazy) as I realized that never, not ever, not in a million bajillion years would I ever have thought I would be shooing chickens off my front porch with a broom!

If you had told me just a few short years ago that I would someday be scrubbing chicken poo from my front stoop, or desperately trying to keep a few strawberries, peas and lettuce leaves from those great grandchildren of T-rex, I would have laughed in your face.

To be honest, they kinda give me the heeby jeebies, with those beaks and emerging wattles and claw like feet and, I shriek like a school teacher who has suddenly found a toad in her pocket, when they start flapping those wings.

This chicken thing, it's not my thing.

And that, is the coolest part.

I never thought that by encouraging them to explore their interests now, these kids of mine, would strew my path and make my life so much richer. Because really, not in a million years would I have brought home a box full of chicks, or spent hours watching and learning the finer details and strategies of baseball, or learned to grind stone into shiny jewelry, or read Skippyjon Jones enough times to perfect my Spanish accent (okay, maybe perfect is too strong of a word)

And, I can't help but wonder what other, not in a million years moments, these awesome littles have in store for me.

Hammers and Nails and Shovels, Oh My!

My kids like to dig. A lot. And to build things, or at least, pretend to build things. Most of the time nothing much comes from all the banging and sawing and digging except some banging, sawing and, well, holes of course. It took a couple months but we were able to contain the hole digging to one large sandy area in the front yard at the bottom of the berm separating us from the road. We refer to it as the sand pit. But, the rest of the building occurs wherever and whenever it's needed.

This means, that at any given moment of any given day my yard will be strewn, not with toys, but saws, hammers, nails, boards, shovels and any other dangerous tool a kid could find useful. They are all aware of the need for safety and, for the most part, are trusted to use the tools.

To be honest, I'm never far away. Of course, that does not mean we don't have the occasional smashed thumb or, most recently and most severe, a severed fingernail but, I agree with Gever Tulley, and my own mom, when it comes to kids and tools.

Many, many years ago I called my mom to ask whether she thought my daughter, 3 or 4 at the time, was old enough to use sharp knives, she loved to cook and desperately wanted to help with the chopping, my mom lovingly pointed out that the worst that could happen was that she'd cut her finger, need a few stitches and learn a valuable lesson and she was right, of course.

There is a sense of importance when they use the tools, their play becomes more than play, it's serious business. I love that my kids are comfortable with tools, that they are aware, first hand, of the dangers and listen intently to warnings, even more so since the fingernail incident.

I don't usual think much of this hobby my kids share but, yesterday a man stopped by to survey the house for the insurance company, we had no idea he was coming. The house was a mess and the yard, well, the yard to me is lovely, sprinkled with the things that make us happy and keep us busy. But, to a surveyor for the insurance company? Not so much.

Not only had the kids been happily digging in the sand pit all morning, they had also been constructing a lovely home within it, meaning shovels, rakes, miscellaneous boards and the entire contents of the recycling bin, were everywhere.

My son's recent obsession with baseball means there is always a field set up and what's a resourceful boy to do but use the available scrap wood he finds as bases.

Then there's the "dock" the kids built when their friends visited, the one that's basically pallets stacked on the edge of the pond.

Not to mention the still under construction chicken coop with two by fours tossed under and around waiting to be made into fencing for the run, and all the garden junk I have laying about and oh yeah, there's that swing set in the back that is still waiting to be put back together from the move over a year and a half ago.

I believe the term construction zone was used.

I suppose I knew it was bad, but it all looks so pretty through my rose colored glasses. The kids happily digging and raking in the sand, the boy tossing the ball in the air, swinging his bat and running the bases and the messy garden waiting for me to finish my tea and get back to planting. The coop and run are looking great and only need another solid weekend of attention before they're done and that swing-set, well with a sand pit, a garden and chickens to tend to who can blame us for letting the swing-set go?

I tried not to let it bother me, but it did. The negative voices crept in, "What kind of mother lets her kids use a saw or hammer and nails? I should be ashamed. Why is it I can never keep up with all the messes, inside and out? I must be doing something terribly wrong. These kids should be playing with toys not tools. You should put away all your garden mess even if you're planning to get back to it after that tea break.

I suppose a major yard clean up is in order for this evening, it's wet and rainy and none of us are in the mood but, not everyone can see just how awesome it can be to live in a construction zone and we really wouldn't want to have any visitors get hurt, we'll try to be more careful Mr. Insurance Man and, maybe it's time we start working on that wood-shop we keep saying we'll set up in the garage.


 ~The fact that the train, that has gone by the house twice a day almost every day since we moved here over year and a half ago, still fascinates them.

~How tough my littlest little pumpkin can be. Lost a fingernail? No problem, "just paint the rest of my nails red so my fingers all match."

~The games the big girls create while completing the much dreaded chore of washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, and the fact that those big girls still love to play pretend.