Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hiking, Inversion, Almost-a-Single-Mother Blues

The inversion in Utah is SO BAD right now. In case you're wondering, that is when all the pollution is trapped inside the bowl of the mountains and the air quality is so terrible that it's dangerous to go outside. Until I moved here, I didn't know this happened outside of places like Hong Kong. So we are trapped inside, using inhalers and feeling gray.
 So today, we needed to get out. We drove a couple miles up into the canyon by our house, and hiked above the pollution line. It was pretty horrifying looking back down at the city, almost worse than being inside the city and losing sight of the mountains that are so close.

This is an unedited picture that I took yesterday. Those mountains are only like a mile away! Yikes!
Look at the smog in the right-hand picture! UGH! I live inside that smoke cloud. 

 At first, on our hike, the boys were shouting and laughing, racing back and forth up the mountain. Throwing snowballs and sliding down well-packed snow banks.
"I see a water fall! I hear a bird calling! Look at the water trickling in the mud!"
And I was thinking "Why don't we go on hikes EVERY DAY? This is amazing!"
I took some very cute pictures of the boys and was already planning on posting them with the following caption "So proud of the boys today, Grey and Micah ran the entire three miles of this hike, carrying all our snacks and water! And August walked the whole way too!"
And then.
They didn't.



Taking a little snack-break before they decided they were evil. 

A quarter mile from the peak, all hell broke loose. Grey and Micah stripped off their coats and started crying that they were too hot to walk anymore. August decided that he also needed his coat off. And his boots. And he wanted to walk barefoot in the snow.
I, very cruelly, wouldn't not let him take off his boots.
He refused to walk and fought being carried. He kicked and screamed, and pounded me with his fists, squirmed, smacked me in the face and tried to grab things out of my hands (like his own coat) and throw it off the mountain.
The boys didn't want to carry or wear their own coats- but instead were like "Fine. I don't care. Leave them here on the mountain."
THEN, when I almost slipped off the muddy/icy path and could have fallen and gotten very hurt, Micah said, "I don't want you to fall off the mountain, because I need to you to make me a cloak and a bag!"
"You don't want me to die, so that I can make you a cloak?" I asked.
"AND A BAG!" he yelled.
"Wouldn't you be sad not to have a mother? Or only sad about the cloak and bag?"
And he shrugged and said, "Eh."
Which did not make me feel better.

So I ended up dragging/wrestling/carrying three pathetic boys the mile and a half back to the car (it felt MUCH LONGER on the way back). About half way back, I finally yanked August's boots off him, hoping to pacify him into letting me hold him. He screamed himself to sleep in my arms and then, of course, woke up when I tried to stick him back in the car.
So I had to physically restrain him (which, for some reason, is amazingly difficult, considering how small he is) while I forced him into a carseat and he screamed "NO BUCKLE! NO BUCKLE! NO BUCKLE!" Luckily we were only about 5 miles from home, so once we were in the car- I only had to deal with the screaming for another ten minutes.
Now everybody is in bed (not napping, mind you. Having forced "quiet time") and I am writing this because Travis is out of town.
And when he leaves, I often go days in a row without speaking to any other adults.
Which, in case you're wondering, kind of sucks even more than hiking with three kids. But not as much as inversion.


.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Our Pretty House - a Tour



Over the weekend, we had a photographer come take family pictures in our home. She came at 11, which means that I was frantically cleaning from 8am to 10:45am and by 10:50, our house looked the best that it's ever looked! I was excited, so in the ten minutes that we waited for her to come, I ran around and took pictures of each room in the house.
I'm excited to give you guys a house tour (Uh, yes. It includes THIRTY pictures. Hope that's cool.)
As this is our first house, we've been working really hard to make it feel like us. We've painted the walls, restained the floors, hung up a lot of pictures and slowly been accumulating furniture that we love.
Some areas of the house, like the basement, are not even close to being finished. (Notice, I didn't include any pictures of the bathroom or laundry room downstairs. That's because it's basically stained sheetrock and open ceilings still!)
But other areas of the house, like my bedroom and the upstairs living room, feel really good. I love them and feel so at home and happy there. I'm not constantly wincing or saying "We need a new lap there and should really replace the desk, soon."
Also, I included a few pictures of our house from Instagram (#littlepitcherhomestead) because there are a few good shots that you didn't get to see in this tour, like the outside view, or our pretty new desk, or those lovely black and white pictures of my grandmothers above the kitchen table.



Here we go! This is the view when you walk in the front door. Straight ahead is the hallway to the bedrooms, and to the left is the kitchen.




Here is our kitchen. I actually really dislike most of the kitchen. It's so dark and brown, which - as you can probably tell from the rest of the house- is not really our style. We are hoping to put hardwood floors in here soon, and lighten up the cabinets. But in the meantime, I just make myself feel better with pretty pictures and a big sunshiney window.


Our cute next door neighbor is a little old German man, and he actually built our cabinets for us when the last owners remodeled the kitchen in the sixties.

 It helps me feel better about life to have a few herbs in the sink, and these cute salt and pepper shakers- which belonged to my great-grandma! (You may notice, I have a lot of her things. :) I love having little, useful things around the house that remind me of my heritage.)

Aaaand, here's the boys' room. They all sleep together, and hopefully we'll get them another loft bed soon, so Micah can stop sleeping on a baby mattress on the floor. But, yes. It's his favorite bed and he begs to sleep there. Weirdo!

See that pretty dollhouse that my Grandpa Roger built for August this Christmas? We love it!

 Lookit that bookshelf. I BUILT IT. I'm still very proud.


And some art by me (wall-hanging) and some art by Grey (Valentine's Day Fox.)

Then the bathroom. (This is all very exciting, right?)


This amazing print (below) was created for me by my dear bosom friend, Lana, and hangs in our hallway. She read through the Little House books to gather all these Ma Ingall's quotes. I bet you can guess my favorite.
Little pitchers have big ears!

But I try to use them all regularly. Like, "Hunger is the best sauce," and "All together with a will," and "Least said, soonest mended."
I think it would annoy my children if they didn't assume that all Moms speak like that.



And here's my pretty room, with my pretty quilt on the bed (my proudest accomplishment besides my children), and my pretty cradle in the corner (another of my Grandpa Roger's creations.)


Oh, and he made that airplane, too. Aaaand, the cradle is full of quilts made by me and my grandma's.


 A close up of our pictures, because I love them. Especially the kid-art.

And now the basement, which is basically used as a tv/play room.

 That carpet is soft and squishy like a fuzzy trampoline.

 Oh, and there are all our books! Were you wondering where they got off to?

I like to call this room (below) "The Library," because it's fun to pretend that we have a library.
It looks like we have school here, but its an illusion. We usually do school in the living room or in my bed! (Beds are the best place to snuggle, and I consider snuggling and reading to be an important part of school.)


Then around the corner, is this little secret room. It's full of toys! And everything that I hate. Like the keyboard, and toy food, and little tiny puffballs. Who invented playrooms? They were so smart!



The last room in the house is the guest/ sewing room. I agree. It needs a bookshelf. And some lamps. And more pictures!
But at least it has this amazing quilt in it:
 The quilt on the bed was made by my Grandma Marcie for my wedding, and the crocheted one was made by my grandma Mary. I love all my crafty and talented family members. They make my home so lovely.
And on the other side of the room, is my sewing table.

 Including this pretty little dresser, which belonged to my great-grandma- and this stuffed loon (which was also hers.) Loons are the Minnesota state bird, and  I love them. It seems like such a Minnesotan thing to have, especially since people almost always ask "Why do you have a ... weird stuffed duck?"
Ha! It's a loon! You non-Minnesotans are so silly.



 And that's my house! I'd say more stuff, but my kids apparently "need me."
 Next time you come over, pretend my house is always this clean! And if you never come over, my house IS always this clean! BELIEVE ME. And it smells like baking bread, and it is very quiet, except for when we are singing beautifully like the Von Trapps.
This is all real.


.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

These Precious Days



“Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

For me, books manage to belong to seasons. I wrote a post a few months ago about books for the fall- and there are many books that belong to autumn- often magical, spooky, and unreal- the way that October feels itself.

But the books that I start to crave in February are books about spring.  Stories about the heart-aching magic of  leaves unfurling, of ducklings hatching, and of mountain rivers flowing. Springtime seems unimaginable in January- in the dark heart of early evenings, freezing blizzards, and bare trees. But in February, water starts dripping off the rooftops. Birds start singing. Hens start laying.
And even though I can still see my breath in the morning, even though we still have snow storms that leave us with another 8 inches to shovel off the driveway, I find myself ordering seeds online, and thinking about E. B. White.
Because E. B. White is the essence of springtime- even his stories about summer and winter have within them, little spring-time seeds, waiting patiently to unfurl when the warmth comes.

A few days ago, the boys bounced in and woke me up in the morning, and I thought- "How lovely that they let me sleep in! The sun is shining and the sky is blue, and I feel rested for the first time in weeks."
But it was only 7:15! Oh, glorious February! In the fall, I love when the evenings are later, and in the spring- I rejoice again when they're earlier. Seven am is the perfect time for the sun to rise in the morning.
I went out to let the hens out of the coop, and found four cold little eggs waiting for me to take them inside and eat them for breakfast. I added them to my mostly-full egg basket and paused to take a picture of them- and as I did, the birds in the tree above me suddenly burst into a violent and excited song. I teared up, as I realized with surprise that Spring was coming.
A few weeks off, perhaps. Even months.
But coming.
Winter will pass. The days will lengthen. All this lovely world, these precious days.

I've written about E.B. White many times, and I think that if I were to make a list of the greatest American authors, E.B. White and John Steinbeck would be at the top of the list, and Mark Twain would be lucky to even get an honorable mention.

White once wrote, “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”
His love of the world is contagious, and when the world looks its brownest, when the snow is no longer fresh and clean, but ugly and tiresome- that is when I most crave the reminders that the world around me is full of regular, average, every-day magic. Magic so breathtaking and unbelievable, that every new green shoot, and warm brown egg seems like a miracle- even if it has happened before -billions of times for billions of years.

So today, I will follow dear Elwyn's advice, and Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder. 
I suspect I will find it here, in my own home and henhouse.



















Saturday, January 30, 2016

Family Conversations

You guys. I love my people. They are so quirky and weird. It's all I've ever wanted from children!



Micah was standing in the yard, when he whispered, "It's almost spring!" Then he sprinted back into the house, where he joyfully shouted to everyone "It's almost spring! It's almost spring! Grey's snowman is melting, it's the size of a bunny! It's almost spring, it's almost spring!"

Micah: I'm an Airbender, but I can't control air- I can only control blankets.

**Speaking of one of Travis' employees, after we visited the office**
Grey: I was trying to hide from Dunn, because I'm afraid he would kill me. Does he want to steal kids?

Grey: I want to watch a movie.
Me: Nope, sorry.
Grey: Then I will be sadder than any other human being can imagine!

Grey: Dear Heavenly Father, I do not want any one to pinch me. That's against the rules! But even if someone does, I guess we can still be a happy family and love each other, and our home can be nice and peaceful. Please bless us to be truly true and magnificent.

Micah: Heavenly Father, please bless mom and dad to love one another forever and ever.

Grey: Our driveway is being shoveled, but not by a human! It's being shoveled by the sun!

Me: Let's all say, "Kindness Begins with Me."
Grey: I don't know why kindness should begin with us. We are only children. Maybe grown ups should start being kind.

Micah: Are you in truth?
Grey: I always tell the truth.
Micah: But are you serious?
Grey: I am never serious. Being serious is of the Dark Side.

Grey: Our chickens don't have husbands, so they don't make babies- only food.

Grey: I have a wonderful idea! Tomorrow, let us play hide and seek!
Micah: Wonderful, indeed! And then we can tell our mother about our hiding and seeking adventures!
Grey: Oh, my silly Micah!

Micah: I am a person, as good as can be. Is there room in this car for a boy just like me? Grey is a boy, as blond as can be. Is there room in the car for a boy such as... He?
(We recently got the book Room on the Broom, which features several animals that rhyme in this pattern. I was SO impressed that Micah could mimic the syntax of sentence, keep the rhyme, and even make sense.)

Micah: I saw a pointy thing on your face!
Grey: What was it?
Micah: It was your nose!

Micah: Hey Dad! I saw your booty!

Micah: I am Robin Hood and you are Maid Marian and we have run away to the greenwood to be married!
Claire: What's that?
Micah: Why, Sherwood Forest of course!
Grey: I will shoot one of the King's deer for our dinner!

Grey: Do I look sooo handsome, like Josh?

Grey: Look at these puppets I made at church!
Me: Wow, what did you learn about today?
Grey: I am a kid of Savior!
Me: What?
Grey: Haha, I mean, I'm a kid of THE Savior!
Travis: Don't you mean, you're a Child of God?
Grey: Oh yeah, that's what it's called!

Grey: Someday, when I'm a dad, I'll name my girls "Katie and Emily." And if I have nine girls, I'll just give the rest of them silly names!
Micah: I'll name my girls Katie and Emily, too. And if I have any boys, I'll name them Travis-Dad and Dad, just Dad, not Travis-Dad.
Grey: If I have boys I'll name them Grey and Micah!

Grey: I am Luke Skywalker and you guys are my parents and we are fighting Darth Vader together.
Me: Uh oh! If I'm your parent, I AM Darth Vader!
Grey: No. You're my mother, and my mother was good!
Me: But your mother is also dead, so am I a ghost?
Grey: How about, you're a spirit instead of a ghost?

Grey: Mom, someday when I get married, I'll send you a picture of my new wife at the wedding.
Me: Wait. Can't I come to the wedding?
Grey: Oh. Yeah, I guess so. It will be at the temple, like you got married at. Will you come there?
Me: Of course!
Travis: Can I come to your wedding?
Grey: Well, you and Mom always have to stick together! You're a team! So if Mom comes, you have to come!
Travis: Great, thanks! Can Aunt Moony come?
Grey: Well, she is pregnant- so I don't know if she's going to make it.
Micah: I don't even know how to get married. All I know is, your ring goes on this finger. But I think it will bug me. Does it bug you?
Grey: No. It doesn't. Someday when I'm a grown up, but I'm not married yet- I can live in a hotel with my friends. I can't wait!
Travis: Do you mean an apartment?
Grey: Yes, an apartment. But only if it's a hotel apartment.

Micah: What are you making?
Grey: A bed for maniacs.
Micah: So, a bed for you?
Grey: All maniacs.
Micah: I'M not a maniac. I'm a weirdo and a silly goose!
Grey: These words all mean the same thing.

Micah: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to be kind to everyone in the world. Even people who make different choices than me, even bad guys. Please help me to nice to everyone, even strangers when they try to steal me.
(We had to have a talk about this. No. You don't have to be nice to kidnappers. Everyone else, though, deserves kindness.)



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Family Pictures

Over the holidays, we were able to spend lots of time with Travis' family and my own family. We took family pictures with both groups- and they turned out pretty cute... except for my unruly children, of course! I love that these pictures are both so different! We took pictures with the Pitchers up at Sundance ski resort, and pictures with my family in my sister Mary's driveway in Arizona. 



I love this cute picture of Travis' parents with all their grandsons. We loved having James and Finn visit (from Perth, Australia) and the boys loved spending time with their only cousins.

 Look at all those beautiful, tall blond people! Sometimes I still feel like a little hobbit when I'm with my in-laws!

Family pictures, take two. 


My siblings and I. My little sister Katie is only 10, and is the boys' favorite human on the planet- except (maybe) for Travis. My cute sister Mary is 8 months pregnant here (although she's currently a few days past her due date, and we are all anxiously carrying around our phones- waiting for the text that tells us she's in labor!). And my handsome brother-twin Jack, who is 18 and surprisingly tall next to all his shorty-sisters.


We loved being together over the holidays- even if we didn't get pictures taken in time to send out a christmas card. Maybe i'll send out Valentine's day cards this year instead...


.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

R E A D I N G L E S S O N S



Over the summer, I bought the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."
I've heard dozens of success stories from people teaching their three-year olds to read, and the reviews on Amazon are raving and encouraging. So I bought the book. I wasn't quite ready the teach the boys to read, but they'd been asking to learn. About three lessons into it, I was thinking "This is amazing! My kids will be reading by Halloween!" About fifteen lessons into it and they were begging to stop. 
"I don't want to do it today," they would moan. "I don't remember the letter-sounds."
I'm a very, very firm believer in not teaching children to read until they're ready. I think it's like potty-training. You can start at 18 months and work your butt off with sticker charts and accidents at the mall for the next year- or you can wait another year and a half and let them teach themselves over the weekend. 
So we stopped. I figured we'd work on their reading comprehension instead, so we have been reading (and discussing) lots of books together that are far above their abilities. And yet- they love and understand these books. They beg for one more chapter. They have a love of books, stories, even reading per say- though not a love of de-coding letters, yet.

But the boys want to learn to read. They'll be five in a little over a month, and they constantly ask me what words say. 
They recite picture-books from memory to August, and run their fingers along the text as they do- as though they're actually following the words. When I read, they'll point at words on the page and say "G-U-Y. What does that spell? Does that mean something?"
Then they'll scan the page looking for other instances of the same word. 
Lately, they've been asking me to "do reading," but it's often at inopportune times for me (like while I'm frying eggs or showering), but if I say to them "Okay, I'm ready. Let's do reading now," they've moved on and aren't interested. 

So this week, I made a reading log and I made some promises. "If you read and do writing practice [their least favorite task] every day this week, on Saturday I we will get a treat."
Immediately, Micah supplied me with "And that treat will be Icees at Target."
I mean, if they want to go to Target- I'm not going to stop them.

So this week, we started lessons and I am blown away. Every single day since Sunday, the boys have gotten up and begged to do reading lessons. They are attentive and excited. We started at Lesson Twelve (since we'd worked up to Lesson Fifteen a few months ago), and now on Lesson Seventeen- they're reading! They can't read everything, obviously. But they read bits of sentences. See me eat. Mad at me? Read it. Sit. Rat. Meet. Am. 

They sit down and just absorb all of their new information like adorable little sponges. One thing that I -admittedly- did not expect, though, is how differently Grey and Micah learn. 

I know that they're different people, their brains work differently, and thus- it makes sense- that they would learn differently. But its still a surprise. 
For Micah, things seem to have immediately clicked. He isn't as passionate in his desire to read as Grey, but he can sit down and stare at a sentence in silence for a few seconds, and then say (without any "sounding out" or stumbling "This is my seat."
Half the time I find myself thinking, "Did he cheat? How did he know that's what it said?" but if I point to the  same sentence a minute later and ask, "What did this say?" he'll flounder. "Uh, I sit there?" 
"No. Read it, please. What does it say?"

Grey is much more interested in learning to read, I think. Last week he dictated a letter to me (he has me write letters and journal entries for him regularly), and he said "I want to learn how to read so that I can have fun being quiet by myself."
I couldn't stop laughing! But I think that's very accurate. I've been surprised that what I really notice while teaching Grey is what a difference it makes him being an introvert. 
If he is sounding out the sentence "See me eat" for example, he'll whisper "Ssss-eeee?" to me so Micah can't hear him, and only then will he stumble through it. He has to sound out each word two or even three times, before he can finally say "See!" By the time he gets to the end of a short sentence, he has no comprehension left. I'll say, "That's so great! You read each word! So what did this sentence say?" and he freezes. He has to start over at the beginning and painfully sound out each word again to remember what he read. 

While I know that he isn't grasping quite as quickly as Micah- I think a big part of the problem is that he is embarrassed by struggling through it in front of his brother. Even if Micah screws up- he brushes it aside and relishes in my praise when he finally succeeds, but if Grey stumbles at all- he's too embarrassed to read anymore at all. 
I think I'm going to have to find time to teach them separately. But, after all, isn't that what Home Schooling is all about? Teaching your children in the way that works best for them?

Just teaching them this is making me feel much more secure in my decision to home school. Even as their mother, I struggle to find ways to teach them individually and help them succeed- how could a teacher with 30+ students give them the attention that I want them to have? (Note: nothing against schools- I too was schooled in public. I'm just saying- I think that this is what's best for our family.)

I am also having a hard time praising them- if any mothers of twins have any tips, I could use them! If I say "Great reading, Micah!" Grey will immediately whimper, "And I'm doing bad reading?"
What!? NO. You're also amazing. 
Micah does the same thing, but slightly more competitive. If I say, "Good sounding out, Grey!" Micah will ask "Who's better at sounding out? Me or Grey? Is Grey sounding out better than me?"
Uggh. 

 So it's official. We have readers over here. Still hesitant, still stumbling, but reading! And they want to teach themselves!
But in the meantime, we'll just keep reading Robin Hood. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Baby Conductor



Sometime in the few months before Christmas, a toy engine was left at our house. I don't know to which little boy this toy belongs- we've asked all our friends. But somehow, this tiny little engine launched August from moderate-train-interest  into SUPER-train-passion.
After he fell in love with this engine (that I later learned to be Gordon), we started watching Thomas and Friends, a show that Grey and Micah were never into. But August is hooked.
He plays with his trains most of the day, he watches the "Choo-Choo Show" whenever he can convince us to turn it on, and his favorite stories are no longer books about ducks- but train engines.





It's so fun to see this little man growing up and finding things that he's interested in- even if it's the same things his brothers were interested in three years before. In fact, that's perfect- it means we already have every toy that he could want.

Somehow, watching him build little train tracks and entertain himself quietly for an hour at a time makes him seem so grown up. He's hardly a baby at all. He's a little boy.
I love this stage of toddlerhood, the transition from baby to boy, but it feels especially bittersweet. We will probably have one more baby, and with our odds- it will probably be another boy, but I nonetheless feel like I'm leaving something behind. I'm watching my last boy discovering trains for the first time. Maybe in four years I'll have another little boy and get to watch him fall in love with anything wheeled- but it doesn't feel like it. This feels like an ending. An ending to little boy babies.
I'm not ready to be the mother of all kids, I'm a baby-mama!
And yet, watching them change and grow- find interests and skills, learn to love and act, grow closer relationships- is the best part of motherhood.
I just wish it moved a little more slowly.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Making a Home a Homestead

Whenever I think of "homesteading," I think of the Ingalls family out in their little house on the prairie. They broke the sod, raised their food, and lived off the land. 
I have long wanted to turn our own home into a homestead, and for about two years I've been dreaming and planning for when we'd buy our own house and have a yard with a garden and chickens. There are several cities and suburbs that we looked at while house-shopping, but after all my careful chicken research, we learned that most places didn't allow chickens in neighborhoods! That completely changed where we were willing to buy. 
We moved in to our house at the end of summer, and figured we'd get chicks in the spring. But the month before Christmas, our next door neighbors sold their house - and they needed to get rid of their chickens within the month. They were willing to give them to us for free, for the convenience of being able to have one less thing to worry about in their move. 
YES PLEASE! So I roped Travis into a lot of work in the next (cold, dark) week. 
We are so happy with our little flock. They're so funny, and they give us five beautiful little brown eggs every day. 
I know we're not really homesteading, as we live in a city- and still have to buy eggs from the store every week! (Can you believe that we go through significantly more eggs than five a day?) But I feel one step closer to living in an E.B. White novel, so I'll take it!

The boys named the chickens themselves, so everybody has their favorite. Here's Grey hugging his favorite lady bird, Aunt Katie.


 The birds favorite place in the entire yard is sitting on top of our outdoor table! They spend ALL DAY on it, and consequently, it is covered in a ton of poop! We are going to have to borrow a power-sprayer in the spring and wash the whole patio! No body told me that chicken poop was the size of dog poop. I seriously thought it would just be like occasional splats around the yard.
The chickens are surprisingly like goats: they eat all of our food scraps, they follow us around the yard begging for treats, and they like to be on the highest surface they can reach. That's okay, it makes them easy to see and catch!



Here's Micah pictured with his favorite, Princess Leia!

 I'm glad that these chickens came from a family with kids, because (while they're not totally cuddly) they're not afraid of us and are easy to hold and feed from your hand.

 Above is Duck (named by August) with Aunt Katie and a bit of Cottonball.




This chicken (above) is my favorite, Tootles. At first, I thought she was the friendliest, because she always sprints to me when I call- but I've since decided that she's just the wiliest! She knows that I come with food and treats, and I've seen her pecking and bossing the other chickens. Poor Duck is at the bottom of the pecking order, and the boys have taken to bringing Duck special treats because they know that Tootles won't let her share with the rest of the chickens. It's probably mean of me to love Tootles even though she's a bully, but you should see her sprint to me across the yard when I yell "Tootles!" She's the fastest, fattest little velociraptor. And it doesn't hurt that she's so pretty and has such a funny name. 
So from our little homestead to yours, may your day be as golden as the yolk of a warm, new-laid egg from my coop. (Trust me, that's going to be the best type of day and the best type of egg.)