When A Dozen Eggs Doesn’t Equal 12

When A Dozen Eggs Doesn’t Equal 12

Two of my naughtier chickens, Missy & Pinky.
Two of my naughtier chickens, Missy & Pinky.

Leave it to a bunch of chickens to teach me a lesson.

About gratitude.

About what is enough.

About what makes a party.

Yes, I did say, “chickens.”

As in the 7 crazy chickens I have living in our backyard.

This is Barbie. Shhhh. Don't tell the others, but she's my sweetest, wisest and favorite chicken.
This is Barbie. Shhhh. Don’t tell the others, but she’s my sweetest, wisest and favorite chicken.

Got my first chickens about four years ago, the day before my first date with my now husband. That was one lucky week.

Lets get right to it.

Folks always want to know do we get fresh eggs?

Sure do.

The chicken math adds up to about an egg every other day from each lady. Sometimes more. Sometimes less, depending on their mood, luck, time of the year, the stock market.

And nothing, by that, I mean nothing, makes a better “Thank you,” gift than a dozen fresh eggs.

Invite me to your house for dinner? I’ll show up with a dozen fresh eggs.

You’ll go nuts.

Which leads me to last year, when my father-in-law wanted to come to see our daughter in her school orchestra recital.  He and his wife live a couple hours away. He wasn’t up for doing the driving. His wife wasn’t feeling tip top either.

“No problem,” says Tommy. Tommy, who happens to be a friend from church. Tommy says, “No problem, I’ll drive you up.”

Two hours each way to sit and listen to someone else’s grandkid’s squeaky orchestral recital? Yes, we’re talking true friend.

No better way to say, “Thank you,” I figured, than send Tommy home with a dozen fresh eggs.

One problem.

I looked at my stash in the fridge to find I only had 11.

What could I do? How rude to give only 11 eggs!

“C’mon, Ladies,” I implored as I popped out to the chicken coop. “Surely, you can lay one more egg? One more egg for Mr. Tommy?”


Mrs. Lucy Grubbs enjoying her treat, ignoring me and her waistline.
Mrs. Lucy Grubbs enjoying her treat, ignoring me and her waistline.

The chickens paid me no mind. Ignored me, as they do when there is something delicious that deserves their attention more.

There was a heaping pile of what you and I would call  trash.

Put it down your garbage disposal.

If you’re green, perhaps, in a compost heap.

When you have chickens, you toss it the chickens’ way—stale bread, over-soft tomatoes, apple peels and such.


Nugget the chicken going to town on  a piece of old bread, keeping an eye on a cherry for dessert.
Nugget the chicken going to town on a piece of old bread, keeping an eye on a cherry for dessert.

And therein lies the lesson:

What is trash to me, is treasure to the chicken.

A party! A fiesta! A moment to be excited about what has come their way.

That’s when it clicked.

I went back inside, packed up the 11 eggs in a carton.

“We have a new tradition!” I declared as I met up with Pops and Tommy. “Many have received a dozen eggs,” I explained to our guest. “You are the first, however, to receive a ‘Tommy Dozen!’”

I opened the carton to show only 11 eggs.

A "Tommy Dozen"...11 eggs instead of 12.
A “Tommy Dozen”…11 eggs instead of 12.

Tommy’s reaction?

What do you expect from a man who would drive a buddy to his granddaughter’s recital in another state?

Tommy, being Tommy, howled with laughter.

He was delighted and honored.

Took those 11 eggs and headed back down to their hometown.

I hear The Tommy Dozen story has now been told many times at their church.

It’s become part of our family lingo.

You might not have all that you expected or counted on, but look at it the right way and you’ll see you have enough. A bounty. A party. A fiesta.

For that, I thank the chickens.

And Tommy.

I would love to hear about your version of a Tommy Dozen!

Mother’s Day 2014: The Man Who Has No Business Loving Me

Mother’s Day 2014: The Man Who Has No Business Loving Me

Pops & Me. Cheering on our girl at a recent volleyball tournament.
Pops & Me. Cheering on our girl at a recent volleyball tournament.


He has no business loving me.

The very idea of me could easily inspire a Bitter Party For One.

I wouldn’t even blame him.

I am not an answer to his prayers.

And yet…

Here we are at Mother’s Day.

I’m the one being celebrated. I’m the one who gets the joy, privilege, and honor of raising his only grandchild.

And yet….

The man we call, “Pops,” has experienced more loss than one person should bare: his first wife and both his adult children passing within a few years of each other.

Left behind–only him and his precious young granddaughter.

Twist the knife again as that sweet little girl left his custody after his daughter died and went to live full-time with his former son in-law.

I can only imagine in his pain, his grief, his loss the last person he was hoping for was me.

After all, who am I?

A California-raised, outgoing, somewhat zany lady who is not of his faith. A faith that is everything to him. A faith that has sustained him through all these tragedies.

And yet…

It is I who showed up three years after his daughter passed. I, who married his former son in-law. I, who adopted his granddaughter. I, who became a mom after his daughter left soon.

How easily he could resent me.

And yet—

Somehow, we work.

Together, we share endless, over-flowing hearts fueled by love for our girl.

And beyond–

In Pops, I have found a co-conspirator in the cookie jar. I thought I had a naughty sweet tooth. Pops has a sweet tooth that could put Willy Wonka to shame. To dine with Pops means to enjoy the best desserts possible.

From him I’ve learned the importance of topping just about every dessert with a side of vanilla ice cream. “Knocks the sweetness down a notch,” he winks.

In Pops, I’ve learned to roll with the tide, as in “Roll Tide Roll,” as in Alabama Football. As in a passion for a team that runs close behind his love for his God, is beloved second wife, and yes, his granddaughter.

My own sports-loving college football obsessed father must’ve been smiling down the first time Pops treated me to a home game in Tuscaloosa.

Turns out, my dad passed away the same year as Pops’ daughter, my daughter’s first mother.

Ironic how things like that happen. In the pain of the moment, you can’t see who might be on their way to you.

Wouldn’t have mattered if someone told either of us. The story so far-fetched neither would’ve believed it.

It’s not like Pops and I sat down and had a talk one day and agreed, “I’ll be compassionate about your loss, if you respect that I’ve now adopted your granddaughter.”

Nope. Never happened.

Somehow, in a potentially stressful, awkward situation where things could’ve gone terribly wrong, we, two imperfect people, have both managed to show up as our best selves.

I never forget how painful it must be to see another woman raising his daughter’s child.

He seems to find any occasion to thank me for being a great mom to his granddaughter.

And yet–

I’m no replacement for his daughter, as he is no replacement for my dad.

I share this, Dear Reader, to say that I have come to know that amid all the flowers, candy, joy and expressions of unconditional love we mothers are showered with this special day, there is someone out there who is not having the Mother’s Day they wished.

It’s the thing no one really talks about when families break.



Shattered Families.

They all have a way of robbing what some deserving soul wishes for this Mother’s Day.

If that’s you—If Mother’s Day is not as you wished this year, know that I’m thinking about you.

Just like I’m thinking about Pops, knowing that he wishes it was his daughter who was here to celebrate. I get it. That’s fair.

I also know I’ll hear from him wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day.

Oh, you know that’s going to take my breath away–that a man who has lost so much can open his heart one more time for me.

Oh, you know we will be celebrating both my daughter’s mothers this Mother’s Day.

Oh, you know there will be some awesome dessert.

And oh, yes, indeed we’ll knock it down with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.