It started when the grill blew off the back of the truck…we celebrated Mothers Day on Saturday with a cookout and bonfire and in what’s become our own tradition, chaos reigned. My kids plus their families plus Allen’s family plus my kids’ dad and their half-brothers. Oh, and Nana and her beau.

Everyone brought something. I made a chocolate eclair cake. The other day while doing the school pick up thing, the girls were talking about their favorite type of cake. I told them my favorite was my mom’s chocolate eclair cake. Emma said she wished she was living way back when my mom was alive so she could have tasted that cake. So I made one. For Emma. And she liked it. Maybe we do have our traditions.

So anyway, Allen’s mom and dad, David and Cindy Jones, provided the hamburgers and hot dogs and rolls, plus a killer pasta salad. Nana brought fresh strawberries which the girls ate enough to give them belly aches. Casey thought the strawberry was something totally foreign and giggled like a menace as he played with it but balked at tasting it. Ireland screamed at the plump red berries like we were going to shove them down her throat. It was a thought. Don’t judge.

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Garey’s drunk chicken just hanging out on the grill

Garey wanted to cook chicken on the grill. He’s our grill master and loves going beyond burgers. But not just chicken, he wanted drunken chicken. He figured he’d do three chickens so there would be enough for everyone to have some. But Allen’s grill was going to be tied up with the burgers so Garey figured he’d just load his grill up in the back of the truck and bring it along. It would have made it but a pretty decent storm with some serious straight-line winds came up and blew the darn thing right off the truck. Right on Bus. 220 near the lumber yard. So Garey gets his grill loaded back up and finally gets to Nina’s. The hood is pretty banged up and, well, actually detached, so we now have an issue. Can’t cook the chicken on an open grill. So they decide to cook the chicken on Allen’s grill and the burgers on Garey’s damaged grill. But we have three chickens and you’re only supposed to cook two at a time or it messes with the time involved to cook. We go for it anyway and slap all three of them suckers on the grill.

Cue the part about Allen helping Garey prep the chickens. Have you ever seen a fresh-from-the-package chicken dance?  Ireland was traumatized. I think Nina was, too.

So we get the chickens on the grill. Two hours later, Garey starts checking them. Still a little red at the bone. Maybe a little longer. Meantime, it’s nearing 7:30 now and the kids are hungry so Allen goes ahead and starts cooking the burgers. Maybe the chickens will be done by the time the burgers are ready.

So the burgers and hot dogs are ready. The chickens were still a little red near the bone. Everyone goes ahead and grabs a burger, corn on the cob, pasta salad, chips…everything but the chicken. Everyone is eating, except Garey, who is obsessing about the chickens. The thermometer must not be registering correctly. He asks Nina if she has a thermometer. She pulls this…thermometer…from the medicine and first aide cabinet. Now, in a house with three little ones who aren’t capable yet of holding a thermometer under their tongue, anyone want to guess where that thermometer had been? Allen jumps in and says he thinks he has one in the garage.

I missed the part where they actually checked the temperature of these birdzillas, er, chickens, so can’t say what their internal temperatures were registering. All I know is we had moved on, cleaned up the kitchen, the kids playing on the flood-lit playground, S’Mores over the bonfire and Garey was still checking the chickens.

Around ten p.m., he’s finally got the chickens off the grill. David and Cindy and their crew have already left. Gary, my kids’ dad, and his other two sons Ethan and Wade, have left. So the chickens are cooling on the counter in the kitchen. We’re outside at the bonfire and the girls are scheming for Ava to spend the night with Emma and Paisley. Emma says she wants to ride home with Garey in the truck rather than with mom Ellen in the van. Ellen tells her it’s rude because she needed to ride in the same vehicle as her guest (Ava) so she needed to ride in the van. So Paisley, who rode to Nina’s in the truck with her daddy when the grill blew off, says she wants to ride with daddy in the truck going home. Garey tells her fine, she can, but she’ll have to hold the chicken. The chicken, now done, had earned a shotgun seat. Seatbelt and all. Garey was not leaving that chicken behind.

Paisley opted for the van.