Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cricket Wrangling

Thing 1 has a friend over. The friend's older brother, in 4th grade, came along so their mother, who is in an intensive nurse training program could get a little kid-free study time. I've had the two of them before and usually the four kids all get along well enough.

Not today. Today the brother won't let Thing 1 and her friend have their "alone time." The mother and I were getting in some much needed mommy talking time before she left but kept being interrupted by the friend, who was complaining about her brother. Finally I suggested they all go feed the gecko. Entertainment for all. I've never just turned my girls loose with the feeding process, but they've been there most of the times I've done it, I think they should be fine.

The four kids come out to the front porch about five minutes later. The mom and I are still talking. How did the gecko feeding go? Did you dust them with the calcium?
"Yep," Thing 1 tells me. "Dotty cornered one of them. Two of them. Before she ate them. And... one of the crickets went down the drain."
So I have to ask, "What drain? You mean in the bathroom when you were dusting them?"
"Not a drain," says the brother. "She means the heating vent."
Thing 1 pipes up, "But we caught more, so she's had four." Like the issue is that the gecko had enough to eat. Sigh.

"So there's a cricket loose in their room?" I ask.
"No," says the brother. "There's two. One went behind the chair. But the one in the heating vent will get fried right up when you turn on the heat."
It looks like my plan of turning the gecko feeding over to the girls might result in a herd of wild crickets roaming their room.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

November 2001

A message from 8 1/2 years ago.

Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 2:03 PM
Subject: Baby Blessing
We had the blessing or 'christening' for Thing 1
yesterday... It was a really nice ceremony, and a nice
For me it was a lot about the dress... ;-)

Here are some photos.

Funny Girls

We went to my folk's house last week for a couple of days. On the last day as we were loading the car, I noticed Thing 1 did not have her glasses on. One of my frustrations is how often she puts them down and walks off, and the resulting search required. My frustration increased as it got later and later, and we still had a long drive ahead of us. We searched everywhere, multiple times for nearly half an hour. Finally I was outside AGAIN and caught sight of them, one of the ear pieces looped over the webbing on the back of a patio chair. Thing 1 groaned and said, "Why is it we don't check the easy places first?!"


When Thing 2 has a bad day everyone knows it. She is not one to hide her emotions. As I was tucking her in a couple of weeks ago after a bad day she seemed to need a boost so I started listing off some of her good attributes. She listened attentively, very quiet. I went on for a bit but eventually I ran down. She looked at me for a second and then she said softly, "You can tell me that again."


As a reward for reading, here are a few pictures from a hike we took the girls on a couple of weeks ago. They whined a lot at the start, but made it to the top of the mountain and did wonderfully.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hubby's Days

Hubby's birthday is so close to father's day, it's a problem to figure out how to celebrate them both. We usually celebrate Father's Day on Father's Day, but his birthday can be bumped anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months behind the real day, depending on his schedule, and the scheduling of my nieces' summer birthdays, since in the grand scheduling of holidays, kids take precedence. The longest we went between his actual birthday and the celebration was some time in August. This year we actually celebrated within a week of his birthday. Birthdays for the adults in my family are usually pretty small, my folks always want to attend and part of their gift is babysitting while he and I go do something. We went to a movie and then went mattress shopping. Not exactly thrilling, but it was what he wanted to do.

Father's Day was a bigger deal. Since he usually does such wonderful things for me for mother's day, I was feeling pretty inadequate about the fact that I had made no special effort for Father's day. We had a couple of gifts to give him, but I hadn't made a garden in the living room, or cooked a big breakfast, or anything like what he usually does.

While I was mulling this over on the afternoon of Father's Day I had an inspiration. I decided to turn our living room into a day spa. Our old mattress bothers his back (see how we spent his birthday) and he's always wanting a massage, so this seemed a good answer. The girls helped with the transformation. Thing 1 and 2 made signs. I hung a sheet between the dining room and living room to divide the two rooms into a reception area (the dining room) and a massage area (the living room). I brought the kid's table from the back yard to serve as a reception desk. When everything was ready Thing 1 told Hubby to come into the kitchen, then disappeared to her position. Thing 2 sat at her desk at the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room.

When Hubby followed Thing 1's signs to the Golden Day Spa --> Thing 2 was waiting for him. She was super polite. She greeted him in her best receptionist manner. "How can I help you, Kind Sir?" He was amused but not sure how to proceed. She asked if he had an appointment. He said "No."
Wrong answer. He hadn't rehearsed with us. But she took it like a pro. She said, "Well, let me see if you're on my list. What is your name?"
He gave her his first name.
She looked over her list of four names which she had written moments before. She hesitated. "What is your last name, sir?"
Lucky for him she found his name, first and last, on the list.

I don't think he noticed the "Best Spa" award Thing 2 had made to hang above her reception desk.

She showed him to the waiting room - a chair pulled to the corner of the dining room, and gave him a magazine. She pointed out the lovely painting in our waiting room (which she drew herself) and invited him to enjoy his wait.

Thing 1 then came out from behind the curtain, ushering our previous massage appointment. It was Kelso, with a towel clipped across his shoulders. She was leading him with a rope that he likes to trot around with in his teeth, and she chatted with him, asking him if he enjoyed his massage. (Using the dog as the previous appointment was Thing 1's idea.) (They wanted to figure out a way to work in the gecko, but I nixed that idea.)

Thing 1 then ushered Hubby to the dressing room (the small front entry alcove next to the living room), where she invited him to remove his shirt, and then she guided him to me, the masseuse, waiting in the living room. The coffee table was pushed to the side and I had laid towels on the floor, and had emptied our linen closet to place towels folded up all over the place. I'd had quite a time keeping the dog from messing them up.

The girls have never been to a spa, and their excitement at the whole process kept Hubby's massage from being very relaxing. I hadn't expected much privacy, but they kept up a continuous parade of patrons, taking turns escorting each other through the living room with towels across their shoulders, chatting about what fine massages they'd had, and what a great establishment the Golden Day Spa is. I finally sent them to watch TV for half an hour.
They were back in about 20 minutes theatrically whispering to me that it was time to send Daddy through the "gift shop" where he would receive his specially wrapped gifts.
I was quite pleased with how it all fell together, and it was fun to have the girls so excited to be involved.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Day at the Lake

We went to the lake yesterday. It was absolutely lovely. Yesterday they were celebrating two of my nieces' birthdays. My brother has four lovely daughters, all with summer birthdays. With Father's Day and Hubby's birthday all in the same 8 day stretch as two of their birthdays, we just pounded their birthdays and father's day for my dad into one day at the lake. (Hubby's celebrations were separate, as he was back east for our day at the lake.)
I should have taken more pictures. It is quite a picturesque place. It is great to just relax on the porch... My dad brought his jacket, despite it being pretty warm.

But of course the big draw is the boat. Even my mom got in the boat - she was shuttled in the inner tube.

My girls had a fabulous time riding the inner tubes.

They call this tube a "chariot" because when you pull it from the other side and kneel, it's exactly that. But everyone liked it better to turn it backward and sit in it. The girls didn't get nearly as much water in their faces as with the other tube.

I mostly just rode in the boat, but my brother said I had to learn how to wake surf. So before we got off the lake, when the kids were tired of the tubes, I did. I hate to disappoint such a kind and generous man! I even got up every time, no false starts. It's SO much less work then waterskiing, doesn't wear out your hands at all. Apparently if you're really good you can let go of the rope and just ride the waves... My niece's friend took a video of me. She took a video of each of the three times I surfed, a whole video each time. It's kind of boring to watch me take my extra 30 pounds for a ride for three minutes, so I tried to edit it to just a few seconds. My computer isn't playing the audio, which is just splashing and engine rumbling.

The girls had a fabulous time and wanted to stay overnight and do the whole thing again today. They were very disappointed to learn they had to drive back with me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We have a new pet.

My mother asked "How did you let yourself be talked into that?" Ironically, it was all my idea. Last Saturday morning I was walking the dog, and hadn't gone a block from our house when was walking right by a yard sale where a girl was selling, among other things, a gecko. She offered me the gecko (she called him Iggy Pop), the 20 gallon tank it was in, the rocks, sand, hidey hole log, water dish, and heat rock. For $12.00.

Interesting. Tell me about the gecko. How much care does it take?
Almost none, she tells me. (She is mistaken. More about that later.) You feed it every other week, dump in a container of crickets. Scoop out the poop occasionally. Walk away. What could be easier?

Wow! Sounds GREAT! I am sold! I am imagining a pet trade-up. The girls can take care of the gecko, whereas the fish have become my problem. I have been battling the algae slime in the stupid fish tank for two years, ever since my well intentioned neighbor dropped a half a can of fish flakes in the tank while he was fish sitting for us. The tank has never been the same since, no matter how thoroughly I clean it. I am ready to dump out the Fish Who Will Not Die, and drop the whole thing in the trash.

I called Hubby, back home with the girls. A gecko? Why a gecko? Because it's here, it's cheap, it's easy, it's more interesting than fish. Fine, whatever. He is okay with a gecko.
Put the girls on the phone. I talked to a girl. What do you think about trading the fish and fish tank for a gecko? They are thrilled. There is whooping and hollering. By the time the dog and I finish his walk and get home they have gotten themselves dressed and are sitting at the front door. Cash in hand we go collect our new gecko.

Garage sale girl tells us he's hungry, he probably hasn't eaten in over a week. So I carry him to our house, and after lunch we head to the pet store for crickets.

The enthusiastic animal enthusiast at the pet store is the source of all gecko information. It is from him that I learn our gecko (a common spotted leopard gecko) has been the victim of gecko neglect, and is miserable and malnourished. Normally a gecko's tail is kind of fat looking. Some of the ones on the internet have tails about as fat as their bodies. Our gecko's tail is nearly as thin as a regular lizard's. Oh my. How do we make him better? How do we nurse him back to full robust gecko health and fat-tailness? How?

Well, let me tell you. First of all, he (really a she) requires a basking lamp ($13.00 for the bulb, $14 for the lamp with a clamp, and those are the cheap ones. An expensive bulb is $60.00). The light should be 12 hours on, 12 hours off. (Labor Intensive! I'm thinking Electric Timer.) The heat rock she came with is AWFUL! It could burn her! She needs a heating pad placed under the tank. No I don't want to buy the reptile warming pad. I have a regular old heating pad at home, that will have to do.

Her diet should consist of DAILY cricket feedings. ($6.00 for 25 or so crickets.) She can go 3 or 4 days once in a while between feedings if she has to, but for the most part, she should be fed EVERY DAY. The crickets eat a cricket food compound ($7.00), but 12-24 hours before you feed her, you isolate the 2 or 3 crickets for her next meal and power feed them (it's called "gut loading" and you're getting as much nutrition into the crickets as possible so you can get as much nutrition into the gecko as possible) - fish flakes are good (I had those on hand). Then right before you feed them to the gecko the power-fed crickets have to be sprinkled with calcium powder ($5.00). This is bad for the crickets, they probably won't live another day once they're dusted, but it's great for the gecko. THEN you put the gut-loaded, calcium powdered ghost crickets in the gecko cage and she hunts them down. That's the interesting part. But let me point out this is not an "easy, no-labor pet." We are now caring for a couple dozen crickets, AND a gecko. There is more information in the gecko manual ($12.00) and there were a few other sundry things that are vital to the gecko's continued health that I can't remember. All I know is that with a 50 lb bag of dog food ($29.00) my total with tax for the trip to PetSmart was $103.52. The $12 gecko just cost me $70.00. That didn't even include a cricket cage (I'll use an old tupperware from home). I was ready to march the whole thing back to the garage sale. Where it would remain thin tailed and neglected. So... we're keeping it. But it's going to be a fat-tailed and happy gecko, gosh darn it! The tail seems to already have fattened up a little, just since Saturday.

Before we went to the pet store we caught the fish out and dumped out the water. The woman who cut Hubby's hair on Saturday afternoon said her son has a fresh water lobster thing that keeps eating all the fish they put in the tank. Would we be willing to subject our fish to a daring gladiator type battle for survival? You bet we would. It's easier than driving 20 miles to the only pet shop in town that will take them. The girls were all consumed with the gecko, they couldn't care less about the fish. They stopped caring about the fish the last time the tank completely greened over and the fish were no longer visible at all. The only way to check they were still alive was to look in from the top. And the fish tank still hasn't been cleaned out. It's sitting in the garage, I'm letting the old algae dry out and harden so hopefully it will flake and nearly fall off the tank.

I forgot to mention, the pet store guy told us that the trauma of moving and everything is kind of hard on the gecko, and she probably shouldn't be picked up much for a week or so. Are you kidding me? Did you see the age of my kids? The poor thing hasn't been put down since we walked in the door. She's just so fun to watch, she has this wacky waddle in her walk, she moves kind of slow, so she won't get away, she's friendly and doesn't bite, she is easy to hold, it's fun to watch her hunt the crickets, and she's so much more interesting than a fish. I just hope she lives til the end of the week. By the way, her new girl name is Dotty.

And did I mention that the crickets STINK. They have kind of a rotting food smell. And they chirp, of course, and keep the kids awake. So they are not kept in the kids' room with the gecko, they are now in a cupboard in the downstairs bathroom. Luckily Thing 2 is okay at catching the crickets, so they can be isolated and gut loaded. Thing 1 and I find catching crickets kind of creepy.

Just what have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Get Off of There!!!

There is a house near ours that has had some remodeling going on for a while. It finally occurred to me to take a picture of it. I don't have a photo of the original house, but from the beginning of this remodel job it looked to me like what was originally a nice little house had a huge evil alien roof land on it and squat there.

If you can't build out, I suppose you have to build up. But this just looks odd to me. I think this is one of those instances where they should have just moved into a bigger house instead.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Halloween 2001

Another baby email from 9 years ago, just after Halloween 2001.

This is Hubby's pumpkin - pretty scary, eh?

Thing 1 went to her first halloween outing and got some
pipe-cleaner antennae

and our front porch with pumpkins.

Hope everyone had a happy halloween!

Taking the baby for a walk Oct 2001

Another baby email from 9 years ago. This one was just pictures. Thing 1 was about a month old.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Broken Bed

If you say you broke the bed, and you're over the age where you're likely to have been jumping on it, it is usually assumed there was a wild night with your significant other. Not me. I broke the bed all by myself, Hubby's out of town. I was reaching for the Kleenex box that fell off the nightstand.

I was trying to get to bed early. For me, 11:00 pm is early. And the harder I try to go to bed early-ish, the more likely I am to be stalled by emergency phone calls, or woken up by vomiting dogs or crying children. Last night I had really made an effort to get to bed early, I had left the movie I was watching half finished, and gone to bed. After I reached for a Kleenex and knocked the box on the floor, I reached for it and the bed snapped.
So I dragged the mattress off to one side so I could get the box springs up high enough to assess the damage.

Our bed doesn't have the traditional metal rails along the sides, it has wood sides, with a little wood shelfy thing on the inside that holds the slats that hold the box springs. The shelfy thing is what broke.

I figured sleeping on it that way would probably make it worse. It was bad enough already that I just couldn't put it back together and go to bed. I wanted a better look. So I heaved the mattress and the box springs all the way off the frame. I wedged the mattress between the foot of the bed and the closets, and the box spring is balanced on its end in front of the window. Ours is not a very big bedroom, finding space for a queen sized mattress on the floor was like fitting a square peg in a round hole. I tugged and pulled until the mattress was flat, then slept on the mattress on the floor last night. Of course all this drama shot my hopes for going to bed early-ish. It was nearly midnight before I got the mattress flat.

Apparently the part of the bed frame that broke was held on by wood glue and a couple dozen of the thinnest, tiniest little nails you could imagine. They're pretty long, but just slightly bigger around than a pin. There was no way I was going to be able to dig them out of the shelfy board thing and use them again, so this afternoon I snipped the bent and protruding sharp ends with the wire cutter part of a pair of needle nose pliers. Snipped them EASILY, I might add. I glued the shelfy thing back on and drilled some holes for some serious screws. I figured it couldn't hurt to let the glue dry all night, and I'll put the bed back together tomorrow.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Mails

Someone told me this theory about knocking your email file down to zero. So, because cleaning out my email is easier than cleaning my house, I decided to give it a go. I spent part of the day today browsing the 2000 plus old emails in my folder, 160 of them unread. I read a lot of them, but I think I accidentally erased a lot of them without being read... So there are a bunch of jokes people have sent me that I won't ever get.

I knocked my inbox down to a couple dozen emails, and about six unread emails I need to deal with, but my total counter of unread emails was still 84. I have a couple of files with storage backups in them, but there is one file with 54 unread emails. My Baby Mails folder.

I didn't start out as a blogger, not that I really am now, I really started out sending blanket emails to everyone who I thought would be interested, with pictures and little comments and explanations of them. Then when our house was robbed and my computer stolen and my baby diary was taken, one of my kind friends (who apparently never cleaned out her inbox, thank heaven) in an attempt to help me replace my diary, forwarded on to me all the baby emails I had sent. I didn't know quite what to do with them, so I dumped them in a file.

I was browsing through the file tonight, and found that the emails are not dated in the correct order. But they are funny, and cute, and show my kids growing up. And I want to save them. And I thought, what better way to save them than to put them here, where they probably would have gone anyway? I think I wrote better then... I hadn't lost so many brain cells to the lack of sleep - (I actually went to bed before 1:00 in the morning back then).
So I've decided to copy them up here. So here is the first one I could find, one of my first baby mails.

Sent: September, 2001 11:30 AM
Subject: She's Here!

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of

Thing 1

6 pounds 10 ounces
19 inches

Born 3:35 a.m.

Baby and I are both doing just fine!

I need Hubby to show me how to download more pictures
of her, so far the best one we have on the computer is

Here's another.
Sent: October, 2001 11:40 AM
Subject: Another photo!

Hey, here's another shot of our little sweetie!

Hope everyone is doing well! Thanks for all the kind
responses to my brag mails! ;-)

Friday, June 4, 2010

hark, hark, the dogs do bark

The weather has been really nice today, for the first time this spring I think it crept toward 80 degrees. It dropped cool enough this evening to open up the house let some cooler outside air in. So an hour ago I was sitting in the kitchen and suddenly the dog freaked out in the back yard - using his deeper, Big Boy "I'm Seriously Gonna Open A Can With You" bark. I've only heard him do that once or twice before. His normal bark is kind of a sharp higher pitched bark, which is not what I would expect or choose for a dog of his size. I went out to the back yard to see what is going on, and couldn't see anything that would warrant a deep throated barking fit. My hushing him didn't affect his barking at all, he's looking over the fence at the neighbor's house and giving it his best "GO BACK TO HELL!!" bark... Suddenly I look up and froze... It was a scene right out of that M. Night (yes I had to look up the spelling) Shyamalan movie, "Signs," in which Mel Gibson has a crop circle problem... there's one shot in the movie where it shows the roof and there's an alien standing next to the chimney silhouetted against the night sky. The image has always sort of creeped me out... and there I am, looking at it on my neighbor's roof. I'm wondering how to respond when my neighbor's boyfriend calls down Hello, and tells me he's up there to summer-ize her swamp cooler. The conversation finally stopped the barking. Knowing it wasn't the alien from "Signs" seemed to have calmed Kelso down somewhat.

Not that I'm happy about the dog barking his head off, but that one was kind of justified. He's proving himself a good watchdog. I'm going to sleep better at night knowing he's downstairs waiting for a demon.
Hubby changed his flight to come home a day early - tonight instead of tomorrow. His plane should land in about half an hour. We only get him for two days (hence the flight change, it would have been just one day) so we'll have to get some quality time in. That's okay, he does quality very well.

Here's Kelso last week with his doggie cousins, Willo, Ruger, and Libby.

A nose by any other name...

When I was giving Thing 2 her hug and kiss goodnight I got her kind of low, and was pushing her face into my shoulder. She pushed away and said "My Pressure Point!!!"
Your pressure point??
"Yes," she rubbed her nose. "My pressure point."
I said do you know what that means? Your nose isn't really a pressure point...
She said "Oh yeah?! Well, you were pushing on my nose, and it comes to a point! Pressure point!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

B&B &L&D

For Memorial Day I drove the girls and the dog up to my folk's house, 80 miles north. It is one of my very favorite escapes. In many ways I get to crawl back into the lovely childhood lack of responsibility. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, and Hubby helps out a lot with them, but at Grandma and Papa's house, it seems I do about 1/4 of the work. I am a slob and I let my mother do most everything, including half or more of the responsibility for my kids, I do about a third, and my dad picks up the rest. It is a lovely vacation for me.

The dog stays down the road a couple of miles away with his doggie cousins at my sister's, since dogs are less than totally welcome at my folks'. My sister's husband was working a lot of the weekend, so she hung out with us quite a bit. She took the girls horseback riding, or rather, the girls rode on the back of one horse while someone else led it around the pasture, either from another horse or on foot. The girls took turns being in front, or being by themselves on the horse for nearly an hour and a half.

In the movie, the girl on the horse in front is one of our favorite babysitters, her mother is my sister's friend who keeps my sister's two horses in her pasture during the summer.

The horseback riding is really Thing 2's treat. The first two days we were up there it rained, and she was pretty upset. Every time the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for just a minute she was trying to stir up a trip out to the pasture. She is the one who talks about being a "Horseback Rider" when she grows up. Thing 1 is much less enthusiastic about the horses. All the way out to the pasture, Thing 1 kept asking, "Do I HAVE to ride a horse?" But once we started, Thing 1 was the most excited about it, and the most exuberant. She kept hollering "This is So Much Fun!" And of course the dog had a great time running around the pasture with my sister's dogs. Fun for Everyone!