Pest Control

Posted on 7/31/2010 07:04:00 AM
We appear to have a rodent problem in our house. These are some scary rodents though. They seem to be able to open the fridge, take out the cheese and then replace it back in it's Tupperware container when they're no longer hungry.


Wonder if the Orkin Man knows how to deal with that?

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Walk This Way

Posted on 7/29/2010 06:58:00 PM
"Hey listen to this note from The Caterpillar's teacher: 'This morning we talked about the difference between fruits and vegetables. Then we had water play outside with the sprinkler. In the afternoon, we drew pictures of our favorite food and also did a fruit walk.'"

"A fruit walk?"

"A fruit walk.
"

"What's a fruit walk?"

"I don't know but the way I'm imagining it? Is AWESOME."

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Every Girl Needs a Little Lipstick

Posted on 7/28/2010 01:29:00 PM
Me: "Have you been in the bathroom?"

Caterpillar: "Yes."

Me: "What were you doing in there?"

C: "Playing."

Me: "Playing... with Momma's lipstick?"

C: "..."

Me: "Were you using Momma's lipstick?"

C: "..."

Me: "I'm waiting for an answer."

C: "yes"

Me: "That's what I thought."

C: "Momma how do you know I was playing with your lipstick?"

Me: "Mommas know everything, honey."

C: "Oh."


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Building Blocks of Fun

Posted on 7/25/2010 07:12:00 AM In: ,
Camp Sweatshop: Full Day Edition

I may have mentioned once or twice or thirty times that I'm pretty overloaded with work lately and that has made Jack a Dull Mother this summer. It's not that I'm not spending time with them. It's just that I'm so stressed and preoccupied with a couple of bigga-a** projects that the time I spend with them sucks for them and for me. So I've been trying to make the time I do spend with my children better. Or at least that's what I continue to tell myself until one of them pushes one too many of my buttons and I start yelling again. None of the projects I'm working on are by any stretch of the imagine close to being done, but I had a little break in the action on Friday, so we decided to take on some real activities instead of the usual tricking-my-kids-into-cleaning-the-house-and-calling-it-an-educational-activity version of Camp Sweatshop at which I've come to be so skilled.

Activity the First: Home Economics

I've been making an effort to teach The Dormouse about gratitude in the last little while. I want her to realize and appreciate when people go out of their way for her in some fashion and acknowledge that fact. Even if it just means noticing that the world doesn't revolve around her and people are doing something special when they help her or prepare an activity for her. At Hershey Park last week, that thought recurred to me and I was reminded that, oh my goodness but people who choose to work with children full time are saints. SAINTS, I tell you. I like kids. I even worked with kids back in the day. So I know whereof I speak. They deserve a thank you every so often, and not just on pre-determined pseudo-holidays created by their unions.

So our first project was Operation Teacher Treats. This was an awesome one, because a) it was easy, b) the girls could do most of it and c) it used up some foodstuffs I'd had sitting around in the pantry before they went completely bad and I had to throw them out. (You may or may not have been reading this blog long enough to know that I have a touch of undiagnosed OCD and one of the ways in which this manifests is through the thrill I get by emptying out ketchup bottles, marrying them together or getting to throw away empty things that have been in my fridge or pantry for too long - but only if I use them appropriately in the process. Throwing out a quarter filled tub of pretzels I brought home from work is cheating so that's right out. Let's not even get started on how unsettled all the half-empty shampoo bottles in the house make me feel and wait have I said too much? what was I talking about? Nevermind.

We made some treats.

Cast of characters: My long-unused fondue pot.


A tub of fondue chocolate I bought last Christmas, thinking I was going to do something special with for the kids (ha ha ha, wha ha ha, my optimism kills me):


The three-quarters empty tub of pretzels, I ganked from work:


Step One: Melt chocolate. Try and teach The Dormouse about the process of tempering chocolate, then realize you don't know very much about it yourself, so let that slide somewhat and resolve to let others do that for you when they're back in the country.


Once the chocolate is good and melty, dip in pretzels. Work on developing a good dip and swirl technique. Optional step: wear so many silly bandz on your wrist that you will one day look like Freddy Rodriguez from Lady in the Water.


Plan to put them out on some waxed paper to cool and harden. Realize you haven't purchased waxed paper since the Reagan administration. Use aluminum foil instead.


Save out all the broken bits at the end to keep for yourselves since it would be a waste of good chocolate not to use it all. (Note: drizzling chocolate is a better option at this point since sticking tiny broken pieces in the fondue pot also means sticking tiny fingers into hot, melted chocolate.)


Package neatly in your very best disposable tupperware-like product that turned up one day in your house and you have no idea whom it belongs to. If you happen to recognize this and wanted it back, I apologize. I'm gonna have to make it up to you.


Drop by your kids' school on a day your kids aren't scheduled to be there and freak out the director who wonders what you are there to complain about now. Leave treats and a card and run like mad.

Activity the Second: History

Because it was on the way to our next activity, we stopped by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to read between their lions.


(That's a funny joke. Why aren't you laughing?)

It's one of those memorials in D.C. you would probably miss if you weren't trying to go there, but I stumbled on it one day years ago and have always liked it. It's peaceful and seldom crowded with anything but people eating their lunch on a break from work and you never have to part a crowd of protesters to get there.

We talked about sacrifice and the different things it means and how all these names on the wall represented people who died doing their jobs - jobs that helped keep us safe. And how we should be grateful for the people doing these jobs. And then the sound of my own voice reached me and I started to realize I sounded like an After School Special. So I shut up and we just did a rubbing of someone who had our same last name.



It was so hot downtown, this squirrel just followed us around, panting and asking for water.


Activity the Third: National Building Museum

I tried a hundred ways from sundown to figure out how to make this one fit into our gratitude theme and couldn't really do it. This is why I am not a school teacher.

The twitterverse had informed me about Camp Stimey's Blogger Meetup that day and since I a) probably wouldn't have exited the house without a good reason and b) love the venue, we decided to do the socially awkward thing and invite ourselves along, even though we had never met any of the folks involved before. (Like how I try to spread the blame out over my kids as well? There are so many benefits to having children one does not often consider - transferred blame is one of those benefits.) The National Building Museum is a cool, low key place to go. It's not chock full of stuff like the other Smithsonians, but I actually prefer it. There's a big open space and lots of room for kids to run around, the docents and security guards are kid-friendly and don't get all bent out of shape when you walk through the door with someone under age sixteen, and though the subject might not lead you to assume so, they have a pretty good children's educational program with some hands-on activities.

And today, they had
LEGOS!!

I knew once we went inside the Lego area, everything else in the museum would become chopped liver. So first, we tried to build an arch,


but once the arch became too tall and awkward for me the shortlings to complete, I suggested they build a shorter arch.


Hey, it's standing by itself. It counts.

My children now know what a
keystone is, should they decide to grow up and go into architecture, or live in Pennsylvania.

Done and done. On to the Legos.

The first room of the Lego Architecture exhibit was full of scale model reproductions of buildings built entirely from... you guessed it... Legos.


My favorite was Marina City. Can't you just imagine a tiny Steve McQueen driving a tiny red tow truck and chasing a tiny green sedan out of one of these and into the river?


Does that reference date me?

Once we got through the "don't touch" room, we entered:

::cue angles singing:: Valhalla.


It was a Giant. Room. Full. Of. Legos.

That. You. Could. Play. With.

I have never seen so many happy children in my life.



We might as well have just skipped all the other activities of the day and come here after breakfast.

Activity the Fourth: Try and plan a day when someone else watches the children so I can come back here and build stuff by myself.

Activity the Fifth:
Sleep on the way home.

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More Daylillies

Posted on 7/25/2010 06:12:00 AM

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Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal

Posted on 7/24/2010 05:27:00 AM
June and July are firefly months and The Dormouse's new favorite past time is to take her bath, get dressed for bed, and then beg me to let them go outside to catch fireflies. Sometimes I let them do this, and sometimes I don't feel like cleaning dirt out of their beds after they've tracked it in on their footed pajamas. One night when the fireflies were particularly plentiful, I sent them to bed and took my camera and tripod outside to try and capture some pictures of fireflies myself. I clicked the shutter almost three hundred times. Did you read that right? THREE HUNDRED TIMES, and every single shot pretty much looked exactly like this:


Kind of like that old painting, Desert Scene with Apaches. (That's not the picture; Google has failed me and I can't find it. But you get the idea.) There are perhaps fifty fireflies in this photo, but you can't see any of them because they didn't feel it necessary to light up at the moment I clicked the shutter.

There was only one exception:


Perhaps I'll stick to daytime photography.

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4, 4 Cheerios, Wha ha ha ha

Posted on 7/23/2010 05:59:00 AM
I may or may not need to work a little harder to teach her the concept of counting.


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A Truly Unhearshable Place

Posted on 7/22/2010 10:57:00 AM In:
Thirteen Things Overheard at Hershey Park this Week

Yes, I went and volunteered to chaperon twelve hyperactive kids at an amusement park again. What can I say? I may not be the stupidest person alive (there are others who hold that title), but one thing I do not do is learn from my mistakes. Also: I am a sucker for, "Please momma, I want you to come" because really, how many more years am I even gonna hear that? Two? Three tops? I'm gonna go ahead and take what I can get.

This was the best year of taking kids to theme parks yet, because The Dormouse is finally tall enough and brave enough to ride on at least a few of the rides I'm interested in. It was nice for a change to ride some of the rides with her rather than simply watch her go around and around on a never-ending succession of comically shaped vehicles. Even when I fit inside them, I don't do around and around rides. A possible combination of multiple eye operations and a thing that lives inside my brain makes this story particularly relevant for me. Just tack a splitting migraine that incapacitates me for the next three days onto the end of that story and you'll get pretty much every Scrambler or Scrambler-like experience I've ever had as an adult-type person. Put me on the wildest, scariest roller coaster you have, however, and I've suddenly got an iron clad stomach.

When The KingofHearts and I first started dating, we went to a local amusement park and he confessed that he was kind of a wussy about roller coasters. "Dude," I said, "this is going to be an Issue in our relationship." I then proceeded to school him on the ways of the roller coaster enthusiast and because there wasn't a line that day, when we got off the ride, we ran around from the exit to the entrance and rode that same coaster again about a dozen times in quick succession. He's come along quite nicely since then, but I don't want The Dormouse to suffer similar embarrassment, so I'm working on her just a bit earlier.
  1. Teacher: "We're less than five minutes into the field trip. One boy has already asked to go pee and the bus driver has gone wrong direction on freeway. This trip is shaping up to be awesome."
  2. ::on the road for less than two minutes:: Boy: "I have to go to the bathroom." Teacher: "We're on the bus. There's no bathroom. That's why you all went before you walked out the door. We're not stopping 'til we get to Hershey Park." Boy: "BUT WHAT IF WE NEED FOOOOOOD?!?
  3. Boy: "This is Hershey Park? I didn't know Hershey Park would look so... un-hershable."
  4. Teacher: "You know you really don't have to measure yourself at every single ride; you're still gonna be in the same height group." Other teacher: "I don't know, sometimes people have been known to get off one ride and find themselves five inches taller before the next." ::kids run to measuring stick and check::
  5. ::boy grabs for cotton candy from street vendor:: Teacher: "You have to pay for that." Boy: "Ah man, NOTHING'S FREE IN AMERICA!"
  6. The Dormouse, half way through her very first big people roller coaster ride: "I'd like to get off now." Me: "I think you're going to have a wait about three more minutes."
  7. Me: "Were you scared on that roller coaster?" Dormouse: "YES!" Me: "Were you scared when it went upside down?" Dormouse: "IT WENT UPSIDE DOWN??!??"
  8. Boy: "They allow smoking here? Well that's just a shame!"
  9. Boy 1: "You didn't go on that roller coaster because you were scared." Boy 2: "NO! I didn't go on that roller coaster because I wasn't feelin' it."
  10. Me: "One of the kids' names was Kimar. I used every ounce of control and never once referred to him as Kumar or made a reference to White Castle. I'm like Ghandi with the willpower and the self discipline and stuff."
  11. Me to teacher: "You must hear it all from these kids." Teacher: "Yep." Me: "I don't even WANT to know what you know about MY family." Teacher: "Actually she doesn't talk about you much. She's got a lot of dirt on little Johnny's parents and their marital problems, though."
  12. Teacher: "Where'd little Johnny go?" Me: "Oh, he just found out they're serving ginger beer at the buffet table and he thinks he's getting away with something devious by helping himself to some."
  13. Me: "My daughter read an entire chapter book on the two and a half hour bus ride home. Me? I read some tweets. This kid is startin' to make me look bad."

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Returns Dept.

Posted on 7/22/2010 10:02:00 AM
Dear God,

I think I need to exchange my children for newer models. These appear to be broken.

Sincerely,

Alice


a) who brings a magazine into the bathtub and then stands up while reading it?
b) who EATS toothpaste while practicing Superman moves?

::sigh::

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Girl Who Eat Noodle with Chopsticks Can Accomplish Anything

Posted on 7/21/2010 05:10:00 AM
Several years ago, I can't remember where, I bought this for The Dormouse. I've always been able to do exactly the same thing with a rubber band and a straw wrapper, but whatever, this was cute, PINK, and I thought she'd like it - especially when she got older.

Here's a little tip for all you first time parents even considering the possibility that you might, someday in the future, think about the possibility of maybe perhaps having more children: BUY TWO OF EVERYTHING. I don't care if you're not going to have the second one now, just do it. If you might consider having more than two kids, BUY THAT NUMBER. Because I guaran-damn-tee you that you will buy some random little thing that you won't think twice about after the first child is born but then four years later when that random little thing is still lying around but now you have two children, they will find a way to fight about it. It doesn't matter if one of them wouldn't be able to use the random little thing in the first place. They will fight. And it will be loud and annoying. And then, just to preserve your sanity, you leave the comfort of your kitchen and your dinner to go on the interweb to find an exact copy of that random little thing (NOT an inexact copy of that random little thing, mind you, that will not be good enough) and you will probably have to pay for overnight shipping to get it there sooner and then you will end up paying more in shipping than that random little thing is worth in the first place.

And by the time your credit card has been charged, you will go back to the table and find that child number two will have figured out how to use the chopsticks by herself anyway.


A real-time demonstration:


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Camp Sweatshop: Migrant Farmworkers Edition

Posted on 7/20/2010 10:00:00 AM In: ,
With the traveling we've been doing, we've not been to the grocery store in quite awhile. So when I opened my fridge last Friday to make lunch for my kids and thought to myself, "Hmmm, how can I make a delicious, nutritious meal for my children with a bottle of mustard, a bottle of fish sauce, a moldy onion and some tortillas," I realized it was high time I went to the grocery store.

And then I put that off and raided the food storage instead. Whoever invented food-in-a-can was a genius.

Then I taught them how to make their own lunches. Give a child a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a child to make her own fish and Momma gets to sit her ass down once in awhile.


Canned beans, canned tomatoes... you know what? It's really too bad no one has figured out how to can cheese yet. (And please don't say, "But what about Easy Cheese? That's in a can." Because, my friend, THAT IS NOT CHEESE!)

Then on Monday, after I'd gone two more days feeding my family loaves and fishes, I decided it was time to a) get some real food and b) teach them that food doesn't actually come from a can originally. Hence:

Our Trip to the Farm


Technically, I think, I live in the suburbs. But what originally was conceived of as being suburban in the D.C. metro area, has now become more urban than anything else. So when I think about where we live, I don't think of it as the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs and this ain't it. The suburbs have sidewalks and two car driveways, and no neighbors selling pot across the street from you... wait... maybe scratch that last one.

Even so, as a kid in the suburbs, I would never have conceived of having a working farm right around the corner from me. And here - in my urban environment - I do. Just one more reason why the D.C. metro area is an island surrounded by reality.

I like to stop by our local farm to pick up produce whenever I can and since my kids haven't eaten a vegetable since May, I thought it would be a good idea to just go buy everything they had and then figure out what to do with it later.

First we enjoyed some honey sticks. Because it is impossible to go to the farm without consuming at least one of these. It is. I'm surprised you didn't know that.


Then we walked out to the north forty to see what was a growin'.


It was corn.


And more corn.

Except for where it wasn't corn.


The Dormouse couldn't figure out what kind of devastation had been employed kill off the entire field here. When I told her that's what a field of corn looks like after it's been harvested and they're finished growing things there, she shook her head as if she was the first person to discover global warming. She could have been useful in the dust bowl.

The sunflowers were doing mighty fine...


and getting ready to produce their seeds.


The sunflowers we planted at home look really anemic compared to this. And this isn't even half the size that I remember the sunflowers getting to be in the Southwest. It's a good thing I wasn't relying on the income from my sunflower seed harvest this year.

Despite the fact that we've been growing tomatoes and peppers all over our front porch this season, it was still hard for my ankle-biters to comprehend that this yellow blossom...



would turn into this melon.


::sigh:: My kids is so citified.

The only part of the farm where we could pick our own stuff (and, admittedly, the only part where we were really allowed to walk out to, though I pretended innocence to that particular rule) was the flower garden.








.
I love these plants because they look like a brain to me. I keep insisting that The KoH go out and get me "brain flowers" every Spring when he gets that Spring bug some people do and starts planting things around the house. And because, apparently, I am the only person in the world to call them that, no one at any nursery ever knows what he is talking about and he always comes home empty handed.

There were a lot of butterfly-friendly flowers...


and The Dormouse tried to catch all the butterflies. Then she proceed to show them to me, whereupon, she would open her hands a tiny, tiny bit for me to see and each and every time, the butterfly happily fluttered by and out of her hands. Each time this happened (and it was a lot) she was surprised by the fact and yelled, "OH, MAAAN!" Then she ran off to catch another. What was that thing Einstein said about the definition of insanity?



The Caterpillar was too concerned with her honey stick to be very impressed by any of it.


Despite the fact that it was lovely.


And then, when we were done at the farm, we took another trip to see where milk comes from.


The grocery store, of course.

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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