Cricket Killer

It all started the other night right before bed. Bradley came running to me, “Mom, there’s a jumping black spider in my room! It’s really big, Mom!”

A spider jumping? I’m so confused. And ugh! I’m in the middle of getting the twins ready for bed- sitting on the toilet seems to take these two forever and Collin’s being Collin and needing constant supervision. And now I have to catch a spider in the boys’ room?! A jumping one, none the less. And all I really want to do is get these kids to bed because I’m tired and honestly, these kids are driving me nuts!

I really doubt there’s a spider, so I didn’t rush. “Where is it?” I ask Bradley as I go into the room and scan the walls and floor. He points to a corner by the closet, “There it is!” he exclaims.

I look, expecting to see lint or something silly that’s not a spider at all, but there was something there.

“It’s just a cricket,” I say, a little confused because I have never seen a cricket in the house before, especially on the second floor. They are usually in basements or something.

Yet there it was- a big fat cricket skimming along the baseboard. His black body shined in the light as I chased him down and tried to catch him with my bare hands. His legs felt spiny against my cupped hands and just when I thought I had him he would leap out of my hands and escape.

I can’t believe Bradley doesn’t know what a cricket is! I somehow feel I have failed him in some small way because every kid should be able to identify crickets, along with lightning bugs and rolly pollys (you know those grey things with lots of legs that roll into a little round ball when you flick them).

I told Bradley to keep a watch on him and I went and got toilet paper from the bathroom so I could catch it. I used to catch them with my hands when I was little, no big deal. I don’t know when I became such a wimp, the squirming fat body and sticky legs keep freaking me out. I feel as if I’m not setting a good example for the kids, squealing every time it jumps from my hands.

I pick it up with the toilet paper. I can feel its fat body squirming between my fingers. I run to the bathroom and fling the whole thing in the toilet. We watch it swim around the toilet bowl. It keeps trying to escape up the slippery sides of the bowl.

“Mom!” Bradley is entirely exasperated and a little upset by my actions. “Why did you do that?!” he demands. “It’s where we pee and stuff. Gross! It’s gonna die!”  (Hello?! Yea, that’s the whole point. But I didn’t say anything about that.)

I guess I should have/could have let the cricket go outside. It makes me think back to my science teacher in college. Seriously, she would NOT kill a fly. If there was an ant, bug, or spider, she would not hurt it and would get quite upset if you smashed him with your foot or slammed a book down on the insect. She would save the little creature by scooping it up on a sheet of paper and gingerly carrying it outside to let it free. How kind and caring. I guess I don’t always have it in me, considering I’m a cricket killer tonight.

So here was this experience where I could have taught Bradley some sort of lesson, like kindness or taking care of our environment because all animals and insects are important to our Earth…but instead I flushed the jumping black spider/cricket down the toilet.

Cricket killer.

But it’s bedtime! I don’t have the time right now to deal with a cricket and I lost my patience right after dinner when I started counting down the minutes until bedtime.

Maybe next time I will set it free. Maybe next time I will have some compassion for that annoying fly or pesky cricket that shouldn’t be in our house in the first place. Just maybe.

xxx

My Sledding Experience: I Don’t Bounce Like I Used To

They say that as you get older you get wiser. I learned a lot today when we went sledding. I don’t know if I am any wiser, but I did learn that I don’t bounce like I used to.

When I was younger I had no fear. I would start at the top of the tallest hill, take a running leap and belly flop on the sled and go flying down the hill face first. We would weave in and out of trees. We even had double ramps and we always got plenty of air. And going back up the hill to do it again…no problem. And if we crashed, it wasn’t bad. We just shook it off and was ready to do it again.

But something happens to our bodies when we get older, at least mine anyway. When I crash, it hurts. I don’t know if it is because of age and I’m not as flexible as I used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m not as physically fit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy. I chase after four kids all the time. That is plenty of physical activity to keep me fit and trim. But when I crash now, it really does hurt. I go limping back up the hill, if I make it at all, trying not to think about how it looked to everybody else. And also knowing I’m going to be feeling this all week long. Dang, I’m just not as young as I used to be.  

Maybe it is also because we’re more cautious now that we are older. We take into consideration all of the variables that could happen before we go sledding down that hill or doing some other stupid daring trick. I mean, I don’t have time to have a broken leg or arm. I have too many other people to take care of to be down like that.

But most of the time, I do it anyway. I’m just not quite as a daredevil as I used to be. This time there were no trees to steer between.

It all began when I was at the bottom of the hill watching the kids sled down. I was cheering for them and making sure they didn’t go too far and hit any obstacles. It looked like so much fun and eventually I was at the top of the hill sending the kids down to Brad. The extra sled was laying there, tempting me. Childhood sledding memories flew in like snowflakes and the reasoning part of my brain was frost-bitten and not working at that moment, I guess. I’m going down, I decided.

Now, I am smart enough that I didn’t start at the top of the hill. I started half way down. I don’t think it would have mattered where I started, crashing is always hard. I flew down the snowy hill and felt the rush of adrenaline. The next thing I knew, my face was in the snow and my hat flew off. I don’t know if I did a backwards somersault or just flopped over like a beached whale. Whatever it looked like I know it wasn’t graceful. But it did hurt. I just don’t bounce like I used to.

You know, I have always wanted to be the mom who participates in activities with their kids. I want to sled down the hill with them. I would probably even have a lapse of forgetfulness and try that ramp at the skatepark. But I try to remember to take it easy. There are some things I just can’t do like I used to. I can still play baseball, though!  

I took it easy the rest of the day with our winter play. I was cautious. I didn’t do any more sledding. Instead I flung my kids down the hill as fast as I could so I could relive those childhood memories somehow. Hearing their giggles and laughter, seeing their rosy cheeks, and watching them crash was more than enough enjoyment for me.

We had a great time. We even made a baby snowman.

Do you still go sledding with your kids? Or do you cheer from the sidelines? I would love to hear your sledding adventures.

xxx

Writer’s Workshop: My Flower Bouquet

Mama’s Losin’ ItThis weeks writing prompt: What types of flowers would be in a bouquet that best describes you?

Of course I had to write for this prompt. I am surrounded by buckets of flowers every day. I have been for the last fifteen plus years, off and on. Miller’s Florist is like my second home. I started working there when I was in high school. I grew up there. I raised my first two babies there. I was lucky to be able to bring them to work with me.

But as I think of this prompt, it is hard. What flowers would best describe a bouquet about me?  

I design floral arrangements everyday. I could do it in my sleep. The flowers don’t always talk to me. They are my tools, part of the business. When you are around them everyday, you forget to notice each one’s uniqueness and individuality.

So at work while I was thinking of this prompt, I started to pay more attention. The buds and blooms softly call my attention; soft and silvery lamonium, each million star of babies breath, weedy and wild solidago, daisies, carnations, lilies, roses, and that last hydrangea that is begging me to use it for a nice and expensive bouquet. Rose petals fold around each other like a perfect piece of artwork.

They wait in the cooler, some of their heads tangled together, some of them standing in bunches, waiting to be grabbed, cut, and sent out.

A white larkspur leans in the green bucket, waiting to be included in a tall vase. Long viney buds fly away in crazy green spirals from its base. Maybe I can be a larkspur. I have lots of little ones surrounding me all of the time.  I’m not tall, but I’m skinny again (finally! three babies in two years takes a while to lose that weight). 

I asked Connie, What flowers do you think represent you? If you were a bouquet, what would be in it?”

“I love heather. That is one of my favorites,” she said. “I like lilies, too. They open up like arms for a hug. They are versatile. You can put them in an everyday arrangement or you can dress them up.”

“That is it,” we both said at the same time.

“Definitely you. You can fit in anywhere,” I laughed.

Hmmmm….what flowers are in my bouquet?

I am everything.

I am the droopy headed asters when I’m tired, but always with a sunny middle and smile.

I am big thick sunflowers standing in the sun. I have a strong and sturdy base.

I am zinnias that grow wild in my garden. I tend to go every which way in a flurry of color and excitement.

I am delicate violets who thrive in the light. I like lots of attention, but can be left alone on the window sill and thrive, just like these fuzzy leaved plants.

I am a venus fly trap who captures and makes its own food. I can make a meal (edible, but not delicious) out of just about anything.

I am versatile. I am unique. I am a wildflower bouquet with a little bit of this, and a lot of that, and put in some of this… a little bit of everything. You just have to look real close. You never know what you may find.

xxx

Caterpillar Poop

We kept it in an old fish container that had lots of tiny holes on the top so he could breathe. We put tape on the two bigger holes so he couldn’t escape. It seemed like the perfect artificial habitat for our little caterpillar.

Bradley found a couple small sticks to put in there so he could climb. We fed him milkweed leaves because that is what we found him on. Aunt Terry even special delivered milkweed leaves for our hungry caterpillar and we stored them in a baggy in the refrigerator.

We put him high up on a shelf so Collin couldn’t reach him. We were afraid he would let him out, shake it; or even worse, smoosh him!

We got him down the next day to look at him. He ate almost all of his leaf! It is unbelievable such a wormy little thing can eat so much. The other leaf was dried and shriveling.

“Bradley, we will have to give him more food.”

“Yea, Mom. Because caterpillars eat and eat like in the book (referring to Eric Carl’s famous book, “The Hungry Caterpillar”). He has to get really fat first before he turns into a butterfly. Right, Mom?”

“Yep. We will have to put a few more leaves in there for him. Not suckers or pies like in the book. I don’t think he will like those things. And don’t forget, he will be a chrysalis before he is a butterfly. Remember?”

“What is all this stuff on the bottom, Mom?” Bradley asked, his nose was practically smooshed on the glass to examine his new finding.

Small brown pellets littered the bottom of the container and some were stuck to the sides.

I held it up closer, squinting, to investigate. I thought they were little bugs, but they weren’t moving. I thought they might be eggs, but there were so many of them.

“Bradley, I think that is caterpillar poop.”

“Gross!”

***

Three days later…

We checked on our caterpillar everyday. We cleaned out the poop and gave him fresh leaves to chew on. We looked forward to having a chrysalis and wondered what kind of butterfly he might turn into.

Then one day, he was gone. He just disappeared. (Shhhh…Don’t tell Brad.) We looked and looked everywhere. We couldn’t figure out how he escaped and we couldn’t find him anywhere.

I gave a little shudder thinking of this hairy wormy creature roaming my house. For several days I would keep my eyes on the wall and the windowsills thinking I would find our lost caterpillar. I was a little creeped out and irritated. “We fed you, we gave you a nice house, we cleaned up after you, and you just disappear?! I even kept weeds in a baggy for you in my fridge!”

Bradley was a little bummed, but then he was just ready to go find a new one.

To this day he still hasn’t shown up.

Maybe he will be that pesky moth flying around the chandelier light while we are trying to have dinner. If that does happen, I hope I remember our little hairy creature before I smash him with a fly swatter. Because that annoying moth could be our little guy.

Note to self: Shoo moths out of the house nicely if there ever is one.

xxx

My Trip to Sherlon Alpaca Farm

September 5, 2011  Monday

I was so lazy this morning. I didn’t want to get off the couch. I just wanted to snuggle my afghan and watch the kids crawl around on the floor like ants.

I planned on not answering the phone and zoning out to the Pickers marathon on the History Channel. But I am one of those people who can’t ignore the phone, so when it started ringing I answered it. I’m glad I did.

It was Aunt Terrry, “Can you get out for a while? We are going to go on a road trip. I need to get this Alpaca yarn and you can see the butts of the Alpacas that the yarn came from,” and on and on she went. “It’s amazing out there. You will have so much fun and Sheri is so nice.”  

“I don’t really feel good,” I said. I just didn’t want to do anything. But the more she went on the more interested I became.

“She makes her own yarn from the Alpacas?” I asked. I read about this once. I tried to talk Brad’s mom into getting Alpacas so I could learn to spin my own yarn, sell it, and make lots of hats and scarves with it. This is when I had time on my hands last year. Complete bedrest gave me all kinds of crazy ideas, with the help of Google, of course. “Okay. I will probably feel better if I get my butt up and around. When do you want to pick me up?”

We pulled up into the driveway. Moss roses covered a corner of rocky landscaping along with other beautiful flowers and shrubs. There was a cool country breeze blowing the long grass and wild flowers in the fields. It reminded that fall is soon on its way. I was glad I brought a sweater.

I didn’t think I was going to fall in love with these crazy looking creatures. The more time you spend with them you realize how sweet and special each one is. They were a little timid at first. Once I started to feed them they warmed right up.

This sign is so true!

I mean seriously, who can not love faces like these?

Sheri, the owner, was a wealth of information. She told me so much about Alpacas. Watch the video below, it is my favorite piece of information. Ladies, you will know what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eahkhbS7lUo

Skeins of Alpaca yarn, gloves, and socks lay on her kitchen table. I ran my fingers through the soft yarn, thinking of all the things I could crochet, if only I had the time. I really want to buy one of her bags and a pair of the super soft socks and I might as well add a pair of gloves in there, too. Oh, and a hat! All of her items are so soft and beautiful. They are well made, also. And if you met these sweet Alpacas you would not be able to say no. You would just be thanking each of them for their super soft coat that goes into making all of these goodies.

I had such a wonderful time. I am so glad I got to meet Sheri and her Alpacas. You can contact her at Tinymyt@aol.com for information or to buy her Alpaca goods.

xxx

Below are lots and lots of pictures of our day. Thanks again Aunt Terry for getting my butt of the couch and getting me out of the house. You just never know where a road trip will take you.

Alpaca love

Last Vacation Post

Brad was tapping on the windows to wake everyone up way too early this morning. I vaguely remember peering through sleep blurred eyes out the window, the sun was barely up. I also barely remember him poking my shoulder, “Do you want eggs for breakfast?” I do remember hearing the kids clamber down from the two stories of bunk beds over top of me. Little feet and big feet coming down the ladders and padding outside onto the porch. Finally some peace and quiet and I rolled back over and buried my head under the blankets. It must not have lasted long because it seemed I just got back to sleep and then I heard Mallie giggling and Elsie screaming. Yep, she is taking her pacifier again. “I’m up. I’m up. I’m coming girls.” Let the day begin.

Breakfast is a blur of cups and paper plates. “Don’t forget to shut the cooler,” and “Did you brush your teeth?” Oh, and I can’t forget my favorite, “Quit leaving your clothes all over the floor!” The cabin is small, but manageable. It seems extra small with a playpen in the middle for the babies, but we do have a small walkway around it. It is hard when there are too many people in here up and around, we are bumping into each other like bumper cars and trying to get in and out of the door, with me reminding, “Hurry up and shut the door! I don’t want all the flies getting in!” The flies are horrible here, especially on our porch. I don’t know why. Maybe because of all the towels hanging on the front porch to dry. Maybe because of the smell of baby formula that must emit from the girls. Maybe because all of the other campers left and so they flew over here. They are bad. And they are biting today. It must be going to rain.

“So what are the plans today?” I ask Brad. If it were up to me, we would be going home. I am camped out. It is getting way too hot and the babies and I are mostly in the cabin because they can’t take the heat.  I would go home with the little ones, but we need both cars to fit everyone and everything. He doesn’t have any plans for the day. Not good. The kids have already ran around and played well together, now they are arguing over silly things and teasing each other. I’m getting cabin fever and need some peace.

“Why don’t you take the boys to the caves or go get fireworks? I know you had that planned for tomorrow, but if you do it today then we can head home at a decent time tomorrow and have more time to unpack,” I mentioned to Brad. “I will stay here with the girls.” Man, I come up with brilliant ideas. This will give me a little thinking time. A little quiet time. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the family time, but we are on day 4. I am getting tired of the close quarters, and like most families the end of vacation can be the most trying because everyone is getting tired (well, at least the adults…at least I am).

So now I am sitting here in the quiet cabin eating a Lunchable, everything but the meat – I think it is gross. I set the window air conditioner to 64 degrees, as low as it will go, and it is starting to feel like winter in here. The girls are bundled up and sleeping in their playpen. I am finally writing. It feels good.

xxx

I did alot of writing that day, most of which is on this blog. It was a great vacation. Lots of great memories. I will share some of my favorite pics and this will be my last vacation post. Then it will be back to the everyday…there is something to be said about routine. It can be nice, just like vacation get aways.

Thanks again for reading.

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Fly Puke

A yellow monarch dances under the willow trees skinny swaying arms. There is a light breeze and I see a fish jump in the calm lake, almost as if it is a rock skipping in the water. It is Monday; all the other campers are gone, except for a few empty RV’s next to us and one other family further up the road. I sit in my green lawn chair, drinking my Mt. Chill (don’t you just love the names of generic pop?), and take deep cleansing breaths of nature. I’m really glad the wind is blowing the other direction; otherwise you smell the port-a-potties that are three cabins down. They have their advantages and disadvantages of being so close.

A cardinal, bright as an apple with a shiny beak, lands under the tree less than 3 feet away from me. I sit still and watch him hop on his strong bird legs. He cocks his head looking at me, as if he is asking me where everyone went. He jumps higher on the tent pole like an acrobat, scaling the side of the tent sideways. Man, I wish I had my camera. Then I remind myself just to enjoy the moment. I take a picture in my head.

It is almost perfect; the scenery, the weather, the quiet peacefulness. Then a fly buzzes my ear. I can count at least 20 of them on the porch rail, and that is only the ones standing still for a brief second to include them in the head count. I once heard that a fly pukes every time it lands. I imagine all the fly puke everywhere. If this is true, then our entire cabin and everything around it is saturated in fly puke. Oh nature, how I love you.

I am only a part-time nature lover. I can take it in short bursts.

Where do the flies go at night? Where are the mosquitoes during the day? And why do they feed on us? I have decided this is nature’s irony.