Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unsolicited Pets

Unsolicited pets

In this family, we love animals. We have a few pets: two cats, a dog and a horse. We had a rabbit for ten years, and he died back in the spring of 2011. Mike and I have had a few fish in our time too.

Once in a while, the boys try to bring home new pets. Jamie has been known to catch salamanders on occasion, and sometimes snakes too. He is also prone to bringing bugs in the house to show me, and then declare his intention to keep them as pets. Fortunately, I have veto power when it comes to the critters entering this house. Last year, we had a vole for a while, but that was accidental. It was never invited, and it was swiftly uninvited after I saw it run across my bedroom floor.

Uninvited pets are the worst. Usually they are the creepy-crawly variety, or the scurrying type. I’m not one who fears rodents, but I certainly don’t welcome them to run freely in my house. (Incidentally, I’d take a mouse over a large spider any day, and we do currently have a spider infestation.)

Earlier today, I saw a tall glass of water sitting on one of the end tables in the living room. I thought it was strange, because Mike is the only one in the house who drinks out of that type of glass. (Yes, I know that’s weird, but we are all rather particular about our beverage vessels, except for Mike. I drink everything out of a freezie cup, and the boys use Tupperware, and Lauren is still using sippy cups. But this post is not about O.C.D., so I digress.)

I picked up the glass because my first thought was, “Somebody’s going to dump this.” But when I picked it up, I noticed there was a whitish, slimy film on the water surface. I said something brilliant, like “Ew, gross! What did you guys do to this water?” because it had particles at the bottom that led me to believe they had filled it with sand. (Hey, it has been done before. Many times, as a matter of fact.) Jamie, who sounded somewhat offended, informed me that those were his snails.

My eyes probably bugged out a bit at that, but I accepted that as a pretty normal answer. I did a double take, and sure enough, there were snails in the glass. Small, but easily identifiable. I moved the glass to the half-wall by the staircase, not wanting Lauren to get her hands on it. My initial fear of the glass getting dumped was immediately trumped by a fear that she might drink out of it. Blech!

Fast-forward several hours. Just now, Jamie was examining the glass and made a comment about Slimy. (Great name, right?) Slimy, as it turned out, was a Houdini wannabe. He was almost at the top of the glass, and seemed to be moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. I commented that he was trying to escape and Jamie said the other snails were dead. I frowned and examined the glass more carefully. There were several very tiny dark specks at the bottom of the glass, but they were not snails. I told him there were no other snails in there, and it looked more like snail poop or something. (Hm. Remind me to throw out that glass later…)
Then Jamie had an epiphany of sorts. It was something like, “Hey, where are all the other snails?” Then I had an epiphany. It was sort of like, “Hey! Where are all the other snails???” I asked him how many there were. He said six. Now there was one. It turned out Slimy was actually in the bottom of his class, or glass, and was way below average on the Houdini rating. Jamie went into the living room and checked the floor near where the glass had been on the half wall. He found one and declared it dead, because it had lost its slime. Being a non-expert on all things slug, I told him to put it back in the water and see what happens. Then we went over to the end table. Sure enough, two more snails were recovered, also clinically dead.

Wait, that’s Slimy, plus the first dead one…plus two more dead ones…Uh oh. That only makes four. Didn’t he say there were six snails? So now, there are two rogue snails somewhere in my house. Maybe dead. Maybe alive. Possibly still slimy. Definitely unwelcome.

So I just went and checked on them, and one was almost on the rim of the glass, and another one was out of the water, catching up. At first glance, the other two were dead. But as I watched them, they began to stretch out their necks (do slugs have necks? Or are they 100% neck?) and crane their heads around, no doubt feeling a little inferior to their buddies. I took some pictures. 

This first one is one of the ones that Jamie found on the carpet. Judging by where he was, he was out of the water for a much shorter period than his unfortunate buddies. You can see here he has made it to the top of the water. 

Here's the show-off, that was actually left behind in the first place. 

The second snail is catching up. I think I'll name him Turbo.

He's closing in. They are neck in neck. Wait, that's complicated when all they have are necks. 

Here are the unfortunate other two. I wish I could have posted video, but they are definitely alive down there. I just don't know how much longer that will be the case. Poor things.

I have to admit, it was kind of cool watching their tiny antennae moving back and forth in slow motion, checking things out around them. I brought the boys in to observe them. This is how a non-homeschooling mom home schools her kids. (Because we all homeschool our kids, even those who send them to school.) But oh, it turns out, snails stink. That's what I learned today.

UPDATE: This just in. All four snails have scaled the glass. I have placed a loose fitting lid over the top so we will have no more escapees, but all of them are either on the "ceiling" or near it. Also, I have just been informed that their names are as follows: Slimy, Sticky, Slimy-Bottom, and Wormy. Nice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Please tell me he did not just do that...

Sometimes I seriously wonder how my children are still alive. The things they do completely blow my mind. Today, it is rainy and dreary outside, for the second consecutive day. Rainy weather does not stop the Dynamic Duo. After lunch, I put Lauren to bed for her nap and Jamie and Micah donned their rubber boots (that's progress), and their jackets. I told them not to shout on the deck, seeing it's right outside Lauren's window. They assured me they wouldn't be on the deck.

At that moment, a tiny voice in my head was trying to tell me something. Sure, I wondered what they might be doing down in the very wet yard, but I wanted to do my workout, and having them out of the house was the perfect opportunity to do it without being interrupted and annoyed by them. So I silenced the voice and I enjoyed a 25 minute workout in the comfort (and for once, silence) of my own living room.

Being a mom, I knew I couldn't just ignore them completely for 25 minutes, so as I exercised, I frequently moved to the bay window and scanned the yard for them. Ah! There they were. They have invented a new game. It's similar to tobogganing, but of course, with the snow gone, they needed new equipment. It turns out, the jogging stroller makes a great ride-on toy. They were taking turns riding it down the ridge, which isn't that steep anymore, but it's a big enough slope to make for a fun ride. I shook my head and continued with my workout.

A few minutes later I checked again. They were down the old driveway, which is now beginning to flood again. Now I was concerned. But they were still just pushing each other in the stroller, and they weren't in the water, so it was still okay. At the end of my workout, I looked again. I didn't see the stroller. The boys were making some kind of path IN the deep water (I'm talking deeper than their boots, but not deep enough to swim in) out of metal duct work pieces. Yikes! I ran onto the deck and shouted for them to get out of there. They didn't listen. Micah walked the "path", which sank, of course, and I watched as the water went over top of his boots. Lovely.

They came back to the house after that to change out of their wet clothes, and then came the really disturbing part. No, not Micah's naked dance, though that was up there too. Micah told me Jamie made him drink water out of that puddle, but he spit it out. Maybe some day I will laugh at this, but seriously, he could get really, really sick from that water! I am horrified. Even our well water, which is down underground where it is well filtered by the sand, tested unsafe to drink. I really hope he didn't swallow any, and I hope he will be okay. These are the moments when I feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't even have anything more to say about it. I am just praying that God will protect and preserve these kids, because I can't seem to keep them out of trouble.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Ways My Life Changed Last Week

Last time I posted in here, it was supposed to be my very first day with all three boys in school for the whole day, and just Lauren at home with me. That was thwarted thanks to a stomach bug that Micah got in the middle of the night. (He was over it very quickly, by the way.) But on Thursday, we tried again and all three boys got on the bus at 7:30 a.m., leaving me with just Lauren for the whole day. I have to tell you, I had mixed emotions. Micah is my last boy, so he is kind of my baby, still, even though he is four and a half. It was hard to send him off to school for the whole day, even though I knew he would be fine. But at the same time, having only Lauren here made me want to shout long and loud off the deck, "FREEEEEEE-DOMMMMMMMM!"

Okay, that's a little exaggerated, but I honestly felt so liberated. It wasn't necessarily just the absence of Micah that changed things for me, because having just Micah and Lauren is not that difficult. But when Micah was doing half days at school, I had to drive him there at lunch time, which meant an early, rushed lunch, and dragging Lauren in and out of the van. It wasn't horrible, just a little bit of a hassle. And because we live out of town, it meant that any trips to the city were impossible because I didn't have enough time in the morning or in the afternoon on Micah's school days. As for the other days, well, no way was I taking Jamie and Micah together to town with Lauren.

Normally, I don't have a burning desire to drive to the city, but around here our snow is finally starting to melt, and I think some of us Manitobans lose it a little, after being stir-crazy for so long. So, I took Lauren to town. We went shopping in Walmart for rubber boots for the boys and runners for Lauren, and then we went and got a few groceries at Safeway. (Yes, Mom, I said Safeway. But just a few groceries, not the bulk of them.) The sun was shining, the air was fresh, Lauren was perfectly behaved...It was glorious. I realized that my life just got a lot easier, at least every second day. I miss my little Micah when he's gone, but the quiet really does my soul good.

My life changed in another way last week. I finished my book on Saturday. No, not a book I was reading. A book I was writing. I can't tell you how elated that made me. And then I didn't know what to do with myself. In truth, I have been ignoring my family, my chores, this blog, pretty much everything and living in an alternate world. Now that it is finished, I feel a little lost. It's not really finished, because I have to start editing now, but the first draft is done, and that is a first for me. So I am ignoring it completely for a few weeks before I start working on it again, just so I can approach it with a fresh perspective. That means I might just have time to blog again. Haha.

Having said that, I'm off to brainstorm for ideas for my next book!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

History repeats itself.

Today is the first day of school after spring break. Last year at this time, Jamie had just gotten on the bus for his very first full day of Junior Kindergarten and I was worried about how he would handle it. Sure enough, he came home with a migraine and nearly threw up three times. I didn't put him back in full days for a while, though I don't remember how long. 

Last night I was worrying about my little Micah starting full days today. After all, Micah is only four. Jamie and Cody were both five when they started full days. I was nervous, but I prepared to send him. Only just before 2 a.m., Micah threw up in his bed. It seems school holidays are nearly always a disaster for us health-wise. Cody was sick from Wednesday until now, though he was not throwing up. Today was supposed to be my very first ever full day alone with Lauren. I was somewhat sad about it, and also looking forward to it. It was going to be quiet and easy. Now...well, now I have anxiety about stomach issues. Micah slept all night and is still sleeping, since the one incident. I am hoping it will be mild today as well, or that he is even over it after the one time. I am worried that Lauren will get it. 

Anyway, I have decided that spring break is overrated. This actually happens to us every year, or so it seems. Maybe this is premature, but I can't wait for summer break. 

Lauren is crying, so it's time for me to sign off. I hope I will find her healthy in there. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Single Mom for 48 hours

I'm on my own again with the kids, as Mike is off on a ski trip with his students. The kids are all sleeping, and I was supposed to have a fabulous evening of working on my book, but I have been completely thwarted, and I'm feeling a little down. I am so close to being done my book, but there are so many tiny details that are preventing me from writing the ending. So instead of having a therapeutic evening of writing, all by myself, I have found myself researching those details and coming up empty, and therefore writing basically nothing. I hope it's not going to take me another year just to finish the first draft.

On a different note, tomorrow is Cody's last day of school before spring break. The other two had theirs today. I know a lot of moms dread spring break, because they get no break from their kids, but I am looking forward to it. A week of not having to drag myself out of bed before 7 a.m. to make lunches, pack school bags and whisper yell at my kid(s) to eat, get dressed, get their ski pants on, get out the door to the bus...etc. A week of no watching anxiously out my window to see whether Mike gets them down the driveway to the bus on time. Best of all, it means I have Mike home for a week with me, so I have back-up. I'm hoping for a nice family time, but we'll see.

Let me make a quick confession in here. I have always loved birthdays, but I am really bad at them. I am bad at getting cards in the mail on time to friends and family. And I am bad at planning birthday parties for my own kids. Cody's birthday is in five days, and I have nothing planned. He wants a huge party, but I just don't want every kid in his class and on his hockey team here. He wanted a skating party at the rink, but I think it is shut down now, so that's out. We tried to convince him to have a small party, with only three or four friends, but he can't decide who he would invite. So we are left with either just our little (big?) family, or all his cousins. He doesn't really seem pumped about either option. He wants his school friends, but again, he doesn't even know who to invite. I find the whole thing stressful, and I am heaped with guilt. Jamie has never had a party, and he told all his classmates (all five of them) that he would invite them all to his party. We are always barfing on his birthday, so he doesn't get parties. Poor kid. He thinks next year he will. We'll see. Micah doesn't care yet, and of course, Lauren doesn't either, but I really feel bad about Cody. I don't know what we will do yet, but I guess we'll see. I have tried to get Mike to help me figure out a plan, but I am not getting much assistance there.

Anyway, I'm getting stressed out now, and it's getting late. Just thought I'd check in, seeing I'm on my own here. (With a sick cat on antibiotics. Did I mention that?) I'm off to bed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

March has been an interesting month for us. The tournament I posted about in my last post was a four day affair, and for us, ended with a bang. It was extremely cold outside, and the van wouldn't start on the Sunday morning of the boys' last game, so Mike took all three in his Subaru and left me with Lauren to wait for the battery to charge so we could go too. Half an hour later, we did get it going, so we were all at the last game, but with two separate vehicles. On the way home, I took Lauren and Micah, and Mike took Cody and Jamie in his Subaru. We traveled together for most of the trip home, but then Mike took a short cut on gravel. Earlier, he had advised me not to take that route, because the road was not in good condition (i.e.: ice, snow drifts...etc.), and he knew I was not as confident with winter driving as him. So I stuck to the longer, safer route. When I got home, he was not there. I checked my phone, thinking maybe he had stopped somewhere with the boys, but what I saw were two text messages from him, telling me he had flipped the car, and that they were all okay but the vehicle was upside down in the ditch.

It's hard to describe the feelings that come over you when you get that kind of news. I felt sick, and shaky. I was already home, so we went inside and Lauren napped as usual, but I just wanted my family home so I could hug them. Mike's dad drove out there and stayed with them so they could sit in a warm vehicle while they waited for a tow truck to arrive. It was a long time before they got home, but they did get home, and none of them hurt at all. I was, and am, so thankful. I could have lost half my family that day.

So March really did come in like a lion for us. Yes, March 1st was -50 outside, and March 3rd we wrote off our second vehicle. Financially, it was not good timing for us, but having our kids (and Mike) safe minimized the financial blow.

Since then, things have been back to normal here, but I have been too busy for this blog. I'm working feverishly on my book, and I'm at the very end, which is the hardest part, it turns out. So whenever I have a moment to myself, it's my book I'm working on, and not this blog. Don't worry, Mike is getting ignored too, it's not just my readers...if I have any left. Hopefully it will all be worth it, if I can finish the book and by some miracle, get published some day.

Here we are in the last week of March, and we still have a ton of snow, and it's still -21 with the windchill. But this is the last week of school before spring break, and that means good things are coming. Actually, Cody's birthday is in just over a week, and we have done no planning for it whatsoever. Yikes. Next week is also fair week, which is one of my favourite weeks of the year. It has definitely surpassed Christmas. (But that's not much of a leap for me anymore.)

This is not an exciting post, but it's my catch-up one. Hopefully I will be able to get back into the regular swing of things soon.

Friday, February 28, 2014


Today is Friday, the last day of the week. It's also the last day of February. Those are both good things. Really, what could be better? Normally, this would leave me feeling energized, excited, even. Not today. This February has been a particularly desperate month, as per tradition, really. January and February are always hellish parenting months when you live in a place that has harsh winters like ours. This year has been the worst winter of my entire life, weather-wise, and I'm not exaggerating. The normal temperatures for this time of year are supposed to be a high of -5 C. Right now we are sitting at -20, but with the windchill, it feels like -38. Tomorrow, we are expecting a windchill of -50. Seriously. On the first day of March.

Us Manitobans are no wimps when it comes to weather, so we will grit our teeth and hold on until things warm up a little, but the weather is only a part of my exhaustion today. Our boys are involved in a major hockey tournament this weekend. Well, as major as it can get for "squirts", the youngest teams in minor hockey. I'm not a good hockey mom. I know this because I am the only one who didn't want to participate in this tournament. I was concerned about the well-being of my boys. It started last night, a Thursday night, after they both had a full day of school. They had a game at 6:30 p.m. in a town that was an hour and fifteen minutes away from us. On top of that, the game was way late starting, so they didn't even make it home until 10 p.m. That alone was completely unacceptable to me. (This is a bit of a rant...sorry.)

Part of the reason I'm so uptight about getting my kids to bed on time is because I worry about them getting run down and getting sick. I hoped Jamie would be all right because he didn't have school the next day (today), but guess what? He started barfing at 6:30 this morning.

Cody went to school, but I confess, I'm worried about him now too. He had no symptoms this morning, but he is exhausted. I ran around trying to pack his lunch and his bag, while running back to the bathroom to help my sick kid. I also realized last night I had forgotten about Jump Rope For Heart, which was this afternoon for Cody, and we hadn't gotten any donations yet. Another mommy fail.

Now, I'm trying to contain a bored Micah, and Jamie, who feels better enough to also be bored, while trying to deal with the fact that Lauren is on some kind of sleep strike and spends her nap yelling, "MOMMY!" I just sat down for a break, but soon I will need to start making supper, and I haven't had a single quiet moment yet today, thanks to Lauren's lack of nap. She's still in bed, though, because I just washed the kitchen floor and I don't want her running around on it while it's still wet. Jamie and Micah are whispering, and that means they are doing something they shouldn't be. They don't whisper for my sake or for Lauren's.

This is a typical day around here in some ways. I go from one thing to the next, never quite accomplishing enough, and I wish desperately for a little time of silence. Cody will be here in about 25 minutes, and then things are bound to get ugly. He is running on very little sleep, and there isn't much chance he will be amiable when he arrives. I just hope he's not sick. I'd rather deal with a bear than another barfing kid.

Tomorrow, in the -50 weather, we are supposed to be traveling to the tournament again for a game at 10 a.m. and another game sometime to be announced later in the day. Then, from what I understand, there will be a final game on Sunday. I guess February is going out with a bang, and March is certainly coming in like a lion. In our corner of the world, we long for spring. The sun is beautiful and warm, and the house is bright, but outside is nearly unbearable and this little family is done.

So I am hanging on for warmer days. My posts in here have been infrequent due partly to sheer busyness, but also due to my reluctance to simply dump in here. Looks like I did it anyway. Sorry about that. On the upside, my house is getting cleaner and cleaner these days, and that is enough to boost my mood exponentially. (Yes, this is my mood when it's boosted.) Hopefully I will have funner posts in March. For now, I have to sign off and fold some laundry. Stay warm, everybody.