Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Unwelcome Guest

I was out with a friend when I received a phone call from my pre-teen son.
"Mom." Then the phone hung up.
As a mom, we are prepared for any emergency. But dad was home, it was well past Tylers' bedtime, and before I let my mind start racing with unspoken possibilities... I called him back.

He answered immediately. "Mom, there is a racoon in the basement. I saw him eating the cat food."

Whew. Of all the things it could have been, I was relieved.
For a brief second.

Oh my - a real racoon in my basement?? Last week it was a chicken. Really.
Or a pheasant, or some sort of fowl.

Mice, bugs, spiders. Those are all expected in an old house. Even a stray bat would be understandable. Racoons? Chickens???

As I dropped my friend off and headed home to survey the situation (or at least to be a part of the action!!), I thought how the night before I couldn't sleep due to the amount of little children that had infiltrated my bed in the dark of night. After squirming between kicking legs and little arms that assault my slumber, I trudge downstairs to the couch with my pillow to see if I can redeem the night with a few hours of shut eye.

Five minutes into my peacefulness, I hear a scritch-scratching sound in the livingroom wall directly behind the entertainment center, and by the time I jumped up from my pillow, I had convinced myself the critter in the wall was waiting to jump out at me as I snuck past it's hiding place, and a wrestling match would ensue, most likely making me the loser.

I sprinted upstairs, woke up Mike, and told him of the dangers that awaited us in the livingroom. He grabbed a flashlight, peered in any and every oriface in the vacinity, and deemed our habitat was safe. We sat quietly until the scritch-scratching began again.

"It's definately too big to be a mouse."
"A rat?" I asked, with a frown.
"Nope, but maybe a squirrel or chipmunk."
Oh man, those little critters lost their appeal immediately. They are not adorable cartoon characters when they are in the walls of our farm house.

So, back to the racoon eating our cat food. It dawned on me that this must have been the wall terror of the night before. It must have been looking for a way to get out, but how did it get in?

Through a series of detective work, Mike found the opening. He closed it, hoping the critter didn't stay in the old crawlspace, but he set a trap inside for 2 days (not effective) and then outside the old access doorway for another 2 days. We did catch a young opposum, but that was not what Tyler had seen devouring our cat food.
(and yes, the children wanted to keep it as a pet, but had to say goodbye when we released it into the woods at the back of our property.)

Back to this weekend. Figuring we had secured the entrance into our basement (which was my big concern!) how would be make sure it was not setting up (or continuing!) housekeeping in our crawl space?

Walmart to the rescue. Mike determined we could bug bomb the crawlspace, and after we chased the critter convent out of our dank, dark area where no one ever wants to go, he could repair the ancient doorway that had rotten under our deck which lead to the start of our unwelcome guest in the basement in the first place.

I think we took every bug bombing kit on the store shelves, set them off, spent the day running errands and having fun, and returned to replace the rotted doorway with a new one that would secure the space that future critters could not infiltrate.

Success. I think. No other sightings, nothing else going bump in the night.
Well, except the human critters that somehow always find their way back into my dreams and my sleeping space.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


We sat in the cool evening air last night with kids at our feet stretched out on thick blankets. With family around us, and snacks galore, I wondered how much of this evening would pile up in the little minds in front of me and just what they were thinking as the bombs burst in the air?

Aaah! OOO!! The fireworks stretched above our heads, just slightly outdone by the shine of the nearly full moon shining high to the right of our seats.

They lay on their bellies, feet swaying. "Glow sticks" around all their necks, ankles and wrists, they were easy to find in the deep darkness. But they were not going far from us anyway.

I traveled back to my own childhood, where we sat in the same spot, surrounded by some of the same people. We are much older now, but the memories come back at me strongly, seeing them through wiser eyes. I remember falling asleep on the way home, pressed together with my brothers in the back seat of the car, listening to the other cars around us trying to escape the frenzy of tired drivers gathered in one common area. The radio played static music as we drove through town, headed back to our country home to land into our warm beds and dream the dreams of sleepy children whos lives are perfectly right with the world.

In the midst of memories, I wonder what my children will remember from these days of family times? And as I watch the bright moon peering through the clouds drifting past its splendor, I realize it's the same moon from my childhood that has shone brightly over me every night of my life, the same moon that now shines over the tow heads and curls of my children, and our world is at peace.

So we journey to our home, sleepily landing in warm beds, ready to dream the dreams that others have dreamed before us. Sleep. Sleep.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dollar Tree Incentives

Around here, if I need someone to help out extra special, or be on their best behaviour, I have found out a little incentive that goes a long way is the promise of a trip to the Dollar Tree Store.

Today we had to take baby Bella to the Orthopedic company about 45 minutes from home. The only appointment we could work into our schedule this week was an afternoon one for today, which immediately sounded like a precarious plan. Mostly, because the 5 youngest kids would be joining me.

Jeeves, my ever-present "Manny" (who hates when I call him that!), travels with me on these therapy/dr. appointment trips. The kids were hyped up, and pretty excited to be seeing the way they were going to cast Bella's feet to make her new braces. The ride up was loud. VERY loud. Taco Bell was finished, pop had been spilled and I needed an incentive - quick!!

"If we can all be on our best behaviour today, after the appointment with Bella we can go to the Dollar Tree!" I tried to sound really excited, because I needed them to buy into the idea. Shouts all around : "yay!!!!" The last 10 minutes of the ride was calmer!! It was working!!

After jumping and running around the office, they settled in fairly well (for them). The office staff is very nice and the guy making the braces didn't seem bothered to be tripping over 10 little feet and before we left he had given each of the kids a rubber glove to blow up like a balloon. Good times. On to Dollar Heaven, uh, Tree.

I think one of the reason's I will try to shop at this particular store more often than the ones closer to my home is because with all the things my kids handled and misplaced in the store today, not one of the staff said anything nasty, hateful or out of place. And a couple times they could have had plenty to say with good reason. Usually we leave this type of store with my head hung low, wishing my kids could show a little less enthusiasm when we were out and about. We already stand out enough, you know.

But after handling all the possible options, each kid picked out one new treasure, one item, each, to take on our beach trip friday and ALSO an ice cream treat that was just begging to be devoured immediately. I had the kids move to the side and begin their ice cream as the cart full of items were being rung up and bagged, while people all around us commented on how brave we were to take this many kids out shopping.

I really didn't have the guts to say I was just making good on a bribe, but instead, I smiled, my friend Jeeves commented "they are all hers, and there's 2 more at home!!", and I loaded the cart to head towards home. Opening my own ice cream - a nice drumstick with nuts on top!! - we corralled the 5 youngun's to the door, and my ice cream plopped off the top of the sugar cone, leaving me with only half the treat I suddenly realize I had a huge craving for!!

Oh, but getting in the car, happy, sticky, ice cream smeared faces and treasures in the bags, I drove home thinking, how bad is it really (?) to bribe kids for just a small treat from the dollar store? Even though it ended up being 3 treats each, and a half hour of clean up in the van once we pulled into our driveway at home, it was worth it. Every penny.

Because they were all smiling, or sleeping soundly, all the way home.