Friday, August 31, 2012

the good news and the bad news

Because I've always liked to get the bad news out of the way first so I can focus on the positive ... I'll start this off by writing about last Saturday, as Charlie and I were packing up our house and getting ready to pull out of town for a 10-day trip.  Carolyn and Henry were upstairs in their rooms, while William and Elizabeth were happily playing in our basement. At some point, the idea struck them to take their little razor scooters out of our garage and up to the very top of our road. Although they have been told countless times to never leave our property without one of their parents in tow, and they've also been told the danger of razor scootering on this particular stretch of road - their decision made perfectly good sense to them at that point in time. So when the little girl who lives up the road from us was ringing our doorbell and gasping that Elizabeth had been REALLY hurt, I was confused. 

How could she be hurt? 

She was playing in the basement!

Surely she would never have left our yard without my knowledge? 

As that thought was rattling around my cerebrum, I saw the little girl's father, carrying a torn and bloodied Elizabeth home.  She and her brother had decided that they wanted to race their scooters down the steep hill and that idea was going swell until the moment she hit a pothole and front-ended over her scooter on to the asphalt. Fortunately, she was wearing a helmet and didn't hurt her head. Unfortunately, she wasn't encapsulated in a protective bubble because she ripped through her favorite new clothes and deeply skinned her knee, hands, hip and elbow.  It could have been so much worse - she might have landed differently and broken bones. She might have landed on her face. She might have been hit by a car....

My mind instantly wanders off in to all of the dark, horrible scenarios that could have occurred and I wouldn't have even known. A week later, I'm still perplexed that she actually left the yard without my knowledge?! For all the Stranger Danger talks that we've had and The Fear of God that I thought I had sufficiently placed in to my children's hearts about the world beyond our property boundary ... I'm traumatized.  I'm also thinking that when the company comes to put in an electric invisible fence for the dog, I might see if he can fit our children with collars, too. 

Now, the good news is that the night before Elizabeth's colossal fall, her brother happened to notice that there was something perched on a tree limb in our yard.  Something that resembled a wet and soggy BUNNY.   The misery around our house has been severe for the past few weeks, so we discreetly dried Bunny off and stuck him on Elizabeth's pillow as a surprise for when she went to bed that night. When she finally went to bed, she went insane. She grabbed Bunny and wrapped her arms around him and smothered kisses on top of his Bunny head. She then promptly held him out at an arm's length and said, "PE-EWWW! HE STINKS!!" Which was appropriate seeing as he'd been outside dangling in a tree for more than 10 days.  Charlie, Captain of the Laundry Ship in our home, washed Bunny three times before adding bleach to the fourth and final wash.  

By the time the sanitizing was complete ... 


A warm, cozy and fragrant smelling Bunny went straight in to Elizabeth's arms - which is precisely where he was needed most of all.  

(Thank you to those who had sent me notes inquiring on Elizabeth's condition after her Bunny loss and for those who had added Bunny to your prayer circles. The thought of Bunny in a prayer circle both warms and cracks me up.  He is indeed a very loved little Bunny!)  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

paddle faster ... I hear banjo music!

Last summer, we drove to South Carolina to visit my mom and on the way back to Virginia, I thought it would be fun to take a detour off the beaten path. On that detour, we stumbled upon a place called Zaloo's Canoes along the New River in Jefferson, North Carolina.


Because we had so much fun last summer, we decided that on our trip south this summer, we'd make another detour.   



Unlike last year, when we rented a canoe, a kayak and two inner tubes ... this summer, we opted to rent six inner tubes and float our way down the river. 


We quickly realized that inner tubing is a lazy man's sport.  




Which is great when you're feeling lazy, as Charlie and I both were.  


But the kids, it turned out, didn't like to float very much. They were much more interested in getting out of their tubes, running around in the shallow water, and pulling us over the rocks that we would get hung up on. Their enthusiasm worked out VERY well for Charlie and I because we'd probably still be out there if our children hadn't dragged our flotilla down the river. 


Here the kids were last summer .... 


And here they are this summer. 



If all goes according to plan, we'll come back here next summer, too. If you're ever in this area - I'd highly recommend Zaloo's. It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. 


Especially if you've got a crew of little people to help pull you along. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

universe, please take this bouquet of flowers

Every so often, life can get topsy turvy.  It might feel like things are spiraling out of control and you're doing your absolute best to hold on and get through a day without the sensation of standing at the top of an extremely steep hill wearing a pair of roller blades and oops, you don't know how to skate!

In the span of seven days....

  • Henry fell down and smacked his cheek. His cheek became abscessed. After a very sketchy four days, thanks be to God and modern medicine, his cheek began to heal on its own and it was determined he did not require surgery. Thanks to everyone who sent me a note regarding our little guy, your thoughts are so appreciated! (The red on his cheek is raspberry jelly). (Oh, the costume is the same one he wore when he was four months old. Still fits!!) 

  • Charlie was tackling the 80-foot fallen (felled?) tree in our backyard with a chainsaw and inadvertently cut through a yellow-jackets nest.  The yellow-jackets were not amused. Fortunately for Charlie, when he sensed something was amiss with Mother Nature and he threw his powered chainsaw OVER his head, it didn't cut him in half once gravity took over.  I think he was lucky to escape the incident with *only* 20 stings on his back and arms.  
  • Elizabeth lost Bunny. As in completely totally gone, no idea where. Prayers to Saint Anthony went unanswered. I keep telling her he's off on a fun adventure somewhere. *Sob!*
  • On Day 2 of Bunny's absence, Elizabeth came down with a vicious summer virus.  The lack of Bunny during this time made her feel even worse. Over the course of the next four days, her three siblings would fall victim to the same virus and consume their body weight in Jell-O.  
  • The kids picked up and promptly dropped and broke my brand new Nikon D90X camera that I'd received for Christmas. Fortunately, Santa bought the extended warranty so my camera will be replaced. Unfortunately, it will take two months. 
  • I lost my iPhone which I'd been using to take pictures. At the time of its unintended departure from my pocket, it was fully loaded with some wonderful snapshots of life over the past few days. Including our fun bike ride on the W&OD trail mere hours before all hell broke loose. 
  • Our toilet broke. Rather, the children's toilet broke. We finally had to tape it shut because even though we told the children THE TOILET IS BROKEN, there was confusion because it's a toilet? How does a toilet break? Let me sit here and go potty and think about it...  
  • Our dishwasher broke.  While this is a disappointment, I'm impressed that this "simple" dishwasher has lasted has long as it has ... considering our last dishwasher broke every month
  • Charlie desperate to fix up the house and replacing an entire bathroom and kitchen would take too long, decided to focus his attention on the landscaping at the front of the house. The next day, he woke up covered from head-to-waist in poison ivy. The worse part was the poison ivy that was all around his eyes and behind his ears. He is now on Prednisone and is feeling a little punchy and incredibly hyper. It wouldn't surprise me if I wake up tomorrow morning and find that he has ripped out the kitchen and the bathroom and has finished chopping up the 80-foot tree in our backyard and has stacked neat little piles of firewood in our garage.  
  • At times like this, I'd like nothing more than to be at home and help try to restore order. Or at least do a load of laundry.  But work has been incredibly busy as I'm entering the final stretches of the project that I was brought back here to lead. The note that I posted yesterday, was an e-mail that Charlie had sent to me after I'd put in more than 100 hours over the past week. My poor man is at the end of his rope and the biological hazards he's been subjected to the past week haven't helped.  
So that's where I've been the past few days. Very busy but also feeling incredibly optimistic that this is just a phase. The crazy moments will pass and in their wake, we'll have the memory that we survived this time and remarkably, we'll feel a little more empowered for when it happens again. 

Because of course it will.  

Tomorrow with our calamine lotion, prednisone and remaining amoxicillin, we're rolling out of town and in to the mountains of North Carolina where we'll be staying in a quaint little cottage and horseback riding every day. There will be kayaking and fishing and hiking and a drive to South Carolina where we'll visit my mom and Jim.  In 10-days, we'll drive back to Virginia a day before the triplets are scheduled to begin second grade. 



My babies!  I'm not sure how that's even possible?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

the man needs a break

This is a real, unedited e-mail that Charlie sent to me at work today. 

Dear Jen,

I need a date with you.  For the love of God, I need a date.  I need something other then a *&%^#@$ pizza for dinner, and I need to have some $%#&@ quiet time with you.  What this means is that I need for you to come home.  This is how it's going to go down:
  • Pencils down.  That means stop what you are doing.
  • You get in the big green truck and drive home.
  • I am going to order a pizza for the kids, they do not want a home made pizza.  They are demanding Dominoes!
  • They will watch a movie of their choice downstairs.
  • You and I will eat something besides pizza, i.e., chinese food.  Something with flavor and texture.
  • I will open a good bottle of wine, and we will enjoy a glass of the wine.
  • We will talk like human adults, and discuss our escape from children.
  • The children will go to bed.

See you soon.

Signed, The Desperate Domestic Father of your Messy Little Creatures,


Friday, August 17, 2012

come on, amoxicillin!

Last Saturday I opened up a new 1,000-piece puzzle for our family to complete. And is often the case, once a new puzzle is opened, we are distracted by putting it together until it is finished. I should probably add that earlier in the day, we'd taken the children for a 10-mile bicycle ride along the Washington & Old Dominion (aka: W&OD) trail and everyone was feeling puckered out. So there Charlie and I are, stealing a quiet moment to work on the puzzle, while the kids are downstairs playing.

The puzzle is emerging before our eyes when we hear a THUMP followed by screaming. The kind of screaming that causes a parent's legs to start running in the direction of the scream before they've even processed what's happened.  When I reached the top of the stairs, the first person I saw coming up the steps was William who with wide eyes was telling me, "It wasn't my fault! I didn't do it!!" and the next person I saw was Henry, who was still screaming as blood gushed out of his mouth.

Running down the steps and scooping up my youngest, I find myself yelling, "WHAT HAPPENED?!"and behind me, I can hear the kids trying to sort out the series of events which had transpired and have caused blood to pour from their little brother's mouth.

He tripped.

He was pushed.

It was a meteor!

None of it mattered. All that mattered to me was that I figured out where the blood was coming from and that I stopped it, immediately.  Perching him on the kitchen table, I felt absolutely nauseous having to look in to his mouth. Not because of the blood, per se, but because of the FEAR that he would have lost yet ANOTHER tooth two or more years ahead of schedule.  Why in the world did I think that the children could play safely downstairs without me hovering over them?

Me = Idiot.

Very, very carefully, I look in to Henry's mouth and I can't see anything except blood. So I scoop him off the table and carry him in to the kitchen where I perch him on the counter and direct him to spit in to the sink. I look in to his mouth again and am relieved to see that his teeth are all intact and the copious blood is coming from somewhere other than his gums.  For at least five long minutes, he had to sit and continue spitting in to the sink because the bleeding was so profuse. I tore off paper towels, dampened them under the faucet and placed them in his cheek to try and stem the flood.  Eventually, we moved to the couch, me holding him in my arms, him crying deliriously because of the pain.

His siblings, meanwhile, had set about making him cards. They drew pictures of crosses and hearts and faces dripping with tears. They also tried to explain what had happened. They were playing tag and Elizabeth was chasing Henry when he tripped and fell - face first - on the corner of our train table. The whole thing happened so fast, he wasn't able to put out his hands and block his fall and there was blood all over the carpeting and stairs.

Suddenly, I remembered the warning of our pediatric dentist...

Coffee tables are the #1 cause of tooth and mouth injury to toddlers and small children.  

(Followed closely by angry mothers.)

As Henry laid in my arms, we administered Tylenol and my sweet boy fell asleep. It was only 5:30 at night, but he was so traumatized by the event, he passed out.

On Sunday, his cheek was swollen, as expected.

On Monday, it looked even worse.

On Tuesday, I took him to the pediatrician for what was supposed to be his five-year-old "Well Child" check-up. It instead turned in to an evaluation of Henry's cheek. The doctor told us that it looked like a terrible bruise but she didn't see anything that would suggest he had fractured his jaw.

On Wednesday, it looked even worse. On Wednesday evening, I put the kids to bed at 7:00 because I needed to get some work wrapped up. Henry was awake at 8:00 PM, crying because he was "firsty" and needed a drink. At 9:00 PM, Henry woke up crying again because he was covered in sweat. I peeled his pajama top off him and turned his ceiling fan on low.  At 10:00 PM, he woke up crying and when I walked in to his room he was tossing and turning in distress. Although it was dark in the room, I could see that his cheek was so swollen it was shiny.  And my maternal alarm sounded ...



Charlie was getting ready for bed, but I called him in to the boys' room and said, "This is serious. He needs to go to the Emergency Room - RIGHT NOW."  My husband, bless him, was exhausted and ready for sleep. "Are you sure this can't wait until the morning? I can take him in, first thing..."

Nope. He needs to go, right now. His cheek looks like it's abscessed and although I've never seen an abscess in my life, I'd bet my 401K that's exactly what this is.

Then I cried actual tears (true story) because I really wanted to take Henry to the ER myself, but I had a critical work deliverable that was due in the morning, so I had to stay home and press on.

Charlie got dressed, while I packed Henry's blanket, teddy bear and a small pillow since I suspected that they'd be waiting awhile.  Then I gave my little boy a scoop of vanilla ice cream to take along on the car ride because the poor child couldn't stop crying.

(Note: Vanilla ice cream is MAGIC.)

Long story short, his cheek was abscessed. The doctor told Charlie it was a GOOD thing he brought him in that night (yay maternal instinct!) as he prescribed an antibiotic and referred him to an ENT the following morning. Charlie trooped off to the ENT with all the kids in tow and was informed, after an almost 2-hour wait, that if the antibiotics didn't do the trick by Saturday, Henry would need to go in for surgery to have it drained.

Tomorrow is Saturday.


Fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

but, he writes the songs!

Charlie and I have a lot in common. We both love to bike ride. We love to swim and play tennis and camp and hike and kayak. We love to play Uno with our children. We love to take walks on the beach and dance by candlelight. We love good food and good wine and we love music ... but as I was reminded tonight, our tastes in music aren't always "simpatico".

I'm currently wrapping up a big project that has required me to work a lot at night, after a full day in the office. When I sat down tonight to dive in, my reserves were running low, so I pulled up some music on my computer to help keep me engaged.

When my Barry Manilow soundtrack came on, I perked right up.  So I start singing out loud as I'm prone to do. Especially when it comes to Barry Manilow because he's the first musician that I remember in my life ... with one of his songs inspiring my five-year-old puppet creation.  Charlie, who had been working next to me, rolled his eyes - closed his laptop and stood up.  "Where are you going?" I asked. Because my Love Language is Quality Time and since I'm a minimalist, that only requires that we're within five feet of each other.  

"Are you going to be listening to this?" he asked.

"Listening to 'this'"? I queried.  "Do you mean, BARRY MANILOW?"

He winced.  He VISIBLY winced. "I love you, Jen ... but I'm sorry, I just can't."

I was stunned. Stunned!  Barry Manilow is a genius!  He writes the songs that makes the whole world sing!!  He writes the songs of love and special things!! He writes the songs that make the young girls cry!!   While Charlie stood poised to walk out of the room with his laptop in his arms, I thought for sure I could sway him to stay with me. So I played, "Could it be Magic" with it's beautiful piano intro and in perfect time with Barry, I romantically sang to my husband, "Spirit move me ... every time I'm near you, whirling like a cyclone in my mind. Sweet Charlie, angel of my lifetime, answer to all answers I can find.  Baby I love you, come - come - come in to my arms, let me know the wonder of all of you!"

Charlie snorted and said, "Yeah, the Spirit's moving me all right. RIGHT OUT OF THIS ROOM."

I was going to ask if he'd rather we listen to his country music (the majority voted with me that Blackberry Smoke was more country than Southern Rock) but after 18 years, I've learned that one of the keys to a happy marriage is accepting the fact that we aren't going to always agree on everything. 

Sometimes my husband's just plain crazy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

moments at the inn

For the past two years, my father has lived in an assisted living facility.


A few years ago we nearly lost him, shortly after his divorce, when he was living on his own. The move was a wonderful decision for him and I give all the credit to my sister Beth, who was been a loyal advocate for Dad since ... well, for as long as I can remember. 


Dad has his own little apartment and nurses who will check in on him, throughout the day. Downstairs from his apartment, there is a lovely dining area with delicious food and a staff that is dedicated to keeping all of the residents engaged. My 81-year old father is on a first name basis with all of his neighbors and has a social calendar that puts mine to shame. He attends a low-impact exercise program almost every day and has developed a group of friends, many of whom were customers in his pharmacy, from years ago.

One of Dad's best friends was a man named Tom. Every day, they'd wait for each other so they could sit and eat their meals together.  Tom was an absolute hoot.  Although he was well in to his 80's he was a regular Don Juan.  He'd tell the story of how he'd like to leave the grounds and get lost. Literally lost, wandering around the streets in town. According to Tom, it would always attract the ladies who would stop to help him find his way back to the grounds and at least 50% of the time, he'd get a date out of it. Unfortunately, when he went out to get lost late last year, he became severely dehydrated and fell. He never recovered and died a few weeks later. When I talked to Dad about it he said, "It's a real shame, but some people you just can't keep down. Tom was one of them."

This is Ed.


Ed is one of the kindest men you'd ever meet. Whenever the kids come to see Dad, Ed will stop what he's doing and come play with them.  A few years ago, Ed lost his beloved wife of 60 years. Every time he spends time with our family, he smiles and in his eyes, I can see that he is fondly remembering his own children when they were small. "Enjoy 'em!" He always tells me, "They are a gift. One minute they're young and the next they're not... kinda like me!"


When we went to visit Dad over Spring Break, we found him sitting in the library reading a book. The kids, being kids, wanted to know what Grampy was pushing around in his walker - so they asked him to do an inventory.



As he was digging out a box of Kleenex and some Chapstick, cough drops and assorted odds and ends, he discovered an unopened bag of M&Ms .... which were quickly confiscated.  The last time we visited, Dad had several bite sized Snickers in his walker and the time before that, it was Mr. Good Bars.   I suspect that our children will always equate this instrument - which is critical for my father's mobility - as a traveling snack bar.



One afternoon we sat with Dad in the formal dining room and had lunch. Everyone, including Dad, colored with crayons on their paper placemats ... a favorite pastime of ours as we waited for our meals to be served.  My father, it turns out, is quite an artist.


Following lunch, we retreated to Dad's apartment to watch a movie.  Grampy had never seen "Despicable Me" before and he chuckled at the scene where Gru shoots up the carnival stand and takes the big fluffy unicorn. I considered this a signal that he really liked the movie since Dad rarely laughs, especially these days as his Parkinson's has progressed.


One afternoon, William and I went downstairs to listen to a man play the xylophone.


William was responsible for taking pictures.  Here's Ed (on the right) ... sitting with Dad's friend, Dick - yet another kind spirit who is always so happy to see you and will make you feel like you're the center of the universe whenever you engage in conversation with him.


Here's the wheelchair of a woman who was over 100 years old and had the most stunning hair do. Every time we saw her, I was amazed by her beauty. She always applied make-up and jewelry and was dressed to the nines. This just goes to show, you're never too old to take pride in your appearance.


On the last night of our trip, we hosted a pizza party. In addition to our family, my brother's wife was there with their three boys, my brother Frank and his wife, MaryAnn and their four kids, and my sister Janet and her husband Bob (who need to update their blog) all gathered around the table and shared stories for three hours. While it was a great gathering - we were missing three siblings and nine cousins.  Although in Dad's opinion - we were plenty enough since he isn't used to so much excitement.


That was four months ago and I think he's still tired from the experience.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

sir henry, the tenderhearted

My Henry is all boy.


He is 100% rough and tumble get out of my way because I'm going to fashion anything I can find in to a sword and swing it around my head and run in to walls and wrestle imaginary villains and sometimes, the imaginary villain is my brother - or sister - or the dog - and ROAR!!!

As far as the boys go, William is an imaginative intellect that is very aware of his personal safety; whereas Henry is an imaginative spirit that can be a danger to himself.  I'm careful that the windows on our second floor are always locked because I wouldn't put it past him to try and "fly" like Superman.

He is, in my opinion, the epitome of a rambunctious little boy. He was "dismissed" from his first preschool a week after he began and has lost two of his top teeth, prematurely.  And while I still carry the guilt of knocking out one of his teeth, I can't help but think that if that horrible incident hadn't occurred, he'd have lost them prematurely on his own accord. Consider, it was a wrestling match with his brother that caused the loss of one front tooth and several face plants in to tables (including a significant injury yesterday), that has effectively loosened other teeth and I now believe it will be a miracle if he's able to retain any of his front teeth until Kindergarten.

(Sigh. The irony of the time and care I've invested in to our children's dental hygiene is not lost on me.)

Being a mother to Henry is like having my heart on the outside of my body. If only I could put him in a bubble and then tie that bubble down somewhere. Preferably in a padded room.

At this stage in his life, Henry is obsessed with super heroes and dinosaurs and when Charlie thought that maybe the kids would enjoy the movie, King Kong, a few weeks ago (Charlie, Charlie, Charlie - tsk! tsk!) the triplets were in tears from fright whereas Henry was purportedly jumping up and down from excitement and asking for a King Kong costume for Halloween.

Monsters! Scary! Extra Points!

Alas, less than a week after Henry finished preschool this summer, he's been asking if he could have a play date with one of the little girls in his class.  Seeing as Henry has never requested a play date before, I thought it was a wonderful idea. So I wrote the child's mother a note and for the past two months, we've been trying to coordinate a time and place to meet.

After much anticipation we met earlier this week.

What made the get together all the more precious for me, is that Henry's friend has Down's Syndrome. And when Henry saw her, he went berserk. He ran over and gave her a big hug, then he very carefully took her by the hand and spent the next two hours, playing as gently as I've ever seen him. My little boy who never slows down, never sits still, was transformed in her presence.  It was a wonderful break for my nerves because for the time that they were together I kept thinking, "OK, good, at least he's safe. The chances are less likely that he'll hurt himself..."

As I stood watching him play, my heart felt like it would burst with feelings of love and pride. At one point, he caught my stare and said with a little smile, "Mom, I really love Kaya. But you and me, we're still getting married. Okay?"


The gauge on my affection meter is completely shattered. 

I don't know how it's possible to love this little one any more than I do. 

somewhere, over the rainbow

Tonight, I was looking through some pictures that I'd taken during Spring Break which I've neglected to post. This photo was snapped off specifically for my mother because it captures 8 of her 20 grandchildren. From left to right...


Michael, Elizabeth, William, William, Wally, Carolyn (and camped out underneath) Henry and Wyatt. For four and a half long years, Michael was the youngest grandchild. But then seven cousins came along in less than three years. Wally and William are twins who were born nine months to the day after the triplets ... and Wyatt is their little brother who was born five weeks to the day, before Henry.

It is so much fun to get all of the kids together because they really have a great time. I think it's amazing that my brother and I added seven healthy grandchildren to the family tally in 33 months. I also think it's amazing how awesome Michael is to each of these kids. As a black belt in karate and an aspiring Eagle Scout, he shares with them, he plays with them and he gets only the tiniest bit upset when they break his toys. In my book, he's St. Michael - Patron Saint to the Little Cousins.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

will swim for donuts

The coaches at the pool must know that in order to get a group of four and five-year-olds to race from one end of the pool to the other ...

Image 1

.... they must have sufficient motivation.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Updated: Charlie wanted me to add in a few clarifying points shown in parenthesis:

Charlie and I are laying in bed, watching a movie tonight when all of a sudden, something FLIES in to our room and starts orbiting our bed.  For a split second, I thought it was a toy helicopter but then my brain quickly makes the connection that:

1. The children are all asleep and thus the operator of such a toy is currently unconscious

2. We don't have a toy helicopter

We realize at the same exact moment that the thing orbiting our heads was a bat and we began screaming.  The screaming, you've never heard such screaming in your life.  As I laid in bed and threw a pillow over my head, Charlie jumped up and was running around the room screaming (like a man), "IT'S A BAT! OH MY GOD! IT'S A BAT!!! VIRGINIA HAS BATS!!!"

He opened the window, hoping the bat would fly out, but of course the bat didn't fly out and instead, seemed to go faster and faster around and around.  With each orbit, the bat was flying lower and lower and I was waiting for the little thing to bump in to me because .... aren't they blind?  Just as Charlie grabs a bed sheet and tries to throw it on top of the bat, I jump out of bed and crawl in to the bathroom with a pillow over my head. Screaming.

Charlie's aim - it would turn out - was horrible (less than precise). He'd scream (in a manly way) and then toss the sheet but by that time, the bat was 1/2 of the way around it's orbit.  Round and round that thing flew and Charlie kept tossing and screaming (like a passionate sports player) and tossing and screaming and I opened the bathroom door to take a peek and SCREAMED when it almost flew in.

I suggested that Charlie swat it out of the air with a tennis racquet, but he didn't want to kill it. So I suggested he use our children's butterfly net.  He ran downstairs to get the net and came back in to the room and screamed (a battle cry) some more once he saw it again.  On his second try, he snatched it (right) out of the air (like only a person with extreme precision and accuracy could do) with the net.


(Charlie thinks that those pointy things visible in the picture below are it's wingtips. Or more appropriately it's FANGS.)



We then took it outside and I very daringly held me camera over the open net and snapped off a picture of what appears to be a tiny little thing, but trust me: IT WASN'T TINY. When those wings were fully extended it looked like a pterodactyl. 


Charlie laid the net flat and as I stood behind him, using his body as a shield, the bat flew out of the net and away from us, but that didn't stop Charlie from screaming (his war cry) again and jumping back, to the point that he knocked me completely off my feet (because he is so chivalrous as to save his wife from a flying rodent).

So what if my tailbone is most likely broken. The dude is my hero.

If I'd been the only adult in the house, I have no doubt I would have called 911.  

Sunday, August 05, 2012

liz's tree

The first six months that we were in our new (old) house, Charlie and I had a great amount of stamina for home improvement ... but the late night wallpaper stripping and painting sessions, quickly tapped us out. Over the past few months, we've slowly caught our second wind and have decided to focus our attention on landscaping at the front of the house.

The first thing to go were some big Holly evergreen bushes that blocked our view of the children when they were playing in the yard and appeared big and unruly. Chop! Chop!  


The next thing to go was a tired magnolia that the children enjoyed playing in, but I was always worried it would impale them if they fell off a branch. While Charlie and I were thrilled to cut it down, Elizabeth was not so pleased with the decision. She was so distraught that she morphed in to a literal tree hugger as she wrapped herself around it and sobbed.  


Now, a quick word about Elizabeth ... I'm convinced that she is a hoarder in the making. As much as I love (LOVE) to purge, my child will not get rid of ANYTHING.  Caps to water bottles, muffins liners that she's crafted to look like paper flowers, outgrown toys, outgrown clothes, strings and random packaging are all part of her "collection." This past weekend, Charlie took her out for Chinese food and the next day, I found an empty "to-go" container [shaped like a little box] tucked in her sock drawer. 


Her father thought she was just being overly dramatic (which is a very common occurrence), so he thought he'd bring some overt drama of his own.  


And then some. 


She didn't think it was funny AT ALL.  

So I brought her inside and gave her a donut and tree? 

What tree?  Hey, can I keep this box when it's empty?! 


When we returned outside, the deed had been done. The dangerous magnolia had been chopped and Elizabeth's tears began anew. 


I could sense that although there was a certain amount of drama, there was a legitimate amount of genuine sadness that Elizabeth's favorite tree, albeit an eye sore, had been removed.  So I convinced her dad to dig out the stem and make a clean cut at the base.  


We then washed it off ... 

... and once it was dry, Elizabeth set about painting it. 



She was so excited that she painted every square inch with hearts and clouds. 


Liz's tree now sits on her dresser and serves as a book-end to hold up her CD collection. 


Seeing as Charlie wants to cut down a huge maple next, I should probably buy more paints.