Saturday, April 30, 2011


Let me just start by proclaiming that of all the pests to invade one's home, sugar ants are my favorite.

They don't really bite.  You can't hear them scampering through the walls.  They don't have numerous long, hairy legs that they use to chase you through the house.  Finding them drowned in your bedside water glass in the morning does not cause you to shriek and throw up, wondering how many you unknowingly swallowed during the night.

Sugar ants are good pests.

That being said, I still prefer to let them live outside as opposed to in(side.  Sorry, I couldn't leave the preposition hanging so perilously.).

When they began to appear (in my bedroom, no less) about a month ago, I forgave them and let them have their space.  After all, they weren't really bothering me and there were only a few here and there.  Let them realize there isn't anything to eat and they'll leave.  Right?

But then they found something.  A lone raisin that had tumbled under Husband's dresser and lain forgotten.  At least, it was forgotten by the humans.  The ants apparently called all their friends for a picnic.

Realizing on Saturday morning that they planned to stay forever I mixed some honey with about 1/4 cup of Borax and dabbed it on three pieces of cardboard aligned on the windowsill.
Boy Two, who loves all animals (at least, from a distance) nevertheless took great pleasure in watching them greedily consume the poisoned treat.  I believe the words "Die, ant, die" came out of his mouth while he looked on.

Within an hour the party was accumulating more and more friends, and they were calling their friends, who were selling everything they had to invest in tainted honey.

By mid afternoon it was a free-for-all.  It was everything I could do to keep Girl from picking them up and taking them to her room, calling them her 'bug friends'.
By Sunday morning the ants had all disappeared back to their home to either die or to sleep off their Borax-induced hangover.

Tuesday morning I observed one or two on patrol, giving the impression of grogginess and the aftermath of the collapse of a colony.  Or maybe that was just my imagination.

Husband wants me to toss the no-longer-useful bait, but I intend to wait at least a week.  The drowned carcass of a greedy ant tops the largest of the temptations and I envision its bloated remains dissuading any would-be tourists from staking a claim on my bedroom in the near future.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The only thing we have to fear.....

Fear is the largest obstacle anyone ever had to conquer in their lives.  Fear prevents otherwise normal people from fulfilling their dreams.  It forces us to do the things that we don't want to do.  Humans are afraid of things that have the potential to cause us great physical/emotional/mental/relational/vocational/spiritual/economical/biological (pretty much any word that ends in'-al') harm.

Some of the things that, even as an adult, I'm afraid of and have yet to conquor: large-ish spiders, making phone calls, going somewhere new and talking to people that I've never met (and acting like I'm not scared).

For persons who aren't afraid of these things, those particular fears seem irrational and almost endearing (or stupid, take your pick).  But for myself, the fear is quite palpable.

I was reminded of this idea last weekend when Husband and I took our children to the playground for the express purpose of teaching the boys (ages six and seven) to ride their bikes without training wheels.

We have been encouraging them to learn this since the previous summer but our success was limited to nonexistent.  Training wheels, to them, meant that they could take no action and still be safe.  You can't even fall down when standing still when one has training wheels - what's not to love?!

But Husband refused to put the training wheels back on the bikes at the end of our camping trip last August and so the bikes have slumped against the back wall of the garage since then, much to the chagrin of our boys who have begged for the training wheels back.

But last week when a neighbor girl came over to play she showed off her cycling skills on her two wheeler and Boy Two suddenly didn't want to be the pathetic neighbor boy who couldn't do what a girl six months younger than him can handle.  Peer pressure has its positive side.

There is a large, fenced blacktop at the elementary school and we walked the boys there with their bikes with the attitude of "you're going to learn this if it kills you."  Which, in hindsight, is not the best motivator for a child who is under the impression that it really will kill them.

Some of the advice we gave them (as we held on to their bicycle seats and ran in circles) must have sounded slightly ludicrous: "Pedal faster!  You'll have less a chance of falling over."  "Don't go straight, turn; its easier to balance when you're not going in a straight line."  "Don't look at the ground, look ahead to where you're going."  "Don't laugh at Grandad's jokes, it just encourages him."

Not all the advice was specifically tailored to bike riding, but you have to slip it in when you can.

By the time we had been there for an hour Boy Two had stopped trembling with fear and was riding without help!  And once Boy One realized that Boy Two was besting him at something he tried harder and realized that he could do it, too.  Success!

Once they both realized that they didn't have to be afraid of the bikes, that fear was the only thing keeping them from doing what they wanted, they were never more confidant!

Yes, Girl really does take that Dolly everywhere with her.
 Overcoming the fear of learning to ride was such a big obstacle that we took all the kids out for ice cream to celebrate.

And yes, that is me in the mirror, taking a picture of myself.  I have zero talent for photography.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

T-Ball, Take Two

 April has arrived in all it's rainy, misty, mucky, just-shy-of-freezing glory and y'all know what that means: baseball!

Boy One played (or, at least, attempted) rookie baseball last spring and made it through fairly unscathed.  And considering that Boy Two was hugely jealous that he wasn't able to participate then, we signed them both up for this year and they are playing on the same team.

We are with the same coach as last year and many of the same kids are on the team so Mama is feeling pretty secure confidant about the expected routine.  However, I may take those words back in about a month.
Boy Two demonstrating his run through first base.  Good centering.
Boy Two started (and ended) the first day of practice by jumping up and down with giddy excitement for an entire hour.  Yay!  Baseball!!  He may not have paid that much attention to what the coaches were advising him, but his enthusiasm was so palpable you could spread it on a piece of toast.
My boys like each other a lot.  At least, for now.
 Boy One, feeling pretty sure of himself (since, you know, he did this last year), spent less time doing what he was supposed to and instead acted the part of the team clown: silly voices, silly antics, silly running moves (oh, wait, he may have gotten those from me).
The new assistant coach was particularly pleased that Boy One can bat left-handed (the dads' all let out a cheer because of this: yes!  Secret Weapon!) and Boy Two, not knowing the difference, is following in his brother's footsteps and also training himself to bat left-handed. 

Sure, why not.

At last night's practice the boys were in the same assemblage: catch a grounder and throw it to the first base man.  Fairly straight-forward, yet Boy One was at first base and Boy Two was fielding the ground ball.  Instead of throwing it to first, he ran the ball there (we all do it - no big deal).  But when reminded of the rules of the drill, fulfilled them by throwing the ball at his brother - who was a mere three feet away. 

Boy One didn't even have a chance.

Sadly, this morning there wasn't a big shiner around his eye to parade around school as a badge of honor, which would have been the only truly acceptable recourse to the tragedy. 
Girl, in typical fashion, prefers to spend the hours reserved for baseball practice either picking flowers, jumping off the bleachers to make her dress pouf, chastising her Dolly, or roughing up Grandad.
A token picture of Girl: for her fans.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Biblical Legos

I was teaching our church's Junior Church last Sunday and, seeing as it was Palm Sunday, I told the kids the story of the Triumphal Entry and the other events that occurred during Passover Week in Jerusalem. 

Because keeping the attention of a dozen children between the ages 3-8 is difficult, I brought in Lego men to use as Jesus and his disciples.

Boy Two was so enthralled with this idea that he came home and, on his own, recreated the story himself, adding the scene of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.

Here we have the Garden of Gethsemane and all the disciples sleeping.  Also, the 'donkey' is tied under the tree.  
Sorry about the light reflecting off the coffee table: I'm not a great photographer. 

Notice the crowd of soldiers and religious leaders coming to get Jesus in the garden.  Judas Iscariot is the one with the eye-patch: it causes him appear more menacing.  
We replaced the heads of the ' 'Robin Hood' figures with the heads of the pirate men to give them the facial hair that would make the figures more authentic to first century Judaism.  
Believability is key. 

And here is Jesus, on his cross that needs a wooden block to prop it up.  I was very impresses that Boy Two came up with this himself.

Although we couldn't finish the story because we didn't make the cave tomb.

But don't worry: we still have three days before he needs it! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

No news is good news

Wish I had something interesting to say for this week, but all that comes to mind is rain.

As this particular weather phenomenon is no news to anyone, I think I'll skip it.

Got called to the school office on Tuesday morning for another 'intervention' with my oldest - wish he wasn't so smart.  When he doesn't want to be in class (e.g. his aid is ill and he has a substitute) he'll go to the office and tell them he's ill and needs to go home.  Then I rush down and talk him down from the brink so he can head back to class.

The office staff (as well as most of the teachers) now all know me by first name.

*  *  *
Finally bought a crochet hook, borrowed some yarn from my mother and picked up Crocheting For Dummies at the library.  I have a pattern for a cardigan that I really want to own and couldn't find anyone to make it for me so I guess I'm doing it myself.

I don't envision the process moving along very quickly as I haven't crocheted since Girl Scouts when I made a very lumpy yellow rectangle dish cloth.  My mom used it for years and I always hated seeing it next to the sink.  I hope the cardigan doesn't end up as a dishrag as well.

And with that, I've exhausted all the news for this week.  Maybe with the hoped-for return of nice weather I'll have more to say next week.  After all, baseball practice begins on Monday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Birds of Pray?

Boy Two was very excited to bring his savings with him to the store on Wednesday in hopes of buying something alluring: another animal for his collection.

Rummaging through the bin, we found several dragons (too much money), a griffin (he had no idea what that was), a fox, a wolf (not exciting enough), a doe and fawn (too tame) and finally, a Great Horned Owl.


He was very pleased with himself for about five minutes until we were sitting in the car leaving the store and he asked me what owls ate.  "Oh, mice.  Bunnies.  Snakes.  Stuff like that."

Then he was disappointed.  The snake and rabbit he had at home, but what about the mouse?!

Fortuitously, Mama remembered that Grandma used to have some mouse buttons that would be just the right size, and, who would have guessed, we were going to the fabric store next!

Except for the lack of foresight by way of the fabric store employees (where is the wisdom in arranging the cute buttons within reach of small children so they can break them all before people have a chance to buy them?) we found an adorable mouse button (with broken mouse trap) and I was persuaded to buy it for him.

While I waited in line with my purchases I had the odd epiphany: there just seems to be something not right about buying prey for your son's plastic animals.

But then my sweet son was discussing Birds of Prey with me and, not understanding the context, began asking "What other animals pray?" and came up with an entire contingent of pious fauna.

I have the sweetest children.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boys. Big ones. Small ones.

Occasionally I abhor parenting.

I recollect my own childhood as quite mellow.  With three girls there were the intermittent hair-pulling and possession-hoarding incidents, but otherwise we were very easy on my parents.  Well, at least I was.

Boys are just . . . . well, I can't say different so I'll say 'icky'.

They seem to view the body and the things that come out of it with artist attention. 

This is not pleasant for a woman who even thinks her own husband is icky on occurrence.

I have caught those little boys popping bubbles in the toilet and drawing on the bathroom walls.  I will not elaborate on either.

Boy One is perfectly smart with academics, sports, art.  But because of his autism he's completely ignorant of social concepts. 

Sitting with his class at library yesterday he had his hands in his pants (we can't seem to break him of that) and then proceeded to unzip.

His aid, the librarian and his teacher were all flummoxed with how to handle this and informed me of the incident in cryptic tones after school let out.  The teacher is just hoping that the two little girls sitting with him don't tell their parents, who will then call the school and create a huge fuss.

Great.  Just great.

How do I handle this?

I tried to calmly (but with just the right hint of disapproving emotion) talk with him about this, but he seemed to have completely forgotten the entire episode and couldn't follow the simple words I was saying.

I turned the whole thing over to Husband when he came home and I'm praying that makes the difference.

Little boys are icky.  What's that poem about snakes and snails and puppy dog's tails?  It seems fairly accurate.

 *      *      *      *

On another note, every home we've lived in has had an oven that just can't seem to keep up with the demands I've placed on it.  They all sputter their dislike and overheat in varying grades, sometimes demanding to be replaced.

This oven is no different.

I had assumed that by leaving the oven alone for a few days it would decide to cooperate and we'd forget the ugliness ever happened.  After all, I don't hold a grudge.  Why should it?

But it did.  Horrible, pathetic, cursed oven. 

I put the muffin batter in at *375 and set the timer for only ten minutes (eight minutes before it was 'due').  Sadly, the oven continued to heat until the timer went off ten minutes later and I entered the kitchen to see smoke wafting from below the burners and opened the oven to find the temperature at a balmy *515 and the muffins scorched into briquettes.

As I growled with vexation, Helpful Husband (I put this in the nicest possible terms) advised with flippant nonchalance "Just set the timer for fewer minutes."

Big Boys are icky, too.