Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wild Kingdom

Castle Row has been over-run with rodents. They're everywhere! Well, there's one less now, but I had nothing to do with that.

I was sitting on the couch in the living room, reading the (heavy sigh) last of my new Anita Blake novels when I was pulled away from the supernatural. A squirrel was peering at me through the picture window.

OK. It wasn't really looking at me. I happened to be in its range of vision, and it was apparently just scanning the yard for the three other fluffy-tailed rats that were scampering about. And then, two chipmunks joined in the fun.

We've seen a bunny in the back yard, but like the rodents, he/she is usually a blip. They catch sight of us and they scram.

Today it was rats gone wild. I don't know if they'd sensed the start of squirrel season or what. They were everywhere you looked, both in our yard and the neighbors'. At one point, I counted four in our yard (not counting the 'munks), two next door and I saw more than one in yards down and across the street.

One of them was trying out one of my lawn chairs. Others were jumping from trees to the roof to window boxes to Alison's favorite brick wall and just hanging in the yard. It was a little spooky to tell you the truth, but then again I was deep into a book that was heavy on vampires, shapeshifters, and a vampy necromancer.

They weren't approaching the door, so I shook my head and went back to the book.

I was brought back out of it by a squirrel that just would not shut up. I look up. A gray cat has joined in the mix. Oh, no. The cat had crashed the party. I swear to you that the squirrel was trying to warn the chipmunk to go to cover. The cat was not giving up.

In my hands, I had a fairly compelling chapter, full of two rouge vampires and a werewolf needing rescue from torture. The werewolf's calvary, sadly, proved more effective than the chipmunk's.

Ali was at the kitchen counter at the laptop. I called to her thinking she needed to see nature in action. She ran outside and caught a glimpse of the cat trotting home with dinner still wiggling in her mouth. The rodo-cide silenced the squirrel chatter.

"Ick," said Ali.

"Yeah, well, I guess it's dinner time for that cat," I said.

She paused for just a few seconds. "Can I have some Ramen?" she asked.

Murder, apparently, does not diminish Alison's appetite. I think she's been reading my books behind my back...

In less bloodthirsty news, Sleepover Part Deux was fun. The kids bounced until they were just exhausted. We relaxed with Harry Potter before they went out to sleep in the tent. Jeff had decorated with glow sticks so it wasn't scary at all and once they'd gotten settled, we didn't hear from them until after 8 a.m.

Best excerpts from Sleepovers 1 and 2:

I'm at the kitchen counter drinking coffee and reading the paper when Alison comes up with a half-gallon container of milk with maybe a quarter cup of milk left in it.

"Mo-om. I wanted a drink of this and Drew grabbed it and took a big swig!"

I smile, thinking of growing up with six brothers and sisters. "Do you want a cup?" I ask.

"No thanks. It's got Drew slobber all over it now," she said, stalking off.

Note to Amer: If you punish him for this, I will SMACK you. Hard.

I was in the garage, gathering tools to trim bushes and trees when Alison tracked me down and asked if I'd help her turn on the fan in her room. She had a can of Febreze in her hand.

"Why do you need the fan on?" I ask.

"Alex stunk up my room with his burps. I sprayed the fan with Febreze and now I want to blow all the stink away."

Friday, September 18, 2009


We've launched the first of two sleepovers this weekend. Tonight it's Alex Ogden. Tomorrow it's Team Tokash.

All was going well until we went out the door to dinner. Jeff is playing poker, so it's just me and the kids.

"Mommy, is it true that parents give you stuff and not the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?"

She's 8. I've been expecting this. But I wasn't ready.

"What?" I say.

"My mom said," Alex jumped in. "She said the parents give you stuff. We don't believe in anything anymore. Except Santa Claus."

I sensed an out.

"Why do you still believe in Santa Claus?"

"Well because last Christmas I got a D-Rex. It's a robot. And I know my mom would not have spent that kind of money," Alex said.

At this point, we're in the car and I'm pondering my next move. Ali and Alex are strapped in the back sitting next to each other rather than leaving the middle open. I think it's kind of sweet.

"Mom, I think you have something on your shirt," Alison said.

"I'm approaching the stop sign at the end of our street. I glance at my right shoulder. And scream, scream, scream to all that's holy because there's a snake on my shoulder. Had I not been braking I would have driven right into my neighbor's front porch.

I realized -- not instantly, because if it were instantly I would have recognized the piece of reptilian plastic her friend Dominic had just given her that afternoon -- that it was not a real snake. But I couldn't stop screaming.

I wasn't the only one sounding like a broken record.

"Oh, mom. I'm really sorry. I'm sorry. I wanted to see if you were really afraid of them like you said," Alison kept saying from the back seat. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Alex kept saying, "Oh, man, Ali. I don't think you should have done that. I don't think you should have done that."

And then, from the rotten red head, "Am I in trouble?"

I stopped screaming. I didn't punish her. I think we were all punished enough. Plus, I think all of our ears are still ringing. They're next door right now getting some early bouncing in on my next-door neighbor's daughter's birthday entertainment. I might just let them sleep there.

Here's hoping that Sleepover No. 2 will be less exciting...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

PhotoShoot Sunday

The photo portion of the PhotoShoot comes from our Labor Day trip where Alison spent her time dressing up and going out on the town with her cousins while Jeff and I did other stuff. Ali had her hair straightened -- she really liked it and thought it was fun to dress up and wear high heels ("Have you ever walked in high heels for two hours, Mom?! It is painful.")

She's with Rachael and Aleasha in the top photo. Older sis Rebecca is included below. They're Jaime's girls, Donna's granddaughters.

By the time she returned to us, just in time for fireworks, it had started to sprinkle and her curls came right back.

Because I'm still uninspired (and I have another Anita Blake book calling my name) I leave you with samples from conversations this week.

Jeff hosted his fantasy football draft Tuesday night. Ali and I were debating whether we'd hang out at home or go out during the event.

"Eight boys and two girls? I say we go out!" Alison said.

So out we went.


In the car, Ali was discussing her hope to be a ninja for Halloween this year. She wants only her eyes to show and she'll go around karate chopping anyone who gets in her way - Hai-yah!

"Did you run that by your Aunt Donna?" I asked. "I'm not sure she's ever done a ninja. Aren't you at least a little bit concerned?"

"Nope," she said.

"Why not?"

"Well she hasn't had one problem with any of my costumes yet," says the girl who never sees the process, just the fabulous finished work.


Jeff had cooked out and I hadn't made it all the way back to the grill to put up the grill utensils. They'd made it only as far as the table on the sun porch.

So when I sat down in my chair out there to read the other day and displaced Carrot, the VIP LPS (very important pet; Littlest Pet Shop variety) as I snuggled in, the stuffed rabbit ended up on the table on top of the utensils.

I was deep into vampire lore when I hear Alison gasp. "Mom! What were you thinking?!"

"Huh?" I tear myself away to find her clutching Carrot against her chest.

"Mom. Carrot is a rabbit. You put him on top of a spatula and tongs. She thinks you're going to cook her.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friends to the end

Amy Tokash (she of the tongue)has a million "mother of the year" stories designed to prove her severe lack of mothering skills. To them all, I offer this as proof that she's a huge liar.

Amy usually shares the weekly PhotoShoot with Jenna and Drew. Jenna's reaction to seeing Ali in her new glasses last week was to exclaim "they're purple!" as if that would be a shock to anyone...(Ali and Jenna have shared a love of the color purple since before they were born, I think.)

When the kids heard Alison's tale of woe about her classmate's initial reaction to her new look, they reacted like little lions protecting their fellow cub. Amer took the opportunity to talk to them about what true friends are and how it's not nice to make fun of people.

Yeah, yeah, yeah: I know it's a life lesson both Amy and I (and most of you) could all spend some time relearning, but in our defense we hardly ever laugh at people so they can hear...

Anyway, Amer used Jenna's experience this summer when a friend poked fun at her and hurt her feelings when she was trying to speak clearly around a retainer-like device. Like Ali, Jenna had been excited to get the device and was thinking it was cool until the little brat laughed at her.

I didn't know about any of this until Thursday night when the mail arrived and in it was a purple envelope addressed to Ali Cat Reed.

"I know who that's from! I wonder what Miss Amy is sending me," said Ali, who has been faithfully wearing her new specs. She's not thrilled about them, but they're becoming as familiar to her as her hair tie.

She opened the envelope and looked up at me, eyes filling with tears."Mo--om!" she wailed. "You showed them my picture."

I sat down with her, pulled her into my lap and opened the card back up."What are you talking about? Honey, I never meant to embarrass you. Let's see what it says."

She started giggling as she finished the first sentence from Jenna. Drew's reference to smacking anyone who makes fun of her "in the kisser" nearly put her on the floor.

Her embarrassment was gone as if it had never been.

Amy said the card came to be when they were all at Target and Drew, God bless him, suggested they buy Ali and card to make her feel better. She'd left the kids alone to write their own messages.

Not bad for a 3rd and 5th grader -- if you don't mind a dash violence with your heapin' helpin of love. I'm from the country: It's a seasoning we'd miss if it were to disappear from the recipe.

I love those kids. And in my book, Amer is definitely at the top of my list of contenders for Mother of the Year.