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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nature's got nothing on a 4-yr-old

This is the stream-of-consciousness post (because I can't think of a single topic that can carry an entire thought, so I'm rambling).

Sometime in August, Boy #2 did something that loosened one of his 2 front teeth. I learned this one morning when, helping him floss, the tooth moved. Neither of the adults in The House saw nor heard anything, and it apparently didn't cause much trauma, because he couldn't tell me what had happened. A dentist said it was fine, just keep an eye it.

In the months since, it had seeminly reattached, because it wasn't nearly so loose. But then came Saturday night.

Now, if you don't have a 4-yr-old in your house (or if it's been awhile since you have), you might not know that they are all about learning to do "tricks." We've been hopping on one foot, spinning, hopping on one foot and spinning, etc. Sometimes on the stairs, sometimes on the very precarious and often-injurious kitchen tile floor.

So Saturday night, he'd finished his bath and was messing around, trying very hard to raise the ire level of The Husband when he was supposed to be doing something else. He started crying, so I figured he's accomplished his goal and had been suitably disciplined.

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye: He was standing in the hallway, his hand over his mouth and blood dripping between his fingers.

We're still not sure exactly what he did, but that front tooth is history.


Some months ago, The Husband and I finally broke down and painted a room in the The House. You'd think that, after living here for almost 5 years, it would be time. You would be correct.

The painting required packing lots of things up and cramming moving them into the attic for the duration. Since we've nicely arranged most of the items back where they should be, I've found some interesting items:
  • 2 packs of Pop Rocks that expired in 2002
  • Any number of "retired" license plates from various states. I guess these are required keeping for that someday man cave.

I know I've mentioned before that Boy #2 has a great propensity to amuse me. He's been lobbying for a dog for about a week now. The other day, as we were returning home, a little dog was in the street not far from our house. I said something to the dog about being careful, whereupon the boy says, "Was his owner with him?"

I answered no. The boy sucks in his breath sharply and all-but-yells, "Mommy! It's our chance to have a dog of our own!" Oh yes, I laughed heartily, before I took the teachable moment to explain about thievery and how owners feel when their dogs go missing. Ai yi yi!


And then there was watch-your-back Wednesday. As we were out driving, we passed a cat, which lead to a discussion about the differences between cats and dogs. Then Boy #2 asks, "Mommy, can we get a cat?"

"No, honey, I'm allergic to cats." Long pause (but I can hear the wheels turning in his head).

"When you die, can we get a cat?"

All that stands between him and happiness is me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Which plague was it?

I'm not quite ready to paint blood over the threshold, but, y'all, this has got to stop.

You know all about our dirty laundry. . . errrr attic now, but the story gets better. Earl is back.

Now, I'm sure you don't recognize Earl's name, but he's been here before. In fact, he's the reason we even have a blog here at The House. Earl is The Bird. We named him last week, when it became apparent that he wasn't leaving anytime soon.

For more than a week now, Earl's been at his post, pecking -- hard -- against the bay window in our living room. If you catch him mid-peck, it looks something like this:

From about 6:30 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. (give or take a few minutes), he's tending to a window about every 5 minutes. Every. Five. Minutes. Pecking. Hard enough to scratch the glass. There are a lot of things that I enjoy discussing with our insurance agent, but I'm not yet ready to explain how a bird happened to shatter our window. I'm still holding out for a new roof, y'know.

The first couple hours, it was just a curiousity. Then it got annoying, so we started getting creative. Foil inside the window! Nope.

Foil on the outside of the window! Worked for a while, then he figured out how to perch on the foil and keep pecking. Which is when I recognized him: Georgia Brown Thrasher. Stupid. Dogged determination. Yep, I'm pretty sure it's the same bird that wouldn't get off my window sill back in June. He remembers how lovely the sofa was and wants to get at it again.

Fishing line strung every which way so he can't get at the window! Maybe if we'd had nails in the siding or better places to attach it closer to the window. Pie tin hung in front of the window! Didn't even last 10 minutes. However, Boy #1 almost perfected a hawk-like screech that kept him away for 20 minutes or so.

And then, the aha! moment: trash bags on the outside of the window! Oh, glorious quietude. For 2 full days, we'd vexed Earl. Also the neighbors, because it looked so, so good.
You can see the big, purple city trash bags on the center window of the bay and the small, white kitchen trash bags on the right. Pie tin added for good measure. Surprisingly enough, even though these were up for 3 days, we didn't hear from the home owners' association. Cul-de-sac living is goooooood.

So now we've taken down all the fine window dressing and The Husband has installed (I use that term loosely) bird netting over the whole shebang. It's quite subtle -- especially compared to the purple trash bags -- but not yet particularly effective. The Husband says he's trying to lull Earl into a sense of complacency before trapping him. Let's hope it all ends soon.

I'm not sure about any of my boys, but at the first sign of one locust or frog too many, I am outta here.


Friday, November 4, 2011

What is it with the critters?!

I'm completely done with flora and fauna. Game over.

It all started, of course, with the bird. But it doesn't end there. . .

Many weeks ago, I was at the computer (as I always often am), when I heard the pitter-pat of little feet scurrying over my head. My first thought was, "Oh, squirrels on the roof."

Then I realized:
I'm on the first floor. Of our 2-story house. Hmmm. . .that sound shouldn't be, because I can't possibly be hearing something from the roof when I'm downstairs. And Boy #1 is not in his room.

I didn't give it much thought until I heard it again a few days later. And then squeaking.

But squirrels squeak. I know squirrels squeak!

The Husband, of course, hadn't heard a thing; but he wasn't usually home when the scurrying took place. After the third incident, I told him he needed to call someone.

The very next day, a friendly and knowledgable wildlife control person knocked on our door. I told him what I'd heard and he began his rounds, checking out the exterior of the house and then proceeding to the attics. The conversation was going well; lots of "No, I'm not seeing destruction like gray squirrels would leave." and "I'm suspecting flying squirrels." And encouraging comments like that. I mean, I like squirrels well enough -- they just don't belong in my house.

And then he opened the door to the walk-in attic. "Oh," Kris said.

There was so much in that one syllable. Just 2 letters, but they dashed my hopes for flying squirrel pets for the boys.

I really didn't want to, but had to ask. "Sooo. . .you're still thinking flying squirrels, right?" His face told me most of what I needed to know, but he picked up something from the floor and showed it to me.

You know where this is going, right?

Rats. In our house. Mere inches from my children and their bedrooms. I had the heebie-jeebies for days. Cleaned like a madwoman. Cast disgusted looks at the attic door whenever I was in the area. Flinched anytime a floorboard creaked. And never mentioned a word to anyone outside our family. Uggggghhhh, bleck and double-yuck!!!

I've since learned that rats are like cockroaches in the South. If you live here, it's only a matter of time before they decide to "overwinter" with you. (Isn't that a nice euphemism? Sounds like a lovely someone coming for a visit, not a hoard of vile rodents chewing their nasty little way into the sacred space where you raise your children.)

It's got nothing to do with how neatly or cleanly you keep your home, and everything to do with whether it seems to be warmer inside and if they can get in. Rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. One. Small. Quarter. Builders down here routinely leave gaps between the roofline and the facia boards (behind the gutter), so there are ample entry points.

Anyway. . .

We've lived with this disgusting revelation for several weeks now. My friendly catchers came once a week to check the traps and deposit much of our insulation on the closet floor. (The closet hasn't been this clean since we moved in.)

And then this morning, Glen -- my new, scruffy-bearded, carpenter BFF -- showed up at our door. Missing half his teeth, sporting tatoos and a camo 'do-rag. Scraggly Glen and his cohort (whom I believe he called "Ringo") are now sealing up the house. And God bless them! They're putting screens over the vents and wrapping the space behind the gutters in metal strips. They sealed up the holes left when the previous owner pilfered satellite TV service and strung the cable themselves in all the bedroom closets; they've got a plan for our chimney.

And they can stay as long as they want, and I will happily write them a large check, because we all have the same goal: The varmints has gots to go.