Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Trick-or-Treating weather was bea-u-ti-ful this year! So excited not to have to cover up costumes with winter coats or stuff so many layers underneath they could hardly bend their arms to carry their buckets. We talked Tate out of being a dinosaur for the umpteenth year in a row. He is Bumblebee from Transformers for those of you scratching your heads and staring at the screen strangely from different angles.
Obviously Reese is a hippie. Or "groovy girl" as the package said. She simply picked it because it was colorful. Oh, and the girl on the package had curly hair like her. David tried to no avail to convince her to be Smurfette. But she wasn't havin' it. He even threatened to sneak in her room in the middle of the night and paint her face blue.
And Druebie picked "Rock Star". With straight hair. Blue streaked straight hair to be more specific.

Tate literally ran from house to house trick-or-treating. I'd only let him get one house in front of us before I screeched out his name, however. About an hour into it, he started collapsing in people's driveways while he waited for us to catch up and he would say breathlessly, "I'm going to pass out." Reese and I just laughed and she said, "I didn't even know he knew that phrase!". But then he'd pop right back up and be ready to run again. Nobody whined that they were tired. So we just kept going...and going...and going. Drue finally announced calmly that she was done with trick-or-treating and wanted to go back home with Daddy. The only problem was, the rest of us weren't quite ready. So I called David on his cell and told him where to come find us. Within a few minutes, here came her knight in shining auto to pick her up.
They got a ridiculous amount of candy. And David didn't end up handing out much from home, so we are surrounded by sugary goodness in brightly colored packages. David has decreed that for each candy wrapper he finds lying around, he will throw away 20 pieces of candy. I almost choked on my Whoppers when I heard that. A wee bit drastic I thought. It lit a fire under the kids to be a bit more careful and make sure their wrappers make it to the trash though. And it certainly doesn't hurt that their sweets-craving mother secretly scours the house behind them getting rid of any forgotten evidence.
Tate smiled and giggled and squealed with delight the entire time we were carving pumpkins. Man, I'm going to miss this age. His pumpkin was so hard to carve, David had to break out the power tools. I was sad to see the night end. Tate, Reese, and I finally made it back home, plopped on the couch after surveying the loot and I asked them, "So, what do you want to be next year?!".
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Monday, October 17, 2011


Nine Noteworthy Years! Happy Birthday Boo!
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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Fire Marshal

Third grade is "The Year of Fire Safety". Or so it seems. At Reese's school they do an entire unit on it complete with homework, guest speakers, and videos. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea, but it also gave Reese one more thing to worry about. There have been a few middle of the night visits from her asking if we thought our house might catch fire that very night.

The first day of their Fire Safety unit coincided nicely with the day I decided to drag out our Fall decorations and light apple cider candles all over the house. She and her friend burst through the front door after school and took their task to "find fire hazards in their home" very seriously.

"Mom, that candle is too close to that little scarecrow!".

"The flame is getting bigger!".

"You're cooking in the kitchen but aren't staying in there?!".

Ok--pause--yes, I was cooking and no I wasn't in the kitchen at the time, but there's no way I am sitting in the kitchen for a 6-8 hour stretch while my crock pot is on.

"The outlet the crock pot is plugged into has too many other things plugged into it!".

"Where are all of our smoke detectors located?". know there's one in the hallway?

Their message was already coming across loud and clear...we needed to become more vigilant about Fire Safety. The worksheets we had to do together drove that point home even more.

On one, Reese read the statements out loud and I had to say whether or not we practiced that at home. Statements about how often we change the batteries in our smoke alarms, whether or not we leave the room while a candle is burning, and if we had a family meeting place outside in care of a fire.

" we don't do some of these (or a lot of these) is that going to affect your grade?" I asked her.

Thankfully, it didn't, because again, I am never in one room long enough to even warrant lighting a candle if I had to sit in there with it the whole time. Reese didn't hesitate to let us know when we were in violation of fire safety codes. And she went around the house moving all my candles if they were too close to any decorations that could catch fire.

If I put a pot of water on the stove to boil (back burner of course--I wouldn't dream of putting it on the *gasp* front burner), then ran upstairs for a second, she'd reprimand me. I may have rolled my eyes a time or two and she'd say, "Moooom! You have to be serious about this!".

We had our first family fire drill. Reese said we had to have a meeting place outside. "Ok, our driveway", I offered. She went on to explain that it had to be farther away from our burning house. "Ok, Tom's driveway", I suggested. (Our next door neighbor.) This satisfied her. But then the kids wanted to know if Tom would be mad that we were in his driveway. I love the way kids think. So simple and concrete. I assured them that no, Tom would in no way be upset we were using his driveway. He would be glad to help.

Reese reminded us that we had less than 2 minutes to get out of the house once a fire starts and we had to time our drill and write down how long it took us to get out. David sounded the alarm and we headed out the door. Reese was still on crutches, but she maneuvered herself out pretty quickly. We assembled in Tom's driveway and checked the stop watch. 53 seconds. Not bad for our first drill. As we stood there pleased with our evacuation process David said, "Awww...Molly and Mabel burned up"--the beagles. "And Pikachu" Tate added--his guinea pig. Rats. Totally forgot about them.

Over the next few nights, Reese was able to sleep all night and didn't wake us with any fire fears. An alarm on David's watch, however, kept going off at 6am and sounded eerily enough like the fire alarm to send whichever kid was in our bed at the time scrambling. Tate literally crawled over my face one morning in a mad dash to get out. Which started the morning off on a great foot for this already hater-of-mornings person.

The unit concluded with yet another worksheet to complete together. This time, telling about what fire safety practices we've initiated in the home as a result of this unit. "Hmmm...I moved all my candles to safer spots?" I suggested.

"No, Mom. You didn't." Reese corrected.

Truly, though, we are being more careful. There's something very sobering about looking each of your children in the eye and telling them if a fire breaks out in our home GET OUT! Do not wait for Mommy and Daddy. Go to the meeting place. Do not come back in looking for us. Very scary to think about. And very thankful this isn't an experience we've had to go through.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A Squirrely Tale

Today, I feel empowered.

And a little freaked out and sickened.

But mostly empowered.

Ok, a pretty equal mix of all three.

Yesterday as the kids and I went flying out the front door in a rush to get to school, I caught sight of a dead squirrel lying in our front yard and was brought to an abrupt halt.

It just looked creepy. So still. And visible.

I jumped, let out a little squeal, and quickly went down the front steps, instead of continuing through the yard. Reese kept walking towards it, oblivious, and it took me a few seconds to find my voice to holler out "STOP!".

So, of course, he (or she--no way was I getting close enough to decipher) was our topic of conversation on our morning walk. Horrified, I texted David as soon as I got home. I know animals in nature have to die somewhere. I just prefer it not be right outside my front door.

An hour later David's response was "Gross". Not, "Oh no! I'm sure that is freaking you out. I will run home on my lunch break and dispose of it so you don't have to look outside and continue seeing it and getting disturbed."

That afternoon and evening were crazy busy. The girls and I went on a Brownie field trip to the Olathe Water Plant (more interesting than you might be imagining), then I piled all the kids into the car to go to Reese's soccer practice. Even though she hasn't been able to play this season (oh, did I not post about her zip line incident?--stay tuned) she still goes to practices and games. David met us there, we all ran and grabbed a bite to eat afterward, then headed home for homework and bedtimes.

The squirrel was forgotten. Honestly, I was a little relieved to see him still lying in the front yard. And not in the middle of our living room. Mabel had gotten out of the fence earlier that day and since I couldn't bring myself to stop looking out the front window at the dead carcass, I happened to catch sight of Mabel at the end of our driveway. I dashed out there and rounded her back inside through the garage. I'm so glad it wasn't Molly who got out. She would have smelled it a mile away and helped herself to a mid afternoon snack.

Today, I cringed again as we passed by our furry dead friend on the way to school. I made a mental note to berate David for not getting rid of it the day before, but then remembered our crazy evening and realized it had probably completely slipped his mind. I would definitely be reminding him when he gets home tonight, however.

Flash forward a few hours. I got an email from the Mom of one Drue's little classmates asking if Drue could come over for a playdate this afternoon. Drue, herself, had been asking for a playdate with this same little girl for a few days so I knew she'd be excited. We emailed back and forth getting all the plans in order. They just live around the corner from us so the Mom offered to walk Drue home before dinnertime.

AAACCCKKK!! That would mean she would see the squirrel! I quickly responded that I didn't mind coming to pick Drue up, but the Mom insisted and said it was such a beautiful day that she didn't mind walking her. I don't really know the Mom all that well, but she's somewhat familiar to me since she's PRESIDENT of the PTO!

My brow started sweating. No way could I let her see that squirrel. I figured there were a few ways to go about it. I could jokingly send her an email in advance explaining the situation and assure her my husband was going to remove it this very night. Or I could act totally and completely shocked when she dropped Drue off and pretend it was my first time seeing it. The kids would definitely give me away with that one. I could already hear them saying, "Mom, you found that squirrel yesterday remember??".

Nope. The only other alternative was to get rid of it myself. I almost hyperventilated just thinking about it. I couldn't form my thoughts in a clear fashion to even figure out how to go about it. I started collecting my supplies. My first thought was to grab a trash bag, throw it over the body, and wrap it up that way. But I couldn't imagine even touching it through the bag. So I grabbed two trash bags and the snow shovel.

I was going to lay one trash bag on the ground next to it, and nudge him on top of it with the shovel. Then somehow get it into the other bag.

I laid down the bag. I went to scoop up the squirrel, but a gust of wind caught the bag. I grabbed a huge rock from the garden to weight down one side. I started again, but the wind blew up the other side of the bag that wasn't weighted down. I grabbed another rock.

I was scared what I was going to find when I scooped the body up. I didn't know if little maggots were already eating the underside or what. I am shuddering now remembering. Thankfully, I didn't have to scoop it entirely up. I was able to just sort of scoot it over onto the bag.

I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest. And I kept jumping back and squealing as though he had been asleep after all this entire time and was going to pounce awake. All this heart pounding and jumping had me taking a break every few seconds just to catch my breath.

I threw the other half of the bag over the body so I didn't have to look at it anymore, then tried to gingerly slide the body and the bag in my other bag. It was hard to slide it in there, however, because the body kept wanting to slide off the bag when I pulled it. I had to pull back a piece of the bag to make sure most of the body was still on it, which meant I had to get closer.

As I leaned in to check, I came face to face with one little closed eye and a furry little ear. A shriek escaped my lips as I bounded backward and quickly scanned our block to make sure no neighbors were watching.

I was able to get him half in the bag, and realized I would need one more bag to get the job done. Then I could just shove the whole thing in there. Which would involve me actually having to touch the body through two bags to finish the job. I took a deep breath and quickly swiped everything into the 3rd bag. I exhaled sharply as though I'd just finished sprinting a hundred yard dash. And I may or may not have whispered a curse to David for indirectly causing me all this turmoil.

I tied the bag, tossed it in our trash bin, then went and scrubbed my hands for 10 minutes.

I had conquered my fear and disgust, disposed of it all on my own, and made the front of my house presentable for a visit from the PTO President.

All in a day's work. A day I hope to never have to repeat again.

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