Friday, May 8, 2015

7 quick takes


I'm going to go ahead and call it summer now.  Sure, it's not boiling yet and the mosquitoes seem to be holding off so far, but on the other hand, it's consistently windows-open weather and all the trees have leaves.  I'm mowing the lawn all the time and it's still overgrown.  I planted cucumbers and I found some tomato seedlings volunteering on the spot of last year's patch, so I dug them up and put them in a new spot.  Wonder what I get?

The kids are having a blast playing outside all the time.  The boys often go in the back yard to play in the dirt pile and I don't hear from them for an hour at a time!  Then I peek out and find that they have poured dirt in the chicken food or all the water out of the chicken waterer or have coated themselves in mud, and think, well, all quiet from children comes at a price!

When we get tired of that we can get in the car and go to the park.  You would think I would do it more often than I do, but on the one hand, at the park I can't get anything done, whether internet-wise or housework-wise, and on the other I'm just lazy and don't want to put on shoes.  But this afternoon I have promised them a trip to the really good playground in town -- the one that is so clearly pre-safety-standards.  It's all made of wood and seems designed to make sure that grownups won't intrude.  It is very easy for kids to shake off their parents there, and good for hide-and-seek too.  Marko loves it -- Michael sometimes panics and demands I crawl through the various tunnels to come to him, because he can't find his way out.  And Miriam just eats bark.

In the same park, there's also a creek you can splash in, AND a toddler playground which is less hazardous than the big-kid playground.  Seriously, it is the best park.

(Did I show you this?  It's the TARDIS I made for Michael's birthday.)


Lately Miriam has been taking real, actual naps more often than not.  It's glorious.  I don't know if it's because the boys are playing outside while she sleeps so they don't wake her up, because I started putting magnesium on her again (which I have been forgetting to do for months), or if it's just one of those things that kids randomly do and then stop doing just when you learn to rely on it.

Whatever it is, I am remembering to be appreciative.  Everything in my entire life is better when she naps.  She is less fussy and more playful.  Michael is more content because he gets a little lap time while his sister sleeps.  Marko is more content because I am more willing to listen to him prattle on about planets (his current obsession) and I don't even snarl when he asks the same question seven or eight times in a row ("Which planet is the biggest?"  "Jupiter."  "Is Venus the biggest?"  "No, it's Jupiter."  "Is Jupiter a small planet?"  "No, it is the biggest planet."  "But which planet is the biggest?"   "AHHHHHH JUPITER PLEASE GO AWAY!")

And of course I am happy for obvious reasons.  I love that girl so much more when I am not holding her fussy self nonstop.


This is all the more surprising when you add that she is cutting a tooth.  I know because her gum is bulging out on the top right and I can see the shape of the tooth underneath.  But she's sleeping great both night and naps this week.  I do not understand babies; anyone who claims to is selling something.

She's not only great at standing, she now can lower herself carefully to the ground in a squat when she's done standing.  She can pull herself to a stand on pretty much anything, though my legs are a popular favorite.  Especially if I'm standing at the stove and my hands are covered in raw chicken.

She babbles more than she used to, saying "ba ba mama ga ga" pretty much indiscriminately.  She claps.  She doesn't sign at all but I blame that on my hardly teaching her any.  She loves Daddy because he's loads of fun, but she likes me a little bit better.

I don't put her in dresses much because she can't crawl in them, and it's just cruelty to take a baby who crawls like a rocket and stick her in a dress so she can't move.  (Who designs this crap?)  And I don't put her in pink much because I don't like pink.  So she's regularly mistaken for a boy and I don't care about that.  I had a pretty hairbow I made from pink, orange, and yellow handspun yarn, and the dog chewed it to bits because he is the spawn of Satan.  So the strangers who seem offended that I have confused them about the gender of my child are just going to have to deal.


Michael would make everyone in the family substantially happier if he would sleep in till maybe six-thirty.  Or if he did have to wake up at 5:30, if he could do it without screaming so other people could keep sleeping.  Seriously.  He's a crab, Marko's a crab because he got woken up, then they fight and wake Miriam, and at that point the whole family has to be up.  And we are not happy.

For breakfast this morning he ate one frozen strawberry (as a reward for staying dry all night, after which he threw a fit because he wanted the rest of the bag), several scones, two bowls of yogurt with jam, a bowl of beans, and two bowls of salad with dressing.  It is 10:30 and he hasn't really stopped eating since he got up.


Marko is five and has never ever been dry all night.  He tells me it is because he doesn't want to get out of bed to go potty.  I am not sure what to do about this -- I mean, I understand, he's on the top bunk and climbing down in the dark and going to the bathroom all by himself in the dark seems scary.  But on the other hand, he's FIVE!  I promised him a treat if he stayed dry, but all that did was make him cry in the morning when Michael got the treat and he didn't.  Maybe I should just drop it for now?

The other option is for one of us to get up in the middle of the night, wake him up, and take him to the bathroom.  And if you think this is a practical idea, you have no idea how immensely sleep-deprived the whole family is.  And then what if he couldn't get to sleep after?  We've known him to lose a lot of sleep due to being woken up by Michael at night.  He doesn't require an adult to go back to sleep, he just lies there talking to himself and keeping Michael awake.  And then is cranky the next day.

He's five.  Diapers big enough and absorbent enough for him cost money.  But gosh, there are so many things on the list above "nighttime dryness" that we need to work on. 


But during the day he is a mature young man.  He knows a lot about dinosaurs and planets.  The only problem is the way he gets fixated on incorrect ideas and refuses to listen when you tell him otherwise  Like this:

"Which is the first planet?"
*wails* "No it isn't, it's Earth!"
"Um, Marko ... it's really Mercury.  It is the closest to the sun.  Next is Venus, then Earth is number 3."
"Nooooooooo!  You're WRONG, I'm RIGHT!  You don't know ANYTHING!"
"Should we look it up in your planet book?"
*some time later* "Earth was the first planet MADE.  That's how it is the first planet."
"Um ... for all I know you might be right."

Or this:
"Look, Marko, this is the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  That's the same as T-Rex."
"Nooooooo!  T-Rex is its ONLY name!  It's NEVER EVER called Tyrannosaurus!"
"How about you call it T-Rex and I call it Tyrannosaurus?"
"NO, that is NOT allowed!"

I don't know where he gets these ideas from; sometimes he misunderstands something in one of his shows and other times he makes them up.  We talk a lot about how being wrong isn't bad, being wrong means you have a chance to learn something you didn't know.  But it's quite a slog.  He is very attached to the ideas he already has.

Right now he and Michael are playing "Saint Michael fights the devils into hell."  I am not super comfortable with this.  Especially when they say "Go to hell, devil!"


Every summer, when the weather gets warm, we get an unwelcome crowd in my kitchen: ants.  I've shared space with a lot of vermin in my time -- fleas, roaches, mice -- and ants are comparatively not that bad.  Not "burn the house and start over" bad, which is how I feel about fleas.  But still bad.  There are so many of them.  And they just won't go away.

I know how they're getting in, which is the gap under the kitchen door.  These old houses all have kitchen doors even though there is no reasonable use for a door 15 feet from the front door -- I mean, does anyone in a house this small need a separate "service entrance"?  I guess they felt they did.  And this door leaks heat in winter and bugs in summer, no matter how we try to block off all the gaps.

I also know where the nest is -- it's in two stone flower pots on the side porch.  So I tried flooding those pots with water and letting the kids make a muddy mess out of them.  Certainly the ants boiled out of there like they were abandoning ship.  But I looked this morning and not only are there ants still milling around the area ... they also have returned to my kitchen.

I am afraid I may have encouraged them to abandon their old nest and build one in my walls.  Now that would really stink.

My one weapon against them that always seems to work is citrus vinegar.  You soak orange peels in vinegar for like a month or so, and then the vinegar smells nice and also ants seem terrified by it.  I have tried pouring it on their nests and they went bananas over just a tiny bit.  And it does seem they avoid any place I've wiped down with it -- provided it's really fresh; the effect seems to wear off after a bit.  So this morning I did the counters over and currently don't see any ants.  Fingers crossed ....

Also, I found out last week that the bumblebees that have always had a special fondness for my back porch are actually carpenter bees, and carpenter bees are bad.  What do you do about them?  Apparently this is something I'm going to have to deal with.

One more of Miriam because who can resist?

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