Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Forgot the snake!

That's what happens when I try to condense two weeks' worth of experiences into one post. I forget some.

This part of the story occurred on Monday, when Tim was doing some straightening on the patio. He'd been after me to get rid of a wooden half-barrel planter that was starting to fall apart. I hadn't planted anything in it in a good year, so all that was in it was some old dirt and some very healthy weeds. Or so we thought.

I told him it was fine with me if we got rid of it, so Monday afternoon he tilted it up to roll it over to the garbage can. It was so rotten however, that the bottom fell out, along with lots of dirt and A SNAKE.

Startled, Tim let go of the planter. Which proceeded to land on THE SNAKE.

I was doing laundry in an adjacent room, so the way I found out all this was happening was when I heard Tim say, "Everyone inside, quickly!" Of course the kids had been outside watching intently while all this was happening.

I came out and saw the back third of a snake and then the front third of a snake poking out from under the planter. Fortunately for the snake, the planter was so rotten that parts of the wood had broken away, but I still can't imagine that it was very pleasant to be stuck under half a barrel full of dirt. As it was, the snake was so stunned that there was much debate as to whether it was still alive. Until it MOVED.

So then we couldn't decide which we liked least: a dead snake which we would have to dispose of somewhere (the garbage doesn't come for another week, and our dog and sometimes the kids go walking all through the periphery of our yard), or a live snake which might go far away to find a home where people don't drop planters on him.

I'm sure this was some non-venomous kind of snake, but he was 2-3 feet long, so there was much discussion.

Finally Tim lifted the planter back up off of the snake, who was still so stunned that he just lay there, adding to the debate over his vitality or the lack thereof. However, when Tim tried to pick him up with a stick, I guess the snake decided that he'd better give it a little extra effort, because he tried to go under the house. Unfortunately for him he got stuck in another flower pot when his head could go through a drainage hole but the rest of him couldn't (that's right, planting flowers has an unfortunately low priority in our household, so there are lots of empty pots sitting around. Which will henceforth be stored in a locked room, thank you very much).

Tim finally got him into a third flower pot and was taking him over to dump him in our neighbor's ivy (don't feel badly for this neighbor -- in 18 mos. we've never seen him walk in his yard, only riding his lawn tractor, even when pruning his bushes, so I imagine he would be safe from any snakes who could hear him coming a mile away, and even if they wanted to attack him, they would have to jump up about a foot to reach him on top of the tractor), when the snake LEAPED out of the flower pot about 2 feet into the shrubbery. Bye bye, snake.

And there was much rejoicing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Coming up for air

Hoo boy. There have been LOTS of things going on here. Last week was the last week of school for us down here in Georgia, with all that that entails. Besides the other kids' Field Days, Water Days, an Authors' Tea, and ice cream day (don't forget to bring toppings for your class!), Hattie had her school program, pictured here.

Here's everyone outside afterwards. In this picture you can also see Hattie's little "pink purse," which is the pouch she uses to hold her insulin pump. Oh yeah, we started Hattie on the insulin pump this week too, which means we had to test her blood sugar at 11 pm, 2 am, and 5 am every day/night. Argh. Fortunately she has adapted well to it, since it is really much easier than giving her several shots a day.

Here's a shot of Hattie at her Water Day. Much pouring of water was involved on that day.

Oh yes, and besides collecting money from two different classes to buy gift certificates for all their teachers, I also made thank you gifts of my own -- 72 marble magnets, 6 to a spray-painted Altoids tin. I meant to take pictures of all 72, because some of them were very cute, but of course I ran out of time and now they're with the recipients.

Well, except for these two teachers. They only got 5 each. Blogger is not cooperating with my other picture.

Nate also started swim team practice, and his first meet was tonight. Here he is, just after warming up.

Here he's swimming the 6 & under 25 meter backstroke. His dad and I are very proud. And tired.

Now summer is here and maybe we can do some catching up (sleep, laundry, you name it). Shew!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day and freezer paper

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! And especially to ours!

Today we had a great time going out to breakfast at Waffle House, followed by a trip to Stone Mountain. The original idea was to bring sandwiches and have a picnic, but seeing as we ate breakfast at 11:30, no one was hungry for lunch. Stone Mountain has lots of fun things to do, but when you are limited by six little legs and a period of pleasantness that ends by 3 pm at the very latest, you have to prioritize.

The first thing we did was take a ride on the trolley. Everyone enjoyed that.

Then we played a round of miniature golf. Everyone except Hattie got at least 1 hole-in-one, and Charlotte and I got two each! Hattie started to lose interest about halfway through, which was when we realized that golf was the last thing we were going to do.

On the way home we drove through Dairy Queen (fortunately Hattie was asleep, so we didn't have to deal with any issues there), and then past the little house we lived in when Tim and I got married, for a trip down memory lane.

When we got home, I finished up the most excellent freezer paper stencil craft, which is sweeping the craft blogs and which is so perfectly explained here by angry chicken.

We started it yesterday, after a quick stop at Old Navy for some inexpensive 100% cotton shirts. The kids picked out what they wanted on their shirts, and I cut out the stencils (instead of making dinner, thank you Tim for your patience -- we had to eat fish sticks sandwiches and canned green beans last night) and painted them yesterday.

Hattie selected an elephant,

Charlotte wanted a mermaid (Tim said he couldn't see it initially, so she's underwater sitting on a rock, looking up, and that's her hair swirling above her; original here),

and Nate picked out a saber-toothed tiger.

Truly a wonderful craft. You haven't seen the last of these from me! Ironing the freezer paper on the inside as well really makes it work perfectly. One thing to note for next time -- don't get impatient and peel the stencil off before the paint is good and dry, since it makes the edges fuzzy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Florida!

We got back from visiting Tim's family in Orlando at about 7 Monday night. Since we were in Florida, there was a little of this,

a whole day of this (please ignore the K-Fed wannabe who I didn't notice when I was framing the picture),

and a little of this too.


We had a great time catching up with everyone. Tim's brother called in several favors and got 15 of us into the Magic Kingdom for free. Then on Sunday we helped our niece and nephew celebrate their First Communion.

The only drawback was some kind of bug that Nate must have picked up right before we left, because we had to make several emergency stops along the I-75 corridor in N. Florida/S. Georgia on the way home. Fortunately he bounced back right as we got home and he even had pizza for dinner with no adverse effects.

Update: Since I drafted this post, Nate stayed home from school on Tuesday with no problems whatsoever, and went to school on Wednesday, where he stayed until 8 am, when they called to tell me he was getting sick again. Today Hattie got sick while we were getting ready for school, so she and Nate and I all took a little trip to the pediatrician today, where they told us it was a virus, and prescribed Motrin/Tylenol and rest. Beats the alternative, I guess.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Watching

I have been spending WAY too much time lately watching this.

Texas Ranch House.

Tonight is the last of four 2-hour installments. 8 hours of my life watching yet another historical reality show. 1900 House. Colonial House. Manor House. Frontier House. I've watched every one with ridiculously rapt attention. I just think it's fascinating to see what it would be like to go back in time to try to do things the way they were done then.

I do have a sneaking suspicion, however, that the producers are careful to select at least a few people who will cause controversy, rather than a full cast of people who will try their hardest to replicate authentic period attitudes. I guess 8 hours of people working well together would be boring television.

It's interesting to note that the people who most strongly proclaim an "intense fascination" with the period in question turn around and inject their 21st century attitudes and work ethics into situations where they are most out of place. Just play the game you signed up for! We're not talking about slavery or child labor or anything here.

That part is aggravating, but I watch it anyway. I can proudly say that I have not succumbed to watching any of the other reality shows -- American Idol, Project Runway, Simple Life, or what's-that-one, with Flava Flav. But these, these I cannot resist.

And why do they always pick some weeny guy to be the ranch owner/master of the house/governor? Always having meetings and trying to build consensus. Just grow a spine already! Geez.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Camping


One week ago today we were at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The idea was for the kids and me to get away from the grind and to get a little R&R on the days that Tim was in his conference. And we were ambitiously going to tack a campout onto the end. So Tim graciously agreed to let us come along and cramp his style. (Although he very kindly said it didn't.)

The morning we left, a good hour and a half behind schedule, with considerable bickering and griping on virtually everyone's part, he was seriously regretting that decision.

It was good to get away, although I had seriously overestimated the amount of R&R involved when there is 1 adult and 3 kids ages 6 and under, for several hours a day in an unfamiliar place, three days straight. We all enjoyed the Butterfly Center and some of us liked the Birds of Prey show. But people got tired of hiking and looking at plants, and fun lunch restaurants are few and far between in Pine Mountain (we did find one -- we ate at the Purple Cow Cafe three times in two days). Also there was no bike riding when only one of us rides a two-wheeler with any sort of fluency (that would be me).

By the time we headed out to camp, we were all beat. We couldn't bring any perishable food with us, due to the 3-day hotel stay, and no one had been sleeping very well -- going to bed very late (for them) and skipping lots of naps (me). We had originally thought we'd stay in a very nice state park campground in Warm Springs, but it required a two-night stay, so we opted for a less selective campground. In retrospect maybe not the best option, although we still managed to have a good time.

The last time we camped out, Nate was almost 3 and Charlotte was 9 months old. Everyone fit in the camper van and it wasn't hard to keep people occupied with quiet, safe pursuits. So that was what I was envisioning this time. Except now we have 3 kids, the youngest of whom is two and a half, and a pistol to boot. Sitting quietly inside the camper van reading or similar was the last thing they wanted to be doing, unless of course they were sitting up front, pushing every button and lever in sight.

The only source of groceries was the local IGA, which doesn't have a huge presence in metro Atlanta. For good reason. Publix it ain't. Maybe I'm a grocery snob, but the selection was meager and what they did have was barely recognizable. We went through there with our big-city expectations, no grocery list, and no creativity, and only just managed to come out with something edible for dinner.

We proceeded on to the campground, checked in, and a very pleasant and equally rural fellow on a golf cart led us to the site we'd been assigned. It was next to a trailer that had obviously been there a while, as it was decorated with plastic yard ornaments and a lattice obscuring the camper's undercarriage. The inhabitants were not overly excited to see us, as they had to move their car off of our campsite. Unfortunately the site didn't seem to be big enough to accommodate both our van and the tent we'd brought, so we went back to the office for a new assignment. I, for one, was relieved not to be camping in someone's driveway.

Our new campsite was more secluded and much bigger. I was a little concerned about having a cow pasture about 100 feet away, but fortunately the "eau de cow" was barely discernible. Or maybe I got used to it. Somehow we managed to set up camp, get dinner together, eat it, and then fall into our respective beds -- the boys in the tent, the girls in the camper van. Which I locked tightly. Fortunately it was much cooler at night so we didn't get hot.

One highlight has got to be when the girls and I were lying in our two zipped-together sleeping bags, we could look up through the back window and see the stars, which were very bright, and which looked like they were right on the tips of the trees. We were all very impressed and Hattie spontaneously started singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." It was beautiful.

And then in the morning, when I opened up the door to crawl out, the first thing that I noticed was the smell of honeysuckle, since we were parked right next to a huge bush. It really brought home how fun it is to sleep outdoors, even if you are a wimp and sleep in the car.

So we have decided that we would definitely do this again, with a few changes. 1) We will go straight to the campsite, bringing all food and provisions with us so as to avoid marginal generic powdered donuts for breakfast; 2) we will not set ourselves up by depriving us all of proper sleep for the previous 3 days; 3) we will review sleeping arrangements so everyone has sufficient space (I haven't felt so many little knees and elbows since I was pregnant!) and 4) next time we will bring coffee!!!