Gardening Puzzles

Megan pointed to a yellow and white bag and some of it's spilled out dark, rich brown contents. She said, "Grandma? What's that?"

Grandma said, "That's food for the garden. It's fertilizer."

Megan pushed further with more questions. It didn't look like the fertilzer she had seen on lawns we passed on our walks lately.

Grandma explained it was a different kind of fertilizer. It was manure.

"What's manure?"

"It's cow poop," explained Grandma.

Megan was quiet. She started to look around with a puzzled look on her face.

"Grandma? Where's the cow?"
Today Meg and I trekked to the home improvement center to pick up our own hefty bags of hummus-manure mix for both my vegetable garden and both the kids'. As we got out of the car Megan said, “Why are we getting strawberries and cow poop?”

I said, “I thought you might like to grow your own strawberries and the manure will help the garden grow”

Megan said, “Yuck. I don’t want to eat cow poop!”

One of the employees helped us load up the cart. Megan smiled sweetly at him and said:

"Man, can I see your cow?"


He gets it and he knows

Logan can be a confident kid. I mean really, how can one lack confidence when they're apt to roll his eyes a little and say, "Mom, I know everything." Yet sometimes he can be easily steeped in a little self-doubt. The boy that would readily tell us he knows something about everything didn't seem to have a grasp on exactly how well he could read.

It began two years ago. Logan was 2 1/2 and could tell you what sound every letter made - albeit short vowel sounds only. He began to understand how these sounds bled together to form words. He learned sight words. He learned to recognize familiar words. He started to read phrases which led naturally to short sentences. He was a master of Reader Rabbit games on the computer.

He'd seem to do it when no one was paying attention -- most of all him.

For a long time he denied it. We didn't push. When he would read I'd commend him for it. A little high five and a great job. One day he admitted what single fear held him back - he was afraid no one would read to him any more if he could read to himself.

In response we began to read big classic books: Wind in the Willows, Tom Sawyer, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stuart Little, etc. We explained that even if he could read picture books and early readers, we'd still climb into his bed with him every night to read something bigger to him and/or with him.

He began to experiment more with words.

Yesterday he sat down with one of Megan's board books and read it aloud to her - fumbling over only a few larger words he was unfamiliar with. Tonight we cuddled up in his bed just before lights out and we took turns reading pages from another book. I nearly broke out a present the Easter Bunny is bringing him in two weeks -- the book "You Read to Me. I'll Read to You."

When I tucked him in tonight I kissed him on the forehead then moved close to his ear. "I'm so proud of you," I whispered to him knowing he didn't want me to make a big deal when Daddy and Meg could hear.

I could see his smile through the dark. He whispered back, "I can read! I'm proud of me too."


I might have to scream

Am I the only one that thinks it's pretty low-class to even *joke* about how someone else's loss puts a crimp in your weekend plans?

I have to do something tomorrow I'm dreading. I'm shopping for bridesmaid dresses. It's not so much the dresses that have me in a foul mood, it's the bride. Don't ask. I'm too ticked off to explain that one.

So one of the other maids can't make it tomorrow. Know why? No, of course you don't. I will tell you why. She can't make it because SOMEONE DIED. She has to go to a funeral - not a family member, not a close friend. It's an aquaintence of a friend's. Regardless, we're talking death.

And the bride? All she can do is crack jokes inferring that this deceased woman had the nerve to die and set a funeral on the same weekend she's going to pick out gowns. What the hell?!

I want to smack her. I do. I really do.



In a blink

We had one of those days that often leaves me threatening my husband to leave work on time or find me on our roof where the children can't find me. From time to time my sweet little cherubs become possessed by who knows what. I just know it ain't pretty.

And yet within a split second of wreaking havoc on my strained nerves they revert back to those sweet little cherubs that bring my heart peace with a simple little smile.

Tomorrow it could snow. No, really, it could. Today, it hit 72. (Don't ask me. I don't get it either.) In the midst of our on-again-off-again battle, we headed out to enjoy the weather tease - me, two kids and the dog we've borrowed.

Oh, wait, the dog. Let's back track a moment here shall we. A year ago we had a dog. She was old. She was sick. She had to be put down. Meg remembers Tasha enough to talk about her but has no concept of where she is other than she's not here. Logan completely understands the dog is dead. To him, that means the dog is laying on Heaven's floor refusing to play fetch with Jesus because you know, why should we change in the after life? No fetch on Earth. No fetch in Heaven.

Logan's preschool class has started a new "good deeds" program. Last time it was a chain of paper links. This time it's a plastic barrel. Get caught doing something nice and you get to put a dog treat in the barrel. Yum. When the barrel is full, the class is going to donate it to the local animal shelter. I knew this was coming, it was in the little month-in-review letter the teacher send home last month.

I saw the barrel on Monday. As is our custom, I asked Logan questions about his day that require him to contribute more than "yes," "no," or "nothing." You know, nice things like, "So, tell me about the dog shaped barrel in your class." So, he did. Tell me that is. Then he throws this curve ball:

"Do you know what the animal shelter is?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I will tell you anyway. It is where pets live when they haven't found a family that will love them and take them home," he says with conviction.

"That's right," I say and I attempt to change the subject but apparently not far enough off topic. I said something witty like "So did you get a biscuit to put in today?"

"We should get a friend from the shelter," he says. And with her impeccable timing Megan yells, "I WANT A DOG!"

"What?" I say, because if you've read this blog long enough you know I've got a gift for eloquence.

"Yes," said Logan. "I think it's time we get a new dog. It's ok if it's an older one. Some day it might die and then I'd have two dogs in heaven. They can be friends there."

Megan interjects again, "I want a dog. Please! Let's go get our dog."

"A dog," I say trying to force my brain to work better, "A dog. Well, I'm not sure we're quite ready for a dog again just yet. Let's just wait and talk to Daddy."

They still chattered about this new pet they expected to get. I felt my heart leap a little. I'd like another dog some day; I just don't think today is that day. Call me chicken, but potty training a strong-willed toddler, getting a pre-adolescent 4 1/2 year old cooperating (remember, bad day, loads of attitude), AND house training a puppy - ahh, yeah, no. And I know the husband person feels the same way. No way.

There is, however, Grandma's dog.

Grandma's dog gets this quasi-love-annoyance thing from the kids the two days a week I work. They love her, but she makes them insane. It's not the food stealing (although that does get to them) it's the herding. Syd is an Australian Shepard. They herd things. She, lacking sheep, herds children. Personally I find it an admirable quality.

And Grandma has a birthday this week so she and Papa are away for a few days. That leaves the dog in the care of my brother, who works long, long hours. Oh and then toss in the construction on a new addition that began this week. The back fence is down. Aussies, I'll have you know, run the first chance they get - open door, gone is the dog.

All this means *I* have had a part-time dog the last two days. Not all day. This dog gets horribly homesick if you keep her out past bedtime. The last time we tried it (years and years ago) I took her home at 1am lest I not sleep at all with her whining and pacing. The last two days she was, however, here several hours of each day.

We played with her. We took her for a walk. (I'm insane, by the way. Two kids and a dog that likes to run on a mile and a half walk. No strollers.) By the last part of this afternoon's romp in the yard we had one preschooler yelling, "SYDNEY GIVE ME BACK MY SOCCER BALL!" and one toddler crying, "SYD! NEE! GIVE! ME! DAT! FRISBEE!"

The yelling stopped long enough for Logan to softly whisper, "Ahh, Mommy. I'm trying to practice soccer and Syd pooped in the goal."


I smiled sweetly. I cupped the boy's chin in my hand and I whispered back, "This is why we're not getting a dog yet."*

When the three of them weren't fighting over toys or what belonged between the post of the goal net, we had moments like this:

And those led to moments like this:

And some how, it almost made the whole trip to the shelter seem worth it. Almost.

*Logan is not amused. I have told him we can talk dog when he can work the pooper-scooper.


Meme Time - and this one is a MUST read!

When you're looking to buy holiday candy for a peanut allergic child you tend to buy safe items as soon as you find them. In my case that means I had enough Easter candy and small toys to fill two Easter pails shortly after Ash Wednesday.

At Christmas I hid the secret loot throughout my basement: a little under the stair case, a few things buried in a pile of 'to be donated clothes', a little more mixed in with 'why won't the in-laws take it back' baby items. My heart leaps in my throat each time my kids decide to take the "short-cut" from the garage to the house. In other words, instead of heading straight up the basement steps, they wander through big space looking to see what in storage they've forgotten. It's just a matter of time before they find my not-so-clever stash.

Easter has been no different. I've got stuff tucked under my bed and in my nightstand. Suddenly ever bouncey ball or small toy in the house manages to roll itself under my bed. Right behind it goes a giddy 2-year old with a flashlight. Behind her is a boisterous 4-year old yelling "Let me find it!" The bunny is about to be outed.

As a mother, I worry that the Internet isn't much better of a hiding place than the dust bunnies under my bed. With two fairly computer savvy-kids in the house, I know that parental controls are a must - and I know it's only a matter of time before they find the way around them. It won't take much for Logan, a child that reads more than he realizes, to find himself in one of my free-spam-eating email accounts. I shudder to think of places he's going to find the words "big" and "fun" buried in the invitations to porn that seem to tally up quick in the "Junk mail" bin.

They are both at an age where they're never alone online. And yet, that's not going to last forever. That's why when Peggy tagged me to participate in this online movement focusing on Internet porn, I couldn't say no.

Listen, I'm all for freedom of speech. In fact, as often as people use it in ways that can infuriate me I shudder to think where we'd be without that 1st Amendment. That said, freedom of speech does not come without responsibility -- and with Internet porn so easily accessible to children of all ages, it's time we start demanding some responsibility.

PowerBlogger has a great solution to the question of how to keep so many kids away from this really accessible online porn:

"Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information."
"How can I help?" you ask?

PowerBlogger simply suggests that we copy and paste the previous statement and post it to all "adult site" webmasters. We're not asking to get rid of all the porn sites. We're just asking that some responsibility begin to emerge -- make the porn less accessible to children. That shouldn't be too much to ask for. If you agree with me and Power Blogger, read An Open Letter to Bloggers Around the World: Help Make the Web Safer for Children and consider helping out.

The best way to success is to recruit more people to the cause. With that in mind, I'm passing the meme on -- I tag all parents and adults that care for children and maintain blogs to join in. I am, however, specifically tapping Nicole and Sandra.

Please - pass-it-on.



It finally snowed here. Ok, wait. I *think* it may have snowed while we were in Disney, but since I wasn't here, it does not count. At least the two little people in my house who have been longing for a good snowball fight did not count the missed snow as having fallen.

A couple of weeks ago it snowed enough "wet" snow for us to launch a few snowballs in the evening. It was all melted by the time we woke up in the morning thanks to the rain that began to fall shortly after we went in.

This morning we had nothing. Kids got up. Kids got dressed. Boy kid went to school as the flurries started. Girl kid went to the doctor to ensure her cough was simply an annoying symptom of a mere cold. (It is.) Snow kept falling.

By the time we picked Logan up from preschool the secondary roads were becoming slick. I said at least two prayers or thanks for anti-lock brakes. It was nice to be back in our house - snug and warm. Slowly going stir-crazy.

I didn't intend to take them out. I mean after all, Logan is just getting over the cold. I sound like a 900-phone operator (no I will not call you, don't even ask) and Meg, as already noted, went to the doctor this morning. Something kept nagging at me though - this was our first, and likely last, accumulating snow this winter. Chances of us getting another day to give the ole sled a work-out were nil to none. And so we bundled up.

If the "first" snow could arrive in defiance of pending spring, then we could romp in defiance of flu and cold season's last start too. Granted I may live to regret this (after all, Megan has fallen asleep quite late in the afternoon while watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Drat!) but sometimes we've got to live in the moment.

I took the camera with us as we played. (Is there any other way?) I noticed we weren't the only things defying the weather today - there, poking out of the snow were the daffodil and tulip bulbs I had written off as goners for pushing up green stems and leaves late in December.


What did we do wrong?

A month ago, give or take couple of weeks, I had plans to meet up at a local coffee house with a friend. I arrived, approached the "hostess for the moment" and asked if anyone was waiting for anyone else to show up.

"Not yet," she said, "But you can look." So look I did. I did not find my friend. The "hostess for the moment" decided she'd sit me nonetheless so I could wait in comfort. There are two rooms to this joint. She sat me in the backroom across from the night's local musician -- a guy on guitar who did not sing.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I gave up. I grabbed my stuff and left my complimentary glass of water and two menus on the table. I scanned the other room quickly as I made my way to the door. Outside I called home, "Did S happen to call, by the way?" I asked Bruce. No, no messages, no calls. I headed home.

I got around the corner when my mobile phone rang. "S just called. She's sitting at the place wondering if you're there. I told her you had just called and left." Umm, ok. The car did a u-turn and I hurried back. Too late, she had left.

We managed to hook up on the phone shortly after - laughing at the confusion. When she had arrived the "hostess at THAT moment" knew of no one waiting and sat her down at a table in the front room (aka, not the one I was in) so she could see people come in the front door. Except you can't really see the door well from those tables. Clearly the two of us lack highly attuned observation skills since neither of us noticed the other when I passed from back room to front door -- despite the fact we were both there.

We laughed it off and planned for another attempt at getting together. Except work/life got in the way of that one and we had to postpone.

Tonight we tried again. Margaritas with some food on the side at Chili's. Lots of catching up and chatter. Our few and far between get togethers tend to last quite some time. We ate. We talked. We ran out of food, plunked our money on the table with the check and talked some more. The waitress never came to get the money (perhaps her ploy to get ALL the change as a tip? Not that we actually had enough down to warrant getting money back but she did not know that.)

The restaurant was nearing "empty" save for the staff and a few tables of late diners. We continued to chat, completely oblivious of the hour.

I heard them before I saw them -- employees. One was yelling about "getting out of here" with a colorful expletive or two tossed in for good measure. His co-worker chided him "Customers!" And I thought perhaps the cranky boy was simply mad that the small lot of us hadn't gone home yet, while his buddy was reminding him not to curse about the customers when they were sitting right there.

But that wasn't it.

One of the black shirted young men came to our table, speaking to us and the table near us, "We have to get out, there's a fire in the back."

Well ok then, why didn't you say so.

"Fire in the back", to me, meant "grease fire that we're going to squirt with the extinguisher but we need you to leave lest you want to sue us later for the trauma of being in a burning building." I had thought I might have smelled something burning but hey, sometimes that happens at an eatery. When we got outside, however, there was noticeable smoke coming from the edifice itself and the smell to go with it. S and I got in our respective cars -- parked near enough to the building to want to move out of the fire trucks way. Perhaps out of "flames' way" for that matter.

To get out of the parking lot, one must drive around the side and out the back into the larger lot of a shopping complex. That's when I saw our "grease fire" was so much more. I'm talking "big shooting flames out the back door" fire. Holy crap!

I stopped a moment in a parking spot in the main lot - a feasibly safe distance from the event. I could hear the sirens screeching in the distance already on their way. I saw my friend pull around the and drive past me with a wave goodnight. We were both safe. The trucks were on their way. We headed home. Safe. Sound. Unscathed.

Yet I have to wonder, is there a reason we've having so much trouble having dinner out together? I mean really. I might develop a complex if our luck continues.