Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Misery in Texas

Not to belabor the point that Texas is really, really different from anything my children have ever experienced, but I wanted to relate a novel incident that Hannah and Logan found excruciating, painful and maddening. I figure their new found misery is good for an amusing anecdote . That doesn’t make me a bad mother…it doesn’t!

It all started Friday afternoon when we went to Gramma’s house for a quick “hello” before heading to the pool. Hannah and Logan went outside and ran through her overgrown back garden while Mom and I visited sedately in her air conditioned house. It had been raining recently so the weeds had gotten over 6” tall. After about 15 minutes, Hannah came inside complaining she felt itchy. I told her to wash her hands, arms and face to get rid of the pollens and allergens that were aggravating her. She reappeared a few minutes later damp and miserable. She was still itchy. Now, I KNOW there isn’t poison oak, ivy or anything of that ilk in my mom’s yard, so I was sure it was from running in the tall grass. We left and went swimming, itching forgotten for the moment.

That evening, Hannah and Logan were scratching like hound dogs, so I looked at the aggrieved areas. Small, angry welts were visible, and I explained to Hannah she had gotten mosquito bitten. She insisted I make the accursed itching stop. Immediately. I told her that I had nothing in my arsenal of over the counter drugs to keep bug bites from itching, but we would go in the morning to buy some anti bug-itch lotion. Right after breakfast, we went into town (that's a 45 minute drive folks) and asked the chemist what we could use. She showed us some topical lotions that I all but snatched from her hand and busted open right there. I applied this heaven sent solution liberally on both kids to relieve their hellish torment. OH. MY. SWEET. HEAVEN! Do you remember the Wizard of Oz scene where the Wicked Witch gets doused with water and it acts as an acid, melting her flesh and bones? This anti-itch stuff had the same effect on the children. “IT BURNS!! IT BURNS!!” they shrieked as they thrashed about agonizingly on aisle four. From then on, there was that tortuous deliberation: “do we scratch endlessly or sting momentarily for some relief?” By Sunday, both kids had scabs where their numerous bug bites were. Can I tell you how attractive that looks with bobby socks and a skirt? Sunday night, Hannah begged to know how long the itchy torment lasted. I assured her that by the end of Monday things should be much better.

Here we are, Wednesday evening; the living nightmare commonly called mosquito bites has passed. Hannah counted 18 spots on her legs and arms that were causing all her agony. Logan can tell you about the "bug wif wings" that he doesn’t "yike" because they eat his blood since he’s so yummy. We have a clear understanding that we should not play in the tall grass and to always use insect repellant before spending time outside, a new but important preparation now that we live on planet Texas.

Monday, 18 May 2009

La Familia Nostra

My oldest daughter, Michelle, is here with her little Jonathan, who just turned 2 in February. It's been so funny to see how my children interact with their little nephew. Logan gets all possessive about toys and things he cares nothing about and hasn’t EVER played with from the moment he ripped the packaging from them. Hannah became all antsy that little J was playing with her empty, plastic, unbreakable Easter eggs. She was worried because he was opening them and she was afraid they would all get lost. I pointed out we were in the house and if they got scattered, we'd just pick them up; looking for them like, well, like an Easter egg hunt. She gave me the look. You know the one I'm talkin' about--the classic, Daughter to Stupid Mother look.

Jonathan is little and so he is still very physical about expressing his heartfelt needs, a lot like Logan used to be up until about 3 weeks ago. If necessary the J Man will hit, pinch or pull hair to get what he sees as clearly and irrefutably his. Michelle consistantly encourages him to be nice and I keep assuring her that Logan used to be the same way so she doesn’t worry unduly. See, for the last 3 years, I’ve had to stay within arms reach of Logan for fear he would cause severe bodily harm to anyone who dared play with a toy he might eventually find interesting. Thankfully, now,when JJ hits him, Logan just comes to me and complains about it instead of clocking his 2 year old nephew.

Earlier this week, all the kids were goofing off together and somehow JJ stepped on Hannah's head and his shoe slid down her face and onto her ear. When Michelle and I arrived to the crime scene, Hannah began crying and holding her ear. I knelt at her side giving her the "Poor little bunny" routine while Michelle flew straight to JJ's side telling him to kiss Hannah and say he was sorry. JJ stood there looking down at Hannah writhing on the floor, crying and holding her ear, as mom and grandmom hovered at her side. So he did the only thing a guy could do in such a situation, he aimed his Power Ranger blaster at her and double tapped her between the eyes. I guess one day he’ll be a good veterinarian by the way he just assessed the situation and then lifted the toy gun to put her out of her misery, right? I'm thinking vet, not anything dark and sinister...You too, right?

Eventually, Michelle was able to coax Jonathan to kiss her and peace was restored…for the time being.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Since Dan is away and the kids are so young and have absolutely NO pocket money, I knew Mother’s Day would go by pretty much unobserved. I resigned myself to this reality and was just going to soldier on.

Hannah had been out of school up until May 7th (Thursday before Mother’s Day) due to the whole swine flu thing, but she came home on Friday asking what we were doing on Saturday. “Probably just going grocery shopping, why? Is there something you’d like to do?” I asked, without really wondering at all. She then changes the subject and asks me, “What do you really like Mommy?” I thought about it awhile and answered that I’d really like some gold hoop earrings to match the necklace Daddy had given me. So she asks if we can go to a store on Saturday that sold earrings. She explained that she wanted to buy some earrings to save until she had her ears pierced. She anxiously asked if she could buy herself (meaning, “Will you buy me?”) a pair of earrings. I was uncharacteristically amenable so the subject was dropped.

Saturday, we went to a super discount warehouse store that sells everything from vacuums (of which I bought one) to groceries but most importantly, jewelry. When we got to the Bauble Department, Hannah wanted me to show her some earrings that I liked. See, she was planning on wearing these particular gold hoops when she was about 46, so if I picked out something I liked, then ipso facto, she would like them when SHE got to that exalted age. So, we looked through ALL their earrings and came upon a plan. I would pull out the earrings I liked and then Hannah could pick from those chosen. I found 3 pair that I liked equally as well and then left Hannah to make her decision while I chased down her brother who was not nearly as engrossed with earrings as we had been.

All throughout the remainder of the time we were at the super discount warehouse store, Hannah would whisper to Logan and then cover his mouth insisting, “DON’T TELL!!” when he tried to share these privelged details with me. At check out, Hannah needed to use the rest room; I told her she wouldn’t be able to take “her” earrings with her. She looked devastated, so I suggested she give them to the cashier. As I loaded groceries (and vacuum cleaner) onto the conveyer belt, I peeked over at them and saw Hannah whispering conspiratorially with the cashier.

On the way home, Hannah wanted to know if she could wrap a “birthday present” for Logan, even though his birthday is not until June. She, Logan, a roll of wrapping paper and the cello tape disappeared into her room. After a time, a sign appeared on her door that stated: Mommy, Keep Out Until Tomorrow!

I treated myself by staying up late to make a cheesecake and watch a DVD, anticipating sleeping in the next morning. Logan had wandered into my bed sometime in the wee hours and was still in dreamland, when Hannah came in and dashed any hope I'd had of sleeping late. You see, the children take turns waking me early each Saturday (I'm nearly certain it's in retaliation for me waking them for school at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday). Hannah climbed on my bed wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. Out came a lovely card she had made in school as well as a suspiciously familiar little box wrapped in gold . The scrap of paper taped to it read, “Happy Mother’s Day love Hannah and Logan”. When I opened it, of course I was absolutely STUNNED to find a pair of gold hoop earrings! Hannah was literally bouncing with pleasure at having surprised me with a Mother’s Day gift that I really wanted! My Mother’s Day? In a word, perfect!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Zebras and Whatnot

Now that we live in the Republic of Texas, things are just different. Like for example, from roughly the end of April onwards, you can’t go outside to play after 10am until about 7pm…too hot and humid. Any kind of time in that weather makes you feel like you need to kill someone, anyone, right away. Also, when you need to drive into actual civilization, it's wise to take provisions as you'll be on the road awhile.

Now, I had about five days from the time the movers delivered our furniture to when Dan would be arriving. During that time, I needed to unpack strategic boxes that would get the house livable, but not add clutter. It was inevitable that during some of that time, I would have both kids hanging around while I decided what to unpack and then where it belonged. Luckily, we live in the hill country and there is a reserve behind our house with a little stream running through it providing endless entertainment for the kids. They’re just to stay away from the "crick" (for my English friends, thats Texan for "creek" in case you're not fluent in hick) because of the water moccasins a.k.a. cotton-mouth snakes. They’re poisonous so we’re not to play with them. It's just something you get used to reminding your kids when they go out to play--goes to the statement about things being different here.

After having left the kids to their own devices for some time, Logan comes into the house complaining about Hannah, a zebra and something about his pedal car being dirty. Since I could not understand what he was on about, I followed him to the door to see if I could find some sort of context clue that would help me decipher this deranged statement. As I step out the front door I am stunned to see the hind leg of a deer on the walkway. It was just the bones and a hoof, so no fleshy, gory stuff was left—unless you consider skeletal remains gory stuff. Hannah was standing there and I asked WHERE the deer leg had come from. That was really code for "What is this THING doing here!?" but mostly, my kids can't decipher code yet, so she just answered the actual question, not the implied one. She told me she had brought it to the house from the reserve. The horror of contemplating the quantity of germs on that bit 'o carcass overwhelmed me and I moaned, “OH Hannah!” She assured me that she had used a stick to bring it up to the house but it kept falling off, so she put it on Logan’s pedal car to drive it the rest of the way over. That way I might have the privilege of viewing it, see? It really was an excellent specimen of the hind leg of a deer, but I kicked it off the walkway anyway and made Hannah go wash her hands. Then I handed her a rag and the 409 and told her she needed to clean Logan’s car. I think Hannah now knows she is not to put animal remains on her brother’s car…I don’t think I had ever spelled that out before. Do you see what I mean about things here just being different?

Oh, and just so you know, Logan STILL calls out "ZEBRA!" when he sees deer grazing in the neighborhood.