Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I will yell at a child

This weekend we attended a wedding reception for Nelson's aunt and her new husband.  They've been together for many years and decided to get married last month while on vacation in Hawaii. 

It was a lovely afternoon reception, and kids were invited so that was fantastic.  There were tons of cousins and other kids for the boys to play with, and they had a great time.  Mostly a great time.

At one point, my sister-in-law Suzi and I were standing underneath the dining tent chatting and casually watching our kids, who were playing about 50 yards away being (kind of) supervised by our husbands.  They were back there with them.  There was a large play structure and also a small bounce house - the kind that fits two or three small kids.  Oscar was on play structure and Miles and my niece, Ella, were in the bounce house with another cousin. There were probably 8 or 10 kids total playing, our husbands and two or three other parents back there.

So, Suzi and I were casually chatting but also watching the bounce house from a distance (those thing are death traps), and I noticed a bigger kid getting into the bounce house.  My mommy-sense went off. I said to Suzi, "Hey, who is this big kid getting in the bounce house?"

"In the white shirt?  I'm not sure."

Then, the biggish kid shoved my niece.  He was at least a head taller. She stumbled, but was fine, completely unfazed.  It's a bounce house, after all.

After the shove, though, I was on high alert because Miles was in there, and he was the smallest kid inside the house and the biggish kid was clearly a bully.

Sure enough, he I saw him turn his attention to Miles and my heart started racing.  Miles was on all fours and the kid cocked his leg and kick him square in the face.



There is no mistaking what happened for an accident. He pulled back his leg and unleashed it underneath Mile's jaw.  Miles William's head snapped back and I took off at a run, calling to Suzi, "That kid just kicked Miles in the face!" 

"What?!" and she took off as well.

The bully hightailed it out of the bounce house, SMIRKING while the parents by the bounce house were trying to figure out what happened.  I passed the bully on my way to Miles and I stopped.

"HEY!" I shouted and pointed at him. (I should be clear, I was not screaming, it was more very loud, stern shouting.)  He started and dropped the smirk.




He mumbled something, that Suzi (who was right behind me) reported to be, "What? I didn't anything."

I ran back to Miles and everyone was still baffled, but having heard me yell at the bully, they figured out why Miles was sobbing on the bounce house floor.  My brother-in-law went in and got him (I was in a dress) and passed him over to me.  He jaw was red.  He clung to me, sobbing.

Another of the parents asked what had happened and I told her the bigger kid had intentionally kicked Miles in the face.  I pointed the kid out and she went running after him and brought him to his mom.

As I was consoling Miles, who I am sure was as scared and shocked as he was hurt, the mom came over and apologized profusely, asking exactly what happened, and if there had been any provocation.

"No," I told her, "He went in the bounce house, shoved my nice, and kicked Miles in the face.  He was in there less than a minute."

She was apologetic, but not surprised.  He has ADHD and behavioral issues. I know the mom, I like the mom, and I know it is embarrassing and upsetting when your kids misbehave, particularly when they hurt another child.  She took him home immediately.

And that was that.  I think I was visibly shaking for an hour, I was so angry that Miles had been bullied by a kid that was nearly twice his size.  That this kid went into the bounce house intending to hurt someone, and that Miles was the victim.  Because I have no doubt that if he'd actually hurt my nice, he would have stopped his assaults.  He was trying to provoke a reaction.  My easy-going niece was not a good target (though I suspect he chose her because she was the next smallest, and a girl); Miles, a toddler on all fours, was an excellent target.

Miles recovered much more quickly.  He was back in the bounce house in less than 10 minutes.

I definitely felt guilty after the fact for yelling at someonelse's kid, but I wanted to get a good look at him, and I wanted to make sure he knew he was not getting away with kicking my kid in the face.


I get all upset again just thinking about it, my sweet Miles, maliciously kicked in the face.  I think if it had just been a slap I would not have been so upset. I deal with conflict between children all day long and I rarely raise my voice.   But just knowing that this kid's intention was to hurt, to injure, sent me over the top.

So, anyways, I will yell at a child.  Oh, yes, I will.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Proof that I'm raising a nerd

1. Complete obsession with and freakish knowledge of all things Star Wars.

2. Understands the pneumonic Roy G. Biv and ability to draw a rainbow correctly because of said pneumonic before age four.

3. Uses the word "similar" correctly and in conversations regularly.

4. More iPhone literate than most adults.

5. Is obsessed with video games (they very few he's been allowed to play) and computers.

6. Talks to himself.  A lot.

7. Has an unnatural love for elastic waist pants.

9. Invents new lyrics to songs and sings his activities, i.e. "I'm eating, eating a snack, snack, snack" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

10. Lothes bathing.

I figure if I can keep him going at this rate, he won't score a date until college, and that's just fine by me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The one where I lost Miles William

Spoiler Alert: He is found.

Yesterday was a fundraiser for Oscar's nursery school, a silent auction and dinner.  It was held in the Fellowship Hall of the church that houses the school. 

There were about 150 people there, and tons of sugar, so in no time flat my kids went from cute, collared shirt wearing, little gentlemen to absolute lunatics. Even with both Nelson and I running herd, we were struggling to keep track of them in the crowded room.

About half way into the even, when the crowd was at critical mass, Oscar started playing with the doors that lead from the Fellowship Hall to the kitchen.  He was on the kitchen hallway side, and I was on the Fellowship Hall side, with Miles.  Nelson excused himself to get cookies to distract the children.

I popped my head through the doorway to tell Oscar to knock it off with the doors and GET IN HERE and less than ten seconds later, when I popped my head back into the fellowship hall, I immediately noticed that Miles William was gone.  Without a trace.

My heart started racing immediately.  Nelson returned just in that moment and I asked him, "Do you have Miles, did he follow you?"

"What?  No, I left him with you.  You don't have him?"

"Oh my god.  No.  He gone.  He's gone!  Where could he be? We have to find him!"

Nelson grabbed Oscar and we began scouring the fellowship hall.  It was packed with people, and there were 20 long tables set up with chairs, so it was crowded and there were lots of littlish people running around.

I check the hallway behind the hall and did not see him I looked in the classrooms, not there.  He'd been gone maybe two, three minutes.

The mom of one of Oscar's friends saw me looking frantic and asked what was wrong and I told her, nearly sobbing, "I've lost Miles.  I've lost him," and she immediately abandoned her dinner and began helping me search.

"Have you check outside?"

And this is when I began to truly panic.  There was a door.  Not far from Miles went missing.  It was wide open.  Wide open to a busy street.  Miles is absolutely the type of kid who will make for a door and run into the road.  It is what he does.

I ran up the short flight of stairs and out the door.  I ran to the road and began looking up and down.  No sign.  It had been maybe five minutes at that point, and the stretch of road is about 1/2 mile long.  He could not have traveled that far in five minutes.  Unless someone picked him up.

I ran back and check the playground.  Lots of kids out there, but not my Miles. I alerted a couple of parents there that knew Miles that I could not find him and they told me they had not seen him but would keep an eye out.

Nelson and Oscar's moms' friend were still looking in the hall and I was sweating and panicking.  I went to the woman running the even and asked her to make an announcement that Miles was missing, and she did. I told the school director Miles was missing and she asked if I checked outside.  I told her I had and she assured me, "Then he's in here.  He is somewhere inside, we just have to find him." She was so confident, and that helped.

Jenny (the mom helping me) suggested we go back and check the classrooms again.  Let me just say, thank god for her because I was not thinking clearly.  I was flipping out.  I had decided if we could not find him on this last sweep, I was calling the police.

As we were walking the hallway, about halfway through the church, Jenny asked, "Have you gone upstairs and check the gym?" I had not, because I could not imagine he'd be there - he never been to the gym, it was halfway around the church - FAR from the hall, and up one full flight of stairs.

Jenny check the gym while I checked the classroom.  Nelson and other parents were still checking the hall.

I finished checking the classrooms and came rushing back down the hall to find Jenny, holding Miles.

"He was up there, playing, just as happy as can be." She was crying; I was crying.  Miles was happily babbling about balloons and a kid named Charlie. Jenny passed him off to me and went to find Nelson, who was searching outside again. 

He was lost of about ten minutes total.

In piecing together what happened, a group of kids must have walked by while my head was in the hallway, and Miles just followed them out.  Even though I realize he was gone immediately, I couldn't see him because he was caught up in the crowd of like-sized kids.

We did not take our eyes off him for the rest of the night. I still tear up when I think about it.

About an hour later, Oscar went missing.  We were not as worried, as Oscar is not a kid to wander off and into the street, but it was still a little frantic.  He'd wandered onto the stage where they were holding the silent auction and did not come when we called.  Then he got really upset because no one found him, and he could not find us because we were looking for him.

I've never lost my kids before, but then I lost them both in one night.  I may never leave the house with them again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Still at it

It's been a while since I've updated you all on my running.  For a while I was posting about once or twice a week and that felt like too much.  I mean, this is not a fitness blog; it's a blog where I complain about my kids.  Okay, my kids and husband. 

Anyways, I'm still running about 3-4 times a week and I'm up to about a 25 minute stretch of flat out running, and I can do about two miles.  So, I'm not terribly fast, but I'm running and feeling good about it.

I pulled a muscle in my lower back and took a week off.  I was really glad that when I got back to running, I didn't miss a beat.  Right back at 25 minutes, though my pace was a little slower.  However, last night I did something and now my IT band is killing me.  I'm going to find some stretches to help with that.

My friend Nancy hit the nail on the head though when she told me I probably need to start doing some strength training, so I think I'm going to sign up for a pilates class twice a week.  This is a little annoying because I don't like exercising (I don't even like running), and now I'll be doing cardio 3 times a week and strength training twice a week.  That's a lot of exercise for someone who's preferred activity is sitting on the couch reading a book or watching The Wire.

So, the running is going. I don't know, though, it's getting tougher as the weather is getting hotter and more humid.  I will be running and sweating and just kind of feel like stopping.  Like, last night when my IT band starting hurting, it was hard for me to determine if I wanted to stop because of the pain or if I wanted to stop because I just did not feel like running anymore because I'm tired of exerting myself.

Having a running partner helps keep me going, so I run with someone whenever I can.  Lucky for me, I have three friends who live in close proximity that are good and dedicated runners, and will even slow up their pace to keep with me, and offer me words of encouragement and support to keep me moving.  I also have a few spots where I have what I call good running karma - places I enjoy running and where I tend to have my best runs, so if I'm having a hard time even getting on my running shoes, I'll go a good karma spot.

I also try to remind myself how good I feel when I finish a run.  I don't feel tired and worn out.  I feel energized and accomplished.  I also sleep much better and wake much easier and am less grumpy during the day.  I enjoy the time without a child hanging off my butt. There are lots of rewards to running. 

What's shaking (literally) with you folks?  Running?  Shredding?  Tell me about your efforts.  I'm not the only sweaty blogger out here, am I?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Family photo shoot

About a week ago, we had a photo shoot with Nelson's family.  Together with Nelson's brother's family, we decided to buy a location session with a professional photographer for Nelson's parent's anniversary this year.

My sister-in-law and I scouted around and found Jenni and her stuido, Forever-Yesterday Photography, and booked our session for the Brookside Gardens.  We were rewarded with a gorgeous spring day, and beautiful shots of our entire family.  Here's a sample:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day

A belated happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there.  I had a wonderfully amazing day, starting with  a day of shopping with my sister and mother on Saturday; tulips and chocolates delivered to me at home; a Kindle gift card from my mother-in-law; breakfast on Sunday at our favorite diner, with NO WAIT (one of the perks of having small people wake you at the crack of dawn); a pedicure; a Day Out with Thomas; and finally concluded by dinner made by my love, Nelson.

I was much celebrated, and I hope you were as well.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

The damned raccoon - it's not just us

When I last left you all, I was trying to figure out what the heck to do about the raccoon that destroyed a portion of our back porch room.  We have a contract with a pest management company and I figured that raccoon was nothing if not a pest so I gave them a call.  Our contract covers regular household pests - ants, bees, silverfish, mice, rats - both inside and out, so I didn't think it could hurt to ask them about the raccoon.

No dice.  Raccoons are much bigger than what they can handle.  They did recommend a professional wildlife trapper, so I called him and he came out that very day.  He checked out our roof and agreed that it was most likely a raccoon.  He told me that they tend to go places that have some kind of animal scent, so it was likely that raccoons or something had lived in our roof in the past.

He also told me that the was unlikely to come and try the roof again.  According to him, because the raccoon had tried to get in (pretty vigorously) and failed, he'd just move on and look for new real estate.  He told me if we wanted to hire him, it would cost us $375 for three weeks of trapping/monitoring.  They'd set traps and come check them every few days, or immediately if I reported that one was full.

Nelson and I had already called our roofing contractor to come out and look at the damage, and we did want the raccoon trapped before we had the roof repaired, but this guy did not seem to think the raccoon would be back.  He recommended the we wait a week or two and see if it returned so that's what we decided to do.

Less than a week later, when I pulled up the shades in my and Nelson's bedroom after making the bed, guess what I saw?  Our front porch roof had been torn up!  The damage was much less significant, but pretty clearly caused by the same or a similar critter as the back roof.  Bastard!

That very afternoon, my neighbor, Kim, came by and said to me, "Hey, I saw a raccoon on your roof the other night!" I told her about the damage and she reported that she had similar damage, but much more extensive.  And, that she'd seen him on two of our neighbor's roofs as well.  He was terrorizing our whole neighborhood. [At this point you may be thinking that there could be several raccoons.  And yes, there could be, but don't let me think about that, okay?]

At this point, I decided to called Animal Control and see what they could about this nuisance raccoon.  Now, generally unless an animal is showing signs of illness or is a dead carcass, Animal Control will not bother wildlife, but I was hoping because this guy was causing so much damage that they would do something.

Unsurprisingly, they would not do much.  They did tell me that I have a right to remove the nuisance animal, or have it removed.  The clerk advised me that I could call the state Department of Natural Resources, plead my case, and apply for an animal trapping permit, and that Animal Control would rent me a live trap so I could catch him, and if they did catch him they'd come out and get him and dispose of him.

So, that's what I did.  I called DNR and was a registered animal trapper and in possession of a rented trap by the end of that day.  My neighbor also borrowed a trap from someone, so we had two yards now trying to catch this sucker.

And no dice.  No raccoon.  After a week of a bated trap, we did not catch him.  Neither did my neighbor. We returned the trap and continued to complain about the raccoon and went back and forth on the hiring the animal trapper, who's fees were as much as the fee for our roof repair, and who could not guarantee that he'd even catch the raccoon.  I was torn.  I'm pretty cheap, so I neither wanted to pay for a roof repair that was simply going to be re-damaged next spring, nor did I want to pay for a trapper to come out and trap nothing.

We spent a few weeks contemplating what to do, and I saw him several more times, wandering in and out of my neighbors across the street's yards, trotting down the sidewalk, peering at me from behind fences.  He looked big, but he never came down my side of the road during the day, likely because of our dog who spends a lot of time outdoors when the weather is nice. 

I was still stalling about what to do about the stupid thing, when, last week (after I wrote my post even!), my neighbor Arlette called me.  Now, it's not so strange that Arlette would call me.  She and her husband are retired and travel a lot; they let us know when they will be gone so we can look out; we receive packages for them when they are away; their grandkids come over to play with the boys when they visit.  They are good neighbors.  They snow blow our walk when Nelson is out of town, and Nelson helps them dig their cars out, stuff like that.

What was strange is that she called me at 8:30PM, which she knows is prime bedtime in these parts.  I took the call and Arlette was agitated.  She had finally seen this raccoon that Kim and I had been telling her about for the past 3 weeks.  In her yard. IN HER YARD.  It was just a few moments before she called me.  She had seen him lift up the lid of her trash can, one of those huge bins things that hook into the back of garbage trucks, climb inside, had himself a meal, and leave.

Those bins are at least four feet high.  Oscar cannot even get the lid up by himself - he's not tall enough.  So, that means, on his hind legs that raccoon must have stood at least as tall as Oscar.  Oscar, who is in the 90th percentile for his height and probably stands over 40 inches.  That means this raccoon is the size of a preschooler. It is BIGGER than Miles William.  It could probably carry a small child on it's back.

This raccoon is huge.   Arlette was alarmed.  

The next day she called a wildlife trapper (a much less expensive one) and was unimpressed with the non guarantee. She also informed me that she was going to take on this raccoon as one of her "projects." As I mentioned, she and her husband are retired, and they've also lived in our little township for 36 years.  Arlette knows how to get things done and she thinks she can convince our city to take care of the raccoon.  

In the meantime, I think we'll be taking another go trapping ourselves, trying some marshmallows this time.  I'll let you know how it pans out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You cannot chase this sucker with a broom

About a month or so ago, I was in the boys' room getting them dressed and I happened to look out one of their windows.  They have three windows that all face north on the back of the house.  Their room is situated on top of our kitchen/back porch, so the open directly onto a roof.

Anyways, I glanced out the window and this is what I saw:


Now, it was March and we'd had a good windy storm with some hail a few nights earlier, but hail cannot rip through shingles and felt all the way through to the decking.  And this roof is new; we just had it completely re-done about a year and half ago, so it's certainly not wear-and-tear.

Well, actually, it is tear.  Something tore into our roof.  Something with hands. Look more closely:

You can actually see where some THING ripped the shingles off the roof. Something that wants to live in there.  It couldn't have been a bird because the damage is too much.  Unless it was an eagle, but eagles don't really like densely populated suburbs like ours.  What could it be?  What could it be? The more I thought about it, I recalled that two nights prior, the dog had been going ape shit and begging to go outside.  We did not let her as we assumed that there was some suburban wildlife out there and we didn't want her to tangle with anything.

Nelson and I discussed the identity of our vandal and we figured it could be one of three things.

1) A possum
2) A smallish, agile hobo
2) A raccoon

We see possums.  My dog kills them on occasion, (this is a funny post, you should read it) and they do have hands.  But,  we really did not think a possum was big enough to cause this kind of damage.  We've never seen one larger than an average house cat.  Also, don't they like to hang upside down in trees?

We don't actually see hobos, but we do live just a few blocks from the CSX train tracks, and is one of the busiest lines on the east coast. I think.  There are a lot of trains.  We have those train watcher guys with cameras there every day.  And there is a train enthusiast club here in my little town and they set up this huge model train at the farmer's market.  It's like The Station Agent over here.  Have you seen that movie? I loved that movie.

Anyways, hobos.  We've never actually seen one, but with the train tracks are close.  It would have to be a nimble one and a smallish one to shimmy up our gutter.  But aren't hobos usually drunk?  And what would he do with his hobo sack while shimmying? I don't know, this seems pretty unlikely and also, creepy.  We stopped talking about it.

That leaves us with the likely culprit: a raccoon.  A big, ugly nasty, hunchbacked, skulking raccoon.  God, I hate those things.  Particularly the ones that live out here in densely populated areas.  They get huge from eating garbage and have no fear of humans.  NO FEAR!  They hiss and have claws and are just so disgusting and mangy looking.  Oh, and they have fangs.  Check it:

So, we've got this guys, trying to live in our roof.  Causing hundreds of dollars in damage.  Clearly, something has to be done about this.  I was tasked with figured out what that something would be.

To be continued...