Sunday, March 24, 2013

Netflix Picks

Now that I've re-watched all of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix, it's a challenge to find something good to fold clothes to on there (No, I'm not a nerd.  You're narrow minded.), especially since I don't have the stomach for shows like Breaking Bad, and I'm tired of The Office and 30 Rock.  But here are some movies that are winners:

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story--Marcia, you would like this one.

Bernie--also based on a true story, and stranger than fiction.  Convinced me that Jack Black is a really great actor.

Lars and the Real Girl--the comments from some of the minor characters isn't always innocent, but the relationship between Lars and his life-size female doll is.

If you've got any recommendations, pass them along.  My laundry pile will thank you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

darn groundhog

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but we've still got snow on the ground in ours.  It's ruining Claire's life (her words, not mine).  Every morning since the First Day of Spring that she wakes up and sees snow, she cries.  This should be rain, not snow! she says.  I tried to teach her the AA prayer this morning (change what can be changed, accept what can't, wisdom to know the difference).  "Mom, you know I can't understand what that means, and I don't want you to explain it to me!"

The other kids are accepting the weather more gracefully.  Damon is so engrossed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix he hardly notices.  Anne is in love with the beautiful Easter decor and spring colors she sees at the stores.  "Mom, we need more Easter decorations."  I hate that kind of stuff.  I don't hate seeing it, just putting it up.  I also like eating good food, but hate making it.  I'm reminded of Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park, whose wealth and station in life was perfectly suited to her lazy nature.  Except I'm not wealthy, so...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Good Day

Saturday night was great because of the gecko find, but Saturday day was good, too.  We visited the Meijer Gardens for the butterfly exhibit and had an early dinner at P.F. Chang's.  I love that place.  But I won't take the kids there again until they grow some adult taste buds.  Sheesh.  What a waste of good food (from the children's menu!) that would have been if I hadn't eaten their leftovers.

The indoor sculpture exhibit was impressive, but I didn't like how they were not clearly male or female.
"Then why do you keep getting your hair cut so short?" Jake asked.  That's a good question...I guess because I can't see myself most of the time.  I should probably take into account the feelings of my audience more, but that would contradict my "I don't care what anyone else thinks of me (Deity excluded)" mantra.

The butterflies were great, but just like last year, they wouldn't land on us even though we girls put flowery smelling lotion on.  The giant blue ones (our favorites) wouldn't pause for a photo.

I like this photo--I look less enormous than I feel.
Anne cleaning snowballs off of grandma and grandpa Meijer.

 Claire and Anne gave Jake a tour of some of their favorite sculptures while Damon and I stayed inside with the butterflies.

Jake waiting for a pass.  I wish I had gotten a picture of him dodging the snowballs Damon was throwing at him.

Claire and Benjamin.

Damon and Anne designed their own sculpture garden while Claire paced the perimeter.

Anne the Butterfly.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I need a hero

he's gotta be fast
and he's gotta be strong
and he's gotta catch geckos at night

Jake found Freckles last night ALIVE!

I discovered gecko scat in the basement bathroom last night, so we knew she had to be down there somewhere.  This was surprising since she escaped upstairs, and a quick google search revealed that leopard geckos cannot climb walls, which means she fell down the stairs.  The google search also mentioned that leos are resilient.  She was gone for two weeks, fell down the stairs, and survived, so I'd say that statement is true.  We can also deduce that our basement has plenty of bugs, which hurts my pride.  I was sure my house was too clean to support a loose gecko for two weeks.  Sigh.  (If you were to see what a mess my house is on a daily basis, you would know I was delusional.  Now I've been un-deluded.)  But enough of that.  On to the find.

The situation was desperate.  Jake decided he must take action.  He touched the scat and immediately knew it had been...uh...put there within the last two hours.  He sniffed it.  The smell told him nothing.  He tasted it.  Aha!  The gecko had been heading northwest--the furnace room!  Now Jake had to think like a gecko.  Where would he hide?  The answer was obvious: that coiled hose next to the furnace: precisely the right levels of privacy and humidity.  Carefully, he lifted the hose, and there was Freckles!  She tried to make a run for it, but Jake instantly switched from gecko mindset to catlike reflexes.  He grabbed her and put her back in the cage, where she happily devoured 7 wax worms and made me feel better--there couldn't be that many bugs in my basement if she was so hungry.  The End.

P.S.  I'm guessing a real Louisiana Flour Trap involves flour spread all over the floor.  I set a trap in the furnace room about four feet from the coiled hose over a week ago, it's still there, and the only tracks in it are from Anne (who was told to stay out of it) and the 4-legged crickets writhing in agony.  Maybe geckos have Celiacs and avoid wheat products.  Or maybe Freckles is an idealist who values liberty over handouts.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I liked school, but I'm pretty sure I also liked missing school on occasion.  So, when I suggested to the kids that we pull them out of school for a few days to go to Mackinac Island (and thus take advantage of lower hotel rates in the off season), I was astonished when Damon and Claire said no.  "I want to have perfect attendance," said Damon.  "Missing school would make me feel weird," said Claire.  Anne was OK with it.  She loves staying home from school.  I suspect she fakes being sick sometimes so she can come home from school early.  But I can never be sure, because on about half of the times she tells me she's sick and I don't believe her, she ends up vomiting all over.  Like last night.  At 6:30, 7:30, 9:00, and midnight.  And only one spew made it in the toilet.  Yippee.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Damon (very frustrated): "Why aren't there more hours in the day?  Or at least not as many hours at school?!"  It's hard to fit in everything he needs to do before bedtime--play with his sisters, pester them until they cry, read his book, watch Netflix, play computer games...  Life's a witch.

Me: "Claire, you did all your homework without me helping you!  That is so great, and it really helps me out.  You should be very proud of yourself."

Claire: "I am always proud of myself because I always remember how great I am."  Either she's mastered deadpan humor, or she really believes that.  I hope the latter.

Anne: "Mom, you are the best mom in the whole world."

Me: "Until you're mad at me, and then you call me the worst mom in the whole world."

Anne:  "But I never stay mad at you forever."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In praise of leopard geckos

I've always thought I wasn't a pet person, especially regarding indoor pets.  But these geckos have a special place in my heart.  Maybe because my kids' first pets were mice, and they were so disgusting.  They were cute, until you'd spent five minutes in their stinky, incontinent presence.  It was such a relief when they were all dead.  That was their one good point: a short life span.

But even if we hadn't had the great mouse experiment, I think I'd still love the geckos.  When Claire is inconsolable and I don't know why (I don't even know if she knows why), she can hold her gecko and feel better.  And when I told Anne her gecko was probably dead and Anne sat down on the floor crying, Claire sat down next to her to mourn with her.  I don't know if I've ever seen Claire have compassion enough to try to comfort someone before.  When Anne accidentally killed her mouse, for example, Claire gave Anne an impassive and didactic lecture on what can happen if you squish something. Thank you, geckos, for helping Claire reveal some of her heart to us.

Sorry, gecko.  My awesome photography skills don't do you justice.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

open mic

I've told Anne to give up hope.  We set three Louisiana flour traps Friday night.  My brother heard about them on a show called "Duck Dynasty."

I put water and 4-legged crickets (don't tell the kids.  I hope I don't have to face them at the judgement bar.  The crickets, I mean.) in the middle of the floor, hoping that by morning there would be tracks in the flour.  No luck.  The odds of a baby gecko surviving this long on its own have got to be pretty slim.

In happier news, Damon had a good birthday.  I wasn't going to let him have a party, because I hate throwing them, but then the day before his birthday mom-guilt got the better of me and we quickly invited some friends from school over.  Damon chose pizza and banana cream pie and wanted to play "old fashioned games like the limbo," which we did. 

The primary sang "Where Love Is" in sacrament meeting today.  Anne stationed herself at the pulpit (I'd like to know who pulled the stool out for her), and the Bishop did her a favor by not turning off the microphone.  First she started waving her arm like a chorister.  Then, kind of like Angela Lansbury being backed up by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, she sang "Where love is, there God is also" whenever those words occurred in the song.  She didn't seem to know any of the other lyrics.  At the end, she said "Good-bye" and went to sit back down with me and Jake.  "Why are you crying, Mommy?" Claire and Anne asked.  "Because your singing was so beautiful."  And because I was laughing so hard.

After church Anne went missing for 10 minutes.  I was about to call the police when the other ward found her hiding with another girl under the sacrament table--in the chapel where not 15 minutes earlier I had told her her she was not allowed to play.  She came home to a nice long time out, and I promised her that if she ever hid from me again like that, she'd get a spanking she'd never forget (I don't spank my kids, but making me think she was kidnapped deserves a spanking).

During her time-out, she overheard Claire telling me how worried she [Claire] had been while we were looking for Anne.  Anne said, "Now I know Claire loves me.  That's never happened before."  (It's hard for Claire to know if she loves you or not, people.  Don't ask her if she does, or you might get an answer you don't want, like Anne did a few months ago.  It's an unpleasant experience.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the search continues

No sign of Freckles the Gecko.  I left worms out for her, they haven't been eaten.  No gecko scat in sight.  If she's not drinking the water I put out, she's probably dead by now.  Then again, some guy on the internet claims his gecko was missing in his house for FOUR MONTHS before it was found ALIVE.  So, I keep telling Anne not to give up hope.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

the case of the missing reptile

There's nothing quite like seeing a tail disappear under a closet door first thing Sunday morning.  Oh, how I hoped it was somehow Damon, trying to scare me by hiding in the closet.  No.  It was Claire's gecko.  I caught her (her name is Lily), and yelled for Damon to check the cage.  "Are both the other geckos still there?"  No, again.  Damon's was, Anne's was missing.  (Her name is Freckles.)  The kids and I searched as much as we could before we had to go to church, and continued the search when we got home.  No luck.

A word to the wise: when you move geckos out of their cage on Saturday so you can clean it out, don't leave the geckos in a mouse cage all night while you wait for their reptile rug to dry.  Apparently the little ones can squeeze through the mouse cage wires. 

It is now 7 PM and Freckles is still at large, spreading Salmonella all over the house or maybe dead at the bottom of the heating vents.  Our "how to find a lost leopard gecko" google search suggested putting out little bowls of water to help it survive until it's found.  We did that. We're also supposed to pull the back legs off crickets so the gecko can eat, but I don't know if the kids will go for that one.  They consider the crickets pets, too.  Claire says it's okay that they get eaten, because they get eaten alive.  In her mind that's more humane than being killed first.