Friday, July 30, 2010

Dragonflies: Any port in a storm

I've noticed something interesting this summer about dragonflies.

I don't know where they live, or if they hatch in my tiny pond or if they're happy swooping through and eating mosquitoes, but I have noticed they come to my yard for shelter against big rainstorms.

Each time we've had a big thunderstorm looming, while I was in the yard I heard buzzing sounds and saw and huge dragonfly land on my tree, or under my honeysuckle arch. This time, though, I broke out my camera.

Warning: if dragonflies freak you out, you may want to go look at some kitties instead.

Click to enlarge for serious detail!

When I say huge I mean about 3-4 inches in length. To me, that's a big dragonfly.

Click to enlarge for serious detail!

Why my yard? Where are they all the rest of the day? Why aren't they eating more mosquitoes? How do I get them to hang around?

Then again, do I really want to be buzzed by suckers this big? Hmm...decisions, decisions!

On the bright side, I know that my yard is definitely in use as a wildlife sanctuary when the wildlife comes in from the rain.

By the way, it turns out that this is a Mosaic Darner. Cool, huh?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Potty Training Twins

I won't lie to you: potty training twins is a pain in the...back.

Also, one twin is totally into it (Emma), while the other screams and has a fit if you even suggest he should sit on the potty (Logan). Bribes don't even work on Logan.

Guess who's farther along on the potty training spectrum? That's right! Emma!

When I ran off to Canada for a week, Eric decided to leap into the fray on the potty training angle and started working on Emma. She seemed a lot more receptive to the idea than Logan, so we both figured we'd better get her going. Even just getting down to only one child in diapers would be nice. Yes, they're still in cloth diapers, but even changing a pair of cloth diapers every day is icky in the long run. I'd be totally OK with outsourcing the potty training. Where's your mom when you need her?

Oh yeah, she's in Canada. Humpf.

Anyway! Emma has been easily bribed to sit on the potty. Then she started peeing and when somewhat constipated even pooped on the potty. Each production resulted in chocolate chips, a parade and a song and dance. Sometimes books were read while the queen held court on her throne. She's into it and now, more often than not, comes running to us when she wants to go instead of us checking in every 2.5 minutes.

"Do you want to go potty? Do you need to pee? Can you show me how to go potty?"

Asking her if she wants to go always results in her saying "No!", but if we yell "Time to go potty!" and grab her up and "fly" her to the bathroom, she'll go happily. And generally produce a little something for our efforts. It's so great!

Logan, on the other hand, could care less and is happy as a clam walking around and pissing in his pants like a drunken frat boy. The screaming fits he throws make it SO not worth it to make him sit on the potty that we just don't. We do, however, invite him in to come see Emma. We're hoping he does his usual skill gathering tactic, which is to wait until Emma has made headway into a new skill (e.g. stair climbing, sleeping through the night, talking, walking) and then will suddenly decide he's ready to do it too and then takes off running!

I'm not sure when this miracle of bodily control will take place, but I'm hoping it will occur within the next two months.

Why two months? Because we're now two months, minus two days until the twins turn three.

Sneaks up on you, doesn't it?

Aiee! Three year olds!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gardening Insanity

It's been hot.

So hot, in fact, that 3 digits appeared on my outdoor thermometer.

When faced with either 3 digits or single digits, The Hatchet does not exit the building.

This week, however, we finally had a break in the weather. When it went down to "just" 85 degrees, I went outside and started weeding like a mad woman. And I dragged Eric into it, as well.

"Honey, can you help me with this weeding? It'll go so much faster if you help me." Suckered in by my honeyed words and fluttering eyelashes, Eric agreed. When the mosquitoes came out, he went inside to shower. I remained until full dark.

When all of the mosquitoes had my number. Even with bug spray on.

Little bastards!

The next day I asked Eric to dig some really big holes for me. First, it was just a matter of moving 2 2' tall grasses to the front yard. Then it was 6 light starved agastaches, also to the front yard. Then it was "Oh, can you move this 4' tall shrub 3 feet to the left? Thanks!" He sweated and strained and reflected sunlight (He needs to get out more. I'm being helpful!) and moved plant after plant. Then there was that 5.5' tall elderberry that had to go down and to the left 12'. Of course, after that one time I asked him to move a tree, everything else has been gravy. Mind you, the tree was getting spindly and sad from a decided lack of sunlight so it had to be moved and it is much happier where it is now. (It's easy to boldly move plants around when the other option is to just let them die! And when someone else is doing the shoveling.)

It's OK, he knew he was doomed once I had that look in my eye, 4 new plants to put in the ground and a section of yard that still gets full sun and yet was covered in weeds. Those weeds had to go, you see. They were hogging the sunlight! Those plants needed to be installed. The other plants were crowding one another. The garden needs me!

And I need Eric to do the heavy digging.

I make the plans, he does the heavy digging.

Never fear, though, while he's shoveling for all he's worth in the hot, hot sun, I'm off to one side ripping out bushels of lambs ears, giant daisies, butterfly weed and assorted weeds or flowers that have gone too far. To give you an idea of how much weeding we're talkin' about here, I have a 64 gallon compost bin from the local disposal company. I filled it in moments, from just one small section of my yard. Then I kept on ripping out weeds and had enough to fill a pair of 24" pots. Then the piles start appearing around the yard.

I've got a lot of weeds. (Still no hummingbirds, though. Where are they?!)

The insane gardening will continue as long as the cooler weather holds. Plant roller derby by day, mosquito feast* weeding sessions at night.

When it's done**, it's gonna be gorgeous!

Of course, gardens are never "done"....

* If I catch the West Nile virus***, no one will be surprised.

** Funny thing about gardens: it's never about immediate satisfaction unless you're referring to weeding. It's all about delayed gratification! It will be at least 2-3 years before the plants we just moved into place will fill out and look like I can only hope and imagine they will look when mature. In the meantime, I just have to keep on shuffling plants around like so many chess pieces. "And this one needs more sun and that one is a weed and this one needs to move down front...."

*** I really hope I don't catch West Nile. I feel itchy. Do you feel itchy or is it just me?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Miss Manners

Emma, Logan and I were hanging out in the bathroom, as we are wont to do these days since Emma is working on potty training*. Logan remains comfortable walking around with poo in his pants, so he says.

Emma: "I want a penny!"
Logan: [Hands Emma his penny and continues playing with the wire wastebin on his head. (Yes, they like to be bucket-heads. What can I say?)]
Emma: [Takes the penny] Thank you! [Pause.] Thank you, Logan. [Logan continues enjoying the basket on his head and ignores Emma.] Logan! Now you say "thank you".
Logan: Thank you.
Me: Actually, he should say "You're welcome". Logan, can you say "You're welcome to Emma?"
Logan: You weh-com.
Emma: You're welcome! [Emma isn't really clear where the call and response of Thank you and You're welcome ends.]

Days later, at the dinner table, Eric had been offering bites of his dinner to the twins:

Caitlin: Daddy, can I have a bite of your dinner?
Eric: Sure Caitlin. [Gives her a bite.]
Caitlin: [Munch, munch, munch] Yum!
Emma: Now you say "Thank you, Daddy.".
Caitlin: [Shocked silent.]
Emma: Now you say "Thank you, Daddy!".
Caitlin: Don't give me lessons!
Me: [Laughing] She's right though! You'd better thank him.
Caitlin: [Miffed at being schooled by a 2.75 year old] Thank you, Daddy.
Eric: You're welcome! [He doesn't wait for Emma to tell him what to do!]
Emma: You're welcome! [Big smile all around.]

So next time you're over, don't forget your "Please" and "Thank you". Emma is taking notice!

* While I was away in Canada, Eric and Emma really stepped up the potty training action. Logan wants nothing to do with potties. Emma is very good about it and uses the potty multiple times a day. She not out of diapers yet, but I can see the end of the tunnel from here!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Thanks, Mom!

Today we celebrate the 36th anniversary of your 29th birthday and I've come a very long way to tell you the same thing I tell you every time I talk to you on the phone:

I love you.

Not such a big surprise that. It should be pretty obvious that I do, but it always helps to hear it, doesn't it? See, you've been telling me that all my life, but I hadn't noticed a lot of those ways as a kid. Now that I am a mother, I notice it a LOT more. I thought the first time you told me you loved me was when you took me to Colorado to drop me off at University. Getting on an airplane with me and leaving me in Colorado was probably one of the harder things you ever had to do for me. I know it was hard for you because years later a little bird told me that you missed me terribly while I was gone. But instead of telling me that and reinforcing my homesickness, you sent me on my way and encouraged me whenever I called.

But I was wrong. That was just the first time I remembered you telling me that you loved me..

What I didn't notice was all the other ways you'd been telling me (and Dawn, and Cindy, and Ian and Dad) all the rest of the time.

You taught me that food can be love. Not in the “I just ate an entire chocolate cake for breakfast” love replacement sort of way, but in the “It's your birthday! I'll make all of your favorite foods!” sort of way (Lasagna and NY style cheesecake, for those of you taking notes.). Thanks, Mom!

You taught me to love plants by surrounding us with them as we were growing up. I imagine you were surprised when I took your love of plants and ran with it. Now I have a full blown gardening obsession. Thanks, Mom!

You taught me to love reading by filling our house with books. While many of them were goofy romance novels, there were plenty of Readers Digest Condensed Novels, too. I read everything I could get my hands on. Clearly I've passed that love of reading on to my own children, since every night, without fail, we have to drag a book out of Caitlin's hands and turn off her light. Well past her bedtime. Thanks, Mom!

You told me something, the other day that really struck me. You said that I'm the “emotive one”. I think you're right. I watch as events unfold, I observe, I feel and then I talk about it. Or I write about it. It may be something that you've thought about, but never actually said out loud. But I will, because you also taught me to be confident and to believe in myself and to share my thoughts with others. Thanks, Mom!

Unfortunately, that skill? That ability? That curse? Being the emotive one, means that I'm the one that breaks your heart repeatedly. And for that I'm sorry. But you also taught me forgiveness as you've forgiven me, over and over again for all of the stupid things I've done or said over the years. I know I've broken your heart – repeatedly – and yet each time I do, you still love me for who I am. Thanks, Mom.

I've noticed though, that I seem to have taught YOU a thing or two. A couple of years ago, around Mother's Day, you explained that you never seemed to get what you wanted and I asked if you'd ever told Cindy and/or Dad specifically what you wanted. You said “No” and that they should just know by now that all you wanted was to be taken out to dinner. I said that you should just tell them and that it would guarantee that you would get exactly what you wanted.

You seem to have taken that idea to heart since it was YOU that told Cindy that you'd like a big party this year and lo and behold! Here we all are! With you. Celebrating.

It seems you CAN teach a few new tricks.

And for that, and for so many other things, I just want to say: I love you.

And thank you, Mom.

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