So as my title suggests, there is a new addition to the ZamFam! We are all taken by the new critter Oreo who has taken up residence in the girls' room. I'm not big on using living creatures as bribes, but Bean was rewarded for her excellent report card and for finishing first grade with no discipline issues with a new pet, so we now have a “dinny pid” (Bear-speak – say it out loud if you can't figure it out!). He is the silky soft Peruvian variety, and I'll let you guess what color he is by his name.
El Guapo is both blessed and cursed by being incredibly busy at work these days, so the poor guy is pretty beat when he gets home at night. That hasn't stopped us from attempting to get some major yard work done, though. You might think that having a horticulturist-wanna-be (I was accepted to Purdue's horticulture program in 1991, but ended up going into English/ history/education instead) and a strapping, not-that-old Mexican living in the same house, we'd have the best lawn/landscaping combo on the block. Well, you'd be wrong! Just ask the neighbors. We decided this is the year to change that, so we have been tearing up planting beds, laying down weed cloth, installing edging, planting and mulching like crazy. I think we have finally struck a plan that will work, and by “work” I mean require almost no maintenance after this year and not look like a weed patch. We went with a garden plan we found online that is based on native prairie grasses and other low-maintenance options. We splurged on some solar- powered lighting, and I've planted up some annuals for color in Mexican terracotta pots we've collected. We even added a windchime. Now the bronze turtle I got for mother's day looks right at home out there!
With school out, I do a kind of summer camp for the kids each morning with a different theme each week. We start each day with a nature “hike” in our back yard. Bean documents our finds in a notebook, Bear is awesome at describing (with great enthusiasm) what we've seen and Bug mostly picks dandelions (maybe he'll be the lawn guy in the family . . . ). Some of this week's nature highlights were seeing a spit bug nest (to recreate our experience, spit on a plant –seriously, that's exactly what it looks like!), some giant spiders and their spectacular webs (think “Charlotte”), and black-winged damselflies up really close. (I also make the kids pick weeds. Shhhh, don't tell! I make a game, like “Who can pick the most weeds while I count to 50?” or “Who can pick 10 weeds the fastest?” I am so sneaky like that!) We then read books from our theme (being a librarian can be really handy that way!) and sing songs (Bear's favorite is “Three Blind Mice.” Ironically, she thinks it's “tyute.”) or do a craft. Bean is also working on some workbook-type stuff so that her academic skills don't leak out of her ear over the summer. We also try to exercise each day. Grandparents who take their grandkids swimming are really helpful in this department, but so are sneaky competitions, like “Who can run around the house the fastest?” -- except when they backfire and the kids come up with challenges like jumping jacks. We were all laughing so hard at ME that we almost fell over!!
And while this is not a “rant blog,” can you indulge me for just a moment? The weather has been really crazy around most of the country lately and here has been no exception. Last Thursday, Bear, Bug and I went on an adventure that started out, “Hey guys, did you know that our garage has a hole in it? Do you want to go down there and check it out?” We spent about 25 minutes hunkered in the crawl space with snacks, water, flashlights, books and blankets while some mean-looking weather blew through. Which brings me to the rant. The next day, I was at work and the tornado sirens went off. I'm not afraid of much, but bad weather freaks me out, so I pretty much just wanted to run and hide, but since I was at work, I was partially responsible for herding patrons into the basement. Even though we made an announcement over the PA and you could hear the sirens blaring, people were arguing with us about moving. This is the basement of a library that houses meeting rooms and a bookstore, so we are not talking about some dank, dirty place here. People actually thought that fifteen more minutes on MySpace or standing and staring at the DVD shelves was more important than getting to safety. I wanted to scream. Mostly just scream, but I also wanted to say something like, “I've got babies to live for! I don't know what your problem is, but I'm going to the basement.” Of course, we have to be professional and calm, so we must politely persuade the idiot patron to kindly come to the basement or LEAVE! Oh, the joys of working with the public!
And finally, I don't believe in karma, but if I did, El Guapo was the recipient of the instant variety this weekend. While we were standing on the front porch watching a howling rain storm, our cat scrambled out from somewhere caterwauling to come in. El Guapo thought that it was hilarious to toss him back out into the rain in the general direction of the overflow from our gutters. With no other shelter available, Scout's only option was to return to the porch, only to be unceremoniously dumped back out into the rain. (Sorry, cousin M, I know this is paining you!) Well, after a few times of this, the poor cat is drenched to the bone. (Please do not write to PETA about this, it was only water for goodness sake!!) Well, the final time, El Guapo's back goes out – total pain in his lower back from gently (I said GENTLY) heaving the cat into the rain. So, we all come inside, sopping Scout included. Normally he takes refuge in Luna's bed (which she hates), but that night he sneaked into our room, found a pile of towels on the floor (I know, I know) and buried a huge load in them. Fast forward to bed time and a room that smells worse than any cat box. Cue frantic search for aforementioned load, disgusting discovery, lovely white towels into the garbage. I think that's called instant karma, El Guapo. I also think that might put an end to the tormenting-your-pets-for-your-amusement episodes at Mustard Seed House. But maybe not.