This is what I imagine that Sean will tell people about me when he is grown man. When he comes to see me, he will be alone, without his children, because I will be one of those crazy old people who frighten small children. He will find me sitting in a rocking chair clutching a shovel, wearing a far off expression and angrily muttering something about !#@$% moles and rocking so hard that I scoot the chair clear across the room.
2006 was the year a mole got my goat.
We have a mole in our backyard. He is destroying everything, including my sanity.
A year or so ago, we foolishly spent several thousand dollars having our backyard professionally landscaped with trees, bushes, flowers, ivy-lined stone paths, flower beds. It was so lovely. Then the mole showed up about 15 minutes after the landscaper left and the check cleared the bank.
When we first saw the tunnels and mounds, we had no idea what was going on. Every morning, Sean and I would go out into the backyard in our pajamas astonished at what had happened to our yard overnight. And then we would get busy stomping down the tunnels like two crazy people frantically trying to make wine, only to find more tunnels the next morning. Which lead to more stomping and then stomping became what Sean and Mommy did together every morning.
I have since exhausted Sean’s college fund on various products trying to get rid of the mole. Please don’t email me about caster oil sprays, poison peanuts, sonic devices or traps. I’ve done all that several times. I’ve even cut up sticks of chewing gum and shoved in their little holes (oh, the imagery!) so that they might die an agonizing death as they explode from the ultimate case of constipation.
The chewing gum tip came from my own mother who knows about everything because she’s retired and has all day to surf the internet in her quest for interesting information, like creative ways to kill vermin or fun things to do with twenty packs of chewing gum. She even knows that moles have little underground condos with different chambers for different activities. According to my mom they have a dining room and a pooping room, which at our house is one and the same since we have a toddler.
So I’m at Wal-Mart and I put the 20 packs of chewing gum on the checkout line and the cashier looks at me and says, “That’s a lot of gum.” I agreed that it was a lot of gum. And then, just because I wanted to mess with her, I actually told her what it was for.
The chewing gum didn’t work. The moles continue to destroy our yard, except for now they are doing it with minty fresh breath. Now that I’ve given them gum, I wouldn’t be surprised to come home to find them sitting on our sofa, eating our Cheetos, watching our cable television and helping themselves to our Pinot Grigio.
The next thing I tried was blasting them out with the garden hose. I would stick the garden hose down the hole, kink it up and then have Sean turn on the water full blast. The problem is, we have an iron fence and there is a jogging path that runs behind our house, so I cannot even conduct my insanity in privacy. I have to endure the humiliation of having our neighbors jog by and witness me giving my yard an enema or my toddler and I dancing around on mole holes in our pajamas at the crack of dawn. The moles were not fazed in the least by the garden hose experience. First chewing gum and now Wet N’ Wild! Why would they want to leave? Perhaps I’ll serve popcorn and soda on Thursdays!
The last tip I received came from my friend Kurt. He emailed me an article written by a man who like me had tried everything. He finally got rid of his mole by sitting out in his yard in a lawn chair under the light of the moon armed with a shovel and a can of beer. When he saw the mound move, he would quietly set his beer down and then jump up and whack the mound with the back of the shovel.
And the scary part is, I have a shovel and a lawn chair. And it is starting to sound like a reasonable thing to do.
Scene: Saturday morning in the kitchen.
AD: I’m going to take Sean to the park. Wanna go?
AM: No thanks. I think I’ll stay here and get some things done (code for blog).
AD: Come on, go with us.
AM: No thanks. I have Sean all day, all week. I think I’ll let you enjoy some one-on-one Sean time.
AD: I love Sean time.
AM: (perturbed) I love Sean time too, but I have him all day long all week.
AM: I love chocolate too, but a pound is more filling than an ounce you know.
AM: What I’m saying is that as much as I love chocolate, after I eat an entire box, I’m full. I’m ready for someone else to eat the chocolate. The next day I’m ready to eat more chocolate again.
AD: We’re not really talking about chocolate, are we?
AD: It’s that time of the month, isn’t it?
AD: Can I get you some chocolate while I’m out?
As I was getting Sean ready for bed the other night, I asked him to pick out some books to read before bedtime.
Usually Antique Daddy is in charge of bedtime, but when I take a turn, I realize what a blessing it is to get to hold my freshly bathed sweet smelling boy. The warmth of his being resting against my chest as I read to him, his long legs dangling awkwardly. I know this season will pass too soon. Neither of us are ready to admit that he has nearly outgrown my lap.
Sean has always loved books more than anything, and it is hard to find a book that we don’t have. His bookcase runneth over. He stood facing his bookcase wearing baseball pajamas, studying the contents looking for something new and interesting to jump out at him in much the same posture I assume when standing in front of the refrigerator with the same hopes.
He spent quite some time pulling out books and then shoving them back in, unable to make a decision. “How about Curious George?” I finally asked, pulling out several volumes of the familiar yellow books.
“Not Curious George,” he said in a combination of disinterest and digust, waving me off without bothering to turn around. What? Is Curious George now so yesterday and no one told me?
“No? What’s wrong with Curious George?” I asked wondering who doesn’t like Curious George.
“I don’t like him. He bug me.”
“He bugs you? Why does Curious George bug you?”
“He not beedient,” he said matter-of-factly and without hesitation.
“He not do what he pose to. Bad stuff happens.” I worry about the things that he worries about.
As I left his room after tucking him into bed, I took the Curious George books with me. I sat down and reread them with a fresh set of eyes. And he’s right. Even though things turn out okay in the end, Curious George is disobedient and doesn’t do what he’s supposed to. The man with the yellow hat condones curiosity as an acceptable reason for disobedience. And there are no consequences. Or apologies.
It took a two-year-old to point this out to me and now it bugs me too.
Update: Last night Sean banned any book where “bad stuff happens” or there is a picture of someone who looks unhappy, which leaves out all the Bible stories and all the books we own. On the spot I had to make up a story about an orangutang who goes to live on a farm last night. It’s just a phase right? Right??
How is it that it can take 24 minutes to dress a toddler, but only 24 seconds for him to get completely naked? I guess it could just be a GUY thing. Actually it only takes about 4 minutes to dress a toddler. The other twenty minutes are spent bribing, threatening, cajoling, and negotiating while he does an impression of a boy made of Jello.
This comes up because the other day I had Sean completely dressed and ready for school. I ran back to my bedroom to grab something (and I mean I literally ran) and by the time I got back ten seconds later he was standing by the door to the garage wearing only his backpack and his socks.
I guess I hadn’t gotten the note that it was Naked Day at school.
Antique Daddy and I belong to a supper club with three other couples. We meet every other month alternating between someone’s home and a restaurant. We’ve been doing this for the past year and it has done the elder Antique’s a world of good to get out and mingle with people who don’t routinely wipe butts other than their own.
Since our friends are
old our age, their children are grown and out of the house, so we look forward to going to their homes where there are nice things like plates that break and cups without lids. It jogs our memory and reminds us of the days when we had functioning brains. We also get to talk about things that don’t involve digestive fluids — except for my friend Dee who has a 12-year-old boy living inside of her head and therefore always has a good poop story. Being a high school English teacher for so many years will do that to you.
Last Saturday night it was finally our turn to host the gathering at our house and I have to confess, I was a little nervous about it. I am the hostess formerly known as Martha, but the last three years have left me out of shape when it comes to entertaining grown ups. I found that as I prepared for this dinner party that my standards had
slipped changed somewhat.
Before Sean came along, I would have spent several weeks on-line and going through my cookbooks researching recipes. This time I just went to the grocery store and wandered around hoping an idea would fall from the shelves and into my grocery cart. As luck would have it I ran into a gay guy at Tom Thumb. While there, I came to the realization that gay guys do not shop at Wal-Mart for groceries — crafts maybe, but not groceries. As I was perusing the condiments aisle Chad stopped and chatted me up about the joy of Fischer’s Chipotle Raspberry sauce. This never happens in Wal-Mart, I guess due to the lack of gay guys and gourmet items. In fact, no one ever talks to me in Wal-Mart and I consider that a good thing.
Anyway, I confessed to Chad that I was having a dinner party and was at a loss as to what to serve. And I guess he sensed the panic in my voice and took pity on me. Since we had bonded over our common love of gourmet condiments, he offered me his Coconut Panko Salmon recipe (which is at the end this post because as I have received recipes freely I will extend them freely. And? Because I love y’all just that much.). And it was in fact, very good. So thank you Chad!
In my previous life, after having settled on an entrée, that would have just left having the house professionally cleaned, the lawn manicured, creating a list of engaging table topics, setting the table with china, silver and crystal, having my toes painted to match my outfit, wrapping the handmade party favors (perhaps homemade truffles or peach chutney or maybe a small book of pithy quotes), making calligraphy place cards, selecting the music, purchasing fresh flowers and arranging them and finally, finding a suitable pineapple to set afire.
GiGi, who is currently the nicest woman on the face of the earth (she rotates with my sister-in-law Terrye) came and took Sean off my hands for a few hours so that I could put placemats on the table and they would stay there and so that I could serve my guests without a child hanging on my leg like a Koala.
I didn’t get the house professionally cleaned, so I kept the lights down low. I did not have the yard manicured, so I closed the blinds. There were no hand calligraphied place cards, but there were placemats and real napkins. The plates were breakable and the cups did not have lids – nothing called sippy or had a Nemo motif was used. I did not have my toes painted to match my outfit. I didn’t even wear shoes. I wore an old blouse that needed ironed. I did manage to throw a few flowers into a vase for the table. I did manage to send everyone home with some Walnut/Cilantro pesto that I had made, but it was not in an antique Depression glass container with a matching bow as it would have been a few years ago. There was no flaming pineapple. But the wine flowed freely and everyone had a good time nonetheless.
The lesson in all of this is this: When it comes to entertaining, or most things in life really, good enough is good enough. And sometimes good enough is even better.
Chad’s Coconut/Panko Salmon with Carribbean Salsa
(Panko is Japanese bread crumbs. They are usually located with the other Oriental food)
Place a salmon filet skin side down on a cedar plank or foil lined baking sheet
Remove any bones
Lightly rub with olive oil
Squirt a little lemon juice over the filet
Cover with Coconut/Panko mixture (1 C Panko + ½ Cup Shredded Coconut)
Drizzle with a little butter or spray with olive oil to slightly moisten topping
Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes
Serve with Carribbean Salsa
Dice and mix all of the following:
1 bunch of cilantro
1 small red onion
1 can of drained mandarin oranges
1 red pepper
Manners are a big thing at the House of Antique. I happen to think that good manners and a well written thank you note can take you a long way in life. Consequently, I have made a considerable effort toward teaching Sean the basics and he is pretty good about saying “please” and “thank you”.
Just this morning as I handed him his sippy cup of milk he said, “Thank ya’ Mommy” like a little cowboy and my heart swelled with pride. And then I pulled his tiny index finger out of his nose and he wiped it on my shirt. We are still working on the not wiping boogers on other people part of manners.
So later today, when I heard him in another room rummaging around, I intuitively knew he was up to no good and I called to him to come. No response. “Sean, I need you to come here right now. I need to talk to you.” No response. “Sean if I have to come and get you, you will get a time out. Do you want a time out?”
And that’s when he pops his head around the corner, all smiles and dimples and says, “No thank you Mommy! I’m still playing.”
It’s really hard to give a time out to someone with good manners. Which only proves they really are magic words.
Photo temporarily unavailable.
Last week when we were at my parent’s house, my position in Sean’s universe slipped significantly. Anything Mommy could do, Grandma could do better.
I had heretofore been the chief boo boo kisser. I’m skilled in this particular area of medicine. I’m experienced, I’ve studied it, I’ve perfected it.
So when he bumped his knee and started crying, I reflexively called to him, “Come here Sweetie, Mommy will kiss it.” He stopped crying and looked at me. And then he looked at my mother and then back at me. “No thank you,” he said not able to look me in the eye, “Gammaw kiss it.”
“Um, well, okay,” I said trying not to sound hurt. “Grandma’s kisses are good too, I guess. I’ve got kisses over here too you know, if like, it doesn’t work out or whatever….”
He didn’t hear me saying that my kisses come with an extended warranty. He was already wrapped up in Gammaw’s arms. And it’s true. Gammaw’s kisses are superior. She can make a boo boo better no matter what’s hurting or how old you are. I know.
One thing I love about the stage we are in right now with Sean is that it doesn’t take a whole lot to thrill him. He has a lot of imagination and loves to pretend. I know that this time is golden and that one of these days he will be begging for expensive mind-numbing toys like Play Stations and X-Boxes (whatever those are) and being the cheapskate that I am, I’m not really looking forward to that.
Right now, if you ask Sean what he wants to do he will shout with enthusiasm “PetCo!” We go to PetCo (or PetSmart, we’re not that loyal) about four times as week. I call it the poor man’s zoo. We make several laps around the store looking at the dogs in doggy day care or getting groomed, the cats waiting for adoption, birds, fish, hamsters, snakes and mice. Our local PetSmart even has a tack shop with it, so Sean sometimes I let him sit on the saddles or try on riding caps.
Other free fun venues include the fish tanks at Wal-Mart and the Home Depot lawn and garden department where he likes to sit on the riding lawn mowers. And of course the Six Flags of free fun is the local Fire Station. Shoe warehouses provide nice long aisles to run up and down. I used to let him try on shoes, but his excessive interest in green sequined tennis shoes was a little troubling to me. My mind’s eye kept flashing on Richard Simmons.
If you are looking for fun at home, few things are as cheap or fun as a bottle of bubbles. But we are also happy with just a stick.
Cheap and easily amused are we here at the House of Antique.