Friday, September 26, 2008

Triops 3.0.

Triops two point zero lasted JUST long enough for both sets of grandparents to be equal parts impressed and creeped out.

(not my photo. Found this on the 'net somewhere. Creeptacular critters, and I could never have taken a shot like this in their little plexiglass pond)

We came back from a lovely Thai supper, the nine of us, to discover that both Triops 2.0 had bit the dust while we were out eating.

Now that's good timing.

So while Ken and Kelly were showing Grandpa and Grandma how to play Stone Age, I was upstairs, flushing Sparky and Flippy down the toilet (and from there, down the brand spankin' new twelve hundred dollar drain. Ouch), and setting up the Triops Pond for Triops 3.0.

With any luck, there will be motion in the tank tomorrow, and we'll watch them with the magnifying glasses.

Seriously, they are pretty cool science pets.

My folks arrived just before four o'clock this afternoon. I gave my dad his birthday present, gave my mom some sock yarn, and then rushed both sets of grandparents out the door so that we could all go down to Kung Fu to watch Nate join Kelly in her class. He's almost ready to graduate from his Tiger Belt series, and that will put him in Kelly's class, maybe as a Gold Belt, maybe as an Orange Belt, so for the next week or two, he'll be sitting in (standing in, jumping-jacking in, roundhouse kicking in) on her class, to get used to the pacing of it, before he graduates in October.

I was so pleased that Toni called me when she went to pick up Cole from the after school clubs. She wondered if she could just bring Skip down to Kung Fu, saving me a trip. Woo hoo.

And while Nate was taking his second class (and the grandparents were snapping photos like Paparazzi), I took my folks down the road to get them settled in their hotel for the weekend.

Kelly scored some sweet swag from my folks.

I scored 5 pounds of Canadian butter.

Yes, mom. My thighs thank you.

(but my GOODNESS, is this great butter, or what?... *goes off to make one last piece of toast*)

Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, we'll find out what other swag was brought down.

I made one of those Snapfish albums of our Seaside vacation with my folks. It arrived yesterday. Just in the nick of time. I wrapped it up for my dad for his birthday present. I think it was a hit.

And my mom loved the yarn, and the little metal-smithed quail garden ornament thingy that we got for her.

Tomorrow morning, I'm making French Breakfast Puffs. So I can have MORE of my Canadian Butter. Oh, it's gonna be a golden day.

I am moderately amped.

That's what I get for having an afternoon nap.

A nap? How do I fit it all in? you may be asking.

Well, Nate gets out at 2:30-ish, and Kelly gets out just after 3:00. And because Skip had after school clubs today, I just waited at the Elementary school after getting Nate, to grab Kelly. And it was a hot, hot day, so I took Nate into the library for the 40 minute wait. And then I realized that I'd done everything that I needed to do in the library for the week, and there really wasn't anything for me to spend my time doing.

So I sat down in a comfy chair...

And Fell Asleep.

Oh man, was I discombobulated when I woke up at 3:03, absolutely certain that it was Saturday, and WHY did they let me sleep so long, and was the school all locked up, and WHY was Nate still sitting there beside me, reading the SAME King Tut book...

Yeah. I don't do 'waking up' well.

But I've recovered, and now that I think about it, it really was a sweet little nap.

I think I'll stay up late sewing book bags for Miss Farthing (Kelly's former First Grade Teacher). And then I can sew MORE bags for Mrs Archer (Nate's current First Grade Teacher), because Mrs. Archer saw Miss Farthing's bags, and was "In Love!"


Paint me with sucker paint.

Child Labour

Well, the plumbers arrived.

Right on time.

So I've got my Russian plumber, with his Central American assistant, and I'm hearing instructions being given under the house in heavily Russian-accented Spanish.

Ooh! I just heard a pipe crash and a bang under the house, and some very colorful language. If only I was quicker, I could be learning International Swear Words.

And my inlaws just came back from their morning constitutional, only to discover that there's NO WATER IN THE HOUSE.

No taps. No washing. No watering. And Absolutely No Flushing.


Let me say it again.


So Ken's folks are going to leave early for their luncheon with Ken at New Hip Company. And they'll stop at the mall on the way there, so they can wash up after their strenuous 3 mile walk. Yes, the morning constitutional really is something of merit. None of this namby-pamby walk around the block business. They walked to the NEXT CITY OVER, and back.

Yikes, there was just some loud noses, and the sounds of power tools, and a giant SHUDDERING under the house.

And it sounds like the plumbers are RIGHT beside me. Who knew that floors stop sound about as well as bedroom walls.

My folks arrive this afternoon.

They'll be staying at a local hotel. They like their space.

(good grief, there's that house-shuddering pipe-cutting again)

Have I mentioned that I haven't knit a SINGLE STITCH since we were together with them in Oregon... in JULY?

I think since then (when I taught my mom how to knit socks) she's knit TWO PAIRS of the things.

I suck as a knitter.

Oh, that reminds me, I bought some great sock yarn for mom as a giftie for when they arrive. Gotta go find that... brb.

... OOH! I bought TWO skeins of that yarn. Maybe we'll knit socks together this weekend.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday. 68. I remember when he turned 40. It really doesn't seem like that long ago. And why did he seem SO OLD when he turned 40, and I'm 43, and I don't feel a day over 20. Yikes.

Tomorrow is my folks' 45th anniversary.

I meant to make them one of those snapfish photo albums. Whoopsie. That'll have to wait until Christmas. Argh, I'm a bad daughter. Lots of ambition, and absolutely ZERO follow-through.

(uh oh. Now the plumbers are yelling at each other. This does not sound good. Maybe I should bake them something).

Heh. I just realized that I titled this entry because I actually, like, you know, had a TOPIC in mind when I started.

This is what I've been putting Kelly to work doing these last few weeks.

She's my little library-slave.

Being Punished

On Wednesday, when the plumber came out to take a look-see under the house, I was given a window of time when he "might" arrive. (Back Story: We had a routine termite inspection last week, and the termite guy, when he came out from under the house, said "So, how long has your kitchen drain not been attached to the main drain? You really should have a plumber look at that. Soon." Egads!)

This is what the phone call sounded like:

Scheduler: I have you scheduled for Wednesday, between 9 and noon. Can you be home during that time?

Me: Yes, But I'll be dropping kids off at school until 9, and I have to leave at twelve to get kids from school, as it's a half-day.

Her: OK, I'll have the plumber call you when he's on his way, so you'll have a better idea of when he will be at your house.

So as I hear that? The plumber's gonna call, right?

Wednesday morning rolls around.

I'm doing the 3-kid shuffle.

And I realize I'm almost out of gas.

And I've got a ton of processed books for the Elementary School library in the back of the van.

And I look at my watch and think "He'll be there between NINE and NOON. I bet I can go get gas, and drop off these books, and STILL get home by 9. And won't I be efficient?"

So I drop off the kids, and scream off to the gas station, and fill the tank, and then scream back to the school to drop off the boxes of books to go into the collection, and it's 9:05, and I'm just a bit nervous, but not TOO nervous, because HEY, you know how the cable company works... they tell you 9 to noon, and then arrive at 1:30 looking all innocent.

And my phone rings.

"Hello, this is the scheduler at the plumber's office. Can I get your address? He says he's at your house, and there's nobody home."


SO I apologize profusely, and say I'm a half mile from home (only a slight under-estimate) and heading home, and she says "Well, I knew that you'd said you have to drop kids off at school..."

Fast forward to this morning.

The scheduler phoned Wednesday afternoon, once they found out that they're going to have to take TWO plumbers the ENTIRE MORNING to replace the plumbing disaster under the house, and I've been scheduled for Friday morning. And because it's a big job, I'm the FIRST TICKET on their schedule, and they will be here at 8:30 SHARP.

Yes, I said, I will be SURE to be home. I'll have someone else take the kids to school.

And now it's 9:25.

And there's NO SIGN of the plumbers.

And I'd really, really, REALLY like to be able to use my kitchen sink. And the dishwasher. And I probably shouldn't use the washing machine this morning, if they're going to be fiddling with the MAIN DRAIN under the house...

So I guess I'm being punished for my tardiness on Wednesday.


In other news, I think S'more is in heat.

Good grief, she went off like a Mad Cow last night. We had her out for a minute, she got to have a little kissy-through-the-bars with Midnight (Kelly's idea), and then she turned into a complete nut bar. She was racing around her cage, rubbing against the bars, rolling over on her back, running in circles, then suddenly stopping to scratch herself.

Oh good grief, I hope she doesn't have fleas. That would be the worst!

Actually, if she had scrapies, that would be worst. Apparently, hamsters CAN get a prion-sourced disease much like Mad Cow Disease.


Ah! Word from the plumber.

Apparently, one of the plumbers who was coming to the house today (we need two... ca-CHING) had a family emergency this morning.

They're on their way. Should be here before 10:30.

I wonder if they'll work faster, so they can be done by noon.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Happy Couple. To scale.

S"more is getting more and more accustomed to her surroundings.

The little bits of peanut butter on the fingertips seem to be really doing the job. She nearly comes running now, when she hears Kelly coming into the room.

Of course, Midnight is all Johnny on the Spot when he hears her, because he's just HOPING that he'll get taken out of his cage, and get to see... HER... the love of his life.

I swear, it's hilarious. Kelly will handle S'more first, and then she'll put her back in her cage to groom herself, and when she goes over to Midnight's cage, he's standing up on his hind legs, waiting to get picked up (through his cage door in the roof of his house) And when Kelly reaches in to pick him up, his first order of business is to lick her fingers, everywhere his Beloved has walked.

Kelly's getting a real good introduction into the world of Animal Magnetism.

And she can hardly wait for S'more to be old enough to 'date'.

So she teases the hammies with supervised visits.

(stupid S'more has decided to build her nest in her penthouse exercise ball. That makes her only slightly smarter than Midnight, who uses his exercise ball as a porta-potty)

"Look, mom. They're trying to kiss through the cage!"

I don't know if you can get the idea of exactly HOW much bigger Midnight is than S'more. He's probably three times her size, maybe four, weight-wise.



And S'more, in the same set of hands.

Awww. More kissing!

But I should pack it in.

Dawn came early this morning... ouch. This Monday, Wednesday, Friday jazz band zero period business is killing me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The beginning of the end?

Both sets of inlaws are descending on us this weekend.

In preparation for the assault, I have started getting the house in order.

Yeah, who knew that I could actually be on the ball, and start getting ready for Wednesday on Monday? I'm all grown up, or something.

But anyways. In order to make things work, Nate will move in with Skip in his room, Kelly and the Hammies will move into Nate's room, and then Grandpa and Grandma can have Kelly's room (minus the hamsters and their unique bouquet)

So this morning, I'm moving things around, and before we leave for school, Kelly and I move Midnight and S'more over into Nate's room, onto cleared spaces on the dresser and the toy box. Kelly suddenly says "Eeeew, gross!"

"What's up?" I ask, knowing, of course, that Midnight, being a boy-hamster, tends to make a more caustic stink in his cage.

"Mom, Midnight pees on his wheel, and it's all DARK!"

Well, we knew that Midnight had decided a while ago that instead of actually EXERCISING on his exercise wheel, he was going to use it as a wobbly potty. I try to keep up with the cleaning, wiping it out occasionally, so that it's not accumulating a sticky dark pee-coating. So I just said "Don't worry, honey, I'm cleaning the cages this morning." and we left it at that.

We go off to school, I run a few errands, and I head home to clean cages and start laundry before I have to go to the library to volunteer.

First order of business? Midnight's cage.

I open his cage, and he comes running. He's so well trained. "maybe she has a treat? Maybe she has peanut butter on her finger?" (thanks for that tip, special fave of mine!)

I put him in his wheel, and got ready to clean out the cage.

There was a lot more sunlight in Nate's room than there had been in Kelly's room when we moved the cages, and when I popped open Midnight's cage, something became immediately apparent.

It was not dried up old dark piddle in Midnight's exercise wheel.

It was blood.

And the blood was sticky and fresh.

I looked at Midnight. He was gaily tooling around in his little exercise ball, exploring the perimeter of Nate's room. He didn't look sick at ALL. There was no matted fur. There was no lethargy. There was no dullness in his eyes.

Just this puddle of blood in his exercise wheel.

So I cleaned up the cage, and gave the wheel a good scrubbing. And when I brought the cage back into Nate's room, I saw something I was hoping I wouldn't see.

Midnight had peed while out in his exercise ball, and there was a small red puddle in the middle of the floor.

I read as much as I could get my hands on for the remainder of the time I had at home before heading out. Looks like hamsters are very prone to getting bladder stones. Especially after they turn ONE. Who knew that a one year old hamster was already considered Of Advanced Age? Midnight's almost TWO. He should be collecting Hamster Social Security checks, by this information.

While a veterinarian can operate to remove the stones, this seems like a great deal of grief and effort for a pet that probably only has a few more months of good life left. He doesn't seem to be in any pain at all, is eating and drinking fine, and hasn't changed his habits at all. I've looked up a few things, and will cut back on the fatty treats (he's such a sucker for Yogurt Drops, which are pretty high in fat), and will introduce dandelion leaves, which should help him pee more freely. But looking at the contiguous volume of piddle he produced, he doesn't seem to be having any difficulty with stopping and starting. And until I see some changes in his behaviour, I'm going to just keep mopping up the pink piddle, and hope that he's truly not in any distress.

I'm not ready to go back to being a one-hamster family just yet.

And I'm sure that Kelly isn't, either.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Escape Artist

S'more just escaped.

Good grief.

That creature is made of lightning. Lightning coated with grease.

One minute, she's sitting on Kelly's bed, cradled in Kelly's arms, getting a little Good Night snack before we turn out the lights, the next nanosecond, she's leaping off Kelly's arm, and out into the void. A triple half-gainer with a back flip, and she's somewhere on the floor, blending in with the carpet, and she's GONE.

*shakes fist at the hamster-coloured carpeting*

And of course, the lights are low, and Kelly immediately BURSTS into uncontrollable sobbing tears, and I'm distracted, so I don't see where S'more goes after she does a belly flop onto the carpeting.

All the commotion brings Ken into the room, where he has the presence of mind to close the door, and put a towel-baffle down across the gap at the door's base. But he's in Review Writing Purgatory, and has 15 peer review to write before midnight, so he REALLY doesn't have the bandwidth to be dealing with this.

Ack. So much for my New Week's Resolution to get the kids in bed with lights out by 8:15.

So my first thought was that I'd seen her go under Kelly's dresser. And hamsters, they are the Champlains of the rodent world. If there is a nook to be explored, they are all over it.

Cue the emptying of all Kelly's drawers. Oh man, what a mess. And her bed had been so neatly made, too. By this point, Kelly's sobbing had been reduced to the occasional blubbering, which she managed to keep in check when I'd say "Shh, let's listen to hear if we can find out where S'more is"

And then we had an idea. S'more and Midnight are "in love", says Kelly. More likely, Midnight is a horn dog, and can't wait until he can have his way with the little filly. But he's got a definite attraction towards S'more, and so Kelly suggests we put him in his Hamster Ball, and set him loose to hunt her down, much like a Bloodhound after an escaped convict.

So Midnight is corralled, and put into his ball, and off he goes across the vast expanse of newly-cleared floorspace. Now, whether or not he's actually following a scent is anyone's guess, but he tracks back and forth across the floor like some Olympic sprinter. (This gives me great hope that he'll bring home the gold in October 4th's Petco Invitational Hamster Ball Derby!, which Kelly registered him for this afternoon, btw)

The only bad thing is that Midnight does not understand the concept of Quiet Running. So any hope that I had of setting him loose, and then listening to S'more give away her position with a little scurrying, or a little nibbling of some hidden seed treasure is shot to bits.

And then, after a HALF HOUR of this, where things are beginning to look bleak, very bleak indeed, suddenly S'more darts out from some crevice in the closet, darts across my toes, and then sits there, beside my foot, looking up at me as if to say "Well, I'm done with this freedom business. Put me back in my cage, please."

This, of course, set Kelly back into tears. (me too, nearly.)

And I reach down, and cradle the little escape artist, and I wonder how it is that I'm so very relieved to be petting and nuzzling this little walnut-sized creature, when only two hours earlier, I was picking up a nearly-identical sized mouse carcass from the garage, and dispatching it to the trash can with hardly a backwards glance. They're both rodents. They have identical beady little black eyes. Yet one of them is a nuisance, and the other makes my daughter's heart sing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Please, Sir... can I have S'more?

OK, we had a bit of an accident this afternoon.

Kelly and I went out running errands after church. I had a bunch of stuff to drop off at the thrift store, and then, seeing as I was there already, we poked around, and there had just been a metric butt-load of books donated, so I had to go through them, and buy a bunch of $0.69 books... apparently because bringing home 42 books that were culled from the library last week just weren't ENOUGH juvie novels for me.

And then, seeing as we were in that neck of the woods, I took Kelly to Dairy Queen for lunch. Just a girly-lunch of trans fat and french fries dipped in mayo.

Yes, the diet starts TOMORROW!

And then, seeing as Petco was JUST NEXT DOOR, we stopped in there for a little promenade to walk off some of the fatty lunch.


I knew it was dangerous to go shopping when hungry.

I thought it was safe to go shopping when I was NOT hungry.

Apparently not.

Meet S'more.

As in "Can I have s'more?"

"Doesn't she look like a graham cracker and a marshmallow?"

"Soon we will have S'more hamster babies."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

FIled under: Can this end well?

Some days, we have the most idyllic of family experiences.

I putter in the sparklingly clean kitchen, apron shielding my housedress. Ken sits in his easy chair, reading the paper (online). The children frolic in their make-believe games...

...and then I wake up from my daydream.

Oh yes, there are make-believe games.

Just imagine what sort of games you can come up with when you match up Mr. Gullible, Miss Encouragement, and Mr. Reads-Too-Many-Scary-Books.

This was the scene I peeked out on when the kids were being JUST a little too quiet.

I never thought to ask them what nefarious purposes they had in mind for the pitchfork.