Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things That Go Scratch In the Night

Normally, I am the last one up in our house.  Most nights, you can find me sitting at the dining room table, where I have the laptop with a heater turned on, browsing the web, replying to emails, working on some project, or otherwise just waisting time on the internet.  From my seat, I can hear all the doors open, and my children moving around.  Its a good place to sit, most of the time.

However, it not only lets me hear my kids, but also anything else that goes scratch in the night.  

We have a lot of little wild life around us.  We do live in a more rural than urban area.  We have about a billion squirrels that live in our front and back yards.  We have the most beautiful birds like robins, cardinals, and blue jays, that will just land somewhere in our yard so that you can watch them.  We have found a turtle, and often see neighborhood pets out who have gotten loose.  Once, a horse even made its way into our front yard.  No.  Really.  It is actually really great for The Littlest One.  She loves to watch the animals.  So far, squirrels and birds are her favorites.  After all, the horse doesn't wander by every day or that would be her favorite for sure.  
With all of those animals, you often hear things running across the roof.  It is a little weird at first, but you get used to it.  Occasionally, a bird or squirrel wanders onto our screened in back porch somehow, and we have to help them out.  Little things like that are no big deal.  What is a big deal, though, is when those little animals make their way inside our home.  

I'm not sure if I've posted about this before, but I HATE mice.  Hate them.  Can't handle them.  It isn't so much a fear, but the fact that they gross me out beyond all belief.  Just looking at one makes me want to bleach my entire body.  If I know a mouse touched something, I throw it away.  No amount of washing will ever take that knowledge out of my head.  

Late, late one night, right after we moved in, a saw a little tiny mouse run across my kitchen floor while I was sitting in my dining room seat at night.  I freaked out.  The next morning, my husband caught it and took care of it.  It took me days to calm down, though.  We also called our a pest control guy, the one who explain how deer hunting worked to me, to make sure the problem was taken care of.  I wouldn't open up the cabinet under my kitchen sink, where it had been hiding, without being totally prepared to jump and run for quite a while.  Eventually, though, it did get better.  I even keep just a couple of things under there now, at the front of the cabinet where I can easily grab them, of course.  

Then, last night, it happened again.  

I was sitting in my chair and I heard something.  At first, I thought it was one of The Girls stirring, and that I was about to see one walk in and tell me they couldn't sleep, didn't feel well, etc.  No one came in, though.  I kept working.  Then I heard it again.  This time, I realized it was more of a scratching sound.  I got up, walking into the kitchen quietly and listened.  There was total silence.  Just when I thought I was imagining things, I heard a very distinctive claw on wood sound of scratching from INSIDE one of my cabinets.  I immediately flew to my bedroom, not caring that The Littlest One was asleep in there, and begged my husband to come to my rescue again.  I told him there was an animal in the house and he had to come.  Had to.  He started to laugh and somehow sign at the same time, but he got up.  
He came in and heard nothing.  He opened the cabinet under the sink, scene of the last crime, and saw nothing.  He checked under the drawer where the last offender had also lived, and saw nothing.  He hit the cabinet, and nothing moved.  He hit the cabinet harder and still nothing moved.  
He told me I was imagining things and went back to bed.  
I knew what I heard.  
I left the room to close the computer, after all, there was no way I was sitting in there by myself anymore last night.  
Then, I tiptoed as well and as quietly as someone of my age and size can still do back into the kitchen, and I didn't move.  It took a few minutes, and I heard something again.
I knew I wasn't crazy.  At least not in this instance.  
I took about one tiptoe step a minute until I got the the kitchen sink.  I could hear it.  
My husband heard me trying to be stealthy, and he came back in to tell me to give up.  
I restated my case.  This time, he got out a flashlight.  We opened the cabinet again.  In the back of the cabinet under the sink is a big hole, larger than a softball, where someone who has no real know how of anything construction related tried to cut a hole for the pipes.  The hole goes all the way into the sub floor and makes a great little hiding spot.  That was where we found him.  My animal was a tiny field mouse.  He was little and gray, and freaked me the hell out.
I started backing away, but not slowly all while yelping "I told you!"
The field mouse was stuck to a sticky trap we had left in there from the last time.  He was still very much alive, though.  After a lot of poking fun at me, and a little bit of discussion about how the mouse needed to go or I was, he ask for the cheapest set of long barbecue tongs we had.  I didn't even flinch.  I told there where they were, because they were located in close proximity to the now diseased cabinet, and nearly started to cry.  Not for the animal, but because I knew he was going to carry that thing though my house, and I was terrified he would try to torture me with it.  
Instead, he got a bag, got the mouse out, and carried the whole thing outside.  I have no idea where he put it, or what he did with it from there, and i don't want to know.  
The tongs are in the trash, where they will stay.
I just can't handle the mice.

Today, I will be going out for more traps, lots of bleach, and new BBQ tongs.  It will take a long time before I can open that cabinet again, without flinching instinctively   I will be checking for scratching sounds for days when I first walk into the kitchen.  Ugg..

I suppose, if there is any upside to this at all, after all the cleaning today, my kitchen will be sparkling clean, even if it will all smell like bleach.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaching Our Children To Stand Up To The Man

There are days when I am definitely My Father's Daughter.  Granted, I am always biologically his, but some days, I act just like him as well.  My Father is a grouchy, mean old man, whom I love.  He taught me a lot of things.  Some good.  Some my mother doesn't appreciate.  One of the best lessons he ever taught me, though, is to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what or to whom.  He taught me that elected officials put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, and their door, or email inbox, should always be open to us.
Right now, I am going through the process of trying to get the great city of Chattanooga to change a city code that will disqualify many of our recently retired veterans from serving as police officers or fire fighters.  Basically, to be employed for either, you mist be totally through training and hired before you turn 40.  When a person enters the military at 18, they can retire 20 years later at the age of 38, possibly very closed to 39.  The hiring process is very long, often taking up to, or even longer than a year for police officers.  That means, you will be 39, pushing 40, by the time you are even approved for a police academy.  Then, you have to wait for an academy to start.  In all that time, most recent retirees will age out of eligibility, since the training itself take yet another 5 months, and you must be done before you turn 40.  I find it absurd that the city would toss aside so many people who would be invaluable to them in either department.  Turing 40 doesn't mean you can't still be a vital member of the police department.  Far from it.   In fact, with the experience that many people walk away from the military with, they would only make the police department better for it.  Where else are you going to find so many people who are completely prepared to make tough decisions under extreme pressure?  They are generally all very familiar with small arms, something a police officer needs to be very comfortable with.  I could go on, and on about how their experience would be beneficial to the department, but I think it is really very obvious.  They would make great police officers, especially those who have any military police training.
However, this city code will preclude so many of them from being up to get into the department on such a tight time frame.
So, I want it changed.
I also have a special drive for this because it does affect my family directly.  I don't want to go into that right now, but I think you can figure it out.

I've already started contacting the mayor and City Council members.  I've started a petition that I plan on taking to a council meeting as soon as I have enough signatures.  Please, sign it.  Sign it.  Share it.  Send it to anyone you know.

As a side goal in this whole process, and something that gets me all worked up in a good way, I want to involve my children.  I want them to watch their mom in action and see that anyone can try to change the way things are run.  "We the people.." isn't just in our governing documents for great literary effect.  It is there because regardless as to how they make us feel sometimes, we need to remember that we elect people.  We should drive policy, not the policy makers themselves.  I want my girls to see it, and feel it.  I want them to stand up for what they believe in, and work to change what they don't.

I want my Girl Scout troop to participate with me, too.  I want them to sit in on the council meetings that I go to.  I want them to watch me speak, and learn that they can do anything and be anything they want to.

This is one time where my dad taught me everything just right.  Thanks, Dad, and I promise to pass the lesson on to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It Is Not Stage Fright

The Biggest One and I have been sick.  Really sick.  We had the flu.  It was u-g-l-y.  I really felt that needed spelling out.  It was that bad.  Anyway, while neither of us were really back to full strength yet, I thought it was time she went back to school today, especially since today was Girl Scouts and she had a music performance.  It may have been a tad too soon.
Apparently, when she was standing on the stage today practicing, she got very sweaty, started seeing black spots, turned super pale, and couldn't see well.  She started to pass out.  They made her sit down, and then go to the nurse.  I'm not sure what caused it, but I can bet she just didn't have enough fluids today, and over exerted herself her first day back.  Anyway, The nurse, who is really very sweet, listens carefully to The Biggest One about what happened.  This is my girl who tonight, on stage in front of everyone, shimmied while she sang when no one else was really dancing, sang so loud that another child turned to her and told her that everyone could hear her, who gave the best show of the evening on her own, just because of her enthusiasm   If you know her, you know exactly what I mean.  She is a ham.  A showman though and though.  Straight drama runs though her blood.  So, the nice nurse listens to her, sweetly, then proceeds to tell her that it was just stage fright, and that often causes people to feint.
Say what?
Stage fright.
No.  Not her.
I burst out laughing.
The sad thing is, again if you know her, or have read about her with me before you know where we are about to go, she believed it.  She came home and told me she had stage fright.  I tried to reason with her.  I tried to explain that she had anything but stage fright, but since The Nurse told her, it must be true.  I finally got her to see reason when I told her it was possible she locked her knees.  I explained how lots of people feint because of that.  She thought that could have been possible.  However, she still felt it could have been stage fright.
So, we went, and she shimmied and sang.  She begged to the the example and come to the mic every time the music teacher ask a question.  She was all over it tonight, without ever batting an eye.

At the end of the performance, we get her and start walking out.  We talk.  I tell her how great she was, and discuss the program for a minute.  Then, we get in the truck.  The moment we were all belted, I stopped, looked at her, and ask "Now, do you think, you who sang the loudest and danced the most, that you still have stage fright?"  This time, she laughed.  She knew it definitely wasn't that, and remembered how much she loves being in front of people.  I can't believe she ever forgot it.
So, no, it wasn't stage fright.  She may need more rest, and I'll be forcing more water down her, but I'm sure we can put at least that bit to bed, for now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

You Have Value As A Mom

In all my time as an organizer of a moms group, I learned a lot.
Right now, one of the most valuable lessons for me personally, and one that I am struggling with myself, is that being a mom doesn't mean you are just a mom, you have value no matter who you are and what you do, or don't do.
When people would request to join our group, they are required to fill out a profile sheet of a few questions. The first thing on the list is an introduction.  It can be simple, but we do request that you actually put something about themselves.  So many times, women would come in and their introduction would read something like "Hi.  I'm Jane Doe, and before I was a Mom, I was a ...." It wasn't simple a way to let us know their interest.  It was as though they needed to let us know that they did something before becoming a mom, that with out that, they weren't a valid person.
I realized, after talking to so many moms over the years, that we so often lose ourselves when we become a mom, and forget how important we are.
When you become a mom, everything changes, especially if you quit the work force to stay home with your children.  When you do that, you lose touch with so many people, and what could easily be called "the outside world", meaning anything outside your home, or the scope of what revolves around your child.  Your day to day life is determined by the child's needs and schedule, not what you necessarily want.  If you let it, it can become very overwhelming to find your life so turned on it's ear.  Especially because, though you are raising a child, probably keeping the home, and all that, you often don't feel that you make a real contribution.  Your life feels like an endless cycle of the same thing.  It's like the old Dunkin Donuts commercial, and every day you wake to make the donuts, except your feeding the baby, changing the baby, cleaning the house, making lunches in the morning, etc.

For me, when we moved, I left everything behind.  I had a great moms group I ran.  I had a Girl Scout Troop I loved.  I had friends that are really more like family.  I loved the area.  I could go on, but I might cry.  So, I find myself back in that position, as if I were a new mom, just at home, with the baby.  I live by her schedule again, and end up cooking, cleaning ,and doing those kinds of things all day.  Part of me hates it.

The thing is, even if what you are doing is just feeding the baby, changing her, etc, you are making a contribution that is more than you can possible understand in that tired moment.  You have a job, though often a thankless one.  You are the toilet paper fairy, the dinner fairy, and every other fairy that makes things seem to magically happen for everyone else in your home.  You are the reason it goes on.  Without you, the house wouldn't run, the baby wouldn't be happy, and life would be even more chaos than it already is.
So, don't feel like you aren't making a contribution, because you are.  You will get your own outside life back.  Search online for groups of moms that you can hang out with, with baby.  Take her to the park and hang out.  Take her shopping and play with her.  Enjoy this moment because it won't last long.  There will be a day when you aren't needed at home in the same way anymore.   There will be a day when you long for the moments where you were "just" taking care of things inside.
Until, know that your contribution is invaluable.
You are awesome.
You are a mom, and there are few jobs in this world as hard and yet as wonderful and rewarding as that.