Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Night to Forget

There are some nights when kids just go absolutely bezerk. Nobody really knows why this happens. Maybe it's something to do with a full moon. Maybe it's changes in air pressure. Maybe it's Al Gore's global warming. I don't know. But whatever it is, it applies to dogs, too.

We had just such a night this past week. 

Honestly, I had to let the details become just a little more blurry in my mind before I could look at it as remotely humorous. Here, in no particular order, are some of the events of that historic night…

Earlier that morning, I had discovered one severely dead rat thanks to an effective trap being set in my family room. You can read about it here if you missed it:

Anyway, it had already been kind of an abnormal day by any standards (thank goodness it's still abnormal to have rats in my house). I got the kids from school and we got started with our evening routines of homework, dinner, baths, etc. 

But wait! Someone's at the door!

My five-year-old had been waiting on pins and needles over a week for the arrival of her very first American Girl doll. She was practically living on the front porch in expectation of her package, and with every passing day she was turning to face me with a significantly more irritated look in her eye. 

Because I control the mail? Oh, US post office, if you only knew the drama you created at my house and the weeping and wailing you caused when the doll did not arrive on the day it was expected to arrive. 

But finally, FINALLY, the doll was here! Excited voices echoed through the house as the girls eagerly brought the box inside and began tearing into it to help Leighanne finally see her dream come true to have her very own look-alike doll (this is a story for another post altogether…it was quite a traumatic Christmas morning around here). 

(before she found out Santa brought the totally wrong doll Christmas morning because he was trying to save a few bucks)

This was a happy camper.

(after Santa fixed his grievous error…)

After a few minutes of admiring her doll (which is either named Emma or Emily, I'm not sure because it gets changed every three minutes. Her other doll is named Maurice, so she's moving to quite a more traditional name either way), everyone went back to their previous activities. Me, cooking dinner, older girls doing homework, Leighanne playing in the (now rat-free) family room. Two minutes go by before I hear a screech of agony. 

Two words.


The same dog who had not done a solitary thing in helping catch the monstrous rat roaming the house for days. 

She had spotted the new doll laying on the couch next to Leighanne and had chewed up her boots within seconds and maimed one of the doll's toes. 

You can imagine how the next few minutes went at our house.

But finally, everyone calmed down again and the dog was serving her penance outside the rest of the night. Or so I thought.

A little while later, another child who will remain anonymous, "accidentally" kicked her
sister and was sent to her room. About two minutes later, I agreed to allow Leighanne to go upstairs with strict instructions to not bother her sister. She happily carried her now disabled doll along with her.

I should have known she looked a little too happy for someone who'd just gotten kicked.

Dinner was coming along fine so I sat down to help another daughter with her homework. 

That's when the screaming began. The kind of screaming that all moms instantly recognize as "something is seriously wrong". The kind of screaming that typically precedes a trip to the ER. The kind you definitely do NOT ignore. 

I raced up the stairs where one child was screaming and crying, "I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY!" I rushed past her to the other screaming child, who was sitting on her bed with huge tears rolling down her cheeks and wailing in a way that caused me to start frantically searching her for blood, especially when I saw a pair of scissors next to her. 

Everyone was screaming so loudly I couldn't hear myself think. Nobody would tell me what was happening. My daughter who was not involved in this exchange came upstairs to see what the crisis was all about. It was a room full of very emotional females, let me tell you. 

When the dust settled, it finally all came out. Leighanne, (the one who had looked very happy very quickly after being kicked, remember?) had "forgotten" I had forbidden her from showing her new library book to her sister. Period. Not even one page. 

It was a book on tarantulas, my middle daughter's idea of the seventh circle of hell. We're talking major arachnaphobia. To the point this kid may need psychiatric help to overcome her fear. So of course that meant Leighanne simply could not resist shoving the book in her face. 

So here I was, holding not one, but two screaming and crying children in my lap. One guilty as sin, the other scared to pieces by a giant image of a hairy tarantula in 3D, when I happen to glance over at the other twin bed in the room. 

Which brings us full circle back to the dog. 

The same dog who had not caught the rat, who had instead hunted a brand new American Girl doll, had now obviously at some point that afternoon sneaked her way upstairs (where she is NOT allowed), peed on the bed, and trotted back downstairs. 

And in holding with every law of nature and motherhood, the dog had peed on the bed a mere two hours after I had washed all the sheets and made up a fresh bed. Now I was faced with three more loads of laundry by the time I washed the quilt, duvet, sheets and mattress pad. 

But finally, everyone calmed down, apologies were asked and forgiveness granted (except by the dog, whom I will not forgive and she has still not even asked), and I went downstairs to finish dinner.

Not five minutes later, my oldest daughter came running in with blood gushing from her mouth. 

I am not getting paid enough for this, people. 

After a moment of determining what on earth was going on now, she explained that she had been licking the top of her open coke can (which is not supposed to be upstairs in the first place, but that is really beside the point at this stage) and sliced her tongue on the aluminum. 

She was grossed out. Her youngest sister was gagging. I was trying to help stop the bleeding. The dog was just watching from the french doors due to her outside banishment, and dinner was burning. 

Fast forward about two and a half hours. I tucked them all in (our usual three or four times), prayed with them, kissed them good night, and collapsed in a heap on my bed. 

Good grief. Tonight I broke up enough fights to qualify as a pretty effective security guard at most prisons. I dealt with an animal with continued bladder control issues (although at this point I think she knows exactly what she's doing. She is laughing at me.), I tried to persuade children to eat homemade broccoli and cheese soup that was only slightly burned, reviewed American history, studied spelling words and memory work, packed lunches, gave baths, and MAY have led the younger girls to believe it was bedtime just a tad earlier than normal. They can't tell time yet, and I better not hear about anybody teaching them for a while to come

Life with kids. It's a lot of things. Boring is never one of them. 

Now where's that glass of wine? Oh, right, I never could make myself like anything but the sugary white wines. Might as well just eat a piece of the pie I'd made as a special treat for the girls. After a night like this, you'd better believe they missed their chance…but lest you think me too harsh, I packed a piece for each of them in their lunch boxes for the next day. I am a pushover.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Rat Race

There are a few words that come to mind when I think about this first full week of 2014.

Unfortunately, if I say them out loud I have just broken my resolution to cuss less. Besides, this post would be too long if I share with you the events of today. But it was a doozy for this mama. It was the kind of day that makes you want to go picket outside Babies 'r Us and protest the blatant false advertising and propaganda they produce concerning the continual bliss of parenting. Despite it all, I adore being a mom. I love my kids more than my own life, but today they significantly shortened my life. But that's a post for another day….

It all began last Thursday when I began noticing what can only be described as droppings here and there downstairs in my house. I began to get a little nervous. As I looked around a little more closely, I moved from nervous to sick.

Mouse droppings. 

I immediately called our pest control company and within a few minutes our regular guy called me.

I was not happy to be told he couldn't make it over here until the following Monday. But okay, I am a big girl, and after all, I only saw them in one area and I can make sure the kids don't leave any food lying around. I can handle this, I told myself.

And I really did handle it pretty well. I thought we must be doing a pretty good job. 

And then…then Sunday night happened. I was getting out the girls' lunch boxes and went into total freak out mode. Mouse droppings EVERYWHERE. 

Do not get in the way of a woman cleaning out her pantry motivated by fear and disgust. If it wasn't nailed to the wall, I threw it out. Then I vacuumed, then I sanitized. Then I pulled out my couch from against the wall and went into freak out mode all over again. He'd been there, too! Then I slept with my eyes open and watched the clock for 10am Monday morning when the pest control guy said he'd arrive.

The next morning I opened my pantry door with great dread and trepidation. Sure enough, more evidence, but at least this time there was virtually nothing left to eat in the pantry so I didn't have to worry about our food being contaminated. My middle child refused to eat breakfast in these unsanitary conditions.

I couldn't really blame her.

The man arrived right on time and I anxiously ushered him in. 

"Oh, boy. Those are too big to be mouse droppings. You've got yourself a rat. Be careful. I once had a rat and it ate through my dishwasher hoses and we had to replace the whole thing."

He investigated in the family room. It is NEVER a good thing to hear a pest control professional gasp. 

Apparently the rat had made its playground behind the entertainment center. And by the looks of it he'd been there long enough to get comfortable. 

Oh. My. Heavens. 

We were the people you see on reality shows where friends have to do interventions because of the squalor of the living conditions. I was the rat lady. 

All I could imagine was rabid, humongous furry creatures with those awful, long, scaly tails and red beady eyes and sharp teeth. If I'd had a for sale sign I may have been tempted to put it in the front yard. 

A little while later it was just me, my youngest daughter, a very curious dog, and the most gigantic mouse traps I've ever seen lying in wait for an unlucky encounter. I'm not kidding. These traps were so big the pest guy said they would break your hand. I sufficiently frightened the kids enough that they were afraid to be in the same room with the traps. The dog was on lockdown so as to not set off a trap and lose a paw. 

Speaking of this dog, I'd like to touch on that subject for a minute. 

What the heck do I have a "hunting dog" for if she was letting a full-fledged RAT run around in my house at night? For the love of all things! I have suspected for a while that Lily is not the brightest bulb, but this confirmed it. She hasn't barked, hasn't sniffed, hasn't raised an eyebrow once that anything unusual was going on.

The night passed slowly with dreams of pink little rat feet and long tails scurrying all over my kitchen.

The next morning, I summoned my courage and peeked into the pantry. There they were. Two traps sitting there untouched, as nice as you please. But no new droppings, I noted. Hmm.

I went into the family room and carefully strained to see around the oversized chair where the third trap had been placed.

What I saw is burned into my mind's eye forever. Lesser women would've had a total meltdown. You can ask my 5-year-old. I would hardly even qualify the sound I made as a scream, and really what I was doing could've easily been called speed walking back to the kitchen. 

That was one really dead rat.

That was one really HUMONGOUS dead rat.

For the love of mike! It was practically the size of a guinea pig! I looked over at the "hunting dog" we paid hundreds of dollars for. She just cocked her head to one side and returned my gaze, as if offended that I would even question her on this. She is technically a bird dog, so maybe she doesn't even bother with rodents on steroids. I don't know. But whatever her excuse, she is SO fired.

The rat was disposed of and the area bleached thoroughly. I can't quite get that image out of my head. I still have spontaneous moments of shuddering when I think of what can only be described as a gruesome crime scene.

I know, I know, it's only a rat and now it's gone. It was just looking for a warm place to stay. It is a first world problem to be so freaked out by a rat in the house, I suppose. 

But good golly, what an unpleasant way to have it confirmed that your dog is totally incompetent.

*this is actually our first hunting dog, Hank, God rest his soul. He wasn't the brightest, either, but he was so far off the scales on hyperactivity I bet he would've caught that rat. I do have a picture of the dead rat, but because I like you, my faithful readers, I will not subject you to that kind of trauma.

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