Monday, December 12, 2011

Beavers Working Hard

Before you ask, this post is completely safe for work, except for the part about electric donkey bottoms.

Since June I've been doing most of my daily workouts in the wee hours before SNG and the kids get up for the day. In the summer, I'd start out after sunrise and get back as it started to get hot. In the fall, I'd leave right at or just before sunrise and get home in full morning light. Now that it's December, I leave in pitch darkness, run in pitch darkness, and usually get home in pitch darkness, or maybe just as the first light starts to show and I can sort-of be seen by passing cars. My hat has lights all over it and I carry a flashlight. It's kind of monotonous. Sometimes I slip on roadkill, which is exciting, but not fun. But the sounds of the woods at that time of day are spooky and intoxicating. Next month the days will get a little longer, and I look forward to it.

If I feel like staying on pavement (a good plan when it's pitch dark), I can take a route from my house down to a small lake surrounded by woods. On the way I always pass the same four neighbors (two with dogs, one running without dogs, one waiting for the high school bus) and one guy who rides a bike lit up like an electric donkey bottom.

In the lake live at least five beavers. I know there are at least five, because that is the most I've ever seen at one time. They are elusive -- you have to show up before sunrise and be very, very quiet. Usually I see them swim around in little circles, passing one another and SPLOOSHING a tail in the water on the way by (a beaver handshake, or a beaver prank?). Sometimes I see them just sitting on the shore listening to frogs. This morning I couldn't see them (it was really dark) but I could hear one slap-slap-slap-slap mud onto the dam with its tail, then splash-splash to gather more mud? dig? and then slap-slap-slap-slap. The sound really made me smile as I imagined the beaver making finishing touches on the winter hideaway.

e-baby has asked me to take a picture, but there's no way it would look like anything but a black screen. So I try to paint a vivid picture of the beaver lake before sunrise, chatting over breakfast every day. Some of the great joys of life are found in the tiniest corners.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Room of One's Own

This weekend, SNG and I are spending a weekend on our own, with Granny and Grampy taking care of the kids. We almost never get to do this – in fact, we’ve only had one other night away from the kids ever, so it’s a real treat. Since having kids, there’s always some kind of stress: whining, crying, poop on the floor, people to be fed, a mess to be cleaned, teeth to be brushed, laundry to wash, and on and on. We spend a lot of time putting out fires and by the time kids are in bed, we have very little energy left to just shoot the breeze. Conversation centers around the practical: did you remember to brush her hair? Did he potty one last time? What time do you need to get up tomorrow? Are you picking them up from school? I’ll switch the laundry if you’ll go fill the dishwasher.

Spending a day together, with no responsibilities, makes it easy to remember how much we just really like being together. Which is a lot.

We left this morning (Saturday) and drove to Morrow Mountain State Park, which is in the Uwharrie National Forest (alongside it? Anyway, on the map it looks like one green blob). On the way, we had lunch at a Thai place in Albemarle that was quite good (Thai Spice on Main St, in case you go – sushi’s good there, too). At the park, we hiked about 6 miles of beautiful wooded trail up to the top of Morrow Mtn and back. They have cabins to rent for a good price, all year round. The kids would love it.

After that we drove into Charlotte to go to Ikea. That was part 1. Tomorrow, the plan is to hike at Latta Planation Nature Preserve in the morning and then hit Ikea, part 2 around lunchtime. We’re getting Jambuca a new bed.

Speaking of Jambuca, I have a story that is disgusting and heart-warming and too funny not to share.

He has been potty training since August, with limited success. At first we had him sleep in a Pull-Up, but at some point, he got it into his head that Pull-Ups are for babies, and he’d take them off and now refuses to wear one. So, he sleeps in underwear. To make it easier for him, I put a kid potty in his room, with a towel underneath in case of “spills.” He rarely uses it, and he wets the bed at least a couple times a week. Usually, I hear him get up and run upstairs to usher him to the toilet before an accident occurs.

Today, I went upstairs to check on him and he was already up. As I opened the door I could smell that something was amiss. And there was Jambuca, in a t-shirt and no pants, standing in front of the little potty seat.

“I put some poop in da potty, mommy!”

"Good boy! Mommy is so proud of you"

(I noticed, then, that he had smears of poop on his shirt, arm, leg, foot, and hands. There was poop smeared on the side of the potty chair and I spotted a big, poopy handprint on the towel that is under the potty where it looked like he had carefully tried to wipe off his hands.)

“I pooped in my unnawear. I put it in da potty. I wipe my bottom!”

(Sure enough, lots of poop and Kleenex in the potty)

“Where did you get paper, honey?”

“I ‘tood on the chair to get the keenex from my dresser! I BiiiiiiG!”

“yes, you are big. Good job. Thank you for putting the poop in the potty. Let’s go clean up.”

(and there, on the towel, carefully folded up, is the offending pair of underpants. He put the poop in the potty. Not the pants.)

“Mommy, I wipe my hands riiiight HERE!” (indicating the poopy handprint mentioned above)

Repulsive as it was, I admit I was impressed that he had managed to solve such a problem on his own, using what he had at his disposal.