Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snakes in Trees

Last Sunday my brother, Charlie, and his family (HEY, SAM!!) were over at our house.  We have this BIG tree in the back yard that is leaning over the back part of the house and we needed someone brave (aka: Charlie) to come help us get it down.  Since William is deathly afraid of heights and I am not "fit" enough to climb a tree, Charlie was on his own. My brave bro was about 30 feet up and taking a break from the strenuous work of running a chainsaw one handed (because he had to hold on with the other hand).  The girls were playing on a blanket by the back patio, teasing Charlie about how snakes were going to climb up there and get him.  He shots back and says, "Ha Ha, I am in a tree, there are no snakes up here!  I'm in a safer place then you are!" Oh, yes....he really had to say that. From experience, you should never "test" the nature around you.  One phrase you should also never say is, "What else could happen?"  Okay...well, the story goes on.
After deciding that he needed something cold to drink, Charlie climbs down the tree and takes a small break.  William and my bro are sitting on the tailgate of his truck when William says, "Holy (crap), is that a snake?"  We all froze.  We started looking and saw a 6+ foot black snake rolling down the naked looking tree.  Of course, the girls start freaking out, running around like a flock of headless chickens, screaming at the top of their lungs.  William runs into the house to grab the closest gun he can find (which happens to be a double barrel on our mantle) and the kids go running in behind him.  I could see the girls standing in the sunroom with their hands over their mouths, tears rolling down their faces, and fear covering them.  Of course William, who has only killed one deer in his whole life (well with a gun), missed the first shot (which tells you why he has only killed one deer).  He runs towards the house to reload and the door was locked!  He hollered at the girls to come unlock the door but they were too scared because they thought the snake was coming in with him.  After about 5 minutes of pleading, the girls gave in. 
While all of this is taking place and Sam, Charlie, and I are just watching, laughing our keesters off...but keeping a close eye on the snake to make sure it doesn't come closer to us.  William brings out two bullets and hands the gun to Charlie.  First shot = dead snake.  The girls finally came out of the house and were doing a thorough investigation of the black snake while the adults watched.  Not even 10 minutes later, another snake is spotted in the same tree, coiled around a low branch.  "Ok, maybe that wasn't the safest place to be," Charlie says as we watch William scramble for the shotgun. 
Our "chickens" head for the "chicken coop" again as the gun is handed over to Charlie.  The snakes laid side-by-side as we tried to give them a rough measurement...and I would say they were good six-feet, headless.  I grabbed both snakes by the tails (do they have tails?) and took them to the fence row, throwing them over so they would be out of sight.  I have to say, Dawna and Bo (Sam and Charlie's little cuties), seemed to be fine with girls crying, screaming, and acting like girls, while they played on the blanket during the whole fiasco.  I was rather impressed!
Needless to say that we haven't walked under that tree without looking up to make sure there are no snakes in it since that day.  My mom came over last night and the girls acted fearless when they walked her to the fence to see the Killer Snakes...but we all know they are chickens when the snakes are alive!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kids get hurt...right?

As I sit and watch my little "innocent" children play in the yard, I realize something...kids have it so easy!  When I was younger, I remember playing in our back yard with all the neighborhood kids, listening to Billy Ray on my boom-box, and climbing every tree around.  Wow, I am so over protective.  I actually yelled at the kids for trying to climb the Walnut tree in the front yard.  Why? Because they could get hurt!  I know that my mom loved us very much, but I can't bring myself to let them do things that might hurt them. My kids have never had a broken bone, never had stitches, or even needed a butterfly bandage.  So, I feel like I am doing a pretty good job as a parent....so far. I know it's not all about getting hurt, it's about being a kid and experiencing things for the first time (like broken bones and stitches).  BUT...I know the first time that I let them do something, they will end up in the E.R. just like their dad does every holiday. 
You see, when I was young, I was in the hospital every other day it seemed.  I had 13 stitches in my face by the time I was eight.  I just want them to be happy, you know?  Not afraid to do things but careful when they do. 
Ok, Trish, get to the point, right? Ok, well here it is.  Kids get hurt, they will get bruises, scratches, scars, broken bones, and even stitches eventually.  I just have to make sure that I am there when they do, so I can assure them that they will be ok, so I can kiss the "boo-boo's" and stick a band-aid on it.  I guess being out here, makes me remember how it was when I was a kid.  I didn't have my mom telling me not to find adventure, or not to play baseball with the boys because I would get hurt.  I did play...and I did get hurt and my mom was there to make sure I was ok.  My challenge to myself this week is going to be letting my kids experience new things. I am going to (try) not be so over protective for one week...we will see how this goes.  Just remember though, this is a really difficult thing for me to do.  Babystep!

The first month of killing bugs...

Sheltered.  You know the type.  They are the ones sitting in the corner who have GermX on a key chain.  Well, that's me.  I am a germaphobe.  I hate dirt, germs, and the smell of dirt, grass, and hay, well...pretty much anything that isn't completely sanitized. However, when I moved to a farm, I really didn't think about all of this.  I assumed that my husband would be the one who killed all of the snakes, bugs, and other field critters.  Well, I was wrong. 
A week into life at the farm, I noticed that there were a lot of spiders and other misc. bugs hanging out around the house.  I hated the thought of actually sleeping with them leerking in the corners, so I thought it would be fun to do a bug scavenger hunt with the kids.  And of course there would be a reward for whoever killed the most bugs! 
I sat the kids down and explained the rules.  They could go anywhere in the house, kill as many bugs as they wanted, use whoever's shoes was closest, but they had to bring me the evidence.
So there I was, huddling in the kitchen waiting for my little hunters to bring me their kill.  Reigan, who is 4, was first to come running up the stairs.  "Momma, hurry!  I found one, it's a spider," she said pointing at the basement.  I stayed put, I wasn’t the one who was going to get the reward at the end of this little game, and I wasn't going to get my very clean, hands dirty!  "Reigan, you are supposed to kill the spider, not Momma.  Go back down stairs and kill it with your shoe."  As she turned back towards the stairs, I had to laugh.  "This was a great idea," I thought, "Kids are so gullible."
Jasmine, who is almost seven, was next to return to "base".  She has already killed three beetles, two flies, and a spider.  She was very proud.  I had her put her bugs in a pile on a paper plate, right outside the kitchen door, and then I sent her on her way, back to find more.
My pre-pre-teen, Addie, seemed to be very quiet and I hadn't heard a peep from her, so I started to get concerned.  I left my post, walked down stairs (where her bedroom is) and found her....taking a nap!  I woke her up and then practically begged her to "play".  She insisted that I was the one worried about the bugs and I should "play" if I thought it was that fun.  Little did she know that I was playing...just not the same game. 
After about an hour of all bug hunting, I had two contenders left, Jasmine and Reigan.  Reigan had a shoe full of various bugs and Jasmine had a full plate.  It was hard to judge because they both did such a great job, but I had to choose one.  Jasmine seemed fearless when it came to killing, which worried me a little.  Reigan was scared at first, but ultimately had more bugs than Jasmine.  Reigan was declared the winner.  Jasmine had a good constellation prize though; Addie had to do her chores for a week (thought that would teach her to take a nap).  Reigan's prize was a movie night of her choice.  Coincidently, she chose to watch "A Bug's Life" and have popcorn with her teddy bear.
I don't know what I would do without my little helpers.