Kids and Glitter


Homeschool Pets: Hermit Crabs Who Won’t Die, Tadpoles With Mosquito Larvae and Other Adventures

hermit crab

The friendlier of our two hermit crabs, enjoying some time out of his crabitat. We like to call this his “hour out in the yard”. (Note: it’s only about 5 minutes.)

We recently had Pet Care Day at Creekside Learning. Or, perhaps a better title would be Time to Stop Neglecting the Pets Day. I am mainly talking about the toad and hermit crabs that we got over two and a half years ago who are still alive. It did not occur to me to research the life span of Firebellied Toads and Hermit Crabs when we purchased them. That seemed like a waste of time because, really, how long could they possibly live?

Never did I imagine when I said yes to Firefly’s request for these things that 2 1/2 years later I’d be purchasing filters for the toad tank and tiny bags of sand for the crabitats at the local Overpriced-Pet-Supplies-R-Us. But that is where we found ourselves two days ago, because Home Depot was out of play sand and the stupid filters only come in packs of 3. “You know,” I remarked to The Husband while the kids were out of earshot, “this practically guarantees that these pets are all going to die within a week.”

Of course, the kids are excited that it is Pet Care Day because this also involves washing our 90 pound Labrador Retriever in the bath tub. They think this is like a fun feature at a water park. The dog disagrees.

This is our Labrador Retriever, who is not neglected. In fact, she is the opposite of that. Here she is snuggling in front of the fire with a blanket and, for some reason, my 4 year old's Ernie doll.

This is our Labrador Retriever, who is not neglected. In fact, she is the opposite of that. Here she is snuggling in front of the fire with a blanket and, for some reason, my 4 year old’s Ernie doll.

We also have a Beta fish that lives in a tank.  A tank that we purchased because my friend Maria said she thought it helps them live longer and we had just experienced a very traumatic Beta fish death. I only agreed to the filtered tank because I hate fish poop and cleaning out fish tanks. Did I mention that The Bee talked me into buying a $7 castle for this fish on our trip to the pet store? I’m not sure how that happened.

Overpriced castle for fish who as of yet, does NOT swim through the opening in the castle, which is very upsetting to my daughter.

Overpriced castle for fish who as of yet, does NOT swim through the opening in the castle, which is very upsetting to my daughter.

We also need to do something about the tadpole habitat, which has been sitting next to the other habitats since, um, June or something, wherein we realized that the tiny tadpoles we rescued from our kiddy pool had some very annoying roommates:  mosquito larvae.  We put the tadpole habitat into the butterfly netting enclosure thing to contain the hatching mosquitos and try to prevent the entire family from getting West Nile Virus or something. You see, I was going to put them back into the kiddy pool with the rest of the tadpoles but The Husband helpfully dumped all the water out, on the account of the mosquitos, which prompted the kids to run around the back yard shrieking, “Daddy killed the tadpoles! Daddy killed the tadpoles!”  As if our neighbors didn’t already think we’re weird enough for homeschooling, right?

Habitats, including (far right) the most neglected of all tadpole habitat inside the butterfly netting.

Habitats, including (far right) the most neglected of all tadpole habitat inside the butterfly netting.

Anyway, the tadpoles in the indoor habitat sort of died and then we just left the habitat sitting there full of disgusting water and dead tadpoles and rotting lettuce for 6 months. For no reason. Just didn’t feel like dealing with it. So now I’m going to throw it away, hopefully without my kids noticing, otherwise there will be more shrieking about how first Daddy killed the tadpoles, then Mommy threw out the habitat and we can never ever have tadpoles as pets again. Oh, no! Really? Never? Hmmmm.

But at least I got our tadpoles from our own pool in our own backyard, unlike my friend Janice* who stole tadpoles for her kids while camping at a national park and then donated them to her daughter’s elementary school. I better not give you any more details about that, though, because she might go to the authorities about the time I had to steal my own luggage back from a secured area in an airport. But this post is not about federal offenses.  No, it’s about how we neglect our pets. So lets get back to that.

Disgusting crabitat.

Disgusting crabitat.

After dealing with the filtered toad and fish tanks, we moved on to the crabitats. We paused to reflect that the crabs have been living in boxes full of their own poop, rotting vegetables, some remains of their claws that molted and, oh yes, some sand. Still alive. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry, we dumped all that stuff out and gave them fresh sand. They also get fresh vegetables, water and salt water every other day, courtesy of my 8 year old, so they are not totally neglected.

Finally, we washed the dog, clipped her nails, cleaned out her ears and brushed her out. She was very glad to be rid of us after all this fun activity and stalked off to sleep in a part of the house that didn’t contain any humans.

Meanwhile, when I have time, I silently practice what to say when the kids will ask if we can have, say, a baby squirrel they found in the woods, or a tiny little gerbil from the pet store: “No more pets. No more pets. No more pets.”

Toad to hermit crab: Heyyyyy! How did YOU get out?

Toad to hermit crab: Heyyyyy! How did YOU get out?

*Not her real name. As far as you know.

Some Days Are Like This

Just so you don’t think that I am always all I-love-homeschool, skipping through the forest with my darling children finding turtles and using a lot of exclamation points to proclaim my love for an obscure but brilliant piece of curricula, let me tell you about this week.

My kids are Out. Of. Control.

They have been fighting from the moment they open their eyeballs in the morning.  They fight over such important issues as whose imaginary cat is or is not sleeping on the green chair. They fight over who owns a particular piece of discarded sticker paper. Garbage. They are fighting over garbage. They argue over who has more orange sprinkles on their toast, who woke up first. They taunt each other by trashing each other’s favorite book and television characters. It’s like a 24/7 Republican/Democratic debate in here. They try to scare each other. They have no sense of personal space. They refuse to bathe.

We went to the zoo and my oldest child, at one point, lifted his leg up to climb into the tiger enclosure but then he saw a sign that said not to do that. A sign. Thank goodness there was a sign.  Because the 400 times I told him stop climbing on stuff prior to that was apparently not a serious indication that our day may possibly conclude with him being eaten or arrested.

The next day, he dropped his nearly finished lollipop on the soccer field, had a fit and attempted to eat it anyway, although it was covered in mulch. I blinked a few times, to make sure this wasn’t my 3 year old, but nope, there was my oldest child standing before me. He’s 8.

My 6 year old daughter has flung herself on the floor and had a fit, including in a public restroom, every time something has frustrated her this week, which is at a rate of about once every 90 seconds. She can’t find her lime green crayon. Her Legos won’t stick together. She hates putting on socks. The remote is missing. Well that one makes me have a tantrum, too. But I digress.

The 3 year old just does his usual thing: takes everyones toys, refuses to share his and spits when he’s mad. He is so very lucky that he’s cute.

Then something really crappy happened. My grandmother died. Not unexpected. She was 95 after all. But crappy nonetheless. Prior to my kids even knowing about that though, they were behaving like someone in another country had insulted their deity with a viral internet video and they were just not going to put up with that.

It’s like living in a war zone here. Is there anyone out there willing to grant me political asylum?

I have talked with them about the need for kindness until I am shrieking and then, well, that’s unkind, so it’s not effective. So this morning I came up with a new plan. I was going to drive to Pennsylvania and sell them to the Amish.

That’s what my grandfather used to tell us when we were misbehaving as kids. He was joking, but I really think he may have something there so I devised a plan, shot down minutes later by my friend Krista, who told me she had already tried this and the Amish wouldn’t take her children. “Try the gypsies,” she helpfully suggested.

I sat on the bottom step, staring at the floor. That’s where my husband found me on his way to work. He offered to bring me a bottle of vodka from the pantry. He’s so helpful like that. Instead I sent a kid to work with him, dropped another at my mother-in-law’s and left a third with my grown-up niece.

I drove to Target and bought new make-up and a novel, ate lunch by myself, then came home and took a nap and ate some chocolate. I felt much better. Now the kids are back and they’re still fighting but it’s okay because I am going to wear my ear buds and listen to Prince for the rest of the day. I see their little mouths moving as they appear to argue over who did or did not wreck the Thomas train set that spans the living room floor (I’m pretty sure it was the dog but she isn’t fessing up). I see them stomp their little feet indignantly at each other but all I hear is “Tell me who in the house knows about the quake? We do! I mean really”  and it’s so very therapeutic.


Goats Do the Strangest Things

After the tires, she moved on to eating snack crumbs off the floor of the car while we were getting ready to leave.

So yesterday, a goat was licking my car and today it cost me $350 but it’s actually a blessing in disguise.

We went to the farm on Wednesday, as usual, to pick up our milk. One of the goats that lives there acts like a dog, laying in the driveway, greeting people. So yesterday, she decided to lick my car, mainly around the area of the tires, which caused my 7-year-old to investigate why on earth a goat was licking our tires, while I went inside to get the milk.

While investigating, he noticed a big gash in the side of one of the tires (the goat didn’t do it, we believe it was already there).  When I get home, my husband confirms this is of great concern and the tire needs to be replaced and aren’t we glad we discovered this just before we packed the car full of camping gear and drove 2 1/2 hours away from home to a rural area?

And that is why, if a goat licks your car, it’s a blessing in disguise.

I’m Starting The-Super-Busy-Mommy-Relaxation-Club. And You’re Invited.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that I get to spend all day with my kids. One of the drawbacks of homeschooling is that I get to spend all day with my kids. I love them with every fiber of my being but at the end of the day my fibers just need to relax without someone asking me for a snack or needing help on the potty or having a fit because they can’t locate their light saber.

Sometimes I go out and run an errand after The Husband gets home, just so I can get a few moments of quiet. But some nights I am too tired, I don’t want to go out, I just want to lounge around in my comfy pants and read or do stuff on my computer or watch t.v. But I can’t do these things peacefully because even if I hide upstairs, my kids always find me. The Husband does his best to keep them occupied and respecting Mommy’s “me” time, but they track me like a pack of bloodhounds, no matter where I’m hiding. They’re stealthy, too, slipping past their father like ninjas and stealing quietly up the stairs. Ninja Bloodhounds, that’s what they are.

That’s when I came up with my great idea. Moms need a place to hang out that has the comforts of home but no one needs stuff from them. Picture it. A place you can go, like a restaurant, only better. You can show up in your pajamas and slippers, sit in a comfy chair with your laptop, make yourself a cup of tea or a cocktail. You can chat with the other mommies if you want to be social or go to a private area and talk to no one at all.

Everyone signs a pact when they join the Super Busy Mommy Relaxation Club (SBMRC) and agrees that it is unnecessary to refresh the day’s tired make-up or even run a brush through your hair before coming over. No one cares what you look like here. It’s not about that.

Hungry? Fix yourself a bowl of ice cream without the worry of some small person asking for a bowl also, but “not that kiiiiiiind of ice cream”, they “don’t liiiiiikkkkkeeeee that one ’cause it has nuuuuuuts in it”. No one will grab a spoon and dip it in your bowl, either. It’s all yours and you don’t even have to wash the bowl.

The SBMRC opens at dinnertime and stays open until at least 11 p.m. or whatever time there is no chance of your kids still being awake when you get home. We’ve got you covered, no matter how long you need to be here. Don’t worry, you can still gaze at your sleeping angels when you get home and, feeling refreshed and relaxed, kiss their sweet foreheads and then spend some time with your dear husband, the other person in your life that you never seem to have enough time for, besides yourself.

Did I mention there’s free wi-fi? And chocolate?