This odd stench casually began to emanate from Sue’s room last week. I figured it was some food morsel left behind, searched halfheartedly a few times, and came away confused but not overly concerned.
This week, however, the smell grew to such proportions, I couldn’t stand to even walk by her room. I sniffed and sniffed to no avail. I took 345 babies, stuffed animals, Barbies and Polly Pockets out of countless baskets and nooks. I found nothing, and still the smell was horrifying, might I say, other-worldly!
And then, while sniffing along her bookshelf, I whiffed something that almost caused me to lose my pancakes:
Harmlessly cute, eh? A simple mouse crafted out of a rather unusually-shaped red potato as part of a preschool craft.
A craft that was created in March, and has sat on a child’s bookshelf since then…slowly rotting and festering until rheumy potato juices dripped down the shelf into a pool of microscopic Polly Pocket shoes and jewelry.
Yes, it attracted some small whitish worms.
I just can’t talk about it any more.
Our new next-door-neighbor has a wonderful elderly Chihuahua named “Ezra,” and a delightful ten-month-old named Mary Grace. It’s sad to admit, but my children are absolutely wild over the dog and a big tepid toward the baby since she can’t walk yet and just gently waves and drools.
The children are all like, “Here Ezra! Come get a treat! It’s my turn to see Ezra! See how Ezra loves me better! Isn’t Ezra the cutest dog you’ve ever seen besides our Sophie? Come over here Ezra and see the bug house I just built,” and similar dog-focused prattle.
Never mind the cherubic baby gurgling pleasantly in the neighbor’s arms…
I figured Mary Grace was about the right age for Little People, though, and casually asked the neighbor if she had any of those grand toys yet, since her baby is an only child and probably had no cast-offs from anyone else. My neighbor was naturally thrilled at the prospect of one day owning a veritable menagerie of Little People zoos, villages, farms, train tracks, family homes, etc.
(Wait’ll she starts vacuuming them up, or Ezra chews on them creating sharp pointy spikers or they get inadvertently placed in the dishwasher where they fall below near the coils and melt, filling her kitchen with that pleasant burnt plastic smell.)
With all of their canine-focused activity I never dreamed that my children heard me offer the Little People toys to our neighbor. I was curious, however, the next day when Sue had pulled out the before-ignored bins of Little People regalia and peppered her room with animals and people.
“My you’ve got so much going on here!” I exclaimed upon seeing her room.
“Yes, Mama, see I do still play with these toys. I love them, and that baby next door will probably choke on the small parts.”
So lo and behold am I floored today when the boys begin racing the Little People school bus up home-made ramps…for like an hour!
Maybe I should offer their Latin books and handwriting practice tablets to the baby, too?
My husband almost never travels, therefore when he does, exciting events transpire such as the loss of a rather large terrapin in our home.
Below you see the exact spot where the terrapin was finally found, a mere 18 hours after he “went missing.”
Note the joyful facial expression:
Here you see him tempted by the wilted lettuce Edward had scattered about the home in hopes of sustaining the creature through the night:
And here the sweet taste of freedom as the dear terrapin is reluctantly released into the wild of our yard:
Lest you think that the good times only occur in our actual home, let me share a recent tale that occurred while H was traveling last week.
He was only in DC for one night so he didn’t have a gracious amount of time for souvenir-seeking, yet he spotted a Smithsonian Institute kiosk in the airport, and carefully chose crystal grow-kits for Sue and Edward, a nifty gyroscope for Joseph, and rather striking key chain for me that flashes my name every second or so. He popped it all in the Smithsonian bag and headed for the gate.
He hurried through the scanning machine and began putting on his shoes. His belongings, however, remained in the scanning area. All of a sudden the scenario turned a bit frantic when a TSA worker shouted,
“Come here! I ain’t ever seen anything like this? What’s that?”
Shoeless folk began slowly backing up from the scanning area.
“It look like it’s pulsing!”
Several TSA workers are summoned, the conveyor built is abruptly halted, and H’s Smithsonian Institution bag is carefully prodded by a professional probe that H said looked remarkably like a car antenna.
I suppose the juxtaposition of the gyroscope next to the flashing keychain proved menacing to say the least.
Almost immediately the situation eased when the TSA professional drew her probe away from the bag and said with a loud, relieved laugh, “Awww! That ain’t nothin’ but a solar key chain!”
I blame my sister-in-law.
She showed up this morning with a smug look and a promise that there was an attractively large turtle languishing in our driveway.
Never mind the fact that she let Sue spend the night with the two nieces so we could take the boys to eat Mexican food since Sue cannot abide by Mexican food for some odd reason.
Why I didn’t take a photograph at the time, I will never know but we Googled the turtle, and just about definitively determined the creature to be a box turtle, although his or her feet appeared slightly webbed.
Let’s just pray s/he is not some sort of snapper.
How does such a thing happen?
Well, in the interest of science, I agreed to allow the creature come inside so the boys could embark upon some “research.” A bit later we find ourselves an hour into a great pool visit when I casually remark, “I’m sure one of you took the turtle outside, right?”
The boys look at one another.
“Well, he’s such a slow creature, I’m sure he’s still under the trampoline in the playroom where we left him,” assured Joseph.
I feel such comfort.
Several hours later, I assume the creature will still be huddled quietly in the playroom, potentially trying to siphon water from one of the dog’s slobbery chew toys or render a nest from the revolting shag carpet that graces this particular room.
Such is not the case.
Friends, we have looked everywhere for this terrapin to no avail. The children are fearful of waking in the night and encountering the beast.
I’ve spread plastic plates of water, blueberries and an occasional errant lettuce leaf around the house in an effort to sustain the creature.
Joseph suggested we catch several crickets and beetles and let them loose since they are the turtle’s natural “prey.”
Let’s hope it does not come that. Few things are worse than a deceased terrapin languishing in the home.
I’ve been back from New York for several days now, and the abject disparity between the two places still finds me reeling.
Just like I described last year, this trip is like living someone else’s life, and in doing so I always gain a greater perspective on who I am, who I am not and who I would like to be, not necessarily in that order.
As I land in La Guardia, I always feel so small and anonymous while at the same time feeling a part of some important, whirling world. It is sort of like stepping off the quiet sidewalk of my life into rushing traffic of people, sounds and smells so unfamiliar, yet so intoxicating.
My own life has its “busy-ness,” to be certain, but it is filled with a frenzy of food prep, hunting backpacks, calming the screaming, wiping noses, measuring supplements, juggling therapy schedules and shuttling van-loads of children back and forth between sporting activities and social skills groups.
In contrast, my week in New York is spent trying to hold down frighteningly rich lobster bisque in a rocketing taxicab after drinking one two many glasses of exceptionally nice cabernet.
And learning not to order giant prawns.
It is also spent attempting to tape large vinyl signs to concrete block, loading trade show furniture into a panel van and driving that from NJ to Manhattan, and trying to assemble said furniture without directions or proper tools.
This is my friend riding in the back of the van with multiple boxes.
Yes, we got stopped by New York’s finest, and yes we cried but got out of the ticket, miraculously. Sadly, I have no photographs if that event but you can use your imagination, I’m sure.
Don’t you love how we employed the broom to mash down the double-sided tape?
The fun part of the week is spent chatting with stationery store owners, explaining trends in bridal and baby invitations, and encouraging buyers to try my friend’s line.
This was my fourth year to take this trip, and I have achieved a few minor milestones. I no longer feel self-conscious hailing a cab, and I have perfected the proper, casual way to hold my hand while doing so.
I am no longer driven to don heels as I walk around the city in a vain attempt at disguising myself as a tourist.
I finally realized that most of the people wearing heels with jeans as they traipse about the city were the tourists. Everyone else enjoys sensible flats, boots or flip flops.
I can walk purposefully down a busy sidewalk while clutching a Starbucks and talking on my phone.
I never make eye contact with anyone. Never take a flier about an upcoming band or play performance from anyone, and never, ever acknowledge someone who furtively approaches with the promise of “Purses, Dolce, Rolex, Cartier, you buy!”
I still can’t stop myself, however, from lunging out toward the tiny toddlers running along the sidewalk parallel to whizzing taxis and buses. I suppose these children grow up with this second sense of permanently remaining on the sidewalk no matter what, but if I ever took my three to this city, I’d have to strap them all to my body to keep them alive–especially Edward.
While I’m in New York I see myself as a sort of a lone catcher in the rye.
This was particularly hard for me this year because our apartment was located right next to Bleecker park!
The tiniest of tots would whiz by on their scooters or even tricycles and then abruptly stop right before the cross walk, their parents leisurely strolling several feet behind, often pushing a smart perambulator stuffed with an even tinier sibling.
Yet today, back in the South, as the screams and shrill whines of three walkie talkies in unison fill my brain and I watch dripping children streak about the house clutching over-filled water balloons and tracking up my once-clean floors, I am thankful to be home.