Friday, September 23, 2011

Suck It Squirrels!

Little bits of nature make their way inside our house almost daily.  Our kids love to be outside and they are acutely aware of how much I appreciate a beautiful leaf or perfect acorn.  Rocks, tree bark, uniquely shaped twigs, random seeds, berries, leaves, rabbit turds, and acorns can all be found taped to art projects, displayed in vases, or in the lint trap of the dryer. 
My personal favorite is perfect acorns. I can’t explain it so I won’t try.  Just know that a competitive spirit that I didn’t know I possessed has been unleashed in the pursuit of perfect acorns to display with our Fall decor.  For a while I thought that I should purchase some of the fake acorns but I struggle with the concept of displaying fake nature.  My children would bring me acorns that had been bitten, or cracked, or were missing their cap.  In the beginning I would smile and place them in the “nature bowl”.  And then one day I couldn’t lie any longer.  I started to reject the imperfect offerings from my kids; each time building more and more bitterness towards the bushy tailed rodents that were ruining them….squirrels.  Picture the “no wire hangers” scene from Mommie Dearest! “No cracked acorns!”
While I dealt with my acorn issues, my husband was harboring his own issues concerning squirrels.  Pete is young but I have seen the potential mean old man that exists within.  Pete became enraged watching squirrels repeatedly steal bird seed from our bird feeder.  It started with stomping his feet or clapping his hands as he watched the robberies from our sun porch.  Then he would be seen sprinting to the back door to go and scare squirrels away.  Comments were thrown around about the strong desire to own a BB gun.  I tried to squash the problem with a Father’s Day gift….the Yankee Flipper……..  The only truly squirrel proof bird feeder on the market. The videos online were both astonishing and eerily enjoyable.    
Pete loved the gift but his hatred for the suburban rats worsened.  He became obsessed with capturing some squirrel carnage on video, while his baby girl would yell, “No Daddy, No”.  And finally Pete collected rocks and piled them up at the back door to use as ammo against the buck toothed beasts. Mabel asked over and over again what the rocks were for and each time Pete came up with explanations...."I think the chipmunks made that pile".   
Who knew that over 15 years into a marriage, you could find yet another commonality….we both despise Squirrels.  There is something so attractive about a man who goes to great lengths to protect the family bird seed. Sure, I judged Pete and made disapproving faces as I watched him giggle with delight and chase a squirrel off the deck.  But was I any better when I almost militarily trained my children to toss aside imperfect acorns or glue the little lids back on the bulbous corns?  
Our son noticed that the oak trees in our front yard have unusually large and beautiful acorns this year. Gus mentioned on the fly, “wouldn’t it be great if I could climb that tree and get the perfect acorns for you?”  And with that, a giddy adrenaline rush started.  We concocted a plan….maybe I could stick a rake out of my bedroom window and shake the tree while the kids waited below to catch the bounty?  But then we realized that it was too far to reach from the window.  And then Pete appeared, so excited to join in our plan.  Squirrel hunter came running out of the garage with a tree branch saw complete with extended pole.   That too proved to be fruitless.  I had given up all hope and mosquitoes were attacking my ankles so I went inside to brainstorm. 
A few minutes later Pete appeared at the front door with two pockets full of the most pristine acorns you have ever seen!  I was speechless!  I peaked around him through the small window alongside of our front door and saw Pete’s enormous ladder.  That man got out a ladder, placed it on our front porch and then proceeded to pluck more acorns than I could count!!!  For a moment I worried and asked, “How many people went by and saw you?” but then I snapped right back into pure glee. 
 All the while Mabel stood in judgment and repeated, “Really? You are stealing acorns from squirrels?”  That’s right baby girl, the squirrels can suck it!  We won!  Sure they were snacking on bird seed in the back yard during our acorn mission but little did they know that we were decreasing their winter supply in the front yard at the same time.    
I promise you that the ladder will be out again and this time, with pride.  My acorn stash is proudly displayed in a beautiful glass bowl on the dining room table.  Mabel has started to embrace our actions but was reprimanded when I realized that she had taken perfect acorns from my stash to make “acorn soup”.  “Mabel, go outside and get cracked acorns for the soup” I said.  Gus chimed in, “yeah Mabes, the cracked ones have more flavor anyway.”  After a strong judgmental stare, Mabel walked away saying under her breath, “I know a few cracked acorns but you two won’t fit in the bowl.” 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Blome It!

My then, three year old daughter, Meg, received a new baby doll.  I asked Meg what she was going to name the baby and instantly she answered, “Jennifer Blome”.   Jennifer Blome has been the morning news co-anchor on the NBC affiliate in St. Louis, Missouri, forever.   I’m guessing that most three year olds rarely name their babies after news anchors, but after my initial bewilderment, I got used to it and welcomed Jennifer Blome into the family.  Strange statements like “Don’t forget to buckle Jennifer Blome”, and “Meg, I think I hear Jennifer Blome crying upstairs” were heard on a regular basis. On one occasion I was walking through the grocery store carrying Jennifer Blome like a real baby per my toddler’s strict instructions.  If you dared to call the baby, “Jennifer”, those three year old eyes would instantly stop you in your tracks and remind you to use her full name.
About six months later Meg and I were standing in the basement of “Two Nice Guys”, waiting for our carry out order.  It was a Thursday evening and the basement bar of the restaurant was teeming with people sitting at small tables, enjoying libations.  Most people were there enjoying a post work happy hour but Meg and I were there because my husband was out of town and I don’t cook. My toddler was tugging on my coat incessantly until I leaned down and asked her what she needed.  Meg’s giant blue eyes were even larger than typical and she said, “Jennifer Blome is sitting right over there.”  Of course I thought she was crazy, and had to pay the bar tender for our order.  Coat pulling ensued and I once again leaned down to hear, “That is Jennifer Blome right over there.”  There was so much excitement in her voice.  I scanned the somewhat dark bar area and sure enough, sitting at a round bar table, was THE Jennifer Blome,  the woman I entrusted to inform me every week day morning so as not to completely fall into a stay at home Mom fog. 
Meg begged to go talk to her.  I was torn and after watching Jennifer for a few seconds, I concluded that I would seem like a complete idiot if I marched my toddler across a bar and informed her that Meg is her biggest fan!  WEIRD!  So I chickened out and told Meg that we couldn’t interrupt her.  And we left. 
There it went….the opportunity.  My three year old told her Memaw and Grandpa all about the sighting. She told her preschool teachers and friends.  On each occasion, Meg made a point of stating that I didn’t allow her to speak to Jennifer Blome. After a few days I completely hated myself for letting the opportunity pass us by.   I was so concerned about appearing as some type of psycho parent and I let that overshadow my daughter’s passion for early morning news.  I overheard Meg playing with Jennifer Blome in the days after the sighting and all of the make believe conversations involved reassurances from the bald, plastic, creepily smiling baby doll, insisting that Meg come to the studio for a visit and tour.  Throughout the house I would find Jennifer Blome staring at me with judgmental eyes and it all became too much! I took to the internet and sent a message to Jennifer trying so hard to come off as sane.  Shockingly I never heard back from the famous anchor.  For some reason the email from the mother of a three year old stalker just didn’t inspire a response!     
My anchor stalking toddler is now twelve years old and I fear that any dream of becoming a morning news anchor has vanished.  Did I kill the dream?  At the same time I wonder if embracing that meeting with Jennifer Blome would have led to a teddy bear named Tom Brokaw or worse yet, a baby brother named Art Holliday (Jennifers co-anchor).  I go back and forth.  The Jennifer Blome sighting has had a lasting effect.  I don’t let opportunities pass me by.  If I could turn back time, I would march right up to Jennifer Blome, interrupt her happy hour, introduce my three year old to her idol, invite her over to have carry out and let her hold her namesake.  I’m not a spontaneous person by nature, but I’m getting better and better.   Life is too short to deter your three year old from a good stalking!