Monday, June 30, 2014

The Butterfly Effect

When I was a little girl, we used to go out and search the milkweed patches for hours in search of monarch butterfly caterpillars.

We would take them home, ask my Granny for a canning jar (of which she would use a kind of scary looking ice pick to pop holes in the lid of) and we would watch for what felt like an eternity as they became the beautiful butterflies that they were meant to become.

This was one of the highlights of summer, and we continued this tradition well into our pre-teen years (or longer).  There was something so cool and mysterious about the whys and hows of watching Mother Nature at work - and the day that your chrysalis finally cracked open to reveal that gorgeous orange and black beauty never got old.

Well, let me tell you something - 32.5 years later, it is still FASCINATING.

A couple of weeks ago my dad brought over three little yellow, black, and white striped caterpillars for my girls.  They were immediately hooked.  They liked watching them crawl around and eat - and eat and eat and eat!!  You can practically watch the little buggers grow and it wasn't long before we all woke up to two shiny, little green chrysalises hanging in our jars, looking like little jewels.  The third caterpillar wasn't far behind.  We watched over the course of the next 10ish days - checking, talking about the magic that was going on inside, reading books about monarchs, asking and answering LOTS of questions.

And this morning, we got the surprise that we had been waiting for - the first two chrysalises were ready to spread their winds and fly.  All three of us were giddy.  We called my dad over to see and to be here when we released them. After all, not only did he do this summer after summer with my brothers and I, but hatching monarchs is a special memory from his own childhood, too.  He and I were as excited as the kids were.

It truly never gets old - and the added facet of seeing it through my own girls' eyes = PURE MAGIC.

We still have the third one left to hatch, and then I suppose we will be out in the milkweeds searching for more, just to get another taste of that summer butterfly magic.

Spread your wings and fly little butterflies - and little girls, you do the same.  <3

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Allison vs. The Gopher (or "Caddyshack 3: Mom's Revenge")

Last week, the kids and I were having a bug hunt when I noticed a suspicious mound in my front flower bed.  It looked like a gopher hole.

I grew up on a ranch. I know what a gopher hole looks like.  When we were kids, my brother and I helped out with the gopher trapping.  Gophers can be terribly destructive little buggers if left unchecked, so we would set the traps and the next day go out and check them.  For every gopher we caught, we would cut off the tail and turn it in for 25 cents from the irrigation district, and my Pop would match their 25 cents.  We did this all spring and summer long, walking up and down the fields with our wagon full of traps.

So I know what the mound of a gopher hole looks like.  And I know what a mess they can cause.

Maybe I was in denial, but I walked away and didn't think about it again....that is until the next day when my parents came over and we all noticed that the little bugger had been very busy.  What was one mound the day before had become a whole gopher colony.  Damn gopher.

Something had to be done.

So last night, my dad brought over a trap.

As we were setting it, my dad was explaining to he girls how the trap worked and that the gopher would be dead when we caught it. He looked up at me and said, "Now, tomorrow when you pull this out of the hole, he will hopefully be on there - and he will hopefully be dead."

"I DO know what to do, Dad. I HAVE done it before," I said confidently, and we went inside.

I had truthfully forgotten about it until his morning when my dad texted me to see if I had checked the trap. 

We ran outside and pulled the trap out of the hole.

Sure enough, we caught the little rascal. 

All three of us whooped and hollered and were so happy - until it started moving!!! This is the part where my kids learned some new (not very nice) vocabulary. I will spare you the specifics, but if you hear my kids say something unsavory, blame the gopher.

 It was only caught by a foot and was wiggling and trying to get free. They are so gross and ugly and it was VERY alive! 

Hayden jumped up on the porch and yelled, "Whoa! THAT is NOT what I was expecting!" LOL!

We all screamed and laughed (and I cussed) and carried on like a bunch of crazies - all in the front yard for the neighborhood to see.  It was like the gopher from Caddyshack was in my yard!  And all we could do was act like a bunch of noisy, goofy little girls. LOL

Carly looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "Mom, maybe we should call Papa about this."

That was the exact moment that I realized that despite how confident I had been the night before, all those years ago when my brother and I were gopher trappers on the ranch, I had not actually done the gross parts - I made my brother take care of ones who were not dead, I made him take them off the traps, I made him do all of the icky/scary parts.  Not because I was a girl, but because I was the oldest boss.  Bosses know how to delegate, that's all.

I turned to Carly and laughed and said, "Actually we don't need Papa - we need UNCLE ANDY!!"

Since Uncle Andy was currently hundreds of miles away, leaving me without little brother to delegate to, it was up to me to dispatch the little monster myself. 

So I grabbed a shovel.

I took a deep breath.

And I bopped that little sucker over the head.

And we all squealed and jumped (and there was more cussing) as the gopher tried still to free himself from the trap.

I bopped again.  We squealed again.  I bopped.  We squealed.  I bopped.  We squealed.

This repeated several times until I was sure that he was dead.

I wasn't sure what to do with him at that point - I was scared that he would come back to life or something when I went to take the trap off, so we stood there and watched him for a few minutes to make sure he was really dead before I disposed of the body.

Let's just say that I hope that this was a lone gopher - and that it is a good thing that I am in the mom business and not in the pest management business.  My kids thought that the whole thing was really creepy and hilarious - and I suppose I did, too.  Oddly, it was a little bit of a "moment" between us - just me and my girls, taking care of business. We are women, hear us roar - GIRL POWER!! We don't need no prince to rescue us - we bop our own gophers!!

You know, all of that.

Truthfully, I would by lying if I said that I wouldn't have stepped aside and let Uncle Andy have at it!  ;-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bring on summertime!!

Haydie P's first year old preschool is over. 

She is such a big girl, so happy and sweet.

Her school had a fun little party to mark the end of a fun year! 

And now we are ready to enjoy SUMMER!!!