Don’t Squish Your Tutu!!!!

We, in the Holt Household, are now wrapping up our winter/spring activities. One of which is Lydia’s first year of ballet. It has been adorable and fabulous and wonderful and since we will probably NEVER do it again I decided to sign her up for the individual portrait sessions offered by the studio, pre-performance. I have to tell you, we were having a pretty rough day. Of course I forgot all about the appointment until ten minutes before. Luckily I had brushed her hair and put it in pig tails before leaving the house but I wished I’d done a little bit more for her to make the picture nice. You know, like wiped the milk off her face or actually fixed her hair to go with the matching headbands that came with the costume, or maybe even bought her some new tights that weren’t all snagged and stained. Anyway, we made it on time, ran in the door, threw on her first costume, took the pictures.. ran back to change into second costume.. ran into studio… it was at this point that I realized other mothers had filed in (we were the first apt of the afternoon). And let me tell you about the scene we ran through for our second shot.

There were hair sprays, flat irons, bobby pins, lip liners, double stick tape. I kid you not! And this would all be fine except it’s for FOUR YEAR OLDS! And actually that wouldn’t even be so bad except every single other mom in there had to have been premenstrual because they were snapping at their kids and jerking their heads around and spraying crap in their eyes. It was awful! I felt so bad for the darlings. The kids were all miserable. Granted, Evan and Maggie were miserable, but that’s just because they didn’t get to be the center of attention for once. Lydie doesn’t get her day in the sun very often, being the middle child and a very sweet one at that, but when she does, I try to make it really special and all hers.

In short, it was a real eye opener. Another one of those moments when you realize that you could very well be a worse mom. Now, none of these moms are in Lydia’s class and I didn’t know any of them and they might be lovely fabulous women who just can’t abide bumps in their toddlers perfect golden locks. Who am I to judge?? I just know that when it was all said and done, I was so in love with my messy happy kids and their mismatched outfits (that were proudly picked out on their own) and their gel smeared hair (they very carefully fixed themselves) and their way too big hand-me-down shoes (that they refuse to save until they fit because they have their favorite characters on them). I hugged and kissed each one and took them out for ice cream. You guessed it.. only half got eaten. The other half remains smeared all over Chick-Fil-A and several body parts and items of clothing.

No, I’m not a total slacker. I gave them baths that night!!

PS Does anyone know a better way to get a ballerina in her 5 point harness without crushing the Holy Grail of dance recitals… better known as the tutu?

I’ll have more pictures from the recital I’m sure 🙂

PPS No sign of snakes this week! Hooray!


"Mommy.. what’s that smell?"

I have another fabulous report from the land of Asperger’s. Many of you try to reassure me that many of my stories would be common among any little boy, but I doubt that this is true. I just really really doubt it. Take this one for example. Three weeks after the infamous snake indecent, Evan, who up until this point would say no more to me than “I touched that snake mom”, decides to full on open up and tell my good friend Bonnie the whole story. Now this is THREE weeks later! Not a word to his mommy, not a word to any of the five hundred health care professionals and well wishers about what happened, but for some reason Bonnie hit the magic button and he told her the story. I think the thing that is most Aspie-like about all of this is the stone cold silence and lack of emotion when it comes to the whole ordeal. Anyway.. here’s the story.

It seems that Evan and Lydie had been visiting the little chicken coop in our back yard that is a good 100 feet from the house when they first came across the snake. Evan, being the lover of all animals that he is decided it was as pretty as a flower and that he needed to pick it up and take it to his mommy, because that’s what little kids do right? Bring their mommy all the neat things they find. So he caught the copper head (we may never know how) and carried it (as Lydie reported later) all over the yard then finally up to the back porch. But before he could get the back door open so he could BRING IT IN THE HOUSE (!!!!!!!) to show me, it got angry and bit him. So!! Now we know why the snake was on the porch. We may never know why it didn’t occur to me in the previous three weeks to just as Lydia what happened. Once I heard the story from Bonnie and tried to get Evan to retell it, which he wouldn’t, I turned to his little partner in crime and she confessed it all.

Many of you asked how I stayed so calm when all of this happened… let me assure you, calm would have been the last thing you could call me had I seen my precious five year old hauling a pit viper around my back yard like it was a jump rope or handing it over to me like a prize dandelion. Calm. No. Not calm. I’m not even calm thinking about it. And I love all creatures great and small.

It seems, however, that Evan has learned his lesson. We dared to have a little back yard party over this past holiday weekend. We stoked up the fire pit and pulled out all the chairs. I even swept the kitchen floor (this is a big deal for me). And we were all sitting around swatting mosquitoes and enjoying watching the kids catch lightening bugs when all the sudden there was a disturbance in the force. Now I had gone upstairs to tuck little Maggers into bed so I headed right down to see what was going on. The scene that met my eyes was one of three large men with various yard tools beating the living daylights out of one of the many ivy islands in our back yard. My friend quickly told me that our dear little snake charmer, Evan, while looking for fireflies had actually found another copperhead. He was very sure to run through the procedure we’d drilled into his head and he assured us many times over the next few days (and several phone calls to grandparents and friends – why is he telling this story now?) that he did NOT touch the snake or try to catch it, he just got the parents.

So, no worries, everyone was safe and sound (including the snake). And the following Monday we set off as a family on a “Snake Away” expedition. We drove to a nearby lawn and garden store where I happen to know several very friendly old men work who seem to know everything about everything from pig pickins to poultry poultices. Sure enough, within minutes we had a darling little southern grandpa telling us “Now ya see, what ya really need here is some moth balls.” “Moth balls??” “Yup.. moth balls. Them snakes hates the smell. Can’t abide it. They’ll be runnin fer the woods before ya know it!” “But what about the snake away stuff?” “Well see, that’s just moth balls and sulfur and the sulfur will burn em.. but the moth balls will make em want to run. You gots to get rid of the snakes first then put that stuff down to burn em and keep em away. But to get rid of the snakes you gotta mow everything down or you gots ta get ya some moth balls.” “Great! what isle are they on?” “Oh you gots to head to the dollar store for them. Don’t buy em here. We’re out anyway.” Ha!

Off to the dollar store!! And five boxes of moth balls later we were home and throwing them all over the ivy in the back yard. It was about the middle of the second box when we stopped and said… Oh Good Heaven Above! The smell!!!!! Even the kids said.. What is that smell mommy?! It was so horrible it drove us out of the back yard. We didn’t even finish spreading the stuff. We all ran for cover in the house and made sure all the doors and windows were locked then we perched in the sunroom to watch the scent crazed reptiles slithering for their lives away from the chemical fog we’d created. How in the world can anyone put those foul satanically scented eggs anywhere near their clothes?!?! I mean really!? ugh. On another note though, now I can positively identify the smell my good friend’s mother constantly had about her in high school. (One more life mystery solved.. check!)

It was sometime later in the evening when Dan turned to me and said.. uh.. how long is this smell going to last? And I said.. dunno.. why? and he says.. uh.. we have like five hundred people coming for Evan’s birthday party on Saturday. This got a forehead slap from me. Thank the Lord it rained that night, and all day today and it’s going to rain all day tomorrow. So hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of apologizing, the smell will be abated a bit and the party won’t be ruined. At least we can let the parents know their precious five year olds are in a snake free yard. So what if it stinks? Millions of people still flock to Yellow Stone’s Hot Pots and that’s about the second most foul smelling place on earth.. my back yard being the first.

Chicken and Snake Update

Many of you have asked how Evan is doing now. I’m happy to report that after his first attempt at taming a wild beast (and failing said attempt) Evan is doing great. His had is back to normal except for a funny bump at the actual puncture site and some slight discoloration. It looks like there won’t be any tissue or nerve damage. Hooray!

<– (Evan decided that Goldie needed a bedtime story.)

Currently, he’s on the Father & Son Camp Out with his daddy and he reported back last night via text to say “Camp is good Mom”. I told him if he tried to pet another snake ever he was grounded for life. I’m not sure he knows exactly what that means but I made my face very stern and I think he got the point. Hopefully they made it through the camp out critter free.

Speaking of critters, the chickens are doing well. Lydia has renamed our two smallest ones. She seems to be on a Native American kick… Cadbury the Easter Egger is now “Little Rock Daisy” (???????) and Cheetah is now “Tiny Runner Bird”. I wonder what this child dreams of at night.

Also, they can now fly out of their little home and the smell is starting to turn even my iron stomach (hmm.. now I think of it, this might be a great new diet! Make your house smell so bad you don’t want to eat EVER!) So our dear friend has agreed to lend us her “not yet grown up outside hen box”. It’s like a chicken condo only Fort Knox style. I’m so excited!! The girls are moving out!!! Now, does anyone know if a guinea pig can survive in a rabbit hutch in the summer outside?? Hmmmm.

Playing Chicken

Some of you may know of my attempts to “get back to the good life”. I grew up in what could be considered by today’s standards a cave. I remember telling some of my girlfriend’s in NYC about the summers where I carried water for our kitchen in a big blue bucket that was larger than myself (picture a tiny Cosette type character here) Expecting a laugh, what I got were completely blank stares. Yes, there are some people in American who don’t’ have running water. Unbelievable eh? Well this will shock you more: some people like it that way. Nuts huh? No, I’ve never done drugs.

Back to the point. I really like my indoor plumbing and running water today. But I miss some of the aspects of my rustic childhood. Like the animals. We had a small farm in Idaho as a kid and we had just about every kind of animal you could imagine living on it at one point or another. We also spent our summers in the high mountains of Idaho (this is where my Les Miserables debut comes in)where we routinely played with a lame moose and talked to coyotes before bed. (They are all gone now thanks to the reintroduction of wolves – thank you very much – that’s a story for another day). I also think it was really important that I, as a child, learned to take care of animals and learned how they are used and loved by us humans.

I’ve always wanted a goat, but I knew for sure I did not want to be “The Goat Lady” by my neighbors. And I would love to have a big ol’ jersey cow, but our lot is only half an acre and we’re already using every single inch (plus some that’s not exactly ours… shhh.. don’t tell). And frankly, another part of my childhood was the dairy next door. Nice people, but I could live forever without ever smelling another pile of cow crap and be quite happy. Also, in my experience, ponies are mean and utterly useless unless you want your kids to learn how to get bucked off and then get right back on. I’m allergic to everything else and pigs are gross. Sheep are adorable and I love them.. but again.. not enough land. So we got some chickens. Six to be exact. And they are beauties. (Not really.. they look nasty right now. I posted younger cuter pictures. Chicken adolescence is NOT pretty). We also got an adorable chicken coop on craigslist and a nasty smell in our dining room from said babies.

I only got a few, I didn’t get any roosters. And now we have something I’m not allergic to, the kids can manhandle… er.. I mean love and pet and feed and clean up after. Plus we will get fresh eggs and save a fortune on our groceries because I will no longer walk past the 99 cent eggs weeping for the poor dear hens trapped in cages pumping those things out their whole lives and head for the $4.99 a dozen free range eggs. How can we know they are really free range?!?! How!?!? they could be lying to us!!

Back to the story. So the girls are good. We lost one last week when Evan was in the hospital. She was my favorite, but I always tend to fall in love with the underdog anyway. The other six are as follows: Rhymer & Reason – two bardrock beauties named by my 4 year old Lydia who is way smarter than me. She’s so smart I don’t get her half the time. She said we should name them this because “then we’d have Rhymer Reason!” yah.. up is Goldy – the family favorite golden laced wynodote. Goldie can be found on Evan’s shoulder about ten times a day looking scared out of her life but she’s generally the sweetest and gets the most love because of it. Her sister is a silver laced wynadote.. I’ve been calling her silvergirl, ala Simon and Garfunkle, but I think Lydie calls her Racer… not sure what we’ll settle on for her. Then the two newest little babies are Cadbury, she’s an Easter Egger. Sooooo cute and fluffy with big fluffy cheeks. There’s hope that she’ll lay different colored eggs!! And our runt of the litter is Cheetah the fluffernutter. I can never remember that she’s a Silkie (amazing I remembered now!) But they are really fluffy and cute so I end up calling them fluffernutters. Anyway.. she has cheetah like colors and that’s all I can think of when I snuggle her up. Our little yellow Easter Egger that died was Daisy (RIP) and that’s that!

Wish us luck.. we have to get the run in soon because the chicken smell is about to drive my husband to a hotel. I personally think that Scratchy, the guinea pig, smells waaaaay worse. But then I am allergic to scratchy and not to the chicks. It may be a sinus-bias thing.

Evan and the Snake

Evan and Lydia were playing on our back deck last night and came running inside saying they found a snake. This sort of thing happens all the time. Not the snake, but they love all kinds of creepy crawling things and love to tell me about what they see – from ants to millipedes to big birds and squirrels. I didn’t think much of it but went out to see and sure enough, right outside my back door was a snake. I didn’t recognize it right off, but it looked suspect to me. And while it wasn’t huge in my book, it was big enough to be on the scary side of snakiness. There was a box on my dining room table that we’d used to bring our chickens home and it was just the right size so I got up behind the snake before he could get off the deck and threw the box over it so I could go look up what kind it was and decide what to do with it. (I generally don’t like to kill animals unless they are dangerous.)

On the way to the computer Lydie yelled something at me about “That snake bit Evan mommy!” Evan hadn’t looked or sounded like anything was wrong up to this point, but when I finally looked at him I noticed his little hand was wrapped up in his shirt and he was holding it with his other hand. I asked him if it bit him and he said, very calmly, “yah.. it just bit me right there…” he pulled his hand out and upon seeing the teeny tiny blood spot he began to scream. From there I had all kinds of visions of old cowboy movies where they cut open the wound and suck out the poison. I’m not a squeamish person by nature, but when it comes to my kids, I’d rather have someone else doing the cutting and sucking. Anyway.. I called 911 and while I was talking to them I looked up the snake. Sure enough, it was a copperhead.

I think the most entertaining part of the evening was watching my husband and two firemen preparing to kill the snake. My sweet Dan had a tiny little kids shovel.. probably because I had told them it wasn’t a very big snake. I knew, however, that it was bigger than that tiny shovel would be able to handle. I was relieved to seen another fireman come around the corner with an axe bigger than Lydia. One fireman lifted up the box while the others prepared for battle. There was an audible “OH MAN!” that escaped the parties lips once the snake was in view. Apparently, it was a big copperhead.

Now I come from out west originally and a big snake means an 8 foot rattler that could eat your grandma. This was probably 2 -2.5 feet long. Not fully grown, but big enough to make firemen squeal. They did an over-thorough job of killing it and then fought about who was going to bag it so they could bring it in with us for definite identification. I’ve since learned that this helps in knowing what sort of medicine is in order for the injured.

Evan thought the ambulance ride was amazing. “They used sirens and everything!!” I was not as thrilled about it as I watched the swelling and discoloration spreading at an alarming rate. Once at the hospital a wild game of show and tell broke out. I think we had every person in the peds ER come into the room to see the snake and the little boy who tried to catch it and the mommy who did catch it. It took a little while to figure out the right antivenom and the right dosage and then where they would get it from, but Evan was doing really well with his arm elevated and nonstop Pixar on the TV. God bless who’s ever idea that was!

Finally he started feeling some pain (Evan has the highest pain tolerance of any kid I’ve ever met) and crying after the swelling hit his elbow. So he got a nice dose of morphine. That really mellowed him out and he was floating high when the Crofab arrived and they started the meds. After that it was a waiting game. He fell asleep and we had to just watch him to see if he was still breathing and if he broke out anywhere. I guess there is a pretty high occurrence of people having allergic reactions to the antivenom itself. I was trying not to think of words like anifalactic at this point. Anyway, things went really well. We finished the dose in about 40 min I guess (you have to administer very slowly starting with a very small dose and then doubling that every three minutes) and he was still sleeping peacefully, heart and lungs just fine, hive free. So we settled in for the night to wait and watch and see.

At midnight he got up and had a bowl of cornflakes and a very funny sort of half drugged, half asleep conversation with the nurse in his new room then he crashed again, assuring us that his arm would be all better in the morning.

At 7am, on the dot, just like every other morning at our house, I woke up to “Good morning mommy! It’s morning! time to get up! Where is breakfast!?” It was a very sweet thing to hear. Plus his arm had noticeably reduced in size and he was smiling and back to his normal self.

After that we watched cartoons and ate “great food mommy! Right in my bed!!” and we played a little game and then when the doctors had taken measurements and were happy with the reduction in swelling they sent us home. Evan was not happy to be leaving his bed that went up and down. And believe me.. it went up and down for two hours straight once he discovered he could control it with his big toe. Plus he was mad that we were leaving before he got another “great meal!” in his cool moving bed. I told him we could have lunch with Daddy and the girls in the cafeteria where he could pick out his own food and he thought that was ok but wondered how they were going to get his bed down to the cafeteria. I assured him that he was quite capable of walking but he was skeptical. He did get bit by a snake you know.

We’re all at home now and he is still doing well. Swelling is continuing to go down but we don’t expect a full recovery for at least a week. There is still tissue damage to watch for and necrosis, compartment syndrome, but the worst is over. Except the bill of course. Don’t ever get bit by a pit viper… or any other kind of snake unless you have fabulous insurance. Crofab these days is running around $1-$2k a vial and Evan had to have four!!!

Thanks for all your well wishes! We’re glad to have our sweet little boy and one less snake in the yard.