The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

For the Love of Ladybugs


Apprentice came running into the house with the his buddy from the neighborhood, (we’ll call him Rick).  “What are you up to?” I asked.  They seemed intent on finding all kinds of stuff in the house.  Some tape, pieces of cardboard, paper, scissors.

“Can I use this scissors on grass?” Apprentice replied.

“No,” I answered.  Let’s try this again.  “What are you doing outside?”

“Making a house for the ladybugs.”  Oh, well, then, by all means please take all the supplies you need.  I giggled, gave them an old scissors, told them to be careful and went back to whatever I was doing.  The boys returned to their task of building a housing development for our neighborhood ladybugs.

Tuesday, immediately after school

“Mom!  Look at what I am bringing home!  I caught some ladybugs over lunch and I am bringing them home so they have a place to stay this winter!”  Apprentice is at it again with the ladybugs and their winter homes.  I have a feeling he may have a future in Arizona or Florida real estate.

“Terrific,” I responded, “As long as they are not in the house.”  He nodded, then appeared to go deep into thought. (This is important later in the story)

Apprentice had put the captured ladybugs in a ziploc bag.  This is the same bag that his grapes were in earlier in the day, so give the boy some points for recycling.  He had put grass, leaves and etc in the bag after lunch so to create a temporary home for his ladybug friends.  Rick had made a hole in the bag so they could get some air. The ride home from school was eventful.  About half way home, Apprentice screamed, which led to Jaybird kicking my seat, screaming and generally moving all over the place.  Mid let out a “will you calm down?” and informed me that the ladybugs had (GASP!) escaped.  Jaybird and Apprentice were freaking out because they did not want the ferocious ladybugs to crawl on them.  I had to pull over.

“What is going on back there?”  I turned to find looks of terror on the faces of Apprentice and Jaybird and a combination of impatience and disgust on Mid’s face.  All started to yell at once.  The ladybugs had gotten out of the ziploc bag and were apparently ravaging our minivan.  I opened all the windows and told them to calm down.  The ladybugs would not cause any damage.  Furthermore, I assured them that ladybugs are not dangerous and we would live to see another day.

Upon arrival at home, Apprentice confirmed that all ladybugs were out of the baggie and his lunch box.  He expressed his concern as to what these poor, defenseless insects would do over the harsh winter.  He went inside with a heavy heart.  Mid told me that he doesn’t get the whole fascination his brother has with the ladybugs.  “You know, perhaps the ladybugs want to be with their family over the winter and don’t want to live with us.  Sheesh.”  He shook his head.  I followed the kids inside, cleaned out Apprentice’s lunch bag and went on with dinner preparation.

Tuesday, bedtime

JB sent the kids upstairs to brush teeth, read books, get ready for bed.  I heard a lot of whispering.  I don’t know about other people’s homes, but no good usually comes from my children whispering while huddling together.  I walked upstairs as quietly as I could.  When I got to the boys’ bedroom I looked around.  They were in the bathroom brushing their teeth, but I had one of those “mother moments” where  I could sense something was amiss in their room.  I looked around.  Nothing.  I looked on their dresser.  Nothing.  I looked in the nightstand drawer.  Bingo.  Another baggie of grass, leaves and you guessed it.. ladybugs.  Thinking this may not be it, I looked under beds.  More ziploc bags with ladybugs.  What the hell?  Apprentice seemed to be operating a (totally unsanitary deathtrap) ladybug home in his room.  We had a discussion, summarized below.

“Remember what we talked about on the playground today?  That the ladybugs cannot live in this house?”

“Yes, Mom,” he answered.  “So what should I do with them?”

“We need to let them go outside.  Let’s take them to the deck.” I answered.  I couldn’t bear to tell him that his little bugs (pets?) had all perished in the ziploc bags.

So I hope this is the end of his ladybug hotels in ziploc baggies.  I am thinking that I need to do some research on how to properly care for these things over the winter.  We seem to have a project on our hands.


Fall Farewells

Or, New Beginnings

Or, How did I get this OLD?

This post is inspired by my friend Heather, who shared a touching picture of her husband and daughter embracing as they saw her off to college.  It was move in time for college kids everywhere recently.  My FB feed was full of friends wishing their kids well at a variety of universities and as they enter admirable service to our country in the armed services.  It was this feed about kids going off to start their own lives and the sermon in church about vocation that has made me tear up off and on during the last week.

During one of these little teary sessions Jaybird was contemplating hanging out at Callaway Park with her father for the day.  Normally I would require this to be a family event, but not today.  I told her to just get ready to go ride a roller coaster with her father, for crying out loud, because this will be a picture of the two of them embracing soon enough and I can’t stand how is fast the time going.  She gave me the “Momma is SO crazy” look and took off with her dad.

I stayed home so I got the boys and their friends.  It was a beautiful sunny day so I had but one requirement for their play dates.  Nothing electronic.  No video games, iPads, DS players, TV.  We went to the park nearby (thankfully) to play for a while.  I was reflecting on all the college moving pictures and writing this post about how difficult it can be to let go in said park when I saw a father teaching his son to ride a two-wheel bike.  It struck me.. is moving a kid into college and teaching them to ride a bike kind of the same thing?  And yes, I see the hypocrisy of me writing the blogpost on my iPad in the park while they fulfilled their requirement of “No Electronics.”  I am Mom, the Boss.  Such rules do not necessarily apply to me.  Don’t judge.  But I digress.

We show them how to live independently, pedal a bicycle.  We let go little by little.  We cheer them.  They fall.  We encourage them to try again (or flat-out require it, but whatever).  We assure them that all the hard work will be worth the reward.  For young adults, it is a productive life in their chosen vocation.  For kids on bikes, it’s the freedom to go to their friend’s house on their own power.

I sent my kids back to school last week and we have returned to some sort of comforting school year routine.  I tried to kiss Mid goodbye on the first day of school but he wouldn’t allow it without a serious bribe, (which I did not pay).  Well played, but I can assure everyone that there will be times when I will kiss him in front of all his friends.  And as they start their school year, I am doing the same thing I have done every fall since they started kindergarten.  I cheered a little, cried a little and prayed (keep praying) that they will have a successful school year.  Letting go little by little every year.

My Two Week Political Binge

It’s Friday and I am hungover.  The political conventions are over and I am spinning with visions of PBS in my head.  I need coffee.  The last two weeks I have been watching speakers and checking facts and tweeting and explaining what all this is to my kids.  I know it’s all a big scripted show.  (Unless, of course, you are talking with an empty chair.  Sorry, low hanging fruit, I couldn’t resist.)  So, yes, it is a scripted, highly produced spectacular about how great each candidate is and their vision for the future of the United States.  And I love it.

Growing up my family kept up on current events.  Are my parents Republican or Democrat?  I honestly don’t know.  Mom, Dad , my brother and I would talk about current events – 80s happenings – and we almost never agreed.  We had a say, though.  My brother and I were expected to debate. We were expected to engage in the conversation and have an educated opinion.  We were also expected to be open-minded and listen to others’ point of view.  Mom and Dad have opinions.  Strong opinions.  My dad especially has a tendency to get on rants about this and that.  I asked him once who he voted for in an election.  Once is the key word.  His reply? “Its nobody else’s business for whom you vote.  The important thing is that you always vote.”  Then he went on about how the US is a great country, all the hopes of his family when they arrived in the US many moons ago, and how anybody in the US can do anything they put their mind to… you get the idea.  So, is he a Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Communist? (j/k Dad, just wanted to see if you really read these posts) I don’t know.  We’ve always discussed multiple sides of an issue.  He and my mom would let us decide for ourselves.  At times this has not worked in their favor, mind you.

Back to my political hangover.

My kids have been asking what all the hubbub is about and why I am watching all this.  I explain that we Americans will be electing a new president in a few short months and that these two, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are asking for our votes.  President Obama is up for re-election and we get to decide whether we want for him to continue to be president for another four years or if we want Mitt Romney to be president instead.  Many questions from the kids.

Why is President Obama only president for four years?  Wasn’t there a president that stayed in office for twelve years?  What if a president dies while in office?  What’s the difference who is president?  Who are you voting for, Mom?  Why aren’t there any little kids with Mitt Romney?  Do you think Sasha and Malia like living in the White House?  I bet they don’t want to move again.

I tried to be even.  I told them about term limits.  I told him about Republicans and Democrats as age appropriate and diplomatic as I could.  As my parents, I have strong political opinions.  However, I am not comfortable with my children becoming little parrots around school and town spouting off all my political points of view.  As they grow, I want for them to decide for themselves.  (I think so, anyway.)   Since Paul Ryan is from our native Wisconsin, I may have spent a little more time talking about where he grew up and how he is now a pretty big deal in Congress and will be the Vice President if Mitt Romney gets elected.  This led into the conversation about how a person can go into politics and what the qualifications are to run for Congress and President.  It was a nice talk.

So over the last day or so, during the Democratic Party’s National Convention, the conversation had turned to, “Mom, who are you voting for?”  I told them I wasn’t sure yet, (liar, liar), that both are smart, qualified candidates and that I was going to do some additional reading prior to making my decision (pants on fire).   Maybe not totally a lie.  True, both candidates are smart men.  True, both have been deemed worthy to represent their parties in the election and will be on the ballot. True, both are well-educated and have support of many people. False, I have not yet made a decision.

I turned the question to them.  I said, “You have seen some of the speeches and I told you about each candidate.  Who would you like to see get elected?”  Mid answered first.  “I would like to see Mitt Romney get elected and have a turn.  We are supposed to let people take turns, right?  And Obama has already been president.  Romney has been trying to be president for a really long time, according to the person on the TV.” Okay.  Taking turns is a nice sentiment.  Jaybird went next.  “I want Obama to stay President, because I don’t want his daughters to have to move into a different house again.  And the other guy he is always with (Joe Biden) is funny.”  Apparently she has internalized some issues about our relocation and has picked up on how Joe Biden can be quite entertaining.  I turned to Apprentice and asked the question.  He replied that he is not interested, as neither plays hockey and we live in Canada.  Alrighty, then.

Jaybird had the comment of the night, however, when she went on to ask, “Why are there no women running for President?  I want there to be a woman President.  That would be cool.”  I agreed.  That would be cool, I told her, I would like to see a woman get elected President also.

So how did I do presenting the candidates in an unbiased, diplomatic, age appropriate manner?  Not perfect, by any stretch, but perhaps somewhere between Fox News and MSNBC.

Meanwhile in the Minivan…

I find it interesting to just listen when driving my kids about town.  With three of them involved in different activities, there is ample opportunity.  Also, none of them sit in the front seat yet.  They are back there, in the minivan, (aka Mom-mobile), and at times seem to forget that I am in the car.  On the way home from the first day of school there was much to listen to.  I did not speak, though I was spoken to a little.  Below is a snapshot of our drive home.

I didn’t get the teacher I wanted, but I really like the teachers I have.  They are both really nice.  *Apprentice has two teachers that job share.

Girls chased me at lunch.  The same girls from last year.  I told my friends I didn’t like it, but it was kinda fun.

I only have one of my old friends in my class.  I made a new friend, though.

Mom, can we talk about the “no electronics on school days except for homework” rule?  I am not in favor, by the way.

The new Vice Principal isn’t as strict as the other one.

I can bring PB&J to school for lunch!

Can I get Minecraft?

I need to go over my times tables for ten minutes everyday.  My teacher says so.  Mom, what’s a times table?

Did you get all the laundry done, Mom?

I bet Mom enjoyed all the peace and quiet today.  She probably didn’t even miss us.  *while I did like the house quiet today, I also missed them. a little.

I have mostly girls in my class.  Thank goodness that I have three friends with me!

Lunch Recess was the best part of the day.  Like, by far.

So there you have it.  My kids had a successful day at school and we are off!  Here’s to a great school year for all kids out there!  Oh, and I am working on “What I Did on Summer Vacation.”  Its coming, I swear.  Unless my imaginary dog gets hungry.

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