I am a Seeker

I am a huge fan of the TV show “Bones”.  There is something about the quirky, dark humor of the show that appeals to my quirky, dark-humored side.  I’m not sure what was going on with last week’s episode, but the show introduced the audience to a whole new set of characters.  Any other “Bones” fans out there smell a spin-off in the works?

The good-looking main character of the new characters was described as being a “Seeker”.  Apparently, he has  an amazing knack for finding anyone & anything someone wishes to find.  For a price, of course.  He does this by using his intuition, common sense, and two larger-than-life sidekicks.

As I was watching the storyline unfold, I realized that I, too, am a “Seeker”.  I don’t receive monetary compensation for my efforts and I certainly don’t have two kick-butt personal assistants by my side.  I don’t seek criminals.  I don’t seek missing loved-ones.  I do, however, seek lost treasures.  I do seek missing relics.

Specifically, what do I seek?

I seek socks.  I seek misplaced homework on Friday mornings.  I seek the missing  stuffed-animal-of-the- week when it’s bedtime.  I seek aphids for our latest ladybug “pet”.  I seek shoes when we are late for school.  I seek the TV remote so that I may use it to  seek age-appropriate shows for my boys.  I seek Legos.  That vital  missing piece, by the way,  is usually found under the rear-end of the person assembling the most recent Lego set acquisition.

Some days, I seek solely my sanity.

It’s amazing to me how often my boys think I just know where something is… as if I am a superhero who obtained my superpower after being bitten by some sort of all-knowing insect.

In short, I am a Mom… therefore, I am a  Seeker of the most important kind:  I find those things that mean so much to the ones who mean the most to me.

Seek on, Seeker Mom!

High-Tech Treasure Hunting

A couple weeks ago, when Matt first expressed an interest in geocaching, I’m pretty sure I responded with a blank stare. Geocaching? I had heard the word before but had no idea what it was.

Am I the only person under the age of 67 who did not know what geocaching is? Since I am hoping I’m not the only one who needed an explanation, I’m going to explain it to you. If you are more “hip” than I am (and who isn’t?), please bear with me… or rather, bear with Wikipedia:

Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning Systemreceiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container (usually a tupperware or ammo box) containing a logbook. Larger containers can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is most often described as a “game of high-tech hide and seek”, sharing many aspects with orienteering, treasure-hunting, and waymarking. (GPS)

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.[1] As of September 20 2009, there are over 904,000 active geocaches over the world.

-Stolen from Wikipedia

Now that you know everything there is to know about geocaching, I can finish this blog. Matt and I took the boys geocaching on Friday afternoon. Matt had gone with the boys on Thursday, but this was my first time. I had a great time, in spite of the heat. The boys had tons of fun. I think Matt had the most fun of all of us (that’s probably because he got to hold the GPS thing).

We didn’t even have to go far to have a fun adventure. Matt found out there were a few caches hidden at Kit Carson Park and off we went. I figured it would be an easy excursion but I was wrong. We stomped through brush, wound our way down coyote trails, barely missed angering a nest of wasps, saw a baby rattlesnake, and all ended up exhausted. I’ve seen parts of Kit Carson Park I never knew existed.

We found a total of three caches that day. We looked for five but two were impossible to find in all the dense brush and trees. The funniest one was hidden in the base of a lamp post in the parking lot by the soccer field. In the collage above, you can see Matt holding a small, black disk… that is what was hidden in the base of the lamp post.

The best cache was hidden on an obscure trail. We found it at the base of a tree, near where we saw the baby rattlesnake. In this cache, there were fun little toys for the boys. Per geocaching etiquette, we replaced what we took with our own little toys.

By the time we found that cache, we were all tired, thirsty, dirty, and ready to call it a day. The boys did very well, considering the amount of walking we did. I’m so glad Matt thought to start geocaching. I think we have found a fun family hobby that will keep us active and having fun together.

Mommy, the Black Widow Spider Slayer

I am going to hate writing this blog but I feel like it needs to be done… regardless of how heevie-jeevie it makes me feel.

Let me start by declaring that I really dislike black widow spiders. When I say “dislike”, I mean hate, despise, abhor, loathe, and detest black widows. I’ve never liked them but it seems like my hatred and fear of them has grown over the past few years. Actually, it’s no coincidence that my black widow hatred has grown since we moved into our current house.

I’m pretty sure our house was built on the Mecca for black widows. Each spring, they make their pilgrimage to our backyard and set up permanent homes. They party, have spider sex, kill their partners, and lay eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. In egg sacs. Lots of disgusting eggs in lots of disgusting egg sacs.

We rarely see the egg sacs but we know they’re there because a few weeks later, those eggs hatch and out come the baby black widows. Fortunately, many of them don’t survive the hatching process because they eat each other. I guess the ones that survive are the ones that a) float away in the breeze to another part of our yard; or b) do the eating.

When Matt and I first moved into our house, we kept noticing these little spiders in the backyard. They seemed to be everywhere in the back. They did not look like black widows… because they weren’t black. Their bodies were usually shaped like black widows, though, so we took a closer look. We noticed these little grayish spiders had whiteish hour glasses on their abdomens.

We did some research and found out that the little spiders we kept seeing were baby and/or juvenile black widows. The information isn’t clear regarding whether or not juvenile black widows are poisonous. Some sources say yes, and some say no. I don’t intend to find out for sure the hard way so I kill any and all black widows.

In case you’re wondering what newly hatched black widows look like, check out this disturbing picture.

I took the following picture yesterday. I was on a black widow spider killing spree in our backyard. This one is not a newly hatched baby. In my unscientific backyard observations, I label these the “preteen” widows.

The widow is in the center of the picture… it’s that roundish grayish thing with the legs.
Sorry for the poor quality of the picture- I was high on bug spray fumes when I took it.

I am pretty sure this is an immature female black widow. The males don’t usually have such round butts. Notice that she is not black. You may also notice that I found this little devil on the underside of the boys’ Little Tykes Picnic Table.

Here is another one I found on the same table:

Based on its shape, this one is probably a female, too. The white stripes indicate that it is an immature spider. My label for this stage of widowhood is “Late Teen”. She’s almost grown up, she just needs to get rid of those stripes and she’s a full-fledged black widow.

Both of the spiders are dead now… along with about 11 of their friends. I mostly find juvenile black widows in our yard but when I do find the full-fledged black widow, I am always happy to kill them with a little extra “umph”. My weapons of choice are bug spray and a croquet mallet.

Here are some black widow spider facts:

  • The males are not poisonous
  • The males are smaller than the females
  • The females don’t always eat the males after they mate- it depends on how hungry they are.
  • Females can live up to three years
  • Egg sacs can hold between 250-700 eggs

If I seem obsessed with black widows, it’s probably because I am. They both horrify and intrigue me. They mostly horrify me. I’ve always believed that in order to appreciate something, you need to learn about it. This may be true in many cases, but I’ve learned more about black widows than I ever wanted to and I only hate them more.

I dream of one day living in a place where there are no black widows. A place where my boys can go out back to play without me having to do a spider check first. A place where we can have spider-free outside toys and play structures. A place where I don’t need to shake, stomp on, and turn inside-out my garden gloves before I put them on.

I know there are dangerous creatures in every place. But believe me when I say I would take rattlesnakes, coyotes, bats, chiggers (whatever those are), ticks, scorpions, and rabid bunnies over black widows, any day!

By the way… I know some of you are thinking, “Why don’t you hire a pest control person to spray the backyard?” My answer to that is, “That’s probably a good idea.” A good idea, assuming it works better than the ant control we used to have done… until we realized we were still getting ants.

My Mid-life Crisis??

Midlife? Really? Well, I am **cough, cough** thirty-nine years old, and since I don’t want to live to be 100, I guess that makes me pretty close to halfway through my life. But then, I could die next week. That would mean I hit midlife when I was 19 and a half. I’m not trying to be morbid… just realistic. I’m trying to make the point one never really knows when their midlife is.

So, what is midlife crisis? How do we know we’re having one if we don’t know when we are at the mid-point of our lives? Don’t answer those questions… they’re rhetorical. Everyone knows the true sign of having reached midlife is the sudden urge to buy a shiny, new sports car. That’s a given.

Me? While it’s true I would commit a number of crimes in order to own a restored 1967 Mustang, I don’t think that has anything to do with my own midlife. I’ve wanted one of those since I was 19 and a half. Oh…uh…hmmmm… Note to self: Don’t leave the house next week.

Here’s my crisis, midlife-related or not:

I need something. I don’t know what it is, exactly. I just know I need something different… something adventurous… something challenging… something mentally and physically stimulating. I’m not content staying home, doing the same thing… day in and day out. I’m tired of the same routine everyday.

I’m… I’m… bored!

There. I said it. Let the judging begin. Go ahead, I’m used to it. I judge myself harshly all the time. Every good Christian woman knows we are supposed to be content… some would even say we should be “happy” all the time. It must be my fault that I’m not content. Maybe I don’t pray enough. Maybe I don’t read my Bible enough. Maybe I’m just not “spiritual” enough.

Maybe if I were more like that Proverbs 31 woman, I’d be content. Want to know a little secret? Don’t tell anyone, but I hate that chick.

So, what do I do? I was happy and content while I was training for my marathon. Now it’s done and I’m bored again. So, why not train for another one? Maybe that would take away the boredom. I still love and need running but I’ve had to cut way back since my injuries threw me a curve ball. And, for some reason, it just doesn’t have the same novelty to it anymore.

Maybe I should get a job. Hey! Great idea! Oh wait, what do I do with my young children? I refuse to hand them over to a daycare situation if I can help it… been there and done that. Yes, I could work somewhere where the hours are the same as my kids… but what kind of job is that? Working with kids. I’m tired of kids. I want something different, remember?

I’ve always thrived on change. I love change! If I could have it my way, we’d move every couple years… different houses, different cities, different states. I don’t know if the upheaval and chaos caused by change boosts my adrenaline, or what. I just know I’ve always needed change. In my adult life I’ve changed majors, I’ve changed college jobs, I’ve changed friends, I’ve changed careers, I try to change my hair often (but it always looks the same).

I also love adventure. I want to do something dangerous enough to scare me but not dangerous enough to kill me. I want to see how far I can push my body.

I want challenge. Something that stretches my mental capacity. There are only so many times I can hear about Sponge Bob and Patrick before my brain starts to shrink and get soft. And believe me, I know a lot about Sponge Bob… too much! Scary.

So, what do I do? Climb Mount Everest? Go back to school and study criminal psychology? Train for a triathlon? Race car driving? Throw a rock into a hive of killer bees and run?

I can hear the imaginary “church ladies” telling me to:

  • Enjoy this time, kids grow too quickly. Yes, I know that and I agree. My kids are NOT the source of my discontent… I just want to supplement my life with something besides kids.
  • Find a group of women to meet with, to share your lives and experiences. Nice thought… but there are very few women I really bond with. Being in a group of women for too long makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. Truth is, I like men. I prefer to hang out with men… but since I’m married, I can’t really do that anymore.
  • Take up a hobby or a craft. I DESPISE crafts of all kinds. In fact, I think I have craft-phobia… I break out in a cold sweat whenever I am forced to do a craft.

I don’t know what I will do about this supposed midlife crisis. I do know that, now that I’ve identified it, I feel better. It’s just a matter of figuring out something new to do… something that challenges me, stretches me, scares me, pushes me, and creates a certain level of havoc in my life.

Stay tuned… I’ll let you know, once I figure it out!

Of Coyotes & Insurance Companies

It has been so long since my last- and only- post!  I meant to keep this blog more up-to-date but have obviously failed.  No excuses… just busy, I suppose.  So much has happened since my last post:

My seven year old started second grade.

My four year old started preschool.

Our cat, Peanut, is missing and presumably dead as a result of coyote digestion.  All that’s left of our poor kitty is his blue collar and a small tuft of fur.  My boys are keeping the collar to remember their first real pet.  We buried the fur in the backyard and plan to hold a memorial service on Thursday.  My future Donald Trump (the seven year old) wants to charge people to attend the service.  I doubt anyone besides us will show up to pay their respects.

My dad, who has been has been in and out of the hospital and nursing homes over the past few months is back in the hospital again.   He started with back surgery due to a bad disk.  He came home.   Had a small stroke.  Went back to the hospital and then to a nursing care facility.   Sent home prematurely, thanks to the insurance company.  Went in for another back surgery because the first one was unsuccessful.  Back to the nursing care facility to recover from the surgery.  Sent home prematurely, thanks to the insurance company.   Fell on his first day home, called 911 (nobody else was home).  Back to the hospital.  An MRI done (to make sure he didn’t damage the surgical site)  revealed an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a life-threatening condition if not diagnosed before the aneurysm ruptures.

Actually,  it is a blessing my dad was sent home from the nursing care facility… even though we all considered it a premature move. If he had not been sent home, he would not have fallen on his way to the kitchen. If he had not fallen and been alone in the house, he would not have called the paramedics.  If the paramedics had not taken him to the hospital, he would not have had the MRI.  If he had not had the MRI, the abdominal aortic aneurysm may have gone undetected… until it was too late.

So, as you can see… life has been a little crazy for my family.

I hope to be more consistent once things become more routine.

Did I just write that out loud?  Routine? What’s that?   I think Routine is somewhere under the towering stack of clean laundry that needs to be put away one of these days.  If I ever do find it, I’ll probably need to toss it back into the dryer for a few minutes just to get the wrinkles out!  And then, it will end up back at the bottom of the pile.

And with that thought, goodnight all!