Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Not So Green Thumb

This summer we thought we would try our hand at a small garden.
We have 2 tomato plants, 2 strawberry plants, 2 pepper plants, a row of peas, 2 rows of lettuce and 2 rows of spinach. I am not known for being very successful with plants, so needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled when things started to sprout and bloom. Now I did buy the tomato, strawberry and pepper plants already started but the others we planted from seed.

So far we have harvested 2 small strawberries and a few little lettuce leaves and a very pretty jalapeno pepper is just about ready for the picking.

Today I was out there pulling weeds and showed Ristow that his third strawberry was just about ripe. He was very excited, and since we only have one producing plant right now, it was a big deal to have another berry on it. Well I was being ever so careful pulling weeds from the lettuce that I stepped back and squashed the lone strawberry. Booooo. Ristow was not too thrilled with me for that. And we noticed that someone or something had broken one of the pepper plants. Man, things are going downhill fast.

We will keep tending the garden with our limited knowledge and skill and hopefully get a chance to eat some of the rewards. It definitely has been a fun experience though, and maybe next year we will actually have enough for a whole salad ;)

Friday, May 28, 2010

May Brings Sunshine, Swimming and Baby Giggles

Yesterday we had a great day. Christopher's mom Beth was here visiting and we had a wonderful time with her. After taking her to the airport, we had lunch and headed to our friend's pool. Jessica got to go swimming for the first time and absolutely LOVED it. But to be honest, she seems to LOVE everything right now and she is finding things pretty funny. She laughs at her brother, she laughs at the soccer ball being kicked back and forth, she laughs at water being splashed, she laughs at silly noises.
Oh, to see the world new again like a child and truly appreciate the joy that the most simple things can bring!
Here are some pictures and a video of Jess laughing!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The End of Preschool

Ristow is officially done with Preschool. He has been going to our church Preschool program since he was 18 months old when I took a position teaching there. Four years later he is done and ready for Kindergarten in the fall. We are all very excited for this transition.
Ristow and the other students put on a great program last week. They sang songs and then they had their graduation program. They performed wonderfully and I am very proud of him and the work he put into it.
I know you will probably think me a horrible mom, but I have never understood the need for preschool graduation. They get caps and gowns and everything. Doesn't this take away from how special it truly is when they actually graduate the larger things in life, if they are used to such a big deal being made about everything they do? Don't get me wrong, it was sweet seeing my son dressed up and walking across the stage, but I just felt like it was a little much for preschool.

Anyway, after the graduation program he expected gifts and a party and to go out to dinner. I know some highschool kids who never got that much. Well, we did give a few small tokens of congratulations and Grammy and Poppy took us all out to dinner to celebrate. It was very nice.
I hope Ristow knows how much we love him and are proud of him.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't call PETA, we plead ignorance

Saturday night we noticed something awful. Ristow's recently acquired pet hermit crab Spidey was lying outside of his shell and not moving. "oh great, there goes another McClintock pet" I thought to myself. I actually have been working hard on this one NOT to kill it. (For those of you who don't know the story of Ristow getting this pet see previous post in April)
So we left it till Sunday evening, not wanting to spoil Mother's Day and gave Ristow the bad news that his crab had died.
Here is Christopher's rendition of what happened next....... (after a few tears of course)

"Needless to say, we wanted to show Spidey some respect, so my son and I went to the back yard with flashlights and a shovel to pay our last respects to our little friend. We had agreed that we could keep Spidey's shell to remember him by, and not bury the whole thing. I have to admit, as a father, I was pretty proud of how I was handling this whole situation. My son is so lucky to have me, a caring compassionate dad to guide him through this phase of life.

After digging the hole, I took Spidey out of his little "Crabitat", I noticed how light and frail his little body was. Even as I picked him up, one of his legs fell off and back into the Crabitat, which lead my son to asking if I had broken the crab. I responded with something prolific about the fraility of life that would hopefully stave off any further questioning. I also noticed that one of Spidey's claws was still inside the shell and didn't fall out upon shaking the shell over top of the hole, so we pat down the hole with the shovel and say our good-byes. I told my son that I was going to wash the shell and then bring it to him after he was ready for bed, and that would give me the opportunity to get out the rest of the crab carcass.

When I was finally alone and the rest of the family was upstairs, I pull a butter knife out of the drawer to pry out the claw still in the shell over the sink, which comes out with a little more effort than I thought it should. As the claw falls from Spidey's shell and into the garbage disposal, I notice there is still some of his carcass left inside the shell. I attempt to dig that out too... and this is when a tiny little claw reaches around and grabs the shell. I go cold. I convince myself it is just a reflex, and there is no way that any part of this crab can still be alive. I poke at him again and I see two legs move.

I bolt upstairs and the look on my face leads my wife to ask immediately, "What's wrong?" I ask her, " Do hermit crabs molt?" and her jaw hits the floor. I told her what I had seen, and that I think I put one of his claws down the garbage disposal which immediately gives her the dry heaves. She tells me to put him in water and if he climbs out, then he is alive. The suggestion sounds good to me, so I hurry back down to the kitchen and put him in a bowl of water to see if he is alive. I wait and I wait. Do I want him to move or don't I? Caught up in the moment, I couldn't decide.

He moves. What do I do now? I hurry to consult the great swami Google, and there before me are pages upon pages of how to care for a molting hermit crab. The first two directions each page gives are to never move your molting hermit crab and do not submerse it in water, especially cold water. So far I have two strikes on me, but how much worse can it get? Next, in bold type, "Never move the shed Exoskeleton." Apparently , the crab EATS this exoskeleton and it contains VITAL nutrients to complete the transformation. I kept scanning the text for what to do if you and your weepy son have already buried this vital exoskeleton in the backyard... no one addressed that. As I read on, molting is one of the most stressful acts that the hermit crab has to endure. One website compared molting to the labor pains of giving birth. So if Karma holds true, my wife can expect during the middle of labor of our next child to be shaken over a hole, poked with butter knives and thrown in a cold swimming pool to see if she can crawl out. (Sorry babe)

By this time my wife and I are discussing our next move when we see my son standing in the doorway of the kitchen asking for his shell. After choosing our words carefully, but basically telling our son that we are idiots, we inform him that Spidey may still be alive, but we don't know for how long (thanks to us). He takes this surprisingly well and is actually encouraged. So while he is being put back to bed, I am headed back out to the backyard with a headlamp and shovel to excavate the nutrient rich exoskeleton vital for growth, assuming the neighbor's dog hasn't already dug it up and rolled on it.

Resembling an archeological dig, I use my gardening spade and BBQ sauce brush to dust away the dirt I had so thoroughly patted down with the shovel an hour ago. I was able to recover most of the exoskeleon which is now pretty crushed and missing a few legs and decide to clean the body parts off with Spidey's water spritzer. Luckily, last week, we had a bird fly up the basement stairs into the house and continually smash himself into our window. I had to open the window, take the screen out to eventually let him escape, and laziness had prevented me from putting the screen back in the window. I was able to lay the dirt and hermit body parts on the screen to sift through them and clean them as best I could.

After scooping up the legs, claws and other accrucrements, I set them near Spidey in the cage and hopefully he will find them just as delectable as if they had never left his side. I debated on whether to physically set him on top of his own molt so he will know that it is time to eat, but I thought that he had been through enough for one day.

I hope you'll join us in wishing Spidey a speedy recovery."

Well, so far Spidey is still alive and hanging in there. Hope everyone enjoyed a good laugh at our expense. We are learning and will hopefully one day become great pet owners!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jessica's Dedication

Yesterday we had Jessica dedicated at church. It was a perfect Mother's Day gift for me.
When I was a baby, I was baptized in the Methodist church on Mother's Day too. Our church considers itself interdenominational as our congregation is made up of people from all different backgrounds and denominations. They also use traditions from many of the different denominations. Babies are not baptized, as I was as an infant, instead they are dedicated to the Lord and then when that child grows in their faith, they choose their own timing to be baptized as a symbol of their commitment and faith.
Having Jessica dedicated seems almost to be more for the parents and church family than it is for the baby. We publicly commit to raising her in the ways of the Lord and supporting her to the best of our abilities. We commit to dedicating our marriage to the Lord and committing to each other as husband and wife so that Jess may have a secure home to grow in. And the church family commits to help raise Jessica as sunday school teachers, friends, grandparents etc.
The baby is then anointed with oil and a blessing poured out on her for her mind to think the thoughts of God, her hands to do the work of the Lord, her feet to walk the right path, and her ears, that she might hear God's voice.It was a beautiful experience.
I am so thankful for a great church family that loves us and supports our family. We celebrate Jessica's dedication and know and trust that God has mighty plans for her!

(This last picture is just Ristow looking studly in his suit)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Picking Berries

When I was growing up we would make at least one annual trip to the strawberry patch and pick berries. I LOVED going strawberry picking. Between my brother and I, I think we would polish off a whole basket worth while we were out in the field. Our mouths would be stained pink from the sweet and wonderful fruit. Those years of strawberry picking have created many many fond memories.
Today, some new memories were created. My Mom and Dad took Ristow, Jess and I out to a farm about an hour away and we all went berry picking. Ristow's favorite fruit is strawberries, so he was in seventh heaven. Since he is quite the berry connoisseur he inspected each one carefully and only choose the perfectly ripe berries. It was great to watch. I had Jessica in her front carrier and as I would bend down to pick, she would reach out her hands and grab at the leaves. We had a great time.
Mom and Dad picked quite a load of berries, which we all know means lots and lots of yummy jam. Ristow had a berry stomach ache by the time dinner rolled around because he couldn't stay away from his glorious stash of berries. He did tell me that the strawberries that he picked tasted much better than the ones we buy from Kroger. I couldn't agree more, the local farm fresh fruit and the family experience definitely made the berries that much sweeter.
Berries berries everywhere!
Hopefully this is the start of a new tradition for my family. I am looking forward to heading to the strawberry fields one more time before the season is over this spring.