29 January 2010

I resolve...

So it's taken me almost a full month to settle on a couple of New Years resolutions, but I'm not one to rush willy nilly into these things. So here you have it. I resolve...

1) to spend LESS time with my kids. I have already made good on this by taking a 4 day kid-less trip to Texas to visit friends, and by joining a choir that feeds my creativity and keeps me out of the house one night a week. Btw, the choir is very relaxed and welcoming and, in case anyone is interested, in need of
male voices. Oh, and I joined a gym, which, while I refuse to make any health or weight-related resolutions, I am glad to have in my life as yet another place for some solo work and reflection (physical and mental).

2) to make the time that I DO spend with my kids count by dropping everything, pouring my heart into playing, reading books, indulging their fantasy worlds, making them laugh, and really really listening and engaging them.

3) to spend some time outside each day, no matter what the weather.

4) to start each day asking myself the question, "what one thing would make today a
good day?" and then doing my damndest to make that one thing happen.

Wish me luck.

the ants are marching

Jules has a new pet. Several hundred new pets, to be exact. Jules loves his ants. Well, maybe not the ants, but he loves to watch me squish them between my fingers when I find them, and he loves it when I use the word HATE when I talk about them.

If you haven't surmised it yet, let me spell it out for you: we have an ant problem. It started about three years ago with a tiny trickle and, over the last few years, has grown positively unwieldy. They started out simply coming through the front door, and the very old and very drafty windows. I kept them at bay by sprinkling baking soda along these openings, but ants do climb, and the crafty little bastards were soon coming in through the
tops of our doors and windows. Not wanting to spray some nasty birth-defect-or-worse causing insecticide, I opted for the next best thing: ant bait, which coaxed our new pets into neat little trails in and out of the house, and then on to certain death.

They've returned sooner than they usually do this year, and have already gotten craftier, coming into the house through the vent in our bathroom, a place un-bait-able. And three times now I have had to fish them out of my
pants. MY PANTS! I've had enough. Really. Enough.

So I called a couple of pest control companies and one of them came out to my house this morning. The nineteen year old guy that inspected our house assured me that the insecticide they used (Cloraphenapyr) was perfectly safe for humans (even of the small variety). He even told me that he considers it so safe he's stopped wearing much in the way of protective clothing when he applies it. They've sprayed the Ronald McDonald house with it, for crying out loud, so it must be safe. He encouraged me to do the research on it myself, and if I was happy enough with what I found, to call and schedule an appointment. So I Google'd and, of course, found reports that found it mostly safe, except that it
may be carcinogenic. Stop.

So I contacted another "ecologically sound" company and asked about what they used. Their brand of insecticide (Bifenthrin) got similar reports. And because they're supposedly eco-friendly, their services cost approximately three times as much.

So what's a mother to do?

Some days I wish I could move to a simpler age, where I was not required to play the role of EPA agent, personal chef, nurse, vocational counselor, the list goes on and on and on... to my children under five. An age that looked more like this:

Yes, that's right. I wish I could just slap up some DDT-treated wallpaper in the kids' room (because ants carry
disease and not merely because they're annoying), convinced by the ad that it's perfectly safe and oh-so-handy, and kiss my ant problem goodbye. Sure, my children might be diagnosed with malignant cancerous growths 57 or so years on, but by that time I'd be dead, or at least too far gone in my dementia (no doubt brought on by the aluminum in my deodorant, but that's another vocation) to even realize it. Ahhhhh, simpler times.

05 January 2010

the meal we missed

I just finished looking at all the photos from Johan's family's New Years Eve celebration, sent to us via email, and I can't decide whether to be jealous, sad, exceedingly grateful, or all of the above about them.

Don't get me wrong. We had our own kind of fun in a snowy cabin in the woods that friends of ours invited us to, eating Tostadas de Tinga and catching up after the kids went to bed. But the pictures, well, you'll see. They made me miss New Years, Belgian-style.

A big New Years Eve gathering has been the tradition since well before I joined the family, and this year was no exception. Every year the menu varies, from stewed rabbit to a "koue pla" (spelling in dialect is always tricky) of cold meats, cheeses, spreads and slimy (OK, just to me) smoked fishes. This year the family settled on "tapas," small plates, spread out over the entire evening, that ended, as usual, with a truly beautiful smorgasbord of desserts. I can think of nothing better than an evening full of fancy small plates and family (especially this one), and am yes, OK, very sad about not being able to be a part of their celebration this year. I miss Belgium, the food, but most of all, I miss the people who have become such a big part of my life there, and hope we'll be getting back to visit soon, very very soon. To all of you in Belgium, please save some 'toostjes' for me. And to the rest of you, enjoy some of my favorite photos from that night.

Gelukkig nieuwjaar.
*mwah**mwah**mwah* (3 kisses, don't forget)

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