June 30, 2009


Our boys were invited to a pirate-themed birthday party a few weekends ago. We had lots of fun buying red bandanas, sashses and clip-on earrings. Thomas' favorite pirate accessory was, obviously, the eye patch.

He insisted upon wearing two and, like any good mother would do, once I relented I called Mark into the kitchen so we could both watch him stumble around like a drunken sailor. It only took him about 90 seconds to figure out this just wasn't going to work so he wore them on top of his head like sunglasses. All. Day. Long.

June 25, 2009

A follow-up from Uncle Milton

You'll recall that earlier this week I thought I had taken all the necessary steps for our family to have a going ant farm in the next month. However, I received the following communication from Uncle Milton this afternoon:

From: onlineorders@unclemilton.com
To: Susan
Subject: Concerning your Uncle Milton Online Order
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 14:14:37

Thank you for your order! We have run your credit card and your order is all set to ship. Unfortunately, the weather in your area is too warm to safely ship at this time. We will keep your order on file until the weather cools enough to ensure your creatures will arrive safely. We will keep you posted on developments, and as soon as your order ships we will send you a shipment notification email. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Thank you,
Uncle Milton's, Inc.


Well, Uncle Milton, I do have a couple of questions:


From: Susan
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009
To: onlineorders@unclemilton.com
Subject: RE: Concerning your Uncle Milton Online Order

I appreciate your cautious shipping policy. However, you just shipped me ants earlier this week that roasted to death in my mailbox. Can you tell me what high temperatures you look for as a guideline and is it possible for you to hold-off on charging my credit card until the ants ship?


Uncle Milton and his peeps are fast on the response. Minutes later I had this...


From: onlineorders@unclemilton.com
To: Susan
Subject: RE: re: Concerning your Uncle Milton Online Order
Date: Thu, 25 June 2009

We apologize for the ants arriving in bad shape. We do our best to predict what the weather will be in your area prior to mailing it out, but sometimes they don't make it. We will wait to ship until the 10 day average for your area is below 85F.


So, by my math this means that my kids will have a working Ant Farm in mid-September. And, Uncle Milton will have my $14 until then as well. Until then we're pinning all our hopes on the lone living ant that Andrew and Mark have nicknamed Super Ant. Let's hope he really is!

June 23, 2009

The ants go marching one by one

Andrew went through a phase a couple of months ago where he was obsessed with the need for us to have an "alternative" pet. He loves Madeline with heart and soul - sorry, Madeline - but was feeling the itch for something more unusual. Apparently owning the most laid back, loving, overweight Australian Shepherd mutt that ever was just wasn't exotic enough for our young Jack Hanna.

Wisely, he initially tried this subject out on Mark. After several days of Mark declining to rush out and purchase a lorakeet, guinea pig or small turtle, he began working on me. I am normally a very poor target for this type of discussion but he came at me on Mother's Day and for some reason I was feeling just mushy enough that I was willing to entertain the topic, or at least willing to be entertained by the topic.

After some negotiations - which included me asserting that we will never knowingly harbor reptiles in this house - we narrowed it down to a goldfish or an ant farm. Mark was out-of-town and I was feeling a little sorry for myself on Mother's Day so I actually thought that getting a little fishbowl set-up sounded like a good afternoon activity. But, our little adventurer latched on to the Ant Farm concept.

The boys and I loaded up and headed downtown to the Toy Store where we selected Uncle Milton's Giant Ant Farm for the bargain basement price of something like $24.99. Everyone was delighted. Until we got home. That's when we figured out that we needed to send in a little voucher for the ants and, oh, it's going to take 4-6 weeks for them to arrive. Oh, and they needed an additional $4.99 for shipping. This was fun already!

Fast forward to yesterday when we journeyed to the mailbox and discovered that the much-anticipated ants had arrived. We were headed out to swimming lessons so we opened the padded envelope and put the small vial of ants on the counter next to the Ant Farm we had been staring at longingly all these weeks. I did notice as I opened it, that the envelope specifically said, right next to the cheery Uncle Milton's logo, that the contents should be kept away from extreme heat or cold. Conveniently, we were part of a National Weather Service-issued Excessive Heat Warning yesterday. At the time we retrieved the ants it was approximately 101 degrees. In the shade.

The evening progressed and the boys kind of forgot about the excitement of the ants. I kept peeking through the vial and noticed a possible lack of activity. Our new pets were definitely sluggish. Hmmm.

As I was leaving Andrew's room after the nightly routine, he remembered. He knew it was late and there was no chance we were going to collectively set-up the ant farm right then so he begged me to go do it myself and make sure the ants got enough water and food.

So, at 9:30 p.m. I began the process of assembling Uncle Milton's Giant Ant Farm. Sand, water, weird grains to feed them, etc. The directions suggested chilling the ants in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before attempting to put them in the farm because apparently Harvester Ants, which are approximately as big as my pinky finger, bite. Great. Icing them was supposed to slow them down temporarily so that they could be safely handled.

I removed them from the refrigerator, carefully opened the blue vial and then, quickly, dumped them into the top of their new homestead. You're all bright folks so I'm sure you've already guessed where this is headed.

You're right.

It seems that the all-expenses paid trip to Kansas in a padded envelope (aka sauna) was more than our Harvester Ants could handle. There is such a thing as too much spa time. They were dead. At first we thought that every last one of them had bitten the proverbial dust but it turns out that one lone ant survived. Sadly, it seems to be difficult for him to tunnel and do all the other fascinating things our new pets were supposed to do to entertain us when he's acting as a lone ranger. And, it seems relatively unlikely he'll procreate, seeing as how there's only one of him.

That's how it came to be that I was on the Uncle Milton's Ant Farm website bright and early this morning dialing up more alternative pets. This time they'll ship me two vials worth with some additional sand for a mere $14. Their website says the ants should survive nicely in temperatures up to 90 degrees so we're holding out hope.

Madeline has never looked better.

June 21, 2009

Numero uno

At the boys' school it's tradition that on the Friday before Mother's Day and the Friday before Father's Day, the Pre 2 kids have a picnic at a nearby park with their parent of honor for the weekend. The menu always features hot dogs, chips and strawberries and they always sing a group song for their parents and then deliver a gift that they have created during the previous week.

They don't always, however, deliver a beauty like this one...

This hat says it all. This dad is indeed #1. Happy Father's Day!

June 15, 2009

Crossing every "t"

We broke the exciting news to the boys during dinner tonight that our whole Henderson family will be visiting later this summer. Always about the logistics, Andrew immediately wanted to know where everyone would sleep.

Seemingly from nowhere, Thomas launched into a descriptive narration of how it would all go down.

He decided immediately that Claire will sleep with him in his room. He says that Claire will sleep in the big bed in his room and he will sleep in his small bed but clarified several times that she would indeed sleep with him, in his room.

Next he declared that Zac would like to sleep in Andrew's room and that since Andrew has a big bed, they'll share.

Almost as quickly he decided that RoRo and Aunt Maria will sleep in mommy and daddy's bed and after a little thought, said that mommy will sleep with them. He says our bed is big enough for "fhree."

Then he slowed down a little before deciding about Butch. Turns out, Butch will be sleeping on a couch. "Maybe the living room, maybe the basement."

Then we had to start prompting him. What about baby Luke? He thinks that baby Luke should sleep in a crib. In the basement. With Butch. And, that we should put some blankets in there since it doesn't have a mattress.

What about Uncle Eric, we said? Eric, it seems, will be sleeping outside on the trampoline. With daddy.

The best part? "Every morning all the kids will go run outside and jump on their heads."

So, that's something to which all of us should be looking forward.

June 11, 2009

Summer in the city

We're enjoying a cool, wet start to summer here and while we've had a few days lately that were downright chilly we aren't complaining because I'm sure the heat and humidity will find us soon enough. In the meantime, we're soaking up all the outside time we can wring out of each day.

After a late-afternoon trip to the library today, and a great outdoor dining experience downtown, the boys enjoyed some ice cream while we watched the world go by. How sweet it is.

June 8, 2009

Live blogging

Live blogging is defined by BlogHer as: Taking notes, photos, or recordings at lectures, conferences, and presentations of what was said and posting it to your blog.

Tonight's live blogging presentation is one in a series of installments courtesy of Thomas.

He is currently in his room, in the dark, tucked safely under two blankets, asking in very clear terms for more water. However, I am of the opinion that after consuming two small cups of milk during the post-shower routine, and then another small glass of water after books in his room, plus an extra few sips for good measure, it's impossible that he's actually parched. And if he is, we need to call a physician rather than offer more water, because no nightime diaper is equipped to deal with this level of hydration. To that end, I'm ignoring the following lecture he's conducting from his chambers...

"Someone needs to get me a drink right now."


"I told you that I am VERY firsty and I very need a drink RIGHT NOW."


"Could someone PEESE get me a drink. Right now."


"I said. I. AM. VERY. FIRSTY."


"Then I said, I need someone to get me a drink now, PEESE."


"I told you. I need a drink. A little drink. Now, peese."


"Then, someone needs to come give me a drink now."


You get the picture. He's a live blogger's dream with the way he has a consistent message but is continually refining his skills and his ability to mix up the delivery while staying on topic. He's going to be evaulated next month by another team of speech pathologists. I think I'll bring this transcript along to save them a few minutes' trouble.

June 2, 2009

In the sticks

Last night we took the boys on one of our favorite outings - a tour of campus. It was one of those beautiful June nights that can almost make you forget that we ever have really crummy weather here. The tour always has the same components, just in differing orders.

We always drive by Jayhawk Bookstore and spy the big Jayhawks outside. We also always make a pass by the Chi Omega fountain and the boys always ask if we've ever gone swimming in it and then they wonder when they can do it too. We swing by the Campanile and if we're lucky we hear it ring. Last night we were living right because we arrived in time to hear someone practicing a real piece on the chimes that went on and on complete with "do-overs" when he or she made a mistake.

That always leads to a peek at Aunt Claire's bench and we typically have a little football conversation as we look down the hill into the stadium. Daddy is a bit like royalty around here these days, according to my young lads, and as we talk football he just gets faster and tougher with every passing year.

Last night's trip held an out-of-the-ordinary purpose, though. We wanted to see this:

This is a "stickwork" sculpture that was funded collaboratively by the Spencer Museum of Art and other departments at KU, and created by students and Patrick Dougherty, a North Carolina-based sculptor.

This fascinating structure is created with 6,000 pounds of locally-gathered tree branches and it leans two-stories into the air, intertwined with an old elm tree that graces the corner of 14th and Jayhawk Blvd. It has eight arched doorways and being inside it made me feel like a bird, esconced in a nest. The boys loved touching it and we all loved seeing how intricately it's woven. It seems simultaneously and contradictorily permanent and fragile. It's worth a trip. Just bring an open mind! It's expected to last for approximately two years so get a move on.