On kids and creepy crawlies

On Monday, I kicked off the GRAND Social link party by sharing a text from my daughter Megan about the scorpion family she found in her kitchen. Based on the comments to that post, I probably should have included a mention that Megan does indeed have her home regularly sprayed for the creepy crawly things that reside in the desert. The "Bug Guy" — as the scorpion (and other stuff) sprayer is affectionately called by Megan and her clan — visits so often, in fact, he's virtually family.

Or such was the case with one of Megan's long-standing bug guys. Even I met him a time or two during my desert visits. This particular bug guy was an affable man, quite conversational and clearly concerned with the safety and well-being of my daughter and her family. It saddened Megan so when her beloved Bug Guy moved away.

Alas, as bug guys are a necessity in the desert, Megan found another... one who sprays as frequently as her former favorite. But being the desert and all, certain creepy crawlies do manage to escape the bug man's poison and strut their stuff now and then, both inside and outside the homes of even the most diligent bug destroyers.

huge beetle 

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Sunday morning texts! Plus, GRAND Social No. 264 link party for grandparents

Sunday morning texts!

There's nothing quite like Sunday morning texts from beloved kids who have grown and flown.

To wit, the following texts I received Sunday morning from my middle daughter, Megan, mama to my desert-dwelling grandsons:

scorpion text message 

Am I right? Nothing quite like...

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What I learned this week: Reason No. 11 why I won't live near my grandsons

As many of you know, I live more than 800 miles away from my grandsons. When my daughter and son-in-law first told my husband and me we'd be grandparents, it broke my heart. I was certain I'd not survive unless they relocated to live near me.

They never did.

Of course, there was the option of my husband and me moving to live near them. A lot of grandparents do that, but it's just not in the cards for me. I wrote about my reasons for not doing so in this article. At the time I wrote it, one big reason I noted for not moving to be near my grandsons is the fact I have a life here in the mountains — a life that includes my (yes, adult and out of the nest) oldest and youngest daughters who live in the mountains, too, despite my middle daughter and her family preferring the desert.

There are other reasons why I won't live near my grandsons, and another I hadn't originally thought of became crystal clear this week.

I like to take photos. I'm not the greatest, though I'm working on getting better. Here are two I took of nature in all its glory while looking out the sliding doors to my deck this week:

 butterfly on flowers
A butterfly enjoying the dianthus.

squirrel relaxing
A squirrel relaxing in the tree.

Compare those two photos to two my daughter took of nature in all its glory around her place this week. Keep in mind that this is my daughter who, along with her husband and my two grandsons, lives in the desert. Here are the photos she texted me:

A scorpion lodged inside the honeycomb window blinds.

lizard in garage
A lizard in the garage — just outside the door to the house.

I'd say nature in the mountains (my place) is far easier on the eyes — and nerves — than nature in the desert (their place), wouldn't you?

The bottom line/the moral of the story being that if getting to see these two adorable kids...

boys in inflatable pool 

... on a regular basis means seeing those two frightening critters on a regular basis, too, I'll take being a long-distance grandma any day. I'm not proud to admit that... but it's true.

And that is what I learned this week.

Well, I also learned that my daughter is far more brave than I ever thought she'd be, that little Meggie of mine who once (as a teen!) captured a spider in our family room late one night by placing a heavy bowl over it, then taping a note to the bowl asking me to take care of what was trapped inside once I awoke. Now look at her — taking photos instead of screaming and running!

(Now I hope I'll be just as brave and not be completely freaked out about icky desert things when I visit my daughter, son-in-law and grandsons in 10 days!)

Best wishes for a critter-free weekend, wherever you may be! I look forward to seeing you all again on Monday!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Bugging me

Megan's scorpion, heroically nabbed by Preston.My parents transplanted our family of nine from Minnesota to Colorado nearly 40 years ago. Three talking points I recall of their spiel trying to sell my siblings and me on the move were 1) "The people are so nice, even strangers on the street say 'hello';" 2) "Out west, everyone wears blue jeans;" and 3) "There are no bugs."

Nos. 1 and 2 registered slightly above a "meh" with me. No. 3 had my attention. As a child who was traumatized by had memorable run-ins with leeches, walking sticks, and woodticks that turned white and grew to the size of marbles when not removed from dogs or the hairline of a little girl who thought she might be feeling a tumor growing on the back of her scalp and was too scared to seal her fate by telling Mom about it, the idea of no bugs sounded pretty darn good. More than just good, in fact, it sounded worth the move. I was sold.

I've lived in Colorado the biggest chunk of my life now and I'm still sold. I'm sold on Colorado for myriad reasons, but after Megan's revelations the past week about the critters in her part of the world, I admit minimal bugs are still one of the greatest appeals. I've actually said such a thing to Jim in the past week, and he agreed. Yes, we'll stay put in Colorado. Likely 'til Kingdom comes.

The revelations from Megan that heebie-jeebied me so involved scorpions. Just days after their visit to fairly bug-free Colorado was over and she headed back with Bubby to their desert home, Megan spotted a scorpion in the corner of her living room ceiling. A vaulted living room ceiling that she couldn't reach on her own, not even with the tube of the vacuum cleaner stretched to the max to suck up the critter. In her third trimester of pregnancy, climbing a ladder to reach the scorpion wasn't an option. Especially because it might skitter away causing Megan to fall from the ladder in fright, threatening the well-being of not only herself, but her unborn Birdy and the surely freaked-out Bubby below. So she and Bubby kept tabs on its location until Preston could leave work early to get home and save his loved ones from the ceiling-bound scorpion.

Disaster averted, thanks to Preston, a vacuum tube, and duct tape. Except that they spotted another scorpion in the same room upon their return from a weekend trip to Sea World. The scorpion professionals were to be scheduled to rid their home of the critters. For this month, anyway. Apparently such pest control is ongoing, a monthly service required of residents of the desert. At least those who don't want their babies stung by the little cussers.

When I shared Megan's scorpion story with one of the tutors I oversee for the literacy center, a woman who has lived in various spots around the country in the past 50 years or so, she shrugged off the tale. She'd gotten used to such things while living in desert climes, she said. You shake out your shoes before putting them on, you shake out your clothes before dressing, you shake out your bed covers before jumping under them. She'd lived with worse, she said, including rattlesnakes coiled up in bushes she'd started to trim ... then slowly had to back away from to keep from being bit. Now that was scary, she said. But the fear of the rattlesnakes was balanced out by the harmless geckos that climbed the walls, she added. The little critters that were oh-so cute ... except when you forgot to shake out the toaster before pushing down the handle on your breakfast bread. Toasting up a crumb-savoring gecko is not a good way to start your day, she stressed.

Shaking toasters, shoes, and bushes or sucking up scorpions with the vacuum don't sound like good ways to spend any portion of a day, if you ask me. I honestly don't understand how folks live in such places.

I especially don't understand why Megan hires scorpion zappers to make floors and cribs and ceilings safe for my grandbabies instead of packing up the brood and heading to the hills. Specifically, heading to the hills of Colorado ... where she was raised ... and where she knows there are no bugs to threaten the lives of her — and my — loved ones.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know there are brown recluse spiders and spotted ticks and rattlesnakes and more in Colorado. But they're up in the high country for the most part, not in residential areas where we have to fear for our lives and the lives of our babies on a daily basis.

Today's question:

What memorable run-ins have you had with creepy-crawlies of any sort?

Head for the hills

During a recent phone conversation, Megan mentioned that Bubby had woke up in the middle of the night, crying "Ow! Ow!" Her first thought: He'd been bit by a tarantula.

A tarantula?

Yep, Megan didn't think, as I would have, that Bubby had gotten his foot caught between the rails of the bed or that the pain of a recent round of teething awoke him. No, she thought a tarantula had taken a bite out of her baby.

Seems the day before, Megan had walked into the bathroom just in time to see a baby tarantula scurry across the counter. Being the brave mama she is ... okay, knowing there's no way in hell Preston would have gotten in there in time to kill the darn thing before it disappeared into the woodwork ... Megan squished and squashed it.

Then she worried non-stop that there were more where that one came from.

Turns out that when she raced to Bubby's room to rescue him from the scary spider, Bubby stood in his crib, laughed and held his arms out. He was just kidding ... and pressing Mommy's buttons in hopes of getting up to play at 3 a.m. (I've told you he's a smart kid, haven't I?)

Now, Megan and Preston live in a nice house, in a nice part of town. But it's in the freakin' desert. So these things happen. In the same conversation, Megan mentioned Preston's recent near run-in with a rattlesnake. He and Roxie, the family dog, had been hiking when Roxie noticed something slithering and rattling up ahead. Her warnings to Preston saved the day, and he was fortunate to come away with nothing more than a snake story.

A scary snake story, if you ask me, but it's nothing compared to the scorpion stories Megan shares with me on a pretty regular basis. When she first moved to the desert with Preston, she told me about the common practice of sweeping one's bed with a black light before climbing into it to ensure no scorpions were hiding out in the covers, ready to zap the sleeper in the night. She didn't buy a black light -- which I sure would have appreciated on my first few visits to the newlyweds' new home.

Megan, a teacher, also told me about scorpion incidents on the playground ... and the rising tally of kiddos stung by scorpions as they played.

The kicker, though, came when Megan was pregnant. As is the case with all OB/GYN doctors, Megan's doctor gave her reams of information on health precautions for herself and her baby. But in the pile of papers she was given to read was one precaution I'd never before heard of -- and as a long-time mom and the former editor of a parenting magazine, I've heard a lot of babycare precautions. The tip of which I write, which dropped my jaw upon hearing, was to place the legs of the baby's crib in glass jars, one for each leg of the crib (or bassinette). No, it's not some nifty recycling tip; it's the way to prevent scorpions -- SCORPIONS! -- from climbing into the baby's bed at night and stinging him. Oh, it also mentioned to keep the crib moved out from the wall a bit, as the scorpions climb walls. And to keep blankets from dangling through the rails and touching the floor as the pesky critters like to climb up the blankets, too.

Surprisingly, such advice didn't send Megan packing. I'm continually amazed at the way she has adjusted to such lunacy. She was born and bred in the mountains. We don't have such things in the mountains. Yeah, we do have rattlesnakes, but run-ins with them are few and far between because it's too darn cold for them to be out and about on a regular basis. We also have the Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick ... but I've never heard of anyone -- not even the most active and outdoorsy person I know -- actually succumbing to the dreaded fever the tick supposedly propagates. The worst we have is Brown Recluse spiders, but I'm pretty sure those are everywhere and they require minimal precautions, minimal awareness. No jar under the crib legs or blacklight scans of the bedding to keep one safe.

Although I must be honest here and admit that we did have one critter infestation of biblical proportions last year. Bugs covered everything in parts of the state: fields and flowers, mailboxes, street lamps and (most appealing to the news cameras for some reason) the rows and rows of vehicles at the auto dealerships. But the bugs were, get this, lady bugs ... which made for a rather colorful and whimisical annoyance.

The cry of "head for the hills" from characters in books and movies, characters seeking safety, happens for a reason: It's safe in the hills. And I firmly believe -- and this isn't just the grandma in me talking -- that it's high time for Megan and Preston to grab their baby and head for the hills ... the hills of Colorado ... specifically the hills at the base of Pikes Peak ... the hills where grandma lives.

Again, the hills are safe. We don't have to worry about spiders and snakes and scorpions. And if Bubby lived here, I promise I'd protect him from any of the scary things that might make an uncharacteristic appearance. I'd throw myself in the line of fire of each and every wild critter who might dare to nibble on Bubby's sweet skin.

No matter how old or feeble I may get, I'd make good on that promise. I'd keep my grandbaby safe. I am grandma, hear me roar.

It's a pretty easy promise to keep when the greatest danger we may encounter is a ladybug or two (hundred).

Today's question:

What creepy critter are you most afraid of?

My answer: I'd have to say snakes. I can squish a spider fairly quickly, but snakes don't squish quite as easily.