Monday, July 27, 2009

Money matters

I have always tried to teach my children that they should save their money for important things rather than buying something every time they get a few dollars. When they were young, the concept of savings was foreign. They were into instant gratification so until they were school age, I always took most of the money they received as gifts and deposited it in their account and gave them a little to spend. They were still allowed to do as they wanted with their allowance. As they got older, I wanted them to learn the aspects of money management so I began letting them make some choices about how their money was spent with some guidance from me.

Harrison is still a bit young and savings to him means not spending his allowance for two weeks straight. Haley has been saving her money to buy larger items for some time now. This summer she put over half of her babysitting money in savings for a trip next summer. It's exciting for her to see how it all adds up. We have even talked about buying a CD. She likes the fact that she can make money with her money.

Holden never gave a whole lot of thought to saving money until this summer. In fact, saving money has become a fixation. When asked to help move the dining table chairs to the den so that I could mop, he asked if that was included in his allowance or if it was extra. If I mention in passing that I can't believe how dirty my car is, he wants to know how much I will pay him to wash it. He schemes on how to make money. He has had lemonade stands, sold shaved ice, and cleaned out the garage and sold some of his unused sports equipment. He even digs through trash that other people put out by the road to see if there is anything of value. It's actually pretty amazing at the things he finds.

His most recent scheme involves a lawn business. There is only one problem - he needs a lawnmower. Last month he told his grandmother that for his birthday (in September) he wants a lawn mower. In the meantime, his dad has offered the use of our push mower. But apparently Holden has grand visions of his lawn business because he is now searching for a used riding lawn mower. I came home recently and Holden excitedly announced that he had found a mower on Ebay for only $26 and it included free shipping. Here's his diamond in the rough.

Its a 1970 Montgomery Ward riding lawn mower with a 5 HP Briggs and Stratton motor. The seller says that the body and deck only have surface rust with no holes. The mower apparently runs because the seller "rode it around in the yard about a month ago" but is says that it is "NOT yard ready" and "needs some work" (you think?).

I hated to burst his bubble but the seller was located in NC and the free shipping involved a local delivery. Not to mention the fact that the mower is almost as old as I am and doesn't even mow. I let him down easy and I thought that might be the end of that quest. I underestimated him because not thirty minutes later I found him scouring the classifieds in search of another diamond in the rough. I'll have to hand it to him, once he gets his mind on something he doesn't give up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame

No summer would be complete without baseball, hot dogs and Spongebob. Last night, we took the kids to see the Charleston Riverdogs play. Harrison was excited because Spongebob was going to make an appearance. After we got settled into our seats, Harrison and I headed over to the tent area to see if we could see Spongebob. When I saw the line I had flashbacks of standing in line to see Mickey Mouse at Disney. Apparently Spongebob needs frequent breaks (maybe he dries up out of water?) so he would come out for 20 minutes and then go back in for 20 minutes. Forty five minutes after we got in line, we got our 5 second encounter with Spongebob.

We headed back to our seats just after the game started to find Haley and Holden munching on boiled peanuts and a giant bag of cotton candy waiting on Harrison. After Spongebob, cotton candy was the reason he wanted to go to the game.

After a few innings, the food was running low so Haley headed off to get a funnel cake and an order of nachos for us to share. The boys still wanted something else after the nachos. Maybe because the game was slow or maybe because they think you should get all the junk food you never get at home. David bought them both a bowl of dippin dots.

The Riverdogs scored 5 runs in the sixth inning but the most excitement was not on the field but rather in the stands. A bat broke after a player hit the ball and flew through the air and landed in the stadium not far from where we were sitting. Fortunately it grazed a man with the unbroken end. There was a little girl standing not 2 feet from where it landed.

After that, the kids pretty much lost interest in the game so we packed up and headed home. As we were leaving, Harrison complained of a stomachache. Wonder why?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Icky things

Before I had little boys, I didn't realize just how attracted they are to all things that crawl, hop, squirm and slither. It must be something in that male chromosome that makes them want to pick up every bug or frog that they see. The first time they brought a frog in the house I started screaming and pointing at the door and making some unintelligible grunting sound but they got the message and quickly retreated back outdoors. Trust me it was much safer for them and for the poor unsuspecting frog that they had found. When the shock of the unwelcome visitor wore off, I realized much to my horror that they had been TOUCHING a frog with all it's slimy frog germs. I made a beeline for the door with the hand sanitizer.

As the boys grew and the shock of their attraction to icky things wore off, I relaxed a little. Now don't get me wrong, I still don't like any slimy, squirmy, crawling things in my house but I no longer scream when I see one. Nor do I run after them with the hand sanitizer after I see them holding one.

I finally came to realize that the allure of all crawling, hopping, squirming, slithering things is just as strong as the allure of a mud puddle. If they see a frog, chances are they are going to try to catch it and chances are if they see a mud puddle, they are going to tromp through it. Seeking adventures in nature is just a normal part of being a little boy. If I scream and fuss then I am discouraging them from following their natural curiosity. It's better if I encourage them and share as they explore their world even if sometimes it is a little muddy or slimy.

Harrison's most recent catch.

After a couple of hours in the bucket I began to feel sorry for the poor little guy and I encouraged Harrison to release him so that he could go home and have dinner with his parents. And then I sent him in to wash his hands.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Titanic

Harrison wanted to go out fishing in the john boat with his dad. This trip, Harrison didn't want to fish, he just wanted to go along for the ride.

David paddled out into the middle of the river and cast his line. They sat and waited and waited and waited some more. As they were sitting there talking, David noticed that Harrison kept staring at the floor of the boat.

As they had been sitting there, some water had leaked into the bottom of the boat from a small hole. Harrison found the leak and put his finger over it. He looked up to see David watching him and said "Quick Dad, let's go back to the dock. This boat is sinking like the Titanic."

Friday, July 10, 2009


We spent 5 days down at my Uncle's house on the river. The weather was beautiful with only a few showers. The television wasn't working which turned out to be a good thing. We spent quality family time together fishing, kayaking, playing games and just hanging out.

David got my Uncle's little john boat and took the boys out fishing. Harrison was the only one who caught anything and he was fishing with a Snoopy rod. After he reeled in his catch, which was a small shark, he decided that he had enough and was ready to call it quits. The total amount of time they were out in the boat was less than the time it took them to get ready and get out there.

The kids also fished off the dock. Unfortunately the only things they caught were a few crabs, one small fish and several baby sand sharks. Haley caught this fish on the second day we were there.

Since her dad wasn't around (he was sleeping on the bed swing on the porch although he'll deny it if asked) it was up to us to get the fish off the line. Kasey was the brave one who volunteered to get the hook out of it's mouth. Every time the fish flipped, Kasey would scream. I was laughing so hard, I would have been no help anyway. Fortunately we were able to get him back in the water before he died but I am sure he was traumatized.

Harrison never did catch anything else most likely because his rod was out of the water as much as it was in. But, he did have a good time sitting on the dock and trying to catch something.

David spent a few hours trying to catch some fish and he was reward for his diligence with a "big" catch. I made sure that I documented his encounter with Jaws before he was returned to the depths of the ocean.

Holden never did catch anything but it wasn't from lack of trying. He spent a good bit of time sitting on the dock waiting on those fish to bite.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Caught red handed

Late afternoon yesterday I left the house with Harrison to go and pick up my weekly produce box and stop by the grocery store for a couple of things. We were gone about an hour and when I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the garage was closed which is unusual since the boys are constantly in and out with their bikes. I had no sooner opened the garage door and pulled in when both Haley and Holden ran out to the car. Before I could even get one foot out of the door, they both exploded into an animated story about what had happened while I was gone. I was able to decipher bits and pieces of the story from them but didn't get the whole rundown until I came inside and talked to David.

Apparently shortly after I left, Haley was upstairs talking to David in his office which overlooks our side yard. She was standing in the window and looked down to see a strange boy walking between our house and the neighbors. She told David and I guess his private investigator genes kicked in because he immediately ran outside to see the boy walking quickly down the street. David followed him and kept shouting "Hey" but the boy ignored him and kept walking. When David caught up with him, he asked the boy what he was doing in our yard to which the boy replied "cooling off". The boy had a beer in his hand so David asked him where he got it and the boy said at his house. When David asked him where he lived, the boy motioned to the other side of the neighborhood and told him over there. The frost on the can was a clear indicator that the beer hadn't been out in the heat for long so David asked the boy to take him to his house so he could see if indeed the beer had come from there. At this point the boy doubled over. David's first thought was that he was panicking and getting sick but a second later two more beers fell out of his pants and he had apparently tried to stop them from falling out. The beers were the same kind that we have in our garage refrigerator. At this point, the boy started running and David grabbed him around the neck in the choke hold and made him go back to our house. The kid was as tall as David and almost as big so I am sure it was pure adrenaline carrying David at this point.

During the walk back, the boy begged him not to call the police saying he was sixteen and had never been in trouble with the law before. He promised to mow our lawn for a year for free if David didn't call. His begging didn't work and David called the police with the cellphone he takes everywhere apparently including those occasions when he chases criminals down the street.

Once they got back to the house, David held him on our front porch while waiting for the police to come. David told him he was a stupid thief to steal during the middle of the day and to try to get away from a runner. The boy kept saying not to yell at him and David told him the least of his problems was going to be getting yelled at.

Meanwhile the kids (and a friend) were inside peeking out through the window watching this unfold. Within minutes, three police cars came barreling down the street with sirens on. They jumped out of the car with their hands on their guns kind of like in one of those police shows.

Long story but the boy did get arrested and it turns out that he was not sixteen but eighteen and had been arrested before for breaking and entering when he was seventeen and was participating in an intervention program. He had enlisted with the Marines not long ago and was suppose to report for boot camp as soon as he finished the program. Unfortunately for him, two beers cost him the possibility of a good military career.

The police said that the boy would be charged with burglary and that David would have to appear in court. If given the opportunity to speak, David will let the court know that it wasn't the fact that he stole the the beer as much as it was that this kid came into our garage and if one of our kids had come out of the house at that time it would have scared them or worse.

As the police were leaving a couple of the neighbors came by and said they had seen the boy walking around and one had even chased the boy before when he caught him trying to get into his car.

I suppose it was a good thing that I wasn't here because I would probably have asked David to let him go or take him to his parents. It isn't that I am such a bad judge of character as much as it is that I am a mom and my thought would have been that it was someones son sitting out there blubbering and scared to death. My mommy instinct would have been to let his parents deal with him.

In the end, I think David did the right thing by calling the police. This kid apparently had not learned his lesson after the first arrest. Maybe now that he is charged with burglary and faces jail, he will get his act together. Maybe he still stands a chance to be a productive member of society rather than a lifelong burden on taxpayers. Maybe two beers will have helped him turn his life around.