Monday, February 23, 2009


How has being a mom changed me? This is something I reflected on this morning as I was pouring beer on my head. Yes, you read that right. It was a little bit of our stout brew that I swiped to use as conditioner. So, no, I don't just randomly stand around the house and pour beer on my head ... at least not usually.
I think most people probably think we're pretty odd as far as being parents go. Like somehow we haven't grown up and become the responsible adults, playing the role of good-parents like we ought to. Shannon, before he turned 5, told his 19 year old aunt how to properly do a jell-o shot (no, he has NEVER actually done one!). He also will comment on looking forward to going to school at the brewery. That one stems from us telling him about our plan to open a microbrewery and that he could go there during the day and be homeschooled there. If you're thinking of reporting us to Child Protective Services, chill out ~ this really isn't as awful as it all sounds.
So yea, we brew beer and teach our children how to as well (age appropriately and all that jazz). We have parties and tail-gate and don't hide it away from our kids either. There are some things they've witnessed in that light, a time or two when at least one of us has had too much to drink, that we regret ~ but if a parent is honest, I think this will apply across the board. All parents regret something. We learn from our gaffes though, and now there are "rules" we've set for ourselves regarding this. Tailgating at home is always ok, but we really watch ourselves on how much we drink, and set up "rules" to try to make sure we don't slip. I'm glad the kids see us having a good time. I think it is better to be honest than make it some hush-hush taboo thing that will only increase the excitement of them sneaking it later on in life.
A friend once told me that I had done a complete 180 from how I used to be, and family members have commented on how much I've changed since I've had kids as well. I think most of that is a bit silly really. Of course I've changed a lot to some degree. Duh. I'm no longer single, living alone, with only myself and my dog to look after. We own a house now, I have a husband, two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, 6 chickens, and so on. Of course things have changed. But really, they haven't.
This morning, as I was pouring beer on my head, I was also lamenting the tragedy of being out of Captain Morgan's. Also, I thought about Earth Day, and the Seed Swap our group Big Lick~Green Drinks, is hosting at Longwood Park. About how we need to plant dill this year, and wondering if I could go ahead and get some seeds started inside now. About how much Shannon helps out now in the mornings, and how we've been working on his writing skills. About needing to work with Tristan more on learning his colors, and encouraging him to talk and strengthen/lenghten his tongue. About making homemade turkey noodle soup for the first time last night, and how I hoped it helped stop our current colds. About needing to get some more homeopathic cold medicine. Those last thoughts led me back to lamenting about being out of rum.
Were these things I considered years ago? Not really. Should they have been? Not really. I've always had an interest in planting things, I've always hated littering, I'd always wanted to eat more organically and consciously. Did becoming a wife and mom suddenly change my ways? Yes and no. I don't go out to the bars at night, hoping to meet a cute guy ... I think Justin is probably grateful for that one! But I think a lot of the changes that have occured aren't specific to me as they're part of life. You don't party (or at least it isn't wise to) the night before a big test or a job interview.
I'm glad we haven't changed too much. I like it that we still party and have a good time. I love it that our kids get to hang out with us. We have told Shannon that he can cuss during football games (as we have no intentions of stopping, me particularly), but we've managed to get him to quit cussing in general for the most part. I love it that we've grown from drinking good beer to brewing our own beer, to planning our own brewery, and including our children in that process as well. I still wear the same clothes (aside from mama-weight-gain) I did before my kids, and I haven't quit dyeing my hair as my mood suits me.
Living eco-friendly, that is more of a journey than anything else. At first it was a desire that was ought of reach due to finances, then I had my laundry-detergent-epiphany, and our lives changed. Now, things are within much closer reach, not because of financial changes so much as by being able to use our noggins a little better. Our kids have helped us figure out the things that REALLY do matter to us, and therefore the next steps in our paths. Moms tend to put themselves on the bottom of their familial totem poles, so when you're thinking about your kids first, you tend to be much more conscious of your decisions and their impacts. This applies to our eco-lifestyle. Crap I have put in my body, and might have future weak-moments for, I try my absolute best to keep out of my kids' bodies.
At our cores though, we're still the same people. Actually, not just at our cores. We're still the same people we've always been. We've grown up and changed here and there, but we're still the same people. We're more responsible, but that is because we have more responsibilities.
I pity those who suddenly get married and have kids and really DO change who they are. Who suddenly need to rid themselves of values and ideals they had when they were younger, and who feel compelled to fit in to some standard of what a parent should look like, should act like. Who let their new, grown-up lives, their jobs, their materialistic trappings, their fears of not fitting in with the neighbors, and so on become cages.
I despise those who would think that because you haven't let the above happen to you, because you haven't become a Stepford Wife, with a husband who works a white-collar 9-5 job, "well-dressed" children who are clean at all times & quietly playing with their toys, never questioning and exploring, and with a yard that is without a weed but perfectly manicured and sprayed with chemicals and landscaping that looks like a catalog, that somehow you have failed. That is ridiculous!! Absurd! BALDERDASH!!!!
This morning I poured beer on my head for conditioner. I am wearing a very old Grateful Dead t-shirt with jeans and my Birks. My kids ate their organic cereals and are playing and fighting. Shannon let the dog back out after she ate her food. They have now just been told to start cleaning up some of their toys as it will be lunch-time soon, but I know well enough that toys will be everywhere anyway. Justin is at his job, but I'm dreaming of him being home and the day when him being at work will involve him being at the brewery. The chickens are fed, and have clean straw. The dogs have dug a new hole in the yard and I am cussing them, praying it doesn't kill a lavender plant they covered up. Hopefully we can get out there within a day or so to try to remedy it. Hopefully they won't destroy more.
I haven't changed, I've grown. I wish you the same. Don't lose your identity, but don't be afraid to grow as you're meant to either.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Greening your Grin - some reviews to help you on your way

Last month I was the person who posted the most comments on the All Natural Me,, which meant I won a prize! Yay!! The prize I won was a Source toothbrush from Radius. Here is the link:
So, why is this toothbrush so wonderfully groovy?? I'm going to be nice and lazy here and just quote directly from their site:

*2 New SOURCE Styles includes Recycled US Dollar Bills from Unites States Mint and Recyled Flax from Linen production.
*93% Recycled Material - 47% Renewable Resource.
*Replaceable Heads + Wooden Handle = Only 7% of toothbrush wasted as compared to 100% of ordinary toothbrushes.
*Wooden Handle is molded from recycled wood bio-plastic resulting in 100% renewable resource.
*New lightweight unbreakable replacement heads made from surgical-grade nylon.
*Dramatically increases softness and efficacy of brushing with 65% more bristle tufts than ordinary toothbrush.
*Reversible for both Right or Left handed brushing - Available in soft or medium bristles.
*Handle lasts forever. Simply throw the heads away!

I have to admit, I've been using this toothbrush for a while ~ before I won a new one. I had been wanting a more eco-friendly toothbrush and found this one. It took a little bit to get used to holding it, the shape is just really different from your usual toothbrushes. The right hand/left hand brushing is just really cool and really comfortable. I don't think I could go back to the old design now. The shape of the heads reminds me of a leaf. I didn't think this would make a difference, but it really did. It took my gums a day or two to get used to the attention they were receiving. Another admission: I didn't realize until now that my gums were lacking attention!! Yikes. My first brush is the one pictured above, made from flax - recycled flax from linen production. The new one is made from old currency. Ok .. that is just cool. How many times do you get to use something that is made from money??? Better than just burning it, but a similar "too cool" feeling.
The currency brush is blackish-green in color. I gave this one to Justin. Justin is somewhat a typical guy in his distrust of changing up things. He's actually getting used to me throwing new things at him, but I was still wary of his reaction to the Source toothbrush. His words about it? "It's fine." Typical. A man of many words he isn't. When I asked a little bit more (as I tend to do) he did comment on the shape of the handle. But he seems to like that. I asked about the leaf head-shape and got a simple response of that he indeed did notice it brushed his gums.
He had been using a Preserve toothbrush, and I only feel it fair to note it now. It's an eco-friendly model too, as it is also known as “the toothbrush made from yogurt cups.” He's really liked it, and we like it that they will take it back and re-recycle it. If you want to check out their brushes, here is the link: Preserve sells toothbrushes along with razors, tableware, and a big ole myriad of kitchen accessories. We're planning on picking up some of their food storage bowls here soon. They also are now collecting clean, used #5 plastics for recycling through their Gimme 5 campaign. LOVIN' that!! (
To round out the whole green-mouth experience, we've been using Toms of Maine toothpaste. We'd been using their cinnamon & clove brand and really liked it. I won't go on about Tom's too much because they've been around long enough that I figure you already know about them. If not check them out: we're also using their mouth-rinse (not bad, a little odd taste, and changes color over time, that is strange) & their deoderant (not as strong as the commercial brands, but natural and safer to use ~ if at first one doesn't work for you, try another one .. this seems to have worked for me). The only complaint I would have at ALL about Tom's of Maine is about their kid's toothpaste. Ours is strawberry, the kids love it, it works great. Their toothpastes come in aluminum tubes though. We have two boys ... the tube popped holes before it was empty. We now keep it up high and out of reach (a feat in and of itself with our boys!), and viola, problem solved.
However, when we last needed toothpaste we spotted a brand on sale (gotta watch the bottom line!) and have switched to try it: Jason's Sea Fresh Plus CoQ10 Gel Toothpaste. The tag-line: Contains CoQ10 for gum support and periodontal protection. Biologically Active Blue-Green Algae, Sea Salts and Minerals help strengthen gums and teeth while DeepSea Spearmint blasts away bad breath! We've been really pleased with this toothepaste as well. The only "funny" thing about it is this: rinsing is really a pain!! I am not a sloppy toothbrusher, but when I rinse I somehow wind up with toothepaste on my chin. Not really a big deal, but kinda funny and worth mentioning. I am digging the spearminty blasts though, but that is just a personal taste.
In honor of being frugal and trying to be green I've even made my own toothepaste before. This one was a little too homemade for our tastes, particularly Justin who tried it once and swore he would never do it again! There are recipes out there, and I've known people to make their own and be happy with it. I give them props for that, and somewhere in me I know that if I gave it the "ole college try," I could probably make a better batch. However, I also know my husband. He puts up with my "I can make it myself" on most things and doesn't complain (even likes it!), so when he says "No" pretty firmly, I figure it is worth it to find something he likes.
SO .. if you haven't already greened up your grin some, I hope this helps start you on the path. One big thing I will tell you -- when I ran out of toothpaste, before I bought the Jason's, I did my scrounging around for a travel-size tube I knew had to be packed away. It was. Crest's Kids Sparkling Flouride something-or-other. The flavor tasted like Bubble Yum, but was called "Sparkling Fun". DAMN was it SUGARY!!!!! YUCK!! Seriously, I felt like I was brushing my teeth with candy, and had damaged them more by putting that stuff on than helped them!!!! Horrifying to think I once, at some point in time, used that stuff on my kids' teeth. I seriously hope and pray that they, if they ever try commercial brands when they're older, will have a similar reaction.
You know what they say "Once you go Green..." ~ it is true. Cost-wise, the toothpastes are more expensive, I can't deny that. But worth every scent, and coupons are usually easy to find. Toothbrush wise ... any extra cost is far outweighed (whether you go with Radius' Source or something from Preserve) by the eco-benefits. Only having to buy new heads is nice. Being able to send in the old toothbrush is nice.
Suddenly, getting new toothbrushes in my Christmas stocking seems pretty damn cool. Maybe I'll just have to buy a whole collection to hand out as gifts for everyone else.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Giddy Moments

This is Patti. Patti is one of our two Partridge Cochin hens, both of whom are named Patti, and both of whom had not yet started laying. We had decided we had to have a Cochin because friends of ours had a Buff Cochin, also named Patti, and she was everyone's absolute favorite hen!! Of course, it was after we placed the order for our cochins (we got partridge to be a little different) that we found out their Patti was really a rooster. In hindsight, if we had known that we would've ordered Buff Cochins as well in the hopes of being able to breed. Of course, by the time our chicks were old enough to go outside, the very beloved Patti had been "lost to the wild." We had gotten two Cochins to make sure we had one that lived to adult-hood, since this was our first time having chickens, we didn't want to run the risk of Murphy's Law. They both of course (Murphy's Law?) lived, and Shannon decided that they both should be named Patti. How can you argue with a 4 year old?
When we decided to get chickens, the question of how many we ultimately wanted was a big one. At first, as I was trying to convince Justin that this was a simply must-have thing, I told him I would be ok with just 3 or 4 hens. After all, we have never been big egg eaters, so why would we need a lot of chickens? Of course, then I looked at all the breeds and types of chickens there are. Then I learned about heirloom chickens, and how breeds of chickens are in danger of going extinct. I checked out breeds that were known for being quiet and calm, as well as good in cold weather. That last one seems to be a very, big, cruel joke, as here we are in mid-February and having days in the mid-60's. But, I digress.
One thing I did notice is that some breeds are more prolific egg layers than others. Since we were now at having 8 birds (instead of 3 or 4), this wasn't too big of an issue. I knew Cochins and Brahmas weren't prolific egg layers, but ~ meh, we aren't big egg eaters! What they DIDN'T tell us in the catalogs is that there is no set time when birds begin laying, and that it can and DOES vary a lot between breeds!!!
Right around the age of 6 months old our Buff Orpingtons began laying. Shortly thereafter we lost a Buff Orpington and a Dark Brahma. We then acquired two Americaunas (ooohh .. they lay blue & green eggs!), who although they were 2 months younger, also began laying right around 6 - 7 months of age. We get almost an egg a day from those two! Our Dark Brahma began laying right before Christmas, at 8 months of age. With the addition of the two Americaunas to replace the two we lost, we are at a total of 6 hens. As of Christmas we were averaging between 2 & 3 eggs a day. As of February 1st we began getting almost 4 eggs a day - not too bad with only 4 of our 6 laying. And this brings us back to our Cochins. I'd read someone post that theirs' didn't start until 9 1/2 months of age.
For those of you who haven't had chickens, the thrill of the first egg is hard to describe. I can only compare it to having a good friend go into labor. I know, comparing a chicken laying an egg to a good friend giving birth is probably a good sign that something is "off" in my head ~ but that is the giddiness that you feel. Everytime you walk out to check on the chickens and suddenly spot a new egg, your body immediately starts doing a happy dance, jumping up and down, dancing around, flailing your arms, and all the while you're just trying to figure out who to call and tell first. You almost don't want to pick it up, for it may ruin the happiness of the moment.
Yesterday I went out to look for eggs, lifted the nest box, and found one of the Pattis sitting in the box, ready to lay an egg. I quickly shut the lid. Then I opened it again. Then I shut it. Then I ran back up onto the deck, where I could look down on the coop and tractor. The other chickens stood at the door to the coop, as if waiting for the moment to happen. They tend to do this whenever one of them is in the nest box, sometimes even going into the coop to wait. I think they feel the excitement too.
I stood up on the deck, listening to them. I know that when a chicken is about to lay an egg, they will make some noise. For those who don't already know, our chickens don't cluck like normal chickens - they tend to make a quacking noise like a duck that kinda sounds like they're laughing at you. So, it made me bubble over with excitement and giddiness when I heard "bwak, bwak, bwak, bwak ... BAWAK!" (that is how I am guessing you type out that chicken noise) ~ This was repeated several times. By now I was beside myself. I saw Patti finally leave, and went down there to look.
The egg on the left in the photo is from Patti. I'm not sure who laid the egg on the right. When I went down there to look after I saw that Patti had left, Bunny (who lays green eggs) was in the box as well. I saw that she had an egg coming out (a kinda cool sight), and gave her a minute. When I looked back in, she was gone and so was the egg. Only Patti's egg was there. I went to take it, but the gals started making a fuss at me. They all suddenly started making that exact noise I (ever so eloquently) desribed above. I must admit it flustered me, and I felt as if I had somehow made a very huge faux-pas amongst the chickens. I left the egg and went back up to the deck. Not good enough, they knew I was up there watching them, and they continued to fuss at me. I finally went inside. Apparently, it isn't good chicken manners to immediately try and confiscate a 1st timer's egg!!
When I went out a little bit later, there was another brown egg laying next to Patti's, and I was able to take the picture. I still was curious about the green egg. It wasn't in the nest box, and wasn't outside. I opened the coop and found it there.
After I had seen Patti's egg, but been unable to take it inside, I did the above-described "Happy Dance." I opted for calling Justin first. Justin who now has 6 chickens to contend with instead of the "maybe 3 or 4". I was very pleased to hear as much excitement in his voice as was in mine. He didn't even roll his eyes at me when I asked him last night if he wanted to see the egg, he excitedly said yes and followed me to the kitchen. Now we're just as eagerly awaiting the day when we go out there to find 6 eggs.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thank You Hyland's!!!

Not too long after Shannon was born we were recommended a product thanks to another mom-friend. Shannon was having a terrible time with teething, and it was beginning to really make us all quite miserable. Doctor's recommended rubbing Benadryl on his gums and giving him tylenol ~ two things we did, but we didn't like giving someone so young so much medicine. The Benadryl seemed especially wrong since we were using it to numb gums and that is never listed as an "intended use" for it! She recommended "Hyland's Teething Tablets" ( We found them at Walgreen's and were AMAZED with the results. They're all natural, without contraindications, and dissolve instantly in a baby's mouth. They have been a staple in our house for many years, as we went through all the stages of teething with both kids, and we've recommended them to any and every parent we can get to listen to us.
So, it was to our great pleasure when we found out Hyland's makes products other than just teething tablets. WOO HOO!!! We hate doping up our kids with medicines, not knowing what is in them, not feeling truly safe with the long-term effects those ingredients could have, not knowing where they come from, and so on. I wanted to try all-natural remedies, but was leary about the price and effectiveness of them. I wanted the security and trust that comes along with another parent gushing to you "You've GOT to try this!!!"
It was thanks to an email that sent me to where I began looking at children's cold medicines. I liked that they had reviews and ratings posted on there. They may not be from people I know, but it's more than you get when you're standing in front of a shelf filled with hundreds of options and kids losing patience while just sitting in the cart.
The product I decided on was Hyland's Cold Tablets with Zinc ( They were good to use on both adults and kids ~ meaning I don't have to buy double the products. They were rated with 5 stars and those comforting, gushing comments. I wouldn't have to wait long to try them. Pretty much as soon as they came in the mail, Tristan (our 2 1/2 year old) caught a cold.
Tristan, unlike his big brother, HATES taking medicine. He will turn shades of red and purple while he hold his head still and try to shove liquid medicine down his throat, blow on his nose to make him swallow (a trick I learned from having to give dogs pills and that I am not certain I feel proud of using on my kid ~ but you do what you gotta do sometimes!), and then spit half of it all out, sputtering out a screaming howl, all the while looking at us like we've betrayed his trust. If you're a parent you know the torture of this moment: wanting to make your child feel better but feeling like you've just beaten him in the process.
We were hopeful with the cold pills. Tristan and Shannon both love the teething tablets. So much so that we have to keep them up in very high places, out of reach, or Shannon will eat the whole bottle (don't worry, I've found out they can't OD on them, another VERY wonderful added bonus and sigh of relief!)!! The cold pills were slightly bigger than the teething tablets, but no bigger than what I remember Children's Chewable Tylenol being. We gave Tristan one cold pill. He happily ate it right down, no fighting, no blowing on his nose, no tears, no betrayel, no torture!!! HUGE sigh of relief!
These things worked LIKE A CHARM!!! Oh wow! We coupled him taking this with some "Just for Kids, Organic Cold Care ~ Winter Season Tea" from Traditional Medicines (I bought this at my local supermarket, very easy to find).
We let him sip on the tea, and gave him the one pill roughly every 4 hours. Within a couple days he was back to normal and the cold never progressed from beyond just the beginning stages. We are true believers! Shannon tried catching Tristan's cold, and we did the same thing with him, though we only had to give it to him for a day or two. When Justin and I caught a cold a week or so later, we took the adult dosage of 2-3 tablets. There were no side-effects. Even with day-time cold pills I can tell when they hit my system, but not these. Suddenly you just feel better. A bottle of 50 pills has made it through the 4 of us, with pills left to spare. I do need to order a new bottle .. but that is more because I can't find these pills locally and I want to make sure we're "stocked up" and ready for when the next cold may hit. I really can't believe we haven't had these in our medicine cabinet until now.
My other product from them I tried was their PMS tablets ( To say I am a bear when I have PMS would be a very quaint way of putting things. I go through Pamprin 3 pills at a time, emptying a bottle in the blink of an eye. I also tend to need valium on hand so that I don't end up killing anyone. Mom's with PMS and two kids (who are 5 and 2 1/2) can sympathize I think. I've taken 3 of the PMS pills this morning. As I sit here typing this, trying to focus, both boys are in here and Tristan is in his wonderful two-year old mode of screaming about everything. Hmmm .. the test! So far, I have to say, I AM impressed! I am able to sip on my tea without throwing the mug through the window and exploding in a fit of anger. This is good. This is progress. While I woke up with the usual cramps, I am feeling better. No Pamprin, no valium, no rum. I think I am sold on these little PMS pills!
I went through their site, exploring what else they have and was very impressed. They have rememdies under categories such as: stress/sleep, children's health, women's health, pain relief, digestion, cough/cold, first aid, and more. As soon as I can, I would like to stock our medicine cabinet with some more of their products. I'm particularly eager to try out their Calms Forte ( which is for simple nervous tension and insomnia. I go through bouts of this, and would really be happy to find a natural aid that doesn't leave me exhausted in the morning.
If you haven't checked out Hyland's yet, do so! Like I said, we've been using their teething tablets for almost 5 years now, though we're done with that phase of our lives. And I just can't believe that we've gone so long without knowing they made more than those. I'm imagining my medicine cabinet stocked full of natural remedies rather than mysterious and potentially dangerous, neon-colored, artificially flavored, chemical cure-alls. That is something a mother can rest assured on, isn't it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Long Tale of the Mouse House

When you live in a house that is over 100 years old, when your basement is a dirt basement, and where there are all kinds of holes leading from outside to in and from basement to living areas, you can't really be shocked when you get mice. Last year, when we saw the tell-tell signs of their little "trails" we weren't shocked. We never actually saw a mouse, though I'm guessing now when I look back I might've heard a couple and not known it at the time. This year however, we were SHOCKED!!
Apparently, if you have mice one year and don't do anything about it the following happens: when the male mice leave for spring and travels of adventure and food, leaving wives home to try and clean out winter's mess, they join up with the other male mice from the neighborhood. During the day they rummage through compost piles, get chased by cats and have bravely duels with birds of prey. At night they like to camp together where, over a large mouse-sized bonfire, they drink and swap stories. Well, apparently, our male mouse was QUITE the drinker & talker (which kinda fits in here at the Blue Nymph). He bragged and bragged about life and lack of poisons as well as no house cat. He continued to tell his tales while drinking, eventually drinking himself into a stupor and passing out. Here is the photo his buddies have posted on the internet:While he slept it off though the other male mice got to talkin' and decided that they were tired of risking their lives with cats and D-Con. They wanted to see how good it really was here! And so, much to the female mouse's surprise, the male mouse not only came home in the fall with all of his buddies, but all of their families as well. We've since found little broken-down mouse-size wagons in the yard and now we know where they came from!!
So, you can imagine our COMPLETE shock and awe (some of the new mice were originally Texans) when we started seeing the mice. They'd come up in the half-bath in our bedroom through a hole in the floor, they'd run across the living room, and they'd scurry through the kitchen. They quickly found where the chicken feed was kept and made themselves quite fat on it ~ we put it in a rubbermaid bin only to have them laugh and climb up the sides, then we put a lid on it and to their dismay they haven't been able to get into it anymore. We'd even begun hearing them in the wall, thumping around and making the wall sound as if it is going to come crashing down if we were to try and hang a picture.
Being environmentally minded as we are, we didn't want to put out poisoned bait. Getting a cat was out for a couple reasons: 1) allergies, 2) we have a one-week long tolerance for cats, and 3) there is no guarantee the cat would be a good mouser. The suggestion of getting a black snake and letting it live loose in the house was met with enthusiasm from Justin but VERY quickly squashed! The use of peppermint oil as a deterent was good, but not enough and quickly became costly. We did get live traps, though Jomo ate one of those. We seemed to be having quite a hard time catching the mice (words spreads among mouse colonies!). A snap-trap was nixed since they can sometimes decapitate the mouse and leave a bloody mess, we have nosy dogs, and if you note the post below, we have nosy little boys!
Finally, after searching the internet we came upon something called "Shake Away" ~ I was skeptical, but it says to be all organic and natural. It won't hurt pets or plants and so on. They also offer a 120 day money back guarantee. It is made of/from predator urine/scent, so it makes the mice think there is a fox or something living nearby and scares them away. We ordered the kit, which comes with little stockings to make balls for hard to reach places, a scooper, and gloves. We've gotten that put down now and it seems to be working, though we did see a big increase in the mice we were seeing as they were running around quite scared and not sticking to normal paths. Last Thursday I went to lay down and heard a crunching beside my head on my nightstand. We were luckily able to catch the bugger, and found the "best disposal method" - drowning it. It is the most humane thing we can think to do. (And though I am not terribly girly, I did yelp and jump when I heard and saw it .. you would too if it was that close to your head!!)
We've also found the proper bait (peanut butter!) and learned to put it just inside one end of the live trap, which is then shut, making the mouse walk through the one open end, hopefully springing the trap. Last Friday Justin managed to catch 5 in the trap. All were quickly drowned except for the last one. Justin ignored my advice to place the trap in a deep plastic bowl filled with water, and instead tried dumping the mouse out of the trap into the water. He ran off behind our microwave instead. We did catch him later (we think).
We are beginning to think we're getting successfull at ridding ourselves of the mice. I was able to catch 7 mice yesterday, but they were all tiny babies. All the parents seem to be long gone now. In fact, I caught 3 in one trap!!! Quite a shock when I was dumping out the bodies.
All of this mice catching and drowning has had an interesting effect on the boys. They were quite curious at first and so we explained it as honestly as we could while keeping it as simple and age-appropriate as we could. They were at first quite interested, though now don't care as much. Tristan has happily waved and hollered "bye-bye" as he would to anyone, and in general they're used to seeing the trap in the water and know I'm drowning a mouse. Shannon did tell his Grandma that he had to protect Tristan from the mice. This leads me to my last little bit. Apparently, Shannon didn't follow his own words. I was making dinner last night, with dishwasher going and (I'll admit!) tv on, while the boys were occupied with Noggin. Suddenly I heard Tristan screaming and crying and Shannon hysterically yelling "MOMMY, MOMMY!!!" He was yelling something else, but I couldn't make it out, and so I assumed Tristan had fallen and hurt himself. I went running in there, to find them on the couches, hysterical. The mouse trap sat open on the couch beside Tristan. Apparently a mouse had been caught in the trap, and Tristan was "trying to help" or just plain ole curious. Either way, he had it on the couch with him and accidentally (?) opened it, only to find out what happens when you do that!! The mouse jumped out and onto Tristan before running off.
Shannon was straddling the couches, trying desperately to keep his feet off the ground but in true kid-logic not having the sense to just sit on ONE couch. Tristan was on the little couch sobbing and screaming. I picked him up and tried to sooth him. This took quite a long while, involved me taking him into the kitchen with me, singing to him, and then ~ because holding a crying 2 1/2 year old while you're trying to drain pasta and make baked spaghetti is NOT a good idea ~ plopping him in his high chair for crackers. By now I was trying to not laugh too hard at it all.
This morning I went to check the trap again to find the dogs' had found it once more and licked the peanut butter out (at least that is what I PRAY happened!). So it is cleaned out, and has been freshly filled, and waiting more hungry and scared little mice. I have seen one more today, coming out from under the couches to check for kid-dropped crumbs on the rug. Hopefully I will catch him. The Shake Away people said to give it a full 2-3 weeks to see full-effect, but we're pretty hopefull at this point. Let's just hope that next spring and summer, if there is a male mouse leaving here, that he will have a very different story to share with all of his buddies!!

*Update as of 2/8 ~ The Shake-Away stuff really seems to be working. We've talked with them via phone for recommendations about the mice running around very crazy and their staff was very helpful. We were told the mice may be trying to "relocate", so if we've found a new spot where they've taken up, we've placed a little Shake-Away in a dish. So far, no returns. Hopefully we are truly near the end of this saga and we'll know what to do next year.*