Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry and the Chipmunks

It was a typical Saturday afternoon at our "Grey House", as Harry calls it. It was just after 3 and I was just home from grocery shopping and trying to appease the boys with snacks as we put the food away. Nathan was/is working on a new tooth, and was a cranky, clingy mess for most of the day. We had been up early and were now cruising downhill to our traditional "Make your own Pizza" night, followed by (hopefully!) early bath and bed. It was an unseasonably warm day, so the porch door was open, as was the door to the kitchen, making a clear path to the great outdoors. Therein, lies the root of all that was to come.

I was about to peel a clementine for Harry when I saw it. A chipmunk ran by us and into the living room. Mumu, our tortoise shell cat, has a habit of catching them to play with, and she had apparently chased one into the porch. To escape her clutches, it made for the open door and ran across the room and under the couch.

Our early attempts to solicit Mumu's help to catch it proved fruitless. She was bored by the chipmunk now and decided to nibble some cat food and pretend to be deaf. So, hubby asked me to prop open the front door so he could shoo it out. Harry was ready to "Help". He had me get his flashlight and some other "Tools" so he could "Help" Daddy. Nathan, uninterested in the quest, wandered out the open front door. I followed him and we went to play in my car, a favorite activity of his.

I don't know exactly what happened in the next few minutes, but very shortly after getting in the car with Nathan, I saw Harry standing at the front door with big eyes. I went over to him to see what was up and heard hubby swearing like a sailor. I ushered Harry into the car to play with Nate and went to see hubby. He had caught the chipmunk, he told me, but Harry asked to see it, and in his infinite wisdom, he had tried to show it to him in his hands. The chipmunk made a break for it and was now ensconced in the wall in the corner of our dining room. The only way to get it out was to break the wall apart, or wait for it to come out on its own.

Sensing a long standoff, I returned to the car to check on the boys. They were happily playing in each others car seats and Harry was requesting to take a drive. I thought a little break from the action seemed warranted, so I grabbed my keys and we headed over to the park. They love the park. It is all sand and there are lots of toy construction vehicles. It was about 3:30, so I figured we could stay about 45 minutes before it started getting cold. We had no jackets or diaper supplies, since this was an unplanned visit.

After about 30 minutes, I noticed that Nathan was a bit stinky. Upon inspection, bingo. Big old poopy diaper. With no diaper bag, we had to head home. I gave the boys the 5 minute warning and several 2 minute warnings, but Nathan is only 18 months. He does not care or understand about warnings. He DID. NOT. WANT. TO. LEAVE! Poop be damned! So, I gathered up Harry and a wiggling, squirming, SCREAMING Nathan and wrestled them back into the car.

At home, the standoff was still in progress. I changed Nathan and settled the boys in for some TV time. It was now after 4 and we were quickly heading into dinner territory. Pizza night is fun, but messy and I did not relish the thought of sharing my kitchen with a chipmunk. It is hard enough with Harry's "Help" to get the dough rolled out in any sort of orderly fashion.

By 4:45, I sucked it up and went to work on dinner, since Harry was safely engrossed in "Bob the Builder". I set the oven to 450 and rolled out one, plain pizza for the boys and was working on the second one when "BtB" ended and hubby announced he was going to run the boys' bath so as to buy some more distraction time.

The water for the bath was still running when I noticed the smoke. It started pouring out of the oven vent with a horrible chemical smell. I opened the door to find melted plastic and a small ball of some kind of dough. It turns out that, on Friday, Daddy had let Harry put leftover pie crust dough in the oven to make "chicken pot pie", like Mommy did on Thursday night. Then, Daddy forgot about it. (Side note: even though he was SO EXCITED to help me make chicken pot pie, excited enough to want to recreate it the next day, he WOULD NOT EAT IT!)

As my mom said to me, at that point, the chipmunk would have been smart to get the heck out of the house. There was a lot of yelling and some tears. I hung out with the boys in the while they finished the bath, fuming, while hubby took the oven rack out and opened all the windows in the house. We got the boys dressed and I took a prolonged break in the locked bathroom to cool down. Meanwhile, hubby looked up humane traps and called the hardware store. They had them and he had 15 minutes until they closed. He took Harry and they left me (pinned under clingy, cranky Nathan) to pick one up.

While they were gone, I thought I heard some scratching noises, but I would be damned before I went and checked on it. Unless I saw the thing run past me, I was going to ignore it at all costs. Hubby and Harry came home with a trap. Harry was thrilled about the trap. I think he thought we were going to keep the imprisoned chipmunk as a pet. Before Hubby could even get the trap out of the box, he saw that the chipmunk was gone, no longer hiding in the wall. Harry gleefully asked, "Is it in Nathan's bedroom?!?" Oy vey. The hunt was on again.

We barricaded the family room with a baby gate so Nathan (and I) would be out of the way. Turns out, it was behind the living room couch again. This time, when hubby caught it, he did NOT try to show it to Harry. He let it go, a little worse for wear (Mumu had damaged its tail) out in the front yard. Harry was very sad he didn't trap it in the cage, so we let him set the cage up by the corner where it had hidden.

So, at 6:20 PM, the house, now smelling of burned plastic, was ours again. And what of dinner, you ask? We ordered pizza.

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