My husband found an injured rodent on our lawn.
So then I had to decide what to do with it.
While Brendan hummed "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King, I considered the following options:
A) Buy a disposal mechanism (aka trap)
B) Drive 40 min each way to wildlife center
C) Strategically leave it under our tree for the cats to find
Some people suggested that I should buy a cage and wheel but keeping injured wildlife is illegal in Ontario and I prefer this kind of rodent OUTSIDE.
The animal was clearly unwell and I was vaguely worried about diseases like rabies. I thought if I took it to the wildlife center we'd find out what kind of rodent for sure, and maybe they'd test it for diseases and let me know if I needed to freak out more.
Anyway, that's how I came to drive an hour and twenty minutes in order to "rescue" what turned out to be a sewer rat.
Now, this is not our first experience with sewer rats. Ottawa is doing a major LRT construction project for the last couple of years which involves much tunnelling with large machines. This is apparently disturbing the local rat populations (and the ants, but that's another story). In any case, a while ago we had occasion to replace our toilet in the basement and we covered the sewer pipe with a plastic bag. The bag kept getting disturbed, despite many stern warnings to our kids. Then it disappeared altogether. The kids furiously denied culpability. Brendan replaced the bag and put a heavier paint can on top. Then Auntie Janice came down late at night just in time to hear some rustling and see the bag disappearing down the pipe! Let's just say that I was calling the city to get them to DO SOMETHING pretty darn quick and replacing the toilet made it to the top of the priority list.
Given that I got the city to poison the last batch of rats around our place, I didn't quite know how to respond to the wildlife place when they asked me whether they could release "Fred" back into the wild on our property in the event he was able to be rehabilitated. They also got me to sign away my visitation rights and forbade me to share the picture I took of Fred at the rehabilitation centre online.
I thought that was the end of it, but it turned out that Fred had a friend. A defunct friend. I called the wildlife rescue back and find out that they don't test for diseases, that Fred had unfortunately not survived, and they had no idea why we were suddenly infested with dead and dying rats. "Probably you have a nest", they said. I had no sooner buried corpse number two when... you guessed it - rat number three appeared! I ended up burying two more. We also located and filled in the rat hole (under my forsythia bush! the nerve!!). I've been eyeing my flower beds and the rat hole somewhat suspiciously ever since.
Matthew isn't sure what he thinks of shorts weather. First he fell at the bus stop and scraped his knees ("I never going to wear short pants aden"). Then he was goofing around with the hose. "I gonna water YOU!" he declared. But instead he tripped over the hose, scraping hands and forehead.
Elizabeth kind of randomly decided that she wanted to do a running race. We are not a running family at all but physical exercise is to be encouraged so I looked up races online and discovered that the Ottawa Race weekend had a 1km race for kids Sunday morning.
I would have signed up for the 2km race and done it with her, except that it was on Great Glebe Garage sale day. Truth be told I was pretty glad not to be running in the extreme heat that was Saturday afternoon!
Anyway, the only hitch was that the kids needed to complete 41km of running or other physical activity prior to the race and we didn't find out about the race until two weeks beforehand. So we decided not to sign up right away but to try doing our kilometres. I decided to count all of Elizabeth's karate classes since she switched to the kids class and then we started to work on some kilometres. Mostly we did some longer bike rides, because did I mention that Mommy isn't a runner? Elizabeth insisted that she do some running too but most of it might have been running up and down our block. Daddy was teasing that maybe I should sign up for a race too so we have some more incentive for "proper" race training.
In any case, Elizabeth managed to get her kilometers and I went to sign up / pick up her race kit. That was a bit of an adventure in itself as there was no parking and way too much traffic - next year I should leave the car at home! I thought the pickup for the race was extremely well organized but the actual kit was a bit confusing. We weren't really sure about what Elizabeth had to wear nor how to attach the race bib to her shirt. Did I mention we aren't runners?
We are somewhat familiar with the difficulties in navigating / parking downtown on race weekend since we attend a downtown church, so Elizabeth and I biked to her race. Again I found it a little confusing figuring out where we were supposed to go. There were a LOT of people. Elizabeth wasn't too sure she wanted to race anymore. "But what am I supposed to DOOOOO?" she asked. "How will I know which way to go?" "Is it the kind of race where you are supposed to try to win?" I will admit that I was very nervous. The other parents at the start of the race seemed completely unconcerned. The other kids started to jockey to get to the front of the waiting area, but Elizabeth very politely queued in line (not always facing the right direction). This did not improve my anxiety. Eventually the race started and I realized that watching the kids run away en masse was not the best vantage point for pictures.
So I ran with the other parents to try to find the finish line. I did not exactly succeed, although I did watch her run past at roughly 2/3rds the way along. I saw the leaders come running along miles ahead of the rest of the pack, felt a little better about being anxious when the parents next to me had a mild freak out over the wheelchairs being wheeled towards the runners (I guess they thought it might be their kid) and I even got a video of Elizabeth when I remembered I wanted to get one mid-cheer.
I did not get to watch her cross the finish line as I was too busy running towards the pickup location but I did locate her pretty quickly thereafter and she was all smiles over the participation medal. She was super proud that she managed to run the whole way. Apparently she thought about walking like some of the other kids but dug deep and kept going. She ran 1.2km in 10:22, finishing 306th out of 881 kids, 133 out of 493 girls and 24 out of 179 in her age category (under 8s)
The much anticipated garage sale day arrived and the kids were ready to do some face painting and tattoos!
Hayley gave Elizabeth and Matthew some pointers in hawking their wares. Actually Hayley probably should have gotten a cut of the profits as she had a very effective and amusing patter going. Elizabeth was inclined to look beseechingly at passersby and hope they saw her sign, but the garage sale is a busy place and she needed to use her loudest voice. Matthew didn't need much encouragement to shout - the kids actually worked pretty well together. The only unanticipated glitch was that far more people were interested in tattoos than face painting. But never mind, there was enough work to keep two tattoo artists busy and eventually she got a few customers willing to try the face painting too.
I was quite amused (and a little surprised) to discover that a good percentage of her customers were not kids. The kids were interested, but we found the parents tended to sweep them past - so focussed on "getting to the garage sale" that they missed out.
Matthew had a bit of trouble waiting for his customers to pick their own tattoo. He clearly had his own artistic vision and we had to give at least two customers more than one tattoo after he insisted on putting a Captain America tattoo on a pre-teen girl looking for Disney princesses. (They were good sports about it though). Elizabeth had a few good chats with various people about why she wanted to raise the money, including with one lady who had had heart surgery as a small child.
Elizabeth also recruited her friend Mila (with her friend) to help at one point while she ate lunch.
Overall it was very successful and Elizabeth is talking about doing it again. Although next year I think maybe we'll do it for a shorter time so that we can walk around the garage sale ourselves.
In the end Elizabeth raised $170.02 towards her Jump Rope for Heart, bringing her grand total to $546.37! We're pretty proud of her for working so hard towards her goal.
It was our last appointment with Dr Lynn Jacoby as she is moving - a slightly early one year checkup for Amelia. Elizabeth was put out that she couldn't come too, but worked very hard on her card with "help" from her siblings. I was quite impressed by Elizabeth's work on cutting out most of the letters - freehand at that!