Lizard Hunting, Vandalism and other adventures

The youngest of our Reluctant crew is a true country boy. Even though we live in the sterilized suburbs, he manages to find the mud, bugs, puddles and, did I mention lizards, in every corner of our little world. No refuge is safe, no drainpipe remains un-searched when the boy is on a lizard hunt.

This morning was no exception. After depositing the oldest at school, riding bikes home with a reclaimed tomato cage on the handlebars (another story for another time!), we recommenced the morning routine which usually consists of him begging me to build legos while I am trying to pretend that I like eating egg whites and turkey bacon for breakfast every day!!

Today, however, he caught the scent of a lizard hunt and would not be denied until he had found the home of said lizard. This captivation and focus is rare in a five year old, and so we encourage it, often to the dismay of my more cerebral seven year old.

Vandal or Intrepid Lizard Hunter?

Now, this may seem strange, but we have named the lizards around the house, and the chap in question is probably Wesley (named after John Wesley), and is a Texas Spiny Lizard. Of course, there are myriad Anoles all over the place, brightening up the dreary brick with their chartreuse coloring and bright coral dewlaps, but Wesley is different. Wesley is large, browny grey and has spikes – much more interesting to a little boy to whom danger is part of the appeal! Wesley is also a master of disguise and apparently quite the traveller. You see, the boy spent much of last year head first in the bushes in front of my office chasing Wesley and, inevitably, Wesley ended up under the screen in my office window taking refuge from clumsy fingers!

This year, however, he appears to be trying a different tactic, that age-old defensive strategy of “find-a-cave-and-hide-in-it” (and since Wesley is a lizard and not a Saudi terrorist, we can be pretty sure he isn’t hiding in a house in Abbotabad watching himself on TV!). As far as the boy is concerned this should be game-over, but as the title of this post suggests, he was not to be denied!

After observing a certain amount of stabbing-at-the-wall-with-a-stick, I wandered (nonchalantly to avoid detection and hopefully to win the prize of a photo of the otherwise absorbed boy) to the end of the garden to see how the hunt progressed. To my dismay, I found a huge hole where the, admittedly shoddy, construction of the wall had given way to the persistent boy and his hunt for Wesley. After a brief, and totally over his head, lecture on vandalism, I attempted a little dry-stone-walling and assured the boy that Wesley was totally able to get in and out without breaking the wall apart again. Not that the same can be said for the boy!

Luckily, for me and the wall, at this point the boy’s ever-present appetite barged its way to the front of the queue for attention. After cheerios and milk he demanded we check on the super-furry saltmarsh caterpillar that he found defoliating my vegetable garden yesterday. Like I said, a true country boy!

They call me the Food Nazi…

I appear to have developed a bit of a reputation as a Food Nazi among my friends here in ReluctantSuburbia.

(see below for how that happened!!)

My boys, energy filled, clever, wonderful little chaps that they are, are deemed paragons of eating virtue by their friends’ mums… why? Because they eat vegetables, fruit, brown rice, beans, lettuce wraps, fish etc. Apparently, however, I am regarded with a certain amount of trepidation; as if my friends are conjuring up images of me standing over my crying, protesting children, force-feeding them raw veggies and cardboard-esque slabs of tofu! The truth is that we make dinners and lunches together, they love cooking – all that tearing, mushing and stirring – and they have quite developed opinions on which tomatoes go with which dips.. don’t even get them started on types of hummus!!

As you may have noticed, here in the RS household, there are a few things we do differently – like having babies, and our approach to food and feeding our family is right up there. The thing is, I have never been one to accept the status quo, and consequently even before our babies were eating real food, I was consciously choosing whole, fresh foods for nutrition. When I was pregnant, our midwife had a standard for us, a certain amount of each type of food each week, and explained why I needed to eat whole, natural, preservative-free foods. This got me thinking that if, when pregnant and growing a whole person, I should protect them from harmful preservatives, additives and chemicals, why would it be any different when they come out?

Now, I will admit to being an obsessive label reader, a passionate cook, and an unashamed hater of additives and chemicals in my food, so it will come as no surprise that we have always done our best to avoid obviously junky foods. But, recently, I have had to take another hard look at our regular shopping list and have discovered some really disturbing things: Cinnamon Life cereal has red food coloring in it, most kids yoghurts not only have blue5 & red40 but also HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup – Ugh don’t even get me started on that junk!), that almost everything marketed to kids has added sugar, refined bleached enriched white flour, added salt, and artificial sweeteners, not to mention the preservatives and other unintelligible-chemistry-babble ingredients. Why, Oh, Why do we need to add all this junk to our food and why is it being marketed to us as “healthy” when, as soon as you take your eyes off the happy smiling people on the packaging and actually read the ingredients, you can see plainly that it is the exact opposite?

This is my plea; People, take control of your family’s health by taking back your brain in the grocery store! Don’t be fooled by pretty, healthy-looking packaging and special offers, but rather choose things that actually resemble real food! Please stop cramming your children full of sugar, food coloring and additives and then berating them for their inability to concentrate at school – their brain is broken because of their diet… they don’t need drugs, they need real food; whole raw foods that support their immune systems not destroy them!

And, here is a truly radical thought – send them to school with a healthy home made packed lunch, with whole grains and fruit and veggies and water to drink, instead of the crap they provide at school.

I have always maintained that school lunches are junk, and have never participated in the mess that is the government-funded big-food-company sponsored poisoning of school children; however, even I was shocked at the “Healthy Eating” claims of USDA approved school lunches, apparently pizza with jello and chocolate milk (sweetened with HFCS and food colorings galore) is “balanced”, brain food! One courageous teacher in Illinois has set out to expose the ugly truth of her school’s food, by committing to eat it every day, follow her, read her, encourage her and most importantly, take control of your child’s health by opting out if you can, or lobbying for change if you can’t.

So, here in ReluctantSuburbia we will be having brown rice, chicken and veggie stir-fry for dinner – stop by, the boys may even let you cook!

Here’s to your good health and ours!

The Reluctant Suburbanite


Where mummy-hood is more about raising men than being a taxi-driver… but that is a topic for another day!

You never know…

.. when a light saber battle will break out
.. when you will be the recipient of a hug from a small boy
.. when a pajama clad Transformer will come down the stairs
.. when a cowboy costume is the logical accompaniment to a sword
.. when covering someone’s car in snow is the ultimate expression of love

Last week my husband, the unfailingly nostalgic one among us, asked me to come up with some of my best memories of our boys. I will admit that I struggled. Not least because I, like so many mothers, am guilty of just trying to manage our life, to survive life with boys, to get them (and us) from one day to the next with clean(ish) clothes and no broken bones. I have not intentionally allowed the years to slip by in a haze of reprimands and “mind your p’s and q’s”, but there are certainly times when all I can remember it the management of it all, and none of the fun stuff.

So, I am thinking that this post, “You never know..” is the beginning of a series – perhaps weekly, perhaps not – that will encourage me to be an active cataloguer of the daily joys and memories of this life.

If you would like to join me, just comment and link to to your, “You Never Know…” post. It is simple really, join me in observing the strange little joys of your life and share them with me for encouragement or giggles – whatever makes you smile!