Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Can't Kill The Animals

This little boy loves pretty much all of God's creatures. Maybe excepting bot flies and naked mole rats. But certainly he includes black widows and snakes in his all-encompassing love.

Exhibit A

A couple months ago, we found our first bark scorpion in our house. Now, this is both a very common scorpion and the most venomous scorpion in North America, so we wanted to be sure the kids could identify it and avoid it and tell an adult if they found one. So we put it in a glass jar to show them in the morning. 

First thing the boy asks, "Can we put holes in the lid so he can breathe?"

I said, "Honey, we are just going to flush it. This one can't stay around, it could hurt the kids or the pets!"

His eyes widened in concern, "Mom!!! We can't kill it! It's an ANIMAL!"

"Sweetie, it can't stay around here. These are very poisonous and could hurt Bandit or S'mores or the kitties."

"Well....", he looks around and his eyes settle out the window, "We could set it free..."

He looks at me to gauge my reaction and seeing my face set to say no, hurriedly finishes his sentence with: 

" Mexico!!!"

Ok, son. I'll run it down first thing Monday morning.

Before we had a chance to get rid of the scorpion, Max's buddy Colton knocks the jar off the counter while climbing up to get a banana. 

It shatters.

The scorpion is MIA.


Three days later, Avril finds a dead bark scorpion in a nearby kitchen drawer. 

Exhibit B

A few weeks later, we discover a hoard of black widows around the outside walls of our house. So naturally, Dad and Roman decide to capture a couple, create a habitat and feed them live insects. Like flies, moths, crickets, roaches, other spiders... 

Meet Phoenix and Onyx, Roman's pet black widows. 

He brought them to school as a show and tell and almost cried every time the container got jostled- because he was worried they would get hurt.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Camping at Cochise Stronghold

When we moved to Hawai'i, we left all our camping gear in storage- and with fairly good reason. Camping in Hawai'i generally amounts to campgrounds or beach camping. Neither of these things is bad in and of themselves, per se, but neither is highly appealing to us. We are the people who go camping to Get Away From It All. Like, literally, IT ALL. No other people around, no amenities, and no visible pavement!

This is, by nature, a lot more work, but so much more adventuring and exploring and freedom is at hand!

So we decided to go find a good place to go camping. 

Guy did his research, picked an area that we HOPED wouldn't be high traffic in spite of the stereotypical Memorial Day weekend timing, we packed our gear and prepped some delicious tin foil dinners and off we went. 

Upon arriving at Cochise Stronghold, we found a few different levels of amenities/privacy. At the end of the road was a very convenient campground with grills and picnic tables and bathrooms and a lovely paved hike. In other words, hard pass. There were already about 3 campers about to become new best friends in the night ahead and we didn't want any part in that. 

So we backtracked to a dirt road that beckoned invitingly to our collectively enterprising souls and set off to find a more suitable location. 

We drove the dirt lane, seeing empty camping spot after empty camping spot, only recognizable as such by the fire pit and cleared dirt. The shorties alternately argued and cheered and voted on their favorites and we at last selected our ideal camping spot with all our requirements more or less met. 

However, no sooner had we gotten out and begun unloading the car than Xandri came careening back through the bushes (wait, back? When did she LEAVE?!), breathless with excitement and frantic for us to come and see what she had found. 

So while I continued to unload, Dad and the other minions charged off into the woods to see what on earth could have gotten her all worked up. Moments later, they all came charging back.

"Mom! Mom! You've GOT to come check this out! It's SOOO cool, we HAVE to camp over here!!!"

Dragging my feet, I followed my exuberant children down the hill away from the official campsite only to find THIS:  

Ok, so that may be a bit misleading. The set up part didn't happen QUITE that fast. But it was close. We hauled our gear and food and bags down into the valley and got to work. 

The kids helped take care of the dry leaf problem. 

I set up the tent and got our sleeping bags and other stuff arranged while these ones went foraging for big rocks and dry wood and kindling to build a fire pit and subsequent fire. I have never seen these people work so hard and fast and with so much excitement and so little complaint as when we are building FIRES. Little pyros. I don't know WHERE they get it.

Then it was time to make our dinner.

 After all that hard work and with some delicious ketchup I had about zero picky eaters on my hands as the crew dug in. 

Can't really blame them, though. 

We spent the evening laughing and talking and teasing and eating s'mores and actually got some ok sleep.

The next morning it was time to explore our new home. While Guy and I held down the tent, the scouts went out to see what there was to see. Which quickly became apparent that it was all VERY EXCITING. 

We were camping at the base of some cliffs, which meant there was a GLORIOUS arrangement of fallen boulders providing little nooks and crannies and climbing opportunities all over the place.

Now, for this next part of the story, you must understand a little background. Avril & Xandri are both obsessed with the Warriors series. If you aren't familiar with it, this is actually a rather comprehensive series about cat clans and cat warriors and all of the drama that goes along with that. I'm gonna go ahead and let you guess what happened next. 


Yep, you guessed it! They each picked cat names, created a clan, named it and arranged their societal construct and economic system, selected their lairs, fought for position of chief, claimed Leader Rock or some such thing and became extremely wary of the tall Two Legs who had finally ventured over to explore their territory. Hissing, spitting and clawing the air, the wild warrior kitties chased us away from their homes... until they found out we had Jolly Ranchers. Suddenly, they were much more amenable to our presence. 

At that point, it was game over. Us Two Legs were transformed and given kitty names. The bigger male Two Legs declined joining the clan and opted to be the crazy old cat shaman that ran his own clan and ... expanded... his personality to fulfill all the roles himself. 

The smaller female Two Legs' heart was softened by the adorable warrior kittens and she was immediately inducted into the clan in a ceremony under Leader Rock.

There may have been some howling and cat calling (I couldn't resist) involved.

She was then given the option to choose her new home, at which point she went exploring and was shown several nice properties available by the oh-so-helpful warrior-kitties-turned-realtors. 

We spent the next few hours climbing and warring and hissing and cuddling and eating warrior kitty treats and reading. Once we'd had our fill, it was with great remorse and growling tummies that we packed up our camping gear to go home. One last stop before our drive through the Dragoon mountain range was back at the amenity-filled campground where we had seen a nice paved nature walk with historical and botanical placards along the way. We tested our new knowledge and collective memory through the duration of the hike, identifying as many plants and trees as we could before loading back up to head home.

The drive home through the Dragoons was a post unto itself! Absolutely breathtaking and VERY adventurous.

All in all, the camping trip was a smashing success. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ringing in 2016 in Maui

This makes our 3rd annual New Year's with the Knerrs and we couldn't be happier about it! Maui, it turns out, is fairly awesome. It was a bit harder to get there this year than Kauai was last year, maybe because we're ON THE MAINLAND now #sadface. But well worth the extra effort all the same!

Our first adventure had us rappelling down waterfalls. Yeah, we did that. Cause that's how we roll. And it was every bit as cool as it sounds. 

We got all geared up in our awesomely dorky helmets- but I think we pulled them off quite well in any case. The vests were a pain, they fit some of us better than others (ahem, Long Tall).  

First waterfall was not insanely huge, but VERY cool and fun for us beginning rappellers. Nothing quite like trying to find your footing on a slippery cliff wall while leaning way back and trusting the equipment and your guides to not let you fall, bashing your broken body all the way down the rocky cliff while your face is pelted with cold water falling from said cliff ledge. I mean, I wasn't imagining that happening at all, I'm just saying in case some  people were. You know, cause I'm empathetic like that.

Matthias managed to leave behind some skin on our first test rappel- which was incredibly muddy since it was raining AS we were walking out to begin our adventure. Obviously, I was suitably impressed. My rule about fun is you're not having it unless SOMEONE gets hurt. Usually me, so I was ok with passing the torch this time. Also, *knock on wood* I'm getting better about being less klutzy when I do *fun* things. 

Victory selfie


Our next adventure in the trip had us doing two dives at different sites. The first was cool, lots of fish, some honu, cool coral... but the SECOND... Well shoot DANG! It is official, I am a mermaid at heart.

As we begin our descent Guy gives his shaka. We took all these on the GoPro, but several are screen captures from video, so the quality is not quite as high as the photos.

Matthias displays his glorious find... SO many treasures to find!

I found two as well- the biggest, coolest wana shells I've found EVER naturally and I left them in the rental car. I was sick over that for days. Still am, if we're being honest.

WHITE TIP REEF SHARK!!!!! Look at this guy, he is so chill. He literally did not move from this spot while we swam around him oohing and aahing in giddy scuba diver delight. Also my first shark encounter in the open ocean (aka not in a shark cage).

Just about to dive down through this arch... see all those fish in there? That never got old, swimming down through all the arches and wreckage and exploring tons of crazy formations. Ariel's Grotto, I tell you what.

Found this guy hiding as we swam through said arches... just chillin in the deep. There is something so absolutely thrilling about joining these creatures in their natural habitat, seeing what they do down here unda da sea.

Camas about to dive deeper down to explore the coral. I cherish the fact that we are able to vacation with these two. It is nonstop fun and great conversation- except when underwater, then it's fun only.

Diving through another cool arch finds still more little fishies hiding just behind the lip.

Group shot! Honu joined for this one and brought a couple buddies with. We thanked him after and got his autograph.