Isn’t it time you left the house? 

Photo: Shala Howell. Artistic arrangement of chicken and cat: The Nine-Year-Old Howell

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Never go to war with a cat

The (then) Eight-Year-Old, interrupted in a key tactical mission with Snoopy, the World War I Flying Ace: “Canelo! What are you doing in the runway? I almost ran into you, and you’re not even authorized! Next time, at least get a pass.”

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Mommyo meets Mr. Cuddles 

Remember last year, when The Nine-Year-Old went to Grandma and Grandpa Summer Camp and sent back a photo of her snuggling a spry young alligator named Mr. Cuddles?

Well this year, she insisted that Daddyo and I tag along. 

Photo: Shala Howell

So many gators. Mr. Cuddles is in there somewhere, but I’m not hopping down to say hello. 

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How to cat: Enjoying a proper spot of sun 

Always keep two paws in the sunbeam. 

Photo: Shala Howell

Rotate paws as necessary. 

Photo: Shala Howell

And ignore the paparazzi.

Photo: Shala Howell

Ah, summer. 

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Oops! I went on a blogging vacation and totally forgot to tell you…

So embarrassing. 

As is my habit here at Caterpickles Central I am shifting to a super light blogging schedule for the month of August so that The Nine-Year-Old and I can make the most of the remaining summer sunshine. 

I may pop in now and again to share photos, anecdotes, and other blogging what-nots, but serious efforts won’t resume until after Labor Day. 

See you around the pond,


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Wordless Wednesday: The 9YO stares at gardens

Photo: Shala Howell

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It’s hot

We were having an A/C outage and a heat wave on Friday when I sat down to prepare today’s post, and consequently I very quickly became too hot to hold a laptop as long as it would take to produce something worth reading. 

It could be worse. The Nine-Year-Old just ran into my Office-away-from-the-Office with this horrifying heat wave update: “Mommyo, I can’t alliterate! It’s so hot I’ve actually lost the ability to alliterate anything!”

Truly, heat waves are harder on the young.   

Still, all was not lost. It gave me the perfect chance to share with The Nine-Year-Old the anthem of my childhood. As is usually the case, Shel Silverstein has the best words: 

Poem and illustration by Shel Silverstein.

“It’s Hot!” originally appeared in Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Obviously, this particular poem really resonated with me as a child growing up in Texas. My daughter developed a new appreciation for it Friday. 

Stay cool out there. 

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What’s The Nine-Year-Old reading this week? 

This summer, The Nine-Year-Old has been participating in Rahm’s Readers. It’s not her first summer reading program, by a long shot, but it’s a particularly enticing one. In exchange for reading for 500 minutes, going to one of Chicago’s museums*, and completing one building/science-y/crafty project this summer, The Nine-Year-Old received two plastic bags full of free books targeted to her grade level and a canvas tote to carry them around in. 

Her books this week have all come from her Rahm’s Readers free book stash. They are a smart mix of books she’d heard of, like Smile by Raina Telgemeier, books she’s excited to have found, like Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld (“You would love Detectives in Togas, Mommyo!”), and books on topics most kids would be interested in, like pirates and do-it-yourself science experiments. Some of the books are brand new, while others are used library books, complete with the fancy library book covers. Watching The Nine-Year-Old plow through her treasure trove, it was hard to tell which type she liked more. 

The program is being run out of public libraries across the city. If you’re in Chicago, I encourage you to check it out. 

*Don’t forget: Most local libraries have free passes to area museums available for check out as well. 

Your renovation update: 
Whole lot of painting, grouting, and tiling going on. Next up: lighting, cabinets, and assorted plumbing fixtures. I am inching ever closer to getting my office (and new-and-improved bathroom) back.

(Photo: Shala Howell)

See you next week!

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Wordless Wednesday: The 9YO goes to the beach

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“Do cats eat newts?”

Kaiser’s spotted newt. (Image: Dr. Richard Bartlett via Wikipedia)

The answer to this question, like so many cat-related questions, is yes they probably will, but they really shouldn’t. (You shouldn’t either, by the way.) 

Newts come installed with a skin toxin called tetrodotoxin, designed to keep predators from eating them. Some newts, like the rough-skinned newt, are toxic enough that simply handling them can be a problem. Other newts, like the fire-bellied newt, can be handled safely (as long as you don’t have an open sore on your hand or forget to wash your hands before touching your mouth or eyes afterwards). 

Most of the time, if a predator tries to eat a newt, it will spit it out right away because the skin toxin makes the newt taste so bad. But if that predator swallows the newt anyway, the toxins will either give that predator terrible indigestion, or worst case, kill it. 

So, if you have reason to believe that your cat, dog, child, or excessively hungry adult friend has licked, snacked on, or swallowed a newt, you need to get them medical attention immediately. 

The Nine-Year-Old, plaintively: “So I can’t get a newt for a pet either?” 

Mommyo, hard-heartedly: “Nope.”

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