The Life and Times of Busy the Bee.

Eli is my seven-year-old nephew.

Eli is a fantastic kid, mind-blowing in intellect and often infuriating in adventure. He is intensely curious about the world around him and has very little impulse control. As such, there is nothing I adore more than hearing my sister-in-law Lindsay’s rundowns of his daily pursuits.

Last week, those episodes included microwaving Cheetos for three minutes with the vision of creating melted Cheetos for breakfast, attempting to make “Dog Juice” for their yellow lab, Layla, by soaking dog food in water and then pouring the newly-bloated dog food down the kitchen sink, and opening his sister’s birthday presents on her behalf.

(I’ve begged Lindsay to be a recurring guest-blogger for years but I think Eli most likely poured chocolate milk on her computer as a legitimate experiment long ago.)

Eli also has a very special bond with animals and insects – if ever there were a child Doctor Dolittle, it is Eli. He remembers every fact he’s ever learned about any creature, and watches shows like Wild Kratts religiously to continually gain new knowledge.  His desire and ability to befriend all living creatures even extends to cockroaches, whom he insists make wonderful pets.

(He is wrong.)

Lindsay and I took our combined brood of five kids to a playground not long ago. It was a particularly hot summer day – the kind that all of the mothers cling to the shade of the pavilion and are constantly shooing the children out of said pavilion because “We’re at a playground for goodness’ sake and we didn’t bring you here to complain about the heat and sure it’s hot but you’re supposed to be playing!”

Unlike the other kids, Eli didn’t seem to be weakened by the heat. In fact, he was quite caught up in…something. What exactly is he chasing around? What’s he staring at?


A bee.

Lindsay was off to take another kid to the bathroom, so I felt mostly responsible for preserving Eli’s life and well-being until she returned – a grave responsibility indeed. I called him over and asked what he was doing.

He ran over with a sweaty, beaming face as if his life had recently been made complete and stuck his finger out at me.

“Look Aunt Rachel! He’s a Carpenter bee. His name is Busy. He lives at my mailbox at home and follows me everywhere I go. He flew behind us to the playground. Busy would never sting me – he’s a nice bee. And I’ll tell him not to sting you either. Busy, don’t sting anyone, okay? There. Now Busy won’t sting anybody.”


Although I was skeptical about Busy’s stated place of residence, he did look oddly happy crawling on Eli’s finger during his entire monologue. The bee seemed curious and…was that a bee-version of affection? It certainly seemed so.

There was one other Mom currently seeking shelter under the pavilion – one that I did not know. She became very nervous during Eli’s explanation of his new pet and suggested that Eli needed to be careful – he was likely to get stung. Eli turned to her and insisted that Busy would never sting anybody, and besides he was a Carpenter bee and Carpenter bees do not sting.

“I’m not so sure of that…”

She picked up her phone and Googled Carpenter bees. She reported back decisively that Busy was indeed a Carpenter bee, but she was definitely a “she” (because she was missing the male’s yellow head spot) and girl Carpenter bees do sting (but she left off the rest of the sentence usually found when Googling female Carpenter bees, which is “…but they very rarely do so.”)

The whiny pavilion-dwelling kids who heard this news nervously slinked off to the playground while Eli continued insisting to this bubble-bursting stranger that Busy was NOT that kind of girl and she would NEVER sting.

Meanwhile, Busy lazily went back and forth between flying in circles around Eli and landing on his finger in a familiar manner.

When Lindsay returned from her quest and got up to date on Busy and Google and the clear friendship that had blossomed in her absence, she instructed Eli that he must take Busy to the top of the hill and allow her to fly away before someone got stung.

Eli sadly stomped up the hill and squatted down at the top, having a long conversation with Busy, ending in an impassioned “Go, Busy! Just Go!!”

I watched as Busy would fly away for about five seconds, then come right back to Eli.

After a few attempts, Eli quietly left the hillside and went back onto the playground, Busy still following him. He played, with Busy alongside him, for at least twenty minutes. It was clear that Busy was just as attached to Eli as Eli was to Busy, and us Moms mused aloud that maybe Busy did love Eli.

Until she didn’t.

And Eli ran screaming and crying to Lindsay, holding out his rapidly swelling finger.


Eli cried, partially because his finger was swelling and turning white, partially because he was heartbroken over the great betrayal of Busy the Bee, and partially because he knows all the facts about all the animals – and he assumed that the sting meant that Busy now had to die. Lindsay comforted Eli and I Googled to confirm that, as opposed to honey bees, Carpenter Bees actually do not die upon stinging.

But for once, all of the animal facts in the world could not mend Eli’s broken heart that had been stung by the bitterness of betrayal.

He crawled out of Lindsay’s lap and spent the rest of our visit to the playground squatting sadly under the slide, head and shoulders drooping, mourning the loss of a best friend.

But there are many more bees in the world.

And Eli will not be deterred in his future attempts at friendship.

Infusion-Induced Insanity.

On our last few hotel stays, Chris and I have discovered a magical commodity that hotels sometimes offer: fruit infused water.

Displayed beautifully in a large dispenser with multi-colored fruits, three recent hotels have had it in the lobby, with those lovely little clear plastic cups that make everything taste better.

One hotel even made with cantaloupe and cucumber. The fact that Chris raved so magnificently about this concoction was even more ridiculous – he’s spent his entire life disgusted by even the smell of cantaloupe and avoiding anything that had too “cucumbery” of an essence.

But yet. When combined and allowed to let water seep through its veins and then wet his parched throat after a long run, it was as if he had hiked across Alaska and found the Fountain of Life.

Speaking of which, all three times we’ve found this wonder happened to be directly after a long, hot run, which may have interfered with our objectivity with regards to the wonders of infused water. Because we both stood in the lobby and gushed over it being the BEST THING WE HAD EVER TASTED.

Sweating, me in leggings as pants, once even in matching running shirts, we felt more like Todd and Margo than we ever, EVER wanted to experience.

“Who drank the last of the infused water??”


Todd and Margo

But regardless of the obnoxious category our water pleasures put us in, we were hooked.

Last week, on the much anticipated day of July 15, I eagerly logged onto Amazon for what they promised would be the best day of my life: Prime Day.

“Better than Christmas!”, they said.

“We’re going to give you everything we have for mere pennies!”, I read.

I looked forward to stocking up on all of the things nearly as much as Noah looks forward to asking me every day how many days it is until his birthday.

But, as was the rest of the world, I was sorely disappointed and drowned in the betrayal of Amazon’s gigantic campaign of false advertising.

Prime Day actually went something like this:

Ugly necklace you’d never wear – 20% off!!

Violent video game for a system you don’t own – $5 less than usual!

Need a wooden wrist watch? Of course you do!! Only $999 – just for Prime Day!

I wept over the wasted anticipation that I had set aside for Prime Day. And it was dead to me.

But right before I clicked with a vengeance off of the page, a deal came up for fruit infusing water bottles.

Memories flooded over me of the miraculous hydration powers of infused water and I jumped with excitement. Finally! A Prime Day Deal I can actually use! I clicked through to buy Chris and I each a water bottle and immediately started fantasizing about all of the amazing subtly fruity concoctions that I’d prepare for us, therefore upping my Wife Stock by at least 30%.

But of course, the deal was “sold out”. Which means that I had to (and absolutely did) pay full price for those bottles (full price which was even $1 more expensive than it is now). And then I bought a fruit infusing pitcher to boot.

You win, Amazon. You. Win.

They arrived over the weekend, and I couldn’t wait to attempt to make lovely water as if I were a Marriott Hospitality Specialist.

The pitcher had a large sticker on the outside of it touting all of its benefits, and the two bottles had delightfully Google-Translated labels on their boxes,

funny translated labels

I solemnly promised not to approach my bottles to a stove or to allow the bottles beat the sidewalk or collide the pavement and,etc,. Then I dismantled them and began washing. When I got to the pitcher, I started peeling off the label, because labels are evil.

Except that it wasn’t the nice peel-off kind of evil label. At all.

It was the type with the thick paper outer layer, the thin paper under layer, and the absolutely psychosis-inducing gummy layer. The kind of gummy layer that only squishes around when you scratch it with your fingernail and attracts every dirt particle in the house to instantaneously turn your pitcher into a dull, gray, sticky bug trap.

I scrubbed.

I rubbed.

I alcoholed (the label – not myself, although it might’ve helped my growingly-obsessed mental state.)

I scrubbed.

I hot watered.

I scrubbed some more.

I alcoholed again.

I considered the fact that there was probably an oil for this problem.

As I stood at my sink for this eternal span of time while my children moaned for lunch and my messy house glared at me from every angle, I appreciated the irony that I was spending my day on a label retraction instead of the more pressing matters that were not, as the label was, making me lose my mind.

I finally gave up and perhaps more than forcefully than necessary dropped the pitcher.

Then, to make myself feel better, I wrote my first ever Amazon review.

Amazon Reviews

Somehow, this releasing of words fueled me to be able to go on with my life, and I filled all my new pretties with lovely fruit and cold water and began shaking them vigorously (like Shake Weights! With Fruit!) to expedite the infusion process. Chris and I drank great quantities of melon-and-cucumber water, plum-and-cherry water, and quickly poured out grapefruit water (because despite what hotels had taught us, nasty bitter rinds infuse, too.)

Fruit Infused Water Pitchers and Bottles

We learned that infused water is delicious, is not delicious to children, speeds up…ahem…digestion, and makes us very happy – even if we haven’t just been running in the July heat.

But every time my hands stick to my children’s hair when I hug them, and every time I find a fly that is hopelessly fused to the palm of my hand, I remember and curse the horror that is the outside of my eternally sticky pitcher.


Under Lock and Key.

Ali spent an entire Saturday morning planning and creating an extraordinarily intricate blanket fort.

Like Fort Knox itself, her construction boasted of all of the necessary building components to create the highest security possible – chairs, every blanket in the house, random objects like hammocks and toys to fill in the gaps left by the blankets, and a road rug. So that if you try to crash your car into the fort, you’ll just drive up that rug road and off to the right. A perfect deterrent.


There was even a watering can in case of emergency flower moisture needs.


I was allowed inside the fort on a heavily curated tour once and only once – to survey the fine architecture and high security measures housed therein.


Deep within the bowels of the fort, there was a Guard Rabbit, armed with a mighty light and aided by a Teddy Deputy. They were responsible for carefully hiding and protecting the entrance to The Vault.

To get to this most important secondary room, both guards, a pillow, and two backpacks had to be moved in just the right order so as not to set off any Indiana-Jones-style snares or trap doors into a room full of snakes (I’m assuming – although Ali has never seen Indiana Jones to glean from their wisdom.)


Carefully, Ali moved them to allow me to visit The Sacred Vault. To feast my eyes on what lay beneath.

The most guarded and precious room in the fort was a treasure indeed.

It was a library.


As it should be.

Have a nice weekend curled up in a fort vault somewhere.