Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Earplugs for Everyone

Although a generally cheery and good-natured toddler, Jack has one situation in which he completely melts down: medical establishments. As soon as he senses a needle in the vicinity he starts thrashing and screaming his head off.

It's because he's had to have blood drawn several times for lead testing, and a couple of times the technicians were . . . less than skillful. I would scream too if someone was jamming a needle in my arm over and over and leaving a bruise as big as a quarter. And I probably wouldn't forget it anytime soon either, just like Jack.

Thanks for the lingering toddler trauma, ladies! Makes doctor visits super fun!

Like today's visit, for instance, which was just a routine check-up. As soon as the nurse came into the exam room, Jack started shrieking and trying to dive off my lap. She hadn't even touched him yet. After she did the measurements and left, I managed to calm him down, but then the doctor walked in. Same shrieking and struggling. And then again when the nurse came back for a vaccination.

It was way fun.

Oh well. At least I know there's nothing wrong with his memory.

Friday, June 24, 2016

For the Love of Pesto

Pulling basil leaves off the stems is the most tedious part of making pesto. Luckily, I have two small boys with nimble fingers who are extremely fond of pesto.


Call me when those stems are stripped, kids.

Next up: Teaching them to tie up tomato plants.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Harvesting for Happiness

Yesterday while Jack was napping and the other two were outside planting peas in an old burn pile (or something--I could never be accused of being a helicopter mom), I wandered out with a large colander, a pair of kitchen shears, and a carton to do some harvesting.

First I picked some mulberries, because I like to make sure my hands always look as if I just finished butchering something. Then I used the shears to cut off all the garlic scapes, and while I was in the garden, I harvested some of Cubby's snow peas*.

As I was heading inside, I noticed a single white peony still on the bush and decided it would be much better appreciated inside the house, so I cut that too, along with some roses so the peony wouldn't be lonely in a vase.


Will the roses smell like garlic, or the garlic scapes like roses? An interesting query.

I decided to put the roses and peony on the kitchen table . . .


So bijou**.

But then I needed some flowers for The Long Table, so I cut some of the feral day lilies growing along the edge of the gully. Plus some ferns, because I like to pretend I can create actual arrangements instead of just random flowers in a vase.


The lilies looked nice yesterday, but closed up at night and haven't opened again yet, so the effect is not so good at the moment. So much for my actual arrangements.

Half an hour of picking and snipping, and we had food and pretty flowers. And a mood booster for me. Wins all around.

* I stir-fried these two together for dinner last night and it was really good. Winning combination, should you ever happen to have both in sufficient quantities to try it.

** I learned this word from the movie The Matchmaker with Janeane Garofalo, a movie I loved years ago but haven't seen in about fifteen years. Can't remember anything else about the movie, but that sure is a good word.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Next Generation Doesn't Have Ice Cube Trays

It was pretty hot when my family was visiting last week, so there were a lot of children requiring cold drinks to sate the thirst resulting from running around like crazy people. My eight-year-old niece appeared in the kitchen requesting ice water, so I pulled out the ice cube trays to fill up a water bottle for her. She took a look at my plastic ice cube tray and said, "Hey, cool."

She had never seen an ice cube tray before.

She lives in Arizona, where almost everyone has a freezer with an ice maker built into it, I suppose. So I showed her how it worked, and she watched with totally unfeigned interest as I twisted it to break the cubes out of their molds, pried them out with my nail, and re-filled the tray at the faucet.

I should have taken her upstairs to show her her great-grandmother's rotary phone, which we use because it doesn't plug into an electrical outlet and thus functions when the power goes out. That really would have blown her mind.

I'm starting to feel old . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Raising of the Boat

Several years ago, A. went through a boat-building phase. He would make boats out of boards and plywood. They were very sturdy, but also very heavy and thus, difficult to drag up onto the beach away from the water. This is why they all got pulled into the lake during storms and wrecked eventually. One of the smaller boats was pulled into the lake and then appeared on our neighbors' beach a few days later. And there it stayed, mired in the gravel and filled with rocks.

A sad fate for a once-proud vessel.

Then, a couple of days ago when my family was all here and down on the beach, the children all meandered down to the boat and started playing in it.


What's more fun than a boat full of gravel?

I believe it was Cubby who suggested they should try to dig it out. The kids started burrowing industriously with hands and sticks while the adults watched and made no effort to help because, well, it was hot in that sun and what were the odds that the boat could actually be dug out and would float if it was?

But then my sister-in-law started to help Cubby dig out one of the oars he had almost freed, because she's nice like that, and before I knew it, there were actual shovels on the beach and my brother was showing them how it's done.


This is what a beach vacation looks like a Blackrock.

And about half an hour after that . . .


Heave ho.

They actually loaded all four children into the thing and towed it in the water down to our beach, so I guess it even sort of floats. A great testament to the strength of the boat. 

So here's to the boat builder who built a boat that could withstand four years of being partially submerged in rocks, and especially here's to the tenacious crew who raised her from her watery grave. 

Family is fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blackrock B&B

A few weeks ago, my brother e-mailed me and was all, "Hey! We're thinking of coming to visit when the Eldest Sister and Eldest Niece are visiting. Is that cool?" And I was all, "YES, YES IT IS COOL!"

My brother has not been to Blackrock since A. and I got married here thirteen years ago. His family--wife and two daughters ages 8 and almost-4 years--have never been. None of them have met Jack, and all the cousins on my side of the family have never all been in one place. So of course, of course it is cool.

This means that as of tomorrow, there will be six more people sleeping in our house for two nights. And this is about the only time I have been thankful to have such an absurdly large house, because we have beds for them all. Bedrooms, even.

Allow me to take you on a tour of our hospitable home.

Would you like a private room shaded by a verdant magnolia tree?


Please, enjoy the ambiance of A.'s childhood bedroom. I'll even promise the bed will be made before you need to sleep in it.

Or perhaps you'd prefer a charming dormer room in close proximity to a bathroom?


You'll be sleeping next to the wireless router on the windowsill, handy for any work that follows you on vacation.

If you would like a room with en suite bathroom, then the downstairs guest room is for you.


Of course, it's also the only bathroom with a shower in the entire house, so you're liable to be disturbed at 7 a.m. when A. needs to shower to get to court.

And if everything else is full up, there's always the parlor with a mattress on the floor


At least it'll be a real mattress, since we still have the one we replaced a few months ago. Good thing we couldn't figure out how to get rid of it yet.

Twelve people, two nights, one house. It's going to be total insanity. I can't wait.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Days and Nights at Blackrock

Days filled with boys wielding sticks, dogs chewing on moldy bones, and a very dead red squirrel that got caught by the tail on a ripped-up gutter drain and was hanging upside down inside the drain. It had to be hauled out ever so carefully by the tail so it didn't fall right apart and stay in the drain forever.

That last one was way gross. I got to do the rodent removal, since I was the one who spied the little tuft of fur sticking out of the hole. I'm glad we have one less squirrel on the property, but it was a bad way to go for the squirrel. Not so pleasant for the clean-up crew, either.

Nights filled with . . . wait, am I sleeping? What a novel thing, to sleep at night! Except for that one night when the travel alarm clock went off at 2:58 a.m. because Charlie had found it somewhere and was pressing all the buttons and then obediently put it back in my room where I told him it was supposed to be. I nearly had a heart attack when the thing started beeping, but at least it didn't wake Jack up in the next room.

Today is Cubby's last day of school. Next week is Charlie's. We'll shortly have even more of the boys with sticks around to entertain us.

Perhaps "entertain" was not the best word choice.

Happy Friday, my lovelies! Go forth and be merry!