Monday, March 2, 2015

The Cook's Prerogative

I never much liked apples as a kid. Considering the only apples I came into contact with during my formative years were probably the misnamed Red Delicious from the grocery store, that's hardly surprising. I had no idea of the vast variety of apples available until I moved to New York State, which ranks behind only Washington State in the amount of apples grown and grows more varieties than any other state. This is Apple Country, for sure.

So I kind of like apples now. Certain kinds, anyway. But I'm still not all that likely to reach for a whole apple as a snack*.

But if I'm making baked apple slices--which, when I make them, is basically like apple pie minus that irritating crust part--I have no shame about standing there in the kitchen eating the sugar-and-spice-encrusted apple slices. Because an apple is just okay, but a peeled, cored, thinly sliced apple coated in lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace? That's the kind of apple I can get behind.

* Yeah, yeah, I've heard the oft-repeated, "If you won't eat an apple, you're not really hungry." But since when has a snack been about just being hungry?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Proof That Dreams Do Come True

As of this morning, the ice holds A.'s weight.

Theirs too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Lake Froze, and We Were There

This morning at 6:20, while lying in bed trying to summon the energy to get up (I have a cold and I think Jack is getting it too, so he was up a few times last night), I heard A. announcing to the older children downstairs that the lake was frozen.

Can I convey his excitement at this fact? No, no I cannot. He was so excited, he actually dressed the children--a most hated chore that he will usually avoid at all costs--so that they could go down to the lakeshore with him to see the ice.

I got up to help him get their outside clothing on--an even worse chore than the regular clothes dressing--and then, of course, I had to go down myself to see. And also of course, I had to bring Jack with me. If history is being made, the whole family should be present, right? Right. Ten degrees and wind be damned.

Plus, the snow on the side of the road leading to the lakeshore was almost knee-deep thanks to the plows. A. hauled the older two kids in the utility sled so they didn't have to struggle through it, but I had to make my own way. In knee-deep snow. With a baby strapped to my front. With a cold. First thing in the morning before coffee or breakfast.

Are you appropriately impressed with my bravery yet? Thank you. So was I.

It was really cold on the lakeshore. Really, really, really cold. Ten degrees, as I mentioned. With wind. REALLY COLD. 

A. whipped out the camera to take a few very fast pictures of history made and . . . "no memory card" says the camera. Because the memory card was still in the computer. Which means no photos can be taken.

A. nearly had an aneurysm, I think, but I insisted he go back to the house to get the memory card while I waited on the lakeshore with the children. The REALLY COLD lakeshore. And the children were also getting really cold.

They were brave, though, while A. raced back up to the house, only stating for the record they were freezing and wanted to go back home. They didn't cry or anything, they just announced this in a matter-of-fact tone. I know, kids. I know. Me too.

But this was important to A., so we stood down there for the three minutes it took him to get up the house and back down again. I distracted the children by talking about the cavemen and how it was like this for them and they didn't have nice warm houses to go back to and do you think seagulls get cold and blahblahblahblah HURRY UP, A.

He did hurry up. And he got his photos.


Still cold.

Closer. And still cold.

We tried to get a whole-family shot, but half the family is too short to make it into the shot. They were cold, though.

A. tested the ice and found it to be about half an inch thick. Not thick enough to support his weight, though Cubby suggested perhaps it would support him and Charlie. We vetoed this idea. That would be even colder.

This is a man whose greatest hopes have been realized. 

After photos and appropriate gazing in awe at the lake, we all trekked back to the house, where it took the children about half an hour, a muffin apiece, and a cartoon to recover. But we can say we were all there when the lake froze in 2015. Witnesses to history, that's us.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everyone Out

Twenty degrees and sunny? Time to get the hell out of the cabin.

Spear hunting with an electric fence fencepost. The cavemen didn't have fiberglass, but it's the best we can do.

Cubby wanted you to see how sharp his spear is. I wanted you to see how long our driveway is so you can imagine how difficult it is to back down it every day going fifteen miles an hour so I don't get stuck in the melted tire tracks of slush. Always an adventure.

Jack was there, too. No spear for him, though.

This is the dogs' favorite perch at the moment. Nothing like passive solar heat. (It's an overturned utility sled, in case you were wondering.)

Charlie spent some time "sleeping in the snow." Sounds comfortable.

And Cubby spent some time spear hunting in the paddock. He told me it's the perfect habitat for giant ground sloths. They did live in grasslands, but they also went extinct about 10,000 years ago, so his odds weren't good.

We were only out for about an hour, but it made us all much happier. Sunny days are here again. Well, occasionally.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Still Hot, Even Though It's Cold

Because of the cabin fever, get it? Whatever. This still kind of sucks. 

Want to see the tunnel we navigate to get into and out of the preschool? It's higher than Charlie's head.

It was five degrees with wind, and no, he is not wearing a coat. 

The other day when we were sitting around inside--as we will be forever and ever, amen--Cubby tried to make a catapult out of Tinker toys. He brought it to me and asked me why it wouldn't shoot. I explained that he needed a rubber band or something to provide the tension that would then be released and . . . you know what, Cubby? I bet the Internet could help us with this.

The only craft my children have ever shown the slightest interest in.

It kept them entertained for about fifteen minutes before they lost interest. I'll take it.

And that's all I got. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Got the Fever

Cabin fever, that is. Or would that be Blackrock fever? I don't live in a cabin, thank God, but even in our big-ass house, this winter is getting really old.

What's that? You're sick of hearing about the historically bad winter weather and those of us who are getting very tired of it? Yeah, well, we're sick of living with it, too, believe me. And if I say I have cabin fever, you can be assured that it's real bad around here, because I am the most extreme homebody you will ever meet. I do not like to leave our property pretty much ever. But with all this damn snow, the older kids don't want to go out to play because they can't go anywhere. They're stuck just wandering around on the semi-shoveled paths and the driveway that keep getting drifted over. It's boring.

So if they don't want to go outside, that means they are inside. With me. All day. ALL DAY.

It's ugly.

This is why I made the desperate decision this morning to go to the grocery store in the Small City. With all three children. So that's a forty-mile round trip in the car plus three kids to wrangle in a store, all to get some tortillas and milk. And this would be the first attempt to get through a store with all three children to manage.

It sounded like a good plan. This is how crazed I'm getting. We just had to leave the house. HAD TO.

I had A. start the minivan before he left for work so it would be all warmed up for our big adventure. And then he got stuck in our excessively long driveway, because he strayed too far to one side while backing down and ran into one of the enormous piles of snow that hem in the whole driveway. He shoveled himself out and advised me not to go anywhere.

I figured he was probably right, so we all settled down into the living room, where Cubby and Charlie immediately began fighting over a pencil or something equally insignificant, and I was all, "ALL RIGHT. EVERYONE PUT YOUR BOOTS ON; WE ARE OUT OF HERE."

I figured if we got stuck in the driveway, we could just walk back up to the house and at least we would have gotten out of the house for five minutes and had an adventure. In the five-degrees-with-wicked-wind cold. Hooray.

To my surprise, however, we did make it down the driveway and all the way to the grocery store, which was also navigated without any drama (this time). Then back in the car in possession of such thrilling items as bananas and cheese and back to our crazy driveway tunnel, which I once again managed to maneuver, despite slaloming the whole way and very nearly grinding to a complete stop halfway up.

And that was it. Our big outing. To the grocery store. But that was two hours during which I was not sitting in the chair in the bay window holding a baby and listening to Cubby and Charlie squabble over paper or whatever. It ain't exactly a cruise to the Bahamas, but it's the best I could do.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Moment in Time

Jack is understandably dubious about being placed in the middle of these two weirdos. But two weirdos who will teach him the fine art of battling in newspaper helmets. Because that's what brothers do.