Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Personality Clash

As a compulsively punctual person, I think it's clear that I'm going to have to have a serious talk with this little lady baby whenever she finally makes her appearance. Two days past her expected arrival already? That's just not going to be acceptable in our family*.

Plus, I would really like to be able to bend over to tie my shoes without a feeling of imminent suffocation.

And that's our grumpy update for the day. Carry on.

* My mother's sister, who is Very Southern, remarked that the baby is just arriving fashionably late. I am, lamentably, far too much of a Yankee to be so comfortable with the idea of tardiness being the way to make a good entrance. Especially for overdue babies. But I thought that was a funny comment anyway.

Monday, October 16, 2017

On This Day in 2017 . . .

We've finished up the absurd quantity of cheese from last month, which means those seventeen pounds didn't even last quite one month. In fact, the mozzarella was finished last week and A. already bought more of that. Now he has to go back for another insane cheddar brick.

At least we won't be deficient in calcium.

Also, today is my official due date, which doesn't seem to be impressing this baby at all. I'm going to the midwife this morning, so maybe something dramatic and exciting--you know, like birth--might happen today. Or maybe we'll all just sit around waiting some more, with everyone eyeing me like a ticking time bomb and the kids saying, "But I thought the baby was supposed to come TODAY."

Probably that.

Good times all around.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Cultural Exchange Courtesy of Craigslist

A. decided last week to list his remaining three ram lambs for sale on Craigslist, either for butchering or breeding. One less thing--or rather, three less things--to worry about with a baby due any day. Plus, we thought it would be nice to get some cash for some of the lambs and then buy a half of a cow for some variety from lamb meat.

On the very same day he got sick of dealing with the escaping lamb and slaughtered it, he got a call about the Craigslist ad. It was a man from Vermont who didn't speak particularly good English, but managed to get across that yes, he wanted to buy the lambs, and he wanted to slaughter them himself.

A. figured he was Muslim and wanted to follow the Islamic law of halal by making sure they were properly slaughtered. So he arranged for the man and his friend to come this morning to slaughter the lambs here.

They rolled up in a maroon Toyota Scion at 11:30, exchanged their bright white sneakers for slightly older white sneakers, pulled some beat-up track pants over their jeans, and pulled out their fillet knives. Approximately three minutes later, the lambs were on the ground and kicking their last.

These were obviously some men who have slaughtered sheep before.

A. then helped them bring the lambs to the back of the house where he hangs them to work on skinning and gutting and so forth. And then A. got an education in how a Bosnian butchers a sheep.

Because it turns out that the men were from Bosnia, and they had a very particular method of butchering. The one guy who seemed to be the more professional butcher told A. he could start skinning one, but when he saw how A. did it, he jumped in and took over. And then proceeded to cut the hide off so cleanly the resulting hide was perfectly smooth on the skin side.

They kept the head, tail, and everything else on and just skinned the whole thing. After the skinning, they removed the innards in one go and separated out the lungs, heart, and liver in one big chunk for separate cooking.

The man who was doing less of the work told me these lambs were for a wedding, and showed me on his smart phone a video of how they cook them. The entire lamb is put on a wooden pole, which sticks out through the mouth and the rear, and then the pole is attached to an electric rotisserie device--brought, apparently, from Bosnia--which is in turn hooked up to a generator so the animal continues to turn without any further labor from the cooks.

The same guy handed a spectating Jack twenty dollars and told him to buy some chocolate*.

The men worked for almost exactly two hours, finishing up by carefully wrapping the lambs up in plastic bags, along with the boxes of the innards they wanted to take with them.

Then they paid A., pressed an apple into Jack's hands, and drove back to Vermont.

They were very nice men, and it was extremely educational for A. to see how an expert dresses out a lamb. Plus, now we have cash in hand and an extra apple in exchange for two lambs we don't have to butcher ourselves.

Works for me.

* I took the twenty dollars for safekeeping and future chocolate buying, as I don't think Jack is getting to the store anytime soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Of Cookies and Carcasses

Two important food-related events yesterday: I finally made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, and A. slaughtered another lamb.

The reason I made the cookies is because Charlie happened to be assigned the class Halloween party as his turn to bring in a treat, and I really don't think I'm going to be up to treat-making at the end of this month. So I decided to make a bunch of cookies and freeze half of them so I can just pull them out of the freezer and send them in on October 31*.

They're not as fun as, like, cupcakes decorated to look like ghosts or something, but they're better than buying a box of Little Debbie snack cakes, right? And anyway, the odds of me making intricately decorated ghost cupcakes are . . . well, it's not going to happen even when I don't have a newborn baby.

And by the way, baking chocolate chip cookies when on a restricted diet due to gestational diabetes is no fun at all. All that delicious cookie dough . . .


A. slaughtered the lamb because it kept escaping the pen, and after the fourth time it got out yesterday morning, he decided the forecast was favorable enough to hang meat. And just like that, that lamb was done for.

You did it to yourself, lamb.

So my mom was going down the stairs yesterday with Jack to play in the playroom and was treated to the sight of A. skinning the hanging sheep just outside the downstairs door. We may not live at Blackrock anymore, but we still know how to roll out the welcome mat for guests.

I suspect testicle parmigiana might be on the menu tonight. I'd rather eat the cookies, but I suppose I'll have to content myself with roasted vegetables. Whee.

* The first person to so much as whisper the word "nesting" gets a chocolate chip up the nose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bonding Moments

Although there isn't much about being hugely and unmistakably pregnant that I enjoy, one thing I do find endlessly amusing is the comments it inspires in other people.

Now that it's obvious I'm pregnant and not just hopelessly addicted to doughnuts (how I wish . . .), total strangers ask me when I'm due and then invariably tell me how many children they have. Usually they ask if I'm having a boy or a girl, and when I say our first girl after three boys, they are always delighted and then tell me the breakdown of the sexes among their own children.

The elderly gentleman at church on Sunday who asked me when "the blessed event" is shared that he had eight children--five girls and three boys.

One woman told me she had five boys. I told her she got me beat.

The woman at the grocery store today told me she had four girls and one boy, and the boy was the easy one: "No drama."

My favorite, however, was when the priest offered a blessing for "expectant parents," at which point I'm pretty sure the entire church was staring at us, and then a lady stopped me after church to tell me that she was glad he prayed for me because she sees us every week and I look like I could use prayers.

I was not entirely sure how to respond to that, but I thought it was very funny.

She hurried on to tell me that it's obvious I'm doing very well with our current children, but that she doesn't know how I do it. She didn't tell me if she has any children. Maybe not, which might account for her undeserved admiration.

Or maybe she had ten kids of her own and remembered what it was like to try to contain multiple small bodies for an hour while in the advanced stages of pregnancy with another. She didn't say. But I kind of wished she had.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Tomorrow morning, my mother, the children's beloved Nana, will be boarding a plane and traveling from Arizona to our northern frontier. She's staying for a couple of weeks to help out during and after the birth of Baby #4.

So how did she prepare for her long and arduous journey? By competing in a triathlon today.

Game face: ON.

My dad was kind enough to send periodic photos and updates as she competed. She finished just a little while ago. The video he sent of her crossing the finish line shows Nana waving her hands in triumph as she jogs steadily across the finish line.

I'm sure that spirit and endurance can carry her through two weeks sleeping on a fold-out couch in the playroom and dealing with three insane little boys day in and day out. I think the triathlon was probably the easier of the two.

I can only hope to be as bad ass as my mom someday. It's nice to have a role model. (Though the odds of me doing a triathlon at 70 years of age--or, um, ever--are virtually non-existent, so I suppose it's a forlorn hope.)

Congratulations, Nana! See you soon! I have lots of ibuprofen on hand.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The After-school Routine

Last year when Cubby started first grade at his new school here, I found his homecoming at the end of the school day to be incredibly stressful. A. was gone a lot then--and even when he wasn't away from the house, he was still working at 3 p.m. when the bus came--so it was just me and the three children.

Charlie and Jack were excited to see Cubby and were usually a little hysterical. Cubby wanted to tell me all about his day, which was kind of hard to do with his two little brothers screaming and racing around. Then he had homework for the first time, which he was not accustomed to, needed help with, found frustrating, and was greatly complicated by the fact that his brothers were constantly bugging him, stealing his pencil, etc.

Later, he had to read a book aloud to me, which was also complicated by his small, pesky brothers and the fact that he really couldn't read very well yet and would get frustrated.

It was not a good scene.

By the time Charlie started school in January, things had somewhat calmed down. But still, their arrival home meant backpacks flung about with papers and lunch bags to be unloaded, winter clothes all over the floor, two children trying to talk over each other to tell me about their days, and a still-somewhat-hysterical Jack.

I was determined this year would be different. To that end, we began after-school training immediately upon the commencement of the school year.

Instruction #1 is to take their lunch bags out of their backpacks and put the bags in the kitchen. One or both of them usually has something left in their lunch bags, which they give to Jack. He finds this thrilling--because what's better than cheese that's been sitting in a school lunch bag all day?--and it distracts him during Instruction #2: Folders out of their backpacks to show me what's in them, thereby giving them each a turn to talk to me.

Next they have to put their folders back in their backpacks and put their backpacks on top of the book bench.

All of this still requires a lot of reminding--a.k.a., nagging--but they're mostly used to doing these things themselves by now.

Finally, Cubby does his homework. He still always wants to do it as soon as he gets home, but he no longer requires my assistance. First he does his math worksheet. I look it over and point out to him the ones he might want to, ahem, "reconsider," though he usually gets most of them right the first time.

Then he reads his assigned book. This is my favorite part, because not only can he now read on his own, he can read to his brothers.


Of course, any day now we'll be adding a newborn baby to this mix, thereby blowing all routines to hell, but I have hope that at least some of this will stick and there will be a minimum of chaos upon the school homecoming. Fingers crossed.