Friday, December 2, 2016

Hello Again, Croup. I Haven't Missed You.

Cubby had it first. Then Jack went down a few days ago.

Last night Charlie succumbed, waking up screaming and barking that awful croup cough, panicked because he couldn't breathe. I took him outside to look at the moon*, because cooler, damp air is helpful with croup. Then he sat on my lap in the kitchen and breathed in the steam from a hot mug of water, taking sips of cold water occasionally before he eventually decided he could sleep again.

This happened twice, once at 1 a.m. and again at 4:45 a.m.

Jack woke up crying and coughing at 6:15 a.m. He sat with me until 6:30 a.m., at which point I had to dump him in bed with A. and go get Cubby up for school. Waking Cubby up also woke Charlie up.

Cubby was whining and crying that he didn't want to go to school. (He's not sick anymore. Just grumpy.)

Charlie refused to go back to sleep and instead collapsed on the mat at the bottom of the stairs, wailing that he couldn't come upstairs.

Jack was crying in the bed with A., who is now also sick with a cold.

So, at 6:30 a.m. I was running the shower in the bathroom to make it steamy for Charlie--at which point I hauled him upstairs and sat him in there with a mug of hot honey water--forcing Cubby to get dressed and putting out his breakfast, packing Cubby's lunch, and making hot tea for Jack and A.

The three contagious amigos.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't come down with something, okay? Someone has to keep this snotty ship from sinking.

* In my pajamas, which meant I was outside in a t-shirt and shorts, barefoot in the 38-degree night with half-frozen rain coming down. Motherhood literally pushes you out of your comfort zone with some regularity.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Spilled Milk

I have to remind myself nearly daily that there's no use crying over spilled milk. Or, more accurately, there's no use yelling over spilled milk. My children are unconcerned about spilled milk and unlikely to shed any tears over it, but I am very irritated by spilled milk and must stop myself from berating the kids when they spill it.

The reason it's so irritating is that milk is surprisingly difficult to clean up properly. The large puddle must be mopped up, and then the area has to be wiped with a wet cloth to prevent a disgusting sticky spot. In addition, when milk falls from a table it spatters for an incredible distance. I've found milk spatters up to five feet from the actual spot the cup hit the floor. 

Plus, the milk is usually in an inconvenient spot like underneath the table or chairs, necessitating hands and knees scrubbing and the likelihood of whacking my head in the process.

The best--or worst, perhaps I should say--was this morning, though, when Charlie was putting the full cup of milk he had requested and refused to drink into the refrigerator for later.* He somehow caught it on the edge of the refrigerator shelf or something and spilled the entire cup on the floor directly in front of the refrigerator, which meant half of it spread under the refrigerator.

Deep breath (after my involuntary, "Charlie! COME ON."). No use yelling over spilled milk, no use yelling over spilled milk . . .

On the up side, pulling the refrigerator out to clean up allowed me to wipe down that side of the counter next to the stove where things fall in the unreachable crack between the refrigerator and the cabinet. 

I also had the opportunity to note once again that our landlady is either an excellent housekeeper in general or did a really bang-up job of cleaning before we moved in. It was by far the least-scary refrigerator moving I've ever had to do. Mostly dusty back there.

And now all clean. Thanks to the milk. Silver linings, keeping on the sunny side, and Pollyanna-ing all over the place here.

* The small cups of milk cluttering the refrigerator when the kids don't finish drinking them are another irritant of milk, but wasting it would be worse.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Also Thankful for This

Hello, my lovelies! Is everyone jumping right back into work/school/whatever everyday drudgery awaited you after the holiday?

Yeah, me too. I did three loads of laundry yesterday, re-stocked the very bare refrigerator, and am currently home with all three children, as Cubby's cough this morning convinced his tender-hearted father that he should stay home from school.

I was going to send him. Lucky for Cubby he has such a nice dad.


I am here to tell you of a felicitous food accident that occurred during the MiL's many Thanksgiving food preparations. She made three different pies: one pumpkin, one apple, and one chocolate. The filling for the chocolate pie was a very easy recipe for a kind of chocolate mousse called pots de creme. The recipe--an old one from A.'s grandmother--involves simply blending together chocolate chips, sugar, vanilla, hot milk, and an egg, and then chilling it to set.

I happened to be in the kitchen when the MiL was pouring this chocolate mixture into the pie shell and she had just a little bit left over. I helpfully found a ramekin for her to pour the extra into.

My Thanksgiving labors were very strenuous, yes*.

Then I saw four small circular pieces of pie dough that the MiL had cut with a biscuit cutter from her extra dough and baked along with one of the pies.

The MiL mentioned that she thought the boys might like to have those as a treat.

They probably would have, but they never got the chance, because I saw those little circles of flaky pastry, and I saw the ramekin of liquid chocolate.

It was just inevitable that I dipped that pie dough directly into the chocolate and ate it standing there in the kitchen. Jack was in the kitchen with me, so he got to have a piece, but otherwise? All me. And the best thing I ate on Thanksgiving.

How about you? What was the best thing you ate last Thursday?

* Okay, I also made some mashed sweet potatoes, but those are so easy they don't really count. Certainly nothing like making three pies all from scratch.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


In triplicate.

Happy Thanksgiving, my lovelies. Eat up.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Winter Travel

Unless you're going on a tropical vacation in the winter, packing for winter travel involves a whole lot of stuffing overly-puffy outdoor apparel in a too-small suitcase.

You may also enjoy the background shenanigans that is A. trying to watch Cheap Truck Challenge on the computer with all three boys using him as a jungle gym.* 

In addition, A. spent five straight hours shoveling this morning so we could actually drive our car out of our driveway to get to Blackrock for Thanksgiving. 

I'm sure the pies will be worth it, though.

P.S. This is the view from my kitchen. In case you were wondering what my perspective is in this house, it is this. The view from the kitchen, my permanent station.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You Be the Judge

So how much snow did we get? Well, let's see.

This much.

And this much.

Cubby didn't have school yesterday--no surprise, considering the howling blizzard--but he did have to get to the road to catch the bus today. A. went out at 6:30 a.m. to start shoveling the driveway. He shoveled it out yesterday, but the continuing snow and, more importantly, the wind blowing drifts, had covered it over again.

He did make a large enough spot at the end for the bus to turn around, but the driver elected to just keep going and presumably make a loop to stay on the plowed surface of the road.

Wise man.

The drifts between our house and the road were deep enough that A. actually carried Cubby part of the way to the side of the road to wait for the bus. A. is still outside shoveling, trying to dig out the van so we can leave for Blackrock tomorrow.

I don't even know how much snow we got--18 inches maybe--but I think it's safe to say our winter snow pack has begun.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Final Harvest

It was 63 degrees and sunny on Saturday. This was appreciated in November, especially as our forecast let us know in no uncertain terms that Winter Is Coming. Specifically, two days of snow accompanied by frigid temperatures and gusting winds.

Better make hay while the sun shines! Or, in our case, pull up the sole remaining beet in the garden.

And such a beet. The biggest beet I have ever seen.

I set Cubby and Charlie the task of pulling.

Heave ho- . . .

 . . . -ly shit, that's a huge beet.

Gallons of borscht, right there.

After considering this behemoth for a second, Charlie asked "Mommy, is it as big as my head?"

Well, let's find out.

Yup. (This is not a trick of perspective, by the way.)

While we were in the garden, we shoved in some peach and plum pits that we had saved into the soil to see if they'll sprout. If they do, then maybe we can transplant them and grow some fruit trees. Kind of a long shot, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Next I gathered some of the last apples on one of the trees in the back to make some apple cider vinegar. Then some more wild grapes to add to some feral apples I already had for a last batch of apple-grape jelly.

We spent some time picking up outside and making sure anything that we didn't want covered by snow was under cover. I pulled the snow shovel out of the barn and set it right next to the front door.

It started snowing yesterday morning at 7 a.m.

This morning at 5 a.m. when I went outside to let Mia out, I opened the door to this:

I particularly like the snow that blew against the door and formed a little ridge to step over. And the wind-sculpted foot-deep drift on the porch.

I can't even tell how much snow has fallen, thanks to the wind blowing it around. Several inches, for sure. But we have applesauce, jelly, vinegar, and one ENORMOUS beet. Bring on the winter.