Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Christmas Memories

Memories of the Small Children Christmases, that is.  Which are not, unfortunately, always sugar plums and shining faces.  Take this past Christmas, for example.

My brother-in-law made the very large and nice midday meal on Christmas morning.  Charlie fell asleep right before we ate.  It was almost Cubby's naptime too, so I figured he could eat, then I could put him down and the adults would have a few minutes to enjoy our food (and wine) without the company of little hellions.

HAHAHA.  It's just so amusing when I'm so foolishly optimistic, isn't it?

Cubby ate about five bites, then climbed down off his chair and lay down right on the floor.  Okay.  Hint taken.  To bed with you.

I got him upstairs and into bed, then sat down on the edge of the bed to tell him his story.

And the bed broke.

Well, actually, the mattress sort of slid through the frame, which was loose or something.  I couldn't lift it back up by myself, so I called A. up to help me.  He discovered the screws on the frame needed tightening, and asked me to find an allen wrench.  My brother-in-law left the table to find an allen wrench and help A. fix the bed.

So, at this point, my sister was sitting alone at the table with our Christmas feast.  Great.

I decided my help was not required upstairs and went back to my food.  And wine.  Especially the wine.

About two minutes later, I realized it was suspiciously quiet on the Cubby front.  But I thought maybe he was just absorbed in watching the handymen fix the bed.

HAHAHA.  There I go being foolishly optimistic again.

I went upstairs just as my brother-in-law was removing Cubby from Charlie's room.  Cubby had opened the closed door--I had not been aware he could turn the knobs, clever boy--pulled a rolling office chair over to the Pack 'n' Play, and climbed right in with Charlie.

I'm pretty sure he was not planning on snuggling up with him for an adorable double nap.  In fact, if I had to guess, I would bet on some injury occurring to the unsuspecting and defenseless infant.  Who was, of course, now fully awake thanks to the toddler.

So I put Cubby down for his nap in his fixed bed and brought a very tired and bewildered baby downstairs with me so we could all finish our now-cold meal.

And the wine. We finished the wine, too. Which should surprise no one.

Merry Christmas, kids.  Next year, just get Mommy a whole case of wine, okay?  Thanks.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Connecting Theme? SNOW

Snow fort. (Thanks, Daddy!)

Snow shoes. (Thanks, Grandma!)

Snow sheep.

Snow dogs.

Holy hell, there is a LOT of snow out there, y'all.  And more in the forecast.  Hello, winter.  You came in with a vengeance this year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Little Story of Christmas Spirit

As you all know, we just drove a long, long way.  There were many stops along the way for potty visits and coffee and diaper changes and nursing and . . . well, stops.  For stuff.

At one of those stops, at a gas station somewhere in Pennsylvania, I left my wallet on top of the car after a trip inside the station with Cubby to buy him some milk.  When I got back to the car, Charlie was crying and Cubby wanted his milk and I was strapping him in and I just . . . left my wallet on top of the car.  But I did not know this until a stranger named Bridie called my sister's cell phone to say she and her husband had found it in the middle of an intersection and picked it up.

Then she offered to mail it to me.  I told her to use whatever cash was in it to pay for the postage, and then take the rest of it and buy herself a bottle of wine or something for being such a good Samaritan.  She must have gone to the post office on Christmas Eve to mail it, because it arrived at Blackrock the day after Christmas.  All the cash and cards were still in it.

If that is not a Christmas miracle, I don't know what is.

So, to Bridie in Pennsylvania:  Thank you for returning my wallet to me and, in the process, reminding us all that some faith in the goodness of our fellow humans is justified.  Sometimes we need that reminder.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Glorious Day of My Birth

Remind me next year that on December 27, I do not want to celebrate my 34th birthday by driving eight hours in a car with two screaming children.

Well, only one screamed.  The other talked non-stop.  There was also blowing snow and an ice-covered windshield.

But!  We made it home eventually, and the MiL made us pasta with pesto for dinner.  Plus a chocolate pound cake for my birthday.  The first load of what will be many, many loads of laundry is even now spinning about in the washing machine.  That sound, more than any other, announces to all that I am home.

Coming home is a pretty good way to celebrate a birthday after all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, My Lovelies

Have a happy day wherever you are and whatever you're doing.  I hope it involves cookies.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's 5 A.M.

And I am totally ready to go.  To Virginia, that is.  Glory be.

It never ceases to amaze me that I manage to go from nothing ready to go to everything ready to go in just a couple of hours.  Getting all the shit together that four people need for five days--including a baby, which is an exercise in over-packing if ever there was one--is no joke.

I started packing bags at six o'clock last night.  I loaded the car* in the dark and snow.  I finished loading it at 4:30 this morning.

Everyone is still asleep.  I've taken a shower.  I'm drinking my coffee and feeling much calmer than I did twelve hours ago.  Now I just have to get children loaded up after they awake and we'll be on our way.

At which point I think all calmness will have gone out the car window, but whatever.  Bring on the road trip.  I'm ready.

P.S.  To the worried anonymous who asked in a no-doubt incredulous tone if we were really giving our toddler a real saw?  Yes.  It is a real saw.  And he can really cut wood with it.  Perhaps Cubby is not your average toddler (in fact, I'm SURE he's not average), but there is no doubt that boy is fully capable of handling real tools.  He's probably just disappointed it wasn't a power saw like Daddy's.

* We're taking my Subaru, which is all-wheel drive and has snow tires.  A.'s Roadmaster is pretty good in the snow (he tested it by driving into the Small City during a straight-up snowstorm yesterday to get sheep food), but it doesn't have snow tires and it's still on probation.  Buying an old used car means the expectation that something will need to be fixed on it within the first month.  And we don't want that something to be a radiator hose that leaves us stranded in the snow in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania with two small kids. So. Subaru it is!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Will Forego the Obvious Title

Which would be, of course, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."

A woodchuck Christmas, that is, featuring dead animal head coverings.

There was already an inch or so of snow on the ground when we got up this morning, and so of course Cubby wanted to go outside.  He requested his coonskin cap specifically.  He has so far refused it every time I've suggested it, so I guess he just thought it was only for "real winter."

Or something.  I don't pretend to know how his convoluted toddler mind works.

We're starting the celebrations today, with gift exchanges and dinner with A.'s family before we leave tomorrow for my sister's house in Virginia for five days.  I have not packed a damn thing.  It's going to be a really fun evening, I can already tell.

But as soon as Cubby awakes from his nap, he gets to open his gift from us.  Which is a real toolbox with real tools.  Including a small saw.  I anticipate some excitement.  Also a lot of reminders that these tools are outside tools.

It'll be fun anyway, though.  And then tomorrow . . . road trip.  With two small children.  In the snow.  Cross your fingers for us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Mack Daddy

A. got a new car.  And by "new," I mean 1996.  And by "car," I mean . . .

Oh yes, he did.

That right there is a Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon.  It can haul as much as a truck, because it's HUUUGE. 

Cubby approves.  Mia is still investigating.

When A. said he was going to look at a Roadmaster, I was all, "What?"  And he was all, "You know, those enormous wood-paneled station wagons."  And I was all, "Hey, could a car scream 'family man' more than that one?"  And he was all, "No way.  It's pimpin'."

He was right.  But it does scream "Mack Daddy," don't you think?

Room for the kids?  Sure! Even our behemoths.

Two fists up and a gummy grin from Charlie.

I don't know why, but my favorite part of this thing is that it has the third backseat that faces backwards.  Not that A. will ever use that seat, since it will probably be permanently folded down to make way for bags of mortar or pieces of wood or whatever.  But I'm gonna ride in that backwards seat at least one time.

It also has a sunroof.  And an enormous trailer hitch.  And a V-8 engine.  Plus, obviously, room for the children, AND a back area big enough for a grown man to sleep in, should that be necessary. It is, in summary, A.'s dream machine.

It's nice to make a dream come true sometimes.  Even if it's only the acquisition of a wood-paneled station wagon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On Being the Mother of Giants

I have mentioned many times that my sons are big for their ages.  This is never more apparent to me, however, than at the story hour we go to at the library.  It's pretty much the only place I come into close contact with other kids (and that, I'm sure, is a sad commentary on my own reclusive nature, but there you are) and so that's where I see how my kids look in comparison to other kids.

They look freaking HUGE.

Cubby is one of the oldest children that attends now, so he's just like this big lumbering giant among a crowd of pygmies.  I have to stop him from following the smaller children around too closely, because if they stop suddenly and he accidentally runs into them, they're flat on their faces and screaming and he's looking down at them from his great height like, "What just happened there?"

Today he was running around a bench and ran smack into a very little girl on the other side.  She bounced off of him and landed---unhurt--on the floor.  He was unfazed. The girl's mother is, thankfully, very cool and didn't seem too worked up about it.  But I still felt bad about my wrecking ball son and his trail of destruction.

Then there's Charlie.  Charlie is about the same size as this one little boy who is running all around.  This boy is something like 14 months old.  Charlie is five months old.  FIVE MONTHS.

I foresee a lot more fallen children on the scene when he starts running.

I may need to investigate leashes.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The new fun game at our house: The Owl Game.

Let me narrate for you tonight's Owl Game.

Cubby:  "Daddy!  I want you to turn off the lights!  So I can be an owl."

Ever the indulgent father, A. turns off all the lights in the living room and then shuts the door, leaving Charlie and me sitting in the darkness, listening to Cubby fall over the various toys he's scattered about the living room.

Cubby: "I wouldn't have done that if I were a real owl.  But I'm just pretending."

Since he's not a real owl, he has to periodically turn on the glaringly bright overhead chandelier to look for his (non-functioning) watch; see what's sticking to his foot (the velcro on his felt tool belt); and find his hammer for an imperative repair to . . . something.

So Charlie and I sit there on the couch in the dark with the lights going on and off, observing the world's most incompetent owl.

And that's what passes for entertainment around here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I know I've mentioned before (but am now too lazy to look for and link to that mention, wherever it might be) how utterly useless I find most cold-weather children's clothing.  Cotton, cotton, acrylic (gross), and . . . more cotton.

Where's the wool, people?  The cozy, comfy, warm wool?

I don't knit, so I'm not making my own.  Most stores don't carry it, even if I were willing to pay retail for clothing my kids grow out of within months*.  Retail for the sort of clothes I need for them is like fifty bucks for one wooly sweater.  That's not really an option for me.

And here's where I sing the praises of and bow down in gratitude for second-hand stores.  The Salvation Army has been my, uh, salvation (sorry--it was irresistible) more than once for good winter clothes for Cubby and Charlie.  The wooliest wool sweaters I've ever found have been there.  Also the fleece-lined overalls, the heaviest fleece pajamas, and the best flannel shirts.  For, at most, four bucks apiece.

Today we went to the slightly-fancier and therefore slightly more expensive consignment store dedicated to children's clothing.  But even with their slightly higher prices, I got multiple mostly-wool sweaters, corduroys and flannel-lined overalls and jeans, flannel shirts and sweatshirts for about the cost of two good sweaters at retail value.  The most expensive item was still less than ten dollars.  And it's all really, really good-quality, useful stuff.

I'm glad someone is willing to shell out the cash to buy this stuff new, so that I have the option to buy it used. Because there is no way I could adequately clothe my children otherwise.  I mean, without taking up knitting myself.

Perish the thought.

* I'm not kidding about the growing.  Today I bought 12-month sized clothing for my five-month-old and size 5T for my not-quite-three-year-old.  I never imagined I would only give birth to giants, but here I am, and here they are in their RIDICULOUSLY LARGE CLOTHING, GOOD LORD.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let's Sing

In honor of A.'s 32nd birthday today, the continuation of "The Woodchuck Man."

Who can take a pumpkin and make a splendid pie?
Who can fix the pump when the cisterns run dry?

The woodchuck man 
The woodchuck man can
The woodchuck man can 
'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him

Who can use a pallet to make a sturdy pack?
Who can haul a ton of guts with only his strong back?

The woodchuck man 
The woodchuck man can
The woodchuck man can 
'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him

Who can roof our huge house without a helping hand?
Who can use an electric saw to butcher several lambs?

The woodchuck man 
The woodchuck man can
The woodchuck man can 
'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him

Happy birthday to A., the biggest woodchuck I know.  And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible, of course.

P.S.  As always, feel free to contribute a verse or two to the song, should the musical muse be with you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

He's On It

You know the first thing Cubby did when the Christmas tree was put in its stand in the living room?  He ran to get his drill, hammer, and wrench to fix it.  I didn't even know it was broken.

I'm telling you, Tool Time with Cubby will be airing soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Most Delicious Deer

I sometimes have Issues with venison.  Issues meaning it tastes too much like . . . wild meat.

Unsurprising, since it is wild meat and all.

What can I say?  I was raised on boneless chicken breasts and pork chops.  Our meals did not often (or, uh, ever) feature animals that spent their days running free in the forests.

But we always have venison this time of year, thanks to the great hunter in our midst.  (Or roadkill.  Heh.)   For me, the best game recipes are the ones with fairly strong flavors to mask that slightly-off  taste.  Red wine works well. But I sometimes get tired of it.  Curry works, too.  But sometimes I don't want curry.

And this is how I created the best recipe for venison stew meat ever.  Well, ever so far, anyway.  It'd be great with beef too, though, so I'll share it with you now.

Cook a few slices of diced bacon, then take out the bits of bacon and brown a pound of the stew meat of choice in the bacon fat.  Take out the browned meat and cook a couple of sliced onions in there and then about a third of a cup of apple cider vinegar.  Boil it to reduce the vinegar a little. Add in about a cup of sauerkraut and a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds.  Add back in the bacon bits and the meat.  Salt and pepper.  Put a little water in there so everything is almost covered, then simmer the hell out of it, until everything is all falling apart.  Then, right before it's time to eat, stir in a little bit of sour cream or heavy cream.

Eat it over mashed potatoes, which is the best way to eat pretty much anything in my opinion.

A little taste of wild Germany in your kitchen. Or at least, the wild Germany of my imagination.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Little Tip for You

If you ever find yourself in possession of a dozen animals that you're planning on butchering yourself  (you know, in that alternate universe you sometimes inhabit--at least, that we inhabit), let me share with you an easy way to cut the bones for chops or whatever without killing yourself with a handheld meat saw.

Use a reciprocating saw.

Yup, the very same saw you might use to cut up boards.  A. read somewhere that that's how they cut up lambs in the Balkans.  I'm not sure that we should emulate all aspects of life in the Balkans, but that saw sure does work well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Where's That Woodchuck Man?

Oh, he's still here, and still as woodchucky as ever. Despite A.'s recent impressive advancements in home improvement--his increasing skill at which he ascribes to his beard--he's still just a woodchuck at heart.  He would way rather build some random old-style pack from Fur-Fish-Game than put up wainscoting.

The pack is a frame made of wood with a kind of shelf at the back.  The idea is that, without an actual bag on it, you can just hang any old thing from it anywhere you can tie it.  You can carry a lot more this way.

A. constructed his pack from pieces of pallet wood and the straps from a torn Army duffel bag. 

Yup, you can strap an entire trash can to this pack.  If you're A., that is.

And if that's not woodchuck enough for you, you should know that the contents of that trash can were the head and scraps from the deer and the head, guts, and scraps from a lamb he butchered shortly after the deer.  He hauled it all on his back to dump it in the gully.

Gross.  But all part of the woodchuck lifestyle.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The New World Order

Well.  I finally did it.  I reached the end of my sleepless rope and took measures to fix Charlie's sleep problem.

Yes, for an almost-five-month-old child waking up every two hours (OR MORE FREQUENTLY HELP) and not even seeming hungry at all of those wake-ups is a problem.  I knew what I needed to do: I needed to stay the hell away from him at night and let him fall back asleep by himself.

That meant listening to him cry.  And THAT I was really not looking forward to.

But, as with all parenting decisions, it came down to what I thought was best for both me AND him.  And what is best is more sleep for both of us.

So I listened to him cry last night, on and off from about 1 a.m. to about 1:30 a.m.  He never screamed hysterically; he never even cried for longer than a few minutes at a time before subsiding.

He only ate once in the night.  And he slept for several continuous hours.


I did it again for his first two naps today.  I put him in the crib and listened to him cry.  For about thirty seconds.  And then he slept, again.

Well, that was . . . suspiciously easy.

Perhaps it will all blow up tonight.  Perhaps he'll scream like a banshee all night and wake everyone up and no one will sleep and I will curse myself and the entire awful universe that's conspiring against me.

But more likely, he'll sleep.  And so will I.  Alleluia.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Momentous Occasion

Okay, not really.  The occasion was Thanksgiving, which was not really so momentous, as it comes every year and we spend it with the same people always.  But this year, my sister-in-law had her camera.  And she was taking pictures.

NO ONE in the MiL's family EVER takes pictures.  Like, ever.  I have never seen a camera at one of these gatherings.  But there was my sister-in-law, asking people to pose all over the place.  

She married into the family, you see.  Hence the aberrant behavior.

She asked if she could take a picture of me with Charlie.  And then there were A. and Cubby running in from the other room.  Which led to the only picture in existence of the four of us.  Literally the ONLY ONE.

I didn't say it was a GOOD picture*.

Give that woman a prize.

* Remember how I mentioned that one time how I get so flushed in other people's houses that I look totally drunk?  Yeah.  There's the photographic evidence.  I was not drunk.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Family-Style Home Improvement

A. has been working on insulating Charlie's room (I know!  Insulation! It's like we're modern people or something!), and needed some help today when he got to the part where he had to put the insulation on the sloping ceiling.

Whither I goest, so go the children, so the whole happy family trooped up to Charlie's tiny bedroom. I deposited Charlie in his crib and gave his mobile a spin.  Cubby entertained himself with sticking screws through a leftover scrap of insulation.  I held up the large sheet of insulation.

In the two minutes it took for A. to drill in enough screws to secure it, Cubby managed to grab Charlie's hat from his head, pat him a little too hard on the face--which of course made him cry--pull down the soap from the sink in the attached bathroom, and jump on top of the toilet.

So when I let go of the insulation to restore order to the chaos, Charlie was crying and Cubby was leaping from the toilet seat to the floor.  And A. was still drilling.

Welcome to life at Blackrock.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Cubby did not have a good morning this morning.  I don't know if it's the remains of the cold he's still dealing with, or a bad night's sleep, or just general cussedness, but there were many fits and tantrums and tears.

The morning can probably best be illustrated by the episode in which he was reduced to hysterical tears for a good ten minutes (which were, of course, not good AT ALL) when he continued to shoot at me with the Oklahoma piece from his United States puzzle (admittedly gun-shaped, though I never noticed the resemblance until today) despite a warning that I would take it if he kept doing that*.  He did, so I did.

Yes, I have been reduced to confiscating Oklahoma from my toddler for inappropriate use of a puzzle piece.  Super.

I can only hope he wakes up from his nap with a better attitude.  He's not getting that stupid puzzle back, that much I know.

* Keeping him from pretending every blessed thing is a gun would be a futile endeavor, but I refuse to be menaced by vacuum cleaner attachments or his recorder all the livelong day.  Which is exactly what would happen if I didn't enforce the rule that pretend shooting at me results in real confiscation.  And it still happens every day.  I will never fully understand this innate boy thing.  I just find it irritating.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Took Some Pictures on Thanksgiving

Because it would be a shame to waste a day in which we were all clean and dressed respectably.

Happy Friday, duckies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fine Family Fun

There is no denying that Cubby is a challenging child.  He's scary-smart--scary because he remembers every single thing you ever do or say and will tell you in no uncertain terms if you say something wrong or do something he doesn't think is right--incredibly high energy, very articulate and vocal (translation: he never stops talking), aggressive and physical, and just the tiniest bit stubborn (translation: kid's a damn mule).

I love him dearly, but he wears me out on a daily basis.

Luckily for him, he also entertains me on a daily basis.  Like the other day when I was making dinner and he came clomping into the kitchen in this outfit:

This child is nothing less than awesome, am I right?

I guessed correctly that he was going hunting.  He then informed me that he was going hunting for deer with his .22.  I remarked that the necklaces were an interesting accessory to his hunting outfit.  He explained that the necklaces were so the other hunters wouldn't think he was a deer and shoot him.

No arguing with that logic.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wearing Charlie

I'm just gonna come right out and say this: I am not a fan of baby-wearing.

Baby-wearing, for those of you who are possibly not as immersed in All Things Child as I am, means strapping the kid to you like some kind of marsupial and hauling it around on your very body.  As opposed to a stroller or something.

It hurts me.  Literally, I mean. Carrying around an extra 16 pounds of dead weight hanging on my shoulders means that my muscles are always sore. But I do it because I have that other child who requires a lot of outside time and must be followed around constantly.  And now it's cold, so to keep Charlie warm, he needs my body heat.

Luckily, I bought this awesome L.L. Bean wool coat at the thrift store last winter that mostly zips up around both me and Charlie.

And makes me appear perpetually pregnant.

Charlie, unsurprisingly, is a big fan of this arrangement.  He very, very rarely cries when he's strapped to me, and in fact usually falls asleep.

When he hasn't been mainlining caffeinated milk, apparently.  That's one wide-awake child.

And so I will wear him, all the while dreaming of the day I have two fully bipedal children.  That will be a happy day, indeed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shut It, Fortune Cookie

We went to the Chinese buffet for lunch today.  Know what my fortune cookie said?

"Come back later . . . I am sleeping, (yes, cookies need their sleep, too)"

I did not find this entirely amusing, considering my chronic sleep deprivation.  So I ate the stupid cookie in retaliation.  Serves it right.

In related news, Charlie ate about two tablespoons of yogurt today.  At Charlie's four-month check-up, the doctor was all, "No hurry in giving solids to a breastfed baby."  And I was all, "A breastfed baby who is as big as his nine-month-old cousin and isn't sleeping more than two hours at a time at night is getting solid food."

But I only said it in my head.

The doctor also reminded me to start with rice cereal and then progress to the orange vegetables.  I nodded, all the while intending to start Charlie with yogurt, just as I did with Cubby, who is probably the best eater in the almost-three-year-old category that I have ever encountered.  Why mess with success, right?

So everyone cross your fingers that getting some solid food encourages Charlie to maybe make it four whole hours without waking up at night.

An exhausted mother can only hope.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Oh, the Horror

I can't believe that I have let a Thanksgiving pass without consuming a single roll.  It's tragic.

Tragic in a totally made-up, drama queen way, of course.

See, the MiL's sister makes these crescent rolls for every single holiday.  They're some kind of overnight risen thing.  I don't know how they're made, and I don't really care.  All I know is I could eat the whole basket by myself and consider my meal complete.

But this year I wasn't sitting at the table with the basket of rolls in residence.  I was out on the porch with the kiddie table.  And my own kiddie, of course.  Someone brought out the basket of rolls and passed them around.  I took one, tore it in half and gave one half to Cubby.  Then I shoveled in my dinner while trying to placate Charlie, who was not so happy because it was approaching his bedtime.

Then Cubby asked for another roll, so I gave him the other half still on my plate.  And I never got another, because shortly after making sure everyone in the family got their pie fix (with brownies for me, because I don't do pie), we had to race home before there was a complete baby-related meltdown.

And so, my Thanksgiving was entirely roll-free.


We're going to my sister's house for Christmas again, which means I have to wait until Easter now to get another shot at the rolls.  And that makes me very, very sad.

How was your Thanksgiving, duckies?  What's your favorite food to consume in mass quantities?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Make of It What You Will

Whether Thanksgiving for you is a day of serious reflection on the good things in your life or just a day in which you get to eat large amounts of desserts (the two are related, in my case), I hope you have a good one.

Happy Thanksgiving, poppets.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Speaking of Deer

No, I still have not finished all the trimming and packaging of the venison.  All in good time.

In the meantime, let's talk about animal skins, shall we?

As you all know by now, we live in a cold house.  It's actually not as cold as it used to be; I mean, it's been like three years since my pillow has frozen to the wall.  Progress!  But it's still cold.  And hard to heat even when we attempt such a thing.

This is not such a problem for the adult members of the household, all of whom are quite hardy and capable of putting on another sweater or adding an extra blanket to the bed.  But it's a problem with kids.  And especially a problem with babies.

Charlie's room is cold.  It just is.  Where he sleeps is actually the room in which my pillow froze to the wall.  There are two exterior walls in that room; it's on the north side of the house; and it has two doors, which means drafts.  Luckily, it's small, so it can sort of be heated with a space heater.

Sort of.

I realized during the most recent hellish period of no sleep that one reason Charlie was awake so much was because the poor kid was cold.  It wasn't really cold in there, but for a small baby who can't cuddle under a down comforter?  Too cold.  Even in a long-sleeved shirt, two pairs of fleece pajamas (yes, two), a fleece sleepsack, and a hat.

When Cubby was a baby and was cold in his bed, we put him on a sheepskin.  But Charlie sleeps on his stomach*, and the sheepskin is too fluffy and soft for him to be face down on it.  Then A. remembered the hide from the deer he got last year that he had tanned.  He never had any real plan as to what he would do with it, but it's almost exactly the size of the crib mattress.  And it has shorter hair on it than the wool.

So he put it under the flannel sheet in Charlie's crib.  And Charlie slept.

Okay, so not all night or anything.  But he slept two hours, then four hours (four! whee!), then two more two-hour periods.  It's not exactly as restful as it could be, but after two nights of being up every hour?  I WILL TAKE IT.

So the lesson here is that if you live in an old, cold house, revert to the ways of our ancestors and surround those babies with skins.  It's kind of barbaric, but damn it all if it doesn't work.

* And has since he was six weeks old.  I am well aware that this is a definite no-no in the medical community, but if my options are a kid who won't sleep longer than half an hour on his back or a stomach sleeper?  He's on his stomach.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I had something else to talk about today, but my every spare non-child-care minute today--which is to say, approximately 120 minutes of the day--has been taken up with butchering A.'s deer. And the dishes associated with butchering.

It doesn't take much imagination to visualize what butchering dishes are like. Knives, cutting boards, meat saw, cleaver, all in the goriest state imaginable.  Gross.

And there are still two large pots of meat in the refrigerator that have yet to be trimmed and packaged for the freezer.  So I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

But for now, I'm tired.  I'm going to bed.  Good night.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


The forests of upstate New York are ringing with the sounds of death for deer.

How's that for a poetic opener?  The reality, of course, is much less poetic.  The reality is that today is the opening day of rifle season for deer, and there is a gutted deer hanging from a branch in a tree right in front of our house, where everyone who drives by can see that we will be eating venison this year.

Hi, people from New York City doing wine tours!  Welcome to the country!  Who wants to come for dinner?

The deer, of course, was shot by A.  Although Cubby was convinced he could have shot one too, were he only allowed to go hunting with Daddy.  Alas, Mommy is lame and wouldn't let him accompany Daddy to the woods this morning at 6 a.m. for the deer stake-out.

A. shot a nice fat doe a couple of hours after sunrise and then dragged it home, over the stream and through the woods, up the gully bank and down the pasture.  After recovering himself from this feat of strength, he finished cleaning it out and hoisted it into the tree.  Cubby, meanwhile, was examining the deer. ("Where's the mouth?  There's the tongue!  This is a male deer*.  What's that?  What's a windpipe for?  What's that white stuff?  What's cartilage?  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why?" ad infinitum.)

It's really too bad he's so squeamish.

So now every time I get in my car, which is parked approximately three feet from the deer, I am treated to a close-up view of the nearly-severed head with the tongue sticking out.  Lovely.

Looks like we'll be bringing some venison to Thanksgiving dinner.  How very authentic.

* Unless informed otherwise, Cubby assumes every animal is male.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Not-So-Fond Reminisces

I might say the following to A. in ten years:

"Hey, remember that night when Charlie was four months old and woke up every hour all night long, so I was bouncing in and out of bed like some kind of goddamn milk-producing jack-in-the-box?  And Cubby woke up crying at 5:15 a.m. for unknown reasons and then spent the rest of the morning behaving like a feral child, growling and clawing and generally menacing every person and animal in his path?  And Charlie woke up for the day at 7:30 a.m. and then cried for the next hour and a half, until I strapped him into his carrier and went outside with him and Cubby, where I stood and bounced Charlie up and down for two hours until I felt like my back was going to break?  Wasn't that a GREAT morning?  At least you didn't have hives."

P.S.  Hey, guess what?  I feel like complete and utter shit today, for obvious reasons.  Whee.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's for Dinner? Pasty Meat!

That sounds so appetizing, doesn't it?  It's about as appetizing to make as it sounds, too.

See, when we butchered our most recent sacrificial lamb, the MiL laboriously cut off many small bits that were too small for stew meat.  Her thought was they could be used for something like kibbeh.

Kibbeh are like meatballs.  Except instead of using ground meat, you use meat paste.  That is, the meat is put in the food processor and processed until it's smooth.

It's really gross.  To do, that is.  The meat forms this kind of slimy clump in the processor that gets sucked under the blade and thrown around with a really disturbing roaring sound.  It's like an alien is being pureed in the food processor.

Those are some tasty meatballs, though.  I didn't use an actual recipe, instead going with my standard method of reading a few recipes, then throwing some shit together.  In this case, I dumped the lamb in the food processor with some leftover white rice, an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, some egg whites left over from a dessert the MiL had made, cumin, salt, and pepper.  And then it all got blended together into the aforementioned unappetizing mixture, formed into little balls, and baked*.

They were really, really, really good.  Really.  Especially when served with a yogurt sauce (plain yogurt, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper).

So you should try blending some meat.  Just try not to look into the food processor too much.

* A tip:  If you do this, the mixture will be really sticky, because of the rice and the lack of fat in the meat to begin with.  So it's easier to form the meatballs if you keep your hands wet.  And please, for the love of your pans, use parchment paper.  I did not, and I would like to publicly apologize to the MiL for the horrid pan she had to wash as a result.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dietary Hypocrisy

I have publicly announced--on this very site even--that I do not consider fruit to be an acceptable dessert.  Cakes, brownies, cookies? Yes, please.  Fruit?  No no no.  And so what do I give my toddler for dessert?

Yup. Fruit.  And then I eat some chocolate chips when he's asleep.  Mother's prerogative.

But you know, he likes the fruit.  He asks for it for dessert.  And if he's happy to eat fruit for dessert, I'm certainly not going to be shoving cookies in his face.

Anyway, it's not as if he eats fruit unadorned.  Plain apples are for a snack in the afternoon.  For dessert, I peel the apples, slice them, cook them until they're soft with apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and maple syrup (seriously good--try it), then douse them with heavy cream.  That's dessert-y, I figure.  Pears he eats straight from the jar, but since they're also peeled, soft, and canned in a sweet sugar syrup, they're also pretty dessert-y.  Right?  Right.

I'm such a hypocrite.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Cubby went to the woods this morning with A. just as Charlie was falling asleep for his first nap of the day.  I was left with a whole 45 minutes (or so) of free time.  I didn't have another cup of coffee.  I didn't check my e-mail.  I didn't read a book.  

I processed cabbage.  And it felt so liberating.

The thing about motherhood is that it takes so much of me.  Of anyone.  Especially when the babies are so new.  I just am not . . . me for awhile there.  There is no existence beyond caring for the baby and the rest of my family.  So when I can reclaim any part of my pre-baby life, it feels like a small step towards reclaiming my vision of myself as my own person.

If this seems too deep in reference to cabbage, well, yes.  But food--growing, processing, and cooking--is my thing.  It's about my only hobby.  And not being able to do those things is frustrating to me.  The fact that I can go to a store and buy a bag of sauerkraut is not the point.  The food is not the point.  Me getting to do something that I want to do--something that makes me feel like me-- is the point.

So when we came home from our excursion on Friday with one enormous red cabbage and one enormous green cabbage after a stop at a farm, I thought, "Hey, I could make sauerkraut.  And German red cabbage."

I could!  There would be a time before those cabbages rotted when I would be able to shred the hell out of them and ferment the shreds!  Glory be!

So I did.  And it was good.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Worst Picnic Ever

Long story about how we got there, but yesterday the whole family "enjoyed" (you'll see why the quotes in a second) a picnic in a lakeside park that involved forty degrees, wind, an excessively loud riding mower fifteen feet from our table, and some really aggressive seagulls.  It was a very short picnic, for obvious reasons.

But there was a playground there, so at least Cubby was happy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wrangling in Captivity

Nothing tests your skills at child wrangling like having to keep a toddler and a small baby happy for an hour in a small room.  Which is what I did yesterday at the dentist while A. got his teeth cleaned.

I originally called for an appointment for Cubby, since our dentist said he likes to see kids for the first time around three years old.  But when I called, the receptionist told me that the way they do it is just have the kid go for the first time with the parent for the parent's visit, so the kid can see the whole procedure without any pressure.  And then, maybe the dentist could just quickly look around the kid's mouth.  Okay, that much made sense.

Except . . . what is the kid supposed to do while the parent is getting his or her teeth cleaned?  I mean, I can't be alone in thinking my child will never, ever behave himself for an hour while I'm immobile in a chair with some woman's fingers in my mouth.

I told the receptionist that my son would never sit still for that long.  She said they have a little toy barn and "usually the kids just play with that on the floor during the cleaning."

I may have held the phone away from my ear to stare at it in utter disbelief at this point.  Seriously.  What kind of three-year-olds are showing up at this office and what have their parents drugged them with?

Anyway.  I decided the best thing to do would be to make an appointment for A., who has not been to the dentist since we last had dental coverage lo these many years ago.  That way, he would get his overdue check-up and I would be on hand to control the little cherub.

So we did.  And it was . . . challenging.  There are tools at a dentist's office, you know.  And Cubby has never seen a tool he didn't want to immediately grab and operate.  But first he asks a thousand questions about what it does and how it works.  So we went through the whole million answers phase and then got into the wanting to play with them phase.  And of course, he couldn't play with them.  And he was not happy about that.

He was actually very well-behaved, mostly because I kept up a constant stream of talking and distractions from the time we walked in until A. was set free from his dental prison. I was also holding and trying to placate Charlie, who was hungry and who I did not want to nurse right there in the room with Cubby grabbing at the X-ray machine.

So. Good times all around.

But A. did get his cleaning, the dentist was able to look over Cubby's teeth and didn't spot any problems, and Charlie only cried for about two minutes when we first got there.

I'll call it a success.  But I don't want to do it again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012


It snowed this morning.

The woodstove is burning all day.

The furnace is in use now, too.

I ate the first in-season grapefruit today.

A. is going to drain the water pump on the beach in anticipation of a hard freeze tonight.

Cubby wore his long underwear pants for the first time yesterday on an excursion to the gully with his daddy.  (And he came home freezing because he thought it would be a good idea to go wading in the stream and fell in.)

On today's gully excursion, Cubby wore his snow pants. (He did not fall in the stream again.)

It may still technically be fall, but it's looking a whole lot like winter from where I sit.

What are your signs of winter, poppets?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Thing About Charlie

Charlie is not a good sleeper.  He doesn't take long naps during the day--usually only about 45 minutes.  He definitely doesn't sleep anywhere close to through the night, instead waking up about every two hours.  And it can sometimes take me an hour to get him back to sleep after he wakes up in the night.

Also, goddamn does that kid hate the car.  He will scream for half an hour straight in the car.

It's very unpleasant.

But Charlie's saving grace--the thing that makes me forget that I feel like shit every morning and that driving anywhere makes my nerves stretch tighter than Cher's face--is that he is charming.  Oh my, is Charlie ever charming.

He laughs when I tickle his ribs or noisily kiss his cheeks.  He kicks and squirms so happily on the sheepskin in front of the fire, eating his fists and just enjoying the hell out of his life.

And he smiles.  He smiles all the time, at everyone.  He even smiles at his brother, which is nothing short of saintly considering the marks he bears on his head* as a testament to his brother's not-always-gentle treatment of small things.

Someday he'll sleep better and ride in the car without hysterics.  But I hope he'll still always be smiling.  Always.

Like this, only not with the chubby cheeks of a three-month-old.  More's the pity.

*  Specifically, marks from Cubby's nails, from when he formed a claw and swiped Charlie's poor, bald, defenseless head. Sigh.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bring On the Liquor

It's Alcohol (Almost) Friday, duckies!  And that means it's time for a detailed look at the fun new cocktails created by the Blackrock mixologists.

We like to call ourselves mixologists now.  It sounds so much better than drinkers.

So!  The first one is not one we actually made up ourselves.  A. found it somewhere online and promptly forgot both the name of the drink and where he found it.  I did a very quick search in a half-assed attempt to credit the original source, but couldn't find it by searching for the ingredients in Google.  So no credit.  If it's yours, feel free to let me know.


It's the most bizarre-sounding combination of liquors ever.  You ready?  Okay.  One shot of gin, half a shot of dry vermouth, half a shot of peach brandy (I KNOW), juice from about a quarter of a lemon.  And some water for me, because I always water my drinks.

I do not know why the hell we have peach brandy of all things in our liquor cabinet, but we do.  It's quite strongly peach-y flavored, and very sweet--basically a liqueur--so you can really taste the peach.  It's good. It also makes one hell of a strong drink in combination with the gin and the vermouth.  You've been warned.

The second one I just made up tonight.  I started out making an original daiquiri, which is supposed to be light rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.  Except we didn't have light rum.  Our current rum is Pusser's Rum, which is the grossest name for a liquor ever and also apparently the Original Navy Rum.

Yo ho ho!


So Pusser's Rum.  Right.  Then juice from half a lime.  And then, since I was too lazy to make an actual simple syrup, I used some of the juice from an open jar of pears in the refrigerator.  I can pears with a medium sugar syrup, so it works pretty well as a substitute for simple syrup.  And then, because I always water my drinks and I was feeling frisky (not really), I topped it off with a little seltzer.


To recap for those of you playing along at home: A shot of rum, juice from half a lime, pear syrup juice to taste, and seltzer.

If you read the history to Pusser's Rum that I linked to up there (and you really, really should--it's funny), you saw that the daily naval ration of rum was called a tot.  And so I think I really must call this drink Tot Juice.  You know, for all the mothers out there making it after the children are nestled all snug in their beds.  Although it's entirely possible I'm the only one doing that, what with the fact that it calls for pear syrup and that is not an ingredient found in most people's liquor cabinets.

But if you DO happen to have some pear syrup around, you should try it.  

Happy Friday, mateys!  Drink up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Which I Once Again Display Our Woodchuckiness to the World

Hello, poppets!  And a very happy Halloween to you!  Halloween is definitely a holiday for children.  And now I am the proud possessor of two of those, which means I must actually do something for Halloween.  Specifically, costumes.


I really, really suck at costumes.  It's part of my non-craftiness.  Luckily for me, the man I married is quite crafty, in his own unique way.  And so A. is the reason Cubby had a costume this year.  All I had to add to the coonskin cap was suitable mountain man attire.  So . . . how about OshKosh B'gosh  pants and some L.L. Bean hiking boots?  Sounds like a pretend mountain man to me!

In an effort to amp up the mountain man likeness, I did safety-pin some scraps of raccoon fur above Cubby's boots.  So it looks like fur boots, right?  RIGHT?

Right.  (Not really.)

Just yesterday in the mail, Charlie received some gifts from my aunt and uncle that included a little pajama suit that looks like a bear.  A mountain man and a bear?  Makes sense to me.  Although, A. did point out that mountain men and bears don't exactly get along.  His exact words were, "You know what mountain men do to bears, don't you?"

Yeah.  Sorry, Charlie.  But it is kind of representative of the brothers' relationship thus far: the hunter and the hunted.


I'm trying to avoid the whole trick or treating thing for as long as possible--more specifically, the hyped-up child sick from trick or treating candy--but luckily for me, Halloween is on a Wednesday this year.  And Wednesdays mean story hour*.  So Mountain Man Cubby, Charlie Bear, and I went to the Halloween story hour to display our costumes**.

There were about a dozen children present, all in costume.  And every. single. child. was in some kind of purchased, adorable animal costume.  Or a princess.  Or Elmo.  And then here we come, with Cubby sporting half a dead raccoon on his head and wrapped in skins.

Oh yes.  It was just like that.  I am That Weird Mom with Those Weird Kids.

I even got a picture.

Okay, so far only Cubby is the Weird Kid.  But Charlie's time will come, I have no doubt.

Cubby's hat actually got many admiring comments (the mothers who didn't comment were no doubt being polite while attempting to hide their horror) and he had a very good time at the Halloween story hour.  So we'll call it a success.

I don't know how I'm going to top this costume next year, though.

* Which I still managed to remember, even though I have not yet put it in my handy dandy appointment calendar.

** I considered not changing out of my regular house attire--nasty old fleece smelling of baby spit-up, dirty jeans, and slippers--and calling myself a Harried Housewife, but pride won out and I stuck with my usual Harried Housewife Making a Half-Assed Effort.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Little Storm Chaser

After a day spent indoors because of the build-up crappy weather to Tropical Storm Sandy, Cubby was getting a little stir-crazy.

He wasn't the only one.

When A. went out around 6 p.m. to put the chickens away, Cubby begged and begged to go too.  So I thought, okay, we'll just go on the front porch where he can experience the awful wind and rain for himself.  Then he won't be so keen to be outside.

So we went on the front porch to watch the huge trees on our front lawn bend in the terrible wind and to get sprayed with the rain that wind was blowing onto the porch.  And Cubby spent the next ten minutes running back and forth on the front porch in wild excitement while keeping up the following commentary: "I like the rain!  It makes me happy!  I like the wind!  It's blowing my clothes!  This is FUN!!!!!"

Alrighty then.  Perhaps a hobby of storm chasing is in his future.

P.S.  For those of you who were wondering, we sustained no major damage here at Blackrock and only lost power for a few hours, starting around 8 p.m. last night.  There are a lot of people who were definitely not so lucky.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I Am the Mother of Boys

I had the unusual opportunity to talk to my brother the other day.  Unusual because both of us have three-month-old babies plus toddlers.  He has two girls.  I heard them both in the background when I called him and asked if he was busy.  No, he said.  We're having a tea party, he said.  And what are you doing, he asked.

We had just been fishing at the dock and Cubby was out on the patio with A. gutting the fish.

Tea parties and fish guts.  No need to guess who has the girls and who has the boys.

Yesterday in the car, the drive home from the Small City was enlivened by a continuing soundtrack of growling, roaring, and "pshew pshew" shooting sounds from the back seat as Cubby menaced his younger brother from afar.  I covered my face with my hands at the auditory evidence of excess testosterone in the back seat.  A. looked at me, shrugged, and said, "You're the mother of boys."

And how.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We Went to a Pumpkin Patch

And no, I did not bring a camera to document my child running excitedly through a corn maze or hugging an enormous pumpkin.  Because I am obviously a failure as a mommy blogger.  Not that it would have mattered if I had had my camera, because Cubby did neither of those things, instead preferring to run over and over again to the tractor that we forbade him to climb on and attempt to start.

We thought that maybe wouldn't have been so popular with the couple running the place, to see a two-year-old driving their tractor.


While we were there, A. saw the pie pumpkins and was seized with an immediate longing for pumpkin pie.  So he bought two of the pie pumpkins.  When we got home, he cooked one in the oven.  After dinner, he made a pumpkin pie. Just like that.

He's never made pumpkin pie before, but since any idiot can follow a recipe, and A. is most certainly not an idiot, he used the Joy of Cooking recipe for the filling.  The MiL helped him make a crust for it using almond flour, so there wouldn't be any evil gluten lurking in his beloved pie.  And there it was: a pumpkin pie, courtesy of A.

You just never do know what that man will do next.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Far Be It from Me To Leave You Hanging

Because I know you were all out there pounding your desks and yelling at your computer screens, "But what about the rooster?  Did he make it?  WE MUST KNOW!"

Or maybe that's my imagination again?  Whatever, I'm happy to tell you that the rooster has been steadily improving ever since returning from his attempted abduction and this morning, I heard him crow.  It was sort of a weak crow, but it was a definite sign that no damn fox is going to get this rooster down.  You think you can kill a rooster by breaking his bones and puncturing his throat?  HAHA!  He spits in your wily little face, fox.

I would also like to announce that there is STILL part of that mushroom in our refrigerator.  Given its size, it is perhaps not surprising that we can eat mushroom things for almost a week and still have a quarter of a mushroom left, but still.  It's the mushroom that never ends.  I dig it.  They should sell mushrooms this size at the store.  Though it is entirely possible I'm the only one who would buy them.

And on an unrelated note, we're in the process of deciding which mountain man Cubby is going to be for Halloween.  I mean, you KNOW he has to wear the coonskin cap for Halloween, right?  And everyone will assume he's Davy Crocket, but there's a whole bunch of other awesome mountain men he could claim to be.  Should he be Jeremiah Johnson?  Jim Bridger?  Or Jedediah Smith?  A.'s favorite is Jim Bridger. I vote for Jedediah, but only because I like saying the name.  Cubby doesn't care; he just wants to be some guy who traps.

What say you, duckies?  If you have a minute, go read up on those guys and tell us which one you think deserves to be honored by Cubby's Halloween costume.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh, the Amusing Ridiculousness

Yesterday when I was in the kitchen picking through the last of the sad-looking tomatoes from the garden and cooking the usable ones into sauce, A. came downstairs and announced he had a present for me.  Since A. doesn't really DO presents, I didn't get all excited and expect a diamond necklace or something.

Good thing.  I would have been terribly disappointed, because what he presented to me was one of those pocket-sized daily appointment calendar things that he had gotten free from one of his professional organizations.

To appreciate the hilarity of this gift you must understand that I am probably the least-scheduled person in America.  In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid anything that involves meetings or obligations.  Which is why when A. told me he had an appointment calendar for me, I immediately fell all over myself laughing and said, "What the hell am I supposed to put in it?  Story hour?"

The preschool story hour I attend with the kids at the local library is literally my only scheduled event.  And so far, I've managed to not forget a single one despite my lack of appointment calendar.  But now I can dutifully fill in my story hour obligation every Wednesday morning and relax knowing that now I'm not responsible for keeping all that information in my obviously-deficient memory.

What a relief.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

'Shrooms on 'Roids

A few days ago when Cubby and I were eating lunch in the kitchen, I looked out the window and saw a puffball mushroom on our neighbors' lawn.  Our neighbors do not live particularly close, so you may wonder how I could see a mushroom on their lawn from our house.

If you're wondering that, you've obviously never seen a puffball:


The MiL also noticed the enormous mushroom and actually called our neighbors to ask if we could have it.  Luckily, they're used to our weird and woodchuck-y ways--and also neither of them like mushrooms--so they were more than happy to let us have this fungus the size of a soccer ball that was growing in their grass.

A. harvested it yesterday and the MiL cooked some for lunch.  The fun thing about a mushroom this size (and incidentally, that photo was taken after we had eaten some of it, so that's not even its full size) is that you can cut slices off of it that are basically mushroom steaks.  It's cool.  Also yummy. But only if you like mushrooms, because puffballs are very mushroom-y tasting.

With the exception of Cubby, all of us do enjoy mushrooms, however, so we were quite happy with our mushroom steaks.  And now I have 3/4 of a soccer ball mushroom to dispose of as I see fit.

I think I see a mushroom lasagna in our future . . .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Capturing Memories

As I've mentioned before, there aren't very many photos of me with my kids.  And there are not likely to be many more, as the camera and photos are almost exclusively my jurisdiction.

But what if I take pictures of myself with the kids?  Brilliant!  Precious memories via mirror.

This particular precious memory that I captured yesterday is the memory of that one time I actually showered and wore something other than my threadbare old fleece.  That is, a moment that was not so much precious as miraculous.

Charlie, however, is still in his fleece.  He hasn't showered, either.

I don't think this method is going to work very well with Cubby, however.  

Friday, October 19, 2012


Fall is such a nice time of year here.  The weather gets all dry and sunny and cooler.  The leaves are lovely colors.  The backbreaking garden work is over for the year.

But it's such a damned mess.

The black walnuts try to break our spirits and our backs every year by dropping hundreds of pounds of disgusting walnuts that must all be picked up one by one.  Then they drop the little twigs that the walnuts grow on, and those twigs get all bunched up in the rake, making them also very annoying to clean up.  And THEN, they drop their leaves.

All the other trees drop their leaves too, of course.  We have really, really old trees around the house, in keeping with our really, really old house.  And those old trees are very large with many, many, MANY leaves.  So fall ends up being a few weeks of raking and burning leaves, with fun breaks for walnut disposal. Every day.

Cubby does not make this any easier with his insistence that every leaf pile is begging to be waded through and turned into more of a leaf carpet.  That then must be raked up again.  But you know, that's the beauty of fall when you're a child.  Because when you're a kid, fall isn't a season of neverending yard work--it's just fun.  So I just rake the piles all up again when he's done.

It's a small price to pay for good memories, don't you think?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Glory Be

I went to bed at 9 p.m. last night, as always.  But Charlie . . . oh, that Charlie.  He didn't wake up to eat until almost three in the morning.  ALMOST THREE!  And that means I slept ALMOST SIX HOURS!  In a row!

I'm pretty sure there were angels singing somewhere.

I shall suitably reward the child today by feeding him on demand, making sure he has a dry diaper, and protecting him from his menacing brother.  So, just like every other day, except with maybe a little smaller black circles under my eyes.

P.S.  Wanna know something funny?  Charlie is wearing nine-month onesies.  At three months.  Holy huge baby, SLOW DOWN.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

Growling at the dinner table does not endear you to your dining companions.

Wine is not an acceptable beverage for a toddler.  Neither is coffee.

Circular saws are not appropriate toys for two-year-olds.

Spitting on the coffee table is not okay.

Head-butting the baby is absolutely not okay.

Likewise kicking.

Screaming at full volume in the house is not pleasant for anyone else in the house.

Dogs do not appreciate having handfuls of fur forcibly removed from their bodies by small fists.

Self-evident . . . unless you're two years old.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where To Start

Yesterday was such an exciting and eventful day, it's hard to know what to focus on.  So we'll just talk about everything in order from least exciting to most exciting, okay?  Okay.  Onward.

Hey!  Remember that time a wasp was hiding in my jeans and stung me on the leg?  That was so fun, let's do it again!

Yes, lightning has struck twice.  Or, in this case, the wasp community has struck twice.  Luckily, the only one around to witness my frantic haste to drop trou and kill the attacker was Charlie.  Also luckily, I wasn't actually holding him at the time.  More disturbing than the actual sting was the fact that I had already been wearing these jeans for six hours when the wasp stung me.  Which means it was just hanging out in there, waiting for its chance.  Creepy.

Also kind of creepy?  A hat made out of raccoon skins for my adorable older son, courtesy of my mountain man husband.

I should perhaps first explain that A. trapped raccoons last winter and sent a few of the hides to be tanned, with the express purpose of making a hat for Cubby.  The skins have been sitting around for months, and yesterday A. took needle (and pliers, because pushing a needle through tanned skins is a bitch) in hand and made his very first fur garment.

He sat like this for a REALLY LONG TIME.  Sewing tanned hides is no joke.

He used these instructions as a guideline, though he did not elect to attach the raccoon's face to the hat.  Because I wouldn't let him.  A. remarked that he figured I probably wouldn't let Cubby wear the hat if I was faced with the raccoon's final grimace of rage every time my child wanted to keep his head warm.  That is correct.

He did put the tail on, though.  Because what's a coonskin cap without a tail?

Cubby the Cossack.

My husband and my son, two of a (sort of weird) kind.

And this is Cubby explaining the hat is too itchy.  So A. glued a flannel liner into it.

Okay, so it's kind of bizarre, but it is pretty impressive that A. managed to make it from live animal to hat.  I haven't yet found anything A. can't do.  Providing it's something he actually wants to do.

And in other wildlife news, remember the fox attack?  Well, besides the dead hen and the two missing chicks, the rooster was M.I.A.  We didn't see him at all on Saturday, so we figured he was another casualty.  But then, yesterday when we were sitting at the table in the breakfast room eating lunch, what did I see go lurching by the window but the toughest damned rooster in the world.

He was kind of a mess.  Most of his long tail feathers were missing, his comb was swollen, and his head was hanging as if he had some broken bones.  A. went out to examine him and return him to the coop and reported he still had both eyes and his beak, plus some wounds around his neck and chest that were already healing.  The fact that he managed to make it back to the house from where ever the fox dropped him is a good sign, and there's a pretty good chance he'll recover.

If he does, he'll cease being "the rooster."  Because if ever an animal deserved the name of Lazarus, this one does.

And now I don't know where to end, so we'll just stop here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Garlic Is Planted

No thanks to Charlie.  He didn't want to celebrate his three-month birthday yesterday by planting garlic.  He thought we should be inside woodstove-bathing:

The winter alternative to nekkid baby time on the lawn.

He was happy on a blanket outside with us for about as long as it took A. to dig the garlic bed for me.  Then the MiL took him so I could actually plant the garlic, and that didn't go so well.

Gardening is not a particularly calming and therapeutic activity with a background soundtrack of a baby screaming.

But!  I did get the garlic in the ground, all 100 cloves of it.  Let winter begin.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Of Killing

We were forecasted to get a killing frost last night.  The predicted low was supposed to be 25 degrees, so Cubby and I went out to the garden to gather up the rest of the tomatoes, such as they were.  He thought it was fantastic that he was finally given the go-ahead to actually pick the green tomatoes, after a summer of being foiled from doing just that.  But all for naught.  It never got below freezing last night, getting only to 33 degrees at the house.  There was a little bit of frost in the higher pasture, however, which Cubby thought was very exciting.

On a less positive note, we have had some more chicken attrition.  The MiL got home from work around dusk last night and found Leda (the only dog out and not tied up at the time) running frantically in front of the fence to the ram pasture, where the chicken coop is. When the MiL came in, she told A. he had better get his gun and go see what was wrong.

When he got out there, he found a hen dead in front of the coop and caught a glimpse of a fox running off.  He didn't get a shot at it, though.  The chickens were all scattered, and still were this morning, so it's hard to get an accurate count of the survivors.  A. only saw one of the three chicks this morning, though, and the MiL noted when she was prepping the dead hen for cooking that it wasn't laying, so I think what happened was the fox got in the coop and grabbed two of the chicks plus the mother hen--which were still sleeping in the nesting box on the floor of the coop-- but hopefully none of the others.

Otty was left outside last night to run free and guard the coop from that same fox, so we hope it won't come back.  Or, if it does, she'll kill it.  The dogs are the reason we don't have a lot of problems with predators, and the only reason that fox got near the chickens is because that area had been closed off from the dogs so the sheep would stay put.  Any area in which the dogs can't patrol is obviously vulnerable, however, so we'll have to make sure they can get in there more regularly.

And that concludes our country update for the day.  Over and out.