Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dispatches from the Asylum

It is currently sixteen degrees below zero, with a windchill of 37 degrees below zero.

Cubby's friend was supposed to come over to play this morning, but his mother called at 7:30 a.m. to let me know a stomach bug has descended upon their house and she didn't want to bring it to our house. I really appreciated that, although the boys were very disappointed that a new playmate wasn't coming over after all.

Those boys--who are definitely not going outside this morning--are currently testing out their submarines in the downstairs bathtub. The submarines are made of cardboard, duct tape, and Tinker Toys. They refused to believe these wouldn't be seaworthy craft.

So now they're all in various stages of undress, getting in and out of the bathtub, and the downstairs hallway is strewn with parts of sodden submarines, extraneous articles of clothing, and puddles of water.

And this, my friends, is Christmas break with small children.

Updated dispatch, 12:10 p.m.: The submarine game ended with Jack peeing on the bathroom floor. On purpose. I am currently hiding in the bedroom with the sleeping baby, eating leftover birthday cake while Jack naps and Cubby and Charlie watch The Secret of NIMH 2. Four more days of Christmas break to go.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Celebrating with Carbohydrates

How to celebrate the momentous occasion of my 38th birthday today? First with pancakes.

Made on the new griddle my parents gave me that cooks three whole pancakes at a time. They've given me HOURS of my life back.

Then with a solo walk*, followed by a shower.

And tonight, with spaghetti and meatballs--pre-made and pulled from the freezer, as was the sauce--followed by cake and ice cream. The cake is the top tier of our second wedding cake. I didn't think my parents would mind if I used it as a birthday cake instead of an anniversary cake next November. This way, I get to eat cake without having to bake it.

Good thing that pesky gestational diabetes is gone. 

And all I had to do to get rid of it was deliver these cheeks. Good trade.

Happy birthday to me. Pass the carbs.

* It was ten degrees below zero, but very sunny and with very little wind, so it wasn't bad. Besides, as A. once memorably remarked, "You would lie on a bed of nails if you could do it without the children." Too true.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

All Is Calm

Despite the 11-degree temperature+wind, Cubby and Charlie are outside sledding down the snow hill created by the plow guy yesterday. Poppy and Jack are napping. A. is working. Mia is sleeping.

It's a fleeting moment of quiet in a household where quiet is a rare commodity, and you'd better believe I'm reveling in it.

Merry day after Christmas, my lovelies. I hope it's peaceful wherever you are.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas, Coming At You

The tree: before.

I managed to stave off the excited hordes until 6 a.m., at which point they rushed upstairs to look in their stockings.

And then there was a candy break.

This year there were Nerds Ropes in their stockings. Do you know about these? I didn't, until A. bought one once at a gas station like two years ago and the kids have been talking about it ever since. They're these chewy candy ropes--kind of like a Twizzler--that's covered in Nerds.

They're absolutely revolting. In my opinion.

But Christmas is all about making dreams come true, so Nerds Ropes in the stockings it is. And then they all ate them. At 6 a.m.

Even A. got one and ate it right away. The perfect accompaniment to coffee, apparently.

Poppy didn't get one. She got a couple of diapers in her stocking, and doesn't look pleased about it. But at least she was crying in a festive outfit!

After they started their Christmas sugar consumption, the present opening began. The first gifts to be opened were Lego sets from my parents. Cubby opened his and shouted, "HOORAY! This is EXACTLY what I wanted!"

High five to SuperNana.

They went downstairs immediately to start dumping out tiny pieces and building ninja bases. Or whatever they are.

When I sent my dad this picture with a thank you e-mail, he wrote back, "I thought your life needed more tiny pieces on the floor." Yeah, me too.

They got lots of other things from relatives, and played with all of it. At 10 a.m., when they were all still in their pajamas and had consumed almost all of the candy from their stockings--along with one of A.'s famous gigantic omelets--I announced that there was one more present, but it was outside and they had to get dressed to play with it.

My brother sent the sled. Good call, Arizona Uncle.

Shortly after this, the snow started falling more heavily and the wind picked up. So now we're having an arctic Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Kids in the Kitchen for Christmas

The first day of the kids' Christmas break from school yesterday was a real doozy. 

After very little sleep the night before, I was less than enthused to make breakfast in the morning. So I let the boys do it. Specifically, I had Cubby fry eggs and Jack and Charlie on toast duty.

Cubby actually can make eggs if I supervise and remind him to, say, put butter in the pan before he cracks the eggs. You know, so he can actually flip them rather than scraping them off the pan. Jack and Charlie can make toast if I cut the bread and take it out of the hot toaster. Basically, they press the button down and spread the butter.

But they did manage to mostly make breakfast. And it killed half an hour of a very long day.

A. did get Cubby and Jack out to the woods for an adventure before the freezing rain started. It continued almost all day, resulting in what the weather people referred to as "a glaze" on top of the existing snow.


I have no qualms about booting my kids outdoors in almost any weather, but I do draw the line at freezing rain. That's just miserable. So they were inside almost all day.

At 11 a.m., in an attempt at distraction, we made egg nog. We had all the ingredients, and Charlie and Cubby loved the egg nog we bought for them at the store last week. I did not love the ingredients, so I decided we should just make some ourselves. 

We used this recipe, except we didn't chill it, because you try telling a three-year-old he can't immediately consume whatever he just helped to make.

It was really good. And there were minimal smackdowns over who got to measure, stir, and crack eggs. Hooray.

Oh, and I also didn't add the bourbon. I didn't have any, or else I would have been very tempted to doctor up my own glass.

After dinner, in response to a comment by Charlie that he wanted to watch karate movies, A. showed them a montage of Bruce Lee fight scenes on YouTube. They were, predictably, enthralled, though Charlie asked quite reasonably why the guy had to have his shirt off all the time. 

I had never noticed that, but Bruce Lee does indeed almost always have his shirt off. Perhaps to make him immediately recognizable in a crowd of other high-kicking men.


Also predictably, the watching of kung fu was immediately followed by the practice of kung fu downstairs, which is when I heard Charlie ask Jack, "Are you ready to fight a five-year-old with no shirt?"

No shirt=bad ass, obviously. 

In fact, they all took off their shirts and donned their long underwear bottoms, in their best attempt at kung fu attire. It was really funny, and it kept them all entertained until Charlie and Jack collided and cracked their heads. 

Then it was bedtime and I made the dough for cinnamon rolls in the morning*.

They didn't help me with the dough, but in the morning the early bird got to help with assembly.

And he had just the apron for the job.

So that was a good start to the day.

Unfortunately, A. determined yesterday that the exhaust system in the Honda was leaking, resulting in exhaust in the car. Which means we do not want to transport our small children in it. And we can't all fit in the Subaru unless one of the adults just sits in the cargo area in the back. 

The odds of getting the Honda fixed during this holiday week are pretty low, so we'll be sticking around at home. We're supposed to get 6-8 inches of snow tomorrow, and then the temperature is going to drop waaaay down. Like, below zero almost all week.

So if you need me, I'll be here with four sick little kids, huddled in the house and cooking.

Maybe we'll just have eggs and toast for every meal. Then they can make it themselves.

* I used this recipe. Cubby said he wished he had twelve thumbs, so he could give it twelve thumbs up. They are pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

Friday, December 22, 2017

'Tis the Season

For snotty children and Christmas concerts, that is.

Yes, all four of my children are hacking like lifelong smokers and dripping at the nose. Mucous season has definitely arrived*.

On the cheerier side, we got to go to the school today to watch Charlie sing "The Reindeer Hokey Pokey." He didn't look quite as enthused as the rest of his classmates, but at least he went through the motions.

Cubby's group sang "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," complete with hand motions that included pretending to punch themselves on the line "Deck the halls with boughs of holly." Get it? So charming.

We bolted immediately after Cubby's performance, due to a toddler and a baby who were exhibiting signs of imminent meltdown. Thank goodness the concert starts with the youngest ones and ends with the oldest, so we only had to corral Jack and Poppy for half of it.

It's currently snowing, and we're supposed to get anywhere from six to twelve inches. White Christmases are definitely not in question here, at least.

I forgot to get office supplies for the children's stockings this year, but I did get some small bags of Doritos, so I think we can be sure of a merry Christmas.

How's your holiday preparedness level, my lovelies?

* This morning at 4:30, when I was up with Poppy for the third time, I was singing in my head a version of  "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" that went, "All I want for Christmas is a full night's sleep." Four-thirty a.m. is a fun time to be in my head.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Going Public

I was about to send my parents an e-mail with some photos attached of various gifts they've given us that have been used for the first time. But then I thought, why not make it into a post? Because you know, photos are very convenient fodder for a post that does not require brain power I do not have these days.

So! Without further ado, we have . . .

Jack using his birthday apron to do dishes:

Real men wash dishes. Remember that, son.

And these fantastic cocktail glasses they gave us for our second wedding that have our names and the date of the ceremony on them:

My parents own several glasses like this, and I didn't know I always wanted one until they gave me one. (Those are Sidecars in there, incidentally.)

The reason we had those drinks was because we went to get our Christmas tree on Saturday. Because we live on a Christmas tree farm, that meant we walked 200 yards down the road with a saw.

See that house behind the trees? That's our house. I was standing next to our tree in the field when I took the photo.

The getting of the tree didn't result in drinking. It was more the fact that I flooded the floor under the tree when I was trying to put water in the stand, and then A. had to lift the already-decorated tree so we could clean it up, which meant there were ornaments falling and children shrieking and a baby crying and . . .

Well. It was a classic Small Children Christmas memory.

I also had a photo of Poppy wearing an absolutely adorable wool sweater and pants set that my parents gave her, but I seem to have deleted it when I was messing around with the photos. I did still have this photo, though:

She looked kind of like this during the Christmas tree fiasco, actually.

So there you have it! An e-mail to my parents that has become a full-length post for the enjoyment of the masses. You are most welcome.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Three (and Two Months)

Happy birthday to 
the effervescent Jack. 
(And happy two-month birthday to the deeply skeptical Poppy.)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Calling All Songbirds

Today is A.'s 37th birthday. And how do we celebrate A.'s birthday? With "The Woodchuck Man Can" song, of course! Here are versions one, two, three, four, five, and six.

Now on to version seven . . .

Who can feed his family
With meat he raised by hand?

And then provide some more by hunting on the land?

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 build a greenhouse
By starting with some trees?

Who can grow more food by planting many seeds?

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 take his young sons
Out to camp and hike?

Who can fix an old stone church with two small boys and a tyke?

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. Long may he reign as the king of woodchuck men.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

In Honor of My Mother's 70th Birthday

Happy birthday, SuperNana! I got you something for your birthday. And that something is a photo of all four of my children.

Way more effort than ordering something from Amazon.

If you're wondering why the boys look so goofy it's because, well, they are. Also, they were all gnawing on carrots, which I'm sure you appreciate. 

I have no explanation for the expression on Charlie's face, except possibly smugness that he was the one who got to have the baby on his lap.

We're all wishing you a lovely day, and we wish we could be there to celebrate with you. (Though there will be way more cake to go around without this horde of locusts present, so there is that.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

And the Verdict Is . . .

Cubby on his cafeteria lunch: "It was great. I had a little cup with mushed-up strawberries, like applesauce. And apple slices, but not the apple slices with the red sugar on them."

Points for avoiding the red-food-dye sugar apples, Cubby, but those strawberries sound gross.

Charlie on his cafeteria lunch: "I got to have ketchup on my chicken sandwich. And I had chocolate milk."

Obviously, they enjoyed the many ways in which sugar is presented at the cafeteria.

They asked if they could do it again. I told them they could buy a lunch if they had the money, but both of them opted out of "Nachos Supreme*" today, instead declaring they would wait until spaghetti day. So it's back to Mom's tuna salad sandwiches today, with the promise of cafeteria spaghetti on Thursday.


* I don't know what makes them supreme, but I bet the "cheese" is that bright-orange liquid stuff. Mmm.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Great Cafeteria Lunch Day

Cubby and Charlie have never once eaten lunch at their school cafeteria. Or rather, they eat lunch there every day, but they don't eat the food served there. They always bring their lunches.

The main reason for that is that I cannot justify paying $2.50 for a cafeteria lunch when it takes me ten minutes in the morning to pack their lunches. Not that I always enjoy packing lunches first thing in the morning--I mean really, who does?--but seriously. No way am I forking out five bucks a day so they can eat cafeteria sloppy joes on a regular basis.

Surprisingly, they had never asked before if they even could try the school lunch, so it wasn't an issue. Then, last week, Cubby asked. I started to say no, but I quickly amended that to a yes, if they used their own money.

Lessons in fiscal responsibility, an exciting lunch for them, and a day when I don't have to pack a lunch? Who's the crafty mom now?

There then followed much perusal of the school lunch menu to determine when the best day would be for the purchase. Pizza day? Nacho day? Spaghetti day? They went with today, which is build your own hamburger day, with an alternate option of a chicken patty sandwich.

Cubby is excited about the hamburger. Charlie is excited about the chicken. They always want different things.

I helped them count out the appropriate amount of money this morning. And now I just have to wait until they get home to see if it was everything they'd hoped it would be.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I'm Choosing to Focus on the Positive

It started snowing lightly about an hour ago, and I was looking out at the gently falling snow thinking happy thoughts about Christmas-y weather and cozy houses. Then I came across this photo that A. took last year, in November.

Not happy. And will for sure happen sometime in the coming months.

Thankfully, there are plenty of happy things to focus on inside the house, too.

Like smiling babies. Doesn't get much happier than that.

Happy Friday, my lovelies. I hope you're finding the happy wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The North Country Larder

This morning I had to confiscate a rubber bracelet imprinted with "Jesus Loves You," because it was being treated as a giant rubber band projectile by my precious little gifts from God.

Jesus loves you, but not when you try to take out your brother with a Sunday school bracelet.

Anyway. That has nothing to do with the rest of this post, which is all about a beaver. Or rather, about another beaver*.

And here it is, with its eventual consumers.

That photo, by the way, is totally staged. Jack is holding a trap, which he is not normally allowed to handle. Cubby is holding a hatchet, which he is normally allowed to handle but which doesn't play any part in the trapping of the beaver. And Charlie didn't even go to check the trap, instead just running out for the photo op when the real trappers returned with the rodent and then going back into the warm house to continue building with Tinker Toys. He's holding the trap setting tool. What a fraud.

Anyway again.

Now that A. has trapped another beaver, I am required to make beaver tacos again. I can do without them, personally, but the kids love them. Like LOVE LOVE them. They talk all the time about the beaver tacos we had last year, so of course, when they saw this beaver, they were all, "YAY! Beaver tacos!"

A. and I are less enthusiastic. Beaver meat is okay, but it's awfully . . . red. I know that sounds weird, but it's really, really red, in an almost disturbing way. Kind of like liver, and man, I really hate liver.

No matter, though! It's not about me. A. did all the cutting and trimming of the meat for me, so all I have to do is cook it. Which I did by putting the meat in some water to come to a boil, and then forgetting it was on there when I took Jack down for his nap. I came upstairs to a stove covered in boiled-over beaver juice.

It is about as appetizing as it sounds, yes.

I got that cleaned up, though, and now have the meat successfully simmering gently on the stove. I also have a grouse in the refrigerator to cook. A. shot it when he was deer hunting. Grouse I can wholeheartedly recommend. They taste like really good chicken.

Beaver in the pot, grouse in the refrigerator. It's a northwoods kitchen for sure.

* I just realized I never responded to a person in the comments of that post who asked if we have a lot of beavers in our area and what kind of trap A. uses. The answers are: There are a TON of beavers here. A. is trapping them at a neighbor's hunting cabin, where there are so many that the cabin is in danger of being submerged in the ever-expanding beaver pond. And the traps A. uses are instant kill traps set under water, so they're very humane.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The A.M. Shift

It's 5:45 a.m.! Time to hang with the footie-p.j. crew!

When even the baby is yawning, you know it's too early.

Friday, December 1, 2017

I See by Your Outfit that You Are a Cowboy

I knew this day was coming. I've been waiting for a notice that one of the children has to dress up as something at school, something that would require me to make a costume. Something that would bring the day of reckoning to the non-crafty mother (me).

That day was today.

It's Career Day at Cubby and Charlie's school, and Charlie's teachers asked the kids to dress as what they want to be when they grow up. Charlie said he wants to be a cowboy.

Somehow I doubt that's a career often pursued by people in this northern outpost.

It is, however, a relatively easy outfit to come up with. Charlie already has Wrangler jeans and a plaid shirt (no pearl buttons, but good enough). I had a red bandana to tie around his neck. I even had a belt with a real buckle that shows a cowboy on a bucking bronco. The MiL bought it for Cubby when he was two, but Charlie is skinny enough that A. was able to punch another hole in it at the very end to make it fit*.

What I did not have, however, were the most iconic parts of the cowboy outfit: the hat and boots.

I didn't even try with the boots, just sending him in his winter boots and telling myself he's a northern cowboy.

I briefly considered taking advantage of Amazon's two-day shipping and actually buying a hat, but that seemed like a waste of money. So I found a YouTube tutorial on how to make a cowboy hat with paper.

I did actually manage to make a hat, though it doesn't look quite like the one that guy made. Or, um, at all. For one thing, my cutting was a little, ahem, rougher than his, because instead of using an Exacto knife to carefully cut little triangles, I just quickly snipped around to make the little sticky-out things on the crown part that I taped onto the brim part, so you could see where I had cut.

I figured I could just tape on another piece of paper all around the hat to hide it. I gave this piece to Charlie to decorate with crayons. He decided a cowboy would have red lollipops on his hat and proceeded to decorate accordingly.

Sure. It's a Willy Wonka cowboy hat, I guess.

Also, I only had letter-sized paper, which made a hat that was not at all big enough for Charlie's head, so he can't actually really wear it. I told him real cowboys never wear their hats indoors, anyway, so he could just hold it when he was at school.

I also told him that he was getting a cowboy omelet for breakfast, because cowboys love cheese omelets with salsa. He totally bought it. And then, when I offered him an orange, he asked if cowboys eat oranges.

Yes. And I bet they all make their beds and pick up without being asked, and never, ever punch their younger brothers**.

I should milk this one for all it's worth, right?

Anyway. Ridiculously small hat aside, the outfit ended up being pretty good. He was happy with it, in any case.

Cowboy Charlie, ready to ride.

* He stabbed himself in the process and bled a little on the belt, but I told Charlie that would just make it more authentic-looking.

** Ha. I actually knew a few cowboys when I worked at a dude ranch in Colorado during the summer in college, and they are very likely to be messy and prone to fistfights. They did all eat salsa, though.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

North Country Spectacles

When we were at Blackrock for Thanksgiving, A. went hunting and shot a small doe. He hung it in the shed while we were there, but when it came time to go home . . .

Yeah. This is literally how we roll.

I kept forgetting we had a dead, gutted deer on top of our car, though I definitely remembered when we were in the big village closest to home and I saw a lady in the car next to us take a picture of it.

"I think someone just took a picture of our car," I said to A. incredulously.

"Great," he said. "We're going to be on someone's Instagram. I hope she got the four kids and enormous dog inside the car, too."

I guess it's nice to provide the local color for visitors to the north.

Then again, I was sorely tempted to take a picture myself of local color yesterday when I took Poppy to the pediatrician for a check-up and walked into the office's entry to be confronted with a big pile of firewood.

The kids' pediatrician has his office on the ground floor of an enormous old house, and lives on the top floor. Gotta have that firewood handy. It gets cold 'round these parts.

It's all about survival in the frozen north. Firewood and dead deer included.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


How could I be otherwise?

Happy Thanksgiving, my lovelies. Let's eat.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Weddings . . . and a Baptism

When A. and I got married--going on 15 years ago now--we, like all newlyweds, assumed it would be our only wedding.

I think it was reasonable to assume that. But you know what they say about the word "assume"!

"It makes an ass out of u and me," is what they say, which is incredibly lame, so let's move on.

Our first wedding was very nice. We were married in the MiL's little white country church, by the minister from A.'s childhood. I wore a white dress. My parents walked me down the aisle. (Yes, both of them. I figured they both raised me. Why should my dad be the only one to walk with me?) The reception was at Blackrock. There were about 60 people in attendance.

It was not, however, a Catholic wedding. And if it's not a Catholic wedding, the Catholic church straight-up does not recognize the marriage. So, basically, we had a civil ceremony, even though it was in a church.

But it recently became important to A. that we be married in the Catholic church*. So we did. On Saturday.

This time we were married in the chapel of a north country Catholic church, by a deacon. I wore black, because the only clothes that fit me at one month post partum and that I can nurse in are black. My parents were both there, as were our four children.

It's not a simple blessing or something; it's a full marriage ceremony. It was a little bit bizarre to be repeating wedding vows and exchanging rings with our four kids there (and Jack standing behind me wearing my mother's glasses, which I really wish I had a picture of), but touching, too.

My mother even bought us a wedding cake, with the top tier to be kept for our one-year anniversary and everything. The reception was at our house. And by "reception," I mean the cake and some balloons and bubbles for the kids, because that was pretty much the extent of it and even that was all courtesy of my mom as I had planned absolutely nothing. Thanks, Mom.

The next day, Poppy was baptized.

She wore the christening gown that I was baptized in, although I was smart enough not to put it on her until after Mass. Good thing, since she completely soiled herself during the service and required a full outfit change. This appears to be the Sunday tradition now, except this time she wasn't considerate enough to do it before Mass. Maybe she was protesting the (floral, and very cute) pajamas I had her in?

Anyway, all sacraments have now been completed satisfactorily. It was a very exciting weekend.

We leave tomorrow for Blackrock to continue the excitement with Thanksgiving and pie. A whirl of gaiety indeed.

* To the anonymous commenter who wondered: No, it was not a requirement for our children's baptisms. And we didn't have to do any marriage counseling except casually talk to the deacon who performed the sacrament. He rightly noted that newlywed marriage counseling at this stage would be a bit ridiculous.

Monday, November 20, 2017

And On That Note . . .

We did a lot of stuff this weekend. Cubby and Charlie received awards at a school assembly for their "Can Do Attitudes".* Poppy was baptized. And A. and I got married. Long, loooong story. I'll tell it soon.

Anyway. Lots of stuff happened. My parents were here for all of it, and my dad took pictures.

And then I didn't write about it. Again.

I'll try to do that this week when I get the pictures from my dad. But considering I found A. sitting in the living room drinking tea at 3:45 this morning because he came down with a nasty cold, and that Poppy is coughing and snuffling with what I must assume is the same cold, and that we're supposed to leave for Blackrock on Wednesday morning, it might be awhile.

Just cross your fingers for me that no one else gets sick, okay? Okay.

* I'm sure I'm not the only one with children who seem to be Dr. Jekylls at school but morph into Mr. Hydes at home. I'm always just glad that at least they can behave themselves in public. Usually.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We Do Stuff, I Take Pictures, Then . . .

Then the day we did the stuff is past and the pictures are old and somehow (somehow=newborn + other family members that still require care and feeding), I've just never written about it.

So here! Have a whirlwind update!

We went to the Adirondack Wild Center* on Saturday because it was free admission day. It's a little over three hours in the car to get there and back. I didn't really want to go with the baby, but I also didn't really want to leave A. to try to keep track of three crazy little boys in a public place. The baby slept almost the entire time, including in the car. The little boys were crazy in the car, but they got to see a live barred owl and get a bag of Cheetos from the center's cafe. Doesn't get much better than that.

In what is becoming a regular occurrence, Poppy soiled herself so thoroughly on Sunday morning that she required a full outfit change. Maybe she does it on purpose to ensure her lazy mother changes her out of her pajamas before church.

The first outfit choice was adorable, but not warm enough.

Much more neutral than last week's pink color palette.

So I had to put another layer over that:

A bit androgynous, but that's what happens when your hand-me-downs come from three older brothers. (One of whom is photobombing with his hand there on the baby's knee.)

Poppy did not sleep through the service this time, because she pooped again and woke up just before the opening hymn. Which is when I discovered that I only had one properly sized diaper in the diaper bag.

Rookie mistake.

I spent the next hour hoping she would stay clean and I wouldn't have to Macgyver a size 5 diaper into something that would fit a size 1 baby.

I didn't. Thanks, Poppy.

We finally got our half cow, which must have been the smallest cow ever, because the steaks are tiny. I did ask for a smaller cow, though, to make sure it fit in our freezer, and the boys love having their own individual steaks. A. just loves having steak at all, and I love having beef to change up our diet of constant lamb. Happiness all around.

Both Cubby and Charlie brought home pieces of paper with things to decorate for this week's open house at school--a turkey for Charlie and a tree for Cubby--with instructions to use "any media except food." I suggested they could use the designer duct tape sent by Aunt Tara. The reason she sent designer duct tape was because my niece used to use it to make headbands and so forth, so they had a lot on hand. Which is why we now have an entire shoebox filled with over a dozen different rolls of patterned duct tape.

Jack of course must also have some; he made an original creation.

We also used the duct tape to secure the packages of lamb we wrapped up. It's nice to have designer meat packages in the freezer.

And I think we'll end there with a mic drop. Thank you and good night.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Celebrating Our Veterans with Snow

Apparently, this year Veterans Day is the beginning of winter. When I got up at 5:47 this morning, it was 10 degrees with a strong wind, and when I went outside to let Mia out, this is what it looked like:

Mia was not amused.

Okay, so technically it didn't look exactly like that, because it isn't even light at 5:47 a.m. I waited until later to take the photo. Obviously.

The boys were very excited about the snow and were out the door like a shot as soon as they had some breakfast.

Well, a shot that was loaded by me first with winter boots, snow pants, hats, mittens, and coats.

Is it a bad sign that I'm already silently but vehemently cursing the winter apparel and it's only the first snowfall of the season? Yeah.


They stayed out for almost an hour, despite the wind and temperature. 

Meanwhile, Poppy was all, "Have fun, guys. I'll just stay here on the couch in my fleecy sleep sack."

Smart girl.

Incidentally, as you can see from the above photo, Poppy is in the baby acne stage of development. That's okay, though, because it gives me the opportunity to sing my own version of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," from The Sound of Music. It goes like this, "You are three weeks going on thirteen, with pimples across your cheeks . . ." 

Catchy, no?

So that's where we are: playing in the snow and singing ridiculous songs to the baby. Cabin fever, here we come.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Squash Haul

A. had to go the nearest city today to pick up some work papers, and Jack, Poppy, and I accompanied him.

The entire reason I subjected myself to an hour-and-a-half roundtrip drive with a constantly talking 2-year-old and a newborn was to visit the farm stand in this city. Such is my desire to stock up on apples and squash.

I was going to send a list with A., but there are so many variables that I couldn't account for on a list. What kind of apples would they have? How much was the squash? What if they had beets, but they didn't look very fresh?

Obviously, my need for control over my produce is a little excessive.

In any case, the whole crew descended upon the farm stand (which is actually pretty big and more like a store affiliated with a nearby large farm) where I found good broccoli, questionable beets, not as many varieties of apples as I would have liked, and a lot of squash.

A. would have been very confused.

Jack and I picked out about ten butternut squash, along with the broccoli, a discounted bag of Fortune apples (a little soft, but I bought them for cooking with, so it didn't matter), a bag of Honeycrisp apples, a giant cabbage, and some pork rinds.

Gross on the pork rinds. Those were A.'s contribution to our healthy haul.

When we got to the cash register, the lady weighed my squash and then told me that if I wanted, she could give me a banana box to fill with squash and the bulk discount would mean I would only pay three dollars more.


So Jack and I went back to the squash bins with a big-ass box and filled it up with more butternut squash, plus some Delicata and acorn squash just for the hell of it. In the end, we got about double the quantity of squash for a few dollars more.

Totally worth going myself. Even if I did have to listen to Poppy scream for the last fifteen minutes of the car ride home because she woke up and (I later discovered) had a soiled diaper and NO ONE WAS HELPING HER.

Sorry, Poppy. But our squash supply should last until you're eating solid foods in six months. You'll thank me then.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Best

This morning as I was changing Poppy, I noticed she had some poop on her onesie. Well! Full outfit change for you then, my girl!

And since today was her debut at church--which, based on the interest in my pregnancy among the congregation, really was going to be like a debut--I thought maybe I should find something other than pajamas for her*.

Because the right clothing really makes a person more comfortable in a new social situation.

So I dug through the drawer of baby clothing, most of which I have not yet used, but the only non-pajama clothing I could find was in size 3 months.

Which fit.

And which are very pink and floral. Pink John Deere socks included.

Every item of clothing she's wearing came from the baby drizzle. Good thing everyone bought things larger than newborn size.

Can someone tell me what is up with decorating the rear end of baby clothing?

Personally, I'd steer clear of that particular area, bunny. It can get a little messy 'round those parts.

She slept through the entire service in her car seat, anyway. The car seat has a cover over it, so no one even saw the outfit. But I'm sure it boosted her confidence. And the plethora of pink (the car seat cover is pink, too) made it safe for everyone to exclaim, "You had a little girl!"

Yes, I sure did. And I shall bedeck her in florals and pink. At least until she's old enough to wear some more of her brothers' hand-me-downs.

* Not the "Mommy's Little Dude" pajamas, though. She's outgrown those already.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Gratuitous Baby & Brothers Photos

There's no shortage of people who want to hold her, at least. (Though there is a shortage of people who can be trusted to hold her. An important distinction.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Making Dreams Come True

At the very first house we stopped at on Halloween for trick or treating, Charlie came running back down the path to me exclaiming with great excitement, "At last! All my classmates always have this in their lunches, and now I get to have one!"

His great prize? A snack-size bag of Doritos. It was the first thing he chose to eat when we got home.

May your dreams always come true so easily, Charlie.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Fun All Around

Last night at 8:45, I was carving the pumpkin that Charlie had brought home from a school field trip to a pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago. Because I forgot to do it before the kids went to sleep.

This morning at 4:45, I was in the boys' room explaining to Jack that it was not time to get up, and he'd better get out of Cubby's bed and into his own and go back to sleep if he wanted to go trick or treating. Because I could not face the holiday merry-making with three exhausted boys. Then I sat in there until they were all mostly back asleep.

This morning at 5:30, I was nursing the baby, who courteously waited to demand milk until her brothers were mostly back asleep.

This morning at 5:45, I was cutting up tortilla pinwheels for both Cubby's and Charlie's class Halloween parties, because it turned out that Cubby was on the docket to bring in a treat, too, which I did not learn about until Saturday. And I didn't have enough cookies in the freezer. And his teacher requested non-sweets. Tortillas with cream cheese and ham it is (or bacon, in Charlie's case, because he doesn't like ham).

This morning at 6:20, I was making an omelet with cheese to line the small boys' stomachs with some actual food before the sugar bomb that is Halloween exploded.

This morning at 6:25, I was sorting out and bagging up all the pieces of Cubby's and Charlie's costumes to stick in their backpacks for the school Halloween parade.

This morning at 6:30, I was carving the other side of the pumpkin because there wasn't enough air flow to keep the candle inside burning. And then Charlie told me I should have made it look scarier. Right. Noted.

This afternoon at 12:30, A., me, Jack, and Poppy in her carrier will all go to the school, first to Cubby's classroom, then to Charlie's classroom, then outside to watch the costume parade, then inside to the auditorium for parade continuation.

This evening at 5:30, A., me, Cubby, Charlie, Jack, and Poppy will be going to the village for the Big Event of trick or treating. It's supposed to be 45 degrees with a lot of wind.

Luckily, Army soldiers, T-rexes, and bulls are hardy.

And that's Halloween. Have a happy one.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Alpha and the Omega

In the beginning, there were microgreens. And in the end . . .

Fancy-pants: Fall Edition

There's a serious rain and windstorm coming our way tonight, so A. took advantage of the sunny and warm weather today to more or less pull out the rest of the garden.

With the dubious help of his minions, of course.

I was not helping, as I was busy in the house with this one:

Phbbbt on your microgreens, says Poppy. Gimme more milk.

The microgreens are from the salad greens and arugula A. planted a month or so ago. There really hasn't been enough sun on the garden at this time of year for them to grow much, so he decided to just cut them at the micro stage.

He also filled a box with tomatoes in various stages of ripeness, meanwhile congratulating himself (and justifiably so) on building the woodchuck greenhouse so he can be harvesting the last of the tomatoes in late October.

The remaining few beets came out, too, leaving only the collard greens in the garden. A. keeps asking me if he can pull those out, but I refuse to let him. Collard greens taste better after it gets cold. And anyway, they can handle a lot of cold weather out in the garden, where it's much easier to store them than in my refrigerator.

So collard greens and the garlic (also planted by A.) in the garden; tomatoes, microgreens, and beets in the house. Thus ends Gardening Season 2017.

A round of applause for A., a reluctant but successful gardener who ensured my winter's supply of Finny's sauce. He done good.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

As Promised

I understand the confusion, little dude . . . uh, dudette.

Yeah, Poppy pretty much lives in this gender-inappropriate sleeper. And the reason she lives in it is that it has a zipper.

May I take this opportunity to remind you of my loathing for snaps on infant apparel? It has not abated after almost eight years and four children.

Poppy is currently clad in a different sleeper that has pink edging and a pink bird on the butt (I don't know why, either). It's very cute and all, but I will only put it on her during the day when I have to wash the zippered sleeper. I must have the zippered sleeper clean and ready to go by night, so that I'm not blearily trying to match up snaps during a 3 a.m. diaper change.

The 3 p.m. diaper changes are marginally less bleary, so she only wears the snaps on whatever day ends up being wash day for the masculine-but-zippered sleeper.

No, I don't wash it every day. Maybe every three days. She hasn't complained yet.

And now that I've gone on for several paragraphs about baby pajamas--my life really is just this thrilling, yes--I'll just quickly share that Poppy took to nursing so enthusiastically that she didn't lose the customary weight in the first few days of her life, instead gaining over an ounce in the time between leaving the hospital and going to the pediatrician on Monday.

Mommy's Little Bruiser, more like.

Also, she actually sleeps relatively well, although last night was not so great, as you could tell if you could see my red-rimmed eyes. I can't remember if my other children were this way in the beginning and then it all went to hell after a couple of weeks, but I can always cross my fingers that she'll be one of those mythical babies that sleeps through the night after, like, three weeks or something.

Or maybe she'll transform into Raging Colic Baby after three weeks! Who can tell? The uncertainty is what makes infants so exciting.

Or something.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

SuperNana Rides Off Into the Sunset

A. drove my mom to the airport this morning* so she could go home to her desert oasis. She's been here for two and a half weeks, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, making school lunches, entertaining the three feral boy children . . .

I think it might take her awhile to recover from this trip.

She's got three weeks, at which time she and my dad will be coming for Poppy's baptism. I won't expect her to clean my house when she comes back, though.

Godspeed, SuperNana. You'll be missed. Enjoy your quiet, clean, and non-chaotic house, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

* And in fact is still driving right now, because the airport is three hours away. One way. You have to REALLY want to see us to get to our house.

P.S. I know it's mean of me to keep blathering on without posting any baby pictures. I'm having camera issues, but I'm working on it. Because I know your life is a sad thing without a photo of my infant daughter in pajamas proclaiming her "Mommy's Little Dude." Or maybe it's just me who finds that funny.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Initiation Name

There's this game the boys play that they call the Hammy Game. I have no idea what the game entails, except for a lot of shrieking and hysteria.

That describes almost all of their games, actually. So I guess the only notable thing about the Hammy Game is that they all have their own names in it.

Cubby is Daddy. Naturally.

Charlie is Beefy, which if you've ever met skinny Charlie you'll know is hilariously inappropriate. That kid's as far from beefy as he could be.

Jack is Hammy, a name unfortunately bestowed upon him unwittingly by his real Daddy as an admiring statement of Jack's sturdy frame. That nickname stuck and somehow became the Hammy Game.

When Poppy came home from the hospital and all her brothers were clustered around her to admire her (and poke and prod her, of course), Cubby noted her fabulous hair and declared, "When she's old enough to play the Hammy Game with us, we'll call her Miss Fluff."

Watch out, world: Daddy, Beefy, Hammy, and Miss Fluff coming at you in a few short years.

What a crew.