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.

Yum.

* 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

Thankful?



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.

Anyway.

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.

OKAY.

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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Homecoming


After getting the medical all-clear for both me and the new addition this morning, A. and Jack--who was most assuredly not going to be left behind again, thank you very much--showed up at the hospital with an infant car seat and we were off.

We had to stop at the butcher on the way home so I could give my instructions for cutting up the half cow we bought, because I may be recovering from childbirth, but I know my priorities.

You might be a woodchuck if . . .

When we got home I found balloons on the mailbox, a welcome home sign on the front door, a plate of freshly baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies tied up with ribbon (and I didn't even have to clear any snow!), and a bouquet of flowers on the table.

SuperNana strikes again.

I was particularly touched by the bouquet of flowers after Nana explained that she and the two older children had gone to two neighbors to ask for flowers from their gardens--this not being a place where one can easily buy flowers--and the two ladies gave her the flowers they had cut before the first freeze and had in their own homes.

The first thing I did upon arriving home was eat some yogurt with maple syrup and blueberries. I'm pretty sure the "yogurt" I had at the hospital (which was a popular name brand kind) isn't even the same food as the kind I make.

Hospital food, man. It's a very unfunny joke.

Shortly thereafter, A. put Jack down for a nap, Nana took Cubby and Charlie for a walk, and Poppy blew out her diaper.

Newborns are fun!

But after cleaning up the explosion and nursing her back to sleep, I got to lie down myself for a nap in my own bed, which was even more satisfying than eating my own yogurt.

Currently, Poppy is still sleeping (newborn gold star for her), the older three are at the playground with SuperNana and A., and I am sitting in a quiet house drinking seltzer.

All is right with the world.


This photo was taken at the hospital, which accounts for the disgruntled expression. Well, that and the fact that all newborns look like grumpy old men. But check out the hair! Poppy has great hair. She gets that from her mother.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Child Is Born


Yesterday

2:40 p.m.: Hey, that was a contraction! Could it be actual labor?

3:20 p.m.: Ow, more contractions, closer together and more painful. Better let SuperNana and A. know.

3:40 p.m.: Okay, calling the hospital to let them know I'm on my way.

4:10 p.m.: Apparently, a pregnant woman having a contraction in the middle of the admitting procedure will cause an aide to show up with a wheelchair right quick.

4:15 p.m.: The midwife does an internal check and tells me to let her know when I feel like pushing.

5:50 p.m.: I feel like pushing.

6:05 p.m.:

Ta da! Magic! REALLY, REALLY painful magic.

Yup, exactly 3 hours and 25 minutes start to finish. It's definitely a girl. You can call her Poppy*. She was just a hair over 8 pounds, is 20 inches long, and her hobbies include nursing. A lot.

So now we just nurse and recover. And in my case, revel in not being pregnant anymore. Hooray.

Yesterday was a good day.

* Not her real name. When I first found out I was pregnant, I looked up my due date on one of those baby websites and it informed me that my baby was the size of a poppy seed. We called her Poppy early on, and although at some point that changed to Buttercup while she was in utero, I still think Poppy is a better blog name. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Personality Clash


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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

On This Day in 2017 . . .


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

At least we won't be deficient in calcium.

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

Probably that.

Good times all around.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Cultural Exchange Courtesy of Craigslist


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

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

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

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

These were obviously some men who have slaughtered sheep before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works for me.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Of Cookies and Carcasses


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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

You did it to yourself, lamb.

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bonding Moments


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SuperNana


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

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


Game face: ON.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The After-school Routine


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

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

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

It was not a good scene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Magic.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nothing To Report


I figured after that last post I shouldn't let too many days go by without a post or everyone is going to think I'm at the hospital having a baby.

I'm not.

But I did take all three ex-utero children to get a flu shot this morning. No one cried. Mostly because A. came with me and held Jack during his shot. Daddy can make anything bearable.

Right after that, we took them all to the dentist so the older two could get their regularly scheduled cleanings.

Checking off all those responsible-parent boxes, you know.

Except for the fact that the pediatrician's office has lollipops, which of course all three boys took, and I managed to convince Cubby and Charlie to hold off on theirs since, you know, they were going directly to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned, but Jack was all, "What? No. I want my lollipop NOW."*

So he was sucking on a lollipop in the dentist's office. At 9:30 in the morning.

Responsible-parent box resolutely NOT checked.

However, neither Cubby nor Charlie had any cavities or other dental concerns, so I'm gonna call it a draw.

After that, we went straight to the school to drop them off for the last few hours of their day.

In about an hour, I have to drive back to the big village (for a grand total of 100 miles of driving today--whee) for my own medical appointment: the weekly status check on the baby.

So if you don't hear from me for several days after this, perhaps I really did go to the hospital to have the baby. Or perhaps I'm just lazy and feeling too stupefied to write anything worth reading.

Like this post. But at least you know now that there's no baby yet! You're welcome.

* I hope you appreciated that one run-on sentence made up a full paragraph. It's a talent, really.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eyes on the Prize


Okay. It's October 1. That means I am having a baby this month. Probably earlier rather than later, too.

Sounds good to me. The exciting glow of pregnancy--if such a thing exists--has now changed to "I feel fine. Thanks for asking."

Bring on the nursing and diapers and sleepless nights. In other words, bring on the baby.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Testicle Parmigiana Just Like Your Nonna Used To Make


"Wait," I can hear you saying. "Does that say testicle parmigiana? That can't be what I think it is."

Except it is. It is exactly what you're thinking it is.

Yes, it's a new delicacy from the people who brought you alarmingly animated sea creatures and beaver tacos. And it is testicle parmigiana.

I'm sure no one will be surprised that this all came about because of A. I am unlikely to invent such a dish, but A. did.

The recent stretch of cool weather meant that he could slaughter another lamb. So he did. The carcass hangs for a few days to age, but in the initial dressing of the lamb--which involves gutting, skinning, and cutting off the head--he removes the testicles and the tenderloin.

I should note at this point that we call the testicles "sweetmeats" because I hear enough giggling from my sons about male parts. I'm all for knowing what your food is and being accurate and all, but there's no need to add fuel to that particular gross fire at the dinner table.

The last couple of times he's cooked the sweetmeats--and make no mistake that it is him cooking them, not me--he's just cleaned them up*, sliced them, and fried them. They're fine this way, but he told me last time that they're so neutral in flavor that he thought they would benefit from a sauce.

So I suggested this time that maybe he could make a sauce from the sun-dried tomatoes he made last week, which turned out really well, as well as some of the chicken stock I made from the carcass of our exciting chicken, and some heavy cream. Couldn't be bad, right?

He added some garlic, too, and it was, indeed, a very good sauce. So what did he do with that very good sauce? Well, he first fried the sliced sweetmeats in olive oil, along with butterflied pieces of the tenderloin and some sliced country-style pork ribs. You know, just to make sure there was enough meat.

Then he dumped the sauce over the fried meats (without even draining off the fat first, which is classic A.).

And then, just to make sure no one could possibly go hungry, he covered the entire pan with a layer of mozzarella cheese and let that melt.

Yes. A variety of fried meats in a tomato cream sauce and melted cheese. No one could call this a light meal.

He couldn't stop saying how delicious it was. Cubby ate some of the sweetmeats. Charlie and I ate the pork. Jack mostly ate the melted cheese. Something for everyone.

But mostly for A., who was thrilled with his creation.

So there you have it. Testicle parmigiana: It's what's for dinner. But only if A. is cooking.

* You--by which I mean A.--have to remove the membranous sac around the, uh, meat part and trim off some veins and stuff. I think. I try not to look too closely.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I'm Sure This Isn't Even a Little Over the Top


Last night I was sitting around in the lull between dinner and bedtime, mentally reviewing the time and what came next in the children's inexorable easing into bed, when I realized that nobody knows their schedule like I do.

I mean, obviously. Since I created their schedule and all.

What I mean is, sometime in the next couple of weeks, either A., the MiL, or my mother will be pinch hitting for me with the three maniacs while I deal with a newborn. And it might be helpful for them to know things like when the school bus comes or when the kids start picking up for bed.

So I created the following not-at-all-crazy daily schedule cheat sheet for them:


A day in the life of a (possibly over-) regimented mom.

A. came upon me writing this schedule and immediately asked if he needed to take me to the hospital. Nope, just need to be prepared. 

It's entirely possibly none of the three caregivers will even look at this, but it made me feel better to write it anyway. And making the pregnant lady feel better is always the goal, right? Right.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Excitement of Poultry


Yesterday A. and Jack accompanied me to the Big Village for a status check on the baby (status: still there and healthy, still hanging out until further notice) and we happened to pass the farmers market. I've never been to this farmers market, so we decided to stop.

I'm so glad we did, because the very first table I came to had pastured chickens for sale.

YAAAAAAY!!!

That was literally how excited I was. I mean, I didn't literally shout "YAY!" in the middle of the farmers market, but I was shouting joyfully on the inside.

With the exception of the occasional rooster from Ms. Rita or A.'s random desire for fried chicken, we haven't had any chicken since we've been here. It's a pretty much non-stop rotation of pork, beef, and lamb, with the occasional dinner of tuna patties or eggs when I need a break from the parade of meat.

I know. It's not as if I can't buy chicken. Except that I . . . can't. I will occasionally pick up a package of chicken thighs or whatever at the grocery store and consider it, but then I remember that I get grossed out by store-bought chicken and pork (oddly enough, beef is okay--not good, but okay) and I don't buy it.

I just can't stomach a factory-farm chicken now that I've had real chicken. So, no chicken. Until yesterday, when I saw that sign for pastured chicken.

The farmer was charging $3.25 per pound, which seems like a lot only if you're accustomed to paying $.99 per pound at the grocery store. For a pastured chicken, that's actually a pretty good price. I remember seeing chickens at the enormous, fancy farmers market near Blackrock that sold for something like $25 per chicken, which is a little much for me. By comparison, $13 for a chicken seems like a pretty good deal.

Especially considering how excited everyone is to eat it. A. kept going on about how great it's going to be to have a roast chicken. I announced our forthcoming chicken dinner to the children this morning and Cubby and Charlie were all, "Yay! We love chicken! We haven't had chicken in a YEAR!"

Slight exaggeration, but not too much.

Even poultry is an event at our house. We probably need to get out more.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Days of Flies and Tomatoes


Our tomatoes are certainly loving this very unseasonable heat. A. harvested another box full of paste tomatoes for me this morning, so I spent part of the morning canning six more quarts of tomatoes in the hot water bath canner.

And then I had to put on the air conditioning.

I could feel bad about this, except that I am: 1) not at all heat tolerant, 2) 8.25 months pregnant, and 3) dealing with a cold.

Screw guilt. Give me the almost-October A/C.

Also in tomato news, A. had the brilliant idea of drying some of the tomatoes outside. Might as well make use of 89 degrees with punishing sun, right*? He has three trays full of the beefsteak variety of tomatoes drying on top of the Subaru. It's so nice to see the Subaru as food dehydrator put to use again.

I also find it funny that A. seems to have finally succumbed to the Tomato Crazy. It must be catching.

Unfortunately, this hot weather has also brought out the flies. In droves. The three big glass doors in the living room leading to the elevated porch look like a horror movie. Flies EVVVVVERYWHERE. The kids love swatting them, which is fine, but more always appear. We must have swatted four dozen flies yesterday.

I am befuddled by this. All the windows and doors are shut tight. How are they getting in?

At least they seem to confine themselves to the windows, though. They're not attracted to food or people. But still. There are smeared fly guts all over my doors, which I am waiting to scrub off until the end of the heat wave because I know there will be more until it cools down.

So gross.

So that's where we are. Preserving tomatoes, swatting and sweeping up flies, and running the air conditioner until further notice.

* Fun fact: It was hotter at my house on the Canadian border yesterday than it was at my parents' house in Tucson, Arizona. How's that for messed up?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Fall! Oh Wait . . .


Yes, today is the official start of fall. So why is my forecast calling for 87 degrees on Sunday?

That is not sweater weather.

(I think that the weather is supposed to be some kind of online conversational suicide, right? But too bad. That's what I'm talking about today.)

Last weekend it was 84 degrees here, so we took the kids to a local lake beach for a dinner cookout and their last chance to swim. Except apparently it wasn't their last chance, because we have multiple days coming up that are going to be over 80 degrees.

In case you missed it, I do not live in southern Arizona. It is not supposed to be hot here at the end of September.

So much for the frozen north.

The tomatoes, of course, are loving this hot, sunny weather. Especially under their cozy woodchuck greenhouse. A. is the designated harvester this year, as the greenhouse requires a person to duck and literally crawl around to actually get to the tomatoes, and those are not things the 8-months-pregnant body can do without great difficulty. So every couple of days, A. goes out there and proudly bears into the house a big box full of ripe tomatoes.

I spent this morning making salsa and pressure canning it--plus a few random quart jars of plain, raw-pack, not-even-skinned chunks of tomatoes--to take care of the fifty pounds or so of tomatoes that were on the counter. I expect the same amount of tomatoes will be landing on my counter tomorrow.

Sure would have been nice if the tomatoes could have ripened when I wasn't due to have a baby, like, ANY TIME, but I'm not complaining. Much. And I'm trying not to complain too much about the unseasonable heat, because I know I'll be desperate for any hint of warmth in March.

But still. Eighty-seven degrees. That's crazy.

How's the weather where you are, my lovelies?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It Appears a Dairy Cow Is In Our Future


I went to the grocery store yesterday and I realized that over half of the items on my list were dairy foods: cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, milk, Parmesan cheese, and buttermilk*.

No regular cheese, though. And why no regular cheese? Because A. went to the cheese factory in our local village a few days ago and came home with this:


You are looking at 17 pounds of cheese. That's right. Seventeen.

The larger brick is just over ten pounds of sharp cheddar, and the slightly smaller brick is just over six pounds of mozzarella. 

You may find this ludicrous. Perhaps you think that A. just got carried away and brought home more cheese than we could ever eat.

Nope. This is the third time we've bought this quantity of cheese. It lasts us a little over a month.

You could say we eat a lot of cheese. And butter, milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese . . .

Yeah. We're gonna have to get a dairy cow some day. And that day is probably going to be sooner rather than later.

* No cream, but only because I go to a different store for that to get the real, not-ultra-pasteurized cream.