Sunday, December 31, 2017

Productive Procrastination

We've started the welcome process of taking down all our Christmas stuff.  I can say "we" because I recruited Daughter to help gather all the holiday stuff and place it in a designated location, so I'm not finding things my eyes apparently slide right past throughout the spring and summer.

She promptly broke the "flame" off of one of the battery-operated candles we place in each window, rendering it non-functioning.  She has been relieved of her duties.

This was one of the first things to go:
It's a bundle of pine boughs I cut from our giant pine and looped with a buffalo-check scarf, hung on the front door.  From the outside, it's festive and charming; from the inside, I startled every time my peripheral vision caught sight of what was surely a large, hulking man peering in at our family goings-on.

We are also evidently building shelves for our pantry today.  We went and bought the lumber for it yesterday, and Derek keeps talking about measurements and notching and other things my brain glosses right over.  What this brain does understand is that while Derek does mystical things with the wood in the freezing basement, I will be painting the pantry a nice, bright white, all the better to see the truly alarming number of cans of Ro-Tel we apparently possess. Why do we have so much Ro-Tel??

Although, if we're being honest, it's not Ro-Tel, it's Casa Mamita Diced Tomatoes and Chiles, which is the Aldi version of Ro-Tel.  Also we have so many cans of the stuff because I buy it.  Mystery solved. 

We hauled the crappy wire shelves that came with the house and that we've lived with for 8 1/2 years out of the pantry last night, and the floor underneath got a proper scrubbing for the first time since I was pregnant with Caedmon and had to chisel a dead mouse embalmed in Karo Syrup that had tipped over at some point during the night and embalmed the mousy corpse in sugary goodness.

It's a laugh a minute around here, is what I'm saying. 

So now the pantry is scrubbed and awaiting paint, which I suppose I have put off for long enough in writing this post.  Blogging is good for so very many things.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Big Fat Update- Kind of- and a Winter Hike

Well!  Long time, no blog!  It's hard to force myself to spend any extra time on the laptop when I'm now working on it for hours a week at one of my new(ish) jobs.  I hesitate to even mention it, because the company I work for is super weird about confidentiality and constantly reminding its employees that THIS IS PRIVATE INFORMATION and TELL NO ONE and IF YOU TALK WE WILL COME FOR YOU IN THE NIGHT. 

I'm kidding, of course, about at least 40% of the previous sentence.  Good luck figuring out which part. 

And no, I'm not in an abusive professional relationship, and no, I was not recruited by the CIA.  Just typing that last phrase made it hard to type this one, because I'm giggling somewhat madly at the idea of working for anything like the CIA, what with my utter lack of a poker face, ability to get lost in a cardboard box, and penchant for giggling madly. 

Really, though, I've found a meme that describes at least one aspect of this work rather well.  Thanks, memes.

Still, I'm not ready to finally put this blog out of its misery and kill it off, so I'm declaring (yet again, somewhat wearily) that I will be attempting to post with some degree of consistency!  Just like I did in ye olden days when our chillins were little and nap time equaled blog time!

Um, let's see.  It's cold here.  Yay, Iowa.  Derek and I have agreed to jack our house's temperature all the way up to 70 degrees to combat this forecast:

I don't think I'm really allowed to complain about today's temp, as the high is supposed to be above zero, but tomorrow and Monday, look out:  I will say what I want.  You get to do that when the temperature isn't supposed to be above zero for days.  It's in the Iowan handbook.  I have no idea what's in the Minnesotan handbook for negative temp days.  "Congratulations, it's Tuesday, now get back to work"?

Because we knew this cold front was on its way, I took the kids on a forced march through the snowy forest preserve yesterday, although I charmingly called it a "Winter Scavenger Hunt" because they tend to balk at anything that calls to mind gulag-like conditions.  Maybe all three of them were Russians in their former lives?  Never mind that I don't believe in reincarnation.


Seen above is the list of things we were going to be hunting for on our hike, a thumb belonging to Caedmon, and a face belonging to Atticus.  Pop quiz:  Which of our children is still young enough to be fooled by exercise disguised as fun?

Really, though, what is it about children and their inability to stay off the ground?  Even now, at any given public space that we enter, I'll turn around and at least one of them is rolling around on the ground.  I don't know what this is about.  They like getting the crap from other people's shoes in their hair?  Children have a better barometer for what's better for their bodies than adults?  I mean, who can tell?
Oh, look, they're on the ground again.  Imagine that.

Lest you think our hike was all fun and games and our lives are snow-winter-perfection, may I submit this photo for your consideration:
He had just learned we not even halfway through our hike.  That is not a happy face.

Not to worry, though, he got back on the ground- well, onto a log over a frozen creek bed- and everything was better.
We made it back to our vehicle, I mused aloud that we could make another loop through the preserve, as we'd only been out for around an hour, and Atticus climbed a tree in protest, saying we could go but he'd stay and take a nap in a tree.  We've read The Little Match Girl four times in the past month, so he knew how this would end.

In the end we did not go 'round again as I decided we had properly celebrated temperatures in the teens, so we went home, the kids got hot cocoa, and I got to be the adult and stay outside for another hour shoveling and waiting for the plow to charge by- for our more southerly friends, the snow plow drives by so fast it throws all kinds of snow from the street up onto the sidewalk that you have to shovel that mess, too, so you're not really done until it's gone by.  It did not complete our street until after I had come inside and hung up all my wet snow gear.  Naturally.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fatigued Soccer

Somehow Atticus sprinted and dribbled and kicked his way through nearly one entire soccer season with his mother taking nary a picture, despite him both loving the game and being really quite good at it.

Finally, though, I managed to get my act together.

As ever, click to embiggen.

It was a good game, and according to Derek he played well.  (I always think he plays well, even when he has apparently done something less than great.  This is because I am still baffled that any child of mine could have so much as a modicum of athletic talent.  This boy has dodged all the genetic bullets my DNA could throw at him, which let me assure you, are legion.)

He, like, runs toward the ball, over and over, and chases after it for close to one hour straight.  This is amazing.  Let's also take a moment to appreciate the kid above on the right who may be having some kind of existential crisis.  "But why do we chase the ball?"  I feel you, buddy.

As well as he played though, and as happy as I was to have finally remembered the camera, it was kind of a tough game to watch.  Atticus is normally more or less tireless during these games of his, but on this Saturday, he was sluggish and slow compared to his normal self.  He would kick the ball, or pass it, or whatever, but then instead of sprinting after it as usual he'd just stand there, or walk.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him until Derek said, "Well, he didn't get any sleep last night, remember?"

Oh.  Right.  Night terrors.

We've experienced the effects of our son's night terrors for years now, but it was still pretty upsetting for me to see it so clearly, how exhaustion was keeping him from doing his best.  I realize it's just a kids' soccer game, with minimal repercussions, but watching all those other kids bounce around out there, it was evident how different Atticus's reality is from theirs.  And that sucks.
How to tell if Atticus had a rough night:  look for the bags under his eyes (illustrated above) and the thousand-yard stare.  Same goes for his parents, with the addition of slow download speeds for his mom.  Please allow an extra ten seconds' worth of blank staring when asking her a question. 

The day after this game, though, I was talking to another parent about her little girl, who has Type I diabetes, and who has had to re-orient her family's life around this diagnosis.  It was a good reminder that all families have invisible struggles, from night terrors to diabetes to children who give their mothers that birthed them a hard time about listening to Christmas music in October.  THERE IS NEVER A BAD TIME TO LISTEN TO CELTIC CHRISTMAS, OKAY, UNGRATEFUL PROGENY?

Know who he reminds me of, though, in this red jersey of his?
Especially when he's looking all tall and stuff?

His dad.
He's the tall one in the middle there.  Comparing the two, I'd say the genes are strong in this one.

Maybe Yoda had night terrors, too.

Soccer season is now over, which Atticus is already grieving.  I'm excited about the time this frees up, but am wise enough not to say so.  It's already given us extra orchard time!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stories for Two Out of Three

I have yet again had a talking-to with myself and said that I am not to let this little piece of the internet waste away with but a single post a month.  We've been busy little bees-

and speaking of bees, those things stinging our children were not bees but the vile and depraved YELLOW JACKET, and once I took the time to do two seconds of investigating I found that why, yes, there was a hole in the ground with a steady stream of black- and yellow- banded winged insects streaming into it, and if I hung around for more than two seconds that trend would reverse itself and a steady stream of those same insects would begin filing out, heading straight for my own apparently threatening body.  The internet is divided on what to do about this, so thus far I have fallen back on one of my greatest strengths and done nothing.

- so, yes, busy little bees we have been indeed, with both the boys having birthdays and turning different ages, which is helpful for me because all three are now back to their evenly-spaced, stair-step ages, so I don't have to look like a terrible mother when people ask me how old they are, as I stand there and try to remember just what age our own children are right now.

Adelaide seems to be feeling the full eleven-ness of her eleven years, which I will explain with a small story:

There was recently a lock-in at our church for sixth graders.  Adelaide was willing to go and participate, but kept bemoaning the fact that it didn't start until 9 p.m., and didn't those leaders understand that only gives her around two hours of fun?  I tried to explain that the point is to try and stay up all night, to which she responded with a harrumph and more grumbling about needing her sleep and how kids her age need a good 10-12 hours a night and are the youth group leaders responsible adults or not if they don't understand that?

But off she went, towing her sleeping bag and pillow, fully planning on using both to good effect.

I picked her up the following morning at 8 a.m.  She was holding two doughnuts and a full package of Oreos.  The youth group leader told me he was pretty sure she hadn't slept at all.  She confirmed this.

I knew what this meant.

Adelaide is right to put a priority on sleep.  She does and has always needed plenty of sleep, for with proper rest she is her usual delightful self, but without, she regresses in age by around 70%.  And sure enough, halfway home she burst into tears because I laughed too hard at one of her jokes.  Derek suggested she stay home from Atticus's soccer game to sleep, which she did, but then we attempted to rouse her for the afternoon, not wanting throw her sleep schedule off any further.  What we got for our efforts was a vengeful she-beast who wailed every time she was reminded that no, no, she mustn't go back to sleep, she must stay awake for her own good.
Approach with caution.

Eventually self-preservation won out and I did let her lapse back into slumber for the bulk of the afternoon.  By Sunday she was more or less back to normal, so I suppose it all worked out.

Atticus has been running around playing lots of soccer, of which I have zero pictures.  He has scored the majority of goals for his club soccer team, of which I have zero pictures.  Does this mean they revoke my soccer mom card, or did that automatically happen when I told Derek I still don't understand what "offsides" means?  At least it looks like I'm in good company:  a google search of "soccer offsides" gave me a bunch of results, naturally, topped with "How to Understand Offside in Soccer:  11 Steps," "What is the Offside Rule in Soccer? -dummies," and a 4-minute YouTube video of a soccer coach trying to explain this rule.  No wonder!  You're going to lose me in any situation that it takes 11 steps or four minutes or whatever to explain a sports-related rule.

Other than photo-less soccer, Son the Elder has also been harvesting his sunflowers for seed so he can plant more in the spring, because he really does love to grow them.
Note that he wears his shin guards to do so.  This is both practical for gardening and so that he can return immediately to soccer after finishing.  And regarding the knife:  I've found that even my more reluctant gardeners are more likely to join in when I tell them they can use a knife at some point.  This kid merrily sawed away at all our sunflowers, some to dry for seed, some to leave on the table on our back deck to try and draw the birds in closer.

We do still have a third child, and he has been doing things, but darned if I can remember what they are.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fake Farm Fun

We visited the orchard one day a couple weeks ago after school.  I'm leading school tours there again this fall, giving our family free admission; somehow Derek managed to avoid going all last year, so we were quick to drag him along this time.

I probably shouldn't say "dragged," as he was happy to participate in every activity there, which was plain fun for the kids and mixed fun for me as I was reminded that some people are irritatingly good at most everything.
Of course you can successfully rope pretend cattle, Derek.  Of course you can.

And pull a tractor up a slight incline with two of your children.

Although I'm shamefully excited to report that were unable to budge that thing until I joined in and pulled, too.  Raw animal strength, that's me.

He finally found a chair big enough for him, and then stepped onto the jumping pillow and thrilled/ terrified his family by bouncing right next to us and sending us all sky high.  The kids actually handled this better than I did, as every time he'd start to jump my way I'd mutter, "NoNoNoNoNo" and slowly crumple into myself.  It turns out I'm a bit of a baby about being shot five feet into the air.

We entered the corn maze, which seemed like a good idea until my family deserted me- Derek in the vast, 5-acre maze, the kids into the much more manageable kid's section.  I followed the kids in, took three turns, and got lost. 
This was a bad idea.

Plus my phone was about to die, so I resigned myself to a life of ferality within the corn.  But lo!
After my trusty guide gently led me out of the agricultural labyrinth (aka activity made for six-year-olds), I was too scarred to continue.  Or we were all hungry?  I don't remember.  This is why I need to stop trying to write these posts in six different sittings. 

[Enter abrupt ending here.]

Friday, September 22, 2017

Birthdays and Band

Yesterday was Caedmon's birthday.  He is seven, and when asked what he wanted for his birthday dinner, out of all the things in the wide world I could make for him, he requested mac and cheese.  I don't know if this is a subtle commentary on my cooking, or he just has strange tastes.

Speaking of strange tastes, Adelaide recently undertook her first foray into marching band.  She plays percussion, so this is a fun experience for her; this is in stark contrast to my experience of being a flautist in marching band, where you are the musical equivalent to a Puritan-era child:  there to be seen and not heard.  Yes, yes, you can play the piccolo, and while this is fun for the two whole songs that feature piccolos, you must have a high tolerance for extremely high pitched sounds right up against your ear.

Because we knew Adelaide and the rest of the middle school band was going to be playing at last week's high school football game, we carried ourselves off to the field, where Derek watched his high school alma mater absolutely crush our home team throughout the first half, and I chatted with friends and contemplated the merits of getting a shirt that reads, "I'm just here for the marching band."

Half time came, we listened to Adelaide and the sixth graders play, then the upper-grade middle schoolers, then the high school marching band entered the field and strutted their stuff, with the now tiny-looking sixth graders watching in awe.  As we were leaving, Adelaide talked about how excited she was for marching band, and how she couldn't wait to perform in high school, but the thing that she's most looking forward to are "those really cool hats!"

In case you're confused, no, our marching band has not departed from tradition to wear something new and different.  She really does mean those bucket-looking hats with an abnormally large feather protruding from the top.  Remember though that this is also the girl who wore a fuzzy cat ear headband more often than not all last summer and into the first month of school.  Maybe she just likes having unusual things on her head?  Either way I'll take it, as she also just showed me the "warm up" worksheet for this extra-curricular math club she wants to take part in, which she described as "hard but fun," and which I gazed at and had to suppress the urge to rip into tiny pieces.  Anyone else have dormant feelings of rage stir at the mere sight of middle school math?

I guess this is what all Daughter is talking about when she proudly identifies herself as a nerd.  Or is it a geek?  All I can ever remember is that she is profoundly offended when I mix her up and refer to her as the wrong one. 

"If the permutations of the letters in the word SURE are numbered 1 through 24 in alphabetical order, what number is RUSE?" 

The good part of all this nerdiness (or is it geekiness?  I'm sorry, Daughter, I know this is making you very angry) is I can email her band memes and she finds them funny.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Good, Bad, Good

Things have been good and then they have been bad and then good again.  So... normal life.


We recently headed south for a quick Kansas fix.  Whilst there, we held babies.
We played with the other nieces, too, but they don't hold still long enough for me to take a picture, so here's more baby-holding.


Monday morning I woke up at 5:30.  It was one of those sleepy, coming-slowly-to-consciousness "Wait, what time is it?" before jolting upright and realizing you didn't hear your alarm or never set it or something, the result being you overslept by nearly an hour and left your friend standing alone in the dark at 5 a.m.  I felt terrible.  She insisted that it was fine, she needed a day off anyway, blah blah blah, lies lies lies to make me feel better.

It was too late to run, so I decided I'd go ahead and get a little work done before rousing the rest of the family.  I went downstairs to make my coffee.  Coffee maker goes on strike, won't dispense a single solitary drop of caffeine-nectar-goodness, and how do I keep breaking coffee makers?  I do not have fancy tastes, or the need of special gadgets or anything.  I use regular-people drip coffee makers (Dear internet people who spend a curious amount of time each day preparing a liquid that ends up tasting about the same as the stuff truckers buy at gas stations:  get a hobby.  Perhaps a high-maintenance tiny dog?), and regular-people coffee (cheapo coffee beans from Aldi that I do, admittedly, grind myself because cockroaches are gross), so why does my coffee maker keep breaking?

Anyway, after learning that I would not be getting any coffee, successfully suppressing the urge to rend my clothing and tearfully ask the universe why bad things happen to good people, I decided that I would move on, and get to working.  I booted up the computer, and there was no internet.  No internet means no work.  So at 5:50 a.m. I gave up on Monday.


Our children are finally old enough that playing games with them doesn't make me want to die (I'm looking at you, Hi-Ho! Cherry-O and your ilk).  We love Qwirkle,

and Quiddler with the older two,

and Atticus will play chess with tiny Darth Vader when Derek isn't home, because Atticus and Derek love chess but I do not, because it is boring.


Yesterday afternoon Caedmon began screaming and running around even more than usual.  Bees again.  Atticus had those two bee stings last month, Caedmon got two yesterday, and Adelaide claims to have seen a line of bees going in and out of a hole in the ground.  Do bees nest in the ground?  I thought they built their hives up in, um, you know, places that are not holes in the ground.

It turns out neither of our boys are allergic to bees, so today Caedmon is just sporting an extra welt on his forearm and one ear is about 20% larger and weirder looking than the other, but who cares because ears are super weird-looking anyway.  I know this because I spent a solid ten minutes staring at one yesterday, trying to scrape a bee's stinger out of one of those folds of cartilage that make up the outer ear.  The pinna?  See above gif yet again.


Atticus likes to pedal this knife-sharpening contraption that my grandparents have at their house.  You push one of the pedals- the other being currently non-functional- and the stone spins.  Atticus pushes one of the pedals, and Grandpa inevitably whips out a pocket knife to sharpen, and tells us about pedaling the tool as a boy, then as he got older using it to sharpen mower blades, and boy, wasn't that a pain!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Three Things

  • First of all, brace yourself, because this is indeed what passes for excitement in our house:  Caedmon found a quarter lacking a mint mark.  I KNOW, RIGHT?  Our youngest is just a tad obsessive about looking for those marks as soon as a quarter finds its way into his hot little hands, always on the hunt for that elusive "P."  Around here we have way more "D" quarters- that is, quarters from the Denver mint- than P, I assume because we are closer to Denver than Philadelphia, although perhaps Denver also makes more quarters than Philadelphia?  I really don't know.  Anyway, Caedmon was given a quarter that was stamped with the year 1965, but with no mint mark.  A quick google search led Derek to educate us all on how from some year to another year (I don't remember) too many people were collecting coins and something about something else, the result being they stopped putting mint marks on coins for a short time to stop people being so crazy.  *Waves wand* May this be the least intelligible paragraph you read today.

  • Adelaide has been losing teeth.  A lot of teeth.  As in, all her molars on the bottom left side have fallen out within days of each other.  Naturally, this leads to me finding teeth in random places throughout the house.
I'm not that worried about the fact that she's lost seven teeth in six months-  none of our kids got their first teeth until well after their first birthday, so they tend to be late losers- but I'm still glad she's due for a visit to the dentist in a month, just so he can assure me that she doesn't have some obscure mouth disease, then turn right around and devastate me with impending orthodontia news.  Dentists are good at that, you know.

  • If you've been itching for a good memoir, pick this one up:

If you like to experience the entire gamut of human emotion in one sitting, this is the book for you.  It is so funny, and so entertaining, even while being about cancer and fear and doctors who really need to work on their bedside manner.  Maybe don't read it in a public place, unless crying in front of strangers is your thing, in which case I'll just say stick some extra Kleenex in your pocket.  It's a good one.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

They Survived

The children all survived their first wee of school, plus the resulting aftermath of their first week of school.  Post-school interactions these first few days require constant refereeing, and when you think you're done- say, when all your angels are tucked into bed- you'll be drawn back upstairs because one has offended the other by... I don't know, being alive within ten feet of the other?

It can be rough, is what I am saying.

Our church's youth group kicked off the evening of the first day of school, too, proving it is not run by parents.  Parent-run organizations don't begin until the second or third week of school; this one is run by young adults.  The flip side of that coin is that those leaders have all the energy needed to herd a group of middle schoolers through an hour and a half of Bible learnin' fun, and the adolescents adore them.  So we'll take it, even if Adelaide did stagger into the house at 8:30 that night and ask if every day of middle school was going to be this exhausting.

What I imagine middle school ministry is like.  And thanks, giphy, for never letting me down.

It's not all bad that summer break is over, though.  I can finally weed through all the photos on my phone, which include ones of random kids holding circuit boards and bird houses, taken at the library so parents can see what their kids are doing at our programs.  I can also try to figure out why I took certain pictures of our own kids and what on earth we were doing.  A disturbing percentage of them relate to animal death.  Not that our kids are torturing puppies or anything; they just seem to believe that any dead animal they find deserves a proper burial.  This includes bird eggs they find on the ground that fail to ever hatch under their poor if good-intentioned tender loving care.  
A bird egg grave marker.  These things are stinkers to mow around.

I can also delete all those hair-cutting photos.  Adelaide spent a few weeks over the summer begging me to chop more of her hair off than I felt comfortable doing, but she eventually wore me down.  I did first extract two promises, namely that after I had done so she was 1) not allowed to be upset with me, and 2) was not allowed to cry.  She refused to promise to withhold her tears, but I said I'd do it anyway.  Then, just as I was about to start snip-snip-snipping away, she informs me that she also wants bangs.  I mean, bangs!  What could go wrong?  

*Let's all take a moment to appreciate that this gif both conveys "Yikes," AND is from the Great British Baking Show.*

Anyway, it all somehow ended up fine.  Adelaide was pleased with her hair, and I was so relieved that I didn't let my fine hand tremors and lack of overall hair cutting-related knowledge totally botch our daughter's appearance before her first day of middle school.  (Yeah, this could have gone really wrong.)

On to the second week of school.  We are optimistic but tired.