Friday, April 24, 2015

All Present and Accounted For

Yesterday at 2:15 in the afternoon, Jack was asleep and I was doing dishes while the other two children played in the living room. Cubby wandered in to the kitchen and announced he would help. Although my knee-jerk reaction when faced with dishes "help" from kids is "No, thanks,*" I was already almost done, with just the silverware left to do. And Charlie wasn't in there demanding to help too.

So I told Cubby he could wash all the silverware for me. I showed him how to pull the utensils from the bottom of the dish pan, scrub them all over with the dishcloth, and then rinse them with the hot water. He grabbed an apron, pulled over his chair, and got to work.

I could get used to this.

At this point, I realized I hadn't heard anything from Charlie for a worrisomely long time. So I went on a Charlie hunt, which led me upstairs to the stereo in the hall. He was trying to turn on "cowboy music" (Chris Ledoux). He had obviously been in the forbidden territory of Grandma's bedroom, because he was holding the MiL's childhood stuffed puppy, named Dream, and wearing a pair of the MiL's high-heeled shoes.

I do not have a picture of this, much to my disappointment. And yours, I'm sure.

So, one boy in an apron doing dishes, and one in high heels? Modern men in the making right here at woodchuck central.

* I know, I know. Learning moments and teaching responsibility and all that. But all that water all over, and both of them always want to do it so they fight and, ugh, dishes suck enough without all that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On Becoming a Cliche

That woman you saw hauling around a toddler and a baby at the grocery store this morning while wearing a fleece, dirty jeans, and running shoes? That was me.

That woman using one hand to help the toddler pee in the grocery store bathroom while holding the baby in the other arm? That was me.

That woman picking up blueberries in the produce section because her toddler slam-dunked the package into the cart and the top burst open and sprayed blueberries up to two feet away? That was me.

That woman who realized just as she unloaded all her groceries onto the conveyor that her wallet wasn't in her purse because it was in the diaper bag, which was still in the car? That was me.

That woman racing a full cart* plus baby out to the parking lot with the dubious "help" of the toddler, chattering all the while about "It's a race car! Let's see how fast we can get to the finish line!" to hurry the toddler along? That was me.

Me and dozens of other women all across America, I suspect. It's the Sisterhood of the Stay-At-Home Moms. We may be a cliche, but at least there's strength in numbers, right?

* I just realized this reads as if I loaded everything back in the cart and took it to the car without paying. For clarification: I paid with a check so I wouldn't have to go get my wallet, but then they insisted on seeing my driver's license, which they didn't tell me until after everything was bagged and back in the cart, so then I had to go to the car anyway to get my driver's license. In case you were consumed with curiosity.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In Praise of the Third Child

Jack is four months old today. He doesn't get much airplay here, but that's only because he's so laid back that it's easy to just take him for granted. I really shouldn't do that, though, because really, this kid is just plain awesome.

Oh, you wanted to vacuum, Mom? That's cool. I'll just sit here on the couch and smile till you're done.

He goes hither and yon with nary a word of complaint. 

He rides in his carseat like a champ. 

He grins all the way through the grocery store. 

He patiently endures his older brothers' perpetual obsession with petting his head; I might even say he enjoys it.

He kicks it on the sheepskin while I make dinner, sucking his fingers and flailing about.

And he sleeps. Like a dream. Like a miracle. Like one of those babies I was sure were mythical, because it's just not possible for a four-month-old baby to go to bed at 8 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. (or later). But Jack does. Okay, sometimes he wakes up at 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. to nurse, but often he doesn't.

I can't tell you how life-changing it is to have an infant who actually sleeps. It's almost like not having a newborn at all.

I guess he's not really a newborn anymore, anyway.

But still awesome. Always.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Will She or Won't She?

There is obviously a burning curiosity among you--based on the, um, one of you who asked--about the garden this year.

The short answer: We got a CSA subscription for the summer.

Obviously, that means that I am not planning on growing the majority of our vegetables myself this year. In fact, I'm not planting anything.

I know. Sad.

I really had to do it. Because the long answer is that I have not enough time nor physical stamina to deal with our excessively large garden, which has been pretty much choked by weeds in the past few neglected years. A. set up electric fencing around half the garden and the ducklings are out there, for weed and pest control purposes. The MiL will plant potatoes in the rest of the garden, I think.

I thought about putting a few things like lettuce or pole beans in a random raised bed we have at the edge of the garden, but the deer have gotten so aggressive recently that I figured they would just eat anything I put out there. So I won't even do that.

Literally the only thing I'm planning on putting in dirt is a single tomato plant in a pot by the kitchen door. I am not particularly happy about this, and I so wish I had the time and the strength to work in the garden, but, well, I don't. I've finally accepted that I need a summer off, and hopefully next year I'll get back to it, with a less weedy and somewhat workable garden.

Oh, and someone else wanted an update about the washing machine. Truthfully, I've been having some issues with the soaking off and cleaning of mud, which I do a lot, obviously, and which was kind of the main reason I wanted a good washing machine. The water level on the soaking setting doesn't seem to get to the top of the machine, so I can't fill the machine with dirty clothes to soak. I've never actually read the manual for the machine, so it's possible it will tell me that it can only be filled partway or something.

I guess we're too dirty even for a Speed Queen.

And, um, that's it. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Mud Monsters

At five o'clock yesterday afternoon, Cubby and Charlie appeared looking like this, giggling conspiratorially* and asking . . .

"Do you know who we are?"

Yes, yes I do. You're the two boys who are trying to KILL THEIR MOTHER WITH THE EXCESSIVE MUD, GOOD LORD.

Back to the bucket pre-rinse.

*They weren't laughing when I made them stand still so I could hose them down outside. Sorry, kids. You want to play in the mud in April? Then you get an outside shower with fifty-degree hose water. Remember that next time you want to wallow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Well, This Is Alarming

Last night, I went up to get some socks for Cubby and couldn't find any cotton ones. This, despite the fact that I bought ten pairs of plain white cotton socks for him not one month ago.

"What the hell did he do with all his socks?" I thought irritably, even though I knew he could not possibly have lost all ten pairs of socks in just a couple of weeks.

And then I realized where they were: In my sock drawer. And one pair was on my feet right at that moment. I had been wearing his socks for the past two weeks without even noticing.

He is five years old.

You think I've got, what, maybe three years before he's taller than I am? And maybe ten years before all three of these wee ones are bigger than I am.

Truly, a frightening thought.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Last week I finally used up the last of the broth left from cooking the home-brined corned beef. There may be recipes for using it, but I just made different things a bunch of times until it was all gone.

The last thing I made was chicken cooked in it, and then I added diced carrots and frozen spinach and garlic powder and white wine and cream to make a sauce for the chicken and some rice.

I mention this because it was exceptionally good. The MiL said I should remember how I made it so I could make it again. Not that I could ever re-create it, because although the ingredients are listed up there, I have no idea how much of anything I put in. It's not as if it was a recipe. I just threw things in until I thought it was done.

This is my most common method of cooking, and it's definitely one I should stick with. Because here's what happened when I used a recipe.

I was making hummus. I spent ten minutes skinning chickpeas for the proper texture and then prepared to obliterate them in the food processor with the standard tahini/lemon juice/garlic combination. I was just going to throw everything in until it tasted good, as I usually do. This is what I should have done. Instead I looked at a recipe, and then everything went wrong.

I decided to look in this enormous Middle Eastern cookbook of the MiL's. I've never made anything from it, and I thought maybe there was some secret ingredient or tip that would make hummus even better. The recipe listed chickpeas, water, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic*. All good, although the water gave me pause. I've never added water to hummus, but I thought maybe the chickpeas absorb it and it makes a nice texture? Three cups seemed like a bit much, though.

So I added about half a cup of water to the food processor. I realized two things simultaneously: One, that it was now waaaay too thin. And two, the recipe was starting with dried beans, whereas I used canned. The water was for soaking and cooking the chickpeas. That were then supposed to be drained.

How's that for complete idiocy in the kitchen?

I was really pissed that I spent all that time skinning the chickpeas only to screw up like that. I added a can of cannellini beans to thicken it up, as we were out of chickpeas. It's still too thin, but at least edible.

I think I'm just going to swear off even trying to follow recipes anymore. It's just not for me and my apparently unfocused brain.

* This recipe also calls for skinning the chickpeas, and I felt very smug for already doing that. How the mighty (and smug) will fall . . .