Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Never Would Have Made It To Oregon

I recently finished a very interesting book called Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey, by Lillian Schlissel. It's a somewhat scholarly book based on--you may have guessed this--the many diaries kept by women who were on their way west in wagons.

It's a really good book, especially if, like me, you've always been fascinated by pioneers, but what really struck me was how many of the women on these awful journeys were pregnant and/or had very young children. And what's even more amazing in the case of the pregnant women is that they didn't even mention it in their diaries--their personal diaries!--until they delivered the babies. In one case, the woman had something like seven children and delivered her eighth three days after arriving at their stopping place. After a particularly grueling end of the journey that required her to walk up a slippery, wet mountain trail while carrying her toddler.

Also amazing is that the diaries aren't continuous bitch-fests. You know mine would have been. Not whiners, those women.

So I shall restrain myself from whining too much about all the frantic Halloween activity yesterday morning with Cubby and Charlie and story hours and trick-or-treating and preschool parties and OH MY GOD so much sugar. I just won't. Because I'm pretty sure the covered-wagon women wouldn't have much sympathy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Good Thing I Got All That Churchin'

I am, like so many others, a lapsed Catholic. But before I lapsed, I was really Catholic. Youth groups, retreat leader, religious education instructor, all that good stuff. None of that now, however, which means that Cubby's religious education has come solely from the MiL and the times he deigns to go to church with her.

But it sure is handy I have that background, otherwise I would have had a hard time figuring this one out:

Cubby: Mom! Charlie can say, "Glory to goddis."

Me: What?

Cubby: Glory to goddis!

Charlie: Gory to godith!

Me: Wait, what? (Totally sounded like " blahblah goddess," but I was pretty sure that's one of the few words Cubby doesn't know.)


Me: Ohhhhh, glory to God in the highest?

Cubby: Yes!

Me: Yeah, that's actually glory. to. God. in. the. highest. "Highest" like high up there.

Cubby: Oh.

Me: And peace to His people on Earth.

Cubby: Yeah.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Joy in a Cup

Bedtimes with Charlie have taken a turn for the worse in the past few days. I don't know why--except just the unpredictability and pure cussedness that is two years old--but he's been shrieking and writhing on the floor for 45 minutes before finally getting into bed and going to sleep. This means some very unpleasant evenings for me lately, obviously.

Tonight he blessedly decided to forgo the shrieking fit (despite zero changes to the routine we always follow that has apparently been totally unacceptable for the past few days but is all of the sudden A-OK again), instead just flipping around in his bed and talking to himself. For an hour. While I sat there on a chair in his room, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

By the time he finally fell asleep and I escaped his room at 8:30 p.m., I was feeling distinctly grumpy. Also hungry, and then even more grumpy when I remembered we ate the last of the peanut butter earlier today so my planned peanut butter on a rice cake was a no go.

The MiL sometimes has random little jars of crunchy peanut butter for baking on the top shelf of one of the cabinets, though, so I started foraging up there in the hopes of finding one of those. But I found something much, much better: pudding cups.

Oh yes. Pudding cups. Do surprises get any happier than that?

They were left over from the time last spring when Cubby was so sick he wouldn't eat anything. I bought him some chocolate pudding cups figuring that those would be a surefire way to get him to ingest some calories. Turned out he was sick enough that he didn't even eat those. I think he ate half of one. So there were still three up there.

I ate all three. Oh yes, I did. And it was glorious.

Nothing can redeem a day better than an unexpected pudding cup. Unless it's three unexpected pudding cups.

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again

Crappy costume time! Hooray! Well, crappy if you're my kids, because they were unfortunate enough to be saddled with a non-crafty mother who doesn't care about them or holidays.

Okay, maybe just the non-crafty part. Also cheap, because I don't want to spend fifty dollars on costumes every year that are worn for two hours.

Upon inquiry, Cubby has consistently announced his intention of dressing as a carpenter for Halloween. Carpenter! I can do that! Jeans and flannel shirt in his drawer, pencil behind his ear, one of Daddy's tool belts (perhaps slightly modified to actually stay on his not-so-manly hips) filled with some of our various fake tools . . . done! (Though he has told me he wants to bring real nails and a real hammer in the tool belt. We may have a little bit of a disagreement on this.)

But then yesterday he said he wanted to be an astronaut. Oh. Well. We do still have the astronaut suit from last year. Maybe it will fit him. I guess we'll see what happens on Wednesday morning next week*.

Charlie hasn't expressed an opinion, so I dug out some overalls for him and will make something up from there. We have this explorer's helmet thing--you know the kind, like a hard hat with a light on the front--and I thought about getting him nicely blackened and calling him a coal miner. But then I'd probably be scrubbing the blacking agent from every surface in my house.

My inspiration came in the form of the gold panning, uh, pans, that A. ordered for himself and the children.

Yes, the gold rush has started at Blackrock. Not that they're going to find gold nuggets in the gully, but A. thought it would be a fun activity. Too bad he ordered them right as the water temperature started plunging in the fall.


I figure I can use the overalls and the helmet thing, plus his rubber boots, have him hold the smaller pan, and call him a forty-niner. Not exactly an obvious costume, and I'm sure I'll have to explain it to everyone who sees him, but whatever.

And that's it. That's all I got. Sorry, kids. Another year of crappy costumes courtesy of Mom.

* His preschool is going trick-or-treating at the village businesses again. This is the only trick-or-treating Cubby is aware of, since obviously no one is trekking up our dark-ass driveway in the middle of nowhere on actual Halloween. I suspect this is the last year Cubby will remain ignorant of door-to-door candy collection, however. I've put off the candy trudging as long as I can, I suppose. Next year I'll have to suck it up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let the Burning Begin . . . If I'm Lucky

Yesterday marked the beginning of leaf raking and, therefore, burning. We can burn the leaves in our driveway, see, because we live in an area zoned agricultural. This basically means, "Do what you want on your land and your neighbors will have to deal with it."

Luckily, we don't have close neighbors, and the ones we do have are used to our woodchuck ways.


I meant to just rake the leaves off the patio on the south side so they wouldn't turn into a slippery walking hazard during the forecasted five days of rain we have coming up. But then I had to rake the patio leaves onto the lawn, so I thought I might as well rake the leaves on the lawn into the driveway. And then, since it was relatively dry and sunny, I thought I might as well burn the two resulting piles right away. 

I am always surprised, however, by how damn hard it is to get the leaves to light. 

I KNOW. They're dead leaves! Isn't that the very definition of a fire hazard?

Not in upstate New York. It's wet here. Even if it's not actively raining or snowing, there is always a heavy dew on the ground in the morning. The leaves are always damp. They are always hard to get going with matches. In very wet falls, I have resorted to using a little old motor oil or gas to get the piles started. Yesterday it took me about six matches per pile before they got going.

At least the risk of accidental fires is low.

The children, of course, love leaf burning time*. Not only are there nice big piles of leaves to leap around in, but the lighting of the leaves means they can play firemen.

What's going on back there with Cubby and Charlie?

Cubby is helping Charlie put on his fireman's mask to keep out the smoke. Obviously.

Luckily for me, we were out of water at this particular moment, which made it pretty easy to stop a determined Fireman Cubby from bringing over the hose to put out the fire.

I say "luckily," although my pregnant back did not think I was so lucky when I was hauling the five-gallon gas can down to the beach to start the water pump. Then coming back up to get a screwdriver to fix the pump before actually starting it. With both children in tow.

But that's a story for another day.

* I'm sure someone out there is thinking it's irresponsible to burn leaves right out there in the open with small children running around. All I can say to that is that these particular children are well-schooled in the facts of fire, have been around it all their lives, and know to treat it with respect. That said, I don't leave them unsupervised outside while the leaves are burning. End disclaimer.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Woodchuck Weekends for Kids

One of the fun things about having children is sharing things with them that are special to the parents. I really loved reading the Little House books with Cubby, for instance. I'm delighted that one of Cubby and Charlie's favorite movies to watch is A Claymation Christmas Celebration, which was a cherished part of my own childhood. A. was super-excited to take both kids to the scrap yard on Saturday.

We have different interests, obviously.

A. was also excited to go the scrap yard himself, because it's been a really long time since he's gone and the man does love his scrapping. There is something fun about delivering a load of nasty, rusty old metal and getting paid actual money for it, I must admit, though I haven't missed that particular form of entertainment as much as A. has.

But now that A. bought a big utility trailer to haul behind the Subaru--in lieu of replacing Big Red with another decrepit pick-up truck--he's back in the scrapping business. And if you think that A. was going to go to the scrap yard without those two small boys who mimic every move he makes, well . . . you think wrong.

So on Saturday morning as soon as it got light*, we all headed outside in the rain to gather rusty metal. Cubby and Charlie helped, depositing smaller pieces of pipe and fencing into the trailer with all the seriousness of real workers. Their favorite part was watching A. take a sledgehammer to an old iron bathtub he had used as a sheep trough. The resulting pieces were loaded into the trailer and off we went to the scrap yard.

Cubby wanted to play among the metal at the yard, an idea which was promptly negated by both A. and I. Scrap yards are not child-safe zones, as you might imagine. Cubby and Charlie did get to go into the building to get the money, though, and to admire the display of various pieces of metal brought to the scrap yard but deemed nice enough for display by the yard's owners. Their favorite was the old hand pump that had been rigged up with a fountain and had tiny goldfish swimming around in the attached bowl.

Who needs a science museum when you can go to the scrap yard?

Then we left to spend some of our lucre at the gas station. Because all the best treats come from the gas station, obviously. Cubby's absolute favorite gas station treat is a Snicker's ice cream bar. So we all sat in the little dining area of this very rural gas station, eating Snicker's ice cream bars at 10 a.m. and watching the parade of pick-up trucks outside.

Although the children could have stayed there for an hour watching trucks, we did get back in the car in fairly short order and headed home.

And that, my lovelies, is how you entertain two small woodchucks on a rainy Saturday morning.

* Which is now after 7 a.m., so this is not so dramatic as it might be.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I totally caved and bought a bag of Reese's Pieces at the grocery store yesterday. This is pretty much my favorite candy in all of the universe and that means that I can't be trusted to eat a reasonable amount.

There's, uh, not a lot of the bag left now. But there's still some. 

Now, when I have a treat that I do not want to share with Cubby--who has unfortunately inherited his mother's love for all sweet things--I kind of hide it in this basket on the baker's rack in the breakfast room. The basket is open and all, but it's high enough up that Cubby can't see in there.

A. can, though. While foraging after dinner last night, he discovered my secret candy bag. He ate some, but it's okay (I guess), because unlike me, he has some control and didn't eat very much.

He did, however, put the bag back on the baker's rack on the shelf. Not in the basket. So it was in plain view of Cubby, whose eagle eye landed on it during lunch today. I was on the opposite side of the table, so I didn't know he could see it until he got a big smile on his face and said, "I know what we're going to have for dessert."

I told him we didn't eat dessert after lunch. He assured me that he knew that, but that he could see what would be for dessert after dinner. "Oh yeah?" says I. "Yeah," he says. "Candy. LOOK!"

Dramatic pointing to the bag of Reese's Pieces on the baker's rack.

He asked me where that candy came from. I said I bought it at the store yesterday. He asked who I bought it for. I said--truthfully--that I bought it for me. At which point he informed me very earnestly that "Best friends share. So you should share, Mommy."

So now I have to. Oh well. I can't say I haven't already eaten my share. Kept on the straight and narrow by my four-year-old.