It took me almost thirty minutes to get The Baby to fall asleep for her afternoon nap, because she was more interested in what her siblings were screaming about than she was in nursing and falling asleep. As soon as she was asleep, I tried to get her sister upstairs for a nap, but first she needed to take a potty break and get on "naptime underwear." Then she yelled loudly about something while we were on the stairs -- right outside The Baby's bedroom. The one who was asleep woke up screaming and now the other one won't fall asleep. I want my well earned and much needed break.
And how come there is never chocolate in the house when I need it?
The time may come some day when the 1988 Volvo, the first car I ever owned, will cease being useful. Or the time may come when it shudders itself into a heap or when there is more broken about it than there is worth fixing. As much as I have loved that car, it has reached the point where we don't care for it like we once did. That day may come when we don't want to care for it at all, and in the meantime, my husband is rattling around in it and hoping none of his clients ever see what he drives.
So now and again we talk about what kind of car we might like to get next. We want something that can, in a pinch, hold the whole family, and more frequently can haul lumber, mulch, and other diry, messy or big stuff. Justin misses our Subaru Outback, but compared to the 240 wagon, the Subaru could carry very little. He's drawn to the thought of a pickup truck, but ones we could afford could probably not carry the entire family.
I suggest perhaps a second minivan would be the most practical option. My husband, however, recoils at the thought. He's willing to drive ours around when the family is in it, but to be by himself in a minivan -- he claims that's more embarrassing than driving a 17 year old station wagon that's lost a few pieces of trim and one of the door handles. He's thinking perhaps we need a newer Volvo wagon when the time comes and since he won't consider a minivan, I think that's what we'll look for.
And so I ask all you men, is a minivan really more humilitating and emasculating than a station wagon?
The Boy starts Kindergarten in a few weeks. Until a little over a year ago, I'd thought I'd be busy at this time preparing a home school curriculum and freaking out at the prospect. But -- we made the mistake of reading one too many Ramona Quimby books to The Boy and he was bound and determined to go to school.
We sent him off to hippie German school last year for preschool. Although there were days when he wasn't all that happy about it, he generally liked school and liked the things they were doing.
We, the parents, appreciated the hands-on activities and the simple play without structured academic times for the young kids. If we were going to send him to school we wanted to find a place that was homelike and respected the beauty of kids being kids and learning through play. I don't ban all TV from our house, but I liked that children were encouraged to use their imagination at not TV as the basis for their games. I didn't really care if they ate organic quinoa every Wednesday, but I did appreciate that the kids were not filling up on Kool-Aid and cookies. I may not have loved the communist bumperstickers on other parents cars, but what they didn't know about my silent mockery won't hurt them.
And so, we are going to keep him in school there. I've come to appreciate the benefits of having one child less in my entourage at times and I think it is nice for him to get out and spend time with other adults and children.
As my friends prepare their kids for their first year of school, I begin to really appreciate The Boy's school.
But so much for The Boy's friends. I got to meet another "Internet stalker friend" as my husband calls them. Meredith from Like Merchant Ships and I met up at the library for story time. She brought a snack for the kids to share and they ran around while we talked and discovered many mutual acquaintances and even a shared ex-boyfriend! Nashville really is a small town. It's fun to make new friends and so far I've only had good experiences meeting up with various people I've "met" first on-line. Hooray for new friends.
My son's best friend from last year in preschool won't be continuing on at the same school. He'll be going to a much higher end private school, which, of course, pleases my son not one bit. "But you told me he was going to be in my class!" he complains whenever he thinks about it. It is rather sad, but fortunately his friend lives pretty close by and we might be able to get the boys together sometimes outside of school.
The Boy went to his friend's birthday party this past weekend. It was just your average party in a nice but not at all lavish or fancy house, with a game or two and a pinata that would not die, several (but not an overwhelming number) kids running around playing with regular toys and an ice cream birthday cake. This was the kind of party I was used to and felt comfortable taking The Boy to. It wasn't like the one we attended a while back with caterers, musicians, magicians and expensive toys for each of the huge number of children invited.
I was glad. I hadn't been sure what to expect, because The Boy's friend's dad is a fairly well known musician. The family goes on tour with the dad all over the world. Fortunately, although they aren't probably people we have a lot in common with, they seem to be very nice, not pretentious and their son and mine get along. Since The Boy often relates better to adults than other kids, I'm glad he has a friend and one that I can at least for now feel comfortable letting him play with.
We'll see what happens when the effects of having a rock and roll dad show up more, if they ever do.
In spite of the evil squirrels' best efforts and a distinct lack of high productivity from our Roma and heirloom tomato plants, our grape tomato is producing abundant, oversized fruit. Add to these a few Romas that I pick at about half-ripe to keep them out of the hands of the squirrels and the amount of tomatoes on our counter becomes overwhelming quickly.
I give many away and Justin and I eat a lot, which is pretty funny for people who only a few years ago would have sworn we didn't like tomatoes. The children still make that claim and we don't push it. Sometimes they have to try a bite or two, but that's not going to go very far towards reducing the summer's bounty. So in addition to adding tomatoes to everything, eating fresh tomatoes all the time and giving away a bushel, I've also been making a lot of spaghetti/all-purpose chunky tomato sauce. We've eaten some and it's delicious, but most of it has gone into the freezer next to the homemade pesto to be eaten sometime next fall when we don't have fresh tomatoes to enjoy.
Here's the recipe I've been using, which has been adapted from a few different recipes.
3 onions, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced a large celery rib, finely chopped 1 medium carrot, finely chopped 1 small zucchini, shredded 1/2 cup red wine 2 tablespoons olive oil 16 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced 2 tablespoons fresh oregano 2 tablespoons fresh basil 1 tablespoon white sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Saute about 5 minutes. Add red wine; simmer wine and vegetables for another 5 minutes. 2. Scrape vegetables into a crockpot. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low heat. Stir frequently. 3. Let sauce cool, taste seasonings and add more basil and oregano if desired. Stir in can of tomato sauce. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers. Store in freezer.
It's been about a year since anything other than the painting on the side changed at all and I decided it was time for something a little different. However, I also like the layout I have now and I put a lot of time and effort into it. I don't have the time to reinvent the wheel, so I'm just tweaking a bit.
We're in the process of putting up a short piece of fence on the side of the house. Because we have three children to deal with and many other things to occupy our time and take us out-of-town, work has been slow. To catch you up-to-date, the great fence building project is still on going. Postholes were dug and posts set in concrete in May. The rails and pickets didn't get added until June when my dad came for a visit.
Last week we got a jigsaw and that, along with a fairly unscheduled weekend, allowed Justin to make great strides in finishing up the gate. There are still a few trim pieces to be cut, and then the pickets and all will be taken off, sanded, stained with a solid white stain, and then whole thing will be put together and then comes the long and not so fun job of trying to hang the thing, but it looks like a gate now.
This was designed by Justin and my dad. Justin probably would build one for someone else if they could afford his hourly rate, but lawyer hours don't come cheap. Neither do carpenters, of course. I'm glad this job is pro bono.
My friends and I were recently discussing favorite bands and songs and the conversation reached around to what kinds of things we had in our collections. Many of us had similar tastes, but there were always variations. Some people wouldn't recognize some of my favorites and I would change the radio rather quickly if some of theirs came on.
Today as I was putting something in the car, I decided to bring all the CDs in, since a police officer we had at a recent neighborhood meeting warned us all against leaving them in the car to attract people to break in. Going through the CDs, I decided to make a list of the groups and musicians that I like or liked enough to buy more than one album of. I do have two CDs of Wagner, but those were for a class and never something I was partial to. My list is in the extended entry. What is on yours?
The Beatles Beethoven Johnny Cash The Chieftains The Kingston Trio Mark Knopfler Tom Lehrer Glenn Miller Dolly Parton Peter, Paul and Mary Tom Petty REM Simon and Garfunkel Ralph Stanley They Might Be Giants U2
I was pretty young, but recalling Miami Vice and the slightly unshaved, t-shirt and sportcoat look, I don't recall thinking it looked like "garish machismo" mentioned in an NYT article today. In fact, wearing colorful t-shirts and spending too much time working on the right amount of unshavedness, really starts looking effette. But not nearly as effette as what the gushing author of the NYT article was comparing the Miami Vice look to -- men wearing dress pants and shoes without socks.
I have no problem with men wearing shorts and masculine sandals, so I'm not opposed to seeing naked manly ankles, but there is a time and a place for such things and any time a man is wearing a suit is not the time to see naked hairy ankles. I just say, ew! Mostly, I think it's way too wussy looking and I don't like seeing hairy legs under a suit period. Extra length executive socks all the way, please!!! Big Arm Woman, from whom I found the article, also mentioned in the stench factor, which of course would be quite nasty.
But, says the article, "For a year or two men have been picking up white cotton no-show athletic socks, once the sole province of women's tennis, as a comfortable and stylish complement to athletic footwear." Women's socks. Women can pull off the sockless look. Men -- not so much. Men, put your socks back on when you got out in suits, anything else is just icky and girlish.
Some of my blog friends do not care for Harry Potter, but I hope it doesn't bother them too much when I say I was thrilled when I got an e-mail today announcing that my copy of the new book shipped out yesterday.
And so will begin a few nights of shortened sleep, while I read about young Mr. Potter's latest adventures.
My children are losing even more of the last vestiges of toddlerese. Today, the five year old said ambulance instead of amblience and the two year old corrected me saying, "It's not Olvo, Mom. It's VOLVO."
I swore I would never be one of those parents who repeated baby talk, but [sigh] I miss the special pronunciations.
We are fortunate enough to have two vehicles, both of which actually drive and do not sit up on blocks in the front yard, contrary to what some of you may think about people in the South. Our two vehicles though, are very different. I get to drive the 2000 Mazda MPV, which hauls children around very well. Justin is driving the first car I ever owned -- a 1988 Volvo wagon, which though running poorly and ailing in general, gets him to and from work and is a wonderful car for carrying all sorts of cargo.
Last Friday as I pulled into the parking garage at the library the check engine light came on in the van. Justin came over from work and checked the fluids and such, which seemed fine. As a side note, I am capable of checking the fluids, but with three somewhat fussy, impatient children in tow, it becomes more complicated than yielding control in exchange for help. We then drove it by the mechanic, who checked it out and said that it was safe to drive home and we should bring in on Monday.
After wedging three carseats tightly into the back of the Volvo, Justin drove off with my van to the mechanic's yesterday. I managed to avoid driving yesterday, but today I had to drive Justin to work and run over to our insurance agent's office to pay some bills that I'd forgotten to put in the mail in a timely fashion.
I am so lucky to have something else to drive besides the rattle trap. The carseats are jammed together and only one kid can get in at a time. The Boy can't even buckle his own belt when his sisters are in there, because one carseat covers the buckle for the next. Also, the automatic locks don't work, so I have unlock and lock each door separately and since the handle has fallen off the outside of the of the rear driver's side door, funky contorsions are required to open it from the inside.
Yes, I know, it is only one step removed in redneckedness from sitting on blocks in the front yard, but at least it drives and gets Justin where he wants to go. It was a great car in its day and has served me well since I bought it in 1997, but I sure am glad I don't have to drive it around on a regular basis anymore.
We are getting lots of rain, but very little strong wind around here. Somewhere around here something more exciting must be happening though, because every since the middle of last night, the power has been going on and off for a couple of hours at a time. It's hard to get much done when you don't know whether to start things requiring electricity or not.
Update: The power has shut off four times today. It's getting a bit old and I'm tired of sitting around in the dark. I can't clean much, because the areas that most need cleaning are windowless and I'm not inspired enough to clean by candlelight. At least our range is gas, so I can cook dinner whether or not we have electricity at dinner time.
In past years, we've lost very few tomatoes to squirrels and rabbits, because our eighty-something year old, next door neighbor grew more tomatoes and didn't actually pick much. With more crops over there and no dog, the squirrels went where the fruit was easiest to get and most plentiful.
Our neighbor died this past March, so we're the only ones growing tomatoes this year. I miss talking with him and comparing notes on plants, and I sure miss his garden being the buffer zone for mine against the critters.
This year we planted three tomato plants, figuring that even that would produce almost more than we could use or give away. So far only my grape tomato plant has produced anything. The other two, a roma tomato plant and a purple heirloom variety keep getting semi-close to ripe fruit and then I return to find the tomatoes ripped off and sitting gnawed on in the yard, on top of another neighbor's fence or scattered here and there.
I'm very annoyed. I'm not sure what kind of barrier or deterant I can put around my plants to keep out the squirrels, but still allow me to fairly easily reach the tomatoes myself. My husband just wishes there wasn't a law against discharging firearms in the city.
When I was little my parents would take me to Dodgers games. I would wear my older brother's outgrown sailor suit and pretend to be the boy on the Cracker Jack box.
Although I'm not a huge sports fan of any kind these days, if I pay attention to one sport at all, it is baseball. It's more difficult now living in a city with only a minor league team and disliking the closest major league team to get too worked up until the post season though.
Still, we take our kids to at least one minor league game each summer and I've been checking out stories about baseball just to wet their appetites a bit. We've gotten two recently that were especially good and worth reading to yourself or your children.
First and perhaps my favorite of the two is a book by David Shannon called How Georgie Radbourne Saved Baseball. David Shannon's artwork alone is enough to make me love the books he writes and illustrates, from the very simple No David to the very elaborate like Jane Yolen's The Ballad of the Pirate Queens which he illustrates. His paintings glow, whether simple or elaborate.
Many of Shannon's books are set in fantastic worlds where strange things can happen. The setting for this book is a sad, Farenheit 452 style, America where spring can never come, because an unhappy former baseball player has taken over the country and banned all things related to baseball with a secret police keeping an eye on the populous. Without Spring training, winter stays on the ground. Then a child named Georgie is born. A child who spontaneously speaks in baseball-ese and has an amazing pitching arm. Finally, a confrontation with the evil dictator saves the land and baseball.
The second book has a totally different feel to it. The Bat Boy And His Violin by Gavin Curtis is set in the last years of the Negro National Baseball League after Jackie Robinson has already integrated the sport. The watercolor illustrations have a nice feel to them and are very lovely.
This is the story of a young boy who dreams of classical music and performing with his violin in front of crowds. His father, though, is the manager of a losing baseball team that has lost its best players to white teams. He is often frustrated by his musically, but not athletically, inclined son. He assigns the boy to be his team's bat boy, a role which does not come easily and soon discovers that letting him practice his violin in th dugout is more productive than his delivering bats. The music starts off a winning streak that gives the ball players hope and excitement in what might be their last year of play and ultimately brings the father and son closer together. I enjoyed the not-too preachy history lesson. My son really liked the fact that the book mentioned both baseball and Beethoven.
Following The Boys of Summer closely or not, these two books are great reads and it's fun to look at the pictures* too.
*Don't judge a book by its cover alone, but the illustrations can tell you a lot about a picture book.
I forgot to mention that The Wee One got her first tooth on the Fourth of July, just a few days after she reached her eighth month. It's not big enough to photograph yet and I think she is working on two more, but here she is on the day of the first tooth's arrival.
She may be toothed and pulling up and cruising, but she still looks far younger and shorter than all the other babies her age. I'm not sure of her percentiles, but we met a seven month old last night who had a good six inches of length on her.
Certain people have been wondering what is going on around the Casa de Adams that has resulted in a longer than usual hiatus from the Blogosphere. Last year around this time, my family and I left for an Independence Day visit with my family and arrived home to find that the plug had been pulled on my blogging space and the whole thing was kablooie. This year we made a junket down to points south to visit my in-laws and I was happy to return and discover that my blog was still intact.
And now for the trip and all that. The drive down was fairly miserable. It began with my waking up at 4:45 or something coughing my head off. That subsided, but I'd planned to get up around 5:30, so sleeping in was kind of shot. After everyone was up, dressed, the car loaded and everyone out the door, we were doing well to be on the way to the kennel by 7:50. We dropped the dog off, got breakfast at McDonald's (discovering later that neither child that can eat such things will eat an Egg McMuffin) and were truly on the road by 9:00. This is the first long car trip we've made with The Girl since she has been potty-trained. We had to visit bathrooms a lot and she still managed to wet the Pull-ups I'd put her in more than once.
Along the road we were entertained by screams of "Get your foot off my carseat," and variations thereon and also too many songs including the word "poo-poo" by the two year old, who has a refined interest in potty humor. Selections included "Mary had a little poo-poo" and "Jesus Loves the Little..." You get the picture. Visions of children gagged and restrained by swathes of duct tape danced in parental heads on more than one occasion.
The whole drive and stops down to Pensacola took us about 11 hours. When we arrived I could only curl up in a fetal position and stare at things. But long before we reached our final destination, there was one highlight to the trip.
As Terry mentioned last Friday, we stopped and had lunch with Papa Possum himself.
Meeting Terry was very fun and I was pleased to discover that he's really just like his blogself, except he didn't exactly sound like the voice in my head. Otherwise though, he's a funny, entertaining and totally sweet gentleman. And I got a hug. He's such a sucker.
When the kids weren't fighting we listened to Kipling's Just So Stories. Those are highly recommended. The Boy loved them and spent a few hours drawing illustrations of the various stories while he listened. I especially liked his Elephant's Child, but can't find it at the moment.
Once we finally arrived and I stopped staring at the walls and babbling, we had a nice time with my inlaws. Justin and I even got to go out on a date one night and enjoyed wandering around the streets of historic downtown Pensacola, which looks a lot like my neighborhood, only more renovated, with prettier gingerbread on the houses and a nice view of the beach. At least my house isn't likely to get blown down in a hurricane.
Sunday there was lots of churching at the congregation where my father-in-law is an Elder and a teacher at the preacher training school they run there. Justin also bought and installed a nice ceiling fan for his mom for her birthday, which was the next day. She's such a popular lady that people all over the country throw parties for her birthday and set off fireworks. It must be nice to be so famous.
Justin and I wanted to take some photos of the gingerbread on the houses downtown for inspiration, so on Monday we dragged everyone down there with us and discovered a neat little Fourth of July festival in the Square, with bouncy things, pony rides, a petting zoo and free balloons. The kids were thrilled and it was a pleasant, small towny way to spend a good portion of the day.
When we got back to my in-laws that afternoon, we started talking about the dreaded drive the next day and after more talking decided to pack up and just leave after dinner, so the kids would sleep instead of fight. The peace, quiet and much shorter (6 hours and 45 minutes) drive were wonderful, but the verdict is still out as to whether the sick and exhausted feeling of the next day were worth it.
I'm only now beginning to feel somewhat recovered and I still am working on putting suitcases and such things away, along with catching up on laundry and all the other things one has to do after a "vacation."