I didn't grow up celebrating Halloween and I don't particularly love it now. Carving pumpkins is messy and makes my hands sore. I think it all brings out my inner Grinch. However, my kids look forward to carving pumpkins every year and so we do it. For some reason, it isn't actually all about me.
This year we did a skull, a traditional face and a kitty cat.
Over the past few days, Papa Possum has tried to teach the ways of righteous Southern cookery to the masses. He deals with cornbread, grits and biscuits and threatens much smiting upon any poor soul who uses sugar in any of the aforementioned items.
Of course, I like sweet cornbread and one of my favorite biscuit recipes has a teaspoon of sugar in it, but being a gentleman Terry has promised not to smite me, should we get to meet again.
So you are in Nashville for the weekend and don't know what to do?
How about going to the GodMen conference? "At the daylong GodMen event downtown Saturday, men will be able to cuss, smoke cigars, watch videos of football pileups and car crashes, listen to specially composed Christian rock songs such as "Testosterone High" and attend workshops on how to fight pornography addiction."
Is it just me or does going to a conference to help you get back to your manly roots seem just a tad Oprah-fied?
As for my family, husband and all, I'm afraid we'll have to miss the spectacle event. We have tickets to the symphony.
Having needed something to read when I was huge and pregnant and something to read while nursing and sitting around, I recently finished House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher. The author takes a look at houses, room by room (and second houses and the location of the house) and discusses what works, what doesn't, what we collectively want in a house, and why.
The book is neither completely fluffy nor a difficult read. It suited my need for light, but interesting, reading quite well. The discussions of various rooms and the psychology behind why we look for certain things in different areas of a house were helpful to me, especially as I am currently trying to reimagine my own house and figure out a way to rework the living spaces we have to fit our family.
When we bought our house we had one child and were expecting our second. While I didn't expect to stop with two children, I never really considered what adding two more children would do to the feel of our cozy, comfortable 1850 square foot, 3 bedroom house. Unsurprisingly, we feel cramped. However, after spending several months looking at houses this summer, knowing that there were certain things we really did not want to give up in a house -- something old, no farther from my husband's job than we are now and not requiring us to take on a mortgage much bigger than our current one, we realized that there really wasn't much of anything out there for us. Everyone else's house has increased in value at about the same rate as ours and even moving to a much less desireable neighborhood and a fixer-upper without amenties like a kitchen would not actually fit all our requirements, because sellers are convinced that they can still garner high prices for houses even if those houses have no kitchen, plumbing that drains into the crawl space, and holes in the roof.
Needless to say, for at least the present, we'll be staying where we are. But we have realized that we need to figure out a way to live better in the space we have. We have two front rooms that do not get used nearly as much as they should and we tend to live in the kitchen and tiny morning room behind it, ignoring most of the living room space taken up by the two front rooms.
Reading House Thinking really has gotten me thinking about how to make changes to our home to make rooms we've been passing through more inviting. Places we want to linger.
Not that any of this will get me another bedroom, but perhaps that will come eventually after we figure out how to use the downstairs better. Afterall, The Baby isn't planning to sleep in his own room for quite some time yet.
But here are some helpful suggestions. One of my favorites? "Ignore celebrities, except when they are doing what they are celebrated for doing: acting, playing football et cetera. Skill does not confer moral, political or intellectual discrimination...If a celebrity is not celebrated for doing anything but being a celebrity, smile politely but pay no notice."
Yesterday I made my first solo venture out of the house with all the kidlets. Where would one go for such a momentous occasion? Home Depot. I didn't need a bunch of things and there is very little that the kids want me to buy there, so it seemed like a decent place to test the waters. All went well, but I sure wish they offered to carry out my bags like my favorite grocery store does.
When we all pile out of the car these days, I sense somewhere in the middle of it all that I am the driver of a clown car. People keep coming out long after you expect them to stop.
For the most part, people are very nice to me and my horde (whether a horde of three or four) when we do go out of the house. A lady let me go in front of her in line. A man offered to put my cart in the cart return for me. It may mean I look tired and desperate, but I take the help. Once in a while, I garner looks of sympathy and comments about having my hands full, but usually they are well meaning and often accompanied by a statement that the speaker had 4 or more kids themselves and they remember the strategic planning required to leave home with them all and return with the same number.
I'm glad therefore that I live where I do. Most people in Tennessee, I dare say do not, any longer, have large families with four or more children, but very few seem to think it shocking. Apparently some places this isn't such an acceptable lifestyle choice.
Last week, when the Oldest Girl climbed into my lap, she asked, "Why are you still so fat?"
This morning at breakfast? "Mom, your tummy is getting a lot smaller!"
I could only thank her for that positive affirmation.
This in no way means that I am, at this point less than two weeks post-partum, concerning myself with weight loss or tummy-size. I'll wait at least another couple of weeks before I start looking at the fat rolls and crying.
It's hard to believe it has been over a week since the baby was born. He's fitting in well, sleeping through all the chaos, and sleeping well at night snuggled next to me. Saturday night he actually slept from 10:30 to 4:30 and then to make up for it, nursed for the next hour and a half. But still, I really can't complain about his sleeping habits at this point.
We've been well taken care of with meals brought by almost daily by people from church. It will very strange when I finally have to start cooking regularly again. We've also been fortunate that Justin's law firm offers him some paternity leave. He was at home this whole past week, which was lovely. If only someone would pay him to stay home full time.
But all this is starting to come to an end. Justin is going back to work, eventually people are going to stop bringing me food, and we're going to start school back up for the kidlets. I'm a bit intimidated by handling everything on my own, but I know I can. I've already been alone with all four for a couple of hours when Justin went to some boring lawyer dinner last week. The real question is when I'll ever be brave enough to leave home with everyone in tow.
As the lovely Miss Frazier mentioned in the comments below, we now have evened the family child count and have two boys. Peter Benjamin was born on Saturday and weighed 7 lbs 13 ounces and is 20 inches long. We decided 24 hours was long enough in the hospital and came home last night. All is going pretty well thus far. Anyone wishing to see all the photos can check out my flickr account.
Yesterday I was driving in the car when the two girls got in an argument and began chanting back and forth at each other -- "Naughty Middle Girl" and "Naughty Toddler Girl." Eventually I had enough and told them to knock it off and that the word naughty was no longer to be spoken. Undeterred, the Toddler Girl said, "Okay. Stupid Middle Girl."
So, as the title says, her comprehension is excellent. I just wish her vocabulary weren't so highly developed.
It's hard for me to imagine a world without cursive. In school I used it to take notes, answer essay questions and all those sorts of things. When my husband and I were dating long distance for a couple of years, I wrote more long hand letters than e-mails. It was pleasant to sit down and actually put my thoughts on paper. Now, I can't say I write on paper all that much, but I still make out grocery lists, write thank you notes and other things of that sort. I much prefer my cursive to my printing and it flows a lot faster.
The Boy is actually already asking to learn cursive and he can generally read it quite well. I've been thinking about starting him on it in the spring. It's hard to believe some consider it a dying art.
The Boy was absolutely thrilled with the tooth fairy. He ran into our room bright and early proclaiming that she had come and had left him an ancient dollar coin.
Later he told us that the coin (a 1978 Eisenhower silver dollar) was of the type that Laura and Mary Ingalls might have seen. We're still working on history timelines...
He told his little sisters that the tooth fairy turns herself and her belongings into air to enter the house, turns back into a solid, magically exchanges the tooth for the coin and note, and then turning back into air, slips back out of the house. Sounds even more complicated than going up and down a chimney, but what do I know?
My favorite line of the morning though, has to be, "I love my new dollar. Dollar coins like this are very rare in these post-modern times."
The Oldest keeps trying to grow up. I remember when The Boy was known as Fang, because at the tender age of 9 months, he only had one tooth. As of yesterday, he is one tooth short.
Since many of his peers lost their first tooth ages ago, he's felt very ready for this day to come and when his tooth finally loosened the excitement was keen. And then the tooth held on for over a month.
Yesterday afternoon as we were talking about the changing of the seasons and I was spinning a globe around our heads, I looked over and noticed that that tooth was hanging crookedly. I took a closer look and saw the incoming tooth poked up half-way behind the baby tooth and I knew it was time to take matters to hand. Despite a few objections, I yanked and after only a slight amount of blood, which The Boy took better than expected, the excitement of the moment took over.
Our tooth fairy is a rather retro one. A first lost tooth is going for a dollar around here. I'd meant to make sure the tooth fairy had a special Sacajawea dollar on hand for the occasion, but I'm afraid the tooth fairy forgot. However, after a bit of digging around, the tooth fairy did find an stash of Eisenhower silver dollars given to her by her grandfather on birthdays long, long ago and she slipped one of those in for The Boy along with a special, perfumed (fairies must smell extra good, afterall) note.
Sniffle. My little boy is so proud of being big, gap-toothed and kind of funny looking. How dare he keep trying to grow up?
Although, I had no reason to hope, I still got my hopes up that perhaps I'd have a baby over the weekend. NOT. Obviously, I know the child will arrive, but I still can't help hoping for sooner rather than later.
We still haven't picked out names, which seems to bother my friends and family more than it bothers me. I guess I have more faith in our ability to come up with something suitable when the time comes than they do.
Other than the difficulty with names, we did get some of the other little things done to get ready for the kidlet. I bought a baby book, which like those of older siblings will mostly never be filled out. Not wanting to set the standard too high for myself, I've managed to not fill out any baby books after about the first month and I've also managed to only once get a studio portrait taken of a child. We wouldn't want the rest of them to start complaining that I didn't love them as much as baby number one -- so I just striven for an extra low standard for all. Henry Higgins treats a duchess as if she were a flower girl and I try to make sure I make as few differences between my children as possible by doing as little as possible.
We brought the carseat and bassinet down from the attic. I made sure someone will be around to take care of the kids when we go to the hospital. I think we're actually in decent shape for the arrival of a baby. I even vacuumed and cleaned the kitchen floor. I have some food in the freezer for meals after all the ladies from church stop arriving with food. I'm sure there is something I've forgotten, but things seem like they are pretty much as ready as they'll get.
Now we just have to wait around for the big event.
This will come as a surprise to no one, but this baby is due to arrive quite soon. Because of this, I have gotten more than my usual amount of kind, well meaning and annoying phone calls from relatives.
Many of them want to know what we would like to have for the baby. I have a boy and two girls already. All of them have fall birthdays. I save everything. Relatives are left unsatisfied when I say diapers are welcome, but what I'd really like is a spa day or a visit from a house cleaning service. I realize that none of those fit the cute little baby outfit category, but they did ask what I wanted. If this is a boy, I might need clothes -- because I actually haven't saved every outfit The Boy wore seven years ago, but I can't really know that until after the child emerges from the womb -- now can I?
Naturally, they all also want to know the baby's due date. I've been telling them mid-October for nine months now, and again, they are strangely unsatisfied by this response. They all seem to assume that if they ask just one more time, I'll break, give them an actual date and then they can start calling every hour or two on that day to see if anything is happening yet. Obviously that's what I need.
Having left them without the answers they are looking for on the above questions, my relatives move on to the next one. Most of them already wish I'd found out whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but since we haven't -- they want to know what names we've picked out.
In the past, we've always managed to narrow the list down to a few promising first names at least, by this point. Nobody really seems to believe me when I tell them that this time I don't have a list. It is true that I have a front runner in the boy name category, but for girls -- nada. Honest. And as far as middle names go -- nothing. And what if I decide I don't like the boy's name I have in mind. Ooops. No back up plans at this point.
It's true, of course, that I don't much like sharing names before hand anyway. I start hearing from one side or another why name X is horrible. One name I had considered in the past actually inspired a comment from a relative that it was the next "Adolf." Yep, picking names is fraught with tribulations, but since we have none and are having trouble getting started on that subject, I know for sure I don't want to talk about it with even the most well-meaning relative.
At the end of such calls, I always receive a reminder that the relative expects to hear when the baby arrives -- as if we planned not to notify grandparents, great-grandparents and other close relatives.
I expect many, many more such phone calls in the upcoming weeks. I know they care and I know they usually mean well -- but I'd like it better if Merry Maids showed up at the door and I was whisked off to the spa.
Although on most occasions The Boy is his father all over again, once in a while I notice that he did get something from me. One obvious trait that is currently appearing is a love of bad puns. He's been busy making up his own jokes related to the months of the year. I'll put the answers below the jump. Feel free to groan, but when one is scraping the bottom of the pun barrel, I think these aren't too bad for a six year old.
1. What's the wind's favorite month?
2. What's a lumberjack's favorite month?
3. What's a snowball's favorite month?
4. What's a soldier's favorite month?
5. What's a simian's favorite month?
1. A-gust 2. Sep-timberrrrrrr 3. Decem-brrrrrrrrr 4. March 5. Ape-ril
The Toddler Girl just went upstairs, picked out her own clothes and brought them down to put on. She wants to wear bloomers, striped socks and boots. I might have to require something on top if we go out, but otherwise, I think the outfit works.
Since I woke up around 3:45 this morning and never got truly back to sleep -- and Benedryl did nothing for me, I think we're going to have to take it nice and easy today. I may or may not have had a lot of contractions last night. You'd think I'd be able to tell by Baby 4.0, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong though.
Although The Boy is now homeschooled, I still derive a certain amount of pleasure from still being on the Hippy German School listserv. For instance, today I got a message urging parents to get their children involved with the Doctors Without Borders Refugee Camp currently set up in a local park.
After breakfast this morning, I was sitting at the computer when I suddenly felt really faint and like the world was spinning. I lay down and didn't faint, but decided I'd better call the doctor. Apparently, they didn't think it sounded like a good thing, since they told me to go on over to Labor and Delivery for evaluation.
They couldn't really find anything wrong. I'm still dilated about the same as before and having irregular contractions -- I think I had 5 or so in the hour they had me on a monitor -- but nothing to make them want to keep me.
So here I am at home. Hanging out mostly in bed and not doing much. In most ways this has been my easiest pregnancy -- so it seems funny that I've had to run over to the hospital for this one when nothing has ever gone on in any other pregnancy ever before.
Fortunately, all this happened before Justin went to work. He's staying home today so I can rest.
My dear sweet Toddler Girl is soaking up new vocabulary like a sponge. Unfortunately, much of that new vocabularly includes phrases I can't get her siblings to stop saying. She now can chant in a sing-song fashion, "Stupid Brother (or Sister)" and come running up to tell me that someone is spitting/hitting/bothering her. She told me today that her sister was "very naughty."
And then there are the things she says that just come out wrong. Anything that pokes or pinches at her or if a bug (including a butterfly) comes near her, she says, "Bite me." Naturally, she means that something is trying to bite her, but when she proclaims loudly -- and in church, of course -- "Bite me, Mama!" It does tend to garner a snicker or two from those on the surrounding pews.