Sunday, July 29, 2012


So, Shane says he is thinking about taking the kids hiking overnight. Knowing me he does not even ask if I'd like to come ( the last time we slept in a tent I had dreams all night about people freezing to death, and the last big hike was life changing, he proposed.  I feel  I've gotten my share of bad and great things out of hiking  and I am content). So he pretty much got that vibe and didn't involve me in the planning. However, his dad, said yes. And then Shane thought it would be great to take the kids' cousin, Azriel, along too. So he made meal plans and sorted out backpacks and bug spray. I thought they were a little crazy taking four kids hiking, Cyril being the only tested hiker, but I kept quiet and helped pack bacon and Advil and clothes. And Thursday morning they were off to breakfast and then the trail. After breakfast, Kateri started to think about bears and was not sure she wanted to anymore. And would Shane please take her home. Not to let her suffer defeat before she even put her foot on the trail, Shane was able to convince her stick with the plan. Here they are at the start of the trail.

Is this all you've got? Piece of cake!

The plan was to do a 5 mile, not too strenuous hike to the lake, stay two nights and come home. So Audrey and I made plans to see a movie, maybe go out to lunch, or pretty much anything we wanted. She gets eaten my mosquitoes and hiking has been rough on her. Plus she had a job dog sitting so we were quite comfortable staying home. We did get to see a movie. And go out to lunch. Get a couple Scrabble games in and enjoy all the peace and quiet we wanted.

Then Friday Shane was able to get a call in and said they were contemplating coming home that day. And then later, could I call in some pizzas to pick up as they were 20 min out and very hungry. They finally arrived home around 8pm. I opened the door and in fell a raggle-taggle group of limping, dirty, exhausted kids. Shane and grandpa were starting to seize up a little from the long drive home and were afraid to sit down to eat for fear of not being able to get up again. Once the kids started eating the stories came pouring out and they were all talking as fast as they were eating. Then we showered them all down, put on a movie for them to pass out to and Shane  gave me the details of their trip.

Apparently, the not-too-strenuous part of the description was also not-too-accurate. There was quite a bit of elevation to deal with and pretty soon Shane was carrying his enormous pack, plus Pippin's and the cousin's. Pippin was not quite the silent soldier and whined at every step- I probably would have too. Kateri was a trooper and carried her pack all the way in, and out. Which does not really surprise me. Cyril did too, along with a big blue sled they found up in the snow which they were able to make use of at camp, but only made hiking up the brush more difficult on the way out. But he was pleased to show off his nice sled when he got home and can't wait for the first snowfall.

The camping spot was beautiful, and isolated. The kids could explore the hillsides, try to catch fish, fall in the lake, or slide down the snow as they wanted. Unfortunately, it was in a no-fire area, so if you did get wet you mostly stayed wet. But the sun did come for a while to dry things a little. Which was good because they also had a nice big storm too. Just as Shane was making some potato soup for the hungry campers the wind picked up. He could see the rain coming so quickly stashed the camp stove, soup and all, under an overhanging rock, along with some shoes he had the presence of mind to grab, and they all  stuffed into the tent. The thunder was amazing and with each clap, the kids would fall face down on the ground in silence. Shane said that was the good part. But in between, they loudly discussed the chances of being struck by lightening and what would happen if you did. Cyril was a little distressed and was cuddled in his sleeping bag, so to cheer him up and show him things were fine, Az picked up a metal cook pan and held it over his head. Just as a lightening bolt struck just outside the tent with the thunder right on top of it. Az quickly joined Cyril and they huddled together on the ground.

The storm raged for an hour or so. Being confined with the four hungry, scared kids, Shane was very tempted to face the storm un-protected instead. And maybe hold up a pan or two himself. When the rain finally reached a lull they all ran and took shelter under the branches of a large tree. On the way Shane grabbed the soup pot and some dishes and they stood there huddled under the tree eating. When they were home and going over the menu, they all picked the potato soup as the tastiest meal. I wonder how much the emotional  and electric charges added to the flavor. Shane said it really was quite tasty.

Although the storm was gone before bedtime, it was night was still not without its own trials. Of course that is when bear fears and I-want-to-go-home feelings start to come out. In the middle of the night Grandpa was dealing with Az who wanted to pack up and head for home right then. Grandpa, in his most comforting way bluntly told him,
"Yeah, that's not going to happen."
                            Cyril made  a spear and was determined to spear a fish. Kateri tried hand fishing.

Shane got his own scare when he was woken up to some watery sound just outside his tent wall. It was just Kateri going to the bathroom. She had not wanted to go far from the tent so just stepped out and went right there, which was pretty much on Shane's head. I was impressed she did what she needed to do on her own. I would have woken Shane up and asked him to go with me.

                                   The water was quite cold, see the snow on the hill?

I think bear stories at night, Grandpa, might not be the best way to prepare for a good sleep.

Then told me my favorite part of the  story. He recounted how at every meal, he never got to eat when it was hot. How he and grandpa had to make three different entrees each meal to feed everyone. How he could never enjoy a bite or sip without someone expressing a need for something and once the kids were sated they were  agitating to go off on an adventure, without any consideration as to whether he and Grandpa were ready or  had gotten enough, or any for that matter. Or if he tried to make something later for himself someone would sniff and ask,

"Do I smell chocolate? I think I smell hot chocolate!"

Once, Shane just said,

"Yes. You do."  but did not offer to put his cup down and immediately make four more cups while his got cold as was the usual routine. Once in desperation and wanting a few seconds without demands he took his coffee and went up on the hill to sit and take in the view. After getting settled in a nice spot it only took a second for the frantic calls of ,

"Papa! Papa! What are you doing?"  to start and shatter the quiet.  I don't know what he thought would happen. Sitting down to relax in peace will bring on a smattering of emergencies, needs, and screams. Anytime. Anywhere. Mountains are no exception.

He matter of factly answered " I am enjoying my hot drink in peace and I am not coming down for 20 minutes."

I just laughed as he expressed his dis-belief  and amazement of the constant care-taking they demanded. I don't know what he was expecting, taking four kids camping. But I expressed some sympathy and empathy and said I knew just what he was talking about. That I was shocked after 14 years of doing this it would ever be a surprise. But mostly I laughed and took delight in having him understand why I feel so exhausted some days.

On the way down the mountain, things were a little better. Az, carried his pack the whole way. Kateri and Cyril were still committed to making it with their packs on, and it was downhill. Shane would keep spirits up with sounding off games and inspirational rounds of  "Hoo Rah!" But at last they saw the end of the trail and Shane's truck. Then some mustered up enough reserves to start running. Some started crying. And after taking his shoes off, Cyril realized his feet were hurting so badly because he had blisters on the bottoms of his toes. He knew your feet get sore when you hike so had not brought it up to Shane the whole time. Apparently his feet have grown since his last hike. Which was not that long ago. I felt very sad for Cyril. And impressed. This from a boy who cried at the sight of a dog for quite some years.

Shane said he knew, before hand, that hiking would not be for his exclusive enjoyment. That it was for the kids and he relished the experiences of them becoming more confident and testing their own endurance. Just like he did with his dad. And he realized how special it was that Grandpa  was there with them to witness and pass on his wisdom and expertise. And despite the tears, fears, and pain, it was all worth it for the memories, the shared stories, and the growing opportunities.

One of my favorite pictures. Shane has a similar one where he is the little boy.

When Cyril asks how Shane can say something definitively like why this will work, or not work, Shane tells him because he can play the experience card. He's done it. Grandpa has collected lots of experience cards. And now, having done some hard things, felt some pain, kept going, and reached the top the kids are building up their decks of experience cards which they can play.  Which is what parenting is all about.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Next week my midwife appointments switch to every two weeks, instead of four. I was shocked when she told me. I didn't think I was there already. I will be 29 weeks this Friday. It's funny how it seemed to drag on the first few months, then months  4,5, and most of 6 just disappeared and now I can really think about washing the baby clothes and planning what I want to eat after the baby is born, which will pretty much be everything.

Things have been somewhat busy here so maybe that has helped the time fly by. Kateri's birthday plans are in full swing. She wrote, mostly, invitations for all the neighbor kids and hand delivered them last week. We looked at piƱatas and discussed menu options. I asked Shane for some extra funding for the project and  I think we'll do some shopping this weekend to start prepping. It is the usual 'Mom is really lazy and likes the kind of party where she doesn't have to do much'  so we just announced the time we will be in the cul-de-sac with some colorful fun things and cake/or cupcakes and the neighbor kids( of which there are around 20) can just come and go as they please. I have thought of going a little bigger than last year and maybe putting some balloons in the trees or something. But I do have a midwife apt and the kids have a final swim lesson the day before so I'll see what I am really up for then. Too bad Kateri cannot drive yet.

Today I don't feel up to much. I had a hard time falling asleep last night, even though it was midnight and I had worked a bunch breaking up cardboard boxes before bed. Then Shane started to breath funny, like a very soft kazoo, just enough to let me know I would not be able to ever fall asleep in my bed. But his back has been giving him trouble and I did not want to prod him into moving to a  less noisy, but possibly less helpful position, so I took my pillow and magnanimously moved to the couch. But I'm sweet like that, sometimes, and was careful to not slam the door too loudly.

 Shortly after, Malachi(ai) (which is the baby's current name and has been for awhile so I think it is going to stick. The kids really like it so for now he is Malachi Arcadius-more on that later) was playing soccer all night long. He woke me up multiple times and then for good around 5am, at which point I got hungry and finally got up. I did have three sips of coffee with the strawberry shortcake last night, but really? I don't think he's ever getting sugar, if he's that sensitive, and I should probably just get him a baby treadmill now, given that it will be fall when he arrives and he won't get to see the sunlight until he is 8 months old, so some form of strenuous indoor activity will be in order.

But I'm not tired just from last night, and the pregnancy. All last week, and this, there is something going on every day and just looking at my calendar wears me out. And to make things more exciting I hit a curb and popped my tire last week. While on the way to the girls' horse camp. Fortunately, my mother-in-law came so I could get the girls to camp while she stayed with the boys waiting for AAA to get there. And to make it more fun there was thunder and rain to go with it all. Kateri was a little freaked, but luckily, there was a large driveway just after the curb so we had a safe, cozy waiting place. The tow truck guy made me feel better when he said he'd done the same thing before. My father-in-law not so much when he said I was the only person he knew. And the repair guy not so much either when he reported in addition to a new tire I needed a new strut and strut plate, along with a major alignment job and that 'wow, something hit your car really hard' and then was surprised when I told him it was just running into a curb. I did not say at what speed it happened, but it was a corner, and like I said it was dark and stormy. All the next week we were getting work done on my car and Shane did not take away my license but paid the bill and took me to pick it up. Because he is sweet like that all the time.

Speaking of Shane, I caught him reading my blog last week. Not that there is anything to hide, but in the past I don't think he has been a frequent reader and I usually write like he isn't going to read it. Seriously, if I send him an email, I put what I want him to get out of it in the subject line so he knows if it is urgent or just me saying hi. And then he sometimes skims the rest and then I have to tell him what it said when he gets home. Because he's busy and working hard like that. But now I'll have to take his readership into consideration and probably put in a few more nice things about him. Which, unlike some of the historical fiction I write here, will actually be true.And that might be a nice change.

Malachi is letting me know he has finished with the raisin-nut-bran and is ready for the next course. And I got a call that a package  is coming today so there is that to wait for. I'm swamped. And if I am lucky, maybe a tiny nap.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Short Honeymoon

Unfortunately, not that kind. Though that would describe our honeymoon. Shane's manager would only give him two days off. In the end I suppose we didn't need to spend more vacation money that we didn't have and just get right to setting up house. But I still feel a little sore over it. Especially after his manager got married, I went to the wedding, and took off a month for his honeymoon. I'll get over it.

 Two days was about how long the new washing machine  honeymoon lasted as well. So, apparently, you can't believe everything you read. On Consumer Reports. Or at least not the things I did. I  was very sad, when after washing several loads, I discovered snags in the towels. At first I  thought I just hadn't noticed them before and was being hyper-aware because of the new washer. But then I noticed the newer hand towels with  5 in long strands of looped thread hanging off them. Then Shane's socks started coming out looking like the ends had been caught in a meat grinder.

At first I was reluctant to bring up my concerns to Shane. I really wanted to be happy with them and thought maybe I just needed to do smaller loads. Or use the delicate cycle. Also, I had researched and picked them out on my own so I really wanted  it to have it work out.  I was  afraid to put anything delicate in. Finally I showed him the evidence of abuse and he was supportive of my complaints and not just a big whiner-baby. When I told him the purchase was based on 56 out of 58 5 star reviews, and the  57th came back after getting something replaced and was a pleased 58th costumer he said that was statistically unbelievable and probably a red flag.   Clothes were still coming out looking like they had aged several years in an hour.  So I called up the appliance store, where they had never heard of such a problem before. But offered to send someone out the next day to take a look.

He was very nice and inspected the inside of the drum but could find nothing. Which I already knew, having looked myself. I had saved some of the choicer items to show him what the damage looked like. He turned the towels over a few times. Looked at the tags and said,

"Cheap towels will do this. I mean you can break the fibers. See how easy that is? Here you try it." He said tugging on a fiber until broke. Clothes don't last forever, he explained. Some clothes don't last more than one wash, I thought.

I tried but could not break it like he did.

'Yes, these are cheap towels. They will do this over time. How long have you had these cheap  towels?"

I told him I had found the same  evidence on my expensive bamboo towels, with shorter pile. And on  recently purchased kitchen towels. And that something was obviously chewing them.

I pulled out the socks.

He looked at them.

 He turned them over and asked, I am not making this up,"How old are your socks?"

I was a little taken aback. I thought that was a very impertinent question, having known him for all of 8 minutes and thought of asking how old HIS socks were. I was expecting some diagnostic tests and hopefully a quick fix. I did not invite him in to tell me my towels were cheap and my socks were old.

"I don't know how old they are. But I know as long as I have had them and the towels I have never seen this. "

He asked what washer I had before and suggested I might need to adjust to the different washing mechanism the current machine offered.( I just needed to get used to having my clothes shredded instead of washed and expect I'd need to replace my entire wardrobe every month or so.)

I told him I wanted a machine I did not have to worry about, or baby, and that would not treat my clothes like afternoon snacks.

Finally after much thought he said,

"I don't think you are going to be happy with this machine."

 I was still a little shocked that he was not equally horrified by how my laundry was turning out, and eagerly suggesting alternatives. I  waited for him to suggest some possible remedies, besides getting used to wearing what looked like post-apocalyptic  clothing. I don't know how much he was in a position to offer, just being a repair guy. But he took notes on what I had shown him and said he'd pass it on to Al, the man who sold them to me. And Al would call me today. Nothing yet.

At least I can do  more research on other machines, if indeed my options include returning or ate least trading in the current machine. The website does not list return policies. And fortunately we are having some great weather and were finally justified in setting up the pool-that-kills-the-grass-and makes-the -yard-smell-like-dog-poo, when you finally move it. So the kids are nicely occupied.

Update- Being the patient person I am,  I finally called Al. It sounds like they will work with me to get a new machine sorted out, meaning NOT another Speed Queen. Though he'll have to talk to the manager on Monday. (Why do I feel like I am in a car lot.) I am guessing there will be a re-stocking fee, at least.. Supposedly, I am the first customer who didn't appreciate their clothes being torn to shreds- as a side note, the latest casualties were a skirt of Kateri's- which actually had rips in it- and Pippin's dinosaur towel. Which means back to the drawing board. So if anyone has any recommendation/warnings about any front loaders, please leave a comment. Preferably with a link to your blog so I know you are not a sales rep. Also, what tips you've discovered over the years. Definitely using less soap and adding an extra rinse helped with mine. I just read someone saying using powdered HE soap will fix it. I did not realize they made a powdered one.

Al admitted front loaders will make your clothes last about 60% longer and the new top loaders, that look like front loaders inside, do not get your clothes very clean. He recommended Frigidaire, which he says he personally owns and they have in stock. But again he is a salesman so I take it with a  grain of salt. Maybe I'll let Shane pick the next one.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vacation/Sick Time

Friday started Shane's vacation. It was wonderful to sleep in Friday and get up and have coffee together before waking up Kateri to put on a load of laundry. We had no plans for anything, just whatever we wanted. About four hours later it started. The pacing. The feeling of pent up energy was palpable and I could tell he was getting restless.. He started talking about getting out of the house, going on vacation. To Canada. Banff, in particular. A 12hr drive did not sound appealing to me at the moment, but we let it roll around a bit. Then he thought maybe the rain forest on the peninsula. I looked at some of the available lodging and most were RV parks, or cabins with central bathrooms and showers. I think I have already expressed my not-fondness for camping, especially being almost 6 months pregnant. My bed and shower sounded so much more appealing.

 Finally I convinced him to work on moving wine as he has some bottles that won't fit in the fridge and we had had a few warm days and he had expressed concern for long term storing options. He would like to build a nice cellar of some sort, but was feeling time was of the essence and looked for more immediate options, finally settling on re-packaging the bottles and moving them to a cooler location. It took him the rest of the day, but at least I could focus on the laundry and cleaning out the storage area behind the machines. All the while finding projects for Kateri to do, as she suffers the same restlessness Shane gets when sitting still more than two minutes.

Luckily, the neighbor kids were home and invited her over for a bit so I got to work at my own pace for awhile. Not before we made another batch of cookies, of course. And did more laundry. She is hard to keep up with, and now that I am feeling like slowing down, a lot, she wears me out even faster. But she does help me keep the house, and cookie making, current. I just sleep really, really well. Which after having some insomnia issues earlier, I am thankful for.

Yesterday morning I was very thankful we were not travelling north, when Cyril threw up.  It was kind of surprising as I didn't think we were at risk for getting a stomach bug, but for 8 hrs he was mostly lethargic and I was on the lookout for signs of the next victim. I also really appreciated that I was not preparing to be up all night with a sick baby and I could relax a little with the knowledge that all the kids are able to get themselves to the bathroom in a timely manner now and that I probably won't lose too much sleep over it. So far no one else has come down with it. Cyril helped with the yard work and is eating fine today. He did have  a bad headache yesterday too, and I am wondering if it was just an extension of that. Either way, we'll take it easy and just plan on being home for the Fourth of July.

Today Shane felt inspired to work on the garage and make a run to the dump. And, seeing I could use a break, he took Kateri with him. (Two for one!)Not before she helped me finish cleaning out and bagging up lots of items from the storage area and then cleaning out my car. I helped with the storage area. The car she did on her own. Shane also got the yard work done.

I did have him remove/replace a ceiling vent cover for me so I , actually Kateri, could wash it. I have no idea what I can come up with for tomorrow. Actually, now that I cleaned out the storage area I can see how I would like it to be fitted with shelves and other storage. So maybe we can work on plans for that.

Shane can be still sometimes. But if he is not doing hard, manual labor or his mind is not thoroughly engaged in something, he feels like he is spinning his wheels and wasting his life energies. Fortunately, my brother-in-law, I think, pointed to these history classes from a Yale professor and we have been going through the lectures when we can. I really enjoy the professor and so far he seems very scholarly and not biased. He does not blame the Church for the fall of the Roman Empire and tells the class there is going to be much discussion about the Church and heresies etc. because they were what were shaping the culture and the empire. (As a side note, one thing he pointed out was how the Islamic Conquests ended up overtaking  large portions of the empire where the monophysite heresy was taking hold and effectually helping slow its spread. Thank you, Mohammed).

Each of the lectures, of course, leads to other topics, people, books to look up so it is keeping Shane very busy. It is also fun because not raised Catholic, he brings a whole new perspective to things and recognizes early heresies and how they got repackaged and are now have an entire denomination based on it. So we have coffee and cookies after dinner and sit down for a lecture or two and get our fodder for the next day's discussions and research. Actually, he does the reading, then tells me about it. I'm still enjoying the new washing machine. It feels a little early, but I think I can finally  wash the baby clothes now. Kateri will be so excited.