Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Nana Bed

I let Liam help me make banana bread.

Well, I started to make banana bread and Liam came running across the kitchen hollering, "I help you?  I help you make 'nana bed in that - wha- wha- wha- what you call that red ting?"

"My mixer.  And yes, you can help."

From that we should take away 2 facts.  

1. Liam is in the phase of verbal development when he stutters.  And it's cute.

2. I deserve a pat on the back because I just quadrupled the time it's going to take to make banana bread.  Maybe pent-tupled.  
But look how happy...

So I got my softened butter into the mixer and realized I was out of sugar.   Since leaving a two-year-old unattended by a mixer and surrounded by baking ingredients is stupid poor parenting, I unplugged it and moved EVERYTHING else out of his reach.  

Because that boy loves to add things to the bowl.   

Like picking up the big salt canister and shaking it over the bowl where a batch of cookies are mixing.  

I will never again grumble when that little salt chute is hard to open.   It's obstinacy saved our cookies.

But I digress.  

I cleared the counter, gave some sort of motherly warning/threat/ultimatum about messing with the mixer and scooted down to the garage.  

Where I found no more sugar.  

Which turned out to be ok, because since Liam couldn't reach any of the baking ingredients, the resourceful boy found crumbs, fuzz and an old, crusty piece of shredded cheddar on the floor which he squished deep into the soft butter.


Obviously the whole making banana bread idea needed to be counted as a loss.  I threw away the defiled butter, wrote sugar on the shopping list and looked sadly at my over-ripe bananas.

Now, you could make a case that the moral of this story is that I need to keep a cleaner kitchen floor,  but I'm going to choose to take away from it the eternal truth that you can never trust that a two-year-old will not cause trouble.   

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I've got the GPS - never need a map again!*

Driving to the grocery store this morning Belle asked, "Can I tell you how to get there?"

Me: "Sure!"

Ok, the exclamation point indicates more enthusiasm that I was able to whip up because this exact scenario plays out every time I drive the kids somewhere.  But I tried to sound encouraging.

Belle: "Ok.  You go around...THAT TURN RIGHT THERE!"

Wait - you should know the setting so that this story can reach its full potential.
credit: Ed Suominen

To get from our house to the store (or anywhere else we go) we drive:
  • 2 miles along a winding forest road which has approximately zero side streets. 
  • Turn left onto the highway. This is the only turn.
  • Drive along the highway through pretty valleys and forests for 10 miles to town. Again, minimal side streets.
  • Every single thing we do in town is actually on that highway.

So when Belle was yelling "THAT TURN RIGHT THERE!" she was not in fact telling me where to turn, she was referring to the winding turns of the road itself.

This continues almost non-stop.


As you can see, it turns into more of a driving lesson than actual directions.  And maybe you can see why I hesitate just a moment before saying "yes" to someone wanting to holler "directions" at me.

We get to the highway and she says (calmly for once), "Turn here."

Me: "Right or left?"

Belle, looking and pointing left: "Um....RIGHT!"

Me: "Nope. That's left.  Remember, you write with your right hand.  Write-right.  Easy to remember.  Which hand do you write with?"

She tentatively raises her left.

Me, laughing: "Never mind.  I'm turning left."

Belle: "Now... GO STRAIGHT!  NO!  TURN HERE!!!"

All of this is once again referring to the turning of the road itself.

And as if that weren't enough, now that we're on the highway, every 45 seconds or so Liam shouts, "CAR COMING AT US!"

He's hollering about that car driving calmly and safely in its own lane of traffic headed the other way.



Belle:  "Straaaaaaaight...NOW TURN!!!"

If you had only an audio copy of our trip, you might think it was a bit more exciting than it really was.

Half way to town (which is a whole 5 minutes into her directions) Belle stops, clearly exhausted, and sighs.

"You know what mom?" she says, "If that car in front of us is going to the store, just follow them.  And if they aren' just find a different car and follow them."

*quoted from that funny little lost car in Disney's Cars.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Love Hurts

I'm just going to skim over the fact that I haven't blogged in six months.  Let's just pretend we just chatted last week, ok?  Ok.


Yesterday Belle convinced a butterfly to land on her finger.

Never-you-mind that I had told her a hundred times that butterflies are scared of people and will try to get away.  Especially from little girls who run shrieking after them.

She did it.  It sat on her finger while she walked all the way across the yard hollering for everyone to come see her and the butterfly "who is getting used to me!  I think he really likes me!"

Sure enough, there he was, perched prettily on her little index finger as though she were Princess Aurora.
"His front legs are not sticky," she explained patiently to me, "but his back legs are.  That is how he stays on my finger, even if his front legs slip off."


I'm no butterfly expert, but it seems like all their legs should have the same amount of stickiness.

Then she turned so I could see the back of it.


"Honey, is this the butterfly you caught before in the net?"

"Yup!" she answered positively beaming.

"The one whose leg got pulled off?"

"Yup!  But he's perfectly fine!  I knocked a chunk of his wing off too, but he can fly perfectly! And he loves me!"

And I couldn't.  I just couldn't sit by and let this continue to be so cute.

Because what she had called the "sticky back legs" was really butterfly guts that had oozed out of the missing leg socket, glueing the poor creatures rump to her outstretched finger.


To my credit, I didn't actually say "Ew."  Although I won't rule out the fact that she might have seen it written clearly on my face.

I tried to explain what was going on and suggested she might want to go put the poor amputee on a soft piece of grass and come wipe the bug guts off her finger.

Belle's deep love of the butterfly faltered slightly while she tried to get the ridiculously sticky innards off of her skin.  But then she tracked the little guy down again and tearfully chased it across the yard yelling her goodbyes and declaring her love until the insect hobbled - or whatever the airborne form of hobbling is- out into the forest.  Probably to die.

Wait, is a butterfly an insect? Hold please...googling... Well, yes. But funnily enough, things are insects partially because they have six legs.   So, I guess his insect status is now a little iffy.

Good thing he has Belle's undying love as wind beneath his now injured wings.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A worm by any other name would still be...a caterpillar.

Liam has a stuffed caterpillar.


He is fond of it.  Originally it was given to Dalton as a gift from his sweet friend, Gus, but somehow it's been handed down to Liam.

I've only had moderate success in convincing my kids that this is indeed a caterpillar.
It's always called a worm.  Whatever name it goes by, it's soft and squishy and fuzzy and Liam loves to sleep with it and carry it around.

One day, while trying to distract Liam from whining, or crying, or just being two, I asked him, "What's your worm's name?"

I didn't really have any curiosity about this - his name was going to be Wormy.  Because that is how my children name everything. Dogs are Doggy, fish are Fishy.  Even the moon is Moony.

Liam considered his squishy, little, stuffed worm and said seriously, "Name is Crunchy."

Me:  "Crunchy?  You named your soft...squishy....worm Crunchy?"

Liam, decidedly: "Yup.  Is Crunchy Worm."

And I laughed and laughed and told Liam he was weird, but in a good way.

And I vowed to make that name stick.  Because it adds joy to my day to call it Crunchy.

But then, a few days later he was in full nonsense-word mode (which I'm sad to say he reached earlier than the others.  I dearly wish he was fully coherent in regular English before he started loving nonsense words...) and was pretending his worm was a light saber, of course.

I said, "Is Crunchy Worm a light saber?" (Because I am that good of a conversationalist.)

Liam said, "No, not Crunchy.  Name is ... Booby!"

I snorted because isn't it unfortunate when nonsense words turn out to not really be nonsense?  I'm sure he's never heard the word booby, so I decided to try to shift things a bit in the hopes he didn't remember exactly what he had said.

Because having his favorite caterpillar be named Booby Worm was just too weird.

So I said, "His name is Poopy?"

Stop judging me.  I don't know how Poopy is much better than Booby.  There's no script for these things, people.

But he looked at me like I was an idiot and said very pointedly and with very deliberate pronunciation, "NO. Name is BOOOO-BEEEEEE."

And I was at a loss.  So I just let him walk out of the kitchen making Jedi noises and swinging Booby the Light Saber Worm around.

But you can bet your boobies that I was not letting that name stick.

In fact, like any good mother I decided to pretend that conversation had never happened and bent all my energy toward reinforcing the name Crunchy.

And I'm glad to say, I win!  Booby is a thing of the past and the soft caterpillar is officially Crunchy Worm.

Then yesterday, in an unexpected twist, Liam gave Crunchy his own Pringles container to live in.

"Mommy, this my friend.  Right here. Is Crunchy Worm."

Liam didn't bother to finish the Pringles before adding the worm, so I'm happy to report that today, Crunchy is probably a little bit crunchy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cowgirl Up

It's possible that I need to cowgirl up a bit since I live in the wilds of Montana now.

Fine, it's not technically the wilds, but it's quite a bit more wild than anywhere I've ever dwelt.  And I love it.  Really, there's something freeing about living here.  I'm not sure what it is, but I keep coming back to the fact that I can breath here.  That sounds odd, I know, but it's true.  I find myself breathing deeply and satisfyingly.  Perhaps I have an inner cowgirl that I never knew about and she's happy to be living on the frontier.

Yes, I can hear you.  It's not REALLY the frontier.  There's a town 10 miles away with a grocery store, coffee shops and gas stations.  I have neighbors and (what sounds really un-frontier-y) a Home Owners Association.  But it's a frontier-ish sort of HOA.  It coordinates use of the wells that bring water to our houses and has rules like, "Don't shoot guns on your propery.  We all live too close to each other."  And "Don't keep your yard trashy with run down trailers and cars on cinder blocks."

Ok, those may be my paraphrase of their rules, but really it just keeps the couple dozen houses in our little community being nice-country instead of trashy-country.  So I'm good with it.

Back to the point.  Cowgirling up.

First I'd like to point out:

The ways I've already cowgirled up.  

1. I've become like Paul Bunyan.  You can call me Paulina.

We have a wood burning stove in our home - just like every other house on the frontier.  We also have baseboard heating, but it was pretty obvious from the smoke above all the other homes that we were the only ones not using our stove to heat our house.  Since we had a woodshed with a bunch of chopped wood in it, we got a chimney inspector to come out and check out the stove and chimney that hadn't been used in several years, got the 'all clear' and started burning wood.

Can I tell you how cozy it is to have a little toasty stove in the computer room?  Right now it's behind me burning cheerily.
This is not the corner of my room.
Mine's has a carpet of wood splinters that I need to vacuum.
And I don't have a TINY dog the size of my shoes.

And how does this make me lumber jack-ish? Because most of the wood outside is too big for the stove, so each day I head outside... through the snow...with my the woodshed and chop them down to size.

Aren't you impressed?

You wouldn't be if you could see me do it.  Jason can do it with style.  He chops with authority.  Like a flying scissor kick to the wood.

Mine's more like a slap.  A hard slap.  Maybe a backhanded slap.

But still. I chop wood, people!  And even if I don't look quite as cool as Jason, I get it done.

2.  I make bread.

I know, this isn't very unusual and the reason I make bread is because my hubby gave me a Kitchenaid mixer that does all the kneading for me.  But I have made dozens of loaves from scratch since we moved.

This is sort of a lame point, but I couldn't just have ONE reason why I have already cowgirled up.

Why I still may need to cowgirl up a little bit more:

1. What to do with the trash?

We're too rural for trash pickup, but there are places around where there's a dozen dumpsters and you can dump your trash there whenever you want to.   Before it got cold I was wondering how best to deal with stinky trash.  My ideal answer is to put it in cans outside, but I can't because there's too much wildlife (see next point) and sticking it straight in my car would make the car stink, so it was stinking up the garage while I continually forgot to take it to the dumpsters when I went into town.

Anyway, I was at a little gathering of homeschool families and I asked someone what they did.  They just sort of looked uncomfortable and then mentioned the dumpsters that I already knew about.

Finally one mom said, "I dunno, we just burn ours."  Everyone looked relieved and nodded.

Apparently they just have some sort of trash container thingy and they just throw it all in and burn it.  Just whenever they want.   Willy nilly.  I'm still nervous because in Oregon we tried to do a little campfire (in our portable grill!)  and the neighbors called the fire department to report it.  Guess cowgirls don't worry about that sort of thing because no one else around here cares.

We don't have any trash burning container thingy though, so I'm just becoming better at using the dumpsters.  Maybe next summer when it's nice out in the evenings we'll all head out nonchalantly and burn the day's trash.

2. Hide the evidence

There is a good deal of wildlife around here.  Lots of low-on-the-food-chain animals like deer, so there are also some of the I'm-above-deer-on-the-food-chain animals.

In particular we've had some sightings of mountain lions nearby.

A few weeks ago one ate a dog a couple properties away.

Oooh! That's another thing our HOA does.  The secretary calls to warn us when there's a mountain lion in the area.  In fact that's really the only reason we've talked to her  She always begins with, "Well, you shouldn't let your kids out to play unsupervised, we've spotted another cat in the area..."  (I would like to note that I feel as though "cat" is a bit of an understatement, even if technically correct.)

Can we take a moment to discuss the mountain lion?  The first time we heard there was one in the area I kept careful watch on my kiddos and kept an eye back under the trees in the forested part of the property.
Because, yikes. Even surrounded with cheery yellow flowers.
Then, we googled mountain lions, and do you know what???  They're in the TREES, people.

Yes, they climb trees and lurk there.  Seeing as I'd been walking around under a LOT of trees, keeping my eyes peeled on the ground for mountain lions, that made me feel a little creeped out.  
Especially because that whole camouflage thing that animals have going?  It really works
One day I was out chopping wood and admiring the world around me.  I was almost done when something moved right next to the woodshed.  It was a buck. Antlers and everything.  
Seriously?  How long had that big animal been right there? They're practically invisible when they stand still.  
Does anyone think I'm actually going to spot the mountain lion before he pounces on me from a tree?  
My only hope is to try to slap him with my ax before he kills me.  

At the same homeschool gathering I was mentioning to one of the moms that I wasn't sure what to do if I saw the mountain lion.  Is this something for the police?  It seems a little heavy for an animal control officer to deal with.  Do I call the forest service?  After all they are the ones in the paper that are always trapping and releasing troublesome bears.

This woman looked at me with a little "Oh, poor city girl" look and said, "I'm more of the shoot it, bury it and shut-your-mouth kind of girl."

All the other moms nodded.


They did offer to come over and shoot it for me, but I'd have to help them bury it and be part of the keep-your-mouth-shut group.

So I guess if there ever is a mountain lion on our property (and if I'm cowgirl enough) I'll have to shut my mouth about it and you won't hear about it here... Sorry!