Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February Vacation and Lent

We've just come back from February Vacation--one of those quaint New England traditions that is as mysterious and unappealing to "outsiders" as Town Meeting and Boiled Dinner...I mean, what's the point (unless you happen to be of the means to escape to some warmer clime--however most of us in Maine are decidedly NOT)...The week started out well, and I found myself a bit in awe of my eldest son--in the first few days he: drew all of the Egyptian figures from his plastic set of them; drew a self-portrait from a picture on the wall; drew the British Soldiers in one of our terrariums; began to teach himself cursive; looked up the source country of all his foreign currency in the atlas; read lots of Calvin and Hobbes; and started working on the fourth grade math workbook C got him for Christmas (what a pair of nerds!). Along with lots and lots of sledding. Tuesday we went to Science Day at the local university, where he made slime, identified (correctly) all of the bones and skulls in the bone room, poked and prodded fetal pig guts, and built a wind turbine with a straw and construction paper.

I was finding myself feeling converted to the "unschooling " philosophy. Here is a kid that is just driven to learn! I could quit my job (come on Obama, appoint a Health secretary and get us universal health care already!) and stay home watching him teach himself everything! Then he went away to stay with one of his Grandmothers for a few days, and instead of M coming back to us Saturday, we got Mr. Hyde. He immediately went ballistic on seeing his brothers had re-built some of his Lego creations, and from then on acted like the house bully. I was none too thrilled to have him home an extra day after we got 10 inches of snow yesterday, and am really glad he's at school today (I'm starting to sound like my own mother!) even though I'm at work. I really come unglued when he picks on his little brothers...and I'm at a loss to figure out why he does it or how to encourage him to be nicer to them.

In other news...today is Mardis Gras, which as far as I can tell is not a big celebration event around here (I believe there was a parade or something Saturday, but that's not Mardis, now is it?)...there are a few people sporting plastic beads around the office. I have in years past given up sugar for Lent, not out of any kind of religious conviction, but mostly to see if I could do it, and how it would affect me (the first year I tried I lost tons of weight, but I was also breastfeeding and chasing around an almost-one-year-old at the time, so the results were likely skewed). This year, inspired by Salt & Chocolate's Vegan 'til six plan and a co-worker's detox diet, I think I will establish a healthy eating plan that includes no refined sugars or processed foods/snacks, and whole-grain and fruits and vegetables for breakfast and lunch during the work week (e.g. oatmeal with fruit; quinoa and steamed veggies for lunch), and then our normal dinner (which is usually pretty healthy anyway, if sometimes heavy on the carbs and/or cheese). I haven't quite worked out all the details (I have until tomorrow!!), but I want to develop a habit of eating well, reduce the number of processed and snack foods (sniff, sniff goodbye Barbara's Cheese Puffs!!), both for my health and physique and for the environmental cost of all that processing and packaging. But, I'm not giving up all sugars, because C plans to sugar this year, and I don't want to miss out on hot maple syrup right out of the evaporator! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February Survival Guide

When the shortest month of the year threatens to turn into the longest, diversion is necessary!


Who has time to make gingerbread houses at Christmas time? Not I . But I've always wanted to make one, so this year we did it for Valentine's. Even though we used graham crackers to skip the trouble of making gingerbread walls, it was really, really hard to get three kids' three houses to stand up with sticky and rapidly-drying frosting. They came out a bit slanty, but we enjoyed them as a centerpiece and sweet temptation (to some) for the week leading up to Valentine's.

We've always made our own Valentine's cards, and while I imagine the results usually end up making us look like we're too poor to buy the ready-made kind, I persist.

This year I made rubber stamps like this, using my smallest heart cookie cutter, craft foam and wood blocks C cut up for the occassion (carpenter husbands do come in handy).

We tried using markers, but one side of the heart dried out by the time we got to the other.

Then I tried mixing up some Stockmar water color paint in red, but it was too watery.

Finally we just used regular tray watercolors to paint the hearts and stamp on blank index cards cut in half.

M added his own special touch. Nothing says "I love you" like a skull and crossbones!

When M was the twins' age, we made little heart mice, and I had him sign every single heart for both his preschool and daycare classes (probably 20-30 cards), now that I have two other kids that age I realize how totally developmentally inappropriate it was for me to expect him to sign all his own cards (and why it was a struggle)...just because you CAN write your name at three, doesn't mean you should have to do it 30 times!

After making cards, we joined several other people in driving our infernal combustion engines to the fairgrounds to wait in line for an hour to go for a sleigh ride.

This is the sleigh we rode on (but that's not us in the sleigh)...it was the only one pulled by a single horse (making the singing of Jingle Bells more accurate, although I wouldn't exactly call our pace dashing). Isn't he a beauty?

On Friday before Valentine's, I got out the felt, and these wooden needles I bought for the twins that were insanely expensive and we've never used before.

Their results didn't come out exactly as I'd imagined, but that's true of all things kid, isn't it?

I made this little garland to hang over our nature table, based on this one.

We got out the LOVE books to read.

Go on a Date
C and I actually went out on Valentine's--lunch at Slate's and a trip to Barne's and Noble to try to spend the gift cards we each got for Christmas. We figured out that it was our first time out of the house together without kids since last MAY!! How bad is that? I have a hard time turning my kids over to others', especially at night, so I think the lunch date is the perfect answer.
Halfway there! How will you survive the rest of February?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Daily Schedule

There’s been a bit of controversy over at Feministing about one blogger’s description of her daily schedule, and another blogger’s reaction to it, i.e. that is reeked of class privilege. When I read Courtney’s post I was struck less by class privilege than non-parent privilege. I mean, really? You sleep until what time in the morning? Not that I for one moment would trade my three wonderful boys for all the late sleeping in the world. And even if I would like some more me time and more time to write, her life just sounds kind of boring. Anyway, I thought it would be fun sharing my daily schedule (which also probably sounds boring). And if you’re a blogger, consider yourself tagged—what does your day look like?

Time unknown. Very dark. Still raining.
Get woken up from dream about writing Valentine’s cards and cutting carrot sticks by Z crawling into bed between C and me. He wiggles his feet around. “Do you have to pee?” I ask. “No.” He continues to wiggle his feet. “Stop wiggling your feet.” Doze off for a while. Z says, “I ready to have breakfast now.” Respond, “Mmmmff.” Try to doze some more. C checks plastic cow alarm clock (stolen from M several years ago when we discovered adult alarm clocks would not withstand ravages of twin toddlers). “What time is it?” “6:14.” “Mmmmff.” Z and C get up. Try dozing for five more minutes.

Get out of bed. Go in bathroom. Brush teeth. E comes in, rubbing eyes. Pick him up and cuddle him while brushing teeth. Take off his wet diaper and toss it on the bucket. Finish brushing teeth. Open diaper bucket, get blasted by ammonia, make deposit. Go in kids’ room to wake M. Very dark in there. Turn on light and see M is not there. Go downstairs. Tell M, “I just tried to wake you up, but you weren’t there!” M laughs. Rummage in drawer for working pen. Find red pen. Bonus. Find Valentine’s cards we made Saturday. Find daycare list. Write cards. Contemplate whether Z and E should give each other cards. Decide yes. Send M upstairs to get dressed. Go in mudroom and get two big carrots out of box. Peel hairy skin off. Attempt to cut in sticks of equal size. Find Tupperware of adequate size with fitting lid. Check M’s lunch menu—cold. Make miniature peanut butter and honey sandwich. Find container of carrot chunks from Tuesday’s lunch in fridge. Put frozen blueberries in container. Put in M’s lunch bag. Forget spoon.

Go upstairs. Remind M to get dressed. Go in room. Contemplate wardrobe. Choose black pants and mint green twin set. Find clean underwear. Go with legwarmers and silk tank top instead of long johns (only 30s and raining today). Return to kids’ room. Remind M to get dressed. Find two red shirts in E and Z’s dresser so they can be festive for the Valentine’s party. Send M to brush teeth. Get Z dressed. E hiding under dresser. Tell him he’ll have to wear pajamas to daycare if he doesn’t come get dressed by count of three. He ignores me. Take his clothes, turn off lights, go downstairs.

Look for winter socks for kids in sunroom laundry pile. Contemplate outerwear. Settle on fleeces, raincoats, and rain boots for all. Go upstairs to find a fleece for M. Put M’s lunchbox in backpack, zip closed and make sure rain flap is down. Help M into hat, pull raincoat sleeves over his mittens, kiss him goodbye and send him down the driveway to meet the bus.

C gets E dressed. Find fleece for Z in mudroom. Go upstairs to find fleece for E. E is whimpering because he wants red and green rain boots, not doggy rain boots. Find mittens. Send Z and E out the door. Put on own fleece, raincoat and rain boots. Put Valentine cards in raincoat pocket and zip closed. Get carrots. Head down driveway. Rain washing away snow to reveal turkey poop on front walk. Realize forgot own bag. Go back inside. Look for work badge. Go back out. Rain has washed several inches of dirt and salt off car. Decide rain is good thing. Drive to daycare, reciting Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup With Rice. Can’t remember November. Take E and Z into daycare. E carries container of carrots for the party. “Today is our birthday!” he announces. When I tell him it’s the Valentine’s party, not their birthday, he is embarrassed and tries to hide his head in me. Hang up their coats. TV is on so they let me go quietly.

Drive to work. Hit puddles to clean undercarriage of car. Remember holes in floor when water splashes up under feet. Walk long way from parking lot to office. Go inside. Get comment on “snappy red boots.” Chat with co-worker. Turn on computer. Check voicemail. Log in. Click OK to message that says I won’t use computer for personal purposes. Check personal email. Check work email.

Attend meeting across river. Consider jabbing pen in own eye.

Swing by Sears to pick up portraits of E and Z taken two weeks ago. So cute. Get suckered into buying additional sheet for $7.99. Try not to think about other four going into shredder.

Check messages. Check email. Eat breakfast. Fill in administrative procedure forms for a rule am working on. Wonder for the umpteenth time why we have to create six different documents with nearly identical information. Yell at supervisor when he comes around with more work.

Skip Pilates. Work on forms. Screw up. Re-do. Send off. Finish breakfast. Return phone call. Discuss footnotes and tables of contents with co-worker. Admonish her for doing them manually. Search for source of sickening airfreshener/scented candle smell to no avail.

Start reading Washington State wood burning report for white paper. Look up “white paper” on Wikipedia. Snack on Barbara’s original cheese puffs (on sale for $2 at Harvest Time). Continue reading report.

Heat soup. Realize have only read four pages of report in one hour. Try reading more efficiently. Look up stress-relief tip for the week: Maintain Good Posture. Hmph.

Finish report. Skim appendices. Talk to meteorologist about wood smoke. Check email. Check mail. Start reading wood smoke report from Vancouver. Wish for nap. Snack on Quadratini hazelnut wafer cookies. Sit up straight. Check email. Resume reading.

Remember change needed in newspaper column. Look for relevant email. Make changes. Send back. Return to report. Consider replacing “Vancouver” with “Maine” and calling it done. Open MARAMA wood smoke report—96 pages. Consider slitting writsts. Sit up straight. Check email. Skim MARAMA report. Print relevant pages. Crave cheese fries.

Burnt out on wood burning. Check email. Seek diversion. Sit up straight. Go to kitchen for water. Wonder why building smells like Luden’s cherry cough drops. Send out rulemaking notice to interested parties. Sit up straight. Go for walk. Try focusing eyes at long distance. Check email. Check to-do list.

Go to Zumba class—forgot shoes and sports bra again.

Drive home in rain and fog. Driveway is muddy rut. Inside E and Z are pouring over their Valentine's booty--cards and candy in personalized Huggies wipes boxes. We're the only ones who made cards--the rest are Disney, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, Hanna Montana. Ask M how was school and if he has homework. Ask how math test went. "Fine. I got an 85." "What happened?" I ask, unwisely. "It's still an M, Mom. It's better than a did-not-meet." "It's OK, 85 is fine. Good work." Go down to basement to look for materials for project on my mind. M comes down and starts digging in Goodwill box. "No you can't have that." I say and put box on higher shelf. Somehow the conversation returns to math test. He says he doesn't like math and why do we have to learn math anyway. "You like things to be perfect all the time, don't you?" I ask. "Not all the time." "Most of the time?" We go upstairs and I look at his math test. "It looks like you did pretty well, but forgot which place was which. Did your teacher explain what you missed?" He starts crying. I try to hold/hug him. He goes all stiff on me.

We clear the table and C serves crepes with broccoli in lemon cream sauce and home fries. I get some lettuce out of the fridge, rinse it and put it on the table. E and Z eat home fries. M makes faces at the crepe. We say no candy unless you eat all your dinner. I give E some lettuce and he tries to pour his own dressing--about a cup of it lands in his plate. I rinse the plate and start again. M and E eat their crepes after much coaxing and get started on E's candy. E gives me candy conversation hearts. Did they taste this bad when we were kids? Z wants candy. I feed him his crepe. He makes faces, but eats it and I get down his candy. I let them eat it all so it won't be an issue in the days to come, and so their teeth won't suffer numerous assaults.

Go upstairs. I tell M to put on his pajamas. E goes in the bathroom to sit on the pot. I put Z in his pajamas. Tell M to put on his pajamas. Wipe E. Tell M to put on his pajamas. Put E's pajamas on. M brushes teeth without being asked. Threaten no stories if E and Z don't come in bathroom and brush teeth RIGHT NOW. Brush Z's teeth. When I say we have a bunny story, E turns into bunny and hops into my room. I scoop him up and accidentally bump his head on dresser. He whimpers the whole time I brush his teeth. Read the first part of the Velveteen Rabbit. E and Z ask why there are no pictures. I show them the picture on the next page. E bounces around on bed brandishing broken plastic sword. Read Honey, Honey, Lion. E and Z fight over who gets to open the acacia tree flap to reveal the lion. M comes up and they all go crazy at once, hopping around on the bed. Get them in their blankets and lie down with them in the dark. M and Z argue over who gets to be Pablo from the Backyardigans. Wonder if too much TV has stunted their imaginations.

Check email. Sit up straight. Message from adult ed--no one signed up for spring writing class, am relieved to not have obligation. Z comes down to say M bit him. E says M said he'll throw them down the stairs. M says they're making too much noise so he can't sleep. Tell M biting and throwing people down stairs not acceptable behavior. Tell E and Z to go in my room to read books quietly. Write blog post. Attempt to draft essay for submission deadline Sunday.

Watch The Office and 30 Rock.

E and Z creep downstairs. Return them to their bed.

Hear noise on stairs. Put E back to bed.

Get sucked into ER.

Tear self away from TV. Go upstairs. E and Z still awake singing ABC song in bed (gotta love long daycare naps combined with rainy weather that precludes fresh air and exercise). Brush teeth. Put on jammies. Zzzzzz.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rainbow Bridges

I just checked out Beyond the Rainbow Bridge through interlibrary loan, as part of my continuing, but slightly ambivalent quest to be a Waldorf Mama Wanna-be. I fully expected to be completely annoyed by the whole thing (nice attitude going into it, don’t you think? But that was the January me, the February me is non-judging). I was really quite pleasantly surprised by both the non-preachy tone and the constructive ideas therein.

For instance, Waldorf education recommends children have playtime with all four elements—earth (dirt, mud, sand), air (bubbles, flags, parachutes), water (tub, hose, pool), fire (sitting in front of the wood stove, watching candles, fighting over who gets to blow them out). OK that is totally hippy-dippy kooky, but I love the idea (how completely counter to our culture of TV, plastic, crap, junk, etc.) and my kids love every single one of those activities. When we start a fire in the living room wood stove, which has a window, E and Z will sit and play in front of it for hours. If I gave them mud, a basin of water and bubbles at the same time, they'd be in heaven!

I really wish I’d read this book before M was born or when he was really little, especially the part about rocks, shells, pinecones, bits of cloth are the best playthings. How much money could I have saved? How many Legos could I have avoided stepping on? I would of course have to tell C—who insisted all M would ever need to play with was cardboard boxes—that he was right. But I’m an adult. I can handle it.

I also like the ideas in creative discipline. When telling your kid to do something, say “You may put your pajamas on now.” Not, “will you go put on your pajamas?” because the inevitable answer is ‘NO!’ Also not, “PUT ON YOUR G—D--- PAJAMAS RIGHT NOW BEFORE I….” See how much nicer it is to say “may”? I’ve been trying this all week and it actually works. Maybe I’m just not evaluating the results objectively, and maybe after a few more days the novelty will have worn off and they’ll go back to ignoring me 100% of the time, but I like it (I also try to combine it with the 2x2 rule a friend of mine related in my last issue of GEMINI—stand on two feet, two feet away from your child—much more effective than shouting up the stairs!) And I’ve even used the technique of wrapping your child’s hands in a silk cloth and sitting with him when he hits someone, saying, “When our hands are warm and strong they don’t hit.” Again, totally hippy-dippy, but soothing for both of us, and a pleasant extension of Scott Noelle’s “Time-In,” which I have found more pleasant and more effective than time-outs.

I also like the idea of preserving the dreamy and magical essence of childhood—when M was little I always gave the most detailed and scientific answers to all of his (many, many, many) questions, and those answers always led to more and more questions, until finally we’d get to, “because of the Big Bang!” He’s a very smart, mathematical, scientific child, but he’s also sooooo literal-minded and has a hard time with pretending and other magical types of thinking. I wish I’d given him more magical answers to the questions he asked when he was two or three or four. Like the other night, E and Z asked why it was night and I said (straight out of the book), “Because Father Sun has gone to bed and Mother Moon got up.” They were satisfied with that answer, but wanted to know if “Mother Moon sleeps all day like Mama.” Ha! I wish.

I feel like I need to re-read the book to absorb it all more fully. It’s definitely made me wanty for a Waldorf-type preschool option (although a completely un-dogmatic one of course—I’ve heard horror stories of Waldorf teachers taking the whole philosophy a bit too far) instead of TV daycare.

Edited to add:
The one part I'm not entirely on board with is the heavy emphasis on using fairy tales as the main literary source. I loved reading Grimm's when I was younger (but much older than E, Z and M are now), but last weekend I read them Hansel and Gretel after we attempted to build some gingerbread houses, and I was very bothered by the language and imagery describing the witch and the stepmother. It struck me that many of the fairy tales recorded by the Grimm brothers were likely heavily influenced by the violently misogynistic and genocidal witch hunting days of the reformation. So I guess I'll be on the look-out for more enlightened fair tales. Which begs the question, what makes a tale a fairy tale? Does it necessarily have to be a folk tale or legend? Are all folk tales fairy tales? Do more modern stories count? Should I have taken more English classes in college?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Heart My Underwear

I’ve been raving about my long underwear to anyone who will listen for the last two months, so I figured I why not share with you, too. C bought me one of these and a pair of these for Christmas. Yes you will have a heart attack when you see the price (which is why I had to ask for them for Christmas) but I swear they are so totally worth every penny.

I made the decision a few years ago that I wasn’t going to be cold any more. Since moving out of Maine wasn’t an option, I had to employ other methods—warmer clothes. These long johns have become another weapon in my arsenal against the beast that is Winter. This has become especially important now that February is up to its old tricks—starting out all soft and spring-like, only to blow in a thick blanket of icy dank air.

The wool-silk blend is incredibly soft and smooth (not one bit itchy) and very thin, so that they fit under virtually anything, even slacks (does anyone use that word anymore?)—you know the kind of pants you wear to work if you happen to work in an office (and I work in a cold old brick mental institution, so I need my long-johns at work). The bottoms come up well above the belly button and the top comes down well below the hips, so that it stays tucked in and you don’t get a cold back when sledding or wearing low-rise pants. They’re nice and roomy, for those of us who came of age in the ‘80s and still prefer baggy clothes (you may consider ordering a size smaller if you prefer a snug fit); and the legs are long enough for even long-legged people like me. The elastic is a narrow band inside a casing that’s super stretchy, for easy tucking and no latex touches your skin (if you’re sensitive to things like that).

And the best part? I wore them nearly every day from Christmas through the end of January without ever once washing them…and they didn’t smell at all! Seriously. If you wear polypropilene more than twice you don’t even want to be in a room with yourself, but these were fresh as the day I took them out of the package, even though I’ve worn them sledding, skiing, snow-shoeing, hanging around the house and, as mentioned earlier, to work. I did finally wash them last weekend, mostly to see if the knees and butt, which had gotten a little droopy would regain their shape. And they did! The only drawback is they are hand-wash only, but I just put them in a sink of cool water with a little detergent, squished them around a little and rinsed. The water did turn a slightly disturbing dark grey color, but I’ve convinced myself it was residual dye and not my own bodily filth. Maybe I’ll have to buy a pair in natural just to test this theory.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lovely Thing

Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here with this blogging thing—shouting like the Who’s in Horton Hears a Who, “I am here, I am here, I am here…” And even more, I wonder why I waste so much time reading other blogs, why I’m more interested in the lives of people I’ve never met (and probably never will) than I am in those I actually see in person. Sure I get a lot of great ideas, interesting information and tons of inspiration, but I also get greedy for things, skills and a life I don’t have.

Then yesterday, after receiving some distressing news, I found myself turning repeatedly to blogs that consistently show lovely little snippets of life…like this one, this one, this one, and this one. It’s good to be reminded that life is a beautiful thing, no matter how painful or short it might be.

In other news, Papa is home, and we’re all glad to have him back. I managed to keep three kids clean, fed and relatively on schedule by myself for four-and-a-half days (hats off to full-time single moms). I even helped M build a model avalanche out of cardboard and cotton balls Tuesday night. I kept the kitchen and living room clean (by our standards, which are pretty low), but the clean-and-ready-to-be-folded laundry pile may at some point sprout legs and devour Manhattan. And that kitchen sink? Not even remotely shiny (what’s the opposite of shiny? Cesspool?). The compost bucket’s on the verge of overflow. The kindling is all used up (but the house is warm). I will miss snuggling with all three kids before bed and listening to M read Little House followed by reading a picture book to E and Z. And still this morning, even with C’s help, I was nowhere close to on time for work. But I am grateful for his safe return.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comfort--Food and Books

After the recent peanut butter contamination and mercury in high fructose corn syrup reports, as well as this story, I decided I would try to get M to take cold lunch to school. Since he started Kindergarten, I’ve let him choose which days to buy hot lunch and which to buy cold, and once we ironed out the initial bumps—like him buying hot lunch every day, even if it was something I knew he would never eat and him not knowing how to buy just milk when he had cold lunch (really they could do a bit more hand-holding with kindergarteners)—it has worked out well. I tried to get over my horror over the menu, where some type of fried chicken product is served at least once a week if not more often, and he tried new foods he would not have eaten if I served them, and has in general expanded his palate greatly. I also liked giving him the choice—a little bit of control in his own life.

But now I feel like I want to extend my commitment to healthy, natural, unprocessed, local foods into his lunch menu. I have always had a hard time making lunches that he would actually eat, but last week I tried pint-sized portions in bite-sized pieces: half a (hopefully salmonella-free) peanut butter and (local) honey sandwich, cut in half again; carrot chunks (apparently easier to eat while chatting and goofing around than carrot sticks); and a dish of frozen berries (rotating straw, blue and black). So far (we’re on day four) this has worked, and while he hasn’t agreed to eating cold lunch all February, he has circled fewer hot lunch days on his calendar.

To make up for missing hot dog on a bun Friday, I bought a package of organic uncured turkey hot dogs at the health food store last week (I find it ironic that a food intended to use up scraps from processing—C calls it “lips, lids and a**holes—and thus be a cheap product, costs over $7 a package when you try to make it healthy). This turned out to be a good move. C had to suddenly fly to Florida for a funeral, and everyone was out-of-sorts with his absence and needed comfort food. Hot dogs for dinner Saturday and lunch Sunday (btw organic uncured turkey hot dogs smell like cat food—ew!); French toast with blueberry sauce and whipped cream for dinner Sunday. By last night I was out of comforting ideas and just made spaghetti (eaten by two out of four diners). I have no idea what to make tonight (but something straight out of a box sounds tempting).

I had also thought we could try to go the whole weekend without TV. I notice in the spring and summer, our kid TV-viewing dwindles down to less than once a week, but this fall and winter, with the darkening days combined with regular trips to the library where E and Z pick out DVDs, added to my pre-Christmas drive to get things done, their TV viewing has skyrocketed to an hour or more Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that at daycare too TV viewing goes way up this time of year.

I staved off the begging for movies all through Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon I caved to M’s constant begging to watch Star Wars. Z came down with a fever Sunday morning. At first I thought he was just tired, then maybe hot from the fire I was trying to get going, but when he sat curled in the same chair for more than an hour I realized something was up (i.e. his temperature: 100.9 armpit). Without being able to go outside for an hour or two of sledding, the afternoon began to drag on long and let M put in Return of the Jedi. I only had one dose of children’s ibuprofen left. I found a bottle of very expired and grainy-looking infant Tylenol and a bottle of only slightly expired infant Motrin, guessing at the dose for a three-year-old.

Z was low energy all day again yesterday, which was actually kind of nice. We spent a lot of time reading on the couch and built a couple of puzzles. I pulled them both in the sled to pick up M from the bus, but Z got out and played in the snow with his brothers for some time. I managed to get them all into bed at 7:45 (I was shooting for 7:30) after reading stories. M has been reading Little House in the Big Woods to me, having put The Wonderful Wizard of Oz oh hold till C gets back (another division of labor--C gets to read the big-boy books; I read Trouble With Trolls over and over and over to the little ones). I had been afraid the Little House books would be too girly, but so far it’s been mostly about hunting and butchering animals. There’s an entire chapter about Pa cleaning his gun and making bullets. M begged to read a second chapter last night. I only read a few of the series when I was a kid, for some reason. I remember reading On the Banks of Plum Creek several times, so I don’t know why I didn’t read all of them. I picked up Little Town on the Prairie to read while we were stuck in our dark cold barn apartment during the big ice storm of 1997—comfort reading.

I can’t believe I used to drop off the kids at daycare, pick them up and make dinner when M was little, right up to about six or nine months after going back to work when E and Z were babies, when I finally melted down and begged C to take on one end of the day—I don’t even know how I could manage to work eight hours if I had to do this every day again now (as it is I’m leaving early to get groceries, gas and ibuprofen). Plus I'm trying to keep the house warm with my decidely not BoyScout-esque fire building skills (our heating system is having issues) and hoping it won't snow enough to need plowing out. Only one morning and two nights to go.
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