Monday, December 5, 2016

Life Among the Savages

The book links below are affiliate links so go ahead and use them to buy all my book  suggestions and Amazon will send me all the cents, or do what I did and get them from the's up to you  :)

"Our house is old, and noisy, and full.  When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks.  This is the way of life my husband and I have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind; even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark.  I cannot think of a preferable way of life, except one without children and without books, going on soundlessly in an apartment hotel where they do the cleaning for you and send up your meals and all you have to do is lie on a couch and--as I say, I cannot think of a preferable way of life, but then I have had to make a good many compromises, all told."

So goes the first paragraph of my favorite book of 2016. I read a piece in the Review section of the Wall Street Journal on a new book about the life of Shirley Jackson whom I remembered only as the woman who wrote that creepy short story, The Lottery, that we all read in high school.  Apparently she wrote a lot of other fairly dark stories, but she also wrote a lot of fairly hilarious stories about her actual life as a mom, which is what Life Among the Savages is.  It reads as a precursor to the modern day mom blog and she even dedicated it to "[her] children's grandparents" whom my own mom blog is, if not actually dedicated to, are nonetheless my target audience.  I've found that reading stories of other mothers, especially from different eras, managing shenanigans very similar to those of my own children gives a nice perspective to my days and reminds me of the fact that while motherhood is often an exasperating endeavor,  it's always easier to face up to it when you have a sense of humor firmly in place.    

I suppose what I'm saying is that I would love to sit down for coffee with this woman and swap stories about our children's antics.  Not that we'd be able to hear each other over the din.   Also I'm seriously considering changing the name of my blog to just Life Among the Savages in an homage to her.  It sums up my life nicely and unlike my current blog name, has only words that everyone can pronounce.

I desperately want to read the sequel, Raising Demons, but my failure of a library doesn't have it.  I did check out Let Me Tell You though, which is a compilation of her short stories and has a whole section on motherhood in general.  It didn't disappoint.  And while I don't like to read scary or disturbing things as a rule, I did pick up her book, We Have Always Lived in the Castle which was also very good.  Not scary-disturbing, but creepy-it-kind-of-sticks-with-you-disturbing.  

I know you all love my sporadic and oh so professional book reviews and advice, so if you are a mom and also in need of a good laugh--which as a mom you probably are--get thee to a library and find some Shirley Jackson, you won't regret it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

On It Already Being Advent

or alternately, Where Did November Go?

Does anyone else feel like they blinked and found themselves transported from Halloween to the first week of Advent?  I suppose it could be the whole having a newborn and not exactly sleeping thing that's skewing my sense of time, but it did seem to fly by exceptionally fast this year.  I also don't have much in terms of documenting what we've been up to since I've hardly pulled my camera out at all which is a shame because, again, the whole having a newborn thing.  Newborns are adorable and should have their picture taken.  Frequently.  I did manage to get a decent family picture for our Christmas cards using my camera's automatic timer and a "tripod" which was actually two ladders and an old board we found in the yard so at least there's that.  We are very fancy here--and also it might be time for an upgrade in my camera equipment.  

All the grandparents out there can take that as a thinly veiled ultimatum.  You want pictures of your latest grandchild during the dark and dismal days of winter, I need an external flash :)  

I'm feeling pretty good about our Christmas preparedness here, even if it does feel as though we're speeding towards it at an unnaturally fast clip.  The presents are all purchased, not all wrapped mind you but purchased.  Present wrapping is one of my love languages though, so that's not a chore so much as a treat for me.  All the nativities are out, as well as the nutcrackers and Christmas books and I've got it on pretty good authority that St. Nickolas is bringing some excellent new additions along with the gold coins on his feast day this year.  Thanks to Trader Joe's and their boxwood wreaths our Advent wreath was up and running in time for its first Sunday lighting.  And in an Advent miracle I was able to easily locate the candles the boys rolled last year since I apparently had the good sense to put them into a box and label it "candles" after we made them.  I love last year me, I'd like to give her a high five.  Or maybe a hug. 

Now I can mostly just sit back and relax.....except for writing those Christmas cards.....and baking all the cookies.....and I guess that popcorn isn't going to string itself for that tree that we still need to go and procure.  So "sit back and relax" might not be the correct sentiment.  Maybe it's more of a "calmly stay on top of the season instead of descending in a panic of last minute Yuletide preparations." 

Wish me luck.  


Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Halloween-ish Weekend

Our neighborhood hosts an annual Halloween costume party so we obviously got the kids all dressed up to attend.  There were very specific costume requests this year, mostly from David who wanted to be his dad, complete with his '94 4-Runner.  Sure sweetheart, I was hoping to do some postpartum cardboard crafting anyway.  Henry just wanted to be a cowboy from the dress-up box (and under no circumstances participate in a costume contest or have anyone look at him, ever).  John had been asking to be a ghost for over a month but once he was outfitted in the costume I made him (from sheets, not over his head--as per his request) he decided that actually, he didn't want to be a ghost after all.  He picked out the dinosaur costume David wore circa 2010 instead.  And as for Margaret, she wore the princess dress that Aunt Courtney sent along with the flower crown and wand I crafted.  Well, she didn't actually wear the crown and she probably would have been just as happy in the dinosaur costume but when you wait so long for a princess option you go with the princess option.

After the party we hit up the pumpkin patch and found the perfect giant pumpkin to go along with the smaller ones we already had that the squirrels have been nibbling.  Today we carved them up and Chris got to show off his super handy masculine side by busting out some power tools to get the job done.  I suppose that's what you should expect when you turn over pumpkin gutting duty to dad.  It really was a labor of love since he really dislikes everything about pumpkin carving.  If you don't carve pumpkins though you don't get roasted pumpkin seeds and everyone loves roasted pumpkin seeds.  I made these sweet ones and these regular ones this year and they were delicious.

Especially the sweet ones.

They'll hold me over nicely until I raid the children's Halloween candy stash tomorrow night.  I'm going to be attempting my first solo trick-or-treating adventure with all five kids so wish me luck.  Maybe luck and prayers.

PS David totally won the costume contest in the elementary school age category and he only lost one wheel in a fight with a Jedi :)

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

On Her Second Birthday

We celebrated Margaret's second birthday today and since I have an eleven day old baby it was a very fancy celebration indeed, complete with a store bought cake, delivery pizza and cousins.  Lots and lots of cousins.

We gave Margaret her dollhouse which was a big hit and she also got a high chair, stroller and Ergo for her baby dolls and a hair dryer/pretend make-up set to boot.  I'm afraid I didn't get any good pictures of her playing with her new toys so you'll just have to take my word for how adorable she looked wearing her baby doll while simultaneously blow drying her hair and pushing her stroller.  She will certainly make an excellent mother one day with those multitasking skills.

Before her party she maintained that it was not her birthday and she did not want cake or ice cream or presents--mostly because she's in a very ornery stage and automatically says no to pretty much anything you ask her.  But by the end of the day she was happily singing "happy birthday to me" with a tummy full of treats and arms full of gifts so I suppose she must have reconsidered her anti-birthday stance somewhere along the way.

If you ask her how old she is now, she will reply "two!" while holding up somewhere between three and five fingers only to quickly change her answer to "five!" while holding up all ten.  We'll obviously have to work on her finger counting accuracy but she's certainly got the enthusiasm down for being another year older.


Happy birthday sweet girl.  You bring us so much joy and laughter and maybe, just maybe, this year you can master bringing a little less screaming and ninja kicks :)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Quick Birth Story on the Feast of St. Francis

I'm pretty sure this is the first baby I delivered before their due date, and also the first to not be born in the middle of the night.  Full of surprises this one.

I probably should have known that I'd deliver him on Tuesday being that I was both still completely mentally unprepared for having another child and that I spent Monday in a frenzied compulsion to accomplish and clean ALL THE THINGS--as best as a someone who can't actually bend down can accomplish and clean things anyway.  By evening I was coming to terms with the fact that the baby was on his way and I was up all night waiting for it to be time to head in to the hospital.  After all, my babies are always born in the middle of the night so clearly Christopher would be too.  Well by six in the morning I had had about thirty minutes of sleep but it was time to head in, if only just to make sure that we didn't get stuck in traffic trying to wait any longer.

An accidental home birth is one thing, an accidental side-of-the-road-birth is something else entirely.

We made it to the hospital and had a fairly quick and uneventful time of things, aside from the obligatory me telling the doctors that I was ready to push followed by them not listening, causing a bit of chaos as someone was forced to dive, gloveless and not suited up, to catch the baby.  This time when I tried to give ample warning that the baby was coming the doctor responded that actually she thought my labor had slowed and offered me some Pitocin to get things going again--literally five minutes before they all had to come running back in for the delivery.  They also had the gall to tell me not to push.  Now, I've delivered with epidurals and without and you can certainly tell someone with an epidural not to push and they can probably comply, but if someone does not have an epidural they certainly will not.  Christopher was making his entrance and I was laughing maniacally at the thought of trying to stop him. Probably not out loud, but on the inside--on the inside there was total maniacal laughter.  The doctors said that it was one of the fastest deliveries they'd ever seen.

That's probably true, it was pretty darn fast.

Chris scooted home after everything settled down to take care of the children and I was released twenty-four hours later.  I debated staying the extra allotted day but the beds in this hospital are apparently all designed to prevent bedsores by randomly and continuously inflating and deflating so that you feel like you're rolling around on a water bed.  And you can't turn it off.

I thought, all things considered, I'd rather be home resting on a non-vibrating mattress with my newborn than in the hospital, even with their excellent room service menu and the promise of relative quiet.  

Here everyone's doing well and the kids just love their new little brother.  The little ones love him a little too hard sometimes, but I suppose that's to be expected.  Chris will be home to take care of us for most of the month and I'm trying to fight the urge to clean things and just sit around and snuggle this precious little baby instead while I can.

Everything happened so quickly that I still haven't quite wrapped my mind around the fact that he's actually here.

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