Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Alive and Laughing

I have a few topics for posts kicking around in my brain but unfortunately I'm so exhausted right now that my tongue keeps tripping over simple words like "lingonberry" and "empanada" no matter how often I've been forced to repeat them in conversations—and today that was a lot! So instead of blogging about something different I'll select a topic from my regular blogging fodder: my daily life.

Our story begins with this little one, who opens his mouth like this every time he sees me. I used to think it was the camera but, no, it's just me. He thinks that every part of mom is edible and if he just opens his mouth wide enough something yummy will drop inside.

And, actually, he's kind of got that right. In the NICU one of the lactation consultants said Benjamin was going to be that lazy kid who stabs his juicebox with a straw and then squeezes the juice out (instead of, you know, sucking on the straw) because my milk overfloweth, regularly. Things haven't changed much around here so Benjamin just sits around with his mouth wide open saying, "I'm just going to sit here like this and if milk falls into my mouth it's not my fault."

He kind of slept in this morning—he was still asleep when Rachel's bus pulled up at 8:10 so when we went back inside the house I put him back in bed. I ate breakfast, put on a show for Miriam, and tried to climb back into bed myself. He woke up at 8:30, wouldn't you know. I hadn't even been in bed for five minutes when he was calling out for his breakfast, so I got up, telling myself that it would be alright. Miriam's sick and would likely take a nap and Benjamin usually takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap so I'd just wait for Benjamin to go down for a nap, put Miriam down for nap, and take a nap myself. It would be like the perfect storm, only the perfect nap time instead.

Alas, he never took a nap. Instead he spent all day screaming. It was awesome. I couldn't get him to fall asleep for anything! 

So eventually we went to the park, where Miriam played nicely by herself for quite some time.

Benjamin, of course, fell asleep as soon as we got to the park. I suppose we could have just walked home to put him in his bed so that we could take naps as well but I'll just let you guess how well that would have gone over with Miriam.

So we played around together and Benjamin slept through it all.

We spent quite a bit of time at the swings—this is Miriam after all—and when I had had enough pushing I announced to Miriam that I'd pushed my last push and once the swing stopped it would be time to get out. She could try pumping her legs and if the swing kept going, great—she could keep swinging—but if the swing stopped she wasn't allowed to ask for another push. In her Herculean effort to keep her momentum up, she slammed her face into the front of the swing. I'm not even sure how it happened, was just a *wham,* a scream, and then blood. And they say those baby swings are safe...

I didn't tell Miriam that she was bleeding. I just told her to suck on her bottom lip for a few minutes—like Simon says!—and that she couldn't stop until I said to. As far as she knows she hardly bled at all (I'm just lucky she doesn't recognize the taste of iron for what it is).

We started home after we'd stopped the bleeding because Miriam didn't feel like playing anymore. Benjamin woke up just as we got to our street corner, of course.

He really does enjoy playing with his little gym, I promise. Today he caught the toy on the side and had rolled onto his side so that he could suck on it. I just don't have many pictures of him "playing" with it because every time I try to take his picture he stops playing and opens his mouth like, "There's that lady again! She drips milk!"

We spent the rest of the afternoon mostly miserable with bursts of happiness. There was a lot of screaming on Benjamin's part. I don't know why he was so sad today. It was...sad.

For dinner we made pumpkin pancakes. Actually, Andrew made them because the girls claim that my pancakes taste funny—every time I make them—because "only Daddy knows how to make pancakes right."

Truthfully, I only see benefits in their (completely unjustified) prejudice because that means that whenever we have pancakes Andrew will be making them or else dinner will be a flop (because "Mommy's pancakes taste funny"). I really don't mind him having to make all the pancakes around here and he doesn't mind too much either since—fun fact!—pancakes are his favourite food. 

Today he made pumpkin pancakes. In anticipation of this Miriam and I had made cranberry sauce earlier in the afternoon. When I saw the cranberries for sale at the store I had to get a bag. Cranberry sauce is super easy to make because the berries audibly pop open when the sauce is ready so you know exactly when to take it off the burner and so you don't boil it to death like you do all the other jams that you make. 

Oh, you don't boil jam to death? Maybe that's just me. 

Anyway, making fresh cranberry sauce is as easy as popping microwave popcorn (so it can be done with a wailing infant on your hip and a hyper three-year-old wrapped around your ankle). Bring to boil 1 cup of water + 1 cup of granulated suger. Stir in 3 cups of whole cranberries, thoroughly rinsed. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the berries pop. Remove from heat. Voila!

For some reason pumpkin pancakes topped with cranberry sauce sounded good to me. And it was good, but I'm getting ahead of my ramblings here.

I'd cooked up our jack-o-lantern, which is perfectly fine for baking as long as you puree it well and add a bit of extra sugar if you really want (since big jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't as sweet as the little pie pumpkins) and so we've been using a lot of pumpkin. I made pumpkin butter to dip pumpkin snickerdoodles in this weekend (we finished up the dough on Tuesday night). Last night I made pumpkin bread and then put six cups of pumpkin in the freezer. I still had a cup of pumpkin left, so pumpkin pancakes it was!

Andrew's been bugging me about making pumpkin empanadas ever since our friend Melissa mentioned them and I can't say I'm not tempted because my friend Carrie brought me a Krispy Kreme Glazed Pumpkin Pie when she came to visit me last week and it was delicious and strangely empanada-like. However, with the amount of crying and sleeping Benjamin's been doing lately (hint: high and low, respectively) I just haven't been feeling like trying anything terribly "new," and I've never baked empanadas before so they were out of the question.

Explaining that to Andrew was difficult because I just couldn't say the word empanada but I assured him that we had six cups of pumpkin in the freezer and a couple of pie pumpkins sitting on the front step still waiting to be pureed as well as several cans of pumpkin in the cabinet. We were in fine shape for attempting empanadas when I could pronounce their name or even just remember how many cups of flour I'd measured into the batter (I lost count when I was making the pumpkin bread because I was bouncing a screaming child on my I put another half cup of flour in and called it good (the bread turned out fine but it is a little dry (which is an impressive thing to do in a humid climate) so I may have added too much flour...but whatever)).

So, he made pumpkin pancakes and I set out syrup, applesauce, bananas, and cranberry sauce as toppings. It was an exciting meal. The girls and I piled our plates with deliciousness (while Benjamin—get this—took a twenty minute nap (fortunately I've learned the art of wolfing down meals while babies are sleeping)). Andrew plopped a few pancakes on his plate, glopped applesauce on top, and drizzled some lonely brown-sugar syrup over top. 

The girls couldn't get enough cranberry sauce. They kept asking for more, smacking their lips, and pushing their plates in my direction—my direction because I was nearest to the cranberry sauce, which Andrew had positioned as far away from himself as possible and was now looking at longingly.

He seemed a little gloomy. Perhaps he was disappointed that my cranberry sauce was outshining his pancakes. He shouldn't be. After all, as we'd remarked in tandem at the dinner table when Andrew noted how many toppings we had out, "pancakes are a vehicle for..." (and that's as far as we got before we burst out laughing, much to the wonder of our children) toppings. So if not disappointment, I figured he must be suffering from jealousy. 

Andrew was coveting the delight the girls and I were getting out of the cranberry sauce.

"You should try some," I urged him. "Go on!"

"No, thanks," he said. "I don't like cranberry sauce."

"Oh, come on!" I said. "It's good. It's not like the canned stuff. There are whole berries in here...and it hasn't been sitting in a can for five years. It's good. I promise."

"Yeah. No thanks. I don't like that stuff."

"It's made with fresh cranberries," I told him. "When's the last time you had a cranberry?"

"I don't know. Like when I was ten or something."

"You ate a cranberry when you were ten?" I asked, skeptical. Miriam ate a couple of berries this afternoon and seemed to enjoy them—which surprised me because they're kind of sour/bitter berries.

"No. I had cranberry sauce when I was ten."

"From a can though! I'm telling you, this stuff is different."

"If by different you mean 'gross,'" he said.

"No! It tastes like lingonberry jam. You like that," I pointed out, mispronouncing lingonberry (I always want to throw a 'd' in there).

"Really?" he asked.

"Really," I assured him.

"But I thought this was cranberry sauce," the girls whined.

"It is, it is, but cranberries taste like! Berries."

"For real?" Andrew asked.

"Yes! It's good. I promise. And it tastes just like the lingonberry jam from Ikea that you like so much so just..."

Before I could ask him if he would eat it from enclosed spaces, while zipping around in sundry modes of transportation, or with various woodland creatures, he reached across the table and speared a cranberry off my plate with his fork and popped it into his mouth.

"Hey!" he said, "That's good!"

What he meant to say was this:

I do so like this sauce of cran.
Thank you! Thank you, Nanny-pan!

But he missed a great opportunity and didn't say that.

He had a couple more pumpkin pancakes topped with cranberry sauce and then it was time for him to go to cub scouts, which meant it was time for Benjamin to wake up and scream his head off while I let the girls do whatever their little hearts desired—which happened to be making crafts because, as Miriam explained to me, "making crafts makes [them} go to bed easier."

Sure, child, just don't overstimulate the baby any further by talking or moving or breathing in his presence.

Before Andrew left for cubs and before the girls began their crafts, though, we gathered to have family prayer. Rachel offered it and it was a sweet and reverent prayer but the way she ended it left both Andrew and I in stitches (though we managed to hold it in until she'd left our bedroom (which is where we'd gathered to pray)).

".... In the name of Zheshus... In the name of Zheshus... JUH! JUH! JUH! In the name of JUH-JUH-JEsus Christ, Amen!" she finished triumphantly.

She's begun to recognize and correct her speech quirks on her own, which is just part of growing up. Correcting them in the middle of a prayer, though, was a little funny.

Anyway, the girls made hand turkeys for a bunch of their friends tonight. Rachel made one for Grace and then tried to make Miriam make one for Miriam's friend Lauren but Miriam didn't want to make a turkey for Lauren because she was already busy drawing a portrait of Lauren for Lauren. This was apparently an issue that needed to be shouted about at decibels that masked Benjamin's wailing so I marched into the kitchen and told them to solve it or get their pyjamas on.

They solved it. 

Rachel made a hand turkey for Lauren while Miriam drew a picture of Lauren.

Rachel's got hand turkey manufacturing down to a science by now (does anyone out there have any other brilliant Thanksgiving craft ideas because this one is getting old); her spellings were cute. She made one for "Gras" (but later corrected the spelling to "Grace") and one for "Lorin."

Miriam's portrait of Lauren turned out to be adorable. When I walked in to check on them (with Benjamin still screaming) we hollered out a conversation about her picture.


"AWESOME!" I yelled back.


Stifling my laughter was easy to do because Benjamin's screams masked anything I wasn't screaming. "THAT'S WONDERFUL!" I hollered at her, smiling widely.

I had to take a picture; those gigantic hands sprouting from those spindly stick arms attached to the tiny body with the large egg-shaped head. It was too sweet, though not quite reminiscent of Lauren (except for the fiery orange hair; Miriam got that part right). It's one of the sweetest portraits I've ever seen!

The only reason Benjamin didn't scream through story time is because he was nursing, but story time only lasted as long as he was nursing. I thought he'd fall asleep since he'd been up all day but instead he nursed for twenty minutes, popped off, and started screaming his head off again. He was having a majorly "off" day or something—he was well fed, well pooped; he had no fever, no obvious signs of infection anywhere; I even remembered to give him his prevacid this morning. I changed his diaper and his whole wardrobe and examined every inch of his skin—aside from being ridiculously smooth I found nothing notable. The boy was just miserable; had we been in the NICU he would have set off his "extreme tachy" alarm for sure!

After round one of stories I sent the girls to brush their teeth while I continued to my mission to tame the squalling baby (who I think was just overtired...or suffering from acute acid reflux). He'd settled down a bit by the time they returned so I agreed to read a chapter from Little House while I stood and bounced him in the living room. It ended up being a rather long chapter, but the girls enjoyed it because it was about Christmas and "when is it going to be Christmas?!"

Before I knew it they were running around the house like wild animals again, overjoyed that Christmas was next month(!) but I eventually reigned them in and convinced them to sit quietly on the couch for scriptures. 

"Look at me, Mommy!" Miriam chirped. "I'm you!"

At some point during her wild romp around the house she stumbled upon the Harry Potter glasses and decided that wearing them made her my doppelganger for sure. It was such a shock to look over and see Miriam wearing thick-rimmed glasses that I giggled. Rachel then demanded that she get a turn to "be me."

Eventually we managed to get all our sillies out, the glasses were left on the back of the couch, the children were herded into their rooms and tucked into their beds, and the house would have been both still and silent had it not been for Benjamin, who was still screaming his head off and fighting off the dragon of sleep with knight-like tenacity. 

He was still screaming when Andrew walked home. I was sitting here, rocking back and forth, shushing him and singing to him and trying to convince him to close his eyes and I hardly noticed Andrew come home, so it was a bit of a shock when he walked across the living room, leaned casually against the doorframe and asked, "What's up? Are you torturing the baby or something?"

He'd also thought that it would be a brilliant idea to grab the Harry Potter glasses and try them on. Miriam not only inherited his looks; she inherited his humour. And that's okay because I enjoy laughing.

When Andrew married me, he borrowed that cheesy line* from Legacy, promising to make me laugh every day. He's certainly kept his word, and our children who were unwittingly born under the umbrella at that promise certainly contribute to the laughter in our home as well. There's always something to smile about—even on days when your baby is up for fourteen...fifteen hours straight, screaming all the while!

And that's why I can't think of anything else to write about besides my family. It's also why I have permission to mispronounce certain words, like lingonberry and empanada and even my own name if I wish to! - Yes.. I am still in my pajamas. What did I accomplish today? The kids are still alive. Say thank you. Now... say I'm pretty.

* "Promise to make me laugh?" asks Eliza. "Every day," David Walker promises.


  1. Thanks to all of you, I got my daily laugh, too!

  2. Nancy, you are hilarious. I can't wait to buy your first book someday. :)