Excitement…

…of various sorts has been ours lately.  I’ll have to come back to the posts on the road trip, but here’s what’s going on more recently.

Lucy has finally given in and decided that she is, in fact, old enough to poop on the potty.  We are jubilant.  And it’s consistent, it’s been only one diaper since we got back from Fargo.  We even tried sleeping without diapers for a couple of nights (at her request), but that went less well.  Apparently if she sleeps in a diaper, she waits until she gets up to pee, and if she doesn’t, well, she doesn’t.  But maybe soon.

Craig is now putting both girls to sleep every night, which means I have unimaginable amounts of time to my self for the moment.  I nurse Samantha, then he takes her while I read to Lucy, then Lucy joins them in bed and everyone is happy and sleepy, at least for a couple of hours.  Samantha has been making it to 3 or 3:30 often, which is great, and Lucy usually stays in her bed until Craig’s shower wakes her up in the morning.  For comparison, a couple of weeks ago I was still nursing Samantha to sleep every night, she stayed in our bed all night, and woke up several times at least.  Craig had been putting Lucy to bed most of the time, but whether she stayed there was pretty hit-or-miss.  So this is going really well (knock on wood!) so far.

Samantha’s vocabulary is growing fast, and she is saying some really cute things that I think should be recorded.  Here is the list that comes to mind (spelled as phonetically as I can manage):

Lucy = see-see

Theresa = see-sa

cookie = key-key

cracker = ca-ca

when she hears a train whistle = tain tack (train track)

Mikey (the dog) = bike-y

Mr. Bob, who is supposed to be “B-Bob” = Bob-B (which the kids on the corner used to call him, also)

I’ll have to add to the list as I remember more of them, but these are some of the best.

Our real excitement today was that Craig bumped the spicket in the front yard with the lawn mower and we now have a gigantic leak.  He used some over-the-counter remedy to slow it down, but we’re still having to turn off the water at the street while we’re not frantically trying to get all wet things done at once.  The leak is between the main line and the house, and there’s nowhere to turn it off and still have water in the house.  So we’re getting a taste of Little House on the Prairie.  Or something.  I guess this will give us an idea of just how primitive we can stand should we ever get around to moving to a farm.

On the farm note, I am looking into chickens.  A movable pen and coop, and just a couple of layers to provide bug control and fresh eggs.  Chickens are cheap, coops are not.  If anyone has a favorite chicken tractor design, I’d love to see it.  Or advice on breeds.  The catalogs are in the mail, and this is all very exciting.

Also in garden news, we had our most exciting crop from the yard today: one large and one small cantaloupe.  The small one had split a little, so we cut it, and it’s gone, mostly eaten by Samantha.  The flavor isn’t spectacular, but I was impressed that the little, almost dead, three-for-a-dollar plants I picked up to fill in the spaces where my own seedlings had succumbed to slugs produced such bounty.  And there’s one rock hard, very green little melon left out there.  And all the things I thought were dead in the garden have sprung new life since it’s rained every day for nearly a week, so maybe it was not all a bust after all.  (The only thing we’ve had enough of to use all summer was basil – and more of that than I can stand to use!)

So there’s the update.  If you know a good plumber in our area, let me know, I’ll be making lots of those calls on Monday.

The Trip, Part 1: Hospitality

I’m pretty sure this will take several days to explain, in part since my writing time is now divided by a number of thank-you notes which must be written with all haste.

Which seems like as good a place as any to start.  We were very, very blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers on our trip to Fargo, ND, this past week.  We were gone from Tuesday morning to the following Tuesday night, and only spent one of those nights away in a hotel.  So pending the thank-you notes, here are the people to whom we owe our very awesome, very long trip.

We spent the first night in St. Louis, MO, with Nate, Angela, and John Paul.  Craig got to know Nate first in his role as a Catholic blogger (read: “they met on the internet!”)  Nate and Angela are in the beginning stages of starting a new Catholic Worker on the other side of town from the long-standing Worker of St. Louis, and as they have kicked most modern communication technology out of their house, we’ve been corresponding with them by snail mail for a couple of months now…mostly about whether they would be interested in allowing us to crash at their house on our way north.  Happily, they were willing.  We left New Orleans early, arrived in St. Louis in the afternoon, and had a great time having dinner, going to playgrounds, eating frozen custard, and discussing the joys and difficulties of living a holistic Catholic lifestyle.  Nate and Angela were leaving on their own road trip the next day, so we were really grateful to them for going out of their way to take us in.

Next we went on to Iowa City, where we stayed with people we actually knew, Mike and Violet and their beautiful daughters Stella and Juniper.  They let us stay two nights, so we had time to visit, take the kids to the library, stay up late, and marvel at how peaceful Juniper is at all times.  Mike and Violet let us sleep on their mattress.  They are awesome.  They offered to leave things where they were in case we wanted to stop back there on the way home.  Sadly, we didn’t make it back to see them again this trip.

From Iowa City we went on to the original purpose of the trip, a Young Disciples reunion in Fargo, ND.  There, again we stayed with strangers, although the arrangements for this “host home” had been made by a friend of ours who used to run the YD program.  Josh and Tracy, the young couple we stayed with, provided toys, stairs, and cereal for the girls, as well as a Mary Poppins cup with built in straw.  What more could little girls need?  We were there Friday and Saturday nights, and had a good reunion and more fascinating theological discussion.  That was actually the other theme of the trip.

While we were in Iowa City, Mike and Violet had mentioned the place their friend Brenna was living: a Catholic Worker farm outside of Dubuque, IA.  Violet was kind enough to call and see if we could come visit the farm on our way home.  And sure enough, they had a space for us.  Actually, Brenna gave up her bed so we could stay, and we got in late since we didn’t leave Fargo until almost one and there are no useful interstates in the area, (South Bend and Highway 31, anyone?) and the roosters are apparently on Mountain Time, as they started crowing at four in the morning.  But the people of the farm (do I call them Farmers?  Workers?) were so hospitable, even though only Brenna knew us from Adam, and she barely so.  Craig was feeling down and out by the morning (he didn’t sleep well) and we were offered another night, should we need it.  We have several good farm stories now, and Craig is ready to move immediately, and, as usual, we had good food and good conversation and left feeling welcomed and rested (Craig napped through lunch).

So finally we went back through St. Louis, and stayed at a hotel, because even though Nate and Angela had offered us another night at their house, they were getting back from their road trip that same day, and Craig had come down with a cold, and our humility had about run out, so we decided not to impose anymore.  And even the lady working at the hotel offered us milk as we were checking in for the tired and grumpy (read: screaming) girls.

Thus the pile of thank-you notes I have to get started on.  We have a new standard of hospitality to live up to.  We were well cared for on a long trip, one we could not have afforded to make without the generosity of friends and strangers.  And I think the best part was, if we had stayed by ourselves in hotels all those nights, trying to get the girls bathed and to bed on time, sleeping until we had to get ready to go, watching TV because there isn’t a whole lot else for a three-year-old to do in a hotel room, we would have missed so much.  We would have missed catching up with old friends, we would have missed making new friends and learning a wide variety of new things.  The girls would have missed playgrounds, frozen custard, and farm animals, just for starters.  I wouldn’t have so many letters to write, which I actually can’t wait to start.  Connections we had to people in other places which were tenuous, if they even existed, are stronger now.  Our like-minded community, which we keep trying to build a little here and there as we go, has grown tremendously.  It might just have been worth the 3,200 miles in the car.

Home at Last

Well, it’s been 3,200 miles, but we’re finally home again.  And we have lots of stories, but it’s bedtime, so here’s just a little something to spark you interest.

We had the privilege of staying at a Catholic Worker farm the other night, and when we got up in the morning, I told Lucy to look out the window at the chickens.  She said,

“Look at that bird singing (=crowing)!  That’s the one we’re going to milk!”

You’ll be happy to know we straightened a few details out for over the course of the morning.

More to come.