Playing Pretend

Another gem from bygone days

I was digging through old unpublished posts, in case there was something I had forgotten to finish up, and found this little jewel from 2018. If I were just disciplined enough to keep track of all the hilarious things my kids say when they’re “playing pretend!” I have no idea what the game was, but it included these quotes:

“Oh, no, I forgot my parents!”

“Wait, you can’t use a carseat for an altar.”

“You just knocked in the back of the church!” (as opposed to the front, apparently)

They almost feel like a writing prompt: write a story including all of these quotes…they were part of a story once, maybe they can be again!

Kissing Naptime Goodbye

We’re in one of those times of upheaval: the three-year-old has decided he’s outgrown afternoon naps.

I hate to complain, since he has napped every day for three solid years. That’s nothing to yawn at. Still, I would really prefer he keep it up for another year…or three.

The problem is that this is a child who is never still when he is awake, and needs eyes on him at all times. And we had all planned our quiet work time – my writing, the girls’ focused school time – during Jacob’s nap.

So that time is now gone.

This is a dance I’ve done many times at this point in my parenting career. As soon as a child settles into a schedule, and I figure out how to make the best of that schedule, here comes a growth spurt…and we start again from scratch.

It’s always frustrating to have my schedule up-ended like this. I’m one of those people who doesn’t deal well with surprises. But I would have hoped after 14 years of this cycle I’d be used to it, or at least aware of it enough to deal with it promptly and creatively.

I guess I still need a couple more years of practice.

To my credit, I did recognize what was happening quickly. And I did (almost) immediately start to brainstorm a new routine which would still get me my writing time. But that didn’t stop me from ending up on the verge of tears as the noise of little people swirled around me during what was supposed to be my designated writing time.

So we’re experimenting with assigned toddler-watchers (while I hide in my bedroom), and I’m considering moving my writing time to after 9pm (ick) or searching out kid-friendly nature shows to function as sedatives (also ick) all while doing lots of deep breathing exercises.

Prayers and shipments of tea are welcome.

One Person’s Trash…

Some days it feels like our family’s mission in life is mostly to keep other people’s stuff out of the landfill.

In the last couple of weeks Craig refurbished (another) hand-me-down laptop and we laid a walkway made of brick salvaged from a demolition in our neighborhood. (I will be eternally grateful to the neighbors who helped us cart all those bricks home!) Nearly all of our clothes and furniture are second hand, as are the dishes, though I admit that I dream of someday purchasing myself a beautiful matching set when there are no little hands to help me break them.

We currently have a rescue dog, hand-me-down cats and garden plants, and second-hand chickens, some of which came complete with a coop.

I realized as I glanced around our bedroom that almost every item of furniture could be counted either as a hand-me-down or an heirloom. (I’ll leave you to decide which is which.) And without stretching our budget to include more “consumer goods” we have a full life, and a remarkably full house – so much so that I’m constantly hauling things off to Goodwill.

I’m not complaining – I’d rather be given a slightly-used pair of shoes for one of the kids than pay $50 for them and wonder what kind of sweat shop I’m supporting with my purchase. And it’s not like we don’t buy new things sometimes. Socks, for example, are best when fresh, in my opinion. It’s just hard to wrap my head around how there can be so much stuff in the world that we can fill our house to overflowing (almost) without ever buying anything new.

Also, as I look at the piles building up in the corners (again), it occurs to me that I need to accept that it’s probably not my job to keep things out of the landfill, especially things I didn’t buy in the first place, lest we all go the way of Hanta in Too Loud a Solitude. (Which you should read if you love darkly beautiful books about…books.)

In the meantime, I guess I’ll continue keeping our local thrift shops in business…

Third Time’s the Charm

It’s happened twice now: my daughter has requested that we grow Brussels sprouts in the garden, and I have sallied forth to the local garden center right around October and returned with cute little baby brassicas. Only weeks later do we realize…these are not Brussels sprouts.

How can this happen twice, you might wonder? The first year they were cabbages. And a Brussels sprout looks like a cabbage on a stick, with little buds all over the stick. So I kept watching these cabbage-shaped things and waiting for the stalk to shoot up. Needless to say, it never did.

This year, I resolved to try again. The plants were clearly labeled. I brought them home, my daughter happily planted them in her little patch of garden. We waited. Giant green leaves and a knobby white center emerged…we had planted cauliflower.

This year’s first “Brussels sprout”

I thought my daughter was going to cry. She loves Brussels sprouts and she had waited a year and a half for these. And they were cauliflower. (In my defence, they’re all in the same plant family. The little ones look enough alike to my untrained eye…but I digress.)

There was no point in digging them up by the time we realized the mistake, and it was too late to try again this year. So we watched the cauliflower grow to a pretty ridiculous size, and then I chopped one down and brought it in for dinner.

Whatever the ancients may say, I think that ambrosia might just be home-grown cauliflower. It was really, really good.

When we realized that we could cook and eat the leaves like any other green…well, it almost made it worth the four square feet of garden each plant took up to make its tasty head.

And it almost made it worth missing out on the Brussels sprouts, again.

So I went to the freezer section at the grocery store, loaded up on bags of Brussels sprouts, and we’re making the best of it. I also added one thing to the wish list attached to my seed catalogs: Brussels sprout seeds. If those grow up to be kale…well, I guess at that point I’ll concede defeat.