Month: October 2013

I like big pumpkins and I cannot lie! I even like them in pie!

We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch on Sunday and it made me wonder if going to the pumpkin patch has always been a thing. Because I don’t ever remember stepping foot in a pumpkin patch as a child. Was I just missing out?

My mom told me, “Things have changed a lot since you were a kid.” I guess that means the pumpkin patch as a destination for fall fun is a new(ish) idea. Then again, my mom also cannot remember a time when I ever did anything wrong as a child, ever. When my kids are horrible, wild beasts she says, “I don’t know where they get this from. You never did stuff like that when you were a kid.” (That’s when I raise my eyebrows and point my eyes at Dave, because yeah, Mom. We know.) Don’t tell my mom, but I sort of remember doing some of that stuff. Her amnesia is pretty specific. It’s possible it could include pumpkin patches.

Today, the pumpkin patch trip is a staple of kid-dom. Everyone takes their kid to the pumpkin patch where the least of what you do is pick pumpkins. And thank goodness, right? It’s some of the best fun of the year. And now I’m going to show you a bunch of pictures of it.

Lucy in the pumpkin house

Bee takes a wagon ride

Julia on the tire horse swing

Jack in the corn bin

Dave

New this year:  giant slides!

Lucy on the slide

Pumpkin Carriage Photo Op

Jack and his dad

So, did you go to the pumpkin patch as a child? And did you go this year?

I like to think I’m keeping it secret, but my butt gives it away. Also, my midsection.

I eat cookie dough
stored in the basement freezer
laundry’s my cover

Time and Worth

My van will overheat if it sits at idle too long. My solution to this problem has been simple: I do not sit at idle for too long. I do my best to avoid traffic and have learned the point at which I need to shut the engine off and let it cool down. At first, it was infuriating. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll admit that I threw a temper tantrum or two when I had to wait. But I’ve learned it’s a problem I can work around if I think ahead and pay attention. It certainly adds an element of suspense to a drive-though experience, but it’s not a big deal. At least it’s not a big enough deal to give up my morning lattes to put in the Fix My Van Fund. In terms of stress, it ranks right above waiting for a deposit to show up in my checking account but below the Aldi checkout line.

I experience an inordinate amount of anxiety in the Aldi checkout line.

If you’ve ever shopped at Aldi, you know the checkout is fast. The secret, I believe, is the empty cart the cashier has lying in wait for your items in order to immediately begin scanning them as you finish unloading the contents of your cart onto the conveyor belt. The idea is that you simply take the cashier’s cart once it’s filled with your items in exchange for your empty one. Then you head expeditiously to the do-it-yourself bagging station. It’s a quick, streamlined process that I often manage to screw completely because my cart is usually filled to nearly overflowing with not only groceries but also, at least, one baby and a diaper bag attached by stroller straps.

Friends, you do not know what it is to be hated until you’ve slowed the Aldi checkout line. And I get it, I guess. Some customers chose Aldi because of the quick checkout. Or maybe they feel like they’re going to have diarrhea. And just because I haven’t had one doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have an emergency that requires the fastest possible purchase of a cartload of ginormous marshmallows. Who knows what kind of day the people behind me are having? Still, I’ve found it takes approximately an eyeroll worth of waiting for polite smiles to invert and spit sighs of fire right at your face. And I usually need about thirty more seconds than that to transfer the baby and diaper bag to the filled cart. I’m only exaggerating a little bit when I say those are the thirty most stressful seconds of my existence. I burn easily! And I really do not like to inconvenience people. So I realized I needed to either A) start getting my groceries on the conveyor belt before the cashier starts scanning so the items can be packed right into my cart with the (sometimes sleeping!) baby seated nicely in it or B) finish unloading my groceries on the conveyor belt and get the baby transferred to the other cart before the cashier has finished scanning. (Dave suggests there is option C in which I endure the thirty seconds of inpatient weight-shifting, eyerolls, and harumphs and, perhaps, even ignore them. But we all know I am incapable of that.) So, I’ve developed a strategy to get this done.

It begins with the consumption of a highly caffeinated beverage on the commute to the store. I arrive as close to store opening as possible and quickly select my items according to a shopping list organized by aisle. Once I’m ready to checkout, I use a careful algorithm which factors in the length of the line versus number of customers in the store, Jack’s level of contentedness, the cashier’s demeanor and how badly I have to pee to determine whether to take a lap around produce or my place in line. I’ve perfected my cart packing process for maximum unloading efficiency and I rehearse it in my head while awaiting my turn. When the moment arrives, I explode into unloading action. I like to imagine that the groceries will be free if I can accomplish my goal and when I do? It’s a rush like no other. (This is where you should imagine me slow-motion strutting my cart out of the store to Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta by Geto Boys.) If I fall short? The annoyed glances are punishment enough. They hang like posters on the wall of the self-worth section of my brain.

Recently, however, I found a benevolent cashier who has transformed my shopping experience by doing the unthinkable: waiting on me. She took note of the baby in my cart and my frenetic unloading the first time we met. That time and every time since, she has suddenly remembered some small task she must complete before starting to ring up my order. She’s so friendly with everyone that she manages to pull off giving me the extra slice of time I need without making anyone angry. I’d like to ask her for her work schedule. I am so grateful to her. I’m thinking about getting her a Christmas present. Would that be weird? My heart says to make her some homemade buckeyes or something I can infuse with love, but we don’t even know each others’ names. If she’s sane, she probably wouldn’t eat a homemade treat from a stranger, anyway, I guess. So, maybe a gift card? In the meantime, I’ve decided to try and pay her compassion forward. At Aldi, it costs a quarter to use a cart, which you get back when you return it. I’ve started giving my cart and quarter to someone else. Maybe it’ll make it easier for them to wait on someone else that needs an extra thirty seconds.

Again, with the kids holding signs in the picture.

We’ve all been coughing and sniffling around, so I took advantage of our weekend quarantine and updated my blog header, including my navigation links and banner. I’m still all about the black and white pictures of the kids holding signs because it’s still adorable.

(See the get well card we made for my grandmother?

Get Well Collage for Great Grandma

Didn’t I tell you? ADORABLE!)

I decided to add a page to include my old banners. It seemed weird to have something sitting up there defining my site (for years! in some cases) just disappear from it. I thought they should hang around, so I made them a home. It overwhelms me with emotion every time I look at it! All that’s missing is Dave. I wish I’d included him in my banners. Maybe I will in the next one.

I also took my archives out of my sidebar and gave them their own page, and added some social media buttons, so you can find me elsewhere, if you like.

What did you do over the weekend?

Freckle Faces

Julia

freckles are footprints
left behind by night fairies
dancing in the dark

Lucy

Even though they’re dirty and messy and corny and cliche.

We cross the river on the way to school each morning and, for a while, we were crossing pretty much right at sunrise. It was beautiful – every day. Whether the sunlight was bouncing off the water or filtering through the fog, it was beautiful. And no two days ever looked the same. We talked about leaving a little earlier in the morning so we could stop and take a picture. We talked about photographing the same spot at the same time each day for a week or a month, back when the trees were full of green leaves. But we didn’t do it. Now the leaves are dropping from branches in clumps of red, orange, and yellow, and it’s dark when we cross the river anyway, and I’m sad in the same way I’m sad when I get stupid and self-conscious and stop sharing things here.

Every now and then during the seven years I’ve been writing here, I’ve quit my blog. “I think I’m done. I’m just done,” I’d say. “I mean, what am I even doing here?”

Then Dave would pull up my archives and start reading and showing me pictures. “You’re building a time machine.”

“I guess. But who cares?”

He’d give me that look because I already knew the answer. I care. I love my blog, though I still don’t really know what I’m trying to accomplish here exactly. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel particularly successful. But I do know this: this place – My Mommy’s Place – really makes me feel good.

(This seems like a good place to show you these pictures of Lucy swinging.)

Lucy on the swing.

High

Getting a kick out of it.

Anyway, I think that good feeling has something to do with you. So, thank you for coming here. Never stop.

We want a pitcher!

Well, I want the pitcher.

The pitcher

He’s hot.

Someone hit a big milestone today.

But he’s being pretty tight-lipped about it.

Tight-lipped

So I enlisted Julia’s help to photograph the debut of Jackson’s first and second tooth.

“Julia, tickle his belly.”

You can almost see...

“Oh! Almost. Your hair is in the way.”

Laughing baby

“Hrmph. Okay, maybe if you get beside him.”

Looking at Julia

“Yes! That’s the angle. Can you make him laugh?”

Two top teeth

“Got it.”

If only I’d seen the deep fried peanut butter cups before the cash ran out.

The best thing about the county fair is the deep fried oreos. They’re so good I’ve been writing poetry about them. The worst thing about the county fair? Deep fried oreos.

deep fried oreos
oh, be still my beating heart
(probably for real)

The kids were given two days off from school specifically for the fair, so we had to go for that reason. (Not because of the deep fried oreos. That was just…fate.)

The girls at the fair

This year, we faced a new challenge at the fair. Lucy and Bee were excited to hop on the gentle rides for smaller people and Julia was too big to get on some of them.

Bee and Lucy

Bee rides the caterpillar

Jack couldn’t really get on any of them, but that was okay. He was busy being the cutest boy ever at the fair and also the entire world.

Cutest boy at the fair.

While there were some rides the girls could enjoy together, Julia was really waiting for her chance to get on the ones designed for hardy folks of a taller nature with strong constitutions and stomachs of steel.

Big Rides

Downdraft

One ride was so intense that a woman got off it and puked. Dave had to accompany Julia on that one, per the ride rules, and after that, “no more, blargalfbmmmmguh, rides.”

We spent some time checking out the animals, the highlight of which was meeting and touching a turkey.

Meeting the turkey

Bee talks turkey

We played a few games and Lucy learned that gambling isn’t for her. By then, 40% of us were crying and 100% were sunburned. And so, we bid the fair farewell – after we grabbed some deep fried oreos for the road, of course. (Of course.)

Rest

My Grandpa John lived for many years in a rented room in a building where everyone shared the bathroom and the kitchen. It always smelled like ripe bananas. We’d usually visit him there after church on Sundays. He used to collect his change in an empty pop can with the top cut off and once, when it was full, he let me have it. I sat and counted the coins while he and my dad talked about Jerry Falwell and Jack Van Impe and the impending End of the World. I think I remember it well because that talk used to scare me so much.

My grandpa always had office supplies, like mechanical pencils and retractable erasers, that he’d give me at church so I could write on the bulletin when I’d get antsy during the service. He told me there was no Santa Claus. He gave me the Barbie Townhouse for Christmas. He always said my name when he was talking to me. Some people, when they’re familiar, stop using names. It’s “her” or “she” or “honey” or “sweetie.” He always said my name and I liked that. It made me feel visible and grown up.

My Grandpa John

My Grandpa John passed away from Alzheimer’s recently at the age of 91. I hadn’t seen him in more than seven years. He lived alone most of his life and near the end – even before Alzheimer’s – visitors made him uneasy. The last time I was with him was when Julia was eight months old. We had gone to visit him and he held her. He still had my school pictures hanging near his calendar, like he always had. He never got to meet my other children and Julia certainly doesn’t remember that brief moment in his arms, but they all traveled to Pennsylvania to pay their respects at his funeral last week.

Dave and I tried to make the trip as comfortable as possible for them. We stayed at a hotel – here’s Jack at The Holiday Inn Express.

Jack at The Holiday Inn

(I mention it by name, not because I’m getting paid, but because they were so good to my family and me – even when Bee pushed the emergency button in the elevator.)

They had a pool that we had all to ourselves due to the timing of our stay.

My girls at the pool

The kids had fun swimming and meeting family that up until then they’d only heard about, especially their cousin.

I took them to see the house I lived in when I was their age.

The house I grew up in

If Julia were me, she’d be getting ready to move from that home in about one month, which was one of the defining moments in my life.

Though we did a number of things while we were there, the reason for the trip wasn’t lost on the kids. There were a lot of questions about life and death and family, even before the funeral. It was an emotionally draining trip. I’m just grateful that they could join me in saying goodbye to a man they didn’t get to know, but who is very much a part of them.

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