Saturday, January 31, 2009

Olentzero, the Basque Santa

A co-worker visited the Basque region of Spain over Christmas, and knowing that I am half Basque, she brought back a little memento for Tucker of Olentzero, the Basque version of Santa Claus.

She was shocked that I had never heard of Olentzero, who looks a little more like a grizzled and dirty coal miner in pictures than our favorite jolly fat red-suited man. Apparently, all over the Basque regions there are pictures of Olentzero this time of year, and legend has it that he would climb up people's balconies to bring the presents rather than going down the chimney. So my friend said it's common to see these likenesses of Olentzero climbing up onto people's balconies... but, if you don't know the story it looks a lot like fake robbers climbing up onto houses. I would like to see that!

Here's what wiki says about the legend of Olentzero:
"There are many variations to the Olentzero traditions and stories connected to him, sometimes varying from village to village. The first written account of Olentzero is from Lope de Isasi in the 16th century: A la noche de Navidad (llamamos) onenzaro, la sazón de los buenos 'Christmas eve (we refer to) as onenzaro, the season of the good ones'.

One common version has Olentzero being one of the jentillak, a mythological race of Basque giants living in the Pyrenees. Legend has it that they observed a glowing cloud in the sky one day. None of them could look at this bright cloud except for a very old, nearly blind man. When asked to examine it, he confirmed their fears and told them that it was a sign that Jesus will be born soon. According to some stories, the old man asked the giants to throw him off a cliff to avoid having to live through Christianisation. Having obliged him, the giants tripped on the way down and died themselves except Olentzero.

Other versions have the jentillak simple leaving, with only Olentzero remaining behind to embrace Christianity.[3]

Parts of this type of Olentzero legend are reminiscent of a prehistoric cult rituals surrounding the winter solstice, such as the involvement of ritual "last meals" and sacrifices of rebirth.

Other versions of the Olentzeroren kondaira or "history of Olentzero" tell that as a new born he was abandoned in the woods and was found by a fairy who gave him the name Olentzero, bestowed gifts of strength and kindness on him and handed him to an older childless couple living alone in the woods. He turned into a strong man and charcoal burner who was also good with his hands, carving wooden toys that he would carry in a big charcoal bag to give to the children of the village. It is said that he died one day saving children from a burning house and that when he died, the fairy who had found him granted him eternal life to continue to bring joy to children and people."

"Ice, Ice, Baby..."

[I wrote this earlier this week, but our internet was down because of the ice storm so I couldn't post it then.]

True confession: my first "real" concert was Vanilla Ice, which for all you unacquainted with bad 80's music, was, well, REALLY BAD 80's music.

We are blanketed in 1/4" of ice here today, but the thing I love about Virginia is that the temperatures are already warming up enough to melt the roads. In Vermont this ice might fall and then it could be days until it was gone. In fact, when ice hits my mom's driveway, it usually sticks around till about March. Outside her garage is a perpetual skating rink. Last Christmas time, she sent us out with ice picks (okay, maybe just steel shovels...) to try to break through a couple inches of ice before a family gathering. It was a losing battle, but we fought valiantly.

In any case, our battle is going much better today, because we are sitting inside where it's warm and waiting for the temperature to warm up. THAT is my kind of snow/ice removal.

Maybe it is even time to wax poetic, to quote Robert Frost:

"Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tucker's New Tricks

Jo Jo and Aunt Jackie are thoroughly impressed by all of Tucker's new tricks.

*He now likes to stand on the chair Henny gave him, turn on the CD player, and play one of the CD's Caroline gave him when he was a baby. All by himself.
*He feeds himself with a spoon reliably with not much mess (well, sometimes...).
*When my mom sang the song "Pop goes the weasel," Tucker would run and get the toy that he has that sings that song and bring it to her.
*He knows how to make clucking noises with his tongue, and imitates snoring when prompted.

His understanding of words really surprises me. We were out for a walk yesterday and said "puddle" and immediately he looked around for where he could splash in the water. We tried this a couple times--it was definitely comprehension, not coincidence. He doesn't say much, so I think I underestimate how much he understands. When Aunt Jackie said "Go give JoJo a hug" yesterday, he immediately ran across the room and gave JoJo a hug. When Jo Jo told him to get "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" so they could read together, he went to the coffee table and got the right book from about 5 different books.

His grandmother is convinced he is a smart little boy. And she really liked that he gives hugs on command now!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Free at last, free at last...

... thank God Almighty, free at last.
-me, after finishing the Bible study curriculum I'm writing

Okay, so maybe it's not kosher to appropriate the words of Martin Luther King Jr. for trivial purposes like to convey my relief after finally finishing the high school Bible study curriculum I've been writing for Camp Cedarbrook in Maine (the former Camp Cherith), but I sure am excited.

It is a lot harder to write Bible studies for high schoolers at camp when you have been:
a) out of high school for more than a decade
b) absent from camp for the past 6 years
c) not currently teaching Bible studies of any kind
d) not regularly around high school kiddos.

It was a painful process, but I have learned over the years that just because something is painful, it doesn't mean it is not a good process, or a useful one, or one that can produce results useful to others. It would have been fun to have had an epiphany from on high and then just have to write it down. But, if you had to wait for that level of divine inspiration, I'm afraid not many Bible studies would get written.

It is amazing to me that even in the muddling imperfection of someone like me trying to write a Bible study, that God can choose to speak. Seriously.

It makes me think of the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome, friends!

My mom and Aunt Jackie are visiting from Vermont since Thursday night. Boy, we have shown them a good time. On Friday, they babysat while we worked. On Friday night I got sick, and they helped clean everything up. On Saturday, Austin and I were both sick and they entertained the baby... oh wait, that's what they did today, too!

At Midway Farm, we show our visitors a good time. Thankfully, we haven't gotten either of them sick... yet.

Still, I do hope that we will all be able to leave the house tomorrow and maybe even all have our appetites back for a meal together. I really can cook things other than toast.

However, predictably, even illness and bad hospitality has done little to dampen Jo Jo and Aunt Jackie's enthusiasm for watching the Tucker channel. He, of course, is thrilled with his enlarged fan club and is hoping that they are a permanent addition. Today, no less than four adults loudly applauded his efforts putting the pieces in a puzzle. His grin said that the world was as it is supposed to be.

It will be a sad day when the fan club leaves!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"You might be right dear"

This is one of those posts I've been meaning to write for awhile, but haven't gotten around to. When Austin and I were dating, a family friend, Mark Good told us that one phrase that has proved very valuable in marriage is: "You might be right."

So, say you're in the middle of a heated argument. You KNOW your spouse is wrong. Still, you diffuse the situation and say "You might be right..." (and also you don't say "but" right after it). You say "You might be right. AND..." And then you can totally contradict their opinion, or whatever, but that little sentence opens up the possibility (even if you don't believe it at all) that there is something to talk about, maybe some way to reach some common ground.

About six months ago, I joined Netflix. Austin and I don't watch movies. In our dating and married life, I can probably list the movies we've watched together on two hands. That's like maybe three a year. Maybe. I decided this summer that with our now-total reliance on our antenna, perhaps it would be nice to have a DVD in the wings, just in case we got the urge to flop on the couch on a Friday night. So I joined. I quickly created a huge queue of movies (after all, I haven't been a regular movie watcher since middle school).

Austin thought I was crazy. He thought it was a ridiculous idea that WE would want to watch movies regularly. I think I humored him by using Dr. Good's line "you might be right, dear..." while I otherwise didn't budge in my outlook on Netflix.

And then we rented a dumb movie. Did I mention that Austin and I hardly ever enjoy the movies we do see together? And then we rented another bad movie.

I didn't like the movie Potter.
I didn't like the movie Apocalypse Now.
Meet the Fockers was fun, which Austin thought was crazy.
Thank You For Smoking was mediocre.
I got a season of ER, which it turns out I'm not all that interested in.
We got a season of the Office, which it turns out we had seen almost all the episodes of anyway.

Mostly the DVDs just sat on our TV. And sat. And sat. They would stare me in the face, daring me not to watch them. Not to watch them meant admitting defeat, that Netflix was not a good idea. But watching them was like a chore. Who really wants to commit to a two hour movie after Tucker's in bed? Certainly not me. (You could spend that time blogging, after all. :)

[Did I mention that in our household we keep track of who's right? Like on car trips, we make bets about lots of different things. What temperature will it be when we arrive? In what county will we be when we first encounter rain? How long will Tucker sleep? Etc. On our anniversary trip, I was on fire... I won every battle of the wills. My record was like 20 out of 20. (Okay, maybe like 4 for 4, and then Austin drew even the next day....)]

Finally though, I decided enough was enough. I couldn't deal with another red envelope sitting unwatched and I waved the white flag. I did it. I canceled Netflix. And I told Austin he was right.

Anyway, don't tell Austin

Playdoh fun and play value

Tucker is turning into a big boy before my eyes. He walks and talks (okay, not really... babbles is more like it) and now... plays with playdoh! I cooked him up his first batch of playdoh the other day and wrestled with the cosmic question: blue or green? I settled on blue, and off we were to the races.

I'm not sure he entirely understood it. He did figure out it wasn't food. He didn't figure out it wasn't food for Ben.

I've been reading a book by John Rosemond (a child psychologist who writes weekly newspaper columns that Austin's dad clips for us) called Making the Terrible Twos Terrific (when he says "twos" he means starting at about 18 months, of course). Anyway, so far it's about the best book on child rearing I've read, apart from the silly title. Braxton White's The First Three Years is also super good.

One of Dr. Rosemond's pieces of advice is to box up a lot of your child's toys. Apparently, with a huge array of toy choices, especially ones that have relatively little flexibility, kids don't know what to do and get bored. I see that in Tucker. When he plays in his dad's office, where there are two toys (matchbox cars, and a train) he plays for forever. When he plays in the sunroom where the bulk of his toys are, he often flits from thing to thing, and usually doesn't take anything off the shelf. It's like the choice is overwhelming.

Dr. Rosemond suggests going around and mentally rating your child's toys on a 1-10 scale for their play value. Something like playdoh which inspires the imagination and can be anything would rate really high, something like our plastic talking Curious George that sings one song when you press one button, would rate low. He says box up anything that has less than a 8 in play value.

So I boxed up two huge boxes of toys yesterday. Mostly it was the things he doesn't play with anyway, and already, I think the toy variety is less overwhelming. I'm going to rotate through the boxed up toys, over time. I'll let you know how this affects Tucker's ability to self-entertain.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greenhouses, sheds, patios, and more...

There is nothing like a discussion of sheds to excite Austin, well, except possibly for a discussion of TV antennas. He has lots of ideas for this summer. I think his list for the growing season, as it stands now is: make a patio and re-grade around the house to channel water away from the basement, rebuild the back steps, make a garden shed, re-paint one side of the house, and renovate and expand our existing shed.


Keep in mind that list is on top of replacing some rotten siding, building a sand box, doing the garden, transplanting lots of trees this spring, and all the little and not-so-little maintenance activities that keep a 200 year old house afloat.

Austin is a busy guy, but the funny thing about him, is he can do a ton of projects without having an air of busy-ness. He gets things done without being neurotic about getting things done. Maybe over the years of marriage his approach will start coming more naturally to me?

In any case, I wanted to highlight some pics of some of the recent projects we've done (by "we" I mean Austin), in case you aren't already suitably impressed with my guy. :)


There has been an erosion of discipline in our household, and I don't mean with Tucker. It's the dog. About six months ago I invited him on the couch in my office. I didn't do it behind Austin's back, as I wasn't trying to hide it, but I definitely didn't mention it first.

It took about a month before he noticed. He even stuck his head in my office once or twice during that period and didn't make any remarks about the dog on the couch. Apparently, he overlooked it, it looked so natural, because when it did register, it turns out he did have opinions.

And I value his opinions. That's why I'm getting him a nice overstuffed chair for when he wants to read in this room, and feels the couch is too dog-contaminated to read on. Because there is nothing (okay, well few things better) than napping with a warm puppy in front of the fire. Snuggling with Ben on the couch is a wonderful luxury for me, and I'm willing to make some sacrifices for that privilege. Sacrifices like having to clean and de-hair the couch every week, and having sheets draped over the couch. Stuff like that.

Of course, Ben is only allowed on one side of the couch, the side with the off-white sheet on it (chosen to color-coordinate with a yellow lab). When he was allowed up on the couch for the first time, the one-side-of-the-couch arrangement was made perfectly clear.

Unfortunately, he prefers the other side of the couch. Is it because it smells more like me? Is it a power trip? Is he pushing the limits and testing boundaries?

Austin has a word for it: entitlement. But cute too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Fifteen pacifiers found in dog's stomach"

David just sent me a link to this blog where Lulu the 2 year old dog ate 15 pacifiers before her owners figured out where all their daughter's pacifiers were going.

Have I mentioned that our pacifiers routinely disappear as well? This story makes me nervous. Please, Ben, no more surgery!

Monday, January 19, 2009


After church about a month ago Tucker insisted on accompanying Austin downstairs to help him fulfill his duties on the vestry and count the offering (note: 15 month-olds are typically very helpful for these sorts of things). I luxuriously kicked back in my pew with no toddler to watch, and introduced myself to the relative newcomer next to me. I mentioned that Tucker is such a Daddy's boy right now, and all he wants to do right now is to be with his Daddy.

She nodded knowingly, and even had a name for this phenomenon: the POC, or the Parent of Choice. She spoke of it as a dubious distinction bestowed by a child randomly, revoked randomly, in which one parent walks on water for awhile in the child's eyes.

When Tucker was little and I had his food (ie nursing), I was definitely the POC the majority of the time. Now the tables have turned, and Austin is getting to bask in the glow of unending Tucker attention. Can Mommy change a diaper? Not as good as Daddy can right now. Can Mommy put Tucker to bed? Not as good as Daddy can right now. Can Mommy feed Tucker? Not as well as Daddy can right now.

So, hats off to the POC of the month! That is an honor that is very nice to have bestowed on someone else. In the meantime maybe Ben and I will curl up on the couch together and take a nap.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mad Dog and a Gyre of Ice

Ben turned into Mad Dog* this afternoon and ran off down the hill to the lower field, presumably to find some more deer remains. Austin decided to accompany him, to see what the Meechums River looked like after the cold snap.

[*Mad Dog is Ben's alter-ego. When the moon is full, and people turn into werewolves, Ben turns into Mad Dog. Our normally quiet (some might say "lazy"), almost nine year-old dog transforms into a wild, wiggly creature that runs amock, chasing anything that moves at top speed.]

Austin found a gyre of ice had been created beneath the small falls on our property (which in local lore is called "Ass Buster Falls" according to our 80-something year old sparkplug of a neighbor who has lived on our street all her life).

The water speed from the falls had managed to chip away the ice into a perfect, maybe 6' circle, and the water was slowly making the ice circle spin in place, at the mouth of the falls. Check out the pic:

Unfortunately, Ben didn't share our same fascination with the spinning and ice and busied himself going for a swim (not recommended in a partially frozen river!) and finding more deer parts to bring to the front steps. Whatta Dog....

We're in Virginia, not Vermont

Yesterday, we woke up to our thermometer reading 0 degrees outside. It also reported an inside temperature of 53 degrees (keep in mind we just had a heat pump installed this fall--last year on our coldest day the downstairs dropped to 47 degrees inside).

Austin gleefully exclaimed last night after scouring the internet for weather news that we were in just about the coldest spot in the country yesterday. Apparently, even the nearby mountains were (uncharacteristically) warmer, Vermont was warmer, in fact EVERYWHERE in the US was warmer, except a small section of Northern Maine.

Yes, isn't that exciting? If you're a crazy weather extremist like my husband, it is. If you're like me... well, let's evaluate:

Do you love it when there's ice on the inside of your bedroom windows?
What about when the washing machine doesn't work because the water to the machine is all frozen?
Do you like keeping your meat outside in a pickup truck because it's just as cold as the freezer?

I think that's enough said.

RIP Earl

Thanks to an ingenious idea from Helen to put a mousetrap IN the dishwasher, Earl is no longer. Austin thought I should take a picture for this blog, but I respectfully declined. Now, we just need to make sure there aren't any Earl IIs running around in there.

Speaking of gross animals, and blogging, Austin thought I should also take a picture of the deer leg/foot that keeps ending up on our front stoop. Like most men, Austin slaughters his deer in our side yard and throws the remainders in our lower field. Like most dogs, Ben has dedicated his life to finding those remains and putting them on our front stoop.

There's always a fun game going on at Midway Farm....

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Cute little fella"

That is what Austin said when he opened the dishwasher tonight to find Earl the mouse in the bottom of it. He hollered that he was trying to stab Earl with a knife, which I'm not sure would've been a preferable outcome, even if he was successful. Earl eventually escaped (again), through an unknown exit (again).


You really should check out the Dixie Chicks' song Goodbye Earl, in honor of our ongoing battle against Earl.

Snapshots from Henny and Papa

Henny and Papa also survived our first overnight away from Tucker! They didn't get nearly as good a night's sleep as we did, but they allegedly claim to have had almost as good a time as we did. (I'm not sure that's possible, but here are some snapshots of their adventures. )

Incidentally, they must've fed him a bunch of sugar, because it is 6:50 pm and Tucker is laughing hysterically as he plays LaCucaraca to himself on a little piano. We often have to work to keep him up past 6 pm.

My first day away!!

For our third anniversary, Austin planned a surprise overnight trip--my first night away from Tucker since he was born. Just in case we weren't sufficiently excited, Tucker had one of his worst nights sleeping ever two nights before we left. He was up crying, inconsolable (I still don't know what the problem was) from 10:30-2 am and then up again by 5 something. Whew. After a night like that, even sleeping in a tent for a night in the frigid cold would've been a vacation.

Instead, Austin pulled out all the stops and took me to the Homestead in Bath County. Wow. I'd been thinking of where we're going for the past six weeks or so, knowing it was within a few hours of home. I figured he'd take me to the mountains, because what would be more romantic than a snowy retreat? So I was getting ready for a cabin in the woods, which would've been wonderful, too. But this???!!! Wow.

What did we do? Well, actually, not very much. We didn't go to the Jefferson pools (the changing rooms are unheated and the low was -6 last night, and the high was in the low single digits). We didn't even swim in the natural spring fed pool at the hotel (we contemplated it, of course, but our breakfast was too big and delicious to feel much like swimming afterwards). We didn't snowshoe, or even hike (again, it was about 9 degrees with a piercing wind for most of our trip, and I'm now a Southern belle, not a hearty Vermonter). We even missed the afternoon tea at the hotel, because we were too busy napping.

So, mostly, we slept. And we ate. And we read. And went on romantic scenic drives. And we tried to hip check other guests to get a place in front of one of the two roaring fires in the Great Hall. It was two days of just being adults, and it was exquisite.

True confession: we didn't even call home until this morning. :)

It is great to be back, and our precious break makes everything here that much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I like Blueberry Smoothies

I like blueberry smoothies A LOT....But I don't like it....
When they're finished!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus

One of Tucker's favorite songs right now is "The Wheels on the Bus." He especially loves the sound effects and silly noises we insert into it.

Today, I am in the unlucky position today of having that venerable song stuck in my head.

I'll spare you the details but as I sit down and try to write some Bible study curriculum for the camp I was a counselor at in Maine (formerly Camp Cherith, the new Camp Cedarbrook), the wheels of my mind are busy singing about buses. The synapses aren't connecting very quickly for the task at hand.

Becoming a mother has changed the way my mind works. Seriously. I've always tried to do too much at once, but now, there is just a part of my brain that is permanently derailed with silly songs and listening for the baby monitor and trying to keep us all on schedule and fed and clothed. My mother said that this part of the brain never comes back....

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, which, if I haven't made clear, is the camp curriculum I'm trying to write. About three months ago writing this curriculum seemed like a great idea. I've written high school Bible study curriculum before, so when I was approached to volunteer for this task I thought: what a fun thing to do in my spare time! And of course it is. Until the day you sit down in front of a blank screen, Bible in hand, and your mind goes blank.

I bet it will get accomplished faster if I keep blogging....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Goodbye, Earl

I think I am pretty rugged as gals go. I'm okay with a house temperature of 63 degrees or less. We haven't had a working master bathroom since Thanksgiving, and I haven't complained (incidentally, it is about done and it looks awesome!). I'm game for camping in my third trimester of pregnancy.

But I HATE mice. (Just writing that sentence sent a shiver down my spine.) There is nothing like a mouse to bring out my inner princess.

Of course we will forever battle mice at our 200 year old house. It's not surprising to see mouse droppings. It's a give-and-take guerrilla war that we're a part of. Yes, it's gross. Yes, we do our best. But we're disabled by the fact that we have a dog and a small child, so poison is out of the question.

But today, the mouse issue entered a new level: I opened the dishwasher to find one running around the bottom of the dirty dishes. Ahhhhh!!!!!!!

A mouse in the dishwasher????? That is just not right. I can't comprehend how, or why, but it has got to stop.

I affectionately am naming this mouse Earl, in honor of the Dixie Chick's song Goodbye Earl that concludes "Earl had to die."

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Brown Mugs From Childhood

When I was moving to Virginia several years ago, I took the opportunity to ask my mom if she wanted the brown coffee mugs that we had growing up. Brown is not really her color, so all things considered, it's kind of funny that we had these very earthy-toned coffee mugs in the first place.

Of course, she was eager to get 25 year old mugs off her hands, and they are now residing in my kitchen. Which brings us to the point of this post: there is no way ANYTHING ceramic is going to last 25 years in our kitchen at the rate we're going.

In the past two weeks (no joke), we have broken:

-a mixing bowl
-a dessert/bread plate
-a big jar of salsa
-a glass pie plate
-two small lightbulbs
-a Christmas ornament

It would be nice to blame it all on a rambunctious kid and dog, but honestly, only two of those items are in any way either of their responsibilities.

Next, let's extrapolate that list to three years of marriage. I was taking inventory of our dinnerware tonight as I was washing the dishes, and was astonished that we are already down to 7 dessert plates (starting at 12). Good thing these are not family heirloom quality, but gosh, it's a bit embarrassing.

Hi, Liz!

In case you haven't noticed, I added a links section, so that I can link to my sister-in-law's blog, Motoring Forth, about her forays as a newlywed in the Motor City. Anyway, you really should check out her latest post (well, actually all her posts...), about competition, specifically, blogging competition.

Of course, Austin has a divide and conquer strategy, sort of like his boss, Ned. So as soon as he heard that we were both doing blogs, he immediately tried to play us off of each other. ("But Liz posted, don't you think you should?") Not in a nefarious way, but like a little boy prodding two puppies to see if they can amuse him by wrestling a little bit.

Anyway, unfortunately, on Midway Farm Blog, I don't take Austin's bait, I expose his nefarious plots. (Hi sweetie, so glad you're reading this! Love you!)

Plus, it's funny, while Liz is finding that her competitiveness is blossoming in adulthood after a very quiet childhood, I am finding quite the reverse. Competition was just about my middle name growing up and its allure has faded over time. It's kind of a relief knowing no one's really keeping score and we all can just relax and live.

Incidentally, God is probably laughing at my new attitude and is going to bless me with really competitive kids who will torture me with their constant competition like Mike and I tortured my poor mother...

So, Liz, merry posting... and let the games begin (just kidding!!!!!).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

Yesterday was a rainy, cold sort of day. I bundled Tucker up in the late afternoon and took him on a walk with Benny in the stroller while Austin was working out. It wasn't raining, and besides being a bit on the brisk side, much fun was had by all. One of Tucker's favorite activities on walks is Sneak the Mitten Away from Mommy where he pulls his mittens off and flings them out of the stroller when I'm not looking. Let's just say my boy likes his hands colds and his mittens lost.

Anyway, so we finished up our walk, I took him out of the stroller and headed up the stairs into the house, expecting a little tyke to join me any minute. No dice. Tucker lives to be outside. First he explored the shed door but found it unsatisfactorily latched, so he took off down the driveway. I watched, expecting him to turn around. Again, no dice. By the time he got to the hemlock tree, I decided I would join him on his expedition up the driveway. Little man toddled with purpose up our long, windy driveway. We reached the sign at the end and we celebrated our arduous journey, and I turned around to head for home.

And Tucker kept walking.

And walking.

And walking.

I tried to convince him to do a little loop on the gravel circle in front of our house. Silly mommy. My little man was on a mission and he kept going. He passed the O'Connells house where he discovered two puddles and that their paved driveway is easier to walk on. And then he kept going. By the time we reached the Downs' driveway it was definitely dinner time, still rainy and cold, and almost dark. We had a face off as I repeatedly picked him up and turned him around. He would take two steps towards home and then try to fake me out and run back the other direction.

By the time we got home, Tucker must've walked a good quarter mile, possibly more, and we had a mini meltdown when it turned out it was dinner time, and not time to explore the rest of the outdoors. (It only took three times through the Ducky book to get him ready to cooperate with dinner....)

Today, it was even rainier. To celebrate, Tucker went puddle hopping (see pic).

To nap or not to nap, that is the question

At least two months ago, Tucker was resisting two naps a day and Austin declared to Helen: "Tucker's done with his morning nap." Helen, like a wise grandmother said that she would be surprised if that was the case. Of course, she was right. After about three days he was back to needing a morning nap.

So, fast forward till now. Tucker has been babbling in his crib in the afternoons, not able to take a second nap (while I'm still recovering from a sinus infection and desperately want MY afternoon nap). So, all-knowing Mom and Dad reached the conclusion that Morning Nap Is Now Finished. Yesterday, we couldn't implement our new routine because of a doctor's appointment* so today is the first day of No Morning Nap.

How's it going? Well, Tucker woke up tired and just wanted to be held. He whined. He practically begged to go back to sleep.

So... Day 1 of No Morning Nap: Tucker was back in bed, taking a nap by 7:50 am.

You win some, you lose some, and then you're a parent.

*Our little boy was almost 26 lbs and over 33 inches at the doctor's! 95th percentile in height and 70th in weight... I guess he IS trying to be a big boy like his daddy....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Epiphany!

I wanted to wish everyone a happy Epiphany, and then I realized I wasn't 100% sure what that meant in the first place, though I have vague images of the 3 Wise Men dancing in my head. And while we're at it, what are the 12 days of Christmas besides just a silly song?

So... time to entrust our theological understanding to google, right?

Anyway, turns out I was right

"Epiphany is a Christian holiday that is commonly associated with the visit of the Three Kings to baby Christ. It is also the 12th day of Christmas, as popularized by the song. In essence, Christmas does not end for many Christians until Christ is revealed. In some Christian denominations Epiphany does not end until Lent begins."

I think that is a decent explanation of the 12 days of Christmas too, that Christmas is not just a day but a SEASON of celebrating Jesus' birth, which ends when he was revealed to the magii. Too bad everyone likes to celebrate the season starting at Halloween or Thanksgiving and are already putting away the decorations by the 26th! Seriously, on the second day of Christmas, I tried to find some decorations in WalMart and they were already being taken away for lawn and garden supplies.

I think it'd be interesting to think of some ways to incorporate the 12 days of Christmas into our family's Christmas celebration, though I don't think I have the discipline to only have everyone open one gift a day and wait for the big one until Epiphany (Sister Lynda's suggestion!!!). I'm thinking something more in line with a 12 days of Christmas calendar (you know, like an advent calendar but for the Christmas celebration itself)... maybe culminating with some sort of celebration on Epiphany itself.

This is what that same random web page reports other cultures do to celebrate Epiphany:

"In many Latin American households, children leave out their shoes with bits of hay for the camels ridden by the kings. They often receive gifts on Epiphany, or the Day of the Kings, and it is thought that the gifts are better if one leaves hay for the Kings’ mounts.

The French often celebrate Epiphany by eating King’s cake or gâteau des Rois. Often a bean or a small toy is placed in the cake. The person who gets the slice with the hidden item is said to enjoy good luck for the year.

Eastern Orthodox Churches find Epiphany particularly relevant as the revelation of Christ. A church celebration may include the blessing of the waters. The nearest body of water is visited, prayed over, and a crucifix is thrown into the water. If weather conditions permit, swimmers may try to retrieve the cross."

Anyway, I think today I'll just settle for wishing everyone a Happy Epiphany and putting away our Christmas decorations.


Monday, January 5, 2009

You can't teach an old dog new tricks...

...But what if your old dog teaches the baby new tricks? Now BOTH of my boys have been caught red-handed, eating popcorn from the tree. Tucker was watching Ben do it, then toddled over and gave it a try himself.

I tried to upload the video of it, but I think I need to wait till we get DSL (supposedly next week!).

Cincinnati Chili x 10

Austin had a crisis at lunchtime today: there was no Cincinnati Chili left in our refrigerator. He had eaten the chili for 10 meals straight (not including breakfast) since New Year's Day, when we made a huge pot of it for our party. It was the first time we hosted a real party, and we were unsure about quantities, and erred on the side of caution. We had A LOT of chili left over.

I suggested early on that we might freeze some of it, but I have a cold and haven't felt much like cooking, and Austin said he would just eat it till he got tired of it.

So he ate it...

And ate it...

... and ate it some more.

I think I had three servings of it in total, which in my book is a superior effort. But 10 meals of chili? In a row???? Wow. What else is there to say?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We Start Them Early at Midway Farm...

Let's take a poll.

How many of you let your one year-old build a fire (intentionally)?
How many of you have already taught your 15 month old how to lift weights while grunting?

Hmmm... okay, hands down. Let's talk about life at Midway Farm House, where the babies lift weights and build fires before they even give up their morning nap.

Tucker is so into Austin right now. Whatever Daddy does, Tucker tries to do. He gathers sticks for Austin, to help build a fire in the morning. He toddles after Austin into the shed and mimics Austin's noises, while lifting 2 and a half pound weights. We had a mini meltdown this morning because Tucker couldn't share Daddy's breakfast (it had dairy in it). We had a major meltdown last night when Daddy went hunting and Tucker needed to stay inside.

It makes me think of the commercial for "My Buddy" in the 80's... "My buddy, my buddy, wherever he goes, I go. My buddy, my buddy, my buddy and me...." Here's the YouTube link to the commercial, in case you remember it too:

P.S. Tech note: the pics are snapshots from the new digital video recorder we got for Christmas. I intended to post the whole video, but need to learn first how to edit and clip and shorten them to make them a bit more wieldy.

The antidote to the common cold

I got this Sinus Rinse kit in my stocking this Christmas, and it is the best ever (thanks, sweetie!!!). Okay, so nasal irrigation doesn't sound all that festive, but really, I'm quite a fan. Previous to this kit, I was using a turkey baster and salt water in my time of need (I have a bad dust allergy) but the cure was almost as bad as the disease, in my opinion. The Dreaded Turkey Baster Of Last Resort. Anyway, this little kit makes the whole flushing of the nasal passages (which, apparently, is quite the key to fighting colds) tolerable. It have already tested it through my first cold which hit on New Year's, and it passed the test, though I have learned some intricacies of its operation that I'll apply for next time....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grandparents are special....

Henny and PaPa made a spontaneous trip to be with us on New Year's Day. Tucker just about fell out of Austin's arms he was so excited when they walked through the door. He couldn't decide whether he wanted to be in Henny or PaPa's arms first. (He does like group hugs best, after all.)

We already miss you Henny and PaPa!!!!

Guilty as Charged

I caught him! I caught him! This morning Ben had the gumption to go up to the Christmas tree and snack on the popcorn while I was on the couch. He carefully went to one side of the tree and was eating the popcorn strand starting at the back of the tree. His nefarious plot missed one detail: I was watching him, about 3 feet away. Silly dog.

I think of Ben as a canine catfish, a bottom-feeder that just runs around with its mouth open, indiscriminately eating anything that happens to cross its path. Yesterday, we had a New Year's Day party, and he was in his element with all the people and food. He only tried to jump on the kid's table once, and that was for a leftover hotdog (after the kids had vacated, thankfully). Honestly, who could blame him? Right.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Domination and Sports

We're spending a quiet New Year's afternoon watching football, specifically the Rose Bowl where USC is up on Penn State 31-7 in the first half. Austin is complaining that the game isn't more competitive, but I think it is perfect. I love domination in sports. My favorite golf tournaments are the ones where Tiger Woods gets ahead by 10 strokes and everyone else looks like an amateur next to him. I loved watching the Patriots last year attempt an undefeated season and belligerently try to rack up the points on their opponents. Who's my favorite basketball player? Michael Jordan of course. What was my favorite Olympic event this summer? Anything with Michael Phelps (except, of course the 100 fly and 400 free relay which were waaaaay too close for my taste).

What could be more fun than to watch the truly elite perform at their absolute best, and wreck the competition in the process? There is no suspense, and no anxiety about who is going to win. It's like getting to experience the glory of the win throughout the whole game without suffering the agony of indecision and suspense and all that. Plus, if you like to multi-task while watching sports, it is VERY easy to follow the game satisfactorily. And, if you get tired, you can go to bed whenever you want because there will be no plot change. You know who is going to win and can just check the internet the next day to see how bad the spoils were, though it does bring a certain satisfaction to see the carnage to the very end.

Underdogs are overrated.