Now We’re Cooking

How to cook delicious soup in three easy steps:

  1. Find a slow cooker recipe for delicious soup.
  2. Buy all of the ingredients.
  3. Hand recipe and ingredients to husband and say, “Here. Make this delicious soup.”

I first tried this method Sunday morning, and by evening I had delicious beef and barley soup to eat. This morning I handed my husband the recipe and ingredients for lentil soup. Now I am eating delicious lentil soup.

Best cooking method ever!

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It’s Not Working

My kids come home from school before I’m done with work. They don’t understand that I need to keep working. They ask me for things, and I keep telling them they’re going to have to wait. Even after I’ve finished work, it’s hard to instantly switch mindsets. I need a few minutes to breathe. I tried to explain this to Livia one day last week, but she wasn’t buying it.

Livia: Can I have a snack?

Me: You’re going to have to wait a few minutes. I’ve been working since you left this morning, and my mind is still in Work Land.

Livia: Well, can you go to Snack Land for a sec and get me a snack?

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Bedbugs Aren’t so Bad after All

One day last week the school’s secretary called me up at about 10:30 a.m. to ask why my son was absent. “No,” I said, instantly terrified. “He went to school!” The secretary immediately put me on hold and started looking for my son. I tried to stay calm, but all I could think of was how awful the last couple of weeks had been but that I would gladly accept a bedbug infestation as long as my son was safe. The secretary was back on the line within a few minutes. Marshall was in gym class, sorry for the mistake, blah blah blah. No matter how apologetic she was, she couldn’t take back those minutes of terror.

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Sad News Today

I just got word that the father of my closest childhood friend died earlier this week. He was a good man and a good father. I’m crushed by the news. I can’t even begin to imagine how his very large, close-knit family is managing right now.

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My Vacation: Part II

Our vacation was officially ruined. It’s not just that being eaten by bedbugs is unpleasant. It is, and we got little sleep as a result. The biggest problem is that bedbugs love to travel, and you don’t want to spread them around, particularly not to your own home.

The first thing we needed to do was avoid contaminating our cars. If anyone wanted to go out, they needed to first treat their clothes, shoes, and anything else they wanted to bring with them. It was complicated enough that we basically only left to get necessities, such as drinking water. We had to sleep in the house at night and allow ourselves to be eaten. Ew.

But here is one way in which we got lucky. The owner decided to heat-treat the cottage. Heat treatment involves heating the structure up to 130-140 degrees and leaving it at that temperature long enough to kill everything inside. This process would treat everything in the cottage, including our luggage, computers, games, etc., all of which would have been difficult to treat otherwise. We are grateful that the owner decided to go that route. It was expensive (around $3,000!). He could have chosen something cheaper that would have left us high-and-dry, but he didn’t. He turned out to be a real stand-up guy.

There were two downsides for us, though. One is that treating large amounts of fabric items that way is not efficient, so we had to treat all of our clothing, towels, etc. by running them through the dryer on high heat, putting them in trash bags, and removing them from the premises. That’s how we spent all of Tuesday. We kept the cottage’s dryer running almost nonstop from early morning into the late night.

The other downside is that you can’t be in the structure while it’s cooking. So we had to plan to be out all day on Wednesday. Anything we wanted to bring with us had to be heat-treated in the dryer or saturated with rubbing alcohol. My memories of Tuesday are mostly of going up and down the stairs with laundry and the lingering smell of rubbing alcohol.

Wednesday morning, we each put on a fresh set of heat-treated clothing, and left the cottage. Once out, we were not allowed to go back in lest we recontaminate ourselves. Now all we had to do was keep ourselves busy until the pest control people were done with the heat treatment and the cottage had had a chance to cool off.

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My Vacation: Part I

Our vacation destination was a cottage on a lake located about six hours from our home. It’s a long drive and, as is usually the case, we left late. We also hit traffic. As a result, we arrived after dark. My parents and my brother and his family had already arrived and selected their rooms. Aside from one room with a double bed on the main floor, all that was left was the basement, which smelled musty.

Too musty. I decided that Marshall and my husband should sleep in the room on the main floor, because I was afraid the mustiness would aggravate their allergies. Livia and I stayed in the basement. Before putting our sheets on the bed, we checked the mattresses. All clean.

The basement wasn’t well sealed. There were moths and pill bugs and beetles. When I came back downstairs after settling Marshall in the other room, I found a toad in the middle of the room. There was a door to the outside, so we opened it up and let the toad out. It was fun to watch him hop outside.

I wasn’t thrilled to have so many creepy crawlies around, but I have slept outside before, so I knew I could handle it. But I do not sleep well in strange places, so I decided to read myself to sleep. I was happily reading a cozy mystery when a beetle landed on me. I flicked it off. As I was flicking it, I noticed another bug making a beeline for me. It was reddish.

Oh, shit.

I caught the bug with a paper towel, killed it, left its carcass on the towel. I checked the seams of the mattress again. They were clean. No crud, no blood smears. But I found another bug.

Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit.

I went upstairs. My mother was still awake. “Mom,” I said. “Do you know what bedbugs look like?” She did not know, but she had her tablet, and she looked them up. The bug on the screen looked just like the carcass downstairs.

Oh, shit.

I went to get my husband, because he had once had to deal with bedbugs as part of his job. He was not asleep, thankfully, so I didn’t even have to wake him up. He went downstairs. He looked at the carcass I had left there. He examined the bed. He immediately found several more bugs. He squished them on the towel. One of them squished red with blood. Oh, shit.

We discussed leaving, but it was so late, and the kids were asleep, and if these really were bedbugs, we’d potentially be spreading them to any place we went. There were two couches on the main floor. We put Livia on one and me on the other. I tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep.

As soon as it was late enough in the morning to make a phone call, my mother called the owner. He was horrified, but came over immediately to deal with the situation. He took a picture of our carcass collection and sent it to a pest control expert. There are, after all, many bugs that can be confused with bedbugs. We might have been freaking out over nothing.

The pest expert responded immediately and definitively.

Bedbugs.

Shit.

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Sunny Days

Dear Kids,

I have fallen behind in writing posts to you. Even enjoyable tasks can pile up and be difficult to manage. That is what has happened.

I know how to deal with this problem, though, and I will share the secret with you. The secret is to get started and keep going. Tackle the tasks one at a time, to the best of your ability, starting right now. I will demonstrate by writing this note to you and posting it today.

Here goes.

Early summer brought some beautiful days. A few times we went outside to sit on beach towels and soak up the sun. Well, I was there for the sun and the vitamin D it produces. You were there to keep me company and burn off some excess energy.

On one day Livia and I worked on something she called “Nature Book.” In it, she and I wrote observations about bugs and animals. Livia’s knowledge of spelling hasn’t quite caught up with her capacity for expressing herself. For example, she wrote “blood” as “blud,” which is how it ought to be spelled, don’t you think? But, for ease of reading, I have corrected the spelling in her observations here.

Nature Book

Livia: Bees have hives, and they have lots of bees in hives, and they have queens in their hives.

Livia: Cats like mats, and they like cat food and getting petted.

Mommy: Squirrels live in trees, and they like acorns and running on the driveway.

Livia: Crickets like to sing and fling themselves in the air.

Livia: Flies don’t live in hives, but they fly.

Livia: I hate mosquitoes because they take your blood and use it to make new mosquitoes.

Mommy: Ants are surprisingly friendly. They will crawl all over you if you let them.

Mommy: Little girls are the wildest creatures of all.

On another day I wrote in my journal while you played.

We’re staying outside even though the rain and the mosquitoes are threatening. We are enjoying our Saturday together. I love the way the kids make up their own rules about everything. Here we are sitting on beach towels outside and they have decided that the green parts are land and the blue parts are water, so of course Marshall gets on the blue part and says, “I’m sinking!” Then I told them that the towels were the safe zone and that if they left they’d only have 20 seconds before they died. OMG. They love it. They’re running back and forth, dispelling all that extra energy. Good thinking, mom! And I told them to dance like crickets. That was the best performance I’ve ever seen. Ever.

I don’t have any pictures of you dancing like crickets. Somehow I forgot my camera that day. So I will try to remember to ask you dance like crickets again soon. I know it won’t be exactly the same dance, because interpretive dances change over time, but it will still be wonderful. It will be wonderful because you’re wonderful.

Love,

Mom

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Coyote Days

Our days have been randomly punctuated by the eerie yip-yips and howls of coyotes. It sounds like a whole kennel of puppies have taken up residence directly behind our house. If I open the door and step outside, they stop making noise. They know I’m there. That’s how close they are.

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New Disease

Heard around the house:

You have poo-die-itis. You have only fifteen minutes to live, and it’s already been ten minutes!

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It’s Berry True

Berries ripen with maddening slowness!

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