Category Archives: The Jungle

The apple dumpling gang

My favorite part of the year is NOW. Just past mid-October when the leaves are at their most glorious, but still early enough the first hard frost hasn’t settled into the valley to wilt and blacken potato vines and tomatoes.  I do hate knowing  the trees will soon be bare and it will be a whole year before I can bask in this delicious autumness again.

We took the boys apple picking in Emmett today. We love the Candy Apple Orchard – soft green grass covering a hillside of ancient trees. I was thinking we would make a whole day of it, but realized after the first 15 minutes (when we had already picked 30 pounds of apples) that our family size makes us highly efficient in some ways.

It was truly a perfect fall day – 70 degrees with a crayon-blue sky. A charming way to spend the afternoon to be sure, but one that still required riding with four children in a minivan for an hour each way.  Hayden wanted to strap at least two kids to the roof of the car during the drive home, but we were able to appease him with homemade caramels from the farm.

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Spending time in rural Idaho always makes me want to be a farmer. Well, a lazy farmer. Like, I’d like a view of a farm. And a few things to grow and a sheep to pet and some of those old-fashioned bee hives. In this life, I would sit in my mint green kitchen in a linen nightgown and drink lavender tea and write things on a vintage typewriter at my table made of recycled barn wood.  And sell apple cider at my roadside stand on the weekends. I mean, that sounds practical, right?

But then I drive home to my real life and stop by Nordstrom’s Rack to buy a pair of tights or Whole Foods to pick up a quinoa salad and the Sunday Times…and I’m thankful for those urban conveniences too. I think there just needs to be more than one of me so I can live multiple lives at the same time. I don’t want to miss out on anything!

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy what I have…including these Falkner-picked apples. They will soon be folded into pancakes, baked in pies, and cooked into applesauce for my babies (which I will then freeze and not can because canning is hard and sometimes results in having to throw away 12 pints of plum jam. How is it common sense to boil a jar?)

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‘Tis the season

We are on the precipice of the most wonderful time of the year…my birthday.

I’ve always loved this time of year. While my mid-October birthday is naturally the crown jewel (Right?? What special plans do you have for the My Birthday holiday?), I really find everything about fall to be so charming and lovely. The luscious color, cooler temps and a little rain, the delicious smells of crockpot meals and chimney smoke, college football, sweaters, a wagon ride at Cabalo’s Orchard or the Berry Ranch to find the perfect pumpkin, scary costumes…seriously, how is fall not everyone’s favorite? Clap for fall. CLAP FOR IT.

In fact, the only downside to fall is that it rolls out the welcome mat for stupid, freezing, gloomy winter. Okay, winter isn’t always gloomy but it’s wicked cold and my kids get cabin fever and people slip and fall on ice and that sucks.

So for now, we’ll bask in the glory of fall.  Last year, I shared my birthday weekend with Hugo’s baby shower. It was a gorgeous day and I got to be surrounded by my favorite ladies whilst eating Krispy Kreme donuts and drinking hot cider and opening presents. (#thatwasprettysweet #invitepeopletobringdonutsandgiftsmoreoften) I think this year may involve the Candy Apple Orchard and a lot of champagne. And if I can talk her into it, a spice cake from my mama with mini pumpkin patch on top…the same cake she has been baking me off and on for 30 years.

My kids have been talking about Halloween costumes for a month already. (I know, it’s like Birthday Holiday means nothing to them.) They’ve definitely inherited my love of all things spooky…and also…candy. My Littles are going to be so freaking cute… I can’t wait. We started decorating today and Harvey ran to all of the neighbors like Paul Revere telling them Halloween Is Coming!! I hung a paper skeleton on the wall and just realized I posed him to look like he’s dancing Oppa Gangnam style. Op op op.

Okay, enough procrastinating. This entire post is happening because I’m supposed to be calculating odds ratios for my Managerial Epi class. But if I can get the assignment done in like an hour, I might have time to terrorize myself with an episode of American Horror Story on Netflix, at least until my cold meds knock me out.

My porch chalkboard, haunted house spookiness, yes - those heads scare the shit out of you at 3am when you wander out to get some water
My porch chalkboard, haunted house spookiness, yes – those heads scare the shit out of you at 3am when you wander out to get some water

 

Some of my favorite haunted things. The witch was given to me by Amy in 1996-ish. She's amazing.
Some of my favorite haunted things. The witch was given to me by Amy Jeske Pedersen in 1996-ish. She’s amazing. (Well, they’re both amazing.)

 

 

 

 

Life After Perfect

funny meme

I can’t relax in chaos. While Hayden looks relatively comfortable kicked back next to a pile of clean laundry with a cold beer and the remote, I would have an anxiety attack. Sitting there, next to something that should be done right now. I can relax after the garbage is out, the kitchen is clean, the toys are tidy, and the floors are vacuumed. It’s the most lame compulsion ever.

I HATE HATE HATE “drop by” guests. Not because I don’t love seeing family and friends, but because I am a ball of nerves with someone in my house and a sink full of dirty dishes.  Hell, I hate when the UPS guy needs a signature because I’m not wearing a bra or lipstick and Harvey has a ketchup mustache.  It’s so dumb. I know, no one actually cares. I’m aware.

And I’m working on it. I’m pretty sure it’s hereditary – that dangerous combination of nature and nurture – the hardest habit to break. But I’m trying to let it go. In the name of fun and sleep and mental health. I can’t do it all the time, but some days I have been able to surprise myself and…let a neighbor come over without first washing the sliding glass door. Baby steps. Baby steps to not breaking out the Murphy’s oil soap. Baby steps to not giving a fuck.

Mostly because, I can’t anymore. Like, I CAN’T. Those people who said I would find four kids to be as easy as three were clearly just trying to keep my spirits up. In my experience, four is incredibly hard…or maybe it’s just their ages.  I can barely deal with the hormones of high-school, 4th grade soccer and before-school choir practice, a toddler who has adopted the alter-ego of Constantine… “the world’s most dangerous frog”…in order to justify bad behavior like locking our cat in a gulag (goo-yawg), and a 10-month-old who has the core strength of Rocky training for his fight with Ivan Drago.

“No, Miss Piggy, (yeah, that’s me) the wooorld’s moooost dangerous froooog doesn’t take naps.” Greaaat. (Image credit – Disney Enterprises)

So, I’m focusing on kids, finishing grad school, and play. And trying to care less about the things no one cares about but me anyway. We’ve been busy and having a good time. I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I last posted anything… I’ve missed these little chestnuts.  Here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

(But really, can we all agree to make play dough, not beds? Because if you do it too, I won’t feel so guilty. Don’t change out of your pajamas. Order pizza even though you just went grocery shopping. Consider lazy a compliment-worthy achievement.)

Mountain high life
Mountain high life and a special pay phone. Trust me.
Strolling with my homie, Art in the Park, Harvey (aka the world's most dangerous frog) with his masterpiece, the Lightening Dragons mid-field, #5
Strolling with my homie, Art in the Park, Harvey (aka the world’s most dangerous frog) with his masterpiece, Lightning Dragons mid-fielder, #5
Hyde Park Street Fair with Ang and Sara et al
Hyde Park Street Fair with Ang and Sara and beers and unsupervised children (not mine!) and people walking on stilts and hippies and music and fire.

 

Back to School!

I knew when the school year got rolling again, my Summer of Blogging & Baking would subsequently draw to a close. While I hope to keep doing some of both, my schedule may make them a little more sporadic. The transition has already begun. The weather has cooled a bit (please, PLEASE STAY, Moderate Temps!) and bags filled with Elmer’s glue and college-ruled paper and shiny, sharp crayons are sitting on our kitchen table. What is it about new crayons that inspires both creativity and destruction? Must break.peel.dull.lose the black.

I headed over to campus today to pick up my own books for the semester. FYI -$300 for THREE {3!!!!} USED books = rapid breathing in a paper sack.  I was immediately swarmed by nervous parents (silently wondering when they became an OLD) and their earnest progeny lugging laundry baskets into beige dorm rooms. (I remember that day like it was yesterday. My roommate was a botany major who dressed up as a lichen for Halloween. We didn’t last.)

Somehow, I managed to not get hit in the head by a free frisbee!! as I made my way up the accessible ramp with Hugo in his stroller. “Excuse me, Motivated Older Person coming through!” (I promise I won’t be sitting in the front row of your classes, raising my hand to share any life experiences I deem relevant to the lecture. But that will FOR SURE be some other MOP.)

Honestly, as much I like having an empty agenda, I’m ready for a little routine again. Mostly, I’m ready for the kids to go away during the day. Does that sound jerky to you? Try walking into a room ten times a day to find several people lazing about in their pajamas surrounded by piles of dirty laundry, mismatched shoes, paper plates, Legos, pop cans, assorted food wrappers, and several electronic devices…people who also react in a manner both shocked and offended when asked what the hell they are doing with their lives.  Perhaps, instead of seeing me as an unreasonable nag, you could THANK ME for saving you from being found a month from now, dehydrated behind the couch like a cat on Hoarders. I honestly don’t think I could last another week. In the words of Ricky Bobby, “Help me Jesus! Help me Jewish God! Help me Allah! Help me Tom Cruise!” 72 hours and counting before they get back to the book-learnin’ routine – classes, sports, friends, coaches, and teachers (BLESS YOU A MILLION TIMES, SAINTLY TEACHERS).

I’m ready for homework myself and a little adult conversation. And several times a week showers…like Oprah or something.  And crisp Saturday morning soccer games with pumpkin spice lattes. College football. Leaves. Sweaters. Chili in the crockpot.

On that note, a favorite:

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” – George Eliot

Nothing says back-to-school like clean shoes that fit. Henry is now in a 10.5 - bigger than Dad!
Nothing says back-to-school like clean shoes that fit. Henry is now in a 10.5 – bigger than Dad!

Why isn’t anyone else wearing puffy sleeves?

Well, it happened. I registered my first-born for high school today (even though I’m only 23, so that was awkward.) I’m not sure either of us was completely ready for it.  While I silently pondered questions like, “Am I hotter than at least 75% of moms?” and “Could maybe one person mistake me for a high-schooler if I had on sunglasses and they only caught me out of the corner of their eye?” Henry was having an epiphany. “Mom, I’m like 3 years away from moving out of our house. How do you be an adult? Like, how do you write a check? How do I know if this chair goes with the other furniture?”

We snaked through the lines and paid for activities, a yearbook, PE clothes, a locker (wtf, we have to PAY for a locker?) and loaded the lunch account. I followed Henry as he ran upstairs and down between the two main buildings that comprise Boise High, high-fiving and bro-hugging along the way.

I have to admit, I was back there for a minute. It’s all way too familiar, ya know? The cheerleaders with their big bows and too-tan legs, the goofy greeter from student council with green braces, acne, and a shocking level of self-confidence, the earnest girl handing out flyers for the BHS environmental club.

So, in honor of the wonderful misery that is high school, and the fact that it’s #tbt, I give you ALL THE HOTNESS.

Clearly left and right me had to move over to make room for the sleeves of middle me. (That my date is obviously crushing, how dare you, sir! There is NOT room on the porch for my dress and you at the same time.)
Clearly the left me and right me had to move over to make room for the sleeves of middle me. (One of which my date is obviously crushing…how dare you, sir!  I’m sorry, there is NOT room on the porch for this dress and you at the same time.)

My genuine hope is that Henry will experience all the trials and tribulations I did; the good, bad, fun, ridiculous, embarrassing, empowering, and memorable, so that three years from now he will have the life-experience to go out on his own with confidence (and know that OBVIOUSLY that chair doesn’t belong in this room.)

Carry on, my wayward son
Carry on, my wayward son

Kenny

My middle child (well, one of them) gets SO middle-childed.  While both Hudson and Harvey are my “middles,” Harvey has been high-maintenance since the day he was born… he could never get lost in the shuffle because he IS the shuffle. Hudson, on the other hand, is a little older, more self-sufficient, quiet, and happy to play nicely in his room for hours. In this house, by virtue of ALL.WE.WANT.IS.QUIET, it’s usually the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Which means that meaningful time with Hudsy is sometimes hard to come by.

So, today, I took Hudson to get his fav decaf iced-mocha from Cafe Capri (he’s a very sophisticated 9-year-old) and then out to see the military vehicles at the Idaho Military Museum at Gowen Field.  It was awesome. We were the only ones there, walking around outside under some pretty ominous thunderheads.

tank

Afterward, because we were close (and only JUST TO LOOK) we went into the Idaho Humane Society to visit the cats. Hudson absolutely adores cats. Substantially more than he likes most humans, I think. I’m a little concerned he’s going to be an old man who gets taken for everything he’s worth by the likes of one Ms. Sarah McLachlan and the SPCA. Hudson’s last cat went to live on the farm *no, for real* because she was a stone-cold predator (and a scratchy/bitey beeyotch) who preferred being outside 24/7 where she could dismember our neighbor’s finches and leave them on their porch.  So, now she lives in a goat barn and feasts on goat milk and fresh mouse guts all day long. However, since then, there’s been a cat-shaped hole in Hudson’s heart.

The cattery was packed with kittens today. Lots of little fuzz balls wrestling, mewing and nibbling our fingers. Hudson was in heaven, never having been to the Humane Society before. In fact, when he saw the building he asked me if this is where they do the genetic testing. Ummm, noooooooo. ?

kitten

And then we met a geriatric fella sitting peacefully in his cage. He had been surrendered by neighbors of his owner, an elderly person who had been hospitalized and then transferred to a long-term care facility. The sign said, “This cat is a 12-year-old, indoor, neutered, declawed, dog-friendly, lap-sitter looking for his forever home.” It was love at first chatter. And he gives kisses.

Annnnnd because a Venn diagram of my relationship with willpower looks approximately like this:

venn

Meet Kenneth.

We’re gonna love him and squeeze him and carry him under his armpits and dress him in baby clothes for the remainder of his days. SADDLE UP, PARTNER.  The rest of your life is about to get a whole lot more…….exhilarating! Welcome home, Kenny! (Get that look off your face. It’s gonna be fine.)

kenny

Sorry, excuse us, sorry.

Finally made my way back to the public LIBRARY! to renew our cards after learning last week it does not open until a seasonally sluggish 10AM. (BTW, that exclamation point isn’t just me being super-stoked about libraries. I mean, they’re great, but that’s actually the official title of all Boise libraries. Are you not enticed by our ECCENTRICITIES!?)

This time, I had both Littles with me. Harvey has been to the LIBRARY! several times, but it’s been a while and he was a bit confused about the concept. For example, after the card renewal process, we went into the children’s LIBRARY! (okay, I can’t anymore, you get it) and he went absolutely ape-shit. You would think he had never seen a book. He couldn’t pull them off the shelves fast enough. Every book. About anything. The ocean…Hardy Boys…lion cubs…a 4H book about growing squash…and finally, an old favorite, The Lorax. Except he brought me El Lórax… clásica Seuss.  We tried to sit at a table and read one of the 15 stories he dragged out, but he was so hyper he wouldn’t even look at the pages or stay upright in the chair. LOUDLY (despite my repeated reminders on library etiquette) – “Mom, mom, mom, why does that boy have glasses? I want a backpack. That baby’s looking at me! I need a drink from the drinking fountain. I CAN DO IT MYSELF, MOM!!!”

Then we noticed one of the (infinitely patient) children’s librarians had started a story-time about dinosaurs, so we joined the group of moms and kids in the green-carpeted reading nook. Harvey’s impression was that this must be some kind of terraced lawn to run/roll up and down. Then he decided the librarian was reading just to him and started interrupting her and asking questions like they were having a conversation. “Ummm, why, why is your book so shiny?” About this time, we excused ourselves.

Once we were free of the confines of the reading nook, Harvey took off like a shot. Up and down the aisles I chased him with Hugo in the stroller. Sometimes I would lose him, only to see him peeking at me through the books from the next row over. “Moooom….where am I?” Finally, I parked the stroller and caught up with him (just in time to see him hurdle another child quietly reading on the floor). Under my arm he went, and out of the library we strolled with Hugo. Insert both boys into carseats. Cinch up Harvey’s extra tight. Deep, cleansing breaths.

LIBRARY!  I do not think it means what you think it means.

So, next time, we’ll go to a park instead and he can come back to the library when he’s legally responsible for his own actions.

One of many books, El Lorax, Hugo - over it, other people's well-behaved children
One of many books, El Lorax, Hugo – over it, other people’s well-behaved children

Things are getting out of hand…

…in the baking department. Seriously, someone needs to stop me. My family agreed that, YES, they would help me cut back on the obsessive cookie-making while simultaneously shaking their heads NO and stuffing cookies in their faces. Hope my neighbors are home for some special deliveries of diabeetus.

Peanut butter sandwich cookies with peanut butter cream filling
Peanut butter sandwich cookies with peanut butter cream filling. Fat fee, sugar free. (That last part is just to make me feel better but is 100% not true.)

Adventure is out there

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s always a lot to do in Boise on a summer Saturday. We decided on a family bike ride today, but were brutally rebuffed by the Bigs who were engrossed in new games/books/Legos. After a promise they would at least walk the dog, Hayden and I decided to just take the Littles on what would be Hugo’s first bike ride in the trailer.

First, we strapped in both boys and just pulled the trailer around the driveway like a stroller. As always, they.were.adorable. We decided to take them for a quick ride, but it was such a great day we kind of just kept going. We rode down the Greenbelt to the playground in Julia Davis park. For some odd but awesome reason, the play structure was completely deserted and Harvey had the place to himself. While he climbed/slid/shouted and Hayden inspected the surrounding trees for backyard potential, Hugo and I walked up the stairs to the little bridge that crosses the canal to the Discovery Center and waved to the paddle boats.

A green canopy, driveway practice, sweet bikes, paddle boats
A green canopy, driveway practice, our beloved bikes, paddle boats

We then decided to ride across Friendship Bridge onto campus (also deserted, but no surprise there) and past Bronco Stadium (okay, I know it’s now Albertson’s but come on. I mean, it’s no Taco Bell arena, but still…No) where players were getting ready for an afternoon practice. So so so ready for college football – or hootbah as Harvey calls it. Rode home on the south side of the river, passing tons of rafters, SUPs, and bridge jumpers. *Note to teenage girls: You will immediately regret jumping off a bridge in that bikini.

Rafters downtown, Harvey's playground, Booiiseeee Staaaaaaate.
Rafters downtown, Harvey’s playground, Booiiseeee Staaaaaaate.

We had a great afternoon cruising around on our mini-adventure, and it was also fun seeing lots of happy people enjoying the outdoors and just loving on Boise.

Just an A-hole

Yesterday, when I arrived home from picking up Harvey at school, I was happy to see Hayden’s car already in the driveway as he had been out of town for work the past few days.  Hudson and Harvey tumbled out of my car to hug Dad and I went around back to grab a bag of groceries. While I unloaded the tamales I had picked up for dinner, Hayden took Hugo out of his carseat and we met behind my car for a quick kiss/hug/slap on the ass. During this time, Harvey ran down the driveway to get the mail as he loves to do.

Within seconds I heard him scream. He raced up the driveway toward us and I immediately noticed he was being chased by several wasps. Knowing he’d been stung, I took the baby and Hayden raced inside with Harvey to get some ice. It turns out that practically overnight wasps had built a small nest under our mailbox and a good dozen were frantically working on it. One of those fuckers got my poor baby right on his ring finger, just above the palm. As I made my way into the house, I could hear him sobbing, “I’m NEVER going outside agaaaaiiiiin… (he’s always been a little hyperbolic)…but we need to take the garbaaaaaage out, Daaaaad!” Clearly, his top priority is never far from mind.

Why did that bug hurt me?
Why did that bug hurt me?

I took over finger icing duties and Hayden made short work of the wasps with some Raid. Seriously, fuck wasps. I was less upset about the sting than I was the visual of those meth-head wasps CHASING my 3-year-old up the driveway. Plus, you know if wasps could talk they would be total bigots and have like the most annoying whiny voices ever. I am reminded of this:

Image credit Henry Kane Farms
Image credit Henry Kane Farms

To lighten the mood, I baked. I mean, I would have baked anyway since that’s how I do, but it made Harvey feel like he was getting a special treat and no one loves sweets more than Harvey. I swear, you say cookie and his pupils dilate. So, I busted out some delicious (if unseasonable) pumpkin chocolate chips cookies and all was right with the world.

Easily converted to a summer dessert if served chilled. :)
Easily converted to a summer dessert if served chilled. 🙂