The big kids spent the morning planting with me. Becca planted all of her flowers all by herself, after I showed her how to do the first one :). She even came up, on her own, with a method of measuring the distance between them using a long stick so that they are now spaced evenly and take up the whole border of our longest planting bed. I planted the other lovelies I got from Molbaks, and the flowers from my MIL. The big kids ran off to play on the waterslide again, and I got to follow her royal toddlerness around with a camera as she got progressively dirtier and more tired.
Yesterday, on the way to meet a newly-van-endowed ~L~ at Molbaks (great place!), I decided to stop for crackers and cookies for the little buggers. Um, bad idea? Holy shit, the bad behavior! And Toddlerness at the head of the group! Stay in the cart? Oh HELL NO. She can undo the strappies...and cast herself right on out of that seat. Yes, cast. Or climb. And if she's not busy doing that, she's busy taking stuff off the shelves. Never fear, if I let her out, she just grabs more stuff from lower shelves. As she runs out of my range. With reckless abandon. Into the paths of other carts.
The whole grocery store shenanigan took over 30 minutes. To get two bags of groceries worth less than $20. I left my house when ~L~ left Fife, and she BEAT ME TO WOODINVILLE. What the hell.
Molbaks was a similar toddler-chasing shitstorm. Got out of there for $20-something, (oooh, maybe less, because I had to go back and get refunded for an overcharge), especially remarkable considering the whole tray of flowers I got *just for Becca* (who was very thrilled with that whole idea).
~L~s family then came to my house, where kids played and had fun with surprisingly few incidents, and mamas drank coffee and watched kids flow in and out with surprisingly few incidents. At 6 I suddenly realized it was, well, 6, and started making dinner. As I was completing that prep, GirlieG (Girliness' similar-age bud) came SCREAMING up the hill.
Of course I immediately blamed Boyness (in my brain), but the true culprit was yellow jackets...and that had hurt so much she'd gone barelling straight into the stinging nettles. Poor girlie! A bath, lots of vit. c (she chewed the not-chewable tablets! And didn't even complain! Like a particularly reliable message board participant had said, they know when they need it and just eat it, even though it's nasty), some salve, and she was well enough to sit and eat dinner. Which surprised the crap out of me, because she'd been stung on the lip. And it was quite swollen. I do believe I'd have been curled up in my bed with a handful of ice, clothed full body to keep from irritating the nettle stings, feeling sorry for myself.
Boyness got stung too, on his chest, and some sting gel seemed to help him enough that he forgot about it rather promptly. This is a relief, since the gel doesn't work worth shit on nettle stings, so it's good to know it is useful for something.
So Fran has been diagnosed with diabetes. We were going to hold off until he had insurance with his new job, but he talked to his doctor's office about it and they pushed through all the fun stuff he'd have gotten then anyway. He's got the monitors and the strips (free, no payment portion for us, cool eh?) and since he's off the plan shortly, they gave him a boatload of strips. They told us that this wouldn't be a problem with his new insurance unless he was going to go self-employed; any employer plan would cover him, and the stuff they'd balk at getting him was what the office gave him yesterday. So yeah, they'd better be right about that.
He was feeling rather depressive about all of it on Tuesday, after talking on the phone with the nurse there about his test results, but after his half-day appointment/counseling/etc session yesterday is actually feeling really good about everything. He had nothing but glowing, wonderful things to say about the nurse that did his counseling, actually. I was kinda worried about the poor soul who would have that task. Fran tells me that she reminded him strongly of my own mom, because she has an issue (my mom's is breastfeeding, this nurse's was dietary control of diabetes), and simply knows everything about it and tells you exactly what you need to hear about.
So anyway, if I knew who this mysterious nurse was (and she was the touchy-feely sort), there would be many hugs and kisses and expressions of utmost gratitude. Because I sure as hell don't have it in me to be any sort of inspirational or uplifting or anysuchshit, and he is taking this so very well after that talk.
His doctor thinks that the nurse (another one) rather overstated the severity of his disease over the phone, and it is highly likely that he has many more years of small dietary changes being plenty, and may never actually need to be on insulin. Given that he has several uncles, an aunt, and a grandmother on insulin, and that he has already exhibited peripheral neuropathy, I was surprised to hear this, but his doctor seems to think that the problem is not hugely abnormal blood sugar readings so much as minimally abnormal readings over a long period of time.
I was also relieved to hear that he won't need to make a huge overhaul, at least not at first. I'll change some of what I buy and make, of course, but the doctor doesn't seem to think that he needs to take such extreme measures as not eating bread or rice any more (as was the case with his grandma) - just switch to the whole grain (I'd already started this) and halve the carb portions and see what happens first. This is a whole lot more palatable to me than the diet I've seen his other family members on.
This is what it looks like on both sides of the path down to the neighbor's house. Cute, eh? In case you don't recognize it, that is stinging nettle. These, erm, lovely plants hold acid on the undersides of their leaves. Acid that they fling at anything that happens to touch (brush against, think about) them. The kids refer to them unaffectionately as "the stingies." They feel like some mesh between a bee sting and a burn. I have just decided that the next unwary friend to come to my house will find her children covered head to toe and battling the nettles. I have some uses for the plants, but not for that many. Luckily, they don't just compost "well," they are stellar composters, actually heating up the compost mixture (speeding the process).
Here are some kids going down the "watersliderslipper" (term courtesy of some random neighborfamily kid), which - yes - consists of a kiddie slide and about 40 feet of plastic sheeting - and OMG the fun. Yes, that is Naomi climbing the slide at the top of the photo, and yes, she thought it was GREAT. After a few rides down the hill she decided she was sooooo cold, but wasn't willing to come home with me for new clothes/towels, and curled up on a piece of sun-warmed plastic until she got bored and went to ride her tricycle in the driveway with the other too-cold children. Becca, of course, milked every last second out of the availability of the waterslide coolness, and came home with a sore rear end long after the other two had given it up.
And here are a few photos of the warmer-in-the-driveway fun:
Yesterday was glorious. By 10am, we'd hit 60 (and when our little shaded spot here hits 60 that early, you know the rest of the world is having a nice warm day). So I threw some beef ribs in a marinade (prep for dinner - go me!), fed the children, and off we ran to Pine Lake Park. We spent 6 lovely hours there (wow, the 6 hour theme! That must be my kids' wide-barrel attention span or something). The kids spent entirely too much time quizzing the people on the dock about all things fishing-related (except for the older couple from Belarus who couldn't understand the kids too well, they all seemed happy with the curious kids). We ended up meeting the neighbor kids there entirely by accident in the last hour we were there. This could not have thrilled the little buggers more...but there were 8 kids altogether and I'm afraid they descended back upon the playground, newly excited, like a plague of overlarge locusts. When the neighbor family had to take a bathroom break, I seized the opportunity afforded by the temporary friendlessness of my children, gathered up my (thank GOD it's only three) little monsters and ran for it. The park was entirely too pretty yesterday. So was our own "yard," though. When Fran came home I set him to the grilling and the kid-supervising, and worked on my own half-finished baking projects. And cleaning projects. Because thanks to Toddlerness, the house smelled like fennel. A lot of fennel. Underfoot, it crushes a little like dried lavender - not in that it smells at all the same, but in that as you step on it and grind it into the carpet it creates a smell-aura. Added to the heat of the day finally catching up with my (very insulated) house, it was actually pretty hot. Pretty hot plus fennel-mess. Ew. Anywho, they played outside and barbequed ribs and I did all my baking (and a goodish volume of school reading and carpet vacuuming), until Fran poked his head in the door "hey Niki?" "yeah?" "is it really 8:10?" "errr...YES! Yikes!" "Ok, we're coming in!" And this is when I admit to rambling a bit so that the pictures fit into the blog better. I'm tired of rambling now and hopefully have filled enough space for it not to look funky on your screen. So I'll talk about bread now.
Last week I did an experiment, making a dough with half white/half whole wheat flour...and then leaving it to rise until it collapsed. I wanted to see just how far I could push it, you know? At the end of the experiment (it collapsed between 4 and 5 hours) I had some yummy, but very dense, sourdough bread. So yesterday I made the same recipe, this time with maximum rise in mind. It worked! I mean, not that you can really tell in the picture or anything. But it is light and fluffy and wonderful inside. Just like my previous attempts at whole wheat/blended bread haven't been. We ate it with soft cheese, along with our (very messy) barbeque ribs.
I also made angel food cake. I lacked quite a few necessary implements, though. No beaters (not even hand-cranked ones!), no sifter, no tube pan. No "cake flour." Thank goodness for healthy local chickens making healthy eggs with hard-to-break yolks, because my first egg separation ever came off perfectly. The cake was a little too dense, as I simply didn't have any more whisking in me by the time I got to "ok it's kind of making a peak," but it was of recognizeable taste and texture and was excellent with strawberries and ice cream. And yes, that is a picture of the inside of my oven.
By the time we had eaten barbeque ribs, bread with cheese, peas, and then our strawberry "shortcake" kinda thing, it was 10. At 10:30 I read stories to the kids. And now at 8:30 this morning, it is looking like another glorious day and the big ones are still sleeping. On the list for today? Laundry, a decidedly indoor task. Damn.
I've been wanting to get a marble run for a long time. For a while I was stuck on the really expensive wooden ones, but this fantastic set was just $15 at Target, so I broke down and bought it. I was gratified to find, once I got home, that I simply couldn't have gotten the same set online for any less, although the same company makes a really cool transparent set as well as a humongous set, both of which are on the future-purchase-or-present list.
And yesterday, for 6 GLORIOUS hours, I did homework and studied and Fran caught up on his sleep, all to the wonderful clack-clack-clack-bump and vocal quietude of happy-busy kids.