Friday, February 24, 2012

Things That Happened

* The kids got sick. D3 spent ALL DAY screaming one day, even though she only had a mild fever and no other symptoms. Being half-asleep or half-sick transforms her into this Prima Donna Zombie that cannot be reasoned with, disciplined, cajoled or consoled. Whatever she asks for, she'll scream if she gets it. And she'll scream if she doesn't. It was a long day. I finally put her to bed, sent the other kids to play in the basement, and spent several minutes ripping boxes into shreds until I'd relieved some of the tension.

* DOB surprised me with a trip out of town overnight. Fortunately the kids were recovered enough not to excessively terrorize Their Majesties. It was the first time since our honeymoon that we've been anywhere alone with no work or political activities to attend, and it lasted nearly as long as our honeymoon. It was fabulous. We should probably go on a real honeymoon sometime.

* We came back and the kids were better, except for D4 who kept complaining of stomach pain. Naturally it all got glossed over until he kept waking up in the middle of the night screaming, so we took him to the ER (Wondergirl kindly came and slept on the couch for us) in the middle of the night. Fortunately it was nothing serious, so we took him home and fed him prunes. We're still trying to catch up on sleep.

* His Majesty came and turned the kids' beds back into bunk beds. There's a lot more room in their bedroom now, and the thrill of climbing on new furniture arrangements has kept them very occupied for the past couple of days.

* Inspired by the furniture rearrangement and uninspired by the lack of sleep, I canceled school for the rest of the week and went on a cleaning rampage, with less emotional trauma than is usually present. (The housecleaning advice people never mention what to do about children who are convinced you hate them if you rearrange their special arrangements of random items everywhere.) It went better than it has in the past. Now I need to get up and finish.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Food With a Thousand Faces

Some people who decide to go vegetarian vow they will eat nothing with a face.

We've decided to add more fish to our diet. That means we're buying a lot more food with its face still attached.

Conveniently, the discount grocery store we frequent has just massively expanded its fish section. This grocery store apparently caters to a large immigrant population, both Hispanic and Asian. (We practice our Spanish by eavesdropping in the produce section.) So a lot of the selections are . . . not what you'd find at Safeway. You can get salmon heads for only 99 cents a pound. I haven't tried that yet.

However, if it costs less than $3 a pound, was caught in the wild, and has enough meat on it that I can throw away the eyeballs, I'm willing to give it a try. I am learning to gut fish--it's not so hard, you just start pulling things out until they stop coming--but I still don't know how to debone. So far we've had mackerel and something called butter fish, plus salmon (minus the heads), of course. Really, everything tastes pretty much the same once you put enough tartar sauce on it.

DOB has mixed feelings about this--on the one hand, eating more fish was his idea. On the other hand, he prefers food in the range from thick stew to thin casserole. Things that can be eaten one-handed, with a spoon, while reading. Having to participate in the dismemberment of his meal does not enhance his dining experience.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Forest Glades We Wander

A few weeks ago the pastor asked the children during the children's sermon: "Have you guys ever been fishing?"

The ducklings shook their heads no as the other children told of their favorite catches.


Again, no from the ducklings.

"Duchy children--you don't fish--you don't camp--what do you do?"

"We survive!" I interrupted.

Also, what we do is hike. And the way we hike the fact that we do survive is an accomplishment. Usually we go out in doubtful weather to a park with no maps and poorly-marked trails and hope we'll find our way back. So far we always have. So far no one has suffered a major injury on the trail. Sometimes we've had a fair amount of screaming before we return, but usually if DOB is along he has everyone engrossed in a tale of adventure that leads us onwards.

One of the local parks has a large area of the woods apparently devoted to pellet-gun wars, and some strapping fellows with a lot of time on their hands have engaged in the constructive activity of building acres and acres of fortresses and barricades out of fallen logs. This is naturally a favorite spot, although DOB has, for all but the first thirty seconds, regretted pointing out to the ducklings that they could collect the discarded plastic pellets.

On Thursday I took them to the really scary park--the one with bear warnings and trails that don't match the map--and, although we never quite knew where we were, we did not get lost and nobody screamed and nobody fell in a puddle. And we found some really cool bridges.