It’s the most wonderful time of the year

For the past two weeks, my Beloved has been Stricken With An Illness. I know not what its name is, only that it causes soreness of throat and coughing and spitting and groaning. And moaning. Immediately upon falling asleep at night, he begins moaning, and making swallowing noises. It’s rather disconcerting, and a bit disgusting. Because I am a good wife, I resist the urge to place a pillow over the source of the moaning and swallowing and instead grind my teeth until they shatter into tiny pieces.


I have also been careful to avoid My Beloved like the plague. I’m just caring that way. I have only once kissed him, in a fit of forgetfulness, and afterwards washed my mouth out with gasoline. I have maintained concern, but from a safe distance. At night I put a pillow, or a small child who might be handy, between us in the bed to absorb any coughing that might come my way. I’m sorry, but My Beloved terrifies me right now.


He went to the doctor (the doctor who resides at My Beloved’s workplace for the specific purpose of ministering to those pod-dwellers who can’t take time out from their endless code-deciphering to visit a real doctor) which is how I knew he must really feel bad. There are multiple scenes in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which it is suggested that the Baron might want to see a doctor. His reply is always to hold up a gnarled hand and croak, through clenched teeth, with absolute finality, nooo doctorsssss (the fact that the doctor always transforms into the Angel of Death might have something to do with it).


Make no mistake: my Beloved IS Baron Munchausen. He’s better looking, and doesn’t achieve unbelievable exploits with a band of faithful supermen, but trust me on the one point. The fact that he was willing to take a chance with the Angel of Death doctor proved the virulence of this particular affliction.


The doctor declared that he had A Virus Of Unknown Origin, and promptly prescribed antibiotics, just in case. I questioned My Beloved closely as to whether said doctor was also sporting a water-squirting daisy and a pair of oversized shoes, but he was too feeble to answer. At any rate, he took the antibiotics, just in case. Today he is feeling better.


I, however, woke up this morning to a sore throat, a dull headache, and a perpetual heaviness in my lungs. If you need me, I’ll be hunched over here in the corner, groaning.

More xylophone cake

Okay, so here’s the cake. The keys were made of sugar cookies rolled out (used a ruler as a guide) and baked, then frosted with a royal icing glaze (the kind of icing that dries hard). You can make it out of egg whites, but I used the meringue powder from Wilton.


I also used the Wilton paste food colorings to get the nice bright colors. The last key (the smallest) was supposed to be a sort of greenish-blue, but it was tricky. Oh well. I set the keys on licorice and stuck m & m’s on them for the screws.



And here’s a deep, dark secret. I use cake mixes. Yes! Simply because every single homemade cake I have ever made has never been as moist, or moist at all, come to think of it. I slave over the stupid thing and then it’s dry as dust. Frankly, I like the taste of Dunkin Hines. However, I make my icing from scratch. Buttercream, baby, and I am good at it. It always undergoes a rigorous taste-test before I put any on the cake. It’s amazing there is any left for the cake, come to think of it.

2 sweet 2 be 4 gotten

There are a lot of incredible posts written by mothers on the occasion of their various babes’ birthdays. I don’t plan to hold a candle to them. I’m tired this morning. I’m a little grumpy. It’s cold outside. I hate winter so much that I even hate fall because it means that winter is lurking around the corner, and soon it will be colder than a witch’s tit.


But it is also my baby’s 2nd birthday. And he makes it all better.


I don’t care what naysayers spout about two, it is to me the perfect age. Yes, there is a fair compliment of screaming and crying that go on therein, but overall the joys far outweigh these brief interludes of trauma. Consider the 2 year old, before and after his birthday haircut:





If you do not desire to simply spread him on a cracker and devour him on the spot, there is something wrong with you. Seriously. Maybe you are part android. You should get that checked out.


Consider the two year old at his birthday party, diving into presents with abandon, saying “gnawer one!” (another one) after each paper-ripping interlude, chortling gleefully over each and every surprise revealed inside, even if it’s a McDonald’s beanie baby he’s seen a million times, wrapped up by his 5 year old sister in her desire to be included in the magnanimity of the moment.



Consider the two year old, waiting patiently until the birthday song (sung at decibals far louder than previously believed humanly possible) is over before expertly blowing out his (two!) candles without ever trying to stick his hands into them because he’s just that clever.


My logic is undeniable. There is nothing–nothing–in the whole world that can compare to the sweetness that is two. In my bed at night I awaken to the sound of padding feet on the carpet…hardly more than the sound of the cat, and yet I know it is my 2ishness coming, with his blankie, to cuddle up next to me and shoo away the icy chill with his chubby warmth and stick his toes into his father’s ear.


There is nothing cuter than my 2ishness as he sings a song at the top of his lungs, words indiscernable but earnest, wiggling his body in an attempt at dancing and ending with a flourish, arms upraised and final note breaking the glass in all the windows. He laughs at his own secret jokes now, full of bonamie and independance.


The softness of his cheeks cannot be overrated. The sheer chewability of his earlobes surpasses monetary equivalent. The back of his neck, exposed now by the little-boy haircut, is irresistable and susceptible at any moment of the day to a vicious attack of lip prints. His clever little hands are still dimpled at their knuckles and creased at the wrists…the lingering evidence of the baby that he was a million years ago, and yesterday.


Two. I’ve seen a lot of them come and go, and I’m finally wise enough to relish every minute.


Ixnay on Odentsray

I would imagine that most people have varied feelings about creatures that fall into the rodentia order of taxinomical classification. Some probably think they’re awfully cute and cuddly and make, in general, sweet little pets (raising my hand). Some probably think the only good sort are the sort with their heads firmly fixed in a trap or impaled upon some sort of stake (my father, a farmer). However, whatever your feelings on the critters with dentition highly specialized for gnawing, one thing is probably true for everyone.



A rodent with a huge red and gray tumor emerging from its ear is not something pleasant to look upon.
Such a thing should not exist. Such a thing is not within the zone of my comfort level. Such a thing might do well, if I may be perfectly frank, to be devoured by a snake immediately.
In the wild, this scenario certainly would have happened. If not a snake, then an owl, or a badger, or a large motor vehicle, would have quickly put the thing out of its misery as soon as the aforementioned growth began to interfere with its ability to do its normal rodential type things, such as walking. However, since this particular rodent was lovingly ensconced within an aquarium and readily supplied with food and water with nary a snake in sight, he was free to walk, and fall over frequently, thereby necessitating the rapid pinwheeling of his various limbs in a pathetic manner in order to once again become upright. He was free to stagger drunkenly about his enclosure in plain sight of my horrified eyes (although I tried hard to avert them), knocking into walls and tumbling mercifully into his food dish with regularity. He could even manage to drink from his water bottle. And thus he lived….and lived….and lived….and all the while the tumor grew.


The vet was called, oh yes. As much as I cringed at the thought of forking over large amounts of cash at the thought of surgery on a creature the size of a postage stamp, the vet was called. Proverbs 12:10 floated before my eyes every time I passed the mutant’s home. How could I do less?


The vet said no dice. His large calloused country vet hands were not equipped to remove tumors from tiny hamsters. In his experience, such sad victims were not actually in any pain (they had inquired, Dr. Doolittle style, I assume), they just, you know…were really, really dizzy. At any rate, he was pretty old anyway (the hamster, not the vet), and prone to such things (nobody mentioned this when the animal was purchased, I might add), and we should prepare for the inevitable and rapidly approaching expiration date.


I was, though I tried to hide it, relieved. I didn’t want the creature to suffer, but more importantly, *I* didn’t want to suffer by having to watch him suffer. I’m generous that way.


But he didn’t die. He kept living. He kept staggering, and eating, and drinking, and pinwheeling, and…living. And the thing, the invasive invader, kept growing. I’m telling you, people, I was tempted to just put a mouse trap in there with him one night. It was that awful. Months went by, months! Or did it just feel like months? I don’t know; I lost track. I prayed for his healing, but more importantly, I prayed that he would die, and soon.


Oh, you think this is hard to read? You think I should just wrap this post up and spare you the details? Well, I beg your pardon, but since I’m the one who had to live with it, you can just sit there patiently and read every word, you pansies! Be glad I didn’t take a picture! Okay, wait. Were you wondering if I took a picture? Did the concern even cross your mind? What kind of a sicko do you think I am??


Only the sort that exploits the trauma of an innocent creature by blogging about it, I suppose.


Anyway, he did die. Just two days ago. And I was so glad I almost cried. We have bid adieu to many critters in this house–birds, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, and a rabbit, to be exact. Most of them died of old age, or of unnameable causes known as he-seemed-just-fine-yesterday. None of them were interred in the back yard with as much relief.


So there is a new rule in this household…no more rodents. No more cunning little paws and soft brown eyes. The aquariums shall stack up, vacant and waiting, but no more furry little bodies will fill them. I’m going to push more hardy sorts of pets, like scorpions, or hissing cockroaches…or rocks. Rocks are looking mighty appealing to me right now.





I visited the health food store (because occasionally I like to pretend that I’m as prairie as I wanna be) to pick up a bottle of organic prenatal tabs. When I inquired regarding their whereabouts from the entirely-too-fit saleswoman, she directed me straight to the proper aisle.


“Here’s what we have,” she explained, eminating wheatgrass and granola from her every pore. “They’re in liquid form.”


“Hm!” I exclaimed dubiously, eyeballing the (suspiciously opaque) bottle. “How do they taste?”


“Oh! Wonderful!” She reassured me brightly, rainbows and daisies circling her head like a halo. “In fact we just did a taste test on all of our liquid vitamins last week and I liked the prenatals the best!”


“Um. Okay.” I scoped out the label. A pregnant woman who glowed like a field of sunflowers gazed back at me. Perfect for those who dislike swallowing pills! It proclaimed. And I was hooked. I loathe swallowing pills to the very core of my being, especially most prenatal pills, which tend to be the approximate size of bratwursts.

How bad could it be, anyway? The smiling salewoman wouldn’t lie. Health food store employees aren’t allowed to lie. Their whole existence is based upon raging against the machine, after all. Health food is about truth and strength and stickin’ it to the man, right?


This is what I told myself as I shelled out the big bucks for the vitamins, which also promised faster absorption, more energy, and a baby who would speak Russian upon exiting the womb.


I got home and eagerly read the instructions. One capful per day it said. Easy. Until I noticed that the cap was the size of my fist. No matter. I had a fleeting worry that I might enjoy it so much I would be tempted to drink more than the recommended amount. I shook the bottle and poured it out into the cap.


And then I shrieked. Because this is what came out.



I showed my children, who ran away, weeping. My eldest proclaimed that it looked like “Liquid Grinch”. I then showed My Beloved, who recoiled in horror and said it was “ichor,” a word that I didn’t even know existed, and never would have suspected lurked in his C# brain (in fact, I was so impressed with this sudden burst of grandiloquence that I paused in my shrieking to interrogate him as to the precise moment that he learned this wondrous new noun. He wasn’t sure. But I suspect it has something to do with this).


I took a deep breath. And I drank it. What else was there to do? Believe it or not, I did not retch. These vitamins, it turns out, are one of a rare set of comestibles that do not actually taste as bad as they look and smell. Not that they’re good by any means. Lordy, no. Let’s not get carried away. However, it is mostly the texture, not the taste, that I have to psyche myself past. Viscous. Gritty. All is not doom and gloom, though! Remember, these vitamins are the best of the best! The cre’me de la cre’me! The answer to human suffering!


And hey, they make my pee glow in the dark and smell like a meadow. What more could I want?


Things I hate and love this morning

Love: The sound of the local mid-high marching band practicing in the frosty fall air

Hate: The Bisquick box, which gives me not a paper cut but a cardboard cut that opens and closes like an evil little mouth.


Love: The fact that it’s Thursday, which means tomorrow is Friday, and we’re going to the zoo.


Hate: The fact that it’s Thursday, which means tomorrow is Friday, and we’re going to the zoo, which means I have to go to Wal Mart and buy sustenance so we can avoid having to buy zoofood.


Love: clean bathrooms

Hate: cleaning bathrooms


Love: Toddlers in blue jeans


Hate: My prenatal vitamins (more on that later)


Love: It’s only 75 sleeps until Christmas!


Hate: It’s 75 sleeps until Christmas!


Jenni, plain and, uh. Short.

True confessions: I live in Oklahoma. I do not live at the seaside. I apologize if my header, theme, quotes, or frequent photos have led anyone to believe erroneously. Make no mistake: I am landlocked. Prairiebound.


And you know, most of the time I’m okay with that. I realize that the dream of living beside the sea is one that only a tiny fraction of people actually manage to achieve in their lifetimes (just don’t bother saying something like “oh but you know, if you lived there, you’d get tired of it. I used to live by the sea and blah blah blah blah…” because, Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry).



I don’t waste time dreaming about things that, barring torrents of money raining down from the heavens, just ain’t gonna happen. I mean, yeah, I’m going to hope for some prime real estate staked out in Heaven next to the Crystal Sea, but let’s talk here and now. The prairie. Where I live.

Actually, right now I live in a semi-medium-to-larger-smallish burg in Oklahoma (yes! we have them!) However, if you drive 10 or so miles in any direction, you can see the waving wheat and plains wherein the wind sweeps. THAT is where I set my sights, many, many years ago. I grew up on it, and in a small (very small. like infintesimal, but work with me here) way, it bears a resemblance to the ocean. It makes a noise. It moves. It has an endless feel to it if you squint a little. If I can’t have the ocean, I’ll take the prairie.



For eons, however, circumstances did not accomodate us. We were poor, we were moving, we were in flux, we were distracted. But I never wavered in what I desired, in the back of my mind. I wanted not 2, not 5, but at least 10 acres. I had children, and my children wanted beasts. Beasts need some room to run (so do children, come to think of it). It could not be at the bottom of a hole. It must be farther than 2 miles away from the highway. It must have a view (a nice view). It could not be next to piles of rusted crap. What is it about the pristine countryside that makes some folks want to fill it with their rusted crap? That is fodder for another post.


So twenty years later, we have found it. We have bought it. Yes! We have 10 acres.








Now, if you want to see REAL land, check out The Pioneer Woman’s blog (in my blogroll. I’m not linking to it because, frankly, the woman has enough readers. Stay here). Her property is truly droolworthy. But this, for me, is enough. Enough to build our rambly white farmhouse with the wraparound porch and porchswing. Enough to fill with beasts and children. Enough to raise some bees (they have to stay outside). Enough to build a little studio to throw pots and paint and tantrums. Enough to grow my hair long and wear it in braids and get really freckly and turn into a proper cottage businesswoman. I’ll sell my honey and pots (not pot, I said pots…I’m not getting that groovy) and homemade bread and flowers and vegetables. Maybe vegetables. Maybe I’ll actually learn to eat vegetables. You never know what kind of radical things might happen!




But not right now. Right now we just get to look at it. And save our pennies. And dream some more.





Melanie had a daughter, Grace Eleanor, yesterday. I’ve sat here for a long time trying to think of anything to add, but there are no words, only the sound of many hearts breaking.


Kate and her son Joshua are home again and doing much, much better. He has had more surgery than a little guy deserves to have, but he has the indomitable spirit of his Biblical namesake and I know he’s going to go on to surpass everybody’s expectations!


Thank you, everyone who lifted up these special families in prayer.