When I was very young my Grandpa sang “Go Tell Aunt Rhode” to me at bed time.
I can’t say for sure that this hampered my singing ability in the opposite way that one says playing classical music to infants will enhance theirs. All I can tell you is that not even my Granny’s lullabies could outweigh the effects of the rest of the family’s singing and my innate lack of musical ability.
Well meaning people try to convince me that I exaggerate and that I must be a fine singer.
They are wrong.
All that being said, I also have children.
Which means that, they have been, or are, babies. Babies require lullabies, which means that I, their mother, need to sing.
So I sing.
The songs I choose to sing to my kids have one criteria – they must fall into my lowish, five note range. A range, that I have discovered, could be named the “drunken, dying range.”
I sing songs about, dying of sickness, and drunkenness, horses falling through the ice, dying at war, drinking whiskey, drowning, and people who have gout. Not your average nursery themes.
Unorthodox as the songs may be my singing, like my Grandpa’s, puts the kids to sleep. Whether it’s the soothing sounds of our voices or self defense is still a subject up for debate.
My brother and his girlfriend are having a baby boy this summer. Tonight as I look at my house full of three girls I am excited at the prospect of having a nephew to spoil and bursting with unsolicited advice.
As an expecting mother, all three times, the thing I hated most was the random, unsolicited, advice foisted on me by friends, relatives and complete strangers. So, as an aunt to be, I am keeping those thoughts firmly behind my teeth. I will not initiate conversations involving my favorite diapers and blankets. I will wait to be asked before I share my thoughts on co-sleeping, breastfeeding and strollers. I will not warn anyone away from scoffing at crusted food on high chairs, misbehaving children, and odd bedtime routines for fear those words will come back to haunt them. I will not spew phrases like “Life will never be the same.” and “Treasure every minute.” Actually, I don’t have to fight to keep those in. I would never say that. I hate it when people tell me that. Some minutes are meant to be lived and promptly forgotten. In fact I had more than my share of those minutes today which brings me to my unsolicited advice that, despite all that I have said, I am now about to foist on you.
Don’t ridicule the amount of baby blankets you will collect. The fuzzy, the small, the large, the quilted, the knitted, the ugly, and the cute – you want them all.
I suspect every parent to be looks at the mound of baby blankets they receive and wonders why on earth something so small needs so many. But, they will. Your job as expecting parents is to welcome those blankets with open arms, because, eventually, you will find yourself in a situation where you are ever so grateful that you have acquired 5,789 baby blankets.
Just as a not so random example I can tell you that one small 15 month old can puke on nine blankets in one short afternoon. But if you have another 5,781 blankets left the only laundry you have to worry about doing is your own four shirts, two rugs, the three towels while still having plenty of spare blankets available to make it through the night.
Also, when looking at that mountain of fluff you will receive it is important to keep in mind that not all baby blankets will stay baby blankets. Some will graduate out of baby hood with their owners and still grace their beds. Dolls, puppies and various other toys and animals need many small blankets and they are indispensable when it comes to tea parties and picnics. Once that happens you’ll be glad there are still 1,890 blankets not currently in circulation if a younger sibling should happen to join the party.
So, what I’m saying is that when baby blanket number 2,456 comes your way, don’t do like the rest of us poor misguided souls did and roll your eyes. Be nice, say thank you, and add it to your stash with a smile.
Love the baby blankets.
Embrace the baby blankets.
And if by some twist of fate you only end up with 3,098 just let me know I think I may have an extra one I can spare.
It’s that time again, in fact it’s probably past time. The drifts of needles falling to the floor get deeper every day. Half the string of colored lights inexplicably stopped working and the other half has fallen to the floor. The ornaments have made a slow migration to the top half of the tree as they are moved out of the reach of little hands.
Yes, it is time.
The Christmas tree needs to be taken down.
But, I never want to take the tree down.
I love our Christmas tree.
It’s not the most beautiful tree. While it is of better shape then many we’ve had in the last few years it still wouldn’t be up to snuff in a Christmas tree lot.
But our tree is extra special.
We planted it ourselves not long after we moved into the house, then on the first snowy day this winter we cut it down and dragged it back through the field to the house.
And then there are the ornaments – oh, the ornaments.
They all tell a story, they all hold a memory.
The girls like to sit and pick out their favorite ornaments and then ask me to tell it’s story.
There are ornaments that were given to me by my Granny that used to hang on her tree.
Old ornaments that always remind me of helping decorating her tree when I was girl.
There are ornaments from John and I’s first Christmas together.
Ornaments for first babies ( and second and third).
Ornaments from friends.
And oh so many more, all with their own little story to tell.
This year we added a new story to the tree.
This year was the 100th year that my family (on my Mom’s side to be exact) ate Christmas dinner at the same table together. Five generations of traditions and memories all summed up in one little ornament that will hang on our tree forever. How will I ever get the gumption to take the tree down now?
Our bird hunting trip to Kansas didn’t go quite as planned…
The weather in Kansas before our trip was in the 50′s, the weather since we’ve been home is in the 30′s. While we were there – highs in the teens with below zero windchills.
The prairie dogs of Prairie Dog State Park did not come out to play.
Tyler and Sarah head out to lay on the frozen goose poop so they can watch the geese laugh at them as they fly over.
The reservoir froze over the night before the boats got there and the duck/goose hunters laid on the ice and watched the birds fly just out of range.
Kids don’t last long outside in temperatures like that. And our plans to explore the park turned into plans to explore the local library.
We knew that the drought conditions this year meant that pheasant numbers were down. We figured we could make up for that with the ducks, geese (so much for that plan) quail, prairie chicken, and turkey.
Well, I saw two prairie chicken from the truck once and quite a few coveys of quail were unearthed but Murphy really got me in the turkey hunting.
The first day there John who went out hunting with Tyler and his girlfriend Sarah first was very, very nicely able to pick up my hunting license for me. But he didn’t buy me a turkey tag. Bemused but unconcerned I figured I’d buy one next time I was in town. First time I got out Tyler, Sarah and I ran into a giant flock of turkeys and I followed (admittedly somewhat grumpily) as they bailed out of the truck with the dogs. Turkeys flew everywhere, shots were fired, I watched Tyler’s dog (incidentally named Turkey) retrieve a turkey and my dog try to eat a turkey (sorry Sarah, he probably thought it was a really big chicken).
It was exciting!
I went and picked up my tag that night. The only other time I saw turkeys they were running away – safely beyond the Private Property sign.
Then there was the virus. I don’t think it was the nasty virus that took out an unbelievable number of my family members after Christmas, but something got Clara. Shethrew up in the truck on the ride down, came down with an all night screamer of an earache mid-trip and still (now with the help of antibiotics) is working on recovering.
Below zero temperatures, sick kid, camper – bad combo – dam that Murphy.
And then there were the other things, like when John lost the antenna of my shock collar and then a few days later I accidentally broke his in half. Sarah forgot her shotgun at home. I got sick on the way home and we had a much longer stay at a hotel in Nebraska than we bargained for.
But even though Murphy came out securely on top it wasn’t a bad trip.
Jane was a happy camper and liked working on her dog training.
Ivy and I were able to get out hunting together one afternoon and she quickly turned into an expert pheasant tracker in the snow.
Everyone enjoyed hunting with their dogs. (Especially me!)
And now that I’m home I must say, even a disaster of a hunting trip is better than unpacking the mounds and mounds of stuff that are coming out of our vehicles since we’ve been home!
Yup, disaster of a trip an all I’m already trying to figure out how we can do it again, if we can just figure out a way to beat Murphy…
John’s birthday was last Friday and Tyler’s was the week before so over labor day weekend we all headed north to Tyler’s for our annual weekend of birthday fun. After such an epic weekend I couldn’t pick just one picture for my Friday post!
If you don’t remember the family rivalry in the Pewaukee Triathlon two years ago I invite you to go back and read up on it, you’ll find it under Talking Smart in the archives. Two years later and the competition and the smart talking are still going strong!
I was unable to make it around the lake to spectate at the Tri-Allegan Triathlon but I was able to convince Uncle Weasel to be my first ever guest blogger and share the story:
This year’s Tri-Allegan Triathlon featured an epic battle between young and old, man and woman, athletic prowess and wily experience and cunning. It may go down in history as one of the greatest athletic events of all time. That being said I must report that my team, Team Old Guys finished in a solid 4th place. My swimmer, Scott pared 30 seconds off last years swim time but died coming out of the water and couldn’t muster much more than a walk across the beach and up the hill to transition. But then again he’s a swimmer not a runner. Marty the runner is the closest to a rock star as there is on the team. He just plain flies and uses himself up on the course….he also spends a lot of time using himself up during warm-ups. I’m the old guy on the bike and even though I’m due for knee replacement in 2 weeks I was determined to hold up my end of the bargain. To boot I had made a small wager with the local chief of police (10 years my junior, 50 pounds lighter and 2 good knees). My bike time against his bike time, loser congratulates the winner publicly in the local newspaper. Maybe not so smart but if you talk big you gotta back it up, right? I trained over 550 miles getting ready and was determined to at least beat the chief. I found myself getting my game face on minutes before the start and who should pop out from behind my friend Mel (Mel is a big guy and easy to hide behind) but my little sister Mary. I was shocked to say the least and stunned to see that she was in her “skinny pants” with a timing chip on her ankle. She was in the race!!!!
Now it was time for a quick team meeting and a recalibration of race strategies and goals. The old guy’s mission is to BEAT MARY!!!!!!
Scott swam like a torpedo, I biked as hard as I could and when something let go in that right knee at mile 11 I kept going, Marty ran like the wind. All of us with one goal. BEAT MARY!!!
Now you have to understand I put together a team 2 years ago to beat Mary and she edged us by 2 minutes. On that team I had a University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Athletic Hall of Fame swimmer and a svelte, fit twenty something runner and we couldn’t do it. But Tuesday night a bunch of old guys gave it all they had and we beat Mary by a decisive 4 minute margin!
It just goes to show, don’t cut us Old Guys out, she may be younger and fitter but us Old Guys are CRAFTY!
Excuse me now while I go write a letter to the editor.