An Educational Trip

Last week we left John at home working with all the animals to keep him company and traveled the few hours north to my family’s cabin to help with the annual spring clean up. It was the first time we had spent away from the house in months. We were off the property! I was ready for excitement, what I got was education.

I learned that the kids do not in fact need to pee every hour on a car ride. As it turns out, after months of Covid talk and faced with public restrooms and face masks, they can all hold it the whole 3.5 hour drive. A fact I will remember.

I learned that this railing still doesn’t seem “safer.”

I learned that a change of scenery will not make a single bit of difference in the amount of fighting the girls do.

I learned that if Grandma and Grandpa are the only people they have been able to see in two months, the additional presence of Grandma and Grandpa won’t make a bit of difference in the referenced fighting.

I learned that different chores, no matter how enthusiastic you present them “Yay! Let’s rake pine needles!”, are still chores and they will whine about them just as much.

I learned that Clara will happily pick up and drag home every bit of garbage and “treasure” she can find when out for a paddle.

I learned that Jane will pack herself up two live snails to bring home without asking for permission.

I learned that Ivy can make fantastic cookies in any kitchen.

And I remembered that life always feels better on the water.

“Open the Top!”

“Mom! Open the top!” the girls told me pointing at the barrel of pigeon feed. It was a set up, I could tell by the amount of giggles. I’m not very good at faking surprise and expecting a chicken I debated how to react as I lifted the lid.

Cuter than a chicken and no fake surpise needed!

Another April Square challenge photo with The Life of B!

Stories with Granny: “The Indian Scare”

When I was last at my Granny’s house she showed me a booklet she had recently obtained about the history of Lannon, Wisconsin, the town where she grew up. As I looked though it, Granny guided me toward pictures of her and articles about her dad and she mentioned that she was surprised that there was nothing about the “Indian Scare” in it.  Well, that was a story I wanted to hear and after she told it to me I thought I might not be the only one who wanted to hear this almost forgotten piece of Lannon history.  So, she told it to me one more time as I typed it up to share.

When I was about eight years old I would sit on my Great Aunt Delia’s lap and beg her to tell me the story of the “Indian Scare”. It went like this:

My great grandfather Heman came to the Wisconsin territory in 1844 ( Wisconsin didn’t become a state until 1848).  He and his wife Sarah had four children John, Demerit (where did they get that one?) Amelia and Adelia. Delia was the youngest of the four and they all lived in a log cabin just East of what is now the village of Lannon.

One day Heman, Sarah and the boys went to Uncle Hiram’s, which was though the woods, to help them with their harvest. They left the two girls at home with a list of chores to be done before they were to join them at Uncle Hiram’s. This included sweeping the floor, setting the cheese and generally tidying up the cabin. Before they finished their jobs a man came riding along and stopped at the door and told them that they better run away someplace and hide because the Indians were coming. It seemed that a couple of men from Milwaukee had devised a scheme to get all the settlers to run away from their homes to avoid the (non-existent) Indians.

After the man rode on to “warn” other settlers, Delia was ready to go through the woods to Uncle Hiram’s in a hurry. Melia said no, they had to finished their jobs. Which they did. Delia was frightened all the time and knew the Indians were going to come and when they did they would eat all the cheese! Finally Melia said it was time to leave and they headed off through the woods. But Melia kept stopping every once in a while and breaking off grapevines. She threaded these grapevine pieces through the hem of her long skirt with the intention of making a hoop skirt for herself. Delia was very frightened and she knew there was an Indian hiding behind every tree in the woods. But eventually Melia finished her hoop skirt and they both got safely to Uncle Hiram’s.

Later on they found out that the whole Indian scare was a hoax perpetrated by some jokers in Milwaukee, though a lot of the settlers that were warned did pack up their belongs and headed further West to what is now Merton.

When I think about those men scaring the settlers for fun I’m incredulous that people could be so callus but I can’t help but get the giggles when I picture the two sisters headed though the woods, one jumping at every noise and the other improving the fashion of her dress as she walked along!

Family Planning

When you are having babies people are very concerned about timing. Do you want to have them all in diapers at once or one at a time? Should siblings be old enough to help with the baby or better to just pack the car seats in in the back of the car like cordwood? Will they play together better if they are 2 years apart or 4 years apart? So many questions. So many debates.

But you know what no one ever considers?

Do you know what the big oversight in child spacing consideration is?

Middle school.

I just realized I’ll have a middle school girl in my house for eight straight years.

Eight. Straight. Years. Of. Middle. School.

Please send Bourbon and dark chocolate, we are going to need a lot of it.

Now, hold on before you feel the need to tell me how wonderful my eldest is. I know she’s a great kid, she has spent the past few years turning into a lovely, even keeled, responsible child. But now she is a middle schooler.   And she is just the stereotypical, grunting, lack of eye contact, hormonal, moody kid that you expect a middle schooler to be and, because we’ve been doing our parenting job tolerably well, she’s mostly just like that at home.

Ahhhh! The sweet, sweet rewards of parenting!

The look Ivy would give me if she knew about this post.
Never tell!

We have “discussions” about why wearing ear buds while talking to people is rude. There are tears and pouting that pass like summer storms and are replaced with a girl that exudes rainbows and sunshine only to have her fall to pieces later in the day/hour/minute. We have a continual one sided discussion about how words are an important part of conversation right before she chats at me non-stop for an hour. I know I can look at this as an excellent opportunity to practice my own patience and understanding. I can use these times to work on my compassion, even on a busy day, and to practice forgiveness, even at the drop of a hat. This is a personal growth opportunity presented to me on a silver platter.

And I try. I really do.  But see, here is the thing.

It’s not that fun.

It’s really hard.

And I fear for the future.

It’s all well and good to say practicing patience, compassion, understanding and forgiveness is good for you. But when the every day reality of life gives you opportunities for self improvement, whether you want them or not, it feels a lot more brutal and a lot less fortuitous than it sounds.  These great growth opportunities where one can practice all these skills are presented to you every single day. And not just once a day either.  Opportunities abound on days that you are sick and days you are tired and days where you already did a good job of being kind and understanding to the kid that screamed at you all morning and you really don’t have it in you to try it again.  It was one of those days that I accidentally did the math in my head and realized that I will have a middle school girl living in my house for the next seven years, eight years total. I’m not actually sure I can afford to consume that much dark chocolate and bourbon.

So, if you are in the baby having years consider this a warning! Think ahead, plan for middle school.  And when your baby has a meltdown in the grocery line and the mother of a young lady gives you a sympathetic, “Solidarity mama, you can do it!”  look, check her cart. If it’s got a stash of dark chocolate and bourbon, give her that look right back, she’s gonna need it too!