Posted by: Hannah | 10/17/2014

fall back

It’s been so long since I posted here that I’ve almost forgotten how.

I have tried, I swear! There are currently 13 blank ‘add new post’ entries on my dashboard marked draft. Some of them have titles and nothing else. This is what WordPress does, you see, when you are forced to shut the screen / laptop / internet / brain down without warning. It creates a draft! How optimistic! Surely this writer-person will be back in no time to continue crafting that little slice of life for her readers!

I need to delete all those aborted posts, probably. They feel like failures even though intellectually I know they shouldn’t.

Where to begin?

Our 10th wedding anniversary was last week. A year ago we had Big Plans for the day. A long weekend away! Maybe Vegas! New York! Toronto sans children! Let’s get our wills done so we can get on a plane without guilt! THIS IS GONNA BE EPIC.

Then our real life reasserted itself. The boys went to my mom’s for an overnight this summer and fell apart totally, all three of them, in a perfect swirling orgy of homesickness. When she brought them back she pretty much said “no more, never again, nope”.

DAMMIT.

Then the car needed some work. Then some more work. Then the van needed two new tires. Then Harry had a chance at a winter-long baseball skills clinic with a Montreal Expos draft pick. Then Ron decided that he wanted to take art classes, and the supply list cost was more than double the registration fee. Then we all needed clothes, and Halloween costumes for the kids, and stuff? Other stuff? Basically we have enough money for our lives as they are right this minuteand putting aside any extra for fanciful trips to honeymoon destinations is just not in the cards right now.

In the end, we decided on an overnight at a hotel in Halifax’s downtown, and my youngest sister is going to come stay with the boys in the hopes that familiar surroundings will be enough to quell their rebellion at missing out on a breakfast buffet and possibly a hot tub.

We also had dinner in a nice restaurant with all three of them. They got all dressed up in button-down shirts and ties – at their request – and we were out past their bedtime. It was special, and since our marriage has been in many ways defined by our children (Harry was born nine months after our wedding, heh) it felt right to include them in the celebration.

Then Thanksgiving, and it was the nicest one we’ve had in a long time. My brother and two of my nieces came for a visit, and it was all very laid-back and relaxed. It was just… really lovely. My brother and I have always been close, but in recent months we’ve really reconnected and it’s been wonderful. Most Friday nights find me in his ‘man-shed’, drinking a beer that he studiously pours into a glass for me because he knows I don’t like drinking it out of cans, listening to the “90s at 9″ mix on the radio and playing Sonic the Hedgehog.  The shed is heated by the small cast iron woodstove from my grandparents’ living room – he even got the set of fire tools I used as a kid. I come home from these evenings filled up with talk and laughing, smelling like wood smoke and cigarettes, tired but happy, restored.

We also squeezed in a quick visit with my parents, just the boys and I. We went with her and my sister to pick out Halloween pumpkins – always a Very Important Part of the October festivities. We selected four good-sized ones, and then George insisted on a tiny little pie pumpkin for himself. He had to be dissuaded from bringing it in the house to stay in his room until the big day, and every time it rains he looks out the front door at our pumpkin family and yells “THEY ARE GETTING A BATH, THOSE PUMPKINS, AND MY PUMPKIN, WHICH IS A LITTLE PIE PUMPKIN THAT IS MINE.” I can already see that November 1st is going to be a challenge, and we will likely need to incorporate a wrinkly rotted pumpkin into our Christmas decor this year.

I feel like there are Pinterest opportunities there that I need to exploit.

 

Posted by: Hannah | 09/22/2014

George, unwound

Talk all you want about the terrible twos – three year olds are actually The. Worst.

YES I SAID IT WHAT.

My sweet baby George, my funny wee man, has in recent weeks turned on me in a big way. During our vacation I was already starting to see signs of the dreaded three year old behaviours: the pointless defiance, the rampant lack of logic, the roaring tantrums. Then school started, taking his beloved brothers (he calls them “my boys”) away from him for most of the day. The arrival of New Baby – christened “Charlie” in recognition of his giant round hairless noggin – has ramped everything up to eleven. George is jealous, and fearful of the amount of hands-on attention Charlie needs, so naturally he’s reacting by pointing all of those negative emotions at me.

At 1AM he woke me up by screaming “MOM MOM MOMMMMYYYYYY MOMMY I NEEEEEED YOUUUUU!” – the way he always wakes up, by the way, regardless of what time it is or how much sleep he’s had – and so once again I stumbled out of bed in a fog to see what the problem was. I’ll take this moment to point out that I’ve had one night in the past month? maybe? when he didn’t get me out of bed at least once (and frequently twice) to yell at me about things.

Anyway. I went into the room he now shares with Ron and crouched down by his bed. It took actual focused effort to keep my voice modulated because goddammit child, every night every night EVERY NIGHT YOU ARE NOT A BABY ANYMORE WHY DON’T YOU JUST SLEEP I AM SO TIRED. I leaned over and whispered “I’m here, kiddo. What is it?”

“I need a drink of waaaaater,” he whined, loudly. “In the green cup. With the orange lid.”

Now, it’s 1AM. There is a torrential downpour outside. Heavy winds are lashing the house and because I’m an idiot, I forgot to take down my wind chimes before the storm started, so what is normally a gentle tinkling outside my window is an alarming clanging that the neighbours will probably hate me for. We went camping on Saturday night so I’m already running on a sleep deficit. Things have been tense around the house lately and for a whole host of reasons there is no bloody way I’m going to stagger around the house looking for one particular cup that I haven’t seen in a few days when all I want is a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I go to the kitchen and put an inch of water in a cup. Back to the bedroom. “Sit up, buddy, here’s your water,” I whisper. He grabs his blankie and whips it hard at me, splashing the water all over me in the process. “THAT WILL MAKE ME PEE THE BED!!!” he roared, as if the fucking water wasn’t his idea in the first place. I heard Ron in the upper bunk starting to stir because while he’s a heavy sleeper, there are limits.

And this, my friends, is not an unusual story, lately. He asks for milk and doesn’t drink it. He insists on second helpings and then whines that he’s full before taking even one bite. He requests oatmeal for breakfast and then roars in rage when I start cooking it because NO I DON’T WANT MY OATMEAL COOKED. He gets up every morning between 6 and 6:30 – if I’m lucky – and demands stuff all day, then goes to bed and continues demanding stuff all night. While half-asleep.

I hate it, and I’m tired of it, and tired of him, and then I feel like a monster because I know. I know his world’s been turned upside-down. I know he senses the emotional undercurrents between Mom & Dad and that upsets him. I know that he was used to having his brothers around all the time, and now he doesn’t, and that bothers him. Even at swimming lessons last night, when a new session started and he didn’t get his beloved Emily for a teacher – even that is another change, and I was mostly sympathetic to his disappointment & sadness.

But I wasn’t completely on his side, you know? My internal monologue went something like but you love swimming now, and here I am in the pool even though I’m having a day where I feel like a giant fat hairy blob, and you’re not an orangutan you’re a human child who is nearly three years old, so if you could unwind your arms from around my neck and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” with the rest of us right now that would be awesome, OK? Because mostly what I want to be doing right now is lying in bed with a book and a cup of tea.

The only thing that’s keeping me (slightly) sane is that I remember these same feelings of sadness, anger, and ambivalence when Ron was this age. And Harry, although to a lesser extent, honestly. (Four was the bad year for Harry. Oy.) This is a stage. A stage that will pass. We still have our moments where I just have to hug him tight because he’s such a dear. He makes me laugh. He has a tender heart. We will get through this, and one day I’ll realize that I can’t remember the last time a child woke me in the night, or the last time someone screamed at me because I gave them the wrong colour cup.

It will happen. But in the meantime, sweet lord. Pass the wine and the earplugs.

 

Posted by: Hannah | 09/16/2014

book 1, chapter 11

You know, summer is not conducive to blogging. At all. After last winter’s frigid temperatures and never-ending tenacity that dragged me into the Slough of Despond with tentacles of road salt and broken shovel handles, I was determined not to waste a single minute of warm, sunny weather.

I didn’t waste very damn much! But I was also seldom around my computer for long enough to compose a sentence.

With less than three weeks to go until Blissdom Canada, it seems silly that I haven’t been posting much. Also my traffic seems to be up again, for no reason that I can determine, so hey! content would be good!

And that brings us back again to Hannah Reads Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Confession time – I just spent an hour writing a recap of Chapter Ten. I thought it was pretty good. I posted it. And WordPress added a “2” at the end of the title… meaning there was already a post called “book 1, chapter 10″… oh please don’t tell me… yup. I wrote a recap twice. TWICE. Sigh.

However! We can’t let a little thing like that keep us down or make us question the very life choices that brought us to a point where we can write an entire short essay and then completely forget about it. We must forge ahead and trust that the highly-organized mind we once possessed will return when the children leave home.

Chapter 11 – Harvest

Pa and Uncle Henry are trading work, because that’s How Shit Got Done in pioneer times. Very sensible. They travel to each other’s farms, with their families, to work on harvesting and shocking the oats. (‘Shocking’ involves tying the oats into bundles and then stacking the bundles in such a way as to help shed the rain.) The Ingalls family head to Uncle Henry’s house, and the girls are excited to spend the day with their cousins, including Charley, the eldest at eleven.

“At home, Pa had said to Ma that Uncle Henry and Aunt Polly spoiled Charley. When Pa was eleven years old, he had done a good day’s work every day in the fields, driving a team. But Charley did hardly any work at all.”

Rain is threatening, and if the oats were not cut & shocked before the heavens opened all the grain would be spoiled. Pa & Henry decide that Charley will have to forgo his life of leisure for the afternoon, and act as their helper in the fields. He’d be fetching water and the whetstone to sharpen the scythe blades. That’s it. Even I know that’s not very damn much. Charley ought to be able to handle that, surely!

But Charley has other ideas. He is not the grand help that Pa & Uncle Henry figured he would be. In fact, he goes out of his way to be a nuisance. He gets in the way of the scythes. He hides the whetstone. He follows them around asking questions and isn’t prompt with the water jug. When that just gets him ignored, he steps up his game by hiding in the oats and screaming as if in terrible pain.

He does this three times, laughing like a damn asshole every times, and when Pa says later “if he had been Uncle Henry, he’d have tanned that boy’s hide for him, right then and there” I have to agree. Sack up, Charley. You waste time today and this winter all of Henry’s lifestock will starve and they might have to go all Donner Party on you.

The fourth time Charley starts screaming, Pa instructs Uncle Henry to ignore him. After listening to him scream for quite a while, they finally decide to check on him – and it turns out he actually was in trouble, because he’d stepped in a yellow jacket nest. “He was jumping up and down and hundreds of bees were stinging him all over. They were stinging his face and his hands and his neck and his nose, they were crawling up his pants’ legs and stinging and crawling down the back of his neck and stinging. The more he jumped and screamed the harder they stung.”

Take that, Charley. The universe will punish your lies. In fact Pa actually says “served the little liar right” and I don’t know quite how everyone thinks Pa is all soft and lovable. Clearly he’s a bearded madman.

So Charley is sent unceremoniously back to the house, covered in hundreds of stings. Aunt Polly and Ma strip him down, cover him in mud, and wrap him head to toe in sheets. Look at this picture, which haunted me as a child and still gives me the squicks. Look how those children of the corn are just standing around gazing at him!

File0466

This chapter isn’t about the harvest. This chapter is a morality tale about being a Useful Engine.

Next chapter – The Wonderful Machine.

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