Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Random quick takes

How about, instead of having a set day for quick takes, I just do them whenever?  Is that too uncool?  It's just that for weeks I've planned to do them on Friday or Saturday and either forgot or didn't have time.


Our biggest bit of excitement lately was the Sunday before last, when Michael poked Marko in the eye with a plastic popsicle stick.  Marko came out of the bedroom screaming with all his lower eyelashes folded to the inside.  I corrected that but he was still screaming, so I pulled down the lid and could see a horrible red area on his eyeball as well as a corresponding bit on the inside of his lower lid.

We thought about taking him to the ER, but he was comforted with an ice pack and Dinosaur Train, and he said he could see fine, so we didn't ..... but John was really stressed out about it, so I did some googling that evening.  Turns out it was a conjunctival abrasion and/or hemorrhage, neither of which is serious, but with the former there is a slight risk of infection.  And if it does get infected, the patient can lose vision in that eye in a matter of 24 hours.  Cue major freakout from me.  That escalated the next morning when I tried to test Marko's vision again and he said he couldn't see my fingers because "everything looked dark" in that eye.

So we made an appointment for him that afternoon, at a new doctor's office we'd never been to before.  I am very glad we did, because it was a chance to discover this doctor is THE BEST.  Like, even better than my previous doctor, whom I liked as well.  He was super gentle with Marko and got him to finally relax and admit that he could, in fact, see out of his eye.  I don't know if he was messing with me earlier or if perhaps his vision was partly fuzzy, but anyway it was a huge relief to me that he could see.

The doctor put some dye in his eye and looked at it under a black light to confirm that yes, the sclera (white part) was abraded, but since it was nowhere near the cornea (clear part) it should not affect his vision.  He told me it would heal quickly and gave me a prescription for some erythromycin ointment to put in Marko's eye.


Well, that went fine for that day and the next, but by Wednesday morning Marko's face looked blotchy, and by that evening it was looking puffy and had broken out in rashy bumps.  I figured it was the antibiotic, which the doctor confirmed for me on Friday.  With the help of Benadryl we've gotten rid of the rash at last, but that's going to have to go in my records -- no erythromycin for Marko anymore!  I'm glad he's never had to have it before -- Marko is the first of any of the kids to have to take an antibiotic.

We also learned on Friday that Marko's eye has entirely healed, thank goodness.


Within a couple of weeks Miriam has turned from "walking baby" to "definitely a toddler."  I don't know what the difference is, exactly.  It's just that she doesn't demand to be held very much, and when we go places she's always running away from me instead of clinging.  At home, if I look away from her for ten seconds, she is climbing on something.  One time she was napping inside and I was keeping the kids entertained outside, when I saw her looking at us out the window.  She had crawled off the bed, opened the bedroom door, walked out into the living room, climbed on my desk chair, and climbed on my desk ... without making a peep.  So it looks like we can't do that anymore.

She climbs the rocking chair and stands on it.  She climbs on Michael's bed and from there to the bedside table, so that she can mess with the blinds.  If the boys leave the laundry-room door open for even a second, she follows them to get to the back door so that she can try to climb down the concrete stairs.  (This last one really scares me.)  So I have to be on her at all times.  If I go ten seconds without looking at her or hearing her, I start frantically checking around for her because I know just how fast she can get into trouble.  Small wonder that I live for her naptime.  I need some seconds in my day without that level of anxiety.


The bright side of this is that I no longer feel like the mother who's always stuck taking care of the baby so that the big kids have to play by themselves.  Now, they all would rather be together, so I get to join in and have more fun.  Going places is still stressful, especially with Miriam heading for the hills every other second, but somehow it feels more like a fun family outing.

The other day we went to the library.  It was fun, the kids played, Miriam pulled books off the shelves.  While we were there, a huge storm rolled in.  So when we left, we practically had to wade to the car.  We had to stop at the store on the way home and got soaked.  So after I'd gotten the one thing I'd meant to buy (mint extract) and the five things I didn't (including apple turnovers as a "you were so good in the store" treat -- I'm such a sucker when I'm hungry) and we were back in the car, I decided to just hang for a bit instead of driving home while it was raining that hard.

We sat on the floor of the van, eating apple turnovers and reading library books while the rain sheeted down the windows.  And I thought .... this is my life now.  Big kids.  Fun.  Moments for the memory book.

Moments like this are like happiness in the bank, for later when the kids are squabbling and Miriam won't go to bed on time.  I can remember that it's not all whining and shrieking, that they are really sweet, fun kids who I am lucky to be with.

Marko especially.  Because there's nothing to remind you how much you care about someone than to worry about them when they're sick or hurt.


I don't want to neglect Michael in this post, but I hardly know what to tell you -- he's the same as ever.  Goofy.  Doesn't give a rip what you think of him.  Cute as a button.

Also perhaps harboring a touch of womb envy.  Well, he just wants to be exactly like Mama.  He often asks if there's another baby growing in my belly.  When i say no, he asks if he and Miriam can get back in there together.



I've just finished the incredible crunch time that is plum harvest season each year.  Our dwarf plum tree never seems like it could produce that many plums, but every year we've lived here except one, it's given us bushels.  It's amazing to watch and exhausting to deal with.

The thing is, plums are ripe for about one day.  Monday, they're too sour.  Tuesday, they're perfect.  Wednesday, they start to rot.  At least in my experience.  It doesn't help that many of them are bruised from getting knocked off the tree by individuals who will remain nameless.

Since they tend to fall off the tree the second they're perfectly ripe, whereupon they get bruised and eaten by bugs in a matter of hours, I've learned to pick them unripe and bring them in to ripen.  But then my table is covered with plums, every bowl and pot I own is covered with plums, and I have to monitor them constantly to make sure I do something with the ripe ones before they rot.  Also we wind up with fruit flies in the house.

This is not even the worst of it.

In the end I put up quite a few jars of sauce and jam, fed massive amounts to my kids, and shared some with the neighbors.  I wish I'd counted quarts -- I'd guess 10 or 12.  Enough to overcrowd my fridge and fill about a third of my laundry-room freezer.

This is the first year I've successfully made actual jam.  The trick of it, apparently, is to use way more sugar than I think is reasonable.  Then you cook it down till it's maybe 2/3 of what you started with.  Many of the batches did not jell, presumably because I didn't use enough sugar, which was because I always underestimated how much I needed to get from the store and kept running out.  But thick plum sauce is tolerable on sandwiches and heaven on vanilla ice cream.  Or Greek yogurt.


Now that we're finally through that, the cucumbers are the ones overwhelming me.  I keep missing them at the tiny pickling stage and getting them at the giant blimp stage.  They're kind of watery at that point, but still good to eat .... except when you have a dozen of them.  Then what are you to do?  I made a giant salad out of them (cukes, salt, yogurt, dill) and brought them to a potluck.  At the end there was still lots left, but I begged off taking it home .... "PLEASE someone take these leftovers!"  Luckily there were people who weren't as tired of cukes as we are.

I've made sweet pickles, sour pickles, and fermented pickles, whole and slices.  I've made cucumber soup (grated cukes, avocado, cilantro, onion, sour cream, lime juice) and cucumber smoothies (grated cucumber, honey, yogurt, mint).  I've dressed them with salt and vinegar, and with lemon juice and dill, and with ranch, and with sour cream and horseradish.  They really are delicious.  But they just won't stop!  Right now I have three big ones in the fridge, five big ones on the table, and about eight big ones still outside that I am leaving there because I don't know where else to put them.  Also a bowlful of small ones soaking in salt water for more pickles.

The trick, by the way, of fermented pickles is to leave them whole.  I have tried many things to make slices without them going soggy, and mostly they go soggy anyway.  But if you must do it, put a raspberry leaf in each jar.  Or an oak or grape leaf.

Tomatoes are rolling in, but I'm quite disappointed to find that all the volunteer plants that came up are cherry tomatoes.  Not that cherries are good, but they take many times the trouble to pick, and they're not handy to slice onto a sandwich.  I should have just bought seedlings!

What's new for you?  Also, does anyone want cucumbers?


The Sojourner said...

J is jealous of Miriam; he can't open doors yet. He does know that you're supposed to TURN the knobs instead of just yanking them, but I think he's either too short to get the right leverage or not heavy enough to counterbalance the weight of our heavy apartment door.

(The interior doors are lighter but have higher knobs and he can't reach those at all.)

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm glad that Marco's eye is going to be okay! I was with my youngest brother once when he had an allergic reaction to some medicine he got in hospital. The doctors were able to get it under control, but the combination of the sight of his puffy face in a mirror and the fact that I was there with him instead of our mother kept him freaked out for the rest of the night.

Miriam is exhausting me and all I'm doing is reading! I wish I had a tenth of Michael's spirit . . .

You know, you could always send me those eight cucumbers you don't know what to do with. I'll totally take them! ;-) More seriously, my family likes fresh fruit, too, but though we never have more than we know what to do with, a few still manage to be forgotten and to rot. Just tonight, Mom had to throw out half a dozen santol. Boo us!

Sheila said...

I would send you a box of cukes, E, if I thought they'd survive the trip!

Sojourner, Miriam doesn't turn knobs. She's too short yet. It's just that a lot of doors in this house don't fully latch. And even the ones that do, the kids are bad at shutting all the way.

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