"'What do you fear, lady?' he asked. 'A cage,' she said. 'To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'" --Aragorn & Éowyn, Tolkien
My MIL and I took Aidan shopping today for some last minute holiday items today. She was driving Aidan around in one of those giant carts, while I stood nearby, when an older gentleman asked whether Aidan was my baby brother or my son. When I told him Aidan is my son, he told me I didn't look old enough to be a mother.
He then guessed my age.
Never mind the ring on my finger, or the two tiny white hairs I refuse to pull but take great pains to hide under my (increasingly frizzy) mop of brown hair. Never mind that I'm 27.5 years young.
Bless him, this dude truly thought I was still a teenager!
I can definitely handle walking through life perpetually looking 10 years younger.
Cara Jean meets big brother Alan, cousin Aidan, Grandma, and Grandpa (and Auntie Mel is taking the pictures, of course)!
These last two bring about strong emotions for me. I debated keeping them to myself, but here they are. I should be 36 weeks along this week. Soon, Aidan was supposed to have his own baby sister to hug and kiss. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the babies I lost, but most especially my last little angel because of how and why she died. But at least now he has a baby cousin to love on, and I am grateful of the lengths to which my in-laws have gone to include him - to give him a little bit of what I could not.
And in an unrelated note, my sister-in-law is still pregnant. Apparently her little girl feels it necessary to be fashionably late. I'm glad I didn't bet money on the date of her arrival (I was predicting before Thanksgiving)!
This past weekend was the deer hunting opener (for guns, anyhow - apparently if you want to shoot the deer with a bow & arrow you can do so a few weeks sooner). For those of you who don't know how this works, I'll summerize it for you: A bunch of guys wake up before dawn to sit up a tree - motionless - for several hours in hopes that a deer will walk by close enough to shoot. Sometimes it's raining, sometimes they have snow, but it's always freezing cold; no matter how warm the month of November may have been, Mother Nature always makes sure these men have the crappiest weather for the gun opener. Some men are brave enough to "drive" the deer towards those awaiting in the trees. For this great honor, they at least get to move around to gain some warmth...at the risk of getting shot. When not driving deer or freezing their asses off up in the trees, they drink, gamble, smoke, curse, and basically do all the things they normally wouldn't do in front of their wives. Sounds like SO much fun, right?
So why the hell would I want any part in that?
Except, they made one, big, mistake.
Instead of giving me the run down of what Deer Camp is all about, the men in Chad's family simply told me I was absolutely not welcome at the cabin during the deer opener because I'm a girl.
A girl? Excuse me?! Oh no you didn't!
That was 7 years ago and it still hits a nerve. My daddy raised me to believe that I could do anything a man can do (and do it better). There are few things that get my blood boiling more than gender classifications...especially when they involve other people attempting to keep me from doing things because I have boobs instead of balls. The rational part of me tells me to just leave it alone, but sometimes I want to be there anyway just to spite them. Though I didn't make any attempt to prevent him from going, Chad decided to stay home this weekend (which of course was good for me). He didn't need to stay home, but I appreciated it nonetheless.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I'm fairly certain that if I had to kill my own meat, I'd probably become a vegetarian. I'm the sort of person who cries over road kill (pathetic, I know). Of course, that makes me a complete hypocrite, too, because I will happily eat the meat once somebody else kills it. And processes it.
Except for the last few years, I have, actually, helped process the meat. The only part that really bothers me is when they skin the deer. The first year I watched them do this, I had nightmares for a week. It's like taking off a tight piece of clothing...except it's skin. It reminded me a little bit too much of Silence of the Lambs. *shutters*
So anyway, my day started out by getting locked out of the house by Aidan while trying to load the car. Instead of unlocking the door, he decided to go back to watching TV while I froze my ass off, screaming at the door. I eventually got the key, but by then I was livid. And fasting, because I was having blood tests drawn at 10:30am. Ask Chad how cranky I get when I'm not eating. It's really not a pretty sight.
Why the guys decided to process the deer today is beyond me. Chad and Kathy were working, Laura is 38 weeks pregnant (and in charge of keeping the boys away from the deer), so that left me, Luke, and Tom. To be fair, the guys did most of the work. My job was to stand in the coldest corner of the garage and grind all the meat not fit for roasts or steaks into hamburger (twice over). I'm thankful they heated the garage a little bit, but for someone like me who is always cold, it really is never enough. Aside from being cold, though, it was mostly fine. I got it done, and even managed to eat venison steaks for dinner.
But I'll never look at play dough the same way again.
And I needed to shower twice to get the smell of death out of my skin.
And there are no pictures, mostly because I didn't want to bring my camera anywhere near all that raw meet.
And I thought my step mom might never forgive me if I posted a photo of one of her beloved God's creatures hanging upside down by his hoof being cut apart by two men brandishing sharp knives and saws :p.
My friends Kayla and Michael are just about the coolest people in the world. They are also very kind and generous. So generous, in fact, that when they found out Chad and I had no babysitter for the Deathly Hallows premier, they offered to drive all the way to our house to watch Aidan while we went to the movie.
The other night, Aidan was playing with his trucks (as per usual) and I decided I needed help making baked ziti (trust me, I know). So, off to the kitchen we go! Apparently the only thing more fun than playing with trucks and tractors is helping Mama cook :).
Once upon a time (two-ish weeks ago), we decided to take Aidan up north. Going "Up North" in Wisconsin is kind of like going "Down the Shore" in NJ: you stay out way too late, party, eat crappy food, mock the locals, and when the trip's all done, you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. The last time we were up north was back in September of 2008; Aidan was an infant, and the weather was warm and sunny. This time, Aidan is a toddler, and the weather was cold and rainy. Oh, and I forgot my camera so all we have are crappy phone photos. I love my Droid X, but I don't believe for a second that those 8MP are doing me any good.
Before we left, I made sure to take pictures of the kitties so Aidan could say night-night to them before bed.
Here's Aurora pretending to be indifferent about our impending absence.
Here's Gaia begging us to stay.
Here's Jazzy purring because she's getting some attention.
And here's Athena already simmering a grudge because she doesn't get to come with us like she used to when she was a kitten and we were childless. Next time sweetheart, I promise.
So off we go passed the famed Hwy 8 towards Minong. We arrive without mishap, and Aidan is excited for our adventure. The first thing he says as he exits the car? "Mama, ride 4-wheeler, please?" How the kid knew there were 4-wheelers up there (when none were in sight) is beyond me. I swear the kid can sense them. Cabin? Check! Woods? Check! Ohh, must be a 4-wheeler around. Score!
Here's what we find in the cupboards.
And here's what greets us on the opposite wall. "I'm sorry, Aidan, but you cannot ride the deer."
So instead, Aidan makes himself a slide out of the cooler.
Amazingly, Aidan slept well in the bunk room. He also had enough sense to be quiet when he woke up. So quiet, in fact, that it took us a while to realize he was awake and helping himself to his version of breakfast. whatever, we're on vacation. Fraggle Rock on the tele and Mama gets to sleep in. Oh, and Chad made pancakes. Bliss.
AND then it started to rain. AND then we decided to go 4-wheeling anyway. No pictures, of course, since it was raining, but I did take some when we got back.
Here's Aidan gazing so lovingly in the distance at Daddy putting away the 4-wheeler. "4-wheeler go night night?" Yes, dear.
Here's Aidan trying to catch rain on his tongue.
And here's me looking like a drowned rat. I can't believe I'm even posting this.
Here's Chad, also soaking wet.
AND here Aidan, still standing in the rain long after Chad and I had gone inside to dry out. "Ride 4-wheeler again, please?"
Dinner time was exciting. Chad and I had a hankering for cheeseburgers, but we didn't have any buns. Chad's solution? The MEGA BURGER.
He used the foil to flip the burger. We also toasted the bread.
Chad was very proud of his creation, and honestly it was the best "burger" either of us had ever had. Mmmmm.
After dinner Aidan and I played our favorite game of chase me...until I chased him into the back of the lazyboy and he gave himself a black eye. Woops.
So we decided to play cards, since that was a safer game.
But he soon grew board, and went back to jumping off the cooler again.
As promised, we took Aidan 4-wheeling one more time before leaving. It rained on and off, but I did get two pretty pictures to finish off the weekend.
This picture would have been even better had I remembered my real camera, but you get the idea. Black eye aside, it was an awesome weekend and I definitely want to do it again sometime. Ideally with Athena and without the black-eye part.