Nature, Weather

You Can’t Ever Be Too Prepared

He stole my mittens! This isn’t our neighborhood but close in Parkor Rock Park. Look it up!

Jack and I took a walk with Moca last week when it was in the “warm” high 30’s. A very brief respite from the frigid cold and wind that is Connecticut in February, which can take us down to 0 F very easily. I was telling him that since having Moca for over 5 years now, and walking her multiple times a day, I’ve gotten used to the weather patterns and even the fluctuations in wind and temperature in our very own neighborhood! It’s crazy!

Trumbull, CT is a town that sits very high above sea level compared to all the neighboring towns that spread right down to the coast of Long Island Sound. We get the snow first, we get ice first, we get the Chicago style wind (definitely don’t have their pizza) and we sometimes ironically get warmer weather first. (Maybe we’re closer to the sun? Haha)

We had on winter coats and hats (due to the wind) but we warmed up as we walked and the sun hit our black jackets. Also, Trumbull is very hilly so you huff and puff sometimes as you walk. At least I do! Jack warmed up pretty quickly. it’s misleading and eases you into a false sense of comfort. Grrrrrrrr!!

Jack: My jacket is like a pressure cooker. It’s absorbing all the heat. It’s SO nice out! I might even be sweating a little.

me: Wait until you turn the corner and the winds hit ya.

Jack: You sound like an 1800’s pan handler.

me: The winds will be a turnin’! Haha.

We turned the corner and started up a steep hill.

Jack: It’s definitely not cold here Mom. (he unzipped his jacket and turned his face into the sun) Ahhhh…

me: You’ll see. (I hunkered into my jacket and pulled my hat a little lower.

We crested the hill and the full cross wind hit us in the face while the sun still tried to warm our backs. We were heated up from the exertion yet now were turning cold from the wind hitting our face at about 15 degrees colder than the air temp. Basically your sweat now starts to freeze. On the same walk. In the span of 15 minutes. You’d think we were on Mt. Washington!

Jack: Ugh! My face os literally freezing, and my back is sweating!

me: See? I told you. I know the wind pattern here. Wait until we go down our hill.

Jack: I’m still trying to figure out how I’m overdressed and underdressed at the same time! He was fumbling for his jacket zipper while he said this.

me: Oh, almost forgot. This is the part where you have to walk backwards.

Jack: What??!!


Holidays, Nature, Sports

Weird Thanksgiving 2020

Of course it’s weird, it’s 2020!

Did you all have a happy, albeit slightly different, Thanksgiving? We did!

For the first time ever it was Jack and his dad plus me and my dad! (Jack’s grandfather.) Weird right? Sort of like the island of misfit toys but we made it work. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a turkey fiasco, a mild cranberry sauce issue that turned into a last minute dash to the store, and more food and pies than 4 people would need in a month, let alone one day.

I did most of the cooking (ok all of the cooking) and it took the better part of two days. I didn’t mind though! And naturally, we finished off the meal in under 30 minutes. We are notoriously fast eaters in my family so I wasn’t surprised. We could not even think about having seconds, so in the hopes that we could stay at the table just a little bit longer, I sent Jack up to his room to find an old Madlibs book, where you fill in the blanks with nouns and adjectives to create a wacky story.

Jack ran back down the stairs with a Star Wars Madlibs book and we had some fun with that for awhile. Yes the grosser nouns and weird body parts always make for an interesting story at the end.

We had just finished a story and hadn’t even cleared the dozens of dishes off the dining table when Jack made his announcement.

Jack: Pie.

me: What?

Jack: It’s time.

me: Sure, after we clear this up. (I waved my hand over the table and Jack groaned.)

Jack: That will take forever!

me: Well let’s get moving.

So, we all cleared and carried, washed and dried, divvied up food into containers for the dads to take home, and realized just how small our fridge really is.

Jack looked at me. I raised my eyebrow.

Jack: Pie.

me: OK! Who wants pie??

Apparently it was only me and Jack who would be shoveling pie into our pie holes.

Apple and pumpkin pies, both baked the day before, both with their own issues due to poor planning. Sort of like the turkey and cranberry sauce.

I thought I had canned pumpkin but only had canned pumpkin pie mix. Ew?? I thought I had evaporated milk but only had sweetened condensed! Double Ewww. I thought I had Macintosh apples but only had Cortland… where is my attention to detail this holiday season? Gone!! So I improvised and doctored and made it work. They were both really good and there will be only crumbs left I’m sure.

Today we packed up both our dads and sent them home and forgot to give them pies to go with their many containers of stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sourdough stuffing, corn soufflรฉ, turkey, squash, rolls and cranberry sauce. No pie!!!

When we walked back in the door today, Jack looked at me. I raised my eyebrow.

Jack: Pie?

me: Yep.

We had it for lunch and then decided to kayak in the Saugatuck River, just because. It was that kind of day.

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and now get to enjoy the nice long weekend!

And here’s a hint, if you eat all the pie in one day, you won’t have it calling to you for three more days! ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‡

Conversations, Nature

Time to compost, or is it?

Tonight I was in a fresh food whirlwind. I cut up multiple fruits for a fruit salad (apple, cantaloupe, kiwi, peaches, strawberry, blueberry), then prepared steak and zucchini on the grill, and finally prepared a salad (romaine, carrots, celery, red pepper…forgot the red onion Jack asked for).

So, naturally I had a big mixing bowl on the counter filled with peels, veggie clippings and seeds from various fruits. A scrap bowl like you see on TV when you watch any major cooking show.

A scrap bowl is easy to clean up and doesn’t require multiple trips to the garbage. We don’t have a garbage disposal.

Then I remembered reading in “A Barn in New England: Making a Home on Three Acres”, that the author, Joseph Monninger, described how to make a compost bin using wooden pallets. Hmmmmm… We have old wooden pallets at work. Maybe they would let me take four of them?

Jack: This cantaloupe is GOOD!

me: Oh good, I couldn’t tell if it was dried out… it was hard to cut. Guess what I’m going to do with all the peels? (I waved my hand over the bowl of fruit and veggie scraps).

Jack: Huh?

me: Compost. I’m going to put a bin way in the back at the edge of the yard and we can throw all this into a pile and start to compost.

Jack: Hahahaha you know now you’re really old. Only really old people care about composting! Hahaha!

me: Noooo, that’s not true. People who care about the earth compost. And you’ll be the one that has to carry the scraps to the bin each night. (I remember the part in the book where the author’s son has that chore delegated to him. I liked it.)

Jack: Do you know how bad that’s gonna smell?

me: After awhile the bottom of the bin will turn out rich soil for planting or whatever.

Jack: I know how it works, Mom. And, we don’t plant anything anymore.

me: You’re still doing it.

Jack: You’re still old.

Health, Nature

Walk more!

People in my town don’t walk anywhere. They drive. Or possibly jog. Maybe they hook their bikes onto their bike rack on the car hitch and drive to a nice trail. But no one is hardly EVER out walking; occasional senior or dog walker aside. And definitely not with their kids. And definitely not to a store or place that serves food! Such as Dunkin’ Donuts, where Jack, his friend and I were headed. And we were walking!

I make Jack and his friends take a walk with us the morning after a sleepover. It’s been dubbed “The Forced March” by some of his friends. Some don’t want to come back for sleepovers. But those that do seem to enjoy it.

I give a dollar to the kid that finds the best treasure. Treasures have to be the property of no one and something worthy of keeping. Like a golf ball or quarter, or even a cell phone (which we found once). A dollar goes to the kid with the best behavior. And we generally have lots of fun. People driving by either smile or look at us like we’re insane.

After 2 minutes of walking, both kids had their winter coats off (it was cold when we left and now of course they complained that they were HOT) and of course I was carrying them. Ugh! I started to overheat.

Today we saw a turkey vulture, an eagle, and saved a very friendly dog from being hit by a car. ย Jack brought his GoPro camera and he and his friend walked and shot videos, while dodging cars and balancing on fences.

We passed a yard that had free stuff at the curb and the boys dove in. They came out of the pile with 2 golf clubs each. Score! We had been looking for a putter yesterday. Good timing. They proceeded to yell FORE and whack acorns for the next mile or so until we crossed the main road and our target was in sight. And typical…I was now also carrying the tripod and GoPro camera!

In Dunkin Donuts Jack set the camera up on the table and got lots of looks and comments. Took us about 40 minutes to get there what with the multiple circle backs to see if the rock they smashed was still in one piece, or if the shiny thing they just stepped on was a gum wrapper or a coin. ๐Ÿ™‚ Customers asked us if we were filming a movie or if the camera had something to do with sports.

I enjoyed the attention as always and I liked that the kids were having fun and getting exercise and also spending time with me.

And, as I always do when I have some of Jack’s friends with me, I enjoyed the fact that people assume they’re all my kids. I yell at them all the same if they misbehave, and treat them as if they were my own. Sorry parents! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย I think I would have enjoyed two or three kids but it just wasn’t in the cards. Hellooo 47th birthday that just passed. Oh and helllooooo lack of a boyfriend. Certain things kind of need to be in place when you want a bigger family. Sooooo….

Jack: I’m going to do some putts when we get inside.

me: No, you’re not bringing those in…lean em against the wall by the door.

Jack: Awwww.

me: And don’t get me in any of your videos. (gah!)

Jack: Well we can film some guy stuffing a bagel in his face and then make fun of him!

me: Uh, noooo? No pointing the camera at strangers. If they walk by its o.k., but don’t say anything about them.

Jack: Awwwwww!!!!

me: And by the way, when we leave, I’m leaving the coats here and I’ll have to drive back and get them, this is ridiculous … I’m not carrying all this stuff…

(I coerced the cashier to stow them in the back until I returned.)

Jack: (as we were leaving) But now I’m cold! I need my coat!

me: Not happening. You’ll warm up. Walk faster.

We passed by the golf clubs again and the boys grabbed more stuff. Now I was holding the tripod and an occasional golf club. Sigh. We sort of looked like hobos.

Jack: This was so awesome! I love walking and finding stuff.

Friend: My foot is rubbed raw so I’m going to stop at my house. Can you walk home and get my stuff and then drive to pick up our coats and THEN come get us???

Jack: Yeah my toe is sore.

me: Sheesh. It was only 4 miles….

Jack: Yeah but we’re young and you could use the exercise so you can add more steps to your Fitbit!

Said like he was doing me a favor. ๐Ÿ™‚

We then had a fun afternoon of mini golf, laser tag, praying mantis watching and apple picking! 16,749 steps today yo!!!

Conversations, Nature, Potty Humor

Time Suck aka “I have to poop”

We’ve all been there. You woke up early enough. You had made lunches the night before. Your hair came out great and the clothes you picked out didn’t need ironing. (Not that I iron…I call that “putting something in the dryer”.) And everything ran smoothly! You just had to jump in the car and you might (gasp) get to camp early! Thus getting to work early!

Jack: Hold on, I need to poop!

me: No-ho-hoooooooohhhh!

I slump to the floor dropping my lunch, my workout bag, Jack’s backpack, my water bottle and the pile of bills that I was going to pay at work when I thought I would be … Early. (Sob)

me: (meekly) Jack can you hurry?

I’m not sure he can hear me through the strains of the keyboard music he is playing in there. He is camped out.

Jack: You can’t rush nature!



Am I a gamer or a vampire?

Jack and I took a walk last night just as the sun was going down. The sunset was brilliant, the catbirds were chirping away and there were no other humans outside that we could see. In other words, perfect.

If only I could have taped the entire walk. Jack made such a racket with his stories and singing and smashing his razor scooter on the ground because “it sounds like a sword fight”.

You just had to be there. But I’m glad you weren’t. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jack: I have to pee before we walk. (He heads to the front bushes and then screams) A frog!!!

me: Don’t pee on it! (We take a few pictures and I try to pick it up while Jack warns of salmonella and makes me go wash my hands. Sheesh)

We head down the driveway and see my soccer ball across the street. Didn’t even notice it had rolled away!

Jack: Mom, you know what would be awesome and that everyone should learn?

me: What’s that…

Jack: How to use game controllers with their feet. (He pauses I’m sure for effect).

me: Becauuuussse…

Jack: A lot of people know how! You can eat chips with your hands while you play with your feet. It’s productive.

me: Very. (I turn on my iPhone flashlight because now it’s getting pretty dark, though the sky is still pink)

Jack: Hey you flashed that in my eyes. Nooooo! I’m a vampire!!! Ahhhhh!!! Wait, am I a gamer or a vampire?? I’m a gamer!!!!

Immediately about 300 flying bugs started circling my phone.

me: Ugh, this has to go off. Look at the bats! (2 were flapping wackily overhead)

Jack: Mosquito eaters!!!

me: They’re cool huh? And cute.

Jack: Cute??!! Have you seen their faces? (He mimics a bat face and charges down the street like a maniac on his scooter).

When we get home Jack says that we should do this more often.





Another forced march. Aka: YOLO

Jack woke up at 6 even though I explicitly remember saying that today I was going to sleep forever. Bleh. But the birds were chirping and the sun was out so I felt a little guilty for wanting to miss all of that!

Here’s how the day started. Jack climbed on me and woke me up.

Jack: Mom, can I play my game at 7?

me: Ugh what time is it now?!

Jack: 6:15?

me: You’re wheezing.

Jack: No I’m not.

me: Yes you are. Come do your inhaler and then you can play for a bit.

(I’ll point out that at this very moment, Jack still had the privilege of playing a video game. Any guess as to how that turns out?!)

Jack: No.

me: What? Come here. (I go in the bathroom).

Jack: I don’t want it! I’m not wheezing!!

me: Get over here. It takes one second.

Jack: You’re mean!!!

me: Mean for wanting you to breathe? Let’s go.

Jack: I’m not wheezing and I won’t do it!!!!! Wahhhhhh!!!!

me: (really?) Last chance!

Jack: I hate you!!

me: Okay, video game privileges are lost for this morning and you still have to do the inhaler. NOW!!

Jack: Wahhhhhhhh!

(Sheesh so loud, so early)

So then he demanded breakfast and I made him use manners and then he slammed things around and I told him we were going on a long walk. The look of utter horror as if i’d just asked him to eat live worms let me know that once again this “punishment” would make him think next time haha.

But first he gobbled down 2 big bowls of Cheerios with blueberries. Yum.

We grabbed his scooter and set off. I had Dunkin Donuts in mind since I was craving a coffee!

Jack: But it’s freezing out!

me: Get a sweatshirt.

Jack: Sigh.

We walked for maybe 20 or 30 minutes to get there. Along the way we looked for “treasures”, which are defined as cool things that we can pick up and take. Part of our walk path follows a slightly busy road and detritus always accumulates on the side. I found a red bead and a softball (which I tossed back into the nearest yard much to Jack’s chagrin). He found a glow-in-the-dark nerf disc and a small blinking reflector stop sign that was still flashing.

(Jack just interrupted me)

Jack: Hey Mom, pull your car out of the garage.

me: Why?

Jack: We want to wash it!

me: I just got it washed yesterday. I’m not turning on the water now.

Jack: No! We can do it next door! Drive it over there!!

me: No.

Jack: Aarrgghhh! You never let me DO anything!! (He tears back through the house and slams out the back door).

Anywayyyy…. Where was I?

Oh, the peaceful walk to D&D. So overall we had a good walk. I only had to tell him 65 times to get closer to the curb with his scooter. At D&D he ordered a bagel with cream cheese plus a chocolate frosted donut with rainbow sprinkles and an OJ. Remember, that is on TOP of the cereal. Ugh. Kid can eat!

As he was eating we had this little conversation…

Jack: I just burped up some Florida.

me: Huh?

Jack: Orange juice!

He took half of the donut and put it up to his face like a smile. And then he deeply inhaled the donuty smell.

Jack: Sniffff!!! Gah! I just sniffed up a sprinkle! (Snort! He blows out.) Got it! (Chew).

me: Ewww!!!

He cracked up at that one. Gross. The walk back was hotter and seemed longer! We saved some earthworms that were struggling in the road and then saw two gypsy moth caterpillars trying to cross the street. We put them in the grass. Our good deed for today. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jack raced ahead of me, dumped his scooter at the bottom of our driveway and hid behind a big juniper bush.

me: Jack are you peeing?

Jack: No. I’m sitting.

me: Why are you being goofy and sitting in there??

Jack: YOLO!
(You only live once.)

me: Gotcha. Enjoy.

He tears off to the neighbors house and I can hear him yelling about the awesome blinking stop sign that they can add to their kids’ club.

So get out there and enjoy the day! Pick up some “treasure”! Save a bug! Dodge cars! Eat a donut! Spend time with your kids!




80-minute hike

We went icicle picking today to get the last icicles of the season… I hope. We have a rail trail near our house with lots of rock formations on either side, which make great places for the icicles to grow. We’ve been doing this for about 7 years now.

Even though it reached 60 degrees, we found plenty of porous ice just waiting to be kicked by a 9-year-old boy in brand new size 6 hiking boots. Which, by the way, are now caked with 13 different types of deer poop. I’m like “Can’t you see that pile? He’s like “What pile?” Sigh.

Jack: Turn around for a sec…

me: Why, what are you — Oh. Didn’t you just go?

Jack: I have to go again.

me: Write your name in the snow there, haha.

Jack: Mom, I don’t drink enough water to do that!!!

Nature, Uncategorized

Eww, some nature got on me…

There are a lot of kids I know, or that Jack knows, that fall into one of these categories: a) afraid of bugs and critters, b) kill bugs and critters if at all possible, c) try to make all bugs and critters their friends and keep them as pets and inadvertently kill them, d) allergic to bugs and critters.

Luckily, LUCKILY, Jack is none of these! None! I think once when he was mad at me he pretended that he was going to squish an ant, and then felt so bad about it he cried his eyes out. My kind of man!

Between the two of us, we can’t get enough of being outside, taking hikes, studying little bugs and animals that we find in the woods, etc. Jack now says he wants to be a scientist and he’s always carrying around his magnifying glass and walkie-talkie. If I could only get him to say “over” when he’s done talking… SIGH! The other day, Jack went to our neighbor’s birthday party. She had a critter van pull up! Jack is still talking about the spiders and the one gecko that climbed his shirt. I wasn’t there, but I found out through photos that he even had a boa constrictor (python??) wrapped around his neck at one point. GASP!

Jack: The gecko’s name was Roxy. She was a jumper!

me: Did he climb your shirt? (Jack was wearing a shirt with the NYC skyline on it, so it looked like the gecko was climbing the building)

Jack: Uhhh, it was a SHEEEEE.

me: Sorry. Did SHE climb your shirt?

Jack: Didn’t you just see the picture? I think you know the answer.

me: Jack I’m just making conversation over here.

Jack: Less yacking and more packing.

me: (thanks for teaching him that, Dad) We’re not packing anything.

Jack: Well then just less yacking.

me: Sigh.

Not sure what kind of moth this is… but it was in our back yard.

Little garden snake in Robinson State Park

Jack with little turtle

Jack with a gecko climbing his shirt!

GASP, giant snake on Jack’s neck.

Another of the world’s tiniest toads

Blurry, but this little chipmunk lives in our drainpipe