It’s getting hot in here…

To be filed under Things I Never Thought I’d Be Blogging About At My Advanced Age: Breastfeeding.

Specifically, I have to tell you something about back when I WAS breastfeeding. You know, a dozen years ago. I have teenagers; let me tell you about my breast milk! That won’t embarrass anyone AT ALL. But it’s germaine to the topic at hand, which I solemnly swear to circuitously reach in due time. Probably.

More specifically: When Chickadee was a wee floppy baby, I breastfed her, and I also pumped now and again because I truly bought the hype that formula was THE DEVIL, as young mothers who know everything about parenting are sometimes wont to believe. Breast milk was BEST and DAMMIT I was going to give my baby only the best so that she could grow up to have no problems ever. [Sidebar: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I want to grab Young Mir and shake her until her eyeballs rattle.] So I nursed, and I pumped, and eventually Chickie went on a nursing strike and I ran out of frozen breast milk and ZOMG I GAVE HER FORMULA. Clearly this is why her life isn’t perfect.

This is also why—when I was pregnant with Monkey—I insisted that we buy a freezer. A freezer I could fill with breast milk. This seemed totally logical at the time.

My ex and I shopped and compared and did our research, and eventually we purchased a monster of an upright non-frost-free freezer, and we put that bad boy into the basement, ready to receive all of the “liquid gold” (it’s okay, you can imagine slapping me; I don’t blame you) I could possibly pump. And surely I would never, ever run out of milk for my preshus baybee even if he refused to nurse at some point.

Well. Lemme tell you, had I not forcibly weaned toddler Monkey when I did, I suspect he would still be nursing to this day. That child loved him some boob. And I started pumping once a day, every day, from the day he was born. I filled that upright freezer with little bags of boob-juice and Monkey, for his part, pretty much refused to take a bottle… ever. I kept at it until the freezer was packed and eventually I stopped pumping because it was just getting ridiculous.

I think Monkey was maybe two when I VERY SADLY one day cleaned out the freezer. I threw away all of the little bags. I may have said MOOOO several times while I did it.

This left us with a handy-dandy upright freezer that could then be filled with things like… ice cream! And family packs of ground beef! Exciting things like that.

That’s all back story actually about the freezer, not about my boobs. The freezer was purchased 13 years ago, is the point. And while it was originally purchased for one specific purchase, it’s terribly handy to have a spare freezer. Why, I moved that freezer down here to Georgia and plunked it down in the garage—because we no longer have a basement—and despite the fact that the garage routinely gets up to about 120 degrees, I’m still able to do things like, say, buy a quarter of a cow. Also when ice cream is on buy-one-get-one, that’s a good time to have a freezer, too. Oh! And the garden, of course. Because I am a Canning Wuss it’s VERY useful to have a freezer once we get to Tomato Sauce Season.

The freezer has been a real trooper for us. And although I only wrote about it once, I’m pretty sure that the ol’ “oh my God the freezer door was open overnight!” crapfest has actually happened TWICE. That’s… y’know… user error. Not the freezer’s fault. And sure, we’ve had to turn the thermostat down a little bit more every year, but it’s HOT out there in the garage, and it still WORKS, mostly.

[Here would be a good time for a musical interlude. Perhaps a little ditty like, “You’re Some Good Storage, Mr. Freezer.”]

This weekend, Otto cleaned out the garage. When times are tough, Otto is wont to wander out to the garage and rearrange things. He can spend hours out there and when he’s done it all looks the same to me, but it makes him happy. (This is not to disparage Otto in any way; I am pretty unobservant, and I have no idea where anything goes in the garage.) And like I was saying, this is pretty much Otto’s go-to coping mechanism in times of need.

Just to give you an idea of what life is currently like, Otto went out there on Saturday and when he was done, you could eat off the garage floor. Remember how I said I normally can’t tell what he’s done in the garage? He reorganized the entire thing. It involved shelves! And pegboard! Bins! DUSTING! It’s a thing of beauty.

A couple of days later, I came home with groceries and noticed that… there was a puddle under the freezer in the immaculately-clean garage. That seemed bad. So I opened the freezer, and the light didn’t go on. And some of the stuff in front seemed kind of… squishy.

I of course assumed that the freezer had finally died, but after some investigation later that evening—long after I’d unpacked the entire contents of the freezer into a bunch of coolers—it seemed that the freezer cord had been jostled during Otto’s clean-a-thon, and because said cord was plugged into an outlet that is not so much “in the wall” as it is “protruding from the wall like a drunken, electrical tongue,” somehow this had cut power to the freezer.

So now the freezer is defrosting at the edge of the garage because you’re supposed to fully defrost non-frost-free models every year, anyway, and it’s been… ummmm… longer than that (read: there are icebergs inside the freezer). After it’s empty we’ll clean it and plug it back in and fill it up. Except, now Otto is saying he thinks maybe it’s time to replace it, because it’s growing a little finicky in its old age, plus keeping it in the moist southern garage means the seal around the door is starting to dry out and peel up.

I think I want a chest freezer. But I also think it would be dumb not to plug this one back in and see if it can limp along for another few years.

And then there’s also the issue that once I started unloading it and prying food items out of the shelf-bergs I started finding things like Ziploc baggies of tomato sauce labeled 2009. Which pretty much makes me think I shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about ANYTHING, really.


  1. Angela S

    Here’s my “expert” advice. We had a deep freeze and we’ve had an upright. Get an upright if you can afford it. We eventually learned to organize our deep freeze with baskets so your hands wouldn’t fall off when you were trying to get stuff from the bottom but still. Stuff is at the bottom. Its a LOT of work to cycle through and get what you need. An upright is not only often bigger but DUDE you can reach everything easily! No frost bite on your hands! You can still use baskets to make it easier but you aren’t stacking things 3 feet high. Yahoo and good luck!

  2. mary

    I second upright. I’m pretty sure we have a 5 year old roast in our chest freezer right now because of the hands thing. And who wants to unload the entire freezer to get to the bottom anyway? Where do you put that stuff while you’re getting stuff from the bottom?

  3. Amanda

    Although chest freezers are more energy efficient, if you have problems “losing” things in an upright, it’s going to be about 27 times worse in a chest freezer.

    I love my upright (which just became empty of breastmilk last month!).

  4. Diane

    A small freezer is on my list of things to get now that I have my own condo. I’m single, but I routinely cook and freeze ahead (single servings-my own Lean Cuisine!). It would sit right next to the door from the basement to the car in the underground parking…you can’t get more convenient.

    Yet I, too, have a fear that things that migrate to the bottom of the freezer will someday (when I die, or move) amuse archeologists.

  5. Michele

    Who does not have something in the freezer from 2009? You are completely normal!

  6. Frank

    What Angela said…. you have the SPACE… get the upright. It’s possible they will be more expensive, but avoiding the situation so aptly described (but toned down a LOT… chest freezers are a PAIN) is worth the cost. I have a Love – Hate relationship with our chest freezer….

  7. TravelSkite

    There are things at the bottom of my chest freezer that pre-date our General Election. The one before the one before last.

  8. mar

    When we were kids we laughed at the name “chest freezer” – we said it was named that because we have to lean in so far to get stuff out of the bottom it froze our chest!

    Go upright – large or small, still easier to manage!!!

  9. js

    I keep reading the part about the immaculately clean garage again and again. I’m in awe. In no sense of the word is our garage clean. Not with the snow, salt, and outdoor Christmas decorations that have yet to be put away. I have my own Otto, but I would, just this once, like very much to borrow yours.

  10. meghann @ midgetinvasion

    I don’t even know what’s in the bottom of our chest freezer, and I’m afraid to find out. Cue scary music “It came. . . .from the freezer! Dun dun DUNNN!!!”

  11. deva

    We play “how long has this been in the fridge?” about once every six months. We don’t have a chest or standing freezer, so that is helpful, but playing “is it alive again?” is not my favorite game.

  12. bonuela

    2009? that’s nuthin’, my mom has a challah baked by my great grandmother in her freezer. i don’t know when it was baked, but bubbe passed away in the 80’s.

    mom also found an old meatloaf with the words, “today’s date” written on it. yup, my dad is very literal and can not be trusted with household tasks. :-)

  13. My Kids Mom

    I’m supposed to date the things I put in there? We have an upright and I looove it. Bought it as we planned for Boy #2 and I was thinking of just how much teenaged boys eat. Yes, I had only one tiny tot at that point, but now that those boys ARE eating like crazy, I am prepared!

  14. Lacey

    I agree with the upright suggestion. Our chest freezer is so hard to find things in!

  15. Lucinda

    We have (hang on, let me count) 4 chest freezers and one refrigerator with a freezer in the garage. Don’t ask. Anyway, I consider myself a bit of a freezer expert. First, find out if you can get someone to pick up your old freezer for recycling and PAY you. In Oregon, it’s Energy Trust. $40 per item. Sweet! Next, replacing your freezer will save you money because the new ones are much more energy efficient which is really important for you there in Georgia. So a new one will pay for itself quickly, what with the energy savings and recycling. Finally, uprights are easier to sort but chest freezers are cheaper to run. I like using the baskets in my freezer. I sort my various meats and frozen soups, vegetables, etc. That keeps my freezer from eating stuff until it is freezer burned. But yes, it can be a pain. Plus, when the seal goes bad on the door, just put something heavy on your freezer. Problem solved. And you will never accidentally leave the door ajar again. (Sorry, I have a lot to say about freezers.)

  16. Karen R

    You have to defrost a frost-free freezer once a year? What’s the point of frost-free? I celebrated last summer when we replaced our 27 YO never-ever-ever frost free freezer (certain family members could not stay focused long enough to make sure that the finicky door was fully closed, so we had lots of frost build up). Though I had it down to a science: Empty freezer
    Push freezer over to the drain by the laundry tub
    Hook hose up to laundry faucet and hose freezer interior down until ice is melted
    Dry freezer with a towel
    Push back to wall
    Reload food
    Plug in
    Elapsed time, 30 minutes.

    We are all vertically challenged (also floor space challenged), so upright is the only way to go. The one advantage to a chest model is that it is more difficult to screw up closing the door properly. But the new freezer is large enough that it is no longer stuffed to the gills, which means closing the door so it stays closed is much easier. And it has a lighted interior! Much easier to find things.

  17. Karen

    At least you didn’t find any breastmilk in it!

  18. Annie Mouse

    Another having-had-both-freezer-owner chiming in with “for the love of little green apples, do NOT buy a chest freezer.”

    While I may occasionally find things in the upright that are a wee bit past the expiry, it’s nothing on the chest freezer, where I found frozen fruit (for smoothies!) buried in frost that were more than a decade old.

    Which, for the record, causes a hearty “EW” by all parties witnessing said fruit. I’m pretty sure it was sentient.

  19. Anna

    Karen, #17, FTW!
    We lost a tiny but expensive part in our kitchen side-by-side freezer on Monday. Lucky for us, we just inherited a second cooler, or we would have been in trouble.
    But it gave me the opportunity to sort through the old stuff, and clean it out- ICK.
    Good luck with your decision.

  20. Ani

    The derecho of ’12 cleaned out (and defrosted) all old ick. Nothing like no power for a week to finally get the ball rolling on freezer cleaning.

    UPRIGHT, all the way. Hate fishing to the bottom of our chest freezer to find lost treasure.

  21. Cheryl

    We have a chest freezer that is now – wait for it – 30 years old!! That freezer has been through 6 moves and is still chugging along. It has only been in one basement – we have had attached garages on all our houses – so it has been in a “hot in the summer, cold in the winter” garage for most of its life. My husband keeps looking at it whenever he cleans out the garage (he is no Otto on that score) and mentions that we should really go through it and organize it. I just say “yes dear” and go back to reading trashy magazines and eating bonbons (he thinks that is what I do all day). We have not organized that freezer for some time now, mostly cause I am seriously scared of what is on the bottom. No breast milk, but there may be other really horrible stuff….. And, our next freezer will definitely be an upright, after reading all the advice here!!!

  22. ~annie

    One big advantage to chest freezers is that it’s much easier to store a body in them. Just in case. You never know… Oh! For the ultimate in cost savings, have yourself buried in it when the time comes. I’ll bet it’s a LOT cheaper than a casket.

  23. not supergirl

    We had a handed down chest freezer in our old home and left it for the new owner (she did want it). It took a couple years, but now we have a freezer again. This time I went with our upright, and I’m so glad. It’s partly because I’m short and practically had to climb into that old freezer to find things, and partly the cold hands thing. Brrr.

  24. kapgaf

    If I had the room, I would definitely go for an upright because things get really lost in a chest freezer. When I helped my mother empty hers for my parents’ house move, there was the frozen hands thing but there was also a need to identify anything from which the label had fallen off. Since frozen stuff doesn’t smell of anything, taste was the only way to go and my mother had no sense of smell and no sense of taste so I was roped in to help I remember there being a lot of fish stock in her freezer and my taste buds and I also remember that a lot of it was more than 3 years old…….

  25. Sharon

    We have this little guy in my laundry room:

    I love having an extra freezer! I have no problem keeping my chest freezer organized, however, it isn’t packed either. I think it would be a pain if you plan on really packing it up. I use mine as a kind of holding bin for my kitchen freezer. For example, I buy the giant box of waffles at Costco and stick it in the chest freezer, then take one or two small packs out of it and keep them in the kitchen freezer where they are easily gotten.

  26. Korinthia Klein

    I have no opinions on freezers. I just wanted to say I relate to having a little boy who loved him some boob. My son actually brought a graham cracker to a feeding one day and I decided it was really time to ween.

  27. suburbancorrespondent

    They do say you shouldn’t keep freezers in the garage – it shortens their working life because they are working so much harder than they would at room temperature. Then again, yours has lasted 13 years, which – in our house – would be amazing for any appliance.

  28. Jan

    Not to totally miss the point of this post, but is there any chance that Otto would like to come experience his stress at my house this weekend? I’d love to have room to store a half a cow. Come to think of it, there may ALREADY been a half a cow out there, for all I know. It certainly smells like it.

  29. Lindsey

    I have a tiny chest freezer, which I purchased because it was the only one that fit the space I had and I’m single… so don’t need the entire huge-ass size. And while I love having the extra freezer space, I echo everyone’s comments about getting another upright if you can: having to put your hands deep into the freezer to dig something out is a PAIN. ALL CAPS PAIN IN THE REAR… (Still, a working freezer of any kind is better than NO freezer! ;-)

  30. Megan @ Mama Bub

    All I can think about is the long list of things we could freeze if we had an extra freezer.

  31. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I have a small chest freezer and a refrigerator with a freezer in the garage and they are both full and it’s only little ol’ me up here…

    My kids do come up a weekend or so a month and expect to be fed so that’s my current excuse for hoarding all this food….

  32. Brigitte

    I’m so short that I almost fall into the grocery cart when I’m trying to unload it to the conveyor belt. So, now picturing the tragedy that would “shortly” ensue if we were to get a chest freezer . . .

  33. karen

    Hey… no breast milk in there? You done good. One more word for you… UPRIGHT.

  34. StephLove

    We have a chest freezer. I like it because the power company is very unreliable where we live and in a short power outage things that would thaw in the upright stay frozen in the chest freezer. It is hard to keep organized, though.

    BTW, I think I was still breastfeeding at your age or close to it. My youngest didn’t self-wean until she was almost 3 and I was almost 42.

  35. Liza

    A chest freezer came with my house. However, it is in the basement, and I do not trust myself to avoid filling and totally ignoring everything in it for years to come. I’m bad enough at the freezer below the fridge in the kitchen. If I can’t see it regularly, I can’t remember it. Therefore, the chest freezer has never even been plugged in, at least not while I’ve owned the house.

  36. Therese

    Unless you are eight feet tall and have knuckles that drag on the ground, you will hate a chest freezer. I can remember literally having my feet two feet off the ground and my head and upper body completely in the freezer to get something off the bottom. Stick with your upright :)

  37. Kim

    Definitely an upright if you want to stay organized. And the new ones suck their own doors shut as long as they are close. I regularly sort of “fling” the door closed or nudge it with a foot and it sucks in and seals itself up. And it’s not a super expensive one. I know it was under $1,000 and purchased at Sears, but I can’t remember the brand. GE maybe?

  38. Navhelowife

    We have an upright in our garage, and I don’t live all that far from you…It has come in very, very handy. I am too short to deal with a chest freezer.

  39. Juli Ward

    We have a “spare” side by side refrigerator in our garage. It gives us extra freezer space AND extra refrigerator space. It is wonderful during holiday cooking time.

  40. Donna

    I think everyone needs two freezers… An upright and a chest..
    We use our upright, for freshly killed chickens.. (we do at least 30 at a time)

    our chest for a beef, and pork.. plus what ever veggies we freeze/buy~~

    so I say, get a chest, keep the upright.. And raise some chickens!! lol

    Love your blog, Thank-you!

  41. mamalang

    I will go on the bandwagon of uprights. We had a chest freezer first, and I was always afraid of falling in and also kept losing stuff. I love our upright…I can organize it and see what we have at one glance. Of course, we also have a spare fridge in the garage as well. Apparently when you only grocery shop every two weeks for a family of five, you need a lot of refrigeration space :)

  42. Angie

    This post brought back memories of opening the freezer door and having my neatly organized-by-date boobcicles tumble out and go skittering across the floor.

  43. Kim

    Upright all the way. My fancy one has a light on the door that turns red when the door is open or the power is out. I know I have stuff from 2009 in there, but stuff also gets turned over a lot. We do a lot of shopping at Costco, and we eat out of the freezer a lot.
    And Korinthia, yours may be my favorite “time to wean” story ever.

  44. Jen

    I quite recently at bacon that expired in 2009. By accident, but still! And I didn’t die. So yay for bacon and non-death.

  45. magpie

    my mother is the woman who put everything in the freezer forever. she was the reason someone coined the phrase “protective ice”. and i must confess that i once made a grape pie out of 14 year old frozen grapes, and it was good.

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