Thursday, September 21, 2017

A philosophical post about cake, in which we bury the lede (in cake)

Back in June, as I furtively ate the remains of my oldest child's birthday cake, I realized that at some point we were going to have to address who owns a birthday cake. Is it the entire family and they can eat slices of cake until it is gone? Is it the person who made the cake, payment for their efforts (as I am the primary baker and primary cake eater in the household, you can guess my preference)? Is it the birthday boy himself? In the past this has never been an issue, but now we have passed out of the halcyon days of Calvin not remembering that he had leftover food. It used to be that he would wander off from the kitchen table, full, and I would dispose of (read: eat) the last of his (tasty) toddler lunch. Now, he comes back half an hour later and asks "hey, where's my girlchee [grilled cheese]?" and I explain that it is gone forever. Normally this inspires no feelings of guilt in me (eat it or lose it, buddy) but when he asked for pieces of his stop-sign birthday cake during the day I felt conflicted as to whether I should deny him from the cake. Pros: it's arguably HIS cake. Cons: I don't want to foster the expectation of cake during the day. Also, then I would have to share his leftover cake.

I think we all know Elisabeth well enough by this point to know what happened: I ate most of his cake. But what will we do in future years, once he starts to point out that it is, in fact, HIS birthday? (The solution I'm gravitating towards is that after the initial song and sharing of cake with celebrants, the cake belongs to the birthday person themselves to eat/dispose of/smash as they see fit. This may mean that Elisabeth needs to acquire her own secret cake to avoid sneaking off with the leftover main cake.)

This came up most recently when Liam declared that we would share his own cake until midnight, and then cake leftovers were off-limits to anyone except him. We ate half of the cake in his preferred method, which is to say that we attacked the cake as a whole like savages, eating forkfuls rather than cutting slices. In deference to my twitching eye at this act of cake barbarism he carved the cake bites off in a clockwork pattern, as if we had indeed cut off slices with a bizarre notched knife.

All of this is a roundabout way, of course, to bring up why we had leftover cake. See, Liam got a new job designing training materials for the fire service at the State of NH, and I had purchased a delicious 8" dairy-free chocolate cake in celebration. He'll definitely miss a lot of co-workers from Bellwhether, but is excited about the new opportunities to come! Our next task is to figure out a new professional wardrobe now that he won't be wearing business-casual logowear all week long.

If you read this far, here is the reward of a .gif of Calvin at a dance class open house, boogying to the music.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Morning Mom Meander

I call it the Morning Mom Meander, and it's why I get lots of projects at a very slow pace. For a visual representation, see here:


Feed baby and jump into the shower before the Older Child barrels into the bedroom. He finds you before you're finished and helps you shower by handing you, one by one, everything that was on the bathroom counter. Send him on the hunt for a banana for breakfast (there are some on the counter near the refrigerator downstairs). Get dressed, stick empty Fitbit band in pocket (do steps taken without a fitness tracker exist?). It's sheets day in the laundry rotation, strip half the bed and toss sheets down the stairs. Before you can finish, the Older Child has found the bananas and brought two of them to the bedroom so as to give you one to eat ("Two bananas, Mommy! One for me, and one for you.") This is very sweet but you can't eat raw bananas because they give you horrible stomach aches. He is insistent, though, so you noisily pretend to eat it and put it on top of the shelf in your closet as you're getting dressed, hiding it from him. Grab a handful of business cards from the box in your bedside drawer, because three times this week someone has asked for a way to contact you and your wallet has no business cards left in it. Go downstairs and bring the bathroom laundry basket with you; throw towels into washer and start the load cycle. Gather all of the abandoned child clothing from around the downstairs and put in a laundry basket. Pop recharged Fitbit out of its charger and back into the bracelet and put it on your wrist. Pull daily vitamins off the shelf in the kitchen and put on counter so you remember to take it later.

There are fruit flies in the kitchen, your arms are full of more discarded kid's clothing but you pull the kitchen garbage can out from under the sink to take out later. Pull vacuum into the living room so you remember to vacuum when your hands are free. Cat was sick overnight, only once but apparently while running a race. Scrub cat spots out of carpet, Older Child is more than happy to point them all out for you. Go upstairs to put acquired detritus away, bringing carpet shampooer with you and it put into the spare bedroom, there are a few carpet stains that you've been meaning to get to. (Everytime you go upstairs, take two or three pieces of laundry from the drying rack in the dining room and toss on to bed to hang up later.) Strip the rest of the sheets from your bed and toss down the stairs. Strip the sheets from the older child's bedroom, oh, you've been thinking he's old enough for a PROPER pillow now. Go back into bedroom and pull a spare pillow out of the closet while you're thinking of it. Start to resheet child's bed. Find the household's extra pillow cases in with the child's clean sheets, Liam wanted to try layering the pillowcases this week so he could have a fresh one every day. Tell yourself to bring those into the big bedroom as you finish resheeting the child's bed. Toss child's sheets down the stairs, evaluate his blankets (seven of them, sometimes he decides he needs all of them) for needs of washing.
What time is it? Remember that I still have yet to hang the new wall clock in the bathroom.

Carry the sheets from the bottom of the stairs and dump them in the laundry room. The towels are still mid-wash-cycle. Separate blankets into a separate pile for washing, empty the dryer and start folding last night's clean dry laundry. When putting kitchen hand towels away, spot the kitchen garbage can still out and remember to take it out. It's only half full, but those onion skins from last night's dinner (spicy peanut noodles) are what is attracting the fruit flies. Bring kitchen garbage out to garbage can, bring out two boxes full of recycling as well. See the gallon jar of bubbles (we go through a lot of bubbles) from yesterday's playtime and pick them up and put them on the porch with the spare bubble wands. Inside, put a clean bag into the kitchen garbage can. Laundry wash cycle is done, swap over wet laundry to dryer and shove the sheets into the washer to wash. Bring the baby's bathtub from the laundry room to the kitchen counter because it's easier on your back than washing her low on the ground in the bathroom tub/shower. Vacuum the living room because you've tripped over the vacuum twice now. Bring the vacuum upstairs with an armful of clean folded laundry. Put the vacuum in the spare bedroom next to the carpet shampooer. Bring an armload of picture books downstairs and put those away. The dryer is buzzing, unload and dump the dry towels onto couch (there are no empty laundry baskets), refilling dryer with clean and wet sheets. Remind self to purchase a mattress protector for Calvin's bed, because we've been lucky that there have been no vomit-incidents so far. Actually, we should get two, to layer protector-sheet-protector-sheet, for easy middle-of-the-night-with-a-sick-kid cleanup. Kick loose ping pong balls towards the living room, there's a bucket there for them (theoretically, if it hasn't been repurposed as a helmet.) Find folder of preschool registration forms on the dining room table, make a note to call the school to see if they'll accept the internet bill as a major utility bill as proof of residency. (I called. They said yes.) The vitamins are still out on the counter, you haven't taken them, nor actually have you had breakfast. Suddenly remember the banana in your closet, and run upstairs to get it before you forget it. While you're up there, let one of the cats out of the Older Child's bedroom, where the Older Child has shut her in there.

Snap a clean dry cloth diaper insert into a diaper cover every time you walk past the drying rack. Stack each one on the bottom of the dry diaper stack. Baby is awake upstairs! By now mother-in-law has picked up Older Child for a day of summer fun (he didn't want to go because he wanted to to hide under the couch cushions. Finally agreed to go when we offered him a receiving blanket to hide under as he walked around. He looked like a Charlie Brown ghost walking down the driveway). Run upstairs and grab the fussing baby and bring her downstairs to nurse. As you walk through the room, load the DVD player so you can watch The Avengers while you're couch-bound (you're running through the series again since seeing the new Spiderman over the weekend). Half an hour of The Avengers later, pause the film and draw the baby a bath in the tub on the kitchen counter, look at you thinking ahead, good job, lady! While the bath is filling, run around gathering clean baby clothes for the day. Put baby in bath and watch as she soaks the floor with excited bathwater kicks. Make note to mop the floor later as it is already wet. As she happily kicks next to you, put away clean dishes from last night, left to dry overnight in the drainer. Come across new package of toilet paper (next to drainer, not in it), open and grab two rolls to toss upstairs, the roll upstairs is looking skimpy. The soon to be empty toilet paper tube will be useful to making Dragon Finding Binoculars later in the week. Shampoo baby's hair and rinse the soap off her. She likes the sprayer. She likes everything.

Spot wedding invitation on counter, grab phone to remind husband to take the day off for that wedding in September. (He already did so! Well done Love.) Get into a text conversation about the size of furniture in the Older Child's bedroom. Baby is angry that the bathtub is being drained, and decides to fart directly into the towel in revenge as you are drying her off. You're in luck, it wasn't poop. Drop damp (poo-free!) towel onto the water she kicked on the floor from the bathtub and swipe it around with your foot. The baby is signaling that she's tired or hungry (again?) so you drop her into the swing for a nap.

You chose poorly, she is now angry.

Settle onto the couch to nurse her again and start The Avengers up again while you are suddenly aware that you haven't eaten breakfast yet. Consider eating chocolate chips by the fistful.

While trapped under a hangry (hungry angry) baby on the couch, hear your mother in her attached apartment transfer her own load of laundry into their own dryer and start it. Realize suddenly that you did not start your own dryer. This is unfortunate because while there are two dryers in the extended house, they share a vent and therefore only one can be used at a time. This means that your sheets will not be dry for another two hours instead of one.

Thank goodness for digital calendar reminders, because a reminder pops up on your phone that you have a digital webinar on running large-scale author events to attend in one hour. You would have totally forgotten otherwise. Hopefully by then the baby will be asleep.

Settle the baby back into the swing. This time, with a full tummy, she prepares to fall asleep. Run upstairs to vacuum the upstairs carpets while she's drowsy, hopefully the white noise of the vacuum will help send her to sleep (it does). While vacuuming the Older Child's room, discover the pillow cases that you pulled out earlier and subsequently forgot to take into your own bedroom. While vacuuming your bedroom, realize that you forgot the pillowcases again. Turn off vacuum to run and pick up pillowcases and toss them onto your own bed, before you forget. Shoddily vacuum the rest of the upstairs because you're rushing now.

It is now 1:30, and forgotten breakfast is turning into forgotten lunch. You have 25 minutes before you have to sit down for the webinar, so scavenge for food in the kitchen. Eat last night's leftover spicy peanut noodles. Finally take those vitamins and put the bottles away up on their shelf out of the reach of little hands. Eat a handful of chocolate chips and grab a packet of brown sugar Pop-Tarts left over from that 90's-themed tv-watching party you threw a few weeks ago1, because you're an adult and you do what you want2.  Suddenly remember that there's a library DVD due today, and the overdue fee is $1/day. Renew DVD loan online (for the 2nd time, you really should watch that and bring it back.)

Eat a second packet of Pop-Tarts as well, because you've lost control of your life.
The business cards are still not in your wallet.

1 - Legends of the Hidden Temple is still amazing, GUTS is not. AH! Real Monsters and Are you Afraid of the Dark? were tolerable but not particularly inspiring.
2 - This applies to both superfluous parties and to eating Pop-Tarts irresponsibly. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In which our toddler becomes a Child, and we get a second one, which probably is not a great idea

Calvin welcoming Ginny home from the hospital.
So it turns out that one of the first activities that gets pushed to the side once you run out of time is blogging. Which is a shame because I've had about a dozen clever ideas of family stories to write that I've promptly forgotten.

In April we had our daughter, Genevieve, who came very late, and got very stuck, and forced Momma to get an very unexpected and slightly traumatic emergency c-section. She upended out lives (in a good way?) and we're relearning how to be a new family all over again. Calvin was initially excited to meet her (and to have Momma back as a playmate!) until he realized that she was splitting the attention that he formerly got all of, and Momma did not, in fact, have more time to play now that she was no longer heavily pregnant and unwieldy. He promptly started ignoring the baby, and declared Daddy his favorite by sullen glares at Momma and a refusal to spend any time with her. This has lasted until... well, until a few days ago when he snapped out of his funk and returned to his loving snuggly old self, launching himself at either parent for hugs and declarations of his affection. Just yesterday we had our first spontaneous positive sibling interaction, where Calvin crouched down near Genevieve's face and cooed back at her (she's always cooing at him). "She's trying to talk to me, Mommy! She's not very good at it."

"She's trying to talk to me!"
On that note: Happy third birthday, Calvin! You like the color pink, and peanut butter crackers (so many crackers. so many.), and stop signs, and Paw Patrol*, and painting, and Play-doh, and feeding the cats. You like running and jumping, and when the " 'cito" song comes on the radio (Despacito, the original version, not the one with Bieber), and can be easily bribed with a single gummy bear (although you'll try to bargain for one of each color, because that gets you more gummy bears). You like the pepper nuggets at the Market Basket hot counter ("Chicken? Chicken, Mommy?"), and you don't like when the car window is down too much because it's "cold" (read: windy). You picked Batman velcro sandals this summer instead of the Spiderman ones. You like going to daycare, and when they've got the water table out we have to pry you away with a crowbar.
Happy birthday, sweet boy.

Genevieve is a fat and happy baby herself, 10 weeks old today, hair surprisingly reddish and waving sky-high, fresh from her first round of vaccines. Downsides: that moment when their face crumples from happy to BETRAYED and they howl. Upsides: NO POLIO OR WHOOPING COUGH. My bathroom scale is massively off, though, as I thought I weighed her at 13.4 lbs last week (remember when I said she got stuck during birth? Yeah. She's big), but it turns out that the doctor's delicately calibrated baby-scale says she's only 12lbs 11oz. She's a better sleeper than even our mellow Calvin was, which is bizarre and seems like we've had an offspring "bank error" in our favor, since you're not supposed to get TWO excellent kids in a row**.

In other news, we've (I've) picked up baking again, as evident by my slowly regaining all of the baby weight that I've lost. The culprit this time is the Great British Baking Show, three seasons of which are on Netflix, which is exposing me to all sorts of pastries and breads and flavor combinations that I'd never heard of, and inspired me to Try New Things. The first New Thing was choux ("shoe") pastry, which is most recognizable to Americans as eclairs or cream puffs. The first batch was an abject disaster, as I'd added the eggs to the stovetop pan too quickly (you cook the pastry on the stove first, then bake it, interestingly) and ended up with bitter, dense, scrambled egg breadsticks instead of puffing flaky pastry. The second batch was slightly burnt, but at least puffed up like they were supposed to. Baking hasn't been something I've allowed myself to get back in to, I used to bake a LOT*** and I have a lot of great baking gear/cookware****, so it's fun to experiment now. My Facebook friends have become accustomed to seeing pictures of my latest baking adventure pop up in their newsfeed late at night, and I marvel at the mess my kitchen is each morning even though I could have sworn that I'd wiped the counters down the night before.
(And I'm not very good at decorating, either. Tastes good, looks a mess.)

I promise I'll start writing down my story ideas when they pop into my head. Maybe I need one of those dopey notepads on a string to wear around my neck. (This is a terrible idea, the baby gets herself tangled in EVERYTHING without even trying.)
Happy birthday, Calvin! (Ginny was sleeping.)

*despite having only seen maybe five episodes. Paw Patrol is toddler crack.
 **note to siblings: I'm not yet certain if this is a zinger directed at you, or if I've just zinged (zung?) myself
***but then I gained 20 lbs because of it and had to stop
****have managed to not lose our new pie pan for three whole months, an improvement over the half dozen or so that have disappeared over the last decade. But now my muffin pans and mini-muffin pans are missing.