Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Than Too Much

Remember Kim?

Yes, well I do.
I did/could not go back for Kim's funeral because I could not afford it; I was afraid to leave my kids for too long; I was working too much.
Not three weeks later, I developed a toothache. The kind of toothache that has one realizing that their lack of dental insurance would be better spent on a plane ticket back east to visit Dentist Brother. But you know what? I suck. Because I could not fly back to deal with toothache when I could not cough up the money for a funeral. (so the tooth, it festers)

Umm...So...back to the right aunt, Kim's mother, just died. Just now.
Completely unexpectedly.
Previously asymptomatic sudden onset (aka sudden Dx) Lung Disease. Never smoked.

Didn't want to go to the hospital to investigate her shortness of breath. Because, you know. Her daughter just died.

So, she finally relented. She went into the hospital. It was not a great Dx, but not a horrible one, you know, as far as these things go. And then? aunt just died. JUST DIED.

So now I will be flying back for a funeral and a root canal. Most likely with a two year old in tow.
Do you believe?

Pray for me if you do.
Actually, screw me.
Pray for my uncle. And my cousin.

And hey, IF THERE IS A god?



Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happiness to you.

Mele Kalikimaka

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kid-made gifts (REALLY kid-made)

We have been busy elves. Finally, this year I decided to provide Supergirl with gift projects that she could actually make almost by herself. As opposed to years past, wherein she lost interest after decorating just two cookies, or was asked to come and stir this in, and then I would end up doing every remaining step of her project idea.
Ha. Not this time. I was one step ahead of her this year. I thought ahead early enough to order cute little jars. I bought graham crackers and candy canes. I researched royal icing success and failure stories.
Above is a picture of her gifts to her friends: Homemade bath paints, an inexpensive holiday towel, and a rubber ducky, all tossed into a bath bucket from the dollar store.

The paint is very easy to make:

Home Made Bath Finger Paints
for each 1/2 cup of MILD LIQUID BABY SOAP,
add: 1 tsp cornstarch, and as much Biocolor as you would like.
Mix well, pour into plastic jars with airtight lids.

And we made these cute little sleighs for all of her teachers:

I did not invent the idea - we got it here.

And then we made an extremely simple peppermint bark (I melted semisweet chips, she spread it out on parchment and sprinkled with a small amount of Andes holiday peppermint bits and some crushed candy canes, then we cooled and broke it) to fill the sleighs (with a foil Santa to drive):

I love staying home for the holidays! Instead of packing and swearing, I get to make crafts and bake! And we haven't even started the cookies! The cookie baking begins tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Existential Crises with 5 and 6 year olds...

Supergirl and her friend got into an argument while we (the mothers) were sipping wine in the sunset (the last one seen before the current flooding I might add).
Lolly came running up to her mama and, with much drama, said that she was:
So so sad. Because Supergirl said that she did not believe in god. (or God - either one) And this made her very very sad. (small sob)
And her mama, being a spiritual woman who also is a dear friend, said that: It was okay. Supergirl didn't have to believe the same things as Lolly, and it was totally and completely fine. We love all of our friends, and if they believe something different from what we believe, it doesn't make either one right or wrong, and it doesn't make anything different about the fact that we love each other. (well said, don't you think?)
After that, Supergirl, obviously grappling with the power of the situation, the mystery of the object, and the sincere desire to make her friend feel better, offered this:
Lolly, I don't believe in god, but I like him! I really like him! It's weird, and I don't know how to explain how I don't believe in him, but I really do like him! And Jesus? I don't believe in him either but I like him. I mean I sort of believe in Jesus because he was a little baby and that was nice, and I like babies. But I don't really believe in him. Okay?



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Musings on Religion and Not, and being all PC about it.

We have some suspicions that Supergirl thinks Santa is God. Because we just don't talk too much about God around here, and occasionally when she hears his name spoken around town, it is in reference to something attractively omnipotent.
Apparently Supergirl isn't the only one having trouble getting the Santa thing straight. Just tonight, The Boss (of Seattle)'s son asked her this question: "Mom? Can Santa make a witch into a present box and send it up to heaven?"
Now, this puzzled The Boss for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that they are Jewish.

I myself, completely overuse the phrase, "Oh my god!" Of course it has worn off on Supergirl, who also drops it casually at home. But we have had many discussions about how and why she should never ever say those words around her grandmother, because it would be offensive. Also, in mixed company sometimes; maybe not so much in school, or in public too loudly. Because, as I pointed out to her, there are many things I may feel like saying or exclaiming, but I need to see who is around me and consider the situation, and when appropriate, try not to offend anyone. (Which is only partially true, as I seem to offend people frequently, but as a parent...don't we all want better for our children?)
This balance, as any parent knows, is a very difficult concept to teach your child. Belief in themselves, the courage to speak up, but HEY! Don't offend anyone unnecessarily in public! It's not nice!
Yesterday, after picking up Supergirl and her friend for some holiday craft shopping and then TJoe's necessity shopping, they were merrily giggling along in their silly contagious way, and they started some banter in which they responded back and forth to each other with 'duh' in it's various forms (duh, duh? du-uh?, d-uh!, etc) -Are you familiar with the game?
Supergirl looked at me cautiously and said, as we were walking through TJoe's parking lot, "We're allowed to say 'duh', right, Mama?"
"Well, you two are being silly and it is being used in a funny way right now, so it is okay. But in other situations the same word could be considered offensive...perhaps if someone was having a hard time with something and they asked for help, if someone said 'duh', then it would be an word that is offensive."
And right as we walked into the busy TJoe's downtown store, Supergirl loudly responded,
"Oh yeah! Like GOD! That is a word that is offensive!"



Parenting is an ongoing project.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another donation to the therapy jar...

I am having a stellar parenting day.
Bubbles is sick with a cold. Whenever he gets extra mucousy, he pukes. I take him off his beloved dairy and put him on every liquid substitution I can find, and it helps a bit. But still? He pukes. It's just his thing. So the laundry is piling up. And after a few hours of clawing and pawing at me, I get a little edgy; that regression bit occurs when he is off and he just wants to nurse all day long. But he is two now, and I don't want to nurse him all day long, even if he is sick. (Yes, I know, the fabulous and loving parenting) So I just said: NO MORE MILK DUDE! NO MORE! GO AWAY!

But wait! There's more!
I remembered at the last minute that I was to teach music this morning at the local preschool, so I hustled over there (2 minutes away), dragging my box of bells/shakers/drums/etc. across the campus and ran right into my daughter's class, following their class aide on the way to their music class. Of course Supergirl wanted to stop and give me a hug, which I hurriedly did, and then instantly began chastising her for not wearing her coat. (Did we cover this subject 38 times already this month? Yes, we did. Is it 42 degrees today? Yes it is.) She was the only one in her class making the trek from upper to lower campus without a coat. And one of my kids is already sick.
As she was pouting at me for embarrasing her (hehehe this is nothing, I thought), another student from her class - a very exuberant Ella who really hardly ever watches where she is going and if you are around her it is all about the 'defensive driving' on your part - ran smack into Supergirl, knocking them both down on the pavement. Ella bounced up, delivered a quick apology, and sped off to music class. Supergirl, having just been emotionally injured by me, (and, I think I have to mention, perhaps feeling a little sensitive from the cold!) was not so resilient. She wept; she was hurt, Ella was mean, I was mean, I was unfair, I was mean mean mean! And she ran away from me, around the corner of the building, and away from the direction of her class. And I was late to teach. And I had to leave her there; and go get the aide to please collect her.
I know it would have just dragged on longer if I had tried to make it alright with her, but still?
I wish I could have made it all right with her.

Monday, December 10, 2007

When four seems like old age

Tonight, Supergirl asked me how old Elijah would be right now.
You know.... If he was still alive.

Four and a half years old, I answered.

And then I gulped.

Some tears were shed.

I am really missing him right now.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's really a sickness

I woke up around 2 am and thought "shit, I didn't post before midnight!"

I have post traumatic NaBloPoMo disorder.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It was an early arrival; give them some time.

Baby Update:

"Yes, I do know what you can do to help. Tell people to stop asking what his name is. Because we just have not decided yet."

~~Daddy; today.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Skoolastic Book Edjukashon Faire

I have a six year old daughter.
We do not have cable TV, but we do let her watch selected shows or movies via DVD or download (have I mentioned my Kipper attraction?).
Supergirl has friends that are allowed to watch that 'Hannah....ummm....Indiana' thing and then some, and that is fine. For their kids. For ours?
Supergirl is six. She goes to a school that does not tolerate bullying in any way. That show? Introduces bullying and nastiness created by preteens; the sort that I would say HELL NOWAY to my kiddo watching.
She does go to a public school. This public school is well loved by many families, ours included. This school shines above many other neighboring schools in our county. However, our public school is no different from any other in its promotion of: The Skoolastic Book Un-Fair.
You know of what I speak?

This morning at school, my daughter was greeted by a sixth grader dressed up as big, fuzzy, friendly, red, klifford-the-dog.
This afternoon, she came home with her 'wish list'.
What, you ask, is a 'wish list'?
Well, it is basically a shameless slip of marketing paper, direct from Skoolastic; handed to your child as they walk in to their gymnasium (which has been transformed into a glossy, poster, character, toy, and yes book - filled room); and the little ones are accompanied by an aide, who can help them write down their 'favorite' books.

What is on my daughter's wish list?
  1. Littlest pet shoppy thingie BOOK!
  2. Hannah-freaking-Indiana BOOK! (b/c if mama won't allow the video, reading it must be OK, right???)
  3. High Skool Moosical?????? BOOK! (really? something she never ever heard of before? now that is some successful marketing!)
  4. Another Little pet bobble head thingie BOOK.
  5. Proper Puppy Care (the first and only non-commercial book listed)

So, when they asked me to work at the 'Faire', I had to say are you fucking kidding me? that I was very busy with work this week. Which, thank goodness, I am!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

I tried something new yesterday with chocolate.

That got your attention, didn't it?

Devils food cupcakes, ganache dipped, then topped with a ganache-buttercream swirl.

I just typed 'buttcream swirl'.

Thank goodness I caught that.

Here is the recipe:
First, get out your trusty Kitchenaid.

Devils Food Cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour (this is key)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk (I never seem to have buttermilk on hand, so I pour 2 -3 tsps cider vinegar in my measuring cup, pour in whole milk to reach 2 1/4 cups and let it sour for a few minutes before using - works great)

  • Beat sugar and butter together until fluffy
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time
  • Add vanilla
  • Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl
  • Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the mixing bowl, mixing well and scraping down sides after each addition.
  • Pour into cupcake liners or paper sample cups; I made about 50 2-ounce cucpakes, but could have made more from this batch, as I filled the cups too full and they spilled out onto the cookie sheet. FILL ONLY HALFWAY FULL!!! The cake flour makes these rise well.
  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, depending on the size of cupcakes you make.

After they have cooled, dip the tops of the cupcakes into warm ganache (this is where the paper pleated cups come in handy!), and put in a cool place to set the chocolate.

Ganache Topping:

  • Approximately 3 cups good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or 3/4 cup half-and-half in a pinch!)

For this batch, I used about one and one half 12 oz bags of really good semisweet chocolate chips.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (at my house this is a small saucepan nested into a larger saucepan with about 1/2 inch of water in it). Take care not to let any water splash into the chocolate!
Traditionally, ganache is made with heavy cream, but all I had in the house was half-and-half, so that's what I used. And it worked; I just used a bit less; about 3/4 cup.
Heat the 1 cup of cream (or 3/4 cup of half-and-half) just to boiling; remove the melted chocolate from the heat, and whisk the warmed cream into it until it is smooth and shiny. I keep it over the warm water but off of the heat and it usually stays smooth enough to dip the tops of the cupcakes into it.

Transfer the rest of the ganache to the mixing bowl, and after it cools, whip it until it becomes lighter in color. At this point, add:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, whip very well
  • Add 3 cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mix well until whipped.

Fill your frosting decorator (or cream squeezer) with this frosting and decorate the cupcakes as you wish. I like to leave some of that rich ganache shining through.

This firms up quickly, so use and decorate as soon as possible!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Baby Arrival!

I just received this update:
A baby boy was born this morning at 5:30 this morning. 3lbs 2oz., 15 in. He is doing very well. No breathing assistance was needed. Nicole even got to hold him briefly before he was taken to the NICU.
This is amazing news.

Hold him in your thoughts.