Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Cookie Baking

Making cookies with Conan was a lot of fun. Worth the mess!

Conan really enjoyed cutting out the cookies. He made stars, diamonds, flowers, bells and snowmen, as well as some abstract designs produced by using more than one cookie cutter on the same cookie. (See below, far left on the cookie sheet for one such creative design.)

After we finished cutting out and baking the cookies, Conan helped frost them as well. Masterpeices, every one.

And here's some video:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesdays for Sanity

I love Tuesdays. On Tuesday nights I play poker with my lady friends. The group has evolved some over the three years our game's been going. Some of us have gotten married, we've been pregnant, we've nursed our babies at the table and passed them around to be held by someone else while mama deals. When our babies are old enough to stay home with their papas we revel in getting out kid-free for a night. We bitch about our jobs, our husbands, politics, the weather, traffic, everything. We swap recipes and child-care tips and ideas for family outings and where the best clearance racks in town are. Our standard is a $5 buy-in, but when money's tight (or the tomatoes are ripe) we'll happily accept a barter item in place of the cash. I love my poker ladies.

As wonderful as Ladies Poker Night is, the BEST part of my Tuesdays now is the part before the game.

You see, once upon a time, poker was on Wednesdays, and it was early. I just had time to leave work, grab some kind of heat-n-eat or take-out dinner, and head over to the game. So that was OK - I got a night out, baby-free, and a game, and the socializing - that's what everyone says a new mom needs. It was hard though. I was too tired to really get into socializing. As a mom and a wife and an employee I had people talking to me and needing things from me all the time, and poker started to feel more like another commitment to be discharged than a respite from the rest of my life.

But then people's schedules changed, as they are wont to do, and with one thing and another we ended up switching the game to Tuesday nights at 7:30. Well, that left me with around 3 hours between work and game time. I could go home, but when I tried that I ended up getting caught up in dinner, bath, etc. etc. and blowing off the game entirely. No good! I needed my night off, away from home!

I started saving up errands. I'd go to the bank, grocery shop, go get some new socks and underwear, maybe get the oil changed in the car. That was better, my time was filled and I was getting my game in, but somehow it still didn't quite feel right. I mean, it's supposed to be my night off! I tried meeting up with friends before the game, but it was hard to fit schedules together consistently. And then one day, I went to the library to return some kiddie books, and decided to grab a book for myself. (I know - crazy, right?) I took it to the park and ate my take-out dinner and read. It was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed.

Now, the part of my Tuesday that I look forward to the most is the hours between work and the game. I go to the library, grab something at random from the "new releases" shelf just inside the door. I try not to spend too much time choosing - I'm not looking for the BEST book ever, just something to occupy my mind while I eat. I like to try different cafes, and I get a kick out of mixing and matching the book to the most unlikely type of restaurant. Little-old-lady mystery? Cajun pub. Modern cyber spy thriller? Co-op bakery. Cheesy pre-historic romance? Korean stone pot restaurant. Elizabethan fantasy swashbucking adventure? Shrimp shack. Definitely.

Tonight I've already got a book in mind, a post-apocalyptic vampire novel. I'm thinking tamales.

I order my food, sip my tea, read my book, and no-one asks me to do anything. (Well, except pay. Duh.) Nothing gets done. No errands. No socializing. Just pure "me" time. And then I pack up and head off to Poker recharged, ready to swap gossip and jokes and probably lose $5 - or maybe a basket of tomatoes - to my best friends.

Tuesdays for Sanity! Everyone needs a bit of time to themselves. I had heard the advice but I hadn't really understood it. I thought Poker - the socializing, the comraderie, the not-being-home-for-bedtime was what I needed. And it WAS part of what I needed, but just as you can't live on toast alone, I needed something more. Time for yourself sounds pretty simple, but it took me almost two years to figure it out. Blame it on sleep deprivation, I guess.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Santa didn't upset Conan at all. Any trepidation he may have felt vanished the moment he saw the candy cane...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Conan

Conan turned 2 on Sunday Dec 12th, and we had a BIG party on Saturday with 43 (!) guests ranging in age from 3 months to 90. Everyone had a great time; all the kids played well together, there were no big tantrums, no-one got sick or hurt, and nothing was broken - pretty amazing considering how many young children we had in the house for 4 hours! It really was a blast - THE party of the year.

There were Cupcakes:

And lots of balloons

And friends of all ages, from near and far

And Grandmas and Grandpas and Great Grandmas too, of course

And lots of new books to read

And a big red wagon filled with toys

And a bright red tricycle for our big boy!

(Cousin Chloe liked Red Trike a lot too)

And we even have some video:

Happy Birthday Conan! We love you very much.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Story Time: The Rotten Egg Incident

Bear with me, I feel the need to reminisce...

I was always a good kid. I never really got into defiance for the sake of defiance; I always wanted to follow the rules and loved the praise and approval I received for being such a good kid. Occasionally I was naughty, but mostly I was not the trouble maker. Which is why the Rotten Egg Incident is still such a sore spot for me: I was innocent, but I looked guilty as hell. And it was spectacular.

I was about eleven, maybe twelve years old. My cousins, Heather, Sadie and Jessica, had come to visit, and the next door neighbor kids, Jamie & Ben, were also over at our house playing. Heather was three years older than I, Sadie was my age, and Jess, Jamie and my brother Jon were two years younger than we were, with Ben a couple years behind them. We were having a grand time, playing around and in the pond, on a beautiful summer day, while our parents chatted in the shade.

Now, the pond at my parent's house is not huge, and it's not deep, but it is murky and the bottom is mucky, not nice at all for wading or swimming. In the center of the pond is a small island where wild ducks nest nearly every year. Exploring the island was the obvious thing for us to do when my dad produced a small boat for us to play with. Jon and Sadie ferried Heather and I over to the island, and then headed back to the shore to pick up Jamie, Jesse and Ben. There was a lot of silliness going on in the boat, and somehow both of the paddles were dropped overboard.

Meanwhile, Heather and I began to explore the island, which was very brushy. We pushed our way through the branches and came upon an old duck's nest in the lee of the biggest alder tree. It still had an egg in it! What a find! I picked it up, examined it, and held it up for everyone to see, yelling to the other kids "We found a duck egg!". And they yelled back "Throw it! Throw it!"

So I did. I hauled back and unquestioningly threw the duck egg.

Which hit the network of low-hanging alder branches and aerosolized into a fine mist of pure rotten-egg putrescence which enveloped all the kids, both in the boat and on the shore.

Now, as is often the case in these situations, I knew as soon as the egg left my hand that it was a mistake. I suddenly saw the kids on the shore holding a tow-rope tied to a weight, ready to throw to the kids in the boat who had lost their paddles overboard. In an instant it was crystal clear, but it was too late. Everyone was shrieking, crying, retching, adults were running from the yard to see what was happening, and there was a mind-boggling terrible stink in the air.

To everyone but Heather and I it seemed like a completely unprovoked biochemical sneak attack. We were stuck on the island for what seemed like hours, while the adults rescued, bathed, and comforted our siblings. I think they even got ice cream. We were told we could wade to shore through the now stinky muck water on our own. No-one wanted to hear my side of the story, because really, what possible excuse could there be for doing such a horrible, stupid, mean thing?

Eventually after all the other kids were cleaned up and settled down someone came and rescued us off the island, but despite my teary-eyed protestations I don't think anyone really believed me that it had been an accident. I mean really, when your story is that you accidentally threw a rotten duck egg right at all the other kids because they asked you to, well, that's a pretty hard explanation to sell. But it's true. I was innocent... and also guilty. And although it was terribly traumatic for everyone involved (especially me) it makes a pretty funny story now!