Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

It's a week of special events here in the Foreman household.  Monday brought us Adler's 6 month "birthday" and his first experience with food, today is Joel's 32nd birthday, Thursday is Thanksgiving, and Friday we wallow around in pajamas because our pants no longer fit.

But for today, we celebrate Daddy.


While eating breakfast this morning, I asked the boys to describe their Dad and I kept track of their observations.  In a related note, my children should never be eyewitnesses to any crime, ever.  Not for the sake of their innocence, but because they would like identify a squirrel as the perpetrator.  Maybe a mailbox.  Bottom line, they're full of it.

-  Daddy likes baseball and root beer.

-  He works in a box. 

-  He wears a big beard.  (November is almost over!)

-  He thinks the Cubs smell like poop.

-  He always finishes dinner first.

-  He is a popsicle.  (Who knows?)

-  He speaks French.  (No he doesn't.)

-  He spills ice cream.

-  He has, like, 5,000 red shirts.  (Does anyone?)

-  He likes music and music sounds.  (Really, both?)

-  He drives a white truck.

-  He only eats cookies from HyVee.

-  He is 32.  Or 33.  Is it 33?  Or Graham- what if Daddy was like 200 years old and Mommy was only 31 and he was so old he couldn't walk and she had to pull him around in a sled?  That would be fun.  I'd get on his sled too.  But not during the summer because sleds don't work on the grass.

-  He wrestles us and reads to us.

-  He loves Mommy, and he loves us too.

I thought I might have better luck with a video, but their "boyness" won out in the end, as it always does.



So Happy Birthday, Daddy!  We love you and wish you much better than buttcracks.  When you're done in your box, there will be cake waiting.

Try not to spill the ice cream.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Adding to the Classics

Recently Cael came home from school reciting a new rhyme he'd picked up.

"Mommy and Daddy sitting in a tree..."


I knew this one, of course.  But after a couple of days of really weird couplings (Graham and cereal, Daddy and Oscar, Mommy and the toilet)  I noticed that this rhyme was longer than the one I knew.

...K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First come love, then comes marriage
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.
And that's not all, that's not all!
Soon that baby's drinking alcohol!


Huh?  Has this always been a part of the poem, or have seven year-olds gotten even more jaded since I was a kid?  At first I thought I was headed for another sit-down discussion about alcohol use and minors, but when it became clear he didn't really even understand what alcohol is (and does) I pulled the plug on my lecture about the delinquencies of my future love child with the toilet.  I then remembered that even the Happy Birthday song has received the same treatment, with Cael tacking "Ooh la la, Pizza Hut", on the end and assuring me that this is way all the kids are singing it. 

After failing to create an appropriate response for over ten minutes, I looked to another famous phrase:

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


So here's my prose for today, plus a little something extra for the new generation.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet, and so are you.
Unless I've said "no" to Pokemon cards,

And then you're just plain rude.

Ring around the rosies,
Pockets full of posies,
Ashes, ashes, 
We all fall down!
You knock your brother on the floor
And cry when he won't play any more.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.
Because when it's rainy and you're cooped up in the house the two of you do nothing but fight and make big messes that you refuse to pick up and I feel like I need a good stiff drink but I can't have one because I am nursing a baby that won't sleep for more than 25 minutes at a time and during those 25 minutes I just want to pee alone but you choose that very moment to demand a band-aid for an invisible ouchie or a snack because the one you had 10 minutes before wasn't good enough and you think I didn't see you take 4 pieces of candy from the Halloween stash and I'm really ready for everyone to go to bed.

Step aside, Shel Silverstein.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maturing Christmas

I am that person you hate- well, most of you that is.  I'm the one that would start playing Christmas music in October, my tree fully lit.  I'd have worked my way through Elf, Polar Express and Frozen with (or without) the kids.  I would have polished off two cartons of eggnog by the first week of November.  But I haven't done these things (except the eggnog part) because I have one of those "opposites attract" marriages, and my husband CANNOT move on to Christmas until Thanksgiving has been fully digested. 

See what I did there?

But even Joel can't prevent the itch inside me to get the gifts all planned out and purchased in advance.  Any mother worth her salt knows that if the gifts aren't relatively even, Christmas afternoon will be less of a celebration and more of a grudge match.  With tinsel.

It should be said that my kids are lucky.  Even though I flat out refuse to purchase an "Elf on the Shelf" (an offense that ranks me somewhere below asparagus on Cael's list) we are able to provide a Christmas for them like the ones of my childhood-- lots of food, lots of gifts, lots of family.  Lots of batteries.  At least two garbage sacks of crinkled wrapping paper and tape wads.  Likely dog vomit from eating Santa's cookies during the night.  Probably a late bedtime.  But no "Elf of the Shelf".

So my kids are lucky.

With most of the boys' gifts purchased, we analyzed the Amazon shopping cart and realized that with their maturing interests, the money we allocated didn't stretch as far, and there would be significantly fewer things to open come Christmas morning.  I know that this is okay, but I also don't want them to be disappointed on the happiest day of their year.  (The happiest day of my year being the first day back to school.  Silence!)  Instead of cranking out several more gifts each, Joel suggested we try to find one really large joint gift that would make a big impression under the tree.  I liked that idea and got to work doing some online research and shopping, but hit an unexpected snag with each search.

First I searched for "big gifts", which provided little more than photo after photo of big gifts.  Not so helpful.

Next I tried "large gifts", which yielded the first real suggestion, a pair of gigantic red panties from the website www.greatbigstuff.com.  Interesting, I suppose, but still not what I had in mind for my five or seven year-old.

Toys.  That was the key-- I wasn't specifying the type of item I needed.  Now I was on to something.  I typed "really big toys" into Yahoo's search engine and hit "go".

Oh.  Holy.  Night.

Here's a free holiday tip-- before searching for "really big toys" make sure your SafeSearch filter is ON.  Mine wasn't.  As memorable as I hope this Christmas will turn out to be for my children, I don't think it will involve anything made of sparkly purple latex. 

I was horrified and quickly made sure the filter was on to prevent a similar catastrophe the next time Cael decides to type something innocuous like "rabbits" or "back door" on the computer.  I said a little prayer that Santa isn't really watching all the time and walked away. 

Maybe I'll have to buy the Elf after all.  Either way, I still have some time.  There's another holiday coming up, right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A November Prayer

Dear God,

In this month of thanks, I want to begin by thanking you for all of the amazing blessings in my life. 

Thank you for this home-- much nicer than I ever hoped for and after a forced renovation is starting to have some style and to feel like something I've crafted myself; a reflection of our family.  Everything except those pairs of Graham's underpants I found crammed behind the entertainment center. 


Thank you for my sweet big boys who, despite a burgeoning problem with de-pantsing each other in public, surprise me and warm my heart every day.  Cael has such a quirky sense of humor and makes me laugh every day.  Graham is quick to remind me how much he loves me and how he thinks I'm beautiful even when I have no makeup on and no one has told me that I have chunks of egg in my hair.

Thank you for my littlest one.  So many years went by without the idea of him, and now that he is here I cannot imagine my life and our family without him and his digestive pyrotechnics.  My love for him is just as explosive (but probably less smelly).

But what's on my heart today is my husband.  Thank you for providing me with someone who works tirelessly to provide for me.  Thank you for encouraging him to teach our children about You and how to be smart, respectful men.

But God... please put a stop to this No Shave November thing!

Last year, what began as No Shave November ended with my husband, six months of beard and mustache growth, a handful of little girls' multicolored rubber hair bands, and TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT. 


Lord, I pretended not to notice when he quietly shaved his goatee on November 1st.

I looked the other way when his razor sat unused for a week. 

I shook my head when Cael and Graham sang a song about butt-cheeks for 17 minutes straight yesterday.  (That may have been unrelated, but I'm not counting it out.)


But without the impending birth of another child to use as leverage, I fear this may be the impetus for my husband to begin transitioning into a Duck Dynasty sub-character. 

Just so you are aware, (as I'm sure you already are) I have explored the possibility that I am being smited in some way for my bad decisions if the past.

Is this happening because I had bangs in fifth grade?  (I know that was wrong.)

Is this happening because I would not allow our boys to be named Crosby?  (I still won't apologize for that.)

Whatever the reason, I ask for your forgiveness and pray that, after November 30th, You will move Joel's heart (and hands) to shave his face.  I think even Jesus might have liked smooth skin for Christmas.

Amen.

PS- Is there such a thing as "Dazzling Diamonds for your wife December??"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rated-G Halloween

It feels as though Mother Nature flipped the seasonal switch as we set our clocks back.  All of the corn and bean fields have been harvested, leaving behind brown dirt to match gray skies that scream "November".  Where did fall go? 

I think we scared it off.  These two are pretty fearsome.


They didn't think so, of course.  It wasn't until about halfway through trick-or-treating in near arctic tempuratures that Cael made an observation I was hoping would never come.

"Wait, Mom-- am I supposed to dress scary on Halloween?  My costume isn't scary.  It's never been scary!"

Great.  Goodbye pumpkin, monkey, garden gnome, train conductor, Iron Man, doctor and baseball player.  Now I get to usher in a parade of partially decomposed pumpkins, monkeys, garden gnomes, train conductors, Iron Men, doctors and baseball players.  Or maybe I'll get lucky and he will simply waste his money on the iconic mask from "Scream" that at least 25 other elementary school kids donned last Friday night despite being way too young to understand the reference.  I hope I never have to have that conversation.

"You see Cael, 'Scream' was a blockbuster film that seamlessly bridged the gap between the horror genre and mainstream films.  It also shocked viewers to see Drew Barrymore, a high profile actress, killed off in the beginning of the movie before there was any opportunity for character development.  The mask with the characteristic dropped-jaw was worn by the killer who, in a somewhat expected move, turns out to be one of their own.  Special mention goes to 'I Know What You Did Last Summer', a similar movie that had the unfortunate luck of entering theaters shortly after 'Scream' and not being able to live up to the hype despite prominently featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt's large chest."

In reality, I simply changed the subject.  When Cael mentioned wanting to be a zombie next year, I discussed the merits of Crunch bars with Graham.  When he pondered how to transform himself into a giant sword, I pretended to tie my shoe.  And when Cael finally settled on being a "dead cloud", I pretty much did nothing, because that's not even a thing.  In fact, I'd kind of like to see him try.

We rushed through the candy heist as quickly as possible and came home to eat some dinner and begin the painful process of rationing the Halloween candy while I finished carving our pumpkins.  Just last year we spent several days planning our jack-o-lanterns, slowly crafting them to ensure accuracy, and then toasting the seeds for a well-rounded and festive Halloween experience. 

Then I had a baby.  This year the pumpkins didn't get done until after trick-or-treating was over and the porch light was off.  I know they still had a good time, so I tried not to beat myself up about it, but I've always worked to create memorable experiences for the kids and I hate when I fall short.  I can only imagine how late they would have been done if I had four kids instead of three. 

Now THAT'S a scary thought.

Here's to the end of an era.  At least there will still be peanut butter cups.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Get Well Very Soon

If you've ever been a nursing mother with the sadistic pleasure of experiencing mastitis, you can identify with the fever and indescribable pain I've endured over the last two days. 

You would also be much more sympathetic than Cael.

"Do you feel better today, Mom?"

"I'm getting there, Cael.  I bet I'll be a lot better by the end of the day."

"Okay, but hurry up."

"Wow, dude, you know I can't help it.  If I could make it all better right away, I would.  This is just something that happens sometimes when you nurse a baby.  Remember how sweet you were about it Monday when you made me that card?"

"Yeah, okay.  I'll make you another card."

"Jeez, Cael, what's the rush?"

"I want to go to trick-or-treating."

"Okay, but that's not until Friday."

"Oh.  Well you'd better hurry, then."

Monday, October 27, 2014

12 Things My Kids Said That Make Me Question My Parenting Skills

Over the last few weeks, I've been jotting down comments my boys have made that I thought were a good commentary on their world.  But as I compiled this list from notes on my phone, I realized that I have a lot of teaching to do.  But based on what's below, I might not be the best person to impart knowledge.


"I like when you decorate for fall and Christmas but you never decorate for other holidays."
"For what other holiday did you want me to decorate?"
"Thursday."


"You like sushi and sushi is raw fish, right?  So is it okay to eat raw candy?"


"For my Halloween costume, I want to be a Halloween costume!  Get it?  But it has to be a dead costume, or one that somebody just shoved in a drawer and never wears."


"You really love pumpkin stuff, huh, Mom?"
"Yep, I'd like just about anything if it smelled or tasted like pumpkin."
"Oh good.  Somebody peed on the floor in our room.  But it smells like pumpkin!"


"For Christmas I want an iPhone, Mom.  But not like yours, I want the new one like Daddy.  I've been a little good... well, sometimes.  Maybe just an old iPhone for me."


"Graham, do you know why you put the guy on a hook when we play Hangman?  Because he's not smart and couldn't spell 'ghost'.  That's what happens when you can't spell."


"There are so many leaves on the ground.  I wonder if there are more leaves on the ground or stars in space.  Or poops in the toilet!"


"I don't like girls because all they talk about is Elsa and Anna and wearing pink.  And when I chase them they won't wrestle."


"When can you have another baby, Mom?"
"I don't know if I will, Graham.  Having a baby is a lot of work."
"Fine, I'll do it.  But next time it is Cael's turn."


"Look in the backyard-- did you see that?  It was, um... not a squirrel.  Not a raccoon or a cat.  Kind of like a bear but a tiny one.  We saw a movie about it, remember?  Oh, a lemur!!"
"I don't think lemurs live in Iowa, Cael."
"Oh.  I guess it was just a plastic bag."


"What is quarantine?"
"It is when you have to spend time away from other people in case you are sick and contagious."
"Can Graham have quarantine?"


"Mom, tell Cael I'm not a ebola!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Alarming Trend

Ever since Joel and I bought our current house, we've been paying (literally and figuratively) for what was clearly a questionable decision.  Six years in, we've replaced every appliance, flooded the house more times than Graham has forgotten to flush the toilet, and finally emerged from the other side of an unexpected basement renovation.

The house is getting its revenge.

But now that all of the repairs have been made, the house has had to get creative to screw with my head.  Before, all it took was a haunted-house style maze of unattached duct work and light switches that didn't switch lights.  I'd run back and forth around the house flipping switches in varying combinations and then washing my hands repetitively as if stuck in an OCD tailspin.



But all of those problems are old news, and the house had to up its ante.

It began with the upstairs carbon monoxide detector.  One day the batteries went dead, and when I tried to hang it back on the ceiling with fresh batteries, I discovered that the metal clips designed to hold the batteries in place were loose.  When turned upside down in its designated spot, the batteries would begin to fall and the alarm would let out that telltale chirp signalling me that my house is a piece of crap. 

That sound, oh that sound... in the midst of this noisy debacle I had to focus my brain on something else.  Mentally I composed a letter to the alarm company.

Dear alarm sound engineers,
Congratulations on a job well done.  The alarm sound used in your carbon monoxide detector would not only wake me from a dead sleep, but I believe it could possibly wake the dead themselves.  When I hear that high pitched tweet, I jump to action-- rounding up my children and sending them outside to safety while I use any tool available to personally remove my eardrums.  I prefer the round metal stick-like implement used for sharpening knives.  Now my house sounds quiet and calm.  Thanks so much!

When I snapped back to reality, I tried to tape the batteries into place and I tried inserting them differently.  Eventually the little metal clip broke out completely and I had to throw the whole thing away which gave me a bit of a perverse thrill, much like when leftovers you didn't really like to begin with get moldy and you can finally dump them down the disposal without feeling guilty. 

The alarm sounded even better in the disposal than it did on the wall.

Knowing there was another alarm in the basement where the carbon monoxide would be most likely to originate, I put it on the grocery list and went about my (much quieter) business.  Then last week, with the alarm event completely in the past, I came home after being gone with the boys much of the day to a familiar high-pitched chirp emanating from the basement.  It couldn't be, could it?

It could.  The remaining monoxide detector was beeping erratically; instead of the "every 30 seconds" time frame written on the back of the unit, it would go silent for minutes at a time and then throw a hissy fit like a two year old.  Working quickly because the baby was already in bed, I rounded up the necessary batteries and popped them in.

**ALERT**     **ALERT**

Immediately the alarm went off.  But before I could do anything about it, it quit completely as if nothing had ever happened.  I chalked it up to a quick surge, because I knew the batteries were new and charged, but when I got back on my stool to reattach the unit, it went off again.

Then it quit.  Went off again.  Chirped four times.  Went off.  I searched for the knife-sharpening stick.  Two chirps.  Alarm.  Perforated ear drum.  PTSD.  Mental instability.  

I yanked the batteries and threw it all on the table.  What was going on?  I could only imagine two possible scenarios:  Either the alarm unit was old and malfunctioning with and without working batteries, or there was indeed a carbon monoxide leak and my one remaining alarm was trying to alert me while dying a slow and agonizing death.  Probably from carbon monoxide.

The former was more likely, but I knew I would never sleep knowing that there was a small (admittedly very small) possibility that we were all breathing noxious gases during the night, and I'm not referring to the kind I'm subjected to when riding in the van with three boys all day.

I called our energy company and told them the whole sordid tale-- that our first alarm was on the fritz, and at the same time the other remaining one made an attempt on my life and that I just didn't know what to think, and would they come check it out?

As I had suspected, there was no leak.  That confirmation gave me enough confidence to happily toss the alarm in the trash and go to sleep.  The next day we bought two brand new alarms that no longer come in a circular shape, so Joel had the entertaining task of (quite literally) fitting a square peg into a round hole.

We slept well for two days, knowing that the air was clear and all alarms were functional.

**ALERT**     **ALERT**

Except for the smoke detectors, that is....


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Star-Spangled Seven

My apologies to everyone who might still be checking in on my blog-- after last weekend I've been living in a bit of a haze (sleep, baby, and dessert related) since Cael's birthday last Saturday.

If you've followed the blog, you know our birthday routine.  The kids choose the theme of their cake, I spend two or three weeks thinking about it and revising my plan only to have them change their mind from some clever, original idea to an overdone media character a few days before the event.  So when Cael requested an "America" cake back in July after the fanfare of Independence Day, I jumped at the opportunity and did what I could to prevent him from switching to Mr. Freeze or some complicated Transformer.

 "Mom, can you make me a ridiculously time-consuming cake that turns into a set of luggage or a VW peace bus?

No I can't.

When last Thursday rolled around and Cael was still confident in his choice, I baked the cakes and mixed up my homemade fondant.  I knew that I wanted the base layer to be red and the top cake to be blue, but when I added (and added, and added...) my red gel food coloring, I found that it took nearly 2/3 of the bottle in order to truly achieve a believable shade of red.  What I didn't know, however, was that large quantities of food coloring can affect the elasticity of the fondant, and when I went to roll it out, it consistently ripped and was completely unusable.  I needed to buy some pre-made red fondant which was okay, because I'm also always on the lookout for an excuse to go to Hobby Lobby.

Seriously, they have everything.

I spent all of my free minutes Friday alternating between trying to coax the very dry store fondant into submission, and working to color and sculpt the Statue of Liberty from gumpaste.  I chose gumpaste rather than fondant because it dries hard like clay and because I'm a glutton for punishment.  And cake, as it were.

I wasn't too confident that I could actually pull off the statue, but I didn't have many other options.  When a seven year-old wants a patriotic cake, there aren't many American symbols at one's disposal.  My first instinct was to carve Mt. Rushmore into the side of the top tier, but if the faces weren't recognizable I'd be left with a grayish mound of whatisthat that would not enthuse my son.  I also considered the Liberty Bell, the US Capitol building, the Golden Gate Bridge, a display with pilgrims and lots of buckles, a small diorama of the Boston tea party ( complete with tea packets), or in honor of Columbus Day, a detailed scene showing the escalating tension between the Native Americans and the white man determined to acquire and develop the rich soil of North America at any cost.

See what I mean?  Statue of Liberty it was.


So I got to work sculpting layers as quickly as possible because gumpaste dries very quickly, and after reaching a color I liked and getting a basic body shape on my support dowel, I was left with something that better represented an Easter Island sculpture than the Statue of Liberty.


But I persisted and, by about 2am (much earlier than I retired when working on Graham's cake) I headed off to bed with the statue completed and the Presidential seal affixed to the side of the cake. 

This cake is actually much simpler than others that I have done, and I will simply gloss over Lady Liberty's laughable disproportion before saying that I am proud of myself for pulling her off. 



Cael had a great night and got lots of gifts and books and enough Lego/Transformer objects to ensure I'll never walk barefoot in the house at night again.


Then we lit the cake with some less-than-bombastic sparkler candles and sang "Happy Birthday" and after, Joel led us in an enthusiastic and spontaneous rendition of "God Bless America".  I thought strongly about starting in on "You're A Grand Old Flag" but decided against it.  I was too distracted by the statue's charring hand to give the song my best effort.

As much as I love trying to create something my boys will love on their birthdays, I am relieved to have them behind me.  Now things can get back to normal and I can pack away my cake gear until next fall.  Because Adler doesn't really need a life-sized plush bunny cake, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A History of Raspberries

All of the men in my family are full of hot air.  And if you know us, you know how true that is.  But this post isn't about how I am a lone island in this house; this post is about raspberries.  And a legacy.

In the year of our Lord 2008, one man blew spit at his son and started a chain of events that could not be undone.  It instilled in this young boy a love for all things taboo-- spitting, burping, gas-- and created a partner in crime for this young father.

That man was my husband, and that boy was Cael.



I shared this video with all of you back in 2011 thinking that it was a strange but cute demonstration of how Joel's genes clearly dominate my own.  But I assumed that it was an isolated event credited to Cael and his feisty demeanor, but I'm learning that if something happens with Cael, history will repeat itself.

Enter Adler.


Now, I can admit that this is kinda cute.  Mostly because he's so little and I still think everything he does is cute as long as it doesn't smell.  But if these minor events are part of a much larger deja vu experience in my life, what else should I expect to repeat?

Maybe I just need to lay down some ground rules so that this copycat baby of mine doesn't commandeer a motor home someday.

-  No questioning people about their nuts.

-  "Fart Sniffer" is not a term of endearment.

-  You have to change your underwear.  Everyday.

-  If you sneak candy, be stealthier than to hide the evidence in MY shoe.

-  Maple" is not pronounced like "nipple".

-  The five second rule does not apply to frosting, milk, oatmeal and/or frosting.

-  If someone has a name you don't know, it is not polite to tell them it sounds like a Pok√©mon character.

-  Do not convince children younger than you that toothpaste is made of crushed peas.

-  Lunches you do not like may not traded at school for a hand drawn picture of a monkey and a taco.

If Adler can agree to follow these guidelines, I think we will get along just fine.  Unless he takes after his Daddy instead of his brother...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Anti-Germaphobic

"Where's Adler, Mommy?"

"He's taking a nap right now.  Why?"

"I need to kiss him."

"Oh, that's sweet.  He should be up soon, Bubba."

"No, I need to kiss him now.  I don't want to snuggle him, I just want to kiss him."

"Okay... why?"


"Because I have a cold and he doesn't yet."

"Graham, that's not nice.  He's very little and it is harder for him when he's sick than it is for you.  Why would you want to make him sick?  We should be doing our best to wash our hands and keep ourselves germ-free around him so that he doesn't catch it."

"But, but...  you said so!"

"I said to make your baby brother sick?"

"You said that I should share everything with him!"


"Okay, you know I didn't mean germs.  I just meant that when he's older, you should share your toys and things with him.  Some things you should never try to share.  I probably should have been clearer about that."

"Oh, okay.  Last night Cael came over to my bed to fart.  He said he just needed to share it with me.  I'll tell him tonight that he can share farts but NOT germs!"

Anyone want to share some hand sanitizer with us?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Alternative Sports

"Look, Mom!  Those guys are playing football on the big football field!"

"Actually, Graham, I think they are playing Lacrosse."

"Oh, that's nice.  So they can remember how Jesus died on the cross."

"No, no, Bubba.  LA-crosse."

"Sorry!  So they can remember how Jesus died on luh cross."


Much better.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Honest Birthday Wishes

After I posted photos on Tuesday detailing my efforts to descend into madness make Graham's cake, I noticed at least five other posts on my Facebook news feed from parents with sweet, tender messages to their children on their birthdays.

Nine years ago today my wonderful daughter was born.  Not a day has gone by that I haven't loved you more than the last.  Your hair is spun gold and your eyes like deep pools of chlorinated water.  I am so proud of you, my angel.  Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Graham!  I like your one missing shoe in this photo.  It's okay that I asked you six times to put it on- you must have know what a good photo op it would make.  My mistake!
That's lovely.  It really is.  But despite telling my kids how much I love them everyday, I'm not the saccharine, overly emotional type on social media.  And truth be told, not every day feels like a miracle when you're a mother.  Sometimes you just want to buy something for yourself but can't because you need diapers, and sometimes you feel like exploding because your five year old locks the door to use the bathroom but you get an audience.  Sometimes you hit your limit and need a break, but can't get one.

And sometimes you feel like being honest on Facebook.

So yesterday I refrained from commenting about how Adler turned four months old, and how amazed by him I am everyday (which I am).  I didn't share how the kisses he rewarded me with were among the sweetest I'd ever had (which they were) or how I can't possibly imagine our family being complete without him (which I can't).

Instead, I'll just say this:

Happy 4 months, Adler!  You have taught me so much in such a short time.  I had no idea your tiny body could produce so many fluids, or that you could shoot them out with such force!  Congratulations for that.  I was also unaware that by having three boys I now present myself as certifiably insane in the minds of some of my peers.  How cool!  I was due for a makeover. 

I have so many dreams for your future.  One day, I imagine that you will let me cook dinner without crying.  Maybe I could even feed you something that you didn't acquire by sucking on my appendages until they were raw.  Fingers crossed!  Wouldn't it be great if you grew to be super successful and decided to return the favor to ol' Mom and Dad?  Put me down for a trip to Barbados.

So here's to the next four months, and the many laughs we'll share together.  I love you!
Love, Mom

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confectionary Insomnia

365 days.  Twelve months.  One year.
 
That's how long it took for me to catch up on my sleep after Cael and Graham's birthdays last year, and the time is upon me yet again.  Sure, I could just buy them a few gifts and get a store bought cake, but what fun are memorable milestones if at least one family member isn't nearly delirious and incoherent?  So again this year, I set out to make a cake that would make my boy's eyes grow wide and his stomach growl.

And I did... okay.  This was certainly not my greatest achievement although I think it was my best effort, and I'm alright with that.  For the first time I decided to make my own rolled fondant, or for those unfamiliar with the cake making lingo, I decided I hadn't seen enough late night mop infomercials and needed to adjust my schedule accordingly.

I used this rolled fondant recipe and dedicated Thursday night to repetitive kneading.  Fold in, fold out.  Try to stay standing.  Hope sore arm muscles turn into Michelle Obama biceps.  Eat half the dough and know they won't.
 
It wasn't until Friday at dinner time (with only a base layer of fondant down) that I realized I was seriously behind schedule and, with a new(ish) baby that seemed to have little regard for my predicament, probably wouldn't even be able to start decorating until all three boys were in bed. 

I was right.  

Graham had requested an "emergency" cake with police, firefighters and ambulances, and by 9pm I'd only managed to supply a gold badge.

 
By 10:30pm, I had a good start on the cityscape that would eventually be on fire.

 
At 12:30am, I realized how I'd built everything in completely different scales and ripped off the fire hydrant, only to rebuild it the exact same size and give up.

Around 1:15am, I was pretty sure I'd seen a camel walking down my street, but it just turned out to be a mailbox.  After that, I made some handcuffs.

At 2:00am, I was frustrated with myself that I hadn't spaced the cake's features better in order to avoid a few large empty spaces that I stared at blankly for a while.

3:05am, still staring.

At 3:45am my brain gave up completely, and no miracle mop product could bring it back.  I strongly believe that I could accomplish these decorations in MUCH less time if I could work on them during the hours when humans are supposed to be awake, but instead I plug away slowly, alternating between productivity and wandering around the kitchen in a Walter White-esque "fugue state".

By the time I cleaned up my mess and got to bed, it was 4:11am.  Adler woke up at 4:17.

But somehow, I managed to finish in time.  
 
 
 
I learned a lot this time, too, like how I really need to make the buttercream frosting smooth under the fondant if I want to avoid lumps, and that the extra work involved in making homemade fondant is well worth it for the payoff later.  
 
 
I also learned that orange gel food coloring doesn't wash out of 800 thread count sheets.  At least not when it's smeared across your forearm in a spot you can't see yourself.

Incidentally, it doesn't wash off your forehead well, either.

Graham liked the cake, though, and after opening gifts I had just enough energy left over to eat a few bites of the dessert I'd worked so hard to make.
 
 
"Do you like your cake, Graham?"
 
"Yep, I love it.  Thanks, Mom!"
 
That's good enough for me.  Happy Birthday, Graham!