Monday, April 06, 2009

Triumph of the cake

Yesterday was Action Hero's third birthday. Since Boy Wonder's birthday is in three weeks, Easter is next Sunday, and our family schedule has been JUST A BIT thrown off lately, we are celebrating both boys' birthdays AND Easter on, well, Easter. So we had a low-key little celebration here yesterday, for which I baked a cake.

Boy Wonder, who had already displayed a small (GIANT) hint of jealousy that Action Hero had presents and he didn't, saw me begin to mix the cake. "But I wanted a Transformers cake," he said, a whine creeping into his voice.

"Well, I'm sure you do want one. But it's Action Hero's birthday, not yours. And it's a yellow vanilla cake, not chocolate. You like vanilla."

"I will NOT like it! I won't eat it. I will just have fruit punch for dessert tonight." And off he went, probably to dream of a Transformer cake and birthday presents just for him.

I continued baking, and set the cake aside to cool. Several hours later, when it was time for frosting, I got a bit carried away with the food coloring, making the filling between layers light purple and the top layer of frosting sky blue. (This seemed like it would be pretty jazzy, what with the yellow cake.) Then I put Smarties candies on top, shaped like a smiley face. Then I put three big birthday candles in the cake, and summoned everyone (well, my dynamic duo, Dragon, and my dad)for the birthday song.

It was a pretty hokey-looking cake, but I had fun. And, as it turned out, so did everyone else involved. Action Hero did a great job of blowing out the candles, and was very, very pleased with the smiley face. Overall, he was so pleased with the cake that he ate three pieces of it...and so did Boy Wonder, having apparently forgotten his earlier vow to stick to fruit punch. We were all quite astonished at their cake-eating prowess.

I gave them some cake for breakfast this morning, and they enjoyed that too. But my favorite moment of the day came in the car, after picking up Boy Wonder but before picking up Action Hero.

"Mom? What kind of cake do I want for my birthday?"

"I don't know, what kind of cake do you want? We can go to the grocery store and look in the book this weekend."

"No! I want a YELLOW cake! Only I don't like the blue and purple frosting. I want green frosting on top. And yellow in the middle. Can you do that? And I don't want the Smarties. Can you put Sweet Tarts on it instead? And there will be six candles, three red and three blue."

I was stunned. "You want me to make your cake? You don't want to get one at the grocery store?"

"Yeah! Don't forget about the Sweet Tarts, okay?"


Friday, March 06, 2009

Blank. Verse.

I always thought her hands were so elegant
(much more so than mine)
with long slender fingers
and nails that actually grew nicely
instead of breaking every fifteen seconds
and then they were skeletal and shaky
but somehow more elegant than ever

He put on his coat to leave, and she said,
Where are you going?
And he said, The gra-...uh. Where you'll be b-...
And finally he simply said, Forest Home
(and she knew what he meant,
but still it was easier not to actually say it)

and my father said, Will Dragon buy a suit?
I hope not, because I don't even have one
and I don't know what I will wear
she always picked out my ties
and right now I can't even decide whether or not to
make a pot of coffee

I wanted to take him home and
tuck him into bed and tell him it would be all right
but I couldn't
because I knew
and then
I wanted to lift her out of the bed
and carry her to the sun room
so she could look out the window
and maybe smile, just one more time

and my grandmother said, I wish I could take her place
I wish I could crawl in that bed instead

and evemtually my cell phone rang

and surely by now you will have realized
that this is all in the past tense

and that's because my mother died today>

and I have had way too much wine
so I'm posting this lousy poem
instead of a coherent post

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Free advice

From Boy Wonder. Given to Action Hero, who was afraid of the car wash today and became a little weepy.

"Action Hero, I need to tell you something. When I was three, I was very scared of the car wash! I cried all the time when we went to the car wash.* But then I learned a lesson.** And when I was four, I wasn't afraid of the car wash anymore! So right now you are scared, and probably you will be scared when you are three too. But then you will be four, and then you will not cry at the car wash."

I found this rather cute. I also find it amazing how quickly Boy Wonder flips from Helpful, Protective Older Brother to Bossy, Teasing Older Brother.

Action Hero had no comment, except to ask if he could have lemonade and pretzels when we got home.

*Which we've only ever gone too once every three months, because it's free after an oil change.
**I am not sure which lesson he is talking about. I think Young Boy Wonder liked the car wash better after I told him it was like the car taking a shower, or perhaps running through the sprinkler. Perhaps that's it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Black swan, white wine

Sorry, ladies.

(The above is actually a pretty good book, filled with quality novellas and short stories, and Misses Datlow and Windling should in no way be blamed for the fact that I have consumed so much Black Swan Riesling tonight that my nose is numb. They are good editors. I own many of their anthologies.)

I have been absent, mostly due to the vagaries of being a married mother with a full-time job going to school-part time, whose kids keep coming down with a variety of childhood ailments and whose mother has Stage 4 cancer. The past month and a half have brought many adventures, including the following:

Action Hero can TALK. Boy, can he ever. He has moved from babbling to being able to carry on coherent conversations.

Boy Wonder can COMPLAIN. Boy, can he ever. His favorite phrase is, "No fair!" This is trotted out on nearly every occasion on which he is displeased. He cannot have a third cookie? NO FAIR. He cannot have a treat because he has spent the past half hour teasing his brother until he cries? NO FAIR. He cannot have Kool-Aid for breakfast? NO FAIR. The sky is blue? NO FAIR. He also recently said, "You have RUINED my LIFE!" (You know, I think that was also concerning Kool-Aid for breakfast.) I was not expecting that for another seven years at least.

As dinner was cooking the other night, I heard a loud popping noise coming from inside the oven, and thought What the hell? Investigation revealed that the cookie sheet, on which the Tater Tots were cooking, had bent, as cookie sheets usually do in hot ovens, so I determined that the pan had just bent unusually loudly, and wondered if we perhaps had mice too, and if one of them had been startled when I turned on the oven. As it turned out, neither was accurate*; instead, the lightbulb inside the oven had burst, and rained down slivered-glass destruction upon the Tater Tots, as I discovered when I removed them from the oven. The kids were slightly less thrilled with the carrot sticks and cucumber slices that were hastily cut up to replace the Tater Tots, but only slightly. They like carrots and cucumbers pretty well. Especially cucumbers. Boy Wonder would happily eat a garden full of salt-sprinkled cucumbers, and Action Hero just likes to eat.

Earlier this week, I was thinking, "Gosh, I never really get one-on-one time with Action Hero. He is like Boy Wonder's little sidekick." And Fate laughed. And that very night, my darling little sidekick woke up at midnight coughing his head off with a horrid attack of croup. HERE'S YOUR ONE-ON-ONE TIME RIGHT HERE, said Fate. Action Hero is doing well now, although still a touch viral and feverish. Poor dear.

Still, my children are cute, I have an astonishing GPA considering that I am a married mother working full-time and going to school part-time (thank you, reading comprehension skills), and my mother is doing quite well, considering.

Thank you for your support. Will go enjoy Riesling buzz now.

*KNOCK ON WOOD. Loudly, and with great vigor.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


(Not actually "shocks," but "aftermoments of mild startlement" just doesn't have the same ring.)

Christmas or Christmess?
In preparation for the someone from the insurance company who is going to be calling in the next couple of days, I decided to look for any original-packaging type items. I was pretty sure the box and manual for the digital camera were somewhere in the basement, so downstairs I went. Whereupon I shouted the following:

"Hey Dragon? Were you digging around in the box of Christmas lights?"

"Me? Uh, no."

"Well, damn. I guess they did mess around in the basement after all."

A quick check revealed that all of our holiday decorations appeared intact, complete with Sesame Street's holiday-themed DVDs. At least we still have Elmo Saves Christmas! Nothing else appears to be missing, but, well, it's a basement. Here in Wisconsin, we put junk that we're not quite sure what to do with in the basement. I already had to toss a lot of what was down there after our December plumbing adventure, so I'm not clear on what I should be looking for (other than "Are all major appliances still there?" Which they are.)

Adventures in Banking

While looking through the paperwork this morning, I realized I was missing one booklet of checks. Now, they could have already gone to the Great Paper Pile in the Sky, or I could have written them out of sequence. Or they could have been taken yesterday, because even delinquent middle schoolers know what checks are. The nice man at the bank offered to just put a stop payment on that batch of checks, for free, but I bank and pay bills online, man, and you can do that with an account number and a routing number, both of which are displayed prominently on a check. So I made him open a brand-new account for me, and for some reason the branch manager came over to introduce himself. Hopefully, no one will steal our mail over the next couple of weeks. (But if they do, I take comfort in the fact that that's a federal crime.) As I was leaving the bank and heading to work, I briefly wondered if a piano would fall out of the sky and land on my head, or if perhaps a bike messenger would plow into me.

Dragon called to say that he was leaving work early to undertake some DIY home security projects; anything I needed? I requested that he look for one of those fireproof-box type things, as the police officer recommended we get one of those for sensitive documents and decent-quality jewelry. He brought back a nice one, and now we have to decide where to keep it and its key. Oh wait, I'm on the Internet. Excuse me; he brought back a professional-grade, robbery-proof safe, which will soon be moved to an undisclosed location after we memorize the impossible-to-crack combination.

Thank you for listening. Tune in tomorrow for further adventures from the House of Strep, Spontaneous Vomiting, Relatives with Cancer, and Far Fewer Electronic Devices Than We Had Earlier This Week.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dear Universe: WTF?

So, yesterday my mother came home from the hospital. Yay! I was going to stop by and visit her on the way to class today; accordingly, I left work at 4:30 feeling glad about seeing her and looking forward to class.

The phone rang as I was in the parking structure, walking to my car. It was Dragon.

"Hey, did you have any problems with the garage door this morning? It won't open."

"No. Sorry."

Then, a few minutes later, the phone rang again. And again, it was Dragon.

"Hi. I've just called the police. Someone's broken into our house. The computer room is trashed. I've got the kids outside and we're waiting for the police."

"Okay. I'll come home then." Call to school admin, asking her to explain to instructor that I will not be at class. Call parents, asking Dad to perhaps not tell Mom about break-in. (He does anyway, I later find out.)

Dragon was still waiting for the police when I got home 20 minutes later (boy, that felt like a long drive.) I'd spent the drive home having visions of calling all of the banks and credit card companies to cancel/freeze accounts, and having to look up everyone's number without benefit of the Internet. I went in to check things out, being careful to not touch anything, and confronted a confusing mess in the computer room. The camera and iPod (sniff) were missing, but the computers, although disconnected and in six different places, were still there. Credit cards, though scattered everywhere, were also still there. Papers were everywhere. The living room was also somewhat messy, and the DVD player and PlayStation 2, along with some games, had vanished. Still there: TV, DVDs, and digital photo frame. Upstairs, most of the dresser drawers had been dumped out, and my jewelry box was in pieces and mostly empty. Still there, though: wedding bands and engagement ring.

Soon the police, in the form of a nice female officer, arrived to collect evidence. (Noteworthy: "There's a beautiful handprint on this window. Unfortunately, I think it belongs to one of your sons.") Reports from the neighbors indicate that several middle-school-aged kids were the culprits; they were seen emerging from the house with a sack (my pillowcase, that would be).

So, not as bad as it could have been; big mess, but for the moment, most of the valuable items are still here. (Many of them will be relocated shortly.) We have our suspicions as to who these middle schoolers might be, and we have attentive neighbors.

On the other hand, I could cheerfully rip the lungs out of said middle schoolers, or perhaps their parents, because Boy Wonder is freaked right the hell out by all this. Thanks, guys; you left us most of our stuff, but now my five-year-old is afraid to go to the damn bathroom without me. Because there were Bad Guys in our house, and our closets, and what if they come back?

They didn't cover this in the parenting book, I don't think.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Action Hero singalong

The other day, Dragon e-mailed me this link, accompanied by a message saying, "Watch this with Action Hero in your lap!" I was at work at the time, so was not able to accomplish this immediately. But, once I'd acquired Action Hero from daycare, we watched it. And Dragon has created a tiny monster. Here, you watch this, and then I will explain.

Feist on Sesame Street

Action Hero LOVES this clip. LOVES it. We watched it for the first time on Friday. When it was done, he said, "Aden! Aden!" (Guess what that means.) So we watched it a few more times, and then he said, "She say hi to me! To ME!" I puzzled over this for a few seconds, and upon another viewing, realized that the singer gives a little wave when she comes out from behind the gate and starts walking. And, since he is two and thus the center of his own little universe, she is waving at him, of course. Anyway. We watched it a few more times the next day, and when it was time to stop, he started shrieking and stomping his feet, saying, "Aden! Aden!" He was quite put out when no more YouTube was forthcoming, but recovered enough to dance quietly around the living room, singing, "One two free four, countin countin nummer four," for a little while. And we watched it

Of course, child song love has drawbacks for grownups. First of all, I am pretty sure that the regular versoin of this song, which is probably not about counting chickens and penguins, is never going to sound "right"; I will always see dancing monsters when I think of it. And, second, but perhaps more important, I cannot get it out of my head.

I bet you can't either, now. You're welcome!