Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In Some Ways, Bean is Still With Us: Part 2

This morning I was groggily preparing breakfast for Jack after quite a night. (I went to bed late, and then was paged at 12:45, and 3:45, and Jack was up to be nursed at 5am and then up for the day at 7:30.) I was starting my work day, and cooking something for Jack and I left the cabinet open, and Jack helped himself to a tube of graham crackers. I didn't think he could open them, and he was having a great time walking around crinkling. With all the crinkling, I knew where he was without having to watch him, so it seemed like a great way to keep him occupied for 3 minutes. Then for some reason, I walked down the hallway and back. When I got back, Jack had half a graham cracker in each hand and the balance in his mouth. He was smiling and saying, "Nom! Nom nom nom!" Cracker crumbs were tumbling down his pjs and all over the floor.

Cute, funny, not all that harmful. I plopped him into his highchair and gave him the rest of his breakfast. But where were the rest of the graham crackers? Where was the bag? I walked around looking to no avail. Then Luke woke up and asked what I was doing. I said, "I think Jack hid a bag of graham crackers somewhere so he could snack whenever he wanted." In their short time together, Bean really did some serious knowledge transfer.

Ten minutes later Luke was yelling, "I hear crinkling! Jack is feeding himself a snack!" And Jack was indeed, behind the curtains in the dining room, helping himself to a cracker.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

Jack seems to be on the verge of talking. We got a Christmas card that had dogs in the picture and when Jack saw it he said, "Da! Oof!" (Dog, woof.) And he seems to be saying "ca" a lot for car. But probably the most exciting thing, because it's a very important little boy milestone, is that he can now make a siren sound. And better than that, it's captured on video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread House

From December

Last weekend was the Annual Gingerbread House Making Party at my over-achieving friend's house. The house plans were designed by an architect friend and I really want him to publish a book of gingerbread house plans before next Christmas so that I can purchase it.

I have arrows pointed to all the outdoor equipment that Luke built for his house. Starting on the left and going clockwise, we have an orange gumdrop snowboarder, a police car (already partially consumed by Dave), an orange gumdrop scooter, and finally a sled.

I made Dave redecorate 3 times because I hadn't taken a picture yet and he kept eating all the gumdrops. But now that the picture has been taken, the house can be eaten! In the past I have made everyone wait until after Christmas, until it's good and stale. Then I say, "I'll leave this out for one day and we can eat as much as we want and then I'll get rid of the rest." Then we forget and go somewhere and leave the gingerbread house on the counter and Bean eats the whole thing. So this year, we aren't waiting. In fact, the awning has already been consumed. Yum!

One more view of the scooter/snow jet ski and a shot of the peppermint ATV:
From December

On Being Careful What You Wish For

I have sent a lot of cookies to a lot of people over the last several years, and the recipients always say, "thanks" and "they were delicious" but I always wonder if they mean it. I mean, what else are you going to say to someone who baked you an assorted variety of Christmas cookies, then lovingly packaged and shipped them? "Um, they aren't as good as store bought" or "They were a little stale" or "Well, they were broken into a million crumbs, but I ate them over ice cream"?

I thought I solved the problem of wondering how they taste by trying to slowly eat all the cookies that I didn't send over the course of 5 days and noting any change in freshness or deliciousness. But that process does not take into account the shaking of the box, temperature fluctuations, or as Laura pointed out yesterday, the amount of exhaust the cookies would absorb.

So this year, after I sent Dave off to the shipping store, I was thinking about the whole thing all over again. Do people like to get cookies in the mail? I think I have received cookies in the mail twice and Bean is the only one who knows how the first set turned out. The second set were professionally made and were part of a miscarriage related care package, so they were delicious, but tinged with grief.

And so, and so, and so. So I thought, "Maybe I should ship some cookies to myself and see how they taste when they get here." This thought was dismissed after about 5 seconds of contemplation because, "only a crazy person would ship cookies to themselves to see how they taste. Right?" and "that seems like a lot of work."

Then I checked voice mail the other day, for the first time in several weeks apparently, and I found out that the cookies I had shipped to my cousins girlfriend, who I have in the handmade-gift exchange, did not receive her cookies because they had been returned to sender. So two days later, I finally made it to the package store to pick them up and when the guy handed me the box I said, perhaps a little too excitedly, "well, now we have a box of cookies to eat! And we can see if they still taste good!" I was talking to Luke, but the guy at the counter said, "Wow. Way to find a silver lining."

So the cookies were pretty much as good as they were when I sent them, so I still don't really know if the cookies are as good as they are in my mind, but they weathered their travels to Cleveland and back pretty well. Some were a little stale, but my instructions say specifically to dunk them in milk or coffee if they are stale, so that solves that problem.

And all I had to do was think, maybe I should ship some cookies to myself, and poof! It happened! Well, I had to make the wish and transpose a 9 and a 2, but you get the idea. This is not the first sort of lame wish I have made that has come true.

New Years Resolution Number 1: Start wishing for cooler things!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Some Ways, Bean is Still With Us

I was comparing present-wrapping back-ache stories with my mom on Sunday. She stands at the table to wrap and a friend asked, "Why not sit down?" She was flummoxed. Why not sit down indeed? Well, because she is too short to sit down and wrap presents. She wouldn't be able to see over the present to the scissors and tape. I sit down to wrap, but I do my wrapping on the floor, which causes it's own problems. OK, it causes the same problems which is why my back was hurting too,

I have a touch of the shortness myself, so I can't imagine sitting at the table to wrap presents either. And really, it's that time of year when every surface in my house is covered with cookies, or cookie making ingredients, or cards, stamps and address lists, or let's be honest, dinner from two nights ago that hasn't been cleaned up all the way.

So this year, as always, I sat down on the floor of my bedroom and surrounded myself with presents, wrapping paper, tape, scissors and old cards that I cut up to use as gift tags.

And I was thinking about what a hassle it used to be at this time of year with Bean. You never knew if a present would be safe under the tree, because what if it was a food item? Did I want the present unwrapped and eaten by Bean? Not really. (The Christmas Poop Story is a story for another day. 13 years is not enough time for that to be funny yet.) And he liked to help wrap presents. And by help, I mean he liked to be in the middle of whatever I was doing. If I rolled out some wrapping paper, he liked to lay down on it. If I was about to wrap a sweater, he would lay down on it. And so on. So pretty much every present I wrapped had some amount of dog hair attached to the tape, if not all over the present itself.

So, as I was wrapping presents this year, I was missing Bean, my wrapping buddy. The way I missed him was to repeatedly say to myself, wow, it is so nice that there isn't dog hair everywhere. OK, I wasn't really missing Bean, but I was thinking about him a lot. Then I ran out of the new wrapping paper and had to scrounge around for some leftover from years passed. And when I rolled out the paper, what did I see? Dog hair.

And here is Bean helping us unwrap presents last year:

From New Album 1/10/08 2:53 PM

Miss you Bean!

Bonus picture (I can't tell you how many times Jack made that exact face today):

"Oh, don't mind me. I am just resting my head in the general vicinity of the candy that is coming out of your stocking. "

From New Album 1/10/08 2:53 PM

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Season of Giving

Dave and Luke and Jack went shopping for my Christmas presents on Sunday and then wrapped them and put them under the tree. Luke is very excited about my present, but he was a little bothered by the fact that there weren't any presents under the tree for him. Last year he got PJs and an ornament from me, and this year I planned for the same. But he already knows about the PJs, and the ornament isn't that big of a deal. So when he asked what I would be giving him for Christmas I said nothing. Santa will be bringing all your gifts! This was an unsatisfactory answer for many reasons, but mostly because that meant nothing under the tree for X more days. We discussed it for a while but he wasn't able to talk me into giving him a present.

An hour later Luke approached me with a new strategy. He was very serious. A tad choked up.

"Mom. Christmas is a season of giving. And I am a little worried about you. Because you aren't giving me anything. "

Poor kid. He just wants to make sure I experience the season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where in the World is MetaMegan?

This weekend, when I could have been working on Christmas cards
From December

I was baking.
From December

I made Challah bread from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. (Aside: since I had a loaf of challah bread on hand, I decided I needed to make the number 57 sandwich from the now defunct Zachary's Deli in Athens, OH. It is a grilled cheese, with spinach, tomato, and garlic aioli on challah. But what kind of cheese? I can't really remember. If any MetaMegan readers know the answer, please leave it in the comments. Thanks!) *** Update - it's the #41 Drey's Fusion, and it's provolone. Thanks Eliot!

I have a bunch of stuff to blog about just as soon as I send out those cards! And to tide you over, here is one of the many outakes from the many Christmas card photo shoots:

From December

OK, one more:
From December

Friday, December 12, 2008


We have determined that Jack may or may not have some food/detergent/other allergies. I am trying to investigate scientifically, but it is quite difficult when I just want his face to not be red and bumpy in time for the Christmas card photo shoot. The one thing Jack and I have been doing is treating his face with a homemade oatmeal/yogurt mask. It does seem to help.

From November

And he really enjoys it.

From November

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is There Anything Cuter Than a Baby Dressed as Santa, Sitting on a Box of Diapers and Playing the Blues?

Pretty cute.

And as an added bonus, I finally captured some steps on film. It took so long, that he is almost too coordinated here. I still hope to capture that new to walking stagger, but I'd better be quick!

Note: Remote controls are very important tools for reaching new milestones.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baking Photo Round Up

Did you think I was so nervous about baking with Jack that I wouldn't take a picture? Because that is crazy.

From November

And here are some cookies that won't be shared:

From November

Laura's gingerbread people:

From November

This one is me. You can tell because of the Victoria's Secret Hair. What does that mean? I don't know. I am glad that it's the hair that makes this cookie look like me, or else I may need to tone down my bedazzled bell bottoms.

From November

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It Nearly Happened To Me

Panic Attack Magazine has a section called, "It Happened to Me!" where parents can write in about how their bad or lax parenting led to a near disaster, or more often, how something that would never in a million years occur to you as dangerous, is actually a crisis waiting to happen. Well, I think this weekend I may have come up will a potential submission.

Today was my (8th) annual cookie baking extravaganza, and in years past I have spent the days and weeks and months leading up to this day diligently planning. There are excel spreadsheets to be made with egg, butter, flour tallies, dough to be pre-made and frozen, recipes to be tested, cookies to be pre-made, icing recipes to be pondered over, and so on. This year, I don't know, I am either getting lazy, or mildly over committed. Or maybe I need to be committed? Instead of doing a lot of ingredient planning, I just went to costco and got 4 pounds of butter, 18 eggs, 7 pounds of sugar and a 20 pound bag of flour. Then I went to king soopers and bought 10 heath bars. Then I went back to king soopers and got 2 pounds of brown sugar. When I was at Target I got 2 pounds of chocolate. Then I went back to King Soopers and got 18 more eggs. And so on.

I did test one recipe last week and it was so delicious that I ate almost all of the cookies and then decided that since I am not going to the gym I should definitely not make those again. Or maybe I should since I still have another 5 heath bars and a pound of chocolate left over. (Those are the two main ingredients.) Short story long, all the pre-making of cookies, pre-making of dough, cleaning the kitchen, planning of the hor-dourves and drinks, and everything else, took place between the hours of 9am (when Jack and I got up for the third and final time of the morning) and 1pm when my cookie baking partners in crime arrived instead of over the last few weeks.

Where is the bad parenting? I am just about to get to that. While I was trying to clean the kitchen, Jack got everything out of the bench and put half of it in the oven warming drawer. And then he took half the stuff out of the lazy susan and scattered it all over the floor. Then he wrapped his arms around my legs and wouldn't let go. At this point, when I am cooking, I usually put him in the sling.
From Jack's birthday

But I was so tired...

So I got all the ingredients out, and all the measuring utensils out, and I put the bumbo on the counter (mine is old enough that it can without the warning not to place it on the counter) and I crammed Jack into the bumbo, and I gave him a measuring cup for each hand, and I started mixing sugar cookies. Jack was happy, and not trying to escape, cookie dough was being mixed and I was not getting a pain in my shoulder from the sling. All was right with the world. Until. Until I realized I didn't have the vanilla. So should I take Jack out of the bumbo, set him on the floor, take two steps back, get the vanilla, pick Jack up, put him back in the bumbo, or somewhere actually safe, and then finish the dough? Yes. Yes, I should, but I didn't. I just made eye contact with Jack, slowly took one step back, then another, opened the cabinet door, grabbed the vanilla, never taking my eyes off of Jack, took two steps forward and was back in place, right in front of my precious baby. I have made this sugar cookie recipe every year for 8 years. I can do it with my eyes closed. I can do it while staring at my happy baby who is not in anyway attempting to injure himself by falling off the counter.

And then it happened. Well, then it almost happened. It almost happened to me. While still making eye contact with my happy, smiling, safe baby, I started to pour a teaspoon of vanilla into the measuring spoon. Vanilla? Nope, not vanilla. I had grabbed the apple cider vinegar. Thank the Lord for the heightened senses that mothers experience when they put their babies in harms way for the sake of getting some cookie dough made. Because I caught a whiff of that vinegar and managed to stop myself before I poured it into the dough. Crisis averted people! But tragedy almost happened to me!!!

So I took Jack out of the bumbo, put him on my hip, walked two steps to the cabinet, took out the vanilla (exact same size bottle) and walked two steps back to the counter and put Jack back into the bumbo and then continued my cookie dough recipe.

What do you think? Is this a good scary nightmare story, from which Panic Attack Magazine readers can learn a valuable lesson? Never, never store the apple cider vinegar right next to the vanilla. It almost ruined a batch of sugar cookies.

P.S. I have lots of cute pictures from today, but I don't know where the card reader is. Soon. I promise.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Panic Attack Magazine: A Thousand and One Ways That Christmas Can Kill You

This month Dave got to enjoy Panic Attack Magazine because I read it to Dave, Luke and Grandad on the way to Eldora last weekend. Luke loves it because of all the recipes for sweets and pictures of junk food and toys. Dave mostly ignored me, but I think some of the message sunk in.

We learned that you need to bleach your tree trunk, let it dry out in the driveway, clean off mold and allergens, never let your tree dry out, put your tree up immediately, and don't leave it for more than a month.

Inspect each ornament for dust, dirt, wear, tear, frayed edges, and allergens.

Call ahead to ask your hostess not to use scented candles that can inflame airways. Call ahead, people.

Also, know that your baby could pull on the stockings and get clocked in the head by a clunky ornament holder. And once again, a little bit of panic crept in. Dave busted me when he saw the naked stocking holders, with the stockings limply laying on the chair, homeless. "Yup. Good job avoiding a head injury."

In other news, posting once a day for the entire month of November caused me to get burned out, hardly write anything, post only pictures, and take Dec 1 off. Then the cable was out on the 2nd. When I got home from the PTA meeting on the 3rd, I had to do a whole days worth of work due to the cable outage, plus watch the last two episodes of Band Of Brothers. See, I bet I never even said anything about how our latest TV obsession was Band Of Brothers, and now it's all over.

So, now I have to ease back into the posting thing, and after writing about how ornaments and trees can kill you, I don't even have time to cover the fact that your children will have holiday meltdowns, and be afraid of Santa, and I am not even going to touch the fire safety. Sigh.

If I can find the memory card reader, I should have cute pictures for tomorrow though!