Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A peek behind the curtain...

I've always been an artist. I've always played with my food. It was only natural I should find a way to combine the two. Though, I'll admit...I was a little conflicted when Jacob requested a Millennium Falcon cake for his birthday. I figured I could pull something off...but could I pull it off while remaining true to the Geek within?

Google "Millennium Falcon cake"...an overwhelming barrage of pictures pops up immediately--filling the entire spectrum from Truly Suck to OMG Is That Really Cake? Since I'm not a professional and everything I know I've taught myself, I was aiming for somewhere in the middle.

Armed with a vague idea of construction, two delicious cake recipes (Better Homes & Gardens red cookbook) and a set of blue prints for the fastest ship in the galaxy (google...I love it)...I set out to make my most challenging cake yet...

One chocolate cake baked in a 10 inch round pan and one yellow cake baked in a 9 inch loaf pan. I usually use a special strip around the cake pan that helps it cook evenly and prevents it from doming up. I left that off this time since the dome actually worked to my advantage. And, despite my best efforts (Crisco and parchment paper), the loaf cake did not want to cooperate. It was the one being carved up anyway. Yeah...that'll show it.

I sliced the round cake in half and filled it with vast amounts of chocolate buttercream to give it some height. Then used the rest of the icing for mortar.

Thin crumb coat of icing and then into the 'fridge to firm up. Only so much decorating can be done with free roaming munchkins! So I cleaned up and made the marshmallow fondant (melted mini marshmallows, water and powdered sugar--it's really that simple). I've discovered it works better if it sits overnight.

Saturday evening...kiddos bathed and tucked into bed...Sean pulls out the birthday boy's bike to assemble and I start rolling marshmallow fondant. (Earlier in the day I had made the sensor dish, the top quad laser cannon and the cone shape for the cockpit so they could have a chance to harden.) There were a few final adjustments on the shape...the Geek inside would not shut up about the shape of the forward mandibles.

For the dark bits I simply added more black food coloring, rolled it out super thin and cut circles.

Once I started piping on the pipes and lines I kept asking Sean to come in and check--I have a habit of going too far, several curse words past when I should have set the piping bag down and walked away. We both agreed it should appear to be in flight. Which also gave me another color to use for the words. Sweet!

So there you have it. Not so difficult when broken down into bits, is it? Just imagine the possibilities!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's good to be the 5-year-old!

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself...Han Solo, Captain of the Millennium Falcon

May not be able to make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, but it's going to make a 5-year-old's head explode when he sees it!

Very surreal...seems like only yesterday I was throwing a pee stick at his daddy.

Happy Birthday, Little Man! Today, we celebrate YOU!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

flying time...

I love that my children have friends they will know for all of their lives. But they don't need to grow up quite so fast...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On being almost 5...

Tucking Jacob into bed tonight...

Good night, Little Man...I love you.

'Night, Mommy...love you too...sorry I had a bad day...

Oh, Sweetie...you really did have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day didn't you?

I don't like days like that...

Me neither, Sweetie...get a good night sleep and tomorrow will be better, okay?

Starting to cry again...But what if it's not?

Baby, then we'll both figure out how to deal with it.

Extra hugs and kisses for all.

Celebrating Daddys...

To all of you Dads out there...
You are loved, appreciated and admired far, far more than you know! Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Adapting to adjustments...

A very large part of surviving and thriving in this life we've chosen is the flexibility and adaptations to the daily adjustments. For the most part--a few loud hiccups now and then--we've adapted just fine.

Days have routine. Routines and schedules that little ones can depend on can make all of the difference between order and chaos. And as long as a routine remains relatively intact we can carry on with little to no friction or frustration. For example...the structure of the night time routine for my children has remained virtually unchanged since Jacob was three months old. We eat supper. We play and then we clean up toys. Then bath, jammies, stories and bed. Tell the little man that he's going to bed without a bath and he freaks. That is simply not How It's Done. So with this routine firmly in place, we can adapt to small changes with minimal effort and frustration.

For the past two nights their dad has had to leave just before their baths. But because they were already starting in on the nighttime routine they told him bye and good night and went on with the next step. There were no surprises. They knew what was coming next and they knew what to do. Tonight while I was tucking Kyleigh into bed she asked for her daddy and when I reminded her that he had to go back to work but he'd see her in the morning she accepted it, kissed me goodnight and snuggled down with her blanket.

One day our children will be beyond this kind of protection and they'll have to face Chaos on their own. Hopefully we're helping them learn the skills they need to do so. But for now, this is my Job. To keep their little world intact. Regardless.

So how do I handle it when my own world shifts? If last night is any indication...I'm a better teacher than student. I didn't do so well.

For the past ten years there has been a dog in the house. A very large dog. And even though he's been arthritic and near deaf for the past couple of years, he was still here. He still slept at the foot of the bed every night. For all of the years that Sean worked the midnight shift I was never concerned about being in the house alone. No one was sneaking past the beast. Even if they just tripped over him--I would still be alerted to an intruder.

Last night was the first night Sean hadn't been home since we lost Dakota. I was physically incapable of a sound sleep. Every sound woke me up. Every. Single. One. An old house emits a lot of noise in the dark. Even over the sound of the fan and the air conditioner in the window. Now, when Sean is gone, I am our children's first line of defense. It's another adjustment. I'll adapt. Somehow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Told you it was set on random...

A whole day to myself? Whatever shall I do?

I just happen to have a few unfinished projects laying around...

One of Jacob's birthday presents...done. Only broke one needle and made one emergency trip to the fabric store. We also picked up his new bike tonight...he is going to be one very delighted 5-year-old!

Found this adorable tie-died rick rack at the fabric store too. Not a clue what I'm going to make with it...most likely something cute and adorable for the wee girl.

Set on random...

Last I found myself driving home from my parent's all by myself. I had driven the Cherokee since the car seats in there are easier to remove than from the Jetta. The kiddos would be staying a couple of nights so their carseats needed to be installed in Babu's car. It was originally planned as a family outing...then Sean ended up stuck close to home all day on call due to stupid people playing with explosives. So, I made the most of it and enjoyed my rare hour alone.

Radio doesn't always come in out on country roads so I pulled one of the CDs out from the visor and, with a quick glace to see what it was, I put it in the player. A burned CD simply labeled "Country". In our house that could mean anything from Hank Williams Senior to Patsy Cline to Johnny Cash to George Jones, Willy Nelson, Sugarland or Miranda Lambert. Our musical tastes know few boundaries.

I knew the song from the first bars...and then the opening vocals were enough to make me roll over like a dachshund...

Jon Bon Jovi could sing the phone book to me and I'd melt into a puddle. A lot of times cross genre music couplings fall flat and come off like a cheap pr trick. However, Bon Jovi and Willie Nelson? Genius. They didn't do so bad with Sugarland either. Then again, see my remark about the phone book.

I was a Willie Nelson fan before it was the cool thing to be. My music collection in boarding school was a thing of mockery...Willie, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue, Billy Joel and the Eagles. I didn't care. I also had posters of motorcycles up on the wall while others had cute little "hang in there" kittens dangling from branches. I was mocked for a lot of things in school...but at least I had great music to console myself with.

"Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" will be song/played at my funeral (if there is one). Ironic, isn't it? Growing up I never gave my wedding any thought, but I have funeral plans all written down. Not too ironic, I suppose...I've always been more Tim Burton than Garry Marshall.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

fluids and fluidity...

Wee girl woke up this morning and declared that not only was she going to use the potty, she was going to wear underwear! Very well.

I moved her potty into the kitchen, put her in a pair of cotton training pants and tried to keep her contained in the playroom and kitchen--the only areas in the house that do not have wood floors.

Meanwhile, I occupied myself in the kitchen...sorting and re-organizing cabinets. Remember the ceiling fan incident?

Fill in the old screw holes, touch up the paint and no one will ever know there were supposed to be doors on those cabinets. At least, that's what I'm deluding myself with. We decided to remove the doors on the other set because it just looked lopsided otherwise. And very much like someone just forgot to put the doors back up.

My original de-cluttering idea was to box up non-frequently used items but turns out I was much more successful at actually throwing things away than I had thought I would be! My long suffering husband endured multiple rounds of, "What is this? Have we used it in the past three years? Seriously? You're asking me to keep it? Really? That's what I thought. Trash." He loves me.

And the girl? Soaked her first three pairs of underpants but then she got it! A little dribble and she'd go running for the potty. It took us almost two years before we had consistent success with her brother. I don't ask for much...but I'd like for her to be out of diapers in less than two years. Considering the success so far, I don't think we'll be anywhere close to that! Sweet. We could use something going smoothly for a change!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Place holder...

I have things to say. Really. I do. Big things. Important things.

Last night I sat down to finish a post I'd been working on and decided I'd rather read my book instead. How crazy was that?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today I learned...

When you inform a typically morning slug of an almost five-year-old that he's headed to the beach for the day...he gets dressed and brushes his teeth without being asked to do so.

Having spent the previous three hours being pummeled by the surf...Jacob will nap on the way home. His sister? Revived by a 20 minute cat nap, chattered the entire return trip.

Following the past week and a half of our lives, we're bruised but not broken. Beat up but certainly not beat down.

A day at the beach--even with it's almost four hour round trip drive--was exactly what we all needed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How not to remodel a kitchen...

Sometime ago...somewhere in the last fifty years...this old house received a kitchen makeover. They enclosed the side porch and enlarged the kitchen. Makes for a very open and airy space--part of the charm we fell in love with. However, they failed to add insulation in the ceiling--the only portion of the house not shaded by the massive oak--and the walls. The kitchen becomes an oven throughout the late spring and summer.

Today, we installed a ceiling fan over the the main stove/counter/island area. First making sure that the blades cleared the crown moulding. And it felt amazing! Wonderful cool breeze over me as I started work on supper. Then I opened the upper cabinet by the stove. We...um...forgot to check all clearance issues.

We've discussed various cabinetry remodeling. It was just further down the list then other things. Meh. Plans are fluid when one is the proud owner of an 80-year-old home!

We now have delightful open shelving cabinets. Very airy. And very revealing. There's a reason most kitchen cabinets have doors. But rearranging the contents of our kitchen cabinets is far, far simpler than shifting the light/fan fixture over another foot.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another goodbye...

With the exception of a few short periods of time, there has always been at least one animal in my home. Mainly dogs--there have been five very special doggies throughout the years--but there's also been a few cats here and there.

Ten years ago, following a year of semi-nomadicness, Sean and I found ourselves back in a position to adopt another pet. Since he was going to be gone at least half the year, the choice of pet was left up to me.

After a few visits to the local ASPCA I kept coming back to one kitty. A 3-year-old black and white short hair. The day we moved into our apartment Sebastian T. Cat moved in with us.

He slept curled up around my head until the day we brought home Jacob...apparently, kitties do not share their humans well with others. But he adjusted to life with not just one short human, but two. One of his favorite nap spots was under Jacob's and then Kyleigh's crib.

We were always made aware of changing temperatures by Sebastian's choice of sleep spots. Winter...on our bed, sometimes under the covers but usually just curled up in a ball at the foot. Summer...at the back door in the sunshine, or in a window if one was open.

Three years ago he was diagnosed with feline diabetes. Twice a day insulin shots and special diabetic management food made a huge differences and we believed he'd hang around a little longer. A couple of months ago we noticed a decline. His medical expenses have never been cheap but with Kyleigh's medical bills rolling in, we were faced with the heartbreaking choice to end his treatments. Over the course of the last several days he has steadily gotten worse. He missed Dakota as we all have. We had already made the appointment at the vet for this morning. Given his demeanor yesterday, I was actually surprised that he made it through the night last night.

This morning we sat down with Jacob and explained that Sebastian wasn't going to be coming back. He understood. There were tears. Sebastian and Dakota have always been a part of his life. It's been a hard week on us all.

I was with him at the end, watching his eyes as the pain left his little body.

Good bye, old friend. You're at peace now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A milestone...

Before anyone gets on to me...this was HIS idea!*

Happy Birthday, Daddy!
Enjoy the new mountain bike--it goes well with the medicare card!

*A cake that's decorated in all words?! Yeah...so not my idea. Way too much stress for a dyslexic. The only way I was able to get through it was to ignore the words and just pipe the symbols. But the expression and exclamations made it well worth it!