Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm not Betty Crocker. I'm the Cake Lady's granddaughter.

The other day, I was telling Jake that I wanted to bake, and I have been having that urge pretty frequently lately. I've been making a lot of soups and such in our crock pot, and not baked much, but I've really had a strong urge to. So, on Saturday, I finally did.

I made soup and some delicious White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies with Almonds.

Generally, I'd say my cooking and baking skills are pretty decent. They're not superb, I'm certain, but on 98% of the time, what I make is edible, and at least somewhat enjoyable. And, for the most part, I've always loved working in the kitchen.

I blame my Grandma. But, I blame her in a great way, of course. As in, I appreciate what she instilled in me oh-so-many years ago. I used to help her bake cakes, cookies, bars, etc. I helped her create suppers and dinners, and even breakfasts. I loved working in the kitchen with her. I thought (and still do) she was the most amazing cook. In a way, I think I idolized her on some levels.

Since my grandma passed in 2007, I haven't been in the mood to bake or cook nearly as frequently. I don't know that it really has anything to do with her death, or more so the fact that on most days and nights, I'm home alone, and it's just not as fun for me to cook or bake for myself. So, I don't do it often.

But, as I mentioned, lately, it's such a strong desire.

I think I miss her more than I let myself believe. Her picture with me from our wedding day overlooks our couch, so I see her daily, but I guess I haven't let myself really miss her and revisit our memories much in a while.

I had a great time creating the bars I mentioned (and linked) above. I love watching all of the ingredients come together before my eyes. I love the smell of things in the oven. I love how when you put a bake-able in the oven, it comes out a different consistency, texture, and even size, sometimes.

I don't love waiting for things to cool so I can sample them. I deal.

When I was done with my creation, and it was cool, and I had it frosted and beautiful, I took a sample, and fell in love with it. I was so excited that I posted it on my blog right away and on Facebook, and text my mom to tell her how good they were.

My mom, my aunt (her sister), and my uncle showed up not long after, and they sampled them too (well, my mom did a while later), and they LOVED them. Jake loved them. My aunt and uncle each had seconds because they loved them so much. And Kat (my aunt), text me on the way home to tell me how much they loved them. And she posted on Facebook, more than once, how amazing and delicious they were.

I'd say they were a hit.

I won't lie, I love hearing that my creations are tasty. But for some reason, when my mom and my aunt and my uncle and my husband were telling me how great these bars were, I was really filled with a sense of pride. Why? I didn't create the recipe or anything. I just followed the instructions, and served.

But, still, I was filled with pride.

I sat and mulled it over for a bit, and I realized why I felt that way.

I felt like their compliments, especially my mom and my aunt, meant more than compliments usually do.

Because they shared my grandma's baked goods too. They grew up with them, too. They enjoyed them for years.

And, I felt that, somewhere deep down, they were probably thinking and reflecting on my grandmother's baked goods.

To me, it felt like they were, in an unspoken and maybe unconscious way, comparing me to the "master" of the kitchen, Grandma Leora. They were saying that I did a great job. And through them, I felt like Gma was telling me "good girl. Great work!"

I might be imagining it, but that's how I felt.

And it felt good.

Ever since Saturday, I've been thinking about those compliments, and my grandma, a lot more than usual. I just can't get her, the memories, and the joy of baking out of my mind.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday! (And also, bedtime wars part 23.3423)

Today is my beloved husband's birthday! I have been making fun of him a little bit for a few weeks, about how he's getting old. Granted, he isnot old. He's one year older than I am, and I'm not old, so... yeah. But, I like to poke fun, all in a good nature, anyway. He takes it like a pro. It's also his twin brother, Jesse's birthday (which I know, sounds obvious, but sometimes...)! Happy birthday, dearests!

Sad story. Jake had to work all day today. In fact, tonight is his overnight route, so he doesn't even come home! Okay, that's only sad for me, because he'll get a peaceful night's sleep tonight, while
there's a 50/50 chance of that at home. More on that soon.

My husband is awesome. This is evident by all these wonderful pictures (courtesy my friend Rena after a wonderful Skype session a month or two ago).

Oh wait, that seems like an odd way to prove his awesomeness. Well, let's see. He works SUPER hard, and long hours, in the crappy weather, and all that, to provide for Spencer and
I. While I complain about him being gone, I know he is doing it to support us. He makes me laugh. He makes Spencer laugh. He gets up with
Spencer at night! He is a fantastic musician. He's a wonderful friend.

And stuff.

Seeing as how I knew I'd only see him for about 23 minutes on his actual birthday, I decided we would celebrate it yesterday instead.

I started off by leaving the house with the baby in the morning. Okay, that wasn't for his sake, but
rather, Spencer and I went to visit the Hedgehogs (that's the name of the room I used to work in before I had Spencer). When we came back, I
brought Jake his favorite Starbucks beverage. That'd be a venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte with extra caramel drizzle on top. It smells, and tastes, like a gooey cinnamon roll, if you're wondering.

Then I made an awesome batch of soup, an original creation (recipe found here, because now I have a food blog), that he downright loved.

Tarah came and took Spencer for six hours, and
Jake and I went to the movies. We saw Breaking Dawn. Yup, we did. And we were the only ones in the theater, so I got to play "Mystery Science
Theater" and Jake let me make any snarky comments I want. And he laughed REALLY loud, because he could. Woot.

Then, I took him for a fancy-pants surprise supper. Well, he knew we were going to eat, but he didn't know where. I'm a really bad liar, so he didn't even guess, because he didn't want to ruin my surprise (for once, haha). I took him to Carnaval Brazillian Grill, which was AMAZING. Robert and Jillian joined us. We spent a good two hours there, enjoying the feast, laughing our buttoxes a size smaller, and having good conversation. Yes, it was fantastic.

After, we went and got our little man, and Jake read him a story or four, before giving him a bath and putting him to bed. Then, we watched a little tv (or TV on DVD) and went to bed.

Oh, and for the record. I wore MAKE-UP yesterday. Full out make-up, even. With foundation and everything. That's special, I tell you. I generally skip all make-up, except maybe mascara (which I accidentally told Jake I would be wearing "Marsala" instead of "mascara" thanks to my phone's auto-correct), because I feel like if I wear full-out make-up, I look almost like a drag queen. Okay, maybe not, but I feel like it looks odd on me. Though, yesterday, I think I actually looked kind of nice.

I asked Jake today, and he said he enjoyed his birthday celebration very much.


But... NOT succesfully... do I... put our son to sleep. Ever. Anymore. It seems.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying anything I can think of (that's sane and reasonable, anyway) to get Spencer to go to sleep with minimal fighting. It's just not working. I don't know what the issue is. Well, sometimes I have a good night and he goes to sleep easily.

The most frustrating part to me is that it seems like what works one night is NEVER the same as what will work another. For example, one night, rocking him to sleep worked. The next, pretending to cry on the floor of his room. Another night, pretending to sleep while he screamed in his crib, eventually falling asleep, too. Jake puts him to sleep by playing guitar and suggested that to me, and I tried, but that just made him even more mad. Some nights, rocking him to sleep torques him off pretty badly. Sometimes, singing "You Are my Sunshine" is the key to getting him to sleep, but other nights, it just fuels his anger.

I'm at such a loss.

Confession: it makes me feel like a bad mom! And, it's making me hate (maybe not quite that strong.. despise) bedtime.


Tonight, it took almost two hours of getting him to wind down and fight him to sleep. What worked? Letting him scream for twenty minutes before laying him face down in his crib and patting his back somewhat hard. Go figure.

And lately, again, he's waking up multiple times a night. And if I go into the room to put him to sleep, he just gets more mad than if Jake does, which is utterly confusing and frustrating to me.

Anyway, so, at night, I find myself feeling like a bad mom, because I can't figure this out. At all. Jake says he thinks I'm a fantastic mom, but he hasn't told me why. Clearly, my "get our son to sleep" skills do not rank that highly, so... there must be something good.

I guess I will go lay in bed now and try to fall asleep. Have I ever confessed that on Jake's overnight routes I have a very difficult time sleeping, because I worry that I will die in my sleep and no one will check up on me and Spencer will go an entire day stuck in his crib, painfully hungry, thirsty, soiled, sad, mad, and lonely. Guh. EVERY WEEK that keeps me up.

Okay, adios for the evening.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To be, or not to be... Mrs. Claus?

(Before I begin, I typed "Mrs. Claus" into Google to find an image to put in my blog (you know, for artsy-fartsy purposes), and the majority of them were pretty skanky. Well, maybe not the majority, but there were way too many.)

I have been dwelling on this question for the majority of the afternoon.

This afternoon, during nap time, when all the kids at work were sleeping, I was checking out my Facebook news feed on my phone. A friend of mine had a status regarding her young son not believing in Santa Claus, and not knowing why people make such a big deal of him (in a nutshell). She went on to explain that neither she, nor her husband, grew up with a Santa Claus belief in their families, so it's natural for them to raise their children to know that Santa is a "fairy tale."

There were a few responses from other people, and most of them mentioned that their families don't "do the Santa thing" either.

My friend had mentioned that it's easy for them to not do it (as I think I already stated), but those who may have grown up believing in Santa and such might have a more difficult time deciding what to do for their children.


Up until that point, I had never really thought about whether or not to do the Santa thing with my children or not. Nope, hadn't really crossed my mind.

Funny enough, a business page that I "like" on Facebook also asked their fans if they do the Santa thing in their families just minutes after I started contemplating. More of them said that they do.

I grew up in a family that did have a Santa tradition. My husband, when I asked him whether or not he did, said "not really" (which he didn't explain, so I hope he will later).

I asked Jillian, and she said that she and Robert both grew up without a real Santa tradition... more or less.

I can't decide, still, "officially," if I want Spencer to have a Santa tradition, or to what extent, if he did.

Here's my thought process, currently (to which I discussed aloud with Jillian during nap):

I feel like he doesn't need one. I had one, but looking back, I don't really see the point. I mean, yes, Santa brings gifts. But why?

We are Christian in this household, and for as long as I can remember, I have known the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus was born! Hallelujah!

So, why celebrate an imaginary character?

The wisemen brought gifts to Jesus. People came to celebrate his arrival. Joy and love abounds.

We can easily recreate those things without Santa. In fact, shouldn't we? I think we should. I know every family feels differently, so by no means am I implying anyone is right or wrong here. But really, we give gifts at Christmas, to show love, or appreciation, and to celebrate the spirit of giving. I love giving gifts. I intend on giving my children gifts for this reason. I have always felt like Christmas was also about family. Relationships. Joy. Love. Spending time together and making memories. Jesus had family with him celebrating these things, right? And we should too. My favorite Christmas memories are related to spending time with family and loved ones.

Yes, I remember trying so hard to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, "knowing" "Santa" was coming overnight with a bunch of loot. It was awesome, because that meant we were "good kids" all year (pfft, what is that?) and so we were being rewarded by this fictitious dude who went down.. chiminies (which I never believed (we didn't have a fireplace)) and drove a flying sled powered by reindeer (seriously?) and visited EVERYONE in the WORLD overnight. BAH! And it was awesome to wake up in the morning and have a bunch of new gifts.

But, why can't Spencer wake up on Christmas morning, and have the excitement of gifting, but have it be for a real, good reason? That reason being that his mom and dad know his interests, work hard to provide for him, love him to pieces, and want to celebrate that love for him by giving him something special?

As Jillian put it (if I can recall almost precisely), we would be giving gifts to Spencer to celebrate our love for him, and the joy we feel having him, because he is our miracle, much like the reasons Jesus was given gifts by the wise men. He was, too, a long awaited miracle worth celebrating.

And, as Jillian also said, why give the "credit" to this dude who doesn't exist? We work hard and spend time planning, preparing, and spending money to provide these tokens for our children, and then they have no idea until they're older that it's really their parents who love them and not some old dude living in the snow.


I suppose we could just tell our children (I am hoping/praying/unsafely assuming we will have more than one someday) the story of St. Nicholas and where the "Santa" story comes from.

But then, I wonder, how do I explain it to my children, the falsity of Santa Claus? What if their friends question them, or bring it up? How do I prepare them for that? And am I "robbing" Spencer of "Santa memories" or the anticipation that I had as a child?

I just don't know.


No, I don't think my son is a divine, heavenly, diety, so I hope you're thinking that's the comparision. It's not, not at all.

(And, in another sidenote, I am guilty of becoming "addicted" (I say that lightly, because I can't think of a "lesser value" synonym) to watching Glee on Netflix. And there's an episode where a high schooler is still TOTALLY on the Santa train. It is absolutely freaking ridiculous, though, kind of amusing, won't lie.)