Saturday, April 28, 2007

Over the Top

This photo illustrates one of my most deeply ingrained tendencies: to overdo a creative project (especially when it involves my children). When faced with a creative opportunity related to my kids, I am likely to go completely "over the top" before it's all over. The thing is, so much of my life is not creative, so when I get a chance to do something artistic, I relish it and revel in it and just can't let it go until sometimes it's just a bit much (but in a good way).

Case in point, these little flowerpots I made for Scooter's birthday party. She wanted cupcakes instead of cake, and the theme was Spring. Well, it started out to be butterflies, then Scooter added bugs -- to appeal to the boys she invited, and then she wanted to add flowers. I decided I couldn't handle a three-part theme for the party, so I narrowed the focus by declaring Scooter's birthday party to be a Spring party, which left it open for me to include lots of different ideas.

So back to the flowerpots, which are actually ice cream cones with cake batter baked inside. (The hardest part about that was keeping the filled cones from falling while you transfer them to the oven.) The cupcake/cone/flowerpots turned out great, and I frosted them green. The flowers aren't flowers at all, of course, but jumbo gummy rings with six notches carefully cut (and somewhat evenly spaced) to make the ring look like a flower. (Yes, there are pieces of green gummy cut to look like leaves.) The blossom, stuck onto the end of a toothpick, is "planted" in the flowerpot.

I made 18 of these, and it was slow going. By the time I finished, it was past 3am and I was exhausted. But it gave me such pleasure to show them to Roo and Scooter the next morning. They thought the flowerpots were very cool, and later that day, I found a really cool holder for easter eggs, made out of bent colored wire. The cones stood up nicely where the eggs would go, and the birthday table looked really nice.

I had temporarily lost my camera, so I'll have to describe the party. To go with the flowerpot cupcakes, we had the Scooter favorite, mud pie (chocolate pudding with Oreo "dirt" crumbs, gummy worms, and bug-shaped graham crackers). We also had punch poured from a watering can. For the activities, the kids got to choose between bug stickers and flower stickers, and we decorated flower pots and played a version of musical chairs. I had to laugh when one of Scooter's grandma's later asked her what kind of party she had; she answered "um, it was a three-thinged party; I can't remember."

But she's still talking about the flower pots, and that's why I willingly and repeatedly go over the top when it comes to my kids. I try not to spoil them in any of the conventional ways that are bad for them: juice, soda, chips and other snacks, too much TV, expensive toys, etc. But when I'm old and they're on to lives of their own, I want them to remember something more than just how busy I was (and I am insanely busy sometimes). I want them to remember that occasionally, I went overboard just for them, that I made flowerpot cupcake cones when a store-bought cake likely would have been fine.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First In, First Out

When Roo was just over 7 months old, I wrote:

Shortly after my last message, we began feeling a bottom front tooth just under the gum. Shortly after, we saw two little teeth peeking out and they've been slowly emerging ever since. They're still not quite all the way out, but they're clearly visible and she's got quite the painful bite.

Well, what goes around comes around, because that same little tooth that I first felt under the gum in April 2001 is now tucked lovingly into a "tooth pillow" that's hanging on the girls' bedroom door. (Sister Johnson, from one of Mark's hometeaching families, makes the pillows and gave one to Roo and one to Scooter, and they were very excited to test one out.)

The tooth came out tonight at Girl Scouts. Roo's been wiggling it pretty religiously, and she says "I was wiggling my tooth, and all of a sudden, it came out in my hand!" There was only a little blood, but Roo and I had talked about that in advance so it didn't freak her out. She was very excited. She and Scooter insisted we take pictures and everything, and of course, Roo wanted to call several friends and family to share the big news.

True to how they came in, the other bottom tooth is wiggling too and will soon come out as well. Behind it the adult tooth is already visible and breaking through. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kitchen Conversations

So it's almost bedtime and I'm giving Roo and Scooter their "dinosaur medicine" (chewable vitamins) and ask them each to answer a math question in order to earn the prehistoric-shaped treat.

Scooter's is pretty easy: What's 4 plus 2? But I stump Roo with a time question (because she's learning about half-hours and quarter-hours at school). How many hours do I sleep if I take a nap at 2:00pm and wake up at 4:30pm?

She struggles for a minute and then gets a little upset, saying it's too hard, and Mark agrees with her. So I give in, but teasing a little with "Okay, I guess if you're as dim as your dad, I'll ask you easier questions." Mark feigns being insulted, and Roo quickly says, "But Mom!" (and I assume she's going to defend her father...) "You know I'm not as dim as Dad!"

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sad Fact

I think I am finally coming to grips with my own personal inconvenient truth: that Scooter (who will be 5 years old on April 8th) was my last baby.

I had always planned to have more (at least three in total, possibly five). But not having the first until I was 36 years old sort of automatically limited everything, eh? And with Mark's health scares in 2006, you start to wonder if maybe it's good you don't have more than two (in case you had to take care of them alone). But still it makes me sad to accept that I am the mother of only two (and guilty at the same time, because how many childless women out there would be overjoyed to be a mother at all!?).

I guess what I regret most is that I didn't know all along that she was my last. If I'd known, I might have held her a bit tighter and longer, or inhaled her sweet smell a little more deeply, or cherished every midnight nursing right up 'til the last one. As it is, I find myself wishing that I had paid more attention to the various "lasts" as they happened. Having two children 19 months apart was harder than I expected and those early years are one big blur of sleep deprivation, laundry marathons, and all the other crazy aspects of life with two babies. I wish I'd stopped more often to take a deep breath and focus, to remember every day that far too soon, I would have no babies at all.