Sunday, 21 June 2009

Cupcakes? Don't Ask Me Twice!

On Friday, the kids and I were running around, completing a variety of errands. One of the the places we were headed was Michael's, the craft store. As we pulled into the center that houses Michaels, Clover piped up from the back seat, "Hey, Blythe, look! New York Cupcakes."

She was right. It was an adorable little pink-and-white shop, and we were driving past it. This problem had to be fixed immediately!

I turned the car around in the parking lot, and headed back to the shop. We parked outside and peered in, entranced by the fluffy, cupcake-y goodness of the store. They even had a pink refrigerator.

"I wonder if they have mini cupcakes," I pondered. The kids suggested that maybe this was worth a quick look. You know, just to satisfy our curiosity.

Casually, like we had been planning this all day, we sauntered into the store. Our eyes grew wide. It was even better inside! No mini cupcakes greeted us, however. We were disappointed for a minute, and then caught a glimpse of the full size cupcakes. Oh man, they looked good.

I glanced down at the children. They looked up at me, knowing perfectly well that I was already eager to experience this cupcake situation, and that begging and whining would work against them. The waited to see what I would do.

"I'll make you a deal," I said. "If you guys pinkie promise to eat healthy lunches, then we can get cupcakes now and save them for dessert." What kid wouldn't take up that offer? They stuck out their pinkies, and we linked them, one at a time.

Then we got down to the Very Serious Business of deciding which cupcakes to get. Finally, Clover decided that she would go with lemon, and Neptune and I each got chocolate with butterscotch frosting.

Then, cupcakes carefully encased in a layer of plastic, we headed to Michael's. Before too long, we were home again, and all were eyeing the cupcakes. I whipped up lunch-- complete with apple slices and green beans for Clover, and blueberries and sugar snap peas for Neptune.

And after that?
Oh, then it was cupcake time!

At first they looked kind of like this:

But before too long, this is all that was left:

Saturday, 20 June 2009

"When you hear that final bell, drop your books and run like ---"

Did you ever sing that song on the last day of school? At the elementary school I went to in Indiana, it was expected that the last day of school would bring a chorus of:

No more pencils, no more books
No more teachers' dirty looks
When you hear that final bell,
Drop your books and run like hell!

The most rebellious of us would actually say "hell," and then giggle hysterically. Their bravado was not matched by the rest of us, who would substitute a loud "BEEEEP," or sometimes just clap our hands over our mouths, making sideways eye contact to appreciate the disobedience of what we almost said.

Where am I going with this, you may ask? Well, Thursday was the Last Day of School for Clover and Neptune, and they are now officially on summer vacation! You can tell for sure, because it rained all of yesterday. Such is life in the PNW.

The last week of school brought all sorts of different activities, but most notable from my perspective were the class parties. Both Neptune's kindergarten morning tea and Clover's 3rd grade class party were on the same day but, thankfully, at different times. I went to both.

Neptune's morning tea was so darn cute. The kids performed colour songs, letter songs, BINGO, and-- my personal favourite-- the goonie bird song. I wish I could accurately convey the hilarity over a blog, but it's really impossible. They all had homemade bird hats, though, if that is any indication. The best moment of the programme, though, was during that song, "Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink.Skinnamarink-a-doo I love you." It came with a whole prescribed set of gestures, but on the line "I love you," Neptune defected from the ranks entirely, and pointed at me. It was adorable.

And then we had rainbow cake. That was pretty great too.

After Neptune's morning tea, I grabbed lunch and then headed to Clover's party. I was moderately disappointed that the 3rd graders didn't sing, but managed to get over it. I poured soda over ice cream and handed out rootbeer floats, and watched the kids freak out from the sugar high. Hey, I was entertained, and that's what this is all about, right?

That afternoon, our unofficial playgroup, consisting of Lynn, Fleur, Penguin and another family and their nanny (a total of 8 nannies and 3 kids, including us), headed over to a park with a beach. We threw water balloons, splashed in the lake, and buried the children in the sand (which they requested, I promise!). It was definitely insane, but the kids had fun and so did the nannies. Happiness all around!

And thus begins summer vacation. More stories from Friday once I get my pictures off my camera!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

What's in a name?

Clover and Neptune no longer like their nicknames-- not their blog nicknames, but the actual names that everyone calls them. For the sake of argument, we'll say that Clover's real name is Elizabeth, and Neptune's is Andrew.

When I left their house Friday evening, they were called Lizzie and Andy, as they had been their entire lives. By the time I showed up again on Monday, Lizzie had a sign on her door that read "Beth's room," and Andy made it clear that he wanted to be known as "Rattler" from now on.

Or maybe "Viper."

He hasn't quite decided.

Clover is more than determined, more than steadfast. People will call her Beth, and they absolutely will not call her Lizzie. Woe betide them if they should try!

I am sitting back and waiting, eager and amused to see how the whole thing turns out...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wait... What?

Clover's school has a third grade talent show, and all the children who wanted to participate had to sign up by last Friday. She decided that the talent she wanted to demonstrate was taking a picture with her feet.

That's, well, an interesting concept...

Made more interesting by the fact that she doesn't know how to do it.


Monday, 8 June 2009

Weekend, Shmeekend

What a successful weekend!

On Friday, I did a really impressive job at turning 22. The kids got out of school at 12:00, and we had pizza and cupcakes for lunch with our friends Fleur, Penguin, and their nanny Lynn. After lunch, Lynn and I took the kids to meet other friends (code names yet to be determined)-- three kids with their nanny. Yes, there were 7 kids and 3 nannies involved in this outing! And where were we going, so loudly and enthusiastically?

To see Up! Greatest. Pixar. Film. Ever. If you haven't seen it, please scurry out and do so. If you HAVE seen it, please join me in quoting it allthetime. (Who else thought the greatest character was Doug? He made me laugh through the entire film.)

After the movie, we hurried home to get Fleur and Clover ready for soccer, and then I left to go get ready for my birthday dinner.

Hammer and Wednesday both live in the greater Seattle area, and Joanna drove up from Oregon to celebrate as well. (Can you believe that she drove 3 1/2 hours to come celebrate a birthday? She's great, I tell you.) Lynn met us at the restaurant, and we all had a perfectly lovely time. I love PF Chang's. It is easily my favourite restaurant, and I love any and all excuses to go there. Coconut curry vegetables with tofu? I could eat that until I drop.

After a rolicking good time at PF Chang's, the five of us returned to my house to have cake with my family, thus continuing the good times. I have had the same delicious chocolate cake every year since I turned 10. There is a reason for this. It is unbelievable.

(Side note: Wednesday and I had a conversation last semester about who made the best chocolate cake. We agreed to a bake off this summer... until she tried the chocolate cake we had at my birthday, and realised that our cakes were exactly the same!)

Following cake, we headed out to My Favourite Bar Ever-- Bleu. It's on Broadway in Seattle, and is just an all around interesting place. It's teeny, and each little table is sectioned off with red curtains, so it's just you and your group. Our server was hilarious, calling Hammer "brother" when he ordered, and generally being really friendly and enthusiastic. We all ordered a series of different drinks, and passed them around the table so everyone could taste them. I started off with a raspberry lemon drop-- the most memorable drink from my 21st birthday! Other notable drinks include Gin Fizzes, Long Island Iced Teas, and Mojitos. At the end of the evening, I was given a Birthday Cake Shot (peculiar little beasty of a drink) and told that, as the birthday girl, I couldn't possibly pay for my drinks.

So I didn't have to.

And then he gave me two of those Andes mints instead of one. THAT is going above and beyond as a server, my friends!

The following couple of days were much more low key, and on Sunday Joanna and I headed out to Pike Place Market for a while. I think Pike Place Market is just such a fun mix of tourists and locals, food and crafts, flowers and oddities.

And that was my weekend.

I hope yours was great as well!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Well, knock me over with a feather!

My friends, something remarkable has happened.

Clover, who likes two vegetables, and two vegetables only (green beans and spinach)...

Clover, who can reliably be expected to eat only a handful of different food items...

Clover, who is likely to hate a food item on sight...

Yes, THAT Clover--

She likes tofu.

I found out last night, when I made it for dinner.

Well, knock me over with a feather.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Perfect Moments

When I was young, I read the book Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. It was one of those wholesome, girl-on-a-farm-growing-up sort of books, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. (Incidentally, I also was infatuated with Anne of Green Gables by the same author.) One of the things that characterised Emily was what she called "the flash." When "the flash" happened, everything around her appeared to be unbelievably beautiful. She described it as if the curtain veiling the faery world had been pulled back for the briefest of moments.

I don't experience "the flash," of course, but I do have similar moments. Ever now and then I realise that everything is just about perfect. Yesterday evening, I had one of those moments.

I was laying on a beach chair by the lake as the kids propelled themselves around in their neon inner tubes. They were laughing and splashing and yelling, "Blythe, watch this!" and "Hey, Blythe! Blythe! Did you see that??" Of course, I saw it all-- the twirling, the paddling backwards and-- my personal favourite-- the tipping backwards into the water.

We threw the biggest rocks we could into the lake, and watched the explosive splashes. We played "fetch." The moon was slowly coming out, the air was clear, and the sky was blue. During the day, the temperature had spiked in to the nineties (odd for the PNW), but by the evening it had cooled to the mid-seventies or so, and was as pleasent as it comes.

Yes, I think it was pretty near to perfect.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Fun New Game

This game was invented by Clover, and inspired by a particularly enthusiastic golden retriever we met at the off-leash dog park. Oh yes, it's that good. Those of you with dogs may recognise this.

1. Find some sort of projectile, preferably something that floats. Though a beach ball was the original object of choice, various sand toys work well too. Here we have two shovels that were used yesterday.

2. Throw these projectiles as far out into the lake (or pool) as the children are willing to go/as far as the children can go safely. 3. Laugh to yourself as the children "fetch" the objects, returning them to you on shore.
4. Repeat.

Note: It is possible that only Neptune and Clover find this game fun. They are, after all, happy to play any game that involves being in the water.