Celebrate the Differences… With Cake

*Disclaimer: Yes, this post is about cake.  Yes, you will want to eat some.  So maybe before you start reading, you should run and grab those M&M’s, that pack of fruit snacks, the jar of PB and the bag of chocolate chips (c’mon, I know that’s your go-to when you’ve got nothing else), or maybe you were able to score something good at the grocery store and managed to get it in the cabinet covertly.  Ah, the luxuries of Mamahood.

Sometimes I wonder who made these children.  I am relatively sure I am their mother but…  How could the offspring of two people be so different?  Sure there are some similarities but the ways in which they are unique seem to far outweigh their sameness.  My oldest, Cub, is thoughtful, intellectual and timid.  He’s filled with pride which provides a daily struggle with adhering to boundaries.  He has a hard time with change and finds comfort in routine.  He’s habitual and nervous.   Mooch is my middle.  He’s soft and loving; gentle and empathetic; wise beyond his years.  Provides endless affection, hugs and back rubs.  He’s sensitive, loyal and playful.  My youngest, Zook, is a wild child.  He sobs constantly and it’s effective because his shrieks force this Mama to cave.  He’s stingy with his love and has a temper which runs through him like a deep valley, jagged and unpredictable.  His sense of humor is rich and hearty and his helpful nature will take him miles someday.

Providing such brief descriptions is a bit of a struggle.  I know them better than I know myself at times.  I am able to calculate their responses to situations, interactions, conflict and personalities.  Still at times I am shocked by their uniqueness.  It was ever more apparent to me this weekend when we celebrated Mooch’s fifth birthday for what seems like the fifth fucking time in the last week.  We hosted some friends from his class for cupcake decorating- which was a fabulous party plan!  We were able to hold the entire party outside and clean-up was a cakewalk  (pun totally intended).

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Now before you jump up to raid your candy stash (I warned you), I want to get back to the uniqueness of my children.  I would like for you to get to know my children by the manner in which they chose to decorate their cupcakes.  One of my children went for precision.  One went for the shock-and-awe (I think?).   And one I could not capture as it was devoured at a rate which rivals my own speed of cake consumption- which for those of you who don’t know me personally is smokin’.  

In case you hadn’t guessed, Cub went for structure and balance.  The perfect ratio of frosting to sprinkles to toppings.  It was exquisite.

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Zook went for… Excess.  Quantity over quality.  Drama over practicality.  Impact over tasteful (again with the pun).

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Mooch.  The tasty confection was consumed in record time.  He then chugged off to run and laugh with his mates.

It’s not that surprising that I would choose to dedicate an entire post to cake- and I’m sure this won’t be the last- but it’s a new means by which to learn about my children.  And for me to attempt to express the awesomeness they possess.  The fullness, richness, sweetness they add to my life.  Eat more cake.

Peace Mamas.

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Mama Project: Cookies

The day was gray.  The air was cool and damp.  We needed a project.  Let’s make cookies!  I decided to overhaul one of my favorite recipes for Oatmeal Cookies.  We swapped out the granulated sugar for brown, half the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, used bittersweet chocolate chips (the kids don’t even know the difference) and added almond extract to kick up the flavor.  photo (33)

Baking with my kids is both my favorite thing in the world and one of the activities that stresses me out the most.  I am constantly saying, Just a minute!  You need to wait!  Take turns!  Wait for me!  No, no that part is Mama’s job!  When I am not spitting out these orders, my reflexes are exercised by yanking hands from mixer paddles, dodging liquids from elbows and prying fingers from bowls, spoons, mouths.  Talk about intense!  This is supposed to be fun?

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But… Then I watch their faces and see their eyes light with pride when they crack an egg, pour the measuring cup, add the chocolate chips.  This is a treat for them.  Cooking is something they watch me do every day but rarely get the opportunity to be part of the process.  The final tasting is magic.  Such fulfillment crosses their gooey grins.  Watching their satisfaction confirms my commitment of time to the project.  And these little suckers will go pefectly over the ice cream I have stashed for my late night snack.

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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 1/2 Cups Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

*Baking powder can be swapped out for brewer’s yeast and ground flax seed can be added to make the world’s most delish lactation cookies

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Mix until well blended.
  2. Combine flours and baking powder and add slowly to the butter mixture.  Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  3. Scoop using 1/2 inch melon-baller onto un-greased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes; do not over cook.
  5. Let cool on wire racks, if you can handle waiting that long!

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These would kick Betty Crocker’s ass in a back alley brawl any day of the week!

Enjoy some kitchen time with your little bakers.

Mama Project: Dirt

Today the sun shone.  It felt particularly essential because on this afternoon, my grandparents’ house was sold.  I desperately needed the brightness of the sky to lift me from despair today.  On May 22, 2012, my grandmother, the center of my family died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.  One year ago today, she was alive.  And I never imagined that the hole she’d leave would seem so deep, so painful, so hallow.  Their home was a gathering point for holidays, meals, visits, family, laughter.  So many of my most fond memories from childhood are in that house or yard.  This morning, I took a long walk in her yard, chased my own children around the sandy, grassy space.  Watched them lean against the fence, look up at the planes overhead just as I had done for the last 31 years of my life.  Both my grandmother and grandfather were given the gift and privilege of passing on within the walls of their home, in the comfort of their bed, with the strength of family around.  It’s hard to think of them anywhere else.  So it’s difficult to fight the abandonment aching in my throat.

I cling to the items she once touched.  Smelling blankets, cradling her coffee mug, running my hand over a piano stool, watering a plant.  All these items, once hers are now all I have left.  There are no words.  Just deep sadness tonight.  An era in my life has ended.  This afternoon, I took the time to watch my children play in our yard.

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These short moments seem all the better today. A little bitter-sweet but better. It sounds cliche to say that this was surreal.  So surreal.  One day, many, many years from now, their children may walk my yard.  And hopefully, the same feeling of comfort will pass over them.  Peace Mamas.