Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thomas's Great Adventure party


Last weekend we had Thomas's Great Adventure Party. I was inspired by the thought that he's growing into "storybooks" and bought him two books -- Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby, a beautiful take-off on the gingerbread boy story, and Stephen Kellogg's Jack and the Beanstalk, a rather traditional rendering with dreamy imagery. Then I planned the party theme from those two books. (He actually got a lot more books, of course, but those were the theme-makers.) Thomas helped me make his poster ahead of time. Yes, that is a picture of him climbing the beanstalk (he was opening a door).

Thomas is loving the books. He made me read Gingerbread Baby 5 times in a row during his party. Here's one of the many.


He would only be persuaded away from the book by Indian food. This is a funny story. He was excited about his birthday ahead of time because he has been watching an episode of Word World where Dog has a birthday. He helped me plan his party. He wanted a "blue hat," "books," and "rice." When I asked him what kind of rice, Chinese or Indian, he said "Inyun." It turned out to be harder than I expected to get an Indian restaurant to deliver to our house, but we finally finagled it out of one place because it was a large order:

Thomas also loved playing with his Lego train set. I think we all spent an hour of his party doing that.

Finally the cake. I had my heart set on ice cream cupcakes, since I made them for Dave and Eric's joint birthday celebration and really enjoyed the novelty (and the ease). But I wanted them to go with the theme. So I made gingerbread cupcakes, using the "soft cookie" recipe on the gingerbread box and just filling 1/4" of the cupcake liners (silicone, I'm thinking of giving away all my muffin tins now). After I baked the cookies, I froze them and then let some Edy's Vanilla Bean ice cream defrost. I scooped the ice cream till it mounded. Just before we served them, we sprinkled Wilton's Gingerbread Boy giant sprinkles on top, in red and brown. Thomas thought it was so exciting that he was reading about gingerbread, eating gingerbread, and could see the gingerbread boys on top.

The cupcakes really turned out well. The soft cookies have a better consistency when frozen than the brownies did (they turned out to be too dense) or than cake (I always feel like it tends to get mushy). Here are the mandatory cake photos:


All in all, it was a very satisfying party for everyone. I don't think I've ever seen Thomas have more fun.

Happy 3rd year of adventures, Thomas!
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Rules for life

Thomas gets rules now. A few weeks ago he got rules and so understood that if he did this again, he would get the same reaction out of mom and dad again. That was really frustrating. Now he's moved on to getting rules and knowing that if he doesn't do this again, mom and dad will be pleased with him and he can talk to them about it. This has led to a lot of new sentences being of the "NO [verb]" type around here. Or "NO [word that stands in for a verb]". Or occasionally "NO [sign]". Accompanied by a great deal of head shaking.

"NO. No bite. Dada. No bite. Mama. Vava. NO. [smacks lips] Blue." (The much-abused blue crayon.) "NO. No hot."

This formation also works when the topic is something he doesn't like. Today I tried giving him grapefruit juice. He drank it and said "Yuck!" To do him credit, then he drank it some more, pointed at his tongue, and said, "Yuck!" So I offered to get him another kind of juice, which he was happy about. I went and got some apple juice and gave him his "new. juice!" and after a couple of sips he pointed to the kitchen and said. "NO. No yuck!" That cracked me up, so we both sat around saying "no, no yuck" for a few minutes.

This strikes me as a good rule for life. My goal today is to have a no yuck day.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I was walking back to the car from Thomas's daycare this morning and I saw a woman approaching walking a beagle. Middle-aged woman, black, bandanna over her hair, trying to persuade her beagle out of the fascinating bushes and along the sidewalk to whatever their destination was.

When I lived in Urbana-Champaign I would have smiled and nodded at such a woman, said hello or made a comment about the grizzled dog's puppyish behavior. In our neighborhood there, everyone knew everyone, and if you didn't know someone, you knew you were bound to know them sometime, so might as well make small talk.

In the city it's a little different, and the woman wasn't meeting my eyes. So I did the only possible thing. I smiled at her dog, because it was charming and she loved it, and out of the corner of my eye I saw her smile at her dog too.

It was enough.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The difference is

The difference is a polished
blade, edgewise to the eye.
On one side gleams the sun
of time, and on the other
the never-fading light,
and so the tree that stands
full-leaved in broad day
and the darkness following
stands also in the eye
of Love and is never darkened.

The blade that divides these light
mirrors both — is one.
Time and eternity
stand in the same day
which is now in time, and forever
now. How do we know?
We know. We know we know.
They only truly live
who are the comforted.
            - Wendell Berry, Given p. 77

Some days I know that we are those trees, standing in the dark, in a light we cannot perceive.

Some days I only hope so.