October 30, 2023

In the Realm of the Toddler

The terrible twos.  Jude has entered them, right on time, as he's apt to do (he meets most developmental stages on cue).  Irrational, unreasonable tantrums, wanting to "do it myself!", demanding what he wants, when he wants it, smearing his food all over the table, dumping cups, and constantly turning on the television.  Oh, his love of touching the TV, that's the worst!
Actually, the "terrible twos" all pretty new to me.  Considering that Jude is my second child, you'd think I would have been accustomed to these behaviors, but oddly enough, Soren was surprisingly a much easier toddler, and never quite compared to the classical toddler profile.  He was (and still is) an intense, highly sensitive person, but was not typically prone to tantrums.  Don't get me wrong, he was difficult and full of unbridled energy, which nearly killed me by day's end, but usually he was agreeable.  That is if you could stop him for a moment to redirect him.
Soren at age 2, typical of many of my photos of him.
Soren never had a tantrum if he had to hold my hand while crossing the street, or if I insisted upon feeding him yogurt, or if one of his favorite toys was lost.  In that sense, he was an easy toddler.  I'll elect to NOT remember how he was constantly in motion from pre-sunrise to post-sunset.  And that his favorite activity was destroying toys rather than playing with them.  It made for a tidy home though, as we had to get rid of broken or un-played with toys.

Jude's behavior, though sometimes grating, isn't so daunting to me.  Maybe it's because Soren has worn me in with a groove so deep that it takes a lot to rattle me anymore.  Sometimes I find myself thinking "so THIS is what people mean when they talk about the terrible twos."  I sometimes feel more like an anthropologist, sitting back and observing and remarking about this developmental stage.  To be fair though, Jude is an easy-going child, so I don't think I'm getting the full thrust of toddlerhood, or maybe it's lurking around the corner.

For me, the terrible twos really aren't that bad so far, especially considering the energy and chaos I endured with my eldest.  Bring on the tantrums, Two.  Just please don't break our TV.

October 22, 2023

Enjoying October

My favorite month is winding down, and we've certainly been soaking up every moment of this gorgeous October.
The university in our town always puts on a fun Halloween event for the kids, and we go every year (well, except last year during S's hospitalization).  That's what you see in the photos where the boys are dressed in their skeleton costumes.

Our trick-or-treat night is coming up, and we're very excited to hit the sidewalks and meet up with our spooky friends.  I love October!

October 21, 2023

Table Talk

The piece of furniture most used in my house has finally gotten a makeover.
What was once a plain, peeling hand-me-down is now the highlight of my kitchen.
This project was first on my to-do list after Soren started school.  This poor table and chairs were badly in need of some love.  It took a lot of sanding to get rid of all that peeling poly.
While it's not an amazing transformation, I'm pretty happy with the results.  I wanted to bring some color into the space, so I chose a bright green (Ball Game from allen + roth) but kept the top of the table and chairs unpainted.
I followed up the paint with a few layers of Matte wipe-on Poly so that the finish has a bit of a chance when faced with two rough-and-tumble boys.

These chairs were cast-offs from an elementary school that my Pap Pap had picked up back in the 70s or 80s when they were closing it down.  At least one or two of them have been with me since my college days in Philadelphia, and I'm glad that I dressed them up but still kept the look of their butt-worn seats.
I got a little paint happy and ended up painting a cute bookshelf I had found in our alley a few years back.
It was a dingy white, but in good condition.  Now it's holding all my jars of applesauce. And extra toilet paper (it's in the weird nook of our bathroom off of the kitchen).

I still have one more chair to redo, but it requires some carpentry and wood glue to get it back into shape.  Finally, I can cross off one project from my long list.
I know this table is going to get tons of use over the next few months from indoor meals, cups of coffee, and indoor activities like play dough and coloring.  Lets hope my work holds up!

October 15, 2023

Caramel Apple Bars

I'm not sure where the time goes each day, but I have been busy with projects around the house as well as a lot of cooking and baking.  The autumn weather and earlier nights have made me want to fill the house with good smells and residual oven heat (we're really trying to not turn the heat on until absolutely necessary).

One treat I made recently for a bake sale was deliciously seasonal--Caramel Apple Bars.
They combine the flavors of caramel and apple without having to make a big mess in the kitchen from dipping your own apples.  These bars wrap up well for a bake sale or for giving to friends.
CARAMEL APPLE BARS (adapted from AllRecipes.com) (makes 48 bars)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, melted
  • 2 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
  • 1 1/2 cups jarred or homemade caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 15x10 inch baking dish or jellyroll pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, quick cooking oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Stir in the melted butter. Mix until crumbly. Press 1/2 of this mixture into the prepared baking pan to make the crust. Bake for 8 minutes in preheated oven.

Spread apple slices evenly over the baked crust. Sprinkle on the nuts.  Set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, combine the caramel topping and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour the caramel filling over the apple layer. (You could sprinkle on a little sea salt to make them into salted caramel apple bars).  Crumble the remaining crust mixture over the top of everything. Bake again for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before cutting into bars.
 They'd be delicious with vanilla ice cream.  Not that I would know anything about that.

October 4, 2023

On the Occassion of My Favorite Poet Coming to Town

(If that isn't a pretentious title for you, I don't know what is).

Compromise. Disappointment.  It's all in that package called "parenthood."

I was aware that when one decides to become a breeder (oh, that snarky pre-kids word I loved using to label parents), one accepts that one's body, one's life, one's sleep will be forever changed.

The constant interruption---

N'other Bite of Yogurt! More!!

---is hard to accept, but you get used to it, mostly.  Just like you get used to most things, or so you think.

Believe it or not, I had a life, a pretty nice one before starting a family.  There's no regrets there, but sometimes it feels good to reconnect with that former self.  Once in a while, I'd like a quiet dinner out with my husband, or to take a walk with him around town without having to travel a certain way to avoid too many unsloped curbs where strollers are not welcome, or even dabble in something creative.

In my undergrad days, I considered myself a writer.  Well, more of someone who loved the idea of being a writer.  I did write, sometimes, and I think I was pretty good at it.  The work ethic and motivation wasn't always there (I struggle a lot with that aspect of myself in all areas), but I knew a good poem when I saw one.  This was one of those poems, that still sticks with me.

The One Girl at the Boys Party by Sharon Olds, (1983)

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge in the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she'll be doing her
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body. 
Now I don't consider myself much of a poet or writer (this blog is really just dabbling, nothing writer-ly) but every now and then I get the urge to visit that old self, just for kicks.  I blame Chris this time, for having his own, self-discovered love of poetry, for bothering that writer-on-holiday who doesn't want to be bothered with kids (but would have no problem using them as poem fodder!).

Just this morning, before Chris left for work, we talked about engaging in a collaborative writing activity, maybe a conversational poem or something that would make our former selves feel less comatose.  Then, about a half an hour later, he texted me saying Sharon Olds, author of above poem, was coming to the university.  Squeee! I had waited my entire 20s to hear her read her work, and here she was, coming to my little hick town.

I frantically checked the calendar.  And my enthusiasm sank.

Ding, dong. Trick-or-Treat night.  Certainly this was a trick.  But as with most things now, it's a disappointing compromise between kid-world and my own desires.  And of course in the name of all that is good and right, the kids' needs (usually) come first.  To be fair though, I do love Halloween, and am looking forward to making up for last year's disaster, so this decision won't be made lightly.

The ability to be two places at once, or namely, two people at once, just can't be.  It's a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but as the years go on, it does get easier.  Please tell me it does.
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