Now we can start thinking about orthodontia (the new tooth is already peeking out, too far back)!
Of course Dug is out of town and I may or may not have cash on hand and have no means of procuring any of the goodies that others' tooth fairies seem to be bringing these days--new toothbrushes, packets of Trident, cute hair bows. Can I improvise? Will a trip down to the craft lair after they fall asleep yield treasures? We can only hope. These gift-bearing myths are really a lot of unnecessary pressure on parents if you ask me.
(For what it's worth, I haven't felt like writing much lately. October was a rough month, and November seems smoother so far, but the time change and the coldness and the darkness and all that isn't really working in my favor. I was all set to do National Novel Writing Month but realized very quickly that my story idea had some fatal flaws that would prevent me from actually letting anyone I know read it. I have ten thousand unfinished projects, including approximately six half-knitted socks and a stack of mending. It's a good day if I can get through my morning tea without feeling stabby. This blog is the least of my concerns.)
So Molly turned six last week, and six seems to be the new thirteen, because a more surly, snotty, moody kid I have never encountered outside of a middle school. In lieu of a party we decided to have a City Day, complete with trip to the newly opened Academy of Sciences, and she slunk around like she was being tortured the whole time. She threw some serious 'tude later that evening at dinner, too.
Today after a playdate she made a list called Things I Don't Want (a counterpart to her Christmas list, I guess) and the number one thing on the list? Mothers.
If she only knew how often I'm tempted to make that a reality for her. I'm sick to death of trying to keep her from breaking her little sister's spirit, not to mention her neck. I'm completely over the task of managing simple tasks like bedmaking and shoe-putting-away. I would be happy to know I'd packed my last lunch, especially if it didn't come home with a rude remark about how it wasn't what she wanted. And if I had only my own laundry to avoid doing, what a wonderful world it would be.
I know what this is about, of course. It's the curse. It's the "I hope someday you have a daughter just like you", only with a twist: I didn't get thirteen years to prepare myself, I got blindsided after six.
The solution is obviously to pack her up and UPS her to Grammy. And after the way she got smart with her auntie this weekend, I think Grammy's in for a wild ride.
Our preschool has a tradition for kids whose birthdays fall during the summer: they schedule a "half-birthday" celebration on a school day so the kid can get the full cupcake passing experience.
Molly knows how to read a calendar, and figured out that today is her half-birthday. I agreed that we would mark the day by allowing her to plan a dinner, subject to my approval, which I would prepare in her honor. I was surprised by her choice, and gratified because it shows how far she's come with trying new foods and how much my persistence at teaching her about nutrition has paid off.
Her requested menu: Tomato soup, bread, and Caesar salad.
I made bread yesterday--a simple French boule, cut with some whole wheat flour and a little flax meal. The Caesar was part of our farmer's market haul last week--tiny crinkly leaves of gem lettuce and fresh Parmesan, and a homemade dressing with a squirt of anchovy paste (man, was I glad to find that at the local Italian deli/market. I just wasn't sure what to do to add that dash of authenticity to my Caesars, other than plan a whole week around things that had anchovy in them so I could justify opening a can. Turns out they come in jars, too--who knew? I never pay attention to the preserved fish aisle).
Her favorite tomato soup is the kind that comes in a carton, specifically the tomato-roasted red pepper soup. I decided to make it from scratch instead, in my crock pot so I could run around and ignore it all day, and here's my creation. Enjoy.
Molly's Half-Birthday Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
28-oz can of tomatoes with liquid
2 cups stock
6 oz jarred roasted red peppers
1/2 lb yellow summer squash, cut into 1" chunks (for extra secret hidden goodness)
into crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Puree (I used an immersion blender), and thin with milk or stock as needed. Finish with cream and season to taste.
Later in the summer I would make this with fresh tomatoes, and possibly roast them first in order to bring out the sweetness (I actually dropped a bit of brown sugar into my soup to offset the tang of the canned tomatoes, although the sweetness of the peppers and squash does some of the work there, and the cream does most of the rest of it). I didn't season my soup at all but for a little pepper, as the stock I used was made from an already heavily-seasoned roast chicken, and left out onions for the same reason--had I used commercial stock or stock made from a totally unseasoned bird, I probably would have wanted the flavor of onion.
I chose yellow squash because they'd hide nicely and because I didn't want to have to peel them, but zucchini would work fine too.
A nice touch was that by thinning and finishing the soup with cold milk and cream, I brought it down almost to a temperature where the girls could eat it right away, saving myself the trouble of having to wipe up splatters of blown-on soup.
This made enough so that everyone had two bowls, and I was able to freeze about half of it for a future meal.
The half-birthday girl approved.
Molly comes bouncing up to me and shoves onto my lap.
"Hey, Mama! You wanna see my sixteen face?"
"Your what face?"
"My sixteen face!"
Suddenly her bright little face goes completely blank and her mouth slackens, and slowly, inexorably, her eyeballs roll a full one hundred and eighty degrees in their sockets. As quickly as it came, the horror vanishes and is replaced once again by the pink cheeks and sunny smile of a kindergartener.
"That's my sixteen face! Or fifteen or fourteen. See you later!" and off she goes.
I'm in trouble.
Groundhog be damned, it is spring in the Bay Area (knock on wood). It's too hot for long sleeves and tights. The sky is so insanely bright and blue and clear that you almost want to examine it for brush strokes, it can't possibly be real.
We only get to walk home from school twice a week, because the other three days we're in a rush to get up to Daisy's school in time to pick her up. We savor the walks, which are full of landmarks and cats we've gotten to know and other points of interest.
Today we saw our black and white kitty friend sitting on a makeshift bridge between deck and tree. We noticed all the gnomes in one yard were lying down today. We marvelled at the magnolia petals, and we admired the longhaired tortie cat sunning himself on a porch.
On the way back the bridge kitty was gone but in his tree we noticed--a BEE HOLE! Bees drunkenly buzzing in and out of a round hole in the knob of the tree, back and forth from the nearby orange tree. We wondered if there was honey inside. We then quietly watched the hummingbirds actually perching on their feeder instead of eating on the run and appreciated the rare opportunity to see them in repose.
We passive-aggressively bemoaned the several instances of dog poop in yards and on sidewalks, poop which is even less welcome to the senses on a warm day. We waved to the little old lady who likes to read her newspaper on her front steps when the weather's nice.
We wondered when the neighbors on the corner would put their birdcage back out on the patio (it's been inside for the winter).
Came home, ate sandwiches, and now we're going back outside to play some more. Spring!
That's what she always says when she's about to show off a new look, and this is a very new look for her: first the haircut, which is the result of her self-trimming. Her efforts were just subtle enough that you couldn't really tell quite what was wrong, and just obvious enough that her hair looked like a bird's nest. Off to the Supercuts for a bob, which she loves.
The New Molly is wearing jeans. Jeans! Trousers! It's a miracle! Peer pressure got to her finally: she came home one day and said "Vanessa says I always wear dresses". "Well, you do," I said. She seemed to think it wasn't a simple observation though, and now she wears pants once in a while. Unfortunately since I forced myself to stop buying pants for little girls who weren't ever going to wear them, all but two pairs are way too short for little Miss Longlegs here. I never thought I'd be making a mental note to buy more pants.
She is wearing this pair of jeans with my project from yesterday. I have hit a knitting wall, hard, and had to take advantage of a sudden urge to sew something. The result: a sweater that I shrunk in the wash a while back has been altered to become a tunic, with little sparkly crochet ruffles at the wrists, and a few vintage buttons scattered around.
No pattern was needed for this, just some measuring: I simply chopped the sleeves off to the right length, and then trimmed the sleeves a touch to make them narrower. I cut the body of the sweater into a slight a-line, turned it inside out, pinned it, and serged the raw edges. That part took about fifteen minutes. There was a tiny bit of puckering because of the stretchiness of the fabric and of how I was too excited to take the time to make the puckering not happen. Lesson learned.
I punched through the raw edge of the sleeves with a small crochet hook to make a row of single crochet with a fancy luxury yarn from my stash that had a touch of red in it, then switched to a bigger hook and made three double crochet stitches in each single crochet to create the ruffles. I dug out a few buttons that picked up the colors in the yarn, and handsewed them onto the tunic using pink Sulky Holoshimmer thread, a cool detail that mirrors the pinkish glitter in the yarn.
Tim Gunn would say it's a little bit happy-hands-at-home, which is pretty much right on the mark: I made it happily, at home, by hand.
I should have known you'd end up being the world's tiniest teenager: you take after your mama. May you always retain your panache for mixing prints and textures, and may your inevitable "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside" phase be short, relatively painless, and as poetry-free as possible.
Happy birthday, chicken.
I'm still playing around with getting just the right amount of snack, and with choosing items that are sure-fire. Like, string cheese is suddenly nosh non grata around here, but only sometimes, and I can't really pin down whether or not it will fly.
Tomorrow's snack is utterly simple: half a peanut-butter and strawberry jam sandwich on one of our favorite store-bought breads, Alvarado St. Bakery's Essential Flax Seed Bread. It's soft enough for that kid-friendly sandwich texture but full of healthy goodness. It's cut into thirds and placed in a cupcake liner for tidiness, and next to it are pineapple chunks, which are on Molly's short list of approved fruits. I trimmed down the plastic container from an individual serving of applesauce to create a container for juicy/liquidy foods that would otherwise seep out into the bento box.
There's a napkin tucked into the lid of the bento, and she'll get a milkbox. Happy Monday!