Me & Baker Boo

I grew up in a family where meals always consisted of at least two entrees and a few different side dishes. And nobody ever forgot dessert. Food has always been such an important part of my life, my family, and it is such a joy to now be cooking and baking alongside my own kids, in particular, 4 year old Boo.

While my husband and I both love cooking, we also bake quite a bit at our house. Boo has been baking alongside me since he was about 2.5 years old, stirring, mixing in ingredients, adding toppings. Now that he's 4, he's helping me crack the eggs into the mix, measure ingredients, and just do more overall to help with the process. He loves being in the kitchen with me, and I truly love playing the role of teacher to this excited little baker.

This week we've made chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes and today, banana bread. He's starting to help decide what ingredients will go well with the dishes, since we use recipes as guidelines and give them our own little spin that works better for our family's taste. Today we mixed in apples into the banana bread and topped it with chocolate chips. Next time, he says we'll add apples AND pears. He gave today's bread a thumbs up.

So now he's slowly been helping me more with cooking in addition to our usual baking time together. We've done lots of baking together the past few years, but when I'm cooking he might just help set the table or throw in an ingredient I've already prepped. I'm thinking he's ready to do more now, but I'm not yet ready to hand over a knife for him to chop up veggies or anything (today he forgot he was holding crayons and ended up coloring on our countertops; chopping veggies, he is not yet ready for!). I'm thinking he can help roll out pizza dough, help measure ingredients with me now...maybe grate cheese?

If anyone has ideas about things that a 4-year-old can help with in terms of cooking meals, please let me know! I'm excited to engage him further into the world of cooking and not just baking!


What Me, Worry?

I live each day based on gut instinct. It speaks to me, I follow it, and things usually work out in such a way that I am glad I don't question my gut. It tends to be when I do NOT listen to my gut that I get in trouble.

Yesterday while driving to pick up my son from school I noticed a man sitting on the street in a back alley nearby. We live in the burbs, and the school is not in an area where people just "hang out." There's really no street traffic, no reason for people to walk by the school as it IS the destination. There are men working around there regularly, but it's obvious they are working on the roof, taking out the trash, on a smoke break, etc. This man, who did not "look" homeless nor did he fit the profile of nearby workers, just sat on the street, drinking out of a can of something, staring off. And he did not look like he was on a break. He looked up as my car approached, and the look he gave me is almost indescribable: anger? fear? hate? disgust? It was the farthest from a smile, it was quite an onbvious glare. I met his gaze briefly, noted he looked like a sad version of a man I used to work with -almost shoulder length straight light brown/dirty blond hair, thin nose and thin build, light facial hair - and then I looked away and drove on. For whatever reason, he gave me the creeps. I couldn't shake the feeling. I went into the school, hugged my son, and swept him into the car and off we went. He made such an impression on me, this man, that I kept thinking about him for the rest of the day.

Then this morning, as I was leaving the school, I saw the man again. I don't know why, but for some reason as I was driving away, I looked toward an apartment building in an area I honestly never look at because I'm usually in such a hurry, and there he was. He was standing under an awning and for a moment I wondered if he lived there, but he looked at me again, and I knew he didn't. He was just trying to stay out of the rain. Everything about his posture and movement told me he was ready to move at a moment's notice should someone ask him to. He was not comfortable. He again gave me the same look. It lasted only a second or two, and then my car took me in the opposite direction. I drove away with the same awful, uneasy feeling. He was wearing the same slightly oversized purple shirt he wore the day before, and, it appeared, he was drinking out of the same or at least a similar can.

I drove away and debated with myself: should I call the school? Should I forget about it and not call? Maybe he was the guest of one of the apartment dwellers and had nothing to do while his friend was at work during the day? I had a terrible, terrible feeling that I just could not shake. This guy was not homeless, nor was he the father of one of the school kids, nor was he an employee of a nearby business. Why was I feeling so strongly about this? As I pulled into a gas station to fill up, I called the school. I felt a little silly talking to the director about the man, but it felt right. It still feels right. It was such a strong feeling that I almost drove back to the school and pulled my son out for the day: my gut wasn't talking to me, it was YELLING at me.

And so I hung up the phone, paid for my gas, and drove to work. The feeling went away after a while, and I presumed all was well. When I picked up my son from school, the man was nowhere in sight.

Sometimes I feel so silly for having such strong reactions. I worry that I'm overreacting. But when it comes to my family, I would rather risk offending a stranger than risk the safety of my family.

I hate that I feel this way. This worry, this instinct, this fear. As my kids get older, and I'm no longer able to be with them all the time, I hate it. I hate letting go and trusting their care to others sometimes. I know they are safe with the people I trust to care for them; it's the other people whom they may encounter along the way that I can never predict may exist that I do not trust. It's the "what if" that I can never foreshadow, the unthinkables I can never prepare for or prevent.

I don't hate many things, but I hate this fear. I woke up today feeling like there really is good in the world that lies within each person, and underneath every circumstance lies good intentions. I have to hold onto that faith that all people at the core are decent. I have to believe. If I don't, I think I will just be a total wreck anytime we step outside. I wish there were nothing to fear for our children. That we could send them to school and KNOW 100% without a doubt that nothing bad would ever happen to them. We don't live in that world, unfortunately, so I suppose I have to just hold onto my faith in humanity, and follow my gut when it sends me red flags. In these instances, I am actually happy when my gut feeling is wrong, and there's proof that I really don't have anything to worry about.


No really, I don't need alcohol to be this annoyingly hyper

It's come to my attention that throughout my various online convos with you, and the other two people who read my six or seven blogs but never leave comments (ahem) that I write quite a bit about drinking. As in, I need one, I'd like one, someone please dear God get me one NOW, I understand why moms in the 50's had their 4pm martinis, I'm off to get some (drinks that is), or I am partaking in one. Then my brother's tweet on Twitter last night while hubs and I were tweeting the Olympics whilst drinking A Beer (as in, one, single, uno birra) made me realize that I probably normally sound drunk in my tweets, my blog posts, and other meandering forms of writing. Even without the assistance of alcohol.

Hmm. Pause for thought.

So here I am blogging, totally sober, but really, just as buzzed as I was last night on that one beer. I'm normally an outspoken, happy, hyper person in the first place. One of those annoying people who tends to write emails that contain a LOT of EXCITED CAPS!!! And exclamation points!! And :-) and ;D. And whose tagline in email signatures should just be "OMG! I am SO excited for you!!!" Couple that god awful loud & annoying personality with the fact that I'm in the land of the best NW wines and best microbrews in the world, so it's pretty natural for me to chat them up all the time. And think about them a lot. And sometimes, even partake in them. And by sometimes, I mean maybe one or two a week. I know, did I just shatter the party girl image I was trying for? Well, there ya be. Now my Swiss hubs and my Euro pals? Let's not get started on what "a drink or two" means to them! Our counting systems are totally different (I blame American public schools).

And I'll still talk about it all the time because I'm a mom with two super busy, active little ones under 5, with two busy businesses and about a million obsessive hobbies and online activities. So I often think "dude, a pint of Fat Tire would really do the trick right now" while I'm trying to finish up a website or powering through the last 50 or so emails of the day or cleaning up a poopy diaper after realizing my babe ate a whole pint of blueberries that day. But often we don't have any of the beer or wine I'm itching for in the house so I'll opt for a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream instead.

Mmm. Ice cream. Now there's an addiction that I admittedly DO have. Well, to chocolate in general really, especially dark chocolate, which goes really well with a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir...

(oh, and if you have read all this, please leave a comment would ya? even a "cheers!" would make this girl happy :)