Sunday, December 12, 2010
For those who worried that I might go into withdrawals after my year as JWC president - um, quite the opposite. I'm rather enjoying not having to be somewhere every minute of the day. In fact, I'm in danger of swinging in the opposite direction and becoming an out-and-out homebody.
Today would be a case in point: we skipped the Ridglea Country Club Christmas shindig (formerly a family tradition), in favor of staying home, baking cookies, and watching Paul McCartney perform on SNL courtesy of the DVR in the master bedroom. Parnell is a bit under the weather, which is the official reason for our absence from RCC, but it wouldn't have been the first time that I took the kids up there without him. I just decided that, as between (1) chasing the kids around a cavernous (and very loud) room, snapping photos of them personalizing gingerbread cookie bricks and chatting up various friends and acquaintances, and (2) chatting up my own children while making our own gingerbread - well, (2) just sounded like the better option on a cold Sunday in December. It occurs to me that I didn't realize how much I missed my kids and spouse last year because I didn't LET myself realize how much I missed them - that part of my reptilian brain that is all about survival instincts recognized that there was not much point in allowing me to dwell on what I was missing, and, in fact, it was actually better for my mental health to block out those thoughts entirely. But now that I'm on the other side of things, I recognize that all of those times that Daddy took the kids bowling/to the movies/to Grandma's without me, because I had to attend X, Y or Z event, it was Mommy who was missing out. And now I have some catching up to do.
I knew that there would be catching up, to be sure - I made maybe-not-so-funny jokes about my presidential year being the precursor to my "2010-2011 World Apology Tour" - but I guess I thought of the catching up in terms of something that I owed to the long-neglected people in my life. It didn't occur to me that I would crave time with my family to this extent. But crave it, I most certainly do - thus, a Sunday spent making cookies with the boys, a missed ornament exchange to allow me to attend the kids' Christmas gala without having to run out during the last act, and, most likely, my absence at this month's Keno game, which I'm fairly sure conflicts with the Posada that the boys (big, medium and small) like to walk in each year.
I won't lie - it's kind of a relief to know that my maternal (and spousal) instincts remain intact. They were pretty rusty after a prolonged period of non-use. Also a relief that everyone seems genuinely glad to have me around again: that could have gone the other way, too, you know?
When you're a MOM (Mother Of Males), making holiday treats is a little different than I imagine it might be with little girls involved. We started out by making fudge, using a recipe that my mother acquired from former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (not directly - it's not like Mom knocked on the door and asked to borrow the recipe and a cup of sugar, or the four and a half cups of sugar that actually are involved - I'm fairly sure that it made the rounds of the Officers' Wives Club back in the day). Mid-fudge-making, my mother reminded me via telephone that there are much simpler fudge recipes out there and that she in fact parted ways with Ms. Mamie many years ago, but I deemed it was a good recipe for my brood because it involved chemistry, and chemistry is what tends to keep boys interested in cooking (well, chemistry and messes). The fifth grader is studying solutions in science, so he particularly enjoyed melting the (FOUR AND A HALF CUPS OF) sugar with the evaporated milk and then pouring the hot mixture on top of a bowl of shaved chocolate, chocolate chips and marshmallow creme, converting the solids to liquids in the process. Neither boy loves nuts, so we substituted Heath bits for the crunch factor.
Then we commenced to make gingerbread cookies. And, because the boys are, in fact boys, the cookies looked like this:
Yup, no angels, trees or bells for us. Just dinosaurs. Well, dinosaurs with some prehistoric mammals mixed in. Designs were inspired by one of our favorite Christmas books, "The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas," and cutters came from Williams Sonoma, by way of Nana.
The TCU mastodon was Connor's creation. While we were waiting for the icing outlining to dry, the conversation turned to alternative fudge recipes, and I made the mistake of mentioning the concept of Velveeta cheese fudge to my cheese-aholic older child. We were out of Velveeta, but that did not stop him from experimenting with the overall taste concept: yes, I let my child melt chocolate chips and string cheese in a bowl in the microwave. And then I let him eat it. Did I mention that he's a boy, and that I'm mid-Apology Tour?
Now we're watching Mythbusters, the little one is eating a Lunchable as his after-dinner snack (the kid has a slow leak somewhere, I swear), and he just sandwiched the Nestle Crunch mini bar that comes in the package between a slice of turkey and a slice of Cheddar cheese. "Look, mom! A turkey, cheese and chocolate sandwich!" Wow, he really is his brother's mini-me . . . .