Thought I would give an update on my Christmas Cookie Baking venture. Being the last person on the planet to actually want to bake or enjoy baking or…baking for any reason…I wish to report that this year was a rousing success. I have no idea what inspired the hailstorm of butter and icing sugar and flour spattered everywhere, but after three days of abusing my cookie sheets I’m happy to report: red velvet cookies, THREE batches of shortbread (one plain, one orange flavoured, one lime flavoured, and no I didn’t use imitation stuff, I grated the zesty peel off the actual fruits!) FOUR batches of sugar cookies (one plain, one with cranberries and lemon zest, one with cranberrys and walnuts, one with lemon zest) TWO batches of merangues, which I have never made before in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever even whipped egg whites past the frothy stage needed for the most scrumptious potato pancakes on earth. The first batch was made with lime jello…yes, lime jello…cool recipe and they came out perfect on the top shelf of the oven, slightly over-browned on the lower shelf, but…like a heat seeking missile…I adjusted for the second launch and the chocolate ones came out so perfect I had to eat three just to make sure *snort*. Not to be forgotten are the lemon cheesecake squares which nearly brought a tear to my eye. They are beyond merely edible, verging on orgasmic. I’m debating making another batch because the first one is…er…half gone. In my defense, I did send some home with the Clone when he came to pick up the kidlets, so it isn’t ALL my fault the tray is half empty.
Ahh, the kidlets…great taste testers too. I was supposed to have the two munchkins Monday and Tuesday, but both phoned Sunday night to ask if they could bring friends. Apparently Grammy’s house isn’t quite the attraction it used to be when they were six and four years old and could spread their toys from one end of the main floor to the other. At 12 and 10, they arrive with their iPods in their ears, the “I’m too cool to play kid games” looks on their faces, and they have the exasperated breathing and eye-rolling down pat if I try to suggest they actually go outside and frolic in the snow. Really, Grammy. Every other year I’ve had to keep a bin full of spare mits, hats, snow pants because they’d spend most of their time outside. Now the bin sits all but ignored and I get the eye-roll.
However, like any savvy grammy, I’ve learned to adapt to the changes. They couldn’t stay little munchkins forever, and with Austin less than a year away from the dreaded “teen” being tacked onto his age, I allow for the eye rolling and the breathing, seeing so much of his father in him that I can only smile and roll my own eyeballs. I recall in the summer, when he tried to be cool in front of his baseball buddies and just wave at me when I arrived at the park shlepping a chair across a pitted field. I let him get away with exactly once then took him aside and warned him that he was never too old to give his grammy a hug and kiss, and if he didn’t, I was old enough to get away with going into the dugout, snatching him up by the ear and giving him an “Aunt Winnie the Pooh” hug that would strain his tongue muscles. Jefferson was subjected to one of those hugs from my Aunt Winnie when he was about Austin’s age, and it took him a week to get full speech ability back.
After that, I got a hug and kiss even if he had to leave the dugout against the coach’s rules to deliver it. I got a hail of “Hi Grammy’s” from all the kids on the bench too, as if they’d heard and feared the story of the Aunt Winnie the Pooh hug. *snort*
Veering back on track here, when the kidlets called Sunday night, they asked if they could each bring a friend…something they’ve been doing all summer if they got dropped off for the day. They each have very well behaved friends. Payton has her joined-at-the-hip best friend Tyra, who has been here a bazillion times. Austin has three or four good buddies he seems to alternate with, but all of them are *gasp* polite, they pick up after themselves, they carry their dishes to the sink, they say please and thank you. Pre-teen nirvana. That will all change when the brain-sucker comes out of nowhere on the eve of their 13th birthdays and sucks out every trace of normalcy known to that date and replaces it with the *evil teen* attitude, the slouch, the indifference, the “I know so much more than you that I can hardly stand myself” and the “Parents don’t know anything, they don’t understand us, they don’t understand that WE KNOW EVERYTHING already, dude” kind of crap. The Clone went through it. They all go through it. It’s a rite of passage to survive the teen years without driving the parental units to the brink of insanity. Sometimes the brain-sucker returns the polite, well behaved lad you remember from the pre-thirteenth birthday evening early, like when they turn twenty and leave home for college or whatever and realize that it isn’t all fun and video games out there. Others don’t get the smarts returned until they have kids of their own and a light bulb comes on in their heads and they realize, hey, I *don’t* know everything and hey, maybe mom does have some good advice. *snort*
Notice, I can ramble off course in the blink of an eye LOL.
So the four arrived Monday. The boys actually brought footballs…three of them, goodness knows why, and *played* outside for a while in the snow. Neither of them had boots, of course because boots, apparently, aren’t “cool” when you’re 12. When they came in, soaked and frozen, they went down to the basement and rediscovered the Fort Austin and his buddy had made under the stairs two years ago. It’s been sitting there mostly forgotten, but a lot of work had gone into it originally. The huge space under the stairs had been full of boxes, which he and his buddy had dragged out .(I’m thinking it was long enough ago that Stupid was still here, because most of what was under there was his train stuff and bar stuff, which has subsequently been removed or tossed) They lined the floor with every spare old rug and bit of carpet I had. They ran in lights and a small TV. They even put on masks and goggles one day and drywalled the ceiling because they kept getting stabbed in the head with nails along the lower bit. They ran off pictures and bashed them into the walls, put up hooks and hung mini lights. I’m surprised they didn’t paint.
So Monday, he and Kyler vanished into the Fort and of course the girls came up whining because they weren’t allowed in. They asked if there was somewhere THEY could build a fort, which was the beginning of Fort Wars. Payton already had a huge floor to ceiling stage built, which happily, was able to be pushed and maneuvered into position to block off the narrow hall that gave access to the basement door. They were told in no uncertain terms that they could not bash nails into the newly painted walls, but they found some huge panels of wood from a computer desk and dragged them out of storage to prop against the walls and cover with pictures. They grabbed up any remaining rugs, blankets, pillows. They found a table, set up games and, even though they didn’t have a solid door to block off access like the boys did, they had the floor to ceiling curtains on either side of the stage that blocked easy viewing. One enters through one curtain and stands there until permission is granted to pass across the stage and through the second curtain into the Fort. Very cool.
Cool enough, that when they arrived Tuesday morning, they all had backpacks and spare clothing “in case” they were all allowed to stay overnight please grammy is that okay.
Suuuuuuurrrrre, why not. The parental units all think I’m slightly bonkers anyway, I suppose this just reinforced it, but honestly, they were so involved in Fort Wars, I barely saw them. The girls took breaks to come up and decorate cookies, and they all ran off so many pictures that my printer ran out of ink, and I swear they went through a case of 24 cokes, but it was kind of nice to have the house filled with running feet and laughter. They stayed in jammies all day…why not? They had chips and pop for lunch…why not? They sampled cookies and chocolates all day…why not? Only one main rule at Grammy’s house these days, and that’s the hug and kiss on arrival and departure.