Friday, February 15, 2008

little men

Every mother of boys guards a little secret - a secret that goes lightyears beyond the dreary old 'snips and snails and puppy dog tails,' it is the stuff of little boys. The essence of the stuff of little boys is something sacred. There isn't a name for it [at least I've never come up with something adequate], but it can be described in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different little slices of life carved out of our day to day. You find this essence of boys in the adoring smile and the unbidden, impromptu kiss; it's there when the big brother asks if he can pick out little sister's outfit for that day (oh, but shh, he wouldn't be caught dead telling his friends at school - come on, this is special stuff); it can be found in mommy's closet because her shoes are just so fun to try on and her silky robe just feels so good; it whispers by when you see one brother reach out to steady the other brother as they wobble together through knee-deep snow in the backyard; you can get a fleeting glimpse (because time whirls so quickly by) when a little boy sweetly cradles a doll, the one he got as a gift because he wanted it, and gives it a love, the kind mommy gives him; it's the little boy that mommies everywhere get to see before the advancing years of growing up have them in their grasp and carry them steadily way. And suddenly, this essence of little boy, so tender, so innocent, so soft and full of love and whispers and snuggles and giggles gets snuffed out. Now, this doesn't happen immediately; it doesn't always disappear forever. Sometimes it even resurfaces, but it doesn't come back with the full strength that it once had. The moms who are the guardians of this secret something are the ones who can provide a path, a winding way for this essence of the tender little boy to creep out and allow the full measure of the man, who is her son, to be realized and to bless the lives of his future family.

Last night I called to wish my friend, the wife of a deployed Air Force Captain serving in Iraq, a happy Valentine's Day. She, too, is a mother of boys and our conversation really got me thinking about the absolutely genuine core of sweetness that is at the center of a little boy who's working so hard at this business of growing up. She told me about the gifts that her 11- and 8-year-old boys got her. While on an impromptu night-before-Valentine's-Day trip to Wal-Mart her sons explained that they wanted to leave her and go look in a different section of the store for a bit. She said okay and they met afterward and went to the check-out lines. Her oldest then explained that he had something to buy and that her line was too crowded. So the boys went to the next line over. On Valentine's Day, the next day, they presented her with their gifts. The 8-yr-old had chosen a daffodil plant - he had watched his mother and knew how she loves flowers - and bought it with his own money. His 11-yr-old brother had tried to think about what his mom would want and chose a crystal box with a rose carved on it. One thing is certain: my friend is another mother who guards this secret about boys. They are sweet, and soft with a true capacity for pure love, a sacred tenderness that needs defending.

After hearing her tell this story I thought about my friend's little boys, how they must have planned and thought about their mom and what she would want for Valentine's Day, maybe even fretted about how they were going to be able to get themselves to the store without divulging their secret plans. With Daddy not there, I'm guessing that they had wanted to do their part to fill in what was missing on this special day when we focus on those we love. And naturally, their thoughts were on their mommy. Their selected gifts were dripping with little boy sweetness, in the flowers that will brighten their home and their Mommy's heart and in a little crystal box that is ironically something she probably never would have chosen for herself but is now a treasure because it came from the sweet heart of her boy...who will so soon be a man. And my guess is that these boys will attain that full measure of a man because they have a mom and dad who have paved the path and shown them the way and loved them enough to let them just be little boys while cherishing every sweet minute.

So here's to our little boys.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ava Jane, age 2

Snippets from a photoshoot of our sweet Ava on her second birthday. The posing was accomplished on her own. Words can't express how much we love this little girl. From the moment the ultrasound revealed it was she who would be arriving she has held a special place. And though we love our three boys beyond words as well, even they will admit that she is unabashedly adored by all of us. She brightens our lives.

Things of note about Ava and her two years of life thus far:

*Though only 12 days early, she only weighed 5 lbs 6 oz.
*She now tops the charts at 23 lbs as of yesterday.
*She adores Carebears: the movie, the stuffed bears, all of it, and calls them 'bears'.
*She was known as Reese Janelle for the first two months of her life (we still love the name, and that's another story), so she has what they call an amended birth certificate and will always have two sets of names on record
*She didn't learn to walk until she was 22 months old.

*She scooted around on her bum for a full year of her life and has holes in the backsides of her old pants to prove it. She resembled a chimpanzee and was a bit of a delightful freakshow when in public.

*She is obsessed with shoes - one of the girl clubs she has gained entry to recently. Her favorites are the knee-high ladybug rainboots. Mommy is happy.

*She talks constantly and currently loves the words pretty, brothers, and please (she says please with her head cocked to one side and her hands holding her face under her chin). This gets her a lot.

*She still naps for two hours each day. [sigh of relief]

*She loves playdough.
*At 4 mos old we thought she might have hydrocephalus. No. She had a really huge head. She is now back within normal limits like they promised. We are glad.

*She is in love with her older brothers. (they are her servants)

*She doesn't like food. (She won't tell her secret.) Unless it's made with 100% high fructose corn syrup or it's spicy.

*Mommy loves it when Ava whispers baby angel words in her ear.

*Daddy loves it when Ava sits in his lap, holds his face, and talks to him.
*When we tell her to close her eyes because it's time to go to bed, she wrinkles up her nose with the effort of squeezing her eyes shut.
*When she walks away from someone she waves, says "bye!", and blows a kiss - no matter where she is or where she's going....out the door or just to another room.
* She'll play on the floor of the shower until the water gets cold if we let her, talking and singing to herself.
*She is having banana fosters torte for her birthday cake - because she is 2 and we get to decide. She'll have a colorful "2" candle in the middle, so that should be good.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

festivities's the cupcake gallery

cookie dough black and white cupcake with vanilla cream filling

Aside from being late and setting up while also starting the presentation, the event was a success mainly because if you can't have fun creating and eating cupcakes then something is terribly wrong. A cupcake bar can bring out the kid in all of us. The most terrifying combination I saw this morning was a lemon-curd-filled cookie dough black and white cupcake. Let's hope its creator enjoyed it.

white almond cupcake with chocolate pudding cream & ganache drizzle / butter cupcake with lemon and sour cream filling

choc with choc cream & black/white cookie dough with vanilla cream / butter cupcake with purple buttercream and sprinkles

Jake (4) is asking for a cupcake bar for his birthday. They're awesome!!! Thanks for taking a look at the pictures, it was loads of fun creating them. With all that said, I am now on a cupcake hiatus. I am seriously craving salad. I think I'm onto something. The cupcake-salad might work! (Check out the next post down for a few more pics that I couldn't fit here.)

butter cupcake with vanilla buttercream and marshmallow fondant decoration

yes, there's more

white almond with raspberry whipped cream / butter cupcake with sour cream filling (like cheesecake) and cherries - check out the accidental little heart....awesome!

Spencer (7) went straight for this one / vanilla buttercream with those pretty (but nasty) silver balls

mmmmm, vanilla pudding cream / see why a kid (or anyone) would have fun at a cupcake bar?