Sunday, December 30, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Grandma's Special Cookies

TGCIO (thank goodness Christmas is over). Does it make me a horrible person that I am glad the 25th is behind me for another year?

I'll save my ranting for another day and instead focus on two of my favorite Christmas treats: Christmas cards, and plates of goodies. I love getting cards, seeing the sweet faces of friends' kids, reading about their adventures. And unlike my mom, I don't even mind the braggy ones that go on and on about how great they are. In fact, those can be the most fun. I tape up the fotos on a little wall in my kitchen and leave them up all year to enjoy, reminding me how many people I love and (hopefully) love me.

A much more transient expression of love are plates of treats. Love them. Love the mad drop and dash, the amazing variety of snacks, the occassional, "this was made in heaven" moment which this year went to Nancy Dredge's popcorn with peanuts and crushed candy can wreath. It made my sister-in-law tear up. So as we are enjoying these treats, Dave's grandma who spends Christmas with us every year, says that if she were back in Denver she'd be making and delivering her holiday tradition of "Grandma's special cookies." Dave and Steph exchange blank glances. When Grandma goes to bed and I ask about the cookies, Dave says he's never seen her make cookies in his life. Jello yes, cookies no. Luckily Stephanie has the backstory on this.

Recently, Grandma was telling the granddaughters that they needed to write down her recipes for posterity. Not an unreasonable request, except that Grandma does not bake. Or cook. She is famous for steaming off the labels of jam, putting a sticker on it with her name, and handing it out to friends, as if the checkered Smuckers lid wouldn't give away her little secret. She sneaks cookies out of the Country Buffet and leaves them for months in napkin wads in her purse underneath value size bottles of Excedrin and then presents the dust to great-grandkids and says, "I made this just for you!" I am being unfair. Once, she did make a pot roast for Jonah when he was 3. We were visiting and he had strep throat so he could barely eat anything, just drink juice. She was so stressed that he wasn't eating. She offhandedly asked if he ever ate pot roast and potatoes. "Sure," I said. The next morning at 7am when I go downstairs, he's sitting in a high chair crying, with a huge slab of meat on his tray. And she said to me accusingly, "You said he'd like it!"

Anyhow, Grandma informs her granddaughter to get a pen and paper and she will dictate the recipe for "Grandma's Special Cookies." Here is the recipe (Caution--Do NOT try this at home):

First, take two handfulls of flour.
Second, get about two eggs.
Then, take a cake mix.
Add two big spoons of sugar (the flour cuts the sweetness of the cake mix, but then you need the sugar to make up for that).
Just mix it up and you got yourself some cookies.

Dave and Stephanie are currently driving Grandma to the airport. In some ways it's a relief in that the kids won't get awakened at 6am anymore when she opens and closes their doors several times loudly to see if they are awake yet. And we don't have to pretend to eat the jello with the soggy pecans in it (she does make jello). But mostly we'll miss her because she knows how to keep things lively and fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The vermin are circling closer and closer. Three of our closest friends just had it, and now Millie comes home with the telltale note from the nurse, advising parents to be on the alert as two of her classmates have the little critters.

I hate lice. I would rather chew on glass, have a kid with RSV, walk barefoot across the plains.... Last Christmas Eve, while sitting peacefully during our church service, I was patting sweet Georgia's head when I noticed things. Scurrying. I freaked. And I wanted to kill Dave, who I'd had check her head for lice that very morning since I knew it was going around and she'd been scratching like a dog with fleas (which, she was). I wanted to bolt that very moment so I could start doing whatever it was I needed to do to rid us of these vermin (tent the entire house ala ET? Burn the bedding? Microwave the stuffed animals? Gasoline her hair?) but I had to say the closing prayer. "Bless us Lord to have a lice Christmas--I mean NICE!" Anyhow, suffice it to say that the Louse Incident of 2006 dominated our holidays. We still wistfully refer to the "Christmas Miracle" that none of the other kids got it, not even Millie who shares brushes, hats, pillows with Georgia.

I am scarred. Haunted. I check for lice monthly. I dream of lice. When I see someone try on hats at the mall I cringe. I am my mother, who's paranoia of these parasites has left her crippled: since some sister missionaries stayed with us in the 80s and brought lice with them, my mom has not leaned her head back at a movie theatre, puts a towel on airplane headrests, and refused to wear a bike helmet from a rental place unless they sprayed it with Lysol in her presence. When I lived in China and was wicked homesick for normal food, she promised to send me a box of treats. When a slip arrived saying the downtown postoffice had a package for me, I cheerfully took the 30 minute bus, waited in 3 lines, paid 3 different Communit fees, and finally got my box-o-goodies. When I opened it there was a bottle of RID and a fine tooth comb. I was so sad I cried. But now, I understand. I forgive.

So lice has returned to Belmont. I check heads daily. Sometimes twice. I bought special hair care products that contain rosemary, tea tree, citronella, and I douse them as they leave the house. Jonah complains he smells like camping, but I don't care. My goal is on Christmas Eve to lay in bed and know that "not a creature is stirring, not even a LOUSE."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

6 Fingered Baby

December has arrived and so it's tree time. We told the kids we'd go on Saturday, but Dave had to work, so we didn't arrive at Home Depot until well after dark--and it was 10 degrees. As we browsed the aisles, it became quickly apparent that all the trees left were the rejects. Hobo trees at best. I found a Hispanic man who worked there and asked if there were any other trees around, as most of these had major defects. He looks me in the eye and says in perfect Cheech & Chong: "Lady, if you had a baby, and your baby had six fingers, would you call up the doctor and say, 'doctor, my baby has six fingers. I don't love this baby. Take it back.' No. You would love your six fingered baby. You woul love it. Lady, these Christmas trees are like that baby. You pick one, and you love it Lady, you love it. It's the f*x$#!@g Charlie Brown Christmas!" So I walk away, still looking for a non-special needs tree. We get a decent one. Too skinny, too tall, but good enough.

The next day we decorate it and the kids are having a great time. We stategically put the breakable ornaments out of Bea's reach and I'm thinking all is well. Today she spots a tiny porcelain watering can and is flipping out trying to reach it. While visiting my mom's last month, she was insperarable with a little tin watering can and clearly isn't over the attachment. So after trying reason and distraction, I move the ornament even higher on the tree and sit on the ottoman to wait out her hissy fit. I'm doing the behaviorally responsible thing by ignoring Bea's fit, when out of the corner of my eye I see something. I turn and scream as the 7 foot tree comes crashing down on my face. The little Beast has pulled the tree onto me. And didn't even have the courtesy to shout, "Timber!" As I sit there, blood on my face, pine needles in my eyes, branches poking my neck, and sprinkled in shards of broken ornaments, Bea marches up unrepentant and plucks the pink and white watering can ornament off the tree, 4 inches from my face and waltzes off. 20 minutes later (after major damage control), I called Dave crying to tell him our six fingered baby had beat the crap out of me with our six fingered tree. I have two lovely cuts on my nose and black eyes developing. I can't wait to go the the ward Christmas party tomorrow night and have everyone give Dave the suspicious eye...