Monday, September 28, 2009

Mad Skills

Through the course of my life, I've somehow developed a bit of a competitive spirit.  Mostly, I like to blame my three brothers for this fact.  But in my marriage, I've learned to suppress that competitive streak.  It’s probably due to the fact that my husband is pretty much better at everything, which makes the suppression of my competitive nature actually a survival tactic.

Anyone who has ever eaten a meal cooked by him and one prepared by me, will undoubtedly agree that his food is just qualitatively better than mine.  There is simply no denying that he is a better cook.  I have no reason to believe that this will ever change.  And he certainly doesn’t make it easy for me to try to imitate his culinary masterpieces--he hardly ever uses a recipe.  He even invents desserts whenever inspiration strikes.  Marshmallows sprinkled with cinnamon just before roasting, brownies baked with chocolate chips and fresh cherries, rice krispy treats with fresh strawberry slices . . . they may sound odd, but try them.  I dare you.   But through all this, I console myself with the knowledge that I am at least able to nourish my family when he isn’t available to cook.

When it comes to having fun with the kids, I pack a punch for birthday parties and planning day trips.  But he blows me out of the water with his spontaneous and infectious humor.  Meals are more fun with him around.  Lazy afternoons are more fun with him around.  Everything is more fun with him around. Sometimes, when he’s not here,  I try to add some goofy, silly humor into our routine.  And I absolutely do have fun and enjoy playing around with my kids.  But somehow, it’s just always better when he’s home.  I’m not really bothered by this realization, I just jump on the bandwagon and enjoy his presence as much (if not more!) than anyone else.

My husband’s artistic skills also far surpass my own.  I think my drawing ability somehow got stuck at the 2nd grade level. I doubt they will progress much beyond that.  He doesn’t draw or paint very often, but when I insist on a family art project, he is always the last one left at the table, putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece.  I’ll admit the fact that he was raised by an artist/art teacher gives him a natural advantage in this area.

I shouldn't even mention musical ability.  Suffice it to say that he bought an electric guitar little more than a year ago, taught himself not only how to play it, but also how to read music.  Long ago I had to miss recess in order to receive remedial recorder instruction because I was so terrible at it.

When I do craft time with the kids, I come up with ultra-simple, not-too-messy ideas like shrinky dinks or decorating rice krispy treats with sprinkles.  When he was in charge of craft time last week, they made the following items from things in our recycling pile: a drum set, a bow minus the arrows, a pinwheel, a ballot box, and a garbage can.  They also painted on butcher paper, soaked beans in paint just to see what would happen, and suspended a can from the ceiling which dripped paint pendulum-style onto more butcher paper.  But even with the extreme difference in our views of craft time, I usually find myself merely grateful that my kids get to be involved with such a daringly creative person.

But the revelation that he made last night over dinner, tipped the scales so far in his favor that I began to feel just a little threatened.

He knows how to crochet. 

This was news to me because not only has he never demonstrated this skill in front of me, he’s also never mentioned it before.  I don’t think I’ve ever even held a crochet hook.  But the clincher came not from the fact that my husband knows how to crochet but that he used to crochet various items for his action figures as a kid.

He created balaclavas for his GI Joes, backpacks for his six-million dollar man, and socks for his other figures.  I didn’t know what a balaclava was.  I had to look it up.  It’s a ski mask.  I suppose his action figures were very grateful for their balaclavas, socks & bags and were able to have much grander adventures as a result.

But as I sat across the table from this man I’m married to, his plethora of talents began scrolling through my mind.  As you can imagine, it took quite a while.  And it occurred to me that I may have to step up my game . . .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Super Hero

The other day J was playing super hero.  He doesn’t do this all that often.  He usually pretends to be some bad guy or other, mostly due to the fact that the girls can’t get him to follow any of their pretend play edicts.  They realize that he’s going to run wild and chase them no matter what, so they might as well incorporate it into the game.  They’re very wise in that respect.

But the other day, the girls were still in school, and so J was free to follow his imagination into new territories.  He donned his green cape and pleaded that I stick a long paper streamer down the back of his shorts.  I swear--this was ALL his idea.  He began running in circles around the coffee table, allowing his lovely, and very long tail to flutter after him.  “I’m a super hero piggy-butt!” he announced enthusiastically.

Since I was unfamiliar with that particular super hero, I asked him if he had a super power.  “Yep.  Pichu.  Pichu,” he replied while opening his hands wide in front of his face.  “This makes everyone think I’m a robot.  Also, I can fly.”  And after a few more laps around the table, he started making a chu, chu sound accompanied by a finger slicing motion.  When asked what that did, he said, “That makes me cut pears.”

Ok, I may not be much of a super hero buff, but this combination of powers struck me as odd.  I totally get the flying power.  That would be downright useful.  I can even imagine a few scenarios where the ability to make people think you were a robot would come in handy.  I mean, who wants to mess with the terminator, or a cylon?  But I’m a little stumped when it comes to pear slicing.  And why in the world would a flying, faux robot pig need to slice pears in the first place?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Milk & Cookies

I am of the persuasion that warm cookies and cold milk are one of those heavenly combinations that just belong together.  It’s a combination I crave more often than I should.  I’m always coming up with reasons to make chocolate chip cookies--I know that even if the cookies are technically meant for someone else, there will always be a few for me to enjoy.  Someone has to taste test the batch, after all, just to make sure they’re not too horrible to give away.

This was one of those days where I had thought up an excuse, er . . . reason, to make cookies for someone.  It started out like any other day with the chaos of the morning routine, the scramble to get three kids ready and to school on time.  Once that feat was accomplished, I had to jet out and do some errands, which included my multi-weekly run to the store for milk.  We are forever running out, and I couldn’t possibly allow myself to run out of milk on a day where I would be baking chocolate chip cookies.

We arrived back home with the groceries, my kindergartener and toddler in tow.  After coming inside and fixing lunch for them, I realized I had left the groceries in the back of the car.  I glanced at my kids to see if they would remain occupied while I unloaded them.  The oldest was painstakingly picking every raisin out of his bagel, and playing a game where they chased each other around his plate.  Yeah, he’d be busy for a while.  The toddler, sitting securely in her high chair, had taken her PB & J apart and was rubbing the sticky sides all over her tray, creating a very interesting art project.  Yep, she should be fine, too.

As I was putting the groceries away, I misgauged the length of my counter and a gallon of milk went crashing down, spreading a horrible white puddle all over the floor.  After exclaiming and moaning and jumping up and down in frustration, I asked of no one in particular, “Why does this keep happening to me?”  See, I’ve spent most of my life being able to avoid spilling whole gallons of milk.  Well, until recently that is.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve managed to drop three gallons of milk.  One in the driveway, and two in my kitchen.  So I was wondering what gives.  My four-year-old son matter of factly replied, “Maybe you’re not strong enough and you should let Daddy do it.”  To him, Daddy has superhuman abilities in almost every area.  If there’s ever anything I can’t (or won’t) do, his response is always that he’ll ask Daddy.  I told my son that that’s a great idea and that he should tell Daddy to take over the grocery shopping.  Fine by me.  The only thing I’ll miss is occasionally buying treats that I don’t have to share with anyone.

My dog took this opportunity to add a little calcium to his diet by licking up as much milk as possible from the floor before I shooed him away.  I guess he was thirsty, or maybe he was just trying to help me.  Once he was safely out of the room, I grudgingly cleaned up the remaining milk puddle and wiped off the thousands of milk spots from the cabinets.  The last task in cleaning up my mess was to take the broken milk bottle to the recycling container in the garage.  As the door was swinging shut behind me, a screw popped out of the door latch and fell to the floor.  I’m not sure why this struck me as particularly funny, but I started laughing.  Perfect, just perfect, I thought.  That was the moment I decided to start a blog. If I can’t examine these moments and find humor in them, I’m afraid they just might drive me crazy.

To add insult to injury, later in the day the parsley fell into my glass of water, I spilled baby tomatoes all over, and I slammed my finger in the door.  But the very worst thing that happened that day was that I had to use wheat flour to make the cookies because that’s what was in my canister. Wheat flour!  Needless to say, they didn’t quite hit the spot.  Though my dog didn’t seem to mind since he stole some off the table.  Maybe he likes milk and cookies as much as I do.