Monday, May 24, 2010

Playing It Cool

I walk into the basement. Willem looks over at his brother and then up at me.

"We're, uh, not thieves. We're just normal."

The Very Merry Month of May

May is a very busy month around these parts.

Shaun had a birthday on the 4th of May. I did not throw him a party. His folks fixed him a nice birthday dinner, though, and I did bake him Ina Garten's German Chocolate cupcakes. The frosting has sliced almonds AND pecans in it, so it is delicious. As always, Ms. Garten's recipe made an inordinately large amount of frosting. I ended up tossing out a good deal of it; I am not a strong enough woman to spend my days at home with a tub of homemade frosting without giving in to the urge to eat it by the spoonful until it's gone.

Two days after Shaun's birthday, we celebrated our tenth anniversary, which I did actually think to mention on the blog at the time.

"Oh no," I told Shaun ten years ago, "your birthday will not be neglected every year if our wedding anniversary is two days later." Ahem.

To be fair, we didn't do anything to celebrate our anniversary on the actual day this year, either. I tried to surprise Shaun with these cinnamon-pecan buns, but he got up really early and was almost out the door as I was rolling out the dough.

I can't remember what I said to him, but I know how I said it. Bitterly. Thankfully, Shaun is a seasoned pro now, with ten years of marriage under his belt, so he knew what to do. He stuck around for an hour until the rolls were done. And that, my friends, is love.

I was in an agony that the end product would be unworthy of all the hassle, but for all their pitiful looks, these cinnamon rolls are really good. They look like the canned variety, but they taste nothing like them. Cottage cheese is the secret to a dough that's faster and easier than a yeast dough but doesn't taste like cardboard. I recommend you give them a try. Just be warned that that the dough is crazy sticky. I needed a lot of flour to be able to roll it out.

Of course when we were talking birthdays and weddings ten years ago, Mother's Day was the last thing on my mind. But it turns out that Mother's Day is in May too.

Willem's preschool had a Mother's Day tea. The most remarkable thing about this event is that the children serve their mothers. They serve them very, very carefully.

The proud dimples of success; nary a drop spilled.

On Mother's Day itself we had a lovely brunch at home. The loveliest part was that Shaun did all the cooking. He makes a mean German pancake.

Also lovely were the flowers that Shaun's mom, Linda brought. I would say she has a knack, but putting it that way doesn't give enough credit to her always artful arrangements. She included the first peony bud of the season, because peonies are my favorite. She's thoughtful that way.

The following week, my very own mother stopped by for an overnight visit. Here she is reading to our newly minted Hardy Boys junkie. She read to Nels for forty minutes each day. He is totally obsessed; his head is full of outlaws and booby traps and fist-fights. He writes his name in code.

The drink on the coffee table is The Aviation Cocktail. Land sakes, is it good. Perfect for getting one through a Hardy Boys marathon, or for toasting the month of May.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Give a Boy a Camera

Now that Shaun has graduated to something fancier, we sometimes turn the boys loose with our little point-and-shoot camera. I always enjoy seeing what they choose to take pictures of and how they go about doing it.

Willem thought it would be a great idea to take a picture of the TV when it was on, so we have a lot of photos of white, blurry fields of light. He's also very short (not for a four year-old, but compared to me), so there are lots of alarming pictures of me taken from exceedingly unattractive angles.

I include the following picture (taken by Willem) because it perfectly encapsulates a Wednesday afternoon in the Martin household. On Wednesday nights I go to my writing group. So on Wednesday afternoons, you'll often find me like this: showered but sans makeup, wearing my most comfortable clothes, sitting like a zombie in front of the computer and abandoning the kids to their favorite babysitter, the television. If I ever manage to get started writing, Wednesday is the one day I give myself permission to neglect all homemaking duties and just try to get enough words down on paper to be worth reading that night. My blank stare and the partially-filled computer monitor indicate that I was actually getting some writing done on this particular day.

I'm not sure why my hand is so fancy.

When Nels takes pictures, he experiments with the unconventional: he'll lay on his back or stomach to get a shot:

Or twirl:

And, of course, he always knows how to bring out the best in his brother.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Our yard looks pretty sad compared to our neighbor's across the street. But I'm OK with that.

Because if I saw Shaun laying flat on his back underneath our Japanese maple and trimming it for two hours with what appeared to be a pair of manicure scissors, I would worry.

And if I saw him get out the Shop-Vac and and start vacuuming the shrubs? Well, come on, people. Priorities.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ten Years!

I think we're off to a good start.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Guess I Didn't Really Need To Ask...

Me to Nels: What are you doing?

Nels to me: Oh, I'm just getting IN. YOUR. FACE.