Monday, February 27, 2012

If You Give a Boy a Pancake

Kent and I like food. I've addressed this topic before. I am a breakfast foodie. I like beginning the day with good food, and in the morning, I have plenty of energy to whip up a nice breakfast for my family. (By late afternoon, however, I'm too worn out to enjoy making another meal, which is why the slow cooker is my friend. This also explains why we have a lot of pasta on the days that the slow cooker didn't make it out of the cupboard.)

As a result of genetics, #5 is also a breakfast person. Today I discovered just how far he takes it.

Let me back up for a moment, though. When #1 was a preschooler, she coined the term baby pancakes. They are the little drips of pancake batter that end up cooking between the larger pancakes on the griddle. All the kids have called them "baby pancakes" since then. And they love calling dibs on these bite-sized flapjacks.

This morning I was in the dining room washing down my banana-pecan buttermilk pancakes with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice--yum! #5 trotted to the kitchen to see how many pancakes were left. There on the griddle was the last of the batter: two regular-sized pancakes and one smaller one, which was the result of running out of batter. The small one was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

#5 came back in with a silly grin on his face, telling me how cute and cuddly baby pancakes are. I had to call him on it.

Me: "Really? You think pancakes are cute and cuddly?"

#5: "Baby pancakes are."

Me, trying to antagonize him a little bit: "How small are baby pancakes?" Pinching my fingers into a 1/4" circle I asked, "Are they this big?" He nodded. I circled my fingers to a one-inch diameter. "How about this?" Another nod. When I made a bigger circle with both hands, he went back to the kitchen and returned with the smallest pancake cradled in his hands. He was smiling so sweetly and making cooing noises at the pancake.

#5: "This is the biggest that a baby pancake can be. Isn't it cute?"

Me: "If they're any bigger, they are kid pancakes?"

#5: "Yes, and you can eat them."

Me: "You said you like to cuddle with baby pancakes?"

In response, #5 smiled, nodded, and hugged the pancake.

I was taken back a little by how sincere he seemed. So I decided to press it and see if he would give up and just laugh at how goofy he was being.

Me: "Aren't you going to burp your baby pancake?"

#5 burped it.

Me: "You know you'll have to change it's diaper."

#5: "I know. But it's not poopy right now. Look," he said, pointing to some holes where the pancake had bubbled while cooking, "Here are his bum holes."

Me, diverting the conversation from going THAT way: "HIS bum holes? Your pancake is a boy?"

#5: "Well, I don't know if it's a girl or a boy. Let me see...what is the name?" Then he went into a thoughtful stare.

Me: "You could name it Chris and then it could be a boy or a girl."

Obviously, I was missing the point that #5 wasn't creating a gender because this pancake already had a gender.

#5: "No. His name is Tyler." Then he proceeded to coo to Tyler and hug him/it again.

I put my forehead against #5's to see if he would give in NOW, and crack up at how silly he was being. He just kept hugging that pancake.

At this point, I decided to play meaner.

Me: "You know, [#5], I bet Tyler is pretty tasty. Don't you even want to lick him to see how yummy he is?"

#5, still in his sweet and cuddly voice, and showing no shock at my suggestion: "No. I'm never going to eat Tyler."

Me, taking a big bite of the pancakes on my plate: "Well, I'm eating Tyler's big brothers, and they taste so good!"

No reaction.

Me: "Aren't you worried that when I'm done with these guys, I might want more?"

#5, still unconcerned: "I'll just keep him in my room where you can't find him."

I decided if this kid was going to stick to his story so convincingly, I should just give in.

Me: "I'm concerned that if your sisters come home and see a pancake, they might eat him. But, if you leave him out in the air, he'll get dry and hard so no one will want to eat him."

#5: "That's a good idea! Then I can have him forever!"

Before he left to find a dry hiding place for Tyler, he let me take a picture of the two of them. (Disclaimer for Nate: I only got #5 to agree to the picture by promising that it wouldn't show up in the family DVD next Christmas.)

Luckily, his request became my proof that #5 knew he was being ridiculous, because I was starting to worry about his pysche. I'm glad that he can be ridiculous with me and doesn't care how silly it makes him look. Or maybe the kid simply cares more about Tyler than about his own reputation!

(Too bad #5 didn't think to make me promise not to publish this story on the world-wide web.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Delegating My Memory

For several months I've been taking a fish oil supplement to help my bad knees and maybe my brain, too. I've never been much of a runner because it kills my knees, and now I can feel the joints scraping when I walk up stairs. And my memory, which used to be sharp, was pretty much shot by late nights with five babies.

The main problem with taking a supplement to help remembering to take it!

Kent is kind enough to bring me a fish oil capsule when he takes one with dinner, so my brain has never had to form that habit. However, I want to take a capsule in the morning, too, because I actually notice less popping in my knees when I double the consumption. So last night at dinner, Kent pointed out that I don't have to remember to take the morning capsule. "With the right incentive, the kids can remember all sorts of stuff," he said. The children all nodded in agreement.

It turns out the right incentive is a chocolate-covered raisin. The kids bargained for two raisins if they bring the capsule to me with a cup of water, rather than just giving a reminder. (Don't tell my children they are underpaid, okay?) We agreed that the first child to remind me about fish oil, sometime after devotional but before leaving for school, would be the daily winner.

Did it work?

Oh yes!

This morning, the children all dragged themselves to devotional and sleepily participated as usual. As soon as the prayer was ended and I asked them to get dressed for school, the following scene ensued:

#2 said, "Okay, but first you have to take your fish oil."

#3 jumped off the couch: "No! I was going to remind her."

#2, seeing her competition, also leaped up and made a run to beat her sister to the medicine box above the kitchen stove: "No way! I reminded her first."

#3 had reached the kitchen ahead of #2 and was already filling a cup with water: "But I'm bringing the fish oil to her!"

I turned, wide-eyed, to Kent who was still sitting beside me on the couch. We were both grinning.

#2 pulled open the cabinet doors, looking for the very large bottle of capsules: "It's not here! Where is it?!" Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw #3 set down the water and lift an overturned pot that had been left to dry overnight with the hand-washed dishes.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "This account can't be true. Mary is claiming to have clean dinner dishes before morning! No way." It's true I tell you. I even gathered photographic evidence to prove it. Sure, most of those dishes were from dinner three nights ago; but they were clean and drying before bedtime last night. Ahem. Let's continue.

#3, carefully lifting the pot: "I hid them so I could be the first to remind mom!"

And yes, all these exclamation marks are true. Their excitement and nervousness had them yelling every sentence. (!)

Kent to me: "You see? They can remember all sorts of things for small rewards."

I had to admit this was working incredibly well. I hadn't given my kids--who can't seem to remember that the van leaves at 8:10 each morning to go to school, and so end up chasing the in-motion van out the driveway with coat, socks, shoes, and sometimes a backpack in hand--enough credit.

#2, not ready to lose her chance at a chocolate-covered raisin, snatched the cup of water and speed-walked it to me: "I got it to you first!"

#3, running shortly behind: "No you didn't! I have the fish oil!"

#2: "That's because you hid it! That's not fair."

#3: "I thought of it first!"

#2: "No you didn't! I thought of it before devotional, but I couldn't remind Mom until after devotional."

Kent: Laughing.

#3: "But I thought of it last night. Look! I even wrote it on my hand so I would remember!"

That took the cake! Kent and I were quite impressed. I had to interrupt, thank them both, and reward them both. They each earned two chocolate-covered raisins. Spending two raisins more than I had planned was worth learning how effective rewards can be, AND how responsible my children can be when properly motivated.

(Now how do I get them to remember their chores and homework?)

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Fun Date Night Saturday

Last Saturday Kent and I had a fun and out-of-the-ordinary date. We met my parents at a new restaurant on the recommendation of my dad who has eaten lunch there a few times. We loved this place!

It's called The Center Street Bistro, and is on the first two floors of The Madison. The address is 295 W Center in Provo. It's in the building that used to be Provo Craft (I believe).

Photos of Center Street Bistro, Provo

We sat on the mezzanine floor in the front corner by the windows, where we could watch everything below us on Center Street. But we were way more interested in the building we were in. The ambience is old and hip at the same time. We actually gave ourselves a tour while we waited for our food. There are tables tucked into nooks throughout the first two floors, as well as sofas, lounging chairs, and many other interesting furniture pieces. (I liked the table made from an antique door, located by the men's restroom.)

The food was really good too! Kent had an amazing mocha burger, which tasted like chocolate, not coffee. I had a chicken salad with sweet basalmic dressing. Our meals together cost $18. Awesome! Instead of peanuts or chips, the complimentary appetizer was a delicious hummus and fried flat bread.

I'm talking this place up mostly because I want it to stay in business. They opened in October, and though they had a few kinks with the food, those seem to be worked out now. But the place was empty! That made it nice a quiet for our dinner conversation--and we plan to visit it tomorrow for Valentine's Day because there will likely be no wait--but customers seriously need to be filling it up. You can check out this review from the Daily Herald if you have doubts. (It's a fair review; just be sure to read about the author's second visit.) I would guess that the neon signs, which are hanging in every window, advertising beer are sending the wrong signals to non-drinkers who would love this place as much as we did. If it were my business, I would hang the neon signs in the windows of the third-floor Cowboy Bar, and leave the lower windows empty so people can look through them and see what a great place it is.

After dinner, we headed to the kids' school, Freedom Preparatory Academy for a Trivia Night fundraiser. I had carefully put together a team of brilliant people...and we mostly relied on my dad to carry us. That's not to say that we didn't all contribute (I was the only one to supply answers during the round about Freedom Academy), but we won the grand prize by six questions, which were the difficult ones about the Marx Brothers and recognizing photos of dead people that only my dad knew. The rest of the team included my mom, my brother and my sis-in-law (his wife) and her parents. The other three parents did win us lots of questions by buying 20 mulligans, which gave us free answers. And Jenni's dad supplied the Smart Water. Kent had loaded up on caffeine on dinner, but I think the Smart Water did the trick.

(Did I mention that Jennifer Aniston was on our team? Oh, that's because she wasn't.)

That's right, I said our table won the grand prize! In addition, we won two other rounds outright, and a third by default. (Ironically, as a team we felt least prepared to answer questions about sports, but that was the first round we won.) We raked in coupons for free ice cream cones (244 such coupons!), $50 per person off new tires (bad timing--Kent and I replaced the tires on both our vehicles last month), gift certificates to a local restaurant, free dessert being served that night, and tickets to some Jazz games! Woo hoo! Additionally, the four couples at our table won six of the silent auctions. I can't wait until next year when we can defend our win!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Every weekend, #2's BFF, Sadilla Milla (our nickname for her), spends the night. We love having her around as she is very easy going and also willing to pitch in with chores. She blends in with my kids so well that I often mistake her for #1.

Anyway, #2 and her BFF always want to sleep in the playroom. We have a real bed and a makeshift bed in there, so there's room for both of them. We don't, however, have heat in there, which I would think would be a problem, but apparently being frigid doesn't bother them. Or maybe it does, and they are keeping mum because they just aren't willing to compromise their little secret!

Today I made a discovery. In one of my regular searches for something I had misplaced, I resorted to looking through the nooks and crannies of the playroom. After Edwin left last fall, we kept his dresser in there, thinking it would be a good place to store toys. Well look what else it stores:

Now, in years past we've had mice in the house, which led to a very strict rule about which rooms were allowed to contain food. Hint: it's none of them! (Other than the kitchen and dining rooms.) So my kids have to be secretive about sneaking food to other rooms. I'm impressed that they are willing suffer in the cold to be able to nibble through the nights. On the other hand, I'm perplexed that they would continue this sneaky snacking on stale food. When I saw the chips--a favorite to dip in cottage cheese--I popped one in my mouth. Blech! The subdued flavor of clothes mixed with old dresser wood had mingled with the open bag of stale chips in a not-gourmet manner. Double blech!

While I was at it, I also found #1's swimsuit, which she had been missing since Christmas, and which, in recent days was the subject of an accusation that may have been thrown at me and/or my laundry sorting abilities. It's a good thing I can let teenage accusations roll off my back. Next time such a complaint flies my way, I'll whip out this piece of photographic evidence:

*For the record, I'm glad #2 thought to hide "stolen" food in drawers rather than her clothing. I have two separate friends who have discovered their children using a more unusual place to stash the evidence. Apparently, when a four-year old is sneaking a cookie--or even ice cream!--the first hiding place that comes to mind is the front of her pants!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Follow-Up to Birthday House

(How have two weeks flown by since my last post?! So much for my New Year's resolution.)

I thought I'd post a follow-up before moving on with more recent happenings. My last post Part 1 WAS Part Only. I made myself a Chinese New Year's dinner, and #4 made me a Chinese birthday hat and dragon mask. (Go year of the dragon!) The kids made a little bit of an effort to clean the house a little bit...and Kent rescued me from the mess by taking me out for a birthday treat. We tried a new place in Orem called Rollup Crepes. The atmosphere was fun, the crepes were good, but the Nutella hot chocolate was the best! Kent and I kept wondering as we sipped it down how we had never thought to add Nutella to that favorite cold-weather drink. I now have Nutella hiding in my cupboard for just that purpose. Mmmm...

We have since cleaned the house rather thoroughly--hosting two parties in one weekend will do that--and I have high hopes that we can maintain. So far we're at five days and counting!