Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cooper's Favorite Author LIVE AND IN PERSON

Since the kids had the best time ever seeing Jan Brett at the library last winter, when the Facebook told me that local author (who is actually a big deal nation-wide) Kevin Henkes would be at Barnes and Noble with his new book Penny and Her Sled yesterday, I knew that Dorothy and Cooper and I would have to attend, even though our Tuesdays are generally kind of nuts.

Before the kids got home from school, I  prepped dinner (a carb masterpiece that you should make right now) and texted Ben instructions for using the magic robot function on the oven to cook it while he and the boys went to gymnastics.  Then I made eight PB&J's (4 for a post-school meal to tide everyone over until dinner and 4 for lunches the next day because what the heck, I was already making a mess), left plates of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels, and cookies for Harry and Jack and bagged up the same for Dorothy and Coper to eat at Dorothy's dance class.

Side note: It was Halloween at dance, and they did these ADORABLE little dances, and I thought I was videoing Dorothy's jazz class, but I took 2 pictures-- one at the beginning and one at the end instead.  I AM THE WORST DANCE MOM.  (Cooper video'd hip hop, and it was magical).
 As soon as class was over, Dorothy swapped her unicorn tutu for a sweatshirt, and we raced to Barnes and Noble where we were early enough to get front row seats.  And also this is where I totally screwed up because to get in the signing line (which, to be fair, I had no intention of joining because the mac and cheese was screaming my name), you needed to buy a book, and we brought our old faves instead.  I should have run to the front of the store, snagged a couple of books, and gotten a signing wrist band right then.  Instead, I sat behind the kids and read my own book quietly, which was pretty nice-- not going to lie.
 Henkes' talk was lovely, pitched to kids but not patronizing and also interesting for parents, especially parents like me who are fans.

He read his new book, which is just as charming and delightful as his other books.  (I have noticed, though, that his books are getting kind of melancholy and spare as he gets older and his kids grow up.  This one, like Waiting, is about the relentless passage of time and how long it feels for little kids.  It's beautifully written and gently funny, with no extra syllables, but there is a resigned zen quality underneath the words that really appeals to me as I watch my kids outgrow the world of picture books,  Penny's wish for snow and her gradual acceptance is super meta, is what I am saying.

Then he drew some characters and focused on how much an illustrator can change a drawing with only one or two lines, something Cooper has noted about his own comic book character Tornado Man.
 Cooper was rapt, especially when Henkes talked about how he aways knew he was an artist and was meant to write books.  This is exactly how Cooper feels about himself and how I remember feeling when I was a kid.  This is also when it started to dawn on me that I was never leaving Barnes and Noble, mac and cheese was just a dream, and I needed to get an effing wrist band PRONTO.

Cooper and Dorothy were engaged during the Q&A, and they both asked a question into the mic.  Dorothy asked when Henkes knew he could make a living writing books (high school, he said, and Cooper nodded intently), and Cooper asked if he could remember the first book he ever wrote as a kid (a 1.5-page novel called Treasure about a lost dog) .
 Fortunately, there was a ton to do while we waited for our hastily-purchased-right-after-the-talk books to be signed (actually, that's not true-- the kids poured over the Henkes display and took AGES to choose their books and then the check out line was zombie-like in its inefficiency).  Especially since we were literally LAST in line for the signing.
 Dorothy played a rousing game of Yeti in my Spaghetti with some other kids and colored a little book about monsters.  Cooper paced around and thought about what he would say to Henkes when he met him and also drew him a page of Tornado Man, which was maybe the cutest thing he's ever done.
 OMG her outfit!  HIs sleeves pushed up!

Cooper told Henkes all about his first book, Garbage Truck Moves to Hawaii, and his Tornado Man series, and Henkes could not have been nicer, especially considering he had been signing books for HOURS at that point.

Cooper chose a chapter book about a second grader (I read this with Jack when it came out, and The Year of Billy Miller is an absolute delight-- perfect to read aloud to a k-2 kid or for a 2-3-grader to read on their own, which is what Cooper's doing, and he sped through the first 20 pages while we waited).  Dorothy finally decided on the new Penny book, but it was a tough decision.

I bought them cookies at the Barnes and Noble cafe at like 9pm and then took them home for a thrillingly late school night bedtime.
They were so sweet and well behaved fir more than 3 hours during the dinner hour, after a long day of school and extra curriculars.  They're big kids now, and I feel like one of Kevin Henkes' little mouse people, aware that time is passing, and not all together sure what to do about it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stay-at-Home Mom with Little Kids Again

No school last week on Friday meant that the kids were all mine all day, just like the old days.

Also, on a related note, HOW DID WE ALL SURVIVE THE OLD DAYS?

I mean seriously.  And now they can all go to the bathroom and buckle themselves in the car and get themselves a snack and articulate their needs in  a reasonable way, and it was still hard.  HOW in the WORLD did I take care of them 24/7 when they were babies??

We started our day with an early bird showing of The Addams Family because I am too cheap to pay $12/ticket to see a movie during the afternoon, even though afternoon is precisely when everyone is a cranky jerk and a movie would be most helpful.
 We gave it a solid meh.
 The movie ended in perfect time for us to use the gift cards Ben's parents sent the kids for Halloween and go to our favorite fast food joint, Culvers (home of the butter burger).

 Everyone's very favorite outing came next: A TRIP TO THE GROCERY STORE!  J/K.  No one likes to go to the grocery store, but!  They did want me to buy buttermilk so I could make breakfast for dinner and this store just opened, so we were all interested in checking it out.  (But!  There is a sweet little local store in this this town as the previous only grocery option, and this giant store coming in is basically the plot of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and I felt like a jerk shopping there and also expected to see the owner of the other store gazing raptly at the lobster tanks.)
 When he was stashing groceries in the trunk, Jack grabbed this random Halloween mask and scared the hell out of me when I checked my bling spot.
 Next up: THE LIBRARY!

 After that, the day devolved into general bickering and me calling Ben to ask him to come home early and save me from the children, just like the old days.  In retrospect, we should have come home for like an hour before lunch and stretched the whole day out a little more.  But to be honest, I was thrilled that Harry wanted to hang out with us all day, although part of the problem when we got home was that he wanted to go to his friend's house but Cooper needed a chaperone for a park playdate at the other end of the neighborhood, and chaos ensued.

On Saturday, Dorothy heard we were going to a Badger hockey game and dressed in her fanciest dress and then helped herself to craft supplies, asking me to please draw a pumpkin on a poster board so she could cut it out and decorate it.  Okay, then.
 She kept herself so busy for so long that I briefly fantasized about what my life would look like if I had a houseful of Dorothies.
 Clearly, it would be terrifying.
 Jack and I went to Starbucks on our way to get groceries,
 And I took 10 minutes to read this book, which I could not put down all weekend.  READ IT!
 My sunglasses got stuck in my hair at the store-- always a good look for me.
 We spent a delightful afternoon watching the National Champion Badger women's hockey team beat Bemidji State.
 The little kids mad signs!
 Dorothy tried to entice Bucky with her stuffed Bucky, but no luck.
 Pretty sure we were watching Bucky here:
 Midway through the third period, I smelled something awful and looked over to see Cooper sitting like this:
 I also experienced a bit of an Insta-scare this weekend when I was stuck on 666 followers for part of the day.  IT'S OKAY NOW.
 Ben and I ditched the kids to see Zombieland 2, which we liked a lot
 On Sunday, I had a flash of brilliance and realized that I should always be packing lunches when the kitchen is already trashed from some other meal prep and/or breakfast.  I MEAN DUH.
 Jack made taco prep a snap
 Beatrix and I saw snow if the forecast and decided we should get the leaves off the deck real fast.
 Fall paradise while we waited for Harry's hockey game to start on Sunday afternoon.
 In fact, we were so enamored with the fall vibe that we got right to work on pumpkins after dinner while we watched Hocus Pocus.

 Buddy the Elf, though, is already looking ahead to the next holiday season.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Inching toward food freedom

So far, life after Whole30 looks a lot like cookies, cheese, and a dog covered in pancake batter.

With the promise of Halloween and a day of candy (I am not eating any candy any more, which has been a revelation.  Except on Halloween, when candy is A-OK) on the horizon, I have decided to jump back on My Fitness Pal.  I mean, now that I have finally lost all of the baby weight (MY BABY IS ALMOST SEVEN), why not lost those last 10 pounds I never lost before our wedding?

Speaking of halloween, the kids had a Trunk or Treat on Thursday, and the big spooky day promises to be adorable:

(Except for the snow)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

New Goal: Take MORE Pictures During the Week

I feel like lately, we do all of the fun stuff on the weekend, and I spend the whole week talking about it.  Then, when I come here to post something, I have like 3 pictures of my lunch.

Like this week, where crappy  food pics dominate:

(I have done the thing I never thought I would do, and I have tied eating dessert to eating your veggies at dinner, which I think is a flawed plan for a number of reasons, but OH MY GOSH THE KIDS HAVE BEEN REFUSING THEIR VEGGIES.  Except for Jack, who actually likes them.  So now, everyone gets a serving, and they can eat them or not, but they can't have dessert unless they do, and it's working. Cooper is the most stubborn about it, and he is just like oh well, screw dessert, Brussels sprouts will never touch my lips.)

Behold my desperate crudites flower:
 Chicken apple sausage with spinach sauteed in ghee, a baked sweet potato, and all of the fall fruit.
 Mt new obsession: red beans and rice with sweet potatoes and assorted other toppings:
 A RACINE KRINGLE OH MY GOD SO GOOD.  Ben had to go to Racine for a work thing, and I texted him URGENT, so he called me all freaked out and I was like BRING HOME A KRINGLE and then he said I need to rethink my definition of urgent, but I ask you: DO I??
Here are other weekday things that apparently rose to the level of photo-worthy:

The view from my office on a dreary day.  To be honest, I love dreary fall days when the trees are still leafy.
A few awesome Madison Moms on the news
 Harrison's English timeline project about his life:
 Beatrix going to get a bath:

 Dorothy's before-school dance party:

 Beatrix getting picked up from her bath:
 Beatrix exhausted from her bath:

 Aaaaand another before-school dance party:
 Plus!  Sampling the Halloween candy and also circling toys in the Target holiday catalog.