Friday, September 25, 2009

doing his best to drive me insane, since 2005

Brandon has been talking about his birthday party for months. MONTHS. His Monster Truck party. His Gravedigger cake. For months. We've been collecting Monster Jam party supplies bit by bit as we see them. I sketched out a Gravedigger cake...actually, no, I planned out a Gravedigger cake, in great detail, on graph paper. I bought the supplies to make a raised platform for the cake (3" high, half the height of the wheels). Because yes, it was going to be a 3-D cake. My first attempt at carving. I was excited.

I spent a chunk of yesterday designing the invitations. I decided to incorporate some of the other things he likes is obsessed with, and had Gravedigger jumping over the Mach 5 (live-action movie version) and the Batmobile (original 60's version). With flames in the background - green flames. I even found a font that not only has flames, it has the same kind of flames that are on Gravedigger's hood. He liked it at first. He liked it a lot. As soon as he saw it, he ran and grabbed his Gravedigger, Mach 5 and Batmobile toys and reenacted the scene. "Look, Mommy! Gravedigger is jumping over Speed Racer and the Bat-no-meel!"

Then all of a sudden, last night around bedtime, he changed his mind. "No Monster Jam. Batman party!" And the Gravedigger cake? Nope. Batmobile. And the invitation? Nope. He didn't want Gravedigger jumping over the Batmobile and the Mach 5. He wanted Gravedigger hiding behind the Batmobile.

W.T.F. ????

I managed to get him to agree to the original invitation by photoshopping a picture of him into it so it looks like he's driving Gravedigger. Which was always part of the plan anyway. (The picture he chose makes it look like he's leaning out the window, with his arm up in the air...holding a slice of pepperoni. Which is actually a fairly subtle way of working in another one of his favorite things.)

But the cake...that's still in negotiations. As is the general theme. At least with all three vehicles on the invitation, we'll have some more time to hash it out. Two months to go. (And yes, I do have to do this all two months in advance, if I have to order stuff on the internet, it's going to take some time to get here!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

it's my birthday, by the way

I haven't been blogging much. I assume that you have noticed this. Personally, I don't like reading blogs that are the same complaint over and over again, so I don't want mine to be like that. I'd rather just not write.

There's a light at the end of the headache-ridden tunnel, though. I've been thinking about how miserable I've been since we moved here, and I asked myself - what's different? I mean, aside from having freakin' moved to Japan? And I realized: caffeine. I went almost my whole time in Hawaii almost completely caffeine free. I actually went *completely* chemical free for a while - no synthetic chemicals went in or on my body for at least 2 years. And then I moved here. And I was jetlagged. And I was eating fast food way more often than I should have, and drinking soda with it. And then I moved into a building with a vending machine in the lobby, with ice cold bottles of Coca Cola and neat little cans of "Super Max" coffee (which tastes just like a bottled Frappuccino, if bottled Frappuccinos actually tasted like coffee). And so I fell off the caffeine wagon. And I can tell you, caffeine really is just like any other drug, because I've definitely been acting like an irritable, depressed, mentally unhinged drug addict.

So now I'm struggling through this massive caffeine-withdrawal headache but I'm feeling a little happier. Except, of course, for the Ghost of Deployments Future that's hanging around until next Tuesday, when it will be replaced for two months by the Ghost of Deployment Present. I can only hope that being caffeine-clean-and-sober will help me get through that without *completely* losing my mind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

what is this, mutiny of the children?

So there's this area at the Commisary where they have a bench and a TV that's always playing kids' movies. Brandon begged to sit down and watch the show today, so I let him. As always, I reminded him to STAY ON THE BENCH. On my way past him to get in line to checkout, I leaned over and told him to sit up instead of lying across the bench. Like 3 minutes later I went back to pick him up...and he wasn't there. I couldn't see him anywhere. I called out and he didn't answer. I looked up and saw the big inflatable Halloween display rocking, so I climbed over the divider (leaving Jackie behind in the stroller, mind you) and turned the corner, where I saw Brandon running away from the Halloween display and towards one of the chest freezers at the edge of the frozen section. I ran over and picked him up around the waist and said, "you are in BIG trouble."

When I got back to the stroller, there was a 7 or 8-year old girl with us, she had apparently followed us over from where I had grabbed Brandon. "Hey!" she said, "You aren't being very nice to him."

Let me pause for a moment to let that sink in.

My almost-4-year-old DISAPPEARED IN A PUBLIC PLACE, because he decided to do something that he knew damn well he wasn't supposed to do. So I picked him up, carried him back to the stroller, and told him he was in trouble. I didn't hit him, hurt him in any way, or shout in an overly loud voice. I think I kept extremely calm, given how panicked I felt. I did raise my voice, obviously, but in my "I am talking loudly so you know I'm serious" voice, not my "OH MY GOD I'M SO ANGRY I'M GOING TO EXPLODE!" voice.

And an 8-year-old girl decided to take me to task for being mean.

I hope that my response sunk in. That it was absolutely none of her business. That he ran away from where he was supposed to be and I didn't know where he was - what he did was very very bad. And it's very disrespectful of her to tell an adult what to do with their child.

I'm still dumbfounded. I mean, really.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

maybe it's because we listen to Backyardigans in the car

So I was putting sheets on Brandon's bed. August Rush was playing in the other bedroom, and Backyardigans was on in the living room. And I thought to myself, wait a minute, why is Backyardigans on in the bedroom? I hear Uniqua. So I walked in, looked at the screen and saw a little girl singing and I thought...that has to be the same little girl. It is.
So, uh, what does that say about me, that I can recognize the singing voice of a cartoon character from the next room? Probably that I watch too much Noggin.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

the answer, round 6

Well, somebody got the answer exactly right this time! I don't think it counts, though, since Emily lives here in Japan (for now, anyway), and seems to know more about Japan after...one year?...here than I ever learned about New Orleans or Hawaii in 3 or 4 years.

It's azuki beans. Says Wikipedia, "In East Asian cuisine the azuki bean is commonly eaten sweetened. In particular, it is often boiled with sugar, resulting in red bean paste (an), a very common ingredient in all of these cuisines; it is also common to add flavoring to the bean paste, such as chestnut." In Hawaii, they use it as a Shave Ice topping, although I admittedly never tried that. I still haven't ever eaten azuki beans...Jackie ate the whole sandwich. Actually he ate half, fell asleep with it in his hand, then woke up and ate the rest of it. Now I know what to get for him when it's time for a treat!

tiny fondant doughnuts



Yesterday I came up with a method for making 1/2" iced donuts out of fondant. I need them for a cake I'm making next week. I came up with this method through the immensely complicated process of thinking, "hey, I wonder if that would work". It's really quite simple.

First you make a little ball out of chocolate fondant, and squash it down a little.

(Sorry for the iffy lighting, I was doing this after the kids were asleep.)

Then you roll out a small piece of white or pink fondant and use the large opening of tip #5 to cut out a circle.



You put the circle on top of the flattened ball.


Now you press the small end of tip #5 into the middle, making a rounded hole.


Voila!


You could probably pipe sprinkles onto it with various colors of royal icing and tip #1. And I would probably do that if the doughnuts were the only thing I was making. But I'm not looking to put THAT much effort into it. ;D

Other things I'm making out of fondant for this cake include gingerbread men, "wrapped" candies, chili peppers, flowers, butterflies, shamrocks, hearts, stars and a big rainbow ribbon. And a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. Can you guess what the theme is?