Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Holiday highlights

So we've had the turkey holiday as my seven year old calls it. We brined it, we cooked it, we basted it and ate it.  For two days we had turkey sandwiches and warm turkey salad. Yesterday I pulled the rest of the flesh off the carcass and boiled it for 3 hours. Today we ate broccoli soup made with turkey stock.
Is there any more turkey left? Oli asked, wincing a little.
I've frozen it. I told him.
What have you done with its head? he asked, as if I might be saving it for some particular pastry-wrapped delicacy, just for him.
It didn't come with a head. I told him. Do we have to talk about this now? I asked. We were eating the broccoli soup. I can see vividly its wobbly neck and how I tucked the bumpy flap of skin under its body in the roasting pan, not sure if there was something else I should have done with it - trussed it perhaps?  It dripped small stalactites of fat as it cooked.
The three year old had gaged at the sweet potato gratin on his Thanksgiving plate.  Oli valiantly ate what he could in order to get access to the apple pie he knew would follow.
The sun shone, though it was just cold enough in the shade to feel like it could be November.  The boys go back to school tomorrow and tonight I sat on Oli's bed and asked him what had been the best day of the week.  I would like to write a book through the mind of a five year old boy. There is magic there.  Was it, I asked, the first day when you played animal races all over the house with your stuffed toys and when we finally got out at 3 o'clock to go to the park, we saw the police motorbike on the street corner and when we went to investigate found that Barack Obama was going to go past any minute and we waited and saw all the police cars and men in flak jackets and Obama looking out of his SUV with the window down? Or was it the day when Wendy, who was staying with us, walked you up to the bookshop to buy you a book each and then we came home and read and played? Or was it the next day when we went to Golden Gate Park and you climbed a tree and then we ran some errands and went to the post office? Or the Turkey day when we walked in the Presidio and the Robinsons came and ate the food in the afternoon? Or the next day when Keanu and Luca came over and we went out to play? Or today when we met Henrik on the beach and had lunch at the Pelican Inn? Which day was it?
I am thinking, yes! we had fun! We actually did it this time!
It was all good says Oli, except the day we saw Brack Obrama, because we wasted time when we could have been at the park.
That same day, my seven year old had said at supper, The bad thing about being the President is - you can't be a police motorbike rider.
That's true  I conceded.
Or a dump truck driver  Oli added.
We ate on in silence. There's no disputing that.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Time wasting

What with a house renovation (which I admit, has made me mildly obsessed with pinterest) and three boys to cook for and clean up after, you might think I could be forgiven for passing up on the chance to rough and tumble with them on the mattress in the living room (the mattress that is passing for our bed). But my eldest put it succinctly: 'Mum, why are you wasting your time not playing with us?' Point taken.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

With thanks to the Grand National

Tonight, bedtime was given the commentary of the Grand National:
And it's Max who is making a strong lead picking up the lego. A strong lead for Max followed by Mummy, both putting plenty of bricks in the bag. And now Oli's joined the race. A slow start for Jack though - yet to place a brick in the bag. But Oli's coming in strong with handfuls of lego men and the duplo aeroplane. Beard guys, buildings, it's a fast and furious race tonight. With Max in the lead, followed by Mummy, Oli coming in a close third and Jack working hard to catch up. The bag is nearly full with a few straggling pieces still to be put away and Max is holding onto a handful of lego so he can be take a strong position into the next phase of the race but Oli won't beaten, he races across the room to find the final pieces by the door and the FLOOR IS CLEAR. So it's onto the next jump, taking off the clothes for a shower. With Max in the lead and Jack taking a surprising second place as they race for the bathroom. Max has his clothes off, Jack is struggling with his socks, he gets help from Mummy and Oli is slipping behind, but 'No' he shrieks, he will not be outdone. He gets some help from Mummy who is clearly no longer in the race. The shower is switched on and it's Max who races in. Jack is in second. 'Too hot!' is the cry as both come back out of the shower. Cooler now, they head back in but is Jack out again to do a pee. The race is heating up with Oli refusing to take his top off until he is given a glass of water.  An interesting approach from the four year old but it looks like Mummy will comply. Jack's off the loo and back in the shower. The glass of water is there but Max's lead is taking shape. 'Face the wall!' is the cry from Mummy as Jack takes in gulps of water and starts spluttering. 'No can't see!' he yells. Mummy opens the door to give him a scrub and Max is OUT OF THE SHOWER. Out of the shower and Oli still not in. Jack stays in there to get the soap off. And Oli is finally in the shower as the commentary slows down, but that is not tolerated. 'Keep talking!' is the demand from the horses in this race. So it's Max in the lead with Oli being scrubbed and Jack now refusing to get out of the shower. It's a first refusal for Jack, can he take the jump again? Oli is scrubbed and has washed his face so he's ready to get out of the shower. He takes a strong second place as Max gets into his pyjamas. Oli sees his way back into the race and charges into the bedroom. Max is struggling with an inverted pyjama sleeve. How is he going to tackle this one? It's a real challenge. Frustration showing on his face. Will he get his arm through or will he have to pick another tactic? Oh, the grimace! He can see his lead diminishing. Oli seizes his opportunity, getting help from Mummy with his top. He doesn't have buttons and Max does. But there it is, just as Max gets his top on, Oli faces the same inverted sleeve problem with his pyjama bottoms. Frustration bubbling over for Oli now and Jack is still refusing to get out of the shower. The water is switched off but he's busy putting the flannel gloves on his feet. A bold strategy of defiance from the youngest competitor. So it's between Max and Oli. And suddenly Max is faced with toothpaste indecision. Several tubes are strewn around without much inside which is a major challenge at this late stage in the game. Is it going to be Crest or Oral B? It's hard to get enough on the bristles. Oli goes for the Scooby Doo toothpaste which is really hard to get out of the tube. Could this be a decider in the race? And it looks like the brushing has begun. It's underway as they head to the final stretch; the race to bed. They have to navigate into sleeping bags...who will take the pole position. There's nothing in it but Max is struggling to get into his bag because all his teddies are stuffed into the bottom, there's no room for him! And Oli is IN BED. He wins the race tonight. But tears of frustration for Max who must surely be given the generosity prize for sharing his sleeping bag with at least 2 dozen stuffed animals. But tonight is Oli's night with Jack still sitting on the shower floor with flannels on his feet.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I used to put in this blog all the happy things I didn't want to forget in the slow blur of parenting. I wrote about my children's irresistible emergent language; the way they saw things, so fresh and observant. I wrote about the moments I thought were funny; the things we made, or I made for them. I wrote about the ebb and flow of my feelings about raising a family in a place so many miles from 'home'.  I really tried to capture the weight of their bodies in my arms, their small frames, their turn of phrase, the nature of who they might be and the childhood that might be shaping them.

Preschool art projects became kindergarten homework. Empty afternoons filled up with the school run.  Tiredness took a bite out of sibling friendships. Squabbles fell upon us like high speed tetris blocks. I couldn't shift them fast enough to fit the matrix.  Emotion trebled; 'he made a nasty face', 'he took my train', 'he called me dude' (despite the meaning, the slight is deep when delivered with a first grade snarl). I stopped wanting to record our days together. I stopped wanting to take my camera out. I no longer had the time or inclination to share on a blog the content of our lives.  I see an earlier version of myself reading this, the one who took so much pleasure capturing our particular journey.  She is wondering what changed.  I am wondering too.

I know it is all about attitude. I will endeavour to carve out more time to write, seek out the meaning of things and hand it to you like a delicate chocolate wrapped in tissue paper.