Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks for Benadryl and Penis-Shaped Pancakes

The lovely Thanksgiving table at my sister's house.

I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for my boys who insure that life is never boring. I'm thankful that we gathered with family to spend the holiday together. 

I woke up early Thanksgiving morning with kitchen tasks on my mind. After a short walk with my husband and dog, I made a cup of coffee and prepared to get to work. I had dough retarding in the refrigerator, I had rolls to make from scratch, and I had a lot of clean up from making various things the day before. The weather was misty and filled the kitchen with a soft light as I preheated the oven and poured some half and half in my coffee. I chatted a bit with my husband as he warily looked around at all the projects in progress.

Thanksgiving rolls rising before they go in the oven.

Soon my oldest son appeared. "Mom, what's for breakfast?" He is a pretty bright kid and he figured out fairly quickly that I had other projects going on and was not going to be serving him. He fumbled around the kitchen a bit and then decided to make pancakes. This did not thrill me as I was occupying most of the counter space. But OK.

Then my youngest appeared. "Mom. I'm really itchy." As I mixed dough for my rolls, I looked over at his body covered by an angry red rash. With flour all over my hands, I called out to my husband to find the Benadryl. It came flying into the kitchen from upstairs, express delivery. My son informed me that this rash started yesterday morning. He was obviously having an allergic reaction to something. We tried to think through what he had to eat the day before yesterday.

The Thanksgiving Costco rash. We never figured out the cause.

That's when I realized that it will be impossible to figure out what has caused this rash. We spent several hours taste-testing our way through Costco, a great way to entertain boys while shopping. Too many foods to even remember. I sip my coffee thoughtfully.

After my youngest is dosed up with Benadryl (yes the thought had occurred to me that it was not a bad thing to have him acting a bit more mellow for the day) I turned my attention back to the dough. The oven was preheated and it was time to put the bread in the oven. The dough for rolls needed to rise. As I got this organized my middle son came downstairs and sat watching the activity. He was way too savvy to ask what was for breakfast. Then my oldest, who was weaving and darting around me in the kitchen working on his pancake batter, said "Mom, I think something is wrong."

First of all, he has taken my largest mixing bowl and made what appears to be about two galloons of batter. He has used an entire package of whole-grain mix. But indeed there is something wrong with the batter; it is very very thin. I accused him of not following the directions. He insisted that he did. We figured out by reviewing the directions that in fact this honors math student made two errors in calculating the ingredients. He doubled the number of eggs needed (10 instead of 5) and somehow put too much milk. He stabbed at the lumpy mess with a whisk and it slopped out of the over-filled bowl. I informed him he will figure out how to personally cook and eat all of it.

Very thin pancake batter on the griddle.
Unfortunately this meant he would be standing at the griddle for some time while I was using the oven. My middle son came in to watch as he gamely scooped the watery batter onto the griddle and watched for signs that it would turn into something edible. My youngest, somewhat sedated, was out of the way at least. I got one beautiful loaf out of the oven and put the other in. The two boys were producing pancakes, if you can call them that. My oldest insisted they tasted perfectly normal. I told that was lucky because he was going to be eating them for many mornings to come.

I guess this is why I have two spatulas.
I took a quick break to check on Facebook and look at all the normal people posting pictures of their clean and well dressed children happily helping in their neat and organized kitchens, when I was struck in the head by a pancake. It turns out they make excellent frisbees. One steaming pancake landed on top of the stove hood. My husband got out of the shower to see what all the yelling/laughing was about. He took one look and disappeared. More giggling at the stove. I looked over at the giant pancake they were laughing over. REALLY??? A penis-shaped pancake?

Testosterone overload. Again. I left the kitchen to take a shower. When I came back down to finish up the rolls, my husband had done a bunch of dishes and the boys were no longer in the kitchen. I made myself a fresh cup of coffee (without an alcoholic shot but it was tempting) and put the last of the rolls and bread in the oven.

A loaf of homemade bread cools on the counter.

I'm thankful that I was able to finish up the items for our Thanksgiving feast. I had plans to pelt the boys in the head with a roll when we sat down to eat. But by the time I did sit down to eat, I was enjoying the food and family and hospitality a little too much to start a food fight.

Three of the slightly more mature men in my family overseeing the turkey on the BBQ.

My sister and her husband are justifiably excited about the turkey they prepared.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Running to the End

Big sigh.
Cross country season is over. The final race of the season for freshmen occurred on an uncharacteristically warm, windless clear day on a winding and hilly course called Crystal Springs. There were views of the Crystal Springs reservoir to the west, and the San Francisco Bay to the east. The huge group of freshmen ran well, sweeping first place like they did for every other race they ran this year.

It was an emotional end to the season for my son for various reasons. He experienced the power of a team, of what he could do when he challenged himself, about trust, and about excellent coaching. The season was an intense experience for my son and it has changed him profoundly. He started as a kid who liked to run. He finished the season as a Runner with a capital R, now a part of his identity.

After cross country season was over, he had one day off. He spent that day working on piles of homework. Then, the very next day he joined soccer tryouts.

Unlike cross country, soccer is a cut sport. Over 60 freshmen boys start tryouts and only 18 make the team. One round of cuts happened before he joined the tryouts. Another round just happened yesterday. The final selections are made in about a week from now. By my calculations, my son will go to 12 tryout/practice sessions before he finds out if he has a spot on the team. I have rarely seen him so nervous as before the cuts last night. They happen like this: the coaches run the tryout and then at the end, they tape a piece of paper on the back side of a small outbuilding with a list of names of those boys invited to continue with the tryouts. The boys run or walk over to the outbuilding, crowd around, find their name (or not), and then make their way to their waiting car. Inside the car is a parent who doesn't know what sort of creature will get in. Elated? Dejected? Angry? Relieved? Celebratory? Withdrawn? The whole range of human emotion could be climbing into the passenger seat. It's hard to be ready for that.

What did I get? A boy who was quiet, relieved, and not feeling well. He made it through the round of cuts but only after did I see how intensely he wants to be on this team. The release of emotion actually made him ill and exhausted. It may sound strange but he may have very well had a similar reaction if he was cut.

Big sigh. One more week. He will either have a jersey or he won't. But either way he will have a huge amount of respect for what it takes to be on the team.