Inspired by a book that I can't recommend highly enough, we learned that blackberry fool is A Fine Dessert. Sweet and tangy and gloopy, pretty and messy and easy, but also good for several helpers, especially if you pick the blackberries. Shmoogie and DiDi and I picked the brambles nearly clean to get enough, Shmoogie and Mr. P helped with the mashing and the sieving and the whipping, and we all helped with the eating. Mostly, we ate it before it chilled because I forgot the part about having to leave it in the fridge for 3 hours and started the recipe at 7 (or maybe 7:30; our summer days go so loooooong). It was delicious at room temperature, but a fascinating gelatinizing thing happened to the part that did get chilled and I think that's probably what you're supposed to end up with. More like mousse than warm fruity whipped cream.
I won't spoil the book for you, but I can't resist sharing that when we turned the page to the last story-in-a-story, Mr. P huffed, "Finally! A boy!" And then griped for a while about how unfair it was that there were three girls and only one boy. I tried to think about how to explain that it was actually not fair to the girls that they were stuck in the kitchen, but then I realized that the better point was pretty much the one he was making, that it's silly and sad to define activities by gender. The story makes a subtler point, too, about how people have always experienced moments of enjoyment and love, even if the boundaries of their lives were bleak.
Did I mention that I can't recommend the book highly enough? A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall.
Of the many things I've read via Twitter lately, I keep thinking about Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man from Brain Pickings. I was born well after the invention of women, which is wonderful, but that means her words should feel a lot more dated than they do.
I'm feeling a little wistful for summer (making blackberry fool and then blogging about it so I'll remember it, see?) as the end draws near, but mostly I can't wait for the cool and the dark so we can sleep. Zzzz.
Northern summers, as I know I have said, are amazing and also hard.
I had reason to look back at some of my posts from several years ago and was stunned at the things I don't remember. People tell me how wonderful it is to have a record of things so I can remember them later (too bad this past year will always be mostly a blur, I guess), but I always laughed that off and said that I wouldn't forget, especially not after writing it all down and proof reading several times and all. But I did.
We learned this weekend that is possible for a baby to have a cold and exhibit no symptoms except for a full body rash. It's unnerving, but spotty baby doesn't seem to notice he's spotty, although he has seemed to notice he doesn't feel super awesome.
I did not rear end anyone, drive off the road, or squeal (much) when I noticed a very large spider (I'm talking like the size of a cookie) crawling slowly up from the lower left corner of the dashboard while I was driving home. I did not even pull over and demand someone rescue me when my attempt to smoosh it with a paperback succeeded only in (possibly) maiming it and (!!!) dropping it to the floor between my feet. I did pull over and was not at all happy to find that I couldn't see the thing anywhere, meaning I had to get back in the car and drive for fifteen more minutes home knowing it was somewhere under the seat and in who knows exactly what state, although clearly a healthy enough state to have hidden itself under the seat in the first place. I did tuck my pant legs into my socks. And I did have a nightmare about spiders, but only the second night. The first night I slept unaccountably soundly.
It is 10:15 pm on a school night and I am lying on Mr. P's bed, explaining to him (with a bit of desperation probably creeping into my tone) that, although I know it is hard when the sun stays up past bedtime, he has a RESPONSIBILITY to stay in his room after bedtime and try to go to sleep so that mommy and daddy don't have to force themselves to stay awake past THEIR bedtimes just to make sure he is safe.
We are already weeks into the ironic misery of summer past 47° N.
Mr. P takes in my words, then huffs indignantly, as if it had not always been utterly obvious that he is supposed to stay in bed after bedtime, "This is the problem! You guys never tell me all the really important stuff!"
She has just been making her baby brother laugh so hard (by startling him over and over with a peg doll ghost) that cereal and prunes were spitting out of his mouth. But now she is all seriousness.
"Mom? Can we make a little submarine for each of us?"
I ask what we would do with them, trying to ascertain what level of engineering she has in mind.
"We'd go underwater in them!" She's a bit exasperated, "and there should be a bed for each of us and a crib for Bayboh. And they should transform into other kinds of vehicles and stuff."
My eyebrows shoot up in surprise, but then I recover myself and say that's a very interesting idea, but I don't know anything about building submarines.
"I don't know about building submarines, either," she confides, "but I know how we can do the transforming thing."
I can only say, "Oh?"
"We should have little hiding places inside the submarine that have the pieces of the other vehicles in them and then you pull them out to transform."
"And, well, I was thinking, Daddy has tools."
The sun is back and the evenings stretch so long. She was showing me her rock collection before bedtime.
Mr. P is still building with Lego nearly all the time. I'm particularly enamored of this remarkably asymmetrical iPod holder (he's been pretty focused on symmetry for a while). The perfect combination of his two most passionate loves, audiobooks and Lego!
The weekend before he turned 8, we had a beautiful day and Mr. P had an ugly mood and he was sent outside to the swing. By the time I joined him, he was feeling much better, remarking on how lovely and warm it was and how nice it was to swing. I had a turn and he pushed me while we chatted and then he sat in my lap and we lulled back and forth, eyes three-quarters shut against the brightness and faces relaxing in the warmth of the sun.
Aging was on his mind, with his birthday coming up, and we talked about college and how old he would be when he had to go and whether maybe he could not go at all. Or maybe, I told him, he could go to college but live at home or live near home. Or maybe, he asked, did colleges have rooms you didn't have to share?
It was a lovely time out of the everyday, which I so thoroughly enjoyed that the slight nausea from all that swinging and spinning was definitely worth it.
It was a good one, at a park at his request and blessedly un-rained-upon. The next day was cold and very very wet, so we were very very lucky.
I was proud of my boy. A month ago, he was alternately weepy and angry because his friends were making fun of him for liking Ninjago. But then he decided he didn't care what everybody else thought, he wanted a Ninjago birthday and that was that.
In his honor, I made my first attempt at fondant decorating. Has distinct possibilities, and the kids even ate it, but I peeled it off. :)
Since getting his own iPod with messaging capability at Christmas, Mr. P has gone through the tapping walls of random gobbledygook phase and the tapping random walls of emoji phase and he'd started to sometimes type real messages, but suddenly this week there was a breakthrough. I laughed and laughed. Food!!!!
Sunday, I was really bummed out. Mr. P had woken up in a good mood and his handwriting tutor had arrived with a Harry Potter project I was sure he would love. And yet, he was still flopping on the table, leaning on me, generally being a bag of jelly in passive resistance of any real handwriting work.
Disappointing, frustrating, embarrassing. Argh.
So you can imagine how stunned I was to get home Monday evening and be told that his homework was already done and that his spelling notebook had come back from school with ten spelling words neatly written (for him) and in alphabetical order (all but one)!
Mr. P was in a high dudgeon this morning (as most school mornings), screaming and kicking doors, because I took his iPod away from him so he would get dressed and then after he was dressed and his alloted 10 minutes of iPad time while sitting on the toilet was up (judge away, we are terrible parents and/or our son is "challenging")... I took away the iPad. Because the 10 minutes were over (duh) and because it was time to get out the door.
Then, because of all the screaming, I didn't give him the iPod back, either, even after he calmed down. I am CRUEL. And a THIEF!!! (Seriously, he has taken to screaming THIEF!!! THIEF!!! exactly like Golum whenever we take away something he wants.)
We got to Shmoogie's school and although Mr. P had been quiet for most of the car ride (progress! there is progress!), he insisted he wasn't going to get out of the car. I was getting Sir Lump into the carrier for the one-block walk from where we'd parked and trying to ignore the recalcitrant seven-year-old.
Suddenly, Mr. P wanted to carry Sir Lump (whom he adores and refers to, almost always, as "Bayboh". I do not know why). I said sorry, he's fragile and he's heavy and in a few months maybe, but not now. Mr. P was offended, "I've NEVER dropped him! I'm NOT going to drop him!" And — instead of explaining that just because he's never dropped the baby while seated on the couch, usually supported by several cushions, doesn't at all mean that he won't drop him while carrying him and walking, nor does the comparison take into account the potential consequences of dropping the baby two inches onto the couch vs. two feet onto the concrete — I decided to let him try.
I put Sir Lump on his brother's shoulder, while he was standing on the grass, not the concrete, and told Mr. P to stay right there and not move while I locked the car. He didn't stay right there, though. He started walking. Very pleased with himself.
Soon, he said Bayboh was heavy and asked me to take him, which is what I figured was going to happen.
What I didn't figure was going to happen is that after we dropped Shmoogie off and started walking out of the school, Mr. P was asking again to carry Bayboh. And this time, although I stepped in twice to reverse some serious slippage, Mr. P carried Bayboh all the way to the car. And he was so very proud.
Bayboh fell asleep almost immediately, too.
Mr. P seems pretty good, but... "I just don't want to talk about my day." A mother will pry, though, and be rewarded with the prediction that this year will be "kind of good and kind of bad." In other words, "about like last year."
If this year is as good as last year, I'll be thrilled!
Shmoogie got a new haircut today, with bangs because she doesn't want her hair in her face. She was happy briefly, then looked in the mirror and clearly regretted it. People wouldn't recognize her, she worried, or they would laugh at her. A little time, though, and a little chat with DiDi and she was feeling much better. I think she actually likes it now again. And she has another week to get used to it before pre-K starts. (One of many blog posts I never wrote in the past months was about how she was denied early entry to kindergarten this year, which I was really upset about at first, I admit, but it will be just fine in the end, I'm sure.)