Today is Julia’s eleventh birthday. Since she’s all about Minecraft, I decided to make her a Minecraft cake, like the one you can make on the game.
Nice and simple. It’s a block! Easy. And it might have been if I’d followed my usual method: make the fondant and bake and frost the cakes the day before, assemble and decorate them after the kids go to bed that night. But I didn’t do it this way. Instead, I set out to baking after the kids went to bed. After two trips to the store for forgotten items, I actually began around 1 a.m. I ended up trying to assemble and decorate after breakfast (and very little sleep) this morning with a whole lot of help from Jack. The truth is, when it comes to cakes, something “simple,” like a block, is actually pretty damn hard to get just right. Also, Jack’s help is best suited for a moon cake. He makes crazy good craters with his pokey fingers.
But, I got it done – along with cupcakes for Julia share at her softball game tonight.
There is something about the word HUMANS that seems to carry more weight than any of its synonyms. The word PEOPLE, for example, seems a bit gentler. HUMANS? It is sharp and clinical. Most of the time when I hear someone use it, they’ve chosen it to emphasize what the word is NOT. For example, if you say “a human child,” it is sort of natural to think about the distinction the word human is implying. A human is not an alien, an amphibian, or a potato. And if the word is being used to qualify that characteristic, there is usually a reason. For example, there may have been doubt that the child being discussed was actually human.
Phoebe uses the word HUMAN a lot. I know exactly when I noticed it.
“You are the worst human EVER!”
She’d told me this. It seemed so severe – much worse than being the worst mother, the worst person, or even a simple and open-ended “the worst.” I was the worst HUMAN. Ever.
I took it less personally when I began to realize this was simply her term for folks.
“There are a lot of humans at this playground, Mom.”
“I like all the humans in my dance class!”
“Is this for humans?”
Ironically, the more she uses the term HUMAN, the less she appears to be so. She’s like a little Spock or Starman commenting on how us humans do life. And I enjoy it greatly.
I read aloud to the kids every day. We always read shorter books that we can complete all at once. And now and then through the year – especially in the summer – we choose a longer book – preferably a series – to read together. Last summer, we read and fell in love with The Penderwicks. We enjoyed those books so very much that we didn’t choose another one to read for a while. How could another book measure up? It couldn’t. So, we waited. We grieved. Julia articulated our mournful mood well when she said, “Sure, we can read it again, but we can never read it for the first time again.”
Sometimes a book isn’t really done until you’ve lived with it a while.
We’ve only just begun to read Betsy-Tacy, but already we are charmed by it. The older sister is called Julia. She plays the piano! There’s a phoebe bird calling, “Phoebe! Phoebe!” And if Lucy or Jack pops up somewhere, I think it will be so sweet I’ll just eat it. It’s delightful. Phoebe is especially enthralled. The stories are semi-autobiographical and if you loved The Little House Books, you’d probably like these, too.
*Kathleen Kelly actually recommends the books to Joe Fox’s little aunt in You’ve Got Mail, so really, how can you go wrong with these books? Also, there are a ton – or maybe just six – Amazon Affiliate Links in this post! Geez.
There are twelve weeks of summer vacation. Display that on a giant calendar beside a list of all the stuff you want to cram on it and it doesn’t seem like a very long time. Week one is already gone! We spent it making cookies, planting flowers, building tents, and playing in the yard at home, at ball fields, playgrounds, and Tuscora Park with our best friends. Also, there were fireworks.