Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the month “December, 2015”

One batch, one family

There are many, many reasons to celebrate Christmas. Jesus is the Reason for the Season is a popular refrain and I like how that encapsulates a religious meaning for Christians in the story of  Joseph and Mary desperate for a place to give birth to Jesus. Christmas is a cornerstone of faith for 1/3 of the world’s populace, give or take a few. If Jesus is the main person in your religion, having a birthday party for him seems solid to me.

The old standard songs have some pretty great holiday justifications; getting home for Christmas even if it’s only your dreams, asking Santa for nothing but the company of a loved one, laughing at the mean old Grinch. Some are funny out of context, and laughing is a good reason to celebrate. It can be meteorological (Let it Snow!), audiological (sleighbells ring, can you listen?), psychological (Do You Hear what I Hear?), pathological (baby, it’s cold outside and you seem like a suave creep), even zoological (STOP with the turtle doves. She’s just not that into you and you need to walk away).

For others, Christmas time is about gifts. The act of giving, receiving, surprise, generosity, ingenuity…all good reasons to celebrate.

For me, Christmas is about sugar cookies. It’s my mom and dad’s main holiday tradition. There is no Christmas without sugar cookies. More specifically, there is no Christmas without everyone getting together and frosting them. For our mixed bunch (believers and non-believers alike) sugar cookie time is the essence of the church we go to to find our Christmas meaning. It’s our ancestry (we are many things, ALL of them cookie-centric cultures at the holidays). It’s also our culinary history. In her iconic “Cooky Book” Betty Crocker gives two versions of sugar cookies: Mary and Ethel. We bake the Ethel version. We have more ideology in common with Muslims fasting for Ramadan than we do with “Mary” recipe sugar cookie bakers. We take the Ethel recipe very seriously.

Cookie decorating is our artistic release. In years past Dad has given his cookie men plaid pants, mom has given her cookie ladies curly hair, Robin made an Elmo cookie, I turned a tree-shaped cookie into a KC Chiefs arrow.

We did our cookies later than usual this year, December 23rd. Robin and her family were there, I was there with Baby and Mac came from work to my parent’s house an hour later. This year saw several singular creations. The Dude experimented with Pollack-esque sprinkles while his dad made a cookie man wearing an ugly Christmas sweater vest of M&Ms. I swirled two runny frostings in a cool pattern I saw in some magazine named ‘Taste for People Classier Than You.” Robin even removed the head of one sugar cookie man and stuck it up the backend with some frosting. She then gave the head an orange combover and we celebrated eating one of this year’s brand name head-in-ass presidential candidates.

We listened to Christmas CDs, decided “Is it a Red Hot or is it a red M&M?” is a good game for people you don’t like very much, fed the baby a few cereal puffs. I fondly remembered when dad ate so many cookies we required a quadruple batch to be stocked up for the Christmas season. I especially remembered trying to sneak dough while they were in the fridge overnight and then attempting to cover the telltale spoon divots. I thought about the countless sugar cookie people that have paraded across our plates.

Sugar cookies are white. They are frosted with white, light green, or light pink frosting. The Imes family does not DO loud colors, colored gel, anything piped. Mom makes the cookies and frosting from scratch and everyone sits around one table for the games to begin. You get three frostings, a knife, and maybe a toothpick for detail work. You may have sprinkles or candies but you may NOT have these:

sprinkles

as Robin dumped an entire jar on the floor in our old house in 1989 and we were still pulling them out of kitchen baseboards when my parents moved 11 years later. This is true.

But this year, this year was different. The set-up was the same, the obnoxious jokes were hilarious, the contest to see who has the best cookie was highly competitive, mom fussed to get the curly hair just right, people surreptitiously ate their “mistakes.” It was the clone of Christmases past in all the best ways. As I watched everyone reaching for the green frosting and asking where the mini-chips went I absorbed the scene. I mean I really saw us. Then I knew: if everybody makes the cookies, everybody frosts the cookies, everybody eats the cookies, then these cookies are the Christmas tradition that define our family. One batch, one family. It’s the thing we can’t buy, won’t outsource and wouldn’t ever trade.

That’s when it hit me. In the most important way imaginable my sugar cookie family has changed. There is a new cookie on the table. Expansion was required for the familial rite of passage. So in 2015, for the first time ever, the ritual was amended.  I made a batch of chocolate frosting.

One batch, one family.

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And many more

Our son turned one. We didn’t meet him (or even know about him) until Dec. 22nd. Like many adoptive families we will celebrate Gotcha Day privately, but my parents hosted a birthday dinner for family and friends.

The cashier who saw me buying birthday cupcakes asked if they were for me. I mentioned it was Baby’s 1st birthday and he replied “You must be a lot more comfortable than you were a year ago right now!” I told him the truth, which was my husband and I were watching a British TV mystery and I felt no discomfort whatsoever.  For those of you concerned about the pain of childbirth I wholeheartedly suggest you let someone else go through it. If you’re an adoptive mom yearning for the actual experience of labor and delivery just walk around your house with a robe on backwards so your ass hangs out while you moan as though you’re dying of terminal constipation. See if that curbs your cravings.

Yes, only 365 days ago our Extenuating Circumstance was born. He threw us head first into the realm of baby gear, snotsuckers, feetie pajamas, formula burps, diaper gussets, childproofing, colic screaming and cereal puffs. There will never be enough words for how much I love this goofy, grinning, crying, screaming, cooing, farting, gurgling boy. He made a mess of my house and my heart. Here is my wonderful and silly son, in all his glory. He is the definition of the gift that keeps on giving.

First Birthday

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Guest Artist Series: Becky Boesen

Becky, a playwright, director, actress and producer from Lincoln, NE is our final guest artist. You can see her next work, Puddin and the Grumble, at the Lied Center this spring.

On behalf of the entire DtEC family, we wish you a very merry Christmas, however you have time to celebrate it.

These Are the Things I have No Frickin’ Time For

Written by Sarah Imes Borden

Performed by Becky Boesen

These Are the Things I Have No Frickin’ Time For

Raindrops on roses are useless at Christmas

When you have kids it’s a serious business

Buying the right toys is my only chore

Everything else I don’t have frickin’ time for

 

Beautiful presents in artisan papers

Bold centerpieces with elegant tapers

Handcrafted pine wreaths to hang on my door,

Cause those are the things I will have fricken’ time for?

 

We won’t send portraits of us looking happy

Or cheerful notecards where I’m warm and sappy

Pictures with Santa result in a war

These are more things I have no frickin’ time for

 

Our tree is plastic, we don’t own a manger

My famous fruitcake is made by a stranger

You’ll all get giftcards from some random store

Anything else I have no frickin time for

 

As my kid yaks in a giftsack

That was for his dad

I simply remember life sucks in December and then I don’t feel so bad!

 

 

 

 

 

On the level

Experts say that when you speak to a child, you should get down to their eye level to talk to them. I have also read that the most efficient method of childproofing your home is to crawl around on your hands and knees to see the room the way your child does. After an extended effort to see his world through Baby’s eyes, I have learned this unavoidable truth: my 11 month old son is running rings around me and there is no way to stop him.

Baby and I spent an hour in our little living room, examining the landscape together. The following is a complete and unedited transcript of the event as it happened.

Me: Let’s start at our previously established weak point, the entertainment center. Now that it’s padlocked and braced with extra dowels inside, components are secured. TV is far enough back, the cabinet is screwed to the wall, and pushing the center at baby’s level reveals little to no wobbling/shaking. Excellent. Moving on…

Baby: Hey look! There’s a baby in there! What if I wave hi? HOMG he’s waving…wait. It’s me in there! How did I get in there? I need to pound on the glass to feel me in there! poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpound

Me: Bookshelves flanking entertainment center: screwed into walls and we put the heaviest books on the bottom of the shelves. He can’t pull them out and all the chock- chotzkees-chochky dammit. Trinkets are out of reach.

Baby: poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundooooh! Books! I love books! I’m gonna pull some out and suck on one. I like the big green one. Pull out and GAH! HEAVY! Sad. So sad. Too heavy to put in my mouth, so saaaaad and waaaaaaaaah.

Me: Hey! What’s wrong? Are you OK? Why are you–wait. Where are you going?

Baby: OSCAR! IFUCKINGLOVETHISCAT. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. NO! I wanna snack on the book! Noooo, follow the cat!

At this point baby executes a move where he buttscoots half way across the room only to do a 180 and come right back. We call this his Crazy Ivan move.

Me: Soft. Soft, baby. Soft! If you want to pet Oscar you have to be soooooft. Hey– Oscar fits under the couch. Could Baby fit under the couch? I’m going to see how big the opening is… ooof. Oh man. I think I’m stuck halfway under the couch. SOFT, BABY!

Baby: Mommy’s busy. I bet this is a good time to see if the stairs are free.

Me: No! No! Hey! Hey! Baby! Look! Come here! Don’t go over there, don’t go (sound of me dislocating shoulder from under couch) WAIT! What about the Christmas tree? That’s new! That’s shiny! That’s tantalizing and forbidden and just out of reach! Why don’t you head for that?

Baby: Yeah, I saw that go up. Honestly, it’s so obviously a trap I can’t be bothered.

Me: No really! It’s there all month! Lights, shiny ornaments, breakable things, this should be your Mardi Gras.

Baby: Mommy, put your shoulder joint back in then pick me up so we can discuss the entrapment bullshit. You don’t even let me have cereal puffs without supervision, now the holiday shrub is fair game?

Me: Nah, you’re right. As long as we’re talking candidly, anything else you see down here you could kill yourself on?

Baby: You know I can’t stay away from the slidy thingies on the outlets but newsflash; that’s not the clear and present danger. The real story here is your stupid glider footstool.

Me: Beg pardon?

Baby: That sucker is amazing. If I pull myself up on it, I’ll lose my balance, fall backwards and bonk my head which is 10 minutes of crying at a minimum. If I pitch forward my only tooth will get knocked out. Thirty minutes crying plus a frantic call to your dentist. Check out the bottom of the footstool. Pinch my fingers or get bonked in the forehead depending on direction and force I push/pull. If I escape all that, I’ll push myself up on it, then try to walk and I’ll take my first steps all alone and you’ll miss it because you’re stuck under the couch. You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?

Me: Oh, for crying out loud. Isn’t it time for you to go to to the middle of the room and do a Crazy Ivan or something?

Baby: Good talk, mom. Where’s Oscar?

 

 

Guest Artist Series: Stacie Blair

Stacie is a New York City based performer and music teacher for children. She’s a trained opera singer who also enjoys playing the ukelele and doing day work on films. We both want to wish a very Happy Hanukkah to everyone who celebrates!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Jews)

Written by Sarah Imes Borden and performed by Stacie Blair

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids dreidel spinning

And betting who’s winning

While everyone cheers!

It’s the most wonderful time, of the year!

 

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

We light the menorah

And think of the torah

And eat doughnut balls!

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

 

We put on our yarmulkes

Celebrate Hanukkah

Laugh at your Christmas gift stress,

There’s no war on Christmas

We’re so glad we miss this

So Fox news just give it a rest!

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the night

Open some tchotchkes

And fry up our latkes

Then have a quick bite

For the eight days that we pause, not attack your Santa Claus

For our year-ly fest-i-val of light!!!

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