The Big Yam saying, "If you put a bag that says 'popcorn' in the microwave, you get magic."
The Dotytron threatening to take all the gimmicky board books away from the Wonder Twins, (gimmicks are stuff like, lift-the-flaps, really simple, non-narrative driven books) because they're too "indulgent" and "hedonistic" (!) At one point, he pointed over at Quincess and said, "See! Look at how gratuitous and hedonistic this is!" - cut to this scene:
Yup. So indulgent.
The Big Yam saying, "Yowza" while watching Jurassic World. Apparently Jurassic Park franchise movies turn him into a member of Our Gang (you'll remember how he said "Goll-lee" watching the first film.) When the Jurassic Park theme came on during the new film, ever so faintly, he said, "They have my favorite song! How did they know it's my favorite song?"
The Big Yam asking the other kids from the neighbourhood during our camping trip, "DOES ANYONE LIKE JOHN WILLIAMS???"
The Big Yam explaining the birds and the bees to me on the way to the grocery store: "If a woman who is a girl wants to be a mummy, she has to find a boy, tell him her name, and have birth." [Since I straight-up never refer to mysel as "mummy" I at first he was talking about a preserved human.]
We went camping a couple of weekends ago (more on that later), and Lindsay learned a new skill - climbing out of his crib. This lead to our return Sunday night's sleep being pretty brutal. We were up and down all night picking him up, putting him back in the crib and telling him: "It's bedtime. Lindsay sleeps here." Last night, as I was putting him to bed, I put a few layers of thick blankets on the ground so that if he fell, he wouldn't get hurt. I checked in on the twins later and walked into the room to find Lindsay lying face down, head turned away from the door, one arm up over his head. As I opened the door, he said, (without turning his head): "sleep here?" It was so slovenly it was gold. I was like, fine, whatever buddy...if you want to sleep on the floor you can until we sort out converting the crib to a toddler bed.
This video of the kids slow-motion running towards some giant bubbles:
Slo-mo video in your pocket is the best thing to happen to life. I can't wait to get it when I upgrade my phone in T-minus 8 years.
Camping, camping, camping. Is it a surprise to anyone that I took to camping like a fiend? We did a big car camp with our neighbours (five families - 24 people total) to the Warsaw Caves conservation area. One of the main pros of car camping is that you can be as hedonistic (not in the Quincess quietly reading himself a book sense, in the "you can bring as much s**t as your car can take" sense) as you like. Space and weight aren't an issue. So we had blowup mattresses and I brought my cast-iron pan and I bought us a giant, 8 person tent which is about the same size as our living room in Lil' Ugmo, and we ate like kings.
It was a really nice long weekend. The site was large so we weren't on top of each other, the fire pit was huge. The good thing about our street crew is that the kids know each other so well that they can all entertain themselves and the adults can chill. The other good thing is that we're all so used to being around each other's kids that we are all at ease with parenting (read: disciplining) each other's children. We see each other's kids alot, in a "home from work, bra off" kind of setting, which means that a lot of the social barriers and "fear of imposing" have long gone out the window. When you're outside after dinner as much as my street is, you rapidly get to the point where people are getting testy with their spouses and screaming at their kids with impunity. It's easy for me to ask one of my neighbours to take the Big Yam to brush his teeth and not worry that they're going to be put out or worry about not taking his s**t. We're also all used to monitoring a herd of small children, so whereas some of my friends are still in their "entirely focused on my one child" phase, and adding another kid into the mix would be adding to their plate unduly, with the neighbours it's effortless.
Like cottaging, camping is an extreme form of grown-up sleepovers. Once the kids had FINALLY gone to bed we could sit around the fire and chat. I mean, it would have been EVEN BETTER with some of my real homies. Don't get me wrong, I'm relatively unfiltered around the neighbs but it's still gonna be different than hanging with people who've known me for 20 years. I came home fired up with plans to do it again with our Markham crew, or maybe the Roomie et al. This inaugural trip was all it took to open the floodgates. I'm up for a canoe-in site. I up for driving to Kilarney to see Ontario in all its wild, untamed, pump-up-the-volume glory.
Do I think I'm going to become one of those gear-heads who goes on a epic portages deep into the bush and dehydrates food? Uh, no. I don't ever want to be so constrained with having to "pack light" that I don't get to eat deliciousness and I'm eating astronaut pouches for dinner. Part of the whole fun is setting up camp, and then cooking, because really, what else is there to do? Food tastes better when you're outside. We were lucky in that we had no rain...I can imagine that it sucks pretty hard when it rains the whole time, but it's still something you'll remember and that brings a family together.
So yeah, I went away a camping neophyte and came back a Griswold.
Scenes like this certainly helped:
Look, I like nature. That's a legacy from my deadbeat dad (remember how I have a DAD?! WHO HAS NEVER MET HIS TWIN GRANDSONS BECAUSE HE'S A GIANT REPRESSED WEIRDO PSYCHO WHO CHOSE HIS WIFE OVER HIS OWN BLOOD?!). My dad taught me how to fish, and took us cottaging, and took us to cottage resorts when I was a kid. I have really good memories of those experiences with my sister and Bruce Wayne. Anyway, I like nature. I'm a Romantic at heart - I dig my sublime, okay?
We took the kids to Bluffer's beach last Friday. A little piece of urban paradise, a 15 minute drive from my house, deep in Scarborough. Fine sand framed by towering rugged cliffs and warm, idyllic lake Ontario water rock-free, and knee high for a good 30 feet out. We didn't go prepared but you better believe we will next time - set up our umbrella and laze the day away while the kids bank their sand-drenched sun sleep. I dumped a metric tonne of sand out of water shoes on my way home (solo! Imagine packing up 3 little ones from the beach, solo - the Dotytron broke off and went to school to set up for the year ahead), and it was one of those drives where I was frantically looking in the rearview mirror and entreating the Wonder Twins to stay with me, please please please, just stay awake and answer my inane questions about what noises animals make, until we get home so that you can serve your full nap in your own beds.
We also went on a hike through the Don Valley on Saturday, post-Evergreen Brickworks Farmers' Market. All this was in lieu of visiting our friends S & P. We went to our local farmer's market on Sunday, smoked 3 racks of ribs and had a feast with our friends B & G, and had a Micelli Monday on Saturday, so it was still a full, active weekend, but one where there were lulls during nap time when I could lie on my own couch and read a book and drift in and out of sleep to the sound of cicadas in the trees and the smoke from my neighbour's brush-burning fire drifting in. It was perfect really. I can't remember when we've had that kind of weekend in town...not since early July?
That lazy, drifty, frowsy kind of Sunday is the exact opposite of my day today - when I took the kids to the CNE and there but for the grace of the neighbours who came with me, would probably have ended up buried under the sand sculpture, my face frozen in mid-disciplinarian "that crazy mom" shouting mode. I made it out, but just barely. CNE with kids is the perfect example of Einstein's theory of relativity. TIME SLOWS DOWN THERE, AND THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN TELL ME DIFFERENT. I lived about 10 lifetimes today.
My work hosted a "kids day" which was an employee engagement initiative spearheaded by my lovely colleague. I would prefer my employee engagement in the form of a respectful, not-stifling work culture fostered by senior management, but maybe that's not always possible? Heh. The Dotytron brought the kids and it was pretty stressful because I have such a low tolerance for unacceptable behaviour and of course the kids were going buck. Anyway, we ended up at A3 Napoli for dinner - which is a Naples-influenced street food spot brought to you by two of my Toronto favorites: Porchetta and Co and Pizzeria Libretto. I thought it was going to be a gong show - Yelp said unequivocally "good for kids: NO" and the dining space was all those super-high bar-height tables that always have me inelegantly clambering stools like a bullrider being helped aboard an especially ungainly bull. However! We got there and they had two extra-tall high chairs and some colouring and the food was delicious. We had a pizza, their gran fritto misto (which is a mixed bag of stuff from the fryer, served with pesto, mayo, and marinara). Our fritto consisted of: fried zucchini (bliss!), fried scallions (like verdant onion rings!), fried meatballs (bogarted by Quincess!), fried arancini (oozing with cheese inside that was more cream than cheese!), calamari (as you would expect!), and frittatini (their version of macaroni and cheese, fried! Think: macaroni carbonara - then fried !!!!!). We also had their batt, which is half a pizza fritta (touted as for one, but if you're ordering other stuff, totally enough food), which made me go in paroxysms of ecstasy. Imagine if you will, the most perfectly thin-crisped fried, ungreasy dough edge, giving way to a Naples style pizza chew, the perfect bread-to-filling ratio giving way to the most creamy, unctuous, pure tasting essence of dairy (it's stuffed with buffalo ricotta, provola [I'm assuming provolone?] and cicciola [I had to look it up - pressed cakes of fatty pork. OH YES]. The service was quick, they had decent beers on tap, and feeding our family of five cost about $60, which all combines to a win for me.
We went to visit my sister a few weekends ago and had a good time, (Dotytron found a bottle of rarer bourbon, we went to an indoor trampoline place, we avoided buying things because of our s**ty dollar, I taught my niece how to style her hair a la 50s rockabilly), and on our last day we hit the local veterans' food truck rodeo fundraiser thingy (they were raffling guns!). Our crew is mostly pictured above. As we were walking back to the car, I turned to the Dotytron, who had Quincess in his arms and the Big Yam by his side, "That was fun, do you want me to drive home?" at which point he turned to answer me, and then said, "UMMMM...WHERE'S LINDSAY?!????!!!" S**t sons, I almost home-aloned my kid, in some village in New York State! Thankfully the rodeo was tiny and I found the little miscreant standing under an adjacent tent to where we had been eating, shaking an open water bottle and cackling with glee. I got lucky.
The other night I made Marc Vetri's pappardelle with corn crema and charred scallions and it was deeeelicious. Like the best creamed corn you've ever had. I doubled the corn in the recipe because my kids are cornholios. I served it with my go-to late summer salad of baby arugula, grilled peaches, and fried haloumi.
I made Smitten Kitchen's sesame noodles (with Chinese thick wheat noodles) and served it with seared salmon (which my kids gobble up) and smashed cucumbers with tahini dressing. Honestly, smashed cucumbers are all the rage, but I didn't think the smashing really did anything here, other than add time and effort.
Back to school means that there's more Scarborough goodness back in my life. Last week's takeout night was Babu. Mutton rolls are my life.
I made Smitten's hazlenut crumb plum tart for our dinner with B & G. I doubled the hazlenuts because I love toasted hazlenuts, but should have upped the flour accordingly to absorb the extra fat. My crust edges were crisp but the bottom got soggy from being too buttery (didn't know there was such a thing!). I also would omit the custard next time and just throw in lightly sweetened plums, and perhaps more of them with a bit of something to bind the juices. The custard got lost and the plums (I used Italian prune plums) didn't shine through against the toasty nutty strength of the hazlenuts. I would make this again, but would tinker with it. Hazlenuts should go in all crisps and crumbs though, as far as I'm concerned.
Finally, the Big Yam has been OBSESSED with the concept of Taco Tuesday, so I've been trying to make that happen for him because it makes him so happy. We had a taco salad tonight - lettuce, cabbage, leftover slaw topped with taco beef and black beans, guac, pickled onions, shredded cheddar (this is kind of a key component), sliced olives, sour cream, and salsa with some crunched up tostadas for added texture. A very satisfying dinner salad.