Thursday, March 29, 2012

cupcake conference

This past weekend, I presented a paper at the NEA conference in Connecticut. I had been telling Henry and Sophia about it (mostly that their grandmother was going to be watching them…their mother was crossing state lines, etc.) and what I was doing, what it involved (they enjoy a thorough blow-by-blow of my daily life).

And then, as all two-year-olds do – they parroted it back. Conference. Conference? Henry conference? Sophia conference? And the morning of - I thought – really? Sure.

And so we played conference. Well, we retrofitted playing ‘conference’ really.

Now, if you are one of those people who think there are some things out of the realm of possible-imaginative-children-play – I can tell you. You are wrong. Just ask two toddlers.

Question: What should we have (and gather up) for our conference?

Answers (in no particular order): a toolbox, pillows, ‘colors’ (colored pencils), paper towels, tennis balls, band-aids, and a vacuum.

(Anyone else kind of terrified at the responses?)

For good measure, I threw in chairs, name-tag labels, envelopes, a few guests and programs.

I asked them – what do you think we should call the conference?

And Henry answered – ‘the cupcake conference' - obviously. 

Of course, there weren’t actually any cupcakes at the cupcake conference. It was more of a signifier really.

(Oh, don’t worry – there was a great Saussure panel that really tied things together). 

We did have a coffee break. And Sophia wedged the pillow in-between the chairs (why, I’m still not sure). And when I told them that before you actually present at a conference, one of your responsibilities is to look nervous and pace around – Henry was more than willing to comply.

But the best part? When I told them they had to read-up-on-all-of-the-surrounding-literature-ahead-of-time-so-they-could-field-questions-appropriately, they knew what to do. Instinctively, they brought their books to the table and, over breakfast, attentively prepared (note: Sophia was so frazzled by the event that her book isn’t even right-side-up anymore). 

Of course, when the time came to actually present papers, Sophia wanted to play the piano and Henry wanted to socialize (surprised?). So we never actually got to the ‘presentation’ part. Or the board meeting. 

But when we packed it all up and post-conference colored in our 'cupcake conference' programs, they said ‘Again? Play conference again?’

Which means its likely going to be a semiannual event. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012


February saw not a single post. And I have no excuse – as March is shaping up to be the type of month I just want to hide under the bed.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this post today – to let you know we’re going to tackle this lioness of months head-on. I know - all of you are either friends or family and you will find what two-years-olds say and do interesting (my favorite - 'follow them around! The posts will write themselves!'). But oh – the plagues of those who want to write and see that irksome blank screen!

So to jump-start this post, I decided to use a random word generator (which I learned about during a creative writing class ages ago). The word?


Not a word I felt warmly fated for – okay yes, I am counting down the last few weeks until I officially become vintage or three decades or Brimfield-worthy – whatever. But three just doesn’t seem a particularly flexible word for someone who deals in twosomes. Duos. Sets.

Three is so blah. I was so disappointed - I wanted to abandon the whole exercise. Until I remembered that yes, it was an exercise. It was supposed to be challenging – if not, everyone would do it, right? But three – three. How important is that?

Oh yes, yes, I know all you blog-reading-wet-blankets – its symbolic and all. 

But still. 

So I contemplated. Two-year-olds are like little puzzles. They’re colorful. They exercise your brain. They come in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. They don’t fit quite right when they get wet. They like bath-time as much as cats. Or laptops.

Sometimes, they get lost under the carpet. 

Aside from playing trucks (Mamma – play bucket truck. Mamma - play fire truck. Mamma - play telescopic handler. [?!]) Henry and Sophia like to play puzzles. No, not putting them together really. They literally become the puzzle.  One within the puzzle-ness if you will. Henry actually flips over the box, climbs in the cover and says “Henry. Puzzle” (which translates to Henry is a puzzle).

Right kid – you have no idea. 

But I have to say, I am daily entranced by what they say. I have noticed that when you’re two, you try to be one step ahead – so you, of course, are interested in everything three. Yes, I see now how important three-s are to everything – they actually mean something – but when you step back and look at three from two, its pretty powerful stuff (I know, calm down Jackie will you? They’re really not that brilliant). 

But that’s not really what I mean – I mean, on the whole, it just represents this other way to conceptualize – something past where you currently are. And I don’t know, I guess I find it pretty hopeful. Like baking. Then the way things fall seem to have more meaning – crayons. An open dishwasher. Oranges. Eggs. Shovels. 

You get the idea.

Before taking to this no-sugar-six-weak-week-sabbatical, I found the world’s best vintage peanut butter cookie recipe – one Henry and Sophia insist that I share (I must say too they do remarkably well with the fork-flattening bit).


½ cup peanut butter
1 stick butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

1.     chill.
2.     form into tiny balls and flatten with a fork.
3.     bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes

NB don’t you just love vintage recipes? There aren’t tomes of directions. Crisp. Clear. Scan-worthy. And three; there it is again.

Can I tell you a cute story? I found, much to my surprise, an answer to the great mystery of lights going on/off in the house - some of you know this has been one of those I-think-my-house-is-haunted-moments. But thankfully, its not.

Henry is an inch shorter than his sister. But what he lacks in height he makes up for in resourcefulness. Tony bought them this fabulous toy called ‘tubation’ which allows you to interlock different tubes to make shapes (or vacuums…or augers…or shower heads...or whatever they are into that day). 

Well, Henry, quite ingenuously, constructed a light-turner-on.

PS – don’t you love his pajamas? He loves to layer. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the three.

I mean tree.