On Definition

Last night, I asked Lucy if her knees were still hurting. At first she said “No.” Then she qualified: “Sometimes when I sit, they are poinky.”

“Poinky?” I asked, “What does that mean.”

“You know, like a puffer fish.”

“No. I don’t know what that means.”

At this point Kathleen chimes in, “Like when someone throws a pineapple at you.” Lucy nods like this is the most obvious thing in the world.

“No!” I finally break, exasperated, “You can’t explain one thing that you have never experienced in terms of something else that you have never experienced and think that you have clarified things!”

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The Mutant Clover

Back in February, when Lucy told us she wanted a four leaf clover cake for her birthday, her mother and I were intrigued by her pride at her birthday month and her vague sense of Irish heritage.

If we were good parents, we would have thought to ourselves: “Lucy was born after St. Patrick’s day. We ought to buy a clover cake mold while they are in season.” Or, even better: “Let’s plan ahead and just have the store make a four leaf clover cake for Lucy’s Birthday.” But no, Jennifer and I pride ourselves on defying vapid social standards of goodness. So we did nothing until this week, and mostly did nothing until today.

The “this week” part included Jennifer going shopping with Lucy, finding that there were no four leaf clover cake molds, having Lucy pick out blue (maybe there was some blue/green in there?) frosting with fish shaped sprinkles (why fish shaped? No idea) and chocolate cake. Jennifer figured she should also get some green fondant in case everything went sideways. (Not that we had ever used fondant, but we have watched plenty of cooking shows where desert chefs don’t seem to have problems with it).

Come to today. We cooked three small round chocolate cakes and a bunch of chocolate mini-cakes with a goal of cobbling together a four leaf clover.

Now, I know what you are thinking …”Why three round cakes if it is a four leaf clover?” Clearly, because just as we enjoy defying social standards, we also reject standards of symmetry. So one of the round cakes got cut in half top to bottom to make two of the leaves.

When placed all together we had a shape that vaguely resembled a clover, or something … it definitely at least resembled something.

It was about at this point that Jennifer left with the girls Lucy had invited over for her party, taking them swimming at the local rec center. I was left by myself to decorate.

It turns out that you should not frost a cake after it has been cut in half. It’s much like trying to butter soft bread with rock hard butter. The cake abandons all sense of form and just kind of gloms with the frosting.

However, I was buoyed by the fact that I still had fondant.

I should not have been. It turns out that television desert chefs are totally BSing us when they make that stuff look easy. I laid down powdered sugar, and rolled out the fondant. Three things quickly became apparent: (1) We did not have enough fondant for the whole cake. (2) I did not put out enough sugar to stop the fondant from sticking to whatever it touched. (3) powdered sugar sticks to fondant and makes it look like it is diseased.

After about 20 minutes of wrestling with the fondant, I managed to role out an only lightly sugar stained circle way smaller than the cake. So, I decided to be daring. With the extra cake we had left over I made a green four leaf clover inside and on top of the blue vaguely four-leaf monstrosity and covered the inner clover with fondant.

Realizing at that point that I could not cut off the extra fondant without massacring the rest of the cake, I covered all of the extra fondant with more blue frosting.

Then, to make it appear that there was actually something like a shape to the larger cake, I placed green ornaments in outline.

All that was left was to place the fish shaped sprinkles on the “leaves.”

I can’t wait for the girls to get home and proclaim: “Good God what is that thing!” #nailedit

Four Leaf

Charity means Love

The girls‘ school is raising money for some charitable cause this week, and they are motivating students to bring money by holding a competition to see what grade contributes the most.

Second and Fourth grades are the leaders, which means that either of our daughters could be a member of the winning grade.

So, last night Lucy and Kathleen each pulled $20 out of their piggy banks to donate. I was left wondering if they fully realized that their donations would offset one another.

The competition being a significant topic of conversation last night, I was surprised I didn’t hear anything more this morning as we got ready to head to school. So, in the car I asked how the competition was going. Both of my girls simultaneously groaned, then looked at each other.

“What’s wrong with you?” Lucy asked Kathleen.

Pulling her $20 out of the secret pocket in her jacket, Kathleen responded, “I was hoping you forgot, so you wouldn’t put your money in.”

Lucy then reached into the secret pocket on the side of her backpack to produce her $20 bill. “Same.”

I’m sensing that good will is not the primary motivation behind these donations to charity.

Etiquette vs. the pre-teen

I’m still getting over a cold I got three weeks ago. On the ride to taekwondo I sneezed twice in immediate succession.

Irked that Kathleen had not reacted to my plight, I looked at her in the back seat through the rear-view mirror. “Hello!” I said, “Bless you?!?!”

Kathleen stared back unimpressed. “Dad, if you are the one who sneezed, you should really say ‘Bless me.'”

I’m thinking of not giving her anything for Christmas.

Padawan Lucy

Jennifer brought home a laser pointer from school. As we started our ride to Texas I was messing around with it in the front passenger seat of our minivan. Lucy was one seat back on the opposite side of the car. So, unlike Kathleen (who was next to Lucy, but behind me), Lucy could see me playing.

Soon Lucy asked if she could see the laser. I showed her how to turn on the laser, and sternly told her: “Don’t point this AT anyone.”

Kathleen had been watching this exchange with a look of skepticism. But, when Lucy pressed the button and started moving the little red dot around, Kathleen collapsed into as much of a fetal position as she could manage in her seat belt and started yelling. “What have you done?!?! Oh my Gosh!! Oh my Gosh!!!”

It took a few minutes to get Kathleen calmed down. It turns out that Kathleen’s only exposure to “lasers” has been through cartoons with laser guns.

She was shocked that I had just handed her 7 year old sister what amounted to a light saber in an enclosed space.

I can imagine no better way to start our family holiday!