Do you ever have moments in your life when you catch yourself in the middle of something, wondering how on earth you got there? Like, how did the cosmos begin, and Earth, and evolution, and history, and your parents and upbringing bring you to a certain point?
A lot of my free time these days is spent trying to help Ansel develop his communication skills. It’s an insanity-making effort, to help a toddler develop language and ways of communicating.
“There’s the dog!” (Pointing at the dog). “See the dog?! That’s the dog! Do you see the dog?! Dog! The dog is walking away from us. The dog is walking the stairs! Can you see the dog walking up the stairs?!” (Pointing at the dog, who is meanwhile trying to escape the madness). “See the dog?! Dog! Dog!”
Ansel stares blankly at me and then walks to the recycling bin to pull out an empty Pabst Blue Ribbon can. And then I remember that we are all made of the same elements as stars and my brain melts onto the floor.
We went on a walk in the woods today, and the whole time I was pointing at different trees and saying, “That’s a tree,” “I’m pointing at a tree,” “There’s a tree,” “Tree, tree!” or some variation of tree identification.
There’s something strange that happens when you repeat yourself all of the time. When you say the same thing over and over again, you begin to question it, in a college dorm room life kind of way.
Is Sadie really a dog? Is that birch really a tree? What is the meaning of being a “dog,” or a “tree”?
And then there is the pressure of being responsible for teaching someone their first words. Every word taught seems like a meaningful choice. Why have we focused on teaching “dog,” or “tree” first? We’ve also been trying to teach him “mommy,” “daddy,” “cheese,” “yogurt,” “ball,” “car,” “cow,” “book,” “milk,” and “boob.” Should these really be his first words?
Plus, I find myself emphasizing over and over again that a “cow goes mooooo.” It seems like a lot of people feel this is important for toddlers to know. You’d think that all toddlers were meant to grow up on dairy farms and spend time mooing at cows.
Really, it would be awesome if there were farm day care centers. I’m imagining some adaptation of the Babe movie, where Babe not only herds the sheep, but he also politely asks the toddlers to please eat snacks and take naps.
“Pardon me toddlers, it’s time for snack. Please eat your goldfish crackers, please and thank you.”
And maybe those singing mice change the diapers? And the goose leads hilarity ensuing arts and crafts classes?
Do you see what is happening to me here?! My brain has become mush from all of this Ansel communication work and now I’m fantasizing about Babe, a fictional talking piglet, being my son’s day care teacher.
Don’t mind me, I’m just winning mother of the year over here!
Annnnnnnywaaaaaaaaay, this last weekend I made a new carrot cake! With something called, “liquid cheesecake”! Have you ever imagined such dreaminess?! And graham cracker frosting! And white chocolate “milk crumbs!”
My brother-in-law, Andy, and his wife, Cat, came to visit us this weekend, and I wanted to make them something special. Emboldened by my first Momofuku Milkbar cake, I decided I wanted to try another one of Christina Tosi’s recipes. I have historically made Andy carrot cakes, so I thought it would be fun to make the Milkbar version of a carrot cake.
It was simply glorious. Three layers of moist carrot cake with this incredible cheesecakey spread (i.e., the “liquid cheesecake”), coated with white chocolate milk crumbs and graham cracker frosting. It was impossible not to taste and enjoy all of these components as I was making the cake (hence the big finger dip in the tray of liquid cheesecake above), but all of the pieces put together? Heaven in my mouth!
And I think it turned out pretty to look at too.
It was a big hit with Andy and Cat, who graciously agreed to pose with the cake (and Cat still wearing her pajamas). I mean, what is more hygge than eating cake in your soft clothes?! If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
I was able to give away a bunch of it to neighbors and friends, which was really a good thing because I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting. It was really so good.
Ansel doesn’t get cake, but here he is eating cheese toast and noodles with marinara sauce and smirking to himself as Aaron and I say things like, “Are you eating cheese? That’s cheese! Mmmm… yummy cheese! Do you like your cheese?! Cheese!! Cheese!”
And while we’re babbling about “CHEESE!!!” I imagine he is laughing to himself, thinking, “Man, if only my mom and dad could be more like Babe….”