Oh Sweet Day!

Easy Blueberry Sorbet

July 27, 2015 by Fanny | 2 Comments

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I’ve been eating sorbet on a daily basis. This batch is finished, I grab another basket of fresh fruit and start making another flavour. Because sorbet is truly one of the easiest desserts to make.

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I used to strain my mixture before freezing. Not anymore now! Why the fuss! I found it even quicker if frozen berries are used. You don’t even have to freeze the mixture. Blend the frozen berries with syrup, and you are one happy human being slurping some fresh chilly fruity slush!

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Ingredients (serves 6-8): 

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3 cups frozen blueberries
 

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Puree cooled syrup and blueberries until very smooth.

Serve immediately.

If firmer consistency is preferred, use ice cream maker to process mixture according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

If not using ice cream maker, pour mixture into a shallow non-stick banking pan. Freeze until frozen, about 2 hours. Leave the mixture in room temperature for 15 minutes to soften from the edges. Use a fork to scrape big chunks of mixture into a food processor or blender to blend until smooth. If it starts to melt, put it back in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Immediately scoop the sorbet and serve.

To Ethan and Maya – You 2015

July 22, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Here we go again! Portraits! I think you kind of get used to this ritual. Like when I ask you guys for a photo shoot, you will go, “Last time you gave us 500 candies. Up that or we won’t do it!”

What do I say?! To get your kids obese in the name of capturing precious family moments!

Looking at these pictures I get a little teary at your beauty, your personalities, the talent and magnetism you have in the best way possible, your adoration for each other, the way you both fit into my arms like puzzle pieces. You are the most magnificent gifts.

Last week I sent these pictures to your grandma with a note, “I don’t think I deserve this considered what I did to you.” And I still have a hard time understanding why this is happening.

Love,
Mommy

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Fresh Orange Basil Sorbet

July 20, 2015 by Fanny | 7 Comments

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The thing about having an ice cream maker is that you get to taste any ice cream flavours that you can ever think of. When it comes to creating new ice cream flavours, only the sky is limit. And you know what, you are always allowed to improvise.

We’ve been making and eating too much ice cream. And I figured it would be refreshing to have something fruity and citrus instead. I am a big fan of fruity sorbet. The one with no diary products – no milk and no yoghurt. I’d rather having ice cream than having milk in my sorbet. Pure fruit is my kind of thing.

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This recipe is pretty generic. You could substitute the orange juice with other fresh fruit juice, and come up with your own sorbet. What I recommend though is to use fresh fruit because it tastes fresher and less sugary. You don’t have to add basil if you are not a big fan. But you should at least try that because basil does work perfectly with fruity sorbet. It simply rounds out the orange flavour. It works well with strawberry sorbet too.

Like I said, we’ve been having too much ice cream. We love ice cream, we do! But summer is this long, we have a lot of rooms for some alternatives! Check this out if you are all sighing, “Come on! No more ice cream please!”

Check out "Come on! No more ice cream please!" Cold Dessert!

by Oh Sweet Day! at Mode

Ingredients (serves 6-8): 

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup basil leaves
3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
 

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine sugar, water and basil. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Strain the syrup, and chill in refrigerator for an hour.

Mix in orange juice, and strain the mixture.

If using ice cream maker, process mixture in it according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

If not using ice cream maker, pour mixture into a shallow non-stick banking pan. Freeze until frozen, about 2 hours.

Leave the mixture in room temperature for 15 minutes to soften from the edges. Use a fork to scrape big chunks of mixture into a food processor or blender to blend until smooth. If it starts to melt, put it back in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Immediately scoop the sorbet and serve.

To Ethan and Maya – Nine years

July 15, 2015 by Fanny | 3 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Today your father and I celebrate our nine years of marriage. Nine years! Each rich but none of them easy. The most challenging moments of our marriage – the times we needed more communication, more love, more understanding, more recognition – have always been held together for me by watching your father play with you. He’s never shy of participating when your sports teams call for coach volunteers. He’s always there to have fun with you guys.

I know marriage cannot survive only on fathers playing with kids, but watching him get up at dawn to coach a hockey game you play can definitely help strengthen the dying part of it. And I’m thankful for the way he sweats and screams RUN! MAYA! RUN TO THE THIRD BASE! at a baseball game in a burning hot afternoon. When we get caught up in the marriage game of pointing out who does more, I will always remind myself about how your father plays with you.

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Love,
Mommy

Lemon Icebox Pie Ice Cream

July 13, 2015 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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I would say I’m pretty against leftovers. Whenever I finish cooking or baking, I will try my very best to have everyone in the family to eat the leftovers or think about ways to use them. And if I’m able to come up with something great by cooking with the leftovers, I would consider one of the life successes.

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So what do I do with the leftover lemon curd that I made for these lemon meringue shortbread tartlets? Ice cream! I was kind of inspired by traditional lemon icebox pie which consists of lemon, eggs, condensed milk and a graham cracker crust. I simply added lemon curd in a milk and cream base, churned it in an ice cream maker, and mixed in some shortbread crumbles at last.

I normally make my ice cream base with egg yolks. I didn’t use eggs for this ice cream because my home-made lemon curd already contained eggs. I figured that adding more eggs would probably make the ice cream eggy, yucky and disgusting. Totally defeats the ultimate goal of creating something lemony and creamy. And the results was great, in fact fantastic. The shortbread was a wonderful addition too. You could use graham crackers, which I bet would be very tasty too.

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Ingredients (about 1 quart):

Shortbread Crust
1 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lemon Curd Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup store bought or home made lemon curd
 

Directions:

To prepare shortbread crust, line a 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and sift in the flour and salt until just incorporated.

Gather dough and press the dough to the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake the shortbread for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Then roughly crumble the shortbread into small pieces. Set aside.

To prepare ice cream, combine milk, heavy cream, salt and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to simmer, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Mix in lemon curd until smooth.

Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Few minutes before it’s done processing, add the shortbread crumbles while the machine is running.

Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Lemon Meringue Shortbread Tartlet

July 6, 2015 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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School was over. Kids are off to their summer holiday. Just two weeks in, we are experiencing a burning heat wave. How burning? Like I wake up in the morning, brush my teeth and I am already sweaty. This hot! Yesterday the thermometer on our patio was pointing at 37C at 3pm. I have no idea how we are going to do with this for the next two months.

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Being said that, my husband is a California kind of guy. He enjoys it! He tells everyone that he prefers this than gloomy and rainy fall/winter in Vancouver. Well, I would prefer so too! Except it makes cooking really challenging. Just the thought of having my oven on at 350F in my 30C kitchen already makes me sweaty. Because I’ve done that, and half of my body was melted.

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What I do is, instead of giving up cooking at all (NO! Not my style!), I plan a little bit. I try to schedule all the ovenbaking in the early morning. For example, I prepared and lined these tartlets shells in the muffin pan, store in the freezer. Next morning, before I brushed my teeth, I turned on the oven to bake them. Let them cool, fill with lemon curd and top with meringue. Yes, kitchen torch might sound a bit too fire-y. But at least you won’t get melted.

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Ingredients (12 tartlets):

Shortbread Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Curd
zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Meringue
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
 

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a regular-sized muffin pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 5-inch rounds. Line the prepared pans with the dough circles. Use a small kitchen knife to trim the excess and to score the tops of the tartlets.

Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and let the tart shells cool a few minutes before inverting and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare lemon curd, mix lemon zest and sugar with a fork.

In a large bowl, cream the butter.  Add the sugar mixture and beat together.  Add the eggs, lemon juice and salt and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Pour the mixture into a pan and cook over low heat while stirring constantly for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the curd starts to thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat. Push the lemon curd through the sieve and into a bowl to make it super smooth. Spoon the lemon curd into the lined muffin pan, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

To prepare meringue, in a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy for 1 minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until the mixture is hot to touch and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, stir in water, and continue whipping for another 10 minutes until stiff and glossy peaks form.

Transfer meringue to a piping bag attached to a large round tip. Pipe meringue on each tartlet. Use a kitchen torch to lightly brown the frosting.

Keep the tartlets in the refrigerator. Serve in the same day.

Maple Apple Lattice Shortbread Tart

July 1, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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Happy Canada Day!

The heat wave has been treating us really well. Like extremely well. We’ve experienced gorgeous weather since May. And the high temperature of over 30 degrees recently has really gotten us into nothing but staying in the pool with the kids FOR THE WHOLE DAY! Because nothing is better than this. Hmmmm… Maybe air-conditioning?! But I’m sure we would still be hanging at the backyard. Sun-tanning by the water is our thing!

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So we don’t have air-conditioning in our house, but I’m never shy of baking in the oven or cooking on the stove. Because eating is also our thing! I was all crazy and cooked up a huge batch of English toffee on a stove in the hot afternoon yesterday. You know when craving comes along, it’s just too hard to not deal with it.

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Baking a pie or tart is also considered insane under this warm weather. But you know that tub of vanilla ice cream were nagging about being too bored sitting in the freezer. And eating it plain is just even boring. So I had to cook that apple filling and bake the tart. Well! All sweaty! Yet with that fragrance of butter, cinnamon, maple and apple around the house. And you know something awesome is coming along. Totally worth it!

Ingredients (one 9 x 3-inch tart):

Shortbread Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apple Filling
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 

Directions:

To prepare crust, sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

To prepare apple filling, put apples, butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon in a skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft and almost fall apart into a puree. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a tart pan with a removable bottom.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Line the prepared pan with the rolled dough. Leave a tiny overhand of dough. Use a small kitchen knife to trim the excess and to score the tops of the tart.

Roll the remaining dough out and cut into 1/2 inch width strips. Lay 3 or 4 strips over the filling, evenly spaced, and then weave with the remaining strips diagonally. Adhere the ends to the edge of the shell.

Bake the tart for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is slightly brown on the edges.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Mango Curd Shortbread Tartlet

June 23, 2015 by Fanny | 12 Comments

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Mangoes are delicious! Perfectly ripped ones are full of intense flavour and sweetness. Exquisite, rich and unique flavour that no other fruits can ever replace!

We love to eat mangoes just plain. We also like to make treats with them. Popsicles, mousse cake, and oh ice cream. Yes! Mango ice cream. Exactly what I need right now!

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It involves a lot of peeling, cutting, pitting and sieving when “dealing” with mangoes. I won’t lie, it’s a very messy job. Despite the fact that I don’t necessary hate to do all these, it was quite hassle-free to just open a can of mango puree that my mother-in-law gave me the other day and use it. No cutting. No sieving. No nothing. You don’t have to wait until your mangoes are ripe enough. Or even if you can’t get your hands on really good mangoes, you will find that canned puree mango provides the best and most intense mango flavour that you’ve ever asked for.

Now these tartlets. OMG!!! is probably my only expression. The mango curd goes super well with the shortbread crust or the opposite. I don’t know. I don’t care. If you have any mango curd leftover, eat it with a spoon. That’s my most sincere advice. No regrets!

I love things petite sizes. Mini cakes, tartlets, babies…Yes I want to eat them sometimes, especially their chubby legs. If you are like me, you might be inspired after you check out this collection of some delicious and pretty tartlets.

Check out Chic and Delicious Tartlets Perfect for Summer Party

by Oh Sweet Day! at Mode

Ingredients (15 tartlets):

Shortbread Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mango Curd
1 cup mango puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Others
1 cup fresh blueberry
1/2 cup whipping cream
 

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 1/2-inch tarlet pans.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 5-inch rounds. Line the prepared pans with the dough circles. Use a small kitchen knife to trim the excess and to score the tops of the tartlets.

Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and let the tart shells cool a few minutes before inverting and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you don’t have enough pans or you want to make less tartlets, work with half of the cookie dough. Keep the other half in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To prepare mango curd, in a large heat-proof bowl, mix mango puree, sugar, lime juice and salt thoroughly.

Whisk in the egg yolks and mix until thoroughly combined.

Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Keep whisking until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Push the mango curd through the sieve and into a bowl to make it super smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Pour the mango curd into the prepare tart shells, and place in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Before serving, whip heavy cream until firm peaks form. Garnish the tartlets with whipped cream and blueberries.

DAD U ROCK Cake

June 19, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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My husband has been a Coach of Everything for the kids this year. Hockey, baseball, soccer…Their teams call out for coach volunteers, he signs up for it. He enjoys being there for the kids. The kids seem motivated and proud to have his father on the ice/field. They are the better team with his father around.

I asked my son what’s the best part about daddy being his coach, he said, “He rocks!”

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And here comes this cake topper.

Last year I came up with this DIY cake topper idea for a Mother’s Day Cake. Since then I’ve been really addictive with this cake decoration method. Again, it’s very easy to make. And it’s way more heart-warming than piping messages on cake. You can simply write anything you want and present it in a more dramatic and passionate way.

Here is the key: outline words in a thick font, so it won’t break as easily. However, if it does break, it’s not the end of the world. Simply glue it back with the candy melts. Afterall it doesn’t have to be perfect. I just love it rustic yet full of heart!

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Ingredients (one 5-inch layered cake): 

Cake Topper
1 cup candy melts, color of your choice
1 tablespoon canola oil (if melted candy is too thick to pipe)
Cake
3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
Coconut Buttercream
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut milk
 

Directions:

To make cake topper, outline a template of DAD U ROCK in a relatively thick font on a paper. Place a parchment paper over it.

Place candy melts in a microwaveable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts.  Add oil if it’s too thick to pipe. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening.

Start piping the candy over the template, starting with the outline. Then fill the inside.

Let it dry completely before peeling the cake topper off the parchment paper.

Flip the cake topper over, place a toothpick on the back of the cake topper, leaving half out to insert in the cake. Glue the toothpick with candy melts. Let it dry completely.

To prepare cake layers, preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line the bottom of two 5-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Scrape the meringue in another bowl. Set aside.

In the same mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar on high speed until thick and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix for another minute.

Sift flour over the top of egg yolk mixture, followed by folding in half of the meringue.

Fold the rest of the meringue into the batter until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly and smooth the top.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the cake edge and place the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Cut cakes horizontally to make four cake layers.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla and coconut milk, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, sandwich each cake layer with a thick layer of buttercream. Smear a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake to create the “naked”effect.

Carefully place the cake topper on the cake.

Cover and refrigerate the cake. Leave out in room temperature for at least an hour prior to serving.

Spring 2015

June 17, 2015 by Fanny | 2 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Here came June, meaning spring was over and we are heading into summer. But wait! Haven’t we been having summer for the past month already? And that’s right! The weather has been so nice and warm that it felt like spring wasn’t here at all. Over the past weekend, we couldn’t wait and put out the water slide and you both with our neighbour’s kids spent the whole afternoon in the backyard soaking in the sun. And I’ve started to worry about how we keep it up until September because by next week you will start to get bored. And we will all die!

That’s true. The thing about boredom! An incurable disease that hits kids especially hard. “Do we have to drive for a long time to get there?” This question pretty much sums up why a year ago your father decided to put an iPad in the car so you could watch shows on the road. There were “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” and more “Are we there yet?” and then “I’M SO BORED!” and then more “How much longer?” and more “Why is it taking so long?” And it was just before we started the car.

As adults we have lived enough life to understand that having a long ride is pretty low on the level of devastating circumstances. But kids? Staying in the car for more than 5 MINUTES is worse than dying in a shark attack.

But last month I decided to take that damn thing out of the car after you finished all the episodes that your father had uploaded. So what do you do now? Kick! Kicking has become one of your major activities in the car. And it makes sense considered when strapped in car seats, you can probably only maneuver your legs to reach and destroy things when arms are not long enough. After weeks of kick fighting and having my seat kicked at the back, we’ve started to be able to talk about the buildings and people on the road, take a nap or listen to some music. Except we have to endure this:

Before summer started, I hoped we could have a chance to pause and put ourselves back together after a busy spring. Hockey, dance, swimming, golfing, skating, baseball, all these activities that filled up your time when you were not in school. A lot of “I don’t wanna go!”, “I don’t wanna play in the rain!”, “It’s too sweaty!”, “Why I never get to be the goalie, mom?!” Yes, complains! Complains about five-minute drive to the gas station. About too sunny outside. About not sunny outside. About too bored staying home but too much fun doing activities. Plain complains that don’t do us any justice considered the amount of pick-ups and drop-offs that we have to do.

I never like to hear you whine. No parents do! But sometimes it also comes with “Mom, I can’t sleep. I wanna go to the tournament now!”, “TWO GOALS! I scored two goals today!” “Whoa! I had my first home run!” “Yeah! Baseball tomorrow! I love baseball! I wish it’s tomorrow now!!!” And then every minute Maya, you would ask, “Is now tomorrow?” And when I’d tell you that it wasn’t until you sleep and wake up again, you’d let out a huge sigh, one so dramatic that I would think that you’d just been spared a death sentence. And then I know I have to feel gratified that we were able to give you that feeling.

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Ethan, you lost your first tooth over the past few months. A lot of your friends have lost a multitude of teeth by this age. Like they have already had their grown-up teeth, and your baby teeth were still around not wanting to go anywhere soon. Except sometimes you would come up with some imaginary tooth wiggling scenarios hoping this was actually happening. And then we would all go, “No! It’s not going to happen until you’re twenty.”

Therefore when I picked you up at spring camp the other day, you came running to me with your mouth open, and I saw a big hole between your teeth, I didn’t know how to react. Did you finally tie a string to that tooth and give the other end to Maya and let nature takes it course? Because you simply could not wait! Turned out that tooth magically fell out when you were playing basketball. I am glad that you didn’t swallow it because as far as I know tooth fairy doesn’t visit toilet.

A few days after basketball played its magic, another tooth started to take its action. One night over dinner your father noticed that you were fiddling with your loose tooth. The same loose tooth that he has threatened to yank for the past few days. So TEETH PULLING, an activity that I would happily turn down if given the choice between that and fighting a shark attack. Only the thought of a tooth root tearing out of the gum…OH MY GOD! So when your father asked me to feel your tooth to see how loose it was, I was all I TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT. You are in charge of this one!

Your father wiggled the tooth back and forth. At first it seemed like it wasn’t time, maybe it needed a few more days to loosen up a bit more. We waited to see if dinner would move things along, and twenty minutes after your usual bedtime we were all in the bathroom – me, you sitting on the bathroom countertop facing your father, Maya there as our cheering squad. You winced and grimaced and my dinner danced in my throat as your father feverishly twisted and pushed and pulled and coaxed. Finally, one last tug… BOOM! A tiny tooth sat in his hand. It was over! And you looked in the mirror in disbelief. You mouth was full of blood. Your breathing was so heavy as if you were on the verge of crying.

“Ethan, are you okay?” I asked, worried you were freaking out at the sight of blood. You didn’t answer me for a few second, then you finally turned your head to look at me. “What? Me? I’m totally fine!” Like what did you do today, Mom? I just lost a tooth AND I’M STILL STANDING!

It was forty-five minutes later – I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING, FORTY PLUS FIVE MINUTES OF MY LIFE LOST TO THAT DAMN TOOTH! Also, I was thinking…would it be tacky to collect all your teeth so that eventually I could arrange them in a neat little pattern and then glue them to a mirror like seashells? Because think how you would be convinced to have children if you knew that you had something like that to look forward to.

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I’ve said it here many times that, Maya, you are at your happiest when allowed to change outfits at least four times a day. A four-year-old who is very picky about which pants she wants to wear with which shirt. And it’d better be a dress because DRESSES ARE AWESOME! Every day you ask, “Where am I going tomorrow?” And when I tell you that I haven’t figured it out yet, you will go, “Okay, phew! I haven’t picked out what I’m going to wear yet!”

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Over the past month I was cleaning out your closet for summer. You were pretty excited when you saw your collection of summer dresses. Except you started to get frustrated after you tried them on because all the dresses I bought last summer are now hitting you about three to four inches above your knees. You pointed toward your almost fully exposed thighs and ask, “Why is it so short?!”

Why is it so short?! Oh god. You weren’t ever supposed to reach this stage in your life. You were going to be a little girl and I’d never have to explain what an “underwire” is. This makes me want to call my mom and ask her how in the hell she survived it when I first had my period.

“Maya,” I answered. “It’s called ‘growing’ and it happens to everyone. That’s why you’ve grown so much taller now.”

“Are you sure? That’s A LOT!!!”

“I don’t know. Maybe not,’ I said as I closed my eyes. “Actually I’ve been secretly shrinking your clothes because getting both of you ready and out of the house in the morning wasn’t chaotic enough.”

Yeah! You’re right! Maya, that’s A LOT!!! A lot longer legs and arms. I’ve always wondered why it looks like you are growing your brother’s growth because you both are almost the same size. And people who first met you both would ask me, “So who’s older again?”

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And the truth is that you both are getting along more like best friends than siblings. You both hang out a lot. A LOT! You play together, eat together, do things together. You simply enjoy being together. One fantastic thing about it is that you both seem to look forward to going to school together which is happening very soon. And I simply cannot stop dreaming about one pick-up and one drop-off. JUST ONE! ONE! And Maya, you will stop asking me “Am I going to Ethan’s school today?” and just be there as long as your childhood takes you. Since the day we pulled you out from daycare, you haven’t stopped assuming that you are going to school with Ethan right after. You can’t wait! You know all the teachers, kids and parents. When we pick up Ethan together, you run through the school hallway, playground, class rooms. You know the school. You are ready and excited to know what’s going on inside.

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We are two weeks away from school being out and ready to enjoy the early arrival of this summer. Camping, biking, swimming, BBQ parties, more biking and more swimming. Wrinkle toes, tan lines, sunscreen, damp beach towels, wet feet, dripping pony tails…another break before school starts again.

The other day I asked your brother if he would take care of you at school, he said he would play with you if he couldn’t find his friends. And in fact you’ve told me the same thing. I take it as at the end you know who to look for when no one is there for you.

Love,
Mommy

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