Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sugar in Our Hair

"Cream colored ponies
And crisp apple strudel
Doorbells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things..."

(from "My Favorite Things," The Sound of Music)

I could not have asked for a better day than this beautiful September Saturday. This morning I spent singing with our children, then reading, playing, and cooking. We watched both UCLA (Bill's alma mater) and Stanford (my alma mater) enjoy victories on the football field. And finally this evening, we all cuddled together during our cozy movie night (Babe).

After breakfast, Katie and I played outside while Bill settled Eric into a nap in his boppy pillow. Katie has been interested in "making potions" lately. Although I attempt to confine these concoctions to the bathtub or sink, I am more and more frequently finding water poured here and there around the family room from unsuspecting glasses that have overstayed their welcome and are too tempting for little curious hands. I can tolerate supreme messes in the name of learning, but I must admit that potion-making in the house is starting to get to me.

So I decided to entice my daughter with an outside potion-making activity on a much grander scale. I am hoping that she will think it is much more fun to make them outside because I allowed her to use a number of ingredients I don't normally provide. I filled up all twelve spaces in a muffin tin with a variety of materials: chives, tapioca balls, crackers, cornmeal, pasta, etc. A little water later, and we had several potions stewing and brewing. She totally had fun!

Another feature of our potion-making: we made our potions all in character. For two days straight Katie has had us in the role of Arwen (the elf-princess) and Aragorn (the rightful king of Gondor). I have been obsessed with The Lord of the Rings lately, and she now knows enough of the story for it to have captivated her imagination. She was Arwen, making her antidotes for the poison on the swords of Orcs. We have the backyard divided up into different regions of Middle-Earth, and this morning while Eric napped, we ran around fighting imaginary Orcs and looking for clues of the Gollum/Smeagol. She loves the fantasy of it, and she made Bill into Gandolf. Eric is playing the role of Rohan's King Theoden.

When Eric awoke, we began making our apple strudel, dessert for tonight's McGaugh Family Movie Night. With all those delicious Julian apples, we wanted to make something sweet. A few days ago I was imagining an apple crumb pie, but then I remembered the lyrics from Katie's and my special song. As many of my readers know, "My Favorite Things" was the first song I ever sang to Katie after her birth and her first birthday party took its theme from those lyrics. She has never eaten or made an apple strudel, so I thought now would be a good time to make part of the song even more real to her. My hope is that she will one day look back on these days of her childhood and find magic here, goodness and happiness to sustain her. I want her to remember the warm kitchen and sitting on the counter and making apple strudel...and to think of our song...and all the times we've sang it together...and to remember how much I will always love her.

Eric and Katie both hold apples...

Both children will help cook today!

Katie holds a piece of apple near Eric's nose so that he can smell the sweet scent.

We discovered many things during our making of apple strudel: 1) Katie loves currants; 2) the addition of orange zest (which wasn't called for) was indeed a yummy idea; 3) phyllo dough is not as difficult to work with as I've always imagined; 4) strudels are most certainly a new "favorite thing"---ours was crisp and delicious, and I think I am about to enter a period of vast strudel experimentation in my kitchen. Let the recipe hunt begin!

At one point during our baking, Katie observed that there was some sugar in Eric's hair where she had caressed him. She asked me about it, a little worried perhaps that maybe it could hurt him or shouldn't be there (she is so careful and gentle with her brother). I responded that sugar in our hair is definitely no problem...and told her truly that any day you have sugar in your hair is bound to be a good one. For how else can it get there except through sweet fun?

So this was a "sugar in our hair" kind of day. The best kind.

Cuddling up with pizzas and Babe (a very cute film, which I liked when I first saw it and now love), we all enjoyed our family time together. Bill and I took turns with Eric while I helped Katie with her dinner. We served vanilla ice cream with our strudel, and the whole house was scented with Autumn.