Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Boy and His Dogs

There's something about reading with the boys before naps/bedtime that the dogs just cannot resist. Lately it seems the minute I sit on one of the boys' beds, the dogs are there just waiting to be invited up. Foudy especially likes to sit close so she can get lots of loving. Well, that or she just really loves storytime. It's pretty sweet how she seems to enjoy snuggling with Zach, though.

Here are a few pictures from the past few days, just before Zach's quiet time.

Seeing these pictures reminds me of this picture of Foudy and Drew when he was about 6 or 7 months old. Don't worry- she only got in the crib that one time, because I invited her in. We're not in the habit of letting our dogs get into our children's cribs. And, really, the dogs mainly want to be wherever I am, so Foudy would never stay in the kids bed without me right nearby anyway.

I am so thankful to have two sweet, loving, and tolerant dogs. I don't know what I'd do without them!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


We had a nice Thanksgiving weekend here. On Thursday morning we had the typical Zinn family holiday breakfast. Drew was not into the souffle, which I think makes him the first person in the family to not like it. We'll see if he grows into it. If he doesn't, he's got many years of holiday breakfasts that he doesn't love ahead of him, because the rest of us love it. I guess he'll just eat caramel rolls and grapefruit on holiday mornings.

After breakfast, we headed over to Mike's mom and step-dad's house for the day. Mike's grandpa, Pa, drove in from eastern Iowa for the day. We always celebrate Christmas on Thanksgiving with Curt, Linda, and Pa, so the boys were immediately interested in all the presents they saw. Grandma and Grandpa had set up a little Christmas stocking-stuffer hunt for the boys, so they grabbed their stockings and started searching the house for their various little things.

Soon our friend Melody arrived. Melody and I have been friends for a few years now- we play soccer together, work out together, and she coached Zach's soccer for a while. Mel is from Canada and doesn't have any family around here, so we wanted to make sure she had someone to spend the holiday with. The boys and Mike's family were all excited to have Mel join us for the day. Zach, who has always LOVED Melody, immediately talked her into going into the basement to play.

At mealtime I made sure to get a picture of Zach with the place cards he and I made the day before. I just sort of came up with this turkey idea on my own, and we used some dried leaves we'd picked last fall that we hadn't used on any other crafts. I did all the cutting, and Zach did a lot of the gluing and he wrote everybody's name on their own turkey. We had fun, and the turkeys turned out pretty cute.

After a delicious and fulfilling meal, we headed to the living room to open presents. Zach and Drew had been quite patient all morning, but they were definitely excited to get to this part of the day!

Here you can see me helping Drew with something while Foudy snuggles on Mel.

Maggie loves presents, so she was right in the action.

One of the presents the boys got from Grandma and Grandpa were these huge remote-control blow-up trucks. They may have to go back to Grandma and Grandpa's house. :-)

Unfortunately, those are the only pictures we took all weekend. Every Thanksgiving we take a family picture at Curt and Linda's that we often use on our Christmas card. I purposely took our camera to their house with the idea that we would do that this year, and then I totally forgot. This picture wouldn't have been for our Christmas card this year (because I would like the baby in the picture), but I would have liked one last family picture before the baby was born. Oops.

Anyway, after more playing, I got Drew settled for his nap and Mike, Mel, and I left the grandparents in charge to go see the newest Harry Potter movie, which was excellent.

On Friday Mike and I braved the Black Friday crowds. We didn't get up early or anything crazy; we got to the mall around 9:30, and it wasn't that bad. We found a few good deals, ate some lunch, hit up Target, and picked the boys up in time for naps. Friday evening we went over to Mike's dad and step-mom's house to celebrate Thanksgiving with them and to get a chance to see Mike's sister Katherine, who was home from college for the weekend. Sadly, I left the camera at home that time, so we have no pictures. There was lots of Mario Cart playing, delicious food for dinner, and good times.

Saturday we decided to hunt for a Christmas tree. Mike suggested getting a fake tree this year, even though we both love real trees. It was something that I had reluctantly been thinking about as well, so I wasn't totally opposed to it. I love real trees, and I've always said I'd never get a fake tree. It just seems wrong to get a fake tree. I hate the clean-up associated with real trees, but I love the smell and the ambiance created by a real tree. But, I decided we needed to check it out, so we went to Earl May, then Menards, then Lowe's, then Home Depot, and finally a different Earl May, with the boys in tow the whole day. They actually did a great job, thankfully. None of the trees were really grabbing me- they all just looked too fake, we thought, until we got to Lowe's. There was one good one there, but we wanted to check the last couple of stores before making a decision. The whole day we were still unsure we were actually going to bite the bullet and go fake, but then at the last stop, we found one we liked quite well. I said something to the saleslady about struggling with the decision to go fake vs. stay real, and she said how every few years she gets a real tree, and then uses her fake one the next few years. It was funny how it had never occurred to me that buying the artificial tree didn't mean we were stuck with it for life. That helped, knowing we could get a real one any time we wanted. Duh. So there was one tree that we liked there that was a fair amount more expensive than the one at Lowe's. The one at Lowe's had multi-colored lights (which we kind of wanted); the one at Earl May had only white lights but seemed to look more real. It was a tough call, but we went with the Earl May one with white lights. I hope we don't regret the decision! The tree is not up yet because I am getting my house professionally deep cleaned on Wednesday of this week (my own little end of pregnancy gift to myself), so I'm not doing any Christmas decorating until after that.

The one other thing that was supposed to get done this weekend that didn't was that Mike and I were supposed to pack our bags for the hospital. My due date is one week from today, and we've got nothing packed still. At least I've got a list of things, so I don't feel too worried. Maybe tomorrow I'll pack that bag...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clean Towels or a Happy Dog?

I washed a bunch of towels today, and instead of folding them right away tonight, I sat down to check email and waste time on the computer. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Maggie start to take a step onto the laundry basket full of clean towels. I quickly nudged Mike, grabbed the camera, and we watched as Maggie proceeded to make herself very comfortable. Probably many people would think, "Oh, no, not the clean laundry- yuck!" but we were dying laughing as she tromped around, making it just right, and spilling the clean towels onto the floor. What can I say? I've always had a weak spot for my dogs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Weeks- Is that All?!

Yikes- less than two weeks until my due date. That is crazy to me. It really hit me when I looked at the What to Expect app on my iPhone yesterday and it said for the countdown 1 week 6 days. Zach wanted to make a countdown calendar for when the baby will be born. I had to explain that we don't know the exact date, and that the due date is just the doctor's guess as to when the baby might be born. I showed Zach how he was expected on June 3, but he wasn't born until June 8, and then I pointed to the square on the calendar that is the estimated due date of Dec. 5, and I asked him, "So, when do you think the baby will be born?" He picked Dec. 11, which is kind of interesting, because that is the day that my early ultrasound showed as the due date, but since it was less than a week's difference, the doctors didn't change the date. Mike and I would actually kind of like Dec. 11 to be the magical date, because then the baby's birthday would be an easy-to-remember 12/11/10. So we'll see if Zach's right or not!

People keep asking me, "Are you ready?" or "Don't you wish you could just have the baby now?" My answer to both is NO! We are physically ready, as in the nursery is nowhere even close to ready for a new baby, I don't have a bag packed for the hospital, etc., and no, I don't want to have the baby now; I want to wait until my due date! I keep telling Mike I want a December baby, not a November baby. No offense to anyone with a November birthday, including Mike, but my own birthday is Dec. 15, and I just think it would be neat to have a birthday near my kid's birthday. Plus, December's birthstone is prettier than November's, in my opinion. We are gradually getting other things done. I finally washed some newborn clothes and the car seat cover, but we still need to switch around all the car seats in the car to make room for the infant carrier. I made a list of things I want to take to the hospital when it's time, so that's one step toward getting the bag packed. Probably most importantly, though, I did pick up some chocolate Teddy Grahams, some Wint-O-Green Life Savers, and some butterscotch discs- all things that sound like things I will want during labor (the candy) and after (the Teddy Grahams). I remember when Zach was born, I had been in labor for 24 hours and hadn't eaten anything but a popsicle early that morning, so I ate practically that whole darn box of Teddy Grahams at about 11:00 at night. I'm not sure if I took a box with me when Drew was born or not, but I'm prepared this time.

I am definitely feeling big and round, but I am basically right on track with weight gain as I was the last 2 pregnancies. I recently read the book Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block, and boy, was it eye-opening. I stumbled upon the book a few weeks ago when I went to a bookstore to pick out a baby book (despite what my mom has always told me, this third child IS getting a baby book!). I picked it up and started skimming it there in the bookstore, and it was like I was suddenly being totally re-educated. I debated buying it but decided against it, and then I found it at my local library a few days later. I checked it out and read it more carefully, despite the eye-rolls I was constantly getting from Mike. I think every woman who is considering having a baby needs to read this book. It's about how much labor and delivery are so medically managed these days, rather than being the natural process they are intended to be. After having been induced with both Zach and Drew, I made the decision that I do not want to be induced this time. I went to my doctor with some other requests and questions, and she was very receptive to my ideas and helpful in answering my questions. Mike's big thing is that he doesn't want me to have my heart set on labor going a certain way and then that not working out. I don't think that will happen- I'm not so naive as to believe that just because I want it to be a certain way it will be that way. After knowing the gender the last 2 times and being induced both times, this pregnancy, with the gender unknown and the idea that labor will happen spontaneously, holds many more surprises, it seems. That makes me both excited and a little anxious. I worry a little bit about things like where Mike's mom will sleep if we have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, and I'm sure Mike worries about canceling a bunch of patients when it happens, but really those are minor things in the grand scheme of things.

Last week it was Mike's birthday, so we went out for a fancy dinner at the club (he got a free entree, so he really wanted to go take advantage of that offer), and we attempted to snap a picture of us after dinner. We were too lazy to get out the tripod, though, so these were the best we could do balancing the camera on a bunch of pillows on the couch and holding the camera out at arm's length.

Then I had Mike get one for my 38 weeks pregnant shot.

The boys spent the night at Grandma Cynthia and Grandpa Kevin's and had a great time. We picked them up fairly early on Saturday morning so we could go back to the club for the gingerbread house decorating event. I thought the boys would enjoy decorating the gingerbread houses, and they did. Now I just have to deal with the houses sitting around my kitchen for the next month. That might drive me crazy.

Zach and I worked together on one house.

And Mike and Drew worked together on another house. It seems I usually work with Drew and Mike and Zach do things, so this was a nice switch.

This picture's kind of funny because it looks a little like Drew is eating part of Zach's house, but he's not. I'm not sure what he's doing, honestly.

We were there long enough to decorate our houses and then head home so Mike could head out for the Hawkeye game in Iowa City. It was a close one, but sadly, another disappointment.

On Sunday I took these photos of the boys playing football in the basement- a favorite activity. At this point in my pregnancy, I'm happy to sit out and take pictures or just watch and cheer.

Then Drew showed off his balancing skills on the back of one of our many downstairs couches.

Drew and I decided to play firefighters next, and since Zach has gotten really good at throwing a nice, tight spiral with his football, he and Mike tossed the ball around for a bit. Maggie, though she's going on 11 years old, still thinks she's a puppy at times, so she figured she better get in the middle of the game of catch and turn it into a game of keep-away.

Occasionally she got the ball, but the poor girl always had to go back to being the monkey in the middle.

It's totally sappy to say, but I love how a Sunday afternoon of just hanging out with your kids, doing what they want to do can be so rewarding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Twenty Questions/I Spy

The boys like to play 20 Questions, especially in the car. So almost every day as we back out of the driveway to take Zach to school, Drew says, "Let's play Twenty Questions." Some days he says, "Let's play I Fy," which translates to I Spy. It's hard to say what the difference is between the two games for Drew. He does a pretty good job if he's trying to guess what Zach or I are thinking of in 20 Questions, but if it's his turn, it's pretty comical. Every single day, on Drew's first turn, he says, "I fy something red." Either Zach or I then say, "Lightning McQueen," or "You," (Drew has taken to calling himself Lightning McQueen), and then Drew always says in a most excited voice, "YES! I Lightning McQueen!" I would say 95% of the time we don't have any Lightning McQueen toys with us, so it's really more of a 20 Questions game than I Spy. After that first turn, you never know what Drew will come up with. Sometimes it's real things that he sees outside the car, and other times it's other cars from the Cars movie. It just cracks me up how each day he starts the same way. Today Zach said to him, "You might want to try something other than Lightning McQueen sometime, so that we have a harder time guessing." At least Zach still plays along and doesn't get too crabby about Drew always picking the same thing.

Zach's usually pretty good about 20 Questions, but he forgets a lot that he's only supposed to answer with yes or no. Lately there have been some really funny ones. I can't remember exactly how the questioning went, but a couple of weeks ago he and I were playing, and I was trying to guess what he was thinking of. I had somehow gotten to the point where I asked if it was a kind of food. He said yes, that it was food and he'd had 2 different kinds, one that he liked and one that he didn't like. So I'm trying to guess all these kinds of food, and eventually I somehow figure out he is thinking of Ricky Stanzi. What the heck kind of food is Ricky Stanzi you're thinking, right? No kind of food; Ricky Stanzi is the Hawkeye quarterback. In Zach's mind, though, it all fit together, because Ricky Stanzi plays for the Hawkeyes, and Zach has eaten popcorn twice this season while watching Hawkeye games on T.V. One time he had cheese popcorn (yuck!) with Mike while watching, and he didn't like that kind. Another time he had popcorn at Grandma and Grandpa's while watching Ricky Stanzi play, so that meant that when I asked if it was a food, it made perfect sense to say yes. I realize this story does not sound funny at all to anyone reading it, but it definitely made me laugh when it happened, because in Zach's 5 year-old brain it all made perfect sense, and it was weird to him that I didn't figure out Ricky Stanzi from the clues he was giving me.

The other funny incident with 20 Questions just occurred a couple of days ago. It was Zach's turn again, and he thought of something and Drew and I started asking questions. Here's a summary of how it went:

Me- Is it bigger than a person?
Zach- Yes, but people ride on these.
Me- Hmm. So is it alive?
Zach- Yes, but there aren't many alive now. There was a long time ago.
Me (feeling a little stumped)- Have we ever seen one?
Zach- Well, Drew and I have, but I don't know if you Dad and have.
Me (really stumped now)- Is it a dinosaur??
Zach- No! People didn't ride on dinosaurs!
Me- But you and Drew have seen it but not Dad and me?
Zach- Well, Drew and I have seen it with Grandma and Grandpa.
Me- Are you sure it's alive?
Zach- Well, I don't think there are many alive now.
Me- Is it a kind of animal?
Zach- No
Me- Is it an army tank?
Zach- Yes!

The big clue there was that he and Drew had seen it with Grandma and Grandpa, because I remember them seeing an army tank once with Kevin and Cynthia. Once again, though, it cracked me up that he said it was alive and that he said they aren't around anymore.

Another time Zach's clues were that the thing he was thinking about was very big and very far away- none near where we live. I guessed mountains, but that wasn't right, and then Drew guessed Colorado, which I thought was a pretty good guess for a 2 year-old. The answer was skyscrapers, which is funny, because there is one skyscraper here, and to a 5 year-old, some of the other buildings downtown probably would be considered skyscrapers, too.

So between Drew's obvious 20 Question/I Spy topics and Zach's cryptic answers, our rides to kindergarten every day are pretty interesting. As much as some days I just don't feel like playing, usually I get some good laughs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Football and a Princess Movie

Suddenly fall is upon us. The last couple of days have been cold and dreary. This morning there were actually a few flakes coming down, even. I've heard the Farmer's Almanac says it's going to be a hard winter, so I guess I should appreciate any temperature over 30 degrees.

Today we had our friends BJ, Carey, and Charlie over to watch the Hawkeye game. Although the game was a total disappointment, we had a good time hanging out. Drew mostly kept to himself, but Zach seemed to enjoy playing with Charlie.

Charlie sure is a cutie!

We didn't really have a plan for dinner, so we did a classic standby- grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Mike was our chef tonight, and as he served the boys their dinner, Drew said, "Thank you for making dinner, Dad." A week or so ago we grilled burgers for dinner, and while I often do the grilling, on this particular night, Mike did it, and that night, too, as we were eating, one of the boys (Zach, I think) thanked Mike for making dinner. I'm going to complain just a little now- I plan all the meals in this house, do all the grocery shopping, and basically make all the meals (even when I'm not going to be here I often have a meal ready or at least planned for the boys and Mike), yet I never get thanked for making anything! All Mike has to do is help prepare something I planned, and suddenly the boys are so thankful. What's up with that?

Anyway, after dinner we decided to do a family movie night. Some friends loaned us the movie Wall-E, but for whatever reason, the boys didn't really want to watch it. Drew was lobbying for Cars again, but I said no to that. I ended up picking one of my favorites- Cinderella. The boys had never seen it, though Zach had seen a tiny bit of it once at the doctor's office. They protested half-heartedly at first, with Zach saying, "Well, we're not really into princesses, Mom." But I put it on anyway. Even Mike had never seen Cinderella before.

Here they are as the movie got started.

It didn't take long (once the mice entered the movie, basically) for the boys to be interested. And I won't go so far as to say that Lightning McQueen will be replaced on Drew's list of favorites, but I think Cinderella could run a close second to Cars. I've never seen Drew so engrossed in a movie. He especially loved watching the mice try to stay out of Lucifer the cat's paws.

This picture was taken during another cat/mouse scene, where Drew was waving his hands back and forth in excitement/anticipation of what would happen to those cute mice.

Clearly he didn't like what the cat (or maybe it was the stepsisters) was doing here.

Despite the female lead, Zach got into the movie, too.

Drew was on the edge of his seat.

Mike was less excited. He took a little nap, and when I tried to get a picture of it, the sound of the camera beeping and the pre-flash flash woke him up.

In the end, the boys decided it was a good movie. Someday I'll get them to watch Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, too. Maybe if this baby's a girl I'll have a lot easier time, but maybe now that they've seen that one princess movie is ok they'll be more open-minded to the others.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Good Times

It's so nice when the boys are getting along, like when they're

reading books together at the library,

having fun at the bowling alley,

or working on a school project together.

If only life could always be so calm and happy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just a Couple of Quotes/Stories

Time for a few more funny/interesting quotes/stories from the boys (primarily Drew).

-Last week Zach came down with pink eye on Thursday. Mike left town to go teach a class in northern Minnesota early Friday morning. Drew was fine until about noon on Friday, at which point he told me that his ear itched. About 20 minutes later, he was telling me that it hurt, and about 15 minutes after that he was pretty much inconsolable because his ear hurt so badly and his throat hurt, too. We left play group to go straight to the pediatrician's office, though Drew protested vehemently. We got to the office and he started in right away, "I feel better, Mama!" but then in the next minute he'd say, "My ear hurts!" Then he'd go back to saying he felt better, and he'd tell me, "I not want to see the doctor. Doctors are mean." It's so bizarre how a little guy like Drew can get that idea, when 99% of his trips to the pediatrician have been for well-child visits. Sadly, Drew had an ear infection and spots on his throat. The pediatrician didn't do a throat culture, so I don't know if he had strep or not. The doctor prescribed a more concentrated antibiotic so that Drew would only have to take it once a day, and thank goodness for that. The first 5 days he resisted but did ok with the medicine, but the last 2 days he has woken up in the morning and literally the first words out of his mouth have been, "I not want to take my medicine, Mama," and I have had to basically pin him down on the stairs, hold his hands down, and pour it into his mouth. The weird thing is, once it's in his mouth, he doesn't seem to hate it that much. In his mind, though, his ear doesn't hurt anymore, so why should he have to take the medicine? It's tough to argue about that with a two year-old.

-Drew was in the bathroom pooping, and I went in to check on him. He said to me, serious as can be, "Watch out, Mom." I said, "Watch out?" He said, "Yeah. Go out of here 'cause it stinks 'cause I going poop." He didn't have to tell me twice!

-Speaking of stinking, last week one day when Drew woke up from his nap, Mike went up to check on him and get him out of bed (he can get out of bed on his own, but he never does- he waits for us to come get him). They snuggled for a bit, and then Drew said to Mike, "Get out of mine bed, Dad. You stinky." He was serious, too. So I went up to Drew's room, and he let me sit with him for a bit, and I asked why he wanted Dad to leave. He said, "'Cause he boring."

-This is really not a good story, because I can't remember the details, but recently I thought Drew was saying something was horrible. The way he said it sounded like "hurrible," though. Turns out he was telling me things were "hurtable."

-At lunch the other day the boys started telling me how they want Pillow Pets for Christmas. I'd heard of them, but really didn't know what they were. I figured Zach had heard about them at school, but Drew seemed to know a lot about them, too. Turns out they'd seen a commercial sometime for these things. They were excitedly telling me which pet they wanted, and then Zach said, "And Mom, you give it one hug and you'll fall in love!" Zach sure was puzzled when I laughed out loud at that, but obviously he'd picked up on a tag line. Good advertising!

-Drew has been saying today that if our baby is a boy, we'll give him a warm blanket, but if it's a girl, she'll get a cold blanket. Not sure what that's about.

-Zach was very proud about the picture he drew in his Guidance class today, which was a picture of our family. He told me right away when I picked him up from school, "Mom, I drew the whole family, including the baby and the dogs!" So tonight I was asking him to tell me who everybody was in the picture, and he realized he had drawn Mike, me with the baby on my arm, himself, and the two dogs, but no Drew. Classic- he thinks of the dogs and the unborn baby, but not the little brother who's been here for 2+ years!

I'm pretty sure there are some other funny things Drew has said lately- he is constantly cracking us up- but I can't think of them right now and I haven't been great about writing them down. There could be an part 2 to this post in a few days.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scenes from a Walk

Normally on Monday evenings I go to my favorite kickboxing class, and I've been able to do that throughout this pregnancy, until now. I am 36 weeks along and kickboxing is becoming more of a challenge (same with going up and down stairs, getting up off the floor, and putting on my shoes, etc.), and technically my membership at the kickboxing place is up, so I decided it was a good time to quit until after the baby is born. It's very hard for me, though, because I feel like I can still do it, but I also know that it's probably smart for me to take a little break.

Anyway, we had beautiful weather here today, and since Mike was at kickboxing and wouldn't be home until later for dinner, I decided the boys, dogs, and I had to get out for some fresh air and exercise. So we went for a walk. We saw a couple of interesting things on our walk. First, a couple of houses with Christmas lights installed and turned on. It's fine if you want to get a jump on the rush and get the lights put up early, but for Pete's sake, don't turn them on yet! I have strict rules about waiting until Thanksgiving to do any Christmas decorating, listening to Christmas music, etc., so having Christmas lights and a wreath on (and turned on) your house and pumpkins still on your front porch seems a little weird to me.

This house looks awesome, but again, isn't it a little early? Both of these houses appeared to have signs in their yards advertising the company that put the lights on their house for them, so my only thought is that maybe they get a price break if they turn the lights on this early. I don't know, but it's still weird to me.

There's a new walking trail that connects our neighborhood to an adjacent neighborhood, so the boys and I walked back along there. I just happened to see a large bird land on a tree a short distance away. At first I thought it was a hawk, but then I realized that it was too big to be a hawk. So the boys and I walked over near it, and I could tell it was an owl. It was pretty cool. The boys had never seen an owl before. It looked like a cat perched up there. I only had my phone with me, so these are the best pictures I could get. Not very good, but maybe you can still tell it's an owl.

We had a lovely walk and definitely enjoyed the nice weather. I wish it would stay this nice much longer!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cupcake Fiasco

Tonight Zach decided to go to basketball with Mike, so Drew and I had an evening for just the two of us. Drew wasn't thrilled at first, and said to me, "I not like Dad and Zach leaving 'cause it boring," so I knew we needed to have some fun of our own. We started the night by playing hide-n-seek, which generally entails me covering Drew with pillows on the couch, going out to the stairs to count to 10, and then coming back and looking all over for Drew, narrating the entire search. Usually Drew waits about 2 seconds to shout, "I under here!" but tonight, he stayed hidden and didn't say a word until I actually found him. He's growin' up!

After the hide-n-seek, Drew wanted to read some books. We'd already read about 10 books before the hide-n-seek, but I grabbed another stack and we read through them all. One of the books was Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. As we finished it, I asked Drew, "Should we make some cupcakes?" half hoping he'd say no, but also knowing he'd probably say yes. And he did. So we finished reading our books and went to the kitchen to do some baking. I had one chocolate cake mix, but I didn't really want to use it because I didn't want to make quite that many cupcakes. I love to bake, but if I don't have a special occasion to bake for, it's too dangerous for me to make something I really love, because I will eat more than my share. So, I found a recipe in a cookbook that involved only ingredients we had on hand... mostly. We didn't have any unsweetened chocolate to melt like it called for, so I just used semisweet chocolate chips instead. And I had about 5 Tbsp. of butter, and I needed 5 1/3 Tbsp., so I added just a smidge of margarine (usually I only bake with real butter) to make up the difference. Oh, and we decided at the end of the mixing to throw in some mini chocolate chips as a little bonus. I figured those small changes couldn't hurt too badly, right?

Drew loves to help me bake, and he's a good little helper. He helped pour the dry ingredients into the bowl, and then, surprise surprise, after he stirred them up for me, he pretended his spoon was an excavator and he kept scooping up spoonfuls. I was shocked he didn't spill any of it. He was sad when he had to finally pour it all into the other bowl. But he was easily distracted by putting the cupcake cups into the pan.

At one point he had flour on his nose and he looked so darn cute, but by the time I snapped this picture, I guess he had wiped it off. He still looks cute, though, I think! He loves the chef hat, which barely fits him anymore, and the apron.

While the cupcakes baked, Drew and I ate dinner. I checked on the cupcakes a couple of times and felt like they looked a little funny, but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. When I took them out of the oven at their prescribed time, I again thought, "Hmm, not quite what I expected, but maybe they'll still taste ok." Then I turned the pan over to dump them out onto the cooling rack, and any part that had baked up over the edge of the cups basically stayed on the pan, and the cupcakes were totally mangled looking. I should have taken a picture. All I can say is it's a good thing these weren't for a special occasion! That gave me a chance to taste our work, though, and it was actually decent.

Next I had to find a chocolate frosting recipe that again involved only items we had on hand, and thankfully that wasn't too hard. By this point Mike and Zach were back home, and I mixed up the frosting pretty quickly, hoping it would turn out better than the cupcakes looked. Then the boys and I sat down to frost our masterpieces.

Drew attempted to frost his own, but ended up needing a little help spreading the frosting around. Then Mike helped him take the wrapper off, and that's when the real trouble started. Basically, the frosted top of Drew's cupcake came off in his hand, and he was not happy about that. "This not good! It come apart!" he said. I started to say, "Well, I don't think we'll make this recipe again," but by this point I was laughing so hard I was basically crying, and Drew did not appreciate it. Mike was taking pictures, and Drew was very sternly saying, "Stop laughing, MOM!"

The whole thing was a bit of a fiasco. I bake a lot, and I am pretty comfortable taking on somewhat complicated recipes and usually have good results. I mean, the way I look at it, if you follow the recipe, how hard can it be, right? So I just had to laugh at these darn cupcakes. They really do taste good, but they look like Drew made them on his own without my help, honestly. And the fact that Drew and I made them as a sort of fun reading-extension and they made him cry is just kind of funny to me, too. Once I showed him how he could eat it by breaking off pieces, he was pretty happy, and I guess my final take on it is all's well that ends well. Next time I'll probably just use the mix and only do half of it, though.