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Probably my biggest challenge this week will be to make the type of birthday cake that my oldest requested for his birthday. It’s something that I have not made previously. It’s really not so much the difficulty but rather with the method of execution. He wants molten chocolate or lava cake for his birthday. This requires not one big cake, but rather, individual cakes. Again, not the end of the world except that we will have a company, an extra five people, maybe six, which means that I have to make 10 cakes. Now, you see my challenge. For anyone that is not familiar, lava or molten chocolate cake is a chocolate cake with a creamy or melted center. Not something that you can really make earlier in the day and serve later. It requires a from-the-oven service, not easy to accomplish times 10.

Several of the recipes that I have found (which are all pretty much the same ingredients) indicate that the cakes can be made ahead of time and simply cooked at the time that you are ready to eat.  Sounds easy, right? Well, not for me. Make ahead and then cook or partially prepare and cook later is the kiss of death. The bagels I made the first time promised a do-ahead recipe, which turned into the ugliest looking flat bagels that anyone has ever witnessed. Another time, I tried to pre-make something it was also a disaster. Not something that I want to experience with a houseful of hungry kids dying for cake and certainly not something that I want to blow for one of my boys’ birthdays – after all they only come once a year.

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Last night we spent a very nice evening enjoying a Passover seder with our friends. There were about 35 people (about half of whom were under 17) present. It was a nice mix of friends and neighbors, all gathered together to help our friends celebrate this holiday. The food was delicious and the company was great. Everyone read Haggadah and the adults commended the children for conquering some of the words that they don’t see (probably ever in writing) like “smite”.

It was, however, a late night which makes this morning, even more difficult to manage, but it was a fun evening shared with many friends.

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Monday – work and Passover dinner at a friends’ house.

Tuesday – work, soliciting donations in person for silent auction for Odyssey, interview meeting for this week’s newspaper article

Wednesday – Drive to Montpelier for swearing in ceremony and reception, back-to-back soccer games and scouts

Thursday – Kid getting tooth pulled, baking two pies for Talent Show Friday, getting ready for company arriving Thursday night.

Friday – TJ’s birthday – TJ’s driving exam chauffeuring – birthday dinner to cook and molten lava cake to make for birthday.

In addition to all the above, there’s a house to clean, laundry to do and a motion to research and write, plus the normal work schedule.

Tonight is the Tex-Mex dinner at the school for Odyssey. I have made 25 pounds of taco meat and one huge chafing tray of mexican rice. In addition, I made 48 chocolate croissants. I am done. Now I only have to survive until about 10:30 tonight when the event is over. Wish me luck.

Who says that a garage has to be boring? Or a garage door for that matter? has some really cool ideas for making your neighbors take a second look.

In addition to the above, there is also the bevy of high powered cars and motorcycles and some very nice scenery. The scenes attach to your garage doors with velcro and can be easily removed.

Tell me that it’s not a funny concept. Just to watch people’s faces as they drive by and see your elephant, horse, dump truck or fire engine – would be well worth it.

While the calendar may say its spring, Mother Nature is casting her vote and the two certainly don’t agree. Despite 50-60 degree days last week and beautiful spring-like weather over the weekend, this morning we awoke to snow. Not a lot, but enough to cover everything once again in white. Winter, it seems has not yet left Vermont. While the days this week may get into the 40s, it appears that the night time temperatures will be dipping once again, into the single digits with a temperature of 9 expected on Friday night. So….anyone who still needs a touch of winter, combined with nice frozen mud ruts, come to Vermont.

It is hard not to remember this day. It comes the day after Tyler’s birthday, although it happened before any of the the boys were even born. Sadness always tugs at my heartstrings this day, which I cannot forget. The events of that day are seared in my memory forever. I have never felt such a failure, so incapable.  I don’t know if other women feel this way also, but I simply cannot forget. While it physically wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been, it was traumatic for us. Maybe it would be different if it wasn’t the first. So for the baby I never met, that some people would even argue didn’t exist, today’s a day to remember.

Didn’t know you – you didn’t even have a name, but yet I feel compelled to remember that you existed if even it was for a short while. Even if I am the only one that remembers (which I doubt) you were a part of us, a part of me for a brief period of time. You were the first and so you will always have a special place in my heart.

At 5 p.m. on this date, our middle son arrived into this world. An easy delivery after our first son which was startling considering the kid weighed 10 pounds 12 ounces at birth. So hard to believe that a baby that didn’t even fit in newborn diapers arrived into the world so easily – or so it seemed. It was a little scary since he was whisked away quickly as they were concerned about shoulder dystocia and his (gigantic) size which could indicate other medical issues, but all turned out well with him. He looked way different than his older brother.

We’ve been lucky to have known him and have him in our lives 14 years today. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s funny, empathic, a good cook, patient and handsome, if I do say so as his mom.

His cake well, that’s another story. The cake was baked bright and early and eaten in part by the dog before noon. The second cake was in the oven by noon and proceeded to turn into a Haiti cake by 3 p.m. Oh well…… still it tastes good and he seemed to think it was awesome. (No accounting for teenage taste in appearances I guess – I was heartbroken – he thought it was the best cake… ever).

Happy Birthday Tyler!

Sometimes being a mom is hard. It’s hard to hold your tongue when you want to yell back at the kid that just snapped at your because somehow “mom” = “laundry queen”. It’s hard when your kid really loves to do something but in the process of trying to get him to do it, you feel like the dentist pulling teeth. Gigantic tugs and still no progress, that thing is holding on by roots clear down to the toes. Yesterday was one of those types of the days and the laundry thing this morning by oldest son was just the topping on the proverbial cake.

Auditions for a play – something youngest son loves (acting) were akin to that proverbial tooth pulling. Also a lot of tugging at the mom heart strings – all for something that you know in the end, he’s going to love and do wonderfully at. Adolescence lack of self-confidence, too little sleep, nerves or something else. An emotionally draining day for both of us when it was supposed to be fun for him. Why don’t things ever go as planned? Oh, I remember, because we don’t want to make parenting look too easy – or everyone will want to do it.

Illumination of the Earth by the Sun on the da...
Image via Wikipedia

Today marks the day that day and night are roughly equal in length. It is the vernal equinox, where the sun was directly over the equator. The result is that the length of time that we are exposed to daylight and then night are equal, or roughly equal, in length. The actual equinox, where the sun is directly over the equator will occur at 1:32 p.m. here in the Eastern Daylight zone.

There is a rumor that during the vernal equinox you can stand an egg on end, however, that has pretty much been disproven, since with time and patience, one can stand an egg on end at any time during the year, not just during the equinox. There is evidently no special gravity present during this time that would account for an egg’s ability to stand on end … or dance… or do anything special.

Vernal equinox marks the first day of spring. A rebirth of the earth, a time that Mother Nature shakes off winter like a bear coming out of hibernation and shrugging off the sleepiness of winter.

There are many different celebrations and many of the holidays that we know are set around the equinox. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.

World Storytelling Day, preserving the art of oral storytelling is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox or March 20th this year. It is celebrated all over the world on this day and originated in Sweden in 1991. It is a day to tell stories and promote the art of storytelling, one of the most ancient of all art forms. Go ahead, share some stories today – Happy Spring! (By the way, we STILL have snow here.)

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Photograph taken by Jared C. Benedict via Wikipedia

There are a variety of greetings out there. Some are dependent upon nationality of those involved or age or in our case, geographic location. See, there’s this time of year here in Vermont called Mud Season. It’s between the end of winter and spring. The ground generally gets so frozen deep down that you get frost heaves (another post all together) but as the snow melts and the ground has yet to become unfrozen, the water wells up on top with nowhere to go and turns all our dirt roads (of which there are many) to mud. A greeting you will commonly hear when someone is coming to your house is “How’s the road?” An odd question to ask someone, or to start a conversation with, but you see, us folks up here in the land of eternal winter (and yes, for those of you asking even despite almost 60 degree temperatures for the past three days, we still have snow) know that when the sap starts flowing, Mud Season is usually upon us. Anyone traveling to your house will undoubtedly need to know the condition of your road. It is not uncommon to also ask “Do you have 4 wheel drive?” If the answer to that question is “no”, chances are, you’re probably not visiting. It is not unforeseen that your vehicle (even if it is equipped with 4 wheel drive) might find itself buried halfway up the wheels in mud. There are warnings placed on the commonly trafficked and hardest hit by mud roads, warning heavy vehicles or those over a certain weigh load to steer clear, way clear until after mud season ends… or deal with the consequences.

Today we had a delivery truck coming to our house (as my friend Patty from Where Did the Time Go? blog wonderfully puts it, we were under delivery house arrest) and the first question out of their mouth when calling to give us a time frame was “how’s the road?” When they arrived the driver related to us that only days earlier they had been stuck up to their box truck tires in mud unable to get out. Not a fun way to spend the day, I am sure.

Mud Season does have its own amusement since a common thing for teenagers and college kids to do is pile into a car or truck and find the worst dirt road and drive until they get stuck and then push their way out, kind of like Vermont mudwrestling I imagine. Aside from getting stuck in the mud, it’s actually like a really cool roller coaster ride, since there are ruts, like ruts from hell, and when your vehicle is drawn to them (and it will be drawn to them) you get pulled in like when the car on the roller coaster track clicks into place — and you’re off…going wherever the road takes you.

There’s also another really cool thing about Mud Season when you live in Vermont – you know who really loves you. As my husband likes to say: Everyone wants to visit Vermont, but the people that come during Mud Season, they really love you, because there is nothing to do here then, nothing to see – unless of course you like pushing your car out of the mud.

So….how’s your road? Ours, well its pretty muddy.

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Snowboarding is an American sport. As American as Apple pie, some would say. It was developed here in this country and the primary developers of snowboards came from here. One of the pioneer builders of snowboards Jake Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont in 1977 to make what later became known as snowboards. And make them, he and his company did. They were at the forefront of snowboard development and Burton, a privately held company, still commandeers the market. Burton snowboards are used by the icons of the sport, Shaun White, Hannah Teeter. Burton snowboards, known the world-over were still produced primarily right here in Vermont. Sad isn’t it that yesterday Burton announced that it will be moving its main manufacturing facility not just out of Vermont, but out of the United States completely. To Austria, the newspapers say to be incorporated into the manufacturing facility that they have had there for 25 years. Oh, and to China, too. But we won’t mention that – at least the newspapers really didn’t and evidently Burton doesn’t really want to talk about that part either.

It’s a sad commentary on the way that our country and our state handles companies that are home-grown. The decision by Burton move its manufacturing facilities out of Vermont has, evidently, been a long time coming. It’s just really disturbing that it had to come at all.

Burton will still maintain its world headquarters in Burlington, Vermont and it is expanding a production facility that will produce the newest snowboards that are not  for sale but will be offered to snowboarding athletes for their use.

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