Sunday, April 24, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" Trail

(or, “Fun in the Remote Highlands of New Guinea,” Vol. 8)
I have vague memories of shopping for Easter candy and other basket-stuffers back home. My mind is filled with foggy images of complete aisles full of baskets, buckets, stuffed bunnies, and plastic grass, and still more aisles containing jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, cream eggs, and other treats.  I even seem to remember something about a jelly bean-pooping … oh wait, that was a raindeer.
But it must be a hallucination, right?  Surely it couldn’t have been aisles and aisles ….
Not only do we not have seasons here to mark the passage of time, we also don’t have mega-stores blaring holiday music in October, and stocking red heart-shaped boxes tied with lacy bows even as the customer service lines begin filling with shoppers holding after-Christmas returns.  So, when, on Thursday afternoon (just an hour before the store would close for the next four days) I caught sight of the Easter candy shelf, it surprised me. 
Uh oh … Sunday is Easter.
From my place in the check-out line, I visually perused the meter-long shelf (yes, singular).  It contained stock of four different items.  I quickly decided I needed to make some attempt … for the children’s sake, right?  I reached for two 8” hollow chocolate rabbits, one foil-dressed as a boy, and the other as a girl.
So, this morning, when my son asked me for his, presumably well-stocked, Easter basket, I presented him with - without fanfare, mind you – a single bunny.
And some ideas.
He was a great sport about it.  He immediately unwrapped the bunny and gave it a thumbs-up even while chocolate goo oozed from the corners of his mouth.  He chewed delightedly while I suggested that we make our own chocolate/peanut butter “eggs.”  I had considered fudge, and a dear friend at home, upon hearing that I didn’t have much chocolate, sent me some recipes for peanut butter fudge.  But, I think with what we have we can even swing Buckeyes.  If the kids want to wrap them in foil and hide them around the house, or if they want to call them bunny poo instead of eggs, that will be fine with me. 
But that would have to wait.  First, we had breakfast to tackle.
Evan whipped up pancake batter from scratch (we assured him that with the mad cooking skills he was sure to develop, he would be the hit of the college dorm someday).  He asked for four bowls and dug through the pantry for the food coloring.  Soon the batter was distributed and colored and the creative juices began to flow.
And the way I figure it, at least there are eggs in pancake batter.   :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"I'm Glad it's Your Birthday . Yes, We're Going to a Party Party!"

(or, “Fun in the Remote Highlands of New Guinea,” Vol. 7)
While I knew that having ten twelve-year old girls spend the night in our living room would not be without unexpected elements, I never anticipated the surprises that were to await us last night.
If I were reading this on your blog, I might automatically assume these “surprises” to be associated with drama related to petty tween girl stuff.  Be assured, these kids are most wonderful.  Not that there is no drama, but when it does rear its head it isn’t particularly ugly.  It probably helps that these kids are my students.   What can I say?  I love them.
At approximately 3:30pm, I began the pre-emptive dish-washing.  I think I spent 7 of the next 17 hours in the kitchen.  I have to say, my husband rocks … he was right there with me for almost all of it.
Once the dishes were drying in the racks (yes, plural), I began making the pizza crust.  I mixed and rolled and baked until twelve crusts were lying on tea towels the counter.  Paul mixed up the pizza sauce and started cutting up meat and olives.
In the midst of all this, at about 5:00, our home braved the onslaught of nine pre-teen girls, their overnight bags, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.  Oh, and noise.
We were suddenly very grateful for the extra-large picnic table on the front veranda.  It came with the house, this monster … and by monster, I am not exaggerating.  This thing is made with 2x6’s and 2x8’s.  The former homeowners told us they had moved it a few times, but it took four to six strong men each time to accomplish the relocation.
While Paul and I baked pizzas, most of the girls had moved outside and were playing basketball or badminton.  Evan, who had seriously not been looking forward to the event (“But, what am I going to do with all those girls in the house!?  BORING!”), was invited to play with them.  Ten (ok, nine, because Andie probably was only nominally on board) 12-year old girls had invited an 8-year old boy to play with them?  I’m telling you, these kids rock.
At 5:45, I began carrying sliced pizzas to the picnic table.  Soon, the benches were filled with eleven (again, Evan was welcome) hungry kids, and the dog was camped out under the foray hoping beyond hope for falling morsels.  These people at nine pizzas.  Nine!
At one point, Paul all but offered to foot the capital for someone to open a Little Ceasar’s here before we have to host another birthday party.
Finally, we prepared one final pizza, and the kitchen slaves sat down on the front porch rocker to watch the badminton frenzy that was now going on in the dark.  (We have only 12-13 hours of daylight here year-round.)  We had just gotten comfortable when we were asked by several enthusiastic faces,
“Can we have a bonfire?!!”
So, once we finished shoveling in our food, everyone moved to the back yard and prepared the fire pit.  God had given us a dry day and a beautiful clear night full of stars, and soon, all 13 of us were sitting around the fire playing telephone, concentration, and telling progressive stories.  Once they got tired of sitting around, they decided to play “Ghost in the Graveyard.”  I turned off the security lights, established reasonable boundaries, and the game began.
It was my job to guard the little avocado tree.
They played until almost 8pm, when we moved inside for presents, cake, and a movie.
As Andie was opening one of the last few presents, Paul came in and quietly said, “Um, I think there’s some sixth grade mischief going on outside.”
Once the girls got wind of this, they were storming the doors and ran squealing into the night.  Several of their male classmates were in the process of, once again, taping (TPing) our yard.  The guys ran off into the darkness, leaving behind shoes and other identity-betraying paraphernalia. 
Eventually, the girls convinced a few of them to come back (after all, we had their shoes) and enjoy cake with us, with one stipulation.  They had to clean up the yard.  Four of the hooligans decided they were willing to trade their desire for anonymity for birthday cake and ice cream.  The others, well, too bad for them, right?  After the celebratory formalities were over and everyone was full, we shooed the boys out into the night and locked the doors.  The girls (and Evan) brushed teeth, threw mattresses, cushions, and sleeping necessities around the room, and settled down to watch “Bedtime Stories.”
After things got quiet, I took the dog out for a final potty walk, and found the boys trying to quietly re-distribute the already expended tape around the yard.  I told them I wouldn’t tell the girls what they were doing, but that they would need to come back in the morning and clean it up … again.    :)
Eventually, I guess, they decided since Mrs. B knew, it was no fun anymore, so they cleaned up the mess and moved on, but not before knocking on the door and asking for tweezers to remove cactus spines from some of their feet and hands.  Hey, that’s what you get for wrapping toilet paper around a prickly pear.
Once the movie was over, we put Evan to bed, and hit the sack ourselves.  We needed to rest up, for a busy morning of waffle- and pancake-making awaited us in just a few short hours.  I’m telling you, these girls can eat.
It is 11:15am now.  When asked a few minutes ago how long they could stay, I smiled and told them that they were welcome to stay as long as they wanted, but that the kitchen would not be opening for lunch. 
While they’re not looking, I think I’ll eat some cake.   :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Description Necessary

(or, “Fun in the Remote Highlands of New Guinea,” Vol. 6)


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