The Art of Baking Cookies


A Post by Beautiful -

Our boys are at an age where they are becoming exponentially more capable. They can make their own toast in the morning and bring a borrowed pan back to the neighbor’s house, they order their dinner at restaurants and can wink and say words like “dehydrated” or “dramatic” or “cattywompas” in a sentence correctly. I mostly feel like they could do anything and that James and I are merely observers to their ever-growing independence, occasionally reaching something out of their range or explaining the way something works, but mostly just supervising.

There are still a few things that my boys cannot do, though. Things that require patience and a certain art that comes from practice. This weekend I called my mom for her sugar cookie recipe and assembled the ingredients with the boys as my assistants. They added teaspoons of baking soda and vanilla and dumped cups full of flour into the bowl with careful precision. But then we rolled the cookies out on the dining room table and the boys pummeled their ball of dough, adding more and more flour until the cookie cutter-ed result on the baking sheet had the consistency of dried paper mache. I tried to guide the use of flour and explain that the cookies tasted better when the dough is soft. This had little effect.

I scooped a large hunk of dough out onto the floured table, rapidly rolled it out into a thick slab and cut cookies from the still soft dough.  I outpaced them with my cookies. As I did this, the memory of my mom doing this exact thing came to me. She would fill two pans with circle-shaped cookies cut with the rim of an inverted juice glass while we labored over a few intricate reindeer and angels. She let us participate and enjoy it while she knocked out the cookies we would eat later. We learned to make better, softer cookies as we grew up. I’m glad there are things that we learn this way. I’m glad everything doesn’t come from information or from ability. Some things come from a family recipe, and a feel for the dough and a mom who shows you the art of it until you know it yourself.

Looking back on a busy summer: The great road trip of 2012

Right after our stay at The Great Wolf Lodge we dropped the boys at my parents for Soccer camp and our first week of kidless time. The next Saturday we brought them up to Gig Harbor, along with the RV that had been living in our driveway for the last year. The boys were heading East in that RV with Grammie and Tom Tom and most of their cousins. Five kids and three adults in a small space for 2300 miles sounds like a nightmare I had, but for the boys it was a dream come true. Two weeks without mom and dad, on the road with their grandparents. They had talked about it all spring, counted down the days on their calendar in their room.

They all piled into the RV on Sunday morning and headed towards Uncle Dan’s house in Colorado. They wouldn’t make it there on the first night but that was the first known stop in the cross-country trek. They had to make stops every now and then to run the boys to burn off that extra energy. Tom Tom would line them up and the races would be on. There were movies to watch and books to read and plenty of snacks to keep the boys occupied. They took naps all together on the folded down dinette and we followed along through Aunt Meg’s tweets. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Finn:some bad guys in our world are called robbers. Don’t know what the others are, but don’t worry, my dad and your dad {SCuda} are stronger.


Entered Nebraska. One boy sleeping, one baby in midst or epic nap, two boys sharing an ipod, one boy chatting with Grammie.


Henry: will a bear hit us {talking about hitting animals on the rd}? Grammie: no, they stay in the wilderness. Henry: but they would eat us.


Milo: Grammie, get me out! Grammie: no, you’re a sitting duck! (As she pelts him with a grape in his car seat :)


There was a stop in Idaho, one in Colorado, another in Nebraska, and there was meant to be one in Iowa but it was hot and there were sick folks that needed to get home so Tom Tom drove through the night to get home to Indiana. If not for colds they say they would have loved a longer trip but I don’t believe them. Both Beautiful and I grew up on road trips and family vacations and I know that my boys are good travelers but five kids in that space would get old pretty quickly.

Once in Indiana the boys got to spend some quality time with Aunt Heather and her pirate adventures. Their cousins left and Primo and Segundo got Grammie and Tom Tom all to their selves for the first time since we left Indiana, the first time for Segundo. They swam everyday and lived in Grammie rules for two weeks before Beautiful met them in Iowa to fly home. We all agree this is something that needs to happen often and the boys are already wondering what day on their calendar they can circle and start the countdown towards.

The boys have really great grandparents

During this vacation I have been getting a lot of time not being dad duty. Time spent doing not much of anything and it has been restful and fun. I have watched a bit of Little League, some PGA Championship, and of course some HGTV. I realize how lucky I am to have parents on both sides of our family that love spending time with our boys and who are adventurous and capable. I have some friends whose parents like being with their grandkids but they end up not giving the parents a break because they aren’t up for the tough stuff. They will play with them if they are happy and clean but if there is a need for discipline or a dirty diaper they pass them back off. While it’s nice to get any breaks it is the tough stuff that we need the most help with.

Thank you Grandma and Papa, Grammie and Tom Tom for being such fun and supportive grand parents. You guys are down for the fun times and the hard times and as parent I am supper thankful. When you have the boys it is truly a break for Beautiful and I. You guys are encouraging of our parenting choices, respectful when you don’t agree, and offer great advice even if we don’t take advantage of it enough. You love your grandkids enough to honor their parents, and this seems like it would always be true but I have seen that it is not. I have seen how lucky we are to have such a great support system and for our boys to have a fuller community. Thank you

Part of the Fatherhood Friday group of blogging Fathers and Mothers over at Dad Blogs. Please click on the image to the left to find more great writing from other bloggers trying to make sense of this whole parenting thing

Tom Tom’s magic RV tour

Down the gravel road from the cabin there is a lake that is mostly dried up but there is still a trickle of a river snaking it’s way through the mud. It is here that we spend most of our early afternoon time with the boys. We dam up an area close to two large boulders and try to make the shallow pool just a little deeper, and we splash around. There is something so great about having kids this age and getting to experience the joys of a mountain stream dammed up on one end. I think I would pass it by if I was on my own but with the boys I see it through my younger self’s eyes and it is magical again.

It is those younger eyes that I was thinking of this afternoon when we left the river and made our way back to the cabin. After the water time we strip the boys down, hose them off, and give them a popsicle in Grandpa Tom Tom’s RV so they can watch a movie. There are better places to watch a movie. Bigger TVs and more comfortable chairs but to those younger eyes there is not a more magical place than Tom Tom’s RV. It is where they want to have lunch, where they want to watch their movies, and where they want to be when it’s time to head back to Atlanta because the water in the cabin has run dry. A house on wheels and their own private space with Grammie and Tom Tom. I can see it through their eyes and see how great it is.