Stormtrooper cake

First, May baked from scratch a buttermilk layer cake, a Joy of Cooking recipe. I used a simple pattern that I drew for a stormtrooper, trimming the sides of the cake to form the top part of the helmet. With the trimmings, I built up the bottom part of the mask and the nose. It was frosted with cream cheese frosting. The black on the cake is licorice, and silver sprinkles were used for the teardrop, speakers and mouth.

They chose Silas' story, about a triceratops, iguanodon, ankylosaurus, and a tyrannosaurus who wants to eat the other three up! The ankylosaurus swings his tail and knocks out his teeth. Whew!

Hot apple cider


The word "goûter" (goo-tay) in French is loaded with meaning. It's to taste or try, but is also an afternoon snack corresponding with the time kids get out of school. Now, if you want to invite someone over in France, but don't want to commit to the standard four or five hour commitment a dinner holds, a goûter is a good option. So that's what we did, we invited all 14 households in our apartment to enjoy a goûter, American style. We served hot apple cider, served celery sticks filled with peanut butter and cream cheese, pumpkin bars, and chocolate oat bars. Guess what, they loved it! There were 8 households who came, that's 15 adults and 7 kids. 

I sit on Efrem's bed and have a spoonful of granola. Efrem's head rises and he looks at me sleepily. Silas snores quietly next to us. I want the boys to keep me company while I finish my breakfast. In ten minutes I have to leave to catch a train. I talk with Efrem as he comes to his senses, then slide over and rub Silas' back. 

"You boys need to be good while I'm gone." I say. "Try to help mommy out a little extra." 

Silas' response is hilarious, "Okay, I'll try and eat as much spaghetti as possible." 

I guess that's how daddy helps out around the house, at least in the eyes of a six year old. I finish my breakfast and they get out of bed. The boys crowd around the sink as I brush my teeth, trying to savor our moments before I left. 

Efrem decides to make conversation, "Daddy, where'd you buy that toothbrush?" 

I can only mumble back, because I can't talk while I brush my teeth. It's a running controversy at our house, whether it's better to brush your teeth with your mouth open or closed. May brushes mouth open, I brush mouth closed, mainly because if I try the former toothpaste falls all over everything. She is somehow even able to keep the suds in her mouth under complete control. 

A slug oozes across our floor

Our new apartment has spiders, lots of them. One evening while we were closing the shutter in the boys' room we noticed a fairly large garden spider had made a web across the top quarter of their door. I didn't mind him, but May made me clear out the garden of the big imposing ones, including our doorman. She has mentioned to me quite a few times how spiders drop down or scurry off every time she opens the doors that lead outside. 

Just the other day we had yet another type of visitor. We like to open our bedroom doors to air everything out in the mornings. As I went to close the door in the boys' room I saw that a brown slug had ventured inside and was speeding his fastest for the refuge of Efrem's bed. At least he couldn't scurry as fast as a spider, but have you ever picked up a slug? They're nasty! Bleck. The following day May and the boys were out while I was working on the computer. I heard what sounded like footsteps in our apartment. That's strange, I thought, there's no way May could be home by now. Subconsciously I assumed I must be hearing a neighbor upstairs. When the noise persisted I turned around to see a cat had wandered into our house. We stared at each other for a few moments in mutual surprise. He was fairly calm until I got up to help him out. At that point he ran into a room that didn't have a door open, jumped onto a heater and started flailing wildly at the closed door. I opened up another nearby and he bounded out and scurried through our hedge. 

That night, Superman came flying into our living room. "I want a storm trooper mask," he said. And daddy, I want a darth vader mask too. And can I have a light saber? Ah, you've got to love visitors.

Efrem looking cute with his blond curls


"Mommy, help!" Every parent knows what it's like to rush to their child in the middle of the night. Efrem was still asleep, eyes closed, sitting up in bed. What was wrong?

The day we got back to France we did a final walkthrough of our apartment. Talking with the owner in the parking lot, Silas and Efrem were playing rough. Suddenly Efrem was flat on the ground, blood in his mouth. His one remaining front tooth and the tooth next to it were loose, bleeding. His gums became bruised a dark purple. Efrem has already lost one of his front teeth. Losing the last one would be tough, since his adult teeth won't come for another three or four years. Staggering from jet lag, May took him to the doctor that night. Still concerned, I took him to the dentist the next day. There was nothing to do. Only time will tell if he loses it. Sometimes it takes a month or two for the root to die, or it could recover. A major difficulty - Efrem sucking his thumb.

We still had some of the "icky fingernail polish" we used to help Silas stop sucking his thumb. After Efrem was asleep, we put some on his thumb nail to make sure he wouldn't revert back to it. That's when we heard his cry, "Mommy, help!" He had his first taste of the icky polish. He was calling out for help from the same person who'd applied it.

That funny situation made me think about my own prayer life. How limited my perspective is. How immature my prayers are to God. All I want is deliverance from my present struggles, but God can see the ripened fruit at the end. I writhe and whine while God patiently tries to remove a sliver or simply keep me from hurting myself. He sees the healthy, holy person I am to become. May I break out of my self-centeredness long enough to get a glimpse too!