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Tuesday
May222018

Oh, Mila

Mila loves dance recitals and competitions and all of the things. Watching her sister dance is in her Top 10 Things To Do in Pittsburgh. It falls just above Kennywood and right below Eat Candy. She will happily go to all of the things.

She begs, even. Not taking her is not an option, which is unfortunate because even though she's all in, she's still three years old (for another week!). She has the attention span of a senile goldfish. If her sister is on stage, she's good. If her sister disappears, SQUIRREL!

The good news about Sunday's recital was that Alexis had six dances. That means she was on stage for like 20 minutes of the 3 1/2 hour production. That's a lot! Mila made it through the first four pretty darn happy to be there.

And then she started to look for creative ways to entertain herself in between her sister's performances. There was the candy phase. There was the playing games on my phone phase. And then there was the flash her stuffed kitty in my face phase.

Apparently it's really funny to take a stuffed animal and shove it in my face. Mila did it over and over, cackling with glee every time I would nudge her arm back down. She enjoyed it so thoroughly that when her sister appeared on stage for her ballet performance, Mila kept on shoving the damn cat in my face. Even though the camera was there.

I have a lot of photos of a black blob. Telling Mila to stop only served to encourage her to do it more. I finally decided to try to compensate by messing with camera settings (so I could take faster photos), but haaaaaaaaaaa. I turned the dial the wrong way.

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WELL THEN.

1. At least it's not a black blob. I managed to get a whole three photos of ballet that didn't include the blob!

2. It's artistic, or something. Yes, let's go with that.

Monday
May212018

Somebody Please Like Me

This was another one of those weekends when I didn't know which direction was up because I was busy running a kid to All of the Things. There was a dance recital then a 5K and then another dance recital and what weekend? I don't remember no stinking weekend.

But! There are photos to remind me!

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That girl. She's pretty amazing. I'm a fan of the photo as well, but that's mostly because it's one of the few from the weekend that passes my Bloggable Test. I only post photos that don't have other people's kids in them (unless I have permission) and that don't give personal location information. As in, it's fine to admit that we were at Kennywood, but it's not fine to admit we were at Kennywood because of an event with School XYZ. It's a fine line, but I try to keep it hard to know exactly where Alexis might be at a given point in time. So photos with her dance studio's name in them? Off limits.

Whatevs. I have that lovely unidentifiable photo! So, I posted it to Instagram. I also texted Alexis a few other favorites, all of which have other kids in them and fail the Bloggable Test for reasons. She promptly turned around and posted her favorite photo to her Instagram account because she's allowed to do so on her locked down kid account.

And then it started.

As we were driving home, I decided to tease Alexis because I had more likes on my photo than she did on hers. There is a huge advantage to being a kid who grew up in a social media house - Alexis is very honey badger about like counts. She properly rolled her eyes and reminded me that it doesn't matter. She then continued to tell me that I better have more likes since I have more followers and all was well. That kid gets it and I'm very happy for moments that prove it.

Buuuuut ... while Alexis is wise in social media matters, she's also competitive. Thus, she started reminding me that I posted first. She was absolutely certain she would catch up. For the rest of the drive home, she announced every time she got a new like and basically made it REAL clear she was making a run at me.

She tagged every dancer in the photo. Which, there were like 10 of them, so that was a nice little boost. Every middle/high schooler ever will like a photo that they're tagged in. It's like the law or something. No worries, though, I was still 10 likes ahead. BOOM, CHILD.

AND THEN SHE TEXTED THE PHOTO TO EVERY DANCER IN THE PHOTO. They have a group text because apparently I'm the only person who violently hates group texts. I'm going to throw my phone out the window because of a group text some day. Just watch.

So, Alexis was ten likes behind, but then her photo appeared on seven or so accounts. Then it spread some more. Before I knew it, the photo had been posted (without credit, of course) in a whole bunch of places and had a total of well over 1000 likes, which was about 10 times the likes I had. (I maybe know the exact actual number because Alexis made me sit there as she tallied them all up because of course she did. I'm not admitting it, though.)

She may have won this battle, but I will win the like war. I WILL HAVE THE MORE LIKED PHOTO. It just won't be a dance recital photo.

(I have no idea where Alexis' competitive streak comes from. No idea at all.)

Sunday
May202018

Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes

At some point in the not-so-distant past, there was a dance competition thing. It was during that dance competition that past me wrote a check that present me had to cash and GRRRR. I shouldn't do that.

The girls have this lovely tradition of getting each other a small gift as a congratulations for competition weekend. This year, I was alllllll done with thinking and organizing and being prepared, so I asked Alexis if we could pass on the competition gift and instead do something fancy for the last class of the year. Because she rules, Alexis agreed to the plan.

Fast forward to last week. It was 24 hours before the class where I was supposed to have something fancy and I didn't. But! I did get it done!

Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes.

They were amazing and fantastic and one of my favorite things was watching the girls in the class get all sorts of happy when they laid eyes on the cupcakes. It was even more fun watching them all take selfies with their cupcakes and post pictures, especially because now that they're all older, they can appreciate a GOOD cupcake. That's in comparison to kids Mila's age who basically prefer that you pour some sugar in a cup and hand it to them. The older girls have a much greater appreciation for subtle things like lemon zest carefully wound through a blackberry buttercream frosting.

It was REALLY good, if I say so myself. Which I do.

Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes

(makes 24 cupcakes)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
5 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with super cute liners of your choice.

2. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir them up with a whisk.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla.

4. Put the wet ingredients in the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix at low speed until just combined.

5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you poke at a cupcake.

6. To make the frosting, place all but the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds then at higher speed until the blackberries are well mashed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and keep mixing until it's all combined and happy.

7. Top your cooled cupcakes with that frosting then top it all with a bunch of fancy sprinkles. Bonus points if you add a white chocolate star on top, but that's not really necessary.