Tuesday
May242016

I'm Holding On To A Glimmer Of Hope

While this kid was having a crazy good time on stage at her dance recital

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this kid was taksed with sitting sort of quietly and sort of still watching.

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For three hours. Because dance recitals are three hours long. (I wanted to type "three long hours" but that wouldn't be nice. So I didn't. Ahem.)

Let's ponder that for a second, shall we? It's a great idea to place a toddler in a dark room and then tell them to be quiet and sit still, isn't it? THREE HOURS. If you would like to guess at the quantity of fruit snacks that were slipped to that kid to help keep her focused on something other than starting a spontaneous toddler parade, feel free. Now double that number and you might come close.

Although, I'm not sure that it was necessary.

I'll wait while you pick your jaw up from the floor.

Ready?

Okay, so it turns out that if you ask Mila to sit and watch a dance recital, SHE WILL. She made it through the entire first half (1 1/2 hours!) sitting in laps and watching. Quietly. And mostly still.

It was sooooooo weird.

Creepy, even. Who does that? Who sits quietly and still at a dance recital? Answer: NOT ME. Alternate answer: NOT THE OTHER ADULT RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR CHILDREN.

Instead of risking Mila crashing and burning during the second half of the recital, I excused her and the other adult because HE CANNOT SIT STILL OMG. The two of them bonded together from the back of the auditorium not because she was wiggly, but because he was.

But, that's not the point. The point is that Mila happily watched dance for well over an hour. Which, HOORAY! Except not. Mila is the child who I would love to hang my tomboy-doesn't-dance-would-rather-play-in-the-mud dreams on. This thing where she not just tolerates but EMBRACES dance performances is really starting to make me nervous.

Ugh.

Monday
May232016

Recital Time!

Dance recital weekend.

There was a time when those three words sent me into a fit of twitchy annoyance. And yet, today I found myself saying, "The recital was fun!"

It has happened. I have fully embraced my fate. My fate is to watch all of the dance performances and recitals and do so with a smile because Alexis is all of the happy when she's on that stage.

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Soooooo ... in her first year with harder classes and higher expectations, Alexis opened the show with a mistake. It was an obvious stumble on a pirouette, which in the grand scheme of things is no big deal at all.

But I wondered, would it be a big deal to her?

The Alexis of old, the Alexis who was enrolled in dance because she needed to get better at handling uncomfortable situations, would have folded. One little mistake would have led to a future approach filled with conservative movements and half-attempts. At her core, Alexis is still that kid who doesn't admit what she can do to anyone until she can do it absolutely perfectly.

As Alexis walked off-stage after the dance that was wonderful other than that one little mistake, I realized her next performance was for Jazz/Gym. I knew exactly what she would do -- tame down her tumbling passes. For that particular class, each girl makes their way across the stage doing whatever tumbling they're currently working on. Most of the girls did back walkovers or cartwheels, but Miss Alexis is in a different place. She is a rumbly, tumbly little thing who can do back handsprings and back tucks like they're no big thing.

I figured she'd cut the back tuck out of her first sequence and only do two of her three back handsprings.

I would have put money on it.

So when it came time for the Jazz/Gym class and Alexis began to cross from one side of the stage to the other, I waited for the downgrade in action.

It didn't come.

For her first tumbling pass, she did exactly what was always planned.

VICTORY.

And then came her second tumbling pass. I expected to see a roundoff-back handspring-back handspring and maybe one more back handspring. That was what was planned, so since she was staying her course, I was sure she would continue to stay her course.

Instead, she did a roundoff and then FOUR back handsprings. So when faced with adversity, Alexis doubled down.

Later, I asked Alexis why she decided to do more. The fact of the matter is that she can do 8-10 back handprings in a row without veering terribly off course, but I only know that because she forgets that I can see the backyard from inside the house. She wouldn't do that long of a sequence for anyone because she would be afraid she would mess up. It was impressive that she went with four of them when she had an audience.

"Mom, I had to make up for my mistake somehow!"

I don't know where this version of Alexis came from, but rock on with that doubling down when the going gets tough thing. Rock. On.

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Sunday
May222016

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

Alexis has been reading The Cupcake Diaries, which means she thinks about cupcakes about 1241232 times per day.

(So do I. I just don't have a valid excuse like she does.)

That means that when she started considering the last dance classes of the year, she quickly came to the conclusion that she needed to take cupcakes to share with everyone. Specifically, she requested Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes.

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Okay. I can do that.

These turned out fun because they appear to be boring old cupcakes without any frosting until you open them up to find the magic.

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Which, of course, meant they were a hit with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders who got to eat them all.

Seriously. They ate them all. I thought I sent way more than necessary and that some would return home. They didn't.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes (makes about 24 cupcakes)

Topping
24 maraschino cherries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple, drained (but keep the juice)


Cupcake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1. Line a couple of cupcake trays with cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place a cherry in the center of each of your cupcake liners.

3. Spoon a teaspoon of melted butter into each cupcake liner. Then chase it with a tablespoon of brown sugar. There's no need to be exact with your measurements -- just scoop some good stuff in there. (If you have melted butter left over, set it aside. We can use it a little later instead of using a full 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.)

4. Add some pineapple all around. It should be about 2 tablespoons worth, but again the measurements don't matter. Scoop a little into each cup until it covers the butter and brown sugar. Like this:

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You will have pineapple left over. Set it aside.

6. Put your 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and whisk them up.

7. If you had butter left over, top it off with vegetable oil until you have 1/2 cup.

8. Grab another bowl. Mix your vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, pineapple juice, and sugar. I'm sure a stand mixer would work fine, but I actually use a fork.

9. Combine the dry ingredients from step 6 with the wet ingredients from step 8. Mix well then fold in the rest of the crushed pineapple. Do that thing that makes the cake batter land in the cupcake liners. They should be just about full to the top as these don't rise much.

10. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Mine were done at 21 minutes. You know they're done when the tops turn a fantastic golden brown.

11. Allow to cool for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

12. A word to the wise, these are AMAZING while still warm. So maybe you should do a quality control check before sharing with others?