Mother’s Day 2015

My mother passed away a few years ago, but I am lucky to have a wonderful step-mother to spend Mother’s Day with.

My wife and I drove back home in the morning to visit our mothers. I dropped her off and spent a little bit of time with my parents-in-law before going over to my parents’ house (they live in the same city).

My parents were out at the farmer’s market when I got there (a Sunday tradition for them). I played with their dog a little bit and puzzled over the mail I was receiving there. Apprently I now have a subscription to Car and Driver magazine for some unknown reason.

When they got back they announced a surprise, my best friend would be visiting as well! Apparently his parents were spending some time in the Netherlands so he’d been hanging out with my parents for company.

We chatted a bunch and made snickerdoodles. The cookie baking was a Mother’s Day activity so we joked non-stop about it. My friend and I got on our knees to be “children.” We pretended to mess up the recipe by adding “one and a half eggs.” The usual stuff.

The cookies turned out really good, obviously due to adding one and a half eggs.

We went on a walk up to “the dish.” Everyone in Palo Alto already knows what that is but I will explain for those of you who don’t know.

A lot of Palo Alto attractions are remnants of the two big owners of the land around there, Stanford and Coutts. Stanford owned a huge amount of land in the hills behind Palo Alto.

That land was never developed or turned into part of the college. Instead it is an open space preserve where you can go walking up in the hills.

At the top of one of the steep hills behind a chain-link fence is a giant satelitte dish, probably about 100 feet in diameter.

“The dish,” as everyone calls it, is part of the program to contact alien life. It sends signals out and listens for responses. Nothing yet!

We came back after the walk and opened presents. I got my step-mom a Ursula K. Le Guin interpretation of Lao-Tzu’s poetry. She likes Le Guin and both her and my dad are fans of Eastern philosophy. She seemed excited to read it and I hope it is as good as her expectations.

We hugged goodbye and I took half the cookies with me. My friend took the other half.

I went back to my in-laws house and picked up my wife there after taking some pictures. We drove back home through the heavy Mother’s Day traffic.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to everyone else’s mothers who I didn’t see yesterday!

-GoCorral

Making Bread

Mmmm... Looks so tasty... And I didn't get to have any!
Mmmm… Looks so tasty… And I didn’t get to have any!

Yesterday I went to my wife’s class in the morning and baked bread with her students.

This is apparently a big thing at her school. Last year a parent came in and helped he kids bake bread.

Unfortunately, no parents volunteered to help in my wife’s class this year so I’m doing it!

The actual process for making bread is pretty simple. Throw all the ingredients into the breadmaker, program it according to the recipe, and let it go.

The more exciting part is that the kids get to work their teacher’s husband who is a scientist! My wife told me the kids were excited about that part.

Before school started I came to her classroom and anybody who had arrived early was welcome to help me make bread.

I met a few of the kids. I’d imagined more energy, but they were mostly quite subdued. I was surprised at first, but my wife reminded me that the kids haven’t met me before even though she’s told me lots about them. They were all just shy.

One of the kids volunteered to read the recipe while the rest of the little chefs added one ingredient each.

After we got everything in the breadmaker I let them pick how crunchy they wanted the breadmaker to make the bread. They chose medium.

We quickly cleaned the measuring cups and spoons we’d used before putting everything away as school started.

The picture above is from after my wife cut the bread around lunchtime when it was done. Delicious!

It was really cool to be working with kids again. I haven’t done it since the summer after my Sophmore year when I taught gymnastics at the YMCA with my mother-in-law.

Things I’d change next time:
We forgot hotpads for taking the bread out. There are some towels in the classroom, but hotpads are always better.
There’s no dish soap in the classroom. Hand soap works, but it was a little weird.
I got the butter out of the classroom fridge right as we needed it, but that meant it was quite hard and difficult for the kids to cut into smaller pieces. Next time I’ll bring the butter out earlier.

I’ll do those things for now and hopefully the kids won’t be so shy next time as well. I’m looking forward to the improvement of the whole process next week!

-Mister Ed