Friday, December 28, 2007

N.'s Archery and Challah-day Birthday

Yesterday, MLC and I went into town to "get a few things." N, who was preoccupied with entertaining his friend A., whose dad came home from the hospital yesterday, did not act as if he had the slightest suspicion about the nature of these errands.

Fourteen years ago today, at this time, I was checking into the hospital. We had planned a homebirth, but I had been confined to bed with pre-eclampsia and I was having early labor pains. At 4 PM, the doctor broke the waters, and real labor quickly ensued. N. was born at 9:07 PM, after a very short, very intense labor.

For this Shabbat birthday, N. has requested an Oreo Cake, my home-make Challah, and his favorite meal, lasagna. Oh, and chicken soup with matzah balls. I told him that three out of four on the home-made list was a pretty good deal. MLC and I purchased a cake and a few presents in town, yesterday.

This morning, I started on the Challah.
It is quite a production because I use a high-altitude recipe (even the usual modifications for 3500 feet and above do not work at 7000 feet) and I use the food processor to knead the dough. This means that I am constantly working between two books.
And I have to divide the ingredients amounts into two, because the food processor cannot handle nearly seven cups of flour at once.

Today, after forgetting the sugar in the first half--I hadn't had my cup of coffee yet--I swore that I am going to type up the altered recipe in a more organized fashion, on one sheet of paper as I do it! And I will, right after I post this blog entry...

The Challah came out well, despite the chaos of baking and serving breakfast to the whole family in two shifts.

Actually, I made the boys some breakfast drink and gave them bowls and spoons. They got out the cereal and milk. I am not a Better Homes and Gardens poster child!

While the dough balls were on the first rising, I ate some breakfast and drank some coffee with Bruce and MLC.
During the second rising, I cleaned up the mess and washed the dishes. During the third rising of the braided loaves, I pre-heated the oven, mixed matzah-ball dough, and started some chicken soup.

While I was monitoring the bakings, N. was working his arm on his new compound bow.
MLC's boyfriend had gotten N. this bow for late Hannukah. It has a 50 pound draw, and N. is drawing it 10 times, three times a day, to strengthen his arm.

It was kind of cool when N. received the bow. He looked it over, in an excited way, and then inspected the arrows. He talked about the workings of the compound bow, the fringe that makes the draw and snap silent for hunting, and the type of arrow points.
MLC's boyfriend was impressed.
"Where did you learn that?" he asked.
"Unschooling," N. replied. "I have two books and a magazine about it."

Every now and then, I am brought up short by the stuff this kid has learned without my expert guidance.

A. has entered a different world.
When he came over, I explained that we limit TV here.
He announced rather dramatically, "I can't live without TV!"
MLC said to him, "Wow, you don't have much of a life, then."
N. said, "You don't need TV to tell you what to think."

As it stands, the boys have been so busy that they have only watched one movie this entire week. Right now, they are working on how to calculate distances using the sights on the compound bow.
A. doesn't know that he has entered the world of unschooling, as he does math uncousciously, for his own ends!

Soon, I must get the lasagna set up and ready for baking. I have to form the matzah balls and get the soup warming. We will have Shabbat dinner with birthday dinner tonight. Oh, and just in case I did not get enough present-wrapping in a few weeks ago, I need to wrap a few today.

Fourteen years ago, I was explaining to the labor nurse that, no, we would not have a circumcision in the hospital. It would take place in eight days at home, with a mohel. Now I am smelling the wonderul aroma of fresh baked bread, and getting ready to do a little cooking.

Fourteen years ago, I cradled my nine pound baby boy, and he fit into the crook of one arm. Today, he is almost as tall as I am, and he recently hit 100 pounds. He knows things that I don't--like the parts of a compound bow and how to use the sights by distance--and he has interests that I never imagined. He is all boy, and I like who he is becoming!


Melora said...

Happy birthday N.! What a good kid! How sweet that he was so busy making sure A. was happy that he didn't notice the preparations for his birthday.
Your bread is gorgeous!

Greg Smith said...

What high altitude modifications do you make for your bread?

steph said...

Happy birthday to N! I can't even imagine 11 1/2 years from now (or yikes, 13 years from now, as we have a 1st birthday coming up at the end of January for us!)

Yes, the altitude. Maybe it's good that I never did learn to make bread out there! I'm still owed a bread machine from Christmas, though (all of the adult gifts were contingent upon selling the house); I'm still shocked that beans cook!!! It took days in NM, and they still never fully got cooked.)

Mmmm...lasagna...lucky kid!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks, Melora. It's been a long trail of modifications.

Greg: I use less yeast, more egg, more sugar and a bit more liquid up here. I do three risings, each shorter than I would at lower altitude. I bake at a lower temperature, and I put a pan of water on the bottom shelf. I guess, when I write out one recipe for high altitude using the food processor, I ought to post it.

Steph: I have still not been successful with beans up here. I have tried all-day slow cooking in the crockpot after soaking and they still come out crunchy. I have taken to buying Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans or else the vegetarian refried beans! I do alright with split peas, which I do soak, contrary to package directions.

Susan said...

The Challah looks scrumptious. It's funny what kids ask for their birthdays. Comfort food.
We were looking at compound bows for our boys. That would be an excellent b-day present for our guys who'll be 14 in Feb. It'd be very cool if they hooked up sometime when you're back visiting family.

Happy B-day to N

Mrs. C said...

That bread is GORGEOUS! Wow, I'm impressed! It sounds like N and A had a wonderful time.