Sunday, May 16, 2010

Salon de Mom

All four of our boys were looking extremely shaggy, so with Stake Conference not until 1:00 this afternoon, I got that scissor-happy gleam in my eyes. Hair was soaring through the bathroom as I sheared, snipped, and clipped each boy's thick locks in turn. It was like that scene when Edward Scissorhands creates snow-flurries as he sculpts ice, but my storm was more like. . . hair-flurries. (You didn't want to be there.) By the time I was finished with each of my four subjects, it looked like a medium-sized hairy animal was sleeping in the trash-can. Yes. GROSS.

Eric has been bugging/nagging/pestering me to give Ethan a more "mature" hairstyle for months. Across the long row at Church, he would look at me sternly, then look at Ethan and mouth, "He needs a haircut" and I would respond by giving him my best you-knew-what-I-was-when-you-picked-me-up pouty face and mouthing, "But he has such great hair!"

I think he wants him to look more "Rexburg Elementary" rather than "Disney Channel High." However, Ethan and I rather like the flowing style. His hair is so thick and perfect for a longish do, plus I told Eric, "He can never have his hair this long again, so why not enjoy it?"

At the Blue and Gold banquet for scouts, our Bishop had all of the nine-year-old scouts line up and asked them what they had in common with missionaries. They piped up, "We wear a uniform" "We have high standards!" etc, etc. And then one of them said, "We have short hair!" then he paused, gave a long, slow glance at Ethan and said, "Well, except for him!"
I was so proud of Ethan. He didn't even flinch. He just stood there proudly like Samson of old (before Delilah, that is).

He's got it and he knows how to flaunt it. You go, Cover Boy! (Should I be proud of that? Yikes.) This is a shampoo commercial the kids made up that they wanted me to film. (You can see from Eve's post-self-inflicted-haircut that it was awhile ago.)

I told Ethan this would be our "Compromise Cut."

PS If you want to read about the time that wasn't a Sunday that Crazy Mommy made an appearance when her only daughter with hair (at the time) cut her own hair, click hair, uh, I mean, here:

Danish Delight on a Sunday Morn

If you think of Danishes as the stale, day-old offering at the Best Western free breakfast, you need to meet my sister-in-law, Amy. At the Hafen Girls' Retreat in February, my hot Danish SIL taught us how to make the lightest, fluffiest, Danish pancakes that reality can contain--ebelskivers. If you could actually hear her say it, your heart would melt into a pool of butter and sugar right there. It really is a beautiful linguistical combination. We were all in Danish heaven (and butter heaven too)! My sister, Emily, had given me an ebelskiver pan for my birthday (I know! Nana-Nana Boo-Boo!), and after the cooking demo I was ready to start flipping.

Since we had all morning to keep the Sabbath day holy, we decided to spend it making three different kinds of ebelskivers: chocolate peanut-butter and chocolate filled, cheese and bacon filled, and regular. We also made buttermilk syrup and our newest culinary experiment, cranberry-lime syrup. Oh, and to make it more healthy, we added strawberries and whipped cream to our tablescape. Eric also whipped up another one of his quiches just in case we were still starving. (And yes, this would be my "free meal" for the week. All of this week's running, elliptical-ing, shredding, and veggie consuming was dedicated to this gluttonous moment.)

Click here to see a demonstration of the Ebelskivers and then ask your Mom or your husband to hurry up and give you a pan for your birthday/post-Mother's-Day-blues etc:

Buttermilk Syrup

1½ cup sugar
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
Boil for 7 min.
Remove from heat and add 2 tsp. vanilla

Cranberry-Lime Syrup

1 1/2 c sugar
4 t cornstarch
1 t cinnamon
1 c cranberry juice
1 T lime juice
2 T butter or margarine

Mix cinnamon, sugar and cornstarch together. Stir in juices. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and add butter. Makes 1 and ½ cups.


2 c. flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 c milk
4 T butter, melted, plus more for cooking

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and add the 4 T melted butter and the milk . Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined. The batter will be lumpy.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.

Coat each well of ebelskiver pan with butter (I just unwrap the top part of a cube of butter and run it along the well. It's much faster.) Set pan over medium heat and spoon 1 T of batter into each well. Add 1 t of desired fillings (chocolate, cheese and bacon, apples, etc or just leave plain) and then top with 1 T of batter. Cook until bottom is golden brown and turn each pancake with two wooden skewers (this is the FUN part!). Cook for 2-3 minutes more and then transfer to a plate and see how fast they disappear!

For Chocolate Ebelskivers, we added cocoa powder and melted chocolate chips. Then we filled them with chocolate chips and a dollop of peanut butter. These ones were especially good with the Cran-Lime Syrup or the strawberries and whipped cream or just plain. . . oh sorry. I dozed off just thinking about them.

And, for own sense of dietary self-esteem, I wanted you to see the light dinner we ate. I got this recipe from my good friend and kitchen whiz, Kelly. This is an easy recipe if you're looking for something to put a little ka-pow in your weekly menu. (I made a few modifications on the sauce. I halved the sugar and added some of the pineapple juice. It's really healthy, especially if you omit the sauce from your kebab. )

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatball Kebabs

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Juice from can of pineapple
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Boil the 1/2 cup water, add the sugar, vinegar, ketchup, pineapple juice and salt.
Stir well, then mix in the cornstarch and water mixture and stir
constantly until thickened. (Add more water if necessary.)
You can double it if your kids want more for dipping or "drinking."

Foster Farms Italian style turkey meatballs
1 can Fresh pineapple chunks
Red and Green peppers cut up (We use sliced zuchinni.)

I thread these on skewers and cook them on my George Forman until the meat is warm and the pineapple is carmelized. (I just broil them in the oven.)

I serve it over rice (half brown half white) It is so easy and really yummy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Mother's Day. . . Ummm. . . You and I need to talk.

Dear Mother's Day,

Since you're obviously female, I will talk to you like a girl. I totally love you--you know that, right? And we (meaning all of the mothers) totally love you! But. . .

I think it would be really good for you to know that there are some things you really need to work on, and in the spirit of Charity, I'd like to share them with you:

10 Things I Hate About You

1) You are always, always on a Sunday. Whose messed-up, masculine-centered, warped idea was that? Don't you know that I always have three hours of Church on Sunday? Don't you know that our husbands always have meetings on Sunday and that we are left alone to pioneerishly fend for ourselves in a sort of ragged, harried, Sunday morning seizure of Church Preparations?

Sunday, by its very nature, is the day on which it is the most difficult to maintain a nice, smiley, patient, maternal disposition. You, Mothers' Day, should know that! Getting the kids ready for Church for two hours, and stuffing something in their mouths that won't get their Church clothes filthy right before Church does NOT bring out the best in me! (Oh! The SHOES and the SOCKS alone! All of the finding and squeezing and wrestling and buckling and finding again!) My Mission President loved to describe me as "sweet and happy." And that is pretty much true in general, I think. But on Sunday mornings, I turn into some twisted Mormon housewife version of Joan Crawford.

In fact, if I took a poll of my children and asked them when they think the time of the week is that Crazy Mommy comes out to play, it would be unanimous. Sunday! Crazy Sunday Mommy's screams of, "What time is it?!?. . . We're NOT going to make it!. . . Get your shoes on! Your shoes don't fit?!? You just wore them yesterday!. . . Who put GUM in your hair?. . . You just ATE your scriptures?. . . How did you get claw marks on your neck?. . . Get ready right this second so we can go to Church and learn about LOVE, DARN IT!!!!" aren't heard in that freakish, shriekish, shaky pitch any other day of the week! I am so nice and calm on Tuesdays! Why can't you be on a Tuesday?

2) Breakfast in bed.

I don't like eating in bed. It's where I sleep for goodness sake! The idea of crumbs in my bed makes me envision all of those millions of dust-mites the Kirby Vacuum Dude described in surprisingly vivid detail all coming for a picnic on my person. And not that I spill food, but just the IDEA of the food in the same place that I slumber makes me want to rip my lips off. (Okay. That's a lie. If you know me, you know that I notoriously slop sauces, drizzle liquids, and generally smear the front of myself with anything edible.)

And yet you make everyone who is not me in this house feel obligated to serve my first meal of the day to me in bed because of some weird ideological conspiracy I don't understand. Does it date back to the 50's when the table-tray market needed a leg up and mothers felt like they were more valued if they just weren't on their high-heeled feet for a few morning minutes? I don't get it.

3) I cannot, no matter how hard I try, make it to Church on time on you (Mother's Day--to whom I am speaking). See #1 and #2.

This morning I lay in bed way past the time when I needed to be up and at 'em to get the kids ready for Church, knowing that every minute of the wails of, "SHHHH! BE QUIET!!!! MOM'S SLEEPING!!!" was one more minute late we would come skulking in to Church looking grumpy and angry at the world.

I lay there in bed, listening to my sweet husband yelling curse words in French as he tried to cook the breakfast with the kids' help until he finally came storming into the bedroom in frustration. (But the bacon and leek quiche really was delicious and I didn't end up helping one bit! And because he had "spoiled" the "surprise" by coming to get me, I got to eat at the table! No bed bugs there! YAY!)

By the time breakfast was over, Eric had to guiltily rush off to a meeting, and I was left having to bathe all of the kids who didn't bathe yesterday because they were out shopping for me during bath-time. (And I was not singing sweet songs of maternal bliss and glory as I dunked them in the tub faster than they have ever been dunked. . . and neither were they.)

We were exactly twenty-four minutes late. I am a terrible mother who can't even get her kids to be on time for Church ON MOTHER'S DAY!!!

4) I don't like my role as a Mother being the center of attention. The whole day is like being targeted by MAMMA-Razzi of the endearingly naive newlywed and/or forgetful elderly variety and I just want to enjoy my twins and sextuplets in privacy! (Oh, wait. . . How about. . . It's a crazy life, but it's our life? Oh. . . sorry. I got off track.)

There is too much pressure to be a good Mom when everyone is talking about it for a WHOLE day. If I am caught in the hallway (at Church, of course) with a misbehaving child on Mother's Day, what kind of a mother must I be the rest of the year? Anything I do today is suddenly a reflection of what kind of mother I am. It's like my annual maternal report card and no matter what grades I receive I feel like I should have done better.

5) Husbands getting sucked into the consumer vortex out of pure guilt and fear.

I'm sorry, but Eric is NOT my child and I am NOT his mother! First of all. . . eeeww, let's not get all Oedipus today and second of all, he feels guilty enough on Christmas, my birthday, Valentine's Day, and Arbor Day anyway (I just really dig trees), without having one more day that forces him to show me the quantity of his love for me in dollar signs.

6) I am not old enough to wear a corsage to Church and I don't like them anyway. It's like everyone thinks it's the Mom Prom or something. Again. Eeeew. No thank you.

7) Every year, all the women I know (That's not a generalization. I know A LOT of women.) talk about how Mother's Day makes them feel inadequate, inferior, and guilt-ridden, yet we keep on celebrating it the same way every year. Why do we have to talk about how much we hate it in some sort of dysfunctional ritual, and then still say and do the exact same things in a perpetual Ground Hoggish Day sort of way? Can't we just take a vacation from Mother's Day one year and give all of the money we would have spent on cards and flowers to a nice charity?

8) I never know what to wear on Mother's Day. Since I feel like the Mamma-razzi has their eye on me, I need to look especially put-together, fashionable yet modest, and just a little sassy, like I'm nurturing, yet with-it, right? And yet every Mother's Day, I only have about a minute and a half to get ready because I've been held hostage in my bed all morning! And then, like today, I make my grand entrance (Exactly twenty-four minutes late, remember? So I get the full effect of all of the gawking) in a wet up-do, wearing the same outfit I wore on Friday to teach, and then again yesterday to go to the temple. (Yes. Just stop counting. I realize that makes three days in a row. Yeah. So, not only am I totally tardy, and embarrassingly disheveled, but I probably have B.O. too. And on Mother's Day of all days! Have I no respect?!?)

9) I'm going to be totally honest. I don't really have ten things that I hate about Mother's Day. It just sounded good. But I'm sure I can think of two more things to whine about if I think hard enough. I'm so conflicted about you, Mother's Day. I secretly LIKE getting a gift at the end of Church. Today, at the end of Church, I felt my neck actually craning to see what kind of loot I was going to walk off with. It kind of felt like Oprah for a second.

10) After berating Peter for nearly clawing out Caleb's trachea this morning, and giving him the fastest bath in the west with zero play-time, and then listening to him cry that he was a "Bad Boy" for five minutes, I hollered at the kids to give me the time. I had exactly fourteen minutes left before we needed to be at Church, in our seats, looking familialy fabulous.

I looked down at that pouty little kid sitting on the floor in his Sunday best, his hair still wet from his dunking, and I gave up. My hair was still wet. I was still wearing my rainbow pajama pants and my shirt that was housing more food than Chuck-a-rama. Those old ladies at Church would surely wrinkle their perfectly lipsticked mouths and surmise that I was the most terrible Mother in our grand city, and everyone would surely lower my maternal grade ten points as we walked in late, but I was going to sit on the floor and I was going to love my boy.

I sat on the wet floor and hugged Peter tight and whispered to his curly little head, "No, Peter. You're a good boy. You're a good boy." And I sat with him as the seconds ticked by and I rocked him and I held him close, knowing that those seconds in my arms count more for him (and for me) than for the ladies at Church or my report-card.

Eric screeched in from his meeting five minutes before Church started and he saw me sitting there with Peter, still in my PJ's and still not caring a bit. He helped me get Marie dressed and sang to her about her shoes. He didn't even glance at the clock.

We took pictures of the kids, then I asked Eric to take pictures of me with the kids. We strolled over to Church, and I touched Holden's arm and noticed how tall he's getting. I memorized the way Eve and Marie bounce-stepped in tandem, hand in hand, Eve calling Marie her "Little Pumpkin Pie." I told them all as we walked how happy I was just to be with them, even if we were a few minutes late. And I meant it.

I walked in twenty-four minutes late to Church. I walked right up to the fifth row, which was the only free row (because we need that entire row) with my messy head held high and my hand in Peter's.

Oh, how I love being a mother. It was my choice before it was even a choice. It is the reason I wake up in the morning, for breakfast in bed or not.

I just HATE you, Mother's Day. Nothing personal.

Love ya! 'Preciate ya! Don't tell ya enuf!


P.S. Despite all of the negative, tongue in cheek (sort of) venting, I do have to thank you, Mother's Day. It was because of you that I got to eat the BEST quiche of my LIFE today! As Holden grated the cheese and Ethan helped with the crust, Eric called them his, "Quiche-sters." While we ate, we kept telling each other to, "Quiche me, baby!" and other equally annoying puns.

PPS Since I know you like to cook (you sort of HAVE to, being Mother's Day and all), here's the recipe:

PPPS I think I just burned dinner because I was writing YOU this letter!

Bacon and Leek Quiche

1 pound thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
8 ounces cave-aged Gruyère cheese, shredded
(Eric just used Swiss since Gruyere is harder to come by here than a sunny day!)
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a floured surface, roll 1 disk of the pastry to a 12-inch round. Ease the pastry into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom without stretching. Trim the excess and use it to patch any holes. Refrigerate the tart shell for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry.
Line the tart shells with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shells for 30 minutes, just until dry. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake the crusts for about 15 minutes longer, until they are dry and golden. Transfer the tart pans to 2 sturdy baking sheets.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING: In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain the bacon, leaving 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the leeks and thyme to the skillet, season with salt and white pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bacon and cheese.
Divide the bacon-and-leek filling between the tart shells. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the egg yolks and heavy cream. Season lightly with salt and white pepper. Pour the custard into the tart shells and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through for even baking, until puffed and lightly browned. Transfer the quiches to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove the rings, cut the quiches into wedges and serve.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All is Well. Take a Few Minutes--It's Worth it.

I am so inspired. I really do feel like all is well. I just want to sit and absorb the Spirit of this for a long while.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Any lady who waited in line at Wal-mart guisied up in her Queen Amadala get-up at midnight on the night the final DVD of the Star Wars saga was released isn't too proud and prissy to celebrate sci-fi style! (Does it make it sound better or worse if I say that I was dressed like that anyway and just decided not to change?)

Here's how we get all nerdy and awkward for MAY the FOURTH at the d'Evegnee Death Star!

This started out as Lind Lasagna and then morphed into Mock Lasagna and then became Pasta the Hut, which like its namesake, is founded on principles of gluttony and laziness. I put this little baby together when I don't feel like cooking, and it can be frozen (in carbonite to be saved by a domestic princess in disguise at a later date) beautifully.

Here's all it takes:
1 box of pasta, cooked (we like whole wheat pasta because it makes us feel special)
1 can pasta sauce (we like the canned kind that doesn't have sugar in it; see above)
8 ounces cheese of your choice (you know I like the part-skim mozarella)
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2-1 cup of low fat sour cream (depending on how much creaminess you like)
1 pound cooked ground turkey or lean beef

Dump it all in a pan, cover it with a little extra cheese and Zee-OOM! You're on your way to the dinner table faster than the millenium falcon with x-wing fighters on its tail! Just cook at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Volume VI, issue iv, April 2010

We grabbed this photo op when the sun was out one day this month. This picture was the best of the bunch, which tells you what kind of high-quality shots the other ones were! (PS Where is Holden's right shoe?)

Library of Con-dress

Reigning chaos constantly swirls around our house, leaving sticky spots, trails of toys, randomly abandoned single socks, and bellowing children in its wake, which makes it difficult to find any peace, let alone thoughts to call one's own. (It sounds like the lead-in to an advertisement for a swanky, tropical time-share, doesn't it?) Caleb, who turned eight on the 30th, is the least loud-mouthed of our brood, but is also our most consistently cheerful, which means he's often helping with the younger kids rather than demanding attention. (Marie calls him "Bug," which just melts away all of your internal organs.) Sometimes, though, even our easy-going Caleb has to creatively carve out some "me time"

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Caleb kept magically disappearing, Narnia-like, into our pathetically barren cedar closet for quite long chunks of time, only to emerge looking refreshed and ready to tackle another brother or sister (yes, literally). Later, when I peeked my head into the closet, I glimpsed a pair of bare, gangly legs draped from the top shelf and a gleeful smile beaming down from near the ceiling. When I asked Caleb what he was doing, he informed me that he had made the closet into his "library."

He had clearly posted the rules and regulations of his domain, such as the cost of a Library Card for only two cents. He even rigged up a bucket with a string tied to it to be filled with the desired reading material and then gracefully lowered down to any anxious patrons. He also posted the fees for fines on the door to the closet/library. (And he knows all about fines because the Madison Libary is currently building the Sarah d'Evegnee Late Fee Wing on to their new structure. Each summer I naively/stupidly convince myself that I can handle taking all six kids to the library regularly for the summer reading program, and when I bravely lead my little ducklings clutching their seventeen books a piece to the check-out desk, all of the librarians collectively brace themselves for the large wads of cash coming their way.)

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Springtime Sell Out

We can belt out "The Sunnull Come Out, Tomorrow!" as loud as we want, and it just plain isn't true around these parts. Ethan, Caleb, and Eve decided that 40 degree weather was perfect for setting up a Lemonade Stand, but they were not only short on sunshine, but business funds as well. No problem. They decided to sell our tap water for ten cents a glass (C'mon. It's packed with fluoride. And Rexburg 2010 is a very good year). Then Ethan's friend raided his Mom's cupboards for packages of crackers, granola bars, and nuts that they sold for only a dollar a package. (Oh. But it was buy one, get one free, so it wasn't as pricey as it initially sounds.) Their profit margin was pretty high, considering that they stole all of their inventory.

Being the self-selected brains of the company, Ethan sent the "talent" to the corner to hold up a sign advertising their little set-up. As I drove around the corner after class, I saw Eve standing all alone on the street corner, rosy cheeked and shivering in the wind, waving the sign and looking adorably orphaned. Eric calmly said to Ethan, "You can't make your baby sister stand alone all the way down the street!" Ethan just blinked innocently and said, "But Dad! We made five dollars!"

I have to admit that Eve's pure charisma more than compensates for Ethan's lack of moral scruples, at least as far as street vending is concerned. Eve has no problem approaching complete strangers and offering them a smile or a little observation about life, complete with dramatic hand gestures and facial expressions. After skyping with our family for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago and listening to Eve chatter away, Eric's Uncle Jack observed, "I can see you've got an actress, but do you have a point guard?"

Holden Down the Fort

Holden is our straight-arrow, and usually leads his younger siblings with dignity and just a smidge of manipulation. To prepare them to see the new Percy Jackson flick, Holden gathered the younger kids into his room and gave them free mythology lessons, which he described to me in detail. I thought it was inspiring and all, but I'm more than happy to let him cough up the money for all of the tickets if he wants to see it that badly before the DVD is released. (We still haven't seen the movie, despite Holden's preparatory and hopeful lecture series.)

We instigated a rule that the kids can only watch one hour of TV on school days. Eric and I wondered how they seemed to be maximizing their alloted brain-rotting time, until he went down to the basement and overheard Holden frantically whispering to his siblings, "It's a commercial--close your eyes and it won't count!"

The Fall of Eve

In Eve's kindergarten's recent Circus Program, she played a graceful tight-rope walker whose mother told her she wouldn't slip on the tightrope/balance beam if she took off her shoes. Oops. I was playing the piano for the program and Eric was shooting the video footage, so rather than reaching out to our fallen star, we just dumbly sat there. If you watch the video clip, you can hear the gasping parent who obviously cares for our daughter more than we do. You can also clearly see her teacher help her up because her Mom is still playing the piano and her Dad is still filming. You can even hear the awkward pause in my playing as I debate whether to keep playing or to help my struggling performer and then you can watch as I continue tinkling those ivories as my wounded daughter sits and cries on the step. I can't decide if I should just erase this clip so she doesn't see it when she's sixteen and scream at me that I never really loved her.

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