Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Cooking?

I have always loved to cook. Cooking was a family tradition when I was growing up. We had a special love of cookie dough (as you can see).
Sunday cookie-making at its finest.
But experimenting out of the box was acceptable too. (I think these were Egg and Cheese Omelet Cups.)

So I guess rocking it in the kitchen has been a longstanding hobby/tradition for me. :) (Or at least rocking wild aprons....)

I don't remember if this awesome hat/apron combination was sewn by myself or one of my sisters....

I will try to ignore the fact that I just put plastic wrap on top of a pie and all of that delicious crispy homemade crust is steaming to a slow death.... I was only 11.
Recently Dave and I have taken up cooking together occasionally as a weekend hobby. Green Curry, Red Curry, Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup and Sizzled Citrus Shrimp have been on our recent menus.
Sizzled Lemon-Lime Shrimp with Cilantro
I don't make cookies nearly as often as we did growing up (in a marginally successful attempt to control my waistline), but I still love to cook and try new recipes and often make attempts to pass this love of good food and cooking on to my kids.

On Saturday a couple of weeks ago, Jared woke me up and asked me to come down for breakfast. He had made pancakes. He got out the griddle, opened the cookbook and made them completely himself with no adult supervision. Since then, he has repeated this feat twice (once on a school day!). 

He informed me (on the school day that he made pancakes) that there wasn't any syrup so they just had them with cinnamon sugar or whipped cream like crepes.
Now if only I can inspire my 9-year-old to start cooking dinner for me too....

Chock Chips!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Productivity (Addy and Jackson Style)

One of the toughest things for me as a mom is to let go of "getting things done" and my obsession with productivity and just play with the kids or watch them play. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to "get something done" and Jackson kept bugging me to go outside. As much as I wanted to finish, it was a beautiful, sunny day in Portland (in March) so I gave in and took him and Addy outside. It was such a great afternoon. There is nothing like the happiness a three-year-old can find in his scooter or the accomplishment an 18-month-old feels by putting along with her feet Fred-Flinstone style on her trike.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just Wanted to Share

It's always handy when someone writes your blog post for you and saves you the effort. I really resonated with this post, having had my share of crying in the closet/car/bathroom and wishing for a nanny godmother. "Life [and motherhood] is awesome and crappy at the same time." And I think it's okay to acknowledge that being a mom is awesome-- and really stinks.

My Birthday Wish: To Be an Innocent Bystander for a Day

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fun With Dental Floss

Jackson found a package of dental floss today and went to work. Who knew that dental floss could be so fun, even if you aren't an obsessive fan of oral hygiene?

How can this much string fit in such a tiny package?

"Wait a minute, I'm stuck!"

"It's minty!!"
All of this fun for only a couple dollars worth of floss....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Conference Weekend

Last weekend was General Conference. While it is always nice to have a break from teaching Sunbeams, getting the kids ready for church, getting Jackson and Addy to stay quiet during Sacrament Meeting and just generally being gone for 3 hours at church on Sunday, the weekend was a mix for us. I used to look forward to Conference weekend. What's not to like? Watch church in your PJ's on the couch while eating treats. When we lived in Utah sometimes we got to attend in person-- which was awesome. And then we had kids. I guess kids actually weren't responsible for the demise of my enjoyment of conference. I think it actually happened somewhere when I thought my kids were starting to get older and I started having expectations that they would act differently than wild goats.
Wouldn't this be enough to bribe you to be quiet?
 We started out well-- complete with real homemade Cinnamon Rolls during the Saturday Morning. My slacker conference tradition is to make Cinnamon Sugar Bread with canned biscuits so this was a big step up for me-- thanks to my attempt at no-knead refrigerator Challah dough (which was super-easy by the way... next Brioche!). But despite my sugaring up of the kids and printing out cute Conference Packets for them, it took us almost four hours to watch that first two-hour session of conference. Even though we started watching it live, between pushing pause to break up wrestling matches, rewinding to hear what that word was that was drowned out by screaming and pausing to roll out the rolls and put them in the oven, it turned into quite a marathon.

Wild goats in action.

We took a short break to eat lunch and then began the second session. Addy was down for her nap and Jackson was happily playing so I started to again entertain the unreasonable expectation that at least two of my children were capable of being in the same room as the broadcast without turning into raving hyenas. I made a valiant effort, but between Jared and Camryn teasing each other and wrestling, Jackson screeching at the top of his lungs and me feeling a sudden uncontrollable desire to bean someone, break something or scream, I thought it would be best for everyone if we adjourned conference and mom locked herself in her room to cry for a while. After a requisite period of solitude (I told the kids not to bug me unless there was blood or fire) I started getting notes under the door asking me when I was going to come out, so I piled the kids into the car to go to the park.
A really cute wild goat.
As soon as we got out of the car at the park it started to rain, so we piled everyone back into the car. Instead we drove to Michael's, where I stocked up on crafts for the kids to do during conference on Sunday. Who knew that $30 could buy me one session of relative peace and quiet?

Fun at Michael's
After a semi-harrowing stop at Baja Fresh for dinner to use a Groupon I had bought-- did I ever mention how much it bugs me when I spend $4 for a kids meal and a certain child (cough, cough, ahem, Jackson, cough, cough) drinks the juice and doesn't eat a single bite of anything else?-- we headed home. We survived Sunday conference quite well, completing our typical session-and-a-quarter before giving up again. We then turned to Animated Heroes from the Bible's "Joseph in Egypt" for our the religious educational value of the day and peace was restored.
Jared took this photo as a surprise for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Catch a Salamander

(Note to toot my own horn: These pictures are all from TODAY. How ambitious is THAT!)

Last Friday the kids and I had a near-perfect afternoon. We were lucky enough to enjoy a couple-hour spurt of nice weather. In Oregon, when the sun comes out-- even for just a few hours-- everyone else comes out with it. People walk their dogs, kids go out and play, neighbors go for a jog. Jared and Camryn rode bikes while Jackson putted around on his scooter. When Addy woke up, I loaded her and Jackson into the double stroller and went for a walk around our neighborhood. We ran into a neighbor who was out planting flowers and got into a conversation. Eventually Jackson got tired of sitting in the stroller so got out and played with her kids. Pretty soon Addy followed suit. Before too long, Jared and Camryn came riding by on their bikes asking what was taking me so long. All of the kids ended up roaming the neighborhood, catching salamanders and playing in an open field, having the time of their lives while I had a relaxed afternoon chatting.

Ever since that afternoon when our neighbor Noah taught Jared and Camryn how to catch a salamander (You open up a control valve box in the grass and stick your fingers down by the control valve-- sounds great, huh?), these crawly amphibians have been the new stars of our household. We have a small box on our back deck to keep the catch of the day (until it escapes). Everyone loves "sah-manders" (as Jackson calls them) and every single day after school the kids hunt for them, go digging for worms to feed them, invite the neighbors over to see them and catch some of their own, etc., etc.
Meet "Sally"

The kids' outdoor play was interrupted by a hail storm, but this is Oregon. If you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.
Camryn having fun in the hail storm.
"This is awesome!"

Jared explaining some important fact about hail.
"Dat's not rain! It's snowing!"
Eventually the hail storm passed and the sun came out again. Regardless or either, the kids are just having a great time hunting worms and salamanders. I think salamanders are my new best friends. They may even oust Curious George.
 "A salamander is just like a hamster, only more wet." -Jared