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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In a moment of weakness...

Papa won.  I lost. 
With all of our boys, Papa eventually catches me in a low moment long before I'm ready to give in, and gets me to agree to the boy's first hair cut long before I'm psychologically ready to let go of my sweet baby boy and trade him for a little boy complete with little boy hair cut. 
I held strong with Boo and his lovely long baby locks for almost 2 years.  But Jujube has only been with us a year so I wasn't mentally prepared yet to let go of his baby hair.  Neither was he... note the tears despite the oh-so-cute fire truck chair.
But Papa is strong and comes from a long line of very conservative, strong willed, persuasive, and short-haired men.  The kind of men that may judge a man if his hair touches his collar.  There is no convincing this type of man that the California beach bum look is "in."  I've tried. 
So in a moment of weakness, I gave in this weekend. 
It's too short!  I really think it makes him look too old!  I don't like it a bit!  I threw my body on the floor and pounded my fists and kicked my feet! 
But I still lost.  It's just hair anyways.
Bye bye baby. Hello big boy. Maternal sigh...

PS-Yes, that's a bruise between his eyes, remnant of the goose egg.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crazy 8 Highlights--Nutella

  • Papa says we may need to take a trip up to Provo to look for a vehicle that better accomidates the 8 of us.  That's funny stuff!  Us in Provo?
  • Ooops!  Goose egg!
  • I was shopping yesterday and discovered something truely fantastic. Life altering really! The world just got a little better! Costco now sells Nutella in a two pack! NO EXPLANATION NEEDED!
  • Tess has long known how to push the button to stop the clothes dryer. When ever she passes the laundry room and hears it running, she runs in to turn it off. It's like a mission. She's "anti dryer" obviously. But now she's been closely eyeing me do laundry and figured out how to open the dryer door and unload the laundry, wet laundry that is, onto the floor. So now when ever she hears the dryer running, she runs in, pushes the stop button, opens the door, and unloads the wet laundry onto the floor. Yesterday I reloaded the same clothes and restarted it 4 times. We're all gonna be ok with dog hair on our clothes for a while.
  • This is the son of my neighbor. He's good friends (read-co-conspirator) with Boo, and they get in LOTS of trouble together. Like selling rocks door to door or going trick-o-treating in May. Yes, this is my life. It's a hoot! Today he showed up at my door looking like this! He called it his "gangsta look." Isn't he just adorable? Boo wasn't home, but we had a lengthy discussion about gangstas and if they can be cute and cool at the same time. Eventually we determined, yes, they can be.

  • I've continued to work on my jam making skills. After my first successful attempt of strawberry jalapenio jam, I made a huge batch of peach jam, that was a very yummy but a little runny. Then last weekend there was a great sale on raspberries so currently I have 11 pints of raspberries sitting in my kitchen waiting for their ultimate fate, a thorough bashing and a "violet boil."  My thinks this helps me get out my repressed aggression!  But still I'm reminded of my grandmothers each time I make jam and saddened by all the stories and recipes that they could have passed on to me that I missed. But I do know that they would be proud of my efforts.
  • Sunny went to a party this weekend, and I was adjusting the camera to take her picture after she was all primped and pretty. Look at the picture closely, and you'll see it. Stereotypical Sunny who adores the limelight. And stereotypical Patch who completely fulfills the role of annoying little brother.

  • Sharon-I really have NO idea where the VooDoo tangerine came from or what it means. I briefly considered conducting a thorough interrogation of all house members, but I've been been in the trenches of parenting teenage daughters these days, and it has been quite draining. I'm carefully picking my battles and just gonna consider the VooDoo tangerine a divinely placed comic distraction.

  • Pamela-(You know you're still 10 years old when I see you in my head, right? Cute as a button, but still 10!) Yes, it's Fiestaware. I grew up with the cobalt Fiesta on our dinner table every night. My papa grew up with the pastel lines on his dinner table. So I guess I just kept the tradition going. I never could decide on a color, so I just have them all. Makes for great mixes of colors and the kiddos have fun picking out the combinations when they set the table. They're pretty durable, and when the kiddos do break a piece, I know I can easily replace it. Once a year we take inventory and replace the missing pieces. Their pasta dishes are to die for!
  • Sherri-Funny you should mention that sweet gorgeous new baby!  I'm SO excited that I'm taking more pics of him today!  He's all of 11 days old now.  I'll let you know if it produces anything worth while!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

If Martha were Vietnmese- Shaken Beef or Bò Lúc Lắc

This was SO good the very first time I made it... 'cause it has fillet in it!  There wasn't even a tiny piece left and the family licked their plates clean.  I asked my family what I could do better/different next time, and the only thing the could come up with was, "make more."  Speaking of which, I also doubled the recipe.  Speaking of which, the following is also adapted from a couple different recipes then I changed a couple other things too. 

The ingredients are easy to find at the Asian grocery, and it's pretty easy and fast to make too.  It's hard to go wrong with fillet, which can be substituted with porterhouse, sirloin... and is cooked (tossed or quickly stirred-thus "shaken" beef) quickly in a very hot wok or skillet till it is seared on the outside and still a little pink on the inside.  Then the beef rests on a bed a watercress.  I'd never really cooked or even eaten watercress for that matter.  It has a tiny little bite like a radish and goes SO well with the sweet tangy marinades.  We served it with white rice.  Even my kiddos loved it.  I'm SO wishing there were leftovers. 

This will be a family staple in our home for sure!

So let's get started-
First a warning from the surgeon general-

This recipe is not intended to be used for a fist date or any form of romantic evening!  Did you see the garlic?  That's 5 cloves!  Did you note the onion?  I will considered you fairly warned!

First I prepare the marinade for the beef. 
Yep, that's where most of that garlic went, and I'm still tasting it the next morning.

and speaking of the assorted sauces used to make the recipe...
...they're cool looking!  From left to right, soy, oyster, and fish sauce.  Maybe I'm easily impressed.

Now I'm gonna mix up the marinade with the beef cubes and let it marinade for about 30 min.

Meanwhile slice the red onion paper-thin and mix it with its marinade. 

Let onion marinade for approx 10 min then pour over watercress and toss.

Wait!  I'm getting out the watercress and notice something unusual... What's this in my fridge? 
It's a VooDoo tangerine of course!  It has nothing to do with shaken beef.  Why would it be in my fridge?  Why would someone stick pins in it?  Who resembles a tangerine that we don't like?  Could we be against ALL citrus fruit in general? 
All unanswered question from crazy land!

Mound watercress onion mixture on the plate.
Looks pretty already!

The beef has been marinading for 30 min now, so I heat up my wok really hot and add the last clove of chopped up garlic.  (You can use a hot skillet too if you're wok-less.)  You want to cook it pretty quickly, "shaking" it (mixing) as you go.  It should be seared but leave it still a little pink inside.

     That's not done yet, but when it is, pour cooked beef over top of watercress with all its lovely juices and mmmmmmmm!


Vietnamese Shaken Beef or Bò Lúc Lắc (serves approx 6)

Ingredients -
  • 1-2 lbs beef steak (fillet, sirloin, porterhouse...) cut into 1" cubes
  • 4+1 cloves garlic-chopped
  • 3 t oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 1+1 t fish sauce
  • 1+1 t sugar
  • 1 t oyster sauce
  • dash black pepper
  • 1 red onion-sliced paper thin
  • 1 T vinegar (red wine or cider)
  • dash salt
  • 3 cups watercress-thick stems removed
          1--Make marinade for beef by combining 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 3 t oil, 1 t fish sauce, 1 t soy sauce, 1 t oyster sauce, 1 t sugar, and a dash of pepper. Mix well to dissolve sugar. Add meat, stir to coat, and set aside to marinade for 30 minutes.
          2--Make marinade for onions by combining vinegar, 1 t fish sauce, and 1 t sugar. Mix well to dissolve sugar. Add paper thin onion slices, stir to coat, and set aside to marinade for 10 minutes.
          3--After onions have marinade add a dash of salt. Mix to coat. Combine watercress with onion mixture. Mound on serving platter. (for individual plating, mound 1/6th of salad on individual plates.)
          4--Heat approx 1 t oil in wok or skillet and heat till very hot. Add last clove of chopped garlic and stir. Add beef cubes and fry quickly till seared on the outside, but still a little pink on the inside. Pour over watercress.
PS- As I sit and type J&T are eating lunch in high chairs. I just looked up to see Jujube splattering milk all over his chair, himself, Tess, her chair, the floor, and the surrounding cabinetry. Bad mama for not supervising more carefully! No time for spell check. Gotta get out the mop.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

PT Graduation

After almost a year, and one session a week for both babies, Tess and Jujube have graduated from physical therapy!  (Still working with speech and occupational therapy. ) 

This is Miss Diane. She's actually not human. She's an angel... sent from Heaven. She is was the babes' physical therapist. She was the first therapist of many that came through our door. She's seen T&J progress the most, seen what they were like in the beginning, and I think that's why it's so hard for me to imagine her not coming around anymore.

When Miss Diane first came to help us, Jujube had had his second surgery, had completed his castings, and was wearing his braces 23 1/2 hours a day and crawled all over.

And when Diane first started, Tess was such a different child. Miss Diane's therapy taught Tess to walk and run, but more importantly gave Tess special time to play with us, and be with us, and receive attention, and mostly learn to be a loved child in our world.

T&J love Miss Diane! Me too! When the door bell rings in our home, they both rush the front door looking for their "friend" with all her toys and time just for them to play and play and play. With Miss Diane's help, T&J are now running all over and jumping and climbing up and down steps with ease. They climb up all sorts of things, including things they shouldn't when I'm not looking. Jujube has a big fat goose egg in the center of his forehead to prove it.

Thank you so much Miss Diane! We miss your big buckets and collection of wind up creatures. We miss your duct-wrapped book stairs, knocking over the stacked up buckets, and your awesome silly faces.  Thank you so so much for getting down on the floor and making this time more about fun and play than anything else. Thank you for looking T&J dead in the eye and making them feel special like the world is at their feet and like they can do anything they want. Cause they can, you know! Thank you so very much. We'll miss you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Uncharted Territory

Now what?

Each day passes with our first born, now young woman, and we have NO clue what we're doing! Papa and I literally look at each other and make all this parenting stuff up as we go along! (Shhhh, don't tell the kiddos that.  We have to maintain hand!) 
  • Cell phones?
  • Too much time in your room?
  • Texting?
  • Shaving?
  • Waxing?
  • Part time job?
  • Dating?
  • How 'bout driving 5mph over the speed limit? 
  • Kissing?
  • Facebook?
  • Late night phone calls?
  • Dinner at Mr. D's house?
  • Friends?
  • Budgeting?
  • Rated R movies?
  • Charity?
  • Family time?
  • Homework?
  • How many honor's classes is too many or too few?
  • What's reasonable to spend on a hair cut?
  • How 'bout pedicures?
  • Chores?
We're wingin' it ALL! Kinda like that statistics class I took my sophmore year in college.  That can't be normal. It can't be healthy! Where's my instruction manual?!

I'm not a girly girl so I specifically requested a no-nonsense low-level stress child that liked to sit at home with me on Friday nights and watch 1950s Dorris Day movies! A daughter that liked to be pretty, but more so liked to be comfortable and wear sensible shoes!

This can't be good.  I'm afraid.  Very afraid!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Miracle Baby

Our loving Lord is good.

Introducing a new wonderful life in our world! My new nephew, smooshable, squeezable, and ever so kissable, PC. 8lb 15 oz. Sunny side up.  Born 2 minutes after midnight on September 18. Now perfectly safe in his mama's arms.  I'll let new mama again, Sherri, share the details of his birth, and how he needed those extra prayers and a little help from the Lord.  Let's just say, that everyday I want to be reminded that this world is bigger than just me, and PC's entrance into the world did that.  If you're family, there is a link to her blog is on the right.  Send the family our way to see how gorgeous he is! 

Here he is on his birthday, 11 hours old.
Even baby ears are adorable...
...and irresistable baby feet too!  Don't you just want to nibble on them piggies!
Just to prove how new he is, look at all those wrinkles from being so recently in his mama's womb.  Not to mention the hospital jewlery. 
The fingers with those little nails!  That tiny button of a nose peaking through!  So perfect!  It's almost more than I can bare!

There was a lot of praying going on. Some of it in silence. Some of it aloud. Some from far away and some right there in the LDR. Our collective prayers were heard and answered loud and clear.  That doesn't alwasy happen 'cause sometimes He speaks in a whisper.  Another ordinary miracle happened when this baby was born.

Welcome little one and happy birthday! This world can be pretty daunting. This world can be pretty amazing. The Lord will give you more than you dared to dream and ask you to hang on tight and trust Him. Trust Him. It's worth the ride.
And plump full cheeks that are just in dire need of kissing over and over and over...

...speaking of which... 
...she's leaning in...
Nope!  Can't resist!  Gotta kiss 'em!
That's mama bliss you're looking at.  If they could ever harness its power, they would find the cure for cancer... and PMS... and that hair growing above my upper lip.
Can you tell which of my daughters is the naturally maternal one, and which already proclaims that she might want to have just one child only if it's convenient and can co-exist in her ultra modern high-rise city apartment, with her bull dog named Jack. 
And can I pu-lease have myself some of those eyelashes?  Youth flaunts its self in front of the wise but old!

If I wasn't such a sane and rational person, this would make me want another smooshable wonderful baby.
That is if I was sane and rational!
When I was oh so young, say in my 30's, I always wanted to be the auntie that always had gum. You know, the cool auntie. Then I had kiddos of my own and discovered that gum isn't really that cool. In fact it's the mommy-antithesis of cool. It gets in your hair when you forget your chewing it and fall asleep. And smooshed into your carpet by 6 year olds who don't want it anymore despite the fact that you've told them to give it to you no less than 837 times when their done with it. 
PS-That is NOT me with the double chin and unkempt hair!  I can tell because I have a flawless complexion, no gray hair, and certainly no lip hair!

Friday, September 18, 2009


...and after!
My telepathic skills have drastically declined with increased exposure to progesterone. I was WAY off! It WASN'T even close to a unicorn!

More details to come.

If Martha were Vietnamese-- Chả Giò

Chả Giò or Fried Pork Spring Rolls is a family favorite 'round here. And I think half the fun is that the whole family likes to participate in making and rolling them. To be honest, when we do make them, I really don't "cook" at all. I just clean around them, wiping counters, washing dishes, and putting ingredients away. I enjoy the fruits of everyone's labor. On the easy scale, this one is easy. And something everyone will like.

Your local Asian grocery sells the shredded jicama and carrots in the produce section so that's too easy. And the ground pork is easy to find at the same butcher.
BTW-I'm the kind of gal who doesn't mind the smell the meat section of the grocery a couple isles away. Does that make me weird? Maybe it's in my upbringing with my own papa taking me to all those Mexican grocery stores. I really was taught to smell meats to see if they were good. I guess this is just another thing that has passed us by for a more advanced civilization. Kinda like my Nana and jam conversation. Now all the meat is wrapped in plastic on red or blue styrofoam, and we assume it's all good. Not sure if I really like that much. Anywho, you can smell the butcher coming in the Asian grocery store. Fish, live and dead, and lots of "parts" we Americans don't and/or won't cook with. Maybe that's too much for some of you. You all can just order egg rolls from your favorite take-out joint.

Caucasian disclaimer-- I'm far from an authority on Vietnamese cuisine, cooking, grocery stores, Martha Stewart, dead fish parts, or even syrofoam. I'm barely approaching the novice stage. What I know about Vietnamese cooking will only embarrass myself. But I'm certainly gonna keep trying. I just don't want to die thinking, I wish I would have tried that. And maybe if I pass on what very little I know, someone else will try their hand at it too.

Start by mixing the filling ingredients together.

Get the wrappers out and ready. I know this sounds silly, but we made the mistake of getting the wrong wrappers the first time. There are so many brands to choose from, so on our 2nd attempt, we actually looked for a package with a picture that looked like what we were trying to make. So novice, but it worked!
Now the fun part! Start heating the oil up now. It'll probably be up to temperature by the time all the rolls are wrapped up.

First put a mound of the filling on the wrapper, not quite in the middle but back toward one of the corners.

Shape the filling into a pump little oblong football shape.

Fold the corners over...

...and then the top...

...and keep rolling it up.

Add your roll to the stack and make another till the filling is gone.
See that wasn't hard at all!

Now fry. I make sure that the oil is at the right temperature before I add the roll. I use a thermometer cause I'm too linear and obsessive to trust myself. But that's a whole 'nother blog post. The rolls should bubble and fry as soon as they touch the oil.

I don't cook too many at once so they won't stick together and so the temperature of the oil doesn't dip too low.

Flip the rolls over when they are golden brown on one side. Wait till their golden brown all over then take them out to drain.

While the family is making the rolls, or before hand, I make the dipping sauce. It is the stereotypical sweet and sour sauce that is served with SO many Vietnamese dishes. You know, the one with the carrot sheds floating in it! It is VERY easy to throw together, and once prepared, will save in the fridge a few weeks.

I get the family to roll up all the rolls. They seem to have fun doing it, competing a little to see who makes the best one.

Here's Boo watching Livy.

Hey sissy, that looks neat. Will you show me how?

Am I doing it right, Livy?

I think I'm getting the hang of it!

THIS is why I always wanted a house full of kids! Really, can there be a better vision to a mama then her children helping one another, learning and teaching and enjoying each other. This is the BEST! Never-you-mind that just that morning they were at each other over a hair brush and things were thrown down the hall way in vicious anger! I'm gonna revel in the image of Livy's arm around Boo and him beaming a smile. My bubble o' denial helps my blood pressure.

Look what I made Mama!

The tongue is to die for!

I better watch Papa carefully and make sure he cooks it till it's just perfect!

At the table, you can wrap the roll in a lettus leaf, dip in the Nuc Cham and enjoy!


Golden Pork Spring Rolls or Chả Giò (this is from a couple different recipes combined with lots of changes) Makes 8 (Ya right! We at least double the recipe.)

8 oz ground pork
1 c each of shredded jicama and shredded carrots
1/4 c diced onions
1/4 c softened saifun noodles
1/4 c softened ear wood ear mushrooms shreds (don't let this one scare you! It's easy!)
1/2 t each of sugar, salt, & pepper
egg roll wrappers - softened
Oil for deep frying

Nuoc Cham/Dipping sauce:
1 c very hot or boiling water
1/3 c fish sauce
1/3 c sugar
2 T lime juice
1 t chili paste
carrot, shredded (or just some of the already shredded carrots from the filling above
  • Soak wood ear mushroom shreds and and saifun noodles in water till soft-at least 1 min.
  • Dice onions
  • If jicama or carrots have moisture, squeeze to dry
  • In a bowl, combine ingredients for filling
  • Wrap and roll firmly in rice paper
  • Deep fry at 350 degrees till golden and crispy.
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