Monday, October 27, 2008

Soup to warm the bones and the soul

Today snow flurries dipped across the ground. Already. The flurries only appeared for a few seconds; and they were gone. The wind whipped around, the sky is dreary, and I realized how "unready" I am for winter. Tonight, I'll make a soup to warm everyone up, and fend off the kind of chill that will lead us to a cold. The addition of Buckwheat noodles adds a protein that contains 8 amino acids, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.

This soup is hearty, yet the addition of soy sauce adds just enough kick to keep this soup from being mundane and boring.
Buckwheat Noodle Vegetable Soup
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 pound beef flank steak, very thinly sliced against the grain.
  • 4 cups chopped bok choy
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 ounces wide buckwheat noodles
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat.
  2. Add beef and cook, stirring often, until just cooked, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate using tongs, leaving the juices in the pot.
  3. Add bok choy to the pot and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add broth, cover and bring to a boil.
  5. Add noodles and soy sauce; simmer until the noodles are soft, about 4 minutes.
  6. Return the beef to the pot and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with bean sprouts and parsley.

Serve hot, and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10 Reasons to Visit Minnesota

  • The Mall of America – With the indoor theme park, Lego play place and an aquarium along with all the shops there is plenty to do and see in just one destination. And—no tax on clothes.
  • Fall foliage and crisp but not cold autumn days that let you get out your comfy sweaters. (most of the time)
  • LARK toys and the hand-carved wooden carousel – it’s art you can ride! Also, it’s cheap. $1 a ride over 3 years old.
  • Quaint accents – yeah, you betcha.
  • Paul Bunyan – you can find him in Brainerd and Bemidji. You can also find his wife, Lucette, in Hackensack.
  • A higher chance you’ll find nice people who will help you even if they don’t work at the store.
  • Duluth—there are so many interesting things in Duluth to look at and visit, including (but not limited to) the shipyards, a train museum with a children’s museum in the same building, and Lake Superior.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder historical sites— admit it, you loved Little House on the Prairie too.
  • Spam Museum.
  • Me.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Last summer (the one a year ago, not the one we just had), our family visited Sleeping Bear National Park for the first time. Having previously prided myself on being somewhat of a traveler, I was stunned to realize that this beauty, this absolute gem of a place, existed right in the middle of our country and I’d never even heard of it.

As we drove and hiked and admired the natural beauty all around us, my husband declared that we ought to return in the fall, when the leaves were turning. I wholeheartedly agreed.

But you know what happened, don’t you? Soccer and football and school projects and life. We didn’t get back to Sleeping Bear that fall, or this past summer, either.

But this weekend, we watched two soccer games then headed north. We stayed a night in our cottage, watched the boys play in the yard, enjoyed the peace, ate at our favorite pub, and roasted marshmallows by the fire.

And then, we got up really early and kept on driving until we reached the national park. As expected, the leaves were breathtaking. On Friday, before we left, I despaired of all the things I wouldn’t accomplish at home: sorting through the mail that somehow continues to accumulate, even though I am constantly weeding through it; finishing the laundry that multiplies every time I turn around; printing photos that ought to have been printed months ago. And, yet… As we drove, I was thankful to have heeded to my husband’s request, to be enjoying the indescribable beauty and the time together as a family.

We had a lovely day, despite the hours of driving, and to the boys’ eternal happiness, we were able to listen to most of the Packer’s game on the radio, and to reach home just before the end, to see them beat the Colts.

As we sat together at the table and recounted all of the adventures of the day, we talked about our favorite part. Excitedly, my second son declared, “Seeing the end of the Packer’s game!”

It's all perspective, right?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I will, I will!

I really am not the type of Mom that jumps at the chance to sign up for everything at my kids school. Really, I'm not.

Yes, I like to go on field trips and bring in treats on party days. Yes, I like to be at the class parties to take pictures and help out, but I've never been the one in charge (and never really cared to be).

Until today.

My daughter's teacher was in need of help this year. She was looking for *gasp* a room Mother, and because I was one of only THREE parents (out of 20) that volunteered some sort of help, she asked me to do the job. Room Mother. That is now me, and I am now organizing the Halloween/Harvest party. But wait! There is more. I was one of TWO parents that said they would like to help with field trips, and the other one is now a working Mom, which means...yes, that is now me too :)

However, I already told her that I had scheduled to go with Zander to his preschool pumpkin patch trip tomorrow so was unable to make Ellie's trip tomorrow. Today she informed me that she has NO parents going on Ellie's field trip for tomorrow, and she will be all alone.

So, I bet you can guess who will be going on TWO field trips tomorrow? Two different pumpkin patch trips in one day, of course, in different cities. I will be leaving the house at 8:30 tomorrow morning and coming home some time around 3:30ish. Three packed sack lunches, weather checked, clothes for four laid out, sitter lined up, diaper bag packed, gas in car, maps planned out, camera packed....

Wait! Did I sign up for this? Yes, I am afraid I did :)

*my new button (hahaha) can be found here at cafepress

Monday, October 13, 2008

So, what are you going to tell the kids about Columbus?

Today is Columbus Day; and I have already mistakenly set out my trash anyway. My children were curious about Christopher Columbus, our American Hero, and wanted to learn more. Of course, finding the facts opens the door to the cruel side to our nation's history; the part that is always left out of our own biased history books, and we're left with "what to tell our children."

At first, the facts are harmless enough:

  • Columbus never set out to discover a new land. He had hoped simply to find a new naval route to India and the other nations of the East, to streamline trade for exotic spices and silks.
  • When Christopher Columbus reached land, he thought he was actually in Asia. (Remember, this was way before Map Quest.) When he died in 1506, he still had no idea he had discovered a New World.
  • Columbus never landed in the United States -- he landed on some island in the Caribbean -- the island in question is speculated. Most believe he landed in the Bahamas, probably the current San Salvador (Watlings Island).
  • Columbus knew the world was round; his mistake was underestimating the earth's size. No one had ever recorded the mass of land separating Europe from Asia, known as the Americas. (Which was why, when he hit land, he assumed he was in Asia.)
  • Four criminals were on board the Columbus Crew: one a convicted murderer (he killed a man in a quarrel); the other three were accused of freeing him from prison. The kids always find facts like this exciting.

Now, for the difficult part. I will spare you here, the gory details:

  • In many places within North America, Columbus Day is not a day to celebrate. This is based the research by American historian Howard Zinn, who reveals the cruelty Columbus inflicted upon Native Americans. Zinn claims that Columbus was a religious fanatic with an obsession of eliminating non-Christians, by means of murder, conversion, or at the very least, enslavement.
  • The Columbus Day parade in Denver has been protested by Native American groups and their supporters for nearly two decades.
  • Many Native Hawaiians decry the celebration of both Columbus and Cook, known to have committed acts of violent subjugation of native people.
  • Columbus Day is a day of protest for some advocacy groups.
  • Many of these groups have used Columbus Day to create their own alternative, Indigenous Peoples Day, with Pow-Wows and native food and celebrations.

So while our schools and government are trying to celebrate Columbus Day as a celebration of colonialism, it's always difficult for parents to keep an eye on the historical truths -- those parts of our nation's colonization that led to genocide and environmental destruction.

Something to think about while you ponder over the day. Maybe while you visit the Crafty Crow, and make these adorable totem poles with you children.

Picture, from the Crafty Crow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tea With Two

The Cough is undeniably back. After a night of zero sleep, we called the ENT's office in a panic, only to be told that the wait to be seen was three weeks. Uh, no. I am not waiting three weeks to sleep. I called in from work in the hopes of getting her in, somewhere, for the obligatory dose of meds. Luckily, we got in with the pediatrician today.

Funk and I waited at home for her 11am appointment-- there was no point in taking her to school, only to pick her up, and then drop her off again (even though I was completely coveting a nap.) So we got ready for our day, and I had my mind set on everything I could accomplish. I could do some laundry! I could run the vaccuum! We could run out to get some maternity underwear!

Since the kids and I had spent a fair amount of last night cleaning up the toys strewn all. over. my. house, I really didn't want Funk to get anything out. I relegated her to playing in her room, so that I could get things done throughout the house without dodging random princess shoes and purses.

As I busied myself loads of laundry, Funk dumped her plastic tea set all over her room. Man, I was frustrated. I thought to myself, "I just cleaned in there! I didn't even get a chance to vacuum! Agh!" I was gathering breath to say as much.

Then she looked up at me, all blue eyes and cuteness, and said, "Momma, would you cay-a for some tea?"

Of course.

Of course I would love to have tea with you, my dear. While you still want to have tea with me. While I have a rare moment alone with you, my middle, my girl. While my house sits dusty (and to be honest, a little smelly.)

Of course I will smile as you pour me a cup of imaginary hospitality. While you cut me a loaf of your famous "keenie bread." While you chastise me about picking up my saucer with my cup. While you ask me about my "phenomena day."

This day, this moment, it is "phenomena."

And as always, it passes entirely too quickly.

When we finally got to our appointment, our doctor diagnosed Funk with yet another sinus infection. Without ever looking in her nose or mouth. I finally had to ASK her to look in there, because I just didn't think it was a good idea to be handing out antibiotics based on the mother's assertions. (Yes, I told her I thought it was a sinus infection, and I was pretty sure that's what it was, but since I'm not, like, a doctor, I think it's probably a good idea for her to work for that co-pay, no?)

We shared lunch at McDonald's; a rare treat for Funk, a necessary time saver for me (I was trying to get back to work.) Halfway through the meal, she began clutching at her stomach.

"My tummy hurts, momma. I don't think I can go see my friends today. I'll go to work with you."

It was transparent, her ploy. But sadly, I do not have time for tea. I have appointments booked up to next week, and so she had to return to school.

Keep the tea hot for me, my girl. That time is coming soon.


Yes, this was posted on my blog, too. Somehow I messed up posting it here when it was supposed to be. This baby is eating my brain.