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Today I decided I need to start writing on my blog again. I just couldn’t decide what to write.  So I’ll do some eeny-meeny-miney-moe and get back at ya.


Pastel de Tres Leches.

This cake is not good for you, but, in the words of Ferris Bueller, or my brother, or both: “It is so choice.”

So here we go, as promised:

Pastel de Tres Leches/Three Milk Cake


Recipe by Kris Rudolph
Yield 1 cake – 12-15 slices


Ingredients:
2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
7 eggs
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cups milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla
13 ounces sweetened condensed milk
14 ounces evaporated milk
1 Cup cream
2 Cups whipped cream
Procedure:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease two 9-inch cake pans.
3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and blend.
4. Separate the 7 eggs. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly adding in the flour mixture.
5. Add the sugar, milk, vanilla and egg yolks to the egg whites. Beat one minute.
6. Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.
7. While the cake is in the oven, whip the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk & cream in a blender,
8. Once you remove the cake from the oven, place the two layers onto separate large trays with a rim. Start pouring the three milks onto the hot cake, using a toothpick to prick the cake and help the milk soak in. (This step must be done while the cake is hot.) All the milk should be absorbed. Don’t stop until it is.
9. Spread fresh whipped cream on one layer. Carefully stack the second layer on top, then decorate the cake with more fresh whipped cream. (You can omit or reduce the sugar from the whipped cream because the cake is so sweet.)
Variation: Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
Add 1/4 Cup milk and 1/4 Cup cocoa to the batter. Also add 1/4 cup cocoa to your whipped cream.

I don’t know who “Kris” is, but he/she deserves a delicious medal of honor for posting it in some random corner of the world wide web so that I could find it.

I think it’s time to try the chocolate version.

One last pic:


Cake.

If there is one thing I learned from the movie Labyrinth, it is you never, ever say “It’s a piece a cake!”

Words of wisdom, my friends. Words of wisdom.  What do David Bowie movies have to do with this post?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

All right, that being said, it’s time to catch up on some family events that should have been posted when they happened last year. The theme here: Cake. Birthday, to be exact.

Chunk #1 asked for a Lego Cake. That blue one is a single stud Lego. His idea and I loved it.  (No, I don’t do fondant) (Yes, I probably should in order to make the cake look better) (No, it probably won’t ever happen because nothing beats homemade frosting.)  (Yes, that’s what I said, Nothing).

Chunk #2 asked for a penguin cake. I’d like to point out the nest of chocolate rocks in preparation for this penguin’s babies. The Chunks’ idea. So funny.

El Jefe was down with me making him a Tres Leches cake. It was an experiment and it was bombdiggity. I should share the recipe. It’s here somewhere……..

While I look for it, here’s a better view:

This was probably the best cake I’ve ever made in my life. In my life.  In. My. Life.

And let’s not forget the birthday boys and girl posing with the birthday cakes:

Chunk #1 trying to control his enthusiasm.

Chunk #2 loves her little friend (please note the added marshmallow/”egg”).


And “Sloth love [this] Chunk” 🙂

Good times…Here’s to a new year of actually posting these things when they happen….. XOXO …..


Animal

So, I haven’t given any indication on the blog about the latest schooling decisions, but we had some major changes. In August of last year I decided to homeschool the Chunks. Reasons: a) I’ve always wanted to and b) I felt good about the timing. Really. The timing felt good. This detail is very important in the history of my little family because well, so many things happened after that.

More on that later. I just want to focus on this girl:


So, we homeschooled from August to December. After Christmas, I decided it would be good for us if the kids went back to public school, at least for the rest of this year.  The morning of the first day, this girl was up and at ’em, a clear indication that she was excited.  I was glad because I mostly worried about the transition for her more than Chunk #1.  She had only attended public school for kindergarten and never had a six-hour day.  But her enthusiasm made me think she would be ok.

She was ok.  Except for one little detail.  You see, about a year ago Chunk #2 had a habit of sucking her lips so hard that the skin around them would turn red.  She looked like she had lipstick on or a really strange rash.  The habit stopped and I hadn’t thought about it again…..until she got home from school on January 3rd.  It was back,  along with a very clear light bulb.  Ah, it’s a nervous habit!  No doy!

So we talked.  We talked about feeling safe, about being loved by mommy, about having her friends back (she was soooooo glad to see her old friend, let’s call her Guadalupe).  I also made a joke – I said: “When you get nervous and start sucking your lip, think of Animal in the Muppet Movie.  Just say ‘under control’ just like Animal.”  This made her laugh (just go see the Muppet Movie for your reference).

The next day I picked her up and she updated me on her lip-sucking progress.  “Mom, when I went to suck my lips I did what you said.  I said ‘under control’ and I didn’t suck my lips.”

“Did you actually say ‘under control’ or think it?”

“I whispered it to myself” (lots of giggling).

“Did anybody hear you?” This was a casual question, really.

“No, I don’t think so,” still giggling.

This made me laugh.  In my exaggerated motherly concern I imagined “the new homeschooled girl” off in a corner of the classroom whispering to herself “under control” in the voice of the most incomprehensible muppet.  It was a great image. All she needed was a mouthful of paste.  Aaaah the things I think about when it comes to my kids.

Oh well, she is like a Muppet.  In any case, she seems to be transitioning well.   She is still a little shy but has made more friends and enjoys all the perks of being a first grader (you know, P.E, Art, etc…..). 

FYI, if you were wondering when the early morning enthusiasm would end, it only took about a week.



Sun-chip

A real one.


The new blog

Photo by La

I’ve brought to fruition a tiny seed that was planted in my brain approximately one year ago. How’s that for procrastination? “Well, what is it?” You may ask. 

I have a new blog.

“But, La, your blog is so, so, Rad!” you may say. “Don’t leave Rad!” No, no. That won’t happen. All four of you just settle down now.

I’ve started my writing blog.   For a long time I’ve felt like I’ve been straddling two pathways in my, er,  blogging journey.  On the one hand, I love writing about my kids and their experiences and my experience as a mother.  On the other hand I just want to delve into more writing and discipline myself.  The problem was the possible exploitation of my home life and making my family vulnerable to strangers. This blog is for family and friends.  Anytime I joined writing prompts and essentially invited strangers to my world, I felt the shadow of a cringe in the back of my head. I need to leave my children, and their pictures, out of it.  Solution?  Two blogs.

   So, the blog, here, is “Us” represented by me.  The other blog, over there, is “Me” represented by me, and an opportunity to step into a new writing community. 

(How reliable the narration is on either blog is yet to be seen). 

For more Chunk shinanigans and Mamacheetah musings, stay tuned.  For a glimpse at some other writing, please go check out the new place:  “My Blue Bungalow”

And if neither interests you, well, then what are you doing here in the first place?


I haven’t gone running for about a year…

…but this poster makes me want to run again —  so I can think about it  —  and crack up as I go…

Source: Uploaded by user via Jenn on Pinterest

(Good ol’ pinterest…)


Looking back #3

Last May we went to check out some birds at the Springs Preserve. As you can see, it was a thrilling event.

I liked it because I finally got to see what a falconer does. We also saw some ginormous owls. I can’t remember everything about the bird show but I’m bringing up this memory because of these little baby Bald Eagles.

Not only did we get a close-up view, but we had a chance to pet these little guys. Cute aren’t they?  Sweet.  Adorable.  Innocent.  One might even forget that they grow up to be keen-eyed, noble, predators. 

Maybe it’s that her fingers are about the size of a juicy worm (although, I’m aware that’s not what Bald Eagles feed their babies), maybe it’s that the baby Bald Eagle was protecting his sibling, but poor Chunk #1 got a nipped by the middle guy  while petting the green-headed one.  Suddenly these little featherless balls weren’t so cute anymore.

She was brave, she held in those tears until we walked away from the crowd.  But when the time was right . . . well . . . you know.

****Post Edit: Ok, so  I was curious what baby bald eagles eat.  I googled it and discovered that sometimes, in a nest, the older eaglet (especially if she is female) will kill the younger eaglet. The parents just look on and don’t stop it.  I would say Chunk #2 was lucky wouldn’t you?


Looking back #2

On March of this year we went to San Diego (yes, I am playing serious catch-up on this Rad blog). We went with a home school group to Sea World, and no, we weren’t home schooling back then but I believe in not letting school get in the way of my children’s education (thanks Mark Twain). My incredible niece, let’s call her “Chuck”, allowed us to stay with her and her hubby and then she accompanied us to Sea World.

Touching this starfish was a big accomplishment (Chunk #1 would have nothing to do with it)


Chunk #2 gave this Dolphin the endearing name of  “Dolphy”.  Later, after she was splashed, she felt differently.


At the temple

Ain’t she great?


The next day we did our usual trip to the Mormon Battalion




After this I went looking for the IKEA.  I thought for sure I could remember where it was.  I couldn’t.  After passing the zoo twice, the historic district and a certain mall five times, I gave up.  The Chunks were patient but very tired so I headed for La Jolla and we found-

The. Best. Tide-pool. Beach. Ever.

It was a Thursday afternoon.  No one was around.  This was OUR beach (for about an hour anyway). It was one of those perfect moments in my life.

Chunk #1, you told me that your favorite part of this beach was seeing the little crabs and seashells and sea anemones.
Chunk #2, your favorite memory of this beach was touching the sea anemones that were covered in sea shells.


11/11/11 at 11:11 am

Dear Chunks,

         One day when you look back on your life, I want you to know that on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of this century, you were at a Veteran’s Day Parade. We went and got doughnuts at the shop down the street called Real Doughnuts. You two brought your scooters. We parked at LVA, walked/scooted up 6th street so I could say my usual “See that parking lot right there, the one with the half naked statue of ‘Justice’? That’s where your grandpa used to live.” Then we headed to the 5th street school and I said my usual, “This is where your grandpa went to school” ( One day you’ll start saying “We know, Mom!” Until then, I will just keep saying it). We watched the parade and I got weepy at the Pearl Harbor survivors. I also got teary-eyed when the bag-pipes played and when the mothers of fallen vets marched or rode by with life size pictures of their sons and daughters. At 11:11 am, Veterans were handing you your own American Flags to wave during the parade. I also want you to know that it was the last time we would see Pearl Harbor survivors in this parade since there are only a handful left in our town and the youngest is 89 years old. You were there. That may be your only connection to that time. When we got home, you pulled out your Pearl Harbor story we got at the library and read it. It was a good, simple day. Life is full of these, I hope you remember it.
Love you,
Mom

Photos from last year’s parade because Dad brought his film camera to this year’s parade (Who DOES that right?  Your Dad.)

photo by El Jefe with his medium format film camera

 

photo by El Jefe with I don't know which of his many cameras

 

photo by El Jefe

 

This is from last year but we saw the same guy in the car this year as well

 

I think this man was in the parade this year as well. Glad to see he's still truckin' along

 

Every parade should have a band of Bagpipes. That, and Shriner's Cars, which, regretfully, were not in this parade.


Looking back

It’s getting towards the end of the year and I can’t help but evaluate 2011; I have many regrets. The most offensive (as far as my purchasing choices) is probably not buying these boots. 

How could I resist these babies?

Seriously. They were straight out of 1986.  They were in excellent condition.  The were Esprit for crying out loud!  AND, they were super comfy. 

Why do I let my practical side take over?
“Oh, I live in Vegas, I’d hardly wear them”
or “Oh, they’re $15.00. That’s just a little pricey for a thrift store”
or “Be frugal, be practical, blah blah blah”.  

I came across this picture and thought, “I would totally be wearing those RIGHT NOW!”  What was I thinking?  Whoever owns these now, better appreciate.


Quote

“Mommy, whenever you yell I feel like all the flowers in the whole wide world have all died.”

~ Chunk #2, sometime in September 2011


I just got a comment from my SIL hinting that I needed to update my blog.    Thanks “Wanda,” I feel loved. 

Hopefully this quote will tide you over until I can get my act together.  Although, now that I’ve posted it, I feel a little vulnerable.  Ummmm, let me explain.   I’m not THAT much of an Old Yeller to my kids, however this particular morning I do recall the volume of my vocal chords slowly going up until, finally, the three of us sat down at the kitchen table, a little bit miserable, and had a talk.  We also decided to start the day over.  Chunk #2’s quote was the perfect segue to a lighter mood (although she was quite serious when she said it).

Sooooooooooo, anyone kill any flowers, fairies, rainbows or unicorns lately?  Or is it just this crazy mama?

****Photo credit: Robbie Becklund photography @ robbiebecklund.com



Happy Birfday

See that guy in the blue shirt standing next to me?  I love him.  It’s his birfday today.

Happy Birthday, Boy Sweetie.


Baby on my back

One of the greatest feelings in this world is holding a baby. Whether in my sling, or strapped on my back, or sitting on my hip….I loves me a baby. This is my nephew. He used to like me more than he does now. But that’s ok, people change and he’ll change back. In this picture he liked me. I had him in a backpack while my sister went down one of those big slides you see at a state fair (though we weren’t at a state fair). I like his face as he seriously wonders about his Aunt La who is telling him stories while we wait for his mama.

Photo taken by La


I’m up to my ears in megabytes! Ok, not really. I don’t know what the even would mean. Megabytes elude me.

Do you ever feel like all this “easy to reach”  “at your finger tips”  “make life easier” technology actually takes up more of your time?  Burn this.  Upload that.  Transfer.  Wait for the rainbow thingy on your computer and…….done!  So easy but so fragile and hard to keep track of.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love it, appreciate it, and don’t want to get rid of it.  Maybe it’s just that there is so much of it.  The easiness just invites more, more, MORE!  It gets all unorganized in my brain and on our hard drives.

I remember when I used to set up a picture, I would bust out my external light meter, choose my F stop, my shutter speed and then go for just a few shots before I adjusted the shutter or F stop a couple more times.  Then, when I’d work in the dark room to “fix” my photos, it was a long, tedious process, but so rewarding when you got something good out of it. Now, if the shot doesn’t work out, I know I can take another and another and, if the outcome isn’t what I want, I’ll just “fix” it on my computer.   (That’s right, I just took the “Back in my day…” route.  If you want to read that second paragraph with an old lady’s voice, you might enjoy this post more).

Tonight I finally dumped all the photos I’ve taken for the past 10 months onto our computer. I never thought I’d fill this card that my hubby got me. I thought it was ginormous (speaking megabyte-ly, not physically). It was ginormous, I think there were 1100 photos on there. Time to whittle, time to catch up (and I know what some of you are thinking – no wonder you’ve been such a lousy blogger).

This blurry shot is one of my favorites (ok, obviously the computer can’t “fix” EVERYTHING…and I’ll add that I didn’t touch up this photo at all.  The light is what it is…not usually the norm for me).

This campground on a beach near San Diego is one of my favorite places to be. This was October 2010. Don’t you want to follow Chunk #2 on your own scooter into that sunset?

Photo taken by La


Mom, let me clarify…

A couple weeks ago Chunk #1 came with me to get some fabric. I was going to make Princess Leia hair buns for a family treasure hunt (star wars themed, yeah, I know, Nerd Alert!). So we looked at the furry section and I wondered out loud if Minky fabric would work for my plan to swirl it into “hair.” Chunk #1 started to suggest other fabrics.  His concern went something like this:  “Mom, I think we should use this other one [pointing at another fabric] because I don’t want the girls to get hot.  You know, like they’ll be too warm …(pause)… not like the other hot …(pause)…  the one that Daddy says to you …(pause)…. like when he says ‘you are hot’,  not like that hot.”

Funny kid. 


I could use a hat like this.

So, I’ve learned a few things about myself in the past couple months.

1- I have great ideas. It’s true.  Put me in your think tank.  I’m brilliant.  But put me on a project, and my enthusiasm fizzles. Sooooooo, as much as I hate to say it, I am a starter, not a finisher.

2. I used to believe that my reason for #1 was that I was a “star-chaser”.  I thought I was way too interested in too many things.  But it’s not that.  Turns out, I’m a perfectionist.

3. I know right? La, a perfectionist? No. But it’s true. I want the outcome to match the idea in my head, and if it doesn’t, then I give up.

4. Now that I’m aware of this quirk, I am able to move forward.

5.  I’ve also learned that, when I want to, I can be pretty mean. And the reverse, when I try reeeeeeeeeeeally hard.

6. Even though I’ve never read the book all the way through, my “Love Language” is WORDS. That’s what I think anyway. The problem with that is I will take people at their word and believe them and end up in situations where if you looked up “Gullible” in the dictionary, you’d see my picture (and, no, that joke never gets old).

7. And one last line-up of minor things I see in myself: It also turns out that I’m a control-freak.  I had no idea.  I hate punctuation and grammar nazis even though I once taught high school English. I sometimes imagine punching people in the face more often than any mild-mannered woman should. And not only do I hate cats, but I hate “cat people” (targets of my imagined face-punching).

I’m glad I could get this off my chest. Thanks.

************** photo of Catherine Deneuve from villainouslyvintage.wordpress.com

Post edit: I’m aware that I sound pretty grumpy, please don’t take this to heart. I don’t imagine punching people all that much.


In the soundtrack of my life, this song is somewhere in my list of top ten — mmmm, maybe top five:

Tell me some of your songs…


For the love of words #8

It’s quotes like this that make me adore Mr. Ray Bradbury so much:

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ~from the introduction to Dandelion Wine.

Today I walked my kids into school and it was windy. It was the kind of wind that tries to steal homework or likes to make your own hair whip your face. It was the kind of wind that wraps itself around you and makes you wonder if it could, just this once, pick you up. When I slammed the door to my car and took a breath I could smell the wind on my skin and my hair. And then I thought of those bees.  What is in the wind? What flowers? What spices? What is it that flavors the oxygen so much? It always smells the same me. I could smell it on me in Idaho this past month. It reminded me of motorcycle rides in Utah in my college days. Today, in the middle of a bustling city, it splashed its scent on me in just a one minute walk. Anywho, I’m sure Mr. Bradbury is right, and I think the bees probably smell like Wind.

****photo found on google images.


Easter


This is one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.

*****Artwork “Come Follow Me” by James T. Harwood


Confession: I am grumpy. I have not really written on this blog for almost a whole month because of my grumps. It’s actually worse than grumps but I don’t really want to hang my dirty laundry.  I don’t feel like being a downer.  I’ll just say I have some, it stinks, and am tired of it. So I’ll make light of it here and hopefully I’ll be back to my ol’ blogging self some time soon. In the mean time, I’ll share my opinions on some non-pressing matters:

1. Gentleman Broncos is a gaggy movie.  I don’t recommend it  (way too much body fluids, not enough Jermain).

2.  I wonder about people who take professional pictures of themselves with their pet.  Please don’t misunderstand me here.  Couples and their pets – fine.  Couples with children and their pets- also fine.  Child/Children with the pet – even more fine.  But a grown up person who goes and gets a professional shot of themselves and just their pet- not fine.  Even if done with irony.  I want to cry for them and yet I also want slap them across the face.

3.  My feet have been consistently cold for the past 6 months.  It’s getting warmer and my feet are still freezing. Explain.

4.  I think too much about body language.  But not with other people, only with myself.  When I am talking to someone and notice that my arms are crossed, I remember that this sometimes sends a negative message and so I slowly try to unfold my arms and hope that the person I’m talking to doesn’t notice.  Weird, I know.

5.  I’m going to eat the frozen Snickers ice cream bar in my fridge right now with no regrets.  I’ve decided that when I do eat junky food like that and think “I’m going to regret this” then I ‘m just being stupid.  Why beat myself up when I’m going to eat it anyway?  I’ll  just run like hell tomorrow.  No regrets.

This was random and negative and totally represents how I’m feeling right now.  Goodnight.

***photo by peeklondon on flickr



This week the air breathed a trace of Spring, and there are more birds crackling outside my window, and my toes are defrosting, and I’m finally wrapping my brain around some organizing, and my son is practicing the moon walk at this very moment. I need to write these things down….so that I see them….. and stop being so crusty.


Spring is sprouting in my desert.


The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~Muhammad Ali

I just love the evolution of “Me”!


Am I full of myself today? Yes, but I’m not trying to say that I’m totally evolved, that I’ve reached my “evolutional masterpiece.” I’m just saying I love my changes and lessons and am so happy that I’m not 18 anymore (well, mentally anyway).

This weekend I saw some of my old friends from my childhood and adolescence.  What a great bunch of people.  And the beauty of it all is that though we are all planted in different locations and blooming in different ways, our roots run deep and our roots are maybe even holding  hands or give each other high-fives (assuming our roots have hands….bad analogy?  I don’t care, I like the image).  They knew the spaz I was.  But perhaps they can see the spaz I now suppress.  I’m still me but I’m a different me.  Same with them.  They are all the same but different and oh so wonderful.

Just like John Hughes teen movies educated me to do, I have looked for ways to define myself.  But this drama has carried on through my twenties and especially my thirties and it needs to stop.  The problem is, I can’t define myself.  I really can’t.  My “me” is not easily summed up in the word “Mother” or “Wife”.  And then there are other words.  I study herbs, but saying I’m an “Herbalist”, well that’s just too much.  I love writing, but dare I say I’m a “Writer”?  (Yes I dare, but it’s taking me so long). I am also a “Believer” in God, my religion, miracles – but do I always live up to it?  Oh, and I was once a “Teacher,” a word I clung to for so many years,  but it seems to be dissipating within me.  I most definitely am a “Blogger” but there are other notions that come with it that I can’t always subscribe to.

Words are so powerful.  Though they have definite meanings, the connotations change from person to person.  Maybe that’s my problem, I’m too aware of the connotations.  Instead of defining myself I need to connotate myself (whatever that means).

Anywho, this is on my mind.  That’s all.  And Free-write February is over today.  What will tomorrow bring?  I, too am wondering that.

In the mean time, along with my free-write ramblings, here is a list of places where I’ve “found myself”  or “defined myself” or “connotated myself” (yeah, I see it still doesn’t quite work):

1.  In a swimming pool on Harmon Ave and another one, many years later, at the YMCA.

2.  In the photo dark room at Chaparral High School.

3. Behind the lens of an old Nikon F model with a hand-held light meter.

4. In Argentina.  Specifically in the towns of Venado Tuerto, Cañada De Gomez, Rosario, and Victoria.

5. In the classrooms, hallways, computer labs, and the library (old and new) of BYU campus.

6.  In front of a classroom of students trying to positively influence tomorrow’s future.

7.  In a small apartment in Henderson with a brand new baby.

8.  In a little blue bungalow, downtown and continually evolving into something more and more beautiful.

This list could go on, but not today.

————————————-

Tell me, where have you found yourself?

———–

***Image credit:   I don’t know.  I came across this image a long time ago and downloaded it without the info.  I will gladly give credit when I figure out where I got it.

This is also a part of:


She’s Home

“…the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
~Walt Whitman, “O Me! O Life!”, Leaves of Grass

Click here to read about someone I know who contributed a beautiful verse to this world.  She was my neighbor, growing up, and I loved her and her whole family.  Mostly, I remember jumping on the trampoline with her and her sweet prayers in church. Her name is Cindy Abbott  (Dec 1, 1952-February 17, 2011)

**Art Credit: Alpha and Omega: On My Way Home, by Wulf Barsch (1985, oil on paper, 24″ x 50″).  This piece of work is a representation of mankind’s eternal journey homeward to God.