Why my family is weird: Part 3

My dad emailed me this picture this week. Not for squeamish vegetarians.

If you were wondering, this is what ten pounds of homemade pancetta looks like. And it tastes like heaven. Especially on homemade pizza with lots of veggies and pesto and cottage cheese. My mom has already demanded they eat two of these chunks. I’m hoping at least two will find their way up to Minneapolis… But I think that not many people make their own pancetta and fewer still make 10 pounds at a time for home consumption (and have eaten 1.5 pounds of that within two weeks.)
I love my weird family!

Thanksgiving People!

I’m heading to my parents for Thanksgiving next week. It’ll be my first one in Kentucky since 2004 and Ben’s coming too. My brother won’t be there, but that’s ok, since he’ll be here for Christmas and Thanksgiving’s more of a low key holiday with us anyways. I don’t think all four of us have been together for Thanksgiving since he started going to school in Canada in 2003.
Anyways, I’ve been going through pictures, since Snapfish will give you 100 free prints if you order by midnight tonight and spend $5. I’m getting psyched about the people I’ll see next week, so here they are in picture form!
Mom and Dad. Awww. Aren’t they cute? Other than the fact that dad has flowers coming out of his ears?
Liz! She sings Dixe Chicks songs into mechanical pencils in the Marseille airport. I would never do anything like that. There are definitely no pictures. She’s got an adorable little baby who I’ll get to meet next week as well.
Rachel may appear to be Italian based on her use of gesture and her general enthusiasm, but she is, in fact, not. She does speak near fluent Romanian, or did at one time. If you were wondering, Romanian is kindof like Italian, but with “shh” sounds added in. She is always reminding me that I should call her more. I should.
Hopefully I’ll get to see Mary (left) and Jessi (right). They are also goofballs, but in a good way. The five of us (Liz, Rachel, Mary, Jessi, and I) used to have annual Pearsons reunion Christmas sleepovers, but I ruined the tradition last year by my flight being cancelled. I cried. A lot 🙁 These gals would be excellent company on a desert island. I would laugh so hard I’d cry and then I’d get dehydrated. So maybe they wouldn’t be good company. I don’t know. I wouldn’t be board. That’s for sure.
The recurring theme here seems to be humor. Sarah P. is great! I don’t get to see her often, cause she’s been living all over being a fantastic theater person, but in this picture she and my mom have just saved my mom’s purse from being abandoned in a restaurant in Providence by my mom. Sarah was excited about the rescue. She was one of my first college friends and, along with Rachel helped me maintain sanity throughout my first semester of college. She’s driving through my town and so I get to see her!!! And my dad will feed her and her boyfriend, so it will be like old times.

Margaret Thatcher isn’t really that exciting, but she does live with my parents in Kentucky, contrary to the more popular belief that she lives in London, England. She likes curling up in sunny spots and on top of backpacks. She is quite cuddly, despite what the press may say.
So those are visuals of some of the people I’ll see. I’ll likely see many more than that, but I either don’t have pictures, don’t have good pictures, or don’t want to get people’s hopes up. If you’ll be around and want to see me, give me a call, email me, or leave a comment!

Why my family is weird: Part 2

I know that you’ve all been eagerly awaiting the second chapter of this feature to learn more about why my family is weird (in the most positive way possible, I keep reminding my mom…) This part will focus on food.

I got thinking about this picture last night, at a potsticker party hosted by Erin and Reid. While folding potstickers/wontons and discussing the potstickers pooping out fillings and potstickers being generally goopy, I remembered making wontons as a child. My strongest memory was making wontons on Christmas day in 1994. That year Christmas fell on a Sunday and so instead of a Christmas turkey dinner, we headed to church and came back to snacks and food we didn’t get the rest of the year. The next day we had our traditional Christmas dinner. Christmas day we got wontons, chips, onion soup dip, and other goodies that didn’t resonate as strongly. That year my cousin had been studying in China and her dad, while visiting her, had also picked up a “Mao suit” for my mom, which mom wore while frying the wontons with chopsticks.
There was a brief period of time in which I could wear the same clothes as my mom…so I dressed up in the Mao suit for Girl Scout Thinking Day. I also made a poster on China and Chinese currency and made fortune cookies from scratch, I think. This was probably early 1995.
In middle school, my “go to” after school snack in the fall was a chopped up zucchini sauteed until golden brown with italian breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. I both invented and cooked this snack. It was based on one of my favorite treats, deep fried breaded zucchini slices. Luckily my version was much faster and involved less flying oil.
In elementary school I was the envy of my classmates because I made my own classmates and picked what went in my lunchbox. (In first grade it was a fashionable Minnie Mouse lunchbox, if you were wondering…) For a while I brought cold hot dogs every day. My other gold standard was cream cheese and jam. I was really anti-PB&J. This made me a rebel in the eyes of the other kids. I’ll also note that this did not last long…
My parents tried to raise us to be aware of other people outside our social setting and this involved a number of things. As Alaskans, we got a check from the government (Permanent Fund Dividend) for $800-$1800 a year. Most of the check went to fund visits to our relatives and deposits to our college funds. But first we got to pick where 10% (our tithe) would go. Anthony and I almost always donated our money to Heifer Project International, an organization that aims to end poverty and hunger by distributing animals around the world and having the recipient families distribute the next generation of chickens or cows to other families in the community. So, based on this, it wasn’t surprising that my parents were frustrated by the food consumption and waste in our house. So every once in a while they’d institute a “rice week.” This was a week where we’d have rice 3 meals a day, for seven days. The rules were fairly simple. For breakfast and lunch you could add butter or milk and sugar. For dinner there’d be a simple vegetable stirfry, sometimes with a small amount of meat. The idea was to remind us that we were fairly well off and that if I had to eat a PB&J sandwich for lunch some day that would not be the end of the world. Neither was oatmeal the end of the world. Or not having a drumstick/thigh per person for dinner. Or a different starch for every meal. I didn’t like the rice breakfast cereal plan, so for rice week, I had rice with butter for two meals a day. It was interesting…in that it wasn’t. (Oh, and we’re not talking wild rice or brown rice here. Just plain medium grain white rice.) We never had rice week during the school year. In part because cold rice isn’t appealing for school lunch and in part because there might have had to be some explaining to our teachers.
Today I was discussing this with my parents and my mom was remembering rice week differently. She remembered it as coming after a time of indulgence, such as Thanksgiving. Dad suggested we do rice week starting on November 27. (I’m home from Nov 24-Nov 30) I think I politely declined…while I think it’s a great idea and might try to do it again sometime, while I’m at home with full access to my dad’s cooking is NOT the time to start!
There may or may not be a Part 3 of this series, depending whether or not I can think of more things to add to the list. If you have ideas to add (remember, this is the positive side of weird!) please comment on this post or email me. Or you can share why your family is weird. Really, I just like comments 🙂 But not the spam sort, so if you’re trying to sell me a rolex watch or help me make $5000 dollars a week FROM HOME, you don’t need to comment. But all other commenters are good.

Why my family is weird: Part 1

My mom (known to the rest of the world as Anne) had wondered why I referred to our family as “weird” in a prior post. This is not weird as a bad thing. I put up a poll on facebook (more on that later) and we determined that my family is weird but “in the best possible way.” And, to be honest, a good number of these things are responsible for making me part of who I am today. Some simple reasons for my family being weird:
  • I have never owned a Barbie
  • My family never got more than 5 tv stations
  • The only video games system we ever owned was a Super Nintendo, but that wasn’t until I was in college and my brother snuck one in the house somehow.
  • Pop music wasn’t known in my house until my brother realized he was weird and set out to fix that
  • We got to watch a maximum of about one hour a day of tv to be selected from the following: Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, 3-2-1 Contact, Magic Schoolbus (all PBS shows)
  • I didn’t realize that not all kids spent over an hour a week at the library and maxed out their library card every week. Our limit was 40 books. Yes, we both checked out 40 books at a time.
  • I started cooking around age 8. I started making dinner once a week around age 12. By 15 or so I was cooking dinner for the family 3 nights a week.

So that’s a simple, small start. Here’s more proof with pictures.

Most of our family pictures look something like this. Of particular amusement is my brother off to the side. He’s making faces. If you scroll down, you might guess this is genetic. You might be right.

Dad’s friend found a giant mushroom in his brother’s backyard, rescued it and left it on my parents’ porch. Dad immediately photographed it and called his brother to see if it was safe to eat. It was and I think dad said it was yummy.

Rosie is on the right and Rosette? is on the left. Rosie was given to me when I was 1 by a dear friend in Madison, WI. I’ve had her ever since which is why her face is yellow. I wasn’t allowed to have cabbage patch dolls, but since Rosie wasn’t a cabbage patch doll, she was allowed. Also, take note of the fact that she is wearing a native Alaskan winter fur-lined parka, made by my mom. The other doll, now I think she’s called Rosie II (found at a thrift store), is wearing a Red Riding Hood Cape and pajamas made by my mom. Original Rosie is wearing a sleeper that I wore as a baby. Because my family has that stuff lying around. Because my mom and I kept it…

Another example of why my family is weird. I was going to say my brother. But that is mean, and I love him, so I won’t say that. I’ll say it’s cause we sleep on mattresses on the floor. This is genetic and is not just a trait in my immediate family. (Anthony is solidly asleep in this picture though. Apparently he was comfortable.)

When we were little, this was the sort of thing we did to amuse ourselves instead of watching tv or playing with video games or Barbies. It wasn’t Halloween. (Rory, in the middle, is unrelated and probably unaware of what she has gotten herself into.) There are also pictures of us playing with bins of flour. More typically we’d play with Legos and wooden blocks, but that’s not as exciting and I don’t have pictures.

Dad has started making everything from scratch including sausage. It’s not anywhere near as gross as people make it out to be. But it’s weird that he makes it. The sausage and cheese making started AFTER I left for grad school. I do not find that to be coincidental.

Dad also makes pizza. His two best pizzas are grilled pizzas and his pesto/cottage cheese/veggie pizza which you see pictured above. It is made even better with homemade pancetta.

To reassure myself that others also find my family weird, I asked people on facebook: ” Fun late night survey time. If you know my family: are we weird or normal? Vote in the comments.” I didn’t get many respondents, but I did get three weird votes “but in the best possible way.” Anecdotal evidence: “I always remember when we went trick-or-treating there and your parents gave us fresh baked sourdough bread. That was the bomb.” “Her dad makes the best kaiser rolls ever.

I finish with a comment from my mom from this evening, proving yet again, that my family is not normal: “An idea for a short blog post – your dad’s foray into making pancetta. We’re completely out of it, but we have all the pieces parts – your dad just needs to find the time to put it together before your Thanksgiving visit. Let’s see – only 21 days left, and he doesn’t even have a timetable drawn up yet!

Back in time

Well, loyal readers, it is late. That is because I did not fully understand the terms of Ben’s challenge (so I had to do an extra 30 minutes of exercise…). And because I made dinner, called my parents, and planted some plants in farmville (EVIL EVIL GAME!). Then I checked election results. But I thought that maybe on Tuesdays throughout November I’d go into my archive of old photos and post some of them here. They will, of course, be embarrassing, making it all the better for you, the reader. Today’s theme is Alaska, because I was telling Alaska stories today.

You might be surprised to learn that there is grass in Alaska and it does turn green. Otherwise my dad wouldn’t have had a job. I am wearing thick gloves in this picture though. I’m also hoping that my brother is wearing boots and that his jeans aren’t rolled up, cause that would be really embarrassing for him if they were…

We had to shovel off our deck so that the snow didn’t cave in our garage or melt into it. When I say we, I mean my mom. This lead to us having great piles of snow surrounding the garage for sledding or tunneling. Or posing for pictures in. Notice the great reflective tape on my coat, this is a recurring theme. Mom could never find coats that were reflective enough, so she’d always sew on additional reflective tape. That’s what happens when you walk to and/or home from the school bus in the dark.
This was probably taken around 4 or 4:30pm. I would tell you 11am, but that would imply I was skipping school which was definitely not the case. Unless this was the year I was homeschooled…

I love that I have a more dazed look than the snowman. I believe, in retrospect, that this was fairly common throughout middle school. My mom’s most frequent accusation was that I left my brain in my locker. Looking back, I think this was probably deserved. Also, that hat plus that hood made my head look ginormo.

Apparently, even with all the snow outside, I still needed snowflake sheets. And a Flags of the World poster. That was before I upgraded to the Map of the World that had a border of Flags of the World. I would also like to take this moment to point out that while I sometimes complain about my family being weird (which is very true) it is also very cool that in addition to reading out loud almost every single night between 0 and about 12 or so, we also sang for a portion of that. While most of it was a capella, apparently sometimes Mom played her guitar. Awwww.

And, because my family doesn’t seem weird enough, here we are (my aunt, brother and I) having a picnic on an afghan in the middle of a parking lot IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER. I believe this was the only winter picnic, because of the high high high volume of complaining (similar to many outdoor activities).
Now I will leave you to your Wednesday and I will start digging up more pictures for next week, because I know this will leave you anxious for more embarrassing pictures and stories, which I will, for some bizzarre and unknown reason, most likely supply.