Today, Matthew came home proudly displaying a Dairy Queen gift card that had been presented to him by his school for being a "Caring Crusader." I congratulated him but truly had no idea what this meant, so I texted one of my friends who has older children at the school and is certainly more "in-the-know" than me. Apparently, each month the teacher of each class nominates a student that shows an act of generosity or kindness to receive the Caring Crusader award. The names of all students are then entered into a drawing and three of the students win a gift card. I was so pleased to hear that Matthew had won an award for being kind! I know he was nominated earlier in the year as well and he was super excited to actually win the gift card this month! I told him that nothing, not even the highest marks on his exams, makes me more proud than hearing he is behaving virtuously and benevolently.
Of course, my pride and happiness in Matthew's award-winning conduct was short-lived. When I opened up the folder of my "caring crusader" to peruse his papers and homework for the day, I discovered a note from his teacher detailing how Matthew had a few behavior problems earlier in the day - particularly with being a bit unkind to another student. The irony was not lost on me. While he certainly is capable of moments of great kindness and virtue, my son is by no means a perfect child. We're not canonizing him yet.
Speaking of imperfect children, Emma has been very chatty lately. She is normally quite talkative, but has really been stepping up her game lately. Her most frequented topics of conversation include my infancy. More specifically, what she was like during my infancy. She doesn't quite get the concept that her and I have no always coexisted. She understands that Lucy grew in my tummy and was born and actually remembers a time before Lucy joined us, but there is a bit of a mental disconnect when it comes to understanding that her, Matthew, Daddy, and I did not all grow up at the same time. While driving home after dropping Matthew off at school one morning, Emma was being very quiet and contemplative in the backseat. I glanced at her in the review mirror, saw a very serious expression on her face, and asked her what she was thinking.
Her response was: "I was thinking about how we had a lot of babies."
With confusion, I asked: "When did we have a lot of babies?"
"I mean when I was a baby, and Lucy was a baby and Matthew was a baby and you were a baby and Daddy was a baby. We had a lot of babies when we were all babies. That's a lot. I don't know how we take-ed good care of all of them."
(Note: The "Take-ed" was not a typo...Emma doesn't have a fluent grasp of the English language yet, especially when it comes to the past tense!)
Emma has also been contemplating heaven a lot as of late. She's starting to make the connection that anything and anyone who dies is reunited with Jesus in heaven. Dead worm on the sidewalk? Don't worry, Mommy, the worm is in heaven! Dead flower in the vase? Don't worry, the flower went to heaven! This morning as she was putting her coat on, she suddenly burst out with: "Mommy! I cannot WAIT to get to heaven to be with Riley!.....**long pause**.....and Jesus!"
Nice to know that Jesus is a distant second to our dead feline in Emma's book. I'm sure he understands.
As much as I love talking about my crazy kids, let's start talking about these Asian noodles because they are truly something memorable. I made these on a whim with my sister Sophie to go with the Teriyaki meatballs we were also making and I actually think the noodles stole the show. They're a little sweet, a little salty, and have a perfect spicy kick. In addition to being completely, addictively delicious, the noodles are made with pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand and take less than 20 minutes start to finish. We also really didn't need the meatballs - the noodles are filling enough on their own or with a fried egg served over the top for some protein. Not convinced by the egg thing? Try it - it goes really great!
Sophie and I raved and raved over this meal and we both could barely wait for dinner the next day so we could inhale the leftovers. It was a little hot for the kids, so I would probably serve Chinese pepper flakes on the side next time to make it a little more palatable for them. If you love traditional Chinese flavors, you'll love this meal.
Chinese Chili and Scallion Noodles
from Milk Street
12 ounces Udon Noodles, Lo Mein, or Spaghetti (I used spaghetti)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, or canola)
5 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
12 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thinly on the bias
4 fried eggs, for serving (optional, but yummy!)
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.
In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the vegetable oil, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes and toast until fragrant and the sesame seeds begin to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the scallion whites, then transfer the oil mixture to the bowl with the soy sauce mixture.
Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and toss to coat well. Let sit, covered, for another minute or two, and then toss again. Add the scallion greens, reserving some for garnish, and toss again. Divide among serving bowls and top each serving with a fried egg.