Mango Bread, Jon Hamm and Floor Eggs

Mother’s Day started off with a bang – literally.  The sound of one dozen eggs hitting the floor is surprisingly loud.

I don’t have many vices, but coffee paired with a treat (something “scone-y” my son calls it) ranks high up there, along with citrus-based cocktails, Lainey Gossip and Jon Hamm.  So in honor of my special day, my special people were busy in the kitchen trying to make mango bread.

My daughter accidentally drops the eggs, my husband accidentally drops an f-bomb, tears and apologies abound.  Then, they scrape three eggs’ worth of mess off the floor and keep cooking.  The simple fact that I was able to smile, chew and swallow bread that was made with floor eggs is a testament to my deep love and gratitude for these goofballs.

Our morning consisted of a few nice moments as well as more chaos as an entire mug of hot coffee was spilled into my lap.  The rest of our day was pretty uneventful but our night took an interesting turn when my daughter asked how babies are made while we were eating dinner.  My husband and I had an entire conversation with our eyes:

Me:  “Hey, why don’t we just answer this and get it over with?  Two kids with one awkward conversation.”

Him:  “Hell no.”

Me:  “Are you sure?  We’ve got a teachable moment here…”

Him:  “Seriously?  I’d rather eat floor eggs.  Let’s get through dinner and put them to bed.  Mad Men is on tonight.”

Me:  “Aaah, the Hamm card.  Well played.  You win.”

And with that, Mother’s Day 2012 came to a close.  Messy, sweet, chaotic and pretty perfect.

Here’s the recipe for Mother’s Day Mango Bread, floor eggs optional.

Fresh Mango Bread

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking From My Home to Yours

 3 large eggs

¾ cup canola oil

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 cups diced mango (about 2-3 mangos, depending on size)

grated zest of one lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan, dust with flour and tap out excess.  Put pan on an insulated baking sheet (it helps keep the bottom of the bread from burning during the long baking time)

Whisk the eggs and oil together

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Add the brown sugar and stir to break up any lumps.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.  The batter will be very thick.  Stir in mango and lime zest, scrape into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the loaf pan/insulated cookie sheet combo for about 90 minutes, covering the top of the bread loosely with tin foil if it is browning too quickly.  Once baked, let the bread sit in the pan for 5 minutes to cool, then flip it onto a cooling rack and let it get to room temperature before trying to slice it.

Freedom

Hiking the hills…

The text messages start flying first thing in the morning – “meet u at lower parking lot”  “don’t forget water” “leaving now, see u soon”  I wonder how my friends manage to find the time to send texts (with emoticons even!) while I’m frantically slugging coffee and slapping together turkey sandwiches with extra mustard.  I must ask them their secret to calm mornings once we’re on the trail.

With the simple slide of a minivan door and a quick “love you, have a great day,” I can slip out of mom mode into friend mode, if only for an intense hour of hill climbing.

We start hiking and settle into easy conversation, bouncing between topics and enjoying the ability to drop an f-bomb without having to put a dollar into the swear jar.  Parenting experts tell us that kids are most willing to share feelings when they’re riding in a car – something about lack of direct eye contact, if I remember correctly.  I think the same theory applies to exercising with friends.  The only other thing that comes close to fostering such banter is a bottle or two of wine, which might be frowned upon at 8:30 in the morning.

I finish the hike with heavy legs but a light heart and start mentally flipping through the pages of my calendar, looking for my next available morning to schedule some freedom in the hills.

Tree Pose

Tree Pose at Sunset. August, 2009

     We stand together in a “bring your kid to yoga” class.  The instructor says, “prepare for Vrksasana.”  Tree pose, one of our favorites.  We take root on our right side, tuck our left foot up and in to the standing leg and raise our arms to the sky.  She wobbles and I extend a “branch,” my left arm, her way.  She grabs hold, steadies herself and we stand together, reaching skyward with our hands intertwined, supporting each other.  With a giggle, she gives a little shove, shaking my arm.  Testing me.  I stay strong, balanced and don’t let go of her hand.  Motherhood in a yoga pose.

Beginner

Oddly enough, I’m raising a couple of perfectionist kids.  Weird, I know.  Homework assignments are started and restarted, eraser dust piling up on the floor like peanut shells at a dive bar.  Artwork crumpled up and tearfully tossed towards the trash can.  Other activities never even attempted for fear of sucking.

My go-to phrases in these situations sound like this:

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“Nobody expects you to be perfect.” 

“One of the best parts of being a kid is that you get to be a beginner.  It’s okay to try something and decide you don’t like it or aren’t great at it.  Right now it’s your job to get out in the world and figure out what you like to do.”

And then it hit me: why on earth does this wisdom only apply to kids?  Why can’t I try something new?  Enjoy being a beginner?  Why don’t I give myself the same compassion I’m imploring my kids to give themselves?

So off I go – to write and shoot (photos, not bunnies) and blog and just try stuff.  I’m a beginner and that’s ok.