Friday, December 26, 2008

Mommy Mush Christmas 2008

I dont think a mom could get a better Christmas present that this. First thing Christmas morning they handed me my stocking. It had four packs of Kleenex in it. I knew it wasnt good! Then they put the DVD into the player and turned it on. I love my kids! Nicole was the mastermind and did so much work on it! I think I am good for presents for several years now!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas 2008

Tom is back into movie making and this is a shortie with the family. He took our little coolpix movie clips and put this together. Its corny, I know, but I love stuff like this!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Food Blog

So we are putting all the recipes (and will be adding more) at:

We will add recipes every day and included with the recipes will be suggestions on making the recipes smaller, cheaper, healthier or maybe even a bit "upscale". But more importantly, its about sharing the stories and traditions surrounding the recipe than it is about the food itself!

Come join us!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our Mad2 Youth

We highly recommend that all you parents of YM/YW taken the time and volunteer to chaperone one of their Stake dances. We had a blast! It brough back so many of our own memories of youth/stake dances AND we thoroughly enjoyed watching our youth have fun in each other's company. We even had a few moments to cut up the rug ourselves and not look like old foggies. I dont think Jeremiah minded us being there either. Try it! It makes for a great date night! Way to go Mad2 youth!

The "BIG" Event...

So some of you are wondering where the post is about Tom's Big Event? Its coming. We are compiling some photos and he is writing his thoughts. Stay Tuned! There is much more to come.

Deck the Halls

Last night for Family Home Evening we spent the night decorating the tree. Our new missionary, Elder Godfrey was quite intrigued by our collection of snowmen ornaments! We had a grand time and Elder Thomas, as usual, was able to find a gospel application for the event.

Since my role this year was mainly as "producer", it was a joy to watch everyone participating and having such a nice time, relating to each other and sharing in the joy of togetherness. Tom captured some video footage that he is going to put together in a piece and post here this week. It was nice to have him share this year as well and lend his talents to preserving some great family memories.

So the season is off and running. While the world around us is in a bit of turmoil and we too, are experiencing some of that chaos and uncertainty, we are at peace in knowing that our Heavenly Father will care for us and that our rest is in the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. May you all feel that peace in your homes and in your hearts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Laughing til we cried or ....

Laughter is so incredibly underestimated. Laughter is so incredibly needed by all of us. I mean, the honest, laugh so hard your stomach hurts and everyone around you cant tell if you are still laughing or have started crying (and at my age, could result in multiple forms of "crying").

We had laughter like that last night. It came from a spontaneous moment during Family Home Evening. I cant even try to explain what was said and done that culminated in this outburst, it gets lost in translation; but needless to say, just the thought of the moment, brings this smile to my face and a giggle under my breath. When you have a chance, ask any one of us what Kaitlynn meant when she said "I dont want to die". I guarantee that all, including the Elders, will get have a big smile on their face and start chuckling and then really wont be able to answer the question. I know you all have one of those moments.

My day today, as has been the week so far, is rather tense and full of ups and downs. I remembered Elder Wirthlin's talk from conference. I remember last night and come what may, we'll love it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Change is coming - Wait, change is here!

We are halfway through October already. My front porch, yard, pond, driveway, walkway are completely covered in leaves. I love the color of leaves, although I am not fond of raking them. I have this philosophy…why keep raking when more are going to fall? Why not just wait till they have all dropped and then rake? Makes sense, right? Although tracking leaves into my house is not a good thing. It looks messy too and I do not think my neighbors appreciate my attitude. I need a farm, or better yet a ranch. We were online looking for potential places for Kaitlynn to live when she heads out west this winter. I found this ranch, by accident. Room for 7 horses. Tom and Kaitlynn thought Alpacas would be better. I said ONE HORSE please. I laughed. We were actually having a dialogue about moving to a ranch out west. How very odd is that. The mountains are very inviting. Tom and I both agree that if we cant be near ocean, mountains are the best alternative. I guess I am restless or just feeling that we wont be here forever. Maybe a bit of both.

Change is the constant in my life right now. Change in our home. Change in our family composition. Change in our day to day activities. Changes the kids are each going through. Change in our community. Change in the weather. Change in the political climate. Change in the economic climate. Constant change. I used to think I thrived on change, but not so anymore. I think I still try and adapt well; that military "bloom where your planted" approach. I do look at Jeremiah and know for sure that he will keep us stable and here for another 18 or so months.

After that, I cant even imagine what will happen or where we will end up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Moroni's Fortresses.... I am not sure this is quite what they looked like

A more detailed blog will follow, written by our family patriarch, which will take into account the spiritual and comical rendition of last night's FHE.... But I had to post a few of these pics!

Pull out your Book of Mormon and read Alma 50.... can you see it???

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A diplomatic way to decide who gets to go first! I think this video speaks for itself.

Additional photos of our "adopted" boys.

Summer 2008 - Where Did it Go?

The summer got away from us, as it seems life can, when we are not paying close attention. We have battled everything from Japanese Beetles to another layoff for Tom and a major refocus of our spiritual and family life. Right before school restarted we decided to cap the summer off with a trip to Nauvoo, Tom, Jeremiah and I. It was the last week of August and much of the summer programs were done; however, what was nice was that wherever we went, we were basically the only ones. That made for a very intimate and special experience with many of the senior Missionaries. Tom and I even found time alone to walk the temple grounds and down by the riverside at sunset. It was a trip we all needed.

Tom was impressed with the resourcefulness and diverse talents of Brigham Young. He enjoyed the Blacksmith Shop and the wonderful Elder who also had the most memorable role in Rendezvous at Old Nauvoo.

The Family Living Center was a place we all enjoyed. Tom's personal family history includes a great-great-grandfather that was a cooper, so being able to see how a barrels were made, was a very personal connection. I put the rope that Tom and Jeremiah made up on a hook in the kitchen to remind us of the impromptu lesson that another special Elder shared about family, marriage and most importantly, eternal marriage.

But frankly, my favorite part was watching Tom and Jeremiah stick wrestle, only Jeremiah would "cheat" and let go of the stick every time Tom started pulling him up off the ground!

Since school has started, life is busy again, but we are still trying to keep the momentum going that started in Old Nauvoo. Maybe next summer we will get to upstate New York!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All Things Elderkin

I wont ever say that all the genealogy on any one particular line of a family is complete. I have to give kudos to my Aunt Jacqueline. She has uncovered and shared so much of our Elderkin Family History over the years and I have felt blessed to be the recipient lately of all her hard work. In sharing and relating stories, discoveries and tidbits of information, many missing paragraphs of our recent family history have been filled in. I had a chance to sit with my sister this last month, pouring over old family photos and remembering the events that accompanied them. I was given an insight into my mother that I wish I would have had even just a few years ago. My Aunt and I also shared our thoughts about some particularly "randy" events of my grandfather in his youth, after which I had an epiphany. What in my own life, have I not shared, good/bad/ugly/frightening/sorrowful, that may provide an opportunity for my children or one day their children, to learn from my actions. And with perfect timing as always, here comes Sunday School and Alma Chpts 36-39, Alma's letters to his sons. What does he share, his testimony, his mistakes, and gives each one his counsel regarding those lessons learned, those experiences that maybe many of us would not share (For reasons of shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, regret… the list could go on).

What courage Alma had. What insight as a parent, to be so honest. To share his testimony, his faith and do it in a way that had power and meaning with his own example.

My grandfather taught me many things just by the type of man he was. I knew him as a grandfather and not the young, restless man of his youth. I remember his music, his sheepish grin and the twinkle in his eyes; the smell of his pipe. I remember his stories. He could weave a yard like no-other. His patience in putting me on a horse for the first time, walking the farm lands and telling the tales of a life more simple. He passed on to me a generational love for this family he/WE had come from.

When sitting with my great-grandmother (a teacher who lived to be a centenarian and until the age of 101, remembered my birthday with a card every year), listening to her tales of life and family, I saw my grandfather's heritage. I saw the people who I came from and who wanted to continue to pass on their love of family and all things Elderkin.

The name of Heller is typed onto the papers of my birth certificate, but I carry the name of Elderkin in my genes, in my passions, in my perspectives and in my heart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Patience seems to be the predominant lesson for our entire family. The most obvious area of patience is with me, not just my being patient while "they" (the myriad of doctors and professionals) try and figure out what is causing so much pain, but also being more patient with my children and husband; with my children and husband being more patient with me, a grumpy mother who doesnt like being limited in any way imaginable; with Jeremiah learning patience with himself; Nicole having patience in begining her new season of life as she very shortly ventures off into the world; again, all of us seem to be learning patience.

I seem to be awfully testy lately. Not just with my back, but with presidential candidates; with the media who think I am more interested in Lindsey Lohan than the state of health care in the U.S.; with the unknown neighbor who is stealing my little pond gnomes; with the gnats buzzing around my doors cause I live closer to the lake; you name it, I seem to be annoyed with it. I thought, shoot, why is all of this bugging me! (sorry, no pun intended toward the gnats!)

Patience, yup, I have none, but more importantly, I have no peace. No peace in the moment. I am not being present. Okay, so you say, its kinda hard right now to not be frustrated. Gas is $4 a gallon, food prices are through the roof, we all know someone who is loosing their home, have lost their job; life looks pretty bleak. My back hurts! I cant do what I want to do, so we have a right to be testy, to be irritated, to be worried, to be impatient. We want things to change and we want them to change now. Then I asked myself, where is this getting me? I only get more frustrated, more angry, more restless, more irritated. Great. That's good. Makes for a lovely family environment (sarcasim there people). It gets me, it gets us nowhere.

What is this thing called patience? What is it that causes us to need to learn to be patient? What are we fighting against when we are fighting patience? I have thought a lot about that these last two weeks. For me, for my family and I think maybe for us all, when we are confined, limited, when we dont have access, cant control, feel helpless, we become impatient, frustrated. We want to change things and we cant. I have honed in on feeling confined, limited, frustrated and not in control. I want to change the circumstances now, but I cant. What have I not been doing, finding peace in being present in the moment. Wow, that sounds a tad bit like "patience".

What if I started being present, being peaceful. That old mantra of "the power of positive thinking". What would that look like? As for my back, well, pain meds are a good thing! They actually help. Politics, I have a choice, I have a voice. The man stealing my gnomes, I bought some more ($1.00 Walgreen ones) and am going to put a sign that says take these, the others are now bolted down! I look at my kids and think, you have the world at your feet, hurray, and so many choices. I have a job and one that I can even work at with the health problems I have. The hubby has a job for now and if not later, the skill to get a job and not be out of work. But most importantly, my faith. I have my faith. I know that I have been taken care of before, I have always been taken care of and I will continue to be taken care of, that WE will be taken care of. I remember that how He takes care of me has always been better than how I have taken care of myself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Spaetzle is a staple in most German households, but in spite of my heavy German heritage, I did not learn to make spaetzle from my mother or grandmother, but from Eugenie Mayer Bolz. Mrs. Bolz was the granddaughter of Oscar Mayer. I was fortunate enough to spend a summer working for her as her live-in companion. I learned a tremendous amount from that amazing woman, not just about food, meats, but about her family, her history and her traditions. I later adapted this recipe, after trying spaetzle from a variety of wonderful cooks. This has become a staple in my home, with my children and I know will be passed on for generations.

2 cups of flour
4 eggs
2 t salt
8 T sour cream
Whole milk to thin out batter

Sift flour and salt. Lightly beat eggs and add to flour
mixture. Add sour cream and mix until incorporated. Add milk until
batter is the consistency of sticky dough.

Use a spaetzle maker to add to pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until noodles float to top. Drain. Heat nonstick frying pan. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter. When butter is brown, add cooked/drained spaetzle. Fry until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Can add noodle dough to soups as dumplings as well.

Add your favorite herbs to the batter. Thyme, rosemary, basil, then tossed in olive oil make a wonderful noodle served with lamb. Pesto is another great addition. Experiment! It is a versatile noodle that will inspire your creativity!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Recipe of the week

Food or the sharing of food is a big part of our family. It is a major component in family tradition. Not that the food is the tradition, but the tradition somehow seems to conjure up memories of a particular food. My mom was a "foodie" before the term even came into existence. One of my fondest memories as a young girl/teen was helping my mother bake 12 loaves of bread a week for our family. She would do it on Fridays and the baking would go well into the evening. I started at about 7 years old, greasing all the bread pans and collecting all the ingredients. I eventually graduated to mixing the flour and finally got to turn out the dough and mix by hand. I remember the first time I got my hands into the dough. There was something amazingly therapeutic about mixing and kneading dough by hand. To this day, even with the invention of bread makers and mixers that knead, I still prefer to do it all by hand. What was my favorite part, no matter how old I got, was buttering all the tops of the loaves after they came out of the oven; and of course, since I helped from beginning to end, I got the first piece, cut while it was still warm, with butter melting on the tops and running down the slice! I think that's where I developed my addiction to carbs! It is not so much the act of making the bread that stands out in my mind, but the interaction with my mom. We had a large family and one-on-one moments were rare, but this was my moment. I remember her stories, rememberances of her mom and her grandmother; making bread, milking the cows; stories of her sisters and life on a farm. I wouldn't have heard those stories, had those memories to treasure, if it didn't involve the "chore" of making bread.

With my mother gone now for almost 5 years, my children and I really cherish those memories. She lives on in the messy pages of her pie cookbook, the one where the binding is literally in shreds and now sits in a Ziploc bag to hold it together; or the handwritten notes on the pages of her favorite cookbook, where she changed ingredients or even left notes in the corners to "remember" what worked or didnt work with the recipe. She was famous for her lemon meringue pie, with the meringue sometimes as high as 4" and perfectly brown. The lemon custard was sweet, but not overpowering. I still have yet to try it on my own, but I think this is the weekend I will finally do it.

Every week we will post a recipe, a family recipe. One of those recipes you make, that your mother made and her mother made. Today, in honor of Mom, we'll start with the lemon meringue pie. Enjoy!

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Baked 9" shell
1-1/2 c sugar
1-1/3 c water
1/2 t salt
1/2 c cornstarch
1/3 c water
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 c lemon juice
3 T butter
1 t grated lemon peel
4 egg whites
1/4 t salt
1/2 c sugar

Combine sugar, 1-1/2 c water and salt in saucepan. Heat to boiling.

Mix cornstarch and 1/3 c water to make smooth paste; add to boiling mixture gradually, stirring constantly; cook until thick and clear. Remove from heat.

Combine egg yolks and lemon juice; stir into thickened mixture. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles again. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon peel. Cover and cool until lukewarm.

For meringue: Add salt to egg white; beat until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 c sugar, beating until glossy peaks are formed. Stir 2 rounded tbs of meringue into lukewarm filling.

Pour filling into cool pie shell. Pile remaining meringue on top and spread lightly over filling, spreading evenly to edge of crust.

Bake in slow oven (325 degrees F) about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on rack at least 1 hour before cutting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Starting in the Middle

So we have succomed. Given in. No longer have we resisted the blogger world. With Nicole going away to school this fall and friends and family being scattered literally, around the world, its almost like its become a necessity. Besides, both Tom and I like to write, upload photos, connect with people, so why resist the obvious!

NICOLE GRADUATED! The middle child is now half-way out the door! She has worked hard and overcome much. We are incredibly proud of her. She leaves for Viterbo University in August. As I watch her get ready, I cant help but to go back 30 years. That excitment of finally feeling like everyone will treat you like an adult, being able to make all your own decisions, having this entire life ahead of you that you can create.

They all are growing up. Jeremiah will be the only one at home this fall. Its quiet a lot. I have more time for all those things I love. It feels strange, almost selfish. Tom and I are home alone more nights than we have kids at home. I am sure I will get used to it. No, I know I will get used to it!

So we move into a new season of life. Lots of unknowns and lots of can-do's. Sort of like what Nicole is looking ahead to. Gee, I guess change isnt so bad after all. The things we get to learn from our children!