Summer is here in full swing. I know this by the unforgiving sweltering heat. My lawn is finally resuscitating from hay-mode to wild-weeds-on-steroids mode, thanks to Mother Nature’s punctual 4 p.m. torrential downpour Florida is blessed with daily in the summer….And the kids are home.All day.Every day…In a world spinning with instant messaging, sound bytes and megabytes of Now Knowledge, I had the brilliant idea of slowing us all down. ;‘Remember the time of no cellphones?;’ I ask the void of my house;. ;My children giggle at their relic of a mother. She’s the same one that reminisces about receiving and writing letters on pen and paper and reading a good book on a lazy afternoon, when “nothing to do” was fun. She’s the one who, as a kid, had the entire Matchbox collection she raced all over the house (no Wii for me) and vats of mud to bathe in and toss at a compliant and giddy older sister. They are now rolling their eyes at me, my kids, and they are not even teenagers yet. They are nine and six and already indignant that it is past eight in the morning and they have not yet checked their Webkinz online. Maybe a friend will be in one of the chatrooms with their pooch. Or the hippo needs a new bed. Or a pat. Or a click. Something they are not tending to this instant.Don’t get me wrong. I am guilty as charged with the computer frenzy. I check emails about fifty times a day, not because I am that popular (I most certainly am not), but, because it is THERE. And you never know. There might be a post, or a funwall on Facebook, or a hello from anyone that needs desperate attention to. So, for all my nostalgia for The Old World, I am a sucker of the new.Which leads me back to my brilliant idea of slowing us all down, i.e. keeping the kids home for summer with me and not deposit them into one of those all-inclusive hyper-programmed summer camps filled with so many activities that the kids run around in wet bathing suits in a dizzy daze. No, this summer we would hang out, slow down, and bond together. I was determined to show them how much fun doing nothing could be.All went well for the first twenty minutes of summer vacation, Day 1. Twenty-one minutes later, I got the first, “I’m bored. What are we doing now?” and then I knew that this, along with my “no-wine-before-six” rule where bad, bad, ideas.As that week plodded along, my husband would check in on us with cheerful calls from his different exotic work destinations (Israel, Panama, Croatia: anywhere but this madhouse). He’d take the non-confrontational approach (out of sight, out of mind) by trying to dissect the severity of a contract not being signed by one of the partners because these where easier topics to navigate than my sanity quickly turned to mush by two very bored and very restless children.In subtle, affordable ways, I am learning to manage. Playdates have become critical. It is an unspoken support group of sorts: frazzled moms silly enough to forgo summer camps that cling to each other for quiet help. A sleepover here, a swim date there. Anything for two minutes of peace. We all nod and understand. We help each other along. Physical fitness is also top on my list now. Not because I like to jog (I loathe it), but because it allows me the forty-five minutes of time to myself while I exercise and my children are left to roam the wilderness of the gym’s “kids room”, which today looked a bit like a scene from “Lord of the Flies”. I ignore the under-eleven masses and turn the other way. My kids will have to fend for themselves: I need the time alone, even if my heart is at 172 beats per minute.Of course, it’s not all that bad. Today as our playdate-du-jour pool plans got sidetracked by early bouts of lightening, we all headed to the kitchen, where I introduced everyone to Lulu, my jazzy red electric mixer and we all proceeded to make butter together. The kids sat stiller than I could imagine possible watching the cream beat thicker and thicker and thicker until finally, unable to resist the battle to butter, sputtered the water binding it away and molded into clumps of pure golden goodness. No Land-o-Lakes, just mom. Eyes lit up and the room felt magical. For one instant, I was not a mother-gone-crazy drowning in a pile of wet towels and silver glitter, but rather, a magician, or better yet, a genius.My six-year old managed to pull his big butterscotch eyes away from Lulu and mumble, “how did you do that, mom?” and I knew at that very instant, that that was the moment no summer program could duplicate or take away from me. I had created awe and love and molded it into our very own homemade butter: a worthy price indeed for one’s sanity.
To prepare your own homemade butter, take one liter of heavy whipping cream and beat on medium speed. The whipping cream will turn into whipped cream and then slowly get thicker and thicker. If using a standing mixer, begin whipping with whisk attachment. Once whipped cream begins to harden and curdle, switch to paddle attachment and continue to beat until the water from cream separates and the cream turns to butter. Turn beater off, squeeze excess water from mixture and you are left with a ball of homemade butter, to which you can then add all sorts of flavoring such as coarse sea salt, fresh parsley, cumin, garlic salt, honey, etc. etc. The options are limitless!If doing this as a project with kids, have each child wear gloves (getting butter off little hands is a challenge), place a scoop of butter on a plate for each to mold and add their own condiments to.Place butter in a sealed tupperware and keep refrigerated, for up to two weeks.