1/3-1/2 cup plain yogurt, depending on how creamy you want your salad
1 pickling cucumber
1 clove garlic
S and P
3 ears of yellow corn
2 peppers (whatever color you like; I use red and orange)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth or water
Bring broth/water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Give it a stir every now and then.
Put yogurt into a small bowl. Grate half of the cucumber (peel it first) and the garlic into the yogurt. Squeeze in some lemon juice and grate in a little zest too if you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir it up. Put in refrigerator.
Cut corn off the cob, chop peppers and parsley, and mix veggies together. Add a little salt.
It's the little things that make life easier, happier, and funner. Yes, I said "funner."
I love it when someone gives me good advice or a suggestion for something awesome. Contrary to what my husband might say, I actually listen when people give me advice and check out a lot of the things people suggest to me. Case in point: my fabulous teacher across the hall friend suggested a sushi restaurant that she had heard was pretty dang good, and guess where we ended up at dinner last night? That particular sushi restaurant! Coincidence? Maybe, but she was soo right.
So, I thought I would compile a list of some of my favorite things lately to share with the 8 11 people who read this blog in the hopes that more good suggestions, referrals, or perhaps advice will come my way.
Obviously, two of my favorite things are this:
And I have already proclaimed my love for Cara's school and Earth Fare. But there are other wonderful things that people have suggested that make me all warm and gooey feeling. For example, my friend Jane had an awesome diaper bag that didn't look like a diaper bag. It had pockets everywhere and a wipe-off exterior and a HIDDEN CHANGING PAD! And don't even get me started on the little clips that hook the diaper bag to a stroller or grocery cart... Does it get any better? She told me what brand (JJ Cole) and where to go (Buy Buy Baby), and I am now in love with this bag:
My next favorite thing is:
I know, that seems a little strange. At the start of my whole eating better thing, my friend Courtney told me that she started eating oatmeal or whole grain cereal with dried fruit, nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon for breakfast, and that it made her feel great. I like feeling great, so I started making cinnamon-brown sugar-raisin-oatmeal for breakfast every morning. She said it was a relaxing routine for her, and I completely agree. And Cara loves it.
Next on the list is a website suggested by my sister. If you are all about super-cute baby/children's clothes, toys, and maternity clothes, I highly recommend Zulily. This website posts great sales on adorable stuff for preggos and kiddos. Love it. Check it every day. Buy things when I succomb to the temptation.
Moms need to take care of themselves too, though. There may not be as much time devoted to this as we all used to have, but it is essential to feeling good about yourself. The next thing I love it really a group of things:
The day I found out I was pregnant with Cara, my skin freaked out. It didn't stop freaking out after she was born though. I have been breaking out like a middle school nerd ever since, and I HATE IT. I have tried a lot a few different products, but I have been on the Dove/Burt's Bees thing for about two months. I was skeptical at first because everything works for a little while, but I have gone back to work with no breakouts. I love it, and I think my skin loves it too.
I also love:
(Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Commander-In-Chic)
I am not usually a nail polish wearer, but I love this purply gray color, and this polish stays on for literally an entire week without chipping. The brush is kind of flat, so it goes on in three strokes (time-saver!). One thick coat works for me for (seriously) an entire week.
So there are my top five favorite things right now. This is subject to change next week, especially if my 8 11 readers give me some new things to like! :-) What makes your life easier, happier, or funner?
So, I have now been back to work for one full week, and my biggest realization is that I had forgotten how exhausting working is! And I only had kids for three days of this week! Whoa... (To all those who work year round, I commend you.)
The biggest loser this past week was dinner. I didn't do a very good job of planning out meals, and we ended up at Sonic one night and with a frozen pizza another. Very, very bad. Where was my local/organic food, you ask? It was begging to be prepared!
But, don't I deserve an adjustment week? Going back to work is tough stuff!
After an intense heart-to-heart with myself, I realized that the culprits here are preparation and planning. Last Saturday, I went to the farmers market and bought whatever I saw, which led to a (quick-cooking) food shortage by Wednesday, and if I don't have a dinner plan for each night of the week, we will end up with frozen pizza (we love you Tombstone).
There is one other minor problem though. If I am truly committed to the local/organic thing, then I should be up with the roosters every Saturday morning heading to market. In real working life, that is completely unrealistic. It is next to impossible for me to convince myself to get up and dressed on Saturday mornings. The only thing I want to do is sit in my pjs and drink coffee. The alternative is Earth Fare.
At first, I felt a little guilty about shopping at Earth Fare, like I was copping out on the local thing. (There is a section in The Omnivore's Dilemma about Whole Foods and big organic, and in my mind, local trumps organic if at all possible.) I also worried about blowing my grocery budget out of the water by doing my food shopping at an organic grocery store; everyone knows that Whole Foods is WAAAYYYY expensive, so I assumed the same would be true of Earth Fare.
Fortunately, Earth Fare is not Whole Foods. It's based out of Asheville with stores only in the southeast, and they actually buy some relatively local produce. Examples: 1) my organic green peppers are from Pittsboro, NC; 2) my organic squash is from Monetta, SC; and 3) my organic zucchini is from Cashiers, NC. It's not the kind of local that the Matthews Community Farmers Market is, but it's better than giving up local/organic altogether. And, for the icing on my local/organic cake, my grocery total was completely comparable to what I would typically spend at Food Lion on a week's worth of food (and we're talking breakfast, lunch stuff for me and PJ, and dinners). To be fair, I have changed what I buy because we do not eat cereal (bye-bye Cinnamon Toast Crunch) or other processed stuff very much anymore, and all that junk added up, but I also bought some pricier things like grapes, balsamic vinegar, chicken, and cranberry juice. Fresh food does seem to require more cooking time, especially chopping and prep time, but when I think about the fact that I might be helping Cara avoid diabetes, it seems worth it.
Tomorrow is my first official day of work for the new school year. I have mixed feelings about this. I am excited to go back because I love my job. Things feel easier after five years in the classroom, and my semester is practically planned out. I love working with teenagers; it's never boring, to say the least. And, I have some cute new clothes I want to wear.
True Story: When I was in high school, I kept a list of the outfits that I wore every week. Wrote them down in detail. I wanted to make sure that I didn't wear the same thing two weeks in a row. Wow. Go ahead and laugh, Erin and Kate and Courtney, because I know you did it too...
However, I have really enjoyed just being a mommy this summer. I haven't given one thought to my job; instead, I have been spending my brain cells on teaching Cara some new tricks, finding good food and cooking it, painting my family room, going to Disney World, hanging out on the beach, and helping with my nieces. Once school invades my thoughts, there isn't always enough room for all of that other stuff. *Sigh* It's the reality of being a working mommy.
Last summer, I spent my time waiting (and waiting and waiting) to go into labor and then changing diapers, nursing, napping, and desperately trying to wrap my brain around what had just happened. I headed back to work when Cara was 9 weeks old, which is quite a generous maternity leave, but still, it felt way too early. I struggled a lot with my new identity/role/purpose in life and stumbled into a little PPD. I know a lot of that is due to hormones, but I think mine was about accepting a loss (my previous life, which I was very happy in) and embracing a new lifestyle.
This summer, I think I found my new lifestyle. I am bad at balancing the responsibilities in my life, so I have to set priorities and stick to my guns. Before Cara was born, my job, especially my coaching job, was very high on my list; it was a way that I defined myself and where I spent most of my time. I thought I would mourn the loss of that more than I have. Instead, I have poured all of that energy into being a mommy. I guess my worry now is that I will get overwhelmed with work and lose focus, but I think it will be easier to keep my emotions, priorities, and responsibilities in check because I'm not as sleep-deprived and I am not constantly worried about breast pumps and baby pudge.
Today was Cara's first day of "school" in her new, toddler class. Before I go any further, I have say that I love Cara's "school" so much. Everyone there is incredibly caring and loving to the children (and to the parents), and the children love them back. You can tell a good childcare center by the children's attitudes about going. Cara used to point at her classroom door like "c'mon mom, there's my class, take me in so I can play with my friends," and when I pick her up, she's excited to see me but also happy to give her teachers an extra hug before she leaves. It makes a mama feel better about having to leave her baby in someone else's care.
Cara got to move up to the toddler class because she's, um, toddling. She also eats table food, can follow some simple instructions, and get by on one nap a day. However, this nap will be on a mat. Hmm...I am bursting at the seams to hear about how that one goes. There will have to be some nap magic to get Cara to lay still long enough to fall asleep. The teachers assured me, though, that the kids are so worn out that they drop like flies on to their mats. They just do it. Wonder if the same thing would happen with high school kids if we put some mats out in the cafeteria?
Anyway, I took Cara into her new classroom with her new class of lots more kiddos than her previous class. I pointed out some of her friends, and she offered them a sweet little smile and then went to her teacher. I said bye-bye, and she laid her head on her teacher's shoulder, and I had to get out of there before I cried. Seriously. I teared up. Am I really that mom who cries when leaving her baby at "school?" Will I be standing by the bus stop on Cara's first day of first grade embarrassing her with my sobs?