Introducing Veggie Night

It is only Tuesday, but I am already looking forward to Friday night.  Yes, it’s the end of the work week, but that’s not why.  Sure, I don’t have to go into campus, but that’s not why either.

Friday night = Veggie night

Now that we are starting to get back into the swing of things with a new semester and school year underway, Shawn and I have started a new weekday tradition.  Monday through Thursday are really busy for us.  I don’t get done from work until after four.  Shawn has Riley after school.  Our evenings are packed with gymnastics, readings, playtime, and getting ready for the next day.  That means we need to streamline dinners during the week.  Here’s our revamped work-week lineup:

Monday: Moe’s Monday

Tuesday: Pasta

Wednesday: Pancakes

Thursday: Meat and Two Sides  or a One Pot Meal (This week, we will be having kielbasa, potatoes, and corn on the cob)

Friday: Veggie Night.

Not gonna lie, I am really, really, really excited about veggie night.  Since I’m home, I have a little more time to cook and prep a dish or two.  And veggie night means I get a whole meal to make with just vegetables and the goal of using up whatever veggies we have left before we pick up our new basket Saturday morning.  Me + kitchen + challenge = Love.

Here’s a recap from the past two Fridays.  So far, I am off to a good start.  Even Shawn is enjoying the meals even if they don’t quite fill him up.

Two weeks ago: I made my first savory cobbler.  So good.  I started with this recipe from Martha Stewart for tomato cobbler.  I made a few changes:

  • Instead of onions, I sauteed three yellow squash in some garlic and olive oil.
  • Then I added the cut-up tomatoes to the pan to saute a bit, too, and get rid of some of the water content.
  • For the biscuit topping, I used my homemade biscuit mix with some milk and a little butter. On top, I sprinkled a handful of shredded cheddar.

Tomato Cobbler – photo from marthastewart.com

(PS For dessert, I made another batch of banana bread cobbler.  Double cobbler night.  Please, please.)

Last Week: I made a galette for the first time.  Again, we had a bunch of tomatoes left over, and I was in the mood for something tart-ish.  I made a few changes to this recipe for the galette, as well:

  • I substituted breadcrumbs for the corn meal in the dough.  And I only let it sit in the frig for about fifteen minutes while I prepared the filling.
  • Reduced the amounts of butter and olive oil in both the dough and the filling.
  • No onion in the filling (we didn’t have any), so I just sauteed a full can of corn.  Then added tomatoes to the pan to cook for a little while.
  • I just brushed a little milk on the dough right before putting it in the oven.
  • For the cheese, I just sprinkled a little shredded cheddar on top.  We are pretty simple cheese folk, here.

Tomato, Corn, and Cheese Galette – photo from alexandracooks.com

 

This week, we’ve got a potluck to go to on Friday.  No veggie night?  No way!  We’ll just bump it back a day.

How We Celebrated Our 8th Wedding Anniversary

Shawn taught all day.

I taught all morning.  Then I scored essays all afternoon (for almost four hours straight!).

We met up at 6:25 at a gym near our house, just in time for me to take Sidney and Riley, so Shawn could do a parent/child gymnastics class with Adrian.

During the class, I scarfed down a bunch of chips from Moes.  Shawn had picked up food before the class.  Does this count as going out for our anniversary?

When we all got home at 7:30, I read to Riley and got her into bed while Shawn watched the littles.

At 8:00, we worked together to get ready for today: cleaning bottles, making lunches, repacking bags, and setting out clothes.  So celebratory.

At 8:15, I fed and rocked Sidney to sleep.

At 8:30, I sat down with a big bowl of banana bread cobbler and ice cream.  Shawn was unwinding on his computer after inhaling his burrito from Moes.

At 9:00, I watched half an episode of Slings and Arrows.

Then I called it a night.  Shawn tucked me in, and I was out.

***

While we have plans to go out at some point for our anniversary, the day was really, really great.  Full.  Busy.  At work and at home.  And at home, we were surrounded by our little ones.  The pre-bedtime hours were filled with their small voices, their breathless requests for another story, another hug, more milk, their little bodies moving from room to room, blankets flung about.  And then the eventual calm as one by one they succumbed to sleep, Riley first, then Sidney, and finally out little man.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day, really.  There’s a certain magic that accompanies the flow state of family life, and last night, we were in it.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

And of course, there was that big bowl of banana bread cobbler…

Love you, Babe.  More and more each day.  Ours is still the Greatest Story Ever Told.

The First Day…

…could not have gone better!

 

 

Once she woke up, Riley was super chipper and excited.  She and Daddy packed up all of their stuff, and away they drove while Adrian and I waved from the door.

 

 

Back inside, I got Adrian his breakfast and put on his new favorite show, Monster Trucks.  Then Sidney woke up.  We all got ready and were out the door by 7:28.

I had from 8 until 4 to myself.  Just me, a couple syllabi, lesson plans, paper prompts, Spanish verbs, a couple pages of fiction, and some composition theory to read in the morning.  Then a couple of hours of straightening up and getting our house out of summer-play mode and into a more functional, more sustainable state of play and organization for the fall semester.  Then it was back to the books before Shawn and Riley came home and we left to pick up the littles and go out for pizza to celebrate the first day.

Yes, I missed the little ones.

And yes, I enjoyed the quiet.  The time to myself.  I had an hour or two to myself a couple of times over the summer –  a morning of writing at Panera, an hour at Target in Virginia, some time at night – but mostly the time was full of family and food requests and block-building and running and swimming.  Just full.  Wonderfully full.  But I am glad to have a couple of days before my semester starts to gather myself, get the house in order, and enjoy the quiet.

Riley had a great day.  Shawn, too.  She learned three playground rules, read a book called No David, ate all of her lunch except for her sandwich, took a tour of the school, and held a boy’s hand while walking through the halls.

This morning, she was tired.  I basically dressed a zombie.  But then she got up, gave hugs, and headed out the door full of smiles.

I know she won’t always be this excited to go to school, but I do hope to foster in her an intense passion for school and learning.  Sure, there are problems with the public education system and yes, technology is bringing about some big changes in how learning happens.  But I have to believe that as long as she is excited about school, she will develop an intense desire to engage in all of the opportunities that will unfold in the course of the school day, opportunities to connect with her peers and teachers, opportunities to grow and learn, opportunities to understand right and wrong, opportunities to express gratitude and good manners, and opportunities to dream, and dream big.

And when I go back to school on Monday, these are the opportunities that await me, too.  I couldn’t be more excited!

 

Big Days for the Little People (and me)

Part I

Adrian said goodbye to his pacifier this weekend!  A little earlier than we had anticipated, but we had to jump the gun when the state of his current paci rendered it useless (peanut butter somehow got inside of it…).  So we all piled into the car and headed out to Toys-R-Us.  To help Riley give up her paci, we got her a scooter.  To help ease Adrian’s transition and look forward to the summer, we got him a sandbox.  Strapped it on the car, and off we went!  At home, we told Adrian he would have to surrender his paci so we could open his present.  No hesitation there.  Then we ate dinner, the kids played in the sandbox, and we did bath time.  Such a nice, enjoyable family night!

Then bedtime hit.  And Adrian realized what he had surrendered.  Let’s just say it was a long night.  We’ll see how night two goes.  I have to say, I am thrilled by how communicative he is now that he doesn’t have his paci.  He seems so grown-up, such a big boy in just a day!

Part II

Riley went to her Pre-K orientation this morning.  To celebrate, we had bagels at Panera for breakfast.  All morning, she kept saying, “Today is a really big day for me.  I’m getting so big.”  And she is right.  At the school, we got to see both classrooms and watch one class in action for about five minutes.  We were probably only there for 30 minutes max.  Unfortunately, because it was so quick, I didn’t think of any questions until after we left.  Now I have a ton!  How much art time?  Homework?

Reflective Ramblings… 

I get that this was just orientation and that she is only starting Pre-K, but I have to admit this upcoming transition to her starting public school and driving to work with Shawn has me a little sad.  I have loved our time together in the mornings (well, maybe not every morning but most, definitely most).  And sure I will be up when she leaves in the fall (and probably still help get her dressed, washed, hair brushed, etc.), but it won’t be the same.  I already know I will have a hard time with our kids getting older.  Already, they are all growing so fast.  I need my remote control button for life.  I want to pause, linger on these sweet, crazy, full to bursting moments when all three of them are so adorable and close and mostly ours.  Next year, Riley will have 22 kids in her class instead of just 10.  She’ll have a new teacher.  She’ll have a new school of influences and experiences raining down on her.  She’ll have more thoughts and ideas and start to become even more of a separate person, an individual.  And I am thrilled about that, thrilled about all of the learning and experiences and fun and challenges life is going to start offering up to her – oysters everywhere.  But that means she is going to need me less, and that’s what scares me.  Finally, maybe in the last two months or so, I finally really feel like a mom.  And I love being a mom.  I love caring for, thinking about, talking to, cuddling with, and loving my children.  I know these activities will continue, but I am more aware of how fragile, how quick, how sweet this time is.  Right now.  And I just want it to last a little longer.  A lot longer.  Maybe forever.

Part III

Sidney tried her first spoonful or so of rice cereal.  She laughed and barely ate any of it, which was pretty much what I expected.

Part IV

Tomorrow is my last big day for the semester (attending class and teaching).  I am in the home-stretch!  My classes have been terrific, and I am sorry to see them end (though I do need a bit of a break…).  Really, if all my semesters are like my last two with amazing teachers, reading lists, peers, and discussions, I will be quite happy!

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Then and Now: What a difference a year makes!

Last year, around this time, I was..

…teaching high school.

…deciding to start a Ph.D. program.

…finding out I was pregnant (and freaking out a bit, too).

…starting to plan for our big move (finding a place to rent, finding renters, etc.).

…finishing my thesis and getting excited about graduation, and a much anticipated return to the Domain.

…taking the kids (just two!) to the parks and pools and play dates after school – enjoying our final months in Gainesville as much as possible.

And now, I’m…

…about two weeks away from finishing my second semester of course work and teaching at UGA.

…working from home with Sidney three days a week.

…writing and revising a collection of 75-100 pages of fiction for my workshop portfolio.

…reading at least one book a week.

…deciding on my three concentration areas: creative writing, composition and rhetoric, and digital humanities.

…getting three kids up and dressed and out the door every morning – now without too much stress most days.

…enjoying evenings and weekends with the family – dinner, bike rides, park trips, errands, games, reading, baths, and bedtime.

Last year, the kids were smaller (Sidney probably the size of a kidney bean!), but now they are so much bigger, more mature, more expressive, and more active.

Now…

…Riley is trying to read on her own and can color with amazing patience and meticulous concentration.

…Adrian can say dozens of words (though most sound like gaga or baaaa).

…They both are doting older siblings to Sidney.  Except for Adrian trying to drill a hole through her forehead with a toy drill, that is.  They fetch her toys and blankets and pacifiers.  They cuddle with her and try to tickle her belly and toes.

…Riley wants to be an artist when she grows up.  She wants to marry her brother.  She likes my singing.

…Adrian wants to do exactly what Riley does.  He wants everything she wants.  He laughs at everything except when he doesn’t get his way.  Then he loses it.

….They love their blankets, cereal (with and without milk), playing outside, running, themselves silly, snacks, and cuddling.  They are still so young, so sweet.  I want them like this always.

And Sidney.  She’s not a kidney bean anymore.  Now she’s…

…rolling back to front and front to back.

…sleeping mostly through the night.

…nursing like a champ (at least according to her thighs).

…already wearing 6 months clothing though she’s just four months old.

…smiling and giggling and full-belly laughing some days.

…grabbing and holding toys.

…so alert and aware.  Especially when Riley and Adrian are around.  They fascinate her.

…holding her head up and spending more time in her Bumbo seat.

…looking more and more like a little girl and less like a baby.  I put her in a t-shirt and shorts the other day – wow did she look grown up!  Today she’s back in a sleeper because it’s cold and rainy and I’m glad.  She can’t wear ruffles on her bum forever, but today she can.  There are hearts on the bottom of her footsies.  They make me happy.

What a year it has been!  So full.  So exciting.  It’s been everything I hoped it would be and more.  So much more.

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Our Summer, According to Pinterest

Thanks to Pinterest, I have a wealth of ideas and activities I plan to tackle to help make this summer organized, exciting, educational, and fun.  Shoot, I already printed out monthly calendars with notes, weekly calendars with sections to record dinner plans, and cleaning schedules for daily, weekly, and monthly chore charts.  First things first, right?  I am both thrilled and nervous to have all three kids home all summer.  On the one hand, I can’t wait to spend lots of quality time with them; on the other hand, that’s a lot of hours to keep three kids occupied!  But maybe, with a little help from Pinterest and the mommy blogging community, we’ll survive…

First, to kick things off:

Then some planning:

When we get bored:

When we run out of money (Who are we kidding…we’ll be starting here!):

A few special treats:

Some fizzy and scientific fun:

Some boy-focused fun:

Some messy fun:

Some pretend fun:

When the kids resist naps:

To activate our inner artists:

Fun in the kitchen (and our tummies):

Lunch:

Chore-time:

And of course we also have the YMCA for Kid Watch, swimming, and the playground, area parks, our children’s museum pass, day-trips to Atlanta, bike-riding, walks, the library, and errands.  Target should be good for at least an hour a week…I kid, I kid.  Not really.  Only sort of.

Then we have our trip to Virginia, vacation in Florida, and possibly other trips to PA and Texas…

Did I mention I’ll be taking one class, teaching myself Spanish for Reading Knowledge, reading approximately a book a week, writing as much fiction as I can, creating a syllabus for creative writing, and trying to get an article published?

Should be enough to fill the time, right?  Now that I have it all written out, I think the time is going to go by entirely too fast!  I hope we at least have time to make s’mores one night…

Still Surviving Spring Semester (as the end grows near)

Right now, I have four and a half weeks of classes remaining in my second semester.  Exciting?  Yes.  Scary?  Yes.  While I know the middle of May will arrive and I will look back on this crazy time (fondly), that distant day seems hard to fathom right now.  So I thought it might be helpful for me to post about what I’ve done so far and what remains to be done in and out of the classroom.  I will post about Sid-tastic’s standing, too.  This has been her first semester of life, after all.

For Teaching

1.  22 classes taught.  Only 8 to go.

2.  2 of 3 papers assigned and graded.  Only 1 more paper and the portfolio to go.

3.  Student conferences – check.

For School Work

1.  5 of 7 fiction submissions (roughly 100 pages).  Another is due on Friday, and the last one will be due in two more weeks.

2.  2 of 3 rhetoric project class presentations (roughly 8 pages of writing and 1 Prezi).  The final one is due the last day of class.  Then, I also have to write a final paper.

3.  10 weeks of rhetoric readings, which includes 6 books and at least a dozen articles and selections of text that range from 12-40 pages each.  We have one more book-length assignment to go (Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows), and still plenty of other readings.  But I really enjoy these readings.  They make me think.  A lot.

4.  A prose poem draft.  I will probably submit this on Friday.

5.  Initial work on 2 revised pieces for my final fiction portfolio.  My final porfolio will probably be around 75 pages of fiction.  I’ve still got a long way to go.

6.  Register for summer and fall classes.

At Home

1.  Riley’s birthday party.  I’ve started to buy candy, we’ve reserved the place, and we’ve sent out invites.  Now we still need more candy, game stuff, decorations, snacks, cake, and drinks.  I do have a list, though.  At least Mom, Dad, Alli, and CE will be in town to help!!  Can’t wait!!

2. Upcoming doctor’s appointments for Riley and Sidney in April.

3.  Upcoming doctor’s appointment for me.

4.  House work.  We have been keeping up with the daily grind (or at least catching up on the weekends), but I am looking forward to doing some major catch-up in May (like going through closets, clothes, etc.).

5.  Cars.  Just got the RAV an oil change, but now the Tib needs one, and both cars are desperate for baths!  The plan is to take care of that this weekend!

Sidney, Sidney, Sidney

1.  Sleeping through the night (at least for the past three nights in a row).

2.  Rolling over from back to front.  Just happened this morning for the first time.  So exciting!

3.  Smiling and babbling up a storm.

4.  Hair growth?  Maybe?  Not really?  Hopefully one day.

5.  Gaining weight?  Absolutely.  She may catch Adrian before too long!  More pictures to come soon.

There.  That doesn’t look too bad, right?  It helps that I love what I do and my schedule and the material I’m working on.

Time to get back to it!