Sunday, August 30, 2009

When the going gets tough...

I hit the kitchen. Some women shop or hit the spa; I morph into a marathon chef. It's my answer to stress relief. I love to cook and bake anyway, but during tough times I become unleashed. I bake, and my mind clears because I can totally submerge myself in the process. I also cook, comfort food mostly, because there's something about a home-made dish that seems to wash troubles away. And it's not just me that reaps the benefits. My family eats pretty darn good when I get stressed. I can't wait for cooler weather so I can spend three days making Julia Child's boef bourginon.

At present, life seems to be dishing out its fair share to many of my loved ones. This past week alone, I knocked out two loaves of whole wheat bread, enough broccoli cheese calzones to fill my freezer, and six dozen banana-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. I'm addicted to them right now, and thank goodness the recipe came from Cooking Light magazine, otherwise I could add weight gain to my list of woes.

Want to share how you cope under difficult times? Or better yet, want to give me some recipes to try? It'll help take my mind off things. Besides, I love to cook and bake, but I also get by with a little help from my friends.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hi ho hi ho, it's off to school we go

How did the first day of Kindergarten go? Not as bad as I thought. My child's uncanny ability to be a pill kept my tears to a minimum. The craziness of the morning was too overwhelming to allow much fear or emotions. We just focused on getting to school on time, which we did by the skin of our teeth (note to self: make lunches the night before!). After getting his things settled and finding his seat, he looked pretty unsure of things. Until the most adorable little girl sat down across from him. Their conversation went something like this:

her: "This is my first day of Kindergarten!"

him: "This is my first day of Kindergarten, too!"

It was pretty cute. The two of them kept talking so I gave a kiss, told him I loved him and would see him later, and left the room. I expected to begin boohooing, but instead I felt so excited for him. About what he'll learn and accomplish this year, the new friends he'll make, how he'll grow, and how I get to watch and share in all of this. I feel very blessed. Of course, I signed up, along with my friend, to be room mom and joined the PTO and all that other stuff. I want to be involved while my little man still wants me to be. (but I'll still be involved even after he doesn't.)

And who knows, maybe there's new things on the horizon for me as well. My horoscope for today read:

There are valuable experiences waiting for you around the corner. The important thing for you to do now is simply recognize the opportunities when they come. Roads to success aren't always well marked. Take a chance on one that has no signs at all. You have the courage and pioneering spirit to pursue the adventurous route, so go for it.

When I picked him up after school and asked him how his day went, he told me he was ready for Kindergarten (good thing, because there's we kind of have to go back!). Whatever lies ahead, I think both my little man and I are ready. Ready for the adventures life brings our way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

T minus 7 days

You know when you're pregnant and everyone tells you not to blink because kids grow up so fast? Well, I must have blinked, because exactly one week from today my son will start kindergarten. I can't believe it. And of course, I'm not exactly ready. My little boy is talking about learning math and science, and I'm still wondering where the time went. We're buying backpacks and school clothes, and I'm looking through baby photos. We've done so much stuff together, my little man and me, during the last six years. Really bonded. I wouldn't trade those times for ANYTHING.

With kindergarten fast approaching, I'm full of nervous excitement and overwhelmed with emotions ("Hello Boo-Hoo Club? Reservation for one, please."). To ease his anxieties, though, I haven't made a super big deal of it. I tell him, "It's just kindergarten, no big deal. It's going to be great." We talk about all the fun things he'll be doing and learning. We've been practicing our reading and writing over the summer. We've read our favorite new book:

I want him to love it (I know he will). I want him to have the most wonderful teacher (I think he will). I want him to make new friends and keep the old. I want him to be safe. I want to be a fly on the wall just one day to see him in action.

For my son, this is one of the biggest adventures yet. For me, it's the beginning of loosening the grip a bit. Just a tiny bit, though. It's only kindergarten, after all...

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's tough being a woman

(click on the image to enlarge)

Women. We really are pretty complex beings. To men, we must seem strange and incomprehensible. But really, would we have it any other way?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Warrior Princess

This is Dorothy.

She is one adorable two-year old.
She exudes sweetness, and you want to hug her every chance you get.
Her mommy says she sings the cutest rendition of "Mockingbird" you've ever heard.
Her laugh is infectious.
She loves to look at the moon and the stars.
Last weekend, I got to hold her hand as we walked to the beach.
We made dribble castles together and she was fascinated.

She thinks everything is beautiful. ("Look at the clouds, they're beautiful!")
She's also fighting the biggest battle of her little life.
Dorothy has cancer.
It's one of those things you can't grasp, can't understand no matter how hard you try.
She's so little, yet she's fighting something bigger than most of us will ever have to.
Spend a few hours with this amazing child and you will find inspiration, courage, and warmth.
You will also feel anger and frustration.
But you will fall in love with her, and be amazed at the life lessons you will gain from this two-year old.
What a gift.
I thank God for her every day, and I pray for her.
I know she would love it if you could pray for her, too.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

When life gives you 100 degree temps and severe drought conditions.....have a camp out?

Early Saturday morning, my soon-to-be six year old little boy decided he wanted to have a camp out that night. "A what?" I said. "You want to camp out in this heat? It's the middle of summer! Let's wait until fall when it's cooler, OK? " He looked less than thrilled, and as I started hearing the song, "every party has a pooper that's why we invited you!" in my head, I rethought my answer. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, right? Besides, if I put it off, we all know their ain't no camp-out happening over here. As my friend so eloquently put it, the act of following through means so much.

So, since we own zero camping supplies, we set out to Wallyworld and purchased a modest tent. Great White Hunter was pretty jazzed at this idea too, and my men spent a better portion of their Saturday setting up "camp."

According to my son, what's a camp-out if you can't include a cook-out, and he wanted nothing to do with our gas grill. Since we're in the midst of one of the worst droughts in Texas history, we nixed the idea of an authentic camp fire. Instead, we drug out our old fire pit, cleaned it up a bit and got it ready for cooking. We cooked the appropriate camping food: burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. Well, sort of. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed buffalo burgers with cotija cheese, guacamole and cilantro lime salsa, and grilled corn with ancho chili butter. I found these new buns today, which I LOVE because they're super thin so you don't feel like you're getting a mouthful of bread with your burger. (Orowheat Sandwich Thins, 100% Whole Wheat)

Grilling on our old fire pit produced very earthy, smokey burgers that were so good. A few roasted marshmallows for dessert and our meal was complete.

As soon as the sun set, a story was read and we were off to bed. OK, I'll admit that after a few hours, my back had enough camping so I snuck into the house and climbed into my bed (Daddy and son spent the entire night in the tent).

This morning when I asked my little camper how he liked his night in the tent, well, the look on his face said it all. What's the moral of my story? Never put off tomorrow what you can do today, and take some lessons from your kids every now and then. It seems they really do know how find pleasure in the simple things.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Viva Cilantro!

Cilantro, with it's very strong flavor, is one of those herbs that people either love or hate. Me? I LOVE it. The other day I was dumping handfuls of this flavorful herb on a bowl of brown rice tossed with fresh mango salsa (try this, it's super yummy). I began to wonder if this pungent green herb had many health benefits, which would be nice since I eat so much of it. So my big cilantro-filled bowl and I sat down at the computer, googled a bit, and were amazed at what we found. Grab a sprig and chew on this:

Cilantro, considered one of the world's oldest spices, is an excellent source of nutrients which can be easily added to your diet. Physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander (the seed from which cilantro is grown) for its medicinal properties. The health benefits associated with cilantro are extensive, but it gets major recognition for diabetic support and is known in some parts of Europe as the "anti-diabetic plant." (get out your bowl, Dad :-). Another health benefit is that Cilantro reportedly works as a natural chelation treatment, which means it can help remove mercury from the body. In India, it is renowned for its anti-inflammatory benefits and in the United States used for fighting cholesterol. Cilantro helps digestion and settles the stomach, helps treat symptoms of arthritis, protects against urinary tract infections, helps lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol, is a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and iron.

Still need a reason to add this wonderful herb to your diet? Try this easy recipe, it's one of my favorites and has been known to convert many into cilantro lovers!

Cilantro-Lime Salsa

  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons white vinegar (I use 2)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup salad oil
  • 1 jalapeno, minced

Mix all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. This is great served over grilled steak, chicken and fish.