The calendar says fall, and while it doesn’t always feel like that here, we are trying to take advantage of all there is to do this time of year. Yesterday we drove about an hour northwest of home and spent the morning at an apple orchard. The kids got to pick their own apples which they both loved.
We came home with a full peck of apples, and we enjoyed this delicious dinner last night – a lot of nutrition in one skillet. Apple muffins, my favorite apple cake, and some homemade applesauce are on the line-up later this week.
Jude’s class learned about apples a few weeks ago, the process of seed to tree to flower to fruit. He’s been talking about it a lot and looking forward to “the apple farm” as he calls it. At almost four years old, he’s in such a perfect age for understanding the world around him but still being fascinated by it. It’s so fun to hear his commentary on everything we see and do.
The scenery was gorgeous, and it made me grateful for the region we live in. There really is a lot of beauty in North Georgia, especially this time of year.
It got hot as the day went on, so I stripped Norah down to her underclothes. Half-naked toddler didn’t care. She has such a curious side these days and loves to mimic every single thing her brother does.
Today we are slow roasting a chicken and spending the afternoon inside the house. This should be the last few days that the temperatures reach 80, and I’m actually looking forward to a little rain and maybe some light sweater weather soon. So many fun things await in the next few weeks.
We eat a lot of oatmeal around here, but never the soupy kind in a bowl. I know there is a bit of convenience with the store-bought instant kind, but when I look at the ingredients, I see maltodextrin, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, and some other weird things. (The peaches and cream variety contains no peaches??)
My solution is baked oatmeal. I prep it the night before, and I make a large batch that lasts all week. I wish I had a real photo I took with a real camera and edited, but I leave my house at 7:30 with two kids in tow. So that would never happen at the breakfast table. I don’t even have a cell phone picture, so you will just have to make it yourself to see what it looks like. You won’t regret it!
The recipe is so simple, and I wanted to share it. I’ve tried a variety of baked oatmeal variations, and I eventually blended a few different recipes to create this one. It is flexible and can be changed to suit whatever you have on hand. Right now, it is my absolute favorite breakfast, and my four-year-old will ask for seconds and thirds! I’ve started buying the huge box of oatmeal at Costco to keep up with our habit around here. It does contain eggs, so I’m not technically in line with my VB6 attempt when I eat this, but I usually make it with almond milk so that it is dairy-free.
Basic Baked Oatmeal
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk (or almond milk if making dairy free)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or butter if you’d like)
at least 1 cup fruit of choice (I use whatever is on-hand – bananas, blueberries, peaches, apples. Fresh or frozen. I occasionally add shredded coconut or a few pecans if the baby isn’t going to eat it.)
**optional: 1/2 cup Chia seeds (great tasteless source of Omega-3)
The night before:
Combine oats, sucanat, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and coconut oil. Combine wet and dry ingredients and then stir in fruit and chia seeds. Spoon into a baking dish. (I use my long pyrex pan most of the time, but square would work, too.) Place dish in the refrigerator.
The following morning:
Preheat oven to 350, and remove dish from refrigerator. Bake for about 40 minutes, and it’s perfect. You can eat this plain or with milk on top (how Jude likes it). Enjoy!
I always thought veganism was pretty strange. I mean who doesn’t eat eggs or cheese!? I understand vegetarianism in many ways, but vegan diets just felt like a step too far and extreme. Then I saw Forks over Knives and Food Matters – both on Netflix now, by the way. Both documentary films really made me rethink my prior assumptions. There is a lot of research to suggest that eating a plant-based diet is the way to go. But full-time veganism? Ha. Not going to happen here.
Then I found a more moderate philosophy. Have you heard of Mark Bittman’s VB6 habit? The basic premise is that you eat according to vegan rules until 6:00 in the evening, and then you eat whatever you want in moderation. I completed my dietary cleanse last spring, which really was just my way of trying to be more watchful of the food I eat. It was amazing the difference it made on how I felt and how I viewed food. As usual life gets in the way, and I’ve not been so careful on my fruit and veggie consumption lately. I need a reboot. I have no interest in doing that particular cleanse again right now, but I’m thinking VB6 is something I could get behind. I can still enjoy the same dinner dishes with my family and not impose my own habits on them. I’m going to give it a try this week. I have not done a meal plan post in ages (or any post really!) so here’s my plan this week.
Sunday Dinner: fish tacos with shredded cabbage and creamy sauce
Tuesday Dinner: Martha Stewart’s Tofu and Broccoli (Jude and I love this, and Scott is away that night. He is not a tofu fan.)
Wednesday Dinner: stir-fry cabbage cups
Thursday Dinner: grilled fish, potatoes, Pioneer Woman’s Grilled Zucchini
Friday Dinner: something ready-made from my freezer stash with a side salad (Jude’s speech therapy has us home later on Fridays, so my freezer is usually the solution.)
Saturday Dinner: I’m having friends over, and one of them is eating dairy-free right now with a nursing baby, so I think I’ll give this pasta dish a try.
We have a ridiculously busy weekend ahead with three different social functions today including a get-together with the new neighbors which I’m sure will be fun but is always a bit awkward at first. I did my grocery shopping last night after the kids were in bed to get it out of the way before the busy weekend. I’m looking forward to diving back into healthful eating. I’ve been bringing my lunch at work, but I’m realizing half the time I have NO fruits or veggies other than an occasional banana or something. None. So embarrassing, but true! So wraps with deli meat, baby bell cheese, chicken salad on a bagel, etc. are not cutting it anymore. We’ll see how this goes. I’m posting it here in writing , so I have to do it, right?
Happy weekend, friends!
[Let me assure you, despite my use of it in this title, I certainly had to google twerk this week after Miley Cyrus's televised escapades. ]
So I’m a few weeks into this whole working-outside-the-home thing, and it is becoming the new normal. Some things are really different (leaving the house every morning) and some things stay the same. My early risers trained me long ago, so our mornings really feel similar except that we leave the house at 7:30 instead of starting our day inside. I discovered years ago that showering before they are awake is the only way it happens, so I’ve been used to the 6am routine for ages anyhow. On the whole, they are handling the commute well, and both of them LOVE their new school routine. I love that I can walk to them in less than three minutes at any time I need or want to. On the whole, it feels good. And something I didn’t realize? I have missed talking about writing with people. Missed talking books. Missed being in a classroom. And I can’t hide the fact that is feels so good to be back in a women’s college setting.
I’ve unintentionally abandoned the blog recently, but I intend to get back when I discover a routine. I hope your holiday weekend is restful and that fall is around the corner.
For years now, Jude has climbed out of his own bed in the middle of the night to get to ours. I don’t mind it, especially since I don’t have to get up myself and he hardly wakes me. Lately though, he’s been sleeping almost until morning, but yelling “mooooommmmmmmmm” as loudly as possible at about 5am. Then I have to go get him because he is suddenly scared to get out of his bed, and I take him back to ours. And try as I might, I cannot go back to sleep once I’m up at an hour so close to morning anyhow. So I get up once he is sleeping again, stumble downstairs, turn on the coffee. I try and enjoy the quiet of pre-dawn before the day gets busy with two little kids.
And that is when I started this entry, but now it is three in the afternoon and I am rushing to finish it before Norah gets up from nap and Jude’s television show is over. Sigh. The mom life.
Norah pretends to understand the demands of motherhood lately. She drags this doll around the house and rocks her to sleep. Sometimes she’ll insist that I hold her a bit, like baby is just too much for her to handle right now. It cracks me up.
Work begins next week for me. I am feeling both excited and a little scared. We’ve had lots of lazy time already this week, and I hope to do the same for the next few days. I am trying to balance the necessaries I’d like to do – oil change, freezer breakfasts, house work, laundry – with the fun SAHM things I won’t enjoy much again until Christmas break. We took an hour to make and eat breakfast yesterday. Buttermilk waffles on our last Monday of summer. A new rhythm is coming soon, and I know it’ll be an adjustment. I’m grateful for the next chapter, but I’m holding on tight for the adjustment period. More soon, I hope.
Hi! Let’s just say that moving with two little kids was a lot more insane than I expected. We are getting settled, but the few days of the actual move were so awful. As an adult, it is jarring enough to have a total change in your home and your routine, but throw two little ones in the mix and holy moly. It is crazy.
They have been sleeping well (we all have! so exhausted!) and we are steadily getting settled a bit. Real pictures may come one day. When I can find my camera. Ha. SO MUCH STUFF we have. It really makes you want to simplify when you move all those belongings.
It was a long moving day when we moved out of the last house. I thought I’d be a lot more emotional after living there 7 years and bringing home 2 babies, but the day of the move, it was so tiring and intense, I just wanted to wrap it all up.
The kids are opening boxes faster than I can put things away which is fun, but it’s resulting in a lot of clutter.
But we are loving the house, and it’s feeling like home already. I think this is our forever place for sure.
We are dealing with construction sites right and left at the moment. Someone doesn’t mind though.
It’s a work in progress in every way. But I am grateful to be here, and I hope to share more soon.
I guess that title is a little overdramatic. I should say something like the post I thought I’d write in four more years. I’ve been wanting to sit down and string some thoughts together about this for weeks, but I couldn’t.
I’m going back to work.
Like regular paying job, outside the home, kind of work. Not that I’ve been eating bon-bons for the past three years, so it feels weird to phrase it that way.
I’m going to back up about seven months and explain all of this. Last November, I received an email from an old contact I had who told me about a job opening at my alma mater. There were so many things about it that seemed perfect for me. It was, at that time, going to be a part-time position as Writing Center Director at a small institution. Part-time work seemed like a perfect transition back to the working world and it was a position I’d love to hold and one that matched my experience well.
The week before this email arrived, Scott and I had been talking about the possibility of moving. There are things we love about this house, but a lot of really impractical things as well (namely that it is older and there are a million improvements left to be made and we don’t have the finances or the time for that anymore now that we have kids). We chatted about the different possible scenarios…. purchasing a newer house in our same area, moving a little south and closer to the city, or maybe moving about 25 minutes northeast of here to a suburb we lived in when we first married. It’s an area that has changed so much in a few years, and it’s really become a hub of sorts for young families. It’s also about 40 minutes from my alma mater and makes this job an actual possibility (versus an hour plus commute which I am not going to do with young kids). So when the wheels started turning on this job business, it seemed like a sign, and we decided to jump in with both feet and sell our home. We love the area anyhow and would be happy there regardless, but the job possibility also gave us a valid reason to sell in a lackluster market. Our house was listed on March 15th.
In February, by the way, I am obsessively checking the job postings because the job was supposed to post and it hadn’t yet. In March, I inquired what was going on and I found out that the position had been restructured so that it was now full-time. It’s combined with an Instructor of English position teaching two composition courses. At first my feelings were really mixed on all of this. I hadn’t planned to go back at all until Norah was around 4 or 5, and certainly not full-time. But the whole possibility was too perfect to pass up. I’ve always wanted to pursue something beyond the high school arena, but I had no idea how that would happen (a PhD first or a small community college or what). To begin this career journey with my alma mater seemed like such a perfect fit.
So I applied even though it is full-time, and I completed the interview process in May. The job was posted on both the Journal of Higher Education and the university job board, and I knew there were a number of others applying. My big interview was the day after Norah’s party and four days after selling our house, and I interviewed with a panel of Deans feeling certain I sounded stupid and wishing I’d prepared a little better amidst the madness. A couple weeks went by and I was thinking maybe the job went to someone else, but I finally got the call two weeks ago, and I begin in August! (She congratulated me on an impressive interview, by the way, so I guess sometimes our self-doubt clouds our perception a bit.) I didn’t realize how rewarding and perfect it would feel until all the pieces fell together and it became official. I’m so grateful for all of it.
The university has a Child Development Center in cooperation with their Education department, so my kids can be there with me while I work. This was really the icing on the cake and the piece of the puzzle that made me feel like it was meant-to-be. I know there will be challenges and adjustments, and I’m not ecstatic about commuting 40 minutes to work every day with two kids, but I’m learning that with motherhood – whether you work outside the home or not – there are sacrifices and challenges and nothing is absolute perfection because this is real life. But overall, I cannot think of anything better for our family right now.
I’ve heard about the “sacrifices” and “hard choices” of motherhood my entire life, but I’ve been a little spoiled on having to make those choices so far. I had a baby. I wanted to leave my job. I left my job with no regrets. There were financial adjustments moving to one income, but overall that was the easiest choice I’ve ever made. Then this new opportunity came along and threw me for a loop. It feels strange to me to pursue my own career and my own path when my kids are so young, and much of my last few years (all of it?) has been caring for them and putting them first. I realize that sounds embarrassingly 1950′s for me to say that, but it’s just been my norm since I became a mother. Norah will be fifteen months when I begin working though, and Jude will be just shy of four. I’m realizing that some time in a structured environment without mom for something like 8 months of the year is probably good for them and good for me. [Side note, I'm also realizing how much time professors get versus teaching high school and it blows my mind! Three actual full months off for summer, one full month for Christmas, a spring break and a fall break... real office hours with nobody barging in so I can plan and grade!? It's such a welcome change and a testament to how insanely hard high school teachers work.]
So that’s the story. Big changes are headed our way, and I am equally excited and scared and all of those other feelings that come along with big moments. Any advice from seasoned working moms is greatly appreciated.