Monday, 30 January 2012

Croup: A change in perspective.

My thoughts yesterday:
1) I can't believe I only have one more week at home with my kids before I go back to work.
2) I'm not plugging in the baby monitor anymore.  I'm sick of Scarlett getting up in the night - how am I going to survive this when I go back to work?
3) Why doesn't Scarlett want to be weaned?  Its time to move on - I don't want to be getting up at 5am to feed her.
4) I'm sick of stupid winter.

Then the kids got sick.  Really sick.

My thoughts today:
1) Thank God I have this week off to be home with my kids.
2) Thank God for baby monitors.  I hope Scarlett gets up in the night so I know she's okay.
3) Thank God for breastfeeding.  I am so glad I can comfort her in this way.  I am so glad I can provide her the nourishment she needs when she is disinterested in food.
4)  Thank Goodness for the cold air.  It does more for my childrens' lungs than any medicine can.

Its amazing how one little event can remind you of God's abundance.  Or, if you're not religious, its amazing how that event can fix the way you think about the things and circumstances that surround you.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Curried Lentil Stew

Curried Lentil Stew by SashaWarner
Curried Lentil Stew, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
This is by far my favourite slow cooker recipe. Have you noticed all the slow cooker recipes headlining the magazines in stores right now? Apparently I’m not the only on stressing about finding time to cook the family dinner these days.

And speaking of stress, it does the funniest things to you, eh? Like makes you forgetful. Believe me, the can of coconut milk and the diced tomatoes went through a lot to get into my slow cooker today… thanks to a whole lot of forgetfulness.

On Saturday, I was SO on the ball. I decided to go grocery shopping before Shawn left for work at 8:30am. I rolled into the parking lot at 7:10am. With Nevin. I felt like an Ironwoman. I was checking out by 8am – ahead of schedule, for those of you keeping track. Except that I forgot my wallet. Who forgets their wallet when they are going to the grocery store? Apparently the make-up free mother with unbrushed hair and a toddler over in aisle 4. It wasn’t busy and the checkout lady was super friendly, so she agreed to suspend my order and place my groceries aside while I rushed home for some money. I only live a few minutes from the store, so I still made it back home, with the kid and the food, before Shawn had to leave. Bonus: Shawn was in the shower while I did the dash of shame through the mudroom to grab my wallet, so I didn’t even have to deal with a week’s worth of teasing from him.

I had a bunch of prep to do for Nevin’s birthday party, so I was busy in the kitchen all morning. I was surprised at myself a couple times because I had forgotten to pick up a couple of things that I had expressedly written on my list. Stress and a toddler will do that to you. By the third thing missing, I realized I had left a bag in the car, now in Smiths Falls with Shawn. Not wanting it to freeze, I called Shawn and asked to talk it into work. Except it wasn’t in the car.

My phone call to the grocery store:
Sasha: Hi, this is kind of a strange question, but did anyone happen to leave behind a bag of groceries this morning?
Lady: Oh! You must be the girl who forgot her wallet! I heard about you.
Sasha, blushing: Yes… so you have my bag of groceries?
Lady: Actually it was a bag of groceries and a club pack of cereal.

Of course it was, I knew that.... no, I didn’t. Nice work, Sasha. Stop stressing, and just remember your groceries, my dear.

After the jump, you’ll be rewarded with my favourite slow cooker recipe. Stay low stress and enjoy, my friends! And please comment with links to your favourite slow cooker recipes… we could all use a little help (clearly!).

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Chocolava Cookies and a Lesson in Preparation

Chocolava Cookies by SashaWarner
Chocolava Cookies, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Boy scouts always say failure to prepare is preparing for failure.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Wednesday nights are my favourite fitness class night (a.k.a. my only fitness class night). A long time ago, I heard that chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout drinks your can have. Equally as good, or better, than the heavily marketed, over-priced flavoured water drinks you can find on grocery shelves. I have no idea if this is in fact true, or if the study was funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, but I like the idea. And I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say that if chocolate milk is an excellent post-workout snack, then plain milk and chocolate cookies are also great post-workout. So last Wednesday, in the five spare minutes I had between putting the kids to bed and rushing out to my 8pm fitness class, I pre-measured the dry ingredients and assembled all the other ingredients on the counter to make chocolate cookies. Fifteen minutes after I got home, I was going to be enjoying my healthy, just-as-good-as-…ade snack, fresh out of the oven.

I was prepared.

And then I failed. I should have seen it coming. I was carrying a little extra tension on, and in, my shoulders. My first swim practice in almost a year was the night before. Shoving the stupid winter stroller with 6-inch wheels through the snow. A wee bit a anxiety about going back to work. The four-minute plank we held in class. So my neck muscles got frustrated, and said enough was enough. They weren’t going to work anymore without screaming at me. They failed.

But I was prepared.

Waiting for at home was the basically premade cookies read-to-go. I have never been so happy with myself in all my life. That’s not true, but I was pretty happy with myself. My neck may have been in pain, but my hands were in great shape. Ten minutes after I got home, with a little help from Shawn, my hands were lifting divine cookies to my mouth.

Not to worry, one week, a professional massage, several impromtu I’m-a-great-husband massages, and a little rest, and the neck is back to normal. A friend came for dinner tonight and I made these cookies again. They are delicious, so I had to share (delicious and have only 100 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per cookie!)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cake

As you may have noticed, I've been a little absent from the blogging world lately. I'm just trying to let you down easy. There is a big black hole looming on the horizon that I'm certain will suck up all my energy and leave me with no time to blog. In four short weeks, I'm going to be back at work. Back in the classroom. Back teaching other people's kids instead of my own.

I'm already starting to get my head in the game (did you notice the reference to a black hole up there? That's such a ninth grade science teacher thing to do.) And accumulating advice, because, call me a bad mom if you want, but I'm not feeling that badly about going back to work. Instead, I'm terrified of post-return-to-work laundry, bathroom cleaning, and -- gulp -- suppers. Honestly, how is a person supposed to work, feed the children and smell nice all at the same time?

Fortunately, as it turns out, I'm not the first person to ever wade into these treacherous waters. I'm surrounded by moms who have done it, who are doing it, and are surviving. And so are their kids. I had a very uplifting conversation with two such moms a couple days ago. They are really great moms - the kind that have successful careers in meaningful fields, are super healthy, volunteer for everything going on in their kids lives and from the outside looking in, you would say they have their "stuff" together. You know what they told me? "Sasha, you'll swear you'll never eat at McDonald's. You will. We eat at McDonalds. Sometimes once a week. And you know what, Sasha? Who. Cares. You do what you need to." In other words, you don't have to be perfect. In fact, imperfect is preferable. It makes life happier.

The other piece of advice I've gotten over and over in the past month, when I express my real concern about supper is to embrace the slow cooker. I don't think the following recipe is what they had in mind, but I like to ease myself into things with a bit of, well, sugar.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cake
(From Canadian Living)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
6 tbsp natural peanut butter
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water

1. In slow cooker stoneware, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and baking powder.
2. Whisk together milk, egg and peanut butter; stir into flour mixture.
3. Cover and cook on high until cake is firm to touch, 2 hours.
(Apparently, you could do this in a 13 x 9 and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for a half hour instead).

At an hour, you might freak out and be tempted to scrape it out of the slow cooker and bake it in the oven.  Don't.  It will work out.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Egg-Free Pancakes

New Years Pancakes by SashaWarner
New Years Pancakes, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
For me, there is no better way to ring in the new year than with pancakes with my family. We reached deep into the freezer and dug out the last of the blueberries and peaches from last summer, and made some wicked good pancakes together. A family that plays together, stays together, right? How 'bout a family that eats all year together, completes the year together? A little off, eh? Well, you get the idea.

Here's the recipe, with the link. Its delicious, and I'm pretty excited about this blog's other egg-free baking.

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