Saturday, January 14, 2017

Getting out the door - sort of

Before I had children I was rarely late. I would take my coat out of the closet, put on my shoes that were neatly by the back door, grab my bag from the hook and step out, carefully locking the door behind me. I would get in my car, put on my seat belt, turn the key in the ignition and I was on my way. I had all of my belongings, 5-10 minutes to spare, and was ensconced in a quiet, peaceful drive to wherever I was going.

Leap ahead to today.

Leaving home with three young boys is similar to an act of Congress (and takes about as long). I start the process about 30 minutes before we need to be out the door. I still don't like to be late but it seems to be inevitable at times. Who can relate?

The first task is to make sure that everyone is suitably dressed for the temperature. We live in Connecticut and although it has been pretty mild, it is still winter. Baby J is almost never in pants at home in order to allow him to scoot around on the wood floors without face planting. I carry him up to his room to put pants on him. Next, my middle guy (M) detests all articles of clothing with any sort of coverage. Jeans result in the inability for him to bend his knees which of course means he amazingly loses the ability to walk temporarily, zippers must be just at the right level of up/down, long sleeves are absolutely not acceptable, socks "hurt", and just recently has he agreed to a sweatshirt. Putting these items on with him is about a 10 minute process, down from the WWF-like 40 minute take downs 6 months ago. (Has anyone ever steer-wrestled? Same difference.) He is three and because he doesn't want to wear them, doesn't put them on himself. I set down the 12 month old to wrestle M into his pants and the next thing I know, J has dumped out the dog's water dish. I grab J, sop up the water that is spreading across the kitchen floor and run up to change his wet clothes. Meanwhile, M is crying loudly because his jeans are too "over his feet" and they are covering his knees so he can't walk. I get J changed, run back downstairs, put the empty water dish on the counter, put the baby on the floor, and finish dressing with the three year old. The entire time, coaxing him to try and help, crazily thinking that if he learns how to do it, this whole process might be easier? He, of course, objects loudly, and wails that "I can not do it!" I end up dressing him because now we have 8 minutes before we have to be out the door.

Next monumental task - shoes and socks. As if donning three little pairs of shoes and socks weren't enough, first we have to find them. Of course, they are all in 12 different places, because why would you put socks and shoes together. Wait, even crazier, why would both socks be in the same room? Now, one would think that finding said shoes and socks shouldn't take much time at all. A true statement, unless you are 12 months, 3 years, and/or 6 years old. All things suddenly become interesting, including the dust bunnies under the couch, the spoon that fell on the floor at breakfast, and the hot wheel that was thought to be lost but discovered under the fridge. I have decided to change the text alert tone on my phone to the word, "FOCUS" in hopes that every time it goes off it will be a reminder to my boys. 12 minutes later we have collected all items. The big boys are sitting on the floor putting on their socks and shoes. E (6 year old) needs his socks "fixed" because the heel is "wrong" and as soon as I set J down to make the necessary adjustments, he makes a beeline for the back stairs. I jump up to body block the door. Catastrophe averted. M gets his socks and shoes on but is screaming and crying because "they don't feel good". I adjust the socks, tongues, and velcro and then I do it 2.75 more times before he deems them wearable, maybe. All this while the baby is trying to Kamikaze over me in order to play on the top landing of the stairs to the back door.

And then one day... Hallelujah, the six year old learns to tie his shoes. The only trouble is that it takes him 15 minutes to tie them and now that he can, the wise parenting move is to encourage him to do it himself. I'm telling you, that the patience it takes to watch that is monumental, especially since it took 12 1/2 minutes to find the damn things in the first place. "I got it mom" has been uttered 132 times. Finally, he gets them tied, but could I double knot them? Sure, why not. Meanwhile, J has tired of trying to break through my human wall and has crawled away and is pulling all items off the coffee table in the living room. I chase him down, tug his socks on, give up, and shove his shoes in my bag.

We are in the homestretch. I ask the big boys to grab their jackets.

HA!

E can't reach his, M doesn't like the one I handed him because "it bothers me" and he is now laying on the ground (his legs are trapped in his jeans). The one I grabbed for J is too small although I swear it fit yesterday. I run down and hand E his, I tell M that he can wear the one I handed him or grab a sweatshirt and I run back upstairs with J in my arms to find something that will fit him. Who needs the stair stepper at the gym? We are now 10 minutes behind schedule.

I set J down in order to tie my own shoes but as soon as I set him down, he falls over and bumps his face on the floor. I scoop him up, assess the damage, calm him down and run back upstairs to grab his blankie. I finally shuffle everyone out the door grabbing my bag and sliding into a pair of shoes that do not need to be tied because putting J down to do so is risking another crisis/injury.

We get out to the van and I still have to get everyone loaded. By this time, I am tired and we are late, is it even worth leaving home? I open the van doors and E crawls in the back, takes off his coat (he can't wear the thick coat in his seat for safety reasons), and buckles his own seat belt. One child in...

I put J in his seat and before I get him buckled, he has taken off one of his socks and thrown it out the door. I pull off the other one and toss them in my bag so that at least they are together. I tuck his blanket around him and close the door. Two children in...


I run around to the passenger side and lift M into the van and into his seat. I remind him to start putting his arms in the straps like a backpack and he somehow manages to end up all twisted up, resulting in crying. Again. Remind me when the crying about everything ends?! I untangle him, remind him for the one millionth time to scoot his bum back and to the middle and show him, again, how to buckle the chest clip, hoping that eventually he will be able to help, like maybe when he is 18. Seat belt cinched up. Three children in... Victory is so close I can taste it. Or maybe that is the cold cup of coffee I left in the microwave... Oops.

I run back around to the drivers side and fall into the drivers seat. Three, two, one... "Mom! I need my pillow! M has his Baa Baa and J has his blanket but I don't have my pillow!" Too late, meanest mom ever is ready to go and the pillow is just going to have to spend a quiet morning at home... alone... sometimes I am jealous of that pillow.

As we pull away, I hear J fill up his diaper. We are only 16 minutes late, a new record.

Good thing we only have to do this two more times today.












Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Curry Dressing

Patrick came home one day a month or so ago with a bit of leftover salad. It was so good that one of his coworkers helped me hunt down the general ingredient list. (Thanks Ginny!)




This wheat berry salad is a bit different than its inspiration. I used dried apricots instead of dried cranberries and it is a bit spicier although, this would be remedied with less curry powder.
We really liked it. Obviously, this is not for the gluten free group but it is dairy and soy free.

Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Curry Dressing 
 
For the salad -
1 cup wheat berries
1 cup brown rice
2 cups chopped kale
5 green onions chopped
1/3 cup cashew pieces
1 small can (7 oz) crushed pineapple drained
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (could substitute dried cranberries or raisins)

For the dressing -
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 cup orange or mango marmalade
2 T fennel seeds
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T curry powder (scant)
1/2 t salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions -
1. Cook the wheat berries and the brown rice per package instructions using vegetable broth instead of water.
2. Allow wheat berries and rice to cool.
3. While the first two ingredients are cooling, chop kale, green onions and apricots.
4. Add all salad ingredients to large bowl.
5. To make the dressing, add all dressing ingredients to a small food brocessor or blender (I used my small Ninja Express) and blend until smooth.
6. Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
7. This salad is best to let sit in the fridge for a few hours to let flavors mix.
8. Serve on a bed of greens. 



Friday, September 30, 2016

Curry Bowls with Rice Noodles




I found this recipe on A Pinch of Yum's website. Check out this site for lots of great recipes. As usual, I made some modifications to it but Patrick and I enjoyed it. I found that prepping the vegetables earlier in the day or the night before and storing them in the fridge was a great way to save a bit of time later on when everyone was hungry and cranky.

Curry Bowls with Rice Noodles
Ingredients
For the Curry Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or broth
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut aminos (could also use liquid aminos or soy sauce)
For the Bowls:
  • 4 ounces brown rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • half a sweet onion OR red onion chopped
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red pepper diced into medium sized chunks
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • sesame seeds for topping
  • limes for serving
  • a handful of fresh basil for serving
Instructions
  1. Soak the noodles in a bowl of very cold water for at least 20 minutes. When soft, drain and rinse.
  2. For the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan. 
  3. Add the green onions and ginger; stir fry for 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the curry paste; stir fry for 1 minute. 
  5. Add the coconut milk, sugar, chili paste, coconut aminos and simmer for 15 minutes - it should thicken a bit.
  6. For the veggies, in a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. 
  7. Add the onion, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus. (I usually have these chopped and ready to go so that all I have to do is dump them in.) Stir fry until the broccoli and asparagus are bright green. 
  8. Add the cabbage and cook for 1 more minute.
  9. Add the softened noodles to the saucepan with the sauce and gently mix. 
  10. Add the veggies and toss together until just combined.
  11. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and basil and a squeeze of lime.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The last days of summer


The three boys and I spent Wednesday evening at the beach. The Long Island Sound is more protected than other beaches and it makes it a perfect place for the younger kids to play. Patrick had a meeting and so we left without him. (Poor guy has missed out on all of the beach time since we have been here.) We took a sort of picnic. I cheated and picked up pizza for them and a veggie wrap for me.




We played in the "puddles"/ tide pools and enjoyed the sunset. It was warm. One of the few remaining warm days before fall comes for good this year. There were just a few families on the beach and as the tide went out we had plenty of room to run off the day and play.

E and M digging and wading.


Betsy told us that the evening times at the beach were special. I believed her but I now understand what she meant. The feeling was much different. It was so calm and peaceful, so quiet and lovely. The sunset was unmatched on Wednesday which didn't hurt.

Betsy, E, M, and J checking out the sand.

A lovely mom offered to take all of our picture after my attempts to have E hold J failed miserably.

Good night sea. Good night sand. Good night wind. Good night beach.




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chocolate Mixed Berry Oat Bars

3 year old approved

I came across a version of this recipe at Texanerin Baking's blog. Go check out her original and peak around at some of her other recipes! I made some of my own modifications but otherwise I liked what she created. This is my version of Texanerin's bars.
 

Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Oat Bars

 Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup soft (but not liquid) refined coconut oil 
  • 1/3 cup soy free Earth Balance Spread
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 1/3 cup mixed berry jam (or any berry flavor that you happen to have on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Line an 8"x8" square baking pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375°F. 
  2. Stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Cut in the coconut oil and mix until the dough just comes together.
  4. Gently press two thirds of it onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.
  6. While baking, prepare the berry filling. In a small sauce pan, stir together the berries and jam. Heat through until it is mashed with a fork.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  8. Spread this mixture over the baked crust and then sprinkle about 1/2 of the chocolate chips over the berry layer.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate chips.
  10. Bake for another 25-28 minutes or until the top has lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.
  11. Remove from the oven and top with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  12. Let the bars cool completely in the pan and then refrigerate at least 3 hours before cutting.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fun happenings

I am loving being home. Although it can be a little crazy, I feel more relaxed and more calm. I feel like I can really "be there" for the boys. I still do feel a little guilty for not working but down the line I am sure there will be time for that.

The first few weeks of school have gone well, although E is TIRED by the end of the day which makes for some rough evenings. He came home on the first day and told me that the best part of the day was lunch and said, "mom, seriously, I am so good at lunch". Love it. Although, I apparently under packed and he was "soooo hungry".

M and mom at the beach on a cool day.

E and M on the rocks in the side yard of our house.

M spending time with dad on the playground before he had to go back to work for an evening meeting.

My little buddy, M.

Look who is the big brother during the school day.
M and I have been able to spend time together, which we really hadn't done since he was a newborn. He often surprises me with little observations and his language expands daily. M and J and I walk across the street to the pond almost every day to check in on the fish, turtles, ducks, geese, and every now and then a crab or two. Last week, we spotted a three legged turtle. M thought it was pretty interesting that the bigger one with three legs bumped the smaller one off the rock while he was climbing up. There are some really big snapping turtles and we have seen painted turtles and sliders. I am sure there are more than a few varieties that I am unaware of.

Turtle friends.
Brothers watching the turtles
 E starts flag football this week and is looking forward to his first game and practice. His team is the KC Chiefs. What are the odds? Ha. He is also signed up for Cub Scouts. Pretty exciting when you consider the Collins' family history in the scouting world.

We have checked out Whole Foods, walked over and gotten our library cards, gone running at Tod's Point (without Kona - no dogs allowed until Dec 1st), gone to the beach, and found a gym to work out at. We have ventured to Target (a whole separate post of it's own), found a sporting goods store and spent time walking in the neighborhood. We are slowly unpacking boxes and getting settled in. Patrick has misplaced his keys almost daily, which definitely makes it feel like home. Ha!

We have some adventures in mind too. We are hoping to take the boys on the train, probably just a few stops away. We would eventually like to go into New York City but may need to recruit a brave soul to go with us. I'm looking forward to finding a yoga class/studio that I love and am hoping to get to Trader Joe's one of these days. For now, we are just finding our new normal, one day at a time. 


The Long Island Sound off of Tod's Point - Morning run

Grilled "Sausage" and Veggie Sandwich


I was using up leftovers and vegetable on their "last legs" in my fridge for lunch today and it turned out quite good.

We had green pancakes, VeganEgg, and vegan sausages for dinner last night. There were several sausage links left that Patrick crumbled in a wrap and I used one for this sandwich. I also roasted a few veggies late morning to use them before they went bad.

Roasted Veggie and Hummus Sandwich

Ingredients
- 2 slices good whole wheat bread or sandwich bread of choice
- 2 tablespoon of roasted red pepper hummus
- 1 teaspoon Earth Balance soy free spread
- Roasted Brussels sprouts, celery, broccoli, carrots, and red onion (see specifics below)
  - salt and pepper
  - olive oil or vegetable broth
  - brown sugar
  - garlic powder
- 1 slice vegan cheese
- two slices of tomato
- 1 vegan sausage link

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Chop veggies and arrange on baking sheet sprinkling with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar for Brussels Sprouts.

  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli florettes
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion 
  • 1 tsp olive oil or veggie broth (or to taste)
  • pinch of salt
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper, to taste
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • 1½ cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • black pepper, to taste
3. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes (or to liking) stirring once halfway through.
4. Cook vegan sausage link according to instructions or reheat if leftover.
5. When vegetables are nearing completion, spread Earth Balance on one side of each slice of bread.
6. With the buttered side down, place one slice of vegan cheese on one slice of bread and spread hummus on the other slice. (Note the Earth Balance is used on the toasting side.)
6. Place desired amount of roasted veggies on the sandwich on top of the cheese.
7. Slice sausage link the long way for a flat surface and add both pieces to the sandwich.
8. Add sliced tomato and press two slices together to form sandwich.
9. On a lightly oiled, preheated skillet, cook the sandwich for 2 minutes or so on medium. Watch the bottom so as not to burn. Flip when adequately toasted. Toast on the other side for 1 to 2 minutes.

Enjoy!