I have been utterly and completely overwhelmed and have come to the realization that this new adventure of mine–is really hard. I have no other eloquent way of saying it. It’s hard. I feel as though every ounce of my creativity and focus has been drained from my body and I’ve been on pure survival mode.
The second week of school I got sick. Like really sick. And so did my entire family, sans Mikayla. It has been a slow recovery and finally last Thursday, I finally felt back to normal, just as Cher came down with Round Two of sickness, which I’m hoping doesn’t transmit to me.
The sickness, as well as for the first time trying to figure out how to be gone four days a week, has been quite challenging. My family is used to having me somewhat available to them and this has been quite an adjustment. They’ve been doing great–helping out when I ask, helping with dinner and doing what they can–it’s been impressive and very telling; I guess I finally figured out how to get your kids to do stuff around the house–don’t be home. I no longer have time to grocery shop during the week at all, which means if I don’t have something–I go without it. This has created some interesting lunches for the girls and some modified dinner recipes. And guess what? So far, everyone has survived.
I have to do some quick thinking and a lot of planning when it comes to meals. I utilize my Paprika app on my computer, iPhone and iPad a lot and since I’ve become a vegetarian, trying to find vegetarian recipes that can either go in the slow cooker or be prepared ahead so the girls just have to pop it in the oven. Otherwise, we don’t eat until 7:30 or 8:00 o’clock at night. Paprika has a browser and a way to save recipes you find on the Internet right into your recipe file. It also has a meal planner, which also generates a grocery list that’s been a very helpful tool to have around. (I sound like I’m promoting this app. I’m not. It’s just been very helpful.)
Yesterday, I finally did what I’ve wanted to do since starting school and prepared most of the week’s meals at one time. I prepped fresh vegetables for tonight’s meal (celery, carrots, and cucumbers,) to go with grilled veggie burgers (Morningstar are the best I’ve found–Costco sells the big package,) and baked potatoes. I cleaned the potatoes, wrapped them in foil and put them in the oven with a note to turn it on to 400 degrees at 4:45 so they’ll be ready when I get home. That way I only have to grill the veggie burgers and put out the veggies and dip. Dinner done.
For Tuesday I made a baked ziti. While I was cleaning and chopping veggies for Monday, I took some carrots, green peppers, and celery and shredded them in the food processor. For the sauce I started with 2 Tbs. of olive oil, added a diced onion, three cloves of minced garlic, and the veggies. When they were soft, I took out half of the veggies to use in Wednesday’s dinner, then added a cup of dry red wine to what was left, let it simmer a minute then added one large can of San Marzano tomatoes and one small can of tomato paste and let it simmer a while.
I cooked the ziti for only five minutes and drained, (first reserving a cup of the pasta water,) then added it back to the pot and stirred in the sauce, some shredded mozzarella cheese and half of the pasta water. I layered half of the pasta and added blops of ricotta then the rest of the pasta and topped with mozzarella and Parmesan. I covered it in foil and put it in the refrigerator. I’ll leave instructions for one of the girls to pop it in the oven around 5:00 and serve it with sliced cucumbers and Italian bread.
For Wednesday, I made a simple vegetarian chili using some of the veggies I cooked for the sauce. I put the cooked veggies in the slow cooker and added one can each of black beans, kidney beans and white beans (drained,) and one can of chili beans in sauce (not drained,) two cans of diced tomatoes, two cans of tomato sauce, one can of diced green chilis, and two cups of frozen corn. For spice I added two Tbs. of chili powder, some homemade Creole mix (garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper,) and some cumin. I don’t measure–I just throw some in. I stirred it around, put the lid on the slow cooker and put the entire thing in the refrigerator. On Wednesday, I’ll put it in the slow cooker and cook all day. Serve with cornbread (I’ll probably made when I get home, it doesn’t take long,) and chili toppings (we like sour cream, cheddar cheese and Cheese-its.)
Thursday I planning on a butternut squash soup or depending on how the week goes, it might be pizza night!
Last week I made dinner in the morning for that night: Vegetarian Thai Curry, Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Lentil, Kale and Potato soup. That was fine, but this was much easier and it’s so nice knowing it’s DONE!
These are the things that I need to implement more to give me more time with the girls and Cher. Last week I went to the girls’ parent-teacher conferences and was so bummed to hear that Kennedy didn’t do well on her Personal Narrative assignment because she didn’t have a strong opening paragraph. Really? My child didn’t have a strong opening paragraph on a personal narrative? That breaks my heart. Even though she probably wouldn’t have come to me for help anyway (unless I asked,) it still makes me wonder if it was because she knew I was so busy and didn’t want to bother me. I am busy, but believe me, Kennedy’s essays come before my student’s essays or even my own.
I’m trying to figure it all out–it’s just a process I guess and I know that next term won’t be quite as challenging as this one. One day at a time I guess. That’s all I can do.