Reflections

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Its not the end of the year, but it is nearly the end of the school season.  Honestly, this is the sort of thing that I generally do in June for some reason.  December has always seemed “mid-year” to me.  In my mind, its like trying to make resolutions and new goals in the midst of swirling chaos.  Spring seems like we’re winding down the school year, but in any case, it is an end of a season.   And we’re on spring break right now, so it seems that a break is a good time of reflection.

We have lost some friends, but gained new ones in their places.  We have lost some dearly loved family members over the past year and it has changed our familyscape dramatically.  Change is growth for everyone isn’t it?

G has a new-ish, scarily amazing job and I have to say, he is continually surprising me by how he refuses to conform to anyone’s idea of what it is like to work in a corporate environment.  As is often the case with our relationship, it sometimes is like watching someone else do this amazing thing creating activities and new experiences and I just sort of  watch from the sidelines.  I’m not disappointed you understand, its just not my time.  I had such a busy and tumultuous childhood that I prefer being home.  I love to travel, but always to come home.  I love my home life and creating things close to home – activities with my children, relationships with neighbors and community involvment.  This is my space – it took me 40 years to find it and I am making it my own.  So it is with interest and a sense of wonder that I well, just watch G as he most often coasts through the house, the airport, the many many hotels and restaurants that come with his career.  I watch as he comes back to our home each time and the children are so excited that he’s home and the dog of course.  And every now and again we come together for periods of time when he’s working from home or between projects and we all readjust to the schedule.

We’re trying out weekend trips right now.  Its not something we’ve really ever done.  We generally go on vacation…. but for a week or more at a time.  This past weekend we went to Springfield, IL (with the kiddos) to see the Lincoln Museum and state capital.  In June we’ll head out to NYC for a long weekend (adults only this time).  Its a different feeling to dash through a city rather than to immerse yourself in it.  Rather like having a taste of a new cuisine, rather than the whole meal.

In any case, we are back to reality now with dance class, soccer practice and scouts.  That means very very busy and so little time for dinner prep!  So – I have been doing batch cooking once or twice a week with pretty good success.  Monday’s freezer meal was Lime Chicken – yum!  Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken – cubed (or shredded after cooking)
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped  (can use fresh chopped curly parsley if you prefer)
  • 1 can black beans (14.5 oz.) rinsed and drained.  I used organic.
  • 1 bag frozen corn (can use fresh or canned, drained).  Could also change it up with other veg. mixtures – my next batch has snap peas, corn and carrots.
  • 1 sweet onion chopped.
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • juice of 2 limes.
  • 1/4 c water (optional – depending on how moist you would prefer your mixture.

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a freezer bag.
  • Mix to evenly distribute.
  • Flatten and store in freezer
  • When ready to cook, defrost overnight in fridge
  • Place in slow cooker and cook on low for 6/8 hours.
  • Serve in tortillas or over rice.  Can top with sour cream and cheese, yum!
  • notes:  I generally choose all organic veggies when possible including canned or frozen.  I find that sometimes with this recipe I should add approx 1/4 cup of water during the last hour or so.  If cooking directly – just pop everything in the slow cooker immediately.  My kids loved this and even asked if they could take it to school the next day for lunch – win!
  • credit:  This was adapted from livingrichwithcoupons.com

I hope you enjoy!  I doubled this recipe when I was making dinner so that dinner was made for today, but then I’ve made a freezer dinner already for another day as well.

Cheers!  Be fierce!  Make dinners!

Kelly

 

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What I did not know about being a dog owner

Bella Red Coat

Look at this face!

Have I ever told you about how I adopted our dog?  Well, over the last year-and-a-twirly-whirly-half I became a Girl Scout leader!  Fun right?  Well…. kind of – we’ll talk about that  in another post.  So, there is an event at the beginning of every calendar year called, “Cookie Kick-Off”.  This event is the beginning of cookie selling season for Girl Scouts of America.  The cookie season only lasts a few months, so its a big deal.  In any case, thousands of girl scouts get together in stadium arenas all over the country.  Ours is held at Allstate Arena in IL.  There are concerts, cookie booth competitions, cookie recipe tastings, shopping, games, ice skating and hockey.  It is quite an event.  This past year, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and NW Indiana also conducted an official contest with the Guiness Book of World Records to officially count the most people simultaneously dunking a cookie in milk.  We broke the record!  Huzzah!  In any case, I digress – my point is that there is a lot going on at this event.  Additionally, there are two animal shelters with pop-up adoption sites in the arena.  So, last year, we attended with a small group of daisy scouts (the youngest girl scouts).  When we walked in, my husband knew we were done for.  He knew immediately we were coming home with a dog.  Some kind of a dog.  Admittedly, I had been pining for a dog.  We tried various adoption sites.  Some of which were too expensive.  Some of which seemed as if they would rather keep the dog themselves.  We eventually gave up.   And then this.  These puppies!!  All amongst the girl scouts shouting and reaching and the adults grabbing for adoption forms as if we were in a bidding war for the cutest dog!!  It was fast-paced and intimidating!  By the end of the evening I had applied for 3 dogs.  I was wait-listed for 1, outbid by 1 and turned down for 1 (because we have a cat).  I was defeated.  I headed back to by seat for the Girl Scout hockey game in this giant arena when I got a phone call!  The wait-listed dog was up for adoption!  The first person in line for her adoption was turned down and I was next!  I was so excited!!  Down all the stadium stairs I ran, past all the hot dog vendors and ice cream dot stands.  I saw a little white doggie with a pink nose just terrified of all the noise and commotion.  That was my dog.  I was so overcome I had tears in my eyes.  I completed all the paperwork and put her little coat on her and attached her leash.  I couldn’t stop admiring her sweet white and pink face.  I called my husband on the phone, still in the stands.  He gathered up the other girl scouts and brought the car around.  He looked unsure about the sweet dog.  It was chilly and there were snow flurries hitting our faces as we piled into the SUV with the pup.  As we headed away from the arena, my husband says, “That’s a pitbull you know…”.  I scratched her little pointy ears wondering what kind of a monster crops dog ears and absent-mindedly said, “What?  It is not”.  “It is”, he said, “its a staffordshire terrier – a pitbull”.  The little daisy scouts shrank back in their seats a little bit.  We were all silent.  Could we return her?  Would she eat us?  I had no idea what to do!  I felt like I had gotten wrapped up in some kind of an animal whirlwhind that was now dying down and this was what now sat beside me.

She seemed harmless enough.  At the moment anyway.  We discussed names and came up with “Bella”.  Short for Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter books.  Sweet and scary we thought.  It seemed to fit her.  We made a pit stop at a Petsmart for a crate and dog food and then headed home to drop off the scouts.

For a long time Bella did not make a sound at all.  We weren’t sure she could.  Three months after living with us, we heard her bark for the first time!  A sound!  Oh and it was loud and deep.  A strong bark.  It took probably 6 months for us all to adjust to one another.  We learned that Bella liked other dogs and played well with them – but did occasionally bite softly.  She liked the cats and 1 of the cats decided she was ok if she was not going to be eaten for dinner.  The other cat decided he was too old and set in his ways and no way was he going to be bathed by a dog.  (That’s still true by the way, but they do now lounge together on occasion.)

Bella and George the Cat

Bella and George the Cat

Later in the year, we had a family emergency and without enough time to find a proper dog sitter, we took her with us and drove 16 hours to visit family in the south.  We learned she was a lovely travel companion!  She loves car rides and seeing new sites.  She met her dog “cousins” and discovered her soul-playmate, a little pipsqueek named Cleo.

Bella and Cleo

Bella and Cleo

I wasn’t sure how “attached” I was, even 6 months after we adopted Bella.  We traveled with her, bought her cute canine clothes and took her to the “fancy vet” because she has a lingering medical condition due to the way she was treated prior to the animal rescue.  One morning last fall, I was in such a hurry getting my children to school.  I am always in a hurry it seems, but I was definitely having one of those days.  I forgot to put Bella in her crate before I took the children to school.  When I came home, I saw her empty crate and realized my mistake – but I couldn’t find her.  I looked everywhere.  The yard, the garage, the basement, the kids’ rooms…. and then I went in my bedroom to flop down on the bed in dismay and there was a fair sized lump under our white comforter.  There was a little pink and brown nose that peeked out as I came further into the room.  There she was!  I was so relieved!  I didn’t realize how attached I had become!  I was in near hysterics because I thought we had lost our “scary breed” hockey-rescue-dog with a medical condition.  From that moment on, for me at least, she was *my* dog.  She was *our* family dog.  There is not even one thing you can tell me about “pitbulls” or more correctly, staffordshire terriers now that would make me afraid of my own dog.  Bella now earns her keep so-to-speak.  She comes to sit on my feet if I’m working in the kitchen, she barks if someone is standing on our porch – and thank goodness too because I don’t hear well.  I appreciate the extra home protection because my husband often travels.  She is gentle with my children and does not chase the cats.  She has settled into her life with us – Halloween costumes and all, and we have settled into our life with her.  What I did not know is that “Rescue” is my favorite breed.  #Rescues #StaffordshireTerriers #Pitbulls

Bella is a Cup o' Joe

Bella is a Cup o’ Joe

Helpful Travel Apps

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So.  Its been a busy couple of weeks.  My dad has encountered some health issues, so I flew down to visit him for a couple of days while he was in the hospital.  It was WAY out of my bubble!  But, good for me, right?  To be outside of my comfort zone and doing things I don’t regularly do such as travel by myself?  Its good for me to stretch those travel muscles and use those skills I don’t get to use so often.  I discovered a few things like Uber….  have you used this car service?  Very interesting.  You sign up with them online or with an app and enter a credit card and then after that you find a car close to you, using the app, and there is no cash involved!  The charge goes on your card (you can get an estimate of your charge beforehand on the app) after your ride has finished and there is no tip involved.  Anyway, so the drivers all use their own cars to pick you up and they really do vary in what kind of “driver” you get.  Over the few days that I used Uber, I found that all but one of my drivers was using Uber as a second job.  Most of them were young college(ish) age, but one was a senior gentleman.  They do vary in how “honest” they are about receiving tips as well.  I found one of them that encouraged me to tip, and the other 3 drivers said it was against the philosophy of the company.  I was so new to the service, that I didn’t know better so I tipped the first time, and then didn’t after the next driver corrected me.  Anyway, over all, I was very pleased with the service.  It was very fast, curteous, and the cars were CLEAN.  In any case, I also tested out the United Airlines app.  So fantastic.  SO fantastic.  Once you log in, it will alert you on your phone any time your flight changes, when you can check in 24 hours in advance, etc.  You can use it as your boarding pass so there is no need to worry about losing those flippy boarding papers that get stuck in the bottom of your purse or carry-on.  Anyway, it doesn’t have that many stars on the app store, but I found it to be wonderful.  I will definitely use it again!  (also very nifty to scan your phone as your boarding pass, kind of fun!)  Also, I know there are several opinions on whether to medicate if you don’t “fly well” and what exactly medicate means in that scenario, but I for one am all for medicating before flying if you have an anxiety disorder.  1) There might be nothing worse than being trapped inside and having an anxiety attack and 2) So much safer for everyone involved.  I know that flying is not fun for me, and so I took something my doctor prescribed for panic attacks before getting on the plane even though I wasn’t actually having an attack at the time.  Just in case.  Better safe than sorry!  Plus, the meds only last for a short while, so really, by the time I got off the plane, it had mostly wore off.  I suppose that might be the trade off, while you don’t want to be having a panic attack on  a plane, you also don’t want to be in a strange city feeling “foggy” or not having your wits about you.  So, my moral of the story is, plan ahead if you have an anxiety disorder!  Find something that works for your travel plans.  Most docs will prescribe something even just for travel.  Or, at least that is what I did and it worked for me.  And, uh, this actually isn’t the post that I sat down to write today… I will try again tomorrow.  Safe travels all.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly