Our boys found a wooly bear caterpillar rolled up in our alcove today. The caterpillar, I think, was preparing to hibernate, but our boys had other plans. They built a cage for it using my water pitcher, fetching sticks and grass from our backyard. Our almost 3-year-old daughter, ever helpful, flung handfuls of dirt in, and they cried out. But I was glad to see them play outdoors for so long, their heads bent together. When I was growing up, I roamed free, splashed in our neighborhood creek, and fell in love with nature. I don’t know how our children will learn to appreciate the solitude nature brings when they have so few opportunities to explore it today without an adult by their side. But maybe that will change as they grow older.
There are certain foods that are pretty forgiving, meaning you can hide what’s left over in your fridge in them, and neither your children nor your husband will notice. Namely enchiladas, tacos, soups, meatloaf and lasagna, which is what I made using our leftover turkey tonight. I substituted the Parmesan cheese (which we rarely have) with cheddar. And I like that this lasagna uses sour cream, which we usually stock in our fridge, rather than ricotta. I never think to buy that.
How do you use up leftover food?
We finally got an offer on our home, a low one, but it’s negotiable enough. And now it has sparked a debate between us: where now? Where do we move while we wait for our home to be built? Or perhaps the better question is, what defines you? Is it your home, or your neighborhood?
For me, it is our neighborhood. Where my friends are. Where our children play with friends they’ll eventually be classmates with and I know who to call when a day has become long and hard. I can’t stand the thought of moving away from it all. Not for six months. Or not for my greater fear, two years, if our project gets delayed.
But for Matt, it is both. He is more willing to commute to live in a home in which he is comfortable. A house that feels like a home, that has space for us to move and breath, places for our children to play.
Which is more important to you?
Tonight, I made a casserole with our leftover hot chili. I placed it in a baking dish, and poured this cornbread recipe over it. I substituted 1/2 cup of butter for the vegetable oil (how does a cook run out of vegetable oil?) and raised the baking time to 45 minutes.
When I decided to start writing again to renew my career, I wasn’t sure where to start. Sure, I blogged. But how would I make the leap from pressing publish on my personal posts, to getting paid by an editor?
In my first article for More.com, “Renew Your Spirit,” I wrote about how one catalyst started each woman’s reinvention. When you’re at home, sometimes it feels the professional world moves ahead of you; you’re two steps behind it. And you need to figure out how to catch up.
What I had lost while at home wasn’t so much my ability but my confidence. So, like Zoe Francois, I took a class. It was through MediaBistro.com, and having my articles critiqued by a professional writer gave me the confidence to pitch editors again. And not take failure personally.
Have you lost your confidence?
Last week, I met up with my friends, Liz and Anna, at Barnes & Noble. While our kids paged through comic books, we drank coffee and flipped through the magazines we’d like to write for. We talked about which front-of-book sections our work would best fit in, and offered one another advice.
While we’ve all taken time off to be at home with our children, we’re now planning to relaunch as freelance writers. Only when you’ve been home for seven years like me, you lose touch with the outside world. Specifically, your connections. We know networking is everything. So the three of us decided to start our own writers’ network. Because sometimes it’s not about the powerful people you know, but the people who make you feel powerful.
Don’t know how to start your network to get your reinvention underway? Here are some tips.
- Join social media. Find others in your community who share your interests.
- Reconnect with professionals from your previous life through social media. Every six months or so, meet in person for coffee.
- Trust in other moms. Chances are they are wondering, “What next?” just like you. Ask what interests them, and share what interests you. They may introduce you to a mentor or a new friend.
- When you meet up, make it a point not to talk about your kids. At least not all of the time. This is your time to focus on you.
Summer is crazy, I’ve decided. It’s hot and humid, but I love it: days at the park or beach, nights on friends’ decks. But it gets stressful, too, because with school out, it’s hard to find time to myself.
I’ve been writing for More.com and I’m interested now in reinventing yourself while at home. I loved Katy Read‘s article for Salon about the price you pay when you stay at home with children. And while I haven’t regretted my decision or my time here, I do wonder what its long-term impact could be. Because when I quit working I always thought I could waltz back into the workforce. But with the economy as it is, many remain jobless. What are your thoughts?
We’re making Asian Orange Chicken tonight. I’ve been craving sweets lately. Rather than denying myself the taste of sugar, I’m pairing it with something that is healthy–like chicken.
It’s summer, and although our days are slow, our dinners feel rushed. We run late at the pool; we run late at the park, and when we walk through the door, our kids are famished. So we stock our pantry and refrigerator for a few dishes we can prepare in a snap. One is bacon spaghetti. It’s greasy, but delicious. Roasted broccoli is an easy side.
I’ve been blogging less, and writing more, feeling inspired by the women I profile for More.com. I don’t know about you, but it took me time to find myself after our children were born. And I was glad to be lost for awhile.
We invited some friends over for Memorial Day, and they asked what they could bring. I’m never sure how to answer that question.
Growing up on the East Coast, I don’t remember bringing a dish to share for a dinner — unless it was a potluck. And as a host I felt it was my job to provide.
But here, in the Midwest, bringing a dish seems part of the culture of pitching in. And today I’m thankful for it. Because Matt was in Israel for work all week, so I’m a bit burned out.
For this barbecue I simply picked up marinated lamb and steak kabobs at our neighborhood grocery store. And I’m guessing I won’t be the only one looking forward to a Mint Julep.
I’ve had a pork tenderloin in our fridge for a few weeks now. This happens often: I thaw meat, and then Matt travels unexpectedly, or works late, and it sits uncooked until our schedule returns to normal. And now I’m wondering if we can still eat it without getting sick, as I hate throwing meat out; it’s so wasteful — and expensive.
It looks from the expiration date it’s good for another day or two. Matt returns home from Israel today, so I’ve set aside a molasses glaze, substituting 1 teaspoon lemon juice for the juice and zest of 2 lemons, so we can grill the pork tenderloin tonight to alleviate my guilt.
I opened our van door and smelled the bananas I’d forgotten I’d put in there for snacks last week. They hadn’t rotted, not yet. But they were too soft to eat. Usually I freeze brown bananas until I’m ready to bake bread, but I had four active boys in our home — and our dog, who’d been sticker-ed, needed a break. So I made banana bread to slow their pace.
I keep forgetting it’s Lent. I fry up bacon on Fridays, pack ham sandwiches in our kids’ lunch boxes, nibble on cold hotdogs. It’s having three children, I think. Or maybe life in general. I live in a fog. So Matt reminded me no meat today as he poured a glass of grapefruit juice. “Why don’t you try Tuna Casserole?” he asked, as he walked out the door.
Only we have swimming lessons tonight, so I did a crock pot version of it. I did steps 1-3, but rather than buttering a dish, I set the ingredients in our crock pot. Now I’m letting it simmer for 5-6 hours.