Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some Mommy Guilt & Grape Leaves....

Things have finally calmed down after the chaos of the weekend.  We finished it up by taking treats to Ava's class on Monday.  I made these adorable hot pink peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the middle.  I saw them initially on PInterest (LOVE that site!) and they were my inspiration and they turned out super cute.  Layla and I went to her class right after Layla was done with school and the two of them handed out treats and then my quiet girl sat there with a shy smile as the class sang to her.  Her teacher asked her questions about her birthday and Ava's soft little voice told about her day in about 6 words (a day that took WEEKS of planning!)  It's funny how at home, Ava is the furthest thing from shy, but get her in the class room and she is so quiet!  (a lot like her mama was) 

Yesterday began with a good dose of mommy guilt.  Tuesdays I usually try to get all the housecleaning done…it's my cleaning day and Layla knows this.  As soon as we dropped Ava off at school she asked what we could play when we got home.  I told her that I needed to do some cleaning and that she could play with all of Ava's new birthday gifts (total bribe and so not cool of me to pimp out Ava's gifts, but you do what you gotta do)  This was met with a whine of "why don't you ever play with me?"  Just go ahead and break my heart…and it's so not true.  But, in her four (almost five) year old mind her mommy doesn't play with her.  I'm not one of those moms that can just let all the house work go, I wish I was, but I know if I just leave it, I won't be able to fully play with her and enjoy it.  I have to get it done first.  It's the same conversation every Tuesday…I tell her I'll clean as fast as I can (sometimes she likes to help) and then we can play anything she wants.  I've got this cleaning thing down.  I used to spread it all out throughout the week, now I do it in one morning and don't think about it the rest of the week.  I do it all…fast and furious.  We turn on some rock out music and I just go to town, get it all done, so I can sit down and play with my baby and appease my mommy guilt.  This morning her choice of game after I was done was duck, duck, goose.  I wasn't sure how this would work with just two people, but who was I to argue with the poor little girl who'd been ignored all morning??  According to Layla, you just pretend there are other people there and tap their pretend heads.  The other thing I learned about Layla's version of duck, duck, goose is you don't have to say "duck" & "goose"  During her turn she would say chicken, hot dog, mustard, ear….it was pretty entertaining.  After a couple rounds of that and then playing the Fancy Nancy game, I put her down for a nap, mommy guilt gone.  It's a tough one.  I know there are a lot of moms who work full time that feel guilty that they don't spend enough time with their kids, but I always say it is quality over quantity.  I get to spend a lot of time with my girls because I stay home for the most part, however, I try to really be aware that I'm actually spending time with them…not just busying myself with projects at home and just having them around.  It's a tricky balance for me sometimes…getting everything done here and still hanging out with them.  What I've found is just thirty minutes of really quality, on the floor-playing-Barbies time will make up for a day full of errands and chores.  It doesn't always work out, but I really try.

Things I'm happy for right now….(I like to just randomly list happy things...makes me feel good)

-Everything is starting to bud!  All the trees and shrubs in our yard have tiny little bits of greening, popping out.  It makes me happy.  There may be snowstorms still to come, but summer will be here soon too.
-Long phone conversations with my little sister.  I called just with a question and it turns into a hour long conversation full of lots of "Well, I better go" and then another 15 minutes of conversation.  We don't talk on the phone often (we make up for it with late night talks when she visits and we try to cram in months of details in a couple days) and she lives in the boonies with no Internet so it's always nice to catch up.  The funniest part of it this time was I finally said "I gotta go, I've got cleaning to do"  and she responds "Me too, I have to get stuff ready for dinner"  followed by "Listen to us, women have come so far"  I don't know why, but we found this hilarious
-A new coffee maker & grinder!  Our old one finally bit the dust.  I know it's kinda lame, but having something new makes it way more fun to make coffee.  I know it'll get old and I'll get over it, but right now I'm enjoying making the coffee (mmmm, and the smell as it grinds, can't be beat!)  

Just to balance things out....something that bummed me out....My in-laws got back yesterday (that's not the bummer, we're all happy they are home safe!!)...they had a bunch of our stuff from our trip to Florida that they had taken with them, sand buckets, summer dresses, etc. We got it all back from them yesterday and I started putting it away this morning and it so made me miss Florida taking out sea shells (with sand still on them, just to add insult to injury)  and swimsuits.  This sadness was escalated by the dreary, grey rainy morning we were having.  

The original recipe I have for grape leaves I got from my mother-in-law, which is her moms.  Because, we don't eat a ton of meat I occasionally modify it to a vegetarian version and they are so good.  (and Ava will then eat them cuz this little veggie lover won't eat the ones with meat in them)

-3/4 cup of chickpeas
-1 1/2 cups rice
-1/2 cup parsley
-1/2 cup chopped green onions
-1 tbls dry mint
-2-3 tomatoes, chopped
-Salt & Pepper
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-3/4 cup canola oil
-Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/2 cup)
-1 jar of grape leaves, drained
-1 can of whole tomatoes
*Put chickpeas on a towel, and cover and roll them with a rolling pin (this cracks the skin), put them in a bowl full of water to get the skins to float to the top...these can be scooped out and tossed.  
*Mix the chick peas with all the remaining ingredients except the grape leaves & can of tomatoes and you are ready to fill the grape leaves!
*Place a small spoonful of the mixture in a row across the width of the leaf (stemmed end towards you & shiny part of leaf down) Fold the outside edges of the leaf toward the center and roll tight into the shape of a cigar. Continue until all the mixture is gone.  (Both my girls LOVE to eat the grapes leaves right out of the jar, so if I have any left over, they just chow them down!)
*Place the tomatoes from the can in a sauce pan and put the grapes leaves directly on top of them, all tucked together tight so they stay together.  Add some water so it just covers the grape leaves.  Put a plate on top to keep them down, cover, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-35 minutes.  After about half the cooking time, add a little lemon juice to it
*Remove the grape leaves and serve hot or cold.  We love them with hummus.  As for the tomatoes they cooked in, I save that and Matt just eats it like soup.

Then enjoy!  I love that I have been introduced to this type of food through Matt and his family.  It is something I NEVER had as a child and really enjoy cooking and eating it as an adult.  And...having it be a part of my children's upbringing.

My longing for beach days has not gone away today, but I am ready to take advantage of this small break in the rain and walk with my littlest to go pick up my biggest.  We'll smell the fresh rain smell, check out the budding green poking out from all the grey and look at the glass half full.  Tomorrow Ava starts soccer...lots of nerves going around for this (myself included)  More to come on this, I'm sure.

Happy Day!

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