I love getting to spend time with Matt and my girls. It's how I happily spend the majority of my time. However, there are times when I don't even realize that I need a little break. That's where Matt comes in…it's like he has this sixth sense for when I need to get away and have a little bit of time to myself. Today was one of those days. This morning, I felt off for no reason. It was a Friday, the sun was shining for the first time in a few days…I should have been ready to rock the day, but kinda felt like I just wanted to go back to sleep. As I pulled away to begin the morning drop-offs-Ava's school, Layla's school, me to work, Matt said "hey, why don't you take a little time to yourself tonight?" He knows me so well. I don't like to be away from them, but know that it is so important to take a little time to just chill out. Even if the only thing I did was run errands like going to the bank, taking my parents paper in since they're on vaca, etc. At least I get to have the car all to myself and blare really bad music with the windows down. Case in point, as I was driving Sir-Mix-A Lot's 'Baby Got Back' came on the radio. This song takes me back. Amy and I used to sing this song ALL the time…we knew all the words. And, of all the useful information I have probably forgotten in my life I found that I still know EVERY word to that song. Anyways…after the mindless errand running I cozied up at a coffee shop for some uninterrupted writing where I won't feel compelled to rush because I should be doing other things. And, enjoying a nice mocha while doing it aint too bad either.
So I learned this week that I still have mad storytelling skills. When I was little and shared a room with my baby sister I used to tell her stories at night. They were usually only partially made up from books I had heard or read at school, but she didn't know that. Well, on Monday Matt was out of town for work and I had made a promise to Ava awhile ago that next time Daddy was gone she could sleep in my bed with me. We have never done the family bed thing, even when the girls were little, but lately when I lay Ava down she hugs me really tight and says "please sleep with me, I don't want to sleep alone, can I sleep with you?" All in one sweet breath. I give her a big squeeze back and tell her that we all sleep better if we stay in our own rooms. I believe this, but it doesn't mean it doesn't tug at the heart strings. Hence, the promise one night that we would do it when Daddy was gone. One to always try to keep my words, especially with my girls, on Monday night after I laid Layla down I told Ava "Get your stuff" She looked at me like "Huh?" I reminded her of my promise and said she should grab her blankie and stuffed animal and crawl into my bed. My girls go to bed early, this was only around 7:00 so I had no intention of going to sleep, so I laid down with her and asked if she wanted to hear a story. She was all smiles and said yes. So…I began on a story about a magical horse named Sparkles that came to her room in the night so they could go on far away adventures in the night (to beaches and mountains and Australia, not sure where that one came from but I went with it). After their world adventures the horse would bring her back to her room and she would fall back asleep like no time had passed. By the time I got to "And they lived happily ever after" I had a very happy girl with big sleepy eyes that I kissed good night. I won't be doing the family bed thing in our home anytime soon, but there was something to be said about snuggling next to my baby girl and listening to her breath. She would stir in the night and kinda wake up, look over at me and grab my hand…like she was trying to keep me close. The next morning Layla came into the room and could have cared less that she was left out of this. Little Miss Independent likes her room and sleeping…at night it's a quick kiss after prayers and she's out. I know I've got storytelling skills cuz the first thing Ava said when she got up was "Can you tell me another story about Sparkles?" Well, I didn't want to disappoint my latest fan so of course I told another story about Sparkles. This one complete with a magical horse for Layla, Streaks, that joined them on magical adventures. Even more affirmation…Layla requested a story after we dropped Ava off one morning on our walk home from school. This one had horses, bunnies, the jungle, dolphins and a leprechaun in it. (getting creative…when your audience is 5, anything goes)
It felt weird this week not having any major party planning to have to do. For the last three weekends we've had Easter, Ava's party then Layla's party…I almost felt like I should bake a cake just for the hell of it. I opted not to, instead deciding to bake cookies. After trying to make creative and fun desserts I really just wanted to bake something I know I can rock. Chocolate chip cookies it was. My best friend, Amy gave me a chocolate chip cookie with vanilla pudding recipe years ago which is always my go-to classic. So, when I was at the store I grabbed chocolate chips (mini ones, per Layla's request) and vanilla pudding. However…once we got home I realized that all the baking adventures had left me with only one stick of butter. I was ready to just say forget it when Layla said "just make a different kind" We went through our cookie cookbook and it's very hard to find a cookie recipe with little or no butter, so we improvised. I don't often improvise when baking, but these turned out great. They had the mini-chocolate chips and sliced almonds and were just so yummy. I didn't have vanilla extract (don't know how I thought I was gonna make cookies), so I used almond extract and it added such a unique flavor. Baking success.
We also got caterpillars this week. For Layla's birthday I had found this Butterfly thing. You buy the butterfly kit, send in for caterpillars that arrive in you mailbox a few days later in a bright green box that say "LIVE CATERPILLARS, OPEN IMMEDIATELY" That's gotta make the mailman smile. Inside were 5 baby caterpillars that over the course of the next couple weeks will grow and turn into beautiful painted lady butterflies. I love them...maybe even more than the girls. I've been getting out the magnifying glass, checking them out. (mainly to make sure they are still moving and we didn't already kill them) I will be updating their progress as we go. (unless they die, then I'll just never mention it again)
It was a good week, we missed Matt when he was gone but it gives me a chance to catch up on all my trashy reality tv and some girls nights with my little ladies. I got the opportunity to coach Ava's soccer team and that was a hoot. The coach was sick and was looking for parent volunteers. Now, I know NOTHING about soccer. I was a cheerleader and a dancer and could coach something like that no worries. I waited for someone else to step up and volunteer, but no luck. I hated to see another soccer event canceled after the games did last weekend so I thought, hey-how hard can it be? I figured I could Google "soccer plays for 7 year olds" or something like that. Luckily, I didn't have to, the coach gave me a very specific plan for how she ran practice and only a few girls showed up so I totally did it. I'm not signing up to be coach or anything like that anytime soon, but it was fun for a night. Even funnier to see how sassy Ava was when I was the coach…gone was the quiet girl paying attention…in her place was a funny, loud girl who had a comment for everything. Pretty funny to see how your kids act in different situations.
Just a couple more things that made me happy this week...
After school picnic snacks to enjoy in the sun (before the winter weather comes again!)
Lazy morning baths for Layla...complete with Barbie audience...
Wearing a new piece of jewelry for the first time, and the compliments that go with it...
Creating a new recipe that the family likes and is super healthy (and colorful)...Pepper and black bean quinoa (recipe at the bottom)
Seeing the girls create this beachy world in the sand box for their Polly Pockets...
The weekend looks full…a birthday party (to go to, not to throw!), dance practices for Layla and soccer games for Ava. We're going to do a little Cinco De Mayo celebrating with our neighbors complete with margaritas, salsa, quac, and chile relanos! Looking forward to that. I've enjoyed this time to myself…now it's time to go home and help tuck my babies into bed and get ready for date night. Homemade spaghetti, roasted brussell sprouts and herb baguettes…can't wait!
Pepper and Black Bean Quinoa:
-1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
-Chopped red, yellow and orange peppers (just as many as you want)
-1-2 chopped tomatoes
-Prepared quinoa-Soak 1 cup quinoa for around 20 minutes, then drain. Mix it with a combination of fresh squeezed OJ and veggie broth...to make 1 and 1/4 cup total and around a tablespoon of orange zest. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool completely before adding to veggies
-Dressing: Mix juice of one lime, 1 tbls Dijon mustard, s&p, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 garlic clove, 1/3 cup olive oil and a sprinkle of taco or southwestern seasoning
Combine the dressing, veggies and quinoa and serve cold. It was fresh and yummy and quinoa is like a super grain. Lots of protein, which is good for a semi-vegetarian family like us.