Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Kindergarten.

Yesterday was a big day at our house.  My baby girl started Kindergarten...

I was going to write last night, but after the anticipation and emotion of the day I was exhausted.  Layla was not scared or nervous in the least bit to start school.  She was so ready to follow in her big sisters footsteps and be at the big kid school.  I remember with Ava having to give her lots of encouragement and reminding her that she was going to do great.  Layla didn't need anything.  She ran ahead of us the whole way to the playground, threw her backpack on her line and she was off.  Matt and I stood with the other Kindergarten parents, cameras in hand, tears hidden behind big sunglasses.  Right before the bell rang, little miss came back and grabbed my hand.  It's like she had a moment of...I'm really going to be in school all day.  I gave her a big hug, told her to have a fantastic first day and she was gone.  Walking in line like a big kid into the big school.

Oh, it made me so sad seeing her walk away.  Knowing this would be the last time I was one of those Kindergarten parents...filled with a mixture of pride and sadness.  Knowing I wouldn't have a little one at home all day to make lunch for, run errands with, make an impromptu park trip with.  (this is why people have lots of kids...I didn't realize it until now)  Luckily this day I also started my first day back at work.  After taking the summer off, I was ready to get back into the work thing a bit.  It was so good that I had that distraction instead of coming home to an empty house and just feeling sad.  Even though I have worked at the same place for many years, I felt some anticipation about going back...a bit of the starting a new job feeling.  However, once I walked in it was like being back with another type of family and it felt good.  I dove into it and didn't have to wonder all day long about what my girls were up to and if Layla was making friends and if her teacher was nice.  I was one of the first people waiting for kiddos to come out that day...anxious to hear all about it.  When Layla came out with a big smile, I knew the day had been a success.  Between her and Ava chattering the whole way home, I couldn't get a word in.  Ava, telling Layla all about the school rules and Layla insisting that she already knows all that.  So funny.  

Their growing independence became even more apparent this morning when Ava told me I didn't need to walk around to the playground with Layla today because she would help her.  Instead of them wanting me to do this, I had to ask if it was ok for me to do it just a couple more days.  Luckily, Layla said she wanted me to stay...but that she was going to go play on the playground until the bell rang.  It was a good compromise.  Today, I didn't have the distraction of work to go off to and because of that I felt the full weight of emptiness as I started to walk home alone.  Thank the Lord, that just as I was about to start the tears again I ran into a friend of mine leaving the school and we walked home together.  I know it'll get easier everyday...but I miss my girls.  It's funny, in these last 7 years there were moments when all I wanted was just a second to myself with no one needing a hundred things from me at the very same time.  Now I have that time to myself and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.  (this morning I chose to distract myself with cooking and by 10 am had everything prepped and ready for tonight's dinner, after school snack ready and in the fridge and coffee set for tomorrow)  For the first time, in so long I will begin to think of things I want to do for myself that don't involve little ones.  I find this both daunting and exciting.  It is a shift that I am finding difficult...going from stay at home mom back to something else.  I think a lot about what I want to do, while still being fully available to volunteer on field trips, in the classroom and being the one to pick up my kids everyday.  I have some ideas that I am getting excited about.  Hopefully, it can help fill the small hole I feel in my heart without my girls here which I know will only get bigger as they grow.  This is what we do right?  Us mamas...we nurture them, teach them and love them like no other and then we let them fly.  But, we stay close by in case they fall and then set them off again.  This parenthood thing can be tough.  

Anyways...enough of the emotional stuff, time to move on.  Speaking of moving on, we did just that this past holiday weekend.  We went to the river for some camping, boating and lots of sunshine as we officially kissed summer goodbye.
Labor Day in Montana is usually one of two things...really cold and crappy or really nice and beautiful.  Thankfully this year was the latter.  We have spent the last few Memorial and Labor Days at my parents river house and before that it was at their lake house.  It is a tradition I enjoy...kicking summer off and ending it with my family.  Everyone is relaxed because we are away and just enjoy good food, weather and company.  This time something was missing as my older sister and her family weren't there.  Considering they are a family of eight you can see why it felt a little quieter.  They had another obligation and I missed them a lot.  I missed all the littles together splashing in the water, rolling my eyes at Matt and my brother in law being obnoxious and toasting drinks with Kori.  Next year, they are not allowed to miss it.  We may have missed her family, however I am lucky to have two sisters and this year for the first time my younger sister and her family were there and it was fantastic.  That meant more laughter and more kiddos.  It was a good way to end the summer.

Before the holiday weekend we kicked things off with an at home date night and I made a recipe I just had to share.  I wanted to make something simple and was flipping through one of my Italian cookbooks for a little inspiration.  I found this caramelized onion dish and because I have a new found love of caramelized onions had to make my own version of this.  Oh my.  It was good.

Here's how I made it:  
I used my recipe for savory dough that I use in spinach pies.  I rolled the dough out into a circle on a greased pizza stone (you could roll it into whatever shape you want, I may do rectangle next time so it doesn't look so much like a pizza)
I then caramelized some onions like I do in this recipe (heat 1/2 tbls butter, 1/2 oil in a pan...add 2 onions, sliced.  Cook 10 minutes on medium heat, then lower to low heat and sprinkle with some sugar and sea salt.  Cover slightly so air can still escape and cook around 40 minutes stirring occasionally...scraping up all the browned parts on the pan)
I sprinkled the dough with some cheese (I used pecorino because it's what I had on hand), top with the caramelized onion and then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.  Cook for around 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn.  We had this along with some baked mozzarella...perfect date night meal.  With a glass of vino of course.

That is all for got a bit of everything...emotion, fun times and some food to round things out.  Activities will now be more structured in the form of school, soccer games and play dates and less nights capped off with ice cream and trips to the park (which, by the way...we managed to check off all the parks on our list this summer...woohoo!!)  I leave you with a final look at my last day with just little Layla before she was off...I will miss these days.  I will make a point to still have these days with each baby girl, one on one...even with their busy school lives.

Have a happy day.

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