Saturday, August 1, 2015


Today marks the end of Makai's first month in preschool.

And yet again, we reach another milestone that I can't believe he's accomplished. Why is he not a baby anymore?!

So with this milestone, I have come to realize that my life has been a complete waste of time and that I need to get my act together to be more efficient. In my head, I always thought that Makai going to school would be a huge weight off my shoulders. I wouldn't have to worry about babysitters during the week and I can go to work knowing that my son isn't watching tv, learning productive things, and hopefully making friends. Of course, I forgot that going to school would also mean scheduling pick ups, drop offs, packing breakfasts, packing lunches, planning dinners, projects, bedtimes, alarm clocks, and a blur of potty time/brushing teeth/getting dressed/etc. ROOKIE MISTAKE. 

Now after a month, we are getting into a decent schedule with cry-free drop offs. Woo-hoo!

But let me just emphasize the importance of the SCHEDULE and PLANNING part. There is just no way we would ever make it out of the house in a timely manner if we didn't plan ahead. (Get ready for more make-ahead recipes. They're currently my best friend.)

In case you're curious, here's how we try to work things out:

Around 730pm, we start our routine.
- last snacks and medicine
- clean up toys (HA! Who am I kidding? This bullet never actually happens)
- prep for the morning:
      - pack backpack
      - prep breakfast
      - pick out clothes and shoes
- brush teeth and wash face and hands
- read books
- lights out

That way, when we wake up, things go a little smoother:
- wake up to music
- some tickling and coaxing
- potty
- get dressed, while probably still trying to sleep
- more tickling and coaxing
- brush teeth
- distribute everyone's breakfast and lunch
- make it out the door

We're still working on it, but the key is to try and get as much ready as we can the night before to help alleviate the morning rush.

But aside from the craziness of our lives, I will call preschool a success so far. Everyone keeps asking me how it's going, and I think it's goin' ok! 

Makai doesn't exactly love it quite yet, but I think it's safe to say that's normal. (right?!) For the most part, it seems like the goodbye's are the hard part. There's definitely whining and some tears. He hates that we leave him there all day. Who can blame him? But when we pick him up he's so ecstatic! Sometimes it makes me think he actually likes us. And Ms. Stacy (his teacher) tells us about all the amazing things he did, where he played, who he played with, etc. So it sounds like he has a good time at school. However, I'll ask him how school was and the conversation seems to go like this:

"I had a rough day, mom."
"Rough?! Why did you have a rough day?"
"Because I was waiting for you all day and you didn't come."
"I know, I'm sorry. I had to go to work. But didn't you have fun at school today?"
"No, I don't like school."
"Well, why not?"
"Because I'm scared"
"Why are you scared? What are you scared of?"
"Because of the kids. They're too loud."

Definitely not the answers I expected to hear.

I will admit I was a little sad that he didn't seem to love it, but I know it's something that he'll get used to. He may even learn to love it! Lucky for me, the preschool that we go to has a "Family Fun Night" once a month where the child and their entire family is invited to the school for some food, entertainment, and activities. What fun!

So to help ease my mind, we made it to our first Family Fun Night and got to see Makai at school. It was so nice to see him around his classmates, meet his teacher, and see where all of his learning happens! It's one thing taking tours and imagining Makai going to school somewhere, but it's another getting to see him interact with his new friends and teachers at school. I feel like I miss a lot of that being at work all day, so it was nice getting the opportunity to go together.

However, it was a little strange being the youngest parents there. I have a feeling that's something I'm going to have to get used to. I wasn't ridiculously young when I had Makai, but I'm definitely on the younger side of the parenting spectrum. And while that can be a little weird sometimes, we just need to remember that we're all there for the same reason. We all wanted to be sure our kids got the most amazing start at school. And I feel like that's what we're getting here! 

Oh! And another plus: Makai's preschool has a Shutterfly account where they share pictures and small posts about what his class is learning for the week. They take photos of the fun activities they have done and all of the parents get to see them online. Look! Here's Makai learning Karate:


Cute right?!

Obviously I'm biased.. but whatever. I love that I get to feel included in how his day went.


So overall, I'd say that preschool is going as well as expected. It's definitely something we all have to get used to, but in a good way. As much as Makai is learning in school, Mark and I are learning more about parenting... and adulting. While Makai learns about letters, numbers, and making friends, we're learning how to budget our time, budget our money, plan ahead, schedule, and how to let things go. Ok, maybe the last one was more about me letting go of my baby, but still, we're all learning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

in the freezer/on the table: ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells.

With Mark and I both working full time now, scheduling, planning, and prepping have now become more important than ever (I just got the "Hub" app for us and it's about to work wonders. I can feel it). The last thing we want to do after a long day of work is cook dinner, especially when all we really want to do is hang out with Makai and just eat ice cream. But, you know, #adultlife.

This is why meals that I can make for now and freeze for later are my favorite meals to make on the weekends. I get something delicious now while I have a little extra time to put in, AND I prep myself for something delicious again later without all the work! One of my favorite recipes for this is my ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells.

The original recipe I based this off of can be found here, but I did make a few adjustments.

  • 1 (12 oz) package of jumbo pasta shells
  • SAUCE: 
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 1 lb ground turkey meat 
    • 2 tsp fennel seed
    • 1 large tomato, diced
    • 1 (28 oz) jar of pasta sauce
    • 2 (8 oz) cans of low sodium tomato sauce
    • 3 sprigs of fresh basil, stemmed and sliced (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (32 oz) container of ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lb fresh Mozzerella, sliced or shredded, divided into 1/3 and 2/3
  • 8 oz package of shredded Parmesan cheese, divided in half
  • 1 tbsp dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach, sliced

  1. Pre-heat over to 350 degrees F
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente (Remember, you will be cooking these again in the oven. So firm is still good!) and drain. 
  3. In a saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add in ground turkey and fennel seed. Mix and cook until evenly browned. Drain. Toss in diced tomato and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce, tomato sauce and fresh basil. Lower heat to a simmer, mixing regularly until ready to pour.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, ricotta, packaged shredded mozzarella, 1/3 fresh mozzerella, 1/2 package shredded Parmesan, dried parsley, and pepper until well combined. Fold in 2 handfuls of sliced spinach until well combined (it may feel like the spinach is taking over, but remember it will wilt when baked). 
  5. Spoon ricotta mixture into cooked shells and place into dishes. 
    • I safely fit 9 upright shells in each loaf pan (to freeze), and had the rest lay down in the 9x13 baking dish (for now)
  6. Sprinkle remaining fresh mozzarella and sliced spinach over shells. 
  7. Pour pasta sauce over cheese and shells 
    • I love me some meat sauce, so I make sure to completely cover, however, this doesn't make for the prettiest presentation (see here for examples of average sauce coverage). You can make this call and omit the 2 extra cans of tomato sauce, but I do recommend completely covering your frozen pasta shells. 
  8. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over sauce
  9. Place all dishes in pre-heated oven to bake
    • Remove 3 foil pans after 30 minutes and allow to completely cool. Cover and wrap in heavy duty foil, label, and freeze.
    • Remove baking dish after 45-60 minutes, until edges are bubbly and pasta shells are set. Cool slightly and serve!
To re-heat my frozen guys, I usually pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and bake for about 60-80 minutes. Since everything is already cooked in this dish, you just need to make sure everything is nice and hot all the way through.

While my end result might not look that magical and appetizing, I will say that it tasted delicious! (Oh, and that green thing in the back is just some pesto toast.) The best part is the stringiness you get from the fresh mozzarella. yuummmm...  But what makes this dish my favorite, is that I get to set myself up for 3 extra homemade meals of non-cooking. As an exhausted mama, I should tell you that that feeling is almost irreplaceable (and also explanatory of why I don't care what it looks like). Each loaf pan of 9 is good for a small dinner for 2 or an indulgent meal for 1. I found these incredibly helpful for when I'm home late from work and don't have time to cook, unbelievably lazy, out of town and Mark is left to fend for himself, or when I have a sitter all day and don't want to just leave a $20 for delivery pizza. And if you keep a loaf of frozen garlic bread in there too, you're set up for something fancy later on!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...