Single Mom

Hot damn, I love cauliflower. It’s a good thing that cauliflower is cheap because I go through it like crazy. If 2015 was the year of kale, 2018 is all about the old time favorite…cauliflower. Once old and forgotten, this giant flower has become cool again. Cauliflower doesn’t need much to be delicious on its own. Cauliflower can get along very well with meat. But it can also put meat straight out of a job. After all, the cauliflower is a magic vegetable.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

It’s Monday night, school night…I needed a quick, simple and flavorful dish and I turned to my old time favorite, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower dish.

Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower is one quick Chinese vegetarian main dish recipe, which is a combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors.

A happy and fulfilling meal filled with flavorful bites is what you can expect from this dish. You can serve it with noodles or rice. My choice tonight was Kiki’s favorite, Jasmine rice. The girl can’t get enough of it.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Easy to prepare, fast and simple, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower packs a punch in terms of flavor and healthy eating. Go ahead, add it to your meal planning rotation. And if you’re not sure if your kid will like tofu, I promise you with this recipe they won’t even know. Make sure you buy the extra firm tofu, it will be much easier to prepare.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock, divided
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups thinly diagonally sliced celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

 Directions

  1. Pat tofu dry with paper towels. Place 7 teaspoons cornstarch in a large bowl. Add tofu; toss to coat. Remove tofu from bowl. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add tofu; cook 6 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  2. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup stock in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup stock, soy sauce, vinegar, and hoisin.
  3. Add cauliflower to remaining oil in pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add celery and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add stock mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened. Add cooked tofu; toss. Top with green onions.

Single Mom

Somewhere in the Rules of Motherhood there is a chapter titled Moms Don’t Get Sick. Now, we all know this is far from the truth, even the best of us sometimes can’t fight off all the germs. Being sick is never fun but being sick when you’re a mom is the worst hell imaginable. Not only do [single]moms/dads make the worst patients, [single]moms/dads make the worst sick people in general: We don’t rest, we don’t give our bodies time to heal, and we can’t stop doing all the things a parent has to do.

No matter how much hand sanitizer we use and bone broth we sip, at some point, it happens: we get sick.

Unfortunately, enjoying a quiet, restful day in bed is not an option for most moms. So, what’s a mom to do? Here are some tips to help you survive a [single]mom/dad sick day.

1. Call in the reinforcements. Don’t be too proud to call in reinforcements if necessary!

2. Simplify meals. For a sick mom, feeding her family can be a huge challenge. Keep it simple by ordering take out, raiding the freezer or letting the kids eat cereal for dinner is perfectly OK.

3. Let go of normal. Allowing extra TV or video game time helps to entertain the kids so mom can rest. When you are sick, just focus on making sure they’re fed and changed. Let go of the ‘normal’ parenting rules for a few days.

4. Find more entertainment. When mom is sick, anything goes; the goal is to keep the kids entertained, but as quiet as possible throughout the day.

As moms, we do so much for our families and when we aren’t feeling well, a smoothly run household can spiral out of control fast. It’s okay to let the house go and rely on others for a few days. If mom has time to rest, she should be back to her old self in no time. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. If you’re running on empty you have nothing left in the tank to give out. As single moms/dads it’s vital that we prioritize our health, because everything is on us. And eventually, if you don’t prioritize it, you will come crashing down.

I don’t usually have a lot of time to just be, and to reflect on life. But basically, what it comes down to is that I’ve just been putting too much pressure on myself. And I’m going to take some time to chill. I think it’s an important lesson, and one which shouldn’t only be realized when we’re sick.

So how do you cope when the lurgy strikes and you are on your own with kids?

I make grill cheese sandwiches and fire roasted pepper and tomato soup…it’s good for the soul! This soup is flavorful, creamy, healthy and what’s a tomato soup without the grilled cheese sandwich made with gouda cheese that gives it a rich, unique flavor and smooth texture.

Single Mom

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

First Day of School

My dearest Kiki…Today you started the new chapter in your life – you started first grade. Today I hugged you fiercely, and somehow found the strength to let go and send you on your way. Each day you are growing older, kinder and wiser and each day I will step back a little more to allow you to be the girl you are destined to be. But remember, I am always your mama and always ready for a hug, a cuddle or to answer any of the thousands of questions you have at any given time. You are smart.  You are kind.  Generous.  Caring.  Compassionate.  Confident. Funny.  You are a better version of myself and your dad. I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.  I wish you could see how comfortable you are with who you are.

There is a whole world out there and you are just dipping your toes into it and I know that you are going to make it yours. I cannot wait to watch you take 1st grade by storm.

First Day of First Grade

I hope you always have the confidence to be brave, strong and kind.

Love,

Mama

Single Mom

Coparenting

There is a saying “little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice” and ain’t that the truth. Kiki certainly is all sugar and spice, sweeter than honey, spicier than Carolina pepper. My dear, kind, sweet, gentle, sensitive, smart, caring, loving five year old in a moment of her anger and crankiness (yup she has those too) told me that I am “Ruining Her Life!”. Yes, you read that correctly. Now imagine my jaw on the floor!

After an amazing weekend in the Keys, total girl power bonding, love, and joy, on Monday night just around her bed time, still the witching hour, we got into argument over her listening skills. Like every good taurus and a rebel, her stubbornness always gets the better of me. So in a heat of the moment of me screaming and telling her what to do and if she doesn’t do it, she will be grounded, she screamed at me “YOU ARE RUNING MY LIFE!”. I knew these words are coming my way one day, after all I am pretty sure I said the same to my mom, but I was hoping it would happen sometimes down the road in teenage land, not at five.

So here I am, standing in her room, completely taken and floored by her comment, not sure if I want to cry or laugh at the same time. I miraculously found some inner strength, dropped my voice about three octaves and in my most stern, polite and quiet way told her “You want to see me ruin your life, you haven’t seen anything yet. You are absolutely grounded – no TV, No iPad, no American Girl doll, no legos, no park, no friends for one week.” and walked out of her room. From the kitchen I could hear her crying, weeping, mumbling and who knows what else…Few minutes later, she walked out of her room and said “I will tell daddy everything and how mean you are! He would never do this to me!”

coparenting_3

As a child of divorced parents, I knew these words were most certainly coming my way and always feared them. Again, I was just hoping a little bit later down the road. So here I am and the only question I am asking myself “How did I get here?!?!”  I never thought I was gonna swim in the single parent waters. Now, stop feeling sorry for me, I am sure all parents ask themselves at some point “How did I get here?!!!” Parenting is not an easy task, single parenting…it’s a whole new level of complicated, challenging and difficult, so if you have an opportunity, learn how to co-parent. If possible, child needs both of his or her parents in their lives, so learn how to co-parent successfully, and you will be so much happier!

Divorce can bring out the worst in us. Perhaps there’s lingering hurt because one person left, or someone cheated, or someone fell out of love. But whatever the reason that prompted the end of the relationship, it’s never OK to drag kids through that mud. They didn’t ask for it.

coparenting_2

One thing I have learned in last five years while navigating single parenthood, is that effective co-parenting does not require friendship, but it does require cooperation. Co-parenting requires empathy, patience and open communication for success. Not an easy thing to achieve but absolutely necessary in raising well adjusted and happy child(ren). The biggest lesson of successful co-parenting involves only one thing: loving your child more than you hate your ex.

coparenting_3

coparenting_3

Thankfully Kiki’s dad and I get along great. We’ve reached a place of mutual respect and for most part, communicate really well [there are always little things, but in this universe they are completely insignficant]. I can say it with certainty we both have a mindset of cooperation to avoid problems. We’ve adopted the approach of compromise that one of us is asking today, is what the other will need tomorrow. We have an open line of communication about everything and anything that concerns Kiki, and that’s where our “friendship” ends. Sometimes a concept hard to be accepted and understood for those with very different co-parenting situations. We speak positively about each other, despite our differences, and we always stand on the same side of any issue or situation that may arise with Kiki. It’s always a united front, because even a five year old will know how to take advantage of the situation. So when the episode of “You’re ruining my life” occurred, I knew telling him about it, was the right decision.  It was important that he gets on the same page of consequences to her behavior as following day she was staying at his house for a few days, and neither of us practices the divorced parent guilt and letting her get away with all the sassiness.

Both her dad and I spent time talking about how words hurt, how we need to use our words carefully and rather than trying to hurt the other person, express our feelings of frustration, anger, being upset, with the right words. Though it might seem hard to accept that the five year old understands it, I know Kiki does. The apologies ensued and she has “happily” accepted her punishment….but in a Kiki, or as I call her my mini adult fashion, she made a countdown calendar of the week to the end of her being grounded and every day she asks me does she deserve to cross the day off.

To all the parents out there…any advice you have, I am always willing to listen and learn…parenting is a marathon…We are in it for the long distances!

@lifewithflavors

LET'S BE INSTA-FRIENDS