Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kimchi Fried Rice

Recently I touched base with a friend I hadn't in quite some time, and she asked what I am doing for myself these days. Given that I am a single mom, tending four very small children, teaching part-time, and taking care of everyday matters that consume no insignificant amounts of time and energy, that was a very good (and thoughtful) question to ask. I write, sing, visit with friends. I had forgotten to tell her (or did I?) about my love for cooking, experimenting new territory, and perfecting my own dishes. Well, today was one of those exciting adventures in my kitchen.


Kimchi Fried Rice

Dipping my fingers into first-time ventures took me in the direction of making kimchi fried rice. I must confess that my one major short-cut was that I did not make the kimchi, from scratch or on my own; I bought it from a Korean grocery store.


  • fried rice
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced very thinly
  • egg(s)
  • kimchi juice
  • kimchi, sliced very thinly

  • make fried rice - this time, I used frozen peas, carrots, corn; egg; Applegate organic (gluten-free) uncured beef hot dogs
  • bring kimchi to a boil in a sauce pan - I don't know that this is a necessary step, but I used kimchi juice that had been sitting around for a bit (in the refrigerator), long after the kimchi had been consumed, and I felt better killing any unfriendly germs that might have gathered
  • fry thinly sliced sweet onion, with some olive oil, in a pan until nearly transparent. then add kimchi.
  • add kimchi and onion to fried rice.
  • in a clean pan, cook an egg sunny side-up. i like the yoke a bit runny. i made sure the whites of the egg were cooked well by cooking by flipping over the egg to make sure both sides of the whites were cooked (and not transparent). whilst cooking the egg, I drizzled freshly grounded rainbow peppercorns and freshly grounded garlic sea salt.
  • to finish, I put the kimchi fried rice, adding the egg sunny side-up on top.
I don't have any clue whether my version of kimchi fried rice matches authentic versions of Korean kimchi fried rice (I'll be sure to have some of my Korean friends taste test my dish at some point), but one of friends and my 2 year old twins could not eat enough of it! The twins asked for seconds, thirds; I lost track of when they stopped asking for more. Wait, they didn't stop wanting more; I had to stop them from getting more.

I am delighted my dish was such a hit. The popularity of the dish alone made my day.

Oh, and by the way, for all those who are gluten-free out there, the version I made was/is gluten-free.

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Bottom Neary Fell Out

The day before yesterday was rough. That was the first time in awhile I was nearly in paralyzing despair. The reality that I have not been successful in landing a full-time job for the 2014-2015 year was hitting me like a ton of bricks. The fact that I still have nothing in place to financially provide for the children (and me) nearly put me in debilitating pain.

Even if I somehow do get full-time employment, these children need extra loving and nurturing through a prolonged, difficult and unpredictable time in their lives. How do I juggle working full-time with being fully present for them? Right now, being a full-time mom and working part-time takes no small amount of me. The twins are in full terrible 2's swing, dragging or pushing around their chairs everywhere, for extra height, so they can turn off and on light switches (over and over again), grab things off the counter they desire, make mayhem. Dealing with two, wait four, attempting to exercise as much autonomy as possible can be quite exhausting and time-consuming.

Though I believe tears, whether tears of joy or tears of exasperation, have important places in life, I do not have time to curl up in a fetal position and cry myself to sleep or to hide until everything blows over. I have mouths to feed, grocery shopping to do, places to take children, laundry to wash, food to cook, dirty dishes to clean, bottoms to wipe, stories to hear and respond, students to tend, etc.

Desperate to utilize my despair in a more productive way, I ventured beyond the comfortable and put a voice to my cries. At the end of service at church yesterday, when some of the staff were standing at the front of the sanctuary to pray for anyone wanting prayer, I went up. With tears in my eyes and barely any ability to speak in comprehensible fashion, I asked the pastor and his wife to pray for wisdom on what I should be doing. I cried through prayers bestowed on my behalf. Expected afterwards, I would attempt to wipe away my tears and quietly but quickly find my way back to my seat.

I was surprised by what came next. The pastor affirmed that I have been through a lot. I assume he was referring, amongst other things or events, to the process of filing for divorce (that lasted nearly two years), the divorce itself, and all the difficulties subsumed in this. Tears welt up even more and I was sobbing, perhaps tears of relief. I am not as useless as I had been feeling the day before. Plus, given the church's position on divorce, I wasn't sure I would gain any support as a divorcee.

Depression and despair are not to be merely brushed aside. They can be fierce, unforgiving contenders.

I am glad for reprieve from debilitating despair, for now. Though I have no answers on the difficult questions, I have survived yet another day. Today, I conquered the day with not four children (the older two were off of school for Presidents' Day) but five children (I looked after another young child for a single mom, who had to work and attend classes). Packed breakfast for everyone and we ate at a coffee shop and drew afterwards. Went to Petco, the six of us, and picked up a second Beta fish, an I.D. tag for a relatively newly adopted kitten, and few odds and ends. Did a few loads of laundry, fed children, got potty training children on the potties, bathed four children, cooked, took care of a few work-related tasks, played with the kitten (who was starving for attention and play), and several other tasks.

Today was a good day. I will take what I can get.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dreading Bedtime


My confession is that lately I have been positively dreading bedtime, especially when it's time for the twins to go to bed for the night.

I started sleep training the twins when they were just a few months old, not just because I am some wise sage or super mom. I have two other children and have learned that sleep training is beneficial for EVERYONE. And, flying solo, I don't have the time, energy, or anything else to hope people drift into Never NeverLand and hold my breath counting on sleep to go well with everyone.  So, this problem of going to sleep or waking up screaming for Mama has nothing to do with sleep-training, okay?!

Separation anxiety is another story however. Good thing I was warned by the pediatrician and others that separation anxiety is something that is visited and revisited, on and off again, up until children are around 12 years of age. Being warned about separation anxiety and living through it are entirely different sorts of encounters, though.

The twins have been taking turns freaking out, and this is, well, to put the matter mildly, wearing me out. The boy sometimes freaks out just because I am not in the same room. This pair, unlike the older two, have been fine with me leaving for brief amounts of time, whether for a meeting or for church service, without panicking or expressing crying outbursts. So, I have been caught off guard by the sheer panic when I am out of sight. I have work to do (how am I expected to keep my job, if I cannot keep up with deadlines), bills to pay, food to cook, dishes to wash, girls' stuff to prepare (for school the next day). Though I would love to just pass out for the night, I have things that must get done!

Usually, when they wake up in the middle of the night, the twins can soothe themselves back to sleep. Not recently. There are a multitude of excuses from the twins: I need to potty. I want to nurse. My nose is runny, and I need to wipe it. Mama, where are you?? Hold me!

That's right, the twins are not yet 2 1/2, and they can talk. Wow, can they make their voices heard.

Maybe this is a bout of separation anxiety with a twist of terrible 2's or terrible 2's straight-up.

Coupling the separation anxiety with two older siblings (who are still quite young) who are constantly bickering and fighting, and a bottomless list of MUST-dos with precious little time, and me stretched in all directions, I am ready to shed a tear or two.

Oh wait, I don't have time to cry.

And tonight, I cannot finish grading papers (before a deadline) because I cannot access my students' assignments. Wunderbar. Good night.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's my thyroid; it's my iron levels; no, it's my HECTIC schedule!

I have had my moments of wondering why I seem so tired much of the time. Maybe because I am no longer in my teens and my energy levels are not off the charts. Perhaps having four children between the ages of two and seven have some impact. At my last annual check-up, less than a year ago, I got my thyroid and iron levels checked, just in case.

My thyroid was fine. No problems there.

My iron levels were a bit low. I was put on prescription, iron-fortified, prenatal vitamins, since I was (and am) still nursing the twins. In addition, I am eating more food that is higher or richer in iron.

Maybe, just maybe, I am missing the answer which is STARING at me.

On any given day, my day starts out between 4 am and 5 am. Not my choice by the way. The twins think that's a great time to conquer the day. They will whine, talk, and yell at me like icy cold water being thrown on a (sleeping) unsuspecting victim - until I get up. Then it's run like crazy until long after dusk.

Want a case in point? Let's take yesterday, shall we?

The twins got me up before 5 am. I won't insert details of the usual routine (meals, snacks, potty training business), for brevity's sake. After finishing breakfast and going to the bathroom - at 8:10 am, the four children and I went to Sprout's to buy groceries, headed to church, went to two more stores after church, and arrived home just after 2 pm. A friend came over for a scheduled visit, not ten minutes after we got home. Besides getting the potty-training twins on the their potties and giving everyone their lunch, I apologized to my friend for keeping busy while we visited - putting away groceries, cooking, washing dishes, assisting the eldest child in her violin practice, getting the older two to do their recommended amount of reading, shoveling snow and ice off the driveway and sidewalks, bathing 4 children, cutting hair for three of the children, cutting the twins' finger nails. That friend left around 5:30 pm. Then, I got the twins on the potty one last time, gave them their last table food meal, nursed them, went through their brief bed-time routine, and got them to bed. Another friend came for a scheduled visit. I proceeded to get the older two children's dinner ready, whilst cooking food for the next few days and putting stuff away. Once the older two went to bed and my friend left, I had to work (which, at this point, I am doing from home) and get the girls' school stuff ready: uniforms, snacks, water bottles, for the next morning (this morning).

The twins (the younger two) woke up just after 4 am this morning.

Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in all this (busy-ness) lies the answer to why I am so tired by the end of the day.