Steep Cliff

When my second daughter was born I was the marketing director for a music software company. If this sounds glamorous, it was. I had a large salary, stock options, and countless benefits. Plus, apart from the creative aspects that being a director of marketing afforded, this position married my two favorite things; technology and music.

I was also in the fortunate situation of having a husband who earned enough money that I could stay home and raise my own children if I wanted to. And, this is what I eventually did.

Did I love it? No, I did not. However, I was in the unforeseen predicament of having gotten exactly what I had wished for.

Early on, I realized that I had an opportunity to be, for better or worse, a role model. So, I tried to display fairness, kindness and compassion in my everyday interactions. I took up volunteer work, and quit sneaking cigarettes behind the pool house. I stopped swearing, I exercised and took my vitamins. I tried very hard not to gossip, although this was difficult.

From the beginning, I took being a stay-at-home mother fairly seriously. I made my own play dough, packed organic lunches in reusable containers for play group, and kept my house as neat as a pin. I adored my children, but I missed the excitement and accolades of my career and professional accomplishments.

Now, I wonder if I made the right decisions? I treasured my time with my daughters now 17 and 18, but I wonder if all the sacrifices I made personally were really necessary? Where would I be now if I had not opted out of work in favor of being a full time wife and mother?

At the time, I remember thinking these were brutal choices. At that point in history, there was a very steep cliff in terms of work. My job was a 60 hour per week commitment. Marketing Directors did not work from home. My husband worked this many hours or more. We found it impossible to find a nanny who wanted to work 12 plus hours per day like we did. With a two year old and an infant the choices were limited.

I think about these choices as I help to prepare and educate my own daughters as they move into adulthood. These are important questions to raise as they consider careers, and hopefully motherhood and families of their own.

My hope is to raise these topics, among others, and have this conversation in my weekly column for News 24/680.

Love and blessings.

Kids, Sports & the Perfect Breakfast Sandwich

Paris at 5
Age 5 – First All City Swim Meet, 2004
FullSizeRender-12
Age 16 – Highschool District Meet, 2015

I love being up early and the earlier the better.  I  love kids and sports and especially the quiet mornings spent packing the car in the silence before the neighborhood comes alive.  I love the whispered, “let’s go,” and making sure not to wake up the rest of house.  There was a time when I thought there was nothing more fun than packing up my girl before dawn and heading off to the far corners of California for a swim meet, soccer or volleyball tournament.  There was no place too far flung that I wouldn’t drive for a competitive sporting event.  Clovis, Monterey, Sonoma, South Lake Tahoe, Lodi – you name it.  This is not to mention the four volleyball tournaments in Reno in 2014 – be careful what you wish for because if you keep winning you end up back in Reno.

Truly, there was nothing I enjoyed more and no place I would have rather been.  I adored each team with it’s unique personality, including the kids, the parents, and the coaches.  I made so many friends that I hardly noticed the endless hours poolside, on the court, the field, or in the parking lot sitting in camp chairs.   And I loved watching my kids.

In these pre-dawn hours my favorite thing was to stop and get a mocha and a breakfast sandwich on the way   With one or the other of my daughters, I would watch the sun come up heading down the 680 corridor or across one of the many Bay Area bridges that took us to so many different places we would never have gone otherwise.

Now, I have a 16 year old that can drive (a mixed blessing) and because she can drive herself to swimming and beach volleyball it doesn’t mean she can make herself breakfast.  As many of you know, teenage girls are not the best eaters.  In fact, they would prefer not to eat at all.   However, they can’t be strong in their sport if hungry and light headed.

This is the first summer where I find myself standing in the kitchen making my 16 year old breakfast before she heads out the door by herself for a very long day of swim practice, coaching and teaching swim lessons to six year olds, followed by a 2 hour sand volleyball work out.

It’s nice to have more time for my own life, but I will forever treasure the time I spent with my children through sports.  Thank goodness, I have the spare 14 year old soccer player for a few more years.

Obviously there are a few variations, but I will start with the basic instructions and you can suit your own taste.

BASIC EGG SANDWICH

FullSizeRender-7

1) In a small bowl crack one organic free range egg, and start your toast (I use sprouted whole wheat).

FullSizeRender-8

2) Cover with your choice of cheese and microwave for 1.5 minutes on high heat.  You can cover with plastic wrap, but I’m a risk taker and take my chances.

FullSizeRender-10

3) Sprinkle with Sea Salt and add avocado and cut in half.

FullSizeRender-11

4) Wrap in foil or serve warm

VARIATIONS:

On a toasted bagel with bacon:

FullSizeRender-14

On a plain bagel with bacon and avocado:

FullSizeRender-16

Cheese Stick Lasagna

photo 4

Mozzarella cheese sticks are a staple in most homes with small children.  So, one summer day I decided if my kids would eat cheese sticks all day long than maybe they would eat a cheese stick lasagna.  The recipe I had been using for classic lasagna was not up to the standards of my then very small daughters.   My kids loved this version, as did my friends and baby sitters who all begged for this recipe.  Nuts, no cook pasta, and cheese sticks gave this dish a wonderful crunch that is hard to describe.  It is the antithesis of that over cooked mushy lasagna our mothers, or at least mine, made.   This is wonderful reheated.

▪ 1 jar of marinara sauce

▪ 1 package lasagna noodles

▪ 1 handful of pecans

▪ 8 Mozzarella cheese sticks

▪ 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

▪ 1 cup fresh Mozzarella  (small balls melt well and you don’t have to cut them or slice a larger ball)

▪ 1 small can of sliced olives

Preparation:

By using noodles that do not need to be boiled and cheese sticks, this dish has a layered quality that is not too wet.  The cheese sticks melt and harden a bit, making this lasagna full of flavor and unusual textures.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Layer noodles, sauce, cheese sticks and pecans, starting with red sauce on the bottom.  When all is layered, top with olives and fresh Mozzarella; Mozzarella melts well and is low in calories and has a fresh clean taste.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

To impress, add fresh basil leaves as garnish, but make sure they are easy for small hands to remove.