The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance

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Two short weeks left…

In two short weeks, Sugar Bee will be off to kindergarten. This will be the second biggest change in my life, her birth being the obvious first. (Getting married isn’t far behind.) This summer has been wonderful and I’m so sad that it will be ending soon. Actually, sad is an understatement. It’s borderline devastating for me.

Rare family picture - Florida, June 2016

Rare family picture – Florida, June 2016

As you may know, I am blessed to work full-time and be able to do it from home. This has given me the best of both worlds; to maintain a career and also raise my daughter. As hectic as it has been at times for me, and there have been plenty of days that I felt like a complete failure or that I needed 6-8 more hours in my day, I wouldn’t change a thing. We have (mostly) operated like a well-oiled machine with schedules and expectations. The result is this amazing, intelligent, feisty, independent, slightly OCD (okay, very OCD), incredibly outgoing young girl that I find myself having conversations with that often make me silently “wow” to myself. And I’m going to lose her and, surprisingly, miss her company.

Dress like a Pirate day at KCSMA

Dress like a Pirate day at KCSMA

Sugar Bee has been in morning preschool since she turned one as I knew how much she needed more socialization and stimulation than I could provide while working. The first year was easy having her home with me, but once she got mobile, I had no choice but to get help. Now for the last year and a half, we barely made it to car line before it ended at 9:15 AM. Her pre-k room this past school year was right next to the drop-off door (lucky us!) and her teachers were sweet and would see us coming, letting her in. She and I are clearly not morning people, but it is also because our morning snuggle time has become more important. We both cherished this time that I guess we could just deal with all of the rushing later because we wanted it. Even now, when she wakes up, she comes straight to my room and climbs in the bed to snuggle. Some mornings, we’ve both fallen back to sleep as long as we didn’t get sucked in to watching all the videos on the Weather Channel app. Our slow and lazy mornings are part of our daily routine. It’s all about to change.

Enter the start of summer. I had half of her summer activities booked long before school was even over. Everyone likes to make their comments about me being “so busy” and that Sugar Bee “always has something going on.” Um, hi. I work outside the home, in addition to all my household duties. I have a job, albeit I have an incredibly flexible schedule that lands me working until 11 PM or later several nights a week, but I still have lots of stuff to get done on a daily basis and deadlines to keep. She had over a week off between the end of school and her first week of camp. It was a nice break for us, but after that second week was ending, I was happy she had camp. Not because I wanted her away or needed “me time,” but because she needed to be somewhere, anywhere, and playing and being creative with other children. She plays wonderful on her own, by herself (since she could sit up, actually), but she enjoys other people just as much. She’s an only child and without a sibling, it’s obvious to me that life can get pretty boring at times.

Finale at Princess Dance Camp - I love her choice!

Finale at Princess Dance Camp – I love her choice!

The first week was her first experience with full-day camp, 9 AM – 4 PM, and it was at her future school. It was a great opportunity for us both! I got a lot done in all areas of my life and she was able to spend a week in the very school that she will be attending for kindergarten. She did fantastic despite the very long days and she had a blast! The following week was vacation bible school at our church and that was just mornings. I picked her up by lunch, as all of our other camps have always been. Then we were off to Florida for a week to spend time at my dad’s house, and when we returned, she had a week of half-day princess dance camp at her dance school.

The week of the 4th of July, she had the most awesome experience at an all-day, outdoor camp on a lake. It was only a four-day week, but she was outside all day long and had incredible experiences paddle boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, rock wall climbing, singing, crafts, and making memories. And one of her friends from pre-k was there, too! This camp was from 8 AM to 4 PM and I was very worried about us being on time as it was over 30 minutes away. By the third day, she had already adjusted her wake-up time and I didn’t have to wake her. I think that we will be okay getting to kindergarten on time. It was excellent practice for us! However, I missed her those days at Camp Gideon. I found myself getting there way early, like those moms that I would poke fun at for being there 25 minutes early, waiting in an invisible carpool line, reading a book or Facebooking instead of going inside to pick up their kid. But there I was, excited to see my sweet Sugar Bee and hear all about the adventures of her day. I was there early so that I could get her when they first started dismissing the kids. I couldn’t wait to see her! There are times when this child makes my heart feel so full that I think it will explode. And it’s been happening almost every day this summer.

Last day at Camp Gideon

Last day at Camp Gideon

So last week was our first week of nonscheduled summer. Here I am at the start of the second week, with only 13 days left before her first day of real school. On August 1, 2016, Sugar Bee will be owned by the school system for the next 13 years. I will only get her and her snuggles on school holidays and vacations. I’m probably going to be so excited for next summer to have her to myself. I have not been to the gym in almost two weeks. This is highly unusual for me as I’m usually there for at least three classes a week. I did get on the trails a few times since then for a run, but I’m far from where I usually am with my exercise schedule. I just can’t get myself to go. I doubt I’ll be there much for the next two weeks, either. There will be plenty of time to double-up on my classes and run the pup on the trails once she starts school, but I will never have these two weeks with my little girl again. I am savoring every morning snuggle, I’m actually crawling into bed with her at bedtime (something I’ve pretty much never done so as to avoid creating a habit), I’m blowing off plans to do stuff with my mom, and I’m not finishing house projects that I started at the beginning of the summer. I will have plenty of time to do stuff with mom and finish projects at the house (and blog more) when August comes. I will never get these moments back and it looks like she is my one chance at experiencing all of this, so I will sit and soak it all up. Every little thing. All. Day. Long. She is my one and only, and even though I make her think that she’s not so she doesn’t become a total butthole in society, she is the center of my universe.

Sunset beach dinner tradition

Sunset beach dinner tradition

I know that Sundays will play an even more important role in my week. They always have been since it’s the only day of the week that we were all together while The Russian was finishing college, but now they will be the only day of the week when I can have my snuggler back. I still work my part-time job at the flight school every Saturday and I’m often off to work before she’s awake. So I will have Sundays. From six days of morning lovin’ to one. I’m sure when I check in at the end of next summer, I will (possibly) understand more of what all the other moms say about how they can’t wait for school to start and the kids are making them crazy and they want their time back, but right now, I don’t want this to end.

School starts on the 1st and then on the 5th, she will turn five. Her party will be the next day (also my mom’s birthday). It’s going to be a very overwhelming week to say the least. I’m sure there will be lots of wine (or vodka) to get me through the nights to balance out the coffee that will help me through the mornings. I will be sad and happy. Happy for her in so many ways – her bright future, new friends, new learning experiences, independence from me – but sad that I will have lost my baby. My only.

So here is where and how you will find us as much as possible during these last two weeks of freedom, when we are not on the trail with the pup and I don’t have a conference call.

View from my Desk

View from my Desk

It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to do it. And I’m going to do and love every single minute I can with her. We will never have these two weeks again.



Zasta with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

My garden has been very productive this year. I’m quite proud of myself as each year I have learned something new that has led to this year’s success. I’m picking 1-3 dozen cherry tomatoes every day. I’ve had eggplants, zucchini, lots of jalapenos, and plenty of crookneck squash. This has led to some very delicious meals! And mostly free 🙂

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

This was two weeks ago…it’s even fuller now!

While I’m still waiting for cucumbers and bell peppers to emerge, I’m enjoying the literal fruits of my labor. Most of the time, I’m throwing a bunch of fresh veggies into my breakfast, but not the other night. Two large zucchini, a ton of cherry tomatoes, and a stalk of basil, all from the garden, were sitting on the counter calling to me. So I listened. And ate them up.

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

As a cheesemonger, nothing makes a meal better than adding cheese. In this case, it was goat cheese. I love the depth of flavor that goat cheese adds to dishes. The Russian and I ate the entire thing between the two of us. So fast, and of course my other two favorite dinner adjectives, cheap and easy, make this one a keeper and one worthy enough of blogging. After all, it’s been over 6 months since my last post! Obviously, life has gotten busy and with summer almost over here in Georgia, I’m ready to have time to start dedicating to this space. Can’t wait! Although it’s bittersweet…the increase of available time to dedicate comes with the fact that Sugar Bee is off to kindergarten in 2 1/2 short weeks. Time flies.

Before I get to the recipe details, short as they are, I need to give proper credit to the term “zasta” that I’m using. The daughter of friends of mine had the same thinking as me and didn’t care for the term “zoodles” so she came up with “zasta.” I love it and will forever refer to zucchini noodles as zasta. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese

Super fast and easy with very little cost, especially if you have a rockin’ garden this year, this vegetarian meal will be a keeper!
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 dozen or more cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced small (jarred okay)
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized into noodles
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, 1-2 Tbsp chopped
  1. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute or two until fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes or until skins start to wrinkle. Add red pepper and simmer 2 more minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and a bit more EVOO, tossing to coat evenly. Don’t cook too long or all the water will release from the zucchini. You want a little bit of juicy, saucy goodness, but not soup! (See last picture below. We loved the sauce!)
  4. Add almost all of the goat cheese (reserve 1-2 Tbsp for topping when serving) and stir to toss completely and melt the cheese.
  5. Divide between two plates and top with basil and remaining goat cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Sweet, saucy deliciousness