Paige’s blondish-brownish hair swung below her knitted cap as she climbed the stairs to her school bus today, heading off to kindergarten. She sunk onto the first seat, sliding to the window and looking out at me with her big brown eyes. Immediately, her little hand rose and started waving. I did the same, wearing a big smile.
As the school bus doors closed, I read her lips. “Bye, Mommy. I love you,” she said, and I wondered if she’d said it out loud — though I couldn’t hear it outside.
“I love you,” I responded, tears welling in my eyes despite my smile. As the bus drove out of sight, we continued waving until we could no longer see each other.
Then the tears fell. I wish they wouldn’t, but I’ve found it hard to control these emotions lately. It’s all so much. As I climbed into my SUV, my heart whispered the same silent prayer I’ve held every day since my kids returned to school last week — just let them be safe.
Everything has changed for us.
Our lives now have a big divider between the time before December 14, and the time after. This is more than just a change of schedules and school locations, though both have have big impacts on us. It’s a change of perception, security and how we behave. Before December 14, when the kids would head off to school, they would never glance back. And when I would wave to the bus, it would be to the bus driver because the kids would never look for me. Now, they both do every day. While I am grateful for these precious moments, I wish they didn’t have to come at such a steep and awful price.
Each day brings a new opportunity to move ahead and find our new normal. And each day we try our best to be successful at it. Some days, like today, are just harder than the others. But, we’ll be okay. I am sure of that.
In the days following that horrible, awful day, many in my town faced the same sleepless nights and disinterest in food. Then, slowly, we got a little better. Perhaps one night we’d sleep all the way through. And then the next day we’d feel hunger again. It all came slowly back, restoring our selves in the process.
As 2012 became 2013, many made resolutions or declared goals. It’s part of the forward motion, after all — and a New Year’s tradition. But for me at least, making progress on those resolutions and goals has been challenging.
We’re just over a week in and I have yet to make good on any of my health goals. I haven’t been to the gym. I haven’t found a food tracking program that works. And honestly, I couldn’t tell you if I weigh less now than last week because I haven’t checked. The last week has been a whole lot of nothing in terms of healthy improvements. But I committed to Eat. Live. Be. because I want to do these things — and I believe I can, even if I might be off to a slower start.
Be patient with me. It’s going to be a slow and long road ahead, but I will make progress — even if it’s just a little at a time. So this week, I will find the right food tracker for me and start using it. That I can commit to. And the rest? It will come. I am sure of that too.
On a Simple, Delicious Romaine Hearts Salad
One of our Eat. Live. Be. commitments is to share a recipe each week. This week, I’ve had salad on the brain, so this simple and delicious romaine hearts salad seemed a natural fit to share.
This Garlicky Romaine Hearts Salad with Bacon, Walnuts and Blue Cheese sounds fancy but is really pretty simple. Romaine hearts. Bacon. Lightly browned walnuts and edamame. Diced red pepper. Blue cheese. And it’s dressed with the simplest of mixes — a little garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with salt and pepper. But together, it becomes a heavenly creation that is both tasty and filling.
For it, I used Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which was sent to me a little over a month ago. This very flavorful oil is a great addition to salads but is also delicious drizzled on pasta or mixed into mashed potatoes. Just be warned — a little goes a long way. And if it’s too strong, cutting it with your favorite extra virgin olive oil can help (though I like it just the way it is).
Salads like this romaine hearts salad are comforting to me — they remind me of summer days, happiness and brightness. All good things. And couldn’t we all use some more good things in our lives?
Garlicky Romaine Hearts Salad with Bacon, Walnuts and Blue Cheese
- 1 slice bacon
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
- 2 tbsp shelled edamame
- 1 romaine heart ends trimmed and split down the center
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
- 1 tsp Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or olive oil of your choice. Add a little garlic powder if it's not garlic-infused)
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon until just browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the walnuts and edamame to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to the plate with the bacon.
- Place the romaine hearts on a plate and top with red bell pepper, walnuts and edamame. Crumble the bacon on top and then sprinkle with blue cheese.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Disclosure: Just so you know, I was provided with a sample of Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil to try. I wasn’t required to post about these or compensate for this post. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.