Behind “Miss Katya’s Quote of the Day”

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If you follow Mrs. Mommy Owl on Instagram then you have seen the awesomeness that is #MissKatyasQuoteOfTheDay.

My job is rewarding in so many ways, but with all the hugs, kisses, smiles and giggles comes just as many tears, “NO!”s, and power struggles. This is why when working with young children, a positive and supportive teaching team is so important. You need people in your corner that will make you laugh when all you want to do is cry.

For me, that comes in the form of Miss Katya, fellow Blue Room teacher and one of the people that helps me get through those really stressful days at work. The days when the kiddos won’t sleep longer than 30 minutes, they fight every diaper, bottle and meal, and every one of them screams bloody murder the moment you put them down.

We have so many amazing days in our classroom and Kat adds such a positive and fun energy, it’s hard not to smile when she’s around. However, she still understands that life is hard, our job is not always easy, and everyone has bad days. She is always willing to listen to me and checks in to make sure I am doing okay. She is one of the most caring and selfless people I know, and I am so lucky to have her as a co-worker and a friend.

Everyday Kat writes a different inspirational quote on a small whiteboard hanging in our classroom. And everyday I look forward to seeing Kat’s words of wisdom. And everyday I am so happy I get to share it with all of you too!

 

Valerie Anne

Trader Joe’s Tuesday: Our Three Favorite Snacks with Three Ingredients or Less

1. Fruit Bars

FullSizeRender-15I don’t eat these very often, but Qwynn LOVES them. At 99-cents a bar, they are pricier than many fruit cereal bars, but it’s worth the extra money knowing that Qwynn is getting just the fruit she needs and nothing else. They have four different kinds (Apple+Coconut, Apple+Strawberry, Apple+Banana, and Apple+Mango), and each has only those two ingredients. Qwynn is not a fan of the coconut at all and the strawberry isn’t her favorite either. She enjoys the banana ones, but I usually don’t buy them because actual bananas are one of the easiest fruits ever, so I’d rather she eat them fresh. FullSizeRender-20That means Mango is my go-to choice, which is perfect because Qwynn won’t eat fresh mango. It is absolutely wonderful to have a quick, easy and healthy option on-the-go that is made of JUST fruit. And of course the most important part is that it is toddler approved.

2. Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

FullSizeRender-16I never used to eat peppermint patties, but when I worked at REstyleSOURCE in AZ they consistantly had a stocked pantry full of pretty much every snack at Costco. Included was always a huge container of peppermint patties. It became my favorite treat while working and was the perfect afternoon pick me up. However, I recently looked up the ingredients in them and am kind of disappointed I ate so many while I was pregnant—a lot of not so great stuff in them. Luckily, I have found an amazing substitute at TJ’s and they have only 3 ingredients in them. These Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are my guilty pleasure and I can never have just one. FullSizeRender-18The chocolate outside is pretty bitter since it isn’t sweetened with anything, but I love that initial bitter taste followed by the sweet flavor from the minty filling that follows. They are absolutely delicious and so refreshing.

3. Organic Corn Chip Dippers

FullSizeRender-14I am so obsessed with these corn chips! We buy two packages every shopping trip we make. They have the same ingredients that Fritos corn chips have, but the TJ’s version is organic and GMO-free. Plus, the chips are really big, so they are great for scooping delicious guacamole (something they suggest on the packaging), and are just as yummy with hummus or salsa. On more occasions than I should probably admit, Tyson and I will eat almost an entire bag of these with a whole container of their pre-made guacamole for a late dinner when we don’t have the energy to cook and just want to veg out in front of the TV after Qwynn goes to bed. FullSizeRender-19Since I rarely eat other chips, crackers or similar snacks, I don’t feel guilty about digging into these a couple times a week. They are a great choice when you are craving something salty and crunchy.

Valerie Anne

The Perfect Run

IMG_7181Hi. My name is Valerie Christensen and I am a binge runner.

What does this mean exactly? It means that my running is not routine by a long shot. I will go most of the winter without running at all because I despise treadmills and always prefer to run outside. There might be an unseasonably warm day here or there that I’ll take advantage of, but that is it. However, as soon as Spring brings the warmer weather, my itch to run is so great that I will run for days and days in a row. For a little while. The next week I might only run one day. Then I will skip two weeks. Then I will run three days in a row. Then I will skip another week. Then I will only run once a week for three weeks. Then I will run four days in one week. Then three days the next week. Then zero days the following week. And on and on I ride this running roller coaster until winter comes again and the cycle starts over.

Everytime I run though, it is an extreme high for me and I often wonder why I wait so long to run the next time. Especially when I have runs like I did today. Today, I had The Perfect Run.

IMG_9004I am extremely blessed to work where I do. My school is right on the Hudson River which gives me immediate access to the park that stretches for miles along it. I am also fortunate enough to work for a company that facilitates and encourages physical activity. Plus, since we deal with drool, spit-up and poop all day (ewwww!), my coworkers and my babies aren’t offended if I spend the rest of the day smelling like sweat. I try and take advantage of all these things by running on my lunch break as often as I can.

Today, it was 68 degrees. Not too hot and not too cold. Today, it was the perfect temperature.

No matter what the temperature is though, if the sun is out I am usually dying before I get 10 feet into my run and shade is often hard to come by. Today, the sky was perfectly overcast.

Sometimes the strong winds off the river give me relief on those extra sunny days, but often they become so brutal that I feel like I’m going to blow away. Today, there was the perfect light breeze.

It started sprinkling ever so lightly, which made me a little nervous as I feared for a downpour (something I’ve unfortunately been caught in before). Today, the sprinkles stayed just that, sprinkles, and it was perfectly refreshing.

With everything in bloom, the sights and smells were so wonderful it was almost a sensory overload. The bright green, newly sprouted trees, and all the pink, purple, orange and yellow flowers were blooming and beautiful. The smell of the flowers was even more amazing. I loved it. It was perfect.

I was trying to decide how far to run. I hadn’t drank a lot of water that morning which was my only concern about pushing myself. I usually run up the bike path and then back down along the river.  I got to where I’ve been turning around lately and told myself—It’s perfect out here. You can go further. Just keep going. So, I gave myself a goal to make it to Pier 25. It was a run I did often last summer when I was at the peak of my binge running. I told myself I could do it today. If you get too tired on the way back you can slow down or stop, but you have to try.

I thought about giving up and turning around at every opening I came too. I tried to convince myself that I had run enough. But I kept telling myself—You’ve made it this far. You can go farther. Just keep going. And I did. I made it to Pier 25.

As I expected, the way back was not easy. It was actually extremely tough. I was regretting eating so soon before I ran. I was wishing I had drank more water before I started. But I kept telling myself it didn’t matter. It was the perfect day for a run and I was going to make this the perfect run. I told myself I wasn’t going to stop until I got back to where I started. And I did. I kept running until I got to the exact place I began. I had finished the most perfect run on the most perfect day and everything in that moment was perfect.

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“The Perfect Post-Run Red Face

 

Valerie Anne

Trader Joe’s Tuesday: Baked Quinoa and Brown Rice Pasta With Shredded Zucchini

“If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

Do you remember this question when you were younger? I do! And my answer was ALWAYS pasta. Angel hair spaghetti to be exact. Smothered in butter and tons of Parmesan cheese. Mmmmm!

I was a picky eater when I was a kid and despised pasta sauce in all forms. My tastes have sophisticated some since then and I do enjoy a good tomato sauce now. I’m not sure spaghetti covered in butter and cheese would be my first choice anymore thanks to a beautiful place called Chipotle, but I will still inhale a good plate (or bowl) of pasta if you put it in front of me.

Both white and whole wheat pasta have come under scrutiny with all the talk about gluten and GMOs. Again, my belief is “most things in moderation.” If you are looking for an alternative to wheat products, I am absolutely in love with Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice Pasta! They offer it in a fusilli and spaghetti and the consistency is pretty comparable to the yummy white flour pasta we all love.

This is my organic, vegetarian version of my younger sister’s simple Baked Ziti and Ground Sausage Recipe. I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables and less meat, and am always trying to sneak veggies into Qwynn. Shredded zucchini is perfect for this! Also, the great thing is that you can put this all together the night before (like we Tyson did last night), and you have dinner for the next night that you just have to pop into the oven. SO EASY!

 

Baked Quinoa and Brown Rice Pasta With Shredded Zucchini

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Ingredients:

-Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta

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-Organic Zucchini Squash, Shredded

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-Organic Tomato Basil Marinara

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-Organic Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

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Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on the package, making sure to leave it more on the al dente side since it’ll cook more in the oven. While pasta is cooking, shred zucchini into a bowl. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water, then return to the pot. Add marinara sauce and shredded zucchini to the pasta and mix well.

Spread half the pasta in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish, then add a layer of the mozzarella cheese (using about 4 oz), then a layer of the remaining pasta and then top with the rest of the cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and slightly browned (about 20-30 minutes).

 

*Trader Joe’s does not pay me to write this.

Valerie Anne