Week In Review


swim-team-1 When I was a freshman in high school, I sort of became a bit of a wanderer. Trying to make new friends, seemingly falling into a group that my dad in particular, did not approve of. Nothing bad was going on, I was just in that typical teenage stage; moody, angsty, wannabe punk rocker. My dad sat me down one day and told me to find an extracurricular activity, or else. So I started trying out for sports, one after another. I had never done anything in all my youth, besides try ballet for a few weeks, and gymnastics ended with a fake injury.. I still remember my poor mom sitting with me in the ER for hours, waiting to get my elbow checked out, only to find that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me – I could have told them that. I was young and any time I got out of my comfort zone, felt like I couldn’t do something just right, or got to missing my mom during class, I would cry that I wanted to quit, and my mom gave in. I was never guided, or pushed into anything, therefore I never got good at anything.

So when high school came and I tried out in succession for all the sports, I inevitably failed miserably. My genetics gave me height, but I couldn’t shoot a basket to save my life, hated how much the ball stung my hand when I would set up a play in volleyball, and my swing in softball was pathetic. My best friend Rachel, who had committed herself to dance since we were 5 years old, was light years ahead of me, and I couldn’t pull off a split, so my hopes of getting involved in a different extracurricular activity besides sports, were dashed. As we went through the school year, with me trying out for each sport as the season came up, I had still not “found something.” Until Spring came and after failing to make the softball team, I tried out in the only sport that was left: track & field. While by no means was I a natural, I had long legs, and I could run, and so I did.

By my Senior year, I was no Marion Jones, but I could hold my own in my league, and I met a ton of friends, both guys and girls, and had built up a ton of confidence, running for student body office and getting involved in other clubs and activities at school. I was happy, and because of that, my parents were happy. By all accounts, I was a well-adjusted teen, with a good group of friends and too busy with sports and activities to get in trouble. While I hated my dad that day he sat me down and told me to find something, thereby subjecting me to countless hours of humiliating try-outs, I was happy in the end, that he had done that. If only they had pushed me more before, who knows?

We’re given so many mixed messages as parents today, aren’t we? Keep the kids active because they’re in front of the screen too much; don’t over-schedule, kids need time to be bored; don’t push them; we here in America push too much. It’s confusing and annoying and, unless you live in a vacuum, even the most steadfast of parents can sometimes question their course if they let in too much of the noise. In the beginning of this parenting thing, partly due to the parenting circles I was running in at the time, I fell into a little bit of the mindset of not pushing, letting the kids guide themselves, allowing them plenty of time to just be bored. Of course I understand all of that, and through those countless hours of doing nothing, I think we’ve turned out some fairly creative kids, but there comes a point when we you just have to follow your gut and know what’s best for your kid. swim-team-2

This week Taylor began a new swim team. It’s somewhat demanding, at least a big jump from her previous team, and requires 2, 2 hour practices each week, each with 1 hour of swim practice and 1 hour of “conditioning” on the beach, which includes running drills, sit-ups and push-ups.

After the first day of practice, she wept the whole way to the car, moaned the whole way home, and continued to cry off and on till bed time. Lots of talking was involved, most super positive, with just a tinge of annoyance, and at one point talk of the Navy Seals was brought up, along with discussions of personal sacrifice and dedication. Let’s just say, it was a long night.

The bottom line, we’re making Taylor stick with it, and mainly because I think she would greatly benefit, as most kids would, from the hard work, and the good feelings that come along with the dedication it takes in becoming good at something. I don’t want her to be the best at swimming, or go after Olympic dreams. She’s already a great little swimmer, and if she gets better, has fun, and learns a little bit about the work that goes into reaching the next level, I can’t help but think she’ll turn out better for it. And by the second day, she was already admitting that her new swim team wasn’t all that bad. swim-team-3

This new schedule has us out of the house more than before, and while we will still be home in time for dinner, the act of making dinner definitely needs to be done in advance, or else we’ll all be eating at 8 o’clock at night.

Enter the slow cooker. Ours we’ve had for a whopping 16 years, and it’s still going strong, although I secretly wish it would die because it’s the ugliest crock pot ever made. This resurgence in crock-pot cooking made me reach for some new cookbooks. I already own Fix and Forget It, which is totally traditional crock-pot fare. I recently thumbed through it, hoping to find some recipes that would help me out, but also follow the general guidelines of our new way of healthy eating. Let’s just say, some vegetarian recipes called for chicken or beef stock, and many, many recipes call for condensed soup.

I had America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolutioncookbook a while ago, but it got ruined when a bottle of water got dumped on it. From what I remember of that book, all the recipes were delicious, as ATK takes painstaking measures to ensure all their recipes are top notch, but they involved LOADS of prep-work, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the slow cooker. So I set out to find some new cookbooks last week, and these are the ones I ordered:

Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition This version promises to take much of the extra prep work out of the recipes, with prep work guaranteed to be 15 minutes or less. If this is true, I know this will be a winner, because anything the AMT does is amazing, and usually pretty “healthy”. So excited for this one!

Where Slow Food and Whole Food Meet To be honest I’m a little nervous about this one, since there aren’t any reviews, but I figured I’d at least thumb through it and return if it doesn’t look awesome, although it does sound right up my alley, so hopefully it will be a good one.

The New Slow Cooker I actually picked this up at Barnes & Noble yesterday, as I had gift cards from Christmas to spend and it really caught my eye. The recipes, like the original AMT slow cooker revolution, do require prep-work, but they all look and sound so good, I thought I’d try it for the days when I had a little more time. This is more of a “specialty” cookbook, not because the recipes themselves are overly complex, but many of them call for fancy, although yummy sounding, relishes and side dishes. Their whole angle with this book is that slow cookers do a great job at adding convenience to our lives, but sometimes the meat or veggies look a little sad. They offer advice in here on how to fix that; with certain techniques and by adding those “fancy” side dishes. I already have put 2 recipes on the menu for this week and will let you know how they turn out.

There are a few others I was eyeing, but I think I need to stop here, as there is no way I’ll ever be able to cook everything out of all the cookbooks I already own! But by all means, please share any other good ones you’ve tried or have heard about, as I’m sure we can all benefit from more books to add to our wish list 😉

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Kristin F. says:

    My daughter is 8 and this is her 6th year of dance and her third year to dance competitively. It’s hard and means 5 hours of studio time a week, which includes technique and conditioning. We’ve had a lot of those same meltdowns this year and she’s exhausted when I pick her up at 8 o’clock on Tuesdays!! I get some eye-rolls from other parents, but she loves it and I know that being so invested in something will benefit her greatly in the long run. No pushing or prodding, but lots of encouraging and a few speeches about how we “finish what we started”. Good luck, mama!

    • Andrea Howe says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Kristin. I find that even for the most fun things, my kids often have to be prodded just to leave the house 😉 Good luck to you too!

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi! You can actually get the free ebook of where slow food and whole food meet if you subscribe to Kitchentreaty.com blog! I just got done looking at it and jumped over here to tell you about it because I remember you asking for suggestions on IG. Anyways, I haven’t made any thing yet but the recipes look really great and healthy and I put the autumn apple chicken sandwiches, and vegetarian pumpkin white chili on my menu plan for the week. Ill have to come back and tell you how they turned out. 🙂

    • Andrea Howe says:

      Oh boy, thank you so much Rebecca! That’s awesome 🙂 Please come back and let me know what you think of the recipes you try!

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