Today I made granola bars for the first time! I've been wanting to do it for some time, because I hate paying two or three dollars for a box of eight granola bars which are gone in less than two weeks. Besides, they are all so sweet that I don't think they're all that good for me. I wanted something which was more high in protein than sugar.
I read several recipes on how to make them, but in the end mostly made up my own. All the recipes I could find were a little too sweet. I don't have corn syrup anyway, but I also didn't want to put huge amounts of honey in there either. I decided to use part honey and part molasses. (Molasses, especially blackstrap molasses, is also high in iron!) To make sure they were high in protein, I used a lot of peanut butter and whole peanuts. I also added an egg white to help them stick together.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses*
1/2 cup peanut butter*
1 cup peanuts
3 cups instant oatmeal
1 egg white
*Maybe a bit more -- see below.
I heated the first four ingredients over the stove (set on low) until they were all melted and blended. I recommend using some of the butter to grease your measuring cup before measuring the honey, molasses, and peanut butter -- they are awfully sticky! Then I added in the oatmeal and blended well. I dumped in the peanuts -- it might have been a little less than a cup. At that point I found the mixture was a little dry, so I added a bit more molasses -- maybe two or three tablespoons -- and another spoonful of peanut butter. I stirred all the ingredients in the pan till they were warm and well-blended. Then I turned off the heat and made sure the mixture wasn't too hot to touch before I added the egg white. (I wanted to be able to blend it in completely -- not end up with scrambled egg bars!)
Once I'd mixed that in well, I put the mixture into two buttered pans. One was 8 x 8 and the other was a little smaller. I squashed them down really well into the pans so they would stick together. They ended up about a half inch thick. Then I put them into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. When I took them out, I cut them into bars. (They were still quite soft.) They're out cooling on the counter right now, and when they're cool enough I'll put them into the fridge to really harden up. I hope this part works! If not, I'll just put the crumbs in a baggie and call it granola, I guess ... but I would much prefer bars for taking to school, so here's hoping.
Last weekend, I had several blog ideas I was planning for the upcoming week. Then the week stunk so bad I gave up the whole idea, so my apologies. It's not just being pregnant ... it's not just work ... it's not just worries for the future ... it's a combination of all these things, with a heavy overtone of being tired.
Teaching children is a pretty energy-intense job at the best of times and in the best of situations. This is my second year at it, and I still haven't hit a point where it doesn't completely wear me out. But, in an ideal situation, it's bearable. In a less-than-ideal situation -- not so much. When the other teachers and administration is not 100% supportive, for instance, it gets a whole lot harder. That's kind of the situation I have right now. It's a big stress factor.
(Here is removed a whole paragraph of rants about the ways people have not been supportive! I decided the internet wasn't a place for it, even though I doubt anyone at work could find this blog if they wanted to. I am aware that I would be less critical of the (actually very nice) people I work with and their faults if I had more patience just now.)
Then the other factor is trying to do this extremely stressful job while pregnant. I'm in a state of acute exhaustion most of the week. I also have pregnancy-related sciatic pain -- which is one of the more painful things that can happen to your back. It is exacerbated by being on my feet all day, which I can't really avoid doing. I sit more than I did as a high school teacher, but I still have to circulate around the room an awful lot of the time. Driving for over an hour and a half every day also doesn't help.
Teaching children of this age is a job which requires boundless patience. But I haven't got a lot left, and it's only grace that is keeping me from snapping, "I'm in horrible pain right now, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I'm tired, so why don't you kids all sit down and shut up!" Thank goodness I haven't done that yet! But I must admit I've been a little less than patient these days, all the same.
So, I'm counting the days. I have two four-day weeks, five five-day weeks, and a three-day week of half days before I am done for good.
When I'm not at work, though, I must admit I'm doing fairly well. I sleep like crazy on the weekends, which helps a lot, and I'm off my feet. The only thing that bothers me is the fear of work starting up again on Monday. Well, that and my fragile emotional state. I have just been all ups and downs, all the time. Unfortunately I've been heavy on the downs the past few weeks, whether there's the slightest reason for it or not. I guess I'm just edgy. I hope it passes.
The happy part of my update is the part where I'm making progress, or rather, baby is. I'm getting a ton of kicking, a lot of the time, which always cheers me up. Sometimes I can see a little elbow (or whatever it is) moving around. I never get tired of watching! Though sometimes at night I say, "Simmer down, kid! Go to sleep!" The most active times are when I'm still, so nighttime is "kick mom in the ribs" time. This baby promises to turn out a night owl and a late sleeper -- so it might end up a good schedule for me. You never know.
I also get a kick out of being huge. I actually don't mind when the kids say, "Gee, Mrs. C, your belly is getting really big!" They love watching baby grow, and so do I. The bigger I am, the closer we're getting to getting this baby on the outside. (It helps that my weight seems to be doing fine. I got weighed last week when I got my Rh factor shot, and I'd only gained three pounts.)
We toured the hospital last week, which was so exciting for me. I don't like hospitals, but I must admit this is a pretty nice one as hospitals go. I am not positive how my efforts to avoid interventions in labor will go over, but they did give off a vibe of being pretty flexible. Now, this isn't one of those places with a birthing Jacuzzi and mood lighting -- but I do think I'll be able to pull off what I want. The only "focal point" I really want is my husband anyway. And the hospital made me very happy with its newborn policies. They encourage rooming-in -- so baby will be in a bassinet near me instead of in a row of other babies in a glass room, like they always have in the movies. And they do not whisk away the baby after birth -- they actually have a little area set aside in each labor and delivery room where they can weigh the baby and clean it off. They also said they wouldn't do even that right away. As long as the baby is all right, I get to hold it right away for as long as I want. This is even more important to me than having a natural birth, so I am glad the hospital allows and encourages it!
Right now, I just want to hit fast-forward on my life, get to the part where I'm not working, this baby is born, and John hopefully has a new job. But life doesn't go like that, and it wouldn't be fair if it did. I think I need to go through some hardship to experience the real joy when it's over. Lent is coming up quickly, and believe me, it'll be the real thing for me! I haven't decided what to give up ... I'm afraid of giving up anything that stands a chance of making me grouchier and I feel like I've given so much up already. Perhaps I should give up complaining ... ;)
But at any rate, you've got to have Lent in the desert before you can have Easter. Lent falls just at the right point for me -- I'm due less than two weeks after Easter. And believe me, when I hold this baby in my arms for the first time, I'll be celebrating Easter for sure.