Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Beginning Of The End.


A few days ago, Julia ran her last high school cross country meet here in Charlotte. And hoo boy, she sure wrapped things up in style. Far and away her best race of the season, Julia's time cemented her spot on the team going to States. In fact, it put her on the school's all-time top 25. As a team captain, she's worked hard -- insanely disciplined with her training, nutrition, sleep, and leadership. The results speak for themselves. I stand in awe.

Friday, she'll run her last race in Hendersonville, NC. And as she crosses that finish line, I'll check one more thing off my "last ever" list.

For better or worse, it's habit. I don't think of myself as particularly sentimental or sappy, but for 17 years, I've mentally noted and lamented the "last" time she rode in an infant car seat, her last day in preschool, the last time she let me to read to her before bed, the last I held her hiked up on my hip, the last time I drove her home from a meet, because she wasn't yet old enough to drive herself.

Now, though, during her senior year, the "lasts" are relentless. I've snapped my last "first day of school" picture. She's pinned on her last homecoming boutonniere. I've attended my last "meet the teachers" evening. She's about to submit her last college application.

I should be happy, but as one "last" after the other slaps me upside the head, I often find myself blinking back tears.

She's my "last" baby. The last one I felt kicking and hiccuping inside of me. The last one I potty-trained (she made it easy). The last one I taught to ride a bike, and then, in a blink, the last one to get a driver's license.

Together, we'll mark a lot of "lasts" as she navigates her final year of high school, not the least of which will be 212 days, 23 hours, and 52 minutes from now, when she'll don a cap and gown, and walk confidently across a stage and into her future.

I want to make it last.

Quinoa Kale Salad
One delightful consequence of cross country training is that we're eating healthier than ever Chez Wiles. This salad is a current favorite.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3-4 cups raw kale, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup pinenuts
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons light-tasting vinegar (rice or champagne, for example)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In a small lidded saucepan, bring quinoa and broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until done. (About 15 minutes.) Toss quinoa with kale, and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in chopped bell pepper and pine nuts. In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients to make a dressing, and stir into quinoa mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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