I know that I cannot include every bit of my past year on these pages here, but I do want to share a glimpse of that year between graduation and this new phase.
Our traditional summer trip to the gulf followed my graduation. That trip, though a welcome respite, was overshadowed by job applications, transcript requests and updated résumés. My husband had a final year of seminary, and I was the designated (and slightly reluctant) primary breadwinner while he finished.
At the end of my second month of searching, I was interviewed by a preschool and day care facility director. She assured me that working with two-year-olds would be in many ways very similar to my previous experience working with middle schoolers. Assured by her confidence that I could handle the job, I accepted. And so began one of the most challenging and humbling years of my life.
My position was as assistant teacher, which translated to changing diapers, assisting toileting, monitoring sink usage, wiping runny noses, staffing the “thinking chair,” disinfecting tables, sweeping floors, etc. The calmest time of my day was, of course, naptime, but contrary to popular belief, even naptime could be distressing if one of my 12 lambs refused to nap or woke up fussy. Two-year olds can push your buttons faster than all get out, but they can be incredibly sweet, too. Despite how difficult the job was, I love those little ones and find myself wondering how they are doing these days. I learned so much and I hope that I will be just a little more prepared, should we be blessed with little lambs of our own.
While my year with the two-year olds was anything but restful, this year has come with fits and starts. I am enjoying the busy times, while cherishing the quiet, restful days, knowing that they will not always be so abundant. Today was one of those days. A late winter snowy mix has kept us indoors, and we’re not complaining. It was a perfect day to enjoy some warming smoky chicken chili, before spring brings its lighter fare.
Smoky Chicken Chili
Adapted from Southern Living
2 poblano chile peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10 ounce can tomatoes with green chilies
5-6 cups shredded smoked chicken
1 15 ounce can navy beans, drained
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
1 quart chicken broth
1 pound frozen whole-kernel corn
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons hot Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chilies, pepper, and onion and sauté for 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the two cans of tomatoes, chicken, beans, corn, broth and spices.* Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours.
Serve with cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, sliced green onions, and corn bread.
*Chili can be prepared up to this point in advance, transferred to a crock-pot and cooked on low for 8-10 hours, or refrigerated and finished later.