Even though I have been replaced by a potato, this is still my favorite family portrait in the whole wide world (created by Emmy today)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m scared silly over it.
But WHY? It’s not like my kids are possessed zombie babies, or flesh-eating horned beasts or anything. I don’t THINK they are planning to gag me, tie me up in rope, and hang me by my toes over blazing flames (Emmy doesn’t know how to tie her shoes yet, and Oren is still working on rolling over, so this would be a very ambitious plan). I mean, my kids LIKE me… they may actually even LOVE me… so why’s it such a big deal?
It’s a big deal, of course, because I don’t want to “ef” this up, and certainly don’t want to damage my children in any irreversible way. I’d like to get through the next few years without either of my children losing an important limb (or even an UNIMPORTANT limb, for that matter), and without me losing my mind… if at all possible.
Which is why I am so incredibly thankful to be living in this fabulous high-tech age. It really makes it SO MUCH EASIER for those of us who have very little confidence in our own innate mommying skills. With all the digital gadgets and a world wide web chock-full of up-to-the-minute data, its such a relief to know we no longer have to rely on our very shaky mama instincts to parent correctly.
I mean, where would I be without other Stay at Home Mama blogs? For the past few weeks, I have been wading through the advice, secrets, top ten lists, and other “must-have” information offered by other SAHM bloggers. I’ve learned, for instance, that feeding Emmy lollipops and cupcakes for a snack is not considered “healthy,” and might not be the best plan if I’d like her to take an afternoon nap. I’ve also learned that as a SAHM, I should create a daily schedule which includes outings and social gatherings so the kids and I are FORCED to change out of our pajamas. This is good to know. Without this information, I probably would have opted to have Emmy stay in her Dora the Explorer pajamas for days on end (after all, I am always looking for ways to cut down on our LOADS of laundry).
Based on this wise advice, I’ve used my Google account to create a daily SAHM schedule, which I could choose to either share or not share with all of my family and friends. I have chosen NOT to share this schedule. Nobody needs (or wants) to know how much I love to micromanage, what I plan to eat for lunch every day of every month for the next year (though I can tell you right now that Emmy will be eating a chicky sammich and yogurt EVERY DAY. She, like her mama, is a creature of habit, BIG TIME). Nobody needs (or wants) to know that we will be making caterpillars out of paper plates and paint from 2:00 – 2:37 pm, and learning about the letter “E” from 2:37 pm – 3:08 pm.
Speaking of paper plate caterpillars, though, there are about 84 gazillion pictures of crafty creepy crawly critters on Pinterest, which is a TOTAL godsend in preparing to be a SAHM. I have started about 158 new boards full of all the fantastic projects I plan to make with the kids. Am I skeptical of Baby Oren’s ability to handle a glue gun, caulking material, and welding supplies? Sure I am. But as god is my witness, we will create THE BEST EVER toddler-sized replica of the Royal Shakespeare Theater in our backyard. I’ll pin it for everyone to see when we are done (in 2026).
I’ve also used Meetup.com to scope out all the local “Mommy & Me” groups (though they are never called “Mommy & Me” these days. They are called catchier names like “Hip Mamas” and “The Mom’s Beat”). I’m hoping that this will be a fun and easy way for both me and the kids to meet and make new friends. Worst case scenario? I get shunned by other mommies for being too goofy, or too chatty, or for carrying the wrong kind of diaper bag. If that happens, I’ll just form my OWN Meetup group, called “Goofy Chatty Mommies with Second-Hand Diaper Bags.”
And there’s Facebook! On Facebook, I can “friend” our local kid-friendly museums, so that I can always be aware of the special programs they are offering. I can also “friend” our local ice cream shops, so that I can always be aware of the special ice cream flavors THEY are offering (and if there was a local ICE CREAM MUSEUM, I would be its best friend ever).
But let’s be honest. While I AM taking advantage of many modern tools in planning my venture as a SAHM, I am not a totally super duper tech-savvy mama. I mean, I don’t have a smartphone. I can only IMAGINE all the apps that would be at my disposal if I had a smartphone (actually, I did a web search. There are HOLY TONS of SAHM-friendly apps that make me want to run out and buy a smartphone).
Can you even imagine what it is going to be like when our children grow up to be SAHMs or SAHDs? They’re gonna have it SO EASY. By then, there will be lots of little mommybots and daddybots who will fold all the laundry and tend to dirty diapers and do the grocery shopping, so that all the Stay at Home Parent will need to worry about is posting photos of EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY online, using their GENIUSPHONE.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Yes, that's right. I call these babies "Restraining Order" Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, because I honestly need to issue an imaginary restraining order ON MYSELF after I make them. They are YUMMY. And even when I cover them up in tin-foil and walk all the way across the house to another room, they call to me, beckoning to be eaten. So I end up ignoring the imaginary restraining order. It's only IMAGINARY, after all.
Now, I love white chocolate (which isn't REALLY chocolate but is still so darn good) AND semi-sweet chocolate, so this is basically a recipe I have edited to include both (and yes, I DO sing "Ebony and Ivory" while I am making these cookies).
Bonus points are given to this recipe because it is cooking-with-kids friendly. Emmy loves mashing the butter and sugars together with her hands (I tell her to imagine she is smooshing wet sand), and she LOVES cracking eggs (though CRACKING isn't exactly the word for what she does. She basically SMASHES the egg in her hand, above the mixing bowl. I think it is absolute magic that she does this, and there is NO EGG SHELL in the batter. A miracle! It's like God really WANTS US to eat these cookies).
And EXTRA bonus points because these cookies are OATMEAL cookies, and oatmeal is rumored to help breast-feeding mamas produce more milk. I don't care if the rumor is true or not. Honestly, I am just looking for more reasons to bake and eat these cookies.
Here's the recipe we used:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks (a la Nestle)
3/4 cups white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
In a big bowl, smush up the butter with the sugars (or have your toddler do this, but be prepared - your toddler WILL want to eat the butter/sugar mixture off their fingers). Crack the eggs (or eggies, if you are having a toddler do this) into the bowl and give your toddler some chocolate chips to eat while you stir the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture. Add in the vanilla and stir some more.
In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (or have your toddler do this, but tell them to mix SLOWLY. Otherwise your kitchen will end up looking like a war zone). Mix the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips into the butter/sugar/eggy mixture.
Drop BIG (like, ice cream scoop size) amounts of dough onto un-greased cookie sheet. You don't need that much room for them to spread.
Bake for 16 - 18 minutes (until the middles don't look "wet," and the outer edges are JUST turning golden-y brown).
Let cool for a few minutes, IF YOU CAN, before eating.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Ok, I admit it. I am TOTALLY late in the game to the whole crazy-photo-editing-and-embellishing craze. But I have excuses, and some of them are actually valid!
- I have had VERY little free time, which means I have had to choose between extremely fun online photo editing and brushing my teeth and/or hair. Up until this morning, I have been a responsible human being and have chosen to brush my teeth.
- I KNEW that once I began playing around with our family photos, I would become VERY addicted to the process, overwhelmed by all the possibilities, and would want to magically transform EVERY photo I have EVER taken of our family into a magical fairyland or silent movie-esque version of that photo.
- I don't know if I want my children to look back through all of their childhood photos and wonder if they were always surrounded by sparkles and butterflies.
Well, all those excuses were pretty much tossed out the window this morning when I started using www.pixlr.com (I don't own an i-phone, or an i-pad, or an i-anything, because I know that once you buy one i-tem, you can kiss your savings account goodbye as you are then forced to buy every expensive i-trinket known to man).
So here are my first, very basically edited, "Fun with Photos" pics. Do me a favor and don't say anything if you don't like them. I like them. They make my family members all look like Alice in Wonderland characters, and that is all that matters to me.
|You don't know how many shots it took to get both kids smiling AND holding their letters!|
|My beautiful angel.|
|Making the best of all the rain we've had this week. Splash! Splash!|
|Circus arts with dada.|
|My butterfly boy.|
|Emmy AS Alice in Wonderland.|
|My handsome men.|
I am sure there are going to be PLENTY more "Fun with Photos," so I've made my own page for it (see sidebar). I may never brush my teeth again.
Monday, May 20, 2013
For a multitude of reasons, my husband and I have decided it might be best if I become a stay-at-home mom.
And for a multitude of reasons, I am excited, nervous, and eager about the possibility of beginning this very new, very important chapter of my life.
I’m kind of panicking, to be honest. I mean, I want very badly to be THE BEST SAHM the world has ever known. Yes, I know it’s an impossibility, and that putting that kind of pressure on myself is ridiculous. But really, truly, I want to do a DAMN good job as a full-time mommy. In preparation for the transition, I’ve created schedules, ordered educational toys and materials, joined a handful of mommy groups, and mapped out lots of different local attractions and activities I can use for our daily outings. I’m taking this whole thing very seriously. Maybe a bit TOO seriously.
To lighten the mood in my brain, I’ve been fantasizing about what it would be like if I actually had to have a job interview with my kiddos. Granted, my son is only six months old, and my daughter is only two and a half, so some of the imagined conversation is a bit contrived, but it makes me laugh, and that’s really all that matters.
Allow me to share.
Scene: A fluorescent-lit meeting room with one of those very long, very intimidating meeting room tables. My daughter is sitting at the far end, in a booster seat that makes her head just peek out over the top of the table. To her immediate right, my son is sitting in a noisy swing, swinging back and forth, teething on his favorite chew toy.
Emmy: Good morning, mama. So you’ve come to interview for the position of Stay at Home Mom?
Me: Yes, good morning. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I really appreciate the opportunity.
Emmy: Of course. It’s our pleasure. Have a seat.
(Emmy points to the seat at the far opposite end of the table. I take a seat)
Emmy: We’ve looked at your resume. We haven’t read it, because we can’t read, but we’ve looked at it. Tell me, why have you decided to apply for this position?
Me: Well, in a nut shell, I’ve decided that being a good mommy to you and Baby O is my number one priority right now, and other things can wait. I want to provide both of you with a loving, consistent environment that fosters your growth and development.
Emmy: That’s all well and good, mama, theoretically speaking. But let’s talk about your qualifications. Are you familiar with “Ring Around the Rosie?”
Me: Of course, yes. I’m very familiar with “Ring Around the Rosie.”
Emmy: How many times IN A ROW would you say you’d be willing to play “Ring Around the Rosie”?
Me: Um, off the top of my head? Maybe FOUR times?
(Baby O stops teething and looks at me with horror)
Emmy: FOUR times? Just FOUR times?
Me: Ok, maybe FIVE times?
Emmy: That will NEVER do. We’re going to need you to play “Ring Around the Rosie” at least eighteen times in a row, mama. With enthusiasm. No excuses. Do you think you can do that?
Me: (with some very acute hesitation) Sure. Yeah. I can do that. Eighteen times, huh?
Emmy: And none of that pseudo “ooh, I’m falling down” charade. You can’t just SQUAT and call it “falling down.” You’re going to need to fall ALL THE WAY DOWN.
Me: I can do it. I can.
Emmy: Moving on. Let’s talk about lunch. Lunch is very important around here. How good are you at making chicky sammiches?
Me: I’m REALLY GOOD at making chicky sammiches, Emmy. I use just the right amount of turkey, and your favorite kind of bread…
Emmy: Do you cut the sandwich into squares or triangles?
Me: Generally speaking, squares…
Emmy: (thinking) uh huh… any other shapes?
Me: Well, I tried to make a star-shaped sandwich once.
Emmy: Yeah, we all know how THAT turned out. It was a disaster. It didn’t even look like a star. It looked like a HOUSE.
Me: I promise I will work on my sammich shape repertoire. Through this job, I will hone my sammich-making skills.
Emmy: And how long would you say it takes you to eat lunch?
Me: I’m a quick eater. I need MAYBE ten minutes, tops.
(Baby O chokes on his teething toy)
Emmy: Ten MINUTES? Mama, we have a VERY STRICT lunch break policy around here. You’re gonna get 20 seconds.
Me: Did you just say twenty SECONDS?
Emmy: Yes, you’ll have twenty seconds to wolf down the crusts I have left over from my sammich. I may also leave you an ounce of juice in my sippy cup, if you are lucky.
Me: I guess I’ll have to make it work.
Emmy: Should we talk about attire? What you have on now is completely inappropriate.
Me: Oh? How so?
Emmy: Way too formal. We like to call our dress code around here “functional princess” attire.
Me: What is “functional princess” attire?
Emmy: Jogging pants, an old t-shirt, and a tutu. You can’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to get stained. It’s GONNA GET STAINED. But you should also always look like a ballerina princess so we can twirl around and twirl around and twirl around until we get dizzy and fall on the floor.
Me: I’ve got some jogging pants. And I’ll borrow dada’s t-shirts.
Emmy: Moving on. I’m going to give you a scenario, and you tell me what you would do in that scenario, ok?
Emmy: You’re nursing baby brother, and I’m reading a book, when suddenly I start SCREAMING at the top of my lungs that I have to go potty. How do you handle this?
Me: Um, I take you to the potty with one arm WHILE nursing baby brother in my other arm?
Emmy: Ewww. Gross. And it won’t work. I need you to hug me while I am on the potty.
Me: You need me to HUG you while you are on the potty? Um.. ok. Then I would put Baby O down for a minute and take you to the potty?
Emmy: Probably a better idea, mama.
Me: I’ll work on my mommy instincts.
Emmy: Do you love to be hugged?
Me: Oh, yes.
Emmy: And kissed?
Emmy: And sneezed on?
Emmy: How many band-aids are you willing to let us wear in one 24 hour period?
(Baby O looks at me and grins his mischievous grin)
Me: One band-aid, Emmy. MAYBE two if you are really bleeding. We’ve talked about this before.
Emmy: Would you consider upping that to maybe FOURTEEN band-aids?
Me: Never. Ever.
Emmy: It was worth a shot. Ok, mama. After much consideration, it seems we have no choice BUT to hire you for this position.
Me: That’s great news! Thank you! You’ll be so happy you chose me. I won’t let you down, I swear.
Emmy: Sure, sure. Just remember: Anything you do could potentially scar us for the rest of our lives. And our bones are very fragile.
Me: Thank you for your encouraging words.
So yeah, I’m nervous. But also totally happy. But also REALLY nervous.
If you have any advice, or experience you would like to share with this possibly-soon-to-be-SAHM, I would love to hear it.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Because the first thing I thought, after hearing the news story about her elective double-mastectomy, was “if she can do it, I can do it.”
When I found out, back in November of 2011, that I have the BRCA-1 mutation, the decision to opt for a preventative double mastectomy, followed by an oophorectomy, was pretty much a “no-brainer.” I had lost my mother to breast cancer earlier that year, and wanted to be pro-active in making sure I wouldn’t have to face what my mom had to face: a radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, brain surgery, medication upon medication, and eventually a very heart-breaking, very painful physical decline that preceded her death. I also wanted to do what I could to make sure I would be able to enjoy many years with my children, my husband, my extended family and my friends, without my life turning into a constant battle with a life-threatening disease.
A year and a half has passed since I received the results of my genetic testing. In that span of time, I got pregnant with my second child, had a second c-section, and have breast-fed my son for five months, all which have delayed any steps I can take toward having the surgeries. I have also had time to REALLY come to terms with the decision I am facing, the impact it will have on my body, my brain, and my heart, and have had lots of time to doubt my decision. Do I really want to put my body through yet another surgery? Do I really want to see MORE scars than I already do when I look in the mirror? Am I ok with completely losing feeling in my breasts? Am I okay with becoming post-menopausal in my early 40s? Or should I perhaps just be super-vigilant about self-monitoring, without opting for such a radical surgery?
It’s not an easy decision. But hearing about Angelina Jolie’s choice to get the preventative surgeries has been incredibly comforting. I mean, it’s Angelina Jolie! Never in a million years would I have thought that she and I would have much in common. But here we are, both 37 years old, both with mothers that have recently passed away from cancer, both having the BRCA-1 mutation, both having to decide what to do with the knowledge about our genetic makeup.
And, I mean, it’s Angelina Jolie! Lara Croft, Hollywood goddess, mother of eight billion children, Special Envoy of UN, wife of Brad Pitt! Every move she makes is watched, documented, praised or criticized. She is probably one of the only women in the world who would make international headlines for making this kind of decision public.
It’s not that Angelina’s decision makes my doubts go away. And it’s not that her opting for a double-mastectomy makes my choices any easier. This is still MY body, and MY decision to make.
But seriously, it is encouraging to know that if I DO choose to get the surgeries (which I in all likelihood will), I will be sharing my journey with a very beautiful, very brave, very public figure who chose to be proactive in making decisions about her health, her future, and her identity. Her statement, “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity,” in turn empowers me to make my decisions without feeling like I will be losing my sense of self.
If she can do it, I can do it.
So thank you, Angelina.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Growing up, I always had a lot of anxiety when it came to Mother’s Day. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my mother wasn’t the easiest person to get along with, and definitely was not the easiest person to buy or make presents for. She RARELY was enthusiastic about the gifts my older sister and I would seek out for her, and on a few occasions she even returned the presents we got for her. It’s not like we didn’t TRY to get her great gifts. My sister and I would pool our allowances, and spend many hours at the mall debating over which scarf she would like best, which shirt was REALLY her favorite color, etc. But I hardly remember a time that my mom expressed excitement and enthusiasm over our choice of gift.
Cards, too, were an issue. We weren’t a Hallmark kind of a family. I don’t know if it was because bought cards seemed too generic, or were too expensive, or if my parents were simply trying to encourage us to be creative, but we ALWAYS had to hand-make our cards for holidays and celebrations. And along with the hand-made card, it was tradition in our family (and still is) that we write the card-receiver an epic tale describing in endless detail how much we appreciate that person, and why. A card is not complete unless the sentiment written inside it covers both interior pages and spills onto the back of the card, as well.
So not only was the gift-giving anxiety provoking, but the card-making part also made me panic (and still does).
Which is why now, being on the receiving-end of Mother’s Day, I plan on making a concerted effort to make the celebration as low-key and UNstressful as possible for my famil, and to ALWAYS, ALWAYS show my appreciation for ANY gifts or sentiments my loved ones give me.
C definitely made sure yesterday was celebratory (despite his exhaustion) and that we did the things that I wanted to do as a family, which was very sweet and very much appreciated.
Here are the things I MOST appreciated about the day, that made the day very special.
We enjoyed lunch together at Friendly’s, and Em shared her ice cream with both her Dada and I in a very generous way. AND Oren only cried maybe once during our entire meal, which made for a very peaceful, un-chaotic, lunch with two young children (a rare thing, indeed).
When we got back home, the sun was shining, so we took Em’s new tricycle (well, not new, exactly. I found it on sale for $7 at a garage sale, but as far as Em is concerned it is pink and purple and has a storage bin that holds her My Little Ponies and is therefore perfect) for a ride down to Baba and Grampy’s house. Em only started riding on a tricyle a few weeks ago, thanks to our friends Kelly and Wil, who gave us their grown-up-assisted tricycle that let Em practice her pedaling. But already, just a few weeks later, Em is becoming an expert-biker, with loads of confidence and enthusiasm. I am thrilled for her, and thrilled to see her gaining these new skills so quickly. I am also excited that when she falls off her bike, Em gets right back up, brushes herself off, and starts biking again. So proud!!!
My mother-in-law gave me these AMAZING photos she took of the kids, which made my heart so incredibly happy. I can’t decide whether I want to have the photos themselves blown up onto big canvases, or whether I want to try and find time to paint versions of them. Despite wanting very much to do the latter, I will probably end up doing the former, because if I wait to find time to paint these pictures, they likely won’t get done until my children have children of their own.
We were able to get the kids to sleep at a decent time, so C and I were able to enjoy playing a game together (being the nerdy board game enthusiasts that we are). I love my husband.
All in all, a great day. I am so grateful to be a mom, and to have such a wonderful, loving family. I hope all the mamas out there (including mommies of cats, dogs, goldfish, etc.) enjoyed their special day as well.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
So the weather here in Upstate New York has been AMAZING this past week. It’s as if we are being rewarded for the extra long winter we’ve had – the skies are a cloudless, bright blue, the birds are chirping enthusiastically, even the grass seems to be celebrating.
I love Spring, for obvious reasons. I love the fact that I can now plan on going on a run/walk with my baby after work almost EVERY DAY this week. I love the fact that I can wear shoes without socks and not look like a freak anymore (I get strange looks when I go sockless on a -30 below zero day). I love the fact that sunny weather means guacamole can be used as a condiment on EVERYTHING. And I LOVE switching my morning pick-me-up from hot coffee to frozen coffee.
I’ve had quite the long love affair with cold coffee beverages. I was actually introduced to coffee via a pitcher of deliciously cold, insanely sweet iced coffee my college roommate used to make when the weather got warm. I was so enamored by the flavor that I pretty much gulped down the whole pitcher, not realizing the effect all that caffeine would have on me. Sure enough, 20 minutes later, I was inspired to clean our entire apartment. And then run five miles. And then clean our apartment again. From that moment on, I was hooked.
So, due to my enthusiasm for cold coffee, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share my current favorite blended iced coffee beverage (In my head, I call it Mocha Nirvana) as my first ever blog recipe. It’s actually pretty weird that it has taken me this long to share my secret food preparation strategies, seeing as I love to cook (and cooking pretty much goes hand-in-hand with mommying). Nonetheless, I’ve dawdled in that department. I kind of hope that sharing this very simple recipe will be a gateway drug to sharing more of my passion for cooking (especially since, in the near future, I should have a lot more time to cook for our family).
My first issue with most coffee-chain ice blended drinks is that the coffee element kind of separates from the icy part of the drink. The first part of the blended coffee drinking experience is wonderful, because you are slurping down a very delicious combination of concentrated coffee flavor and chocolate flavor or whatever else you’ve asked them to add in. But the second part of the drinking experience is disappointing, because you’re left with this flavorless, slushy mess that is not delicious at all.
My second issue with coffee-chain ice blended drinks is that they cost about $84 dollars a pop.
With this recipe, I’ve managed to address the slushy flavorlessness AND the crazy cost of those coffee-chain concoctions. My Mocha Nirvana is delicious from beginning to end, and won’t set you back more than a dollar per serving.
Oh, and have I mentioned it actually has nutritional benefits?
I won’t make you wait any longer. Here’s my recipe for one serving of Mocha Nirvana:
5 ice cubes of frozen double-strength coffee
1 cup of vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp. of Chocolate Syrup
1 tsp. or more of chia seeds (the “superfood of the Aztecs”) – optional
1 Tbsp. of Enriched Infant Oatmeal Cereal (the “superfood of the babies”)
So all you have to do is brew up a double-strength pot of your favorite coffee, let it cool a little, and then pour it into ice cube trays to freeze. My husband and I keep a couple of trays of frozen coffee cubes in our freezer at all times now, so we can have our Mocha Nirvanas whenever we want.
Use 4 – 5 ice cubes per serving, adding in the vanilla almond milk (or vanilla soy milk, rice milk, cow’s milk… totally up to you), the 1 Tbsp. of chocolate syrup, the 1 optional teaspoon of chia seeds (they sell them EVERYWHERE now), and the 1 tablespoon of infant oatmeal cereal (I confess, I happen to have this on hand in our house for my baby boy, and one day I just got creative and added it in to my blender. You could definitely just use plain old oats, if you prefer).
Of course, you can totally add in other ingredients as well, to suit whatever mood you are in. I’ve personally tried adding a banana (yum), a tablespoon of peanut butter (double yum), and yes, a scoop of ice cream (I deserved it)!
Blend all the ingredients together. Pour it into a tall glass and decorate the top of it with a teeny bit more chocolate syrup so that you feel like you have just spent $84 on this drink. Stick a straw in it. ENJOY THE DELICIOUSNESS as you sit on your porch or your green grass, thanking heaven that Spring has arrived.