The Idea of... A Working Mom

Ahhh, the life of a working mom. It's really glamorous. I get to rush from one place to the next... Rushing to get to the office on time to squeeze every moment of productivity out of my day and then rushing to get home so I can squeeze every minute left with my kids from the evening.

Trust me, I'm not complaining. But there is this fantasy that you get to dress nice and someone brings you a latte when you sit down at your desk and then you have lunch at some fabulous place while discussing important things and running into other fantastic people you know... Maybe that's someone's reality - just not mine.

I know I have it good compared to a lot of working moms. And I do love my job, which is something very few people can say. Since having W I've had the flexibility to work from home a couple days each week. I try to keep my calls to within the hours I have a sitter, but sometimes a volunteer or donor calls me back after my sitter leaves and I have no choice but to answer and apologize up front for the screaming children they might hear in the background. Or the clanging of pots as I try to get dinner together while discussing whether a corporate sponsor would be upset if we accept sponsorship from their competitor (we agreed they would).

And, you know how it is... Your kids see you on the phone and decide that is the exact moment they need to talk to you, have you pick them up, are STARVING, etc. etc. etc. I sound really professional as I'm shushing kids while switching on and off mute. 

It's a constant juggling act. How cliche is that? But, it is. I check my email while the kids are happily playing or eating breakfast. I bring work home and do it from my couch after the kids are sleeping for the night. I fill in my days around these two things. It doesn't leave room for a ton of other stuff. And because I'm now part-time I don't have that awesome, reliable sitter who helps make my world go round. So, my kids still like to throw fits every now and then when I leave the house in the morning or hang onto my leg and wipe their yogurt-covered-hands on my just-cleaned-sweater in protest as I try to sneak by them. How's that for glamorous?

This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment. Join From Left to Write on April we discuss The Idea of Him. Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


How An Egg Drove Me To A Time Out

I nearly lost my shit tonight. It was over an egg. I'm serious.

The kids wanted hard boiled eggs and fruit salad for dinner, which they told me over lunch. Easy enough, I thought. Lucky me! This means easy dinner night! That was my first mistake: thinking that dinner could possibly be easy.

I made the fruit salad during naptime and boiled the eggs as soon as we got home from afternoon preschool. I was ready to start plating at 5:00. But, it's like the kids have an internal radar to go into hunger meltdown mode exactly 15 minutes before dinner is ready. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. No matter what time I'm prepared they will always beat me to the punch. Always. Tonight they were starving as soon as I pulled the plates from the cabinet.

Tonight's drama struck a nerve in the worst way... Why? Because I hate unpeeling hard boiled eggs. I'm terrible at it, which is actually something I didn't know people could be bad at... But, trust me, I am terrible. Imagine how well I unpeeled eggs while three kids screamed about how starving they were and how they needed their eggs NOW.

And for the first time ever I excused myself. I told them I needed a minute if they couldn't stop whining. I went up to my room and took a deep breath. Looking back I can't believe I was that close to freaking out over peeling a few stupid eggs.

So, my question now is... What comes first the meltdown or the egg?


Staying A Step Ahead

Help. I think my child is smarter than I am. It's W... He's like a sponge, always looking to learn more about everything. He loves animals and dinosaurs and space and geography... We were watching the Olympics and they did a little piece about Siberia. He was consumed by it. Like he couldn't look away. It only lasted ten minutes and as soon as it was over he asked how he could watch more shows like it. So, we started searching... We found some great options on Netflix, like How The Universe Works. The only trouble... I can't answer his questions.

It's been years since I studied the solar system and now he's learning about it in preschool (preschool isn't just about sharing and eating graham crackers anymore, people). He has a basic knowledge about space, but wants to know everything. The trouble is I can't really tell him more than he already knows. Yes, I just admitted that my 5 year-old son knows more about space than I do. Science just isn't my strongest area. I remember being placed in AP Bio in high school and my mom and I looked at each other with a WTF look before WTF even existed. 

Is it just me or are kids so much smarter than we were at their age? I didn't know half the stuff he knows when I was five (or ten for that matter). We parents need to band together and start having wine and geography nights or something, because I have a feeling it's just going to get worse. 

Anyway, I digress... It's hard to stay a step ahead of a bright kid. I need all the help I can get. Oh, and I'm totally screwed in 10 years.


Emails Help Piece Together Our History

You could piece together some of my history with the emails and cards between my best friend and me... This would most definitely be true for the years she was living in Africa and I was here dating Matt, getting engaged, working a day job, and all that jazz. Our email correspondence was pretty epic. Seriously, it should be a book. It tells the story of our lives - including a lot of our real, honest feelings on what was going down and most of the details that we've each forgotten by now. I'm so thankful to have this trail of my life.

There was a time when getting cards in the mail wasn't such a big deal, but they still seemed worth saving. You know, thrown in a shoe box or a drawer of a bed side table. Something that you can find a few years later to remind you of a specific time in your life.

Now I feel like so much of it is buried in our inboxes, co-mingling with our Daily Deals and LinkedIn requests. I have a hotmail account that I check every few months... Buried in there is my history. If I were to go through it I can't imagine what I would find. I can't bear to ever actually close the account. But it could be lost so easily.

Should I go through and print them? Or visit every now and then? I may never do either, but it's comforting to know that I can if I want to. The string that means the most to me... the one between me and Britt... those are already printed and read. And maybe one day you'll read them too... Until then I'm thankful to have someone I can be honest with - who can talk me down, boost me up, and read my notes with the same voice that's in my head when I write them. Everyone should be so lucky.

This post was inspired by the novel The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Young lawyer Sophie unwillingly takes her first divorce case with an entertaining and volatile client in this novel told mostly through letters and legal missives. Join From Left to Write on March 18 we discuss The Divorce Papers. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Crock Pot Mondays: Sesame Ginger Chicken from Crock-Pot Cuisine

Another Monday... Another meal in the crock pot. Seriously, I don't know what I do without the crock pot. Well, I do. My kids would probably eat crackers, apple slices, and milk for dinner and be perfectly happy with it. But, luckily that's not the case.

Tonight we have the Sesame Ginger Chicken from Crock-Pot Cuisine a try. Being able to rip open a package, dump it in the crock pot with a cup of water, and then ask my sitter to add vegetables at 4:30... Delightful. Easy. Easy. Easy. Which I need on days like today.

I wish I had been home earlier to taste it when the broccoli would have been at its best. Instead it had a little too long to cook, so didn't have the firm, crispness I was hoping for. But, seriously, that's what vegetables do after 90 minutes of cooking... Otherwise, it was pretty tasty. W ate out the chicken, broccoli, and carrots. B ate out the carrots (you can't win them all). And A ate most of it. In my continued attempts to cut gluten I picked out some chicken and veggies so I could taste-test. I added a splash of sriracha, which made it awesome. Oh yeah, and the wine I drank helped... Matt spiced his up with sriracha and was a happy camper.

All in all, I can still say these meals are solid. This was an all-in-one kind of meal, which was great. I didn't have to make anything else. I'm really looking forward to trying their other meals. The fresh ingredients made it a no-guilt pre-cooked meal that I feel good about feeding the kiddos.

As I mentioned last time, the online order process is really user-friendly and you can still save 25% through the end of the month on any order with this coupon code: CPC25BLOGK.

Disclosure: I received complimentary Crock-Pot Cuisine Meals and a Crock-Pot. All opinions are my own.


We're Done... Right?

IF we were to have another baby, now would be the time. But we're done.

IF we were guaranteed to have another girl - a sister for A, I would go for it. But we're ready to move on to the next stage.

IF money grew on a tree in our backyard, we would be tempted to have one more. But we're good with what we have...

I feel done. I've been able to hold a couple newborns and accept that I'll never hold one of my own again. I'm good with it. It just feels weird. Not as if something (or someone) is missing... Just weird to know that we're done with that part of our family's life.

When you have one or two kids people love to ask if and when you're going to have another... Once you have three those questions come to an abrupt halt. And if anyone does ask it's of the "you're done, right?!?!" variety.

So, are we done? We both love having kids. And once you have three you might as well have ten (says the person who doesn't have ten kids - I know, I'm sure it's actually quite difficult). But, seriously, we love the whole kids thing. And we've been lucky... Our lives as parents have been relatively smooth.

But, all that being said. We're closing up this baby shop. We'll stick with what we are so fortunate to have... these three sweet, fun, and quirky kids.

To make sure we've been giving away the baby stuff as soon as we're done with it... I literally keep a box in A's room and as soon as something doesn't fit her, it goes right in there. Having sisters and friends with babies makes that nice and easy. If we won't use it again, I'm happy to see someone else enjoy it.

How do you know when you're truly DONE? Or do you always feel like you could go for one more? 


Schoolhouse Rock(ed)

W and I love fun opportunities to see some theater. He really, really enjoys seeing shows. Musicals just make him happy. SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! was one of these musicals. We went to the production at The Marriott Theater for Young Audiences last weekend and I've caught him singing a few of the songs since... songs he didn't know before the show. 

We have a Schoolhouse Rock cd, but haven't listened to it a ton. Other than one song, the kids weren't too familiar. And - trust me - he informed everyone sitting around us in his talk-scream voice that he knew a song. It made me wish I had listened to the cd with the kids more because I think he would have been engaged in the show in a difference way.

We have a tendency to just take W places and assume B isn't ready for stuff. We've really been trying to break out of that habit, so I brought him along. He did OK, but I have to admit he was probably a little too young and too tired to enjoy it as much (he fell asleep in the car and woke up cranky). He spent most of the show snuggled in my lap and started to whisper about going home near the end. It's an hour-long production recommended for ages five and up, but I do think some three and four year-olds would totally dig it.

All smiles... Bring on the show! B never left my lap.

What I like most about the Marriott Theater for Young Audiences are the actors. This is the second show we've seen there and every cast member has been really great. There were even a few actors who were in both productions. They just put on a terrific show. The boys were dragging their feet to leave, so we were heading out by the time the actors were walking out. One of the actors waved at us and for W it might as well have been a major celebrity. It made his day... And he can't wait to go back.

My personal favorite... And the song W knew.

Have I mentioned W loves anything about planets???

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCKS LIVE! will run at that Marriott Theater for Young Audiences through May 4th. The show plays most Thursdays through Sundays at 10 AM and tickets are $15/person. You should go! It's just a sweet and easy way to introduce your kids to theater and do something special... Especially during this never-ending winter.

Disclosure: We received three complimentary tickets. All opinions are my own.


Crock Pot Mondays: Pork Tacos

This whole Crock Pot Mondays thing came to me a while ago... I have a lot of friends who often ask if I know of any good crock pot recipes and I do! I just forget about them sometimes... There are a glut of blogs out there that do the crock pot thing. I am not trying to re-invent this wheel. I am just hoping to share some of the good recipes I have found as a working mom/lover of the crock pot. And also help you find some new blogs that have great recipes.

So, I'll explain my tweeks, link you to the site, and you can go from there... Usually I'll share some photos of some cute faces eating the meal or what it will look like - except this week, cuz I didn't get any. It was one of those mad dashes to get the food on the table and then it tasted so good... See, tacos are a BIG hit in this house. W can eat five tacos no problem. Yes, he is FIVE years old. When food hits that table, i make a mad dash to make tacos for the kids keeping in mind their specific tastes. W likes sour cream, lettuce, and tomato. B likes sour cream, cheese, a little lettuce, and one tomato. A likes anything thrown on her tray.

Anyway, I found a piece of pork in the freezer and after it took a few days to thaw I jut googled "pork tenderloin tacos slow cooker." I read through a few recipes and was really trying to avoid having to sear the piece of meat because I was feeling lazy (apparently this is not possible). But, then I found this recipe from Simply Recipes and decided it might be worth it (it was).

I followed the recipe closely, except I guessed my piece of pork was about a pound or so, so I cut the recipe in half-ish. And I set my crock pot for 8 hours on low, shred it, then let it warm for about 20 minutes. I felt we were a little low on liquid, but it worked. Everyone loved it. HUGE hit. I also didn't have avocados, so just served with the standard American taco toppings.

So, I did forget the pictures, but this one pretty much sums up the reaction:

Hi, I can eat my weight in tacos.


Crock Pot Mondays: Lemon Herb Chicken from Crock-Pot Cuisine

I spend two days a week in the office. To some moms who are in the office five days every week, this is nothing. But, those two days make dinner tough and the crock pot is my best friend. So, I'm going to feature some of my favorite crock pot meals on Mondays each week... Cuz you know you need some ideas, right?

While my preference is to make homemade, healthy, natural food for my family, it's just not always possible or convenient. As a rule I generally do not make pre-packaged meals. But sometimes I need to be able to call it in. When I read about their natural approach to a new line of meals by Crock-Pot, I knew they were worth a try. Typically pre-packaged meals are full of stuff I can't pronounce and lots of salt, but the ingredients list on the box supported it.

We tried the Crock-Pot Cuisine Lemon Herb Chicken this week and honestly I was prepared to be all meh about it. Matt handled all the preparation for me since he was working from home. I came home, threw together a salad, and then served it up for everyone. The truth? I was pleasantly surprised (without that sounding jerky). It was really tasty.

See? Real, bright veggies!

Everything cooked really well. The green beans were nice and crisp - and fresh tasting. The flavor was good, the chicken tasted like read chicken, and nothing got gummy or overdone. Like I said, very tasty. And everyone in our house enjoyed it, which doesn't happen too often.

I think the packaging also deserves a shout-out... Matt actually pointed it out to me. The directions are incredibly easy to follow and it includes chef tips. For someone like me, it's not all that helpful (just being honest), but for someone who doesn't cook too much the tips on adding in sliced mushrooms or topping with cranberries is a real help.

Also great? The online order process is really user-friendly, making it easy for busy families and I think that the price is close to what you would spend on chicken breasts, green beans, onions, and rice. Not to mention the extra convenience.

Here is something fun for you... Until March you can save 25% on an order with this coupon code: CPC25BLOGK.
So, the verdict? I'll let the smile on my PICKIEST eater's face say it all...

Hi, I'm a picky eater... Wait a second...
Disclosure: I received complimentary Crock-Pot Cuisine Meals and a Crock-Pot. All opinions are my own.