Friday, November 13, 2015

Also, kid, sorry, but you're going to have to pay for it yourself

There is a thing that happens sometimes, when moms are talking to each other--yes, Scott, it is a thing that happens in meatspace and not just a fake trend from the internet, and I know this because I have done it myself--where they will make a joking reference to their kids' future therapy as a sort of preemptive acknowledgement of their flaws.

Have you heard this sort of thing?

"Oh, my kid always wears his older brother's hand-me-down Halloween costume. Guess he'll have something to talk about in therapy, ha ha."

"Oh, yes, we never bought her a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, guess we should take the money we saved and put it aside for therapy, tee hee."

(Considering I am a mom I should know about some kind of modern trend to substitute for Tickle-Me-Elmo--side note, I never got one of those and that's okay because I found them vaguely terrifying--but I do not. Maybe I should complain about my lack of pop culture awareness in therapy.)

And I totally get why this is a thing. It's the same impulse as "My kid fell off the table and bust open his lip, please mail me my Mother Of The Year trophy." We're preemptively and a little sarcastically criticizing ourselves so that other people don't jump on our Facebook status or casual comment with, "ACTUALLY have you thought about not being such a sucky mom?"

(Pro tip: If you regularly feel compelled to begin sentences with the word "Actually," you are probably kind of pretentious. Maybe dial it down a bit.)

But it makes me wonder: Why is therapy a thing we invoke like the boogeyman of motherhood, where only the bad moms who suck at everything have kids who go to therapy, LOL? Is that really the standard I aspire to, to have kids who don't go to therapy?

Given my genes, sorry, current kid and future kids, you're probably doomed to some kind of chronic mood disorder. Sorry 'bout that chromosome. But even aside from that--if I have a kid who's totally neurotypical and totally healthy and still goes to therapy, I think I will have actually done a really good job as a mom.

Because you know what going to therapy means? Going to therapy means that you have the self-awareness to realize you're struggling. (And we all struggle, thought some more than others, like Animal Farm.) It means you have the humility and good sense to know when to call it and say, "Hey, this is more struggle than I can handle on my own." And if they talk about me in therapy, well, I already knew I'm human, and it seems better for them to talk that out with a therapist than to just let it fester, or to hide it from the world because they think we need to maintain a perfect shiny family image even in front of therapists so we can't ever say, "Yeah, my mom was awesome most of the time but a few times she wrote blog posts about how I'm too much work."

If I can't be the perfect mom, then I'll consider second best (and good enough) to be "mom who gives her kids the tools to deal with all the mistakes she made."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On worthwhile endeavors and fixed points

A long time ago, when Tad was maybe six weeks old, I was talking on the phone to a very pregnant friend and she asked me, "Is he worth it?" And I paused. And she teased me a little. And I told her to ask me again when I wasn't quite so sleep-deprived.

Almost two years later, I'm still not quite sure how to answer that question. How do you take the utterly delightful human being that he is now (he likes to do things over and over again just to make you laugh, asking "Funny?" to make sure you are enjoying it; and he insists on regular group hugs; and he declares "Wow! Amazing milk!" before he begins to nurse, which I never would have anticipated when I was sobbing my way through those early growth spurts) and weigh it against a year of crippling hormone-induced anxiety and months of equally crippling hormone-induced depression and two years of sleepless nights (he's slept all the way through the night three times so far and we consider that a cause for celebration) and SO. MUCH. SCREAMING? I don't know how you do that, how you decide what's "worth it" or not. I mean, the theological answer is that he's a human being and infinitely valuable and therefore "worth" any amount of suffering and sacrifice but the human answer is that I honestly still don't know if I would have pushed so hard for parenthood had I known just how difficult it was going to be.

But I'm grateful that I wasn't able to make that informed decision, that I could never have believed what the last two and a half years would be like even if somebody told me. I think it's right that he's here. I think it's sort of inevitable that he's here, like the Tenth Doctor always talking about fixed points in time. He's not "worth it" or "not worth it"; he just is, as inexorable as the fires of Pompeii--and just about as good at destroying one's living room.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The next 50 words

Yes, he's at least doubled his vocabulary since mid-August. I had half a mind to keep tracking his words until he turns 2, but around the 100 word mark I just lost my desire to do so, which means I'll stop writing these posts after this. (You: "Yeah, nobody but his mother cared about this stuff.")

Side note: He's also moved from 2-word sentences (early August) to 3- and even one or two 4-word sentences.






what happened?



back (as in putting an object back where it belongs, not the body part)


Friday, September 18, 2015

What's for supper?, you don't know my LYFE edition

Saturday: I made sort of mushroom-pork-rice stir-fry deal. Previously this had been pork chops, mushroom sauce, and rice on the side, but I hate having random dregs of leftover rice so I just threw it all together. Bonus: Since the pork is pre-cubed, we don't have to make the baby ragey by using steak knives in front of him without letting him use one. WE'RE SO MEAN.

Sunday: Leftovers.

Monday: Chicken leg quarters and red potatoes, coated in olive oil + spices and roasted in the oven. Except it turned out I only had four (itty-bitty!) potatoes and I also realized as I was putting the food in the oven that I didn't include any kind of non-starchy vegetable with this meal. So basically we ate a few cubes of potato and some giant slabs of meat for dinner.

Tuesday: Chili and cornbread. No unpleasant realizations occurred during meal prep (tomato sauce is too a vegetable), but I was still vaguely irritated by the time we sat down to eat because it turns out that making hearty soups does not in fact force the weather to become appropriately autumnal and I get cranky when I'm all sweaty from being in the kitchen when it's 90 degrees out. (Seriously, September, what is wrong with you?)

Wednesday: Hey, I have a picture for this one!

I made slow-cooker pork loin and homemade gravy from the juices and mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower. I was immensely proud of myself both for making such a "fancy" dinner (side dishes!) and for trying cauliflower for the first time ever. (It was delicious.)

However, Scott didn't care for the cauliflower ("It's very...cauliflowery.") and Tad didn't eat his dinner at all--though when he begged for food at 9:30 and I gave him his plate again, he ate all the potatoes and about half of the pork. (That's his plate pictured above; I'm sure the "proper" thing to do is to give him only a tablespoon or so of potatoes instead of a quarter cup so he will be forced by sheer hunger to try the cauliflower, but whatever. He has another 24 years to get around to trying cauliflower if he wants to beat my record.)

Thursday: I made Southwest Chicken (salsa on the side). Tad happily noshed on some chicken while the grownups dished up their portions but then as soon as we sat down he was saying "All done! All done!" So in a fit of inspiration I sat him in a regular chair at the big table instead of in his high chair and he happily ate several more bites of dinner before getting distracted because I was taking his picture.

(I could post a picture here too but I'd have to upload it from my camera and that seems like too much work. Just imagine a tiny little toddler sitting in a regular chair all serious-like.)

Friday: I have veggie soup going in the crockpot (I have been a crockpotting fiend lately) and will of course be making biscuits later. So on the one hand we will be catching up on our veggies but on the other hand I plan to thoroughly stuff my face with CARBS.


See Simcha for more meals that are judging you for your life choices.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Master Schedule

I am a boring person but not quite so boring as to have yet another post about food. So here is one about chores!

I initially hashed out this schedule in April when a friend did a 30-day housekeeping challenge. It was the first time I ever felt on top of chores in my entire adult life (let alone since I had a baby) and that's a heady feeling so I have tried to preserve and adapt the schedule as our needs change.

Currently my goal is to have less than 3 hours of housework per day. These 3 hours of productive work usually take me the entire 9 hours Scott is gone for his day job, because I have a toddler "helping" me. Theoretically, anything left over when Scott gets back from work is divided evenly between the two of us because Momming Is A Real Job etc. Also theoretically, Saturday chores would be split evenly between us but I have managed to arrange things in such a way that there is almost nothing left to do on Saturdays. I really do prefer to use our limited family time for fun stuff and right now I'm at a season in my life where I CAN get everything done during the workday if I put my mind to it. (If we had a newborn the theoretical chore-sharing would become a lot less theoretical.)

Time given for a chore is "active" time; so for example it takes around 2 hours altogether to wash and dry a load of laundry but there is nothing stopping me from unloading and reloading the dishwasher while the clothes are in the dryer so I only count the time it takes to actually move them over.

And the 30 minutes for dinner prep is basically just a shot in the dark; I do too many different dinners and sometimes avail myself of my wonderful crockpot (in which case there is usually only about 5-10 minutes of active work) but for the purposes of argument we'll accept 30 minutes as an average.

Oh, and we never actually do monthly or seasonal chores unless you count filing our taxes. But we COULD be doing them.

Unload + reload dishwasher (20 min)
Handwash (5 min)
Take out trash (5 min)
Pick up toys (10 min)
Total: 40 min

Wash and dry laundry (15 min)
Clean office (15 min)
Enter data in budget (15 min)
Cook dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 15 min (1 hr 55 min)

Put away laundry (30 min)
Meal plan + make grocery list (30 min)
Clean kitchen (15 min)
Cook dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 45 min (2 hr 25 min)

Grocery shopping + other errands (2 hr)
Clean bedroom (15 min)
Total: 2 hr 15 min (2 hr 55 min)

Do laundry (15 min)
Check + sort mail (5 min)
Clean living + dining rooms (30 min)
Make dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 20 min (2 hr)
Do any errands that were left over after 2 hours on Wednesday (up to 1 hr)

Put away laundry (30 min)
Pay bills (5 min)
Clean bathrooms (30 min)
Make dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 35 min (2 hr 15 min)

Dinner (30 min)
Catch up any undone daily/weekly chores
Do monthly or seasonal chores

Friday, September 4, 2015

What's for supper?

Saturday: Chicken broccoli pasta--you cook a bunch of chicken in a stick of butter and a couple teaspoons each of basil, oregano, and minced garlic. Then you add broccoli and keep cooking until the broccoli is done. And while you're doing all that you cook some pasta on the side and then you mix them all together.

It's actually much simpler than it sounds; I make it as a quick-and-easy meal for when I can't think of anything else. But on Saturday Scott made it so it took an hour and a half and a lot of effort. Hey, you can't learn if you don't try, right?

Sunday: Leftovers.

Monday: Drunken meatballs. I was going to make spaghetti but ran out of stuff, as explained in the other post, so I made this. I roasted up the leftover half-bag of broccoli with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper so that we'd have a vegetable.

Tuesday: Ham and bean soup. This time we did not lock ourselves out of our car and get home an hour later than usual, so the veggies were kind of crunchy. Hey, you can't learn if you don't try, right?

Wednesday: Leftovers again.

Thursday: Roast chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. (Scott has been working late recently because of an Upgrade so I've been putting the crockpot through its paces.) The chicken was so tender that it fell apart and I had to take it out of the crockpot in about 8 pieces and then fish the veggies out of the stew of juices and little bits of skin and chicken bones that ended up at the bottom of the crockpot. It didn't look pretty but it sure tasted good.

My chicken spice rub was a conglomeration of a few different sources and went like this:
3 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Once we were done gobbling up all the meat we could hold, I put the big pieces in a dish in the fridge for Saturday lunch (we can't eat them today because Friday, weep weep) and all the little pieces in a dish in the freezer so I could make chicken noodle soup sometime next week. (I also put most of the bones in the freezer.)

Friday: Macaroni and cheese, except I forgot to get shredded cheddar at Aldi when I was there so Tad and I will have to walk to Kroger after his nap and get some. This hurts my miserly heart because the Kroger cheese is 1.67 for 8 ounces and the Aldi cheese is 2.99 for 16 ounces, but let's pretend I would be using at least 35 cents in gas to get to Aldi so I can justify not wanting to put Tad into and out of his carseat for 1 thing.

[insert pause here]

Actually, I just went to this site and apparently gas to drive the 4 miles to Aldi would cost at least 60 cents, even assuming good highway driving mpg. So, am being frugal!

See Simcha for more eating of food.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drunken Meatballs

I was supposed to make spaghetti for dinner last night, but I ran out of parmesan and only had one 8-oz can of tomato sauce, so that plan got scrapped. Instead I invented a recipe using this Swedish meatball recipe as an inspiration.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 c ground oatmeal
1 large egg
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 c cooking sherry
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/3 c plain full fat yogurt

Combine beef through pepper until uniform in consistency; shape into balls and set aside. (And then wash your hands.)

Add sherry and Worcestershire sauce to crockpot, then arrange meatballs in layers. You will probably have two layers.

Cook on low for about 4 hours.

Carefully remove meatballs with a slotted spoon and then add flour and yogurt to sauce. Stir until well combined and then add meatballs back in.

Cook on low for another hour.

Serve over pasta or rice.