Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Day Challenge

There is a 31 Day Challenge series going on in the blogging world starting tomorrow.  The challenge is to write a series consisting of short posts every day for the month of October.  I've got a couple of friends participating and up until today I couldn't think of anything I would be able to write about for 31 days straight so I didn't think much about it, other than how I am looking forward to their post series.  However, I think I've found something that  sort of goes along with the theme of my blog.  

One of the biggest struggles that I have with being a working mom is finding a way to do it all and get it all done.  While I seem to get the basics down, everyone is fed, bathed, gets a good night sleep, etc. I seem to have a bigger struggle finding ways to show my family how much I love and appreciate them. Some days it's all I can do to get through the day, let alone going "above and beyond" in any way. In fact, it's embarrassing that some days I seem to only get the bare minimum done in this category. My family means more to me than anything and I want to let them know. 

So this will be my challenge: 31 Days to Say I Love You.  Each day, I will challenge myself to find a new way to say "I love you".  Granted, I have no clue how I am going to do this and it may be an epic failure, but I think I'll give it a try!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Like Father Like Son

Cole may look more like me, but he is definitely his dad's mini-me when it comes to his personality.   He has so many of John's quirks and personality traits, it's unbelievable.  John even says that he remembers acting just like him when he was little.  Cole loves everything that John loves or loved as a boy: baseball, playing with action figures (also known as "his guys") and especially driving his mama crazy.   The other evening, Cole was getting all wound up after we got home and he immediately started just poking at Nolan. No real reason, just because he could and he knew it would make Nolan (and me!) go nuts.  I looked at John and just said "you know where he gets that from, right?" 

It's like my own worst nightmare. of John's bad habits has been manifested into our firstborn.  It's no wonder if I slowly go insane, they are coming at me from all sides!

But you know what?  I couldn't love them more, craziness and all. They are best buds and it warms my heart to see them together every day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Easiest Dinner Ever!

Tonight I made one of my easiest weeknight dinners. There's only a handful of ingredients, takes minimal time, is yummy and even Cole will eat it. That's a win to me! Ok, so it doesn't look pretty, but trust me, it's delicious!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Approximately 3 cups of shredded chicken
16 oz bag of frozen broccoli (cooked)
1 container of cream of mushroom soup*
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Garlic powder and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, pour into a 9x9 baking dish and cook for 25 minutes.  That's it!  Easy peasy :)

Note: you can use any type of shredded chicken.  Rotisserie chicken works great for this.  The chicken I used tonight was cooked in the crock pot all day and then shredded up.   Just put some frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot, cover with chicken broth and cook on low for 8 hours.  Viola!  Perfect shredded chicken. 

*The cream of mushroom soup that I use is in a container, not a can, but a small can would work fine here.  I just prefer to use Pacific Foods Cream of Mushroom because it has less unidentifiable processed junk in there.

Friday, September 21, 2012

5 Ways to Tame the Insanity

One of the biggest challenges with working full-time while parenting is simply figuring out how to do it all.   Who has that kind of time??  I asked a few of my mommy friends for their best tips on taming the insanity and here's what we came up with.  Note: these tips work for anyone whether you work or stay at home because let's be honest, if you're a mom, you're already dealing with the chaos. ;)

1. Have A Routine.  This one is key.  With no routine, you end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off for most of the day.  Trust me, I've had practice.  Try to prepare as much as possible the night before.  For me that means, showering for me and packing daycare bags at night.  On the days I don't do this, I always, always, ALWAYS regret it!  

2. Have Some Lone Wolf Time.  Also known as "me time", but "lone wolf time" sounds more exotic, yes?  While being "mommy" may be your primary role in life now, it's certainly not your only one.  Be sure to carve out time regularly, no  matter how little, to devote to yourself.   Maybe that's a pedicure, heading to the gym or meeting some girlfriends for lunch. 

3.  Don't Forget About Us Time.   This is an area where I admittedly struggle.  By the time John and I have a moment's peace to spend together, we're both so exhausted that we end up collapsing on the couch watching mindless tv or playing on the internet for a bit before bed.  This is hardly quality time.  A few friends schedule monthly date nights with their husbands, which is an awesome way to stay connected.  Gives you a chance to get out and hang out with grown-ups and eat dinner with people who don't think that ketchup is a major food group or that the salt and pepper shakers are for table art.

But who will watch the kiddos, you ask?  Grandparents are an obvious choice if you've got them ready and willing nearby.  One friend's daycare offers a "Parents Night Out" once a month, which is an awesome idea and frankly, one I'm jealous of.  Ask friends if they can recommend a babysitter.  Better yet, start a babysitting swap with some friends.  You watch their kids for a few hours one weekend, they watch yours the next.

4.  Make Sure Your Spouse Is An Equal Partner.   Listen carefully here, folks.  It took two to tango to get these children here and it should take least that many to raise them.  That includes an equal distribution of work around the house.  I find it appalling how many families are still stuck in the mentality that the woman should be doing the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning and child care.   I'm lucky that I have a husband that does 80-90% of the cleaning in our house.  Admittedly, I'm a slob, so that's probably part most of the problem when our house is a mess.   However, I like grocery shopping and cooking, so I do about 99% of that in our home. 

The equal partner stuff is also important when it comes to parenting.  Just because you're the mom, doesn't mean that all the daycare/school choices are left up to you or that you always have to be the one to call in to work because your child can't go to daycare that day.   It's ok to insist that your husband be the one to leave work early to pick up little Bobby because you have to finish a project at work.  This doesn't mean that you're a bad mom! 

Have a husband that claims he "doesn't know how to cook"?  Teach him 2-3 simple meals, like spaghetti or tacos and have him be in charge a few nights a week.  This leads me to the next tip.

5. Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan.   Nothing is more defeating than coming home from a long day at work with two hungry boys and wondering what the heck you're going to do for dinner.   If you take a bit of time over the weekend to plan and shop accordingly, you never have to worry about this.   A friend of mine recently did a post about meal planning on her blog and she explains it a zillion times better than I ever could.

On this topic, your Crock Pot and Pyrex dishes are your new best friends.  What?  You say you don't have either?  Go to Target immediately and buy both.  No joke, they are a lifesaver.  A slow cooker is essential in any home, especially in a home where you don't get there until almost dinner time.  You literally dump a bunch of stuff in the slow cooker, turn it on and a meal is at least 90% done when you get home.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.   Now what are these Pyrex dishes I referred to earlier?   They are basically glass casserole dishes, usually 9x9 or 9x13 with a lid.  You can throw together casserole type meals together over the weekend or the night before, cover and put in fridge and then pop it in the oven when you get home. Viola, dinner is ready!  Throw the lid back on, stuff the Pyrex back in the fridge and now clean-up is done too!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What No One Tells You

Everyone talks about the terrible two's like it's the worst thing in the world. Please.... Two is a walk in the park compared to the apocalypse called Three. This is not just my experience either, everyone I know with three year olds wholeheartedly agrees. Three is full of near schizophrenic mood swings, demands from a tiny terrorist and tears and rage at the most minor of infraction. The thing is NO ONE TELLS YOU! You pat yourself on the back for surviving year two when WHAM, your child is on the floor like you hacked off a limb because you left the stem on his apple. Seriously, meal and snack times are a veritable minefield of possible reactions.

Actual conversation a few weeks ago

Me: Cole, your cereal is on the table. I'll be right back.
Cole, wandering over: OK
***stops in his tracks*** MAMA!! There's milk in my cereal!
Me: Yes, I know. I poured it myself.
(ummm this is news to me)

I leave him throwing a fit over my supposed offense to use the bathroom. After approximately 12 seconds, Cole throws open the door and screams at me,"MAMA, YOU HAVE TO KNOW!!!" Punctuated by slamming the door Is he four yet??

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Welcome to our world

The other day I woke up at 5:45am to some odd sounds.  Upon opening my eyes, I could see a light coming in our room from down the hallway.  I get up to see what's going on and see our 3 year old, Cole, rummaging around in the dryer.  He announces to me that he's "looking for blankie!!"  Bad mommy, I had forgotten that we had told him that it was in the wash the night before and this kid has got a mind like a steel trap.  He remembers EVERYTHING you tell him.  We've got to keep our stories straight with this one or he will call out your explanation like a terrorist interrogator.  I regularly pray that he harnesses these abilities into a lucrative career as CEO of a wildly successful business someday.

After the blankie debacle is contained, I stumble into the bathroom.  A minute later, I hear Cole hee-heeing over the baby monitor.  That's right, he's WOKEN UP THE BABY.   The baby that is now pissed that he's no longer peacefully sleeping

It's only 5:56am....

It's Monday...

Oh yeah, and it's our 7th year wedding anniversary.   It's a hell of a romantic start to the day.

Welcome to our world, this crazy train called life...