Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hybrid Mommy??

So, clearly, I’ve been ignoring this blog for a while.  I’ve had plenty of ideas for things to write about and several projects to share (I’ll get to those someday).  The primary reason I have been MIA is that I just, flat out, haven’t had the time to organize my house, my thoughts and…let’s be honest, myself to the point where I could sit down and write! 

You see folks, what I’ve come to realize is…I fall into a limbo that no one talks about in the MommyHood.  I’m an unusual (albeit, becoming more and more common) breed of mommy that does not fall into one of the two main categories.  You know the two…the two that seem to be in constant battle for first place in the order of Mommy-Dom… The “stay at home” mommy and the “working” mommy.

Me?  I fall somewhere in between. 

Do I stay home with my kids?  Yes, but not full time. 

Am I employed outside of the home?  Yes, but not full time. 

So what I’ve found is this…as one of these new fangled hybrid-mommies, there is a level of expectation between home life and work life, that I should have time to do it ALL. 

Because I “only” work part - time,  I should have plenty of time for all the “mommy”-“family” stuff, including (but not limited to): Little League volunteering, soccer manager, PTA, housecleaner, chauffer, personal chef, costume maker, classroom volunteer, nurse maid etc.,,  AND do it while still fitting in time at the gym?  (please)

However, working “part time” in my field is really code for “full time work at part time pay in a reduced amount of time”…which means I do a lot of work from home at crazy hours so that it can all get done…which leaches into the “mommy” time, without the pay (at least the monetary kind…which, let’s be real…is the kind I need to help support my family…hence the working in the first place). 

Forget about the elusive (and I’m convinced, imaginary) “me” time that so many of my purebred mommy friends manage to squeeze in.   The word “down time” during an average week doesn’t exist in my lexicon.  It’s a constant juggle of multitasking (or at least feeling guilty for not doing one thing or another on my never ending To Do list). 

The other thing about being a “partially” stay at home Mom is, that you don’t necessarily gain admission to the full Mommyclub. You know, regular play dates at the park, during-school breakfasts, evening wine tastings etc., since you often can’t commit due to a work schedule.  This can be isolating and confusing.  Its like the cheap Disney Pass with lots of black out dates!

Don’t get me wrong….I’ve got a GREAT gig going and this has been entirely my own choice.  I have a (relatively) flexible schedule and I enjoy what I do. I’m able to be an active participant, on an ongoing basis, in the lives of my children AND show them that a woman CAN be a strong contributor to the family finances and SHOULD have interests outside the home (all of which I feel is important in the raising of two boys). 

More and more, I’m seeing other mommies either re-enter the work place on a part time basis OR reduce their hours at work in order to increase their “kid-time”.  So what will they call us, this new breed of Mommy?  The Hybrid Mommy?  The On the Fence Mommy??  I don’t know…but I do know we are out there. Anyone else have these same feelings???

Monday, February 11, 2013

Well Hello, Stranger!

Hi Everyone,
Well, not sure what to say...other than, life got in the way.  But I'm trying to create a little "me" time, at least a few times a week, to write...because I enjoy it.  I can't tell you how many times over the last few months I've said to myself...I want to blog about this or I've put the ideas in a little notebook for "someday".  
Today, I've cancelled my whopping 2 appointments to get caught up on paperwork and was organizing some things around the house since we have company flying in tonight from Toronto, when I thought to myself, " should take just 1 (or 5) minutes to blog about dinner is Menu Monday after all, and while I don't have a complete menu for you today..this dinner can be made in about the time it has taken me to write this last paragraph.  Its perfect for a busy night and was a staple in my house growing up.  I'm not sure where my Mom got it originally, but its total comfort food for me.  
Here are the ingredients in their entirety:

Linguine with Garlic and Clam Sauce:

You need:  16 oz long pasta
                  4 6 1/2 oz cans of minced/chopped clams (buy these at Walmart peeps, they 
                                                                                     are  WAY cheaper there than 
                                                                                     ANYWHERE else!)
                  4 T butter/oil
                  8 (yes 8) cloves of minced garlic
                  1/2 C dried parsley
                  16 T parmesan (I don't know why I've never looked for the conversion of this
                                            into cups, I always just scoop it T by T).
Boil and cook 1 lb of noodles (spaghetti, fettucine, linguine..whatever floats your boat, or better yet, whatever is in your pantry).
In a small saucepan (and while your pasta is cooking), melt butter or oil with garlic.  After a couple of minutes, add the clam JUICE and parsley.  Let come to just barely a boil.  Add the clams.  Dump in your pasta and mix well.  Add cheese and mix again.  

Serve with Ceasar salad and Garlic Bread....this is totally company-worthy and will make your house smell amazing!!!

See the paper in the picture??  That's the original paper I copied the recipe down on in 2005 (when I was in grad school).  I know it was 2005 because its a piece of paper torn off of one of those day by day calendars!

Anyway, its a busy Spring coming up.  I'm hoping to be on here more regularly.  Hope you are all well!!!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Make Ahead Party Dinner! (Enchilada Lasagna)

Happy Monday!
Hope you had a great weekend.  We've had a bit of a heat spell this last week and weekend, which has put a damper on some of the organizing projects I'd had planned.  Instead, we sweat through our soccer games and spent a lot of time indoors trying to stay cool! 

Friday was no exception...except that we've been planning a dinner party with a few couples from the neighborhood and their children.  Which meant that I had to cook something..which meant I had to turn on the oven or stove...or so I thought.  We have really great great, that when we have parties, everyone contributes and no one person is held totally responsible for all of the preparations.  I'd been planning on making an "enchilada lasagna" that I've adapted from multiple sources over the years, but the thought of turning the oven on made me want to cry just a little bit (we do not have air conditioning!)  So instead, I started a day early and then had the Teacher heat the "lasagna" on the barbecue the evening of.  This is what I did.  The recipe/method listed below will yield 2 full pans of "enchilada lasagna"...which was waaaay more than we needed for 8 I have a full one left in the fridge...its totally freezable too.

Thursday (day before the party):  I put 4 frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot and let them work all day.  I had the Teacher shred them while they were still hot (because I'm a wuss when it comes to hot things) and then I put it in the fridge overnight. 
Also Thursday:  I made the sauce on the stove (so technically yes, I did have to use the stove, but since I did it the night before, I didn't have to further heat my house the day/night of the party).  

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use the bottled kind..because I'm lazy)
2 t olive oil
2 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes with chilis
16 oz of tomato sauce (from my freezer)
1/2 C diced green chilis (I used the canned ones)
2 t sugar
2 t cumin
1 t salt (I use less since I used some canned products)
2 t Italian herb blend

Saute onions and garlic in the olive oil until a little soft.  Add the rest of the above ingredients, bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes or so.  Turn off heat.

At this point, I refrigerated the sauce (in its pot) for use the next day.

Friday:  (day of party)...its Assembly Time!!  Be sure to place your pot of sauce as close to your 9 x 13 baking pan for assembly...otherwise you get a lot of this:

What else you need:

8 large flour tortillas
4 C pepper jack cheese, shredded (or more, because more is better when it comes to cheese, right??)
3 C sour cream (24 oz tub)

Dip 2 tortillas into the sauce (both sides) and line the bottom of your pan, like this:

 Then layer 1/2 of your shredded chicken (equivalent to 2 breasts), like this:

 Followed by 1/4 of your shredded cheese:

 Next, dip just one side of 2 more tortillas and place on top with the saucy side down, like this:

 Next, add the sour cream to your sauce and use your handy dandy immersion blender to blend it all together (if you don't have one of these, do yourself a favor and put it on your Christmas list....its versatile!!)

 Pour half the sauce over each "lasagna" and then sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese, like this:

 This is where you can put the whole thing in the fridge for later or bake.  Bake at 350 until heated through...about 45 minutes.  I did mine covered on the bbq, but the oven is what I usually use.  If you wanted to, you could use little corn tortillas and fill them with chicken and cheese, roll and place seam side down in your pan, covering with sauce at the end.  I've done this too...actually, its what I used to do before I had kids and had time...this fake out, however, tastes exactly the same and is actually less carbohydrates because it uses less tortilla.  

It was a hit!  One family brought salad, one brought the most delicious beans and rice I've EVER had and the last family brought dessert!  I made sure to have plenty of beer and white sangria in the fridge and we had a great night!  

Does anyone else have tips for easy entertaining???  As far as I'm concerned, the less that has to be done on the actual day, the better.  This was a winner in my book!

Have a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whoa...Stop the Presses!

Hi Again!
Yes, it is still Monday and YES!  I'm posting TWICE.IN.ONE.DAY!  Just in case you missed me.  ;)
Mondays are the days I work from home...which of course means I waste a lot of time messing around since it means that in addition to my paperwork, it is also bathroom cleaning, laundry and basically-try-to-fit-a-week's-worth-of-chores-into-one day.  Unfortunately, I'm a little ADHD and tend to bounce around from one task to the next.  

Today, while cleaning the bathroom, I found an old baby wipes box.  Also today, I used the last of one of my favorite teas and was left with a cute little tin.  I'm a bit of a hoarder of reusable containers so I often put random containers (like the plastic wipes container and cute little tin) away for future use. 

Here are said containers:

Since I was supposed to be doing either: paperwork, laundry or bathroom chores, I was naturally reorganizing a pantry shelf (makes sense, right??)  While wrestling with boxes and boxes of ziploc baggies, opened bags of straws and other random pantry items, I had an epiphany!  ding ding ding! 

Rather than actually getting back to the work I SHOULD have been doing, I quickly pulled out my paper cutter, scrap paper and modge-podge.  And I made these:

Here they are in their new home:

 What do you think of my new straw holder and ziploc bag dispenser?  These are quart size in this can be sure I'll be hitting up all my friends with babies for a couple more of these puppies....I need one for snack and sandwich sized bags!  By the way..that is a cardboard magazine holder holding the plastic wrap, tin foil etc.  

I'm a happy girl.  I just love finding new uses for old things.....but can you guess what I should ACTUALLY be doing right now??  (I'll give you a hint:  I did NOT originally open my computer to write another post....oops!!)

Hope your Monday was more productive than mine!  


Little Man's Closet Re-Do

Happy Monday!
I'd usually post a menu for Monday, but this week, we are trying to use up whatever is in the fridge/pantry without doing a whole lot of shopping, so I'm afraid its not too exciting.  Instead, I'm going to share with you the project that we've been working on FOREVER!  
You might remember that earlier this year, we redid the Nugget's room for his 5th Birthday.  Baby stuff out, Big Boy stuff in.  Except for the closet.  I just didn't have it in me to get in there and go through it all and paint etc. etc.  We always knew we were going to put in a closet organizer since the rooms are small and we need to use every inch of space we have!

Anyway, here is what it looked like "before":  

Ouch.  Check out the green...which looked AWESOME in the baby room, but HORRID with the new blue/grey color scheme. 

Step 1:  Pull out EVERYTHING...and I mean EVERYTHING...crappy carpet and all.

Step 2:  Enlist the Nugget and start painting:

Yes, we sometimes paint in our undies around here ;)  Before long, we had a lovely clean slate:

Step 3:  Install organizer.  We used the ClosetMaid system (16') from Home Depot. 

Eventually, we will install mirrored sliding doors because, let's be real...this is about the tidiest it will ever be.  The middle shelf unit is offset from center so that we can access the drawers once the doors are on.  The Teacher reminded me to take a picture (almost) before I started filling it!

Here are some shots of the finished product.  What is CRAZY to me, is that almost EVERYTHING that was in the BEFORE shot, went BACK IN.  This is testament to how much more space you can make using an organizer!! 

Here's a quick comparison shot of BEFORE and AFTER:

     What do you think???

Has anyone else tackled an organization project lately??

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Big Boy Bedroom: An Organized Study Space

Happy Labor Day, Everyone!
I hope you are all enjoying some much needed fun-time with your families and friends.  Today I thought I'd share with you what we ended up with for the Diddle's desk area in his new big-boy bedroom.  Diddle is, after all, a 3rd grader now so this study space coincides nicely with Back to School!  

You might remember that so far, we've done:  new paint, new flooring, superawesome storage bed and bedside wall storage.  This is how we last left the study space beside his bed:

I really am sorry for the photo quality...I took this at night, which I know is a no-no, but honestly, I'm soo not a photographer...I really need to learn more about lighting and staging!  Ah well.  Ok, so with the addition of a shelf, a metal peg board that I ordered from Home Depot (you know, the kind that dudes use in their garages), a cute paperclip wall unit and a dry erase board, we now have THIS: 

The top shelf used to sit above his old desk holds extra art/school supplies (in the orange boxes that we also used in his old room), as well as his shell/coral collection (glass vase on the right) and his rock collection (bell jar on the left) plus a really fun oversized Gobstopper box..that did, indeed, hold Gobstoppers once upon a time.  He loves it and I love the pop of color, so we kept it.  

Rather than a traditional cork or white board, I ordered this metal pegboard from Home Depot.  It was the perfect size, adds a bit of an industrial/manly vibe that can grow with him and provides endless combinations for above desk storage options.  So far, we are using magnets and hooks.  I don't imagine that this will stay this empty for long.  The hanging clipboard will house homework that isn't due until the end of the week (since he now has a homework folder that goes back and forth from school every night) may find itself hanging beside the green dry erase board rather than on the peg board itself...we'll see.  Its a work in progress.  BTW, the cute little soccer ball?  Its a STAPLER!  How adorable and perfect for my little soccer playing monkey!

 These cups and rod came from, my favorite store, IKEA...btw, did you get your 2013 catalog in the mail yet??? Drooooool worthy!  I have one more cup available just in case (the rod holds up to 4 cups)...hey, at $1.00 apiece?  Better safe than sorry!  

 This cute paperclip picture holder came from Bed, Bath and Beyond...and was only $10.00 after my coupon!  I thought it would be a cute place for him to place invitations, pictures etc.  The dry erase board (with the coolest marker ever) came from Wal-Mart.  I'm saving the space to the left of the board for either, a cute calendar OR his green clip board.  The jury is still out. 

Oh!  I forgot to tell you about the desk...we got the desk from (of course) IKEA for $59.  We actually had the green of the shelf paint matched at Lowe's so the stripe on the wall matches the desk drawer (not to mention the doors of the storage unit we got to house his books and toys...more on that in a future post).  How awesome is that??  Amazing what technology can do these days!  

So next on my list is to line the drawer and organize it with some little cheap-o baskets I got at Staples...but I'm not quite there yet.  Diddle's room is getting there.  Left to do on our To Do list??

storage bed
bedside storage
study space
book/toy storage
closet organization
window/floor covering

Slowly but surely, we will get them all checked off.  

Here it is one last time:

The trouble I have is that even when we are working on one project, my mind is already planning future poor poor Teacher, good thing he's a good sport!

Happy Labor Day!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School Thoughts

Happy Monday, Everyone!
The boys started back to school today.  There is something about the start of a new school year that makes life feel fresh and new and fraught with possibility.  Perhaps its because I WAS a student for so long and then worked IN schools for so long and because the Teacher is, well, a TEACHER.  I always think of the First Day of School as the REAL New Year (sorry, Jan 1st!) 

Anyway, this year the Diddle started 3rd grade and the Nugget started Kindergarten, which, in our district, is full day.  So, for the 1st time in 8.5 years, I have NO ONE at home....and I'm a little (ok,  a lot) sad.  

That being said, I love. love. LOVE school supply shopping and organizing (not so much the paying for it part, though.  Those lists keep getting longer and more specific!!)  This year, THIS was my favorite purchase:

 I saw these months ago at Vons (my regular grocery store), but at 8.99 apiece, I was going to wait until they went on sale.  Then, very randomly I was shopping at Old Navy this summer and, lo and behold...I found them THERE (weird right???)  and they were only I snagged 2 and put them away for this year's lunches.  They are BPA free plastic, bento boxes made in New Zealand (I'm not sure why that makes me feel better than Made in China but it does).  This is how they open:

I've been using little tupper-ware-esque containers from Ikea to create my own bentos for years, but I love THIS box because there are no lids!  Everything is attached so there is nothing to lose!!  I did buy some little silicone cupcake liners in case I need some extra separation, so I suppose those might get lost...we'll see!  I also saw that these are available at Bed, Bath and Beyond too for $4.99.  Cute, eh??

Food Challenge is going well, the slow cooker Cheeseburger Soup was a hit last week.  The Nugget informed me that it was even better than lentil soup (which is high praise from him!)  No one scoffed at the celery inside and I made it with ground turkey so it was high in the protein but low in the fat departments.  Here is the recipe in case you are interested!

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup

In a large slow cooker, combine:  1 lb. ground turkey*, 1/4 t pepper, 1/4 t italian herb blend**, 1/4 t Mrs. Dash or other seasoned salt, 1 envelope dry onion soup mix, 3 C water, 8 oz tomato sauce***, 1 T soy sauce, 1 C sliced or diced carrots, 1 C sliced or diced celery.  Cook on high for 6-8 hours, periodically breaking up the turkey.  
Add 1 Cup raw noodles (I used whole wheat elbow macaroni).  Cook another 20 minutes or so (until noodles are tender). 
Serve topped with shredded cheese.

*I put my turkey in frozen and it was fine!  I just chopped the whole thing into quarters first.
**I buy this instead of "oregano, thyme etc." separately.  You can use whatever you have.
***I used the sauce I made in the slow cooker in the middle of the week! 

Hope you like it.  The Teacher requested it get put into our regular rotation since it made his "Top 5 soups that I make" list.  haha

I'll leave you with a picture of my kidlettes, acting silly on their way to school.