Tuesday, August 30, 2011

how I got my cooking mojo back

Each time we've brought home a baby, it's meant that our lives as we previously knew it were put on pause, and as time went on, randomly, certain things hit play before others. First Joey went back to work. Then Bubba went back to school. Then we found out Jbug had milk and soy protein intolerance. Then we went on vacation. Then I went back to work, and Jbug went to school.
It felt like we were on this weird tilt-a-whirl all summer. We'd sort of make progress at getting to a new normal and then we'd be yanked backwards and sent on another course entirely. I'm not complaining or ungrateful, it just comes with the territory. There has been no semblance of "meal planning" over the last few months - and that's been ok! When I was home all day, it was easy to meander into the kitchen at 3pm and figure out something for supper. Our fallback is always the grill, we always have something to grill, be it a ribeye or a hotdog.

But. This wasn't going to sustain us forever. Our family functions better if we have some sort of meal plan so that we can make a grocery list - otherwise we're wandering down aisles tossing stuff in the cart that we may or may not need.

I think I finally have a solution that's going to work for us, and I'm so excited! It required a little bit of geekery (which, hello, you know my level of geekiness) - I made a google calendar for our meal plans. The calendar syncs to our phones and we should never need to say "what's for dinner?" again! (If you click the calendar, it'll make it bigger.) I've only added a few meals so far, but you get the idea. The beauty of this is, we also have our family google calendar, so I can turn that on and it adds in all of our events. Husker night game at a friends house? I don't have to plan a meal for that night.

So! Creating the calendar was easy, but what to put on the calendar is a bit trickier.

Earlier this summer, I was introduced to Pinterest. Pinterest is a bit difficult to explain - I can't do it justice to its awesomeness. It's a visual bookmarking site. So you know all those links you have saved in your favorites? Maybe a recipe to try, a few Christmas gift ideas, and a site for a vacation you may take. With pinterest, you save an image (called a "pin") of each of those things (to a "pinboard" - and you can have as many boards as you want) - so when you go back to them, you have a picture to remind you of what that link was. The magic of Pinterest is that everyone else is doing the same thing, so if you see a pin you like, you can repin it to your own board. I have several boards - recipes, crafty stuff, things for the kids, etc.

See? You're probably all sorts of confused. :) It's really easiest to understand by just digging in and playing with the site. Let me know if you want an invite!

Anyway, over the summer I've been adding meal ideas to my "recipes" board on pinterest, and I now have quite the yummy collection going on. It makes adding meals to our meal calendar a piece of cake!

Another site I found in the last few days is Crock Pot Girls - 3 moms started this facebook page just 10 days ago and there's already over a half a million fans! Crazy! There's a TON of good recipes on the Discussions tab over there - I have lots of good ideas for meals coming up.

Now that we have a meal plan, and a grocery list, I feel like I actually want to cook again! Weekday evenings move so much easier when we don't do the 5:30 stare into the pantry hoping that something will jump out at us. Give it a shot! Share your favorite recipes in the comments, we love to try new things!

Friday, August 26, 2011

on having two

Before Jbug was born, I had a handful of people give me advice on how things were going to go. That of course I would love Jbug as much as Bubba. That my heart would surely make room to hold another little guy. That I would love them equally but differently.

To be honest, I wasn't ever worried about how to love them. All of those things were true. I do love them so much it hurts. And I do love them in completely different ways. My fears about having two were more practical in nature. Like, what happens if I need to take them both to the grocery store. Or, let's back up, what happens when I have to watch them both by myself, in our house?

Bubba loves to love, complete with Big Hugs and wet kisses. When his little brother entered the scene, he was instantly enamoured with Jbug. Like omg! mommy! he's little! and lovable! and I love him! a lot! a lot! - and to show all that giddy excitement, he would hug Jbug's head. He didn't have a "gentle" level, it was always at the "I'm going to squeeze him SO HARD so he can FEEL MY LOVE" level". And when he wasn't hugging him, he was within 1.5 centimeters from Jbug. Which meant we spent the first month of Jbug's life saying "Bubba, gentle!" "ok, that's good, he knows you love him" "please get away from his head" "do not put your fingers in his ears" "or his nose" "Jbug doesn't need your car" "you're squishing him!". To complete the awesomeness, B was waking up 2-3 times a night to come to our room to check on j. Sweet, but, KID, go to BED. Keeping both of them happy (and separated) was stress.ful.

And then there was the part where we had to continue to parent B while making sure Jbug was fed, changed, and sleeping on a somewhat-normal schedule. Throw in some milk-soy protein intolerance for j, and a tantruming two year old, a hormonal mom, and a dad trying to keep us all happy and that first month was basically F-U-N. (or not. it was not fun.)

B continued to go to school (daycare, but we call it school, because it is) (we also call j's daycare "school", which is kind of comical because it's infant-only, but she calls it school so we do too) (but I digress) while I was on maternity leave. We would have had to pay them weekly to keep his spot open, and he asks to go every day anyway. This was a Huge Blessing because oh how I was overwhelmed those first few weeks.

Saturday mornings Joey goes to the gym. Those first few weeks it had worked out that B was at grandma's or for whatever reason I either had one kid or neither of them on Saturday mornings. But around the time j turned 1 month old, Joey woke up on a Saturday morning and was getting ready to leave. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown. The thought of keeping both of them, by myself, for three whole hours was more than I could manage, and he hadn't even left the house yet. Thankfully I have the most understanding husband and he took care of all of us (again) and convinced me that I was not a bad mom and that I'd feel better if I just slept a little. So I did, and he was right.

Around the six week mark, we turned a corner. It was kind of like we all went to bed one night and woke up with a whole new outlook. B was fun again! and happy! and listening to us! Jbug's tummy was markedly better and he started smiling and cooing around then! I started to feel like I could handle this mom thing again! And I think Joey took a long deep breath and thought "finally".

A few weeks ago, Bubba's school had an inservice, so he was home with Jbug and I all day. It was fun! I was able to be the mom that both of them needed that day. It was a far cry from that first time I about had a panic attack over having them by myself. Earlier this week I took them both to the grocery store, and it was a piece of cake.

All of this long story to say that having two kids is nothing like I expected it to be. Of course, the love is unending and they fill my heart with so much happiness. But from a practical standpoint, life is so much busier. Our laundry doubled even though our family only increased by one member. We almost need a calendar to schedule things like daycare drop-off and pick-up, and gym workouts, and grocery shopping. Something simple like making a meal takes an act of Congress to make sure one kid is fed, burped, and happy in his swing while the other has fruit snacks, a drink, and something to keep him occupied for 20 minutes. I used to get home from work (pre-kids) and sort of coast through the evening... cleaning the house if I felt up to it, or eh, maybe I'll just save it for the weekend. Now, if I don't do at least something to keep the house clean during the week, it'll take me all weekend to get it back to normal.


It is oh so very worth it. When Joey is holding one of them, and I have the other, and we can have a family hug, that is what fills my cup up. And trust me, a full cup (of Something) is a mom requirement.

If you ask me for advice on having two, I won't tell you about the love part, that's a given. I will tell you there will be peaks and valleys. And when you're in a valley, you'll still have a baby that smells divine to make you smile. That it will be hard, but it will get easier. That you'll have to leave all expectations aside and go with the flow. That you will need to ask for help. And when things settle in and you find your new normal, it will be oh so sweet.

Friday, August 5, 2011

friday night leftovers

  • Because it's been that kind of a week, leftovers (and bullets!) are what's in store for you, sweet blog reader. (Thanks to Danifred for hosting!)
  • Jbug turned 2 months old on Tuesday and had his 2 month well visit that same day. He's healthy (woo!) and weighed in at 14 pounds even and 25" long. He's huge and cute and we love him to smithereens. 
  • Smithereens is a funny word.
  • At one point in his little life, I thought B was a slow talker. He always had just enough words to keep me from worrying to much at that particular moment. Turns out he was just saving them up, because now his vocabulary seems to be expanding weekly. Sometimes hourly it seems. 
  • It's a blessed 81 degrees today. Amen, amen, amen.
  • I started running last night, the first workout since Jbug was born. I just did a mile and then 2 miles today. It felt great, but wow I'm out of shape. That will happen when you take 10 months off. I need to get back in gear, we signed up for a 5k mud run on the 27th of this month. I'm excited and nervous!
  • Next up boot camp...
  • I wanted to do a post of "things I'm loving right now", but that never really materializes because I keep forgetting them. So! Here are two of those things, for now... more to come later... [note: these aren't paid endorsements, these companies have no idea who I am. The end.]
    • Purex Crystals - oh em gee. I love a good smelling load of laundry and this stuff rocks! I added it to a load of our sheets and could still smell the scent - lightly - by the next wash. It's not a knock you over smell, just light and wonderful.
    • Paperbackswap.com - let's say you have a bunch of books that you thought were "meh" the first time you read them, and you really don't want to read them again. You can try to sell them, or donate them. Orrr, you can list them here, and turn them into books you DO want to read - for free! When someone wants one of your books, you pay the postage to ship it to them (they go by media mail, so it's almost always less than $2.50 per book). Then you get a book credit, and you can pick out a book for yourself - you don't pay for shipping for books you want. I like to turn books I don't want into books for the boys.
That's all for now - what products are YOU loving right now? I always like to try new stuff out. Have a great weekend!