Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is the grass really greener?

Let's face it, all moms work.  Whether you have chosen to work outside of the home or stay home, there is no luxury in either choice.  I have to admit, I used to be one of those women who thought that all of my stay at home mom friends were just a bunch of cry babies.  In my mind, they were living large by staying home.  They had a "cush" job, yet all I ever heard from them is how hard things were and how they never got anything done around the house...blah blah.  I wanted to scream at them and say, "ya, well cry me a river...I work an 8 hour job outside the home and then come home to try to get done what you have had all day to get done...housework!" 

Oh silly me!  Having jumped the fence to become a stay at home mom, I was convinced that my life would get easier.  I thought that I had landed the jackpot by finally convincing my husband that I needed to stay home.  Boy was I fooled by the seemingly green grass on this other side of the fence. 

My day starts the same as it did when I was working outside the home, but the course of the day consists of just as much work (sometimes even more challenging work) as when I was working outside the home.  I am up at 5am making bottles, changing diapers, giving baths and singing songs.  Sounds like fun huh?  It is surely more fun than dropping the kids off at daycare, rushing into the office, checking your email that flooded in overnight, and prepping for your day filled with meetings and agendas.  Hmmm...I am not sure about that.

In some ways, I long for the structure that my day had when I was working outside the home.  I miss the responsibility of conference calls, meetings, deadlines, and emails.  Mostly, I miss the adult interaction.  I miss the conversations with my co-workers about work related issues or sometimes non-work related issues.  Here is how I break this down....working outside the home is definitely a difficult job.  You sacrifice time with your kids, master the technique of multi-tasking, sometimes bring your stressful work home with you, have the pressures of deadlines and expectations and many other difficulties.  However, working at home (being a stay at home mom) is equally as difficult.  Instead of office related deadlines, my deadlines circle around my children.  What time they need a nap, how long to keep them awake and entertained, when to feed them, what to do when one or both have a melt down, and how to get the laundry and dishes done, dinner cooked and the house picked up before my husband gets home - these have become my daily deadlines.

Yes, I get to stay home and some days I don't ever get out of my pajamas.  I do have an hour to spare writing this blog because the kids are sleeping (but I am sacrificing time I could be using to clean the house).  I do get to spend time with my kids all day.  But I don't get a free minute for a coffee break, or a minute to run to the store after work before I pick the kids up from daycare, or time to hang out in a co-workers office for 5 minutes to just chat.  I don't get "kid-free" time and I definitely don't get paid for my hard work at home.  Throughout the whole day I have two children looking at me to entertain them, to be responsible for them, to ensure that they get the much needed structure that kids crave.  I feel like I am tethered to them all day and I don't get a break.  Some days I don't have time for a shower.  Some days I don't have time to even sit down and eat lunch.  In fact, some days the first meal I get to eat is dinner.  I love my children, but they can wear me out in a quick minute!

Moms everywhere do work, even if you stay at home.  I was under the impression that stay at home moms lived such an easy life compared to a mom who worked outside the home....until I became one myself.  The point of this is don't judge others, don't envy others, and don't assume that the grass is always greener until you have walked on their grass!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Baby Food - Done at home, cheap and easy

Having twins has forced me to become super frugal these days.  I use double of everything!  Double diapers, wipes, formula, lotion and toiletries, and double the laundry!  So getting a bargain or a deal on any of these items is always at the forefront of my mind.  Now that I have moved the twins to a more constant schedule of solid foods in their diet, I decided to make my own baby food at home in an effort to save some more money on, yet again, the double cost of baby food.  Those little jars are expensive and I really don't know what is in them.  So I decided to feed my kids food that I know is pure and 100% what I think I am feeding them.

Many family members laughed at me and said something to the effect of "ya, call me when that works out for you!"  Well, I am the one laughing now, because I have found the cheapest, quickest, and easiest method that definitely "works for me."

Before doing this in bulk, I consulted with one of my good friends who is also a mom of multiples.  She gave me tips on how to freeze the blended food in ice cube trays for future use.  She is so smart!  So, here is how I began this successful process....

On a shopping trip to Sam's Club yesterday, I purchased a large bag of pears and apples.  Large meaning there were probably 15-20 pears and apples in each respective bag.  I started with the pears since I have already tested pears with my kids and know that they are not allergic to them.  So, I peeled them like I would peal a potato or a carrot.  Once peeled, I sliced them and cut out the middle and placed them in a pot of boiling water to poach.  I didn't cook them very long...maybe only 2 minutes max...just to get them soft enough in order to blend.  I didn't want to cook them too long as I wanted to keep the nutrients in the fruit.  I then rinsed in cold water.

The next step was to put them in my 11 cup Cuisinart blender.  This blender has been worth every penny!  I love it, I blend up everything in that thing...pasta sauce, salsa, marinade paste, and now baby food!  Anyway, I had so many pears that I had to do two rounds of blending.  So I placed approximately 10 halves in the blender for each round and blended until my heart was content.

Once blended, I poured the yummy pear puree into an ice tray.  Trust me, it was yummy...I ended up having a few spoonfuls!  Who said baby food had to taste yucky?  Only the processed kind in a jar does :-) 

I was able to fill up 3 ice trays full of this pear goodness!  I laid wax paper between the layers and popped them in the freezer.

Let's go back to the cheap factor of this whole process....the bag of pears was about $4.00 at Sam's Club.  For $4.00, I could have purchased 4-5 jars of processed Gerber or other brand baby food, which would have lasted me a whole 2 days...OR I would make it myself and fill up 3 ice trays to last me a whole month!  This is the exact reason why I went through the 30 minutes of trouble to make my own.  It definitely saved my pocketbook. 

There is a bonus to this deal....not only did I fill up 3 ice trays, but I had two large containers left over fresh food for the next couple days!

With this being such a success....my next project is the apples and bananas! 

The bananas obviously don't need to be softened, and actually I may be able to mash them up manually without using the Cuisinart.  I am so happy with the outcome of this process that I strongly would recommend to all my friends with babies or babies on the way (yes, I have many friends who caught baby fever) to use this method.  It will save you $$$ and give you peace of mind knowing that you are feeding your little one exactly what you think you are feeding them.  100% pure fruit/veggies. 

Bon Appetit little ones :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The twins: 6 months

Whew....that was me taking a deep breath in and out as I sit down to write this blog.  Being a mom is exhausting.  I just want to put that right out there.  Being a mom of twins is super exhausting!  My world has been changing so fast, as are the babies.  I am ever evolving into a mom, which is very exciting, sometimes scary, and downright underrated.  It occurred to me recently, how much sacrifice my own mother endured to raise my brother and I.  I never knew self sacrifice like I now know it and I suppose that I never appreciated my mom for all she did for me until now.

Lately, I am running in circles trying to keep everyone happy...especially my wonderful husband who works so hard for us.  From 5am - midnight I am on the ground running.  No, not in the literal sense, though sometimes it feels like it. 

My little Kaitlyn is turning into a high maintenance little girl already.  I am not sure how to curb this attitude that she is getting, and I'm not sure that I am supposed to.  This very well could be me paying for my raising.   She is the most beautiful little version of me.  She is mild mannered, until she gets upset, for which she pitches a full fledged temper tantrum filled with the pouty bottom lip action and all.  I have no idea where or how she learned this, but it is pretty comical to watch her pout out her bottom lip, puff up her cheeks and well up with tears.  I have decided to ignore her when she does this, as to not promote it or draw attention to what she is doing.  Hopefully she will learn that such behavior doesn't get her what she wants, which is more of my attention. 

She is so observant - always surveying the room and the situation until she fills satisfied that she knows exactly what is going on.  She is also ahead of her time, which I know is a trait that comes from me.  She is very vocal and loves to hear her own voice.  Her little laugh just melts my heart and brings me so much joy.  At 4 1/2 months, my little stinker started teething!  I couldn't believe it....but it was true.  She sprouted her first tooth at 5 months and is working on the second one.  Her sheer determination to do what is beyond her chronological capability has allowed her to begin crawling.  Yes, the little angel is on her hands and knees just determined to get somewhere.  It is fun to watch her as she rocks back and forth and gets her knees moving, but hasn't quite figured out her hand placement.  Oh Lord help me when that day comes!  Overall, miss Katie Bear, Katie Bug, Sweet Pea, Kate D, is a joy!  She is a spitting image of me (except she has the most gorgeous blue eyes) and I love her with my whole heart.

Mr. Knox is a firecracker.  His temperament is so mild and he is generally happy most of the day.  He is a spitting image of his daddy and uses his eyebrows just like Kris.  It is hilarious to watch the faces he makes and see Kris through him.  He is a ticklish little thing and I take advantage of every second I can get my hands on him.  He cracks up at everything....even when I undress him.  He thinks that it is funny to watch mommy change his diaper, especially when it is a poopy one.  He just laughs and laughs as I gag and gag!  He is a professional roller, and by that I mean he has learned how to move himself across the room just by rolling.  He has no interest in trying to crawl or scoot....but he loves it when I stand him up on his feet!  He smiles and laughs as if he is doing something big by standing up on my lap.  He thrusts his little hips in a swivel motion and just smiles!  Kris likes to rap to him and Knox just eats it up.  He loves it when his daddy holds him, talks to him or plays with him.  There are no teeth for Knox yet, but I think this is normal.  Kaitlyn is just a little ahead of the curve.  He is my little man and I just adore him!

Overall, my kids are happy and healthy!  I couldn't ask for more.  I am tired and blessed....and on most days I would die to just be able to have 5 minutes to myself doing nothing but sitting in the bubble bath, or standing in a hot shower.  Being a twin mom is a journey, for which God has equipped me.  I believe that all my trials and struggles up till now have developed a strength in me that has allowed me to handle two babies at one time.  At times, I want to throw my hands up and ask "why God, why twins?  couldn't we have started off with one first?" but then I look at my life and I see so much joy that both of my children bring into my life and my marriage and I know that God knew about the plans He had for me all along!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's Cookin' - Shrimp Linguine

I can't begin to count how many times I have been asked for this recipe, but I have never given it out until now.  This is one of my mom's creations that she served while entertaining guests.  It is super healthy, light and perfect for summer.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!  Bon Appetit :)

Shrimp Linguine
Recipe yields approximately 4-6 servings.  Cook time = 15-18 minutes.

-  1 box Linguine pasta - for a healthy flare, choose a whole grain pasta.
-  5 Large Roma Tomatoes, diced
-  1 whole head of garlic, crushed or minced
-  1/2 cup Fresh basil - chopped
-  1/2 cup Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (make sure it is the flat Italian Parsley and not the regular course parsley)
-  1-2 lbs of uncooked large shrimp, de-veined and peeled
-  1 cup of dry white wine (I use a cheap chardonnay)
-  1 Tbs olive oil
-  2 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes

Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil.  Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or regular salt) to season the water.  Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

In a large skillet (preferably stainless steel) warm the olive oil over medium heat.  At the same time that you add the pasta to the boiling water, you will also add the garlic, shrimp, and crushed red pepper flakes to the heated oil in the skillet.  Both the pasta and the shrimp should be cooking at the same time now.

Once the shrimp is pink on both sides, add the wine to the shrimp and increase the heat to medium high to bring the wine to a boil.  After 2-3 minutes, reduce the heat to low.

Your pasta should be close to being done.  Add the tomatoes, Basil, and Parsley to the skillet and simmer on a low heat setting.  Check the pasta and remove and drain once it is Al Dente.   Transfer pasta to a large, warmed pasta bowl.  Make sure pasta is drained well and is not dripping wet (this will ensure that the shrimp sauce sticks well to the pasta).  Add the shrimp mixture to the pasta, toss well, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

A few good side dishes:
- A spring salad
- Grilled asparagus
- Steamed artichokes