Sunday, November 29, 2009

Suzie Homemaker

I call this time of year "when the seasons collide". For my own sanity and the enjoyment of the kids, the last few years we have gone straight from Halloween to Christmas decor. This pumpkin we finally got carved last weekend.

Week 1 of vacation is coming to an end and I've been Suzie Homemaker. I've been busting my butt and really, it's been no vacation as I think the only time I've really sat is when giving breathing treatments and on rare occasion to eat, but I'm feeling so proud, in control, and happy with where I'm at and what I have accomplished. The inside and outside of the house are decorated for Christmas, which was no easy feat and involved some major house rearranging. Max's train table that has lived in the family room the last two years is now in his room along with the garage he got from Santa last year. The rocker that was in the family room is now in the twins room (had to swap out because in order to make room for the tree it would have been open with no back wall support and I didn't want to chance one of the kids standing in it and tipping it and doing a face plant into the tile) which involved moving the glider in the twins room into the office and the chair in the office into the family room with its matching partner. I've also done things like moved the excersaucers to the garage moved around toy shelves and taken the leaf out of the kitchen table and moved two chairs to the garage to make the table round. The last few meals the four of us have sat together with the twins in the high chairs without the trays pushed up to the table to eat. I've also had company which helped as my cousin did all the outside lights and her daughter was a big help in decorating the tree and the inside. But, it is also more work in more to cook for, clean up, and more mess. Plus, there was Thanksgiving and cooking/pie baking for that even if I didn't host. The house is far from spotless, but it's looking so much better. I did a deep dive on the floors (meaning rugs pulled up and vacuumed/mopped under) in the family room/kitchen today testing out the new Shark steam mop my cousin bought this week on my behalf that the PT had recommended (because we stay strictly on topic...NOT) that my cousin has and also recommended that was not only on sale, but at a place where I had a 20% coupon. I loved it. I am under no delusions that it will stay that way past 7:30 am tomorrow morning. Yet, tonight while the kids sleep, it looks great.

The majority of all this was done while the kiddo's slept so I could still give them some quality time. And, it was all done with us all under the weather with colds and coughs. I had some flashbacks of last Thanksgiving weekend in the hospital with R as he had croup and strider earlier in the week, but I was extremely aggressive with breathing treatments and he is on the up swing as am I after a much needed nap on Saturday morning while the twins slept and Aunt Terri took Max on an adventure.

Week 2 of vacation I do not plan to rest on my laurels. I want to do a clean up/de-clutter of Max's room and rearrange the twins room to make things better fit after the bigger rocker has been added. I'd also like to get clothes sorted with the right sizes and a deep dive in my room, but I'm counting that as too ambitious as I'm flying solo all week and will really only have when the twins nap and after bedtime.

I'm a bit surprised as being home with the kids is harder and much more physical than the day job I get paid to do, but as crazy and busy as the week has been it has left me wishing I was and could afford to be a say at home mom. I'd have to pace myself more than the sprint of last week, but it would be easier to keep up I think. Noemi works hard, but she isn't as fast and efficient as I am and she would never/could never do the major reworking and organizing that has been needed. I'm tired. I ache. I have a cough and running nose. And, I haven't felt this good and in control since way before the twins were born maybe/probably since they were concieved.

So, next week, week 2 of vacation will be another sprint where I tackle a few rooms and do some more internet Christmas shopping with at least one grocery/Costco run with the twins and schlepping the twins to and fro running Max to school. Then, a two week sprint of work, then hopefully a real vacation to enjoy the holiday. There is really no reason to push myself so hard except personal satisfaction and that is more than enough for me. It just make me happy to feel so caught up.

ps. Thanks for all the recipes. I've been fitting them in as I can. Tomorrow will likely be CoCo's manicotti for supper and the day after the Cabbage dish left in the "Eats" post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That's why

As much as our nanny drives me crazy a good portion of the time, I have no intention of making a change because my primary criteria is that I trust the children will be safe in their care (letting Max rule the roost issue aside). Case in point. Today. I had to be out of the house all day for a business meeting, where inciently, I slipped and fell...lovely...yes, it has been maybe only twice since I've had kids... since I have worn heals and not only were they a bit tight in the toes, it turns out the rubber heal was missing, but anyway, I digress. I come home to Noemi cleaning N up because she vomited because Noemi needed to do the Heimlich because N was chocking on a piece random plastic from a bead necklace. I'm glad I wasn't here when it happened. And, of course, that all is well that ends well.

Thanks everyone for the recipe and menu ideas. I'm going to try week (or the week after, or maybe in December :)...when I only have to be a mom and not work full time and be a mom. Oh, and thanks to the Menu Monday link. I need to check that out more, but I did browse it and then click on one then clicked someplace else end ended up on this knitting sight where some lovely ladies on a forum gave me pointers on where and how to find someone to knit Christmas Stockings to match the ones Max and I have. Mine, my grandma made for me when I was a wee lad. Max's, my sister found a friends mom make some for her kids and Max when she lived there but she isn't interested any longer.

Long, long day. Long week. I'm tired. I'm achy and sore. I have a lot of work to do, but in 2 days. I'm off for two weeks. I need the break even though I will pay dearly when I return.

ps. Those shoes are now in the trash so that I don't forget next time I need them what a hazard they are to my health.

ETA: And, while someone might make the argument that maybe N shouldn't have choked in the first place, there really is only so much one can do. The entire house is a choking hazard for toddlers with all Max's little things and whatnots. And, with R's propensity to walk around two fisted with sharp pointy objects it's amazing he hasn't poked out an eye yet. They are eagle eyes for one and every breach and are like a magnet...drawn to each and every item you don't want them to have and get distracted for one second and they will be up on the kitchen table (R just because and N to eat the cat food, regardless if she just finished a snack or a meal). They are so used to getting things taken away they see you coming and just hand it over with a grin, happy for the time they had with the contraband item.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Most Frequent Eats?

I'm trying to add more variety, when I get a chance, into our meals. I've found quite a few excellent recipes on and my sister gave me a few of her kid friendly stand by's. What are a few of your favorite or most frequent meals? Not necessarily the recipe per se, unless you think it is spectacular, but just a general title or idea.

Tonight I made, this Alfredo sauce from cooks (,1855,140166-232207,00.html) that I served with some penne left over from last night mixed with bacon bits and broccoli. Everyone loved it and there were no left overs. It was as good an easy as advertised. I used milk instead of half and half.

The other night I made chili served with sour cream, shredded cheese, and Frettos (sp?, the corn chips). Again, no left overs. We spoon fed the twins to avoid a compete mess. I can't find the recipe I used as a base, but was basically ground beef cooked with sweet onion and a mild chili packet (McCormick I think) mixed with 2 cans of Italian seasoned tomatoes (because that's what I had) and maybe that's it.

I've made ground beef stroganoff a few times. From, I read through several recipes and printed two that I kind of combine.

From my sister, I got an easy backed Ziti recipe along with a chicken pot pie one. I also got one that she calls Chicken Roll, where you chop chicken and mix it with mayo, cooked broccoli, cheese, and maybe a few other things/spices, and wrap in cressant rolls that I've only made once so far, but was good. Also, a tater tot casserole that I think R loved and Max/N were luke warm to cold over.

I made chicken/cheese enchiladas last week that were a big hit. Again, I pulled from a few different recipes from and altered based on what I had/like. I did both green and red sauce, but think I will stick to just green the next time.

I attempted Spaghetti Carbonara (noodles, egg, Canadian bacon or bacon, Parmesan, basil). It wasn't horrible, but I need a better or actual recipe as I was using a few from cooks and from memory from a friend and didn't have everything.

Before trying to expand, it was just basics like meatloaf, baked chicken served with rice or noodles, sausage served with rice or noodles, pork chops served with rice or noodles, spaghetti, lazagna (frozen), PJ Sandwich (since Max can't take to school about once a week it is served for either breakfast or dinner or a weekend lunch). About once a month I'll do mac n cheese with tuna salad (one the side, not mixed). Occasionally a crock pot roast. I'm sure there is more.

I'm trying to get a list of about/at least 30 standby recipes that are relatively easy/simple to make that I can rotate. Ideally, plenty left to freeze so I can actually cook about 3 times a week (one week night, weekends) and pull from the freezer the other nights.

What works for you/your family or is a fond childhood dinner?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just life

I attempted to make light spaghetti pie* for dinner tonight. Except when I went to go pull out the whole wheat spaghetti, I found out that a child had previously dumped it all over the floor and it was no longer available for consumption. So, I decided to move on and used Zitti noodles instead...because they are so similar -- NOT. As I poured in my chunky pasta sauce that I had made last month and frozen for future use on top of the cubed Canadian bacon, I realized they probably meant a MARINARA sauce not a meat sauce on top of the Canadian bacon. I had no black olives and only seasoned bread crumbs. This all took about 20 or so minutes longer than normal because for some odd reason, Noemi decided she needed to clean my bathroom instead of watch the twins (yes, it had been awhile, but it wasn't THAT bad and would have been nice if she would have asked instead of just disappearing) which involved every few minutes stopping to wash my hands and fetch N off the top of the kitchen table. So, it all got in the oven much later than a regular pie plate instead of caste iron pan because I don't have one. By then Noemi was finished with the bathroom cleaning...and I rushed off to pick up Max from school (not having time to get back to my work and get something done I needed) asking Noemi to take it out and turn off the oven when the timer went off. I come home to find out that she had turned off the timer, but left both the oven on and the dish IN the oven which was on its way to burning. Not to be mean, but sometimes I wonder what she is thinking or not thinking and if she is really just that stupid or is being passive aggressive. Anyway, in spite of all that, the kids loved it. They all ate generous portions and seemed to love it. Go figure.

One of the other things I accomplished today was to sort through the mounds of paper work in various places around the house to find this parking ticket that came in the mail from this summer that I quickly glanced at months ago then misplaced and followed up to the extent that I mentioned it to my cousin/her husband who had borrowed my car while they were moving until their cars arrived with all their worldly possessions. I had minor fears of the fine tripling and getting pulled over (with the kids in the car) and hauled into jail (putting them into temporary state custody) because a warrant was out for my arrest because it had not been dealt with it in a timely manner. While being slighty irritated that this even had to take up space in my brain to remember and occassionally think I must really deal with this after helping someone out and then when feeling slightly irritated also remember that the car came back missing one of the hub caps and some jerk put a piece of gum up against one of the exposed bolts. Anyway, finally, I decided today was the day and this really truly needed to be resolved. I planned on just paying whatever the amount was and then email my cousin the amount for her to pay back or not at some point in the future. I read the fine print and found a web page I could find the total amount due and pay on-line and when I got there, I found out that it had been paid on 9/1/09 two days before the fine would have doubled. Good to know. Once less thing to worry about/deal with and yes it would have been nice to know this months ago.

Just life.

*Light Spaghetti Pie

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Light Spaghetti Pie
  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 2 cups chunky pasta sauce
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces (1/4 pound) Canadian bacon, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Break spaghetti into thirds and cook 8 minutes. Drain and add back to pot.

3. Stir in the pasta sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon and olives. Add the eggs; stir mixture until combined.

4. Coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or oven-proof nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Sprinkle the inside of the skillet with the bread crumbs.

5. Spoon the spaghetti mixture into the skillet. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Top with the Parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes.

6. Cut into 6 wedges. Serve with a green salad tossed with reduced-fat dressing, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 6 servings
  • Calories 349,
  • Total Fat (g) 10,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 4,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 166,
  • Sodium (mg) 820,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 44,
  • Fiber (g) 7,
  • Protein (g) 21,
  • Vitamin A (DV%) 0,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 0,
  • Calcium (DV%) 0,
  • Iron (DV%) 0,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Nary a skirmish

Everyone, except me of course and sadly, slept in today. Max climbed in my bed about 2 am saying he had a scary dream and it was too scary to tell me about, ever. Later in the day, he told me the dream was about N and R getting arrested, then started laughing and said "just joking". Ah, that kid. Like many things, I guess I'll never know...and yes, I'm curious! At least I did doze back off after he joined me, but woke up quite a bit because he had to be touching me and reached out for me to touch me or hold my PJ on and off.

Anyway, I wouldn't go so far as to say Max's behavior was perfect today, cause whose behavior ever is really, but everything just seemed to flow and it was markedly improved. The only time we came close was outside clean-up after dinner/before bed. He had hauled all the "equipment" onto the grass to make an obsticale course agreeing that he would put it all back when the day was done. Then, of course, he didn't want to. Instead of going into battle, I used his competitiveness (which was in the forefront of my mind after playing numerous board games with him today..egads, not sure where the kid got it from, but not me) against him and told him to take his time and NOT do it because I wanted to win and clean up the inside/family room first. That got him going. And, yes, I did make sure to let him win.

So, who knows, probably a bit tired and off, something on his mind/bothering him (scary dream), and cuddling and connecting with me while he slept it off. Days like today are so much nicer than days like yesterday.

Switching gears, just a little funny from today. Max is big and strong enough and the twins tolerant enough that when the moods are in alignment like they were today, they will allow him to drag them about. R, typically being more tolerant than N in general. Max gave N a "roller coaster" ride in one of our patio chairs that spins. After she tired of this (which took quite awhile actually), Max went to find R for his turn. He's hauling him across the back yard with his arms under R's armpits and R's feet just above the ground. R kept trying to touch, but was perfectly content to let Max manhandle him that way. Actually, he looked a bit pleased. They get to the chair and Max starts shoving him up into it by his butt and then R figures out what he wants and climbs up, turns around and enjoyed his turn. It was so funny to watch. Then, Max did the same thing to N after dinner for a different reason and she just went with it as well. She lets Max get away with far less than R and will let her temper fly at him having him back away quickly with apologize if she doesn't like what's going on. Today, they just all seemed mellow and tolerant and played nicely. Several times, R and N had some twin game thing going on and just cracking each other up for no apparent reason. One of those times R was at the top of the slide and N at the bottom and I swear R was telling N to move or he'd run her over and she was daring him to try and they just burst out in laughter. Or, not...whose to say.

Oh, and allegedly, N's taken a few independent steps...not that I've seen any of them. Neomi reported that N took two steps Friday afternoon. My mom reported that N took one step at the party yesterday. I have seen nary a one, but she's about to take off and then I think we are all going to need to watch out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Battling it out

We are coming out of a really good run of behavior from Max's part. The big issue right now is listening or rather not listening. Based on a comment from Max's teachers in our parent/teacher conference last month and the fact that I'm having to repeatedly ask Max to do some basic things like brush his teeth, get dressed...or to not do things, like help himself to a muffin the other night for dinner, or decide to make himself a smoothy, or to not turn on the misters this morning in low 50 degree weather, or whatever....and based on an incident that happened one morning this week while I was in a work meeting and come out to find Noemi with the twins in their room with the door closed and Max completely unsupervised in the living room because Max told her he didn't want to play or be around his brother and sister so she should either take them outside or in their room (and yes, I DID talk to both of them about this and how unacceptable it is on many levels), I've realized that I need to nip this in the butt. Max and I talked about it last night and he said the consequence should be a time out. He had two today. Both were battles. He could have easily had at least two more. I really hate to be at such odds, but I also think he needs to learn that he can not always have his own way and he does need to listen even if he doesn't agree. It's not all him, I've realized I am not as consistent in this area as I should be. He can just wear me down sometimes or I get side tracked and forget. The whole day wasn't a battle. We finally carved his pumpkin (interestingly enough or not he wanted the pumpkin to have an angry face and was happy with the end result), roasted the seeds, and made a pumpkin pie...then we had a birthday party, but there were far too many times where I was having to really get on him. I'm sure it has been or at least seems a bit worse right now because we are both tired due to our trip last weekend, the time change/reduced sleep, and a busy week. Or, at least those things haven't help. However, trying to crack down on it all just left me feeling like there has to be a better way. I'm not thrilled with time outs. I guess I need to go find and crack out that book from that parenting class I took last year at the preschool as it all seems very hazy. From what I do remember, when you are feeling angry the misbehavior is about control and that sure is ringing true right now. And, it seems like the more I'm cracking down, the worse it is...but that could be the tired talking. I'm all about independence and think it is important for kids to have some control and lots of choices, but I do not want a kid who fights tooth and nail for his own way all the time and doesn't think he needs to listen. As I told Noemi, he is 4, he is not in charge and should not be ruling the roost. I know this is just a phase and the battles now are needed to draw the line in the sand and help him understand what is acceptable and what isn't, but my word it is painful having to live it.

Lessons learned or any BTDT or good strategies to attempt?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A big long moan....

I almost cried when I did it and I think she almost cried when she heard it. I've been putting it off. Avoiding "the talk", but it had to be done and today was the day. I cut Noemi's hours/pay effective December 7th when she returns from vacation. She will now leave at 3 pm instead of 5 pm. This means I will have to take the twins with me each day to pick up Max, make dinner, have dinner, clean up, get baths and books and bed solo pretty much every single night. I keep telling myself that lots of women/mom's do it all the time and it is just life. I haven't convinced myself as I tell myself that those same mom's don't have a 6:30 am meeting every weekday and a 7:30 pm 3 nights a week most weeks and a 50 hour week + job. It's hard enough during that time with both of us. It really pisses me off and makes me angry that money is so tight right now. One of the big reasons I waited having children was because I didn't want things to be that much of a financial struggle. And it is, and I hate that it is. It does not make me feel beholden to my new employer. I'm tying not to, but am harboring resentment. I don't mind the work so much, but the hours suck right now and I'm pissed that I'm making less money dealing with all the BS that I have to deal with each day. The self talk telling myself that I have choices is only moderately successful because while I have been keeping my eye open, I don't have the time or energy to do a full scale job search right now and I know too many good people struggling and looking for a job for too long now.

I've been thinking about it for awhile, made changes and cuts elsewhere where I could, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. I wanted to give her some time to plan for less money and also wanted her to know before she went on vacation. Plus, this way I'll have been taking care of them all 24/7 for something like 16 days straight so maybe it won't seem so bad. That of course rings hollow because I'll be going back to work after being out for 2 weeks and be so far behind it isn't funny and have to stop to take care of the kids and then bust my butt after they are asleep back at work and I need to stop talking or thinking about it because I feel like crying again.

It almost feels like it is all too much right now. The kids are still adjusting to the time change with Max, as always, being the worst. He was up in the late 3 am/early 4 am hour. Even with Noemi's help I was fried at 5 pm when she left and trying not to shout at Max who through a hissy fit because I wouldn't let him have an English muffin and screamed/bawled through dinner. And, R who hasn't been out of the bath for 5 minutes taking the lid off his sippy cup and spilling milk all over himself and the floor, then slipping in it on the tile, and then screaming while I tried to clean it up so no one else slipped when he wanted more milk that very second already. All I really want is just a little break and really there isn't one in sight for the foreseeable future.

Waa waa waa, cry me a river. It's not so much the kids as everything else. I wish I could "just" take care of the kids. I had lunch the other day with a close SAHM friend that had been far too long since we've seen each other. She has 6 year old twins and was saying how overwhelmed and how hard it is, how she doesn't have any time, doesn't seem to get a minute to herself, and how the kids (who are in kindergarten) are only gone 4 hours and I agreed and just silently added especially when you add on no spouse to help (even if it is minimal) with the kids, bring home the bacon, and a stressful job to balance it all. Maybe I get a few hours a week after the kids are in bed when I don't have a work meeting and by then I'm just too tired to do much of anything and while it is better than nothing it just isn't enough.

It's all going to work out. Somehow. It IS manageable, just exhausting and just barely. I think it may just take everything I have to do it with as good an attitude as possible. And, I already feel like everything is taking everything I have so I don't have more to give. My children deserve a mom who isn't frustrated, impatient, or crabby every afternoon/night so I need to figure this out and just get over it. I've got a month to mentally plan a new routine and work on the needed attitude adjustment and convince myself that it is just more opportunity to spend and bond with the kids.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Home Sweet Home

All told, the trip away this weekend was a success. It went so well, I'm thinking about going back again after Thanksgiving. First night went as expected. Got little sleep. N freaked about sleeping in a new place. Day/night two went better than expected. Twins napped and slept well. Everyone had a wonderful Halloween.

The twins went to the beach for the first time yesterday. R love, love, loved it. It's scary. The kid has no fear. N liked it as long as you didn't put her feet in the water. She liked a bit of distance from the water and playing in the sand and with her sand shadow.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the time change?

Someone in the house we were visiting said FUCK the other day. I was hoping Max hadn't heard it. Ah, no such luck. It was repeated back today. Lovely.

Max and I shared a bed flanked with pack in plays on either side.

As glad as I am that we went and as good a time as we had. I"m glad to be sleeping in my own bed tonight with each kid properly tucked into their own beds and bedrooms.