Friday, April 29, 2011

Success?

Since we got back from vacation, we've had a streak of good luck where L.E. will sleep through the night. Even better, the arduous process of putting her to bed has been shortened by the realization that she'll cry for no more than 2 minutes in her crib before going to sleep. Finally. We're actually getting full stretches of sleep! Except for the fact that my body hasn't been pregnant in over a year but my bladder still thinks I am.
It's strange...what is this feeling? Could it be a sense of accomplishment? Am I actually a good mother because my kid sleeps all night? It's not a feeling I'm used to. Mildred is usually whispering in my ear that something else will happen to prove my mommy-ineptitude. 
Regardless, this was the biggest hurdle we've cleared. I feel like we can do anything with L.E. She's an amazing little girl and we're so lucky to have her.
Now if only she would drink her milk out of a sippy cup...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

40:40 -- Gratitude

In honor of Easter Sunday and the completion of my 40 Posts goal, here are things for which I am extremely grateful:


How many dogs would put up with this?

  • My dog who will let L.E. crawl all over him without a sideways glance
  • Baby giggles
  • An amazing husband who will let me finish Easter dinner while he stops midway through his to put our sweet L.E. to bed, as she has passed out in her highchair
  • Friends who are understanding when we are either late to an Easter egg hunt or miss one altogether because Miss Hates-to-Nap suddenly takes 3 hour naps in the morning
  • My friend's little guy coming home after being in the hospital for the last few days. I'm glad he's OK but I know it must have been Hell for her. I don't pray a whole lot but I definitely prayed for his speedy recovery
  • L.E.'s godparents who I think of every day and can't wait to see again
  • My BFF coming home from vacation because I missed her
  • The Trailblazers amazing comeback victory yesterday
  • My fat rolls because they give L.E. something to grab onto when she uses me as a climbing wall
  • The Stonehenge scene in "This Is Spinal Tap" because it was on today and it makes me laugh uncontrollably
  • Silver Peak's nachos
  • Tina Fey's book
  • Plum Organics Super Puffs because they are like crack for babies
  • Ryan's quote on "The Office" the other night about being annoyed when people who have never tried crack say something is like crack
  • My homemade cheesecake minus the burnt crust
  • NFL Network
  • Good news, even when I can't share it out of respect for others
  • My family, who I miss like crazy especially on holidays
  • You, for reading this blog and telling your friends about it
And, as promised...Easter ham!


39:40 -- Almost there!

39 out of 40 posts. OK, I haven't quite reached my goal yet. But the day is still young. And I'm making a ham so I'll be sure to post pics later.
What have I learned from this experiment? For one thing, committing to something every day is really tough. Especially when you're the working mother of a soon-to-be toddler. Things don't always go as planned. For instance yesterday, I didn't post because I spent most of the day making a cheesecake for today's brunch. Today when I did the big "cheesecake reveal" (opening the springform pan) I discovered that the crust was black-black. I made it out of graham crackers, not Oreos (almost said grammy-grahams; forgot I'm not talking to L.E. here). Needless to say, cheesecake will not be my brunch-date today. I had to bust into the for-emergencies-only Ghiradelli caramel brownie mix. What does this have to do with being a mom? Nothing really. Except being aware that you always have to have a backup plan just in case. And what constitutes a brownie emergency? Uhhh.....
The biggest thing I've learned is how much I love writing. I've always written a bit here and there but this is the first time I've fully committed to writing and embraced it whole-heartedly. I know a lot of my musings have been complain-y and I've worn my insecurities on my sleeves. But it's felt really good to know that you are reading this, despite the whining. It's definitely incentive to keep posting. Not on a daily basis but at least once a week. I promise.
I wish you all a Happy Easter. If you're not into celebrating Easter, then Happy Sunday Funday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 22, 2011

38:40 -- Meatless Friday: Buffalo Shrimp


I thoroughly enjoy Buffalo wings but I'm sure you know that based on my many times I've written about them. But we experienced a different twist on traditional wings while on vacation: Buffalo Shrimp! A bit lighter than their poultry counterparts, yet still delicious. Below is a recipe for Buffalo Shrimp Sliders courtesy of Redbook magazine er, a really cool website that has nothing to do with being a mom...


Ingredients
8  (3-inch) soft dinner rolls, split
1 small heart of romaine lettuce, finely shredded (2 cups)
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/3 cups shredded carrots
3 tablespoons blue-cheese dressing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
3 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce*
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese**

Directions
  1. Heat the broiler. Place dinner rolls, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place under broiler and lightly toast, turning baking sheet to toast rolls evenly.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss lettuce, celery, and carrots with dressing. Divide the mixture over the bottom halves of the rolls.
  3. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and shrimp; sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are almost cooked through.
  4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and hot sauce to skillet; continue to cook, stirring shrimp in "Buffalo" sauce with a slotted spoon, until cooked through, about 1 minute. Spoon shrimp and sauce over lettuce mixture, sprinkle with blue-cheese crumbles, and place roll tops, toasted side down.

*Being that I'm kind of an expert on wings, there is no better sauce out there than Frank's Red Hot. You can try others all you want but none will have the right amount of flavor and zing that Frank's has. Trust me. 


**If you're not into blue cheese, feel free to substitute ranch dressing. I enjoy both and always have both on hand when making anything Buffalo-style

Thursday, April 21, 2011

37:40 -- I Swear, She Hates Me Sometimes

See the indifference in her beautiful brown eyes.
I love my baby girl. I know she loves me too. She has to, I'm her mother. But sometimes I'm pretty sure there are a gazillion other people in the world she'd rather be with than me. I know this stems from my own lifelong insecurities but I still can't shake it.
Sure, she's super-happy to see me when I pick her up from daycare. She sees me through the glass door and puts her arms up for a pick-me-up and gives me a big hug. When we get home, she has an even bigger smile for the dog. The DOG! She claps her hands and giggles at him, wiggling her way out of my arms as fast as she can. Her "woof-woof" gives her big sloppy stinky kisses. I gave her life. But the dog takes precedence.
And when T comes home, all bets are off. Nobody brings a smile to L.E. like her daddy. She will literally push me away to get to him. He scoops her up and spins her around. The way she throws her head back and laughs is like the stuff Hallmark commercials are made of. Sure, it's sweet. It actually makes my heart melt. But why don't I, her MOMMY, get the big smiles and giggles? Is it because I wipe her nose and clean her ears? Is it because my voice is annoying? Is it because I didn't nurse her long enough?
(I'm sure the breast-is-best elite out there will say that is exactly correct. I'm sorry but I really don't want to hear it anymore. The breastfeeding guilt-ship has sailed far away from me at this point. I tried it. It didn't work out. Let's move on, shall we?)
At my parents', L.E. would make a beeline for Grandma. Perfectly acceptable, grandmas are always more fun than moms. It's a fact. My own grandmother was pretty miserable for most of her life but I still preferred her company to my mom's. I'm sure it's because grandmas don't have the word "no" in their vocabulary. So I can understand L.E.'s preference for her grandma.
She will crawl away from me if the TV is on. She'll cry hysterically if I'm the one trying to put her to sleep. She spits out whatever food I give her. She screams while I dress her and comb her hair. She will push me aside if I'm sitting in front of her Elmo doll...seems like none of this stuff happens with her daddy!
I feel like a pretty terrible mom because of this. I feel like I'm doing something wrong. Why wouldn't I if it seems like she prefers the mailman's company to mine? I want to be her biggest reason for smiling and giggling. I don't want her to hate me because I clean the green boogers off of her nose while singing "You are my you are my you are my big booger face..." (Like Poker Face only with boogers). I don't want her to prefer T to me. I know that's selfish. But I'm the most insecure person in the world. I just want to be number one in my daughter's eyes.
Or maybe I'm just being paranoid.
Overthink much?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

36:40 -- This Is Why I'm Fat Part 2

Oyster carnage
Vacation has been over for a few days. But I still remember what I ate the entire trip. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, the pimento cheeseburger that was so good, I ate it 2 days in a row.
Tuesday night
Steak sandwich, french fries, 2 crab legs, an oyster and some shrimp
Wednesday
Sausage and eggs with toast
Spinach salad with goat cheese (Yes, a salad...)
Bread with garlic-herb butter
Dad's world-famous chicken romano
Grilled oysters...like 20 of them (T and my dad bought a BUSHEL of oysters for 3 people to eat)
Shrimp cocktail
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Girl Scout Cookies
Thursday
Sausage, ham, pepper and cheese fritatta
Leftover chicken and potatoes
More leftover chicken and potatoes
Seared tuna flatbread
Chips and guacamole
Chips and queso dip
Sauteed grouper with cheese
What were the side dishes? Can't remember.
Pistachio cheesecake
Homemade churros
Another piece of chicken late-night
Friday
Cheeseburger and fries from Five Guys (Better than In & Out...and it takes a lot for me to say that)
Homemade chips
About 10 more oysters
Buffalo wings from Wild Wings Cafe
Caramel cheesecake Babycake
Saturday
Caramel cheesecake Babycake
Bacon & cheese grits
Various airplane snacks
A huge ribeye steak
Meat sweats

I think I'll be eating more salads for a while. But it was totally worth it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

35:40 -- You CAN Go Home Again

I moved from my parents' house almost 16 years ago. That was my childhood home, where I knew every nook and cranny. I still have dreams where I wake up convinced I'm back in that house and I'm late for school.
They moved from there a few years after I did. So I've had a strange definition of what "home" means when I visit them. They're in a completely different house, different state, different dogs...it's not bad just different.
It's reassuring to see the same furniture I'm used to. The weird doll "collection" we had growing up...you know, the kind of dolls you couldn't play with so they just stare at you with blank eyes from the glass-front hutch. The sleeper-couch that must be over 40 years old. The odd nesting tables that have a combination of sharp corners and round edges. The Lenox bird collection that was my grandma's. A closet full of Christmas decorations and my old prom dress. (It doesn't fit). The Iron City beer cans featuring the 70s-era Steelers. A kitchen that was more than double the size of the one in my childhood home; it took me 20 minutes to find a plate. The fridge which had no less than 4 different open tubs of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. And, sadly, the room reserved for Pap when he would live with my parents in the winter time.
The rooms are different. But the smell was the same. It's a combination of dog, Tide, Paul Sebastian cologne, and Carpet-Fresh. Not a bad smell by any  means; it's a smell of home.
L.E. had a slew of new toys to play with. I half-expected a lot of my old toys to resurface but they all seem to have mysteriously disappeared. I bet they're "somewhere upstate" where they have lots of room to run and get played with. (You got rid of EVERYTHING, Mom? Even my Cabbage Patch Kids?) Her room was strategically placed far away from where I slept so that Mom could take care of her in the middle of the night. It was nice to get some sleep.
The guest bedrooms both have full-size beds in them. So T and I each got our own room. I remember being all pissy when we lived together before we were married but had to sleep in separate rooms when we went home. Now, I welcomed it, I love to sprawl. T snores. It was win-win!
Dad made us breakfast every morning. I make sausage and eggs all the time but it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as his. We ate dinner out almost every night except for when we had the world-famous chicken romano. (Food post will follow)
I still can't figure out my way around there. It takes 30 minutes to go 7 miles. When Google Maps says head East, there's no landmark to base the direction off of. Sure there's the ocean, but there's also the sound and tributaries. Water is not a good focal point because it's everywhere. Like the traffic lights. And it's not even tourist season!
Overall, it was a great visit. L.E. got quality time with her grandparents. T and I enjoyed some alone-time. We went to the beach. We ate seafood and fried-goodness. We hung out with my sister and her husband.
We were home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

34:40--Did You Know?

So Lent is actually 46 days and doesnt count Sundays. I was onto something! Being that I'm still on vaycay and a little tipsy, I'll re-convene once I'm back to the land of coherence. xo

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

33:40 -- This is why I'm fat

So good, it had to be eaten 2 days in a row. Ignore the salad in the background; that wasn't mine. And i totally picked off the arugula.
Vacation is an excuse to eat with reckless abandon. Here is the rundown of food consumed since arriving in the Deep South:
Saturday night (late night)
McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese and fries
Sunday
Bagel with cream cheese
Fried Chicken on a biscuit with cheddar cheese and sausage gravy
Fried green tomatoes
Buffalo shrimp
Some flatbread thingy with brie
Steak and shrimp with a baked potato
Chocolate torta and a rustic tart
Lots of beer and wine
Monday
Todd and I split a chicken BLT and a southern burger. The southern burger was smothered with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, pickled okra, and arugula.I was secretly bitter we did halfsies because I wanted the burger all to myself.
Happy hour $5 pepperoni pizza at the Mellow Mushroom
Dinner at Muse: A seared Manchego cheese salad. Shrimp and polenta (like grits but classier) and another slice of chocolate torta
Tuesday
Bagel with cream cheese
Success! Scored the same burger all to myself.

Day is only half over. Vacation is only half over. Fat = happy...right?

Monday, April 11, 2011

32:40 -- Days Off From Parenthood

Greetings from South Carolina!
T has a conference and since we're not far from my parents, Mom came and kidnapped L.E. yesterday so we could have a few baby-free days. This is the first time we've been away from her together. I miss her so much! But T and I have made the most of our baby-moon. As in, we acted as though we never had a child; we got drunk in a strange city but in typical exhausted-new-parent-fashion still passed out at 10.
Traveling here went OK for the most part. L.E. cried the last 10 minutes of both flights. We think she was just over being on a plane where she can't crawl around. She slept for part of the first flight and we barely had time to squeeze in a diaper change during our very brief connection. But I can't complain; she slept really well in the hotel where she shared the bed with us. She's actually quite the bed-hog which I'm convinced she learned fromt the dog.
Mom met us for brunch yesterday and I said an almost-tearful good-bye to L.E. Then T and proceeded to eat-drink-shop the rest of the day. It was really fun; got some cute new clothes and ate a ton. Who knew such a thing existed such as buffalo shrimp? It's GENIUS!
From dinner on, things got a little fuzzy. We ended the night in the bar of a restaurant where my sister's friend is the owner. Dessert was fabulous! I look forward to eating dinner there tonight.
Today, I slept till 9:30. Granted, it's east-coast time but sleeping in felt pretty great. I actually didn't even get out of bed until 11. Why? Because for the first time in over a year, I have zero accountability today. It feels pretty damn good.
But I miss my baby!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

31:40: Pretty Handmade Things

I have zero ability when it comes to anything crafty. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, stitching...it all fails me. But I'm lucky to have very talented friends and family who have bestowed beautiful handmade gifts upon Miss L.E.

From L.E.'s godmother, who is so unbelievably talented. This quilt made me bawl at my baby shower.
A sweater-poncho from T's aunt. She only has grandsons so L.E. has become her de-facto granddaughter.

Another quilt, an "activist" quilt from our friends in Austin, TX.



A tutu, also from L.E.'s godmother.

OK, so this isn't actually L.E.'s, it's mine. A Wifit doll also made by the extremely talented godmother.

Sweater and hat set from my parents' friend.

Cupcake headband from my dear friend. You can own one, too! Visit etsy.com/shop/youcute

Handmade book cover for L.E.'s baby book. Made by a great friend and co-worker.

She also made this bejeweled silver spoon.

As you can see, none of these things came from my side of the family. Maybe we should work on that.

Friday, April 8, 2011

30:40 -- Meatless Friday: Shrimp-tastic!


Shrimp Scampi reminds me of Christmas. My mom would make it every year to go along with prime rib, manicotti, cheesy mashed potatoes and whatever requisite vegetable we had. It's quite possibly my favorite shrimp dish.
I don't have the actual measurement breakdowns for it but this is a recipe you'll tailor for your own tastes. I say don't skimp on the garlic.

In a shallow baking pan, melt a bunch of butter and a little bit of olive oil. Add some crushed garlic, a dash of lemon juice, some parsley and the peeled & de-veined shrimp. Top with some breadcrumbs and a little bit of parmesan cheese. Bake until the shrimp are done and the butter is making that beautiful sizzling noise. Serve with bread so you can dip it in the buttery garlicky goodness.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

29:40 -- Writer's Block

Since I started this 40 Days of 40 Posts experiment, I've faced indecision. What should I write about today? Usually I come up with something clever and go on my merry way. Today is different. I don't know if it's that I've been sick all week. I don't know if it's all of the narcotic cough medicine. I have absolutely no idea what to write about.
I think part of the problem is I've been holding things in that really bother me. And I don't feel that I can "air my grievances" on this blog because I don't want anyone to be hurt. But I'm hurt right now. And I don't know if I can just "get over it."
It's times like these that I worry my Mildred will take over again. Mildred is the name I gave to the dark cloud over my head. Yeah, cue the crazy music. And I genuinely don't mean any disrespect to women actually named Mildred.
Mildred is what kept me from getting out of bed when I was in the throes of postpartum depression. Mildred is the self-doubt that constantly plagues me both at work and at home. Mildred makes me question whether or not I'm a good mom or a good wife or a good friend. Mildred can reduce me to a puddle of emotion in just a short amount of time.
I can sense when Mildred is creeping up on me. I start to feel this weight in the pit of my stomach and it slowly moves it's way up so I have this crushing feeling in my chest. It never manifests to a full-blown anxiety attack; Mildred is way more subtle than that.
Over the years, I've learned to contain Mildred. Anti-depressants work for the most part. But I've discovered the best solution is to just talk out my feelings. If my therapist isn't available, I talk to my dog. Or L.E. She usually just giggles. I'm very glad she can't understand me yet.
We all have our Mildreds. I'm sure mine isn't any different than yours. I just chose to name it so that I wouldn't be so afraid of it. It gets easier to shake off when I can picture myself walking away from Mildred. I truly hope that one day Mildred will only be a memory and not something I encounter regularly.
I guess I found something to write about after all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

28:40 -- It's the Little Things

It's the little things that make life worth living. Like when my sweet baby girl crawls over to me and puts her arms around me for a hug and gives me a big smile. No matter how badly I feel, she makes me feel like a zillion trillion dollars.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

27:40 -- Blogging from Bed

I'm siiiiiiiiccckk. Like Peggy Ann McKay sick before she realized it's Saturday.
I thought I'd share this PBS article today since it's something I'm quite obviously guilty of myself.
Happy reading!

Monday, April 4, 2011

26:40 -- King and Queen of Improv

It's a gimme that your life changes when you become a parent. I don't think I ever underestimated that fact at all. I know that I can't spontaneously go get a drink on Friday after work without some carefully calculated planning such as leaving work early enough so that I can still leave her at daycare till 5:30. I feel as though T and I have become pretty masterful at improvising our social lives so we can still enjoy being out and about while making our daughter happy, too.
For example, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. Rather than waste it in front of the TV (there are no decent sports on anyway) we decided to go downtown and just walk around for a bit. L.E. is still battling pinkeye so her eyes are super-sensitive. She was not happy to wear a hat so she pouted pretty much the whole time. We stopped at the park and let her play on the grass. She was fascinated by all the "woof-woofs" down there and kept crawling away from us to go play with them. We put her back in her stroller with the hopes that she would doze off so we could stop for a beer. Of course, she was having none of that. So we did the more wholesome option which was give L.E. her first taste of ice cream. She was totally in love with it!
She was still in a so-so mood after that and squawked loudly any time we stopped walking. We knew a meltdown was inevitable so we cut our outing short and headed home. Of course, she fell asleep in the car.
Sometimes you have to be quick on your feet. When she starts freaking out in a restaurant, walk around. If she doesn't calm down, order your food to-go. Other times you have to do a parking lot hand-off so you can split the parenting responsibility while still reminding your friends that you're not always covered in spit-up and cheerios.
I'm not saying we go out every single night; we're just not very good at being homebodies and we like to eat in restaurants once a week or so. If L.E. doesn't cooperate, we always have a backup plan. We are lucky that she is very well-behaved for the most part. But you always have those what-ifs come up and you need to be prepared. Fortunately, we've become really good at improvising.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

25:40 -- What's the Rush?

Staggering bleary-eyed while pushing a stroller with a baby in it...yep, like mother like daughter.
L.E. took her first real steps today. She didn't even realize she was doing it. She stood up, took 2 steps, turned and fell on her butt. Fortunately, there was a nice piano/xylophone to break her fall. Not a happy way to go down.
Am I happy she's ready to walk? Truthfully, I'm on the fence. On the one hand, it's amazing to see my baby turn into an independent little person. On the other hand, the selfish and lazy one, this just means I have to do a better job of keeping my house clean. Doors need to be shut; cabinet locks need to actually be turned to "lock" and not just hang haphazardly, with unknown treasures such as blue Windex and bug spray behind their doors. I have to be selective about the weight of books on our bookshelf. "Complete Works of Shakespeare" looks like it would hurt if L.E. were to pull it off the shelf which is one of her new favorite pastimes.
I kinda miss the days when I could leave her alone in the living room for a second, perched in her brace on a blanket in the middle of the floor with a few select toys within her reach. Crawling changed EVERYTHING. And when she figured out how to swing open an unlatched door, going to the bathroom was never a private matter. She's a total sidler, too. One second, you think she's in the living room. Next thing you know, she's at your feet in the kitchen pulling herself up on your legs while you're holding 4 glasses to put away.
We realized she doesn't have any shoes made for walkers. Not that shoe-shopping is something I'd ever complain about.
People have been asking me if she's walking yet for the last 3 months. I guess that's the biggest complaint about being a parent: being asked on a daily basis, "Is she_________________ yet?" You can't help but feel some bit of parental inadequacy because you're kid can't feed herself at 10 months, isn't pulling herself up, doesn't have teeth, can't talk beyond babbles...etc etc. Why can't we just let our kids grow and develop at their own pace? It will all happen in due time. How often do you see a 9-year-old with no teeth crawling around in diapers and still needs spoon-fed?
I'm content with L.E. doing her own thing. There isn't a prize given to the mom whose kid walks first, talks first, eats food off the floor fastest...(if there is a prize for that last one, I accept) If she still babbles incoherently when she's 5 then yes, we may have a problem. But until then, she can stumble around like a drunkard, knocking things over and falling on her butt. She can ramble on and on about her day in a language only she can understand. Her coolest "trick" is doing a no-handed binky grab off the nightstand. (Your kid may be able to talk at a year but mine can do stripper tricks)
She knows how to high-five on command. To me, that's the best accomplishment yet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

24:40 -- Meatless Friday: Komfort Food Klassic

Spring has sprung! But that's not to say winter is over. Just when I get my flip-flops out, we get more snow. So I figure we still have a few more weeks of "comfort food" weather.
Today's meatless recipe is a fairly new favorite of mine. I don't think I even tasted tuna until I was well into my 20s (you know, like last year and stuff). Once I discovered you could mix tuna with mayo and onions, add cheese and grill it like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, I was hooked (pun intended!)
For today's Meatless Friday, I present to you Tuna Noodle Casserole, compliments of Charlie Tuna himself.


Ingredients

  • 1 pouch (6.4 oz.) or 2 pouches (2.6 oz.) or 2 cans (5 oz.) Chunk Light Tuna or Albacore Tuna in Water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¾ cup butter crackers, crushed (like Ritz or even better, Pretzel Flips)
  • 4 oz. (about 2- ½ cups) egg noodles
  • 1 can (10.75 oz.) Cream of Mushroom soup
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions, adding peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking; drain in colander.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together soup, milk and garlic powder.  Stir in noodles, peas, tuna and thyme. 
  4. Transfer to a 1-½ quart casserole.  Bake 15 minutes; top with cracker crumbs.  Continue baking 5 – 10 minutes or until heated through.