Monthly Archives: June 2017

Flashback Friday: My First Day Back

I have a confession to make. I don’t remember my first day back at work after Baby Girl was born. I remember, or perhaps just know that it was a Monday. It was November 2nd. It was supposed to be the last Friday in October, but I mixed up the days and the OB wrote my permission slip for the wrong day.

I had been keeping up with work through e-mail, so there were no major fires to put out. Some people were surprised I was back, but they dropped it surprisingly fast.

I filed some paperwork so I could go on my conference trip that Friday, with a lengthy apology for how late the paperwork was. (The administration fully understood.)

I went to my office and pumped for the first time outside of my house. And halfway through realized I should tape something in the small window in my door. Whoops.

I used a copy of a publishing agreement for an article that had been approved right before I left on leave. It was just lying around. I kept   It up the entire time I pumped (about a year.) I always meant to put something more interesting up – or at least more normal? – but I never got around to it.

My husband was keeping Baby Girl just like he does now, so he texted and sent pictures. She mostly slept.

By the time I got home about five hours later, I was sore again and glad to have her nurse.

I don’t remember if I went back after lunch.

I don’t remember if I cried, or if I was relieved.

I don’t remember who wished me well or who I avoided.

Looking back, I think I was still in shock, a bit. Her birth wasn’t normal and I wasn’t prepared to be a mom. And I certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep. Both of those things are good reasons not to remember. It’s probably fairly normal. But it bothers me.

If it’s going to bother you that you might not remember, I suggest keeping a diary. You could always throw it away later.

Time To… Thursday: Time to Be Productive

It is a wonder what I can do when I get enough sleep!

While I was at work today, I created 17 new planner pages for my 5.5 x 8.5 planner-binder. I had been very frustrated because most planner pages in existence are for letter-sized paper, or, for whatever reason require settings that my work printer just cannot handle. So, I’ve been trying to make my own, but I just haven’t been able to focus because of my lack of sleep.

When I got home, I started dinner in the crockpot, nursed my daughter to sleep, started a load of laundry, started downloading/installing a bunch of files to my computer, watered my garden, ate lunch, and am now writing this blog post – all in the span of a hour, and at least 25 minutes of that was devoted to Baby Girl exclusively.

And that’s another thing – I would have thought that needing to eat would slow my productivity, but it hadn’t at all. All I had for breakfast this morning was a 150 calorie Yoplait yogurt. And I had a cup of coffee at work. That was it. So being hungry certainly isn’t distracting me – it has all been my lack of sleep or bad sleep.

That leads me to my question to you: what is holding back your productivity? Is it a lack of sleep? Stress? Bad eating habits? Knowing what the problem is, is half the battle!

Working Wednesday: Nervousness and Anxiety 

The other day, I joked with a friend of mine, “If you want to quit being nervous and anxious about work things, have a kid.”

You see, she was incredibly nervous because the conference that I presented at on Friday June 16, 2017 was organized by her. Not single-handedly, of course, but  as chair of the working group, a lot of the important tasks fell to her. And so she was worried about everything going right. When I finally showed up (taking advantage of the fact that she could get me my credentials for the conference late), it was time for the keynote speaker, and she was, in the words of Peg from Peg + Cat, “TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.”

After the keynote speaker was done and lunch was served (and I got the Last Cup Of Coffee!!!!) she seemed to relax quite a bit, but it got me thinking.

I was presenting, but I wasn’t nervous.

Well, at least, I wasn’t too nervous. It was a new topic, especially designed for that conference, so I talked too fast (see also: that last cup of coffee) and I wasn’t as polished as I normally am, but I wasn’t feeling the nervousness consciously.

There were a couple of reasons for this, most of which had to do with being a mom.

  1. I had been too busy the week before to build up the anxiety and nervousness. Part of that was the national webinar I had done the day before, but a lot of it was just the hectic schedule that I keep now that Baby Girl is around and has a mind of her own.
  2. I was distracted wondering if Baby Girl and my dear husband would be all right at home. I’d had a fairly open schedule for several weeks and we had been relying on it. (Spoiler Alert: everything was fine at home. As usual.)
  3. I was dead tired. I no longer remember exactly how little sleep Baby Girl had let me get the night before, but I do remember tiptoeing around the house getting ready because she had finally gone back to sleep

I used to get really anxious about presentations, but it’s fading now, no doubt because of the reasons outlined above.

Of course, that’s just neuro-typical anxiousness. I still have other anxiety that is never going to be solved without meditation, medication, or deep, deep therapy.

 

Together Tuesday: Quality Time, Low-Key Style

I’ve been in a bit of a grumpy mood lately because of Baby Girl’s odd sleeping schedule, and I’m afraid it’s impacting our quality time together.

However, at least I am aware of this, and I can try to make some  changes to make sure my mood doesn’t impact her as much.

I’ve been trying to develop some “low-key” ways to spend quality time with her when I’m in a mood like this, or when I’m exhausted (or worse, when I’m in a mood AND exhausted, which has happened more than once this week, unfortunately.)

“Low-key” for me means no prep work. No set-up. No clean up. That throws most craft ideas right out the window.

“Low-key” also means easy, low-activity quality time. So we probably watch a little bit more television than we strictly ought to. I try to make up for it by talking to her about what’s on the screen, and only watching educational programming.

Sometimes it’s as easy as sitting on the floor with her while she runs circles around me. She likes playing with her Hello Kitty ball (even though I am pretty sure that she thinks it’s Musti) but she can’t throw very far, so we can usually play pretty well without me having to work very hard.

The other thing I have noticed is that if I “give in,” that is, change my mindset to the idea that I am specifically trying to spend quality time with her and not just “watching her,” that helps, too. That helped a couple of nights back when she woke up in the middle of the night and just did not want to go back to sleep. Once I got out of the funk I was in from being woken up after only two hours of sleep, we had a great time. We even did an impromptu photoshoot, because she was being an adorable ham for the camera. It’s actually one of my favorite things we’ve done together lately, and I got some great pictures for the rest of the family … at one o’clock in the morning. #Silverlinings, I guess?

 

Menu Monday: Easiest, Tastiest Favorites!

As promised, here are some of my favorite easy recipes.

The first one is Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken. This one is a little fattening, since it uses mayonnaise. There are some ways you can reduce the fat – low-fat mayo or Greek yogurt, for example. The fat does make it awfully tasty though! Really, the key is something that will bake up and seal in moisture and spice and make a nice crust. This recipe is a precursor to similar tantalizing recipes like chicken tandoori and chicken shawarma.

This recipe of course needs side dishes, but I will leave those up to you – they can be as simple as some steamed veggies.

Another inexpensive, tasty meal at our home is homemade sloppy joes. I’ve done this recipe with double the meat and no lentils, and with lentils. I’ve made it with ground turkey instead of beef. Either way it’s filling and can make a great base for Paula Deen’s Gentleman Joes! And it freezes well!

Next: For the price of two cans of tomato products, an onion, and garlic, you can have an inexpensive ($1.00 -$1.50 depending on where you shop), tasty homemade tomato sauce ready in about the same time it takes to boil the pasta. Add cheese, or the meat of your choice , or keep it simple and animal-product free. Here is my exact recipe, adjust as you like:

1 15 oz. can of plain tomato sauce

1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. basil

2 tsp.  Parsley flakes

1/2 tsp. thyme

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute, careful not to let the garlic burn. Add tomato product and spices; stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Cover and allow to simmer at least 15 minutes or until your pasta has cooked.

If you are adding meat, fry it up in a shallow pan and add it to the sauce about five minutes before you’re ready to serve.

Here is the first set of dishes for your arsenal. Stay tuned to my blog for more easy recipes!

Savings Sunday: Cook for Yourself 

I do a lot of home cooking, because I enjoy cooking. But even if you don’t enjoy it, persay, it is still useful to have some cooking skill.

For one thing, it’s much more cost effective to cook for yourself than to eat out every night, especially if you know how to adjust the size of recipes, or how to properly store leftovers. So in this two-part blog post, I’m going to try to help! Today’s post is tips and tricks for cooking, and tomorrow’s post for Menu Monday will be some low-cost, high quality recipes, and easy substitutions you can make.

First of all, pay attention to serving size. Most recipes I find on the internet these days are four servings, but many can be stretched to six. Some are even written for eight.

If you know you have a problem with portion control, you can adjust for this when you compare the serving size with the ingredients. A pound of meat easily feeds four and can sometimes be stretched to six if there are other proteins in the meal, but if you’re a meat-a-tarian like my husband, you may want to stick to the four.

Second is, learn a couple of easy recipes (like the ones I will be linking to tomorrow, for example.) Once you’ve learned, let’s say – 10 of them, you can make dinner every night and change it up. Plus, if you learn a variety of cooking methods, you can branch out more easily. I like a lot of variety in my meals, but my husband has noted that a lot of my recipes come down to meat + veg + sauce + pasta or meat + rice + veg + cheese. Add in spices and the variety is endless.

Third, do not be afraid of spices. Most are inexpensive and a little can go a long way. Plus, food that has been well spiced holds up better as leftovers.

Fourth, don’t waste leftovers. Invest in some decent plastic storage (I like the 30 piece Rubbermaid sets myself. They’re usually on sale at Walmart and Target around Black Friday.) In a pinch though, some Ziploc bags will do.

Fifth, plan meals.

Sixth, prep some of your meals ahead of time when you have time to save you time when you don’t. This includes chopping veggies or cutting up meat. It could even go so far as mixing spice blends.

Tomorrow, we will talk about some easy recipes you can whip up.

Self-care Saturday: Bless Yourself

As mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, we are often consumed with making sure that everyone else is taken care of, is feeling good, is made to feel special, loved, etc.

Not all of us are getting that in return. Some of us are getting that in return, but maybe not often enough or consistently enough. That is why today I am telling you that as part of your self-care, you need to make an effort to bless yourself.

Write yourself an appreciation note, affirming what you like about yourself. No qualifiers. Just what you like about yourself.

Make yourself a special snack or meal. Preferably something you won’t have to share. (I like lemon curd. No one else in my family does. It’s one of my go-to blessings!)

Send yourself flowers. Or pick them, if you have a garden or access to one. A pretty bouquet is always nice.

Most things that you would do for others, you can also do for yourself. If you do them with intentional kindness to yourself, you are blessing yourself and reaffirming your commitment to taking care of yourself. And remember, when your needs are met, you can better meet the needs of others.