April 2015 - Baby Steps in High Heels

Friday, April 24, 2015

Meal Prep: Dinner Under Duress

1:00 PM 16
Meal Prep: Dinner Under Duress
If you are here looking for actual food prep tips, you have come to the wrong place. I apologize. Today we are going to talk about how in the world we are ever able to prepare meals at the end of a busy work day with clingy children who have missed mommy all day long hanging from our necks with all their might.

I don’t blame the kids. I have missed them, too! I would love to just sit and snuggle and play all evening; but, alas, it is my responsibility as the parent to also feed their little bellies with proper nourishment and to do so before any “hangry” meltdowns ensue.

You would think their little hungry-all-the-time selves would be understanding of the fact that food must first be prepared in order for them to eat, but this concept has never seemed to resonate in their little heads. They have one-track minds, and they want to play. No, snuggle. No, play. No, eat. NOW! “I HUNGRY, MOMMA!!”

So, it is not unusual that I find myself at the end of every work day attempting to make dinner under duress. I am opening food containers and digging out pots and pans, pouring from a heavy gallon of milk into teeeny-tiny sippy cups, plating food on the right color plates (“norange” no “gween”), and bribing my toddler to {please, just please} sit in his high chair with treats that are sure to ruin his supper.

Did I mention that I usually do all of that with said toddler in one arm? So, yeah, I do meal prep with my left hand, which wouldn’t be a problem except that I am right-handed. It ain’t pretty, y’all. Especially when we have breakfast for dinner, which is fairly often. Have you ever cracked eggs with your non-dominant hand?

Meanwhile, my five-year-old is also vying for my attention to watch her dance/twirl/jump amidst our granite countertops and sharp-cornered coffee table. Or help her spell a friend’s name for a picture she is coloring. Or, “Pick me up, too, Mommy. You always hold the baby!”

Dinner under duress might be an understatement, if I am really honest about it. When I truly need both hands to cook, I use them at the very onerous protest of my children. I try to distract them with fleeting suggestions like, “Go look for Daddy’s truck at the front door. Is he here? Oh, I think I hear him! Check again!” I can usually repeat this cycle 5-6 times before they catch on, and that tends to buy me a solid minute before at least one child returns to climb my leg.

Occasionally they will sit together and play for a few minutes, which in turn distracts me, because I love watching them interact. There is just something special about those sweet, innocent moments that draws me in, completely diverting my attention from the high-pressure task at hand, and squanders the precious, precious time I should have used for slicing, dicing, peeling, and plating.

So, what is a momma to do? How do we survive this necessary task that invariably falls during the witching hour every single day? I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. Though they’re nothing magical, mind you, I thought it my duty to share the few survival tactics I have stumbled upon with those of you in my same boat.

Prep when they’re gone. I know, this seems obvious, but it took a good long while to sink in for me. I must have been suffering from some delusion that I would be a better mom if I could gracefully balance meal prep and parenting a la the 1950’s-style motherhood images I had in my head. Either I am incapable of grace and balance, or those ideals are pure BS. Whatever the case may be, life runs smoother when I take 10 minutes without the kids to do what typically takes half an hour when they’re home. Who knew you could pour two cups of milk without spilling a drop and tighten the lids and return everything to the fridge in under 30 seconds? I only just figured this out.

Cook ahead and make enough for several days. Another obvious tip that works like a charm. Whether my husband grills enough burgers to feed an army or I make crock pot chicken tortilla soup, meal time runs so much more smoothly when we are reheating instead of cooking from scratch. Even still, I refer you back to my first suggestion – please do not assume that because the food has been cooked in advance that it will be easier to prepare. This devastating assumption will ultimately be your demise. Have you ever attempted to ladle soup from one bowl to another with a needy child as your sous chef? I do not recommend it.

Keep it simple. I really enjoy cooking, and for years I operated under the illusion that my kids would, at some point, transform into those mystical sushi-loving toddlers I have heard whispers of, if only I just kept serving them ornate meals full of variety. Or, at least I should be doing the responsible suburban-mom thing by hiding zucchini in their muffins and pureed carrots in their mac and cheese. (FYI – gross) Well, I have come to realize that this notion that children can willingly embrace exotic food is pure urban legend, or, as we say in the south, hog wash. At least, it is in my household, and it is just not worth the battle every night of the week. A simple well-balanced meal is good enough for us.

I know moms who also embrace baby-wearing slings during meal prep; and we have been known to pop on a movie during this time, as well. Though this may be yet another urban legend, I have also heard about other braver, more patient moms who involve their kids in the process with age-appropriate tasks. Whatever you do, and however you do it, it is nice when you can find a balance, reduce the stress, and actually enjoy your family time around the table.


Do you have any tried and true tips for surviving meal prep? Please share, because it is entirely possible that everything I have written here is more wishful thinking than something that actually works on a consistent basis. A momma can hope though, right? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Husband!

1:39 PM 0
Happy Birthday, Husband!
Facebook really, really wants me to post a Happy Birthday message to my husband.

I cannot recall another time where I have received multiple notifications for a single birthday. They must be really worried that, while the rest of the social media world is sharing well wishes, I have forgotten.

I can assure that I have not forgotten.

Not at 5:27 a.m. when The Boy woke us up, insisted on "coffee, mamma?" instead of going back to bed, and snuggled us for 3 minutes before promptly asking for cereal and Thomas Train.

Not at 6:12 a.m. when Husband was busy unloading the dishwasher even though I told him he didn't need to do chores on his birthday.

Not at 7:00 a.m. when he loaded the kids in the car, just after Miss Mighty and I tucked a secret birthday card into her lunch box for her to color while at school today.

And not any other minute of the day. I will not forget as we celebrate over dinner. Or as we head to the ice cream shop per the kids' request.


This guy is the heart and soul of our family, whether I blog about it or post of Facebook or simply tell him in person. He is loved and celebrated and cherished every single day, but especially today. 

Happy Birthday, Husband! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Summertime: pick your battles

4:17 PM 10
Summertime: pick your battles
It is not that I don’t like summer. I do. There are many great things about the sunny season. Relaxed schedules, vacations, and a nice, long break from my business travel. We call the hot months "Mexican Beer" season, so there's that, too. 

But there is also a mixture of humidity and sweat and rear-facing car seats and hot, black-top asphalt that I truly despise. There are every-day swim lessons and sunscreen and never-ever the option to skip a bath day. There are tourists and crowds, and sometimes I just want to do my grocery shopping in a store that doesn’t look like it’s filming some type of Duggar Family/Real World mashup.

There are probably more things that I dislike about summer than things I love about it, but nevertheless, it is upon us. Here in the south, summer officially begins when it is time pack away all boots except the rain galoshes. And when you need to start leaving your car (and thus, your air conditioner) running while you go inside to pick up the kids from school.

Summer officially began for me yesterday; and, despite what I have said about the upcoming hot months … I could not be more excited.

I am excited about summer for one simple reason:  I no longer have to fight the “for-the-love it is 40 degrees outside – you cannot wear that” battle with my oldest. That girl is a twirly-dress loving princess, and getting her to wear leggings and a jacket in the winter is like the end of the ever-loving world. 

So, summer time for me is one less battle to fight. I buy out every child-sized maxi dress Target has to offer and let her pick the one she wants to wear each day. Yay for summertime … and for one less parenting battle.

{On another note, I bought 2 of the 5 dresses from the Girls section instead of the toddler section, so I am thinking of popping open that wine cube a little early today. Big girl sizes plus the fact that SHE, not Mommy or Daddy, but my girl who was just a teeny-tiny 6-pound baby yesterday (I am sure it was just yesterday) read our bedtime story last night. And preschool graduation is mere weeks away. Yes, wine cube is certainly on the horizon of this ‘second night of summer’ …}

Friday, April 10, 2015

Silver Linings

10:32 AM 0
Silver Linings
Y'all. It is not even 10:30 a.m., and things are already crazy, which seems to be the norm around here these days.

Tomorrow is The Boy's birthday party, so {of course} I procrastinated almost every single thing I need to do. Today was my day to do those things.

On my lunch break, of course.

Too-much-to-do List
Pick up cupcakes.
Pick up custom birthday shirt. (Also try to swing by and get Mighty's Birth Certificate for Kindergarten registration, which is next week. The court house is across the street from the shirt store.)
Make some of the food.
Stop by the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items.
Finish decorations.

Yes, I know. I am insane. I planned to do all of that on my lunch break.

It probably would have been a loooong lunch break.

I am still aiming to get all of those things done, but I also had to fit an unexpected doctor's appointment for my oldest, which was followed by a trip to the drug store.

And, I had 2 unexpected conference calls scheduled for right after lunch.

Oh, and did I mention that it is pouring rain?! Thunder and lightning and pouring rain.

Fun times, y'all!

But as I sipped on my 59-cent donut shop coffee (had to bribe Mighty with donuts for that doctor visit) and jammed Bon Jovi while driving through the pouring rain .... at least I wasn't stuck at my desk. I was Livin' on a Prayer, y'all.

That's the silver lining, right? Despite thunderstorms and doctor's appointments and a too-much-to-do list, there is always a silver lining.

Have a great weekend! Tomorrow we celebrate this guy turning TWO!



Thursday, April 9, 2015

TWO

9:24 AM 0
TWO
The days are long, but the years are short.

This is probably my all-time favorite quote about parenting.

This boy …


There were days that felt like weeks, minutes that felt like hours, and yet I have no idea how the time passed so quickly.

I suspect that I will feel this way every year, on this day.

He loves tractors and dinosaurs and books. He climbs and runs and spins in circles while giggling with delight.

He is strong-willed, independent, and funny.

If we would let him, he would never take off his hat.



He greets me every day with, “’Ah‘ornin’, Momma. Coffee, momma?”

He likes to wear camo pajamas and Olaf socks and eat macaroni.

He is pure joy. Today he is TWO.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What rest looks like for mom ...

8:00 AM 13
What rest looks like for mom ...
On Saturday, I was sick. It wasn’t something that totally knocked me out, but I was not feeling well. And I could just not stop coughing.

So, I skipped the family Easter celebration to spare our relatives from my icky germs.

Instead, I stayed home to ‘rest’ while Husband took the kids out to hunt Easter eggs.


Husband left me with strict instructions to take a break while they were away. 

Needless to say, this rest was to come after getting the kids cutely dressed, fed, diaper changed, and medicated. (The Boy is still on an antibiotic for the little bug he shared with me.) And after getting the diaper bag packed, Easter eggs stuffed, and Rice Krispy treats for our potluck contribution all packed up.

I had 4,000 steps on my fitbit by the time they left at 9:30 in the morning.

I guess this is what rest looks like for moms?! 

I wanted to rest, to truly rest. I really did. But my sickness was that kind that considers rest the enemy. Sitting down, my head flooded with pressures. Trying to nap only resulted in more coughing. Moving seemed to be the only way to stave off those feelings. 

So, once Husband and the were out the door, I also ...

-Cleaned up the kids’ breakfast dishes and our coffee pot. And reset the coffee for the next day.

-Did two loads of laundry.

-Itemized our 2014 donations so that we can attempt to file our taxes filed on time.

-Edited Easter and birthday pictures of the kids since I apparently spent a little too much on professional pictures last year.

{How is the world is he turning 2 this week?!}


These computer tasks were done in between walking laps around my kitchen. To keep moving meant a clear (ish) head. 

Sadly, I think the true rested feeling came in knowing that I could check these items off of my never-ending 'to do' list. 

Full disclosure: I did also manage to shower, pick up some chicken soup, and squeeze in last week’s Grey’s Anatomy. 

What does rest look like for you? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Enough with the {What not to say} articles ...

4:00 PM 11
Enough with the {What not to say} articles ...
It seems like the ‘What not to say to a mom who ….” articles are everywhere.

What not to say to a working mom. What not to say to a stay-at-home-mom.

What not to say to breastfeeding mom, a mom who bottle feeds, a parent of a child with special needs.

What not to say to a young mom or to an older mom. Or to a mom who has nine kids. Or only one. Or twins, or all boys, or all girls. Or to a mom who wears yoga pants to the grocery store. 

Honestly … enough!

We live in a society that is quickly embracing a culture where we do not interact at all for fear of offending somebody. When I read those articles, I am not looking for a guideline. I am looking for times where I might have said something wrong.

You see, that is why I am here, on this blog. Writing.

In person, I am fairly good at sticking my foot in my mouth. Often. Things just don’t come out the way I meant for them to, and I end up feeling badly about the whole conversation.

So, often I find myself holding back instead of interacting. I don’t offer help {or even an “I get it” smile} to the mom I see struggling in the check-out line. What if I offend her? What if she thinks I am judging her? I am not. But, what if?

So, my suggestion is that you DO say what is on your mind. Be kind, always. But, by all means, reach out.  

Because, what if we don’t? What if we all stop talking to each other just in case? What if that mom really could have used a hand or even just a friendly a nod of the head?

We see it in politics and parenthood: if you do not believe/live/experience exactly like me, you must be wrong. You must be judging me. You and I can never relate.

To borrow a term from my southern roots … hogwash!

Some of my favorite friends have taken parenting approaches that are exactly the opposite of my own. Some of the best conversations I have are with parents who have completely different experiences than me. I love learning from them. I love the balance that these experiences provide.

And for those of us who are approached with comments that grate just a little on our nerves, let’s keep in mind a few things …

Human interaction is not just important; it can be actually be nice. Despite what the makers of mobile devices might want us to believe.

People comment from their own perspective and experience. It is not always a judgement of you and your life. Share your own perspective and experience, and you both might end up seeing things in a new light.

Be gracious. It’s not always easy for people to come up with the perfect thing to say. Appreciate their effort, and see where it takes you.

In fact, Shell over at Things I Can’t Say has some great advice on navigating these conversations, and I encourage you to visit her if you are looking for a better guideline than my humble opinions.