Homemade

July 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm (Cooking) (, )

Besides more time with the kids, I’m excited to stay at home to MAKE- food, clothes, a more organized and happier home, a little love once in a while.  All the homemaking activities I thought about sometimes while working, but mostly left to MJ to handle.

The two biggest tangible drivers for making homemade foods and crafts are creating healthier foods and saving money. But greater than that, I think, is that it’s so rewarding to see what you’ve created, whether it’s something pretty on the wall, something you’re wearing, or something your kids eat.

One of my greatest frustrations the last few years on the job was not physically creating anything to be proud of at the end of the day.  Saying you answered 40 emails and gave advice to 3 people about the manufacturing process and edited an SOP, well, it wasn’t floating my boat.  It took me a while, but eventually I realized I need something pretty concrete to feel satisifed about my work.

At home for the second week, so far, so good on the creation front, but there’s a lot more on my list.

Successes:

  • I finally finished sewing a spider bathrobe for Auden.  I’m new to sewing; I bought my first sewing machine for $99 last month.  I’m proud of this project on all kinds of levels.  It cost less than $20 in materials.  You can buy a boy’s bathrobe for this commercially I’m sure, but would it have insects and spiders on it?  Or your own boy’s most favoritest thing?  I bought the exact amount of fabric (1 yd) I needed, by guessing.  Truth be told, I went back and got a different solid fleece for the pockets because I was out of the spider fleece.  And, I managed to “design” it by looking at my own bathrobe without buying a pattern.  Last, and best of all, he LOVES it and wears it every day. You can see my issue here
  • We went blueberry picking last week, and then made blueberry jam.  SO easy to make freezer jam, by the way.
  • We’ve been making yogurt popsicles, and the kids seem to PREFER them over Otter Pops.  Yesterday we were out of the yogurt they usually eat (flavored yogurt in quarts, the kind of lots of sugar, but at least no HFCS).  We did have the plain yogurt.  I added our homemade jam to it, AJ stirred, and yuuum.  They ate it up, and we made more healti(er) popsicles without having to go to the store. I will add; I’ve tried to get them to eat plain yogurt with jam in it before, and they would have nothing to do with it. Either the homemade jam improved it, or I finally let them put in enough jam that it tasted like a commercial yogurt, or they just got used to the idea. But something to remember- just because a kid refused something once, doesn’t mean he always will, as is easy to think.
  • Yesterday I made hummus from dried beans. Not spectacular, but certainly good.
  • Revitalizing a sourdough starter that was dying a slow death in the fridge. GOJ and I used it to make pancakes, and it’s about to become bread. Making sourdough pancakes

Next on the list:

  • Attempting to culture our own yogurt
  • Mixing up our own liquid laundry detergent
  • Baking sourdough bread, which I’m about to do now!

(I really do have another kid, PJ just hasn’t happened to be doing any of the activities I’ve blogged about yet!)

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Walk the line

July 21, 2009 at 7:37 pm (Parenthood) ()

Right after college, I knew a women who complained incessantly about her son at every gathering I saw her at.  I figured she really regretted having him.  I was completely surprised when she (seemingly purposefully) had a second child. 

I came to realize; she actually liked her son.  Telling what she thought were funny stories at his expense was her way of entertaining people at parties.  I wonder if she knew how she sounded, though.

What mom doesn’t need to vent, really?  What’s a Mommy Blog for, if not this?  I’ve been wondering if I sound like Mrs. Complainer Mom to others.  At work, I know I complained a lot about my kid’s behavior, their bad sleeping habits, my exasperation at PJ biting AJ, again.  Commiserating helps us Mamas and Daddies feel better and bond with each other.  I hope I told enough Proud Mommy Moment stories to make up for it, though.

Actually, in thinking about why I told negitive stories at work, I’m now considering that I was probably subconsciously distancing myself with motherhood to bond with the guys at work.  If you think Moms and Dads are being treated as equals in Corporate America, well, do any of you actually think that?

Recently I’ve heard a few parents call their kids names.  Little Assholes, Little Shits.  Not in front of them, [I was about to add “of course” here, but “of course” it isn’t “of course”.].  They were generally kind people I respect.  It seems to me, if you’re going around thinking your kid is an a*hole, he’s going to pick up on this and act like one

Even calling a child a Brat sends my blood pressure up.  Now certainly, there are times when my kids have been quite bratty.  But calling them Brats sends me leaping to thoughts of stair-stepped dirty snot-nosed little brats in literature and A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.  And I have little problem with GOJ having Barbies (not that I’m going to bring it up), but I DO have an issue with the Bratz dolls.  Maybe they’ll be out of style before she’s the right age.  Could be, right?  She’s not yet two.

On the flip slip, listening to parents go on about the perfection that is parenthood isn’t going to work either.  Sure, it’s OK for a very new mama, or every once in a while.  But after a few gushes about how cute someone’shusband is bathing the baby, or how they can sit for hours and and watch their children sleep… well, I’ll be thinking they should find a hobby.  I’m not a saccharine parent.

Hopefully, my writing will get across that I love my kids bunches, that they frustrate me beyond measure sometimes, and other times I’m so proud of them I have to jump up and down with them just to let it out.

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Hippopotamuses- aggressive, known to bite humans, semi-aquatic

July 16, 2009 at 5:55 am (Daily Criteria, Parenthood) ()

In other words, just like us.

Today’s post was going to be a wrap-up of FINALLY finishing AJ’s spider bathrobe today. But I’m not happy with the pics I took earlier, so, it will have to wait. Leaving me with…

Today most definitely felt like a Hump Day.  (no, no pun intended.)  On Monday I was on a “I’m so lucky high”, yesterday we had the fun outing to keep the spirits up, but today… lots of cranky JaRuuds.

Our morning went like this:  GOJ needs attention.  I get out a puzzle to do with her.  AJ gets out a puzzle.  From PJ- “Why don’t I have a puzzle?”- whining ensues.  He picks out Hungry Hungry Hippos for me to get down for him.  AJ wants to play too.  Goes swimmingly for oh, about, two minutes.  Now GOJ wants to play too.  Mama is also enlisted.  General chaos as no rules are followed.  Not that I care.  PJ is not capturing marbles as he’d like.  We rotate the board- he MUST have a malfunctioning hippo.  THREE times.  AJ apparently has Skillz, because he wins with every hippo.  Who knew there was such a thing as being a Hungry Hippo savant?

Moving on- let’s do something NON-competitive I think.  GOJ has been begging to paint for days (translation: getting them out when the art cabinet is unlatched and screaming when I explain we can’t paint right now.  Lots of kids talk at 22 months, but GOJ is not one of them).  The transition in venue and activity doesn’t work.  It’s non-stop- “I need a new paper.  Why does HE have a new paper?”  Why does HE have that brush?”  “Why CAAAAN’T I paint my whole body?”  So, showers around.

That was my attempt at happy times.  Pretty much from then on, they played outside where MJ was painting the house.  Moods stayed similar, but I wasn’t dealing with them.

Now I know.  As Alexander’s Mama (of the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) says, “Some days are like that.  Even in Australia.”  But the week is headed in a decidedly downhill direction.  Surely it’s not a long-term trend.  Right?  Today kind of broke my bubble because I had been thinking that showering them with my attention would help them feel LESS cranky.  It appears instead that they were happier minimally supervised.  I’m going to chalk it up to learning to go with the flow.

p.s.

I never intended to keep this up, but I guess I will for as long as it suits me.

No check (let’s put that as a priority tomorrow), check (nice long run this morning for me!), check, check (attempts were made), check.

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Skillz

July 15, 2009 at 6:04 am (Cooking, Daily Criteria, Transportation) (, )

Generally, when somebody’s not good at something, they try to steer clear of it. 

  • Not good at math?  You won’t end up an accountant.  
  • Suck at cooking?  Take-out and Stouffers for you. 
  • Not crafty?  The need to knit and sew to clothes one’s family went by the wayside, what [thinking through my foggy memory of American history here…], at least a hundred years ago.   Or maybe closer to eighty for the non-well-to-do?  I should ask my grandma.  I’m pretty sure I should know.
  • Hate kids?  Don’t have a kid.  Um, well, some people might make some mistakes there.  Most of the time it works out.

BUT, if you lead an average suburban family life (reality check- yes, that’s where I’ve ended up), you will be forced. to. DRIVE AN AUTOMOBILE.  I suck at it.  I hate the expense.  I hate the environmental impact.  But mostly, I just suck at it.  And I can tell you, I’m not alone. 

I’ve tried to explain why I’m a bad driver before, and it never goes well.  Unlike some, I do know the rules I need to play by.  I use my blinker, give the guy on the RIGHT the RIGHT of way.  The best I can say is I get distracted.  I space out and suddenly I’m on the lane bumps.  Or realize (almost) too late that everybody in front of me is stopping.

Short of moving to NYC, I don’t know what to do about it. 

Of course there are many greener options, but how does one make them work with three kids 5 years old and under, 3/4 of a mile from the closest bus stop?  To get to work, I’ve biked, walked, and ran many times.  With kids, walking or busing is the only option.  Back in my days living in Seattle Proper, I loved the bus.  I HATED bus snobs.  If I still lived there, I’d certainly take my kids on it.  But I cannot see how the current bus system in my town would be much use for an outing of, say, dropping off some library books, going on a playdate, and then picking up some groceries on the way home.  As I’m typing this, I’m considering that it could be useful on some outings, though, so I should look into that further.

So, we are left with: a) some use of the bus, b) walking, or c) not going anywhere.  I shouldn’t have to explain why c is not an option.  We can (and have) walked to the grocery store, and a drug store.  That’s about as far as we can manage, and only for “we just need milk and two other things” trips.

There’s gotta be a better way.  What am I missing here?

p.s.  Using the criteria created yesterday:

  • uncheck (did zero housework except loading the dishwasher),
  • semi-check (picking blueberries counts as fresh air and sunshine, but not aerobic exercise.  Except for the parts where I had to chase GOJ down), Some of our bounty
  • check (here’s dessert), Yum
  • check (picking blueberries), A happy outing

I was disillusioned into thinking

  • check (as far as I know, a day wholly without bandaids)

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New Job, Weekday Number 1

July 14, 2009 at 4:18 am (Cooking, Daily Criteria, Family) ()

I was quite happy with my “first day on the job” today.  No major calamities, and I thoroughly enjoyed cleaning my fridge.  No, really.  I did. 

While swimming, I came up with some criteria for a successful weekday.  Theoretically, we meet these and the family stays happy, healthy, and unbankrupt.  One must have a gauge to measure one’s achievements, right?  And yet not be unrealistic.  I have lofty goals for being a homemaker that involve creative crafts, making own our soap and bread, organizing every square inch of our plentiful junk.  But this list, it’s the core stuff.  The stuff that matters the most and illustrates why I’m excited about staying at home.

Never mind that I just came from a job where I constantly whined about compiling metrics.  I actually like (no, love) keeping stats on anything and everything*, just not being compared with others on unrealistic and nonsensical goals.

Here’s the list:

  • At least one part of the house is cleaner or more organized than it was.  Check.  Fridge shelves washed and re-arranged.  Four loads of laundry folded and put away.
  • Everybody has some physical activity.  Check.  Everybody except GOJ went to the YMCA: big people swam laps, AJ had a swimming lesson, PJ ran around the Kids’ Corner.  My own laps were brief and half-hearted, but I’m counting it.
  • Not resorting to eating out.  Check.  Um, okay, maybe not.  I forgot; MJ went out for lunch.  So almost check.  I’m all for fine dining, but another trip to McDonald’s we do not need, belt-wise or moneybelt-wise.
  • At least one “quality time” activity with the kids.  Check.  Played “Sequence for Kids” and made this yummy garbanzo bean snack.  Full disclosure, the kids weren’t too into eating it, but we had fun making it, and I liked it.  A lot like roasted soy nuts.
  • No major injuries.  Check.  Our worst injury today was GOJ breaking the skin biting MJ’s toe.  She often does that to me when she’s really tired and wanting to nurse, but I don’t know what this bite was about.  She needs some more words; I think life is fairly frustrating to her right now.  The boys did this too- hit the “terrible twos” at the end of one.  The twos themselves were actually quite nice.  Hmm, maybe she’s getting sick.  I hope not.

All in all, a satifsying day.

*I get the counting gene from my Grandpa John.  He comes up with interesting stats like how many nights he’s slept in his RV, or estimates of how many quarts of milk his mother would have made in breastfeeding her ten children.  They knew I had it too when I kept track of my chicken poxes with my most treasured Christmas present at 6 years old- a calculator.

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Moving On

July 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm (Family) ()

Today seems a fitting day to renew my blogging efforts.  As you can see, I took a [brief] stab at blogging over a year ago, which quickly fizzled out.

Here’s where I am right now:  sitting in a bleak corporate office, in the dark, about to exit the building for the last time.  I’ve worked here ten years and nine days.  They are closing this facility altogether, and over a hundred of us have been laid off.  I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER. 

I’ve wanted to leave for a long time.

Most of the people are great, and some of the time the job was great.  But a big corporation is not for me.  I plan to never prepare another set of RFT metrics [right first time, for you non-corporate types], call into another telecon, or do another on-line anti-harassment training.  Please, please, God, don’t make me eat these words.

So, what am I excited about, besides NOT doing what I was doing?  Many things, but first and foremost being at home with my kids for a while. 

For 4/5 of our kid-filled years, MJ has stayed at home and taken on the tasks of maintaining the household and keeping the kids cared for and fed.  He has excelled at much of it, and I really can’t describe how lucky I am to have had the home support I did when I went to work every day.  Most nights, dinner was ready when I got home.  Not many people have that luxury, even if they are lucky enough to have a stay-at-home spouse.  I have some big shoes to fill in that regard.

Things will be different, there’s no doubt about that.

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