Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nine months in, nine months out.

Hey, so remember how I planned to write about my experience as a new mom at least once a month?

Hang on, I'm laughing. It's hard to type....almost...oh, man. Tears.

It's just that between working what's basically become a full-time job again as a designer from home, having a husband busting his ass at work to help with bills (and therefore not at home in the evenings to help as much as either of us would like), and trying to stay a literal step ahead of an ever-mobile baby, I have so much free time it's amazing. I just don't want to rub it in or anything.

I go through a lot of wine diet coke coffee.

Luckily not that much really changed around here in the 7th and 8th month. I mean, the crawling got faster (a lot faster), and teeth kept popping out of his skull left and right (there are 7 as of today), but it's been the last couple of weeks where things have really been picking up speed. Cause no big deal, but my 8.5 month old started walking.

WALKING. I cannot overstress the ridiculousness of this situation. He is putting one foot in front of the other and going. places. alone. (Granted, eight feet at a time. Still). And it is the cutest thing on the planet, let me tell you. He is so proud. And this is a kid who is easily impressed with himself. A giant burp gets a wicked grin from ear to ear. Finds the remote I hid for the 18th time that day? A huge giggle. Don't get me started on the radiance that takes over his face when he hones in on my cellphone from across the room and knows he can get to it before I can.

Am I being proud mama? Of course. But I know you guys expect more than just the pretty stuff. So here we go.

Teething. Teething is the devil. The bottom two were so easy and those damn top teeth would not come in. For weeks, I could SEE the left one. It was right. there. But would not break through. And it meant that he didn't want to nap. Or sleep. Or lay down in any way. We tried Tylenol. Teething tablets. Frozen stuff—washcloths, rings, applesauce...I even attempted orajel, but he was far more into the box than the tube. Poor kid. Poor us.

Dad brought home rubber hockey pucks.

And with teething comes slobber. Everywhere, all the time. And everything is in his mouth. Everything, all the time. I'm having to vacuum twice a day, because if he can see it, he has to eat it. Hairballs, cat litter, half an old's disgusting. Babies are gross, y'all.

Living with a baby is like living in a tornado. Everything in a drawer must come out and be strewn across the floor. Toys. Books. Pajamas. Peas. And once they're on the floor, they must go in his mouth. Speaking of, he's a big fan of pacifiers. He's also got an arm like Matt Cain, so if we don't come get him the second he wakes up, he's already thrown at least one of the two he goes to bed with somewhere across the room. Luckily he can find them out of thin air, because I'll look around the room for missing pacis for 5 full minutes and by the time I turn around, he's got one in his mouth and another clutched in his hand.

What's with the gender confusion? I mean, it's nice to know I don't have to dress my potential future daughter in dresses and bows (oh, god, I would be the worst at having a baby girl). I apparently just have to dress her in any shade of pale blue or white. Or grey. This is how conversations go (usually with old people, natch). "How old's your baby?" "He's 8 months." "She's so cute."

Sigh. Come on. I'm not offended by the mistake. He's a boy. A pretty boy, but still so obviously a dude. It's just dumb. Pay attention, people.

This kid can eat. I still nurse him 4 or 5 times a day (yeah, I had planned on nursing for six months. But he's still into it, so...), and he's also eating 3 full meals: oatmeal and applesauce for breakfast, veggies and chicken for lunch, and veggies or sweet potato and beef for dinner. (And yes, I make it all myself. My freezer has been taken over by freezer bags of single serving baby meals.) Plus yogurt or cottage cheese if he's still hungry. And a banana—a full banana—as an afternoon snack. (And don't even think about mashing it; he wants to eat it the way we do. It's terrifying the size of bites this kid tries to take.)

We were also having cheerios in the morning while mom checked her email, but then the eczema happened. And so now we're a gluten free baby. Meaning we'll all be back to gluten free living as soon as we're eating more of the same thing every meal. Sigh. I have no one to blame but my grandpa myself for this one.

I hired a part-time nanny and it was the best decision I've made in the past year. She comes twice a week for five hours a day, and it's fantastic. I originally hired her so I could get some work done—which I do—but then I realized I could schedule appointments around her being here. At first it was boring stuff like the doctor, but then I discovered a new Pilates studio in town. And now I do everything in my power to go there once a week (second best decision ever—it's an expensive yet amazingly necessary indulgence). Anyway, I love her. E loves her. I wish she could move in. Alas, she's in college and stuff. Harrumph.

I love this kid so much it's stupid. You always hear the cliched, "you love your kids in ways you never thought possible" and roll your eyes and throw up a little in your mouth (no? just me?) but holy crap, it's true. He makes me laugh all day long. And what's better—I can make him laugh. Big, high pitched, squealing giggles, whether I'm making funny noises at him, wearing one of his stuffed animals as a hat, or I'm chasing him on my hands and knees down the hall (uh, yeah, you do some dumbshit things just to get that giggle, trust me). He wakes me up at ungodly hours, I grumble my way down the hall to his room, and then I pick him up and he cuddles into my arms in a way that tells me he just needed his mama and I'm totally done for.

This is not how I imagined my life with a child, by the way. I miss my friends, I miss sleeping in (actually, I miss sleep in general), I miss jumping in and out of the car without dealing with restraints. But it is what it is. We had a baby. We chose to have a baby. And he is so happy, and so much fun, and yes, ohmygod so much work. But he has changed our lives in a way that...well, the selfish part of me won't let me write 'for the better,' but he's changed our lives in a way that's definitely...more. There's more laughter, there's more frustration, there's more planning, there's more love. More messes, more kisses, more being puked on, more screaming, more patience than I thought possible, more cuddles, more amazement, more noise.

Holy hell, and there's only been nine months of this. And as always, I'm aiming to write again next month. Wish us all luck...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yawn. (AKA Saturday)

6:30p Shut the sleeping little man's door. Time to work, make dinner, drink wine. In no particular order.

7:35p There is screaming. Hubby finds E sitting with his back to the crib rail, wailing. His mobile is on (I did not turn it on). Totally asleep. Pops a paci in his mouth and E faceplants back down, still asleep.

8:45p I'm in bed with a book I've been attempting to read for 10 months. Ten.

9:15p I get up to check on the kid as silently as possible. He's in a completely straight line, face down. Weirdo.

9:20p Lights out. I'm old, shut up.

12:56a There is wailing. Going to let him work it out and self soothe.

1:13a Apparently not.

1:14a Find him standing in the crib, arms outstretched, doing a pitiful wail. Sigh. Ok. We rock for a few minutes until he's passed out, doing a little baby snore and paci drooping out of his mouth.

1:22a Lay him ever so gently in the crib.

1:22:10a There is screaming.

1:23a Change him, feed him. He falls asleep for real.

1:49a Back to bed. Find Ramona has taken my spot and the hubby is snoring. Move the cat, poke the hubs.

2:02a OMG SERIOUSLY THE SNORING. Remind myself that if he were gone I'd miss the snoring. It's not even loud, it's just...irregular. And I'm trying to fall asleep.

2:09a I would not miss the snoring.

4:00a Attempt successfully to sneak to the bathroom without E hearing and waking up. It's a 50/50 chance.

4:38a A barely audible meowing begins from atop our hamper. Hiss at Ramona to shut it.

4:42a Ramona tries feed-me-attempt #2 by climbing through the blinds to see outside. Hubby grabs her and puts her in the hall.

4:46a Greta chimes in by sitting on my chest and staring at me. 

4:48a Ramona sits on the cat perch directly outside E's door and begins to whine. I'm up, they win. If she wakes up that baby, I will skin her. And she knows it. She is smart and brave, I will give her that.

4:49a Find completely empty cat bowls and realize I forgot to give them the rest of their dinner last night. Oops. They are forgiven for being assholes.

4:50a Back to bed.

6:18a Really have to pee again. Totally afraid to. Sneak down the hall and back and snuggle back into bed.

6:20a Every. Single. Time. The whining begins.

6:28a Ok, he's up for real, so so am I. But seriously...

Yeah, ok.

*Note: In the two days since I wrote this, little man has slept through the night, so I've actually gotten to sleep from about 10p-5a. Minus the two times I have to get up in the middle of the night to check on him and make sure he's actually alive. There's been fussing at 12 and 3 or so that wakes us up, but he's put himself back to sleep. And this is called progress.

Friday, November 16, 2012

And I wanted to order take out.

What is it about the colder weather that makes me so freakin' lazy? I just want to be in a sweatshirt and cuddled up in bed with a book, the couch with my hubs, or in the comfy chair with my bebe. Cooking is so not on the agenda.

So once we got E down last night, I asked the hubs what he wanted to do for dinner, hoping he would say he'd go pick us up some salads...Alas we're broke and he's way more as lazy as I am in the evenings, so he shrugged and said, "Isn't there chicken?"

Siiiiiiiiigh. Yes. There is chicken. And I suppose we can do something with it. Panko "shake and bake," you say? Fine. And I'll make some risotto. No, it's fine, it's really not that hard. Just come help me with the chicken...

And this was the result. Holy crap. It's a little monochromatic, but the chicken was crispy and delicious, the risotto was ridiculously flavorful. And this is why pantry meals win.

Bacon & Thyme Risotto (for two)
olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup vermouth (or sherry or white wine)
2 cups chicken stock (bouillon)
1-2 tsp bacon bits
Sprinkle pepper
Dash dried thyme
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese

heat a bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and rice and saute about 2 minutes. Add vermouth and let cook out, a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add bacon, pepper, thyme and about a half cup broth and keep stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another half cup of broth and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It should take about 20 minutes or so. Maybe more.

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.

Crunchy Herbed Chicken
2 6oz chicken thighs or breasts
About 1/4 cup flour
Salt & pepper
1 egg
About 1/4 cup panko
About 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
dried thyme
dried oregano
dried basil

Arrange three deep plates. In the first, combine flour, and a good pinch each salt and pepper. In the second, whisk an egg with a fork. In the third, combine panko, breadcrumbs, and a good pinch each of pepper, thyme, oregano and basil.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Dredge in flour mix, then dip in egg, then dredge in panko mix.

Bake 20 min at 350. Turn up to 400 and bake 5 more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just throw it in there and cross your fingers.

So you bought a whole head/bag of shredded cabbage for the cup needed for Posole and don't know what to do with the rest, huh?

I figured I better improvise or it would be yet another half used bag of vegetable, rotting in my crisper. So I threw it in a cucumber salad and hoped for the best. And it worked—it got raves from the hubby and I thought it was fantastic. We had it with steak, but it would be good with some sort of Asiany chicken or fish, too. Something fairly simple-this has a lot of flavor.

Cucumber Peanut Salad
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground chile paste like Sambal Oelek (or to taste)
Medium squirt fish sauce (or 1/4 tsp salt)
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped (I used the food processor)
Decent handful chopped cilantro, including the stems
3 green onions, just the light green/white parts, sliced
About a cup of shredded cabbage
1 green onion (the green part), thinly sliced (to top)

Combine vinegar and sugar (and salt, if you're using it) in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until all is dissolved. Turn off heat, add chile and fish sauce, and set aside to cool.

Peel cucumber and halve longways. Use a spoon to drag down the middle, removing the seeds. Slice into fairly thin slices and place in small bowl. Pour dressing over cucumber, and toss gently to coat. Put cabbage into a medium/big bowl, and top with cucumbers and sauce from the small bowl. Add peanuts, cilantro and green onion, and toss just before serving. Top with remaining green onion.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Slow cooker Posole. Because I am lazy now.

It's finally cold. Ok, it's not cold. 60s during the day, 30s at night. But that's cold enough for little freezing baby hands, and not just the kind I'm used to in the middle of the night. And def cold enough for soup.

E and I were at the store at 8am because that is now my life, and chicken thighs were on I thought I'd take advantage of the cold day ahead of me and try and make some crock pot posole happen.

Having all day meant I could have done it the long way. Or I could just throw everything in a pot and sit on the floor with my home-on-a-weekend-for-an-awesome-change hubby, coaxing the kid to try and walk to us all afternoon. I chose the latter.

Not as good as the slave away in the kitchen method, but damn good for doing next to nothing. And I bought prechopped onion and garlic and pre shredded cabbage, so I really did next to nothing. Don't judge. I'm working two jobs from home, chasing a kid from 6am til 6pm, and attempting to read a book this week. If I can get my act together I may even watch one of the 3 weeks worth of Dexter I have TiVoed.

Ok, that was a complete exaggeration. I'm obviously totally caught up on Dexter. It's called priorities.

Slow Cooker Posole
4 boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp garlic, minced
One small onion, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
One can chopped green chilis (hot)
6 cups chicken stock
1 29oz can hominy, drained
Bay leaf
Salt, to taste
Shredded cabbage
Lemon slices
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green or white onion
*I also threw in a couple slices of cooked bacon, but that was mostly because they were hanging out on my counter after breakfast and I didn't want to toss them. Or keep eating them.

Combine chicken through bay leaf in large crock pot and set for 6 hours (or whatever you have time for). When done, use a fork to pull meat apart into pieces, taste and add salt as needed.

Serve with cabbage, lemon, cilantro, onion, and tortillas. And hot sauce, if you add Tapatio to everything (guilty). And and if you don't have a brand of store bought tortillas, you prefer, I really like The Tortilla Factory. They look and taste handmade.