Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday

If you're anything like me, you don't procrastinate.  It's a sickness, I swear.  I am obsessed with taking care of things in advance.  I hate having to do things last-minute, so I plan and plan and plan.  Sometimes I think that my need to do things early actually creates more work for me because I find myself getting something done and cross it off my to-do list, only to revisit the decision about 15 times.  For example, James' first birthday party is this weekend.  In preparation, I started getting ready about 3 months ago.  As a result, I have worried about this party for three whole months.  I'm pretty sure I could've ignored the whole thing until about a month ago and still planned an awesome shindig (and spared myself from three months of prep/anxiety/worrying).

Usually, I do all my Christmas shopping in October and have all the gifts purchased and wrapped by Thanksgiving.  By the time my family members are finally telling me what's on their wish list, my shopping is done.  I decided to be a little less anal and do my shopping on Black Friday.  Now, I'm sure you're imagining crazies trampling one another in a Wal-Mart parking lot for a shot at a 19" LCD TV, but this was different.  We bought a newspaper Thanksgiving morning, decided what to buy, and made a list of stores to visit.

We made a day out of it and, dare I admit this, it was really fun.  We woke up around 5:30 am on Friday, treated ourselves to a McDonald's breakfast and coffee, then headed to the stores.  Within 6 hours, I had completed all of my Christmas shopping (except gifts for my mom because she was with me).  That night, we spent about an hour gift wrapping and now I am done.  So much easier than going nuts trying to get everything done early.

The best part of the Christmas shopping was James' doll.  I got him a gender-neutral doll.  Yes, I know he's a boy, but I think the "dolls are for girls" rule perpetuates this silly idea that only women can care for children.  My mom was very negative about the idea, suggesting that it would make him a sissy.  On Friday night when we were wrapping, James saw his doll in the pile of stuff.  He walked over, held its, hand, touched its nose, and leaned in to give it a kiss.  My heart melted and my mom saw the light.  I can't wait for him to unwrap it on Christmas morning.

What are your kids getting for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sick Baby

About two weeks ago, James came down with a stomach bug.  It was pretty much his first time being sick and it pained me.

The worst part was that he was sick on a day when I absolutely had to be at work.  My husband works from home and has decent flexibility, so luckily he was able to take care of James.  But, I wanted to be the one taking care of him.  He needed and wanted his mama.  I had to leave right after he threw up and he was clinging to me with al his might.

That's the struggle of the working mom.  It's hard enough to see your baby sick and know that there's nothing you can do aside from be a source of comfort.  It's even worse when your work obligations force you to rely on someone else to care for your sick babe.

Here we are, exactly two weeks later, and James is sick again with the same exact bug.  I think that he gave it to our babysitter's son who gave it back to James.  Unfortunately, my husband left early this morning on work-related travel, so I was on my own to manage the day.  It came at a bad time.

I took last Friday off to spend some time with James, then I was out of the office on work-related travel on both Monday and Tuesday.  I had lots to take care of at work today, so I brought James along for a bit.  About an hour into the morning it became clear that he was tired and in desperate need of a nap.  I was lucky that our sitter lives nearby and said she'd watch him for a bit.  I figured that if he was sleeping, it would be hard for him to get anyone else sick.  He took a two hour nap, which gave me a great chance to get some work done.

As soon as he woke up, I picked him back up and took him home.  My mom drove up tonight and is going to watch him tomorrow.  It's a 3-hour drive, so I very much appreciate her willingness to help.

For all the working moms out there, what's your backup plan when your kid(s) are too sick for child care?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crockpot Turkey Breast

Does anyone else find it absolutely exhausting to cook for your family? I get home each night after a loooong day of work, stare into my fridge and think, "Shit, these people need to eat." My hubby? He's a meat guy. If I even think of serving up a vegetarian dish, he will semi-politely chow down, excuse himself from the table, and heat up a frozen pizza. He must meet his daily quotient of meat!

Baby J, on the other hand, needs his veggies. Did he tell me this? No. Would he even agree with it if he could talk? Probably not. But, mama bear has decided that J absolutely must be a veggie lover. I try to very hard to make sure we have a veggie, preferably green in color, with every single meal.

Me? If I had my way I'd eat a frozen meal or bowl of cereal for dinner. I suppose I should want to eat yummy, nutritious food. I guess I do, but I don't care about it enough to actually cook. When hubby is out of town for work, my staple is a bean burrito. It takes about 2 minutes to prepare and leaves me satisfied.

So, I'm always looking for ways to have scrumptious food around that will satisfy my boys without sucking all my time and energy. Here's a great, easy meal that we had last week...

Crockpot Turkey Breast

Turkey Breast
Stick of butter
Packet of french onion soup mix

Defrost the turkey breast. This is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole thing. Plan a day or two in advance and set the turkey in your sink to defrost for a few hours before sticking it in the fridge to finish the process. Technically, I think it's only supposed to defrost in the fridge, but I broke the rule and we all survived, so give it a shot.

Unpack the turkey, throw away the gizzard packet, and run some cold water over the turkey breast. Pat it dry with a paper towel, then coat it in salt. I used kosher salt, but any ol' salt would do.

Place the turkey in your crockpot. Turn the crockpot to low.

Melt a stick of butter in the microwave. (Sidenote: We have the most awesome microwave. It came with our house and I love it. Why? It has a single button you push to melt butter. I know, I know, that saves me all of 1.2 seconds, but it makes life feel easier.)

Pour the butter over the turkey. Empty the French Onion soup packet into the crockpot. Mix it into the butter as best as you can.

Put the lid on the crockpot and let it cook for about 8 hours on low. If you are home, you can occasionally use a basting brush to coat the turkey with the dressing, but it's not necessary.

Side Dish: Fall Veggies

I'd like to tell you that this started with a recipe, but it didn't. It started with me trying to cut corners and make a meal out of a hodgepodge of stuff that had been hanging out in my fridge too long. Have I mentioned I get produce delivered every two weeks? Yeah, I'll have to post on that soon.

Fall veggies
Turkey drippings

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your veggies into fairly small cubes (about 1" at the thickest). I used turnips, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and onion.

Place cut veggies into a roasting pan.

Use one of those basting bulb/sucky things to transfer liquid from your turkey breast crockpot into the roasting pan. I transferred almost all of it. You pretty much just want to be sure that there's at least a 1/8 inch of liquid standing in your pan.

Put the roasting pan in your oven. Now, go do something else. Me? Hubby and I are training for a 5k. It sucks and I hate it. So, we went for a run while the veggies cooked.

We came back and ate up the super scrumptiousness. Hubby liked it, but J? He loved it. He could not get enough of the roasted veggies.

The best part? This meal produced so much food that we had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day.