Stories of life in the suburbs with Husband and our daughter Squishy and son Button!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recipes: Lentil Soup

The thing I've found out about soup is that it's generally a hodge-podge of different things, so I feel like a strict recipe isn't always required. I was making taking inventory of the refrigerator and pantry to make a solid grocery list. I found that I had small quantities of staple food items. I also keep chicken or beef broth around (for crock pot meals) and a bag of lentils. Why the lentils, you ask? When I find that my staple foods are running low, I jump on the opportunity to clean out the fridge and make some soup. Lentils have proven time and again to be a wonderful base for soup, especially lentil soup :-)

Clean out the Fridge Lentil Soup
1 cup dried lentils
4 cups broth (beef or chicken, or mixed)
1 red pepper, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
5 pieces of bacon
1T. fresh oregano, chopped
5 shakes Tabasco sauce
3 T. flour
1/2 tsp. cumin*
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp. cayenne*
dash nutmeg*
dash white pepper*
salt and black pepper to taste*
*These are eyeball measurements, adjust if you want.

Cook the bacon until crisp, save the grease! Dice into large bacon bits.
Add bacon grease to soup pot, cook pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and onion until tender. 
Add oregano, Tabasco, dry spices, bacon bits, lentils and broth. 
Bring to a boil, stir. 
Reduce heat, simmer until lentils are tender. About 45 minutes. 
Adjust flavor to whatever you like. More pepper or salt? More spice? Make it yours! 
Blend the soup with a blender or food processor until smooth. Add flour to thicken (optional).

I encourage you to clean out your fridge and spend some time making soup. It's super good.
Simmering away...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too Big, Too Small, Just Right

This post is pretty much about me getting prepared to get dressed up, which I haven't done in quite some time.

I'm getting on a plane and going to Philadelphia in a little over a week to attend a wedding with my sister.

Since my new job of House Manager was invented and implemented, I have been wearing jeans and tee shirts. Usually Husband's tee shirts. And flip flops. I used to have a fast plethora of shoes to choose from, but thanks to Squishy, my feet have outgrown nearly every single pair. I hate that my feet grew half a size because of my pregnancy. I mean, I spent all that time, years of my life, perfecting my shoe collection. I have over 100 pairs. After Squishy was born, hardly any of them fit anymore!!!

Apart from shoes, I would regrettably have to find a dress as well. I thought I could wear one of the dresses I already owned, but alas for they were either a little too small or not "dressy" enough for this soiree. I tried on dresses that I have had for a while to a lot of groaning and moping around. It sucks that I'm not the same size I was when I was 19 years old, I'm one size bigger. I was depressed. I was also depressed at my boobs. They don't look the same and when I tried on my pre-pregnancy dresses they looked totally gross. Needless to say I had a mini melt down about my body. I haven't had the need to look nice until now, and I was freaking out a little bit at my lack of self esteem.

My sister offered me an old staple of hers: The Little Black Dress. It was a size 8, so my first reaction was something like "Dream on, that will never fit me." I may have even been a little angry at the simple fact that she knew I wasn't a size 8 and she was forcing me to try this dress on.

Well, Shut the Front Door! It fit. Not only did it fit, it was wonderful. A classic black halter A-line dress. It covered everything that needed covering. Except for my bra straps. Okay, I can go bra/shoe shopping. That might be fun!

We got to Victoria's Secret and I wasn't messing around. I asked the sales lady "I need to be measured, and I need a halter bra" I was instantly brought to a changing room and with some tweaks and tries, I found out that I haven't been wearing the right size bra since Squishy was born! I thought I was a 38D when it turns out I should have been wearing a 36DD.

Honestly? I almost cried at the comfort of the bra I bought. I didn't know that I could have nice looking boobies. But there they were, cuddled together in shear harmony. It's as if they were saying "Please parade us around; we finally feel sexy again."

I got a great pair of black leather sling backs from Sofft. If you don't know Sofft, you should. They are the most comfortable heels ever.

When I got home, I put the whole ensemble together. It was like magic.

So maybe it's not that my body is ugly, it's just different now. My weight is distributed differently, my curves are more curvy. I still have a pretty nice shape. My skin is soft and my acne is pretty well controlled right now. I just needed to find some elements that fit better. My boobs are different and I think they are going to stay that way until I have another baby. I am not dreading going to this wedding anymore. My purchases today were strategic and wonderful, and it turned out to be a good mood day for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No More Lazy Days

Every time I hear that song "Lazy Days" I turn the radio off.

I don't feel like songs about being lazy or being out of work are appropriate. I don't think that singing (mostly auto-tuned/rapping) about shaking your ass, being "crunk", staying out late partying, or having random unprotected sex with as many people as possible is appropriate either. So I'm doing my part by ending my lazy streak.  

I haven't written in a while. Even after I checked Google Analytics and the RSS Feed and discovered I had over 30 loyal readers, I've let you down yet again. For that, folks, I apologize. 

I don't know what's gotten into me lately. I'm in what you would call a "funk". I know it's a funk because I'm thinking about getting another tattoo or changing my hair (drastically). Whenever these extreme thoughts start becoming an every day occurrence, it means there is some kind of hole in my life that needs filling. 

I've been thinking a lot about going back to school. I have an insane want for finishing my education. No, finishing is the wrong word. I want to continue my education. 

Maybe if I post about it on my blog I'm finally accountable to people I don't know? Don't you think I should have the motivation I need simply because I have a daughter? I think so. So why is it so hard for me to get up and just do it? I don't want to make excuses any more. I don't want to be in this funk. I have a wonderful husband and a very supportive family. I can do this. I'm going back to school. There is too much I have in myself to let it all go to waste. My "Lazy Days" are ending.

(The fact that this is the very first post I have labeled "school" made me smile.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Best. Post. Ever. (In a while, anyway...)

Ah! I haven't posted in a few days. I've been so good about posting thrice a week (that's three times for those of you living outside the Renaissance) too. I had a two and a half week buffer of posts ready to go! Well, I got lazy and my buffer ran out. Shoot. I have a few posts of notes and ideas for stuff I want to tell you guys, but none of them is ready! So, here is my post to tide you over. Enjoy!

This is a very small bunny.

This is a sad little puppy. Begging for love.
This is a mama giraffe kissing a baby giraffe.
Look! It's a baby tiger cuddling its mommy.
OMG! So cute!
Tiny huge baby elephant!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Squishy's Silly Baby Antics

Squishy weighs 19 pounds. She's 27 inches tall. She has only two teeth. She's a tiny human. My question is: Why is it that she has more stuff than Husband and I combined?! Seriously, where the heck did all this crap come from? She has a walk in closet (full of crap), a bedroom (full of crap), a cupboard in the bathroom (you guessed it, full of baby crap), and FOUR (1, 2, 3, 4!) places to store other things that Squishy had acquired, probably behind our backs. I think the grandparents are giving her credit cards and rides to the mall...

Storage places:
  • First, a big pink canvas bin with butterflies on it. 
  • Second is a a pink nylon tote box that is supposed to be for baby bath items, but I'm using it for every day toys.
  • Next is a contraption hanging on the back of her closet door with different envelope-like compartments that holds books and other things. 
  • Finally, on one of her closet shelves is a large collection of stuffed animals and toys. 
  • There are two outlying piles of books located at either rocking chair: one by the living room window and the other next to the glider in Squishy's room.  
There is a quilt my grandma made on the floor at all times for her to roll around on, a bumbo chair to practice sitting, and a baby gym for reaching and kicking. Also a jumper that fits in any of the 5 practical door frames around the apartment. All in all, toys and the like are readily available whenever she needs entertainment.

That said...

Why does she find the most enjoyment out of playing with a dirty sock, or a headband? I swear. Grandma spent $24.99 on that Jellycat stuffed zebra, and all she wants is to chew the tag. I usually laugh and shake my head at these cute little antics, but what she did this morning takes the cake.

Squishy gets lotioned every day to keep her eczema at bay and to maintain smooth baby-butt like skin. She usually tolerates legs and back (done first), but when I get to her arms and tummy she has a few things to say about that. It's a nessesity for her comfort, and only takes a few minutes every day. But once she sees the lotion bottle, she knows what's coming and I have to apply distractions so she doesn't attempt escape. We have named lotion as Squishy's number one nemesis. So you can understand my surprise when I look down today and see she has rolled over to the coffee table and was chewing on the lotion bottle with a huge smile on her face.

Ah, TJoM. (The Joys of Motherhood)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Squishy,

Learning a new skill takes training. Mental and physical. You've got to be the right size and shape for the job. You've got to know the techniques and be able to put them together. It helps to watch professionals to get inspiration, tips, and tricks to doing it well. I know it can get frustrating when you're in training. You may whine and stamp your fists or feet at your inadequacy, but know that I'm here for you. You'll get there someday, baby girl. For now, keep your head up. Keep your knees underneath your body. Continue to trudge in place until that magical day when you can trudge forward. Crawling is hard. I know you can do it.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Word of the Day:


[puh-ten-shuhl]–adj. capable of being or becoming

Life is sometimes like those create your own mystery books, only you can't look ahead to see where each choice will take you. It's even harder when you have a little one you're accountable for. Tasks that were seemingly mundane before the baby are suddenly jam packed with potentialEvery outing can to turn into a disaster, or some great adventure. On this particular day, Squishy and I were to meet friends at the mall and go to the grocery store. Then later, I was meeting a girlfriend for drinks. A nice, fun, smooth day. Full of that magic word: Potential. 

Squishy woke up an hour and a half early. I trudged into her room half asleep with a fresh bottle, wondering what caused this insane early rise. She looked at me, confused, like it was my fault she was awake at this god forsaken hour. I think she only woke up because she had once again realized that she couldn't crawl yet. She chomped away at the bottle giving me the stink eye (she was apparently still blaming me for waking her) as I changed her diaper in the dark. I gingerly placed her back in her crib, willing with special mommy powers for her to go back to sleep. Thankfully, she did. 

I slept for another hour knowing Squishy would sleep in after having an early breakfast. I decided to take a nice long shower before she woke up for the day. I took time to shave my legs (a rarity since winter lasted so freaking long), wash my hair twice, I even broke into song a few times!

It was raining, did I mention that before? *Scrolls up* No, I didn't. Okay, it was raining. Not a light humid the-birds-are-chirping-and-the-sun is-out rain, either. It was pouring. It was also cold and windy. I was wearing jersey capris with shaved legs. I didn't change into jeans. Maybe that was the mistake that hurtled my day into disarray. I bundled Squishy with blankets while she was battered with rain pellets that had the big potential to turn into "wintery mix" at any moment. Good thing I had done my hair curly, the rain and wind actually make it look better. Sexy and wild, even. 

We got to the mall at 11:00, ready to meet my two mommy friends for our weekly "walk and talk"...

11:10 Nobody's here
11:15 Text from one friend "I'll be late"
11:25 I text the other friend to see where she is. 
11:30 Reply "OMG!!!! I thought you said noon?????" No. I did not say noon. It was your idea to meet at 11:00.

So it seemed like Squishy and I had some time to kill before our friends arrived. This had some potential. Squishy loves the mall. There are people to watch, and shiny things to look at. Also fountains. Squishy loves a good mall fountain. I think the day she realizes that throwing a coin and making a wish is fun will be the day my bag of spare change gets a lot lighter. Or goes missing altogether. 

By noon my two friends had arrived and we chatted for a while. It's always nice to see friends, especially since it was so dreary outside. It was around 1:30 when Squishy decided that it was time to GTFO. She was getting squirmy and cranky, and needed a nap pronto. I was sure that if she took a cat nap in the car on the way to the grocery store, everything would be fine. 

Well, she didn't sleep in the car. Everything was not fine. Plus it was still raining. So there I was, in jersey capris taking deep, centering breaths trying to decide whether or not to do the grocery run. On the one side, I have gotten really good at fast shopping, my list is written in exactly the order in which they are displayed in the store. If I focus, I can be in and out in 45 minutes. On the other hand, I had a ticking time bomb for a shopping companion. If Squishy didn't get to a bed soon, she was going to explode. It could potentially be alright, or potentially suck. I decided to get the groceries.

I got the cart with the baby bucket seat to give Squishy some napping potential. I stopped in the restroom to change her and make an "in case" bottle so I would be prepared for an emergency baby soothing situation. As I have said before, I have no problem with abandoning my cart and take her home if she demanded. But once I hit the check out lane, I'm locked in. 

I shopped fast. I followed my list exactly. I was a lean, mean, expert mommy machine. I filled the cart, kept Squishy entertained and sort of calm. The checkout lane was there, it was in my sight line. Then...


The bomb went off. Squishy was no longer cute and cuddly. She was an angry, red faced, mother-hating creature with a look on her face like I was deep frying her alive (which I wasn't). The high pitched shrapnel-like screams would undoubtedly bring pterodactyls swooping in at any moment. I was so close. I could have made it stop by just abandoning my cart and taking her home. But I decided to soldier through it and check out. 

Quick was the name of the game. I found an empty isle with an experienced looking cashier. Score. I used the deafening shrieks as motivation to go faster. I arranged my groceries on the conveyor belt in a way that would create maximum ease for bagging at the other end. I spoke soothingly to Squishy to no avail while I efficiently sorted and bagged my items. I was offered help by a bagging boy. I dismissed him. He would no doubt be slow and only fill the bags half way, making me find another cart. No way! The lady next in line offered to hold Squishy while I seamlessly carted one full bag and opened another in one fell swoop. I rolled my eyes to myself knowing that her intentions were good, but also knowing my baby all too well. Without stopping I told her that Squishy was just tired and a complete stranger picking her up and attempting motherly comfort would only make matters worse. I held my debit card and keys in my mouth awaiting my total, wanting a fast getaway. The cashier then asked me, loudly, if I would like someone to watch my baby and cart while I pulled the car up since it was still raining. Are you nuts?! Do you honestly think that she would be any calmer if I suddenly left her there alone with a stranger? Also, I'm not making the patrons of this store endure my baby's longing for sleep a moment more than I had to. 

I rolled out of the store and back into the rain. I covered Squishy's face, now the color of pickled beets, with a blanket to avoid the rain. I ran to my car and fastened her in. She was asleep almost instantly. I slowed my roll, and took some deep, centering breaths. I was snapped back to reality when the wintery mix hit me in the eyeball. I got in my car and sped off toward home. 

I was so drained that I didn't even want to meet my friend for drinks anymore. But just because the baby was crying at the store is no excuse. Meeting my friend for drinks was potentially going to be the best part of my day. 

When Husband got home I left to meet my friend at a chain pizza place. I sat at the host stand waiting. She said between 6:45 and 7:00, it was 6:48. By 7:30, I had gone through all the horrible things that potentially could have happened to my friend on the way to our meeting. The hosts were giving me shifty glances, wondering if I was a vagabond, or simply a crazy person thinking this was a bus stop or something. Since my friend wasn't responding to digital attempts at communication, I called Husband. He told me that I had moved this meeting to Thursday, not Tuesday. Crap. Distressed, I got up and walked outside. The wind hit my shaved legs and I was struck with shivers and the sudden need for Cold Stone ice cream, which was practically next door to the pizza place.

I walked into the Cold Stone taking a deep, centering breath. Ice cream, now that had potential.....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to Squishy

3 AM, sweaty, tired.
Is it supposed to hurt this much?
One more push, and there you were.
Welcome, Squishy, it's been 17 hours
Since you decided it was time to meet me.

You burst into my world with
10 fingers, 10 toes.
Dark blue eyes, tiny little nose.
Bigger than we'd all thought you'd be.
With bright red hair, a surprise to me.

Coming home with you in tow.
Walking in the door was like crossing the
 Threshold into a new existence.
Now what?

Sleep, cry, poop
Sleep, cry, poop.

So tiny, so perfect.
My double-scoop.
No play, no sex, no sleep. 
I sit for hours just looking at you. 
You're my life, my all.

You are all firsts:
First smile,
First reach, 
First roll, 
First laugh. 
Discovery should be your middle name.

I didn't know
It was possible
To love someone this much.
All my wants, my needs, Come second to yours.
They all say having a kid requires sacrifice and compromise.
I say it takes adjustments.

You make my life difficult.
You make my life wonderful.
I will never wish for a world
Where you're not with me. 

I haven't showered in 96 hours.
I forgot to eat yesterday.
I'm wearing sweatpants today,
And I'll wear them tomorrow.
I don't look like a celebrity.
I don't look like the cover of a magazine.
I have stretch marks and strong arms.
I'm a mom.

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baby Guide: Buying Used Baby Clothes

I recently went to a friend's baby shower. She's a first time preggie, and loving every minute of it. I went to Babies R Us to print her registry and buy something for her baby. She was registered for 31 items or so, one of which was washcloths that cost $15.00. Another was a two piece outfit that cost $24.00. I felt physical pain purchasing a set of pajamas that would fit the kid for about 45 minutes. That reminded me of my preggie shopping sprees...On Craig's List! I will now share the glory that is Craig's List shopping...

I have done two Craig's List searches for baby clothes or products. The first was when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I was having more good days than sick days. More importantly, I had just found out that Squishy was a girl! I wanted to go shopping right away. Due to lack of $1,000 for baby clothes and other items, I took to the internet. Within an hour I was in a parking lot ten minutes away from the apartment picking and choosing all kinds of baby girl clothes from three huge bins in a young mommy's van. I came home with 98 onesies, 24 PJs, 9 dresses or outfits, hats and socks galore, and 12 pairs of pants, and a snowsuit all between the sizes of newborn-6 month. I paid $60.00. I was so proud that I put all the clothes on the floor in categories to show Husband when he got home.

Holy clothes pile, batman!
I did another Craig's List bulk purchase around New Years. I got eight 13 gallon garbage bags of clothes for $40.00. This was a "must take all" sale, and required a lot of sorting. It took my sister and I four hours to go through everything. We ended up throwing out two bags worth of stuff, and donating three bags worth. I scored some name brand dresses, holiday wear, and most of it was exactly the size I needed. One dress still had the tag on it, worth $50.00.

There are four things to remember when you're buying second hand baby clothes...

  1. Confirm that the clothes come from a pet free, smoke free home. Wash them right away in hot water and Dreft or baby detergent.
  2. Buying used means you'll get your money's worth. So don't feel guilty not keeping everything, or donating some right after you buy it. Just remember that a 5 pack of Carter's onesies cost $12.00-$24.00.
  3. Since you're getting these items for so cheap, you are less likely to feel obligated to get your money back when you're done using the clothes. Feel free to gift things to other preggies, or donating to Red Cross or Goodwill. Since Squishy is my first, I kept my favorite items for the next baby should it be a girl. But the rest I've donated.
  4. Baby clothes are almost guaranteed gently used. Babies grow fast, and often wear items only once or twice. If something looks old or heavily used, just put it in the donate pile or don't buy it.

I do supplement squishy's second hand wardrobe with new items, a pack of onesies in the size she needs, PJs in the next size up, or a random holiday outfit. Since I spend so little on clothes for her, when it comes to getting her something nice or new I don't feel bad about it at all.

So go ahead, expert mommy! Don't be afraid of a good Craig's List haul! The mommies selling this stuff are so grateful, it's cheap and easy, and most's so much fun! Here is Squishy modeling my two favorite items. I'll be sad when they don't fit her anymore...

The Cupcake Hoodie...priceless. 
Denim overalls. Irresistible cuteness included. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recipes: Crescent Roll Breakfast Pizza

Are you tired of boring scrambled eggs for breakfast? Well, here's something new that I just tried one day and it rocked my breakfast-loving slipper socks off.

Crescent Roll Breakfast Pizza
1 tube of crescent rolls
3 eggs
4 strips bacon
3/4 cup veggies. I used garlic, jalapeno (both minced), broccoli and red pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese
  1. Unroll dough on cookie sheet and press together all the perforations so it's one piece. 
  2. Fold edges in to make a crust rim. 
  3. Cook bacon until crisp, drain grease and dice.
  4. Sautee veggies in olive oil until just underdone. 
  5. Scramble eggs very easy, should still be quite wet. 
  6. Evenly spread all toppings on dough.
  7. Sprinkle cheese on everything. 
  8. Bake at 350 for 11-14 minutes. 
Enough for 8 pieces, feeds 2-4 people.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Kale

I love kale. It's seriously a super food. I'll eat it raw, sauteed, baked, boiled, anything. My issue right now is that I love cheeseburgers too. And you don't see many people ordering a kale salad and a bacon cheeseburger with sauce and other goodies on top. So can I have both?

They both look so good to me...

I've always been confident in my body. I love that pregnancy left me with better looking curves than what I started with. I love my stretch marks, the mark of a mother. I didn't see the need to jump onto a treadmill as soon as Squishy was home.  Quite frankly, the only part of my body that I missed during pregnancy was my ankles. Other than that I really just wanted to be able to have my "nimble" back, which is to say I wanted to be able to turn around in the shower without knocking all the bottles off the shelf.

The word "diet" intimidates me. Calorie counting is lost on me. Lifestyle change? Go back where you came from. I love my body, always have. Husband has always loved it, too. I get rave reviews about how he loves my real body, and how he dislikes the look of a woman who is "snapable". Since Squishy was born, we've both been side tracked from going for runs or making healthy eating choices. It's been take-out, snacks, late night, and frozen pizza for a long time now. But my body is tired. I feel greasy. My soul is heavy. I just want to feel better.

I wanted to say that before I told you that now that spring is here, I started to take a closer look at how I'm treating my body now that I'm a new mom. I haven't been taking great care of myself. I've gotten the handle of Squishy's routine, our play dates, chores, outings, etc. Now it's time for a little "spring cleaning" where my food choices are concerned.

I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm not going on a "diet". I'm not reading any book, buying pills, or doing a hard workout every day. I don't have time for that. I'm just reevaluating my choices. Instead of saying "I can't eat that, I'll get fat", I'll say "I'm choosing to eat something else". I've come up with these four "guidelines" that I'm going to try my best to stick to:

  1. Portion control. This applies primarily to breakfast. I have a tendency to grab a box of cereal and bring it to the living room while Squishy has a bottle and I check the internet and watch Ellen. This behavior leads to me eating a lot more of the food item than I should. 
  2. Only eat when I'm hungry. This is about snack time. It's there, I'm bored, I'll eat it. This one is the hardest and the easiest for me to fix for the simple reason that I'm the one that does the shopping for the house. I can buy whatever I want at the grocery store, so I just have to have some discipline when it comes to the snack foods. If they aren't in the house, I won't eat them. On the flip side, I can buy better choices for myself and practice guideline #1 at the same time. You know I love multi tasking!
  3. More water! I love water.  I have a Camelbak water bottle which is like, awesome if you love water, or would like to start drinking more water. The simple fact that I'm making this a "guideline" is going to make me do it.  
  4. No eating after 8 PM. This does not apply to date night or family dinner. Just when I'm at home. This will help with late snacks that probably weren't good choices anyway. 

Maybe these will take root in me and I'll end up adding more guidelines. For now, this is it. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I think my relationship with kale is definitely on-again. So if you have any good kale ideas, send them my way!