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I’ve really been into breakfast lately… we wake up feeling energized and adventurous, wanting to create something fun and exciting. I wish I could say this carried over into dinner, but our evening meals have been lackluster and uninspired. Perhaps sooner or later this breakfast energy will appear again in our later day food prep, but for now, our special breakfasts have been getting us through the day.

Crepes

Gluten-free Crepes

Crepes are a treat with which we fell in love long before becoming gluten-free. I decided to take our favorite recipe and spend some time reworking it.

Ingredients

2 eggs
2 egg whites (or 1/3 cup liquid egg whites)
1 ½ to 2 cups milk (we use almond, any kind is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour contains it)
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Crepe filling of your choice (suggestions below)

Directions

Whisk together the egg, egg whites, 1 ½ cups of milk, vanilla, and sugar. Add in flour, xanthan gum, and cinnamon, and mix until smooth and without lumps. The batter should be thinner than pancake batter. Since gluten free flours and their absorbencies vary, add more milk a tablespoon at a time if the batter seems too thick.

Coat a small frying pan very well with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. When hot, pour ¼ cup into pan and swirl batter around until it is uniform and flat throughout. Cook for two minutes, waiting until middle becomes firm, and then try lifting the edges with rubber spatula. If the sides of crepe release easily from pan, slide spatula underneath and gently flip crepe. Cook another one to two minutes, until lightly browned.

Remove from frying pan, respray pan, and pour in another ¼ cup. Then prepare cooked crepe with your favorite filling and fold in half. Our filling of choice happens to be a spoonful of Nutella spread thinly and topped sliced strawberries, but diced apples and cinnamon, banana slices, peanut butter, jam, or whatever your heart desires will go nicely inside.  This recipe makes about eight to 10 crepes.

Caveat. Go into this process knowing that the first crepe (or two) will stick and come out of the pan as a bit of a mess, but it will get easier. (This may just be me, but I always eat this torn crepe for quality control; I think it’s only fair to be selfless and make sure they taste okay). The pan has to be at just the right temperature and the technique of when and how to flip the crepe has a little learning curve. I promise it is worth the effort… once you master it, this is a quick and happy breakfast that everyone in your family will love. My youngest asks for crepes a few times a week… I’m not able to say yes that often, but I appreciate her enthusiasm!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

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I found this Facebook post I wrote on November 15, 2012- just weeks before my twins turned two.

Day in the life of a SAHM

November 15, 2012 at 2:17pm

Many people ask me (on a near daily basis) is it hard having twins? My reply is usually “depends on the day.”

I thought I’d share a little glimpse into one of those days:

Thursday November 15, 2012

5:44 a.m. wide awake

6:00 roll out of bed to tackle dishes, laundry, breakfast and get dinner in the crock pot.

6:22 alerted by shrieking child who isn’t due to awaken for another hour. Quickly calculate approx. how long I can let her cry it out while I take a shower.

6:23 hop in shower while drinking coffee

6:24 get dressed while brushing teeth

6:25 walk in to get girls who are angrily emptying their crib in protest to my delay

6:30 give girls bowl of rice crispies and cup of milk

6:32 on hands and knees cleaning rice crispies off of floor

7:00 chase first child and tackle her into outfit & do her hair.

7:22 chase second child and tackle her into outfit & do her hair.

7:30 engage in philosophical debate about why we wear clothes.

7:32 give up and let them run naked.

8:00 attempt to finish dishes while the kids empty dirty laundry from basket and scatter about the house.

8:10 pick up scattered laundry while the girls hunt for mischievous projects

8:15 pick up box full of dried pasta dumped onto kitchen floor while demanding, “don’t eat that!”

8:30 diaper change goes awry x 2.

8:45 Someone frees the kitchen drawer from captivity. I clean up the mess and kiss non-existent boo-boo.

8:50 attempt to make 2nd pot of coffee with a toddler attached to each leg.

9:00 Blue’s Clues TAKE ME AWAY!

9:15 Blue’s Clues is not working- spend next 10 minutes breaking up fist fight over who gets to be in mommy’s lap.

9:30 realize I didn’t eat yet. Quickly make scrambled eggs.

9:35 endure hostile take over of my breakfast.

9:36 begin cursing every person who’s ever asked me, “are you going to have another?”

10:00 both girls start rummaging in the cupboard and argue with me that the gallon sized vinegar bottle is in fact juice. Go ahead try it- I DARE ya!

10:03 attempted unauthorized potty break, assaulted by the toddlerazzi invading my privacy.

10:15 begin the great diaper chase

10:40 children mock my attempts to build with blocks by kicking over my tower and laughing.

10:50 drift off and quickly awakened by someone slapping me and yelling, “mommymommymommyyyyyyyyyyy!”

11:00 turn on Blue’s Clues and forced to participate in ritualistic wailing for mail.

11:15 held captive on the couch and forced to watch as Blue finds every stinking last clue.

12:00 prepared a lovely meal for the floor to enjoy.

12:30 on hands and knees again to clean up floor.

12:45 play let’s make a deal- if you let me change your diaper you can have a cookie!

1:00 toss children in crib with cookie… stick a fork in me cuz I’m DONE!

That’s only HALF MY DAY!!

 

This post made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now. When I was in the thick of the insanity of taking care of two toddlers alone I didn’t always find the humor. It felt like those struggles were going to stick around for a long time. The good news is it is two years later and we have all survived and moved on to different dramas!

I wasn’t the most patient parent, and sometimes I put way too much pressure on myself to make everyone happy (friends, family, kids, hubby) and forgot about myself. I really hated when people said, “you will miss these days.” The last thing I thought I’d miss is the nonstop screaming and crying and lack of shower time. I still don’t miss that part, but what I miss most is each unique little age and stage. I feel like I just didn’t get enough time to enjoy each kid during particular stages. It was just the three of us and not enough of me to go around. I felt rushed to get them through their milestones so I could check them off my parental to-do list.

Now that they are four, things are calming down in many ways. My girls are still a handful, and we still have our intense moments of battling wills. But it has only taken me the past four years to understand what it means to slow down, relax and don’t sweat the small stuff. The house is a little messier, the crafts get set aside and I’m happier to just sit down and hold my girls close. This is our last year together before they spring board into being a “big kid”: kids with their own opinions and mom just gets a little less cool each day. I already miss the spunky little toddlers they used to be with their chubby little bodies bobbing through the house, their tiny little giggles and the sweetness of their tiny head tucked under my chin.

Even though people warned me to slow down, take it easy and don’t rush- I just couldn’t understand it until I walked that path myself. I am not one to loiter with mom guilt, but there are days I feel completely guilty for wanting to hurry us through the roughest parts. I didn’t realize that would also hurry us through the sweetest parts too.

Enjoy the insanity- it doesn’t last as long as you think. And, one day when it is over you really will miss it!

mom friends2

Mom’s night out with 2 of my mom friends!

Making new mom friends can be a lot like dating. The anxiety, approaching other moms and play dates. Then after all the chatting and setting up the date you have to follow through and keep that relationship going. And just like dating, it’s not easy stuff! You have to know where to meet the right moms, how to approach each other and get together for a play date. It’s not uncommon for especially new moms to feel isolated and alone. These are the years it is even more important for us to be connected to each other. Both online and in person, these moms have become my lifeline. My sanity on tough days and my sounding board for days I question my parenting. Don’t worry about your stained clothes, you probably haven’t showered in a day or two and forming a sentence might be tough on a few hours of broken sleep, but trust me most of the moms you will meet are feeling The. Exact. Same. Thing. So get out there and let me know how it goes.

1. Put yourself out there. Literally, put the baby in a stroller and walk around the park, your block or the mall. The places you frequent are usually good spots to start looking for your mom friends. If you meet another mommy at the gym you already have something in common and can bond over a good workout while the kids play. Grocery stores, libraries even the pediatricians office are all great spots to start practicing your mom dating skills 😉

2. Mommy and Me Groups, classes and story times. When my second was born, I was new to the area and had a 2 year old at home. For my own sanity I needed to get out of the house, but leaving for the playgroup or drop in programs wasn’t motivating enough for me. That year we joined mommy and me gym classes and playgroups. I needed the weekly commitment to get us all out of the house and it helps to be around the same group of people you can bond with.

3. National Organizations. There are a number of national organizations whose goal is to foster the mommy connections. Check out our local chapters of La Lache League, MOPS, Stroller Strides or other New mom groups. New Baby New Paltz has a mother’s social group that meets weekly and Waddle and Swaddle offers a breastfeeding support group as well as weekly play dates. And lastly, check out the local hospitals. Northern Dutchess and Vassar Hospital both offer new mom groups too.

4. Go Online. If getting out of the house seems impossible most days look online for local mom groups. On Facebook, Hudson Valley Moms Group, Dutchess County moms group, Orange County NY moms group and Sullivan County mommies are a few great ones. Also check out meetup.com and yahoo groups. Chatting online is a great way to make initial connections, schedule play dates and/ or continue friendships.

5. Playgroups. Hudson Valley Parent’s calendar is filled with a number of local playgroups! Check your library, favorite indoor play spot, churches and community centers for some great groups near you. If you find that one isn’t the right fit (sometimes they can feel a little cliquey) don’t get discouraged, just move on to the next one!

6. Working mom? Be creative. It might be tougher for moms with limited time but not impossible. Be creative! If you work in a big company start a working mothers lunch group. I see a lot of working mom groups online, it might be tougher but remember you aren’t alone! Starting with some “online dating” in a moms group and scheduling play dates with other working moms already gives you a connection… and a lot to talk about!

7. Volunteer. It’s as simple as offering to help with a community event, with your child’s school or at a local charity. Many times other stay at home moms are running the events, you would be doing some good, helping others and making mommy friends along the way. Choose to do something you are passionate about and you will find others who are just as passionate as you.

8. Make the first move. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. You have to be willing to approach other moms too. Start with some small talk, how old is her child, etc. If you’re like me and small talk doesn’t come naturally for you, ask a lot of questions. Where was their baby born? How was the birth? How are they sleeping? You are sure to find something in common with each other. If you are able to make that connection, don’t forget to follow through. Ask to exchange phone numbers and set up a play date.

9. Set up a play date. You can meet somewhere easy for both of you but my best tip is to make sure it’s at a time and day that works best for you and your child. My boys tend to be better behaved in the morning so we like to schedule play dates before lunch and nap times. Have a new baby that sleeps most of the day? Don’t let endless naps get in your way of making friends! Use nap time to your advantage. Meet your new friend at a coffee shop, take a walk around the block or mall or meet for lunch while the babies nap. Play dates aren’t just for the kids you know 😉

10. Be consistent. If your true goal is to build a new friendship being consistent is key. The internet is a wonderful way to stay in touch with someone. Schedule your next play date and keep things moving. Who knows, your mom- date could turn into your next BFF.

What are your best tips for making mommy friends? Share your thoughts in the comments!

This video from Elle (What’s Up Moms) & Karen Alpert (Baby Sideburns) made me laugh!

Sydney Sitting
There are few questions parents of babies want answered as much as – “When will my baby sleep through the night?” When my son was about six months old a man at the mall approached me with desperation in his eyes and asked- “Does he sleep through the night?” I could tell he was sleep deprived and desperate for news I couldn’t give him. I wouldn’t be doing him any favors by lying so I told him the truth – “No, but he’s only six months and my oldest child didn’t sleep through the night till she was eight months.” His face collapsed and I could see he was mentally adding up all the sleepless nights until his five week old daughter would sleep well. I told him he’d get through it, but I’ll never forget the defeated look on his face.

So fast forward five years, and my little Sydney just turned six months old. Here I sit, asking myself the same question – When will she FINALLY sleep through the night? All I can base my guess on is my other two kids who slept through the night at eight and seven months respectively. It’s so close I can practically feel it, but it seems so far away at the same time. So here’s what I’ve learned with my sleep trials. I’m no expert – just a mom, probably as desperate as you are for sleep.

1. Follow Their Lead – There is no making your child sleep through the night. They are ready when they’re ready. If your child slept through the night at six weeks, I’d keep that tidbit under your hat while talking to moms chugging their coffee, looking like Mombies. Nobody suffering with sleep deprivation wants to hear how lucky you were. Congrats, but seriously don’t mention it to anyone with children. Most of us have to wait till sometime after our babies are steadily eating solids and crawling.

Sydney Eating

2. Do What Works Until It Doesn’t – Parenthood is the greatest game of trial and error there is. I found that co-sleeping gives me the most sleep for the first four or five months. Co-sleeping is awesome while you’re breastfeeding, until they realize that they can eat at all hours whether they need to or not. So whatever your sleep situation try not to cling too long to a method that’s no longer working. Sydney went from eating twice a night to wanting to comfort eat all night long. I know the day is dawning where I need to test to see if she’s ready to sleep without me.

3. Don’t Make Changes While They’re Sick – This one is self-explanatory. If your baby is not feeling good, they need extra attention and this not the right time for sleep training.

4. Once The Day Dawns, The Real Work Begins – The day will come when you wake up feeling like a well-rested person and after it dawns on you that the baby slept through the night you’ll want to do your happy dance. But unfortunately sleeping through the night is like potty training. It’s a long process of figuring out what works. Sleeping through the night once is a good indicator that they are ready to start, but how you go about sleep training is up to you.  I say skip the books and go with your gut. I spent about a week putting my babies down in their cribs alone listening to them cry until I went in and I tried to wait an extra five minutes each night until they finally fell asleep without me coming in to soothe them. It’s a truly sucky period of time, but eventually they learned to sleep through the night without me.

Sydney crawling

So good luck to you and me. I know from experience we CAN survive this period of babyhood. The hardest part is trying not to wish away the age they are right now pining away for the magical age of sleep. As the saying goes – “the days are long, but the years are short.”

We love to cook and bake in our house, and somewhere along the lines, my kids got spoiled.  Cereal for breakfast is an insult… if it isn’t hot and doesn’t involve ingredients, it doesn’t count.  That said, I’m not running a diner, and can’t be expected to serve up a full breakfast on a daily basis.  We recently discovered the muffin-in-a-mug, and have never looked back.  What I love about this recipe is that it is grain-free, oil-free, and sweetened with honey instead of refined sugar. It satisfies our cravings for a “hot” breakfast without requiring mixing bowls, pans, and use of the oven.  It’s an easy one for the kids to put together themselves, and you can measure out dry ingredients the night before to streamline morning prep.  Best of all, it’s fun to watch as it bakes.  The muffin rises beyond the rim of the mug as it cooks, and then settles as it cools.  While the little ones are mixing ingredients and watching their breakfast cook, perhaps you use those 80 seconds to enjoy some peace and quiet?

Muffin in a Mug

Muffin in a Mug

I found many muffin-in-a-mug versions online, but most required oil or sugar.  Wanting to make our breakfast a little healthier, I adapted and experimented with a recipe until it was to our liking.  It’s perfect now, and in 80 seconds, breakfast is on the table.

Ingredients

1 egg
1 ½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 ½ tablespoon almond flour
1 ½ tablespoon ground flax seeds (meal)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Crack egg into mug.  With a fork, whisk until until uniform in color.  Stir in applesauce and honey.  Add flour, flax seed, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Mix until well combined.  Cook in microwave on high for 80 seconds.  Bottom of muffin will be moist and slightly gooey (almost like a lava cake); adjust cooking time as desired.  Frozen blueberries can be mixed in before baking; this will extend cooking time by 20-30 seconds. Chocolate chips would probably taste great added in, but we have yet to go down that rabbit hole.  Try out the muffin in a mug, you won’t be disappointed!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

My kids are totally obsessed with fuzzy pom-poms. You may have gathered that from myEaster post. They love to make crafts with them, count them, sort them, and now we are making games out of them. My kids do not like going outside in the winter- which I do not fuss about! So, we need to get creative with how we spend our time inside.

I should also admit that my twins are very competitive with one another. They make everything a competition to try to be the first to win a non-existent trophy. No joke. If one reaches the sink first, she will run back to her sister to snatch the invisible trophy from above her head. Then she chant’s, “I won the trophy and youuuu didn’t!” Not as charming when experienced first hand.

It isn’t any wonder that the girls really LOVE this game! They rush to see who can empty the pom pom bowl the fastest. You can make this game at home by grabbing whatever you have on hand!!

 

Easy materials you may already have at home.

  • Fuzzy pom-poms (we through in some rubber spiky balls for fun)
  • A pair of tongs
  • 2 empty paper towel tubes
  • 2 empty baskets
  • Tape

 

Tape to the fridge, a door, or a wall.

Tape your empty tubes to the fridge, a door, or a wall. I taped ours to the fridge to keep the kids occupied while I make dinner. It was hard at first to not to play this game too. I’m kind of a winner and I like to compete. (Oh my little apples, I’m so sorry).

 

Simply use tongs to drop the pom-poms through the tube.

To play, simply use the tongs (or even tweezers) to drop the pom-poms through the tube and into the basket! The first one to fill their basket wins the game! (And gets to snatch the invisible trophy hanging above their siblings head).

This is great for developing fine motor skills. It also encourages color matching/sorting, sorting by size and counting. You’re child doesn’t have to be ready for any of those things to play this game. This is great for even the 18M + crowd. As long as you are playing with them to be sure they do not eat the pom-poms, or the tweezers, or lick the fridge. Well, that might not be so harmful.

Click the links below for more fun ways to play with pom-poms:

 

Pom-pom transfer game – great for fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and just plain fun!

Pom-pom turn taking game – teach kids the art of patience while they wait to take their turn! Just like Kerplunk!

Pom-pom baby play– For the moms with toddlers (age 1+)

Pom-poms– 10 ways to have fun!

Pom-pom catapult– because this is fun at any age!

 

Why bother buying expensive toys when kids really will play with cardboard and dollar store pom-poms?

 

Learn to save thousands with extreme couponing
By Sara Howell

sarahowellBesides being a mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a friend, a teacher, I am an extreme couponer.

Yes, indeed, I’m thrifty. I learned to coupon while on bed rest, counting pennies awaiting my first child to enter the world. I realized that the cost of children was so high that my husband and I would never be able to afford the simple needs for my family. We are hard working, yet we are always pinching pennies to get by. Over the past four years, it has become my mission to help others learn to coupon and pay it forward.

$10,000 in savingsyeartodatesavings

Over the last calendar year, I have saved over $10,000 at the local grocery store.
Let’s do the math: I spent around $4,300 last year, which is around $83 a week for a family of five, including diapers and pet food. When I add the total I spent to the total I saved, this amounts to $14,300 that I would have spent without coupons. So, I spent on average roughly 30 percent, saving a whopping 70 percent. There were even weeks I skipped shopping altogether since I’d built up a pretty substantial stockpile.

If I placed all of that $10,000 in savings, I could easily afford a luxury item for my family such as a new deck or family vacation. In all seriousness, with the cost of living these days, I’m fortunate to have achieved such a high level of savings and am able to treat my children to monthly activities without feeling like they are missing out.

This year, my new year’s resolution will be to bank 10 percent of my weekly savings.

Top 10 tips

Families can easily start saving just by using coupons and matching them to store sales. Here are my top tips to keeping my savings on track:

1. Purchase four newspapers with coupon inserts every week since most stores allow you to purchase four of the same item in each transaction

2. Save all coupon inserts until they expire, since sales happen every week and coupons don’t expire right away.

3. Organize your coupons so you can find them; it is as easy as clipping the coupons for the items you will use regularly.

4. Match weekly sales to your coupons and family needs using couponing websites, like Living Rich with Coupons.

5. Create a small stockpile of items your family will use regularly such as toothpaste and soap; this can grow.

stockpile6. Never be a shelf-clearer. If a deal is amazing, others want and need it, too.

7. Start small with a goal of saving 30 percent. Increase this goal monthly until you feel like you have reached a comfortable level of savings for your family.

8. Don’t compare your savings to anyone else’s since we all purchase items needed by our own unique families.

howellfamily9. Pay it forward! I can’t say this enough! Leave extra coupons near items in the store (be a Coupon Fairy!), share deals you find with your couponer friends, donate stockpile items to the needy.

10. Finally, send your unwanted and soon to expire coupons to the military. The organization that I send to is Coups For Troops.

Sara Howell runs a Facebook couponing group called Savvy Saving Mamma in O.C. For more information, email couponingmommaoc [at] gmail [dot] com.

Having a good time with the kids can get costly when you are constantly spending money on indoor play places, movies, food, etc. So next time you and your little ones are looking for a new adventure check out this list of fun and cheap (or free!) great places to take the family.

EF LIbrary

1. I cannot stress this enough, if you have a toddler, baby or preschool aged child your local library is the place you want to be! Most of the libraries offer a slew of story times including arts and crafts, free play, structured activities and more! Though many of them require registration in advance there are often a number of drop in programs for the little ones & many libraries don’t limit the activities to local residents so play library hop for a week or 2 and see what you like best. Also check out free story times at Barnes and Noble.

Fridas play room

2. Coffee shops and kid friendly cafes are great places for mommy to unwind with a cup of coffee while the little ones play. Head to Frida’s Bakery & Cafe in Millton, The Bakery  or Moxie Cupcake in New Paltz, and Taste Budd Cafe in Red Hook where for the cost of a cup of delicious coffee the kids can play and mom can enjoy.

3. Many towns have free or cheap play spaces for the younger crew. An open room filled with new toys to explore and room to run, jump and play with other kids is a great way to beat winter cabin fever! The Murphy Midtown center in Kingston offers a free play space during the winter months as does the Rosendale Community Center (The Rosendale Cooperative Play Group). In Fishkill, the little rascals at the Fishkill Rec. has a great inexpensive program ($3) for kids ages 4 and under too!

4. The Millbrook Zoo is one of our personal favorite places! Inexpensive, wide open spaces and lots to learn. They are open all year and at only $5 an adult and $3 a child it makes a great day trip for warmer winter days and all summer long. (Tip: In the summer bring a lunch, there are grassy areas you can have a picnic!)

Community Clay Day @ Art Centro

5. Get crafty! After cleaning up toys, dishes and clothes all week it is nice to have a place where the kids can create and we don’t have to do the majority of the messy craft clean- up. Ranging in cost from Free to $5 places like the Creative Co-Op in Rosendale (2x a month toddler playgroup), The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum ($2+admission) and Art Centro in Poughkeepsie offers weekly or monthly art projects ranging from Free to $6.

6. The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum is lots of fun for the little ones! From a brand new firetruck to climb and play in to lots of hands on fun, kids can easily spend hours here exploring everything the museum has to offer. Admission is only $8 and the third Saturday each month (from 5-8pm) is FREE!

sprout creek

7. Kids love animals so what better way to spend an afternoon than visiting a furry (or scaly?) friend. A quick trip to Petco to visit the reptiles, fish, birds and small creatures could work any time of year, or pack a lunch and head to a local farm. Our favorite is Sprout Creek Farm in Lagrange. Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston is another great option.

8. Visit a state park or historic site. Many of the historic sites are open year round and families can enjoy a walk, picnic or play outside. A few in our area include Washington Headquarters State Historic Park, Olana State Historic Site, FDR home, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Vanderbilt Mansion and Bear Mountain State Park. Which are your favorite?

The Catskill Animal Society- photo from Facebook

9. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is another unique place to visit. Over 100 acres of farm and farm animals that were rescued from the city to explore, pet and love. Many of the animals are free range so don’t be surprised if a goat tries to hitch a ride in your car! The CAS is open to the public April- October but open year round for over night stays, member tours and events! Public tours are $12 for adults, $8 kids under 12 and free for under 2.

10. Connect with nature at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Open year round, the winter calendar is filled with a variety of educational nature programs for only $5 for children and $7 for adults. In the warmer weather Grasshopper Grove, a unique all natural kids playground, is perfect for the under 5 group at only $3/person and free for under 2.

Do you have a favorite free or cheap place to bring the kids? Share in the comments!

Photo credits: Art Centro’s website, The Catskill Animal Society Facebook Page, & East Fishkill Library on Facebook

I was thinking about one of my former favorite TV shows, Desperate Housewives the other day and despite all the crazy antics that went on in the show, I was struggling to come up with some good reason for the name. I have felt many moments of desperation as a mom, but almost all of them have come while I was working. Even though I really enjoyed working part-time I recall several instances of panic when I couldn’t quite balance home and work responsibilities. My hats off to you moms that work full-time and manage to do it all because I’ll be the first to admit that I was overwhelmed to the point of being desperate. Here three ways staying home has alleviated some “desperation” in my life.

This is what multi-tasking as a Stay-At-Home Mom looks like. Sydney is my laundry helper.

This is what multi-tasking as a Stay-At-Home Mom looks like. Sydney is my laundry helper.

1. Time – I used to struggle to get my babies up early and drive them to my mom’s house before heading in to work. It seemed like even minor delays like an unexpected diaper explosion or a feeding that ran long meant I was late to work. There were days I had to bring my baby back to the office and finish my work while she sat in her car seat. Some days I borrowed an empty office (I had a cubicle) in order to simultaneously breastfeed my daughter while finishing work on the computer. Though I made it work, it caused me a lot of stress. Now I have all day to do what I used to cram into one weekend and snow days, doctor appointments, or special events aren’t a problem.

I was able to attend my son's award ceremony during the day with no problem.

I was able to attend my son’s award ceremony during the day last week with no problem.

2. Transportation – I racked up quite a bit of debt paying for gas to and from work. If my car broke down and needed repairs it was the end of the world because I couldn’t get to work or pay for the repairs. Staying home has alleviated stress because if one of the cars is out of commission my husband can borrow my car to get to work until it’s fixed or I can do my errands at night or on the weekend using his.

3. Childcare – One night after work, I got a call that my mom had broken her foot and was rushed to the hospital. My first thought after worrying about my mom was sheer panic because she was my childcare for my two kids. I called local daycares who either didn’t want to take my kids on a temporary basis or cost more than my monthly part-time salary.

I wrote a blog post called “Will Work For Daycare” because I literally pictured myself standing by the side of the road with a sign with those very words scrawled in magic marker. What I felt was sheer desperation because I had no other childcare options since I didn’t have the money to pay for it.

Now it’s all me, all the time. Does it get overwhelming sometimes? Sure. Sometimes I’m tired, bored or cranky, much like my kids. But I never feel desperate for someone to watch them. It truly is my job now. I like to think that I didn’t choose “not to work,” but rather I just chose not to get paid anymore.

Snuggle time is the highlight of my day.

Snuggle time is the highlight of my day.

So while not everyone can or wants to stay home with their kids, my advice is to make some Stay-At-Home mom friends, because you never know if you’ll be in a pinch one day for time, transportation or childcare.

Paleo eating entails a diet of meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and avoiding dairy and grains.  It’s more complex than that and there is lots of controversy surrounding it, but that’s enough to get started.  Personally, it is not something I could follow exclusively because I love my grains and dairy when the time is right, but I find there are reasons to integrate Paleo themes into our lifestyle.  When I skip grains for breakfast and focus on protein and fruit, I feel better and stay fuller longer.  Also, dairy wreaks havoc on my digestion.  I hate to say it out loud because I wish it weren’t true.  While I can have it in moderation, every once in while my stomach fights back and I have to go dairy-free for a while.  Enter, the Paleo life.

Banana chia seed pudding

Banana chia seed pudding

On Monday, my kids woke up starving and wanted something more substantial than cold cereal, now.  A friend had just posted a link for banana and chia seed pudding.  I found it to require only three ingredients, which I had on hand, and with no added sugar, fine for breakfast.  Five minutes and one whirl in the food processor later, voila.  I put the kids’ pudding in fancy glass bowls, chilled them in the freezer for a few minutes, and they were clamoring to try it.  Five minutes after that, it was already polished off.  My oldest said it tasted somewhere between breakfast and dessert.  I’ll take that.

Roast chicken soup with roasted vegetables

Dinner can sound limiting when you aren’t including grains or dairy, but I find it best to stick to Paleo recipes rather than trying to eat a traditional dinner and omit certain sides.  The Against All Grain blog is an amazing wealth of information with excellent recipes.  A few days ago, I saw a photo of roast chicken soup with roasted vegetables, and knew it would be dinner. This was delicious- velvety, filling, and different enough to satisfy both the adults and kids.  I’d roasted a chicken the night before (we’ll talk about that next week!) and had leftovers waiting, so this was perfect.  I couldn’t get a picture that would do the soup justice, but follow the link, you’ll want it as soon as you see it.

Paleo buckeyes

Buckeye

Sometimes, you just want dessert.  It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, does it?  I’d never heard of Buckeyes until my stint in Ohio during grad school, but have not forgotten them since.  Without requiring any stove or oven preparation (chocolate melted in the microwave, thank you very much!), and only a handful of ingredients, these Paleo buckeyes were ready in just a few minutes.  I used peanut butter instead of sunflower seed butter because we don’t have an issue with nuts, and it was so filling that two Buckeyes hit the spot.  Less desire to overeat these babies, and peanut butter has protein, so these are almost… healthy?  I’ve hidden the extras in my freezer in waxed paper (don’t tell my family, please).

There’s a wealth of Paleo recipes and resources out there these days, and for that I am so thankful.  It’s nice to not have to recreate the wheel when I need to cut back on something.  There are some really creative people out there who make specialized eating feel less lonely and more exciting.  Feel free to share any of your favorite recipes and sites!  

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