Monthly Archives: May 2012

Working Motherhood, Day 3

The first day of dropping off baby was the easiest so far — in part, because it was later in the morning!

Day two was the first morning at our new regular time. After getting up for baby’s early feeding, I pretty much had to stay up for the rest of the day in order to get myself bathed, bottles ready, bags packed, breakfast and lunch made. Kind of a rude shock after our living at baby’s whim for four months!

What I didn’t account for: Babysitting isn’t just from the minute I start work to the minute I get off. There’s easily another 20 minutes each day to pay for between when I drop her off and when I arrive at work, and then the same at the end of a shift.

Baby is breastfed. Estimating how many ounces she’ll need while we’re apart  + getting it bottled = challenge. Baby was hungry on Day 2 and had to have her first two ounces of formula (which she took without batting an eye). I felt guilty.

Apparently she is crankier for the sitter than she is at home. I felt guilty.

When we get home, we snuggle in our chair, and she falls asleep pretty quick. Naps quite a bit now in the afternoons, because her cousins tire her out!

Bedtime comes, and she tries to buck sleep. I think about keeping her up, too — once she goes to sleep, then our relaxed time together is over until the next afternoon. I let her cry herself to sleep tonight and was a little disappointed when it worked!

I got coffee this morning without having to drag the baby with me. I felt guilty.

So far, it seems like a lot of “working” motherhood is about feeling guilty.

(On the plus side, my job is going well.)

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Now I Am A Working Mother

Today I sent my child to daycare.

Okay, it isn’t exactly daycare — it’s her auntie, who lives six minutes away, and her two little cousins. And it wasn’t even all day. It was four hours.

But it was the first four hours of me becoming a part-time working mom. I explained to baby, as she sucked away on her pacifier in the back seat of the car, that this will be a regular thing now. She’ll go see her auntie — or once in a while her other auntie, or maybe her uncle — four mornings a week and play and have a fun time while Mommy goes to work. Mommy will come back for her after lunch.

She’s four months old. She’s still figuring out that I’m Mommy and that this big place with ceiling fans and mirrors is Earth. So I know it is far more difficult for me than it is, if at all, for her. See the previous post on this subject.

Mommy has gone back to her old job for a while, cataloging and scanning at a museum, so it’s nice that the learning curve is minimal. What I wasn’t expecting was the challenge to working that part of my brain again. It felt a little intense at first!

Another thing I didn’t expect was the awkwardness of the transition between being work-me and being Mommy-me. As I walk in the door at work, I turn off my Mommy thoughts and turn on my museum thoughts. Then, at the designated time, I turn off the one and turn on the other again. And ne’er the twain shall meet. Like I’m two totally separate people.

Maybe that’s a good thing, though. Wherever I am, I want to be all there.

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Recipe Review: Pizza-Topped Meatloaf

(Yes, I feel that “meatloaf” is one word. Just as the loaf is one, solid unit.)

Meatloaf is not a favorite of mine. Generally, I find it, well, loaf-y and boring. But pizza-topped meatloaf sounded like it at least couldn’t be worse than plain meatloaf.

And it wasn’t! (Worse, that is.) It was good enough to make again. Good enough to even remember to take a picture of it.  And really pretty easy, too, though I felt like I had a fair number of dishes dirtied. Probably my own fault. Thanks to the wife of The Ranting Chef for the recipe.

I was feeling cheap so I skipped the sausage and just used a whole pound of hamburger, and went a little easier on the milk. Also, I found mine needed to cook a little longer than the recipe called for. That might have to do with my adjustments.

Otherwise, the real test: What happens to the leftovers. My husband had seconds before he went to bed, and the rest of it will likely become lunch today.

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I Made A Whole Chicken!

Me! I did! I made a whole chicken!

And it was easy. Check out this simple slow-cooker recipe at 100 Days of Real Food. Throw in the chicken, rub it with some spices, cook. Mine went exactly four hours, and while the meat wasn’t actually falling off the bone, it was really tender. I think I’ll try adjusting the spices a little differently next time — a little more salt, for instance. But there will be a next time. There was enough from the 3.5 pound bird for a chicken dinner, quesadillas the second day, and enough to put in the freezer for something like more quesadillas.

The blog also follows up with simple directions for using your leftover carcass to make your own chicken stock. I now have 12 cups of it in my refrigerator! Now, where to put it…

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Adventures in Gardening

While baby tries to wail herself to sleep, Mom finished planting her little patio garden.

I have no green thumb, or any green fingers at all. Not even blue or yellow. This is a true adventure. My one houseplant is extremely forgiving and puts up with being watered every two weeks or less — whenever it looks completely dead, I give it a drink, and within a couple of days it’s thriving again.

But a little part of me has always found gardening very romantic. I think one of my original 100 life goals was to have a true English garden a la “Secret Garden.” And gardening lines up with the key demographic of many of my other hobbies: knitting, cooking, reading old mysteries, quilting, genealogy…

Last year I had one plant on my front steps. I think it survived a while. And there was another deck planter, which I realized too late didn’t have drainage holes.

This year the operation’s been ramped up.

A total of three planters are on the porch railing. The first contains five herbs: chives, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and cilantro. (Had to keep their little markers — not smart enough to remember what a couple of them are!)

Second pot contains six marigolds. They might be too close together, according to the package instructions … I thought they looked too far apart. I always love marigolds and tulips because they were the first two flowers I can remember my mom planting. Marigolds also make me think of earthworms, though — I was scared to death of worms when I was five, and my mom made me hold one next to the marigold bed. It pooped in my hand.

The third pot is seedlings: four spinach seeds and four mesculin salad lettuce seeds. The basil seed packet went AWOL.

On the front steps is a pot of geraniums. (Surrounded by some weeds.) Apparently the bush in the background is dead. More about the bushes another day.

I’d still like to try to do a tomato plant. Anyone have success with a container-garden tomato plant? Do you remember what variety you bought?

Finally, a question.

What should I do with this dead patch? Our townhome association tries to plant grass in it every fall. This is my front yard, with a driveway just outside of view at the bottom.

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Recipe: Chicken Divan

Finally, the real thing: Chicken Divan. Apparently, I’d copied down the wrong recipe from my mom and had been making some crude imitation. I’d thought it wasn’t as good as I’d remembered.

But this tasted right. Serve with or over rice.

  • 16 oz. frozen broccoli
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 c. light cream or milk
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1/3 c. Swiss cheese
  • 10 oz. sliced cooked chicken
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan
  • Paprika

Cook broccoli and arrange in 12×7 baking dish. For sauce, in a saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add cream and chicken broth all at once. Cook and stir until bubbly; continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir in wine. Add Swiss cheese; stir until melted. Pour half of the sauce over broccoli. Top with chicken. Pour remaining sauce over all. Sprinkle on Parmesan and paprika. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through. Broil 3 or 4 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Serves 6.

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Taming the Baby Toy Jungle

Everyone who’s ever seen a baby knows you “need” a small mountain of stuff to care for one.

I’m not a huge fan of “stuff,” so I’m trying to minimize what we buy for our 3-month-old daughter. No wipe warmers, bottle warmers. Borrowing a swing, bouncy chair, a bassinet and a “gym” for her. Lots of hand-me-down clothes, garage saling, consignment sales, clearance racks.

She has a very healthy basket of board books (and yet we read the same four most of the time).

Where I’m puzzled is baby toys. We have perhaps four, besides the large apparatuses that are taking over our living room.

Baby enjoys her play gym and bouncy chair and bats at the animals. She can even get them into her mouth a bit. But when I see the tables full of toys at sales and stores, I have no clue what to get. Probably most of them would entertain her at one time or another, but which ones are helpful developmentally? Which ones aren’t super-annoying? And how many toys are necessary to have at minimum?

And won’t she prefer the pots and pans half the time anyway?

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