Instant Pot Thoughts

Flowers_April 2017

I thought I’d continue my Instant Pot or Instapot thoughts.  So far I’m finding that the instapot is not:

  1. Going to help me lose weight…I feel people start cooking healthier foods with the Instapot (?)…I will say Indian cuisine calls for coconut milk etc etc and though delicious it IS high in fat.
  2. Going to save time.  Most of the recipes say “25 minutes” but fail to account for things like a) I don’t chop like a chef, b) we have three children and two dogs, c) I forgot where the garam masala is and d) the instapot takes time to pressurize and depressurize…so I plan on an hour for each meal.

What the Instapot does allow for:

  1. Hands off while cooking amazingness.  I can be present while someone needs a book read, a diaper change, a face washed, a crayon wall drawing rescued…etc.
  2. Cooking frozen meats to cooked deliciousness without having to thaw the meat out
  3. Cooking two meals on a Sunday in a reasonable amount of time so that I can heat up Monday’s dinner but then cook Tuesday’s dinner the day prior.
Coke with low sugar maybe no calories
The Instapot is not the Coke 0 of cooking.  High fat is still high fat…

I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes:

Butter Chicken (It’s not spicy … just delicious)

Chicken Korma

Pork Carnitas

 

Then add that into my other “in a pinch” recipes:

So Life Happens

Only If You Have Time

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Two to Three Kids!

We welcomed Gigi into our lives a little over a week ago. So far she is the most amazing baby ever.  Just a generally happy little girl.  She sleeps through Sweetpea and Elle’s anti-quiet playtime and generally goes with whatever is going on.  Before having her, 3 didn’t seem to bad. Now we’re a week or so into it all and … as a good friend said…having more children is still introducing a new person to your routine.  So yes things area bit slower, take a little longer, but so far so good.

Zoey_Negishi Park_Sept 2017_3
Elle LOVES Gigi

My only real concern is Elle.  She LOVES baby G.  She seriously thinks Gigi is her real live baby.  Allot of my time is spent protecting Gigi from Elle.  In an effort to make interactions positive, we’re focusing on gentle touches and loving sister…but not LOVING sister.  So lots of watching there.

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Sweetpea is an INCREDIBLE help

Sweetpea argues with me to help more.  I don’t want her to feel burdened by siblings or helping but she seriously wants to.  I have to make an effort to not ask her for too much.  She will go and do so much.  I’d rather she still be four.

So that leaves me.  I thought I’d be honest.  Physically, consistent with the past, I’m about 10 lbs from my pre-baby weight.  That will go away soon due to breastfeeding.  I bring this up because the first indication someone sees is physical.  So it looks like everything is great.  The problem is sometimes there is more than physical.  For me, post baby can be a time of difficulty.  I do great on the physical return to myself, it’s the brain part that’s difficult.  I get anxious.  Post Sweetpea I didn’t realize that not everyone experiences anxiety/depression.  So this time, I’m focusing on establishing a routine, doing something every day for me, task management, organization, taking vitamins, getting out of the house in the mornings (when I’m anxious).  Things seem to be progressing better than in the past…which is so good.  I’ll be solo-parenting here soon so the better off I am…I’d really appreciate it.

“Let’s Compromise Mom.”

Probably not what I was expecting my then two year old Sweetpea to say.  I remember looking at her and thinking who. are. you???????? Oh yeah that’s right, you’re echoing things I say.  As Sweetpea has grown, so has her logic, her vocabulary, her curiosity, and her capability.

The Body
Mom, Can you tell me what this does?

This past week preschool had a “wear your favorite color” to class day…Sweetpea’s response, “Mom, I need something spectacular to wear tomorrow.”  We ultimately settled settled on a favorite dress…Then follow this by the excitement that it’s her day to do her laundry…It’s moments like these I remember but also forget Sweetpea is 4.  I forget what 4 is supposed to mean.

Sisters
Sister Playing

Then I slow down from the hundred other things I’m supposed to be doing and watch a quiet moment between sisters.  I look at what they’re playing with and realize four and one are….four and one.   It’s me calming down and being patient.  It’s realizing that though I told someone to put their toys away (seventeen hundred times), someone probably didn’t register it or see their toys on the floor.  It’s realizing that the “water on the stone” still applies.  It’s remembering that Daniel Tiger is still an interesting show.

Stacking toy
One day this won’t be a major accomplishment or even a toy in our house

Thoughts on Three Girls

“George must be so disappointed”…Ok let’s start with how on earth am I supposed to respond to that? I have a wonderful growing girl who is trying to kick her way into this world.  How am I supposed to say to my baby that she is somehow less because she is a girl…?!!!?! I mean she’s a person (moral debate aside)…am I supposed to apologize for her existence?  Ok that got serious fast.  But seriously people!  We are so excited to have #3.

Sisters
Welcome to the craziness Baby 3

I have read articles on how hard it is going from one to two and so on and so forth.  Ask me again in 3 months but for now the thought of three does not daunt me.  Sure there will be growing pains but all in all, I’ll babywear #3 (if she’s into that), hold Elle’s hand and monitor Sweetpea’s big girl-ness.  We’ll be a little bit later, a little bit slower, have lots of spilled milk, tons of amazing kid and/or adult temper tantrums, lack of sleep and general learning curve fun.  But in there we will be a family.  Sweetpea will try to parent, Elle will try to take baby 3’s attention and baby 3…well I’m thinking I’ve got another spunky kid…so maybe she’ll be difficult or not.   Sweetpea has already been telling me how if Elle tries to hit/bite/scratch baby 3 she will just pick up baby 3….um no.  Please not….yet atleast.  Sometimes I think having kids is about accepting the mess, the chaos, seeing the end goal and just realizing my “me” time has compressed to 5 minutes in the morning while trying to apply eye liner with a 1 year old trying to climb my leg.  (I WILL PUT ON MAKE UP….so if you see me with bright red lipstick and uneven eye liner just know that was my me minute).

Zoey_Kishine Park_May 2017_2
Elle wants so badly to keep up with Sweetpea

As I reflect on having three, I am so glad to have children a smidge later in life.  I am so enjoying the small moments.  In college and in my career circa my 20s having children and pregnancy were so negative, that pregnancy with Sweetpea though exciting (she was/is so wanted) was extremely hard to accept (I hate to admit that now).  At the time, I feel I had been trained that to be pregnant…you might as well just count yourself out…just horrible.  My job has since changed, my bosses fully accept (and wholeheartedly support) the fact that we’re expecting Baby 3, that I will require time to pump, that there will be baby sick days, that I will take 6 weeks off.  I feel that with this pregnancy, despite the fact that it has been significantly more difficult than the last ones, has truly been a blessing.  With each little kick I just feel so happy to have Baby 3.  It’s truly been a journey.

Sankeien Park_At Night_May 27th_1
It has been hard this time through to realize my limitations: reduce travel, reduce exploring, and just sloooooooooow down and then slow down more.

Insta…Yes!

Ok fine, George was at work for 24 hours and I will admit I was going to have Kraft Mac-n-Cheese for dinner with frozen veggies of Sweetpea’s choice.  This was after one of those stereotypical evenings that are supposed to break you down.  I dumped Elle’s milk for the next day on the counter, dropped two eggs out of the fridge (I wasn’t even using eggs…how did that even happen?)…and now Elle’s screaming (shrieking?) for more food was starting to really get to me.   So it was crisis mode.  I needed meat now.   Just because I have an instapot pressure cooker does not mean that I have seventeen hours to chop, grind, prep for the perfect dinner.  I need dinner NOW!!!!!!

zoey_wanting-to-be-part-of-it-all_santa_tms_dec-2016
Someone is DETERMINED

Chicken NOW by me

Two large chicken breasts

1/2 – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (you can make your own if you’d like!)

20 oz can of chopped pineapples with juice (do fresh if you can…I couldn’t today!)

  1. Place chicken in the pot
  2. Pour in BBQ sauce
  3. Dump pineapples, pineapple juice in and stir
  4. Press the poultry function (it will say 15 minutes but it takes another 15 minutes to pressurize up…so it’s not completely instant but while it was cooking bananas, rice, green beans were eaten)
  5. De-pressurize naturally or vent (be careful!)…I vented
  6. Check internal temp of the chicken (yup I threw in frozen chicken this time and it was perfect temperature wise)
  7. If you have a minute more, you can make a sauce out of the pineapple/BBQ sauce mixture that cooked under pressure.
    1. Either use the Instapot saute function(with the lid off) or place about 1 cup of the liquid in a stovetop pot.  Separately, stir 1-2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in a small cup with another 1/4 cup of the liquid to dissolve the cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture in with the 1 cup you put in the pot (or left in the Instapot) and stir on medium heat.  Cook until you have the right consistency.  (Add more cornstarch if you want a thicker sauce or add more liquid to thin it).  These days I have been serving dinner with rice and veggies as well.

Oh and yes Elle inhaled it.

20 Thoughts on Working At Home (Part Time)

When on earth are two little people in bed at the same time — an hour early.  Let’s start with never.  Wow.  So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  First, that work at home myth where you know you have your kid quietly playing in the other room or the sweet pictures saying how wonderful it is to work at home with your baby.  I don’t know what those people are smoking but below is how it works for me.

A year or so ago, I found out we were moving out of our Country to a far away land.  I did the unthinkable — I told my boss as he offered me a promotion.  For me, being upfront and honest is very important.  It’s just me.  Most people advised against telling him.  I just couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t.  This is the second time I’ve had to tell my future employer that I will need to work from home in the near future.  Anyhow, a very difficult move later and I’ve been working at home now for a little over six months.  I thought I would share some thoughts. After having Sweetpea I realized that a daily routine is apparently imperative for me.  So this is mine these days:

Schedule
My Goal Every Weekday

Since we’re anywhere from 13-15 hours ahead of “home”, calls at midnight should mean that kids are asleep.  I would be willing to bet that if I have an important call, someone will have a nightmare, fell out of bed, be hungry, have an accident or need a hug.  (Seriously when do you wake up at midnight kid!!!)

Lessons Learned:

  1. The computer will stop working when you need it to work — write down the conference call phone number (obviously read the material before the call).
    1. Oh don’t forget to charge your phone/laptop prior to meetings 🙂
  2. Keep a local day planner (to where you live) and reference your meetings with your coworkers in their time zone (this is confusing)
  3. Map out your meetings at the beginning of the week in your local time zone
  4. Plan, predict, prioritize…everything (that’s not just true of working at home)
  5. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! (But don’t be a pain in the a$$)
  6. Learn to eat and drink water while working.  I struggling with taking any type of break when I’m working at home.  I’ve actually lost something like 10 pounds because I just don’t eat.
  7. Anticipate problems…that computer upgrade that was announced a week ahead of time…contact your help desk to get it done early.
  8. Actively participate in conference calls…but don’t talk just to hear yourself talk.
  9. Continue to look out for peers and friends as if you were in the office…hey did you see this training that’s coming up? I thought of you.
  10. Find a peer to peer sharing service such as Business Skype/Microsoft Lync to screen share or “talk” with your co-workers (but don’t be a pain!).
  11. Volunteer for things! You can do things even when you’re not physically present in the office.
  12. At some point you will need to print/scan when you’re at home…have that option available.
  13. If you have kids, anticipate problems: START ALL CALLS ON MUTE — For that midnight call you never have — that your kids never wake up for — but do for some reason….it’s fun I promise.
    1. Have a backup plan when they do wake up.  I often have “Daniel Tiger” on pause during my nighttime calls in the off chance Sweetpea wakes up and wants to chat.
  14. Coffee, coffee, coffee.  In all seriousness if you have to wake up at night…avoid the temptation to drink a cup.  Drink water!
  15. If you encounter a problem with your hours during the day (when your boss is sleeping), tell him/her just as if you were in the office.  It’s about building trust.
  16. Avoid the temptation to schedule things during the week that make your work at home schedule impossible.  You’re not a Stay At Home parent so you really can’t meet at 10am on Tuesday unless you re-prioritize your hours (and let your boss know).
  17. Make your work fun!  Get out your white board and think through your thoughts as you would in the office.
    1. Keep a running log of what you do every day! That way if someone wants to know…you can tell them!
  18. Try to sent grammatically correct emails to co-workers, friends and your boss etc.  Your emails represent you now.
  19. Realize that what you thought was obvious via email might be lost in translation.  So if it’s a sensitive topic try to have it via the phone, video conference or some real type method…as if you were walking to someone’s office.
  20. If you/your kids are sick…take a sick day.  No kid wants to remember mom/dad ignoring them when they’re sick.  So if you can…take the sick day.

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

So to say life has been smidgen intense is an understatement.

  1. Moved to another country
  2. Had a second child
  3. Learned how to use the pressure cooker
  4. Found some awesome crock pot and pressure cooker recipes

(I really like the “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts” concept.  Each paper cut/fun moment isn’t in itself difficult…but a thousand of them…sometimes it can be a bit much.  George mentioned this concept when talking about parenting…I think it fits well)

So until my camera is fixed, I will just write about my fun morning today.

We woke up at 5:45- 6am (or was it really 3am when Sweetpea joined the three of us in our queen sized bed?…I was almost kicked off the bed how many times?).  I know for certain that at around 6am, we all saw George off to work.  George thankfully had taken out today’s trash and walked the dogs.

Because Trash is Easy
Because Trash is Easy:  We have four trash cans.

Any rational person would think getting to preschool by 9 should (SHOULD) be a breeze.

…I really want to encourage curiosity in Sweetpea.  So while we are eating breakfast, she starts to teach me how food is processed in our body.  A very important part of the morning.  So we watched a 3 minute video on the digestive system.  We’ll see what I get taught later today on said video.  Our little sponge likes to teach me.  (Her latest interest is the Solar System and planets — Thank you Magic School Bus!).

You’d think 3 minutes wouldn’t impact the morning but somehow it was 7 and then 7:30 (wait yes I do…I talked to my sister amid seventeen thousand interruptions :)). Shower later, I insist on putting on my makeup (which might only be moisturizer and some eye make up with a side of … one-day-I’ll-look-polished *sigh*) while Sweetpea finishes showering in our non slip shower by herself.

Standing in my robe, I realize that a) Sweetpea is ready to leave, b) <<what is the blog name for baby #2?>> is ready and c) I haven’t made Sweetpea’s lunch for preschool.  I hate feeling disheveled.  I mean being a mom is the most rewarding and amazing thing I have ever done, but for goodness sakes I’m still a person here.  So fine.  It’s 8:45am.  We should be in the car now.  I take a minute to pretend to be put together.  Sweetpea picks out my earrings, bracelet and watch and we go to the kitchen to make lunch.  I REFUSE to spend hours making a cute lunch. I just don’t have hours to make that perfect bento box (and I get shamed for it by Sweetpea’s teacher…).

We get outside, it’s raining (thankfully I checked the weather so we’re good). We get to the car…yup.  I forgot Sweetpea’s lunch.  Back to the house.

Then preschool.  One of the mom’s offers to watch baby 2 while I drop off Sweetpea.  Can you ask any other day???!!! Here I am scrambling to repack Sweetpea’s backpack, it’s raining, Sweetpea just kissed baby 2 who is now screaming bloody murder, and we are staying calm.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  No one has died, nothing major got ruined.  It’s actually quite comical.  So yes baby 2 will be carried and not in the car seat.  So wrapped in her amazing blanket, we walk down the hill (after my friend realizes it’s a lost cause :)).  Oh you know my umbrella topples over, I tell Sweetpea to put her umbrella up…so she lifts her arm with her closed umbrella (touche child I didn’t say open it…the rain coat will do).

The clock at preschool says 9:23am.

I call my Mom to thank her for years of fun mornings.

 

 

 

Wholesome Living: Finding Balance