All posts by Mama Thyme

I am a wife, a mom, I work part time, have an additional part time job, and am striving to (try) to have it all. Things don't always go as planned but that's okay. This is my journey to try to make all of my roles and ambitions balance.

If You Give a Toddler a Lollipop

She will stick it in her hair.

That’s the theme of this last week. A calamity of events I’ll say. But you know we did it together and it was AWESOME. Seriously.

My youngest brother is getting married later this month to an amazing lady whom I love. It is important to me that we attend. So naturally four of us, sans George (still on his business trip), piled into a plane and took a quick hop home … ok not so quick. Our first flight was 9 hours.

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So I thought I’d reflect on flying solo and general travel with three for a minute. Let’s start at leaving our house…Armed with the standard flying luggage…you know my trusty umbrella stroller, two car seats, one large luggage roller bag with clothes to support 40’F to 80’F weather, activity backpacks and the standard infant necessities I marched the crew to the train. According to Google that should take 3 minutes…it took an hour (lugging all that down two flights of concrete stairs is a challenge). Then fast forward two hours on the train where Elle decided she was done with the train…I think the icing on that cake was the final train station didn’t have an elevator and had four flights of concrete stairs. That took another hour and I hurt myself (hip flexors I think) double wearing and carrying that luggage bag.

ANYHOW

We had left the day prior to our flight to ensure no last minute awesomeness. When we arrived at the hotel in high spirits (at 1 am…Hahahaha) our elation was somewhat crumpled when our flight out was cancelled. Okay…so naturally the next day we walked to the local library in the rain because it would rain all day…and enjoyed a good read. That walk to and from the library was full of Sweetpea chatter….jokes, realizations and lessons she needed to teach me, advice on life, and the ever reassurance that I’m a strong Mom and that I can do this. As we traipsed back to our hotel, the moments were not lost on me. I felt I had the biggest smile and warmest heart. What a beautiful moment in time. I will treasure this.

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Ok yes another fun fact about travel is sometimes little ladies get a little bit uneasy about new places to sleep. I celebrated the hotel when I saw the pack and play but quickly realized no one, including Gigi, wanted anything to do with it. So I found it immensely entertaining that to fit all four of us in a double (full? I don’t know whatever is one size down from a queen) we all had to sleep cross wise on the bed. I’m just glad that all 5’3” ish of me is around the width of that mattress. The room was the last room available (and in shuttle range of the air terminal)…Elle felt so special snuggled right next to me…except this lovely little lady felt the need to name and point out each body part she knew on all sleeping people: Toe!!!!! Nooooooo (nose)!!!!! Ear!!!!! Her enthusiasm was precious and punctuated with giggles and laughter with Sweetpea. At first, I was irritated and then listened to them and hoped those precious sounds are something I will always remember.

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THE FLIGHT

To be honest, I chose a military flight (Space A) for our first adventure because mistakes are bound to happen ie how does one get on or off an airplane with capable four yr old, an infant, a toddler who runs and two car seats (yup…no idea…just realizing that one)…I didn’t think that one through. Not to assume my military sisters and brothers aide….but I did and I will pay the amazing support forward.

So some of the fun:
1. You know with three someone oftentimes needs something. There is hardly a dull moment. BUT….after three hours of Elle’s frustration (the standard crying, yelling, screaming, anger with brief lulls as toys and her gracious neighbor temporarily distracted her) at being in her car seat…she passed out.
2. Right when Elle passed out…Gigi woke up. BUT with three hours til landing — Gigi fell asleep.
3. Right when Gigi fell asleep, Sweetpea had her first melt down on this plane…the warming eye mask I’d brought with us was too hot for her and didn’t fit her head. So a lullaby later, snuggled in an airplane blanket, she fell asleep.
4. I promptly fell asleep…Elle and Gigi in their car seats and Sweetpea…well she had two seats by the window by herself and was now fast asleep with her legs shooting into the isle.
5. I do not think the four of us can fit in the airplane bathroom. Thankfully I had car seats to secure kids in…not sure how I feel about leaving kids for restroom breaks. I’m really not such the fan.
6. Lollipops were genius for take off/landing until I saw Elle matte it in her hair.
7. New toys were great time passers….Sweetpea informed me that her next fidget spinner …well she wants one to light up one “like Cyrus”…her preschool buddy. Peer pressure starts so young…as does consumerism!
8. Filling out customs forms is simply hilarious. “On this flight the flight attendant does not have a pen so please borrow from your neighbor.” That’s funny…or not. Because seriously where did I pack the pen….
9. I was so thankful for some of the games on my tv monitor…that blackjack game kept my brain awake. I just don’t like the idea of falling asleep while holding Gigi. I should be fine but that “should” factor has many endings some of which I want nothing to do with…that’s a horrid thought.

AND WE LANDED!

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Instant Pot Thoughts

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!!!!!!

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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.