Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Longest Three Days

On Monday, Miss F went to daycare for the first time.  I went off to school and took care of other people's kids. Honestly, I had a rather good time.  But after school, I still had to go to my night job. They graciously allowed me to take a month off, but I agreed to work the first week so that they could find someone to take my place. Until that point, I was the only math tutor.

So I didn't see Miss F at all.  At 3 am, she cried, and I jumped right out of bed to cuddle her. Not my normal parenting style, but I missed my baby.  She missed BOTH naps at daycare, so I knew she was tired. Ten minutes later, I put her back to bed.

Tuesday morning, I woke her up just in time for breakfast before daycare. I opened her diaper to find horrendous diaper rash: three bleeding wounds. No wonder she woke up! I would have changed her if I knew. I would have known if I had taken care of her, or at least gotten her from daycare.

I took her to daycare anyway, but immediately called my mom. She was off for the day, and neither *B* nor I could pick her up because I worked at night still and he was in school. I had her get Miss F early so that she could treat the wounds.

I got home at 7:30, after Miss F's bedtime. We do this all again today, and I'll be gone after her bedtime yet again. The first day I'll get to see my baby for longer than half an hour is tomorrow night. After these three days, the rest of my time working will be a piece of cake.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Last Thing I Thought I'd Do

As of Monday, Miss F will be going to a daycare center.  While this is temporary, it's really pulling at my heart strings.

The backstory:  I worked for four years at a high school.  I anticipated taking a year off when Miss F was born, and coming back for this current school year.  But there were no positions.  Last night, I received a phone call asking me to cover for a teacher with terrible morning sickness.  We are worse than living paycheck-to-paycheck right now, and we really need the money.  On top of that, it would allow me to a) determine if I ever want to go back to teaching while I have young kids and b) allow me to take a break from my night job.  I've been getting seriously burnt out with my night job.

So I agreed to take the job, and immediately started calling around about daycare options.  I had tried to find family and friends first, but no one was able to take Miss F during the day.  I managed to find a center who had come highly recommended.  Daycare is surprisingly much cheaper than I realized, so financially this is a good move for us.

I talked about my fears of feeling like a bad mom for this move on a forum in which I post.  Many people were supportive, but some got really offended by my distaste for daycare.  I understand others need to work and/or want to work outside of the home, but we've always said it wasn't for us.  While their posts upset me, they really made me think.

And I realized why I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that my little girl will look for someone else when she's hurt.  I'm afraid that I'll miss out on her milestones.  But mostly, I'm afraid they'll do a better job than I do.

I'm not worried that daycare will make me a bad mom.  I'm worried that I'll find out I am a bad mom because she does so much better in daycare than with me.  Maybe she'll be more social.  Maybe she'll learn words more quickly.  Maybe she'll pick up baby signs, which I haven't gotten to work. 

I always worry that I'm not good enough (story of my life).  And while I always smile and thank people for compliments, I can never seem to let them sink through.  Instead, I have irrational fears.  Miss F didn't clap until she was 10 months, and she still doesn't really roll a ball across the room.  Both of these were milestones that the pediatrician asked about.  Was it because I didn't practice with her enough?  Was I not giving her the proper tools and stimulation at the right time?  Is she delayed in some way that I'm not aware of?  Or is she just a normal kid moving at her own pace?

So into daycare she'll go for six weeks, supposing the teacher who is out sick comes back when planned.  I'm going to try to stop mourning this as a loss and see it as an opportunity.  If nothing else, I'll come back to being a SAHM with a renewed outlook and appreciation of my life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pumpkin Puree is Easy as Pie

Actually, it's EASIER than pie! All you need is a crock pot and a pumpkin.

I've been itching for pumpkin since my newsfeed on Facebook blew up with pictures of pumpkin spice lattes. I batted my eyelashes at *B* and asked if we could get done canned pumpkin. He's my food conscience. He tells me what I needed to hear: pumpkins aren't in season yet, and fresh pumpkins are better than canned.

So I resigned myself to waiting for October. But the one tiny sugar pumpkin out on our vine was almost entirely orange. And wouldn't you know, pumpkins appeared at our farmer's market only two weeks later. They were $2 each, so I bought seven, though only five of them are pictured here.


As far as making puree, I washed it, ripped the stem off, poked several holes in it, and cooked it I the crock pot on low for six hours. If it were bigger, I'd cut it to make it fit and cook longer.


I let it cool a bit, removed the seeds, and scraped the flesh into a bowl.

A couple of quick blasts with an immersion blender, and I had nearly 4 cups of puree - about as much in a 29 oz can of Libby's.

A can of Libby's pumpkin is $2.88 at Walmart, which means I saved $1 after tax. But why bother, it's just a dollar, right? Let's examine this:
  • The pumpkin was grown in my county, compared to Libby's, which was most likely grown in Illinois. So less oil was used in transportation, with fewer greenhouse gasses put into the air. 
  • There was no packaging involved in my pumpkin, saving paper, metal, and plastic. 
  • While the pumpkin wasn't organic, I know this farm tries not to use pesticides. And since it's not a factory farm, there's a smaller chance of disease and contamination.
  • The money stays in my community. I'm not paying Nestle (the parent company of Libby's). I'm not supporting Walmart. I'm helping a local family and the college kids that work for them.
  • Finally: it's cheaper! Seven pumpkins =$7 saved for practically no work! How can you go wrong with that? 
Pumpkin was one of the first foods Miss F ate, and she loved it.  So I'm looking forward to giving her a tasty reminder of how she used to eat by making sausage and pumpkin pasta tonight.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegetables for Picky Eaters

My four year old nephew is a very picky eater.  His list of approved foods is very short:  bread products, tomato sauce/soup, chocolate, watermelon, and cheetos.  He hates vegetables, most fruits, and he's not a big meat eater.  A few weeks ago, we spent some time with them.  While everyone had pizza, he had a little french bread with a tiny bit of tomato sauce.  A little later, he had a bread stick.  That was all he ate from the time we got there at 10 am to the time he left at 5 pm.  He only started eating cheese a week ago.

My sister-in-law and I talked about his food habits, and she expressed concern.  That's when I told her that I add grated carrot into our spaghetti sauce.  She works a very demanding job and only sees nephew for an hour a day.  So I offered to help.  I'm trying to come up with ways to sneak nutrients into his food.  I know there are cookbooks out there for this express purpose, but this is what I've decided to try so far:
  • Zucchini doughnuts
  • Veggie-spiked spaghetti sauce
  • Veggie-spiked "nephew approved" soups (bean purees in tomato soup)
  • Sweet potato pancakes

For the first experiment, I decided to make something he couldn't say no to:  double chocolate zucchini muffins.  I found them at For the Love of Cooking.  I was skeptical at first, but they are AMAZING.

These muffins are moist, dense, and chocolatey.  There's no hint of zucchini in them.  These particular muffins I made with whole wheat flour, sucanat, pastured eggs, and organically/locally grown zucchini to make them extra delicious and healthy. Nephew downed his muffin in no time flat and proclaimed his love for them.  Next time I make them, homemade applesauce will substitute some of the oil to make it even better.

How do you sneak veggies into your foods?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Comparison is the Death of Happiness

I've been on a bit of a Blogger-blackout.  Part of it is because we've been having wonderful family time.  Part of it is due to a lack of time and a pretty significant amount of stress.  But a lot of it was because of how I think when I spend a lot of time on the web.

I see cool things, ideas, tricks, and read about others' lives.  But then I compare my life to theirs.  In one little picture or a snippet of blog post, everything is beautiful, serene, calm, organized, and perfect.  And my anxiety starts a little flicker since my pictures never turn out that way - my life never looks that way.  But I'm sure that just out of view is the pile of stuff that was pushed aside, and that tablecloth is covering the fingerpaint and craft-related gouges in the kitchen table.  Even though I know that it's most likely an illusion, I still set myself up for impossible standards and disappointment.

A picture I would like to post online

What the camera shows when I back up

As we do every fall, we spent today at the Renaissance Festival.  *B* and I have been going since we were in high school, before we even met.  I met up with some friends there that I see about once a year.  They keep in touch on Facebook and on a forum.  I got many comments about the work I do around the home - making bread, making soap, all of the homesteading-type activities that I do.  I realized that, to them, I'm the person who does all of this amazingly impossible stuff that no one has time for.  I realized I need to appreciate what I'm able to do rather than worrying about what I can't.

So I'm back.  And, for once, sharing this blog with people I know in real life.