Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dear Baby Boy,

One of our most special times together has come to an end. It seems like just yesterday you were kicking me from the inside and I was longing to meet you, and now you're here and I can't imagine my life without you. These last 3 months have flown by far too fast. I knew they would, but somehow it still surprised me. 

I have loved every gurgle, every smile, every changing table chat. Every frigid morning snuggled up and playing with Big Brother. Every errand we ran together, every time we sat down to nurse, even in the middle of the night. In fact, maybe I loved it the most in the middle of night, just you and me in the big quiet world, with snow falling softly outside your bedroom window. And it was almost always snowing since you were born, little man! You came into the world during the coldest, snowiest, longest winter I can remember. We didn't go many places on our little baby vacation, but that's ok, because hibernating with you and your brother was more special than any place we could have gone. Spring is coming (I hope!) and lots of adventures await us.

Mommy is going to miss you so much, my little sidekick. Thank you for a wonderful first 3 months. Always know that even when we're not together, I'm thinking of you and full of love for you!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Back to the Grind

In two weeks, I head back to work after 14 weeks of maternity leave. It's a very bittersweet feeling, and that is saying a lot. The first time I went back to work after having Jake, I was a complete wreck and I would have told you there was nothing I wanted to do less in the world. However, having done it and lived to tell the tale once, I can see the positive side of working. It's not that I mind the working part itself; I like my job, I like the adult contact during the day, I like having a reason to put on some make-up and a pair of heels, and I really like sitting down for lunch, chatting with colleagues and eating my meal with both hands ;-) It's the little things, after all. It also provides me with a 25 minute commute each way - that's a total of 50 minutes a day where I'm peacefully, blissfully alone - to listen to music, chat on the phone (hands free, of course) or just sit quietly and decompress. As an introvert through and through, those 50 minutes are really valuable to me and they power me through the crazy times!

But then, there's this... hearts. My loves. They fill my days with snuggles and belly laughs and make-believe. Stories, and hugs and "I love you Mommy's." Made-up songs, and shared snacks, and sometimes tears and chaos. I welcome all of those things. But leaving them behind each day is hard. It's hard to ask my big guy "how was your day?" instead of being there to experience it. It's hard to kiss sweet cheeks and walk out the door. It's really hard when they're sick and I have to choose - do I call in for the 47th time this year or go to work and worry about them all day? Being a working mom is a challenge, no doubt about it.

But you know what I detest most of all? What I call The Grind. The daily routines that take up my precious minutes during the day - the ones that if I don't do them, will cause me to fail big time at working mommy-hood. That's what I'm dreading about going back to work. Meal planning and grocery shopping on the weekend when the stores are at their most crowded. Unpacking and repacking endless bags - mine and theirs. Making lunches at 9:00 at night. Ironing my outfit for the next day after that. It seems like my days are just a never-ending series of tasks to set us up for success for the one after that. Sleep, and repeat. I hate that these things take time away from being with my family. I hate that Monday - Friday feels like all work and no fun. I really hate that my husband doesn't get home from work until 7 pm, and our evenings feel like a dash to bed time. So for now, I'll soak up every (relatively) relaxed minute of these last two weeks. Read some extra stories. Savor every morning that the three of us sleep in past eight o'clock. Log some extra snuggles and play some extra games. Maybe those things will give me the stamina to get me to summer vacation!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Perfect Pancakes

Even though I really enjoy cooking and baking (or at least, I do when I don't have two hungry, crabby kids to contend with at dinner time), for the longest time Hubs and I laughed about the fact that I was really terrible at making pancakes. It was comical and frustrating at the same time - no matter what mix or recipe I tried, I turned out overcooked, undercooked, burned, limp, tasteless flapjacks that were consistently either too thin or too thick. I just couldn't get it right. I was tempted to give up, but I couldn't let a bowl of batter get the better of me. After MUCH trial and error, I believe I've discovered the perfect homemade pancake mix. It's adapted from this recipe and it makes totally scrumptious pancakes and waffles! I personally love mine with butter and strawberry jam, and I have been known to make them for dinner ;) I hope your family loves them too!

Delicious Whole Wheat Pancakes
*This recipe makes a large amount of dry mix; simply store in an airtight container. It will make several batches of pancakes or waffles.

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt

To make the batter, you will need:
1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I rarely have real buttermilk on hand. However, I do create a convincing substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. It works great and adds a bright, fresh flavor to the finished product.)
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, canola, peanut, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Combine with the dry mix and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Preheat a griddle or pan over medium heat. I used to use butter in the pan to prevent sticking, but I've found that non-stick cooking spray works much better. Use 1/3 cup batter per pancake. Turns out my major mistake was cooking them at too high a heat - turn that burner down to medium low! Cooking them low and slow is the key to perfect pancakes, people! Perfect pancakes people - there's some alliteration for your Thursday ;) Flip only once, when small bubbles form on the surface. Serve with your favorite toppings - in our house that includes real maple syrup, Nutella, jam, and Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter. Not all at once of course!