Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An ideal menu plan

I should have posted this yesterday, I know, but I was busy assembling a crib and then discovering I do not have sheets of the size I need for it. But we're a family of great improvisers, so a solution was found and Oath slept in his co-sleeper crib for the first night (or, truth be told, the first half night: I missed him and did not put him back in after the second feeding).

So, menu planning.

Last week I did not follow my plan at all, only on Monday and even then only half of it. We did not buy groceries, so there wasn't what I needed to cook, so I just resorted to using what was in the pantry. The result? Very crappy meals, indeed.
Tomorrow we leave on vacation, so there's no need to plan meals. I will, however, share with you what would be my ideal meal plan, as in a meal plan that has all the meals that I love.

Monday - Home food
  • Lunch: "Salpicón" (Octopus salad)
  • Dinner: Ratatouille with pork chops
Tuesday - Easy food
  • Lunch: Spaghetti with bacon, onion and egg
  • Dinner: Honey and vinegar ribs
Wednesday - Asian food
  • Lunch:  Sushi
  • Dinner: Spicy soup and dumplings
Thursday - Hindu food
  • Lunch: Paneer naan (I need nothing more, yum!)
  • Dinner: Basmati rice and chicken jalfrezi
Friday - Partner's food
  • Lunch: "Tortilla española" (potato and onion omelette)
  • Dinner: Mushroom lasagna
Saturday - Grandma's food
  • Lunch: Meat and peas pies
  • Dinner: Roasted pork
Sunday - Mom's food
  • Lunch: Snails (I know it sounds gross, but I LOVE them)
  • Dinner: Chicken soup

Any foods you love that gross out others? I've had my share of shocked stares when I mention the snails and the octopus!

Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Oath's Mom

Monday, July 30, 2012

What have I done this week?

Another week has gone and it's time to look back and see what I have accomplished those last 7 days.

I have:
  • Made the bed every day.
  • Changed the bed sheets
  • Cleaned our bedroom
  • Done four loads of laundry
  • Cleaned both bathrooms
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Cleaned the living room twice
  • Vacuumed the entire house I don't know how many times
  • Meal planned (but did not follow through with plan, as we did not go grocery shopping. Oops!).
It doesn't feel like much, though comparing this week's list with last week's I can see I did about the same. The difference is that this time the house does not look clean and with everything in it's place: we hardly have been home this weekend, so we only had time to deorganize and not put things back. We have pieces of a crib in the living room, others in the guest room, piles of folded clothes on the dresser on our room... things everywhere. Hopefully today with a quick clean up I'll manage to bring the house mostly back to normal. And maybe with a screwdriver and some extra time I can finish assembling the crib.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 27, 2012

10 things you shouldn't do to a new mom

A new entry on my 10 things... "series" (if two can be called a series. I plan to do more, though)

I have learnt a lot through my pregnancy, and found many pleasant surprises. The ones that follow, though, weren't that pleasant (some did not happen to me, but would have annoyed me very much, so I thought I should share, too).

1. Call her names because you do not agree with something she is doing (or not doing), not even as a joke.

As evident as this sounds, some people need to be reminded. I have been called "step-mom" (not that I have anything against step-moms, but it was used in a very pejorative way) for not wanting to give Oath a pacifier. By my mother-in-law, no less.
I know she meant it as a joke, but anyway: Do Not Do It.

2. Buy her something she has specifically stated she does not want, need or have space enough for, just because you like it.

If she says she does not want pink frilly clothes, do not buy her a very pink and very frilly dress; if she said they are co-sleeping, it is working for them and, anyway, there is nowhere in the house they could put a crib right now... do not hand her down a crib, and much less two!
If she has been wrong, and she ends up wanting, needing or finding a place for it, she will tell you (or remain silent due to shame and pride, and that is another issue altogether).

3. Try to convince her to do things your way.

If the two of you do not agree, it is okay. Tell her your point of view, if you want, and let her explain hers, listening whether you want to or not. Do not insist that yours is the right way: even if it is, she will feel attacked and stop listening to you.

4. Appear at her doorstep unannounced.

You may understand that life with a baby takes time to adjust to, and that it is normal to have a messy house, still be in pajamas by mid-afternoon and not having showered for some days, but she will probably feel ashamed. Call in advance, ask if it's okay to pass by, and give her time change, put on deodorant and hide all the stuff.

5. Snatch the baby out of her arms.

Would you like it if somebody snatched your most loved thing right out of your hands, without warning? She may feel too weak or ashamed to say anything right then, but if you do she will probably resent it and stop trusting you.

6. Expect her to be a great hostess during your visit.

She might be, but she might as well feel overwhelmed by everything. If that is so, the last thing in her mind will be offering a drink, or a snack, or even asking how are you doing. She's there to care for the baby, not visitors.

7. Tell her there's a set time you're allowing her to not let the kid stay the night with you (applies specially if you are a grandparent).

So, if it ever crossed your mind to tell her: "Darling, you have three months until I make you leave your kid to stay the night with us.", do yourself a favor and think again. Giving her an "ultimatum" like that won't make her more prone to leaving her baby with you, or push her to do it sooner. Tell her that if she ever needs to leave the child with you for a weekend, or if she wants you to go to her house to spend the night so she and her partner can go out together: you're more likely to get what you want this way.

8. Insist if she does not pick up the phone if you are calling unannounced (unless it is an emergency).

You can be sure you will be calling while the kid is sleeping (luck works that way). Maybe she has the cell phone in silent mode, maybe she has unplugged the land line so it would not wake up her baby... or maybe you did, indeed, wake up the child and she has a crying infant in her arms and the last thing on her mind is picking up the phone. They are not dead, promise.

9. Complain that she is not giving you enough photos of the baby (another one for grandparents).

First of all, ask yourself: why should she? Unless you don't have a camera (and even then) she is not responsible of providing you with photos. Ask her if she has some that you could copy, she'll probably say yes and give you as many as you want (but do not expect her to make the copies and then drive to your home to deliver them. Maybe she will, but she has other things to take care of!)

10. Ignore her in favor of the baby.

I know it's tempting and quite instinctive to focus all your attention on the new arrival, but do not ignore the mother. She has been carrying the baby around for 9 months, has been through a very physically and emotionally exhausting journey that ends in the apotheosis that's a birth (which has probably been very scary and painful), so pay a little attention to her every time you see them. Make her feel loved and do not give her reasons to think that she's only the way to get through to the baby. She is way more than that and deserves the recognition.

Did I miss something? What annoyed you the most when you were a first-time mom? What would never cross your mind to do to a new mom?

Oath's Mom

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Housekeeping routine

Getting into a housekeeping routine with a baby can be quite difficult, I've found. I suppose that with your second child it gets easier, and even more with your third... though then there's less time and more people, and it can be tricky. I'll know it if (when, hopefully) I get there.

For me, finding a routine that works has been a bit difficult, but I think I'm on the right track. Since having a list of things to do every day was not working, I decided to make a couple of lists (one for mornings, another for evenings and a third for night) with chores I should do then, ordered by priority. Only a few of them are set in specific times of the day, and those (coupled with cooking and such) are non-negotiable: they have to get done! The others, on the other hand, we can live without doing them if need be. This way, if in the morning I only have time to do one thing, it will be the most important of the morning chores, and the rest of them won't get dragged along all day.

So, in the end, this is my daily schedule:

10am. Get up!
Morning tasks:
  • Grocery shopping
  • Make bed
  • Laundry
Cook lunch
2pm. Lunch
Evening tasks:
  • Weekly cleaning
  • Water plants
Walk with Oath
9pm. Bathtime
Cook dinner
10:30pm. Dinner
Night tasks:
  • Trash and recycling
  • Dishwasher
Midnight. Sleep

This way I can also put in non-daily chores without having a very different schedule for each day. For example, I do laundry only when it's needed (generally it amounts to two loads every three days, some weeks more, some weeks less); and we do not fill the dishwasher every day, so there is no need to run it every night, just every other day.

There are still some things I have to adjust but I think it might work long term.

What about you? What kind of routine works best for your family?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Food for a longer week

This past week the menu has gotten changed and moved around a lot, which means that we didn't eat some of the dishes. Which is all good, really, because we hadn't gone grocery shopping so part of the food wasn't in my fridge or pantry.

This week I'll plan till the end of the month (that is, Tuesday after the next), because then we go on vacation (back to my homeland!) and it wouldn't make much sense to menu plan next week just for two days.
So, this week-and-a-bit's meal plan in our home is:

  • Lunch: Soup
  • Dinner: Fish sticks with baked potatoes
  • Lunch: Sausages over mashed potatoes, grated.
  • Dinner: Fajitas
  • Lunch:  Cheese and ham omelettes
  • Dinner: Honey and vinegar ribs
  • Lunch: Caesar salad
  • Dinner: Rice "a la cubana" (with tomato sauce, fried eggs, sausages and banana)
  • Lunch: Chick pea salad
  • Dinner: "Frutti di mare" fried noodles
  • Lunch: Lunch with the in-laws (if not, move Sunday's lunch here)
  • Dinner: Stuffed baked potatoes
  • Lunch: Rice and chicken curry
  • Dinner: Braided pizza
  • Lunch: Sandwiches
  • Dinner: Ratatouille with fried fish
  • Lunch: Lasagna
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with vegetables and bacon

Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Oath's Mom

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What have I done this week?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Mostly, I've been holding a baby and rocking him, trying to get him to sleep. It's been a colicky week for Oath, and we've all been suffering it (specially me and him, Partner is out of home most of the time, working). I am thankful, though, because he has kept sleeping well at night, so at least I've been able to rest when I'm supposed to.

Taking that into account, it's been a pretty productive week. I have:

  •  Made the bed almost every day.
  • Changed the bed sheets
  • Cleaned our bedroom
  • Did three loads of laundry (Oath's, whites and darks; washing, line drying, folding and putting back in place)
  • Cleaned both bathrooms (except the tub and the shower)
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Vacuumed the entire house two times
  • Meal planned and cooked lunch and dinner almost every day I was supposed to.
  • Put away the newborn clothes and put the 3 to 6 mo. on the dresser and hangers
  • Put away my winter clothes and put the summer ones on it's place
  • Organized one kitchen cupboard

Looking at it, it's been a really productive week! Add the morning spent applying for Oath's passport and that there's been two days when I haven't done a thing, what with the colic and all that, and I feel proud of myself. Sure, the living room, entry and guest bedroom are a mess, and we really need to go grocery shopping, but everything else is fine!

Go me!

Oath's mom

Saturday, July 21, 2012

10 things I wish someone had told me before

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When you become a mother, your life changes in ways you would have never imagined, as much as you tried to.
People tell you many things about it, and chances are you have so much info you don't really know what to do with it. At least, it happened to me. There were some things, though, that nobody told me and I would have loved to know before they happened.

These are 10 of them:

1. If somebody tells you "you sound different with these contractions, like it is more serious this time", listen.

It doesn't matter if they do not really hurt and are only making you uncomfortable. Chances are they are right. Of course, there is no need to run to the hospital or call your midwife, but keep in mind that this might be it.

2. Chances are you will forget everything you've learned about breathing "right", but it is okay.

Do not freak out, keep on breathing anyway, that's the most important thing. You may learn things you never knew, though, like that if your hands and face get all tingly, you are hyperventilating. Also, it supposedly possible to breath deep and slow while trying not to push (but I'm not too sure about it).

3. At some point, you will get very scared and start to think you can't do it. Even if you have never been afraid of birth and labor before.

But you know what? You were right all along: you can do it, and you will. Don't be ashamed to admit to yourself that you are afraid, it will be easier if you just accept it and let others guide you through fear. Midwives, doctors and doulas have seen it many times and know how to help you, trust them with this.

4. When the bag of water breaks, it makes a "pop" sound.

Yeah, I know, this does not help much. I would have liked to know it, though, so I wouldn't have been startled when it happened (and maybe I wouldn't have scared Partner and the midwife with my sudden "WOAH!")

5. A few hours after giving birth, you will realize you sounded like you were drugged all along.

And you might very well be very ashamed of it. I know I was. It's not something you notice while it happens, so you can't help it. But it's okay, you can always blame hormones, and it'll be something fun to remember later. Just don't ask your significant other about it: "Partner... did I sound like I was drunk?" "Yup" "But... much?" "You have NO idea!"

6. The baby will sleep soundly the first night, and won't wake up even if you poke/gently shake/undress him, not even when you change his diaper.

And you know what? It is perfectly normal. Don't freak out, he will wake up eventually, and then he will eat. Take this chance and try to rest as much as possible.

7. You, on the other hand, will be wide awake.

Not only because the baby is sound asleep and you are worried, or because the bed is not the most comfortable ever. The rush of hormones will take your sleep and exhaustion away. Try to rest, though, because it will be one of the calmest nights of many.

8. If anything happens to your child, you will believe it is your fault.

Hasn't taken to breastfeeding as well as you imagined? Your fault. Smelly cord? Your fault. Sleeps too much? Your fault. Doesn't sleep enough? Your fault. Sneezes? Your... you get the idea. The first days your most common thought might well be "What have I done wrong that this is happening to my baby?"

9. But chances are nothing of what is worrying you so much is actually your fault.

Many things happen to a newborn, and most of them are perfectly normal (like the ones I mentioned in the last point). Others might not be "normal", but as long as you haven't dropped him on his head, you're probably free of blame. Really. He's not crying that much because you are a bad mom, promise.

And, finally...

10. You will eventually believe what you just did, and you will be prouder of yourself than ever before.

And you have all the right to! You've created a human being, a new life. There's nothing more worth of pride in this world, is there?

Oath's mom

*I had a natural birth without drugs at a hospital (though I spent most of labor at home, waiting for it to "get real"). I can't know if the things related to labor and birth would apply to any other kind of experience, but as far as I know they are common when giving birth naturally and drug-free*

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We can fly! (no more procrastination)

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
As of today, Oath has a passport, so there's no more need for my family to keep worrying about if we'll be able to take the plane to visit them come August. 

I have to say I am a bit miffed that they were actually worrying about it, but I can't blame them: I'm known for leaving everything for the last minute, and sometimes that does not work as expected. For example, that time when I lost the chance to get a student grant because I waited till the last day to hand in the documentation, and that day I got lost and couldn't find the building where I had to hand the papers in. I ended up crying for hours on the street, and the shame made me wait several weeks to tell my mother (oh, the scolding!). 
So, yeah, they had reasons to worry.

I like to think I am getting better at actually doing things, but it's been a slow progress. I'm a planner, not a doer, and actually carrying out my plans takes a great deal of effort. And when it's things I dread that I have to do (like dealing with paperwork) it is even harder. I am doing it, though: when I got pregnant I had to start to go to doctors, make appointments, fill in forms... and now, with Oath here, it keeps going.
It feels weird to actually have everything needed done (except packing) two weeks prior to the flight: I bought the tickets, checked that everything that we'll need will be there (car seat, diapers, somewhere to sleep...), told my family and friends when we'll be over there... and, the last thing I could screw up with, the passport. I feel like I'm missing something big, but I can't put my finger on what. I guess it's just that I'm not accustomed to having it all ready.

As much as becoming a mother has made daily schedules and organization go wild, it has also pushed me to become a much more organized and reliable person on a deeper level. Now I might have a messy kitchen because I haven't figured out yet how to go about it, but the important things? They get done!

Oath's Mom

Monday, July 16, 2012

Some days I'd rather not eat...

...so I could pass without cooking.

The truth, though, is that I need to eat, and Partner too, so I have to cook everyday. Luckily, Oath is breastfeeding, so I do not have to prepare any bottles and keep track of how much formula is left on top of everything else. But it is hard to find the time and motivation to cook when you would rather sit down for a minute when the baby sleeps! Specially, when you have to do it twice a day because lunch is the big hearty meal, and dinner is around when Partner comes back from work, exhausted and hungry. No way I can sneak regularly an easy dish (like soup, or instant noodles)! If I had to think what to cook I am sure we would end up eating out far more than our budget allows, and then there would be problems.
This leads clearly to one thing: menu planning.

I started some months ago, when I still had time to cook, but was lazy enough that thinking what to cook was a hassle I did not want to go through twice a day. Menu planning allowed me to stress myself with that only once a week, and also helped cut drastically on the amount spent on groceries and restaurants. I did not expect it, to be honest, but it was like magic. Suddenly everything was better: the kitchen was less messy, we weren't spending as much, we did not fight over who got to decide, it was easier to follow a healthier diet...
Well, there's no need to tell you all who are menu planning all the ways it can change our lives. And to those who still haven't tried it... you just need to know that it makes living easier, in many ways. Go for it and you'll see.

So, this week's meal plan in our house is:

  • Lunch: Cold potato salad
  • Dinner: Fusilly with tuna and tomato sauce
  • Lunch: Sausages over mashed potatoes, grated.
  • Dinner: Hake fillets with caramelized onions
  • Lunch:  Cheese and ham omelettes
  • Dinner: Chicken strogonoff
  • Lunch: Caesar salad
  • Dinner: "Frutti di mare" fried noodles
  • Lunch: Honey and vinegar ribs
  • Dinner: Nachos
  • Lunch: Lunch with the in-laws (if not, move Sunday's lunch here)
  • Dinner: Homemade pizza
  • Lunch: Rice "a la cubana" (with tomato sauce, fried eggs, sausages and banana)
  • Dinner: Fish sticks and baked potatoes

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more on menu planning (and much more!): it was one of the sites that helped me start menu planning, and it can help you too if you want to start.

Oath's Mom

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My tribe and bear momma instinct

To me, there's nothing more precious than Oath.

I suppose this explains why I get so defensive when other people come close to him. Specially people who are not of "my tribe".

What do I mean by "my tribe"? I don't really know, but until now it seems to be the ones closer to me: part of my family, my partner and father of Oath (from now on, Partner), my closest friends. Curiously, those are also the people that I feel respect my role of primary caretaker of Oath, the ones that ask permission to hold him and that take care of me first. Of course, Partner does not ask for my permission to hold his son nor do I feel the need for him to do it, but you get the idea. 

And then, there are are the other people, the "outsiders".

Each and every stranger, people that I don't like in general... and my in-laws. I feel ferociously protective of my kid when my in-laws are near. I have to consciously restrain myself from taking Oath away from them: they are his grandparents, and have every right to hold him and love him. It's just that I don't feel okay when they do.
Why? I don't know. They are nice people, have never treated me wrong (although Partner's mom has the habit of saying with the best intention things she shouldn't say) and clearly adore the boy. I know they won't do anything that could harm him, and not only I know it: I feel like they won't. But, nonetheless, every time I have to hand him down to them I would like to scream and hold him tight again my chest.

A misguided bear momma instinct, I'd say.

It is so hard to let him with others and step back, trying to not show how uneasy I am. A knot tightens in my chest, and it hurts. I want to scream until they give him back to me, but I don't.
I think that's the point, that I don't. At least, not with my in-laws. This motherhood thing is also teaching me self-restraint, who would have said it?

So, if you are a new mom too, feel this way and feel troubled for feeling it: you are not alone. I am there, too, fighting it and not knowing if I should pay attention to this instinct or not, and constantly battering myself for being such a bear momma.

Rest assured, though, that it's because we love our kids so much.

Oath's Mom

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why this blog?

I have a son that I know how to care of, but who is proving to be way more challenging (and way more rewarding) than expected; and I have a house that I have to manage and maintain in a livable state, though I don't know how to go about it.
I need some way to figure it all out and, as I'm sure I'm not alone in this, a place to share it with the world. And, in a time like the one we're living in, where better than a blog?

I plan to share the tips that help me, the moments that get me through the day, the words that hurt me as a mother although they weren't meant this way, the things I learned about kids on my degrees... the daily happenings and the tools I use being a mom and a housekeeper.

So this is, long story short, the home blog of the stay at home mom of a two months old boy.

Oath's Mom
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