Monday, March 26, 2012

The Neverending Snotty and Big Boy Beds

"I can dream about you if I can't hold you tonight" ~ Dan Hartman

I hear that it's spring. I've even heard the occasional bird chirping between rainstorms. So, yeah, we finally got our winter in the Bay. And Q and Z have had seemingly endless colds. It's like a snot factory up in Guido. And all over my sweaters and pants and hair and somehow my socks. The poor kiddos, their little noses are chapped and I think they've forgotten that those two holes are for breathing out of. Everybody's testy. Everybody's tired. Welcome to my first real cold season with kids. Thank you, preschool!

With all the rain and us being cooped up in the house, Q learned how to climb out of his crib. Okay, pull your jaw off of the floor. I know that we've managed an extended crib stay, but as they say, it wasn't broke, so we didn't want to fix it. But that beautiful 3 hour nap couldn't last forever. Now we are lucky to get any nap at all. Unless it's passing out cold on the floor at 5:30pm. Just the kind of nap you're not really down for. Because waking up with carpet face and your parents taking photos of you is enough to send you into an hour-long tantrum.

So, we gave up on pushing the nap and decided it was finally time for the big boy bed. We piled into the car and boarded the Sleep Train (Bay Area peeps, you know what I'm talking 'bout) and ended up with a nice, firm twin mattress and box spring. Low-riding close to the floor, tricked out with a spoiler safety rail. We figure we can pick out a fancy bed frame and headboard later. So far the robot comforter and sheet set seems to be exciting enough for our Q. We're on night 3 and I don't want to jinx anything, but let's just say there have been minimal escape attempts. Mainly because he's so wiped out by the time his head hits the pillow. I've also made a big deal about how lucky he is that he gets to sleep in a brand new big boy bed!!! We'll see how long that one lasts.

Z seems to like her big girl crib well enough, but she has yet to transition to two naps. She's still taking a few mini naps a day. We're lucky if we get one in the morning that lasts over an hour. I'm sure the eternal snot nose and cough has something to do with it. My poor little bird.

In the meantime, I dream of a sun-filled spring with clear sinuses (please don't let the kids get my seasonal allergies) and the occasional afternoon nap on the weekend for the whole fam. And next time we hit the Sleep Train it will be for mama and daddy's real deal big boy bed -- aka the California king.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

{Sponsored Video} Q's Kind Nums: The Mac of Cheese

"Return of the mack, you know that I'll be back" ~ Mark Morrison

As I've established here before, Q is not a big fan of the savory end of the food spectrum. But when he does feel like something a bit less sweet, he of course goes for the classic kids' favorite -- macaroni and cheese. Hey, I don't blame him. M&C is still one of my favorite comfort foods. I even spent some time scouting out the best mac and cheese at restaurants around San Francisco (funny enough, one of the best is at a restaurant called Q and I discovered it pre-Q). If I saw M&C on a menu, I felt compelled to try it. After the influx of upscale comfort food restaurants, it seemed that cheesy, warm goodness was all over the place.

But it's a different time in my life. Not so much restaurant hopping. More cooking at home. Now I must admit that I often go for the boxed variety due to lack of time and pure laziness (I try for the organic white stuff, not the bright orange -- promise!) But when I have a bit more time and I want to impress T too, I make some M&C from scratch that's pretty amazing. It's not my recipe -- props to my dear friend Robyn -- but it's my favorite! And the key to some seriously yummy homemade M&C is excellent cheese. My first pick is always Tillamook Sharp Cheddar. Sometimes I go with more of the Medium if I'm trying to please Q's palate and a bit of the Extra Sharp if I want to please myself.
Here is Robyn's homemade mac and cheese:

2 large eggs
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (sometimes I use some locally made peppery salsa and more of it)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tbs unsalted butter
12 oz (about 3 cups) Tillamook Sharp Cheddar

Bread crumb topping (optional)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
pinch salt
1 1/2 tbs melted unsalted butter

If you're going for bread crumbs, start them first. Heat oven to 350 degrees; mix bread crumb ingredients together in small baking pan; bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Mix eggs, 1 cup evaporated milk, pepper sauce, 1/2 tsp of the salt, pepper, and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add remaining salt and macaroni. Cook until almost tender but still slightly firm to the bite. Drain and return to pan over low heat. Add butter and toss to melt.

Pour egg mixture over buttered noodles along with 3/4 of the cheese; stir over low heat until thoroughly combined and cheese starts to melt. Gradually add remaining milk and cheese, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with toasted bread crumbs if desired.

Now if that didn't get you hungry, watch this video from Tillamook to give you even more of a cheese tease. I want to be friends with these guys. They seem hilarious. Plus they'd always have my favorite cheese on hand. And Q would be all about that bus.

Let me know if you try the recipe and what you think. With all the dreary weather (and stress!) around these parts, it's the perfect time for some comfort food.

This post is sponsored by Tillamook.

Friday, March 16, 2012

R&B and Rain Themes

"Blame it on the rain that was falling, falling" ~ Milli Vanilli

Aside from quoting the most profound songwriters of our time, I've been a bit preoccupied lately. I'm just finishing the first week at my new job, adjusting to the new demands of the workday and a new schedule, and seeing my family less. All the while it's rained more than it has the entire winter. It's as if Mother Nature decided to save all of her winter up until the very end of the season just to psyche us out. But of course I think it all coincides a little too perfectly with this huge transition in my life.

There's always a touch of bitterness when encountering the sweetness of an opportunity to move your life forward. You mourn for the life you once had. Even when change is what you craved. Because the adjustment can be challenging.  Oh, how I miss my babies every day. How I doubt my abilities in my new position. How my heart races when I'm stuck in traffic trying to get home to feed my loves. And the rain tumbles from the grey sky.

But then you realize that the rain is washing away the old to make way for the new. A simple cleansing process. A spring cleaning, if you will. It's uncomfortable and cold and wet and windy. It doesn't do your hair any favors. Is it too late in the season to buy rainboots? Should I just weather the storm in my old gear and wait for the deluge to give way to sandal season? You know, I should go ahead and buy a decent pair. There will always be rainy days in my future. It's a worthy investment. Preparing for that in-between time.

While this week has been challenging and I've come close to questioning my decision, I know in my heart of hearts that all of the struggle is worth it. Yes, New Edition and Missy Elliot, I can stand the rain. Rather, I'll try to pay closer attention to it. In the end, I know that the sun will find its way out from behind the clouds. But sometimes it's looking back at what happened before the sunburst that makes the moment that much more enjoyable.

In other words, I survived my first week at the new job. Woo hoo!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Peekaboo, Pretty Baby: Zoe's 6 Month Day

"My cherie amor, pretty little one that I adore" ~ Stevie Wonder

Six months, Zoe. Half a year! How can it be that you are no longer my teeny newborn? Okay, you were never teeny, Notorious Z.O.E.. But you were once more fragile, more in need of being attached to mama. Now you are so much more aware of the world around you and you're desperate to interact with it.

Don't you die over the Missoni for Target knit leggings?
So what's the latest and greatest with you, ZoZo? Let's see. When you're feeling goofy, you stick your tongue out and grin around it. Which is pretty much most of the day. We're not sure what that's all about, but no complaints here. You also love to practice talking. Lots of "wah wah wah" and "yah yah yah" and "bah bah bah" lately. Sometimes you're most vocal at 4 in the morning. You're lucky you're so cute. And that's all I'll say about that.

We've taught Q how to play peekaboo with you, which has become an awesome distraction tactic for the both of you. Sometimes he covers his face with one hand, snack in the other, food falling out of his mouth, but you still light up like the morning sun every time he does it. "Baby like peekaboos," Q tells us. Yes, Q. Yes, she does. Especially when you do it.

At your 6 month pediatric visit, you weighed in at 16 pounds, 5 ounces (75th percentile), and I've now become a terrible mother because I forget your length but know it's in the 85th percentile. You're healthy and doing well, despite having caught just about every one of Q's colds this winter. You seem to be getting over your stranger anxiety, although it does take you a while to warm up sometimes.

We've finally let you try some food. We knew you were ready a couple of weeks ago because you were basically drowning in your drool every time we ate in front of you, trying to dive into my plate, and grabbing every morsel in sight. So, I thought, enough with the torture, let's feed this child some solids already! You've only tried baby oatmeal, peas, and squash so far, but you love it all. Oh, how glorious it is to feed your child at this stage! Before they get all opinionated and defiant about it. (I still love ya, Q.)

But my favorite recent development? The open-mouthed kisses you land on my cheek. It's been a most lovely 6 months, baby girl. I'm cherishing every moment and feel so lucky to be your mama. Happy 6 Month Day, Zoe!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Currents of Change

"Let it go, let it flow, move on with your life and act like ya know" ~ Jean Grae (aka What What)

I fancy myself an adaptable person. Someone who can float along with the current. I'm a fish, but I try not to be very salmon-y -- no fighting the flow over here. But while I am one to float on float on, I also find comfort in staticity. Or stability. Over the last three years, I have gotten quite comfy with my flexible work schedule, with co-workers who feel like family and who allowed me to spend precious time with Q and Z. I worked from home twice a week and went into the office on the other days, with plenty of help from family and an awesome part-time nanny. 

But next week everything changes. Well, not everything exactly. Just my life. That's all. I start a new job working full time in SF. I'm beyond excited for the chance to further my copywriting career. It's an amazing opportunity. Plus, I get to work with a manager who was a great mentor to me in a previous job. And it's just excellent timing in the job-sphere of my life.

Then there's the mom-sphere of my life. You know, taking care of my family. Only the most important part of my world. That's where I'm losing sleep. Figuring out the ideal childcare for both Q and Z while wondering how even more change will affect Q and choking up at the thought of missing many of Z's firsts and hoping that she doesn't get more attached to the nanny than me and on and on. Then the pervasive mom guilt creeps into my stomach and radiates toward every appendage until I'm quaking with anxiety.  

Oh yes. Change is fun. I'm being sarcastic and I'm being truthful. Because while all of this is challenging, I'm up for it. Everything is seemingly falling into place already. It feels destined somehow. While in an ideal world, I'd only work part time until both kids were in school, this opportunity has drifted into my life right now. And I need to go with it. I'm planning to kill it on my first day. That's my goal every day thereafter. Just attack the workday and float into the night and the weekends.

Because like the wise Dre Dog once said, I'm a Pisces, but I'd rather be a killer whale.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Missing Movies & A Date Night Idea

"Let's go to the movies, let's go see the stars" ~ That song from Annie (yes, I did just quote a song from Annie)

As far as dates go, I'm pretty easy to impress. Especially now that leaving the house at night (or at 11am) without children feels indulgent in and of itself. Take me to dinner and a movie and I'm one happy mama. Never mind that it's the ultimate date cliche.

I inherited my love of movies from my parents, and they used to throw a fun Oscar party every year with mostly my friends. So when this year's Oscars came around and I had only seen one of the nominated movies, it made me feel so out of the loop. Clearly I have other things going on, but I'd still like to see more movies in the next year. If at all possible.

Our most recent date night involved watching Bridesmaids at home, which was awesome. T actually stayed awake for the whole thing and that's saying something. So, this seems like the perfect flick for a future date night, especially since it's basically a Bridesmaids sequel (the synopsis below was not written by me, btw):

Friends With Kids is a daring and poignant ensemble comedy about a close-knit circle of friends at that moment in life when children arrive and everything changes. The last two singles in the group observe the effect that kids have had on their friends' relationships and wonder if there’s a better way.  They decide to have a kid together - and date other people.

Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed, and stars in the romantic comedy Friends with Kids. She plays Julie, a Manhattanite whose biological clock is about to run out, so she convinces her longtime platonic best friend, Jason (Adam Scott) to father a child with her. They seem to have a much easier time juggling the responsibilities of new parenthood without the complication of being in a relationship with each other, which is in contrast to the two couples they are closest to. As their friends' marriages implode, Julie and Jason's happy equilibrium topples over as well when he falls for a hot young artist (Megan Fox) and she begins dating a successful businessman (Edward Burns).

There are big laughs and unexpected emotional truths as this unconventional 'experiment' leads everyone in the group to question the nature of friendship, family and, finally, true love.

Friends With Kids stars Adam Scott ("Parks and Recreation"), Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox and Edward Burns.  
Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein).  
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will release Friends With Kids on March 9, 2012.

Hint hint, Mr. T.