Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

Baby on the Brain

I know how annoying I must be to my friends that don’t yet have kids. I am quite obsessed with my daughter and I’m almost incapable of having a conversation with anyone without saying something about her. As its happening I find myself annoyed that I’m doing it, but my life revolves around her and my happiness is derived from my growing family so it’s hard not to share every detail with my friends.

I have always been a very social person. I loved living in Manhattan in college and going out with friends to different bars and restaurants, drinking too much and nursing a hangover the following day. When Dave and I moved to Long Island we made the 40 minute train ride into the city every weekend to continue the tradition. That is, until we had a mortgage to pay for and a baby at home.

Do I miss it? Of course. I miss being able to drop everything to meet a friend for dinner or a few drinks and not feeling guilty leaving a baby at home. I also miss my friends that don’t have kids. We are definitely living totally different lives now.

That being said, no night of partying with my buddies compares to being a mom. Those that don’t have kids won’t understand that until it happens to them, I mean I sure didn’t. I can’t explain it other than being a parent means you are totally obsessed with your child. I live for her and though I enjoy an occasional night away, I miss her every second I’m not with her.

My mom explained that as my life moves forward, some friendships won’t survive the transition. It’s hard to relate to people with whom you share no common ground. This has been sad, but true. I have gravitated towards friends with kids because I know I’m less annoying to them and that they share as many ‘mom’ stories as I do. My husband laughs that when we get together, our college selves would be appalled at the conversations of pregnancy and child-rearing that have overtaken stories of wild nights out. I treasure these relationships but wish I had somewhere to fit in the old ones as well.

So my question is this: Does it all level out at some point? Is there a time in my future where my kids won’t be the center of my universe and I’ll be able to enter the adult world again without stories of late nights up with a teething baby or the newest art project she made at Gymboree? Or will the stories just change to incorporate parent-teacher conferences and sports events? In the meantime, we moms do apologize for boring everyone with our stories. It really isn’t our intention to bore you to tears. One day you’ll understand.

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Sophomore year in college. My waist was thinner and my alcohol tolerance was much higher.

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With my partners in crime – Kristin and Lauren.

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My new favorite pastime. With my buddy.

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Terrible Twos

Whoever named it this must have been the same person that coined the term ‘morning sickness’. The terrible twos start at 18 months and morning sickness is all damn day.

Sofia was always a fantastic eater. We never had a problem getting her to try, and like, anything. She eats hummus on crackers, loves peas, and will drink milk all day long if you let her. That is, until this week.

Since she found her voice, she has an opinion on EVERYTHING. The past few days food has been her target for temper tantrums. She only wants Cheerios and milk and has an absolute freak out if you try to give her anything else.

My younger sister is a BCBA and is trained to deal with difficult behaviors in children with disabilities such as Autism. She is my go-to for all things behavior. Her suggestion was to put what I want Sofia to eat in front of her, turn off distractions like the tv, and keep her sitting for a half hour. No way will my husband tolerate crying and whining for that long.

I went to the baby store today and stocked up on new feeding equipment. I bought cups, plates, bowls, and tiny flatware in the hopes that moving her to the big table would entice her to eat. I made a pb&j sandwich, cut into cubes, grapes cut in half, and a few pretzels with water to wash it down. I made myself the same lunch and set the table for both of us.

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Made us both the same lunch and sat together. Maybe this will work?

To my surprise, there was no tantrum. She was so excited to ‘sit like a big girl’ and eat what I ate that she didn’t complain once and ate her entire lunch.

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Hey Mikey, she likes it!

Now on to the next challenge: moving her to her big girl room. Wish me luck.

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BBQ Leftovers

My dad made his famous BBQ ribs this past weekend and we may have overestimated the amount of ribs we would need. I had 2 large freezer bags of ribs leftover in my fridge. Determined to not let them go to waste, I started thinking about how to use them for a quick dinner, and of course Hot Pockets came to mind again. :)

See my Hot Pockets post for a link to the original recipe, and here are my modifications:

1. I cut the bread dough into 6 disks instead of 4, to make them more like Chinese pork buns and less like Hot Pockets.

2. I cut the meat off the bones, tossed them with a bit more BBQ sauce, and filled the disks of dough with the meat, sealing them and brushing with the egg wash.

3. I put them on a greased cookie sheet an into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. I recommend more BBQ sauce to dip them in.

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Rib meat in the dough.

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Egg wash on top and in the oven.

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The finished buns. Serve with a salad.

Leftover BBQ chicken or veggies or pretty much anything will work from your last grilling session. Hope you enjoy!

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Family Reunions

I have been in New York for 11 years, since the August before I started my freshman year at NYU. As excited as my parents were that I had been accepted to such a great school, they were admittedly nervous about my being 3,000 miles away from them. 2 weeks after I moved to Manhattan, 9/11 happened. They were now much less excited.

11 years, a marriage and almost 2 grand kids later, I know how much living in New York hurts my parents. My mom is a rockstar and travels to see us almost every month, and I know how difficult it is on her. She wishes desperately that I lived close enough for her to pop over to see Sofia whenever, and after all of the complications I have had with this pregnancy, she wishes she was around to help me out more as well.

I am lucky enough to have amazing in-laws with whom I am very close. My mother in law and I have a great relationship and she is so much more than just helpful. I live just a few blocks away from her and we see her at least 2-3 times a week, if only for a play date or an ice cream run. I feel so blessed to have her, and I know living so far from my own mom would be a million times more difficult without her.

Within the past 6 months a lot has changed here. My brother moved to upstate New York to go to the Culinary Institute of America, and we are all very proud of him and excited for his new career. My sister has also moved here and is living in Brooklyn with her husband, who is doing his rotations for medical school in NY. This has left my parents empty nesters after almost 30 years of having us annoy them daily.

This past weekend my parents came to visit, along with my Aunt Terri who is not only my dad’s sister, but my second mom. We didn’t do much aside from a trip to a restaurant here and a BBQ there, but it was just amazingly fun to have them here. My brother came down to visit as well, and it was nice to have everyone around.

I drop not-so-subtle hints to my parents regularly about moving here, but I know it’s unfair to ask. They have their lives in California, and I have my life here. We’re in a difficult situation now because as much as traveling with one kid was difficult, traveling with two just sounds like pure torture to me.

So we will have to take full advantage of these great visits, soaking up all the family time we can get. The next time we’ll all be together won’t be until October when baby Dave joins the family. Maybe I have to just keep having kids to get them all here. :) I do know this: I appreciate them more than I ever have for the unconditional love and support that they offer up like its nothing. It isn’t nothing to me though, it’s everything.

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My family at my engagement party. My brother, mom, dad, sister, Aunt, cousin and me.

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Quintessential 90s family photo. Complete with awesome dad-stache.

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A Glass of Red?

Pregnancy comes with a very long list of dos and don’ts. The don’ts seem to far outweigh the dos, and with my first pregnancy I remember feeling paralyzed as to what I was allowed and not allowed to eat, drink, and partake in. Apart from the list I was given, I was also given lots of unsolicited advice as to other ‘risky’ behaviors. I have been told, for example, by several people, not to raise my arms above my head because the baby’s umbilical cord will wrap around its neck. Turns out that’s not true.

The doctor’s ‘no’ list includes booze, cigarettes, caffeine, raw meat and seafood, etc. These were not shockers to me. What did shock me was the fact that soft cheeses, lunch meat and at least 7 different types of fish were on that list. I mean really, what’s left? I had a horrible aversion to chicken and most meats during my entire pregnancy so I was left with fruits and veggies, and carbs. Definitely heartbroken about the cheese thing, and lunch was such a struggle with sandwiches off the table.

I never had a conversation with my doctor about her list. I didn’t want to be perceived as a bad mom so early in my career so I just blindly followed it. Gone was the cheese, and the sandwiches, and coffee, and a nice cold glass of Coke, and worst of all, my nightly glass of red wine. I’ll admit to a sip of champagne on 3 occasions in my 3rd trimester for the toast at friends’ weddings and will assure you my husband was pissed. It was a long 9 months.

This time around I asked more questions and did some of my own research. I was surprised to hear from my doctor that the cheese thing is only unpasteurized cheeses, which are extremely rare to find in the US. Lunch meat she said was fine as long as it was turkey and not bologna or salami and from a reputable deli. Up to 200mg of caffeine is perfectly fine per day and, a glass of red wine on occasion is perfectly acceptable!

Could this be true? Why all the lists of don’ts? Turns out common sense is not so common, and we can’t be trusted to make wise decisions as to what we put in our mouths and what we do to our bodies. By the way, hair dye is fine as well. I’m still confused as to why fast food and soda are not on the list of no if there are things on that list that clearly are ok in moderation. If a turkey sandwich is bad, isn’t a Big Mac worse?

A study was published today and was on every news outlet as well as online about alcohol consumption during pregnancy. There was no harm found in children born to mothers that drank less than 8 alcoholic drinks per week. EIGHT! I am not saying I find that to be appropriate but between this study, and my conversations with my doctor, I fully intend on enjoying a half glass (rebel that I am) of wine once and awhile and I will not be made to feel guilty about it.

Moral of this story, don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your doctor about what is safe and not while you’re pregnant. You’ll find that they are guidelines and not rules, and that you are not expected, in most cases, to put life on hold to the extent the list will have you believe. Be mindful that you are creating a life and do your best to be as healthy as you can, for your sake and your baby’s.

NPR Article

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Steak Sandwiches

I don’t know how to cook for 2 people. Never have. I can cook for 4, 6, 20, 150, but I just can’t seem to scale it down for 2 people, which is fine because I love coming up with ways to use leftovers. I made skirt steak with potatoes and broccoli the other night for dinner and had a lot of steak left over, so I decided to make what people in New York call ‘tidbits’ – never heard of this in California but its delicious. It took a total of 15 minutes to make and we had a salad with it. Easy weeknight meal!

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Finished steak sandwiches.

Steak ‘tidbit’ Sandwiches

Leftover skirt steak, sliced
Italian bread
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
Paprika
Parmesan cheese (grated)
Shredded Swiss, provolone or mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Cut loaf of Italian bread in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet (line with aluminum foil for easy cleanup)
3. Drizzle olive oil on bread and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and parmesan cheese. Put in oven for 5 minutes or until cheese bubbles.
4. Add sliced steak and top with shredded cheese. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and steak is warmed through. Enjoy!

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Garlic bread is better than regular bread. Clearly.

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A little cheese never hurts the situation.

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Second Time Mommy

Sofia, 3 weeks old

I am no rookie when it comes to pregnancy. It was a mere 18 months ago that Sofia came into this world, a ball of energy and laughing that is hard for anyone to ignore. (what is making that loud squealing sound?) I had a blissfully boring pregnancy with Sofia. Maybe a week or two of slight nausea, definite exhaustion, and a typical 12 hour labor with no complications. I wish I appreciated it then.

This pregnancy began after a miscarriage in November that left Dave and I heartbroken. We were both ecstatic to find out so soon after our loss that we were pregnant again. Then the tornado hit. Weeks 7-14 were the toughest of my life. Morning sickness lasted all day and night, I was unable to eat anything, and was so tired I could barely take care of Sofia. I felt awful, and guilty that I couldn’t be a good enough mom to my very active toddler. It all came to a head one Saturday when I had sharp pains in my belly and was told by my doctor to go to the ER, where a 6 hour stay revealed dehydration as the cause. My mom flew out from California the next week to help me with Sofia and basically nursed me back to health. Sometimes only a mom can cure you.

Flash forward to the second trimester, where I am now not only able but more than willing to eat just about anything and everything. I still feel exhausted, but maybe that’s due to chasing around my tiny Tasmanian Devil. I did, however, have to go to my doctor again today due to cramping and back pain, paranoid that I was going into preterm labor at 23 weeks. I was scolded by my doctor to ‘do less’ and let other people pick up the slack. Easier said than done, for sure. What I don’t understand is how women survive bed rest. A half day of sitting on my couch and I am ready to burst. I have always been an active person and I just feel like a waste letting my daughter watch Yo Gabba Gabba (God is that show awful) and feeding her packets of pre-made toddler-friendly foods.

What shouldn’t scare me after all of this is labor. I thought surely I would have less anxiety about labor having been through it before, but I think I am more anxious because I know what I have gotten myself into. The only way out of this is labor, and I can’t say I’m all that excited to go through it again. The end result I know is worth it, a happy, healthy baby boy that we will be naming after my loving husband. David Anthony better start being nice to his mommy, because right now he’s looking like a bigger pain in the ass than his older sister. Can’t wait to meet you buddy :)

Baby Dave, in the womb.

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day has always meant BBQ for my family. My grandpa had an old school BBQ and would smoke delicious hunks of meat all summer by his pool, and my dad took over the reigns as BBQ master after he passed. He makes the most delicious ribs you’ve ever tasted and takes it very seriously. Even Thanksgiving involves a BBQ, our turkey has been smoked for years now.

I am so thrilled that my husband has a love for the grill just like the men in my family. When I asked him what he wanted to do for Father’s Day, he insisted on smoking a pork butt to make pulled pork. This meant getting up at 5am to get it started, and drinking beer while supervising it for the rest of the day. He’s dedicated, but he’s no dummy.

I make my own BBQ sauce for this pulled pork and made a german potato salad to go with it. I’ll include the potato salad recipe but I’m keeping my BBQ sauce recipe a secret. It’s my only one. :)

Nothing makes my husband happier than to grill for his family and friends. He’s fiercely proud of what he makes and loves to share. This Saturday my brother Cameron, sister Stephanie, her husband Andrew, our friends Rob and Laura, and my childhood friend Gloria were all at our house for an 11lb pork feast. Maybe we overdid it a bit but boy was it fun.

German Potato Salad

2 lbs red potatoes
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 red onion (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbs honey

1. Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces and boil until tender.
2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, honey and salt and pepper together and pour over potatoes while hot.
3. Slice veggies thinly and add to potatoes. Cool in fridge (overnight is best)
4. When cool toss with blue cheese crumbles. Enjoy!

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German potato salad

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Finished pulled pork

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Banana Bread

I tend to buy bananas thinking I’m going to eat them only to watch them turn that sad shade of brown all too quickly. Because of this, I started to make banana bread. I became sort of famous in my department at the high school I used to work at for this stuff, because it’s more of a cake than a bread. I had to make 2 loaves and they would be devoured by 2nd period every time. The recipe is from foodnetwork.com and is extremely simple. 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, 3 bananas, flour and baking soda. Nuts are optional.

The big tricks to making this come out right is to make sure the butter is soft before you mix it with the sugar, the bananas are way past edible (brown and soft everywhere not just spotted), and do NOT over mix. Mix it just until it barely comes together.

This is a great recipe for toddlers. My daughter loves bananas and loves cake even more. It’s best served room temperature the following day, and is great when toasted with butter on it. Hope you love it as much as my family does!

Link to recipe here:

Banana Bread

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Finished banana bread

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Minutes before my husband ate the majority of this loaf.

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Hot Pockets

I have a slight obsession with Hot Pockets. I know they’re terrible but man are they delicious. My first hormonal breakdown when I was pregnant with Sofia came when I sent Dave out for pepperoni pizza Hot Pockets and the store was completely out. They had every other flavor, but no pepperoni pizza, as if some other pregnant lady (or pothead) had been there just before me and cleared them out. Incidentally, pregnant cravings are exactly the same as pot-fueled munchie cravings. Dave has felt the need to disclose the fact that he is buying things for his pregnant wife on more than one occasion because he felt like he was being judged. Recently it was Fruit Loops at a 7-11 at 11pm. Poor guy.

Anytime I mention my obsession with Hot Pockets people look disgusted. It’s probably not something I should eat while pregnant because I’m sure there is no nutritional value whatsoever, so I try to stay away. Along comes this brilliant recipe from Foodnetwork.com that divulges the secrets behind making your own. It was like Christmas Day over here.

I made the Croque Monsieur pockets so that’s the recipe link I’ll post, but if you check the website there are a variety of fillings, and I’m sure just about anything will work. The beauty of this is it uses refrigerated bread dough (like a pillsbury French Bread loaf) and takes only 15 minutes in the oven. Also, you control the quality of your ingredients. Real cheese, not a pasteurized cheese food product. These were hot, melty and satisfying, and will now be my replacement for those awful Hot Pockets.

Link to recipe here:

Croque Monsieur Pockets

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Much healthier than my normal hot pocket.

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Egg washed before the oven.

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Fold over the filling and onto a baking sheet.

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