Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

Can I Just Get Some Sleep?

Sleep is all I think about. For the past 2 years I can count on one
hand the number of times I’ve slept through the night. First, it’s
pregnancy-induced insomnia coupled with heartburn and getting up to
pee several times a night. Then it’s feeding an infant, teething or
nightmares. Now I’m pregnant again, and having an even harder time
getting a few good hours in.

This is not a post to complain, but rather to help. I’ve been reading
up on natural childbirth for this baby, because I wasn’t very happy
about my pitocin/epidural combo when I delivered Sofia and would like
to have more tools to cope with the pain and avoid the epidural. And
definitely the pitocin. God that stuff is awful.

So I bought a book on HypnoBirthing. It’s not actual hypnosis, but
rather trusting your body to function in the way it was intended to
and using deep relaxation and breathing techniques. I noticed last
night that these relaxation techniques are not only relaxing, but were
able to calm my Braxton Hicks contractions and help me drift off to
sleep quickly.

I’ve never been one to fall asleep quickly. I’m so envious of how fast
my husband falls asleep. His head hits the pillow and he’s out. It has
always taken me at least a half hour to get to sleep. Unless I’ve had
a bottle of wine beforehand, of course. Visualizing my body going
‘limp’ in 5 different zones like the book suggested got me to sleep in
minutes. I was up 2 hours later to pee, naturally, but was
successfully able to get myself back to sleep quickly every time. Huge
breakthrough.

I woke up this morning more refreshed than I have in a very long time.
I highly suggest buying this book for the breathing and relaxation
tools alone. Tried to find a web link to the different tools from the
book but they (wisely) haven’t published them online. Here is the link
to the book on Amazon if you are interested:

Here’s to a good nights sleep!

 

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Macaroni and Cheese

It’s hard to pick a favorite childhood meal, but Macaroni and Cheese has to be in my top 5. Not the boxed kind, but my mom’s homemade. When I left for college I tried to get her to write down the recipe, but like all of my mom’s recipes, there is no recipe. It’s kind of a ‘little of this, a little of that’ thing with her.

I make mine the way I have watched her make it, but I probably double the amount of cheese sauce because I am a closet fat kid. You can tailor this to your personal taste.

I also did a lot of the cooking ahead of time because as my belly gets bigger, I get more exhausted come dinner time. I highly recommend chopping veggies, shredding cheese, and doing whatever else you can in the morning and stashing it in the fridge so cooking is faster and easier when it’s time to start making dinner. This Mac and Cheese can be made a day ahead and put in the fridge, that way you just pop it in the oven for a half hour to 45 mins when you’re ready. It can also be frozen.

Cathy’s Macaroni and Cheese
view this recipe on epicurious
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Colman’s dry mustard
4 tbs flour
4 cups milk
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 lb pasta (elbow macaroni, penne, etc)

1. Heat oven to 350 and put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it is boiling, add pasta and cook 1 min less than package directions.

2. Sauté onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil with salt and pepper and dry mustard (optional) on med/high heat

3. Add flour and cook 2 mins, stirring constantly

4. Add milk slowly while whisking so it doesn’t form lumps. Heat until bubbles break the surface and it has thickened, 5-6 mins

5. Add cheese a handful at a time, leaving about a cup to add to the top

6. Add cheese sauce to drained pasta and pour into a casserole dish. Put in oven for 20 mins or until cheese melts and is bubbly

7. Let it sit for at least 10 mins before serving. Enjoy!

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Shredding the cheese and chopping the onions beforehand makes cooking much faster and easier.

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This is what the roux should look like, cook the flour just a few minutes until it starts to turn a little golden.

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This is the color of the cheese sauce and the pasta boiling separately.

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I like my mac and cheese to be very cheesy. You can adjust how much cheese sauce you like in yours.

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This is the finished Mac and Cheese before you put it in the oven. You can stop here and cool and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make it.

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All bubbly and finished!

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Just Wait…

There are 2 types of advice-giving parents in this world, the ‘Just wait’ and the ‘Enjoy every minute’. I much prefer to hear a positive spin on parenting than a negative one when I’m receiving unsolicited advice, however it seems people are all too happy to be doomsday about everything from my pregnancy, to the transition to 2 kids, and even my daughter (a mere 19 months old) as a teenager. Do me a favor, old lady at Stop n Shop, shut up already.

I was at my husband’s softball game a few weeks ago with Sofia in tow, and the umpire decided I needed to hear his parenting views. No matter how many times I ignored him (3, by the way), he felt it necessary to repeat the phrase ‘Little girls are the devil, aren’t they?’ to me. After the third time, I replied, ‘Actually no, they’re pretty awesome’ to which he countered a lovely ‘Just wait till she’s 2.’ Now, I don’t remember asking his opinion, but I took the bait and said, ‘Well, she’s 19 months and so far she’s a lot of fun.’ He then shared that he had a 16 month old. Didn’t he just tell me that I was in for it when she turns two? MFer doesn’t even HAVE a 2 year old. Ugh.

I always love when moms tell me how cute my daughter is, ask me how far along I am, and tell me about their kids and how I should savor every moment because it goes by so fast. These are positive moms who are reminiscing about the good parts of raising small kids. I’m not trying to sugar coat it and tell you it’s not difficult. Parenting is why God invented wine. I do know that I don’t need any reminders from strangers about temper tantrums, the terrible twos, or what raising a teenager is soon to be like. I get it, nobody ever said it would be easy. If you insist on speaking to me about my child please do so in a positive light, because in a half hour I’ll be picking Cheerios out of my hair and I’d much rather be thinking ‘Enjoy this, one day she won’t even look in your direction’ than ‘That idiot at softball was right, little girls ARE the devil.’

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Just wait for all the parenting advice you’re about to get. From people you wouldn’t take a restaurant recommendation from let alone let them help you raise your kids!

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Waffles

I am normally not a breakfast eater but this pregnancy I am so hungry that I find myself dreaming of waffles in the early morning. I wish that was a fat pregnancy joke but it’s not. I have legitimate dreams about eating waffles like 3 times a week. Needless to say I wake up starving.

My mom introduced me to this amazing waffle mix you can find at Williams-Sonoma or online and it is so simple. Add water, eggs and melted butter to the mix and you’re set. Here’s the link:

Golden Malted Waffle Mix

I ran out of the mix this morning so I was forced to make them the old fashioned way. From scratch. They turned out great but were not easy to make, as you have to separate eggs and beat whites and stuff. The kind of crap people with patience do. Here’s the link to that recipe from foodnetwork.com:

Emeril’s Fancy Waffles

Because there are only 3 of us in this house, we always have about twice as many waffles as we could ever need, so I started freezing them. I wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag, that way I can have waffles on a weekday morning just by throwing one in a toaster oven. I highly recommend this no matter how you make your waffles!

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Toast the waffles lightly if you plan on freezing them, so they’re not over-toasted when you reheat them.

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Sofia loved her waffles! A great toddler food.

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Wrap individually in plastic wrap before placing in a freezer bag. That way you can take out one at a time to reheat.

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All ready for the freezer.

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Risotto Cakes

My brother hasn’t stopped eating since the day he was born. His pediatrician told my mom to put cereal in his bottle because he was so hungry when he was still very new. No way any pediatrician now would advise that, but things were very different 20 years ago in child rearing. I’m reminded of this anytime I ask my mom or mother in law for advice.

My mom bought a special pan to be able to make ‘enough’ risotto for the 5 of us. I say ‘enough’ because no matter how much she made, my brother would finish it. Bottomless pit. On the off chance there were leftovers, say if he had polished off a box of frozen corn dogs an hour before dinner or if he was at a friend’s house that evening, my mom would make Risotto Cakes with the leftovers. I enjoy these more than the original risotto so I make sure to always make enough for leftovers on our house. That is, unless my brother is visiting.

Risotto Cakes

Leftover cold risotto (cold from the fridge is important)
1 egg
1 tbs hot sauce
Seasoned breadcrumbs
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper

1. With wet hands (to prevent sticking) press leftover risotto into a golfball size ball, then press into a cake
2. Beat egg with hot sauce and salt and pepper and dip each cake into egg mixture
3. Press breadcrumbs into each cake
4. Fry in 1 inch of olive oil over medium high heat until golden brown

I made a simple grilled chicken breast with this, and oven roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1 package of Brussel Sprouts
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Trim sprouts and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and place on a cookie sheet
3. Roast in oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown

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Fry until golden brown and delicious.

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Served with roasted brussel sprouts and a grilled chicken breast.

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My very hungry brother, with my sister and I at my wedding.

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Rainy day cookies

Again, I baked. It was rainy and gross and Sofia and I needed something to do. A lack of chocolate chips sent me on a hunt for cookie recipes. Foodnetwork.com never disappoints! These cookies are just about as simple as the nutella ones I posted about earlier. I used cherry preserves because they’re Dave’s favorite and they came out delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Giant’s Thumbprint Cookies

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Right out of the oven. Filled with cherry jam.

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They lasted exactly 2 days in my house.

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Lemon Shrimp and Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite things. I order it almost any time I see it on a menu at a restaurant (which is incredibly infrequently both because I never go out and because it’s a time consuming dish for a busy restaurant). There is a tiny place in Greenwich Village in Manhattan that Dave and I used to go to in college called Risotteria that only made risotto and made it really well, so it became one of our favorite places. I still think my mom’s is the best I’ve ever had, though.

It’s a dish that many home cooks are afraid to tackle because it seems so complicated, but it really isn’t. It takes 22 minutes from start to finish and you can’t leave it to go clean the bathroom or anything, but that’s the extent of the difficulty. The beauty of this dish, too, is that you can keep the ingredients on hand at all times so it’s great for when you don’t know what to make.

Basic Risotto

2 tbs olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

1. Sauté the onions, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil on medium heat.
2. Add rice and cook 2-3 mins until it looks translucent
3. Add white wine and cook until absorbed, 2 mins
4. Add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time until it is absorbed. You don’t have to stir continuously but every once and awhile give it a stir to make sure it isn’t burning on the bottom and it’s cooking evenly.
5. When the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, turn off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Serve warm!

I normally make risotto with grilled chicken, but it is great for whatever you have leftover in the fridge. Grilled veggies, chicken, asparagus, peas, you name it. Tonight I made it with lemon shrimp and tossed in a cup of arugula at the end.

Lemon Shrimp

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbs olive oil
1 lemon, zested
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

1. Zest the lemon and add to olive oil in a bowl. Let sit for at least 10 mins
2. Sauté garlic and onion in 1 tbs of strained oil and salt and pepper
3. Add shrimp and cook until pink
4. Strain remaining oil to get rid of lemon zest and add to shrimp. Enjoy!

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Add butter and cheese at the end and mix well.

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I added a handful of arugula at the end.

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The finished dish with the lemon shrimp over top.

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Slow Cooker Meals

Not everyone has the luxury of having their mom cook every meal for them for the week following the birth of their baby. I am one lucky lady. I will tell you that 2 days before she left for home and left me with a human being to take care of, I cried myself to sleep in sheer terror. Who thought i was responsible enough to bring this child home? What did I get myself into? How much therapy is this child going to require after all the mistakes I am bound to make? All my equally scared husband could say is ‘You can do it, you’re doing great!’ but it wasn’t believable.

It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Babies don’t require much at the beginning. They sleep a lot. Coincidentally, you won’t, but they sleep most of the day away. What I couldn’t get a handle on was finding the time to cook, clean, do laundry or even make myself look remotely presentable.

I was told to make meals and freeze them ahead of time. Use your slow cooker. Yeah right. My freezer is tiny and I couldn’t think 5 minutes ahead of time for weeks so the slow cooker thing was too daunting. Enter the greatest idea for busy moms and new moms alike: frozen bags of Slow Cooker Meals that you just pop into the thing and by dinner time you have an amazing meal that you put no effort into. I will definitely stick my freezer full of these beauties this time around. That, and frozen enchiladas. Yum.

Also, for those of you that have friends or family members who are having babies anytime soon, the best gifts you can give a new mother are not baby clothes or spa gift certificates. They are cleaning services and food. Or, come over and do a load of laundry. New mommy will never be able to thank you enough.

Pre-made Slow Cooker Recipes

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Me and Sofia when she was only hours old.

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Sofia and daddy 2 days old.

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Strawberry Shortcake

I am not a baker. I am pregnant, however, which means I have been baking and eating a lot. I posted a recipe for Nutella cookies on my Facebook page, and the same day I made those I had made cupcakes (from a boxed mix) as well. It’s a miracle that I haven’t gained 50 pounds by now. I’ve been eating like Jessica Simpson.

Tonight I decided to make Strawberry Shortcake. It’s a childhood favorite of mine, although most of the time we used Entenmann’s pound cake because my mom is not a baker either.

I looked up a recipe for the shortcake on foodnetwork.com and was surprised at how easy the recipe sounded. Very few ingredients, no tricky baking techniques, and in 20 mins I was eating real homemade shortcake. Topped with strawberries and fresh whipped cream it was everything I had hoped it would be. I have a few pics of the shortcake and a link to the recipe, but no pics of the finished product because we ate it before we got the chance!

Strawberry Shortcake

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This shortcake is amazingly simple.

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Press into a square baking dish and put in the oven.

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Shortcake all finished, golden brown and delicious.

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How Are You Feeling?

I know people mean well when they ask how I’m feeling, but I really don’t know how to answer it anymore. Lately I’ve just been answering with ‘pregnant’. I’m sure this question stems from a genuine hope that everything is going well and also not knowing how to acknowledge the pregnancy without saying ‘Wow you’re huge!’ By the way, don’t say this to a pregnant woman. We know we’re huge, and just because we have an excuse to be and you consider it ‘cute’ doesn’t make it any easier to hear. No woman, pregnant or not, wants to hear she’s a heifer.

So here’s how I feel. Fat, sweaty and hormonal. I can no longer see my feet. Shaving my legs is an Olympic sport. I feel like I need a nap after getting dressed in the morning. And no, I do not feel radiant, glowing, or goddess-like.

But you don’t want to hear that. So how am I supposed to answer this question? If I say I feel great, I’m lying. If I complain, I’m a whiner and clearly not the first woman to deal with minor pregnancy discomforts. And I should feel so lucky to be having a baby when so many cannot. I get it and I agree. But it’s so hard to look on the bright side and enjoy a pregnancy when you’re on no sleep and chasing a toddler around. I am thrilled to be pregnant and I feel like the luckiest woman on Earth to be having a boy after my little girl. It doesn’t make pregnancy any easier.

And I’m noticing that the knowing smiles I used to get when people saw I was pregnant mere weeks ago have turned to looks of ‘poor girl’ and ‘I feel for ya,’ which only adds to my insecurities as to how awful I must look. I’m a thin girl in my normal life, and now I’m a chicken-legged, flat-chested girl with a basketball strapped to her stomach. I’m a sight for sore eyes.

So when you see me, feel free to ask me how I feel. And I’ll answer you with a definitive ‘sober.’ That sums it up.

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8 months pregnant with Sofia. I’m bigger with this one than I was at 9 months with her.

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