Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

Stay at Home Moms

Read this blog about the term ‘Stay at Home Mom’ and whether the term suggests ‘shut-in’ or ‘boring’ and I’m left with a feeling of – get over yourself.

The author of this blog entry, Joyce Slaton, is a stay at home mom herself, and says in a social situation, when someone hears that she stays home they’re immediately excusing themselves because they think she has nothing going on. Who the eff cares. I don’t make any choices so that I’m more interesting to people at a party and I couldn’t care less whether my friends or acquaintances find my choice to stay home boring. My husband and I made this choice for ourselves and our kids, not other people.

I picked up a small waitressing and bartending gig at a local restaurant so I could make some extra money and still be home during the day with the kids. I have a Masters in Education and I’m certified in NY State to teach, yet I’m waiting tables. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to a lot of people but so far it’s working out well for our family.

The ‘Mommy Wars’ between working and stay at home moms is just a huge case of women not minding their own business. What works for one family doesn’t work for every family, and women need to stop judging each other for their choices. No parenting choices are made without serious thought and discussion, and who is anyone to judge whether a mom stays home or works? You have no idea what the finances, wants, wishes and priorities each couple has painstakingly weighed to arrive at their childcare decisions. And no matter what decision is made, you can be absolutely sure that mom feels guilt every day over it.

So judge me for staying home, for waiting tables and wasting my degree, hell even for typing this blog entry out and ‘neglecting’ my children. At the end of the day my decisions are made to make me, my husband, and my children happy. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

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Pulled Pork

I’m really into this whole slow-cooker thing now. The most hectic part of my day with the kids is from 4-7, which would be the time I’d make dinner, if I didn’t already have it working from 9am that morning.

Today’s treat is pulled pork. I did 2 pork tenderloins (because 2 came in the package) garlic and onions, BBQ sauce and water until its almost covered. Cooked on low 8 hours and shredded it with 2 forks. Serve on buns. Easy and less fat than a pork butt, the tenderloin is much leaner and easier to find in the grocery store.

Freeze the leftovers to thaw out for another meal.

Hope you’ll give it a try!

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Newsday

Featured in an article in today’s, 3/25/13, Newsday paper. Joe Amodio wrote an article about Birchbox, came across my blog post about it and interviewed me. Pick up today’s edition to see it in person!

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Homemade Pizza

I’ve tried to make pizza at home.  And failed.  Miserably. One of two scenarios always happens –

Crust too soggy in the middle

Crust too crunchy and more like a cracker

I went to a Pampered Chef party at my friend Meredith’s house and drank too much wine.  Ordered lots of things.  I am actually happy this happened.  This time.  I got the ‘Large Bar Pan’ because Danielle, who did the demo, made us a pizza on it and it was delicious.  I had high hopes, but once the wine wore off, I had doubts.

Made pizza last Friday night in it with dough I bought from Trader Joe’s.  Made homemade pizza sauce – recipe below.  Topped with mozzarella cheese.  Baked at 400 for 20 minutes.  Perfection.  I’m not saying I’m going to delete the local pizzeria from my contacts, this is New York and they know what they’re doing, but I will be making pizza at home a lot more frequently, and with a lot more success!

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Homemade pizza sauce

1 – 6oz can of tomato paste

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2 tbs Italian seasoning

salt and pepper.

1. Comine all ingredients

2. let sit in the fridge for a few hours to let flavors meld.

3. add to pizza crust and top with cheese

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Baby Food

I like to cook.  I like to eat.  I make my own baby food for my kids.  Initially I thought it was going to be a long, involved process and didn’t know if I’d really make the time to do it, but it was really so much easier to do than I thought, and insanely cheap.  I don’t have any specialized baby food making equipment, and it takes me less time than you’d think.

Equipment:

Blender

Pot

Steamer basket (found mine at the grocery store)

Ice cube trays

Ziplock bags

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The first baby food I made for my kids was banana.  The recipe is simple, mash half of a banana with a fork until it’s almost liquid.  Feed to baby.  How much easier could it get?  The next 10 recipes are just a tiny bit more difficult.  Apples or pears?  Peel and cut into chunks, place in a pot with the steamer basket in it, fill pot with 1 inch of water, set on medium heat and steam until they are soft.  Blend, adding some of the liquid from the pot until it’s whatever pureed consistency you’re looking for.  Done.

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Peas and carrots are super easy.  Throw a bag of frozen peas into the pot with the steamer basket, 1 inch of water, medium heat, 4 minutes, blend with liquid.  A bag of baby carrots makes 8-10 servings of carrot baby food for less than $2.

Sweet potatoes were both of my kids’ favorites.  My husband and I like them too, so I just roast 5 of them in the oven at 350 for an hour.  When they’re soft, blend with a little water for the baby, and just mash with butter and cinnamon for us.

I bought a special silicone baby food freezer thing (pic below) that makes storing frozen baby food very easy.  You portion out the purees and freeze, then you can pop them out like ice cubes and put in ziplocks with the name and date on them.  An ice cube tray works too, but the portions are much smaller.

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So, buy a baby food cookbook and blending system if you must, but what I do is just make baby food out of whatever fruits and vegetables we’re eating as a family anyway, using kitchen equipment I already have.  And there are no preservatives, dyes, chemicals, etc.  Oh, and it’s really cheap.  Give it a try, you’ll be surprised how easy it is.

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Slow Cooker Corned Beef

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to tackle making traditional Corned Beef with potatoes and cabbage.  Never tried it before, but I figured with my slow cooker it couldn’t be too difficult.  Went to Trader Joe’s and found raw, but marinated, corned beef.  Bought 2, 2 bags of baby yellow potatoes and a head of cabbage.  And I was off.

Easiest recipe ever.  Lined the bottom of the slow cooker with the potatoes, topped it with the package of corned beef along with the marinade, covered with water and set it to low for 8 hours.  With 1 hour left, I cut the cabbage into strips and added it to the top.  After 8 hours I removed the beef, cut the fat off, sliced it thin across the grain, and served it with the potatoes and cabbage.  I also served it with rye bread and a Trader Joe’s Garlic Mustard Aioli.  Big hit!

TJ’s has a recipe on their site using a regular pot on the stove instead of a slow cooker, you can see that recipe here

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Hot Mess

I am always taken aback when someone says to me “I don’t know how you do it with 2 kids, you always look like it’s so easy”. This happens in two places and two places only – Gymboree and the grocery store. Because I am in those two places on a very frequent basis, I have a system down for carting my 2 year old and 6 month old, and it works relatively well.

My secret at Gymboree is my Ergo or Baby Bjorn carrier for the baby. Although he’s getting way too heavy for it, it has worked up until now. I can put him in there, he can snuggle close to me and even nap if he wants to, and I can tend to my rambunctious toddler. I was even able to nurse him a few times while he was in the Ergo carrier because it has a hood that covers up what’s goin’ on in there so I don’t have to deal with ‘the look’ – how dare I nurse my hungry baby in public, right?

My secret at the grocery store is the ‘fun cart’ as my daughter puts it. It’s the grocery cart that has the kids car in front. It’s a bitch to steer but if she’s in there with a ziplock of Cheerios and sippy of water, I could be in there for days and she wouldn’t make a peep. Again, the baby goes in the carrier, which will have to end now that my back breaks with every step. What a fatty.

So because I have such a great system down for carting these two around town, I thought it would be no big deal to take them into Manhattan on the train to meet up with my aunt, uncle and 3 year old cousin for a fun breakfast and morning at the Museum of Natural History. No big deal, that is, until my near panic attack the night before.

Double stroller? Infant carrier and single stroller? Subway? Cabs? I had a million questions and realized I hadn’t really thought this day out. A double stroller would be hell to maneuver around but the baby is so heavy in the carrier. The subway has steps and not every station has an elevator so that seemed impossible. Carseats for the cab? I found out that you don’t have to have kids in carseats in cabs in Manhattan, but isn’t that a little crazy?

So my husband took us in by train, I decided on the single stroller with the baby in the carrier, and he took us by subway up to the restaurant and dropped us off. Daddy of the year. We were the first to arrive, so I set us up in the corner and ordered a chocolate milk for Sofia to bribe her into being nice to the 10 people that were about to arrive. Didn’t work. They came in, she flipped out, and now I had 2 kids crying in my lap, one very hungry and one a complete brat. I wanted to turn around and go home then. The 4 other kids at the table were COMPLETE ANGELS and made my kids look like train wrecks. Which, they are.

Next was the museum. Sofia brightened up and was singing about dinosaurs the whole time, and the baby was calm and happy. Things had turned around, until I lost track of time and only realized the baby was hungry when he started shrieking at me. We excused ourselves, and my saint of a brother in law entertained Sofia while I tried to shove a bottle down my poor son’s throat. We had, I dunno, 30 seconds to get to Penn Station for our train after that, so we thought we’d hop in a cab. A cab that went through Times Square to get there. Ugh. Took twice as long as that subway would have but we made it. We practically ran through Penn Station, my brother in law got us onto the train and said goodbye and I was on my own.

By the time I got home I was a sweaty mess and ready for a very large glass of wine. Or 5 or 6. I was in no way the ‘super mom’ that I thought I was going to be when I said yes to the excursion. What was I thinking? Then I heard the sweet little voice of my 2 year old angel who was laying in her bed telling her baby doll all about the ‘BIG DINOSAURS’ she saw and singing her dinosaur song and I realized why I did it. Why do we do anything so stressful as moms? For moments like those. She had a great day. I smiled and poured that large glass of wine.


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The Truth About Breastfeeding

There is a big ugly lie being perpetrated to expectant and new moms everywhere about breastfeeding and it needs to stop.  No, it’s not easy and it’s not natural.  It’s fucking hard and frustrating.  For most of us, it doesn’t look anything like the pamphlets and the tv shows that show a gorgeous, glowing mom with baby at the breast, smiling and effortlessly giving baby the best she has to offer.  In real life it’s exhaustion, it’s tears, and it’s frustration and feelings of failure.

I was blissfully lucky when I had my daughter 2 years ago.  She latched on like a pro and nursed often, but not too often.  But when my milk hadn’t come in on day 3 even my dad expressed his worry about whether or not she was getting enough.  Luckily enough my milk came in on day 4 and we had a relatively easy nursing relationship.  This relationship was a 24/7 buffet, however, and I was still up every night feeding her well into her 8th month on the planet.  Still easy compared to my next experience.

When I had my son 6 months ago, although my milk came in on day 2 and I had a healthy supply, he was in and out of the NICU and I was not able to nurse him but maybe once a day.  He was a preemie so he had a hard time latching as well, and I had to enlist the help of a lactation consultant in the hospital.  Complete godsends these women are.  They helped us get a good latch going and I was so happy.

While he was in the NICU, I was attached to my pump and bringing bottle after bottle with me to the hospital.  I made the mistake of trying to get a solid 6 hours of sleep at home 2 nights in a row and my supply dipped.  I was getting mere drops into the bottles after 15 minutes attached to my pump and tears streamed down my face.  I was convinced this was the end of my ability to breastfeed him and felt like I had failed.  All for a few hours of sleep.

In the following days I pumped every 2 hours, day and night, even though my baby was not with me.  I pumped at home, at the hospital, at my in-laws, in the car, everywhere.  I was able to re-establish my supply after tons of work and felt good that I had gotten back on track.  Then the jaundice hit.

He had ‘breast milk jaundice’ which is extremely rare and meant that something in my milk was causing his inability to break down the bilirubin.  He was re-admitted to the hospital and put on formula when he got out.  I pumped every time he was fed formula to keep up my supply, so my days were spent making bottles, feeding, cleaning bottles, pumping, cleaning the pump parts, repeat.  After 2 days of that, we were finally cleared of these issues and allowed to resume.

I had heard rumors of boys being extremely hard to breastfeed.  Boy, is it true.  He wanted to nurse sometimes every hour, and I had a toddler to care for in addition to him.  I learned how to nurse and walk, nurse and prepare lunch, nurse and change a diaper, and nurse and play with dolls.  For days on end, and nights that seemed to go on forever, he was attached to me.  At month 4, he was still eating every 2 hours all day and all night.  I was sleep deprived, bitchy, and reaching for the formula.  Through all of this, we were able to keep going, until I decided at 5 1/2 months that we were ready to move onto solids, and I was ready to give up the fight of nursing.

What I am lucky about, is that he had no problem transitioning between bottle and breast.  If you would have added that and pain or cracked nipples, mastitis, I would have quit.  I am a complete proponent of breastfeeding and was so happy to be fortunate enough to nurse both of my kids as long as I wanted, but the truth is even when it’s easy, it’s not.  My advice to new moms is if breastfeeding is important to you, you need to commit 100% from the beginning, get a good pump, and the number of a lactation consultant.  Surround yourself with supportive family members and friends, who will help you get through it, listen to the complaints and the crying, and tell you you can make it through.  Because you can.  It can be extremely difficult, frustrating, and painful, but if you can get through the first 2 weeks, it is absolutely amazing, rewarding, and bonding.  It’s a gift I not only gave to my children, but one they gave to me.

 

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Disney World Tips

Kendra Thornton is a Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. She is a long time travel expert who has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she was 3 months old! She’s found her utmost desire in life is right in her own home. She has mixed her excitement for travel by sharing her own personal tips and by bringing the taste of authentic cuisine to her own home with some of her unique recipes.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendraThornton @KendraThornton
Facebook: http://www.thorntonpr.com/founder.html

Top Disney World Tips this Spring Break for Moms

For most children, visiting Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime experience. Unfortunately, not taking the time to prepare for the trip can result in exhausted parents. Your trip to Disney World will be much more pleasant, and maybe even fun, if you keep a few of these tips in mind.

1. Have breakfast with the Disney characters. The Royal Table restaurant in Fantasyland is a great place to have breakfast with Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Snow White or Jasmine. It is important to make this reservation in advance, preferably when you are in the planning process. There are also several places to stay at the Disney resort, ranked amongst the top hotels in Orlando, that offer dining with the characters.

2. Get on the Monorail or ferry early in the morning and late at night so that you can take advantage of hotel guests getting in one hour early and getting to leave one hour later. Try not to waste time sleeping in at the hotel when the kids could be getting a few extra minutes of sleep on the Monorail.

3. When it comes to nap time, it is a good idea to get back to the hotel around noon to relax. Many families take advantage of the hotel swimming pools around this time, while everybody is still at the park.

4. Taking care of a toddler at Walt Disney World is not the worst thing in the world. It is a good idea to bring a small stroller to the park, but the park also rents them out. Diapers, rocking chairs and air conditioning are located in baby care centers in each theme park.

5. The best piece of advice available is to plan ahead. There is no reason you should experience exhaustion or burnout. You can take steps to plan out your day each morning, beginning by downloading the app with each attraction’s current wait time.

You can even buy a FASTPASS, which lets you cut the lines on popular attractions. Your child will be more excited than ever before, and you will have the time of your life just seeing how much fun they are having.

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Playskool

I wrote a post about an offensive tweet by Playskool last week that you can read here.  Imagine my surprise when I received a handwritten note from the General Manager of Playskool, Jerry Perez.  Handwritten.  Do people write notes anymore?

Dear Christina,

As a father of three, I am writing to apologize for the tweet posted to the Playskool feed on Friday.  Our intention was to engage Twitter followers in conversation about how, some days, kids can seemingly take charge of the household, as my daughters sometimes do.  After hearing the feedback from our followers, we realize how it could be offensive, and we are truly sorry.

The Playskool brand values dads (and all caretakers alike), and we know they play an important role in their family’s lives.

We appreciate your feedback and would like to maintain an open conversation with you.  We are always accessible on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at HasbroBrandPR@hasbro.com.

Sincerely,

Jerry Perez

General Manager, Playskool

 

I have to say I am impressed by the note, and the explanation, and I can see how the tweet was meant as a commentary on kids running the household, as opposed to an insult of uninvolved dads.  I am certainly aware of how kids can be the boss at times, and I am even more aware of the feeling of making a comment and immediately wanting to stuff it back into my mouth.  I seem to do it pretty often, anyone who knows me could probably give several examples of stupid things I’ve said.

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