Your Lips are Moving

I have been loving these Mom parody videos lately. To me, no one does them better than Deva from Mylifesuckers.com.  Her videos seem to always hit home for me, with a pretty humorous tone.

The latest video is to Meghan Trainor’s “Lips are moving”. How true is this video for us Moms!? I have felt like I have had to repeat everything lately. They have managed the fine art of tuning me out.

Yesterday my neighbor was over with her daughter. When we went to give them a 5 minute warning for clean up, they didn’t respond. We yelled upstairs, whistled, made all sorts of noises, and folks we got not a single response. Ironically I turned to my neighbor and said, “my lips are moving, right?” We both laughed about it and headed upstairs to round up the scoundrels.

Here’s the video,and I hope you enjoy Deva as much as I do!

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Fall is for Slow Cookers

Fall is such a hectic time for all of us. If you’re a Stay at Home Mom like me, you’re adjusting from summer schedules to school schedules. All the Fall sport activities, book fairs, PTA meetings, and the house, leave no room for cooking huge meals. If you’re a working Mom its worse. You’re adjusting to the kids going back to school, and still working! That is a lot to juggle, and I have been there. That’s where your slow cooker comes in to play.
I didn’t utilize it half as much as I could have when I worked. This kitchen appliance is a life saver. Usually you can just throw everything in the slow cooker, and 8 hours later, dinner! Pinterest wasn’t around (or just starting) when I was working. Most of what I knew of slow cooker recipes was using condensed soup mixes. Ugh. With Pinterest now, I find loads of recipes to try. So, I figured today I would share with you the ones that really work for us.

The Skinnytaste recipe was super easy and delicious. The only thing I did differently was use white rice vinegar with it. The recipe calls for balsamic. The reason this happened. I couldn’t open my balsamic. Don’t judge. The chicken comes out perfectly moist, and has a fantastic tang to it.

This one takes minimal work before you put it in your slow cooker. The kids got involved for this one with the first couple steps. The meat gets dredged in a ziploc bag with flour, steak seasoning, and cornstarch. The boys loved shaking the bag, and being able to help with dinner. After that, the meat just gets browned, the other ingredients are gradually added. Finally, its all dumped into the slow cooker. 8 hours later, a delicious Beef Burgundy! The more sophisticated taste of the stew would never usually pass Alex’s lips; but since he helped he was more eager to eat!

Now I’m sure a lot of you have seen this recipe on Pinterest. I’m happy to report, it works! We did use the cottage cheese, but I would probably use ricotta in the future. Make sure you use regular lasagna noodles. It won’t come out having your traditional tight lasagna shape, but it was super tasty. Since the boys helped assemble, this was another one they were eager to eat.

Another quick assemble, and go. Turkey breast is super affordable, and this recipe can serve a family with leftovers. The turkey comes out moist, and pulls straight off the bone. I recently made this for my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law and it was definitely a winner.

This one is a quick mix, and go. This one isn’t our favorite. I need to tweak the recipe a bit before our family is happy with it. It came out a little too sweet. With taking out a bit of the honey, I’m sure it will be on point.

This cooler weather is definitely time for stew. This one uses chicken thighs which are always affordable at the grocery store. The addition of Guinness gives a perfect richness to the stew. The recipe does have you brown the meat, and get the ingredients going on the stove first. Once this is done, dump it all in that slow cooker. Trust me, when you’re greeted with the smell of this stew in the house, you will be happy you did a little work.
For a great tip, the recipes that need work before they go in can be pre-prepped. The beef burgundy can be completely prepped, and put in a container. In the morning just throw it in the slow cooker. The Chicken Stew can be chopped up, and kept separate. I’m sure this can also be prepped all the way through and stored overnight as well, but I have not tried it.

This is one of those, as easy as it gets recipes. You just plop the meat in the slow cooker, and pour all the other ingredients in there. 8 hours later you have the perfect beef for french dip sandwiches. These are my husbands personal favorite! When I did work, and had a late night, I knew if I made this he would be thrilled!

I know everyone has seen these pins. Cooking a whole chicken in your slow cooker. It is possible. I’m super pleased to tell you that. Make sure you heavily season the meat, and it will go through all the meat. The only issue with these recipes is the skin does not come out crispy, at all. I don’t know about you, but soggy chicken skin grosses me out. So there are two solutions:
1. Take all the skin off before you cook it.
2. The other solution that we have done is when the chicken is done, very carefully put it on a baking pan, and broil it. The chicken will NOT dry out. If the chicken is falling apart, you can get fancy and make chicken skin chips in the oven. What? Does no one watch Top Chef?

I pinned this for all of you. I have this memorized. My Mom used to make this in the oven growing up, and we always called it dressy chicken. This chicken has such a perfect tang from the apricot preserves. This is a super picky eater pleaser. We have also used thighs and drumsticks with this. If you have a long day though, and you’re working, use the breasts.

Finally, I pinned this just for you all as well. So, my Husband is Puerto Rican. Pernil (slow roasted pork) is a staple for Holidays, get togethers, or anything special. Usually its done in the oven, and takes a good long 6 hours or longer. This recipe makes it possible in the slow cooker. The flavor is unreal. I’m super happy to report even my Mother-in-Law loves it and asked for my recipe. Just make sure you aren’t shy with the seasoning. This dish is all about the pork tasting like garlic. Serve it over rice, with tostones (fried plantains), as sandwiches, on its own, nom….nom.

I hope these are helpful to some of you out there! Juggling home life, work, and making sure our families are getting balanced meals is hectic. With all the quick grab frozen meals out there, you now have options of making something fresh! Please let me know if they worked for you!

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From Cubicle to Home

I realized I missed an anniversary! It has been one full year since I left my job.The actual day was my Mom’s birthday. The distraction of the day probably made me bypass writing about it then. So I will take the time to go over how things changed.

Now my situation is clearly different. I left work to focus back on my family unit. That morphed into taking care of my Mom. I wouldn’t change that for anything. Those times are priceless in my eyes. Of course, the loss of my Mom has changed me. When I left a year ago I too had HUGE dreams for how being a Stay at Home Mom was going to be different this time. My house would be spotless all the time, a hot meal on the table every night, laundry wouldn’t sit in the washer, I would be in the best shape of my life, lunches out, and just be a better me.

Well, here is the reality of the transition.

There is still clutter here and there around the house. I am battling the boys to keep their room and playroom clean. Incentives are working nicely on this issue, but then I see Alex’s clothes on a barstool in the kitchen right now. Awesome. Everyday its the same thing with cleaning. Even though the boys have a playroom now, toys still creep downstairs. Cleaning the house is boring. There are only so many times I can dance to “Shake it Off: while mopping before it gets old.

Hot meals depend on the day. Take out is MUCH more scarce. Pat on the back for that! For awhile we did have it around more due to the chaos of all that was happening. Now that we have settled into a schedule it is easier to actually meal plan. There are still day’s where I just say, “lets get a pizza”, or “Hun can you just grab something”, but for the most part cooking is everyday.

My laundry still sits in the washer sometimes. It gets washed three times before it makes it over to the dryer. Once in the dryer it might not get folded for awhile. I SWEAR I am trying harder on that.

Best shape of my life, um, no. I of course gained weight when everything hit the fan earlier in the year. Then I lost weight only to sock weight back on. I have been active, but the stress I have put on myself has not helped. Now I convince myself that working out is part of my job, I have to do it everyday. That day was not yesterday. Just saying.

I don’t socialize much. This has been the hardest adjustment. I worked in a Call Center. So even if I didn’t get a chance to speak with friends, I was talking to people ALL day. Like many people now, I also use the Timehop app. At one point last week it showed up how I said “I forgot how quiet it can be”. I appreciated the silence last year.¬† Now, its boring. I look forward to the afternoon bus stop. Three other moms, and myself gather about 20 minutes before the bus comes by to talk about our day. A couple come out with their afternoon coffee, one comes fresh from the beach in her Lily Pulitzer garb (she swears shes wearing one everyday until it snows), and I come in my yoga pants ready to gab. I don’t go out to lunches. I have to plan far in advance to go out with friends. My outings are usually solo. I walk to the farmer’s market, take a walk around town, or just do yard work. What I have learned is this is basically what we ALL do. As one of the Mom’s said the other day, “I wanted to get things done but just got stuck. By the time I looked at the time I came out here”.

I think a lot of Stay at Home Moms think its going to be different. We see those few Moms out there with their lunch groups, playdates, happy as can be. I am usually an outgoing person. This has made me realize, I’m only an outgoing person with people I know. I’ve realized how shy I am around new people. One of the most paralyzing moments I’ve had here was back to school night for Alex. Eli stayed with the kids, and I knew NO one at the school. They had a 15 minute social time in the cafeteria. I stood in the corner texting Eli how awful this was. His response was to go socialize. Fun fact, he would be doing the same thing!!!! I was so happy when they told us to go to the kids rooms. Things were better at family fun day when I ran into neighbors, and a couple of the kids friends parents.

Clearly I need goals for the next year. My most important goal, to be happy. I think once you’re happy other things fall in place. I need to stick with my plans more. When I get stuck in a rut and things pile up, it just gets more overwhelming. Working out is a must, I know I feel better after I do it, some days I just don’t feel like it. I’m not going to say that I need to get friends. I have friends, and I am more than happy when I see them. However, I need to get a friend in town. So, my goal will be to go out on a coffee date with a friend in town. There, that is reachable.

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Riding the waves

So I know I said I didn’t forget this blog, and I didn’t. However, I think the shock from the last 7 months of losing my Mom caught up with me. Between going to Vermont without her, our family home, and other issues; I feel like I got hit with a tidal wave. I’ve told some friends that I don’t know how I would have made it through that initial period without asking for prayers of strength. I now sit back and almost have PTSD of the whole time period. Whether it was:

Mom telling me she had a tumor

Meg saying it was cancer

Taking Mom for the doctors visit where they admitted her

Seeing Mom go into anaphylactic shock from chemo

Seeing Mom with a black eye

Watching her lose weight and hair

Seeing how she couldn’t keep up

Watching her sick

Taking her to the ER one last time

Finding out she was going to die

Being there every moment

Mom saying “Erin can you just stop talking?” and me finally saying “No, because how do I know how many more times we will?!”

Mom gripping my hand, waking me up while I slept next to her for 4 nights.

The last time she told me she loved me.

When I finally caved and told her it was ok, crying.

Driving home at 2:30am the day she died, and seeing the hospice sign. I thought about it, and then went home. She passed 2 hours later.

It is very hard to comprehend that someone who was healthy is just, gone. Its harder to realize you watched them deteriorate. While I am thankful for having the time with her, the hurt is beyond what I was prepared for. Whats worse? The other people that are lost along the way. There are plenty of people that say they’re there for you after a loss. One by one (some more hurtful than others) disappear. I’m learning to focus on my family unit. I throw all my energy into the people (and pets) under my roof.

I have tried to make time for friends, and was beyond grateful for two of my best friends coming over yesterday. We had a pretty awesome spread on my front porch with Sangria to boot. We took a quick drive to the beach, and got to act silly at Home Goods. It was what I needed. To know I’m not alone.Its hard to explain the feeling of loneliness when you have a family. I also don’t know at this point if I was still working, if my feelings would be different.

What I DO find important to note is this is different than what was experienced in the past. I know I suffered with Postpartum after Colin. I never admitted it and struggled through it. That was an overwhelming feeling of doing it wrong when I wasn’t. Feeling worthless, alone, judged, and all over the place. I would recommend reading this article about postpartum. I feel the article is true for a lot of people with depression. Will you know just by looking at them?

With this round of depression its the feeling of someone is gone. That I can’t pick up the phone and call Mom to say Alex had a hard day going to school. That he cried and I had to leave him, and I walked home crying. She would have told me its ok, he will adjust, he will be fine. Then, I would have spoken to her later and she would have told me which of her friends agreed, and I would have groaned that she talked to others about it. I think of a year ago and how she was looking forward to me leaving my job with the hope of having LOTS of day trips. They were far and few between.

I’m more quiet. I can still be myself around friends, but have taken listening more seriously. I would be the loudest, and now I consider each moment. I don’t sleep, much. I don’t get angry. I just feel broken. I am the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle being put back together.

I do relish the moments when I feel myself. Whether its dancing to “fireball” in the kitchen, hosting friends, playing games with the boys, or just trying.

I write this to say I’m not fine. This is so others who have thought I’m being nasty know I’m just broken. To my friends/family that have been unwavering that they know they’re my push. I also write this so others can see it. I think other Mom’s, people who have lost, or those who are just depressed know its not just them. Depression can be so isolating. Its like someone giving you a hug and you cringe.

I want to stress it should be mentioned there have been a handful of incredible uplifting people in my life. Those who have been unwavering and give me hope. Family doesn’t always have to be blood. My friends have proven that.

I’ve said before, my blog would be unfiltered and it is. I’m admitting to depression. I want to say I see a light at the end, but I can’t right now. Perhaps I will soon, just not now.

With that said, I will be posting more. I have had happy moments in between chaos. Hopefully I can soon share. I’m sure not all posts will always be happy, but this is real. Consider this a disclaimer for the future.