Five Things Friday

I’ll be posting sometime, hopefully soon, about my attempts to turn myself into a morning person (which is all the more difficult with a husband who is definitely a night owl), but my favourite thing about my time in the morning is getting in a workout. Since I don’t quite have the morning routine down yet, I try not to plan my workouts the night before in case I don’t quite get up in time. Nothing worse than having a 30 minute workout planned and only having time for a 10 minute stretch and foam roll. But that means often making workouts out as I go along, hopefully coming up with the next move before the last rep of the last one. I haven’t been hugely creative with my workouts for this reason, generally sticking to tabata styles (20 seconds of one activity, 10 seconds rest, in intervals of 4) as they are easy to fit into whatever time you have. But my favourite exercises?

1. Deadlifts (though I use hand weights). I was once told I had an imbalance in my legs, with too much emphasis on my quads, so deadlifts are a great way to work hamstrings… and butt… and abs.

2. Surfer get-ups or burpees, but never the one I’m doing. Both target multiple muscles in the body, and both involve moving from lying down to standing. I like to alternate the two because I like both, but also quickly get bored of both. Like 5 reps in

3. Arnold press. I find shoulder muscles the most fun to watch as I move my arms so the Arnold press is a favourite. Anterior delts? Lateral delts? And triceps? Yes please.

4. Spiderman Plank. I think it’s just the name that I like. Core always used to be my favourite and has quickly moved down the list to the bottom, but this targets shoulders, core, and hips to a degree, too.

5. Bear Crawl. This exercise just feels like fun, and being a kid. And I’m all about anything that makes me feel like a kid again.

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Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

What Makes Me A Better Mom

I just had probably one of the best weekends with my kids. There was minimal yelling. There were few tantrums. There was a whole lot of giddy shrieking and laughter. It was like something had changed and I finally had the relationship I had always wanted with my kids.

But they hadn’t changed, I had.

This was the first weekend we had since I went back to work. Yes, the to do list was longer than usual. Yes, there was an exhaustion from adjusting to new schedules. Yes, there was the stress of trying to balance work and home. But there was the sudden desire to be with my children. To give them my full attention. To have patience because I hadn’t been having those same fights all week.

Working makes me a better mom.

You would think that a Saturday would run relatively similar to what our weekdays were not that long ago. Except rather than starting the day with a list of chores I wanted done for the day, I started it with what the kids wanted because I wanted to be with them. It helped there was no where to go, so we could have a leisurely discussion of what to have for breakfast (smoothies and toast), we could roughhouse in our pajamas (airplane is a favourite game) and we could wear whatever crazy outfits we wanted. I didn’t even find myself reaching for my phone. And then, when I started to feel that ever so present “Mom instinct” of a to-do list forming in my head, I told the kids I was going to start cleaning.

And they let me.

Sure, every once and a while they wanted help finding their “goggulahs” (goggles – for C’s favourite game: swimming lessons), or wanted a book (“Of course we can read Wheels on the Bus… again… Madeline”), but things got done. Not everything. Not nearly everything. But more than I would normally be able to accomplish on a regular day of mat leave. I even took some time for myself towards the end of the afternoon when there was a quiet lull, without feeling guilty that I was abandoning my kids, or constantly feeling torn between what they wanted to do and what I felt I needed to do.

Was it the fact I gave them the undivided attention they’d been craving right off the bat? The fact I was finally recognizing that I was an individual separate from them with equally legitimate desires? The fact they had both slept in and so woke feeling rested, rather than awoken by the clang of an alarm clock? I may not ever know, and I may not ever get it to happen again, but it was what I needed to remind myself that going back to work doesn’t make me a bad mom. It makes me a better mom.

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Not for Chickens: Nuggets

Toddlers eat a lot of chicken nuggets.

They were a staple in our meal plan for years. Since we buy our chicken breasts in bulk, we’d always peal off the fillets to freeze separately for homemade chicken nuggets. Plus some of the other chicken would be cut up for nuggets as well.

And on those days when we were grocery shopping close to supper time, we’d sometimes pick up a box of store bought chicken nuggets to eat that night. While not as healthy homemade, we were guaranteed a smoother meal time from a tired, hungry monster known as a toddler.

We have been mourning the loss of our chicken nuggets for months now.

That’s not to say we haven’t tried other options. First, we tried making veggie nuggets. The recipe had too many steps, and with needy girls around, I accidentally skipped a few steps and we ended up eating peanut butter sandwiches that night. We didn’t try again.

Then, we tried lentil nuggets, which integrated cheese, which were a solid option for the adults, but were panned by the children. Apparently, nuggets should not be orange.

We’d tried pork a few times. After finding the pork chop option too chewy, we tried pork cutlet, which seemed passable, but still not quite the right texture. At least the toddler would eat them, but wouldn’t have been the staple we were hoping for.

And then we tried turkey.

I know that should have been an obvious choice, but let’s remember our nuggets were usually made of fillets from a bulk tray of chicken breasts. Turkey breasts are not cheap, and never come in bulk trays. Nuggets should not have to cost a premium price. Then one day, as I was lamenting the fact that bulk chicken was on sale in the flyer, I noticed ground turkey was too.

If McDonalds can make nuggets out of pink sludge, why not make nuggets out of ground turkey?

I nearly cried when I took the first bite and it both tasted and felt “right”.

Yes, it’s a bit dramatic, but let’s face it: we’d gone through a lot to get to this moment. No longer would we have to convince a toddler to try another nugget form (she was a little nugget-shy after the lentil nuggets). No longer would we have to sneak her out to McDonalds to get her nugget fix without her little sister knowing. NO longer would we have to steal my mother’s food processor to take the boiled vegetables and mix with potatoes and hope there was enough starch to solidify the paste. Finally we had an option that was fairly easy, routinely went on sale, and tasted good.

And best of all, the toddler happily ate it.

Now, usually I try to base my experiments off of other recipes, but this I basically just mixed things together at random, so this “recipe” is going to be vague at best.

IMG_4028Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey
2 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp assorted seasoning (I used garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, thyme and a touch of rosemary)
1/4 c butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix 1/2-1 c bread crumbs into the turkey meat. Form into “nuggets” (I went into autopilot and ended up making essentially meatballs that I squished flat into small patties). Mix remaining breadcrumbs with seasonings. Dip nuggets into melted butter and then in into breadcrumbs. Press nugget gently to help breadcrumbs stick. When thoroughly coated, place in baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size of nugget), flipping halfway through.

Nuggets can be frozen before cooking (add about 5 minutes onto bake time when baking from frozen) or afterwards (microwave for about 1/2 minute to heat up), making these the ultimate “long day at work, don’t want to fight with toddler” supper!

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Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

First week back was rough. Not unbearable. It probably was pretty good as far as first weeks back go. The problem is I kept telling myself it was great, it was no big deal and we all know cramming yucky feelings down is not the right way to handle things. It caught up to me pretty quickly mid-week and then I spent the rest of the week trying to keep from going into a tailspin.

So now to bolster myself up so I can get back to work next week, here are the five highlights of week 1

  1. Coming back on the same day as our office Christmas lunch. Beer on the first day? Yes please.
  2. We got a new boss while I was away, and the office is so much more relaxed and some positive changes have been made. Morale is the highest I’ve ever seen it.
  3. Being a term is tough, and the term who was in my role didn’t always make the best impression. While that is unfortunate, it means people are falling all over themselves telling me how glad they are that I’m back.
  4. I have adults to talk to. About adult responsibilities. The number of times I’ve sang “Wheels On The Bus” between 9 and 5 has greatly decreased.
  5. Weekends are actual things now, not just more of the same except that Scott is home. And boy am I looking forward to the weekend.
    1. Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

      Currently: In December

      I am pretty excited for Christmas. Being newly back at work, I’m pretty pumped to be getting some time off again in just a couple weeks. Christmas itself is going to be chaos, with a very hyperactive 3 year old, so I guess I better enjoy the relative peace until then! This December, I am…

      Currently In December

      … lighting: two Christmas trees. I have some tree allergies so we are a fake-tree-family. It’s always bugged me that we deck out our main floor, but then when we’re downstairs watching Christmas movies, there is nothing festive going on. When we were going through the things my grandmother didn’t want to take to her apartment when she sold her house earlier this fall, I snagged her Christmas tree (and assorted decorations). It’s small but cute and makes me pretty happy.

      …spending: quality time with my big kid. I am back at work now, and it’s most obviously hard on C. I’m ignoring the stress and so it’s cropping up in the form of cold sores. M is just too young to know what’s up. But Miss C needs some extra love. Of course, there aren’t always extra hours in the day for extra love, so now grocery shopping is special “C and Me” time.

      …choosing: to shop more local this Christmas. In the end, “Santa” had to make a couple of Amazon purchases when very specific items were requested. It was nice not having a mountain of shipping boxes to try and recycle, or not having half a dozen tracking numbers to follow. I could have made more of an effort to shop at more locally owned stores but I did what I could between preschool drop off and pick up.

      …sending: letters to Santa. Jury’s out as to whether I’m doing Christmas cards this year but you can’t miss a year of writing to Santa especially when you know he writes back.

      …singing: Angels We Have Heard On High. Very thankful this is a song that C will be singing at her Christmas concert this week, especially since she’s been seeing it instead of the PAW Patrol song. Plus everyone needs a little Latin in their life.

      Thanks Anne and Catherine!

      Categories: The new identity | 10 Comments

      C Reads: Christmas Edition

      We read the usual Christmas stories (The Night Before Christmas), Christmas stories from our favourite series (Duck and Goose It’s Time for Christmas, The Berenstein Bears Meet Santa Bear), and even though we keep those boxed up until the right season, there is something fun about reading Christmas books from the library. Here are half a dozen we’ve read so far this season

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      Merry Christmas, Cheeps! by Julie Stiegemeyer and Carol Baicker-McKee has an oddly lilting rhyme. It takes some practice to read smoothly, and definitely skews to a younger crowd, but it’s a cute book.

      SantaKid by James Patterson and Michael Garland is pretty cute. When a giant conglomerate comes in and buys out Christmas, it’s up to Santa’s daughter to bring the magic back and save Christmas. 

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      The Best Christmas Pageant by Barbara Robinson and Laura Cornell reminds me of Christmas growing up,possibly because we had the full novel. I haven’t read it for years, but the children’s book seems to hit the major plot points well. I love that it takes the typical “pristine, well-behaved baby Jesus” image and questions it without being sacrilegious.

      And on the other end of the spectrum,Merry Christmas Princess Dinosaur by Jill Kastner. Maybe it’s because we haven’t read any Princess Dinosaur books, but this book definitely didn’t make me want to read any more. It was plotless. Even the idea of princesses and dinosaurs couldn’t draw C in.

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      A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M Schulz is every bit of wonderful I came to expect from the movie of the same name. It’s on repeat over here (and will hopefully help when C gets to watch the movie later this month, though it does skip over the Snoopy War scenes, etc).

      Christmas Stories by Russell Punter and Philip Webb is a collection of Christmas and winter stories. They are short and cute, and this book is also on repeat around here. Fake Santa is pretty much the favourite.

      Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 2.34.07 PM

      We didn’t pick Jolly Old Santa Claus from the library, but I can’t do a Christmas book post without mentioning this book by Sparkie and George Hinke. While there is a collector’s edition that was recently printed, I found an EGUC edition from the same vintage as the one my dad had when he was a boy at our Children’s Hospital Book Market the other year and it made my day. The images are amazing (though have the issue that they are on the other side of the sheet as the text which matches it, making it difficult to read to impatient toddlers — one thing rectified in the new edition), and while I may have ragged on Princess Dinosaur for lack of plot, there is a patient rhythm to this descriptive story that is soothing.

      Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

      Five Things Friday

      Today marks the last day of being a stay-at-home Mom. It’s easier the second time around because you know how life adjusts and that while there aren’t ever enough hours in the day, the hours you have just become more meaningful. It’s also harder the second time around because you know how long that commute home feels, and that you will never likely have a full summer off with your kids ever again.

      But let’s focus on the positive. The last 13 months have been a roller coaster and while there are moments I never want to relive, there are some that deserve taking a moment to remember. Here are five of my favourite moments of the last year (in no particular order):

      1. C asking for me. Though infrequent, and through and through a daddy’s girl, there were key times when she wanted me so desperately that it made up for all the times she screamed “I don’t want you Mommy!” Or “I want you to go to work and Daddy stay home”
      2. Pre-casting snuggles. M is a smuggler extraordinaire, but casts made it hard for her to snuggle in. Since we removed her casts at home on the morning that new ones would be put on, I would always add a few minutes just for snuggles. Those first few months were tough, and it’s still hard to look back at them but I’ll never forget those snuggles
      3. The look on C’s face when, instead of heading home, after a trip to the library, I surprised her by going to the splash park. We had a lot of struggles, that girl and I, over the last year, but I was her hero in that moment. I simultaneously regret not filming her reaction for posterity, and being so glad I got to experience it some other way than through a phone screen.
      4. Seeing Mr M love on his baby cousin. I know I should be mentioning how much C loves her little sister and how M immediately looks for her when she wakes up, but how much Mr M, my youngest nephew, loves “Baby ‘Line” was a unexpected surprise from early on, and makes me melt every time we go to leave and he insists “No, Baby ‘Line stay here. Baby ‘Line our baby!”
      5. Obviously, getting to meet our little girl. Thirteen months later, I can look at her and still see her as the cheese-covered, tiny little babe who was rushed into the world before we thought we were ready for her.
      Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

      Making It Work

      Remember back in August when I was running 3 days a week, and going to Bootcamp twice a week? Ya, so do I. So do my clothes. Especially the ones I bought that month. November is a very different month with colds and cold weather. At least I’m still making it to bootcamp once a week?

      I felt confident in my body when I was putting all the effort into it, and found it easy to get dressed. But now, not so much. But sometimes you just have to put clothes on, regardless of how you feel. And you have to work a little to make them work for you.

      IMG_5362This dress is a little tight in the waist, so it bunches up the torso, really accentuating how it’s big in the chest. The logical thing to do would be to take the dress off, and find something else to put on instead. Except that rejecting one outfit — even for a good reason — just starts the cycle of rejecting all outfits and leaves me crying on the bed that I have nothing to wear. Instead, I made myself just find a way to make it work.  That’s where the sweater and scarf came in.

      IMG_5352

      No more beating myself up for taking it easy on the work outs. No begrudging myself up for indulging in some foods I love. No raging at my closet for being so full and yet still having nothing to wear. Does it work? Can I make it work? It’s a much more productive commentary to keep in my head.

      Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

      Not For Chickens: Allergy Cooking

      I hate meal planning. I know it’s necessary, especially to keep on budget, but it’s not easy coming up with quick meal ideas that two adults and two kids will like. Especially when one of those kids is in a picky phase where what is delicious one week is disgusting the next. You know, that phase when you live off scrambled eggs and chicken nuggets?

      And things got even more complicated once we discovered the baby has allergies to two very common meal staples: eggs and chicken.

      I’ve been spending a lot of time getting creative in the kitchen, or rather, getting creative on my Google searches. And while not every family has to avoid chicken and eggs, my adventures outside our comfort zone may just introduce you to a new favourite for your family. And so, without further ado, I introduce my new series: Not for Chickens, which will highlight some of the foods we’re eating to accommodate our new chicken and egg free lifestyle.

      First up, our favourite breakfast or preschool snack: Applesauce mini muffins from Keeping Life Sane! This blog is my go-to for any egg-free baking I need. Holly has been allergic to eggs her whole life and has mastered a number of recipes, so it was a relief to find out that egg-free doesn’t mean taste free. I follow her recipe most of the time, though sometimes adding in 1/2 c of infant cereal, if I have any on hand, in place of 1/2 c of flour, just to kick up the nutrients a notch. I’ve also had success adding about 8-10 minutes onto the cook time and making full-sized muffins.

      IMG_4014

      The ingredients are:

      • ¼ cup softened butter
      • ⅓ cup sugar
      • 1½ cups flour
      • ½ cup Mott’s Applesauce
      • ¼ teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • ½ teaspoon baking soda
      • 3 Tablespoons water
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • sugar and cinnamon mixture for topping

      Check out Holly’s blog for the full recipe!

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      My favourite thing about this egg-free recipe is that it’s easy to halve or double as needed without having to figure out how to cut an egg in half. And it works well for those of you who may have the urge to bake but may not have eggs on hand! We always have at least a dozen of these in our freezer at all times.

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      Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

      Selling Myself

      I may be a little late on this, but it’s been sitting in my drafts waiting for the day I was ready to post. That may not be today, but let’s give it a go anyway.


      It’s kind of nice being a Canadian because you can stick your head in the sand about a lot of things. On days when POTUS gets news coverage for calling sex assault victims liars, our PM gets coverage for the socks he was wearing. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s not so bad up here.

      But it is.

      As many women did, I scanned through my memory for examples to join in on the social media movement of #metoo, which featured stories of misogyny and sex assault, to show the pervasiveness of the toxic power structure within our society. As many women did, I had a variety of stories that I could have tweeted. Most of them I could easily wave off as “not that bad” or “well that doesn’t count because…” and that was precisely the point of the #metoo movement: its so pervasive that we’re not even taking these situations seriously.

      But one stuck out in my head.

      I had wanted to work in advertising since I learned about the job of a copywriter in grade 8. I was so thrilled at this prospect that some 15 years later, when I was hired as one, I ignored all the red flags waving in my face and took the job.

      We’ll instead just focus on the person I reported to. We’ll call him Jeff. Because that was his name.

      As the lead strategist, all my ideas had to be run through him. He was not big on praise, but was liberal with criticism. He justified it as “it doesn’t matter if I think it’s good. It matters that the client thinks it’s good.” As someone starting out in their first “real” job and in a field in which I admittedly had no experience or training, I needed more direction or encouragement. I’d taken the job being told I would be mentored, but was soon told to “figure it out myself. [He was] too busy. But do it soon. We need something better than this crap. Is this really the best [I] could do? [He] knew they shouldn’t have hired me”.

      I would fight tears the whole bus ride home, (over an hour) and burst the minute I got in the door. I would spend the next three hours still working at home – entirely unpaid – and then coax myself into going to bed where I’d cry myself to sleep, pep talk myself up the next morning and repeat. A toxic working situation for sure, but that’s not the point of #metoo. He was equally as tough on the males of the office. He was a feminist. He told me so. Which is why what follows is obviously not on him, right?

      My job was also to boost our company’s social media presence. It started out easy enough: schedule tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook with current specials.  Try to convince coders why it’s good for them to have LinkedIn accounts so our company looks semi-legitimate. And then one day I walked into Jeff’s office and he had my personal Facbeook page up on his computer.

      “You’re going to need to get rid of this. Make it something more… attractive” he said gesturing at my profile picture. The profile picture I still haven’t changed in 6 years. The profile picture of my husband and I on our wedding day. The day every girl dreams of growing up. The day she feels the most radiant. And about 6 months into my marriage I was still on a wedding picture high.

      “How do you expect guys to friend you on Facebook if you look like you’re not available?” he continued. “They have to think “there’s a girl I want to meet. That’s a girl I want to…..”  He gestures as though he wants me to finish the sentence. I stare at him horrified.

      He holds his hands up to show is innocence. “What? It’s not my fault! Sex sells. If you had taken any marketing classes you would have known that. You have to stop thinking about it as selling yourself, and more about selling the company. If you want the company to succeed, you won’t have a problem with this.”

      And then he gave me tips on what would make a “better” profile picture. There was a mention of: “well, you’ll just have to work with what you’ve got” at one point, so apparently I was a bit of a tough sell.

      For my own personal Facebook account…

      To entice men…

      For the company…

      Sell myself…

      For the company.

      And JUST for good measure, he repeated: “It’s not me. It’s just how marketing work. Sex sells. Basic marketing”.

      There was nothing good or redeeming about that entire job situation. But the minute the success of the company hinged on me trying to take an enticing enough picture to use my small social media presence (thank goodness he didn’t know I had a blog that people actually read at the time!) to drum up business, I knew I had to leave. And not just the job: the industry. Even if every company didn’t have as toxic of an environment, or didn’t have the same reductive view of marketing, I wouldn’t be able to do that job without feeling as exposed and vulnerable as I did that day.

      Was I any good at my job? I don’t know. Did I have any potential? I don’t know. Would I have found the work rewarding? I’ll never know. None of that really seemed to matter in that office that day when the sum of my contributions to that company hinged on how attractive I could make those 170×170 pixels.

       

      Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

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