Friday, April 25, 2014

Working Mom Chronicles: Week of 4/21

What a week this has been.

It started really rocky. I was quite the emotional wreck on Monday morning, since my weekend had been a bit of wash. With so much to do (still unpacking, food shopping, laundry, ironing, organizing) I spent my weekend in LI, not doing anything at all. For my Type A personality, which is nothing to be proud of lol, I felt like a complete failure. Not to mention the painful commute to and from LI (3 hrs to be exact!!), I was quite irritable when I walked in the door on Sunday night after 9 pm. That's right, I missed Easter Sunday with my family. Let's not talk about it.

To add to the madness, I had to do frequent trips to the market after work to pick up some things to make the night's meal. Each night, dinner was on the table after 8:30 pm. The chaos in my house mad me tense. I was dragging myself out of bed each morning. Not because I was tired, but because I just knew what awaited me at work and back at home. It was like sucking the life out of me.

I envy stay-at-home moms. I won't compare my apples to your oranges, but gosh darn it, there's a lot to be said about the convenience of working in pajamas and on your own schedule! All that chatter about moms needing time away to feel like herself is a quick fix. Go to the bathroom. Lock the door. And come back out when you feel you can face the kids again. Or heck, lock them in the bathroom until you can finish the dishes lol I'm kidding. Not really.

I work everyday "8 am -7 pm" (any time I spend out of the home for work.. is the sum of my work schedule lol). With that said, who has any time or even energy to cook every night?? I mean, when is there any time at all to do ANYTHING? That is why my weekends are oh so precious to me.

Every Friday I make my weekend to-do list. Do I always stick to it? No. And not because I don't want to, but because I just don't have time to do it all. I will admit that when I put Gabby down for her nap... I join in. And when I see the sun beaming outside, I tell the kids to put on the shoes and just head to the park. All very spontaneous stuff. I want that part of my weekend too! I crave an afternoon of nail salons and shopping. I want a morning walk, just with my beau. I want to hear my kids laugh and squeal when we play hide and seek. But non of those things is going to make my Monday to Friday any easier... and that's when I get back on that crazy-mom-mode, where I put errands and laundry before my family. I try to convince myself that it will reward us in the end...

I work because I'm good at it. I work so I can provide for my family. I don't work so I can climb some latter and collect merits. I do not work for shoes and handbags. I work because I have to. But that doesn't mean, I will work so that someone else can raise my children. I deserve to benefit from the 9 months that I carried each of my children...

Damn the women who fought so hard to get us in the work field to begin with! (kiiiiiidding). But I truly salute the many woman who understand the struggle and made a name, brand, enterprise out of themselves... right from home! #OneDay

In conclusion, I am looking forward to the weekend. Here's what the weekend's to-do list looks like:

Friday 4.25 8:00 pm - Walk through the door...
                   9:00 pm - Watch my Novela #LaVidaMeRobo, while folding the laundry
                   10:00 pm - Scrub down the bathroom (my 10 minute quick-clean regimen is the best!)

Saturday 4.26  7:30 am - Rise & Shine!
                       8:00 am - Grocery Store - under an hour.
                       9:30 am - Prepare the kid's lunch bags for the afternoon trip to Coney Island
                       10:00 am - Breakfast for the kids: Pancakes and egg whites
                       11:00 am - Wash and dress the kids
                       12:00 pm - Wash and dress myself
                         1:00 pm - Make the beds, tidy up
                         2:00 pm - Family trip to Coney Island!
                         6:00 pm - Order Pizza for dinner, begin meal plan prep (day 1)
                         8:00 pm - Kids: Bath, Book & Bed

Sunday 4.27    8:00 am  - Rise & Shine!
                       9:00 am - Family Breakfast
                       10:30 am - Get dressed for church!
                       11:30 am - Get out of the door! (pack snacks!!)
                         1:00 pm - Lunch
                         2:00 pm - Church Service
                         4:00 pm - Stroll the streets before heading back home...
                         6:00 pm - Meal Plan prep (day 2)
                         7:30 pm - Kids: Bath, Book & Bed
Yeah that about sums it up. Eventually, I too will take a bath, read a book (or pin a few pins!) and go to bed. A whole new work week awaits me. Yay.

What was your week like?
What do your weekends look like??


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meal Planning - The Secret Sauce

I am no June Cleaver. I'm a full-time working mom with 3 kiddos and an 1.5 hr commute. On average, I get see my kids for 2 hours a day. (Before you pity me, you might as well pity 100% of working mothers who have to work outside of the home, I'm one of many).

All this to say - I needed to find a way to make mealtime work for me and my schedule. I love to cook. We sit down for dinner every night. Even if we're ordering in. (However, I try to avoid ordering out  because its just not cost effective for our monthly budget and let's be real - nothing more gratifying than a home-cooked meal :)

Here were my biggest mealtime hurdles: (I'll bullet my solutions below!)

  1. Time. Per my rant above, I don't have much time with my kids, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen preparing dinner.
  2. Brain freeze. When you can't remember what your family eats or what they like. A complete shut down of the brain and thinking of "what to make for dinner" feels like a Jeopardy question.
  3. Too good for leftover meals. I can cook like its Thanksgiving on any given Monday - and there will not be any leftovers enough for everyone. Probably one serving. So I would have cook yet again on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday... and on the days I make a HUGE abundance of food - it goes, untouched! grrr
  4. Weekend washout. My weekends are never mine. I don't sleep in. I don't go to the salon. I don't visit museums or friends. Weekends are the only two days I have to do all the other things have been neglected for the past 5 days: laundry, groceries, organizing, cleaning, homework. By the time Sunday 9pm rolls around, I'm BEAT. I even hate cooking on the weekends!
  5. Picky eater. My 2nd, Jake is the pickest little eater - for as long as I could remember. It was always a struggle to make one meal the whole family would enjoy. So many times, a new dish for the whole family would require some rice and beans on the side for Jake. 

Sum all that up - I have no choice but to suck it up and cook every night. But the truth is, I'm feeling the burn physically. By 9:30pm I'm DONE. I want nothing more than my pillow and blanket. Lately, It's been so bad that I take Gabby to bed with me and there we stay. I have to wake up in the middle of the night to put her in her crib and call Dad off the couch (terrible I know!)

So what's a mom to do?? Become a meal planner!
I've seen TONS of great resources in the Bloggersphere and Pinterest. A Thrifty Mrs did an excellent post covering some great printables to get you started! If you're not familiar with Meal Planning, here's an excellent "How-To" post to read.

Here are my solutions to all of my hurdles and the secret sauce to change what to make for dinner forever!

1. and 4. My Time-Saving and Weekend Washout solutions: pre-cut, pre-cook, pre-plan.
2. Brain Freeze no more: I keep a running list called the "Hit List" of dishes I've made that my family really enjoyed. To much of my surprise, I have at least 20 unique dishes! That's close to something new and different every day for a month!
3. Too good, not enough - good and bad problem to have right? My solution? Pasta dish on days with no leftovers. Pasta dishes are the easiest and quickest.
4. The Picky Eater: the biggest hurdle of them all. No matter hoe much I prepare, or how much I hope to bring something new to the table, I always get stumped to make dishes ALL of my kids will enjoy. This is when I figured out the secret sauce: Copy a restaurant's kid menu! We have a local hot spot called The Moxie Spot in Brooklyn, which has the most amazing menu for kids. I went online and pulled the menu. Before I knew it, I had tons of ideas for my kids and family. Don't know how to make it? Scout recipes online!

Here are some steps to help get you started:

- Having the right storage materials is essential: You must have glass containers (for anything you may microwave), plastic containers for anything you want cold and fresh in the fridge and finally Ziploc bags in all sizes.

- Take inventory of your fridge. I created a Family Shopping List that I keep on the fridge or at my desk at work and I track the items I need to pick up during my next shopping trip.

- To make this really work, you want to create a list of meals that have been tried and true to make your family happy.

- THEN, build a week's menu. To build my menu, I needed a  Meal Plan printable for my  specific needs. I needed one with the days of the week S- S, a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner breakout AND a shopping list section. I cross reference my shopping list to make sure I'm buying everything I need for my week's meal.

- I shop alone and after I've eaten. Distractions are a nightmare and worse, when you're hungry. You'll impulse buy! When I come home, I unload the groceries right away.

- I wouldn't begin my pre-cut, pre-plan or pre-cook until Sunday. Saturday's are usually our family day, out and about or my day to clean the house top to bottom. Sunday's are lazy, laid back. I like to go to church and come home and prepare for the week ahead; plan work clothes, iron school uniforms, wash my hair. So what better day to take an hour and wash fruits and veggies: cut, chop or mince and store?

That is all. I know right... so little effort, such big impact.

Share with me your best trips and tricks to juggle work and family!? We can do this all day!

Leave a comment if you want a copy of my Family Shopping List! #SharingIsCaring

High Five!

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Home Projects {The List}

You mean I have other projects I need to do besides quit living out of boxes and unpack?

New home calls for new functionality (and new fun stuff too!!). Believe it or not, my beau Steven found our place on his own and because everything was moving rather quickly, I didn't see it until the day before we moved. I wasn't too worried since my honey was smart enough to video record his viewing for me. I was sold when I saw the amount of windows and the closets! I didn't care there was carpet - everywhere!

Still, that didn't mean I knew what I was going to do with all of our stuff. Although my honey and my mom are great help - I need to be in control of where everything went. Not a control thing but a knowledge is power thing. Knowing where things are is the most powerful thing you could have in a home lol (as least I think so!).

So here are a few projects I will being addressing in the next couple of weeks:

1. Organize my kitchen cabinets. My kitchen is great for a couple with maybe one child. I have 3 and my mom. We are A LOT and that means A LOT of food. A lot of food means Costco living. Costco equals bulk. See how I did that there? My kitchen pain-point: clutter. Having to move 5 pans just to get one. Drives. Me. Crazy.

2. Organize the boys room. Out of all of the rooms, the boys have the most stuff. Toys, books, bikes, scooters, seasonal games, TV, bunk bed oh yeah, clothes. The sooner I can organize their room, the quicker they can entertain themselves in their room, giving me more time to manage everything else that needs to get done. This if followed by Gabby's & Grandma's room and finally my room, which I've managed to organize 50% just by placing our clothes in drawers and closet.

3. Squeeze the life out of all of our seasonal clothes. I wasn't thrilled about having carpet. BUT it meant we had no choice but to invest in a vacuum! That means I can finally have space bags!! This alone should help me shrink an entire closet (my future linen closet) down by 80%. The only way I can manage to keep a neat closet is by storing away season garments and keeping in-season gear at reach. But now the bins and blanket bags are taking over!! And I have sooo much shelf to ceiling space in all of my closets, that I want to use it wisely.

4. Upcycle moving boxes! I don't have a lot of shelves and my pretty freshly painted walls don't need to see my drill - not yet anyway. So after doing some research on Pinterest, I went to my go-to organizer Jen Jones for her creative DIY Fabric Boxes tutorial which I found a few months back and I tucked away for "the day" and now that the day is HERE, I'm ready to make this project happen! I can see it now: kids toys, books, Gabby's shoes, teddy's, my mommy's magazine's and filings! It will never end! and I have SOOO many boxes! lol

That is all for now, I'll keep you posted as I go along ;)

High five!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Moving Day II {RECAP}

We did it! We moved last, last weekend!! What a weekend… O_0 
I’m soar everywhere. But I hear  soar is the new sexy so I’m with it.

We've officially been at our new place a full week. I'll do my best to recap what these past few days have been like... don't judge me.

Long. Tired. And a whole lotta boxes - everywhere.

Despite all my best efforts to keep things organized and chaos-free, (like numbering boxes and keeping a running list in my hand-dandy notebook, of every item in that box), when the 'moving' portion finally began, things were thrown in bags and boxes and into the truck. A little piece of my sanity was lost that day, I'm certain.

My brightly white place was looking dim and cluttered with all the boxes, furniture and giant hefty bags everywhere. Lots of work to be done, so I had to take a second to breathe and think strategically about my plan of attack. 

I have THREE rules I follow when organizing a big project. The keys: efficiency and time-saving.

Rule #1. Touch it Once.

Don’t pick up something out of place to put it in a temporary place to pick it up again and put it in its designated place. No no no. Touch it once. Stop and think: where does it go? Don’t know where? Leave it right there. Even if it’s in your way. It will eventually get your mind going and you will soon come up with a location for your item!

Rule #2. Divide and Conquer.

Lots of THINGS before you and you don't know where to begin? Divide them into categories. Categories can vary from generic like: Kitchen, Bedroom, Kids, Bathroom to more granular categories like Linen Closet, Seasonal Storage, Travel, Spice cabinet. For example: I had one box full products from my vanity cabinet. The box had a least 40+ items in it. Finally I broke it down: Body, Hair, Face, His, Kids, Shower, Mani+Pedi, Baby. After that quick and fun exercise the next thing to do was put them in their designated place!

Rule #3.  EVERYTHING in its place.

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING must have a place to call home. Cables, chargers, pens, coupons, receipts, keys, the newspaper, shopping bags, mail, shoes, umbrellas. These are just a  few of the items that cause cluttered drawers and spaces in any home. To avoid this nuisance, designate a place for such items. Start with your home entry way. When you think of an entrance you think door, maybe  a coat hanger, or a closet. But it soon becomes the prime place for coats, bags, shoes, umbrellas, mail, keys, lost and found etc. So why not create an organized entry way that fits all of that but looks good? and more importantly: inviting? Need ideas?? I have a whole board dedicated to it, because I truly <3 Organizing.

With my three rules in place - I then had to ask myself an even bigger question: 

First thing I did was take everything from that was eating up my living room and putting them in their respective rooms: Master, Boys, Baby, Grandma, Kitchen, Bathroom. I soon realized that all of my rooms were full and the living area was practically bare. Good and bad. I did need ONE place to be clear of madness, and in that case, might as well be the living/dining area, where we ALL congregate. 

Next Step?
I need to stop typing and start organizing. Don't worry. I've captured my before pictures. I'll likely have some after shots in say about a  month lol Nah, I kid!! Give me a couple weeks, I'll have at least one room complete by then ;)

High five!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mom-On-The-Go Spring Weekender

Pour Pink - The Rainy Day Essentials

Gloomy grey days does not mean gloomy grey gear. Brighten your day with your wardrobe :) My color of choice: Pink! and while you're at it, why not add a little floral to the get-up? I mean, April showers bring up May flowers, right? Stay dry, look cool.
Pour Pink - The Rainy Day Essentials

J Crew j crew coat

Hunter knee high boots
$140 -