Has it really been since JANUARY when my last post published? Seriously? Another three months gone? I was chatting with some friends on twitter this morning about how I miss blogging and catching up. Sometimes blogging/chatting/etc feels so frivolous when compared to everything else that’s going in the country and the world, but I think frivolous is just what I need right now.
What’s been going on since my last update? The biggest is a major home remodel. For years we’ve talked about moving to a new home, but with house prices soaring in the DFW area (and our love for our current house/location), we decided to just put the money into where we currently are.
A three week home renovation project turned into two plus months. We’ve been put out of the house a lot and most of our stuff is in boxes or the garage–neither of which has been easy with three little kids. We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and fingers crossed we’ll have most of our furniture back in the house by the end of this week. To say that this has uprooted our lives is a bit of an understatement.
What else? My little Cara Bo-Beara needs ear tubes, scheduled for today, and I have to have half my thyroid removed. Not a big deal…when I went in for my annual gyn visit, my midwife found a lump on my throat. Turns out it’s a thyroid nodule, which is fairly common. I’ve been putting off the surgery until our remodel is finished.
And to keep from writing an entire novel of a post, here’s what I’ve been up to:
Watching: Since we haven’t had a couch, I haven’t watched anything in months. Makes for more reading time, though! Any suggestions on a show to binge watch? I prefer older shows so that we don’t have to wait for new episodes!
Eating: Wayyyyyyyyy too much take-out and junk food! Although I just had my first ear of corn for the season and it was pretty tasty!
Making: I am thisclose to finishing Cara’s baby quilt. Technically it IS finished, but I need to add the tag. Before the home reno I was also working on her Christmas stocking, and I also started another quilt top. Lately if I’m not reading, I’m in the craft room.
Planning: Summer trips! We are definitely headed to Moab and Zion (in Utah). Hopefully with a camper.
Feeling: Incredibly unsettled. Honestly ever since the election. I really need to find some familiar footing and focus on getting back into a groove with life. I was telling my husband this morning that I’ve almost forgotten what normal life feels like.
Loving: Cara kisses, Evie hugs, and Elle hand-holding. It’s amazing how restorative a good snuggle can be.
Wanting: To wean Cara. It’s been 16 months. I am beyond done. And the guilt is ridiculous, considering it’s been 16 months. But ugh my baby! I have mentioned she’s my last baby, right? Kills me.
Thinking: It’s about high time I dust off this blogging space and get back to it. Thankfully my bullet journal has given me some space to keep track of my life, but blogging is one way that I make time for myself and I need to honor that!
Looking Forward To: Order. And a little time to KonMari the crap out of my house. :)
I would love to hear what YOU are listening to, reading, watching, eating, making, planning, feeling, loving, wanting, thinking, and looking forward to.
Ok–I think I need to keep up the momentum. What do you want to hear more about? What I’ve been reading? What I’ve been crafting? Thoughts on my mommy body? And update on the girls? How my Once a Month Cooking went (six months ago…ha!)? Anything else?
For the month of October (OMG it’s October!), I’m undertaking a crazy experiment. The plan is to prep as many meals as I can this coming weekend to use for the month. Once a month cooking!
How did I get started on this path? I was checking out a book in the cooking section of the library when I came across Fix, Freeze, Feast and Once-a-Month Cooking (OAMC). I also grabbed Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead and started researching. At first I thought “NO WAY this is insane!” but the more I thought about it and the more I researched, it started to feel really doable.
I’ll outline the different books in a separate post, but there seems to be different camps when it comes to OAMC. The first method, from Once-a-Month Cooking, is to prep single meals for every day of the month (or a two week block, if preferred) using set menus and a specific prep plan. Each meal is different so by the end of your prep day the freezer should be full of 15-30 meals.
The second method, outlined in Fix, Freeze, Feast, focuses on making meals in bulk–using the large meat trays from warehouse stores (Sam’s and Costco). Each recipe yields 3-4 different meals for the freezer. Another book I have, Don’t Panic- Dinner’s in the Freezer, uses this same method with different ingredient tables for multiples of 2 and 3.
I’ve decided to take an approach in between these two methods. I am leery of cooking 3-4 meals of a recipe I’ve never tried before only to have it be something that my family will not eat. A lot of those Pinterest “make 50 crockpot meals in a day!” type recipes rely on making several bags of the same meal. I would hate for that food to go to waste. On the other hand, making 30 individual meals seems crazy, especially if I’m using someone else’s recipe (like the official Once A Month Meals website, which has paid plans).
The most daunting part of the planning process is coming up with a month’s meal plan. I’m terrible at meal planning as it is but generally only like to plan out two months and allow for lots of wiggle room. Planning for an entire month seems like a lot of commitment! But one of the least favorite parts of my day is trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. Hopefully this will help.
I started by taking stock of what’s already in my freezer. I already have one jar of homemade spaghetti meat sauce, pork bolognese, and pulled pork in the freezer. I also have a lot of uncooked meat–meatballs, steak, pork chops, brats, and salmon. Between these items, I already have several meals in the bag.
Once I had a handle of what I already have in the freezer, I made a list of meals I tend to make every single freaking month (those people I live with are creatures of habit). Tacos, salisbury steak, enchiladas, manicotti, rice and beans, fried rice, teriyaki chicken, chicken piccata. Are any of these meals that I can make ahead? In many cases yes!
I listed out 30 days of the month and started filling in the blanks–first with the stuff I had on hand and next with some of our family favorites. I ended up with a list of about 24 meals. I’m leaving some wiggle room for eating out (or take-out) for special treats or dinner with family. Or even just leftovers. If I make lasagna, chances are we’ll be eating it for two nights.
24 meals. Is that doable? Am I insane? And how do I prep these meals? My pork chops are already frozen, so I can’t really prepare them at this point but I can assemble the spices I would use for particular meals. Do I cook the meatloaf before or after freezing? Should I freeze the sauce for the salisbury steak or just make it the day of? Will breaded chicken really freeze well?
Ultimately will prepping all of my meals ahead of time save time?
One of the things that seems to take me a lot of time each evening is chopping vegetables for our sides. While I can’t do this all at the beginning of the month, I’m going to try to do as much nightly prep as I can on Sundays. I usually hate doing stuff like this on Sunday, but I’m beginning to see this as a case of making the time now to save it later.
I’ll report back at the end of the month and let you know how it has gone. And if you have any tips I would LOVE to hear them in the comments. Do you have a favorites that seem to freeze well? Anything that you avoid freezing?
What tips and tricks have you adopted to help your nightly cooking go much more smoothly?
Linking up with:
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!
My sister asked me the other day at what age I thought it was inappropriate for a child to still be nursing. Had I not just finished Unlatched, I don’t know what my answer would have been. The short answer I gave her was “I don’t know…it’s complicated!”
And that’s what makes Unlatched such an interesting read. Grayson goes into some of the history of breastfeeding and how views of breastfeeding have changed over the past century. These days it feels taboo to discuss breastfeeding, depending on the audience, and it certainly isn’t something that most women choose to do in public, despite it being the most natural way to feed an infant. How did breastfeeding become such a source of controversy? Why are mommies at war with one another over breastfeeding versus formula feeding?
I read Unlatched mostly while I breastfed my 8 month old babe or while I pumped breastmilk at work, because that’s when I get much of my reading in these days. Even though I am a breastfeeding mom, I had many conflicted thoughts while reading this book and at the beginning was incredibly turned off by Grayson’s tone and point of view. I mean, the second chapter of the book is entitled “What Would Baby Jesus Drink?” Cue the eyerolling. I formula-fed my first baby and felt so much guilt over it and it is very clear that Grayson is very pro-breastfeeding (she weaned her oldest at four years).
The breadth of the book is quite expansive and at times I felt like it was a little too wide. She covers breastfeeding in ancient times through the Industrial Revolution. She gives a lot of focus to when mothers began working outside of the home in the 1800s and the great effect this had on breastfeeding in the 1900s. She talks about the advent of formula and how formula marketing has played such a large role in breastfeeding and its public perception. She talks about the Women Infant Children program and the government involvement with formula companies and WIC.
Grayson also talks about the benefits of breastfeeding as well as some of the mysteries, but this is where I wanted more information. She dropped a bomb in my lap that breastmilk is actually a tissue. What the what? What does this even mean? She doesn’t expand and I couldn’t find any information online. She strongly believes that if more babies were breastfed that our national health would increase as a whole. But is there that much research to substantiate this huge claim? She didn’t convince me.
There’s SO MUCH. SO MUCH. There’s the idea that breastfeeding is now something that is tied to privilege–if you can stay at home with your child then yay for you. But this also assumes that you’re able to nurse with other littles around. Or that you have the flexibility and support system. Or that it comes easy to you. Breastfeeding is hard!
Which then leads into the discussion of how breastfeeding is handled in hospitals. My own experiences between my first and second baby were very different. No one mentioned putting the baby to my breast right after I had her the first time around–I had to ask the nurses when I should start trying to feed her. Rooming arrangements were also different between the first and third. With my first, she was only brought into my room to nurse. By my third baby, she never left my side for one second during our entire stay in the hospital. The presence (or lack) of formula, pacifiers, and lactation consultants varied each time.
She talks about how the women in 18th century France shipped off their babies to farms to be breastfed by others. Or the “mass infanticide” that occurred in Britain and Ireland when babies were not breastfed by their mothers (what?!). She talks about how the normal breastfeeding range is 2-7 years. Though I’m not sure exactly where this is happening. She talks about pumping and how the return to work is affecting our babies. Of course this also goes hand in hand with maternity leave–or the lack of it. This third time around, I’m lucky to work the hours that I do around breastfeeding and pumping. I know from my first corporate job that this is rarely the case for working mothers.
So yes, in many ways I really connected with Unlatched and it was a read that I found compelling. But the delivery of Grayson’s message was often tough to swallow. I spent the first half of the book exasperated with the way that she was trying to sell breastfeeding. Additionally, the first couple of chapters in the book felt unorganized and the information seemed conflicting. Grayson made a lot of claims but it wasn’t always clear whether these claims were founded in actual research or supposition.
I know, I know, this post is already a 1,000 words long…likely the longest book post I’ve written (not to mention the essay I wrote on my own breastfeeding journey), but here are a few of the passages I highlighted throughout the book (and there were many).
“But the truth is that while the rooting and sucking reflexes are hardwired in a baby, a mother’s knowledge of how to breastfeed is not. For humans and members of the larger primate order to which we belong, that knowledge is culturally based and it is largely learned” (loc 234). But then “…for thousands, perhaps millions, of years of human history, breastfeeding was a natural, intuitive experience that all Homo sapiens and previous human ancestors had shared and knew intimately” (loc 271).
“The federal government’s Women, Infants, and Children program, also known as WIC (which provides supplemental foods as well as health assistance to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children under the age of five), buys and distributes more than half of all the infant formula sold in the United States every year, making the US government the formula manufacturers’ biggest customer” (loc 347).
“And many soon came to see formula as preferable in an era when doctors believed that breastfeeding could only be successful under ideal conditions: if the mother had ample daily exercise; if she drank prescribed quantities of water; if she followed a plain diet; if she abstained from tea, coffee, and alcohol; if she wasn’t stressed in any way. The bottle, unlike the breast, was predictable and measurable” (loc 1439).
“Yet here’s the crux of the problem: in a culture where both men and women automatically think sex when they see a naked breast, it is a real challenge for a mother to whip out one of those sexually loaded things every time she needs to feed her kid” (loc 2623).
“But maybe we should stop talking about the benefits of breastfeeding and instead start considering the risks of not breastfeeding, since I’m certainly not fine. Are you fine? Are we—an overweight nation of chronically ill, medicine-dependent formula feeders—fine?” (loc 3637…Grayson was formula fed as an infant).
“But in the United States, we’ve championed pumping to the exclusion of giving a new mother the time to bond with her newborn, by packing her off to work with a health care–sponsored breast pump and zero paid maternity leave” (loc 3856).
Bottom Line: Whew. I still have so many more thoughts and the more I think about it, the more the breastfeeding question continues to complicate itself in my mind. Do I wish that more mothers would consider breastfeeding their babies? Yes–absolutely! Do I think that mothers should feel less guilt over not being able to breastfeed? Yes–absolutely! It’s not clear-cut for me. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Is this a book for everyone? No. Is it a perfect piece of journalism? No–I think Grayson’s book is flawed in many ways. But I do think that as uncomfortable this conversation is to have, we should be talking about breastfeeding more than we are.
Happy Sunday! Here we are a month into Kindergarten. Can you believe it? This past week it was college week at school and so I explained that when Elle turned 18 and finished high school she would/could go to college. She cried that she didn’t want to go to college and leave home. Me either baby girl. Me either. Thankfully we don’t have to think about that for many more years! But yes I know…it’ll be […]
I currently have a freezer full of salmon. We aren’t big fish eaters. I like just fine but the other three eaters in my house don’t care for it. Last year I think I cooked salmon three times and it was a fight to get the girls to eat every bite. I’ve never cooked other kinds of fish. Gasp!! So when my brother-in-law told me that he was going on a fishing trip […]
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is an audio freebie and I thought about sharing some of my favorite albums when I was in high school (hello Counting Crows and Tori Amos) or albums that I’ve bought recently rather than just the single (Lumineers and Hozier). But you know what? I just feel like rambling on a bit about the goings on in life lately. Y’all don’t mind do you? Remember when Elle used to call Taco […]
One of the most ubiquitous rules of reading is Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. Raise your hand if you don’t abide by this rule. It’s ok–it’s one that I continually break as well. As I very rarely read jacket covers or the back of a book before I start it, when I’m browsing books at the store the only thing I have to go on is the cover and perhaps word of […]
Want to hear a secret? I love listening to nonfiction on audio. It’s my favorite way to digest the genre. The other part of this secret is that I prefer listening to nonfiction than fiction books on audio. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (from The Broke and the Bookish) is Top Ten All Time Favorite Books of X Genre. Gah it’s so tough to break down favorites, isn’t it? I’ve shared some of my […]
I am SO EXCITED to share these pictures of the 100% finished Christmas Quilt. You know–the one that I started right after Elle was born? And in case you need a refresher, Elle was born in 2011. Ahem. All those years ago, I joined a year-long virtual quilting bee with my cousin, sister, and 9 other gals. Each month one member would send out fabric to the others with directions on a block (or two) […]