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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gone in a flash!

Periodically I buy a large round roast to use for several meals.  I trim it, put it in the crock pot, sprinkle a package of Liptons Onion Soup mix over the top and add about one cup of water.  Covered and cooked for 5-6 hours on high and I end up with tender, lightly seasoned meat.  One roast usually makes enough meat for at least 6 meals.  Some gets shredded, some is cut up into chunks, some sliced and some left in a hunk for a pot roast.  Then I put everything into zip lock freezer bags and freeze until I'm ready to use it.

Today was one of those roast-cooking days.  I went to Costco and picked up a 5 pound slab of meat.  After cooking it, I decided it was one of the best roasts I've ever made...tender and easily shredded but not dry.  I used some of it to make broccoli stir-fry for dinner tonight and it was perfect! 

Then it happened.  I transferred the roast into a 13 X 9 inch pyrex baking dish to cool in the refrigerator.  As I was moving it onto the shelf, the refrigerator door started closing and the dish slipped out of my hand, landing with a loud shattering crash on the kitchen floor!  Glass, meat and juices scattered everywhere!  For one tiny brief second, I though about trying to save some of the meat.  NO WAY.  It was gone.  Sigh...

Sometimes, our best efforts to save money and save time disappear in a flash.  Just glad no one got cut.  I'll be more careful next time!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A cure for the winter blahs

 Today is a cold, wet, dreary day. The kind of day where the kids have to be indoors and everyone is restless and going crazy.  What's a poor mother to do?
Let's have a party!
Why, throw a Happy Unbirthday Party, of course!  Who needs a reason to have a party?  Run to your closest Dollar Store and pick up a few party supplies (banners, balloons,
plates, napkins, table cloths, even some cheap favors).  Make or buy brightly colored cupcakes.  Sing "Happy Unbirthday to you"!  Plan a couple of games or pick out a fun DVD to watch.  Turn the doldrums into an unexpected celebration! 
Sometimes we all just need to relax and have fun and what better time to do that than a cold winter day?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Correction not criticism

Little imp!  :)
Because no one is perfect (not you nor your children), you can be assured that your children will misbehave.  It's part of their growing up process...learning to control their impulses, learning what is appropriate, learning right and wrong. 

As a mother, you are learning and growing too which sometimes leads to unpleasant confrontations and criticisms.  Those are emotional reactions, not especially helpful in dealing with a misbehaving child or teenager.  Instead of criticizing. let's aim at correction.

When you respond emotionally, your child is going to respond the same way and that is only going to escalate emotions, not solve a problem.  What you want from your child is for him to know what he did wrong and come up with more appropriate ways to act.  You want him to correct his behavior.

Can you respond to a whinny child calmly?  Can you talk with your belligerent teenager quietly and  without overreacting?  That, my dear friend, is your challenge.  You already know that you can't change someone else, you can only change yourself.  But the good thing is that by changing yourself, you often cause someone else to change which is what you wanted all along.  It's a win-win situation. 

The key is correction, not criticism.

Monday, February 2, 2015

You can do something!

My son posted this quote this morning and I liked it so much I made a sign of it.

Being a mom can feel so overwhelming, it's hard to know what to do first.  The best thing to do is just do something!  It's amazing what can be done in 10 or 15 minutes.  You don't really need a large block of time to do many things.  Usually the annoying tasks that we have to do regularly are fairly quick to accomplish.  Take advantage of those small blocks of time and just do it!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Warning - serious topic

A tragic news article prompted me to write today.  A 29 year old mother couldn't stand hearing her young babies and toddler crying so she tried to kill them.  Now the mother is in jail facing attempted murder charges and her three little children (aged 2 and twins 6 months old) are fighting for their lives.

You think, "How could this happen?"  "What could have been done to prevent it?"

The vast majority of mothers (and fathers) would never dream of hurting their children, no matter how frustrated they are. Yet, periodically there are stories like the one above that are sobering reminders that coping strategies must be taught to parents, especially vulnerable ones.

Young children cry.  No doubt about it.  Babies cry.  They cry because that's the only way they know how to communicate.  They cry because they are tired or hungry or need a diaper change, or are too hot or too cold, or are getting sick, or teething, or in other discomfort.  During sleep they might have had a frightening dream or been startled by some noise.  Sometimes, they cry for no apparent reason.

To cope with a crying baby, consider the following -
1. Babies feel tenseness in people around them.  If their crying makes you tense and anxious, they very possibly might cry more.  Try to remain calm and soothing.  No shouting or yelling!
2. Check for the obvious reasons for the crying.  Feet and hands cold?  Cover them.  Baby sweating? She's too hot.  Remove some layers.  Change diaper.  If baby is young, try feeding him.  Check for signs of discomfort.
3. If all the above fails, soothe baby with quiet, gentle words and put her gently back in her crib and close the door. 
4. If your baby seems like she is in pain, call the pediatrician, even in the middle of the night.  All doctors that I know have answering services that can help you determine whether your baby's symptoms are urgent or can wait until morning.
5. Periodically check on her but try to avoid disturbing her.  Yes, you are not going to get very much sleep but remind yourself that this stage of your child's life is a short one. 

If you find yourself unable to remain calm and get increasingly frustrated, even angry, you need to discuss this with your doctor immediately.  She can help you with additional coping strategies.  You might be suffering from a severe form of postpartum depression.

You need to schedule an appointment with your baby's doctor also to rule out possible physical reasons for her distress.

Having a "safe" person (a friend or family member) available to call when you are at your wits end, will help you calm down and think rationally.  Talk with someone you trust and ask him or her to be that safe person for you.

If your feelings intensify, put your crying baby in her crib and close the door. Then call your safe person or the doctor.  Do not give in to impulsive actions. 

Make sure your husband, babysitters and other care givers know what to do if they feel overwhelmed by your baby's crying. Teach them if necessary.

No one likes to hear a baby cry but it's a fact of life that they do.  If you are unable to cope with your children for whatever reason, you must find help.  It's possible to learn the strategies that will help you be a calmer mother and learn how to handle your own emotions in a healthy way.

Every innocent young baby deserves to be safe and loved.

Friday, January 23, 2015 not the movie :)

Years ago, when I heard about the idea of making a month's worth of meals in a day, I was intrigued.  Then I thought about the practicalities...with a family of 10, that would fill up a HUGE freezer!  Also, the idea of spending an entire day planning and grocery shopping for those meals and another entire day in the kitchen preparing them sounded like torture!  The less time I spend in the kitchen, the better!

But...I came up with a compromise that worked for my large family and works even better for smaller families!  I don't prepare complete meals but I do make some things in large quantity for throwing together into a dinner later.  Things that take a relatively long time to cook, I'll make at least double and sometimes more to freeze for later.  It takes no extra time to make 8 cups of rice than it takes to make 4 cups.

Here's an example - I had a dinner in mind but my husband said he felt like Cashew Chicken.  He also said it probably would take too long IF we had all the ingredients.  I just smiled and headed into the kitchen.  I pulled out a quart freezer bag of cooked chicken breast cubes, a freezer bag of cooked brown rice, and a handful of toasted cashews from the freezer.  With the addition of a can of chicken broth, some Asian spices, chopped onion, garlic and celery, some thickener and soy sauce, my Cashew Chicken was ready to eat in 15 minutes.  Super easy, super fast and didn't taste like it had been in the freezer  :)

Some of the best things to make in quantity and freeze in portions are beef, chicken, and ham.  I'll take two fairly large beef roasts and cook them in the crock pot.  When finished cooking, I'll take one roast and divide it in half.  One half goes in a freezer bag as is...that will be for a pot roast later.  The other half gets cut in cubes for stew or soups and divided in more freezer bags.  The other roast I'll shred for BBQ beef, taco or burrito meat, and beef and gravy.  Again, it gets divided into several freezer bags.  Chicken is prepared similarly...several chicken breasts cooked or grilled then frozen for teriyaki chicken, stir fry, pot get the idea.  With the meat already cooked, the rest of the meal is easy and quick to prepare.  I also regularly freeze brown rice as it takes fairly long to cook and sometimes, I don't have that much time.  It freezes wonderfully. 

When freezing, I like using freezer bags because they are compact and stackable.  Rigid containers sometimes leave too much airspace and therefore, take up extra space.  Always label what is in the bag, how much and when it was prepared.  

Whatever you cook regularly is a possible candidate for making in bulk and freezing.  It saves on energy and time, which is a great help for a busy mom!  If unexpected visitors arrive just in time for dinner, it's so easy to pull out another bag of meat, thaw it and add to your meal.  What could be easier?  Ok, calling out for pizza...   :)