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Working Mothers

11 Apr

I’ll never forget the day I left my son at day care when I first went back to work.  I knew I had no choice.  DB wasn’t going to support us in any real way nor was he interested in taking care of our newborn infant on a full-time basis (nor could he be trusted to do so).  It was a very difficult decision and one that I relented over for a very long time afterward – how I would be missing all of his growth and changes that occur so rapidly when they are that young. 

Of course, pain has subsided over the last 4-5 years but I will never forget the agony of leaving my infant and the anger I had at the US government for not supporting working families in a way that would allow a women to spend more time with her infant – even if unpaid – 12 weeks doesn’t seem to be enough time to bond with your baby when they just seem so small and helpless at just 3 months old – weighing at times less than 16 llbs!  What I learned is that many women are back in the office after 6 weeks for financial reasons – I can’t even imagine that!

Our country has so many problems but if we can ever clean up our current problems (like getting people employed, tax reform and saving the middle class from extinction), I would love to see our federal government sponsor some type of legislation that supports Working Mothers returning or not returning to work so soon after the birth of their children.

I saw this clip of iVillage’s Woman of the Week and I thought I should share it.  I think this women is a great role model for her daughter and for the Working Mother’s of Italy.  We are not all able to bring our children to work but she found a way to do it in the public eye raising awareness about the dilemmas of working mothers.

Here’s the link to the video – I can’t figure out how to actually embed the video here:

http://www.ivillage.com/ivillage-woman-week/1-j-392786?ice=iv:dailycandy:promoweek2

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Jelly Beans and Peeps

6 Apr
This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

This is a picture i took for the Candy article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isn’t it funny how food can bring comfort?  I’ve been having a rough week.  Running and I are still having issues and without running I feel like I’m on the brink of losing my sanity.  I was picking up a prescription medicine at the pharmacy earlier this week and I saw some Easter peeps and old fashion jelly beans (not jelly belly or starburst) on the shelf.  I picked them up and took a walk through midtown munching on them – trying to escape the office and my thoughts for just a few minutes.

As soon as I took a bite into the yellow peep, I had a rush of happiness.  My memories of Easter Sundays searching for eggs in my childhood home with my sister became so vivid – a rush of happiness ran through me. 

Spring is on the horizon and with its reminders of new beginnings, new life and hopefully better running days.

An Inspired Breakfast by Haagen-Daz

4 Apr

I have been totally inspired by this exquisite bowl of ice cream. 

  Mid-Western Boy keeps bringing me a pint of this Haagen Daz ice cream. It is white chocolate raspberry truffle.  There is something so delicious about the sweetness of the raspberrys against the richness of the truffles with a sweet taste of the white chocolate ice cream.  I’m addicted to it and I”ve been eating it almost every night after dinner. 

I didn’t think much about this new indulgence until Sunday evening as I watched one of my favorite television programs, Mad Men.  Betty Draper (Francis) has been depressed and it appears that she has gained a significant amount of weight.  One of the last scenese of the show is of Betty eating ice cream with her daughter after dinner.  Her daughter didn’t finish her bowl of ice cream and so Betty pulled it to her and finished it as well as her own.  At that moment, I stopped breathing – hadn’t I just done the same thing with my son’s bowl of my new indulgence?    I knew I had to stop eating the ice cream every night but I can’t stop thinking of about the raspberry and chocolate combination. 

And so, this morning, I figured out how to satisfy the craving with a much healthier version for BREAKFAST!  On the weekend, I usually prepare some steel cut oatmeal and leave in our refrigerator and then warm it up during the week to vary our breakfast.  I usually simply toss in some almond milk, chopped almonds and some honey or cocunut to sweeten it for us.  Other times I toss in blueberries and brown sugar.   This morning – – I created my newest addiction — I warmed up the steel cut oatmeal with some almond milk, mixed in a a teaspoon of local raw honey and tossed in some frozen raspberries and dark chocolate chips and ……I’m back in heaven – with a lot less calories and guilt and my four year old can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

My Best Friend

31 Mar

My boyfriend, Running, and I have been having some difficulties in our relationship again lately.   While we’ve still been spending at least 3 days a week together and we are training for a half marathon in late spring, my right leg and foot have again been giving me issues on my runs.  My hamstring feels tight and my legs feel heavy during my runs.  My right foot even cramped several times.  I am now convinced that it is a result of a prescription medication that I am taking – – some of the side effects state that it impacts the electrolyte levels in your body.  I’m a bit disappointed but I know that I will need to take the medication for several weeks so that my health issue improves.  It’s hard because for me to have a bad run because spending time with Running has benefits to me in more ways than just enjoying time alone.   Running makes me feel empowered, strong, attractive and, of course, helps to relieve stress.  Not only does Running support me in so many ways but I also love looking forward to preparing myself to spend time with Running for a long race – like a half marathon distance.

While I’ve been a little frustrated because of this setback, I’ve consulted my new best friend, Foam Roller.  Foam Roller has helped release some of the tightness in my right leg before a run and has limited the right foot cramping.  I met Foam Roller during my break up with Running last year and Foam Roller hasn’t let me down since.  I’m hoping to do a long run today and I’m expecting to have Foam Roller address some of my problems with Running so that before I go out to spend time with Running again today – I feel a little less stressed.

2008 NYC Half Marathon

2008 NYC Half Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Cook’s Kitchen Nightmare

24 Feb
 
The National Organic Program administers the O...
Image via Wikipedia
English: A bundle of kale from an organic food...
Image via Wikipedia

   On Wednesday morning I woke up to some very upsetting news. When I opened my refrigerator door to drink some cold refreshing water, it was at room temperature.  I wondered did I leave the door of the refrigerator open last night?  Everything in my refrigerator felt like it was room temperature.  I checked the controls and I went to work.  When I returned, the refrigerator smelled and everything inside was spoiled.

Yes, this is a kitchen nightmare for me.  I had so many organic vegetables (Kale, swiss chard, fresh spinach, ginger, celery, carrots, avocado) for my morning green smoothies that were totally spoiled.  All of the weekend’s work of preparing meals for the work week for my son and I for our lunches and dinners was lost overnight ! It was so disappointing not to be able to enjoy the turkey meatloaf stuffed with organic fresh spinach leaves, sage and thyme, my adult’s version of  homemade mac & cheese made of whole wheat penne pasta covered with melted fontina, creamy gorgonzola, rich ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and a cream tomato sauce and finally the bowl of homemade tomato sauce and fresh raviolis.   It was sad for me to toss into the garbage all of my spoiled vegetables in the green grocer’s bags that help keep them fresh for me. I poured down the drain organic milk, organic yogurts, and tossed into the garbage pastured organic butter and organic raw cheeses. 

Photo of a typical refrigerator with its door ...

Image via Wikipedia

The only positive thing was that my freezer was still very cold and I was able to store my frozen foods in the freezer of my apartment building’s community room – thankfully!  In my freezer, I have tons of organic frozen vegetables, organic chicken, frozen soups that I prepared in the past, organic unsalted butters for baking and organic, humanely raised grass fed beef!

All of this mourning over lost food in my refrigerator and pouring of money (literally) down the drain had me thinking of all of the money I spend on my organic produce and foods.  It was an expensive loss (not to mention the urgent need to locate a new refrigerator that fits in this custom built kitchen) but I know that I am lucky to have the knowledge about food and the ability to afford to purchase my organic groceries. 

I wasn’t always an organic zealot.  It began when I was pregnant with my son in 2006.  I started with little things – like organic milk and organic chicken.  I didn’t want to eat food that was injected with antibiotics and other hormones while I was having a child develop and grow inside of my body – New York City if filled with enough toxins and my domestic life was toxic enough.  That was the extent of my organic food purchases – it was expensive and I was going through a divorce.  However, a few years later I started to read about our food supply and how the FDA has allowed it to be modified over the years, improved by science, some may say.  I’ve read books like Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, the 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss, Kris Carr‘s Crazy Sexy Diet and Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal.  I watched movies like Food Inc.  I learned about genetically modified crops, genetically  injected animals and the need to eat locally and seasonally.  Doing all of these things, I’ve learned, benefit not just our bodies but also for our land, our animals and our environment. 

I’m hoping to read the New York Time’s reviewed book, The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan soon (see review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/books/tracie-mcmillan-writes-the-american-way-of-eating.html?_r=1&ref=books).  Her view is different from the others – it discusses the workers at the bottom of the food industry and how they are impacted and what needs to change in our food industry so Americans can start eating better again.

I urge you to sign petitions like ones flying around Facebook: http://signon.org/sign/tell-the-fda-that-we.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=2537995 and tell our government that our food, at the very least should be labeled.   Americans should be aware that their food is not natural, straight from the source, that science has attempted to modify it to make it cheaper to grow.  Safe, organic food should not be for Americans that could afford to pay for it – safe natural, organic food should be available to all Americans despite socio-economic status. 

 

A GIANT win!

9 Feb

I hosted a Superbowl party on Sunday to watch the NY Giants beat the New England Patriots for the 2012 Superbowl Championship.  It was an awesome day on many levels.  Firstly,   my son confirmed that he is a Giants fan more than a Jets fan (which has been a point of contention in our house because DB thinks it is very important that his son grows up to be a Jets fan and has been trying to brainwash my son against the Giants – very sick, I know) and secondly I was able to host a Superbowl party for the first time ever.  DB never allowed me to invite people over for the Superbowl for a variety of reasons (television too small; nobody likes me and would come, etc.)  But I digress.  I couldn’t wait to cook for the party!

 I love cooking for friends and family and watch them come together to enjoy a nice meal.  I’m not sure if this is a result of my Italian-American heritage or just because I love food.  Either way, it is important for me to have every meal prepared and eaten together – including our breakfast, lunch and dinner!  I prepare almost every single meal my son eats including his snacks — kale chips, cookies and cakes!

Many of my friends marvel over how do I make time to cook among all of my – duties including being a full-time attorney and a mom (and now girlfriend too!)   I think the key to being efficient when juggling all of these other responsibilities with cooking for a group lies in the following three things (1) Fresh Direct food delivery service; (2) organizing my grocery list early in the week; and (3) a slow cooker!

A slow cooker has been an excellent addition to our busy life and has encouraged me to make more meat recipes for my Mid-Western Boy – who absolutely loves meat dishes.  I never used a slow cooker before last month and now I make at least one awesome meal a week with it – including on Superbowl Sunday!

On Superbowl Sunday my guests arrived around 1 hour before the actual game started.  I prepared everything but the sliders before my guests arrived.  I began grilling the sliders about 30 minutes before the game started so that everyone had fresh burgers to much on during the first half of the game.  I had hoped to cook wings for the second half of the game during halftime (they were prepared already) but my guests confessed that they were too full for the wings.  So, I left them to eat later in the week. 

I love eating together and talking about the food.  My guests were impressed with all of my “homemade” dishes but especially my meat-less chili and my secret ingredient macaroni and cheese!

CityMama’s Easy Superbowl Party Menu

Drinks:

I kept it simple with two different beers; a pitcher of fresh, fresh lemon flavored water (and some soda for those that are still addicted to the high fructose corn syrup)

Appetizers:

  When the guests arrived I put out salsa, tortilla chips, baked potato chips, mixed olives and various  cheeses for them to much on.    I had also warmed up “pigs in a blanket” that I purchased at Trader Joes the week before.  I toyed with making my own pigs in the blanket (I have some mini organic chicken apple sausages that I give to my son for lunch) but I didn’t want to waste time on preparing something that will be gone with two bites and that was easy to buy already prepared!

Main Course:

City Mama Secret Ingredient Macaroni & Cheese: I prepare a healthy version of homemade macaroni and cheese topped with breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes.   My secret ingredient (substituting some cheese with frozen winter squash).  Trust me – no one can tell the difference. 

Slow Cooker Meatless Chili: I love this recipe because it is so easy to make and it yields a lot of servings.  In a slow cooker I put the following ingredients: 1 large can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of northern beans, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of black beans, four or so cups of chicken broth, a diced fresh pepper (usually green), 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and some oregano.  I set the slow cooker for 8 hours.  When it finishes cooking I add 1 cup of cooked couscous, some shredded cilantro, salt and black pepper to taste.  Before I serve the meatless chili, I use a ribbon shredder and shred some extra-sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese and cut up pieces of avocado.  It is so simple and so filling!

Prime Angus Beef & Turkey Sliders : This is always a bit hit at a party but it does take some time to make them.  I purchased packages of already prepared sliders made of organic turkey and some made of prime angus beef.  I heated up a cast iron grill pan on my stove (removed the fire alarm from the kitchen) and grilled 6 sliders at a time!  I also toasted the buns on the side of the grill pan that wasn’t being used.  I grilled each burger for about 4-5 minutes per side and topped the buns with organic red leaf lettuce, organic beefsteak tomato, melted wisconsin cheddar and some ketchup.  Pickles served on the side.

Dessert:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches: I prepared my chocolate chip cookie recipe the week before and froze the batter in a log form.  I defrosted the log the morning of the Superbowl and baked the cookies earlier in the day. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream in between two cookies and passed around dessert!

The Request for Some Digits

4 Feb
PHONE

Image via Wikipedia

I have a secret stress weapon that lives in my building.  Her name is M.  She is 14 years old and charges $8 an hour to babysit.  She is the  best deal I found in Manhattan.  My son adores her.  She is almost always available when I ask her to babysit.  If it wasn’t for her, I probably would not have been able to develop my relationship with Mid-Western Boy.  She stayed with my son on almost all of our dates in the early part of our relationship and she even watched him last weekend so we can go out on a Friday night. 

I responded to her advertisement  in the laundry room of our building and we have been developing a nice relationship.  I learned recently that her parents are divorced and that her dad lives 4 blocks away.  She understands my need for help.  She is the oldest child and her mom has three girls. 

There is a very friendly neighbor in my building who always offers to help me (although I haven’t asked her to).  She has two sons and one of them is my son’s age.  She and her husband have been incredibly kind and even invited my son to their son’s birthday party.   We went “trick or treating” together on Halloween.  I’m looking forward to getting to know her when my son joins her son at the local elementary school.  I’m sure the boys will get along well.  It will be great as the boys get older and can spend time together.  It will be nice for me to have a friend in the building – if a relationship develops between us.

Earlier this week she asked me if I had babysitter. I said “yes”.  She asked me who? I said she is 14 and lives in the building.  She said I can’t believe “”you” already have a babysitter in the building!  You have to give me her number!”

I paused.  It was as if she asked for my boyfriend’s number.  I don’t want to share it.  I became really quiet.  My friendly neighbor is a psychiatric nurse practioner, she sensed my closing up.  She said “I’ll run my dates that I need her by you first if you give me her number.”

I didn’t respond.  I just don’t want to share this secret weapon with anyone.  She is the only outside help I have.

My friendly neighbor has a lovely full time Nanny that even comes on Saturdays.  Her parents and her husband’s parents live within walking distance of the building and fill in gaps when her Nanny isn’t available.  She has ALOT of help.   She makes her own hours for her business.  She works 4 days a week (my other fantasy),

She asked me how the heck I found a babysitter in the building – “I told her I do my own laundry.”  It was her turn to be quiet.  It proved my point, I need the help and I can’t share this little help that I engage.   I know my friendly neighbor’s Nanny better than I actually know her because we spend time together in the laundry room with the kids.

This is the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  I need to fend for myself.

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