Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wanted: Fuss Free Summer Weather Dinners

April in New England is a schizophrenic weather month. We’ve experienced February-like 30 degree days and July-like 80+ degree days, like this past weekend. What is even weirder is yesterday the temperature went from 40 something degrees at 8:00 a.m. to 80 something degrees at 2:00 p.m. It seems like Winter drags on forever where I live, but can change to Summer with barely a hint of transitional Spring weather.

I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic region in an area that had predictable 4-season weather:

Spring: March, April, May
Summer: June, July, August
Fall: September, October, November
Winter: December, January February

Now I live in New England where the seasons are the same according to the calendar, but in reality are like this:

Spring: Half of April, May, half of June
Summer: Half of June, July, August
Fall: September, half of October
Winter: Half of October, November, December, January, February, March, half of April

What is the point of all of this seemingly mundane weather talk? The point is, I live in a climate where it seems the cold weather lasts so long that when the mercury finally rises, I’m completely taken by surprise. Just as I go from sleeping in flannel pajama’s one night to my cotton shorts and t-shirts the next - my poor hubs, I really should start wearing sexy night clothes again - I go from cooking casseroles and roasts one day to making salads and sandwiches the next.

When I planned my weekly shopping trip, I had planned for more days in the 40s and 50’s, despite paying attention to the weather forecasts, and knowing 80 degree days were soon to be upon us. Chalk it up to being stuck in a winter rut. I guess I have to live through a couple of weeks of summer-like weather to actually start doing all of those life-style transitions that should take place when the seasons change, such as unpacking my summer clothes from storage, and putting the winter clothes away.

Which brings me to my dinners for this weekend, which did not go as planned. For example, look at what was planned, and what we really had:

Planned - My famous lasagna with fried eggplant.

Reality - I didn’t want to stand around layering lasagna on such a beautiful evening - we went out to dinner to celebrate the great weather. We had Chinese (hubs choice).

Planned - Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breast (on sale) with whole grain rice, and some kind of frozen vegetable.
Reality - I ended up making the lasagna this time. I didn‘t mind the work as much since it was Saturday - but it was a weird choice for hot weather especially since I was frying up pieces of eggplant in the 80 degree heat.

Planned - Fish sticks (kid friendly), baked potato or French fries, and frozen corn on the cob.
Reality - Fish sticks, whole grain rice intended for Saturday, and a salad of romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, corn, avocado, and chipotle ranch dressing.

Ok - so by Sunday I was sort of getting the hang of warm weather fare, but with more 80 degree temperatures tomorrow, I don’t feel what's on tomorrow's menu (heavy broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken intended for Saturday, served with baked potato intended for Sunday, and my old standby frozen vegetable) is really appropriate. I’m concerned I won’t feel like eating what I planned, and may end up running out to the store to pick up prepared potato salad - not good for our grocery budget.

While these past couple of days have been unseasonably warm, the indication is that summer is approaching. Consequently I need to change out my arsenal of cold weather dinner recipes / ideas with more warm weather fare. At the moment my culinary creative well has run dry. On top of that, I’m one of those people who finds salads labor intensive. I would rather throw a roast in my crock-pot than chop all of those vegetables. I need some quick easy warm weather dinner ideas! Once I come across a good recipe or two I may share them. In the meantime, feel free to send your ideas my way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I’m Not Pregnant – But Love Names to The Point of Weirdness

So I’m mulling over my name choices if I should ever have another daughter. Mind you I haven’t really run any of these options by Rob.

*** WARNING: I’m a big time name popularity snob. I go out of my way to avoid any name in the top 300. I know I shouldn’t care how popular a name is or could become, but I do. However, rest assured I will never do alternative spellings in order to be "different."

I’ve come to accept that most of my names WILL become popular sooner rather than later – but I’m trying to pick the name that can best withstand popularity, and become the next modern classic (like Allison) rather than the next fad name (like Madison).

I want to use one of these family middle names: Bernadette or Celine

NOTE: Sadly I must eliminate my absolute favorite name Ione (EYE-oh-nee). Rob reacted strongly against it, and Fiona and Ione does seem a cutesy pairing. But I’m morning the loss of Ione Celine. Really, if Rob loved the name like I do, I would overlook the cutesy pairing.

Most Promising First Names: Daphne & Sylvie

  • Both are somewhat nickname proof (don’t consider Daffy for Daphne a legit nn)
  • Either would work with our last name
  • I think these two names will be the most satisfying 30 years from now

Daphne’s advantages over Sylvie

  • If Daphne gets discovered, I think it could withstand popularity without getting trendy
  • Complements Fiona better than Sylvie
  • Would work with either middle name: Daphne Bernadette or Daphne Celine
  • Inspired by Ione, my absolute favorite name; both names are Greek

Daphne’s disadvantages

  • I fear this may be more boring than I initially perceived.
  • There is the illegitimate nn, Daffy

Sylvie’s advantages over Daphne

  • Like how Sylvie Bernadette flows since both names are French
  • While Daphne sounds respectable with our last name, I feel Sylvie harmonizes almost perfectly.
  • Rob is half French so a French name seems appropriate
  • Have to admit, Sylvie just seems to make my heart skip a beat a little more than Daphne
  • May consider Sylvia nn Sylvie as compromise if Rob prefers that, but I don’t feel Sylvia Bernadette flows as well. Call me anal, but I feel the extra syllable makes a difference

Sylvie’s disadvantages

  • I fear Sylvie is more susceptible to trendiness, which is why I may ignore the less-than perfect flow with Bernadette and just go with Sylvia.
  • Because of the similarity to top 10 names Sophia and Olivia, I fear both Sylvia and Sylvie will become big very soon.
  • On the one hand, I think Sylvia might better withstand popularity than Sylvie, on the other, I feel Sylvia will be the name to hit big first, and will rank higher (it already ranks higher - 500’s) than the unranked Sylvie (outside top 1000).

Other First Names:
Calista – inspired by Ione, both are Greek – would consider Callie or Calla for nicknames but really prefer the name in it’s full form.

Camilla – may consider Camille – but prefer Camilla because if she must have a nickname, Milla is preferable to Cammie.

Sylvia (nn Sylvie)


Viola – little concerned about repetitive “io” and "a" ending with Fiona but might not be too bad.

Now I must return to more productive persuits.

She’s A Maniac… Maniac… In The Bath

Last night Fiona was getting her bath, and suddenly stood up and started stomping her feet in rapid succession, laughing as she made huge splashes.

Of course since this was unsafe, I had to tell her to sit down. Rob, who was witnessing this, suddenly thought of “Flash Dance,” and sang, “She’s a maniac…maniac in the tub.” I was going to use that for the heading, but decided changing “tub” to “bath” would seem less suggestive to those who had yet to read this post.

I try to limit sugar in Fiona’s diet, but wonder if I am unintentionally sneaking it in somewhere. Her hyperactivity just boggles my mind sometimes. Of course I would be more worried if at 2, she was too mellow.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Should Probably be Embarrassed But Admit I’m Proud

My creative genius has come unleashed! We are in the process of potty training Fiona and I came up with the little ditty about the potty, sung to the tune of This Old Man:

Pee or poo
Pee or poo
You have got to pee or poo
One or the other or both will do
You have got to pee or poo

Considering that we have been potty training her a month and she has only gone on the potty a total of 3 times (number 1 only), I may be jumping the gun here. But I swear she will be trained by the time she is 3, because I am not going to wait for her to potty train herself when she’s 4 since I refuse, and I mean refuse, to buy diapers for a 4 year old.

Like many aspects of parenting, with potty training, most parents seem either way too laid back (Let her train herself at her own pace. It is less work for you. Who cares if you spend away her college fund on diapers? ) or way too ambitious. I’ve heard of parents who potty trained 9 month olds, but I swear those parents are the ones who are trained (Look at that face - she's concentrating hard. She must be going. Quick--run her to the potty to catch it).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More Shenanigans from My 2-Year Old

Fiona loves yogurt - especially strawberry yogurt - especially Dora brand strawberry yogurt that Mommy refuses to buy due to the increased cost for the cute package, but Grammy will gladly purchase for her darling granddaughter. Imagine my horror then, when I serve her some prized Dora strawberry yogurt, turn my back for a minute, and find my daughter sitting in her booster seat, rubbing the yogurt up and down her bare leg. Maybe she was trying out some at-home spa treatment. Sure this will be funny. Someday. For today, I’m left cleaning up the mess.

But I’m back to a parental authority judgment call: it took me about 5 minutes to clean up Fiona and the chair, and table. Should I put her in time-out? I always felt at her age, due to her short attention span, I had to punish her immediately following the act. The more time that passes between the infraction and the punishment, the more likely she will not realize why she’s being punished. I could have put her in time-out first and cleaned her later, but then she would have gotten the mess all over her time-out corner. Instead I told her “Don’t do that,” cleaned her up, and let it go.

I have an epiphany now: a smart Mom would have taken her child to time-out, which would be a carpet and upholstery-free area of course, where she would have proceeded to swiftly clean up her child’s leg, while firmly explaining the error committed. In the span of a 2 minute time-out, smart Mom would have cleaned up her child, the chair and the table, while the kid sat completely still, maybe even whimpered a little, out of reverence to the smart, oh so brilliant Mom.

In all seriousness, this is an example of how I often wonder if I’m too soft on my child. I actually felt sort of terrible yesterday, because Fiona was getting into everything, and I felt like all I did was yell at her and put her in time-out. She had at least 5 time-outs yesterday. There was another part of me, who being raised by no-nonsense parents (No meant No; there was no counting to 3, you obeyed at 1) felt maybe my daughter’s bratty behavior was the culmination of months of spineless parenting on my part. While 5 time-outs in one day (all in a 2 hour-time span) seems mean, letting the infractions go is meaner in the long-term.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My 2-Year Old Practices Manipulation

I’m just going to be blunt: I fear my child doesn’t respect me. When I put her in time-out, she just laughs and usually tries to leave. I try my hardest to use my firmest voice and stance, but she just seems to think I’m playing a game. Those 2 minutes last an eternity while I hear myself saying, “Fiona. Fiona. Look at me. Do I look like I’m laughing? We are not playing a game.” It doesn’t sink in. What’s worse is that my 2 year old is already cultivating the art of manipulation. She will wander from her time-out spot with her arms outstretched, pleading, “Mommy hug you?”

Admittedly this is at time amusing, but also a little alarming. I don’t want to raise an undisciplined brat. I suspect I am the problem because Fiona doesn’t play these games with Dad, only me. With Dad she cries and does what is expected in time-out. Any tips on properly exerting parental authority?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reviving this Blog from the Dead

Alrighty - I began this blog with such ambitious plans and then they fell by the way side. Truthfully, I got a little bummed seeing "(0) Comments" at the bottom of my posts and sort of gave up. That's terrible, I know. I'm sure I just wasn't promoting my blog enough. But then again, maybe my writing isn't comment worthy. Is there a way to know for sure?

So why am I bothering now? Well, I spent some time on Facebook and I began to think to myself, "Wouldn't it be great to just write a blurb about what's on my mind that I could add to my Facebook Wall?" Then I realized "Wait a second. That's a blog." And then I remembered once upon a time I had my own blog, which I sadly abandoned.

So for those of you who have been wondering what I'm up to. I have been working part-time from home - for my old employer. The long commute and time away from my daughter was why I left, but I liked the company well enough. So I'm back working for them more on my terms. The company is planning to move closer to my home - they have been planning the move for over a year, but the date was constantly pushed back, and I began to wonder if they were really going to go through with it. Once they move, I agreed to work in their office 3 days a week, which is my ideal. I found part-time daycare which wasn't terribly expensive. I always preferred the idea of working part-time in a local job to not working at all, but I would have rather been a stay-at-home Mom before working full-time at a job 40 miles away. My only hesitation with part-time work was the expense of part-time daycare.

I ended up back at my old employer when I asked them for a reference. The owner of the company asked me under what conditions I would come back. I said if I could work part-time from home, at least until the company moved, and once they moved I would work part-time in their office. I didn't think she would agree to those terms, but she did. I should have tried to work from home indefinitely. So here I am.

More ramblings to come.