Sunday, March 28, 2010

Freeing ourselves

Jeremy and I have been conducting a very interesting science experiment these past two weeks. How much is too little?

Preparing for the listing of our condo - our first-ever home purchase - THIS WEEK, we have been decluttering.We're pretty neat - okay, I am - to begin with. Yes, if The Container Store had a fan club, I would be a card-carrying member. But we have really pared down our stuff - stashing things in our good friends Dave and Whitney's basement; donating oodles of stuff to The Salvation Army and recycling a serious stash of magazines that I've been meaning to comb through for recipes.

Our last Everest: cleaning up the living room, which also does duty as our TV room, main entertaining space and playroom. We took every last toy and stashed them in one of our bathrooms for the pictures in our listing. Toys. piled. to. the. ceiling. You could barely open the bathroom door. To avoid any confusion on Jack's part, we moved all of the toys at night, in a very Grinch-like style. Jack and I sat at his little blue table the next morning, and he took stock of the living room. I could see the wheels turning in his little head. "Where are all of the toys?" he asked.

Our place was photographed for our listing Friday morning. We've spent the weekend pulling the toys back out and stowing even more away. Up until lunchtime on Saturday, Jack only had two toys to play with, and the funny thing was, he really played with them. As we introduced more toys into the mix, he seems to have a new interest in them. It seems the less clutter we have, the more clarity we gain.  It's really been freeing to have less stuff in our lives. I can't say if they are related, but I've felt more energy lately. Let's see if it lasts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Life with a toddler

Scene: Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m.

Mommy: "Jack, you are stubborn."
Jack: "No, I'm not."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I can't make this stuff up

So, Jeremy and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary by taking Jack to see Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Green Thumb. Oh, how times have changed.

Jack is very excited, and we talk daily about seeing Big Bird, Abby and Elmo. Though tonight he did express some concern to his daddy: "Big Bird is so tall, and Gack (Jack) is so small."  The actual tickets arrived today - Jack wondered aloud if he should put them in his "purse," which made me laugh and Jeremy rolled his eyes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weeknight lasagna

Here I am, posting my favorite quick lasagna recipe on St. Patrick's Day, of all days. I'm Italian - I can't help myself. I made this recently, and it's great reheated as leftovers and for lunch. My focus group of two toddlers gobbled it up as well.

Weeknight lasagna
1/2 pound ground turkey
a few teaspoons of Italian seasoning (my favorite comes from The Spice House in Chicago)
Trader Joe's no-boil lasagna noodles (each noodle measures about 7" by 3" - I have also found them at Whole Foods)
(Scared of no-boil noodles? Check out Cook's Illustrated's taste test - no-boil won hands' down!)
frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 jar of pasta sauce (my current favorite is Trader Joe's organic marinara)
8 oz cottage cheese (from my mom - I use cottage cheese rather than ricotta - it's lighter)
mozzarella cheese

1. Season ground turkey with 1-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning and brown on the stovetop. Once browned, transfer to a plate with a paper towel to catch some of the grease.
2. In an 8-inch square pan, spread a bit of sauce on the bottom and lay down two noodles to make the first layer.
3. Spread some more sauce on the noodles and then add a few scoopfuls of cottage cheese, spreading out over the noodles. Add the ground turkey, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Maybe add a bit more sauce too.
4. Add the next layer of noodles and repeat step 3 until the pan is full (it won't take many layers).
5. Add the final layer of noodles and spread sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a teaspoon or two of the Italian seasoning.
6. Cover the dish with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the top is warm and bubbly.

There are limitless combinations - you could use other ground meat or just go meatless for a nice vegetarian meal. You could also do a variety of veggies - roasted red peppers (yum), sauteed mushrooms or broccoli. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Overripe bananas, you have met your match

I've been on the search for the perfect banana bread, and, holy moly, have I found it. It includes butter and lots of good spices. I did not add the optional bourbon but I think it would make it even more fantastic. I found said recipe on a great food blog, Smitten Kitchen. It is such a well designed, thoughtful blog. Please continue to read mine too, you promise?

Friday, March 12, 2010

This is my normal

Alarm goes off at 5:50 a.m. I really should get up to get ahead of Jack, especially with Jeremy out of town. 6:21 a.m. okay really should get up now. Shower, dressed, and Jack blessedly sleeps in until 7 a.m. He's up, dressed and fed. The phone rings - Jeremy is checking in from New York and updates me on flights for the day. The call-waiting beeps - it's the carpet cleaner, a week early. I ask him if he wants to come up to see our place, even though our appointment isn't until next week. He takes me up on my offer and takes a quick peek. He leaves, and Maria our nanny arrives with her daughter, whose school is closed because of a water main break. I meet her at the door with my coat already on. I race off to work. As soon as I log on to my computer, I start sending instant messages to Maria about lunch options and coat choices. She tell me, in a good-nature way, to calm down. I focus on work. I meant to write a memo last night but I always poop out at night, so I run through writing that note while alternatively checking my news sites (i.e., Facebook).  We are reviewing our projected year-end numbers at work and are worried about a deficit. In between prepping for a meeting, my coworker and I reduce our deficit by 10% by finding some reduced expenses. One of my favorite board members stops by for a meeting with my executive director and me. I'm keeping an eye on the clock, having to leave at a certain time. Decide to take a cab home to get there quicker. Controlled chaos at home; finally wrangle Jack and we're off to the airport. I've either cleverly or foolishly decided to fly stand-by with a toddler at O'Hare on a Friday afternoon. We race through the airport and maybe the attendant takes pity on me, but he does just go ahead and gives me two tickets for an earlier flight. I don't have to wait in the standby queue. I entertain Jack in the airport and call my family to give them the lowdown. The flight ends up being delayed an hour but finally we're on the plane. Jack refuses to sit; I give up. I feel like mom of the year when a flight attendant stops by as I'm reading People magazine to tell me that Jack really needs to wear his seatbelt. I wrestle said toddler into seat. He finally calms down and the flight is underway. Sweet baby boy falls asleep half way through the flight, and I can't help but pick him up and cradle him. Bumpy landing into New York. As we taxi on the runway, I call my family and Jeremy's to let them know we arrive. Jeremy's dad picks us up. Jack tell his Papa to turn off the showtunes on the way home. "New songs, Papa," Jack implores. Reunited with Jeremy (who had traveled to New York the day before) and his family. Deli sandwiches and matzoh ball soup for dinner.  An early birthday celebration for my mother-in-law with cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, courtesy of my sister-in-law. Jack is totally keyed up by all of the attention. I check out the American Museum of Natural History's website to see what time they open Saturday mornings for a potential visit. Finally get Jack to go to bed, and I decide it's time to blog and ask Jeremy for a glass of red wine. End of another busy day; good night!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A sign my kid is a city kid

Last night, as we were leaving our dear friends' house (we had thrown caution into the wind and did an impromptu play date at 5:45 p.m.; we were inspired by the sunshine and warm weather), I was placing Jack in his car seat to go home. I heard a siren wailing down Montrose Avenue. "Oh, it's a fire truck, Jack," I told him.

"No, it's not, Mommy," my two-year-old replied. "It's an ambulance."

And sure enough, as the emergency vehicle came into view, indeed it was an ambulance.

If you're an urban dweller, what's your city kid story?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Too tired; cannot come up with a non-cheesy title for this post

I can't think of a finer moment - being the first woman to win an Oscar for best director, looking fabulous in a slinky dress and beating out your ex-husband to boot. You go, Kathryn Bigelow. Though it was a bit goofy when the orchestra struck up "I Am Woman" as she left the stage. Which reminds me - I know every word of that song from when my Brownie scout leader taught it to us in the first grade.

On that note, I celebrated International Women's Day inadvertently today - I ended up working late tonight, so Jeremy came home early to watch Jack. My good husband made dinner and everything - so nice to come home to!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Watching our TV watching

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 2. Yeah, we kind of broke that rule well before Jack's second birthday. Jack's an avid fan of Sesame Street; I knew we might be watching too much of it when I started developing a crush on Chris.  Jeremy and I have been pretty successful in watching only PBS with Jack, with the occasional football game, "Mommy's show" (anything Food Network) and local news thrown in.  Tonight, all rules were off, when I tuned into E's red-carpet coverage of the Academy Awards. I didn't think Jack was paying attention until I heard my little brown-eyed, brown-haired parrot say, "Just ask your doctor," after a pharmaceutical commercial. Jack then looked at me very seriously and said, "Doctors make you feel better" (which is what I had told him two weeks ago when we went to get his ears checked out).  Good takeaway, Jack, but I think we'll be mindful of what we're watching in the time being.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm here

Our trip to Mexico, a date to the Lyric Opera with my friend Marisa, and a visit to Cleveland to celebrate our nephew's birthday notwithstanding, February was a hard month. Lots of illness (Jack's stomach flu transitioned into a cold and then into an ear infection) and lots and lots of snow.

But now it is March. Spring is surely to come sometime this month, and daylight savings time begins March 14.  I have a little residual ear-stuffiness from my cold, but overall, have my health back.  Jeremy and I are getting focused on listing our condo by the end of the month and beginning our house hunt. As I noted in a recent Facebook update, my job is to make sure we're in a good school district; his job is to make sure we're in delivery range of our favorite Thai places.

Work is heating up along with the temperatures. We are in all full-swing campaign mode, along with feverishly working on our operating fund numbers to ensure a balanced budget. I'm interviewing potential candidates for a part-time position I have open next week, which is also a step in the right direction.

Lots of celebrations coming up this spring, too - Passover, Easter, baby showers and new babies, a wedding, milestone birthdays and Jeremy's and my 5th anniversary.

This is probably the most boring post I've written so far; just needed to regroup and move forward. More entertaining posts to come shortly and hooray - finally hit 100 followers on Twitter!