Monday, January 6, 2014

Part-Time Single Mom

Happy New Year everyone!  The house is momentarily quiet--both children are asleep.  I love it when that happens.  Not near frequently enough, though!  Ah, wait, no, I think I hear the youngest.  It was quiet for a while at least.

I just want to take a moment to thank my friends and family who've been supporting me and reading this little snapshot of my family's life.  I truly appreciate everyone's support and prayers.  It means a lot to me.  It's really a pretty neat thing to see so many people I don't know reading my blog. Addy is coming along beautifully.  She is sitting up without support.  Shes eating solid foods.  She's working those little legs when she's on her tummy, getting ready to crawl in the future.  She's just wonderful.  Caden is getting bigger everyday.  I love the conversations you can have with a 3 year old.  The things he says.  The other morning he told me, "Mommy, I didn't have a good nap because you woke me up when it was still dark."  The "nap" being going to sleep for the night.  And yeah, it is dark at 6:30am when I have to wake him up.  Poor baby.

In my last post, I mentioned how caring for myself has sort of gone by the wayside.  There's been a lot of transition in my home over the last 6 months. A new job, a new baby, and all the little things that have come along with my sweet girl. I wouldn't trade any of it, but somewhere along the way I've let myself go. I was about 8 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight when I went back to work, 6 weeks post-partum. I worked really hard in my pregnancy to stay fit. I went to the gym several times a week and tried to eat well. Somewhere between now and then I guess all the stress got to me. I started eating fast food for lunch several times a week. Probably a few times for dinner as well when John was working. It just got out of hand, really quick! So now here I am, claiming I just need to lose "these last 15 pounds of baby weight" when at least half of it isn't baby weight at all! It's lazy stress weight!

On top of that, I have a husband in the fire service.  Because of this, I like to call myself a "part-time single mom."  My husband is gone for about 27-28 consecutive hours every 3 days.  He leaves for work when I am still asleep, he stays at the fire station all day, all night, and makes it home around 9:00am the following day usually.  So, a typcial work day when he's working for me looks a bit like this:
  • Wake up at 5:45.
  • Get me and the kids ready for work/school.  Leave house by 7:00am
  • Drop Addy at her sitter's house.
  • Drop Caden at pre-school.
  • Work 8:00-4:00.
  • Pick up Caden at 4:30.
  • Gym if I don't need to work late or suffer mommy guilt from 4:45-5:30
  • Pick up Addy at 5:30
  • Dinner when I get home around 5:45--that can be a joke sometimes!
  • Get everyone bathed and in bed, 7:00 for Addy, 8:00 for Caden.
  • Clean up, pack lunches, prep everything for next day, or sometimes just collapse on the couch.
I do this same routine the next morning, but thankfully, John is home when I get home from work.  What I've found is that this every 3rd day thing really puts a kink in my routine.  It's regular, but it's not.  It's not like on every Tuesday and Thursday I have a separate schedule.  It's every 3rd day.    You'd think I'd be used to it by now and I would have it a little more together.  But I don't--or I didn't.  I have a plan now!

I have a plan.  It may not be the best, but it's a plan that I think will work for me.  First things first, the dinner is an easy fix.  Hello--do I not have a blog that has several posts about freezer meals?!  In addition to some of my favorites, I am whipping up some marinated grilled chicken that will be ready to heat up for a quick dinner along with some steamable veggies.  Here's what I am putting in the freezer:  Chipotle Lime Chicken, Salsa Chicken, and Savory Pepper Steak.  I also made the Lemon Pepper Chicken fresh.  Sorry, no pictures of that one, we just made it and ate it!  Those are the family favorites, and you can get all of those recipes in my e-book, if you haven't gotten that already!  I'm actually a pretty big fan of just doing 3 meals.  It only took me an hour versus 3 hours.  A couple time savers for me:  I used a mandolin slicer for the veggies. Made things really fast.  I also used pre-minced organic garlic.  It's in a jar, I just scooped it out.  I also didn't cut the chicken up.  I threw them in whole and figure it will make the chicken more moist and if I want to cut it later, I can.  Granted, I will have to do it more frequently, but 3 meals (doubled makes 6!) is manageable.  I don't have to send the kids anywhere.  I can let Caden color at the table or watch a movie while Addy takes a nap and get this done.  That's the kind of time I have with 2 kids!  Plus, I know some nights we will have leftovers and some nights my husband will cook.  This is the perfect amount for us.  I went ahead and put the recipes at the bottom of this post, but I really encourage you to get the e-book.  There are a lot of great crock-pot freezer meals in there!

The next part of my plan is being prepared.  I bought sandwich meat and fixings, individual bags of fruit, pudding cups, and some popcorn that I will keep at my office for the week.  I have a mini-fridge at my desk so it's all easily accessible.  But let's face it, we don't always want what we have right in front of us.  Sometimes we like to go out to lunch or just grab something real fast.  So I made a list of the fast food places close to my work and my "healthier options" at those places.

My Fast Food Fix

Chicken Express—Chicken Breast (230 cal), green beans (40 cal), roll (110 cal) = 480 cal.
Sonic—Jr. Burger (330 cal)
Sonic—Grilled chicken wrap (430 cal)
Sonic—Grilled chicken sandwich (450 cal)
McDonald’s—Egg McMuffin (290 cal)
McDonald’s—Sausage Burrito (300 cal)
Whataburger—Jr Burger (300 cal)
Taco Bueno—Bacon Egg Taco (240 cal)
Taco Bueno—Chicken Potato Burrito (327 cal)
Taco Bueno—Chicken Tortilla Soup (237 cal)
Taco Bueno—Chicken Soft Taco (184 cal)
Taco Bueno—Chicken Taco Rollup (180 cal)
Wendy’s—Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (340 cal)
Wendy’s—Jr. Cheeseburger (290 cal)
Wendy’s—Large Chili (270 cal)  Small Chili (180 cal)
Taco Cabana—Beef Street Tacos 3 (290 cal)
Taco Cabana—Crispy Chick Taco (160 cal)
Taco Cabana—Chicken Breast Fajita Taco (180 cal)

The last part of my plan is all about exercise and dedication.  I really love going to the gym with my friend Jenny.  We have a great time catching up and enjoying a good workout together.  But sometimes I have to work late, and sometimes I just have plain mommy guilt and feel like I need to be with my kids instead of taking one to the daycare at the gym and leaving the baby at the sitter's even longer.  Granted, I love what taking my son to the gym with me has already instilled in him.  Every day after school he asks me if we are going to the gym to exercise.  He gets it--we've have the conversation about be active and playing and staying healthy.  And he's only 3!  I want my kids to know the value of exercise.  It's important physically and emotionally in my opinion.  However, sometimes work or mommy guilt wins.  So I have a work out video that is only 30 minutes long that I can do once the kids are in bed.  I actually find it to be very challenging.  You need to check into Jillian Michael's Six Week 6 Pack.  Yes, I know that it is late once the kids are in bed, and trust me, I am really really tired..  But it's only 30 minutes of my day.  I never have ever thought to myself, "
wow, I really regret working out and not sitting on the couch instead."  I've never felt like I've wasted my time working out.  I always feel better about myself.  It's worth it.

So, that sums up my plan.  It's nothing new or revolutionary.  It's just a few small changes here and there.  But I think those small changes will make a big difference.  And as promised, here are the recipes for those freezer meals I mentioned above!  Again, the e-book has many more recipes that are wonderful as well.  You can also browse the site to see some recipes I have borrowed from others on the web!

Savory Pepper Steak

3 pounds of roundsteak but into ½ inch thick strips.
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
1 large onion chopped
a few garlic cloves—Ilike to put 4-5 crushed into each bag
1 green pepperssliced
1 red peper sliced
2 16oz cans of tomatoes—I prefer Italian style
2 tbsp beef bouillon
4 tsp ofWorcestershire sauce
2 tbsp of steakseasoning
2 tbsp of steak sauce

Directions:  Mix together beef boullion,Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and steak sauce and divide evenly into two bags. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with rice and a side salad.

Salsa Chicken

6-8 chicken breasts
2 15 oz. cans of black beans
1 family size frozen bag of corn
2 cans of diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 jar of salsa
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 cups of cheddar cheese

Directions: Divide everything except cheese evenly into two bags. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice or on corn tortillas withrice as a side.
Chipotle Lime Chicken

2 cups diced onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
8 skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tbsp miced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cilantro
2 sliced avacodos

Directions: Split all ingredients into two bags except avacado. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with avacodo on top. Serve on top of rice or noodles.


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