Single Parents are Superstars/Superheroes

It has been one of those days.  Actually – scratch that .  It has been one of those weeks.  I was slow on getting out of the door, and I had 45 minutes left to feed my kid, pump, shower, put on makeup, get dressed, walk the dogs, and shovel 2 feet of snow.  Not necessarily in that order, but all needed to be done in that time constraint if I wanted to make it into the office on time.

See, I’m a working mom with 2 kids.  My first one who’s 2 and a half is independent but still not entirely self sufficient yet.  We want to let her do things “on her own”, but sometimes it’s just easier if you do it for her.  My 2nd one is literally only 3 months old, and this is my first week going back to work from my 3 month maternity leave.  I’ve forgotten how hectic and crazy mornings are, and to make things even more interesting, I have been running our house solo for the past week.  At this point, I am running low on gas.  I am exhausted.  I am crabby.  My house is a somewhat disaster and I definitely am NOT making healthy balanced meals during the week anymore.

My husband started travelling A LOT after our 2nd was born.   But I was still home from maternity leave, so it was easier.  Well not easier, just different.  Easier because there was never any time constraints to get anywhere and a must get everything done within “X” amount of time.  I was able to make it through the week knowing I could cook, clean, feed, pump, clean, sleep, feed, clean, sleep, etc…

So it has been frustrating to talk to my husband on the phone this week.  When he asks “How are you doing?” and I answer “I’m tired” … I get an immediate, “I know, me too.”.  Why is this frustrating, you may ask? Because well he’s been in Florida the whole week. See, I do understand.  I used to travel for business quite a bit as well, so I know how hard it is to be on “12-18 hours a day, meeting after meeting.  It is tiring.  BUT, he also has a great place to unwind, grab a fabulous meal, or just kick back and relax in HIS QUIET ROOM.  I just want him to acknowledge that I am tired too.

Which then made me think: How do single parents do it?  I mean, really? How do you all manage ALL OF IT 24/7?  To me, YOU guys are the superheroes and the superstars.  Hands down.  As for me, I’m looking forward to my hubbie coming home tonight.  I’m going to kiss him and then hand over the shovel so he can do his thing.

~ Mama Cheryl

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The Year of the Rabbit…

Be sure to catch the Lunar New Year Parade on Sunday, Feb 6th from 11:30am- 4pm in Chinatown. You’ll catch a lot of great performances from different lion and dragon clubs. I usually catch the closing act of The Golden Lion Club on Mott St. between Bayard St and Pell St. The show is always amazing with new acts added on each year, they have the must colorful & talented lion heads. It’s a show you can’t miss!

Beware, Chinatown will be very crowded. And if you follow the clubs around Chinatown, be sure to bundle up. And while you’re in there, don’t forget to get some bubble tea or eat a great meal there.

Check out mommypoppins.com for list of Fun Family Friendly Activities for the celebration of The Lunar New Year…

Things To Do This Weekend (January 28-30)

Celebrate Chinese New Year Activities

~Mama Winnie

Project Valentine’s…

Monkey Valentine’s Card

It was freezing outside Monday and my little girl did not go to school, she got a little restless so I took out the box that I brought from Target to have her create her Valentine’s Day card. It was simple and no mess and she had a lot of fun doing it and got to practice writing her name and her friends’ name.

Target is selling 3D Valentine’s Day cards with different styles, we brought her the monkey one. It came in a box of 10 and included 20 heart stickers. All she had to do was put the stickers on the monkey and then I had her write her name on the blue heart with a marker. It didn’t include envelopes, but I had extra left overs that fit the monkey. We addressed to her friends at school, she wrote the names herself, and sealed it with a ‘air’ kiss!

Simple and easy…highly recommended to keep your little ones occupied for at least 20 -30 minutes. Afterwards the little arts & crafts, she decided to draw and put in with the monkey card! that was great since she spent the rest of the afternoon doing that.  

Adjusting…

 Just when we thought we had it down …we have to start all over.

It’s been 4 days since we brought our little superman back home from the hospital after his surgery and we’re still trying to adjust to it. It’s like bringing home a newborn all over again. Sometimes I forget that the nurses aren’t around and I have to do it all by myself.  Because I’m scared to hurt him where his incision is (the length of my hand above his belly button to his side), diaper changes is twice as long as before. Although the nurses and doctors tell us its ok, I’m scared that I will hurt him. I write down everything from the time he ate to the time he takes his vitamins and antibiotics, just in case I forget when I gave it to him last. His schedule is so unpredictable, he doesn’t eat as much as he used to. I guess it’s also because the formula doesn’t taste that great! Who would blame him, it smells like catfish. I feel guilty that I did not pump and store as much breast milk as I should of since he can have that as well. Sigh!

No matter how hard it is or what we have to do to adjust to his schedule, no matter how tiring it is – as long as our little boy is healthy at the end of this journey and a happy baby – it’s all worth it.

Get Well SoonThank you to my west coast team for the flowers and balloon for my little man!

~Mama Winnie

Hiding Veggies in Food – Easy Carrot Cake

I know too well about hiding veggies in food.  Somewhere when my daughter was about 13-15 months, she started to have an opinion about what she does and doesn’t like to eat.  Pizza and French Fries was always on the top of the list of “likes”, and then any form of vegetables was always on the bottom of the list of “no’s” and “dislikes”.  I didn’t even know how French Fries and Pizza even came about with her.  I never even served French Fries and Pizza at home.  So I started doing what every other mom does when they have a toddler who wouldn’t eat a normal balance meal of veggies and protein.  You start hiding them in food and hoping she doesn’t find it.  Except my daughter was smart, and she found it each time and making her eat each night was such a BATTLE.  Some of the times, when I was too tired to continue pushing I would lose.

Then I realize that if anything is in a form of liquid and I call it juice and it actually taste kinda sweet, she’ll have it.  I invested in a Jack La Lanne’s Power Juicer and started juicing carrots and apples for my little girl and well my husband as well.  Success.  I would make carrot and apple juice and she’ll have ALL of it and would want more.

Last night, I took my adventure to a new level.  Everyone likes a bit of dessert, and I read in the Jack La Lanne’s Juicer book that you can use the pulp leftover from the juice to make cakes and muffins from them.   So last night after juicing some carrot apple juice in a pitcher.  I took the leftover pulp from the carrots and apples and made a kick-ass carrot cake. And let me tell you, this thing was not just incredibly yummy, it’s packed with fruits and fiber and makes for an extremely healthy dessert.  Here’s the recipe below.

Easy Carrot Cake

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups carrot pulp

1/2 cup apple pulp

3 cups whole grain flour

1 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 cup honey

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon pure vanilla (don’t get the imitation stuff)

1 1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Blend oil, carrot, and apple pulp together.  Add honey, eggs, and vanilla to pulp mixture.  Sift all dry ingredients and slowly mix with pulp while blending.  Add nus and mix.  Grease pan.  Fill pan and bake approximately 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese

2 cups of confectioners sugar

4 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.  Scoop up and place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes prior to frosting.

When my little girl heard dessert – she was the first to jump up to MUST have some.  Little did she know that it was packed with a lot of the vegetables that I couldn’t get her to eat in general.

~ Mama Cheryl

Back to work

Just when I’m starting to get used to being home with my baby, and work seemed like a distant memory, I’m realizing my maternity leave is coming to an end.  The thought of waking up at 6am in the morning and racing off to a job after being up half the night with a baby that still hasn’t slept through the night seems impossible.  And then there’s the guilt.  How can I spend so much time away from my little baby.

Being a mother of 2, one would’ve thought this would’ve been easier to handle – especially since this is the 2nd time around.  But as my last week of freedom is quickly approaching the end, I’m a bag of mixed emotions.  Most of it is guilt.  How can I just leave my baby with a virtual stranger everyday and see my baby only 2-3 hours a day – if even.

I know in a few months, I’ll get back into the swing of things of work/home balance, but till then, I’m nervous about it all.  How do the rest of you guys cope with going back to work?

~ Mama Cheryl

All Time Favorite Mac & Cheese…

I’m not the best cook in the world, but my lil girl loves it when I make her mac & cheese. I got the recipe from a friend of mine who makes it for her kids as well.  Hope your kids will love it as much as my lil girl. The recipe is below, you dont have to follow it exactly, you can adjust to your liking.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni ( I like using the barilla elbow pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound American Cheese slices or as much cheese as you like
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • bread crumbs or crushed goldfish crackers

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and macaroni and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (until the macaroni is half cooked). Butter a 3-quart baking dish, add 1/3 of the cooked macaroni and then layer with cheese, salt, and pepper; repeat this until the elbows have all transferred. Pour the milk and heavy cream over the macaroni. Cover the macaroni and cheese with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil, add bread crumbs or crushed goldfish crackers (enough to cover the top layer) and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the crumbs are brown
*need enough of the milk and half and half to at least cover the bottom layer of the baking dish

Biliary Atresia…Kasai…What?

Words that were thrown out on us that turned our world upside down. What should have been a regular monthly check up for my 8-week-old boy turned into an 8.5 hour surgery…

When his pediatrician told us that we needed to get blood work for him because he was a little more yellow in color and his liver was slightly enlarged, and the fastest way was to an ER, I didn’t think that visit would turn into 2 different hospital stays and a major surgery.

The ER pediatrician attempted so many times to draw blood from him; it was heartbreaking to see him getting poked left and right. Results came back within an hour, and it was not good, per the ER resident. The bilirubin count was too high, and not just the bilirubin counts where they can stick him under the UV light, it was the bad one, the one that affects his liver. The doctor told us he’s going to need to be admitted for further tests. We waited for a day for the GI specialist to let us know what is wrong with our lil trooper. She told us, it might be Biliary Atresia. (a blockage in the liver duct that produces the bile – http://www.baaware.org/) and that we should transfer to another hospital. Thru out this whole time, his pediatrician has been touching base with us and felt that what my son has needs to be expedite and taken care of ASAP, so they did their magic and we ended up transferring to Mount Sinai. I’m calm and just want everything anyone can do to make him feel better.

When we arrived here at late Thursday, they wanted an IV in him. Most tiny babies have hard veins to find, they did not imagine that my lil man would be as well. That night, it took 2 specialized nurses that put IV on newborns, 1 resident and 1 nurse, to try to find his veins. I was in tears with him. I wanted them to stick me. After an hour and half (but felt like forever to me), they said “sorry, we tried, he’s a hard stick.” Another term I’ve come accustom too thru out this whole week. On Friday morning, they tried again…even the IV nurse could not do it. So when it was time for his liver biopsy, they had to do it there. I was waiting in the waiting room, what would be a 10 minute procedure turned into a 30 minute one cause they were having issues to put him an IV in him. It was there that I broke down, not only from after hearing about this condition more from the doctor but also hearing him cry in the other room and I cant hold him. I asked myself “why my little boy. How come he had to be 1 out of the 15,000 that can be diagnosed with this rare disease? How did it come about? Would he not need to go thru this had we found out earlier?”

Later on that day, the results came and it was suggested he has biliary atresia. More medical terms were thrown at us, but this whole time I’m scared for him. They have to open my tiny little boy up and do some reconstructing to his organs and but first it needs to be explored to see if it’s even biliary atresia. Lucky for us, the amazing team of liver doctors and surgeons explained everything, step by step, the outcomes, the risk, everything we wanted to know and needed to know were answered.

With his procedure scheduled for the following Tuesday, I had the weekend to spend quality time with him. I’ve been sleeping in the hospital since he’s been admitted. That weekend whenever he was up, I held him. When he wanted to be rocked the sleep, I cared less about the spoiling rule. I did everything I was told not to do that spoils him. My precious little boy knew nothing that would happen to him, he was happy! He laughed, smiled, eat, pooped, and peed like a normal baby would do.

The day he had his surgery, it was the longest ever. I waited forever. I was scared, nervous and overwhelmed. I was hoping that surgery wasn’t too long, but it lasted longer then they expect. When 11:00pm came around and we were the only patient’s family in the waiting room, I was worried and a wreck, I just wanted to see my lil boy. Finally at 11:30pm, the surgeon comes out, I jumped up and when I looked closer, he had a smile on his face (that made me relax a little). He sat down, and explained to us everything. How his duct never formed properly and he did have to perform the procedure Kasai on him. He said everything went well and no complications during the surgery and that we shall see how successful this is. (It’ll take at least 4 months to see results). Seeing my little man puffy from all the liquids and not being able to hold him, killed me, but I was glad the worse part is over.

It’s been 3 days, and my brave little man has been in ICQ and stats are good. His nurses love him! He’s doing everything he should be doing to his road of recovery.

Words can not express how thankful I am of a great team here at Mount Sinai taking care of my son. We’re praying that the Kasai will be a success and but I already know he’s a fighter and it will be.

Thank you everyone for your support, prayers and well wishes! It means the world to us.

~ Mama Winnie

The Best Advice…

The best parenting advice I ever got was from a stranger on the Subway that I ended up talking to.  At that time, I was pregnant with our first child.  A new mom, and completely excited about everything ahead of me.  Now as my 2nd child is 10 weeks old, I look back and realize how true her words were.

1. After the baby gets here, the dog will just be a dog.

2. The terrible twos last through age three.

3. Never ask your child an open ended question, such as “Do you want to go to bed now?” You won’t want to hear the answer, believe me.  Instead say “Do you want me to carry you upstairs, or do you want to walk upstairs to go to bed?” That way, you get the outcome you want and they feel empowered.

Two deductions you can glean from this.  Parenting isn’t a noun but a verb – an ongoing process instead of an accomplishment.  And that no matter how many years you put into the job, the learning curve is, well, fairly flat.

Thoughts with Mama Winnie and her little baby boy Kyle who’s in the hospital right now.  Praying and hoping all will be better soon.

~ Mama Cheryl

Curry in a Hurry

I love to cook for my family.  Finding something yummy, quick, and healthy to cook isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.  I love curry and this is a good substitute of curry without using any coconut milk.

Ingredients

10 oz frozen green beans

1 1/2 cup of carrots (I usually get baby carrots in packages that are already pre-washed and cut)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion – diced

1 teaspoon curry powder (feel free to add more for extra spice)

2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup apricot preserves

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup cooked chicken – cut into bite sized.

Directions

1) Place green beans and carrots into a medium bowl, cover and place in microwave for 5-6 mins. Set aside.  In a medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally till onions are soft – approximately 5-6 minutes.  Add in ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2) Stir in chicken broth and apricot preserves into skillet and bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and whisk cornstarch mixture into skillet.  Add in green beans, carrots and chicken and bring heat down to medium low.  Cook for 1-2 minutes more.  Serve over rice.

~ Mama Cheryl