Friday, June 24, 2011

I am a member of the working class

I can honestly say that being an at-home mom is by far the hardest job (if you have no help). I have been a college student, a grad student, a tutor, and most recently, a new business owner, and my time spent as a nanny are still some of my hardest hours of the day. Yes, grad school was mentally challenging and draining and running a business is certainly no walk in the park, but being a mommy is by far the most difficult job to do.

This realization is especially clear to me on the days when I am asked to take the kids to all of their activities. Now, personally, I will probably not have the money or the patience to drive my kids to and from after-school activities every single day of my life, however, I am a nanny in this situation and I have no choice. Today, I woke up at 7 AM after only falling asleep after doing all of my own business work at 2 AM. I was already exhausted and the day had just begun. I equate this to what it must be like to be up several times in a night with a child and still having to wake up bright and early the next morning. I drove to the house I work at, a sprawling 2 story cape cod style house outfitted with a pool, hot tub, outdoor patio with a t.v. and heating lamps, a guest house, and many other amenities I don't have time to go into now. I pull up in my Hyundai on timeish (usually I am early, today I was 3 min late) with my happy game face on. It is way too early for me...
I am greeted by an excitable 2 year old and the mom who looks a tad annoyed that I was sitting in my car for 5 minutes finishing a conversation with my business partner when I should have been in the house. I apologize for being 3 minutes late and she says she has to go. She has written a note for me and left all of the tools I need to get through the morning. I have two classes back to back--both in opposite directions of town, and both expecting me to be physically active. I have to get in the pool for a swim lesson and I have to jump around at a "mommy and me" music class (they should start calling it "nanny and me"). Not to mention, get gas for the car and coffee for myself (twice), and lift her in and out of the car, up and down out of the pool, around and around in the music circle... when my back is killing me from my most recent run in with a rear ending. This is not good. For the first time ever, I tell the music teacher "I just can't do it" remembering the words my physical therapist keeps telling me, "stop picking up the baby. you are negating all of the work we do in here every time you pick her up..." So, I sit out and let her run around  in the music circle. (At my second stop at my second coffee shop, I run into one of my business partners randomly and I do a little business talk for 15 minutes and then I rush into music).
I am officially "super nanny" I talk business and watch a two year old and buy coffee at the same time. 
The ONLY thing that is getting me through this whole crazy morning is the thought that at 1:00, I will be in the house with Kiley by myself and for maybe the 3rd time in the 3 years I have worked here, I will take a nap with her. We are both totally beat...
Next post--does nap time actually happen? Not when you are part of the working class...

Always Eager to Eat? Check these Healthy Food Tips Out.

So, as promised in my former e-mail titled "I Couldn't Stop Eating, so I Started Cooking," I will include some food tips and recipes that I have been using as of late.
1. Trader Joe's rocks for people who want to eat healthy foods that are still good. They have a ton of great tasting products that aren't that bad for you-- chicken sausage, bruschetta, 70 calorie ice cream cones, baked chips, unsalted tortilla chips, dark chocolate, 100 calorie chocolate sticks. I could go on and on.
2. It's summer and the fruit is cheaper and sweeter--make a fruit salad that you can pick from all week. Pineapple, watermelon, cantalope, honey dew, and strawberries are all great fruits that are delicious.
3. If you want something that is more filling, mix fruit with cottage cheese. If you don't like cottage cheese, add a little brown sugar and/or honey or agave nectar on top. It is a great for breakfast, a mid-day snack, or even late night snack that you don't have to feel guilty about.

4. I hate yogurt, but I know it's good for you, so I started eating it with granola, specifically the low-fat granola from TJ's and it is 100% more enjoyable.
5. Do you like snacking while watching your favorite reality t.v. show? I do... So, I made a vegetable salad that I cut up at the beginning of the week and pick at every night when I need something to do. I included peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes--none of these vegetables get soggy or gross, so they mix well together and you can cut a bunch up and then not have to deal with it again for the week. The TJ's Goddess Dressing is awesome, but it's 12 grams of fat for 2 tablespoons. If you really need something extra to make you eat veges, this will do it.
6. I am not a huge fan, but I know they are healthy, so I eat bananas with peanut butter and it's 100% more enjoyable. The right PB is very important. Get the gooey, smooth peanut butter from TJ's. The best PB is the kind that has the oil at the top that you have to mix when you open the jar. Trust me, it's worth the work to mix it all up.
7. Another great way to get your banana intake is to make a banana shake-- break a banana up into pieces in the blender with 1 cup of milk and about 4-5 ice cubes. Blend it up for a min or so and enjoy. It's a delicious, healthy shake without all the calories. 

More tips and recipes to come...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Can't Stop Eating so I Started Cooking

Typically, I go through phases with food. Usually, it depends on when I am pms-ing. I eat everything in sight and I allow myself to do so because it tends to be this way for only 4 days out of the month. I work out, I eat healthy the other days of the month, so I allow myself to stuff my face with cheese fries, burritos, pizza, and chocolate. After those 4 days, I go thru yet another phase where I don't feel like eating at all. I don't care about food. I eat because I know I have to and so it all evens out. I don't mean to do this--my body just sort of works this way on its own.
But, lately, I have been in that first phase of eating everything in sight for like a month.
I am never full, never satiated, never satisfied. And, even if I am full, I want to eat more!

I don't know if it's the stress of my life as a nanny (I am starting to get tired of raising other people's kids and washing other people's clothes including the dad's jock strap), tutoring (all but 2 of my students have graduate, so this part of my life is almost nonexistent), and then trying to run a business which has taken far too long to start making money.
Maybe it's all that stuff. I don't know, but since I never feel full and I would have to work out 7 days a week to work off the current amount of calories I am putting into my body, I had to find another solution.
And, no I didn't start sticking my finger down my throat. My Italian grandmother would probably keel over if she found out that I ever purposely got rid of the food she spent hours making...
So, I decided to do something I don't often do. I started cooking. I went to the grocery store and I bought lots of fruit and vegetables and actually opened up that cook book I bought so long ago called "The Hungry Girl."
I don't really enjoy cooking. So, for all of you out there who may be going through a "non-stop eating" phase like me right now or you just want super quick and easy ideas for healthy dishes, the recipes on the next blog are for you...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Broke with Broken Electronics

I was watching The Middle yesterday and I realized that I live a lot like the Hecks do. I started watching because I loved P. Heaton in Everybody Loves Raymond, and it turned out to be a funny show and also the only show in my line up that isn't reality t.v. trash.

In this particular episode, the mom, Frankie, takes the kids to an electronic store where she speaks to the salesman about finding something to fix her t.v. She goes on to explain that is has a yellow blob on the screen, but only on certain channels, and it gets fuzzy at other times, but if she turns on the microwave it works, but the microwave only works if she points the hair dryer at it, and she goes on and on. She asks the salesman if he has anything to fix that problem and he tells her she just needs to buy a new t.v. This short clip reiterates to the viewers that the Hecks do not have any properly working electronics in their house.

This leads me to thinking about all of the temperamental electronics in my life. My first car couldn't drive past 70 and the ceiling material had to be re taped once a week, otherwise it would hang down and I couldn't see out the back window. Or, I could look to my current car where I have to put my foot on the brake in a specific way with a certain amount of pressure in order for the brakes not to squeak, or better yet, my blue tooth whose ear piece has broken, so I have to have my sun glasses on at all times to hold the blue tooth in place at just the right angle in my ear in order to use it. Or, I could refer to my computer that has to be plugged in at all times because the battery is dead. I also have my cell phone that has to be rebooted every morning if I want to use my head seat or do anything else for that matter. There is also my printer that only works if I keep feeding the paper tray one page at a time.

They say humans adjust to their surrounding and they adapt in order to survive, so I guess you could say that is what I am doing...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Reality Realized While Watching Reality T.V.

My current reality was revealed to me tonight while I was watching "Psychic Kids." I was sitting on my couch with my roommate and since we had both suffered from a long day of dealing with annoying people all asking us to do something for them, we pigged out on pizza and wine and decided to vege out in front of the t.v. I love reality t.v. and my heart was set on some mindless Bravo Housewives shows, but I know my roommate hates them, so I settled for "Psychic Kids."

 (Chris Coffey from the show)

The episode was called "Demon House" and it recounted how this 13 year old girl who lived with her single mother in Fort Lauderdale fled their house one night because of a demonic presence and haven't gone back since. They now live in another house by the water and have a dock, and just let the other house sit. They are too afraid to go back in and retrieve their belongings, rent the house, or put it up for sale. And even while they were visiting the house in the dark and feeling like they were being "clawed" on the head while doors were opening and birds were randomly flying around (quite a creepy scene), I couldn't take my mind off the fact that this daughter and single mother had the money to own two houses in FL, both which looked really nice, and one was on the water!

The whole point of sitting down and watching t.v. is for me to shut my brain off and take my mind off of my endless money worries for an hour, but instead, this stupid show was making me more agitated!

So, I realized in that moment that I am officially hyper-focused on being broke and that I am seriously unbalanced if I can't even depend a superb show like "Psychic Kids" to take my mind off my bills..

Link to the video--

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Really is All About the Money

Grad Students, Listen up:
So, you have finally come to the end of the education train. You suffered all those days through high school and college, and even graduate school. You made it out alive and in one piece. You can frame your diploma and put it up on the wall. You are free. Aren’t you lucky? Or, are you? 

Those two years of grad school were the most difficult years of my life academically. There were three constants in my life for the whole 2 years—worry, writing, and research. My life consisted of going to class, tutoring students, making no money, taking out more loans, eating food that only took seconds to prepare, writing papers, and an endless amount of reading dusty books in the library in order to complete yet another 20 page research paper. It went on and on like this until that glorious day in May when I graduated. I never thought it would come and then it did and I felt just like you. I was proud, relieved, and exhausted, but most of all, I was hopeful for the future. 

I could finally set my sights on all of those things I wanted to do, but couldn’t during grad school. I could go get some drinks with friends or I could eat dinner at a beach front restaurant and watch the sun set. I could go see a movie with my friends and not feel guilty about wasting time. My time was my own. I was free! But, yet I wasn’t. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a purpose. Now the feeling of panic that gnawed at me during grad school was back, but this time it was replaced with terrifying questions about how I was actually going to survive. How was I going to eat, rent a place, gill up my gas tank, and most of all pay back all those loans that helped me do all this stuff just a few weeks ago when I was in the sweet embrace of grad school. How lucky I was then. 

Do you see where I am going with all this?
My point is-- enjoy your time in school. Once you are finished, there are no more excuses. You have to find a job, pay your bills, and in most cases, get up every morning at 7 AM to do it. If you are lucky, you will actually manage to pay all of your bills at the end of the month, but most likely, you will scrounge for awhile to make the minimum payments on your credit card bills, pay rent, and keep the electricity, water, and cable on. You may work 2 or 3 jobs just to ensure that the bare minimum is paid for in your life. It really is all about money when you’re a 20-something.

Friday, April 1, 2011

10 Ways to Deal with an LDR

I have had experience with 3 different LDRs. I often wonder if this is just the way I like a relationship since I seem to be in the them so frequently even though I always say I won't do it again... and here I am in a 3,000 mile LDR. My first was with a military guy who lived 8 hours away. My second was with a West Coast guy who just lived an hour from me, and now I am in my third and last one with my best friend-turned-boyfriend who happens to live in our hometown on the East Coast. I met him 5 years ago and knew the first night I met him that there was something special about him. It is weird how women do really know these kinds of things in their gut. I was in my early 20's and about to move across the country, so after a few really great dates, he, at the smarter and more mature age of 30, told me that we would just have to be friends and nothing more. I was totally crushed, but it all worked out and we stayed close friends for years.
3 summers ago, we happened to be home at the same time for 3 weeks and we spent a lot of time together. We decided to try to make it work since there was clearly something special between us. We took it slow and didn't call each other boyfriend or girlfriend for probably 8 months. We didn't put any pressure on each other and we took all of the elements of our friendship--respect, support, humor, patience--into our romantic relationship. 1 1/2 later, we are still together and we are planning on moving in together before the year is over. It stinks being in an LDR, but I know he is the right person for me, so we put up with it and work through it. It is only making us stronger and it only makes us appreciate each other more.

Here are some tips that help with LDR's: 
  1. Text each other often. It's simple, quick, and lets your partner know you are thinking about them.
  2. Share your inside jokes with each other throughout the day. Make each other laugh often.
  3. Make sure you call the person if you know they are having a bad day. It's bad enough you can't be there for the person, but at least try to be with a phone call and maybe follow it up with an e-mail, text etc. 
  4. Do extra special things on the holidays. For example, for Valentine's day, my BF sent me 3 cards, one for each day leading up to V-day, and one was a funny card, one was a card more geared towards a friend, and one was romantic, they encompassed all the major parts of our relationship. This may not work for your relationship, but think of something different and meaningful that will. It's not about how much  money you spend. When you are in an LDR, it's all about the feelings, emotions, and meaning in the relationship. Those have to stay strong or your relationship won't. 
  5. Engage in phone sex once in awhile. I don't love doing this, but I suck it up because it makes my BF so happy.
  6. Use technology to your advantage! Skype occasionally. My BF hates doing all this stuff on the computer, but he sucks it up for me.
  7. Talk about happy thoughts. Fantasize about your future life together, where you will live, places you will travel together etc. My BF and I always daydream about traveling all over the world when we are having a tough time in our LDR. It always makes me feel better to think happy thoughts about our future.
  8. Make a plan. You can't be in an LDR forever or at least most can't. At some point, you have to start talking about a plan that you can both work towards in order for you to be together. I didn't have a plan for a long time and it felt like it would never end. Now, we know we will move in by January, so it doesn't seem so hard or hopeless anymore.
  9. Choose your breaking point. Decide how many weeks/months you can handle not seeing each other and then make sure to avoid going over that time. My boyfriend and I start to fight and get aggravated with our situation and with each other at about the 8 week mark. I make sure to see him every 8 weeks unless we absolutely can't do it. We have accepted that is our breaking point and we need to respect that and make seeing each other work.
  10. Don't change your life around unless you are 100% sure. You don't want to uproot your life, your future plans, your career etc. unless you are sure about the relationship and you are sure you want to be with this person for a long time. Make sure you don't feel like you are the one having to make all the changes and sacrifices because it will most likely lead to resentment later and resentment is poison for a relationship.
Questions? Comments? Please feel free to leave your opinion!