Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Working Mom

I am a working mom, once again. Mixed feelings. I actually got the new job! It's been pretty good but SO busy. The learning curve is steep and I barely have time to take a lunch everyday. The change of work and work environment is good and I'm so happy that I decided to take that leap. I went from public practice into education; I am a business manager at a school. Going back to school has been interesting. It's kind of funny seeing the students and reminiscing about how I was like when I was their age.

I actually went back to work a month early before my mat leave ended since that was when the job was required to start. The trade off is that I don't have to worry about working crazy overtime hours any more. I mean, I still put in extra hours every day, but nothing like working in a firm. 

But anyway, Son #2 turned 1 last week! The time has flown by and of course it always makes me wonder if I made the right choice to go back to work. Son #1 really likes his dayhome and has a buddy to play with. His colouring skills have improved vastly (from uninterested dots/sparse lines to actually scribbling somewhat within the lines - yay!) and he plays so hard that he sleeps in his own room for nearly the whole night. Son #2 is with Grandma and Grandpa during the day so he's being loved but it's really hard to leave him when he's still so young. I'm still nursing him a few times a day and make sure to do so before I leave to work and then I give him a nice cuddle before putting him back in his crib. I'm grateful that I could spend at least eleven months at home with maternity pay from the government, compared to the three months that my friends get in the US. I think if we could, I would stay home with the boys until they were both in school but for now, I need to work.

I hope I can update on a more regular basis but the pace of my new job has left me exhausted! I love to cook and bake but even those are becoming somewhat cumbersome tasks. We've been eating far too much pizza and the odd McDonald's (there's one too close to our house). I should really start doing some more meal planning. Now that the weather is becoming cooler, maybe I should pull out the slow cooker more often!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Family Vacation



We were able to get away for ten days and flew into Vancouver to visit family. We also decided to drive down to Oregon to do some shopping and eating at some of the food trucks in Portland and then stay at the coast for a few days. We had a really good time! We drove down in our upgraded rental car - we had booked a full sized car at a pretty good price but then were offered an upgrade to a brand new Hyundai Santa Fe for around $10/day at the counter!

The initial drive down to Portland wasn't that fun: Son #2 wasn't used to the long driving and was screaming/loudly babbling/shrieking almost the entire way down. He also didn't like sleeping in the portable crib and I had to bring him into our king bed that was also being shared with Son #1.

Since the sit 'n stand type stroller that we have was too big, we decided to bring just the umbrella stroller in case Son #1 got tired from all of the walking - which he did - and also the Ergo carrier for Son #1 which was good since he would only fall asleep in the carrier while we were out and not in the stroller! My shoulders and legs got a bit sore after carrying him around Downtown Portland all morning, but it was a good workout I guess since we stuffed our faces with Thai food, Japanese food, Voodoo doughnuts, and some handmade ice cream.

I also had a Skype interview for a job that I had applied. I was nervous that the WiFi connection wouldn't be good at the hotel, especially after Husband's cousin said that he was having trouble Skype-ing with his sister the night before on his cell phone. But luckily I brought my laptop because the Skype connection was great and the interview went well since I got the job! Skype interviews are something that I definitely will try to avoid if I ever have to. It was very distracting to see myself on the screen (I kept thinking that I looked funny or worried that I looked nervous) and then I felt more nervous because I was staring intently at the interviewers' faces while they were writing down their notes during the interview.

The drive to the coast was beautiful and it was really nice once we got there because we were able to book a two bedroom condo-style hotel. Son #2 was able to sleep in his portable crib since he wasn't distracted by us being in the same room; we were in the living room talking with Husband's cousin and his family and Son #1 was able to play with his second cousin. Cannon Beach was nice but extremely windy. So windy, that flying a kite involved nothing more than unwinding the string. Someone down the beach accidentally let go of their kite and it flew away over the beachfront buildings!

The drive back went pretty well. We made some stops along the way: Costco (no tax in Oregon and there were so many things I would have bought if we had room!!), giant Korean grocery in Tacoma, WA called Paldo World, yummy Korean restaurant also in Tacoma, WA that had delicious charcoal grilled spicy pork, quick outlet shopping stop in Skagit, WA. Son #2 was really good and fell asleep for most of the drive but started getting fussy near the border.

We had a great vacation, especially since we got to spend so much time with extended family. Now to decide if we can/should go to Hawaii in November. Oh Hawaii... *cue dreamy ukulele music*

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Summer = Busy


Where I live, it only feels like Summer for three months and Winter is at least six. So when the weather finally warms up, there is so much to do in a relatively short period of time. Add to that the fact that I only have three months left in my maternity leave *sob* so I'm really trying to squish everything in. 

We moved into our house two years ago and are finally starting to feel settled in. Our neighbours are awesome and we really like our house and yard. My parents generously purchased a playset for our boys at the beginning of the month, which has proven to be a big hit with Son #1. There has also been a growing list of people whom we have yet to invite so I decided to tackle that list this Summer and have had quite a few get togethers already.

If you haven't noticed, I take my food seriously so when I invite people over, I like to make a lot of food; I feel really bad if I invite people over and serve only two or three dishes. Is that weird? I mean, if I go to someone's house and am served only two or three dishes, I don't feel cheated. In fact, our friends invited us over last month and we enjoyed a delicious meal of coconut rice, cucumbers, and balsamic glazed pork tenderloin, plus the most amazing lemon bundt cake for dessert. It was great! 

Needless to say, I make myself very busy when inviting people over and while I love the company, I am very happy that I'm getting through that list of people to invite.

Last Friday we hosted the annual BBQ potluck for my church's moms group. Whoever hosts is in charge of condiments, fixin's and beverages. I wanted to be fun so I provided: ketchup, relish, mayo, roasted garlic and chili aioli,  mustard, dijon mustard, honey mustard, sriracha, sweet chili sauce, BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, Frank's red hot sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced marble cheese, sliced blue cheese, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, diced raw onions, red onion slices, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced pickles, sauerkraut, grilled pineapple rings, real bacon bits/crumbles, hot banana pepper rings, roasted peppers, and various potato chips in case people wanted to add them to their burgers or dogs. Real bacon bits? You ask? Yes, because I was cooking two packages of bacon slices in the oven while I was running like mad around my house trying to do last minute cleaning before I realized that I pretty much burned both pans. I tried to nibble on different pieces of charred bacon but they were so far done that I couldn't even taste any of the bacon's smokiness. What a waste. But I don't think anyone really cared because everything else was so fun!

Then on Sunday we had another BBQ potluck but we provided the rice, grilled teriyaki chicken, baked salmon, Korean green onion pancake, and spicy kale and avocado salad. Plus a fruit platter consisting of white peaches (one of my faves!), watermelon, strawberries, and pineapple. I think this was our fourth or fifth large get together this Summer. Large get togethers can get pricey, but if you can plan ahead and purchase things in bulk when they're on sale or even do things potluck style, you can keep costs down. 

So far this Summer, 21 of 25 days have been rainy. You would think that we lived in Vancouver or somewhere! So naturally, I was terrified at the thought of having 15+ kids plus babies on both days being trapped inside of our house with the 15+ adults. Our house has a pretty good layout but it's not huge. I kept telling people to pray for good weather and miraculously, the sun came out and it was beautiful when the guests were here!! The kids ran outside to jump on the trampoline that the previous owners of our house had left behind and to play on our new playset. YAY! After scrubbing out grass stains from our carpet from our guests the weekend before, I was SO relieved. Only three more large gatherings to go!!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Not Being Wasteful

With so many blogs on the Internet, I find it hard to come up with an original idea. I mean, I come up with an idea that I think it so brilliant, say, a recipe, only to do a quick Google search and find that many other people have already thought of it!

I thought of Cookinotti with pretzels. Already done. Cookinotti mixed in with Rice Krispies squares. Already done. Fine. So I made Cookinotti Rice Krispies squares topped with crushed peanut butter filled pretzels and then drizzled them with chocolates. Muhaha. I showed them. Dialing wand to continue typing on my laptop has been ordered

I often look for new recipes or try to think of things to bake if I have an overabundance of an ingredient or two. Last week I had a carton of whipping cream to use up so I was thinking of making Japanese style spaghetti carbonara but then decided to make some apple cinnamon scones topped with maple sugar. I hate throwing out food throwing out food that's gone bad so I always try to make sure that I use it up while it's still good.

One thing that was starting to accumulate was those garlic butter sauce discs from Papa John's pizza. The first time I tried it, I thought it was pretty disgusting but if I limit the amount that I dip with my crust, it's not too bad. But we always end up with a lot of unopened ones leftover. So I added some to mashed potatoes instead of using butter. Mmmmm. Then I added it to some stir fried seafood (squid, prawns, scallops, mussels). Mmmmm. I mean, it's not the best thing for you but it makes a nice addition to a dish once in a while.

I went for a second interview last week. This time it started off with a 30 minute test followed by a 30 minute interview with FIVE people. Well, it was supposed to be a 30 minute interview. I think the adrenaline, nervousness, crazies induced by sleep deprivation, caffeine all kicked in and the question and answer period was done in 15 minutes. Ummm is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess I talk fast when I'm nervous. Dang. I wasn't even going to apply for this job in the first place but the competitive side of me wants it so bad now that I've gone through the second round. I'm still hoping to talk to the partners at my current work about being able to go back to work with reduced hours but I'll hold off until after I find out if I get this new job or not. I still technically have over three months left in my maternity leave so I have some time. The bad thing about the new job is that it starts mid August so I would be cutting my maternity leave short by a month, meaning one less month to spend at home with my boys. I guess it would be better to go back a month early than to potentially have to go back to my old job full time plus super overtime during tax season. Ugh. I can't go back to my old job.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Splurging

This was my lovely tree before the windy thunderstorm blew most of the blossoms off :(

I went for an interview last Friday. I didn't really want to apply for the job because it involves some traveling in the form of highway driving - especially not fun when it's Winter! Not only that but I'm overqualified and the pay would be a cut compared to what I could get anywhere else. So why did I apply? Minimal overtime, the job itself seems interesting, good benefits - including pension! And the job environment seems to be good and not overly stressful. Plus it would be easy for me to drive to since it's not in Downtown and it sort of has flex hours. Oh and free parking. I didn't prepare for the interview since I'm still indecisive about going back to work but definitely felt nervous when I walked in to three interviewers staring at me. I think the interview went pretty well seeing as I have to go back for a test and a second interview. A test? I don't know what to expect but I'm really really hoping that both sons will let me have a good night's rest or else these potential employers might question my resume and maybe even the validity of my CA designation ha ha...

Even though I'm still undecided, I think I'm leaning towards returning to work. Especially if I can land a job that has good hours so that I can come home, not be stressed/exhausted, and just be able to spend some quality time with my family. 

I don't want to think that this is another reason why I'm returning to work but my trusty old 1999 VW Jetta died a few weeks ago. It's not really dead but needs some work done. It actually needs a lot of work done if you want to include the body of the car but I think the starter went. If it's only the starter, then it wouldn't be too bad but I have a feeling there's more - plus more to come for sure. It has over 220,000 km. I purchased it at around 90,000 km and have not replaced the clutch yet. So I've been spending a lot of time trying to research used cars. I think I will be going with a 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R. I was going to go with the more fuel efficient 2.5 engine, but after test driving both, I made my choice. It's a bit more than I want to spend on a car right now but I want something safe and reliable...

Oh and I bought a Blendtec blender. I've been wanting to buy a Vitamix for the longest time but then I saw a Blendtec at Costco last week for $360. I quickly picked it up and bought it so that I could research first and then return it (unopened!) after; I knew at that price it would sell out quickly! So I did a lot of research that made me even more undecided. Finally, I just decided to keep it. I mean, it has an 8 year warranty so it should be okay. So anyway, I made my first smoothie this morning which consisted of: spinach, milk, kiwi, frozen mixed fruit, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and a banana. It was so smooth and thick, just how I like it! I liked the fact that I didn't have to tamp it down or stay there to control the speed, like I would for a Vitamix. The Blendtec has buttons and has a digital display. Do I think it will last as long as a Vitamix? Probably not, but it should last at least 8 years under the warranty and by then, I would have definitely got my money's worth. No buyer's remorse here!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Decisions

 

I did it. I purchased two more packs of Cookinotti. That's FOUR jars. I was cookie naughty :( I'm planning to give them away though so I put them in the basement where I won't see them.

I haven't been to the gym this week because of a sore wrist. I went to see my doctor and it turns out that I have a ganglion. If it was bigger, I might have needed surgery to remove it, but it's not too big. It's really annoying and it feels like a bad bruise when I press it and a bad strain when I don't. I have to pick up Son #2 with my right hand and gently support with my left. Sometimes I just grab his sleep sack with my right hand and lift him out, crane style, complete with machine sound effects. I HAVE been going out on longer walks with the boys to kind of make up for the absence of intense physical activity.

I was really tempted to ask Husband to pick up some pizza on the way home from Son #1's swimming lessons today but then I decided to try this recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Week of Menus. I didn't have any tofu so I just served the spicy kale salad with some pan-seared salmon and brown rice. It was really yummy! The creaminess of the avocado balanced the spicy dressing and crunchy kale so well. Yay for healthy eating!

On another note, I've been casually applying for jobs. By casual I mean, if I see a job posting that I really like, I'll submit my mediocre resume along with a half-hearted cover letter. I'm still not sure if I want/need to return to work after my maternity leave is over but I thought that I should keep an eye out so I'm not scrambling to find one in case I have to!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Unclean Eating


So I was checking out unadvertised Costco Canada deals when I noticed two jars of Cookinotti on clearance for $4.97. Cookinotti? What's that? Could it finally be that we could purchase something that might be like Trader Joe's Cookie Butter? I gave a list to Husband of things to buy. When he brought it home, I immediately opened the jar and ate a spoonful. Mmmm just like I remembered. Then I remembered that I still had a jar of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter in my cupboard with only a little bit left. I think I was trying to ration it in case I had a Cookie Butter emergency. I had purchased it in December and forgot about it. Luckily it wasn't expired. Who am I kidding though? I would have still ate it if it was expired. I had to do a taste test. One spoon of Cookinotti followed by a spoon of Cookie Butter. I couldn't tell the difference. I mean, I'm not a Speculoos cookie connoisseur or anything but it tasted the same to me. I can't remember how much I paid for the Cookie Butter from the Trader Joe's in Seattle, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't two jars for $4.97.

Now I'm trying to fight the urge and stock up. I'm already thinking that I should give the other jar away. If you Google Trader Joe's Cookie Butter, you can read all sorts of things about how addicting it is. To be honest, I didn't even think it was THAT great the first time I ate it. I still think it's just okay but for some reason it's so addicting. I tried it on ice cream and on bread, but I think the best way to have it is straight up on a spoon. I even had it spread on a Speculoos cookie. Speculoos with Speculoos Cookie Butter. Why? I don't know, I thought the Butter needed some crunch?

So now I'm going to Costco tomorrow to buy some other things that I missed and will have to fight the urge to buy more Cookinotti for myself and for my cousin who is just as addicted as I am but doesn't think I should buy it either.

On a side note, Husband and I went on our first date in a looooong time and I noticed that some of my clothes were a bit looser thanks to the two spin classes and one Group Power (weights) class that I took in the last week. Oh and the weather has finally warmed up so we've been going on a few evening walks. Okay, no Cookinotti. Maybe.