Monday, February 18, 2008

One step closer

The company approved my husband's proposal - he'll work there four days a week, then commute back here on the weekends until I am able to move. So we're getting closer to moving, though it's not entirely a done deal - he still has to pass the background check and drug test, which should come back okay, but since we don't want to count our chickens, etc., we are waiting until the word is official before informing our respective employers about our plans.

I've been looking into real estate. Crap, it's expensive! No surprise, but still somehow shocking. Because of my (grudging) willingness to move, my husband has offered me ten (10) things that I want but must specify in advance. So far, I have figured out two: first, a new mattress once we move, and second, maid service weekly while we try to sell our house (instead of biweekly). Any suggestions for the others? They can't all cost too much money or we won't have any left over for, like, existence.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hacks for parents who want to eat organic meals and feed their kids organic food, but who are kind of cheap and strapped for time

I was very committed to feeding homemade organic baby food because (1) I suspected it was cheaper than buying organic baby food in jars, (2) it meant less packaging waste, (3) it would taste the same as the ‘real’ food he’d eventually eat, and (4) I’d have to cook for him eventually anyway and might as well get used to that now. Also, I admit the following psychological reason: I couldn’t get pregnant, be blissfully pregnant, give birth normally, or develop a full supply of breastmilk, but GODDAMMIT, I CAN USE A CUISIN.ART. Leaving aside the fact that when I first tried to use the, it wouldn’t start because I’d put the top on backwards, I think I have subsequently proven my skill at using it.

So I thought I’d throw out a few tips for you guys in case you find yourselves in a similar situation – ie, having good intentions but also possessing some degree of cheapness and/or laziness. As a bonus, I am including some fast, delicious parent-food recipes as well.

(Note: someone gave us this book – Le Petit Appetit – as a baby gift, and it has been extremely useful. Normally, I’d link to Ama.zon, but I am mad at them right now for an Orwellian customer-service experience that they recently subjected me to. Anyway, that link is to the author’s site. The book gives you instructions for all the purées, as well as for recipes up to age 4. It’s divided up by stage – 4-6 months; 6-9 months; 9-12 months; etc. It gives both stovetop and microwave instructions for most everything.)

1. Making organic applesauce is a pain in the ass (lots of peeling) and expensive (heavy apples x high per-pound cost = all your money). But you can buy normal, adult organic applesauce that just has apples and water in it. Ede.n Organic has one that’s just apples and water and runs about $3.89/jar. The Sant.a Cruz Organic one has ascorbic acid in it, which I think is just vitamin C. The SCO also comes in other permutations (like apple/apricot, apple/blackberry, etc.), which is a nice way to introduce those additional fruits, especially when they’re out of season. If your baby is young and not chowing down the applesauce yet, you can freeze it in ice-cube trays like you would with the homemade purées. eats quite a lot of applesauce now, so we just take it from the jar in the fridge. This is way cheaper than buying the Earth’s baby applesauce or making your own. I do still make puréed pears because he loves them and the smell of poached pears is great, but this is pricy and more of a pain.

2. Some vegetables are more of a pain than others, and so you can go with frozen organic vegetables (which you still need to cook so they freeze OK). I’ve noticed that Cas.cadian Farms brand (and sometimes Wood.stock Farms brand) organic frozen vegetables go on sale frequently. So I stock up and use those – so far, peas, green beans, broccoli, and corn. Two bags’ worth of purées makes one full ice-cube tray (about 18 small servings). You can often get one bag on sale for about $2. The vegetables I still do fresh are sweet potatoes (roasted), regular potatoes (boiled), cauliflower (steamed in microwave), and spinach (steamed in microwave).

3. The Cas.cadian Farms brand organic fruits go on sale less often, but it does happen. Regardless, I use these for many fruit purées since everything is out of season right now. So far, I’ve done peaches and mangoes, and I puréed some uncooked frozen blueberries to mix into yogurt.

4. Puréeing chicken is not as bad as I would have thought. I just roast a bunch of boneless/skinless breasts at one time in the oven, then purée them with some water. It does look a bit like a huge bowl of fleshy clay, but whatever.

Some easy recipes for parents:

1. I just discovered the wonders of the slow-cooker. This recipe – Moroccan chicken – was fragrant, tender, and delicious. I used boneless/skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken pieces, and I served it with Middle Eastern couscous. If you have a slow-cooker recipe that calls for rice, use Arborio rice to make it risotto-like (may take a bit longer). I did this one – spinach, bean, and rice soup – last week. I used an extra can of beans in there as well. It was delicious and worked very well as leftovers.

2. I really shouldn’t reveal this salmon recipe, since people always rave over it and it’s preposterously easy. We eat it often on weeknights at home, but it also works extremely well for entertaining. It's also my go-to thing to take new parents. When I was in California recently, my friend and I made it at a dinner for 14 people. You can sear the salmon in batches and then keep it warm in the oven if needed.

This recipe is for four people. Take four salmon filets (not steaks) and remove the skin. In a bowl, mix together 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1 tbsp pepper. Pat salmon on both sides with mixture. Heat olive oil in stainless or copper pan on high until oil is hot. Sear salmon on both sides to desired doneness. (The sugar caramelizes somewhat and makes a slight crust.) Serve. It’s really good. (For sides, may I recommend quinoa (2:1 water: quinoa ratio, bring to a boil in salted water, lower heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes) and spinach sautéed in olive oil with minced garlic from a jar?)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fuck you, Jennifer Lopez

I don't know why I had to go read, when it is obviously something that would just make me mad. But I did check it out today, and came across this quote from Jennifer Lopez's dad re: her twins:

“Yes, twins,” David Lopez told reports during an interview on Escandalo TV. “The thing is in my family, my sister also had twins, so it’s a hereditary thing.”

Okay, look: I bet JLo used IVF, but I realize that celebrities do not have to tell everyone in the world that they used IVF (in contrast to me). But even if she didn't, why does her family have to proactively get the word out that she didn't? It makes IVF seem so shameful.

So fuck you, Jennifer Lopez.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Real life intrudes

Big things are possibly in the works here at the Motel. My husband received a job offer in the Bay Area, where I lived for seven years. Since then, we've lived in a charming small city with a large university in it. I have grown attached to college-town life, especially with a baby, and that's not even mentioning my affection for my extensive team of medical experts and fantastic health insurance. So it is not surprising that I feel reluctance about moving. I also grew a bit tired of the SF area towards the end of my tenure there, and those feelings have only grown, perhaps unfairly since I do have many friends there, I like hiking, you can get great Vietnamese food, etc. But it is clearly expensive, prone to emanating a sense of self-satisfaction, and poorly positioned atop more than one fault. And yet it would be a great step, career-wise, for my husband, who changed careers in his mid-thirties and wants the seal of approval from a brand-name firm on his resume. I understand this, as I have been trading for years on one good firm I worked for from 22 to 25. That stamp of approval comes in handy.

The main thing, however, is that this offer would mean that my husband would move in mid-March, while and I would have to stay here until June 1 at the earliest. I won't go into why, but trust me that I am not aggrandizing my own qualifications - it's just a complicated situation for several boring, unique reasons. So I'd be a single mom for about three months, and I'd also be trying to swing an FET in April, despite the fact that my favorite RE will be on maternity leave. And I'd be selling the house, working on a consulting project outside my real job, selling my worldly possessions on eBay, and so forth.

So what we decided was that my husband would ask the new place whether they could let him do a four-day-a-week schedule (ie, four long days) and commute back here every Thursday night on the redeye. We are waiting to find out what they say about that. The company is supposedly pretty family-friendly, although I quickly determined that there's no IVF coverage. If we need to do another fresh cycle (if we even wanted to, assuming an FET failure), therefore, I should go COBRA on my own insurance and try to squeeze in another fresh cycle before we move. So complicated.

But not that bad, really. is maximum fun these days, and I recognize how lucky we are to have him. There's been so much loss out there in the blogosphere lately that it makes me ultra-conscious of how lucky we are. We should feel that lucky anyway and shouldn't have to be reminded of it by all the losses out there, but we are imperfect, to put it mildly.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

So sad

I'm back at home, but terrible events transpired while I was away - Mary Ellen and Steve's triplets were born too early, and Mary Ellen herself had to fight off a major uterine infection. Thankfully, she is better physically, but I can only imagine what they are feeling right now. Stop by and send them some support if you can.