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Bonjour!  I'm Christen!  Been all over the U.S., and just moved from Utah down to Texas for my husband's new job!  After having been in the Navy, I am now a student of Anthropology, a stay at home mom to my new baby, a half arsed writer, belly dance instructor/student and performer, and just general, all around "Jack of all trades, master of nothing." 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Paleo Toddler Series: Basic Pantry Building and Shopping

So now that I've given you all some amazing looking recipes to try, I just know you're chomping at the bit to go out and restock your entire pantry, and start looking like these guys in the picture!
But emptying all your old processed chemical foods into the bin and completely replenishing is just not an option for almost all of us out there!  We didn't have much of a choice since our Baby B's health was at stake, and luckily we were mostly Paleo so there wasn't too much of an overhaul, but it still ate up quite a bit of the grocery money that week.  

Now that we've been doing this for a bit, I'm starting to get the hang of finding out where to save money, how to get the best buys for what we need, and how to do our shopping so that we don't end up wasting a bunch of produce (that shit adds up!!)

Figure out what you eat most.  Spend a month playing around with different meals that are Paleo or Paleo-ish and see what you eat the most of.  If you aren't ready to go full Paleo, incorporate 3-4 meals a week with your standard fare.  For example, we found that we eat a ton of eggs and beef now, leafy greens are here and there, and that we upped our consumption of sweet potatoes, carrots, avocado and peppers.  After you find what type of foods work best for you and your family, meal planning and grocery lists are so much easier to handle.

Plan, plan, and plan some more.  Go through Pinterest (you can take a look at The Paleo Toddler Board, Dinner Time, or "Man Food" for inspiration and take aways) or Google to help find recipes with the foods you eat most often.  Then go ahead and do the handy dandy meal planning.  I Heart Planners is having a September Meal Planning Challenge that I just signed up for, complete with free calendar printable!

Shop small, shop often.  This one I'm not a huge fan of, but it does help minimize our waste.  At the very least, I buy only what we need for the week's meal plan plus a few snacks on hand, and at the most I will end up at the store 2-3 times a week for new produce as it runs out.  This way it stays fresh, and we are sure to use it! 

Don't be afraid of the bulk bins.  While produce is best bought in small quantities, dry goods you definitely want in larger amounts!  We go through coconut and almond flour like crazy, and B can eat lentils and quinoa so it's a much cheaper option to buy big bags and pour in tidy containers! Sprouts has an amazing selection of bulk products, and even stores like Kroger are getting in on the act by having bulk section that they keep adding to.  

Also, if you have access to Costco, a membership will benefit you greatly!  Costco has tons of organic items, which can vary from store to store.  A 5 lb. bag of almond flour costs around $25, much better than $11-$12 for 10 oz at the grocery store! We also use them to stock up on grassfed butter, organic seasonings, eggs, and meat. Be sure to stick to your list otherwise it's too easy to walk away with chocolate cake the size of a small dog, and car batteries!

Phase out old food.  Realize this is a process.  As you finish off your bad foods, simply don't replace them.  Put that money you would spend on inferior food in a jar or in your budget towards clean snacks or grassfed meats.  If you do that for a month, there should be a nice sum to use for your new clean shopping list.  I calculated the amount we would spend on fast food, candy, or bags of chips with hydrogenated oils and my jaw dropped.  We could have had grassfed steak 2-3 times that month at home, and vodka, if we hadn't spent that money!  

Homemade is the way to go.  I know we are all busy, and many of you out there are busier than I am.  I implore you to set aside just a couple hours a week to pre-make a few things.
They taste better, you know what's in it, and it saves you money since you can make huge batches.  I've started making our Paleo English Muffins in bulk and freezing them so we can just pull a couple out to toast  and be on with our day.  Having pre-made food also makes it sooooooo much harder to justify bad food when you know you have options at home.

I promise just like with anything else, it gets easier as you go.  One day you will look back and wonder how you managed without the food-style you have now!  Cheers!

How do you prep and budget for your clean meals? Let me know!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Paleo Toddler Series: Homemade Lunches and Dinner

After getting together our breakfasts and snacks, it's now time to move on to the next step:  lunch and dinner.

This one is a little harder for me since we love breakfast foods in the house. Seriously, we eat breakfast for dinner every Friday, and if we can't think of something to eat, it's bacon and eggs for dinner.

After scouring my trusty Pinterest, I've posted some amazing looking meals that can double for lunch or dinner to The Paleo Toddler board.

Stock up on grassfed ground beef, turkey,

A Study In Housewifery: A Typical 1950's Housewife Schedule

In my last "A Study in Housewifery" post, I quickly outlined my plan to follow what a typical 1950's housewife's schedule might be.  I found the post here on the Stepford Sisters blog.  As I was copying down each thing that needed to be done, I found myself growing more and more exhuasted with each bullet point.  Not only did I have to get all these things done, but I also had the kid and the animals to take care of, plus my little part time job Tuesday - Thursday in the evenings.  What the hell did I get myself into?  How would this impact my interaction with my kid?  How would I fit everything in?  Surely there just weren't enough hours in the day to do all this stuff!

Well, let's take a little walk, dear blog reader and see how quickly I did or didn't lose my flipping mind.

A typical day would go something a little like this:

  Ok, so we're out the gate running. The kid was being fairly agreeable and not entirely clingy which made it easier to get chores done while he ate his breakfast.  It helped that I had some leftover Paleo English Muffins which you can find on my The Paleo Toddler Board.  He could eat those at will with his hands, no need for mom to spoon anything into his mouth.  I had an interview for a nanny gig, but still managed to get ready for the day and most of the apartment picked up.  After the interview, we happened to be near our supermarket anyway so got the shopping out of the way.  Went home, fed the kid, put away groceries, tidied while he played a little bit then it was time to put him down for a nap.  While he was napping I started getting things ready for dinner, got a drink tray ready for hubs, got laundry started, swept and mopped all the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, ran the vacuum, put away dishes.  Then the kid woke up so while keeping him entertained, I changed into a dress, put on some makeup, swept the entryway, picked up the living room and checked on dinner.

This was all before my husband even got home.

THEN it was fixing dinner, sitting down to eat (which means he eats and I feed the kid and get a few bites here and there), cleaning up, taking out the trash, taking out the dog, bathing the kid, getting him ready for bed, cleaning the kitchen while he played, then putting him down.  FINALLY after all that...... I got to make hub's lunch for the next day, get breakfast together for the kid, switch over the laundry, and convince myself to take a shower.

It was exhausting. I was literally on the go from the moment I woke up until I went to bed, absolutely no down time whatsoever.  I really did like it that D had lunch for the next day, and it was nice to have dinner made and a clean house.

The rest of the week was pretty much the same except that I had work from Tuesday through Thursday in the evening.  That really cut down on my cleaning time since I have to get ready for work while B is napping in the afternoon, and used that time to start getting dinner ready for my guys as well.  Plus, I was starting to get really sick and it took all my energy just to get through the day.  Each day I got a little less and a little less done, and had to take more and more time to sit and get through the day.

A few lessons and realizations from the week:

  • I really didn't like not playing very much with Baby B.  We usually take walks every day, hang out on the patio and look at the world, play some games or even just chase each other around the house pointing at things, or read books.  I felt like I was just neglecting him for the most part.  Not that I give him attention 24/7, but it pissed me off when the husband was playing with B after dinner and I was stuck cleaning up after I'd spent all day doing that very thing. 

  •  I also didn't like how each day my husband became more expectant that the house would be sparkling, and his wife would be perfectly coifed and greeting him with a drink.  I made sure his drink tray and dinner was ready each day, and the house was in a reasonably clean state, that should have been more than sufficient! 

  • If I didn't have other responsibilities outside the home, this schedule would work out better and be much more pleasant to bear.  

  • I actually enjoyed the first day of the schedule when I could focus on everything inside the house. 

  • My kid is priority.  It doesn't matter how clean my house is, if I have a screaming toddler who's ready to eat but I'm still busy doing chores and it's not "time" for lunch, I'm not going to enjoy my clean house.  I also didn't like that during work days I had to clean instead of spending time with him since afternoon nap was when I got ready for work.

  • Baby B is (thankfully) becoming more independent so luckily it wasn't too much of an issue, and  I could actually get some things done while he played.  I can't imagine trying to do this with a newborn, especially one that was as sick as mine.  This schedule would work much better for school age children, or toddlers who go to preschool part time/full time.

  • Whoever works outside the home doesn't know how easy they have it sometimes.  The sheer amount of time and effort that goes into just the upkeep of the house is a full time job.  This does not include any extra chores that need to be done such as organizing, or the care of babies, or another part time job.  It is pretty much the equivalent of 2 full time jobs rolled into one.  No, I'm not saying  the bread winner is less important; I'm saying they have the opportunity to leave work at work, and come home and relax.  The schedule called for "indulging in a hobby", but for me that roughly translated to: play with B or do an activity with him (colors/shapes/visual recognition/practicing words by reading books etc)

  • The differences in expectations of housewives are far greater (in my opinion) than they used to be.  Yes, they always had to look pretty, and no they didn't have modern convineniences such as we do.  However, kids were allowed to play on the street, weren't always being shuttled from one activity to another, and visiting was almost a daily ritual.  Nowadays, unless there are scheduled play dates, most moms and housewives spend much of their time locked away in their houses.  No neighbor to chat with over the fence while you both hang out your laundry. No book clubs or bridge clubs during the day where the children played together in the large backyard.

    Ok, so maybe it's not that the expectations are greater, it's just that we have so much more we are attempting to fit into our day, and we are doing it all alone, with absolutely no support system in place.  Work is always more bearable when it's done with someone else. 

  • I learned that I can be more productive during the day.  It's all about balance.  I love playing and teaching with Baby B, but I also like having a clean house and dinner made.  My house will never be Pinterest clean, and I'm ok with that.  But now that my baby is older, he doesn't need to be in the sling every second of the day and I can take time for a few things for myself and keeping the house in relative order.  Sometimes it all feels all so overwhelming, but with my trusty list, and a cuppa coffee, and taking it one step at a time I feel I can bridge the two worlds without compromising my instincts as a parent or my responsibilities around the house.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Embracing the Suck of Mommy-hood

Sometimes you just have to let go.

Sometimes you have to change your expectations and attitude.

Sometimes you have to embrace the suck.

Welcome to motherhood.  Where the rules are made up and points don't matter.  When your baby tricks you into thinking they're finally getting the hang of only nursing twice a night, and then in the blink of an eye are rebelling with two and a half hour temper tantrums in the middle of the night until your nerves are so frazzled

Saturday, August 1, 2015

15 Easy Steps to Being the Best Suburban Mom (SATIRE)

* Disclaimer:  This piece is satire.  I've drawn upon my observations while living here in the suburbs, and added some snarky humor.  Any likeness to person, place, or activity is fictional and does not represent any actual in life instances.*

Suburbia-land.  Never thought I'd see the day where my residence was in an actual suburb and I was a stay at home mom.  As a student of Anthropology, it's interesting to study these people and their culture-at least until I realize I'm not as stealthy as the documentary guys who film animals on the African plains.  They see me watching them, and mistake my disbelief and curiosity for disdain.  In all honesty, some of it might actually be disdain.

After studying the Texas suburban people, women and mothers in particular, I've come up with some ways to help one adapt to their new environment, should they find themselves relocated from their natural environment of a Pacific NorthWest island where sweats are acceptable for everything.

Å Study In Housewifery: 1950's vs. 2015

The nostalgia of the the 50's is unparalleled.  For some reason when the image of a housewife is invoked, it is of the 1950's housewife. With her perfectly rolled hair, classic makeup, immaculate frilly dress (homemade of course, because she had wicked awesome seamstress skills), and coming out of the kitchen with the roast on the platter and a huge content smile on her face as though the only things worth living for were serving her family.  And maybe it was.

Today's stay at home mom's (SAHM) while unburdened by a lot of work with the inovations of technology, seem to be more stressed, get less done, and feel more ashamed of their skills as a homemaker.  I am one of them.  I'm the type of girl who loves to deep clean, get the nooks and crannies, wash baseboards, etc.  But with the demands of parenting these days, I'm lucky if I get the laundry folded and dishwasher ran.
 I understand as my 12 month old gets older, it will be easier to get things done, but at the moment I have choices to make: Play with my son, or keep the house in order.  Take him for a walk or to the park, or organize the fridge.  Sing songs with him and pique his interest in books,  or being "with" him without actually being present with him because i'm busy doing household chores.  

Ok, that last part isn't fair.  Sometimes we do have to do all those things, but the demands of parenting today are so overwhelming.  I don't have any helicopter mom tendencies, but I do have a little boy whose only wish in the world in to be right next to someone, doing what they are doing.  And sometimes that interferes with me getting dinner made or picking the house up, and so I'm just there with him without actually being all there with him.

However, no one really seems to complain about how they were raised by these nostalgia stay at home moms, and we all instinctively know that kids are quite capable of playing on their own without us "engaging" (being up their a$$) constantly.

I came across this blog post a few days from The Stepford Sisters ago that had the author outlining the typical day of the 1950's housewife, and was going to follow it for a week.  I think I am going to follow in her example to see what exactly the difference in mind set/productivity is, and how we can incorporate some of yesterday's standards into today's complete parenting mentality, or if it now a lost art.  Call this an amateur  Anthropology study, if you will :)

So starting this Monday, I will be attempting to be the quintessential little housewife.....we'll see how this plays out.