Keepin’ It Real … The Itch

Alright. If you know me, you know I am an open book. I don’t hold back. Especially in the name of a good laugh. So I am starting a new series here on the blog called Keepin’ It Real. Really, it can be about anything I just want to talk about and, in the process, keep it real. And I am going all in for the first installment. Putting it all out there at the risk of complete and utter embarrassment.  If you are a guy, you probably want to stop here if you want to keep your fantasies that women are all roses and butterflies south of the border!

The Itch

Let’s just start this post by saying that I have not had many feminine issues. I have never had a yeast infection. I have had one UTI, which the doctor attributed to a “flurry of sexual activity.” Doesn’t that sound so wild, and fun, and …. young. The honeymoon phase of a relationship is a whole lot different than the two kids phase. The only flurry we have around here these days is snow flurries.

Then, there was that one time in college that I got one of those smelly bacterial infections. The prescription I was given warned me, ALL over the bottle, not to drink alcoholic beverages. I did not heed the warning. And miss a weekend at Mother Fletchers and the Freaky Tiki (I went to college in Myrtle Beach)?! Um, no. Grown-Up Sarah would like to smack College Sarah in the back of the head. That prescription warning was not just for fun because I don’t think I have ever been so sick in my life. I can still picture the toilet I spent hugging that night and next day. And I don’t think I drank again for, like, 2 weeks.

So you see, really, I have a very healthy, happy vajayjay. Until recently. When I got the Itch. What is the Itch, you ask?  Jock Itch. Also called, when on the foot, Athlete’s Foot. The irony is not lost on me. At this point in my life (or really any point in my life), Jock or Athlete are two words never used to describe me. And yes, women can also get Jock Itch. I know, I know, you hear Jock Itch and you instantly visualize toned football players in the locker room smacking each other’s asses. Not a 30-something mama of two with a muffin top sitting in her pajama bottoms writing a blog post on Jock Itch. But bikini line, groin, same thing. Same itch.

The Itch all started with some irritation in my bikini line that I attributed to razor rash. It seemed to mostly go away but would get itchy every now and then when I wore certain underwear. Fact – I need new underwear. Or to lose weight. Or, in the perfect world, BOTH. But because I refuse to buy underwear that could double as a sail, some of my undies are a little snug. So this cycle went on – I would think it was gone and then all of the sudden it would flare up and get really itchy! But then it was gone. So I didn’t think too much of it til it got itchy again.

Well, this last time, it was out of control itchy. Like, OMG-this-shit-is-itchy itchy. And then it started to burn. I decided this cannot be irritated razor rash. So I had to do secret internet research. Don’t want the kiddos to see any pictures that might pop up, don’t want the hubs to see me reading up on “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH MY CROTCH” (a very interesting and informative Google search, I assure you), and I certainly don’t want the creepy interwebs to start targeting me with advertisements about creams and vajayjay cleanses.

Based on my research, I determined it must be Jock Itch. It was only in my bikini line, which made me think it wouldn’t be a yeast infection, and it is winter here in Western New York, so there ain’t no air gettin’ up there. It is dark, and cozy, and warm. Apparently all things that Jock Itch likes. So I got some Jock Itch cream (for the hubs of course), and, let me tell you, nearly INSTANT relief. So I do believe my self diagnosis is correct.  Who knew. But please, for the love of all things chocolate, can we come up with a better name for this than Jock Itch?

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Mexican Goulash | Dinnertime and the Livin’s Easy

I took this meal up a notch and made it my own tonight so it is time to share. This recipe is quick, easy and yummy plus uses only one pot. It is pasta plus taco. What could be better? Hopefully someday my picky eaters will like it, and it will be a family favorite (I am not holding my breath on the last part)!

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Mexican Goulash

One Pot Beef Taco Pasta

Mexican Goulash

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1 package of taco seasoning, pick your heat
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels (I have also used canned corn, drained)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup taco sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
2 cups elbow noodles
Grated cheese, optional
Beans, optional

Instructions:

1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Once browned, add taco seasoning and stir to coat.

2. Add corn, salsa, taco sauce, diced tomatoes, water, and elbow noodles. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until noodles are the way you like to eat them. This always seems to take longer on my stove top.

3. If desired, add beans of choice and cheese. If you have a crowd that all loves black beans or pinto beans, I would add them with the other ingredients, otherwise heat before serving. Or add a dollop of refried beans on top, then stir it in – it is delicious. Weird looking but delicious.

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This is a great go-to meal if you are short on time, or just don’t feel like cooking. It is going to be a resident in my 2 week meal plans!

Recipe adapted from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef | Dinnertime and the Livin’s Easy

Yesterday, I made the first dinner of my first 2-week meal plan. I went with a new recipe, added a few tweaks of my own and the result was pretty yummy and the hubs approved! Best part though? It was super easy to make!

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Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

Between 1 and 1.5 pounds of stew meat (I use the pre-cut stew meat because it is easier and, well, less gross)

1/3 cup corn starch

2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 minced or pressed garlic cloves

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup brown sugar

Green onions, one bundle will more than do you

Instructions:

  1. Put the corn starch and garlic powder into a large zip lock bag, and give her a shake to mix. Add stew meat (if you don’t buy the pre-cut, cut it into strips or chunks first). Shake, rattle and roll until the meat is covered. Set aside.
  2. In your crock pot, mix together the olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, water and brown sugar until the brown sugar dissolves. This will seem like a LOT of soy sauce. With the little pouring device, it is almost painfully slow and you WILL question whether this is too much soy sauce. Just keep going.
  3. Add coated meat to crock pot, mix to coat meat with sauce. Put on top, and cook for 5-6 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.
  4. Serve over rice, and top with some green onions, sliced.

Easy and tasty. My kind of recipe.

Recipe slightly tweaked from The Recipe Critic

 

 

Reflection: #180in2015

So last Thursday, New Year’s Eve, I had big plans. The littles were seemingly on the upswing from a respiratory virus that had kept them inside since Christmas, so we were going to go to the movies, get home about the same time as Daddy and have a little dinner. After the kids were put to bed, I planned on writing a blog post about the huge year of 2015, highlighting my mishaps and celebrating my victories, and then actually spend some time on the couch with my hubs. My 21 year old self is shaking her head at me for calling those big plans, but she had no clue what exhausted was!

Well, my plan was not to become a reality when, instead, I had the scariest moment of parenting to date. Madeline, my 3 year old, went from being still a little sick to being very sick in a very short period of time. Long story short, she was full of poop which blocked her urethra so she couldn’t pee, causing her bladder to be so full it was bulging out of her abdomen and she very quickly became dehydrated. The looks on the doctors’ faces in the ER before they determined it was her bladder protruding from her abdomen was scary. How quickly my daughter became completely pale and limp was terrifying.

So my internal reflection of 2015 ended up a little differently than anticipated. Instead of being at my computer with a glass of wine in hand, I was trapped underneath my 3 year old who had just had an enema and put so much effort into expelling her blockage that she immediately fell asleep, leaving me trapped and waiting for a doctor or a nurse to come save me from my parental hell …. Frozen on TV.

As an employment attorney, I talked to thousands of employees from all walks of life. Professionals to minimum wage retail employees, and everyone in between. Typically, they were employees who had a negative employment action or experience. What the collective “we” often doesn’t realize, in our own role as an employee, is that our job, our career, becomes a huge part of who we are and it starts to define us. We too often spend more awake time at our jobs with our co-workers and bosses than we spend with our family and loved ones. It is common to hear people say that you shouldn’t bring you home life to work with you, or that you shouldn’t let your personal life impact your work. But what about when you constantly bring your work home with you. When you let your work life impact your home life, your health and eventually you?

I can tell you, it sneaks up on you. It is a gradual process that can easily go unnoticed. You slowly become negative and bitter, you take it out on your significant other because he is your safe place. Your not present with your kids in the time you do have with them because you are so distracted by work things. And, if you let it get bad enough, you start having panic attacks and hiding in bathrooms. You get put on anxiety meds with a separate prescription for “those times” when you are about to go off the deep end. That was my breaking point anyways. And it took 3 long years to get me to that point. 3 years of becoming more and more stressed. More and more unhappy. But getting put on medication was a wake-up call. So was sitting on a toilet to avoid the unavoidable (and maybe because the stress is giving you the shits). But those are details for another post, at another time.

What I knew, what my husband knew, was that I had to get out of that situation. We had to do something. So, we took the advice of a friend and former colleague, and “went nuclear.” Let me just tell you, going nuclear is scary. But staying in the same place was scarier.

I don’t really like to clean. I have never had any interest in cooking. But here I was, quitting my job as a litigation attorney to stay at home with my kiddos, keep house and pursue my passion of photography. That was probably the scariest part of the whole thing! I remember early in the #180in2015 being out of the house with both kids, and trying to get them put back together to go back home. I was juggling a purse, a diaper bag, all their stuff, and trying to zip a winter jacket on a squirming kid. I am sure I looked like a crazy woman who had never left the house, and well, I kind of was. It was probably the same night that I made Hot Dog Pizza for dinner. But day after day, things became more familiar and easier. I now leave the house without distress, I ditched the diaper bag and I can zip a coat on a kid hanging upside down. I can make an entire Christmas dinner without being overwhelmed, and without hot dogs, and it comes out pretty good.

By summer, I kept catching myself feeling weird. I had weaned myself off the meds, so I knew it wasn’t that. I was smiling for no apparent reason, maybe even singing or humming to myself. It took a little bit for me to realize it was happiness. I was happy. It had been so long since I was actually happy in my life, my whole life, that I forgot what it was like. My happiness had been sucked out of me by my work life, but I got it back. My kids brought it back. Don’t get me wrong, the #180in2015 wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I. Quit. My. Job. We traded in a regular paycheck and benefits for two small businesses and being self-employed. There have been weeks when we have asked ourselves how can we keep on going like this. But here we are, a year in, and still going. And happy. I am happy despite the stresses of life.

And now that my happy is back, and I am re-discovering who I am, I am fully able to appreciate my kids, my marriage, my family and my life. I am there to celebrate my littles’ accomplishments no matter how minor, and to love them through their disappointments. To be present with them and not be stressed out to the point of complete distraction. Even when I am marinating in the smell of stale poop, weighted down to the bed by a 25 pound child being forced to watch Frozen for the 539,342nd time, I am happy.

So, a week late, cheers to #180in2015. And the Borns are ready for #killingitin2016.

 

One Pot Hawaiian BBQ Pasta | Dinnertime and the Livin’s Easy

Got ham? I did. Being my first attempt at preparing a holiday spread on my own, I went out and bought the biggest spiral ham Wegmans had to offer. Nearly 11 pounds of ham for 7 adults. It was bone-in and I had no idea how much that weighed, so better safe than sorry, right?

The day after Christmas, I decided to put my hypothetical apron back on and put all that extra ham to good use. Hello Pinterest. I found a potential recipe adding leftover ham to a one pot pasta dish. Pasta and one-pot are my favorite kind of recipes. But this particular recipe wasn’t quite right in my mind so I decided to combine it with another one pot pasta recipe. The results were a leftover ham paradise.

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One Pot Hawaiian BBQ Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

8 ounces of bacon, chopped
A good bit of ham, bite sized cubes/pieces
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups rotini pasta
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I use more like 1/2 a cup. We like BBQ sauce)
8 ounces of pineapple tidbits, drained (I used more, like 2/3 of a 20 ounce can)

Instructions

1. In one of your biggest skillets, cook the bacon until crispy over medium heat. Drain almost all of the grease carefully – it is hot. I never know exactly what to do with the grease, so I usually pour it into an old jar.

2. Add ham to the bacon and heat over medium heat. The ham is cooked so you are really just heating it up and getting it saturated in bacon grease. Yum.

3. Add diced tomatoes, milk, chicken broth. Stir to mix it all together. Add rotini pasta. And, you got it, stir again. I like to make sure all the noodles are in the liquid, even if not completely submerged.

4. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is cooked the way you want to eat it.

5. Stir in BBQ sauce and pineapple tidbits until heated through. Just a couple of minutes on low heat.

6. Enjoy your re-discovered holiday ham!

Now, we are basically a no cheese house. The hubs has an aversion to cheese on anything except pizza. I am not a cheese junkie, so no need to add extra calories. Both of the recipes I consulted to create this called for cheese.  One called for 1 cup of cheddar, the other for 1 cup of mozzarella. So, if you like cheese, take your pick and add it at the end, and cover til it melts.

 

Don’t Blink

My first baby is starting Kindergarten next week. On Tuesday. Every time I think about it, I get teary and have to do everything I can to not start bawling. And, for the record, I am not a crier. Unless a dog dies in a movie. That gets me every time. But I am not sure I am going to make it through the next week without an ugly cry.

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I am not in any way ready for Lucas to start Kindergarten. Part of it is selfish. Most of it is instinct.

The selfish part of my wants to keep him home with me. Trust me, the boy drives me nuts and is a challenge at times. But for the first 4 years of his life, I worked. A lot. Litigation attorneys have long hours, and I missed a lot. Luckily his daddy was there to be with him for all the things I missed, but that doesn’t really make Mama Guilt any better. These last 8 months, being home (aka retired from being an attorney), I feel like I have gotten some time with Lucas (and Madeline) back. I really know my kids now. Like I have never been able to know them before And I love it. I neeeeeeded this. And I am not ready to give Lucas up to a stranger (who I have met and I think she will be great) for the majority of every single weekday. The good part of his day. When he is happy and eager to try new things.

The instinct part is strong. I know that Lucas is not ready for full day Kindergarten. He’s. Just. Not. Ready. He came SO far last school year because of his amazing Pre-K teachers and therapists. And another year of that structure would be perfect for him before starting full day Kindergarten. But that is not an option because if Lucas doesn’t start Kindergarten this year, he will lose his services. He will lose what he needs the most to be successful now and in the future – speech and occupational therapy. So because he is no longer “age eligible” for Pre-K (by one month), and is “age eligible” for Kindergarten (as one of, if not, the youngest in the class) he has to Kindergarten if we want him to continue getting his services, regardless of whether he is ready. This is a tough concept for a mama to swallow. It makes no sense. “You can just hold him back in Kindergarten if he isn’t successful.” Because that sounds like a really positive solution. I will stop there. That is another post, for another time.

And so, next week, my first baby starts full day Kindergarten. And I am going to do everything I can to help him be successful. I will be his new speech and occupational therapists’ new best friend. I will deal with the crazy, frustrated, worn out and exhausted boy that I know will come home each day because he will finally  be able to let his guard down and stop concentrating on everything going on around him. And I will try my hardest to do it with a smile on my face, at least most days.

The good news is that the boy couldn’t be more excited to start his new adventure as a Kindergartner (you know, it means he will be 5 soon), and he LOVES school. He loves people. All people.So come Tuesday, he won’t even look back and walk right in with a smile on his face! And me? Well, I will blink away the tears … and he will be graduating high school.

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Here’s a few more from our first annual Back to School session!

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The Trouble with Straw Cups

I am confused. I thought we sent a man to the moon like before I was born. And lord knows, that was a long time ago. I mean, before there was Google and cell phones, a man walked on the moon. We propelled a human being into outer space and he landed on the moon, took a walk and made it back to Earth. In one piece.

And yet, humankind cannot develop a straw cup that doesn’t leak. WTF. It isn’t rocket science, is it? And even if it is, we sent a man to the moon in the 1970s so this shouldn’t be an issue.

I collect straw cups because I am determined to find one the doesn’t leak. Most do. One has come close to not. And if you have found one that doesn’t, please, for the love of all things holy, or should we say leaky, please share with me!

The brand that probably ticks me off the most? Camelbak. I mean aren’t they like known for on-the-go drinking devices for the very active? And these cups are not cheap – $10 and up for a kids cup that leaks terribly is ridiculous. And when I say it leaks, I mean it freakin’ leaks.

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Case in point. Not even 15 minutes after I set it down for my 4 year old son, and he was miraculously sitting quietly during that time, this is what happens. Now, imagine that in your kid’s backpack or even worse, your purse.

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Camelbak = #fail

Munchkin. They are cheap and easy to find at Wal-Mart, Target and Babies r Us. But they inevitably leak at the top of the straw. A quick twist of the top usually sucks the liquid back in but if you don’t catch it in time it overflows like Mount St. Helen.

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And just forget the cheap festive cups with straws from Target. I always get convinced into getting them for the kids only to secretly throw them out a week later.

So far, the closet I have come to the perfect, leak proof straw cup is Contigo’s Striker cup. They are comparable in price to Camelbak but only seem to leak when they get too hot. Like when left the car. This summer, we have only had a couple days hot enough in WNY to cause them to leak in the house. They are also much easier to clean than Camelbak. However, there is a rubber ring seal in the tops that has come out in at least 3 of our cups and it is a pain in the rear to get it back in. And I suspect the hubs, not realizing you can fix them, has thrown away a top. I recently bought a Contigo Gizmo, and had high, high hopes for it based on its straw mechanism but we have already had several leaks.  So the Striker is still an imperfect number 1 here in the Born house.

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But seriously, we sent a man to the moon.