Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If I Were a Boy

I've been out of work now for nearly two years. It's almost unbelievable. Two.Years. I can hardly get the words out because I never thought this would be. When I quit my job a few months before my son was born, I thought, this is only temporary; I will find another great job, one that pays the bills, in no time. I applied for a job and was interviewed when my son was 6 weeks old. Didn't get it. Sent in a resume for another job, incidentally, the next available job in this area, when my son was around a year old. Never heard back from them. 

A couple of months ago, I applied for a position I was clearly overqualified for, and never heard back. A month ago, I noticed the job was reposted, so I applied again. This time, I got an interview. They were seemingly incredulous that I would even be interested in a one day a week, barely more than minimum wage job. "You do know this is a technician job, right?" "You do have a Ph.D., right?"


Oh, I wanted this job so bad. It was perfect for me. Get me out of the house, doing what I love, albeit being paid barely enough to afford the trip to work, but I would've done it. I suppose its clear at this point that I didn't get the job. A tentative PRN position at the same facility has been presented to me, but daycare and preschool are not PRN, so the odds of that working out are slim to none too.

It's very hard for me to balance my desire to be with my children and my desire to work outside of the home. Why does it feel wrong, as a mother, to want things for yourself? To want time for yourself? It shouldn't. But it does.

And the worst part, after my husband left for work today, my 4 year old daughter asked me, "Did Daddy go to work?" I said, "Yes, remember? He just told you goodbye." She replied, "If you were a boy, you could go to work too."


I spent the next 10 minutes explaining how boys and girls, mommies and daddies go to work. Didn't she remember when Mommy used to go to work and she would go to the babysitters? Guess not.

Literally, I have been thinking about this all day. I don't want her to think that my work is more important than my family, but I also don't want her to think that the reason I stay at home and Daddy goes to work has to do with gender roles. I'm stuck.

Any advice? Please?

*calls up job search engine*

- MortarBoredMom

Monday, July 2, 2012

An Itch You Can Scratch.

You may or may not be familiar with my bouts of poison ivy earlier this spring (if you follow me on Twitter, you are probably tired of hearing about it). Anyway, a cortisone shot (which nearly killed me, thank you, Nurse Ratched) and two rounds of prednisone later, it cleared up, only to be replaced by another weird rash on my arms and legs that started mid-May. In the nearly two months I have had this rash, I have tried every prescription (hydrocortisone, topical steroid cream), nonprescription (calamine lotion, Fungicure, IvyDry, moisturizer), and homemade (baking soda paste, oatmeal scrub) remedy to get rid of it to no avail. I finally broke down and made an appointment with a dermatologist. Mainly because I knew if I went back to the family physician, he would just refer me out anyway.

This particular dermatologist is in a different time zone, which makes scheduling a little tricky, but I managed to get in as one of the first appointments of the day. Still had to wait 45 minutes before I was called back, so I'm glad I got in early! I described the problem to the nurses. The doctor came in soon after, took one look at me, and gave me his diagnosis: Nummular Neurodermatitis or Nummular Eczema. I've never heard of it before, but he said I have a classic case. He couldnt pinpoint the cause, but it may have been triggered by my allergic reaction to the poison ivy. Here are three reasons why this condition sucks:

1) There is no cure. It can recur at any time. Forever.
2) Triggers can be stress (um, hello, type A perfectionist with perpetual stress about everything here), hot tubs (damnit!!), hot showers (double damnit!!), or swimming (yeah, on a lake).
3) It is a rare condition that most often occurs in...wait for it...elderly men.

Yep, that is awesome. I have a chronic skin condition most often found in men over 60. Lucky me. The doctor made sure to stress this point, and about how he wants to do a recheck in two months because I am not in the "typical age range" for this condition. Maybe by then I'll have some age spots he can take a look at too.

(Seriously though, I am relieved to finally know what is going on, and that in the grand scheme of life and skin ailments, it is not serious.)

Then to top off the day, I come home to a vomiting 4 yo. Sooooo, today has been fun. How has yours been?

- MortarBored Mom 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blackberry Gelato - A Year in the Making

They say nothing worth having comes easy. While I'm sure whoever coined this phrase was talking about some profound concept like love or peace or wisdom, I assure you, it is quite applicable to homemade gelato. If you read yesterday's post, you already know that 5 cups of blackberries have been impatiently awaiting their frozen transformation.

The first step of the process, other than the gathering or purchasing of berries, is to purée and then strain the berries to remove all of the seeds. According to the recipe, 4 cups of berries would yield approximately 2 cups of strained purée. I used all @5 cups, just to be safe. After running the berries through the food processor, I strained a little at a time through a fine mesh strainer. 

Just keep straining, just keep straining...
This process is pretty tedious and my wrist got a little fatigued from holding the strainer. I'm sure there is an easier way to do this, but I was constrained by time, as Sesame Street was dangerously close to ending. Anyway, straining the seeds out took about 20 minutes, after which I discovered that I only had 1.5 cups of purée. *facepalm*
Close enough

I ran outside and quickly picked about half a cup of berries from our yard and repeated the process. 1.75 cups. Ugh! So I put the seeds back in the strainer and mashed the crap out of them until I had just about 2 cups. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I set it in the refrigerator and went to pick my daughter up from summer camp.

The next step of the process involves whisking 6 egg yolks together and combining them with sugar and half and half that had been heated up and combined on the stove. I honestly cannot remember the last time I separated eggs. So 9 eggs later, I had 6 egg yolks ready to go. I managed to combine them with the sugar mixture without creating scrabbled eggs, and while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, I waited for the mixture to thicken and reach 180 degrees.

Don't want scrambled eggs...
It is important now to remind you that I have 2 small children who are literally running circles around me in the kitchen. After the mixture comes up to temperature, heavy cream, powdered milk, and more half and half are added to the pot. I had already measured them out and had them placed beside the stove on the counter ready to go. Then this happened:
Did I do that?
That mess is probably 1/8 of my cup of heavy cream, which the little one had discovered was in his reach and therefore irresistible. Lesson learned. The girl starts crying because the milk landed on her foot. The boy is crying because the milk is all over his face and head. And I'm still stirring and trying to make sure I don't scramble the eggs in the pot, so the milk has to stay. Suck it up kids, Mommy is on a mission. Hastily and with one hand, I re-measure the heavy cream, toss the rest of the ingredients in the pot, and then switch to clean up mode while the pot sits.
Just keep straining, just keep straining...
Ten minutes later, floor is clean, counter is clean, boy's hair is clean, and the pot is ready to be strained. Yep, more straining. This time I set the strainer on top of the bowl, which was much easier. After this mixture was strained, I added the 2 cups of blackberry purée that I literally bled for, and some vanilla. The recipe called for 2 drops of red food coloring to enhance the color, but I didn't see the point of that, so I left it out. Quick taste test = yum. Now the bowl has to sit in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours before it can be put in the ice cream maker.

The above portion of this point was written before this last step. Based on the time I have spent thus far,  and the fact that this process has been kind of a pain in the butt, I feel confident saying that unless this gelato is AH.MAZING, I will not be making it again. Time will tell...
Ready to be chilled.
Fast forward 5.5 hours. The directions say 6 hours, but I couldn't wait any longer. Got the cooled mix out of the refrigerator, remembered to put the frozen cylinder in the ice cream maker ( a whole 'nother story), and poured it in. Fingers crossed...20 minutes later.

Oooooohhhh...heaven in an ice cream maker. Thick and smooth and delicious! I transferred it to another container so it could firm up in the freezer for a while, but I could only wait 10 minutes. So, it was still very soft, but it was, in fact, ah.mazing.

Will I make it again? It was A LOT of work and I still have some other blackberry recipes I want to try. But you know what they say about what's worth having...

- MortarBored Mom

*If you would like to make this recipe, and are somewhat of a glutton for punishment, here is the link to the recipe book for my ice cream maker. I used the raspberry gelato recipe as a guide.*

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Blackberry - It's Not Just a Smartphone Anymore

There are a bazillion plants that grow wild in our neighborhood, but my most favorite is definitely the blackberry bush. They are everywhere around here. And as luck would have it, we are entering the peak season for picking! Last year, some unfortunate timing of county roadside scalping destroyed my hopes of a fruitful blackberry season, but not this year! I have had my heart set on some blackberry gelato for what seems like an eternity, and this year, it is literally in my grasp!

I have been noticing more and more ripe berries popping up, so yesterday, the whole family got in on the berry-picking act. I collected the berries from the bushes in our yard, then we loaded up in the Gator and drove around, picking from the unclaimed blackberry bushes around our sparsely-populated and heavily-wooded neighborhood.

<------ This bush grow right below the stairs beside our house. Barely had to break a sweat!

After less than an hour of picking, we had gathered nearly 5 cups of blackberries - ready to be transformed into a sweet, frozen treat. Probably would've had more if my bucket holder/helper didn't check so often to "make sure they are good." :)

This gelato making is going down TOMORROW, and I'll be sure to let you know how it went. The last time I had gelato was over 5 years ago in Germany, and it set the bar pretty high for future indulgences. Hopefully by tomorrow night, I will be sitting on my couch, chatting up some cloth diapers on Twitter, and enjoying my sweet reward.

Stay tuned!

- MortarBored Mom

Monday, May 7, 2012

Didn't See That Coming

The boy and the girl and I had been playing outside for about an hour. That's a big deal for me for several reasons: 1) it's hot and I don't like hot, 2) there are bugs and I don't like bugs, and 3) it smells and it makes me smell, and I don't like to smell. But my kids like to play outside, so I oblige.

I don't even know what prompted me to ask, maybe walking around outside at 11 AM on a Monday with nothing to do lends itself to random thoughts, but I innocently asked,

"Do you like being home with Mommy better or being at school with your friends better?"

DD - "I like being at home with you."

Me - "Really? I thought you were going to say you would rather play at school."

DD - "No, I like being at home because that's where you are."

I never would have predicted that answer. I immediately teared up and thanked her. I'm sure she didn't know why.

A day at home with me doesn't seem all that special. We eat breakfast, then the kids play around while I drink coffee and waste time on the Internet. We might go outside if the weather is nice. We might play downstairs for a while. Run off some energy before lunch. Usually the girl watches some TV while her brother takes his afternoon nap. I internet some more. Brother wakes up from his nap, we play, eat dinner, then start winding down for a bath and bed.

A day with me has its challenges. I lose my temper too much. I am impatient. I yell. More often than not, by 10:00, I am praying for the strength and patience to make it through the day. By the end of the day, I am physically and emotionally spent. I feel guilty by how glad I am when the kids are finally in bed, and I can sink onto the couch and relax.

But somehow, that's not how my daughter sees it. As much as she loves school and playing with her friends, she likes being at home more. As inept as I see myself as a mother, she still would rather be with me. The whole scenario just illustrates how much my confidence as a mother has plummeted lately; that I was sure I already knew the answer to the "innocent" question I posed.

My daughter loves me, and loves being with me. I didn't even know I needed to hear her say it, but I guess I did. How did she know?

- MortarBored Mom

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Tao of Britney

Three posts into this blog may be a bit soon to reveal one of my biggest secrets, but you know what they say: the truth shall set you free. So here goes.

I love Britney Spears. Wait, wait, wait! Before you write me off so soon, let me qualify that. I'm not talking about early Britney, with the pig tails and hyper-nasality. And I'm not talking about trashy, post-divorce Britney, with the barely-there get-ups and overly autotuned tracks. I'm talking about Britney circa 2001, when she started singing about real shit. Now I know she doesn't write her own songs, but when I first heard her sing "Overprotected," I could tell she felt those lyrics as if she did. She was tired of being told how to live her life. What to think. How to feel. She was ready to make her own choices, her own mistakes.

"What am I to do with my life?
(You will find it out don't worry)
How am I supposed to know what's right?
(You just gotta do it your way)

Britney Spears may not have written those lyrics, but I probably could have. Back in 2001, and this very day. In 2001, I was struggling with the big decision - What do I do with my life? Do I try to find a job after graduation? Do I apply to grad school? Do I move back home and live off my mom until she forces me to make a choice? (thanks Mom!)

"What am I to do with my life?"

Now I struggle with the big decision - Am I making the right choice? Should I be looking harder for work? Did I make a mistake quitting my job? Am I cut out to be a stay-at-home mom or are my children suffering because of my short-comings? What was the point of all that time and work in school?

"How am I supposed to know what's right?"

I know I don't have to make any decisions today, or even tomorrow. But someday soon. Those decisions will affect so many other aspects of my life, it makes my head spin. The thing about these kind of big decisions is that you can't really ask for advice. Well you can, but it has to be your decision, your choice, because you are the one who has to live with the consequences.

"You just gotta do it your way."

Touche Britney. Touche.

On a not entirely unrelated endnote, I have started running again. How is that not totally unrelated, you ask? Well in case you haven't seen the "Overprotected" video, Britney looks pretty kick ass in it, and I'm sure she didn't get that way from sitting around drinking beer and eating ice cream.

So for this week's Flashback Friday moment, here are before and after pictures of me running a 5K back in 2009. In typical Kelly screw-up fashion, I missed the end (yep, don't ask) and ran an extra half mile. Good times.

Who can guess
which is before and
which is after?

Ok so there it is. My confession. I heart Britney Spears. Don't judge me. And don't judge her. That was my girl.

- MortarBored Mom

Friday, April 27, 2012

Awkward Silence

You may have noticed that after my critically-acclaimed (at *least* 10 people have told me they enjoyed it, so there!) first post, there has been a bit of a lull over here at MortarBored Mom.  As it turns out, it's a lot harder to write about myself and my life than I originally thought. Ask anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes, and they will tell you that I have no problem talking about myself. I come from a long line (my mother) of talkers, so I come by it honest, but I have found writing about myself to be a different beast.

What if what I write about isn't interesting? What if I'm not interesting? Maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

I bounced those thoughts around for a week or so, and really thought about putting this on the table for a while. For a long while.

But then I had another thought. I didn't start this blog to become a blogging goddess, amassing thousands of followers and giving keynote speeches at international conventions. No, I started this blog for me. Because I needed an outlet. I needed to say things that maybe I wouldn't have the guts to say aloud, afraid if I said these things, there would be no one to hear me; no one to care, to understand, to commiserate. Maybe there isn't. But maybe, just maybe, you are there. And if you're not now, maybe you will be. And maybe I'll say something that you've been wanting to say, but didn't know how. Or maybe you will think I'm a raving lunatic. Or maybe you will think that I really like the word "maybe." Anyway...

For your viewing pleasure, as I henceforth deem Fridays as Flashback Fridays, here is a picture of me from exactly 4 years ago, 7 months pregnant with my daughter. Enjoy.

See you soon. Probably. All right, all right. I'll be here. TTFN.

- MortarBored Mom

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the Beginning, There was Kindergarten Graduation.

You know how the Cullen kids made that giant wall hanging of all their graduation caps?  Granted I'm nowhere close to that because I'm not immortal and haven't graduated high school 20 times, but I've accumulated my fair share.

Kindergarten graduation - I guess it's really more for the parents than the kids. I mean, does this face look like I had any idea what was going on?

I suppose it is momentous, the transition to 1st grade and classes that don't involve coloring and juice...

Fast forward 12 years to my high school graduation. I was thrilled to be graduating, but terrified of leaving my friends and family and going to college. Funny now to think of how much I didn't want to leave home.

Four years later, I graduated from college after changing my major 7 times. I ended up picking a major based on how many credits it required, and calculating how I could manage to still graduate on time. I had no intention of pursuing a career in the field.

One year later, I enrolled in graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in the same field I thought I had no interest in. Turns out, I kinda love it. Four years later, the same school that gave me my undergraduate diploma gave me another one because as it also turns out, I'm kinda good at it. I was ready to conquer the world.

That was 2006. Six years, 1 husband, and 2 kids, no job later, it sometimes feels like all of those graduation caps were for naught. My diplomas, simply wall hangings. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste, well I believe it. I live it.

So...welcome! I'll be around for a while because currently, I've got nowhere else to be. If you're not too busy with your life, please feel free to stop by and hear me blab about mine.

- MortarBored Mom