Monday, February 24, 2014

Proud Working Mom

As a working mom, I am proud of many things but one of the top three is that we have a home cooked meal for dinner at least five nights a week. Usually by Friday, I am spent and take out seems like a fantastic option but since I have the ability to spend Sunday's prepping for the upcoming week - things usually work out okay.

I am not one to create my own recipes and Pinterest has become a close personal friend of mine but the other night I was craving meatball subs and decided to take a stab at creating my own. I also had some random items in the fridge that I was looking to use and this is what I came up with:

Pesto Meatball Subs, serves 4 or 5; 
1 pound of ground meat ( I used
http://www.laurasleanbeef.com/products/ground-beef
but you could use anything from beef to turkey)
1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon of pesto sauce 
1 egg
Fresh Mozzarella
Tomato Sauce
Buns (we used whole wheat hot dog buns)

Preheat oven to 375*
Add the first 4 ingredients into a bowl and mix well, but don't over handle, and make into mini meatballs. I was able to make 14. 
Bake between 20 and 25 minutes. 
Meanwhile slice mozzarella into thin slices and place buns on another cookie sheet. 


Once the meatballs are done, place 3 in each bun and top with cheese. 
Broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts to your liking.
(Make sure this step has your undivided attention and you don't start playing magnets with your 15 month old or else you might have crispy buns)

Once out of the oven, top with sauce and serve! 

What I like about adding the sauce last is the bun doesn't become soggy and the flavor of the meatballs isn't lost. 

This meal can also, easily be made ahead, frozen, or adjusted to meet the needs of your eaters. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Little Valentine

About a year ago today, I went for my IVF transfer and walked out of St. Barnabas Hospital with a bun in the over. As magical as October 28, 2012 was, this day is a close second because it was the day that ALL of our hard work paid off. Every shot, every alcohol swap, every dollar was not a little embryo in my belly. Amazing.

Every day I think of how much our lives have changed and every now and then I have a "mom" moment when I think - "my parents did this for me too!" Yesterday afternoon, as snow (once again) barreled down on the North East, I found time to write out Valentines for Austin to bring to school. It was obviously something I had never done before, this being my first time sending a child, a child of mine, to a Valentines Day party and I realized my parents must have done the same for me. It is little things like this that really make you appreciate all the "behind the scenes" things parents do for their children without being asked.

Of course, filling out Valentines and getting him ready for a party is nothing compared to other life events and milestones, but it is still something that reminds me that parents are such unsung heroes.

The 2014 Sochi Olympics have been on our TV, mostly as background noise, all week and every time I see that Proctor and Gamble commercial, I stop and watch - frozen. I think of all Austin's stumbles, falls, trips, and tears.  Genetically and athletically, I don't know if he will find himself on slopes, skates, skis, or bobsleds in the future - but he will learn to run and bike and jump and climb - and he will fall. But as long as we are there to pick him back up, in every sense of the phrase, he will do fine. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Place in the Sun

Place in the Sun
I graduated from college with a degree in English (Creative Writing) and Communication Arts. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but to be honest – they were majors for undecided majors. My dad put it, I have Bachelor’s degrees in written and oral BS or as I put it, I can communicate with you effectively in English. No matter how you slice it, I graduated with a “now what?!” expression on my face and almost 8 years later, I am still looking for my place in the sun.

Now, I haven’t been floating around aimlessly since 2006. I got my Master’s in Higher Education which shed some light on a whole world of professions I didn't know existed and I haven’t been waiting tables, but I am ready to be excited about my job again. I thought I found my “career” at Ross. I was there for almost 5 years, but hit a wall when the time came to move up, over, or onward. Despite efforts to create positions to move laterally, it wasn't in my stars. I floated for a little and am now working at XX (name changed to protect the innocent). When I applied, and later accepted, the position – I think it was for the wrong reasons. For me, XX was education's equivalent to Google. They have a nice little benefits package, they are the makers of prestigious and well respected education tools, the office is right near AAA BBB, and I would be the international department. How sexy!! Wooed by all of that, I neglected to really read the job description (which didn't make much sense anyway).

For days I came to work not knowing what my role was and thinking my supervisors didn't know either. Who did I report to? What is my 30-60-90 plan? Why is everything in Excel? Is it 1999? Although there were a lot of “Elizabeth will do that’s”, they were all menial tasks that required an update to a spreadsheet, an email to be sent, or a meeting set up. Am I a secretary? A data entry specialist? A liaison between the international institutions and our website? The glitz and glamour I had created in my mind was quickly fading.
Additionally I was/am amazed by how antiquated the processes and practices are here. Aside from the fact that there is no web-based or other modern data management software, there are spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of contacts, numbers, enrollment goals, and facts. There is no rhyme or reason to this duplicity only that there is the Elizabeth's Spreadsheet, the Master Spreadsheet, Tom's Spreadsheet with Enrollment Numbers, and Spreadsheet 2010. All of which contain similar information but are  just different enough  that a new title must be created.  Equally frustrating is that if Kristen is looking at the Elizabeth's Spreadsheet on her computer and I would like to make updates, I have to kindly ask her to close it. I am the least tech savvy person and I have no interest in it in my personal life, but c’mon man! This place is supposed to be a leader in academics and they don’t even have a Student Relationship Management System.

AND because there isn't a website system, working from home is blasphemous. I asked about a flex schedule when I was hired or forgoing a lunch and you would have thought I asked if we could bring hookers to the holiday party.

All of this angst is further fueled by the hell that is New Jersey Transit. How this operation still runs is beyond me! Coming into the city for work, I am quasi at peace because, to be honest, to start the day – what is the difference between walking in the door at 9:00, 9:05, or 9:10 – especially when most of the office is relying on similar means of unreliable mass transit. It is getting home that kills me for the following reasons:

1.       Our office hours are 9-5:30 which means I have to bolt out of my office, down towards the subway and over to 34th/Penn Station to catch the 5:45pm home.
2.       Said 5:45 train never leaves on time so every night, our little conductor who thinks he is funny has to apologize for leaving late. Screw you, sir. I got here on time so you should leave on time.
3.       NJ Transit is expensive. When I was considering acceptable salary options, I had to ensure I would be earning enough to cover the cost of commuting and still “make” money. Getting to my office from Metuchen, NJ is somewhere in the range of $5000/year. Gross.
4.       Paying this much for commuting would not be as gross if NJ Transit didn’t suck.
5.       There is no rhyme or reason to the crappiness of NJ Transit. We are delayed in the snow, in the cold, in the heat, in the spring, in a Leap Year, during Passover, and the Christmas season. Delays on NJ Transit are not racist, prejudice, sexist, or biased. They are equal opportunity and daily.

I understand my gripes with work and NJ Transit are two unrelated issues but with their powers combined, I have truly been forced to reevaluate my life choices.  The Olympics are staring this week and as they interview the athletes, I am envious of the passion they have for their sport, their desire to practice and improve.  I want to have that mentality at my job. I want to shine when people as me what I do for a living.

Some math: I am commuting at least 3 hours a day with 8 or so more in an office. That is 11 hours a day allowing me a solid hour with Austin before and after work and an extra hour or so with DJ. Fifty-five hours a work week doing something I don’t love versus 15 hours spending time with people I do……