Sheet Pan Honey-Chipotle Chicken

So I’ve been searching the internet for some easy, tasty go to recipes. My last personal creation went over well at home, but not so much with the readership, as evidenced by the fact that only one person entered. Of course the one entry won the box of pasta. It was entered by my boss, who called it “Cheryl’s Green Stuff”. And since he doesn’t do social media, he printed the recipe and taped it to his wall (yes, like the old ladies in the esurance commercial – “That’s not how it works – that’s not how any of this works!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq_1l316ow8)

It was definitely time for me to find some other recipes to post and I found a site that has become my go to for anything and everything, sort of the way I used to use AllRecipes but better. It’s www.thekitchn.com and it’s awesome. Here’s a direct link to my new favorite chicken recipe http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-spicy-chipotle-chicken-and-sweet-potatoes-240426 . I made this for the first time 2 weeks ago and it is my family’s new favorite. My 12 year old wants me to make it twice a week and The Man told me it was the best chicken I’d cooked in years. Ahem?! No TF he didn’t… ok, so this is the tastiest, easiest chicken dish basically ever. I’d be remiss not to share with my own readers. The only thing I did different was that I marinated the veggies in a bag separate from the chicken. I cooked them on a separate sheet also, but the kids love sweet potatoes in any form and these were no exception. I just hope I don’t make it to often and they get tired of it, because it’s just that easy to create the marinade, drop the stuff in baggies at night, and then come home the next day and put it in the oven for 35 minutes. Enjoy!

Sibling Love

I started writing an article about the horrors of my recent move, then thought hey, this is a parenting website, I should get back to it. And I thought of a beautiful Facebook friend who recently gave birth to her second son so an article about fostering love and cooperation between siblings arose in my mind.

This was something I was surprised to find out now that my oldest are adults, that I was fairly good at. My sons seek out one another’s company without me trying to force them to spend time together as my own mother is prone to do. So I thought about some sibling do’s and don’ts. There are times when working it out amongst themselves will be appropriate but mostly it’s not, because that’s what you the parent should be doing especially when they’re younger.

Case in point, if your children are beating the shit out of one another, you should step in and separate them. Sorry mom, but leaving them to have at it just doesn’t work. When my sister and I were kids, we often got into nasty fist fights. I would scream across the apartment that I was killing my sister for messing up my stuff, and my mom should come get her if she didn’t want that to happen. Sometimes my mother would deign to actually enter the room at which point we would pause, fistfuls of one another’s shirts twisted in hands, fists cocked in the air and wait expectantly for intervention. At which point she’d say something like, “you two stop it now. Work it out between yourselves.” And go back to whatever we’d interrupted her from doing.

Parents, this does not work. At no point did we just let each other go, sit down and say things like, gee, if only I’d respected your justified feelings of anger after finding I’d drawn clown make up on your favorite doll with permanent marker, this fight never would have happened. No, the fight continued until (I, the older and usually ‘slighted’ party) was too tired to punch or felt a degree of satisfaction for exacting revenge. We did not grow up cooperating, hanging out together and with a strong bond of sisterly love, which I am sad about to this day because I love my sisters.

But it turns out that punching each other is something many siblings come by naturally. You have only to step in and repeatedly say, hitting your brother is not allowed. It’s tough when your little guy is the jerky one. As a toddler, my son T liked to walk up to his big brother and hit him with toys to get a reaction. Ok look I won’t lie, the first couple of times that happened and Sean jumped up and yelled, “Ow T! That really hurt!!” I covered my mouth with my hand and laughed. That was immature and of course, the little one continued. But it really wasn’t funny and I stepped in, and would take the offending toy away, say ‘No!’ and move the baby away. Surprisingly, this would upset Sean and he would run to hug his brother (who’s now crying because I told him no). After that I got a little smarter and paid better attention to my toddler so I could intervene before the hits took place and soon enough he realized that, one, hitting wasn’t tolerated and two, he didn’t want to make his brother cry anymore. As I type that sentence that wraps it all up I want to mention that it was exhausting and a lot of work and like SIX MONTHS before that break through actually happened. There were points in time during that 6 months where I just wanted to scream and tear my hair out. Or their hair out, except T still didn’t have any, so… take breaks. Keep reminding yourself that it takes a while for kids to learn to control basic impulses. Shit it takes adults a while to control some impulses, am I rite?

Don’t give up, be consistent and seriously, take breaks and leave those little hellions with someone you trust for a few hours to regain your sanity. Banging your sibling over the head is just human nature.

Helpful Hints for Tourists to NYC’s Financial District

 

 

Now you may be wondering what hints for tourists has to do with parenting and/or kids.  Initially I would’ve said you’re probably right, it has little to do with those things. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that you, visitor to my city, could be doing the kids whose parents work in this area a wonderful service by strictly adhering to these suggestions.  You will send parents home who are much less aggravated and frazzled at the end of the day. That means less yelling and strife in the homes of many a New York City child. So please read on with a thought for those poor, deserving children.

 

New York City’s Financial District encompasses a whole lot of cool things and places to visit, like the Stock Exchange, Bowling Green Park, the statue of the Charging Bull (and now the Fearless girl, although I’ve never actually laid eyes on her because of the ridiculous crowds). There’s the 9/11 Museum, reflecting pools, and a host of other ‘attractions’ if you will.  However it is worth remembering that this isn’t like a theme park where everything is geared toward the visitor experience. There are literally thousands of people who have to work here. Which means they also have to come out of their offices at times for things like meetings and lunch and commuting home. At which point you, the tourist, can potentially become a major source of stress.

  1. Don’t use street corners for anything other than crossing. When the walk sign turns green, WALK. Decide your next group move anywhere other than a street corner. Should you choose not to heed this advice, don’t be surprised if speeding New Yorkers whiz past you with churning elbows that could potentially jab you.
  2. Don’t ever buy from the first vendor.  If you happen to be in Zucotti Park (the site of the famous Occupy Wall Street protests,) let the vendors see you walking back and forth between them trying to decide. Doesn’t matter if it’s a t-shirt you want or a gyro. The competition will drive your ultimate final price down if a vendor thinks his competitors are willing to undercut him by a dollar.
  3. Be prepared to wait around in crowds. If you’re standing in a huge group inching up to the Bull at the rate of about 9 inches every other minute because you just have to take a picture holding the Bull’s balls, then you deserve to get jostled and stepped on and wait an hour in the heat with bus exhaust choking you. When I first started here I was so amazed at this phenomenon that I actually snapped a couple of pictures of people taking smiling pictures doing that. The novelty soon wore off for me though as I see it happens EVERY DAMN DAY AROUND THE CLOCK. What the hell people?
  4. Never stop short and look up. Never. If you’re walking down Broadway at a brisk pace and you stop suddenly and look up, there’s a 92% chance that someone is going to crash into you. Now if it’s another tourist that walks into you, you’ll be alright, a simple “oops, sorry” should suffice. However, if it’s a native New Yorker with somewhere to be, your physical safety could be in danger. And now you can’t say you haven’t been warned. Which finally brings me to the last thing:
  5. Just keep moving. Ideally you’ll make your plans of where you’re going when before you get off the train. But if you’re going to play it by ear, find a spot that is not the middle of the sidewalk being traversed by speeding New Yorkers. Seriously, give us a break, get out of the way. We have meetings to go to, lunch to pick up and ultimately a train or bus to catch. Thanks for coming and spending your tourist dollars, enjoy your stay and please get the hell out of the way.
All Photos from my Instagram account

 

Brain Fog

I’ve got nothing right now people. I had the first third of about 7 different articles over the weekend, and this crappy Monday has sucked it all out of my head, sorry. I’m planning a move this very week and I’ve packed approximately no boxes of anything. Everyone I live with is male. I live with males ranging in age from 12 to 45 so feel my pain right now. I am grateful that my 20 year old took off to stay with a friend in New Jersey this weekend and dropped his little brother off at my sisters house. It was nice to sit and stare at the wall and then the tv without anyone asking me for anything. (Except the dogs of course and thankfully, they can’t talk and are epic cuddlers).

I had planned to write the second half of that pet article and then this whole thing on religion (or the lack thereof). But I hadn’t been alone in a room for that many hours in such a long time that I wound up not moving very much at all. Like a meditating statue or something. I just gathered my thoughts and had the idea to write all of those articles today. Didn’t happen. So my apologies if you were looking forward to my witty observations on smelly preteen boys or dinners that could not be quick enough. I’ll get back at it very soon. Maybe after I pack a box or two. In the meantime, here’s an adorable picture of my youngest in a museum gift shop pretending to be bitten by a stuffed dinosaur. You’re welcome.

 

Glad I’m Not A New Parent In 2017

I’ve always loved parenting magazines. Back in those ancient times when you actually had to buy them (you could have them delivered via a subscription too!) I used to consume them because at 21, I felt like I knew how to do absolutely nothing, except for love my baby. Then I found out even that would be hard some days. Fast forward to today’s social media experience – a gazillion parenting advice online websites,blogs, vlogs and pages. I like to read lots of their articles and apparently there’s a ‘take’ on everything.

But oh the pressures of being a mom of a young child today. There’s all these different parenting styles that have names, and followers of one style judge and look down on followers of others. In the strange flip to there’s no really wrong way to parent, there’s no right way either. And there are lots of articles by moms who apparently give no fucks and want anyone out there who also gives no fucks (but only their mutual types of fucks) to commiserate with them and feel superior to the moms who, well give a fuck?

I’m honestly having a tough time keeping up. Some articles do still give out advice. Along the lines of hey moms, put your phones down for a minute and actually pay attention to your kids. This advice brings out a bunch of moms who yell, who needs to be told that? That’s terrible parenting! You read and you get the feeling like nothing is common sense anymore.  I just read an article that said something along the lines of, our parents didn’t tell us how hard parenting would be just so they could get grand kids. Why are people nowadays pumping out kids anyway? If I see another mommy needs wine meme…

Look, parenting isn’t for everyone and being that in America, teen pregnancy rates are at an all time low (as per the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/index.htm ), and access to birth control hasn’t yet been significantly curtailed by the Orange Cheeto of Death, let’s go on the assumption that most women who give birth want to become mothers. Here’s my own personal list of things that are undoubtedly going to happen along with a few words of advice:

  1. Babies cry and there are uncountable ways to get them to stop. Every mom out there has some advice for you. Ask people you like, go online and research and then figure out what works for you and then do it and give out advice to the next mom that comes along in hopes that your trick works for her. No one should judge you as long as you aren’t leaving the baby unattended or putting a pillow over it’s face. Or drugging it. You know, that kind of stuff.
  2. Children need to be fed, potty training needs to be done, your child should receive some type of education and sometimes any or all of this is going to be way more difficult than you ever thought it was because poop is being smeared, or curse words are flying (from them, the children). Maybe things are being thrown or thrown up. Refer back to item 1 for solutions.
  3. Consistency is key. In anything you ever do at any stage of a child’s life, no matter how hard (and believe me if you’re a parent of a strong willed child you know that sounds so much easier than it actually is!) But consistency is everything. Well love, too, if they’re positive you love them, you’re ahead of the game.

Ok, I have oversimplified here a bit. But the needs of moms to feel superior to some other moms isn’t getting our society anywhere. It’s divisive and doesn’t address the fact that most of us are facing most of the same parenting challenges. Times are changing and there are new and ever better ways to cope with these challenges. If you care enough to be searching for solutions or ideas, you can rest assured that unless they are being wildly mistreated or feel completely insecure, it can be hard to completely fuck up a human and you’re most likely not going to.

Take a deep breath, find moms who you can rock with and try not to judge the ones you can’t. They may have an idea you’d wish you’d heard of. You made it through the 80’s and 90’s and you’re just fine, your kids will be fine too.

Adventures in Parenting: Losing Someone Else’s Kid

Bet that title got your attention! In an effort to continue writing even when my life is in turmoil and I don’t feel like writing, I’ve decided to tell stories from my adventures in parenting. I have been a parent for over 23 years now, so I have years and years worth of hilarious shit to relay. In today’s installment, I’ll be relating the story of how I lost someone else’s kid. A four year old, in Brooklyn, New York. My middle son had two friends growing up that he was extremely close to. At various points in their childhood, these two boys lived with us so I’ll refer to them in today’s terms as ‘alternate sons’.  They loved our big, noisy apartment and my house was basically the hang out spot for little boys for years. That meant that at whatever age they were, I had 3 boys of the same age in my home very often, and of course we had to call them the three musketeers. One of them, Aru, was much shorter and younger looking than the rest (when he was 6 he was still able to pass for three. We took him into the movies free for years.) He lived down the block and around the corner from us. And he was at our house every single weekend.

One Saturday when the three musketeers were four years old,  I got a call from his mom. She nonchalantly said “Hi”. I said “Hi. What’s up?” she asked me, “Where’s Aru?” I said in the back with the boys playing. You wanna talk to him?” She responded, “Are you sure?” Now I’m confused.

Me: “Am I sure? Yeah why wouldn’t I be?”

Her: “Can you just go check…”

Me: “Sure, hold on a sec”. I walk to the back of the house, calling ‘Aru!’ as I went. I reached the boys room and there are only 2 boys sitting on the floor. “Where’s Aru?!” I ask, starting to feel a fluttery feeling in my stomach. One boy says, “I don’t know.” Another boy says, “In the bathroom, I think.” I checked the bathroom before so I knew he wasn’t there. My hands were sweaty and shaking when I pick the phone back up, because I had just brought all the boys in from playing out front maybe 10 minutes earlier.

Her: “Can’t find him?”

Me: “No!”

Her: “That’s because he’s sitting here with me.”

Me: “WHAT??? How? Why?”

Her: “I don’t know he just rang the bell a couple of minutes ago. His dad is really upset and doesn’t want me to let him go back over there for a while.”

Me: “Uh, I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want me watching him either since I apparently lost him! I am soooooo sooooo sorry! I don’t know how this happened!” I was feeling like I was going to throw up as I apologized over and over. She assured me she knew I was a good mother and that this type of thing had never happened before. And she did keep him home for about two weeks until his constant begging and crying to be with us finally frayed her last nerve and she brought him back. I was hesitant to take him though. I knew I’d be putting the chain on the door the whole time he was there just for good measure, but I wanted to know what prompted him to go home in the first place. Why if he wanted to be at our house so bad had he left that day? I needed to have a talk with him before he could spend the night again. So he came over and I called him into the kitchen to talk.

Me: “I’m really curious why you decided to leave and go home that day that you left. That can never happen again, that was very dangerous.Why would you do that?”

Him: “I forgot to bring the ball when we came inside, so I went back down to get it. But then the door shut behind me and I couldn’t get it back open.”

Me: “Why didn’t you ring the bell here so we would let you in?”

Him: “I tried and tried but I couldn’t reach it. But I knew I could reach Nikita’s [his mother] bell so I just walked around the corner and rang her bell. I wasn’t scared.” This kid. Very calculating, impossible to scare or fluster even at four years old. He assured me that it would not happen again because now he knew he could get locked out and not be able to reach the bell. “Can I go play now?”

I nodded and just had no words. I just sat there shaking my head over and over and feeling really lucky. Talk about dodging a bullet!

Name This Recipe!

 

Hey peeps, guess what? I came up with a brand new recipe last night! It’s pretty crazy looking, I mean it’s green! Definitely not used to shrimp and sauce being green and it was quite an unexpected result. But if you grimace at the ingredient list (or the picture for that matter,) rest assured, it was delicious! My boys claim that they are ready to start trying new foods no matter what they look like, so I gave them plates filled with orange pasta and green shrimp. I got a couple of crazy looks from them but I said, really, it’s delicious, you’re going to be super surprised. And they were. They both had seconds. Even the man ate it (shocker!) I just don’t know what to call it. So I’m doing my first real contest. Come up with a name for my recipe and I’ll send you a box of Barilla Veggie Penne! (Ok, I know, it’s not like an Amazon gift card or new car, but it’s free food – who doesn’t like free food?!) It’s amazing, the texture and taste are so much better than those dry ass wheat pastas! (No offense if you like those though, I mean, someone likes them.) To win you have to 1. Drop the name of the recipe in the comments on Urban Mommys Facebook link to this article and 2. Share it on your wall. That’s it, I’ll read all the entries, decide which name I like best and message you for your address.

 

Ingredients:

  1. One box of Barilla Veggie Penne
  2. One pound bag of frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled (sorry Jamie!)
  3. Half a stick of butter
  4. 1/3 cup of veggie broth
  5. 5 ounces of Cabernet (any brand will do)
  6. Half a bag of fresh spinach (they’re like 5 ounces right?)
  7. 3 heaping tablespoons of sour cream
  8. a few shakes of Parmesan cheese
  9. Salt, Pepper, dried Parsley

Over medium heat, melt the butter and throw all the shrimp in. Season with the salt, pepper and dried parsley. I usually just season one side of the shrimp let it cook seasoned side up for about 5 minutes, then flip them for another 2-3 minutes. Next add the broth, the wine, the sour cream and the parmesan and stir to combine. When all is combined, add the spinach and cook for about 3 more minutes until the spinach is completely wilted. It’s the combination of the spinach and the Cabernet that makes the sauce green. Trust me, all these things go together surprisingly well. Let me know how yours comes out!

 

 

Meet the (Substitute) Parents

I follow and read a lot of parenting sites/magazines. As I read many of the articles, I have come to believe we have a shortage of grandparents in this country. Every parent writer seems to be reinventing the wheel at every turn. Where are their parents? Have these younger parents moved too far to call mom and get advice? Are they having kids when their parents are too old to even give sound advice? I have no idea but it’s clear to me that young parents in this country need some substitute parents.

I’m not talking about medical break through’s, or scientific discoveries that help us to know more about nutrition and child health, like what they should eat when, etc. I’m talking about good old, old fashioned grandparent help. Now I know there are lots of debates around styles of parenting and even the evolution of styles is because of tireless research by diligent clinicians on how children’s psyches are affected by various behaviors parents engage in. It’s great, I love it. I’m talking about your run of the mill parenting stuff that seems to (according to lots of the articles I’m reading) be non-existent. Seriously, someone raised you people, right? When they took you to a supermarket, how did they keep you from running wild, screaming through the aisles? Did they have to beat and embarrass you, did they just let you run wild, did they not have any tricks or techniques you could borrow from?

Seriously, the subject of some articles just baffle me. You needed an entire article to ask about how often to change bed sheets or to tell us why we shouldn’t be annoyed by your running, screaming 5 year old in Target because you’re just too tired to parent that day? Or having to pretend to enjoy spending time with your kids? Whaaaa? Do you people need substitute parents? If so, I volunteer. Seriously, hit me up in the comment section or on Facebook and ask me how to keep your five year old from running like a wild animal through Target, annoying the shit out of other shoppers. I have some ideas and some suggestions that with a lot of time and patience (i.e. you will be tired and often won’t get shit done) that have worked. And mommy shamers (and why the hell is that even a thing), don’t come on here like, oh you think you’re so much better than me because you had an easy kid? You think you have all the answers? Because no and no. But I do know many, many people with well behaved, polite children and they all do many similar things to achieve these results.

A lot of the stuff my mom did and told me are completely obsolete and annoying in this technology ridden time, I get that too. But whether it’s screen time or any type of play time, call your parent and ask them how they did it. Call your aunt or uncle. Hell, some of you parents aren’t even that old, so it’s not like your parents are in their 70’s and their advice is so obsolete as to be completely useless. And if you can’t call them for whatever reason, like I said, hit me up, I’ve got plenty more advice for you. And if you’re a mom with a bunch of well behaved kids, drop a comment with your best tip on how to develop polite kids.

DaddyOFive Now DaddyOThree

  So those crappy parents I wrote about, Mike and Heather Martin, the YouTubers behind DaddyOFive? Now you can call him DaddyOThree because he lost custody of his biological kids to their mom. Read about it here on Scary Mommy a website I like (don’t want to link to the YouTube channel, uh-uh):  http://www.scarymommy.com/daddyofive-loses-custody-of-two-children/ . Funny how quick attitudes can go from, “you’re a hater because you don’t make money on YouTube like we do” to, “We’re so sorry and we really desire change.” Whatever. Like a person who is remorseless and only sorry when they’re caught and then made to suffer consequences, these people are only sorry for themselves and the loss of six figures. Oh I didn’t mention that mean pranks was netting them over $100,000 a year? No need to get up and go to work, just scare the shit out of the kids and chill at home. Please, please let these people (and any others like them) go the way of the dodo. Mean isn’t funny. It’s just mean. Unfortunately though,  until our society stops rewarding this behavior, I fear we’ll see more of this. I hope it doesn’t become a new norm like alternative facts, ugh.

Paging DaddyOFive Subscribers

So if you follow any parenting forums you’ve heard of the controversy around a YouTube Channel called Daddy of Five where parents prank their kids for laughs, except many of the pranks are downright mean and good parents across the country are up in arms over this potentially abusive situation. I read a lot of comment sections to get a feel for if there is a consensus on judgement on any situation that gets media scrutiny and parents seem really upset whether or not they agree that this is actual state intervention is necessary in this case. So since there seemed to be a consensus that these were horrible people that deserved at the very least to be banned from YouTube, I had to wonder, well who are their subscribers that watch this stuff and find it funny?

Let me start by saying when I saw the name of the channel pop up in an article, I recognized it. I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it though. As I clicked on an embedded video that showed a particularly horrible ‘prank’, Khev said, “Oh that’s Daddy of Five. I follow them, remember I showed you a video once.” It dawned on me then that most of Daddy of Five’s subscribers are probably mostly kids and teens. Which, when you think about it, is a little disappointing that kids are watching it and thinking, ok, this is something some families do for fun and it’s ok. It’s not ok to scare your kids into tears and have them slap the shit out of each other for fun. I certainly didn’t understand why my son would want to watch it so we talked.

“Why the hell do you want to spend limited screen time watching crap like this?”

“Because, it’s funny. A lot of my friends follow them. The pranks are all in good fun.” (Here I point to screen shots of the worst ‘pranks’.)

“Oh well yeah, except for that one. And that one. And that one. They’re not all that bad though.” (Insert ‘sigh’ here.)

“Would you want those things done to you? Would it be hilarious if I let your brother slap you in the face so hard it made you cry for a prank video that I then put on YouTube so thousands of people could laugh at you?”

“No!” (Duh, right?)

“These people are crappy parents. And you and your friends by following them, actively encourage them to continue these mean ‘pranks’. It says something about the kind of person you are, subscribing to these people, and it’s not good. Some of those videos made me feel uncomfortable and really bad for those kids.”

“Me too. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I hadn’t really thought about it at all.”

Later on that day he told me he’d unsubscribed, which was good but really I want him to think about why he subscribes to a particular channel and what would be the kind of thing that would make him unsubscribe. One lesson down, two hundred gazillion to go.