Mastering Mommy Brain » A place for moms to realize they are not alone in their crazy lives and master their mommy brain!

Masthead header

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Orange ChickenDuring the fall, the crock pot seems to be more of a staple in my cooking rotation. I always have a hard time finding recipes where the meat doesn’t fall apart, the chicken isn’t too dry, and the food looks appetizing and not like a bowl full of mush, because there is no way I can convince my kids to eat mushy nonsense. I feel like the crock pot is coming more important than ever during the nights where I am managing the “witching hour” and trying to keep 2 kids happy. On the weekends, we also have sports games, birthday parties, and all of that fun stuff. I am doing anything I can to make dinner easier – and between the crock pot and freezer meals, things are getting pretty good!  Today’s recipe for Orange Chicken is a keeper. The flavors are great, the chicken is moist (ew, I so hate that word, but sometimes you have to use it…), and it is low on the mush factor. Even better – it can go in the freezer. We made the dish – served half for dinner (with a lunch serving of leftovers for mama), and put the other half in the freezer. What could be better than that?!

Crock Pot Orange Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: entrée
 

Ingredients
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ¾ cup barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • ⅔ cup orange juice
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated ginger root
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions
  1. Place flour in a large bag. Add the chicken, and shake to coat. Transfer to the crock pot.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  3. To freeze: cool chicken mixture, and freeze in a freezer-friendly container. To use, thaw in refrigerator overnight. Microwave until heated through.

Enjoy!

Celebrating Childhood Toys – Cabbage Patch Kids 30th Anniversary

Disclosure: Information on Cabbage Patch Kids 30th Anniversary provided by JAKKS Pacific

Did you have that toy growing up….the one that you couldn’t live without? The one that you took with you everywhere? The one that you had at bedtime and checked for when you first woke up? For me that toy was the Cabbage Patch doll.  The chubby cheeks, the yarn hair,and that birth certificate saying that doll was all yours.  To say it mildly, I was obsessed with Cabbage Patch Kids from the moment they came out…. all 7, yes 7, of them pretty much went with me everywhere I wanted to go.My poor mother had to do a “doll count” every time we went places!

The summer after my daughter had turned one, we went to my parents beach house. They had converted their porch to a playroom, and the toys from our childhood were all there to be enjoyed by my kids, as well as my nieces. Watching my daughter play with the dolls from my childhood was like a glimpse to 30 years ago, when I was enjoying those same dolls:)

Cabbage Patch Kids 30th Anniversary

My daughter can be pretty convincing, because she talked grandma into letting 2 of the 7 dolls come home with us for a “vacation.” The vacation turned into forever…and I have to say, it was a good thing, because that biotch Sandy (of Hurricane Sandy fame, took the other 5 dolls off to Toy Heaven. My daughter is loving her 2 dolls of my past, but I am anxious to add to her little CPK family:)

With the Cabbage Patch Kids 30th anniversary, the iconic toy brand, JAKKS Pacific will introduce several new CPK Products…I am looking forward to checking these out for this years Christmas gifts!

Cabbage Patch Kids® Celebration ‘Kids (SRP $34.99, Ages 3+).  Dressed in fun, playful, party themed fashions with brightly colored hair streaks, the ‘Kids™ are ready to party!

This fall, Cabbage Patch Kids® Babies (SRP $24.99, Ages 3+) come with either a magic disappearing-milk bottle or food bowl with spoon, removable bib and fashion. Of course, each baby has a unique name, Adoption Papers® and Birth Certificate®. The original baby-powder scent of Cabbage Patch Kids® can bring memorable smiles for generations.

The Cabbage Patch Kids® Cuties (SRP $9.99, Ages 3+) are even cuddlier this fall!  The adorable Cuties come in a variety of precious animal themes including bear, bunny and kitty with a new thumb-sucking feature. www.cabbagepatchkids.com

Did you have a favorite toy from your childhood? Were you a Cabbage Patch Kid fan as well?

Meghan - September 26, 2013 - 6:57 pm

OMG!! This makes me SO excited! Cabbage Patch Dolls were my favorite childhood toy as well & I too have a few too many that I saved for my girls… but I LOVE the idea of getting them each their own new dolls (to pass down to their kids)! I cannot wait for them to come out! I will be on the lookout! Thanks for the post! :)

admin - September 27, 2013 - 1:23 pm

I will definitely keep you updated as I hear anything :)

[...] other week, I shared a bit about my favorite childhood toy, my cabbage patch kids and the 30th Anniversary Cabbage Patch Kid Celebration. As I mentioned, my daughter has totally [...]

Potty Training and Mommy Brain Part 2

We are gearing up over here to embark, once again in my least favorite periods of parenting – potty training. I am pretty sure my daughter is ready…she knows when she has to go or when she has gone, and shows “interest.” I think that no matter how ready a child is, I feel like I always hear about some accidents, setbacks, and frustrations.  It is one of the most challenging mom times though, because honestly – can you really control someone else’s bladder? And since you can’t, hellllllo laundry!  Selfishly, I would like to also have her be trained before we head deep into the winter months (more clothes on = more laundry to do), and before I head back to work in December.

I mentioned this past weekend to my daughter that soon, she would be wearing underwear. I showed her the cute Cinderella, Minnie Mouse, and Bubble Guppie sets that I found, and she seemed pretty excited. My son walked in, and said…”you know, if you go on the potty, mommy will buy you some awesome stuff” – as previously mentioned, my son took more bribing than any child on the planet to finally get to be potty trained. So with that my daughter looks at me with a determined look on her face, and says, “purple dress for my dolly.” And just like that, with the potty prize determined, cute undies in hand, and a mommy that is ready to be more patient than ever, we were set to start on potty training next Monday (because all good things start on Mondays, right?). UNTIL…this email came from one of my readers:

 Talk about mommy brain…I’m embarrassed to say that after the first successful day of potty training (woo hoo!) on Sunday, I forgot to put a diaper on my daughter before bed. It was completely unintentional. My husband texted me at work on Monday morning to let me know that she had peed in her big girl bed. Of course she did – duh, mama!


Oh goodness…that made me reconsider. In the midst of newborn mommy brain, am I really ready for this?!!?

 

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Fall Dips – Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Dip

During the fall, I love to incorporate anything apple or pumpkin into my life. Honestly…ANYTHING…I have apple blossom hand soap at my kitchen sink, my pumpkin pie candle burns every night after the kids are asleep – its kind of ridiculous. I knew that I wanted to share my favorite fall dips featuring….Apple and Pumpkin flavors!  The timing worked out perfectly, because I brought this dish to a friend’s house last night. A couple of people there were asking for the recipe, so, why not make it easy and share it with everyone. I like to have easy recipes ready to go for the fall, because I find that we are invited to a lot of gatherings between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and football Sundays.  These two fall dips have quickly gone to the top of my list as “must makes” as they are a hit with all age groups and of course, super easy to make.  I like to make both dips together for the perfect fall flavors combo. As you can see in the picture - I serve both dips with nilla wafers, and apples.

Fall Dips

Pumpkin Dip

I originally received this recipe after my Sister-In-Law made this for our annual fall barbecue and had everyone there asking for the recipe! Honestly, people have RSVP-ed, and in the same email, asked if the pumpkin dip would be there. It is THAT good.

Pumpkin Dip
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 12-15
 

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions
  1. Blend the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth; I usually use my stand mixer – it ensures everything is blended well.
  2. Blend in pumpkin, and then the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Ah yes, the perfect spices of the season.
  3. Chill for at least 1 hour.

 

Caramel Apple Dip

This dip I found on Cooks.Com forever ago, and it has been in my “favorites” folder ever since – yes..this was even before Pinterest! I like to think of this as the non-messy way of getting the caramel apple taste.

Caramel Apple Dip
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8-10
 

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
  1. Mix sugars together first, to ensure that they are well blended.
  2. Place your softened cream cheese with the sugars. Again, I use the stand mixer – it is just easier!
  3. Add vanilla and blend all ingredients together.

Anne - September 24, 2013 - 9:55 am

Love these recipes! What a delightful file box I am getting!

Baby Girl’s Month One Recap

Whew! We have made it through month one as being parents of three. I am going to be honest – if you asked me pre-baby if I could have confidently made that statement,I would have been doubtful.  Things are definitely crazy, but becoming more manageable everyday. Most importantly, our little girl is healthy and mostly content. She is also pretty darn adorable…here is my favorite picture from her newborn photo shoot:

 

Baby Girl

Some teeny tiny issues occurred over the last month like some bleeding from her belly button which was quickly resolved, or a big sister who chose to be a dog when she didn’t feel like she was getting enough attention ( check out the post Lucy the Dog for more on that fun!). They were small hiccups though, so I am considering us very very lucky.  This time around we did not have one of those magic babies who sleeps through the night at one month – so this lady is still getting up 1-2 times a night. We have gotten some 6-7 hour stretches though, which have been quite amazing when they hit!

While I feel like we know what we are doing this time, and my first time mother worries are non-existent, the challenges are more around things like – we have to be at school by 9 (10 minutes away)- the baby decides she wants to eat at 8:00…and not stop for about 40 minutes, putting a bit of stress on getting everyone out the door on time! There is also the frustration that things can go from perfection to $hit show in a manner of seconds. Dinner can be prepped, all kids are content, I am able to start the relaxing task of folding laundry….and then the baby has an “out of diaper”, decides she needs to eat because she is absolutely starving, son decides he is hungry and needs dinner now , and my middle daughter decides that this is the perfect moment to go on the potty even though we have tried unsuccessfully to encourage her to do so for a week and the doorbell or phone will ring, and I look/sound like a crazed lady. No planning or prep can take away those moments either, I have tried to accept.

All in all, we are making it through ok, and my kids are always loving on their sister, and I am feeling blessed.

 

One of my readers who is expecting her first child asked me to share my favorite baby things. I feel like this time around, I have a some very simple needs – I also have really everything from my first son, so if there is something better out there, my wallet and I don’t need to know:)

Here is my top 5 List of the baby must haves this time around:

 

Baby Feed App
1.  Baby Feed App - With my son, I had a breastfeeding “spot” where I had a notebook where I tracked all the baby’s feedings, diapers, etc. This time, I feed the baby in the car, the floor of the playroom, at a friend’s house (but still not in public, because I just have never been able to…) – I track the times on my phone, because I rarely remember the times. let alone how things are going over multiple days!

 

 

2.  The snap n go – this remains to be my everywhere stroller while the baby is still in the car seat. I have the Bob which I use for fast paced walks, but the snap n go is always in my car, and I love that it doesn’t take up a ton of room in my always full car!

 

 

3.  Summer Infant SwaddleMe Blankets – I have always sworn by these blankets, and they are not failing me now! In the middle of the night, who wants to worry about swaddling a baby? Really, at any time, I can barely do it. Life is made so easy by velcro in the right spots. My mom loves these as well, and sometimes you just need to count on someone else to put the baby to bed.
  4. The Medela Pump in Style has lasted me through multiple children as well, and it is already well in use this time. I am pumping to allow others to give the baby bottles, and also to start stocking up my freezer supply. This pump has been the best for me, and everyone I have recommended it to has done well with it as well.

 

5. A Full Freezer – Not surprising, right? But, I don’t want to deal with picking food up, delivery people, large grocery shopping trips, or meal prep. My prep in this area, pre-baby, quite simply, has been amazing. I am always thanking the Dana of the past for delicious breakfast, lunches, and dinners:) So check out the Freezer Friday series on here…and cook up as many meals as your freezer will hold.

One last thing, which I am adding to the list because it is incredibly important, and I am finally understanding this time around…

The ability to say YES to help – this has always been very very hard for me…I had the kids, I shouldn’t need help to raise them…right? Um no…I have realized this time, that there are a lot of people who are offering help who mean it. I am also not a failure of a mother if I say yes to someone taking the kids to play while I take a nap, or saying yes to someone making a meal for our family. I have been grateful to have quite a bit of help this time, and it really has made some days a lot easier!

 

All in all, I would say it was a pretty successful first month!!

Would any other momma’s out there have some essential gear to recommend for the early months?

Kelly - September 16, 2013 - 7:29 am

I agree with these essentials, but also would add the Rock and Play sleeper. We didn’t have this with our first, but with this one it has been a lifesaver. He slept in this overnight for the first couple of weeks.

http://m.toysrus.com/skava/static/product.html?type=TRU_product_us&url=%2Fproduct%2Findex.jsp%3FproductId%3D12413334&domain=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.toysrus.com

Jen - September 16, 2013 - 7:56 am

I cracked up at the “thanking the Dana of the past” comment!!! :)
You’re doing an awesome job as expected, my friend. Your kids are so lucky to call you their Mom.

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:43 am

I have heard so much about this product, and love that it is endorsed by an mmb reader! The price point looks really good too. hmmm…maybe i will have to check this one out!!!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

=)

i have a fantastic mommy-mentor to thank for so many ideas and of course, being a great voice of reason!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:50 am

Received this comment from a reader via email, which will hopefully be helpful:

I was surfing FB this morning during breakfast. I saw your post. If you want to let your readers know the Affordable Care Act now covers breast pumps. Just tell them to call their insurance company to see how it is covered (each co could manage it differently). Basically, I had to order mine through a medical supply company, they got the “prescription” from my OB and within 30 days of my due date they shipped me a Medela pump on style. For FREE.

I’ll be spending the money we saved soon …. By getting another freezer for our garage so I can store my supply!

Angie - September 16, 2013 - 8:57 am

I enjoy reading about your experiences! I have a 3 year old any newest will be a month tomorrow. In less than a week of coming home from the hospital we packed up our house into storage units and moved in with my parents as our new house was completed and we have been sitting and waiting on the bank for the last week to close. My 3yo has done remarkably well considering all of the changes… We’ll see how things go when we are finally in our own space and no longer have nana and papa to give us special attention.

We will also begin potty training… Any tips on this as he just turned 3 and still has little interest?!?!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 9:44 pm

Oh Angie – WOW! I am so impressed with all that you are handling – I am quite sure that would have put me over the edge!!!

Potty training – oh no, I am so NOT good with that. It is the most challenging time as a parent, and I am completely dreading it with my daughter. Nothing is more challenging to me than knowing when someone else has to go to the bathroom :(

I did write a post on it…maybe it will help, but, unfortunately, it might just give you a laugh? :)

http://www.masteringmommybrain.com/potty-training-and-mommy-brain/

Bonnie - September 17, 2013 - 12:01 pm

Congratulations! It seems like just yesterday we were sitting at a coffee shop in Fairfield, doesn’t it?

I especially love the full freezer tip! What a nice thing for relatives to do for a new mom! Stock her freezer with home made dinners and give her a night off. (HA!)

Hugs to you and the new baby!
Bonnie recently posted…Cash Mob CT at Sunflower Farm in Orange CTMy Profile

Jenny - September 19, 2013 - 8:01 am

Dana, you must have the happiest kids on the block! what a great mom you are! All of your kids are so adorable! I could just picture you with a feeding baby, a hungry son and a barking sister, telephone in one had and answering the door with a foot! LOL you poor thing! <3
Jenny recently posted…30 Week Blog Challenge–Week 3–Favorite TV ShowsMy Profile

J Timothy Quirk - September 21, 2013 - 6:45 pm

Wow I remember those days! I loved the “perfection to …well show”…:) I had those days too except we never started at perfection, somewhere far lower down that ladder before we hit the show!

Chelle {Everyday Polish} - September 21, 2013 - 7:56 pm

She’s absolutely beautiful! And this list is helpful as I head into baby shower season!
Chelle {Everyday Polish} recently posted…Articulated {9.20.13}My Profile

Jennifer - September 24, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Most precious little baby!!! For swaddling, we really liked the “Woombies”…one zip and the babies were snug as little bugs!

admin - September 27, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Oh yes, I have heard great things about the Woombies! I will have to check them out