I've spend a big chunk of the past few weeks looking for, interviewing, and starting to onboard a babysitter to help us with daycare pick up a couple of times per week.
Sweden has a very sensible system that prioritizes family, so rather than kids being in daycare for really long days, it's normal for parents to leave work at around 3pm for pick up duty. But you either have to make up those hours another time (like working in the evening after the kids have gone to bed) or reduce your hours at work (you're entitled to go down to 80% if you have kids under a certain age) to make it work.
It's a great system, but it also puts a lot of pressure on when you're constantly having to leave work at 3pm for pick up. Lots of people have a grandparent pick up one day a week or so, but since we don't have any family nearby, we've opted to outsource this situation.
To be honest, I wasn't 100% comfortable with the woman we decided to go with. Admittedly, we have the bar set unfairly high after the wonderful sitter we had for Niko, but still I was feeling kind of meh about the whole situation.
There were things I felt that we could work around, like the fact that this woman spoke no Swedish (I got the sense that the staff at Odin's daycare were annoyed by this, but whatever) and spoke English with a very heavy accent. But Niko seemed to understand her well enough, and she was very nice, so we went with it.
Other things, though, gave me pause. For example, this woman claimed to be a few years younger than I am, but she looked (I think) waaaaaay older than that. Her hands shook when she used her phone to show me some pictures, and when I watched her trying to handle our stroller and get the kids buckled in, it was reminiscent of watching my mother, who is nearly 70, do the same thing.
Maybe she was just nervous around me? Who knows. But when she texted on Friday evening and said she had to leave the country suddenly and wouldn't be back for several months, I got the sense that we dodged a bullet.
So we are irritatingly (or luckily?) back to the drawing board. Hopefully the universe has another fantastic babysitter lined up for me quite soon.
The whole babysitter situation has brought up another situation which I was trying to ignore; the fact that I don't think I'll be able to go to the first conference on my agenda this year.
I was soooooooo looking forward to this conference, and had serious FOMO last year when my friends were there and I wasn't. The problem is that Paul has his biggest conference of the year (it's called Paper Con, sounds lit) the same week, and we'd overlap by two days.
I took the bulls by the horn and booked Niko's old babysitter to stay with the kids for those two days; I'd leave Wednesday morning, and Paul would arrive home on Friday. So it's just a matter of her picking the kids up on Wednesday, doing drop off and pick up on Thursday, and on Friday morning Paul will be home. Simple, right?
Except that it isn't. For one thing, Odin is a terrible sleeper and I really don't feel like it's fair to stick someone else with a child that may or may not have a two hour scream fest in the middle of the night.
For another thing, Odin doesn't really know this sitter very well. I thought that by the time the conference rolled around he'd know her better, or at the very least we'd have another regular sitter that he'd know, and it wouldn't be a big deal. But with the one sitter quitting unexpectedly and the other being busy with her real job, it just isn't going to happen.
Lastly, the fact that both Paul and I would be out of the country for two days just felt like a bit too much. When Niko was younger we left him with his sitter for two days while we went to Paris for a weekend, but Paris is a two hour flight away and this would mean crossing the Atlantic.
Niko was also over two, fully verbal, and knew this sitter well. Odin, on the other hand, says words, but doesn't really talk, is less than one-and-a-half, and is going through crazy separation anxiety. Plus, he doesn't sleep half the time and the thought of him having a middle of the night meltdown and there being no one to call just didn't sit right with me.
I called my sister, who has kids the same age and who is super chill about leaving her kids with babysitters they don't know (through agencies and the like, not just randos) and asked her what her comfort level would be with the situation. She told me that even with a kid who is a good sleeper, she wouldn't do it. Too far away, too many unknowns. I guess I needed someone to validate my level anxiety over the situation, which is exactly what she did.
I know that this is the Year of Katie and I'm supposed to be breaking boundaries and taking names and all that, and I feel like if I was a man I wouldn't even be questioning the situation. But I also know that a big part of the Year of Katie is learning to put my own needs first and I realized that in this case my needs involve not being in a situation where I spend the next two months worrying about leaving my babies on a different continent with no parents or family or people they trust on hand.
Sigh. Another year, EFC. Another year.
After consulting with y'all I decided to stick with monthly lenses. Instead of going back to the clinic for another fitting I decided to order them online since my prescription had not changed. And then in a total bonehead move I accidentally ordered +1.75 for my left eye instead of -1.75, which I did not realize until I had opened the box and put them in my eyes and couldn't see a damn thing out of one eye.
So now I need to go back for the fitting appointment anyways, and have flushed $50 down the drain on the wrong prescription. If anyone out there wears +1.75 lenses and wants to give these a good home, I will mail them to you.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This week I updated and republished a darling old recipe from the archives for Red Lentil Dal. I made this version in the Instant Pot, but have also provided instructions for making it in a slow cooker if that's more your style.
I also gave this mega collection of the best Vegetarian Freezer Meals a badly needed refresh, with new recipes, added resources, and some more information added in there.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is topping the charts:
1. Turmeric Latte Mix. Guys, I saw a store-bought turmeric latte mix the other day for $15. Pffft. Save your money, make your own!
2. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos. My personal fave.
3. Red Lentil Dal. Boom. Into the top 5 right out of the gates.
4. Chia Fresca. Gotta stay hydrated, yo!
5. No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins. A HNL classic.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Rianna left the following comment and 5-star review on my Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie recipe:
I made this and it’s really good! I used ¼ cup of dried date bits instead of medjool dates and soaked them in hot water for 15 or so minutes first. I also substituted the hemp seeds for ground flax seed which I soaked with the dates. I am amazed at how sweet it is considering the black beans and cauliflower. I gave it to my unsuspecting hubby and he really like it. …until I told him there was black beans in it. ????????????
Never tell them our secrets, Rianna. Never tell them.
This week's meal plan
Since life is pretty hectic these days, I'm trying to do a bit more in the weekly meal planning department, especially for the kids' meals. Paul and I eat in a pretty routine way (<-- understatement) with big salads for dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays, weekend leftovers on Tuesdays, frittata on Thursdays, and usually a quick and easy pasta on Fridays. Saturday is make a fancy dinner night, and these days Sundays are homemade pizza.
But the kids don't want to eat big salads for dinner, and weekend leftovers aren't always suitable for them, so we end up throwing together something for them separately from what we eat ourselves. And honestly? I love Tuesday so much because it's not a salad night. I am soooooo sick of those damn salads that we've been eating every Monday and Wednesday for 16 years.
So I'm trying to do more weeknight cooking, whether it's testing a recipe for the blog or pulling out a favourite cookbook. Lately I've been trying the vegetarian meal plans from Green Plate Club, maybe not every night of the week, but definitely the recipes that jump out at me.
Here's what's on the menu this week:
Monday – Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Sandwiches
Tuesday – Greek Eggplant Stew with Cauliflower and Olives
Wednesday – Chopped Power Salad
Thursday – Crispy Carrot and Cauliflower Fritters
Friday – Pesto Orzo with White Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Green Plate Club is a meal plan subscription service that's by vegetarians, for vegetarians. Each Friday members get sent a link for a 5-day vegetarian, 5-day vegan, and 3-day flexitarian meal plan, plus you have access to the entire bank of previous meal plans.
The meal plans are designed specifically to minimize time spent prepping, reduce food waste, and be budget-friendly. They're also vetted by a nutritionist (that's me!) and are family friendly.
You can sign up for Green Plate Club for just $6 per month, $15 for three months, or $50 for a whole year. That's peanuts! And best of all, you beautiful people can get the yearly membership for just $45 by using the code HNL at checkout.
Disclosure: I am a consultant for Green Plate Club, but do not earn any money or take a commission from them at this time.
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5. The key to a good workout? Getting enough sleep.