EASIEST RECIPE OF ALL TIME

I used to be a snob about home cooking . I felt that for a meal to be “homemade” every aspect needed to be made from scratch – let’s just say, you would never catch me using pancake mix or jarred marinara. I loved trying new recipes, making all of my own sauces and dressings and exercising my creative muscle in the kitchen – it was kind of my thing. Of course, I still enjoy all of those things, but let’s be real, as a mom of two young kids, I don’t always have the time or energy for all that.

Sometimes, I wish that dinner would magically appear on our table.

I’ve come to accept that it won’t, and with that, I’ve discovered the next best thing.

This dinner requires ZERO prep work!!

So, maybe this isn’t exactly a recipe, buuuuuut it’s my go to meal for when I want to put as little effort as possible into cooking and not be stuck with a big mess to clean up.

SUPER EASY SALSA CHICKEN

You need:

Chicken breasts.

Salsa

Crockpot

Place your chicken in the crockpot.

Cover each breast completely with salsa.

Set crockpot to cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Feel accomplished and get on with your life!

When the timer goes off, shred your chicken.

YUM! That chicken looks good!!

Eat your chicken how ever you want! My go to is a soft taco with avocado!

Can you even believe how easy that is?!

If you’re not into Mexican inspired dishes, you can also use this formula with whatever kind of sauce you like. I’ve tried several and they’re all just as awesome.

BBQ Sauce / I usually will shred the chicken and serve it on a bun with lettuce.

Teriyaki / I like to break the chicken into bigger pieces and serve over rice with a side of steamed veggies.

Curry / I serve this the same way that I serve the teriyaki. It would be great with naan, too!

This meal has been a weekly staple in our house because I know that when l make this chicken, in all of its variations, my family is happy and that makes me happy, because it’s essentially effortless!

YOU’RE WELCOME!

I have bipolar 2 and I’ve never told anyone outside of my closest friends and family.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t written anything new in weeks. I’ve been busy with life. Mateo’s sleep training went completely out the window, so I’m exhausted. I found out that Nori has SPD and have been dealing with my emotions around that. Mid month we took a trip to Maui and on the days in between I’ve been spending time with my husband who’s had the whole month of October at home. I’d be lying, though, if I said that any of these things were the reason for my silence. One morning I just woke up feeling totally uninspired and that was that – it’s like a flip was switched and I can’t seem to figure out how to turn it back on. You’d think that I’d feel out of sorts – wondering what might have turned my creativity off, but this isn’t anything new for me at all – in fact, this has been a steady pattern for me ever since I was a teenager, but became especially apparent once I started college.

I never graduated.

I couldn’t stay on track for more than a few semesters at a time. I would be loving my classes and then suddenly, I couldn’t bare to go anymore.  I would question who I was and what I wanted. I’d start to fuck off – I’d start to party, until eventually, a new switch would turn on and I’d figure it out! I’d pick out a new major – a new life. This continued on for years – 8 years, to be exact. I went to 5 different schools, had 7 different majors and have nothing to show for it.

Since giving up on finishing school, I have had several different jobs. I even started a few businesses, only to abandon them part way through. I’ve taken on new hobbies, several spiritual practices, exercise routines and meal plans and with each and every one of these new paths that I’d take, the same. damn. thing. happened.

When I was first telling my friends about how I wanted to start writing more, a close friend of mine said to me, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you think you’ll stick with this? You’re always starting new things and then changing your mind.

Yikes.

Even though this trend was terribly apparent to me, I didn’t realize that it was something my friends picked up on too. I know that my friend wasn’t trying to bring me down, but I felt attacked! I felt embarrassed.

Why did I think that this time would be any different?

For me, this is what living with bipolar 2 looks like and it fucking sucks.

I feel lucky, though, because my illness used to be a lot worse. Aside from not having much direction, I was totally unstable! I had extreme anger, practiced self harm, abused drugs, was impulsive, self indulgent, unpredictable.

Once I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs, my moods seemed to balance out, but not completely, that is, until I was pregnant with Nori. Maybe it was the hormones or maybe it was the excitement, but for some reason, I felt amazingly together during that time. Life was easy. I had found a direction that I couldn’t give up on – motherhood. My positive outlook lasted all the way through most of our breastfeeding journey, but once she started to eat solids, things started to change. I’d become restless – not with motherhood, but with everything else. I felt trapped. I felt lost. Sure, I could take care of my family, but I struggled to take care of myself and eventually, my moods started to shift and I was back to my old self.

I never knew how I would wake up in the morning. Would I be super charged and happy or would I be so depressed that I’d lay around all day? Would I feel deeply in love and in harmony with my husband or would his entire existence make me cringe? Would I have it in me to be the best mom that I could be for Nori or would I be so caught up in my own thoughts and anxieties that I was hardly present for her at all?

It was exhausting. Both for me and for my family. Probably for my friends too.

After a few intense months, I decided to get help and I am so thankful that I did. My doctor put me on a medication called, Lamictal and without a doubt, it has changed my life. After about a month of being on the medication, Benny came to me, crying. He told me how grateful he was that I went to get help. You see, he was pretty against me wanting medication. That sort of thing wasn’t something that he was raised to understand. I had to go completely against his wishes to see a doctor, so to hear him say that he was grateful was extremely powerful.

On this medication, I still feel like me, but I’m no longer so extreme. I don’t act on impulse. I feel content – I go with the flow. Sure, I get angry and upset sometimes, but everyone does and it would be super weird if I didn’t.

Over all, life has been really good!

It’s just this one thing that hasn’t resolved.

And this one thing brings me so much unhappiness, embarrassment and shame. I want nothing more than to be able to figure out who I am and who I want to be for more than a few months at a time.

I’ve never spoken openly about my struggles with mental illness. It’s been a secret that only the people closest to me know about. Even with all of the talk on social media about mental health awareness, I haven’t had the courage to speak out – even when I deeply relate to what people are sharing. I feel afraid of being judged. I feel afraid to admit that I struggle too. I am realizing now that sharing isn’t admitting that you’re less than – it is admitting that you can overcome.

And I have faith that I will.

School Lunches for Picky Eating Preschoolers

I used to love when my father packed my school lunch. He took lunch making seriously. My meal would be balanced and filling, it had options – it was always better than the lunches packed around me and that made me feel proud. Every lunch included a small note or picture. I loved getting them so much! Packing my school lunches was one way that my dad let me know he loved me.

As a parent, now I do the same. I love packing Nori’s lunch. I love to know that during her day at school, she still gets to feel connected to me at home.

The guidelines for lunches at Noris school are that they must not include nuts or treats. We are also dairy free, so I can’t pack yogurts or cheeses, sadly, no bunny crackers either! That being said, I don’t pack too much variety, but honestly, what 4 year old loves variety? These little people watch the same movie thousands of times in a row! I pack what I know she will eat and won’t toss in the compost. School lunch is not a time to debut new foods or try and pack something your kid usually won’t eat. Since nori is super picky, I stick to some basic options:

Deli meat – Nori likes salami, ham and turkey

Spreads – jelly or sunbutter (her school is nut free). when making these sandwiches, i sprinkle hemp seed and chia in the middle of the sandwich to add some nutrients. nori doesn’t even notice.

Fruits – apples, pears, berries, peaches, to name a few – fruit is always a hit

Veggies – our top two are cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, but sugar snap peas, corn, carrot/celery sticks have also made appearances

Grain – crackers, Made Good granola balls, Kind Kids bars

Leftovers – her school will reheat one dish a week if you ask. also, some leftovers are good cold!

To drink, we keep rice milk at school and pack a cup for her to be served. Some days, she just drinks water!

We were using a cute purple Bentigo bento box, but Noris teacher said the way that the lid opened was too big for their table, so I searched Amazon and found these awesome containers called Easy Lunch Boxes and they are exactly that! I love them. Not too many compartments to fill, but enough to guide you through portioning out a lunch. They have several colored lids and I like that it’s a set of 5 so that I don’t have to wash tupperware every school night anymore. I have one for every day!!

Heres how I packed them this week.

MONDAY

Cucumbers, apples and grapes, turkey roll ups and a Kind Kids bar

TUESDAY

Tomatoes and cucumbers, strawberries and pears, salami roll ups and Made Good balls

WEDNESDAY

Simple day. Salami and mayo on wheat bread, apples and snap peas.

THURSDAY

Leftover salmon cake, peaches and blackberries, tomatoes and cucumbers.

FRIDAY

Banana, turkey roll ups, cucumber and tomatoes and Made Good balls.

I don’t know about you, but I love looking at these cute little lunches!! I know they’re nothing crazy, but they’re filled with the things that my daughter loves and it makes me happy that I’m able to do this for her. I look forward to when she learns to read, so that I can pack her sweet little notes along too!

I used to judge parents before I became one myself.

I was scrolling through my instagram feed the other day, when I came across this quote, “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”

It really resonated with me – not only because I agree that parenting is hard, but also because before I had children of my own, I thought that I knew it all and had all sorts of ideas about what made a good or bad parent. I thought it was easy.

I was so unjustifiably judgmental, its embarrassing. Who did I think I was?

Sure, I worked as a nanny for many years, but that in no way compares to the endless work that is parenting. I was able to go home at the end of the day, to reset, catch up on me time. I rarely took the children along for errands. I never had my own things to take care of while I was watching the kids. Being a nanny is a job. Being a parent is your life. 

Once I became a parent myself, it turns out that a lot of the things that I said that I would never do or was better than, are things that I sort of do all of the time and you know what, I have no shame about it at all!

Here are my top 5 parenting judgements that I made before I had *any* idea what it was like to have children of my own.

Giving children devices at restaurants.

When I would be out at a restaurant, nothing made me roll my eyes more than seeing a family at a table allowing their kids to play on their phones or tablets. I’d think to myself,  “Aren’t meals a time to bond with your family? Why didn’t they just stay home if they were just going to ignore their kids like that? Don’t these parents know the dangers of screen time?”

HA! Little did I know that kids can totally be little shits when you’re out to dinner! They pour salt on the table or put bread in everyone’s water. They want to get up and wander around the restaurant. They complain about being bored – about the food not being out fast enough. They interrupt, they’re too loud!

Believe it or not, the adults at the table want to enjoy themselves too.

Sometimes, when I’m really on that mom A game, I’ll pack some crayons and coloring books for the table, but lets be real, I’m not always that put together!  Its extremely unlikely that I’ll forget my phone at home, so after several unsuccessful restaurant trips, I downloaded several kids apps and now allow Nori to play on it from time to time when we are out. Some of the games are even educational! I don’t see the harm in it and honestly, don’t understand why I had an issue with it before – I mean, adults sit at the table on their devices all the time too. I’m not saying that anytime I want some peace and quiet I just stick Nori in front of a device, but in certain circumstances, it’s totally cool!

Letting kids tantrum in public.

We have all seen it before – a kid having a major tantrum out in public. Some parents just stand there and wait while their kid screams and cries on the floor. Other times, parents swoop up their screaming child, throw them over their shoulder and run them out of where ever they are as quickly as possible. Some even start to tantrum themselves and begin to yell at their child. Whatever the method these parents use to deal with the situation, I’d always thought that I would handle it differently – better.

“Couldn’t these parents control their children?” Haven’t they taught them anything? My kids would never act so bratty!”

Ha! I thought these parents were letting their kids freak out, as if they had total control over their child’s body and emotions. I may not have been aware of it at the time, but now I realize that I didn’t believe that kids should have a right to their own feelings. They were to be obedient and contained and if they weren’t, that reflected poorly on the parents.

Now, as a mom, I have compassion for these parent’s with the kid melting down at the store. It’s not their fault at all! Kids have big feelings – feelings that they don’t exactly know how to deal with properly. Their brains aren’t fully developed, so they don’t understand reason or how to navigate through the new feelings they’re experiencing.

As parents, it is our job to teach our children that it is okay to have feelings and to let them out. Sure, the store isn’t the ideal place to work these things out, but it happens. Kids want things, they don’t understand the value of money and most of all, they don’t like to hear the word, “no!” – I mean, who does? We were all kids once, and I’m sure that most of us have had fits in public. No matter how a parent chooses to deal with their kid’s public meltdown, it’s safe to assume that they are doing their best!

A child’s behavior is not a direct reflection of how they are parented – tantrums just come with the territory!

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Nori, melting down in a car at the Subway museum in Brooklyn, NY. I got a ton of slack from people for this photo. It isn’t a real subway. Relax.

Going out to party as parents.

This one is pretty embarrassing. When I used to work in bars and I would see people who I knew were parents out and about, partying, I would judge them so hard. I couldn’t believe that they were leaving their kids with a babysitter to go to a club all night. UHHHH. Hello!! I worked as a babysitter growing up – what did I think the parents were doing!?

Parents need to let loose!

Parents are allowed to still be the people that they were before children, even if that means they’re out partying (responsibly) until 3am!

I don’t get a sitter all too often, but when I do, you better believe I’m out, trying to have a good time. I would go totally crazy if I never went out without the kiddos to have fun with my husband or friends. In fact, I think that it makes me a better parent when I make time to have fun.

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Whenever my husband and I make it out to shows, everyone always asks, “Where are your kids?” Obviously, we left them in the car…JK

Breastfeeding past infancy.

It’s not that I thought that breastfeeding was gross or inappropriate –  I respected women who breastfed. I mean, they were sacrificing their perfect, youthful breasts! That being said, once their babies stopped being little lumps and started to eat food and walk and talk – well, at that point, consider yourself judged if that baby isn’t using a cup.

Didn’t these mother’s want their bodies back?

Didn’t they know that people were judging them?

Fast forward to me becoming a nursing mother and surprise! I nursed Nori until she was 2.5.  I’ll admit that sometimes because of my pre-parenting judgements, I felt a little self conscious nursing her in public once she was around 18 months, but don’t get me wrong, I still did it. The relationship that Nori and I had around nursing was so positive for both she and I, that I felt no desire to stop breastfeeding her until she started to twist my other nipple while she would nurse and I absolutely hated it! That was it for me and we weaned. I think that as long as both mother and child are enjoying their nursing relationship, they should continue to nurse. I am nursing Mateo now and hope to continue for a while longer. Personally, I don’t want to nurse past 3 years old, but to the women who do, more power to you!

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Here is 2 year old Nori, nursing. She is sweaty and sick with a cold.

Letting kids dress inappropriately for the weather. 

On a cold or rainy day, if I’d see a child without a jacket, it would make me feel annoyed and concerned. Didn’t these parents care about their children’s comfort? Were they just too lazy to dress them? Did they forget?

Of course, my daughter turned out to be one of those kids who is always dressed inappropriately for the weather. She always wants to wear flip flops when it is cold outside and rain boots when it is hot and dry. She will refuse to wear a jacket, even if it is rainy. Its a constant struggle! But, some battles are better left alone. As long as Nori feels confident in the wardrobe choices she has made, I let her go with it even if I know she may be unhappy in the long run. The only exception is if I know that we will be outside for most of the day – I don’t want her to be miserable for too long because then she will be unhappy and she will complain and then I will be unhappy too.

Oy! So, there you have it. I used to be a judgmental bitch about things that I knew nothing about and I’ll bet you were too!

What are some things that you used to judge parents for before becoming a parent yourself?

Whoops! I jinxed myself.

I had such good intentions for what I wanted to write this week, but it didn’t happen because I completely jinxed myself with last weeks post about sleep training. I should’ve known better than to brag about our accomplishments after a measly two weeks.

What was I thinking?!

Mateo has still been putting himself to sleep independently, but he has been waking up at 430/5am everyday.

ITS KILLING ME!

I’m so tired that my eyes burn.

It’s a vicious cycle of suck. He wakes up early, so his naps are early and then he is ready for bed by 5pm. I would reach out to our sleep consultant, but our two week session is over. It ended literally the day all of this BS started.

WHYYYYYY?!

I’ve been reading up on all sorts of different solutions to the early waking but I just feel so discouraged that it’s hard for me to take action.

This morning when Mateo woke up at 430, I just brought him into my bed to nurse and he slept in until 7. I don’t want to start a bad habit, but honestly, if I don’t start sleeping again, I’m going to lose my mind.

So, that’s where I’m at. Hopefully things will get back on track soon, so I can focus on anything other than sleep schedules and feeling like garbage and share with you the posts I’ve been working on.

I’m open to hearing any tips or tricks you might have!

Send some sleepy vibes our way – PLEASE!!

Sleep Training Your Baby: It’s the best thing EVER!

Mateo is sleep trained!

It’s a fucking miracle.

After weeks and weeks of struggling with his 15 minute naps and constant night waking, I decided to get help from a sleep consultant and it was the best decision EVER.

Now, instead of spending up to 45 minutes rocking or bouncing Mateo to sleep, I am able to set him in his crib awake and he settles himself. He naps twice a day for at least an hour each time and he sleeps entirely through the night. When he wakes up, he is so bubbly and happy! He seems ready to take on the world – he seems more interested and engaged. No more constant eye rubbing and fussing.

It’s seriously so awesome!

Since I don’t have to put so much of my time and energy into figuring out Mateo’s sleep anymore, I have more of myself to give to Nori. I’m less impatient with her, I’m more available to play with her – we can read together or do crafts during his nap times. I don’t feel guilty anymore for having to push aside her needs in favor of her baby brother’s. She can count on having one on one time every day and I am able to be completely present.

The most awesome part of all?! I got some of my life back!!!

I have guaranteed time every night to do ME. I can watch a movie, I can take care of housework I’d put off in favor of playing with the kids, I can get intimate with my husband – all without the risk of being interrupted.

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!

Well, because I was super against CIO sleep training methods. Letting my baby’s cries go unanswered for even 5 minutes felt wrong to me. I co slept with Nori until she was almost 2 and believed that I was going to do the same with Mateo. Thing is, our home life is way different than it used to be. Not only do I have another child to take care of but I rarely have help from Benny because he travels so often for work. What I felt comfortable and confidant doing just wasn’t working anymore.

I had to get over my own judgements about sleep training and take care of business!

The sleep trainer who I worked with is a Sleep Sense trained consultant. She got to know me and my situation and then formulated a plan and a schedule for Mateo. The whole thing was out of my comfort zone, but I was so desperate for things to be different that I dove into it head first.

We set a date to begin and she sent over a plan.

I was to pick a length of time that I felt comfortable letting Mateo cry for – I chose 10 minutes.

I was to pick a key phrase – I chose “it’s beddy-bye time”.

I was to choose a sleepy song – I chose “Twinkle Twinkle”

I was to be consistent.

The first night, I put Nori to bed first so that I could focus on Mateo afterward. At 7:15, I took him into his room and got him into his pajamas. I rolled some lavender on his feet. I turned on his noise machine and turned off the lights. I said my key phrase and sang him his sleepy song. I set him down in his crib and I left his room.

Immediately, he began sobbing.

I set my timer for 10 minutes and did my best to distract myself from his cries. It was super hard!

10 minutes passed and he was still upset, so I went into his room. I decided that picking him up to comfort him felt better to me than just standing near his crib, so I picked him up and held him close. Again, I said my key phrase and I sang him his sleepy song. He calmed down, so I set him back into his crib and left his room again.

I set my timer for 10 minutes.

This time, he screamed bloody murder! It was so intense. As the time counted down, I stared at the baby monitor. My stomach was in knots. My poor baby!! He wasn’t calming down!

The timer went off again and I returned to his room. This time, I only set my hand on his back while I sang his song and repeated his key phrase – I thought that maybe picking him up had been a bad idea. When he was calm, I left again and again, he seemed more upset than he had been before I entered the room.

I set another 10 minutes on the timer.

I decided to text my sleep consultant and see what she thought about his sadness escalating. She suggested that maybe I stop checking in on him. That felt really wrong to me, so I went in one last time and again, he became even more upset.

OK FINE!!

I stopped checking on him and 15 minutes later, he fell asleep and he stayed asleep until the next morning.

Mateo, asleep in his crib.

All in all, it was 45 minutes of tears.

The next day, we started naps. His first nap was to be at 10am. I did the same things – the key phrase, the song and left him sleepy but awake in his crib.

He cried – a lot. That first nap, I think he cried for 30 minutes. His second nap, he cried for 20. Bedtime, he cried for 20.

Honestly, for the first 3 days, he was probably crying for a total of an hour each day between his naps and bedtime. It was a lot. It didn’t feel good, but I knew that if I gave up, all of those tears would’ve been for nothing. I was so thankful that I had hired a consultant, because without her checking in on me, I may have given up.

She had me fill out a sleep log to keep track of his nap times and bed times and also how long he cried between our routine and falling asleep. By doing these, I learned when to put him down to minimize the tears.

No matter what time I set Mateo in his crib for his morning nap, he always fell asleep at about 10:20 and by 2:00 for his afternoon nap – bedtime he was asleep by 7:30. I started to set him down at those times, no matter what – even if I saw sleepy cues earlier – and he began to fall asleep with less tears. At most, I’d have 15 minutes of upset, but it stopped being real crying after those first few days and became more of a whiny moan. Even if Mateo woke up in the middle of night, he was able to soothe himself back to sleep within 10 minutes without needing to nurse or be rocked.

Everything had fallen into place!

YASSSSSS!

Now, it’s been 12 days and every day is easier than the last – in fact, now it isn’t a “thing” anymore – it’s just the way that we do sleep in our household.

I am so, so grateful for my sleep trainer! I couldn’t have done it without her!!

If you’re on the fence about sleep training and want some tips, here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Be all in. Don’t try to train one day and then chicken out the next. Consistency is key.
  2. Listen to your baby. Some cry’s are frantic and others seem calm – adjust your timer accordingly. Also, like in my case, if something you planned to do seems not to be working, like picking up your baby or doing constant checks, stop doing it!
  3. Keep a sleep log so that you can see your baby’s sleep patterns and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  4. Plan to stay home and revolve your life around sleep training for at least the first week.
  5. Make sure that you have support, wether from your partner, parents, friend or in my case, hired help. It really helps to have someone to hold you accountable and also to have someone to talk to during hard times.
  6. Don’t judge yourself or think that you’re a bad mom for allowing your child to cry. You’re teaching them a valuable life skill – how to sleep! Anyone would feel upset if suddenly their routine was totally changed. As long as you’re usually attentive to your baby, they know that you love them!
  7. Focus on the goal! A few days of tears are so worth it for hopefully years of easy sleep from your child.

If your child’s sleep patterns aren’t working for your family anymore, I totally recommend sleep training. It has totally changed our lives over here – my only regret is waiting so long to give it a try.

Loving With Intention: How to put love before your ego and create relationship magic

On August 24th, Benny and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

YAY FOR US!

To celebrate, he and I got a babysitter and went out for dinner at Toro Bravo. We had the tasting menu and it was delicious, but seriously, it was so much food. I didn’t even want dessert and if you know me, you’ll know that is extremely rare.

On our way there, Benny took my hand and sweetly asked me, “What is your favorite thing about our relationship?”

I answered him without thinking too much about it – I don’t do well under pressure – I felt bashful! I said some sweet things, but I didn’t love my answer – I knew I had more to say, if I had more time to think about it.

So, I kept thinking about it.

I thought about it during our date, I thought about it when we got home. I’ve been thinking about it since then and I think that finally, I’ve found my answer.

What I love most about our relationship is the way that we love each other.

It’s that simple.

Right now, Benny and I can agree that we are the happiest we have ever been in our relationship – it’s not that we were unhappy before, but right now things feel so healthy – so easy.

Our love has grown into a new way of being. We have started to love each other with intention.

Every day, he and I make the decision to hold ourselves accountable for our relationship’s success – we don’t run on auto pilot anymore.

We strive for love in our every day and do what it takes to come from a place of understanding. Because of this, we have been growing together as individuals and within our marriage.

I feel supported to be me. I feel heard. I feel safe and understood.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we have our shit. Sometimes I want to strangle Benny. Sometimes, I am so annoyed with him that I vent to my friends about it, or huff and puff around the house. Sometimes I want space and sometimes he isn’t close enough. We struggle, like most couples do – the difference is, now we talk about it instead of arguing about it.

We put our love before our egos.

Moving toward loving intentionally instead of falling back on old habits comes down to just a few things:

Owning your shit. Instead of getting defensive when your partner tells you that something you have done has upset them, believe them! We all have our own emotional history and wounds – it’s important to look inward and see how you could avoid this trigger in the future instead of getting defensive and putting blame on something else. This helps not only to grow as a couple, but also to grow as an individual.

In the last two months, Mateo has become increasingly clingy and has been sleeping a lot less. By the end of the day, I feel touched out and tired. Even though I felt that I was doing a good job balancing my mom life with our romantic life, Benny didn’t entirely agree. His love languages are touch and words of affirmation and I realized, I had hardly been doing either of those things for him! Sure, I was telling him that I loved him every day and I was making time to be intimate, but for him, that wasn’t enough. He told me that he felt like I wasn’t interested in him anymore. He didn’t feel loved. I could have gotten defensive and in the past, that would’ve been my go to – “I’m tired! The baby is always on me! You never make ME feel loved! You’re always away, anyway!” but instead, my heart broke for him. I felt terrible! The last thing I ever want to do is to hurt my partner. I chose to love him! I looked inward. I set the intention to show him how much I love and desire him –  I give him longer, warmer hugs, I kiss him when we greet each other, I give him praise and make sex something that I make time for, not just something we can do if we have time. I’ve started to speak his language again and he noticed!

Picking your battles. You may not like everything that your partner does, but that doesn’t mean that they need to hear about it. When Benny gets home from work at 3am, he likes to take his pants off and get comfortable. I totally understand wanting to get comfortable, but when he does, he just leaves his pants on the floor, or draped over a chair. It drives me nuts!

NUTS!!!

There are pants left all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, by the door, in the kitchen. There was a time where I would get upset about this and often, it would turn into an actual fight!

What a waste of energy, fighting about pants.

Now, I just roll my eyes, pick them up and throw them in the hamper. In the grand scheme of things, will his pants on the floor outweigh all of the other wonderful parts of our marriage?

Doubt it.

Showing gratitude. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them! Do something kind without being asked or with the expectation of having the gesture reciprocated.

Say thank you for the things that you usually take for granted.

Every now and again, Benny will thank me for doing his laundry or for cooking dinner and it makes me so happy to know that he appreciates what I do for him in the day to day.

Even better is when he does my chores for me so I can relax. He knows that there is no easier way to get in my pants than to empty the dishwasher.

Supporting each other. Let your partner follow their heart and help to support their personal growth. Don’t let the fear that changes might ruin your relationship, ruin your relationship. Change is hard, but inevitable.

When Benny was offered a job working for a company that would require him to travel frequently, I encouraged him to take the job. I knew that this was something that he really wanted. I wanted him to follow his dreams, even though it meant that we wouldn’t be together as often and that I would be alone to care for both of our children for long periods at a time.

For me, this has been the most difficult change that I’ve had to accept, but I am really working on it. He and I strive not to let resentments build up, so, whenever I am feeling really sad and lonely, I talk to him about it. He also knows that sometimes, I just need to vent and he lets me, even when it may make him feel bad. I’m not looking for him to make a change, I am just looking for a shoulder.

His personal growth is just as important our growth together (and vice versa)

Marriage can be hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a battle! These are our partners, after all!

By choosing to love my partner over everything else, I’ve changed the way that I love and we have found a place of (mostly) harmony. It’s still a work in progress but by setting the intention, I’ve already done most of the work!

When 3 became 4: How adding a sibling changed everything

I am an only child.

Well, I had step siblings from my father’s second wife, but that isn’t the same thing. We didn’t have that intrinsic connection that I imagine siblings to have. Sure, I enjoyed growing up with them but I didn’t always feel welcomed or loved.

It was hard.

I wanted to feel more connected to them, for them to be like my real family, but no matter what, I always felt a bit on the outside.

When I was 21, my father died. It was a total surprise and left me and my step siblings shocked and upset. Even though we were all experiencing this loss together, I felt even further away from them then I ever had before. Here were these people who knew my pain – who were living it too, but we didn’t mourn together. They had each other to lean on, and I had myself.

I felt so alone.

Having someone to have gone through all of this with would have made a world of difference.

Im sure of it!

When Benny and I started thinking about wether or not we wanted to give Nori a sibling, I reflected on this time – how I felt, what I had wished for.

What if there was some sort of tragedy and Nori had no one to lean on?

She needed a teammate for life. A friend. Someone to talk shit about me and her dad to when she got in trouble. Some one to pick on and play with and really, do whatever it is that siblings do together – Im an only child, remember? I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I wanted her to have the forever friend that I didn’t have. I didn’t want her to ever feel alone.

Even though I had made up my mind about giving Nori a sibling, I had to work on Benny for close to a year before he was down for baby two!

I wasn’t worried though – I get what I want.

After three months of trying, I found out that I was pregnant. Nori was three years old.

We were THRILLED!

Soon enough, that happiness and excitement turned into anxiety and fear. Not fear of having the baby – we were already pros – but fear of what this new baby might do to our family dynamic. Fears about my special bond with Nori being broken.

I’d spend nights awake in bed, sobbing, worrying about losing Nori.

What the fuck?! We planned this!!

I thought about this for years. How did I suddenly realize that adding a sibling might be painful for her – for all of us?

I was mourning her – our love, our special bond – before anything had even happened.

Did we make a mistake?

I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my mind. Every moment that I spent with Nori, I treated like they were my last.

I gave her my full attention.

I held her close.

I breathed her in.

I kept telling her, “When your brother comes, things may be different, but just know that mommy and daddy love you so much! You’ll always be our special girl.”

Looking back, I don’t think that I should have said that so often. It probably hadn’t even occurred to her that things would be different.

I’m sure she smelled my fear.

Even though I was worried about her accepting the coming change, I also loved sharing my pregnancy with her. She loved my belly. She loved to kiss it and sing songs to it. She liked to feel the baby move. She would put her lips against my skin and talk to her brother.

She laughed when I used my belly as a table.

Nori’s sweet little hand on my baby bump.

When Mateo was born, she asked if we could put him back in there, because she loved my big belly so much.

He was better on the inside, in her eyes.

She didn’t come to visit us at the hospital. She didn’t want to facetime with us either. I tried to understand, while I laid in the hospital bed, nursing our son – her brother.

“It’s happening” I thought. “Everything I feared has come true.”

When we returned home with Mateo, Nori looked different to me. She looked humongous.

Her hands!!

Why were they so big?

How did she grow so much in the two days that we were at the hospital?

The fuck?

She hugged her brother. She hugged and kissed me and her father. She posed for photos. She was just being herself, but somehow, I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. I felt like she didn’t trust me – that I owed her something. I wanted to give her so much of me, to comfort her, to let her know that everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. I was exhausted, infatuated, distracted, hormonal. I expected her to be patient with me.

I expected my 4 year old to understand.

Nori and Mateo, when he was a few days old.

Benny took over most of my responsibilities that first month. He made Nori breakfast, he took her to school, he picked her up, he played with her, he made dinner, all while I laid in bed with Mateo, sleeping and nursing and sleeping and nursing.

Nori would come in to visit us. She never would come in the bed, but would stand at the edge and talk to me.

I wanted her closer. I wanted her snuggled there with me. I was missing her and I know she was missing me too.

After a few days, her sadness turned into anger and she started to be mean to me.

One morning, once Mateo was asleep, I went into her room to read with her and let her know that I’d do bath with her that night. I was focused on her. I needed to connect with her but she told me that she didn’t want to hear a story and that Benny should do her bath too. She asked me to leave her room.

Ouch.

I’d never felt rejection from her before and damn, did it hurt.

“Nori, I have this time to be with you, and you’re not being kind to me! I know that you miss me but I don’t think you understand that I miss you too.”

I started to cry. I couldn’t keep it together.

Nori looked at me in a way that I’d never seen her look at me before. I had never cried like that in front of my daughter, being her mom, I’d always held it together.

She jumped into my arms, crying and I held her.

She laughed, “Mama! We are both crying!” and then I laughed too.

Those early days were hard.

Mateo is almost 8 months old now and Nori is his favorite person in the whole house – well, except for me – but I think that’s just because I’ve got the boobs.

He laughs at everything she does. She will yell, “Banana bread!” and he cracks up and then we all crack up because it’s so random and funny!

Seeing their friendship blossom has been a treat. It fills my heart with so much love that I can feel it exploding!

The two of them being extra cute, playing on Mateo’s mat.

It’s crazy.

But, I’m not gonna lie, we still struggle.

Bedtime is a nightmare and sometimes, errands are too. Some days I feel so overwhelmed that when I am finally free to do whatever I need to do, I just go straight to bed. Some days Nori plays alone for hours while I struggle with a fussy baby, but we are getting there.

I’m trying my best.

Just the other night, Mateo was asleep in his room and I had my hands free to cuddle with Nori in her bed. I stroked her hair and sang her lullibies. Out of nowhere, she sat up and turned to me. She said, “Mama, I’m so sorry that I hated Mateo so much before, because now I love him!” and you know those heart explosions I mentioned before?

I had a thousand of them.

Fill your cup: Simple self care for tired moms

Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” more than I ever have in my entire life – In fact, I don’t think I had ever heard it before having kids.

Is this a phrase that is reserved only for parents?

Probably.

Mom life is exhausting.

Look at all this momming I do!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love being a mama and feel so lucky to be able to stay at home with my children, but damn, some days, it is so hard!

I cook, I clean, I play, I entertain, I problem solve, I taxi drive, I wipe tears, I wipe butts, I pay bills, I schedule appointments, I give baths, I do laundry, I grocery shop.

And that’s just what I can think of of the top of my head.

It never ends! Literally!

When Benny is home, its hard enough, but when he is away for weeks at a time?!

Just thinking about it makes me anxious.

When you’re a stay at home parent, you never leave work.

Feeling run down has become a way of life. Instead of planning to get more rest, I’ve invested in a better concealer.

I drink so much coffee that if the opportunity for a nap comes up, I’m too jacked up to lay down.

I haven’t pooped alone in years!

Sometimes, I just want space! I want a few moments to myself, to hear my own thoughts.

I envy my husband when he travels. I know that he misses us so much, but usually, he gets a hotel room where he gets to shower alone and lay down alone – he doesn’t have any one asking him questions. He gets to look at his phone without feeling guilty.

OH! The bliss.

I can only imagine.

I want to shower alone! I want to lay down and know that I won’t be interrupted for 8 hours! I want for one day, no one to ask me anything.

If only.

When he is home, I struggle to admit to him that I could use a hand – and this is the time where I should be taking all the help I can get! I should be milking it!!

Unfortunately, for me, asking for help is not something that I do well.

A few weeks back, we had several 100 degree days in a row. We have a great house, but no AC. Toward the end of this heatwave, our house was miserable! The house was barely cooling down to 80 at night.

Making the best of being smothered in my hot bed first thing in the morning.

One morning, after a rough, sweaty night with Mateo, I woke up, extra grumpy.

My daughter, like she always does, ran into my bedroom to rush me out of bed. She wanted to assign me a character for whatever make-believe she was already playing.

Pretend play? Already?! I’ll pass.

She wanted pancakes, she wanted another cup of milk, she wanted to go outside.

“MOM!!! Stop calling me, Nori, I’m Princess Blue!!”

OMFG, girl. What else?!

I wanted to hide under a blanket.

I made myself some coffee and set it on the counter.

I thought that getting dressed might help to pull me together, so I grabbed the baby to bring him along with me. I noticed he was wet, so I went to change him and once he was undressed, he peed ALL OVER ME.

Now I was grumpy, sweaty and covered in urine.

I rolled the sleeves of my robe up until the wet parts were hidden inside of the dry and cleaned Mateo up. I washed my hands and dabbed my belly dry with a cloth.

I felt so gross.

The icing on the cake? Now, my coffee was cold!

ARG!

Huffing and puffing, I went to change in my bedroom and remembered that my husband was still asleep, as he worked late the night before.

That asshole!

I went to microwave my coffee and sat down to drink it, still in my pee clothes, so that I wouldn’t disturb sleeping beauty.

An hour or so later, when I heard him waking up, I became overcome with rage!

I stormed over to him and blerted out, “IM GOING TO TAKE A SHOWER, NOW! TAKE THE BABY!!”

He looked at me like, “Okay?”

He didn’t know about the pee, or how little I had slept or about my cold coffee on the counter. He didn’t know that I still needed to change. He didn’t know how much I was struggling that morning.

How could he have?

I handed him Mateo, and went to take a shower. Not some BS, rushed shower like I’d become accustomed to taking, but a nice, long shower.

I let the water pour over me. I lathered, I rinsed. I fucking repeated! I stood there and enjoyed the quiet. When I got out, I put in my contacts, put on some makeup and got fully dressed.

Usually, after a shower, I’d put my robe back on and rush out of there with my hair still in a towel.

Not today!

When I walked out fully dressed, everything was fine. The kids were happy. My husband was happy – he greeted me warmly, with a kiss.

There was absolutely no reason for me not to be meeting my own needs. The household survived while I bathed. I don’t know why I thought that they wouldn’t.

Those 20 minutes alone were fantastic. I should have been doing this all of the time – at least three times a week.

Why wasn’t I just asking for help when I needed it?

It occurred to me that I was the only person in my family who was keeping track of the last time I showered, or how many times I had woken up the night before or microwaved my coffee that morning.

It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself when everyone else forgets that you need to take care of yourself.

Maybe, it’s not that they were forgetting, but that I’m such a boss ass mama that my family didn’t realize that I was running on empty.

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Don’t mind me! I haven’t slept in 5 months.

This wasn’t a them issue, it was a me issue.

I needed to pencil in time for myself just like I did for my husband and children. I needed to let go of the assumption that because being a mom was “my job” that I wasn’t allowed to or deserve to take breaks.

Self care, y’all!

Self care doesn’t need to be a spa day. It doesn’t need to be luxurious. Self care is whatever you need to do to care your yourself – even if it’s just advocating for your needs!

No one should ever breakdown crying over a shower.

I’ve put more focus onto my own well being and have become a better mother, a better wife and a happier me. I’ve done this by:

1. Speaking up. Instead of feeling resentment toward my family for things that I feel overwhelmed by, I began to tell my husband and daughter what I needed from them and I found that both of them were more than happy to go along with my requests. If I feel backed up on housework, I’ve learned that I can just tell my husband and more often than not, he will fold our laundry or pick up around the house. If I feel overwhelmed by my daughter wanting to play the moment we wake up, I just tell her that I’m not quite ready to make believe yet and she will give me space until I have woken up more. No one is a mind reader – more often than not, my family didn’t know that I was feeling overwhelmed.

2. Making time for friends. It isn’t always possible for me to get a sitter and hang out with my friends without Nori and Mateo. Luckily for me, a lot of my friends have children or don’t mind when I have mine with me. I try to see my friends at least 2 times a week and call and text my friends regularly. Feeling connected to other adults helps motherhood and family life feel less isolating. I am so grateful for the solid group of friends in my life!

3.Doing something extra. One thing that I always do for myself that makes me happy is have manicured nails. I go every three weeks to have my shellac changed and it is an act of self love that I refuse to sacrifice. Whenever I look at my hands and their pretty polish, I feel happy! Sometimes the kids stay with my husband, sometimes with my mom and sometimes with a sitter – no matter what I need to do to make it happen, I do it. Lately I have been bringing Nori along with me and I love that something that I do for me has become a bonding experience for us. Nourishing my relationship with her by including her in an activity that I love brings me happiness!

4. Indulging. When I am feeling down or worn out, taking myself out for a treat always helps. Okay, so, maybe I am a comfort eater, but whatever! We all have our vices. It could be worse!! My favorite treats are donuts and fro yo. This act of self care is a double whammy, because I can use getting treats as a bargaining chip for good behavior from Nori. Win/win, amirite?!

5. Taking breaks from social media. Nothing like a perfect instagram family to make you feel like shit on a rough day. Sometimes, disconnecting and taking time to be fully present in your own life is all you need to snap out of a funk. The world won’t end if you don’t share every activity you do to your story – I promise!

6. Buying something new. Something as simple as buying yourself a new teeshirt can make a huge difference. I try to make a point to only get myself something when I do this – all too often I’ll buy myself something on clearance and get the kids a whole new wardrobe – that doesn’t feel as good as shopping just for you.

I know it’s easier said than done, but as a stay home mom, you’re the families glue! You’re the most important! You need to take care of yourself just as well as you do your family.

Fill that cup, mama!

Digital love

My husband, Benny, works in the music industry. He is an audio engineer at music festivals and night clubs. He works strange hours and travels often, sometimes for several weeks at a time.

He has been doing this since before we got together.

When we were young and partying, I LOVED his job. It had amazing perks – guest list to pretty much any show that I wanted to go to, free admission to music festivals, feeling cool – lol at that last one, but really, at the time, that was a valid plus. I loved living vicariously through his life – I thought he was so cool.

As the years went by and I became less and less involved in that part of his life and more and more involved in motherhood, I began to struggle with jealousy. He was still so cool and what was I now?

A mom.

I went to bed at 10pm. All I talked about was nap schedules and breastfeeding, baby carriers and diapers. I complained about being tired, about being touched out.

I thought that I’d become a bore; a nag.

I couldn’t help but think that when he was at work he would be surrounded by young, attractive girls in party mode. They were probably way more interesting than me. They were out having fun, trying to get laid, looking their best – and my husband was right there, in all of his coolness.

It was hard for my mind not to go there when I’d be at home alone, in bed, likely not showered, with a baby in my arms.

Before having kids, I knew that my husband only had eyes for me. I was confident in that. I pranced around our house in my underwear. I practically threw my sexuality at him all day, everyday. He would compliment me and flirt with me. We had an amazing sex life. Amazing.

We weren’t flirting anymore.

I had no sexuality to throw at him.

Our sex life was practically non existent. I was tired, touched out and honestly, sex was painful for me for that whole first year of being a parent.

No wonder I was feeling jealous – it wasn’t only stemming from his work, but also from our lack of connection as sexual beings – not only as parents. For me, sexual connection and intimacy is vital for feeling secure.

I needed to pull it together!! I didn’t want to start any drama in our relationship. Being new parents was hard enough.

Rather than dwelling in my jealousy or panicking about how I’d lost my intrinsic ability to flaunt my sexuality, I became proactive.

One night, after Nori had gone to bed, while benny was at work, I put on some sexy lingerie and took some selfies. I sent him a few and almost immediately was bombarded by texts from him, flipping out!

Screenshot from a recent sext thread.

I felt his excitement through my phone. I felt my own excitement. I missed this part of us. I missed knowing that he was wrapped around my finger – that my own sexuality could foster security in my relationship.

Why had I stopped doing this?

It’s not like this was my first time ever sending him photos like these. I’m pretty sure texts like these laid the foundation for our relationship!

Motherhood does not cancel out your sexuality, but it can if you allow it.

Now that I had broken down this barrier that I had created for myself, I could feel my jealousy dissipating. I had gotten my power back. I stopped feeling insecure. I wasn’t worried about girls at the club, because reconnecting in this way reminded me of just how treasured I was to my husband. I was giving him the attention that he needed again and I was getting the praise that I so badly needed to hear.

It was a win win.

That confident woman inside me was starting to shine through my tired eyes. I felt like a goddess – my husband would tell me that I was a goddess – and it felt good. So good, that I haven’t stopped sending him photos and I likely never will.

It’s sort of our thing.

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My husband and I call this type of booty shot, “cozy booty”.

As a proud nude sender, here are some tips and tricks.

  1. If your partner is at work or out with friends, send a text before sending that reads NSFW. Benny has definitely opened messages in front of friends and coworkers that were for his eyes only. WHOOPS.
  2. Change it up! Don’t always send the same mirror shot. Better yet, rarely send a mirror shot. Pick your favorite assets and highlight them. I know Benny loves my booty, so he gets those a lot. I have a few favorite angles that I have perfected over the years.
  3. If you are feeling extra frisky, send a boomerang! Seriously, the littlest movements or gestures running on a loop can be so super sexy! My favorite is to put my finger in my mouth a little bit. Try it. You’ll see why.
  4. Delete them off of your camera roll if you often scroll through your photos in public and don’t want people to see them. I’ve wanted to show my mom pictures of the kids before deleting photos more times than I’d like to admit. In fact, she has become so accustomed to the risk of seeing my sexy photos, that now she goes with it –  if she sees a nude, she just compliments me. My mom is awesome.
  5. Only send nudes if you enjoy sending them. No one should ever pressure you into sending them nude photos. It should be just as much a treat for you as it is for your partner.
  6. Make sure your partner is someone that you can trust to respect you enough to keep these special treats private (if that’s what you want).

Now get to it!

Drive someone crazy.