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.

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!

Radical Self Acceptance

It feels like out of nowhere, I’ve become a serious adult.

We own our home, we have two cars – one of them seats 8 people, wtf – we have two children and a dog. We eat home cooked meals, host bbq’s and birthday parties. Hell, we have a storage box filled with holiday decorations for every major holiday.

It’s crazy.

We are grown. ass. people.

I turned 31 this past April. I still feel like 20 year old me – maybe not as clueless and careless – but that same goofy person is in there. What’s different now, though, is that I have grey hairs coming in. I have wrinkles. My boobs sag. My feet are rough. I feel too old for some of my go to fashion choices and struggle to find myself in what may be more appropriate.

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It’s always a little awkward to be sung Happy Birthday.

I feel in transition.

Should I hold onto my youth? Or should I gracefully walk toward the inevitable?

Everybody is going to be crazy wrinkly one day. Everybody. No surgery’s or interventions can hide it all.

In terms of my own wrinkles, there are a few places on my face that really bring me sadness. One of those places is my smile line. How backward is that? This little mark on my face was formed by years and years of smiling and when I see it, it totally bums me out!

I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of injectables for a couple of years now. I have many friends who get botox and juviderm and they look fantastic, but for some reason, I have never gone ahead and made an appointment.

As much as I hate aging. I deeply want to change my own inner dialogue about aging. I don’t want to look at other people, and yearn for their youth. I had my youth, and I wore it well! I want to do the same for my maturity. I want to be a badass older woman with grey hair and wrinkles and saggy old tits and feel good about it all.

ENTER: Radical Self Accepance!

When I was a teenager, I struggled emotionally and was put into a group therapy called DBT. It helped me a lot and there are still many skills from the program that I strive to perfect in my life. One of these skills is called “radical acceptence”. To utilize this skill, rather than getting upset or angry about life’s inconveniences or disapointments, you acknowledge that they’re happening and accept the feelings they give you, good or bad, without judgement or reaction.

“GAHHHH! I am already late to work and now there is traffic?! WHY. ME!!” could easily be, “Wow. There is traffic and I am already late. I should put on a podcast. I hope they’ll understand at work.”

So, what does this have to do with anything? We were talking about aging…not anger.

Well, hear me out.

What if, when we look at ourself in the mirror, instead of feeling angry or sad or disappointed in our aging appearance, we instead accept it for what it is – a gift. Not everyone lives long enough to watch themselves age. We live in a society that practically demonizes aging and praises youth – other cultures revere their elders, not hide them.

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Worlds oldest woman, Emma Morano, who died at 117 years and 37 days.

I want to wear my age proudly! I have come a long way and I have nothing to hide. Instead of trying to prevent aging, my solution is to encourage aging gracefully through a few simple steps.

  1. Keep a good skin care routine, day and night with quality products, including SPF.
  2. Eat foods that nourish my body, to ensure that I receive all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that my body needs to thrive.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  4. Get a good nights sleep. Our skin cells repair themselves while we are at rest – if you aren’t resting, your skin cells are going to look tired too.
  5. Embrace life to the fullest – a happy person, is a beautiful person – no matter the age!
  6. If all else fails, cut some bangs.

I will touch on all of these coping skills individually in future posts, as this leap into radical self acceptance can’t be accomplished simply by saying I’m doing it. I know I will still struggle. My hope is to share these struggles with you and that maybe some other people will join me in discovering and owning their aging beauty.

I love this quote from Coco Chanel; “Nothing makes a woman look so old as desperately trying hard to look young.”

True that, Coco.

Wrinkles, grays and saggy tits, I am still a fucking sexy bitch!

 

Hello!

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while. I think about it at night while I scroll through my phone. I come up with name ideas and post ideas, what my layout will look like, the whole nine. I fantasize about how awesome it’ll be and how maybe I’ll connect with people with whom I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. Maybe my story and ideals can influence others or help them get through rough times. Maybe I can help someone feel less alone. What a great release it could be for me – to put myself into something that isn’t my children, something that brings me joy. It’s the perfect daydream. The thought of it gets me excited, it consumes me, but then, like clockwork, that excitement turns into anxiety. My brain tries to bring me down – it does bring me down and I think, “it’s just a fantasy. Everyone is doing it already. Why bother?”

GAH. Shut up brain!

I hear her again. “No one will want to read it and people who do might think you’re weird.”

Seriously, dude. Shut up.

And again! “You don’t even know how to do this. What would your first post even be? Do you even know? Would you just start writing? Would you introduce yourself? You’ll probably start out wrong. Just forget about it.”

My brain doesn’t shut up.

My anxiety swells.

I decide to not start a blog.

The end

Just kidding!

Who cares if everyone is doing it. Who cares if no one reads it. WHATEVER, DUDE!! If I don’t bite the bullet, it will eat away at me forever – those “what if’s” in life really have a way of doing that. So, here we are!

Let me introduce myself.

I’m Emma!

I am 31 years old, married and have two kids, Nori, 4 and Mateo, 7mo. My husband, Benny, is an audio engineer. He travels a lot for work. Sometimes he is gone for weeks on end, hustling hard at music festivals and concerts all over the country (and sometimes other countries too). It’s hard for me to be alone with two young children, but I am proud of him. Thanks to him, I get to stay at home with my kids and honestly, that is the only consistent thing I have wanted in my life.

I grew up in New Jersey and now I live in Portland, OR. It’s cool! I really like it here. I’ve been here for over 10 years now – I better like it. So much of my life has been made here – I met my husband here, I lost my father here. After I gave birth to my daughter, my mom moved out here. My closest friendships are here. Some of my lowest times were here but because of those rough spots, I’ve really grown out here. Sometimes I think about leaving, maybe to somewhere warmer – usually when it’s been raining for too long – but deep down, I know that I probably never will.

I think when I was first pregnant with Nori, that people judged me (re: low times). I’m sure a lot of people would share the news, laughing, thinking “oh my god. she is going to be a mom?”

By the time I got pregnant with Mateo, I’d already gone “full mom” as I like to call it. My husband has asked me, “What does that even mean?”

Honestly, I don’t know. But it feels like that’s what I did.

Motherhood is demanding, selfless, thankless. Your freedom is stripped, some friendships are lost, parts of yourself go missing, your relationship changes, you’re always tired and your boobs will never, ever be the same!!

Yikes. That sounds awful, huh?

It’s totally not though!! Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I hope to share my ups and downs, my ins and outs, my favorite things and my least favorite things, my ongoing struggle with excepting getting older, my ambivalence about my hair and my personal style, eh, the list goes on.

I hope you stay for a while and really get to know me. I’ve got so much to say.