When I got pregnant with Lucy, I never imagined being a Stay at Home Mom. I loved my job. I was good at my job. I was having the time of my life. After she was born, my priorities shifted….but not how you might think. I absolutely do not think that our children are better off if their mom is at home and I absolutely do not think that the quality of life of a child is better because they have a Stay at Home Mom. In fact, the hardest part of deciding to leave the work force to stay home was removing Lucy from her school. Lucy’s caretakers were/are the most amazing people I know….still to this day they love my daughter like their own. They build me up, encourage me and cheer me on in anything I decide to do (like this blog). When I have a question, they are only a phone call (let’s be honest….text) away. They taught my daughter sign language, they taught her to crawl…to walk….they loved her and they loved our family and our life would not be the same without them. They are the best.
My priorities shifted in that I could not stop thinking about the future. What she would need from me. Materialistically. Everything from diapers to college to her future wedding and all I saw were dollar signs. So, I left a job I loved for one that paid more putting aside passion for money and boy was I disappointed. More money didn’t change the way we lived. I was more distracted, more stressed and less fulfilled. I will cut myself a little slack in that I was travelling 3-4 times a week with my previous job while pumping in airport bathrooms (sobbing I might add) and construction trailers while my husband held down the fort at home…so that too played into my decision but still…I did it for the money. Anyway, when we found out we were pregnant with Eli…we both knew that if there was ever a time….it was then and I would take that opportunity to spend the summer with Lucy…just her and I and then stay home after Eli was born. Again, this wasn’t our plan.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. I was chatting with a woman who I look up to in every way. A wife…a mother…a boss….a mentor. A beautiful, brilliant, strong, gentle woman who I simply adore. She casually mentioned how impressed she was with the way I had taken on my new role at home and I was awe struck. I of course thanked her and said it “was nothing” or some other garbage but it meant the absolute world to me. It is not easy….I am working my ass off. She still to this day has no idea the impact her words had on me. I wanted to kiss her (did I mention she is beautiful too?)! So, as we sat there while our kids were in swim lessons, we chatted about the challenges of balancing life…work…play…love, etc. We talked about meal planning and as we talked I started to think about it….how did I do it? How could I have done it better? How can a working parent get dinner on the table without a service like Hello Fresh, Plated or something of that nature? Which by the way are really great options too. No, seriously….if I could afford it…you bet your bottom dollar this would be part of my arsenal. My point is, cooking for my family every night is “easy” compared to how it was when I was working full time….rushing home from work…scrambling to get something on the table….while trying to give my undivided attention to my child….while stressing about the email I received before leaving the office (that I knew I would need to respond to after Lucy went to bed). So, I started thinking about recipes that would allow you to prep the night before. How can you still cook your family dinner, eat it together and get the kids to bed at a decent hour? How could one make this work? Unfortunately, I haven’t solved this conundrum….BUT I do have a couple tools that I think might help.
I would say a meal plan is the first place to start. If you know what you’re making, you’re already ahead of the game. Hopefully I can help you out here but if not, just make anything Skinnytaste. Damn Gina….for real though.
Meal prep is next. If you can prep it the night before, you’re bound for success. Chop the veggies, make the sauce, marinate the meat, shred the cheese, etc.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Seriously, I was killing myself and at the end of the day….the meal I put on the table literally means nothing. I could serve toast and everyone would love me just the same. BUT…..if you’re local (where are all my Portland, Oregon peeps at???) I have a much better option than toast!! That break I mentioned? You can find it by exploring the healthy and delicious meal plan offered by PDX Meal Prep! Trust me! You won’t be disappointed, you will feel good about what you’re feeding your family and you will have all the time in the world to read that extra book or finish that puzzle that you would otherwise miss out on….seriously…what more could you ask for? And because PDX Meal Prep is not only an awesome product/service….they are also AWESOME people….they are offering M&M readers a pretty sweet deal!
So, if you’re still reading this and haven’t forgotten why you started reading in the first place….here are a handful of recipes to help you get dinner on the table. This week is dedicated to all of the amazing working moms out there who manage to do all the things. I found 5 recipes that I think can reasonably be prepared on a weeknight after work….all of which would be awesome leftovers for lunch the next day!
Are you making breakfast right now? Does your child eat eggs? Seriously…how and why does mine NOT eat eggs? As you have probably noticed by now….my 2.5 year old has become the pickiest of eaters. I know what you’re thinking…its normal…I know. I’m actually okay with it. After many discussions with our pediatrician and scouring of the internet, I am at peace with it and no longer engage in the power struggle of force feeding my toddler. I offer her whatever it is we’re eating and if she chooses to eat it…great and if not, that’s okay too. We do not praise nor condemn either. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t drive me absolutely CRAZY!!! “Deep breath” is my dinner time chant these days. While I try not to show my frustration (key word here being try)…I am not above secretly adding veggies to anything and everything I possibly can. Pancakes, cookies, muffins, grilled cheese, mac and cheese (speaking of…have you seen this: https://www.facebook.com/tastyjunior/videos/406801326340627/) you name it…if I can sneak a carrot or zucchini in it…I’m doing it. When I found this recipe, I made it as is and it’s delicious. Then I started playing around with it. I added chocolate chips, carrots, zucchini and all variations were just as good. She loves them. My husband loves them. I love them. They’re delicious and fairly easy to throw together. I usually double the recipe and freeze half. These are great to have on hand. Also, I cut the sugar in half. They are plenty sweet.
Good Morning! I received so much love and support after my first Meal Plan post last week – thank you….mostly to my friends and family who I all but paid to make them follow me on here! I also received some really good feedback on how to deliver these meal plans via the blog and social channels to better suit your needs…how you shop, etc. Thank you for those of you that reached out….I really appreciate it!! With that being said, this week I am trying something a little different to see if it works better for you. So, first and foremost – here are the recipes! I have linked out directly to the original recipes right here up front so that you can pin or save as you would like.
This is my first “real” blog post on Milk and Mascara. It’s harder than I thought it would be….writing a blog. I thought a lot about why people would actually want to read anything I have to say and I asked myself, “Why should/would people read YOUR blog rather than the 3 billion other brilliant and inspiring mom blogs?” or “what makes what you have to say so unique?” more times than I can count. Honestly, I would have to say….nothing. I’m “just” a normal-ish wife & mother….living in the ‘burbs….trying to keep a couple of tiny humans alive. Sometimes I think I’m kind of funny and sometimes I’m kind of crass. I have a tiny bit of a potty mouth…that I promise to refrain from using on this blog (I should also mention that I do sometimes break promises). I am not wealthy. I don’t drive an expensive car. I don’t have a closet full of designer clothes or shoes. I don’t have a fancy kitchen. I don’t spend a fortune on groceries. I am not a professional photographer (sorry about the awful iPhone pics by the way), I am not a chef, a teacher or an expert in early childhood education. So…if I’m being totally honest…there is nothing “unique” per se. But that’s just it. I don’t think you have to be any of those things…or have any of those things….to live a good, simple life…to cook good food or to teach your kids how to be decent human beings. Don’t get me wrong….I work my a$$ off (see….I already broke my first promise I made to you and I haven’t even finished the 1st paragraph) to keep this house in working order…to get dinner on the table and keep everyone happy and healthy. I am organized, diligent and thorough. I work very hard to stay on top of “it all”…or at least most of “it all”. So, I guess my hope is that my organization can help you plan out your own week or simplify your planning, whether it be a home cooked meal, a fun activity for your tiny human(s) or a recommendation for a deliciously cheap bottle of wine.
Anyway, when I started to enjoy cooking (aka stopped poisoning people), I started these weekly meal plans and they’ve become a bit of a “hobby” of mine. Each week, I choose 4-6 recipes and plan them out depending on what our week looks like. I prep/cook almost every meal during nap time (1pm-3pm) if the recipe will allow it. Most recipes are not my own so I will link out to the original recipe and will simply notate any adjustments I made and why. I have also laid out all the ingredients for the week in a list format for the grocery store if you’re just going to make all recipes as is.
I will also be sure to let you know if my toddler ate them….SPOILER ALERT….she didn’t.
M+M is launching a new “Yoga Babes” series: highlighting various yoga asana (poses) and celebrating that sometimes you have to just get your workout in when and where you can! So here is to backyard yoga, playroom pilates, sleeping-kids spin biking, homework weight training, or whatever your mommy bootcamp method of choice may be!
Bakasana: “Crane” (often called “crow”) pose
Come into a squat on the balls of the feet (heels lifted) and knees apart
Reach the arms long in front of the body & then draw one tricep at a time snug into the shin just below the knee, creating a “shelf” for your lower body to rest on
Firm the palms into the ground so that you feel locked & loaded – the hands aren’t slipping & you have lots of stability
Squeeze the knees into the arms
Lift your rear end up!! (this is the step most people skip)
Activate your core
Look forward and let your nose & toes act as the counter weights of a scale
As you tip your nose forward you will feel the weight start to come off of your feet, enabling you to lift one foot at a time off the floor
Arms will eventually straighten
If fearful of falling forward, place a blanket in front of your face
Core is the most significant element in any arm balance: aside from having your entire body warmed up before practicing this pose, be sure to work your core a bit to activate more easily; also fire up through the core when balancing to give yourself additional lift
Keep your feet active when balancing :it is much harder to hold loose limbs in the air (think dead weight) rather than strong feet that are a part of the posture
Chaturanga Dandasana: “Four-Limbed Staff Pose”
From plank position, activate the legs & core, draw the heels back & tuck the chin slightly in so the gaze is down rather than forward
Lower the body in one elevator-like movement, making sure not to dip lower than the elbows
Elbows track straight back rather than out to the side so that the biceps graze the ribcage
Moving through upward-facing dog is the traditional way to transition out of chaturanga dandasana in a Vinyasa Flow practice
Chaturanga dandasana is one of my “soap box” postures as a teacher. It is quite easy to get hurt practicing it incorrectly
DO NOT dip the heads of the shoulders towards the floor (so awful for the rotator cuff); instead keep the shoulders in line with the rest of the body
DO NOT lead with the belly or chest towards the floor (promotes over-arching in the spine); instead consider keeping the knees on the floor for Modified Chaturanga until your upper body and core strength increase (you will be amazed how fast this happens!)
DO give yourself lots of variations to explore different ways of getting to the floor such as Knees-Chest-Chin and Modified Chaturanga. In a Vinayasa Flow practice there are many, many opportunities to practice Chaturanga Dandasana…sometimes too many when first starting out
Playful Combination: Bakasana to Chaturanga Dandasana!
If wrists are healthy and your Chaturange is strong & controlled, you can float from Bakasana directly to Chaturange Dandasana. In Bakasana, the following will happen simultaneously:
Reach the heart forward towards the horizon
Ground more firmly through the hands
Guide the feet back for the balls of the feet to land softly on the mat
Bend through the elbows (so that you do not pause in plank)
A soft landing ensures less jolt to the wrists, spine and feet
Have a sene of humor when trying anything new…or when your tried & true yoga practice feels different, more difficult or lacking energy – we’ve all been there!
Ok ok. My youngest child is 2.5…I’m not breast feeding…nap schedules are set…
I really should work out.
(I mean, if I ever hope to get that booty back I’m guessing sooner rather than later is key)
I looked into the local gyms, the child care, the local Pilates studio. Nothing was jumping out. And it is so expensive! Plus by the time I got to the gym, checked the kids in, did the workout and drove home – I’ve burned at least 2 hours! How many times a week am I supposed to do this? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!!”
A month ago, as I watched the downward descent of my mom butt, I realized I had to do something. Something quick and easy and that could be done on my own schedule. I grabbed a note pad out of my desk and labeled it with some exercises. It was a Sunday and I gave myself until Saturday to complete them. The Post-It Note Trainer was born:
60 minutes on treadmill
50 push ups
4 min of planks
(You get the idea)
Whenever I found the time I would bang out a portion of the post it note. On the days I had more time I would use the treadmill and do all the crunches. If I didn’t have time to do a full workout but did have, say 5 minutes on my hands, I would do 40 squats and 25 push ups and simply subtract them from the post it. For someone who LOVES the feeling of checking off a list…oh man, this is incredibly motivating! Even if I’m not crossing off an entire line at a time, just ticking off portions of my tasks feels awesome. And I love seeing the numbers go down on my little brightly colored, omnipresent personal trainer.
Now I do own a treadmill, which helps, but the only other equipment I have is a pair of 8lb dumbbells I bought from Marshalls. You could sub in running stairs for treadmill time if you live in a two-story or an apartment building. Or maybe a stroller walk or jog if the weather is decent. Just doing anything feels better than nothing! Think of what you want to accomplish, write it down for the week’s goal and post that bad boy where you can see it: bathroom mirror, kitchen cork board. Then enjoy that floating heart flutter one only achieves when crossing off a list!
Here is the most important thing you need to know: this sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) tastes so much better than anything store-bought! I didn’t care for the stuff one bit until I made my own. I tried this recipe out on 20 unsuspecting but very opinionated preschoolers when I was snack mom last year. Even the self-professed sunbutter haters devoured their little SBJ sammies! And parents, talk about a money saver: jars of good sunflower seed butter can be $12 plus.
Below is Tessa’s original recipe and instructions (important to give credit where credit is due!). I will just add my own brief tidbits:
I used my Vitamix and can even get the job done in my electric chopper.
I definitely found no need to add liquid stevia, though my oil of choice is organic coconut oil so there is a little sweetness built in! 100% pure maple syrup or raw local honey are delicious additions too!
Since I used coconut oil I find it keeps best in my cupboard. Coconut oil solidifies when cooled so fridge storage turns the creamy texture into a hardened paste (learn from my oversight!). However, if you don’t plan to consume it very quickly or often then the fridge is your best bet.