The Ultimate Hospital Bag List

Ultimate Hospital Bag List(1)There are a couple things you should know about me. First, I LOVE LISTS. I love writing them, I love having them, I love re-writing them and organizing them. I pretty much have a list for everything.

I’m also a total scatterbrain. I cannot keep something in my head for longer than a minute before I forget it. Something I fret about the most is that I might forget something important. I have a list for when we travel with O, I have a list of items we ALWAYS need to buy at the grocery store, for what I’d like to get done around the house, etc. etc.

Needless to say, I have an EXTENSIVE list for what to put in my hospital bag that I accumulated from friends who had just had babies. I made the list before we had O, but because he was early, we were VERY unprepared. Jon had to make a few trips back and forth to the house to get everything we needed.

It’s also worth it to say, if you don’t have to stay at the hospital for a long period of time (if you have midwives and there are no complications, you’re often home in a couple hours) a lot of this list isn’t necessary. HOWEVER, I prefer to have too much stuff than not enough.

When to pack your bags: They say any time after 35 weeks is when you should start packing & install that car seat. We had HALF packed our bag (mostly O’s) but a lot of the stuff below you still need up until you go (unless you have doubles of some stuff). In any case, whenever feels right for you.

Spit Up & Sippy Cups ULTIMATE Hospital Bag Checklist.

The Essentials:

For Baby:

  • Diapers (helpful to have size NB and size 1 just in case)
  • Vaseline or Coconut Oil (you won’t need diaper rash cream at the hospital, Vaseline is really all you need for the first while)
  • Wipes (I suggest the sensitive ones, just because you don’t know how sensitive their skin is)
  • 2-3 sleepers for baby – babies are messy and spit up and pee everywhere, we were totally unprepared for how many of these we were going to go through. Also consider bringing a couple sizes (nb and 0-3, which are different. Who knew?)
  • Soothers (if you want to use…most hospitals will provide for you if you don’t have)
  • 2-3 flannel receiving blankets – you will use these to swaddle, to clean up mess, for everything
  • Car seat – they won’t let you leave the hospital unless you have one (understandably). Do yourself a favour and install the car seat well in advance of your due date. It’s a colossal pain in the ass.
  • Hats, mitts and warm clothing if it is winter

For Mommy:

  • All important information – Photo ID, Health Card, Insurance Info, Hospital Paperwork, Birth Plan etc.
  • Phone and Charger – you’re going to being making calls, sending texts and taking pictures. You do NOT want your phone to die.
  • Contact Case, Solution & Glasses (nothing is worse than having to wear your contacts for too long)
  • Water/Gatorade – In between pushing, I have never been so thirsty in my life. Like, I wanted to chug a lake.
  • Lip Balm – see above
  • Hair brush and ties
  • Toothbrush and Paste – let me tell you, there is no better feeling than brushing your teeth after being in labour and pushing a baby out. It’s ALMOST better than a shower.
  • Deodorant – post-partum sweats are fun
  • Crappy Underwear – your underwear WILL get ruined, no matter how thick your pads are. Alternatively, you can pack “Depends” type underwear which you can just throw out.
  • Thick Pads and/or “Depends” Underwear
  • Nursing Bra and Nipple Pads & Nipple Cream – I had neither and all my clothes were covered in colostrum/breast milk. I was lucky that my milk came in so much, but I was a fucking mess. Like, it was literally everywhere. And my nipples? Let’s not talk about it.
  • Slippers/Flip Flops/Thick Socks – if you have to stay in the hospital for awhile, you’re going to want to walk around and you’re NOT going to want to put your feet in closed shoes.
  • Comfy Pants – because Jeans = the devil
  • Tank Tops – if you’re trying to breastfeed, you want instant access to your boobs.

For Partner:

  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution, case, glasses, any meds etc.
  • Cellphone & charger – you’re responsible for taking some photos after your little babes arrives & take as many as you can. That day is such a blur, you’ll likely forget those first moments.
  • Change of clothes including boxers/underwear, a couple shirts (you will likely be sweating too during the birthing process), comfy pants
  • Flip flops/slippers
  • Snacks/Water/Gatorade – leave hers alone!

Suggested/Nice to Have Items

For Mommy:

  • Food/Snacks – when I was in labour, I didn’t feel hungry until I got the epidural. Once those sweet, amazing drugs kicked in, I was ravenous. So bring some granola bars, trail mix that sort of thing. You can munch on that while your sweetie goes and gets you a cheeseburger.
  • Nursing Pillow – my midwife said not to bring mine, but I figure, if it’s the one I’ll be using at home, I want to learn how to breastfeed with that pillow. Even if you don’t end up breastfeeding (like me) you can use that pillow for EVERYTHING.
  • Pump – you don’t HAVE to bring, but you never know how breastfeeding will go at the beginning and it’s nice to have your own pump. If you don’t have one, you can rent from the hospital.
  • Book/Magazine/Tablet – if you’re being induced, there is a good chance you’ll have to hang around the hospital for awhile. Having a distraction is really nice.
  • Towel – the one the give you at the hospital is crap. And if you don’t already feel like a giant whale, the tiny, crappy towel they give you won’t help.
  • Shampoo/Soap – This will be the greatest shower of your life. So bring the stuff that makes you feel good.

For Partner:

  • Pillow & blankets – If you’re at the hospital for awhile they do NOT make it comfortable for the partner to stay (if you’re even allowed). You’ll want your own pillows and blankets so you can get some rest.

Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. It seems like a lot of stuff, but some of it is extra. I’m sure a lot of parents show up with nothing but a bottle of water and their cellphone. These are just items I had and/or wished that I had while I was in the hospital. And as I said, I’m an over packer and I like to be over prepared vs. under prepared. You do whatever works for you and whatever you’re comfortable with.

Do you have any “must-haves” that I missed? If so, leave your list in the comments and I’ll include in my list.

Good luck Momma!

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[RE-POST] Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a re-post from my past blog “My Real Life Kitchen” from Dec 2015. I have some amazing recipes on there and instead of re-doing the post, I’m just going to take EXACTLY what I wrote and post it here. Enjoy 🙂

img_0782YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!

Like. I can’t even. I am so excited about these cookies.

Let me give you a little bit of background on these cookies.

Two things:

I’ve been trying to freestyle a bit more with my baking & cooking the last little while & experiment more. ALSO, My In-Laws are staying with us over the winter, and my father in law is a TOTAL cookie monster. I’ve made more cookies over the last two months than I have in a year.

So, I decided I wanted to make a cookie that was a little bit healthier than the short bread & other sugary treats I’ve been making. I headed up to my kitchen to explore & see what I could find.

I saw – ripe bananas, dark chocolate chips, peanut butter & some spices. My FIL’s fave cookie is oatmeal chocolate chip, so I decided to try something new.

This cookie is so healthy, you could eat it for breakfast. However, it’s so yummy, it takes like dessert. I just can’t say enough good things.

Take my word, just try it!

Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by The Food Network

Prep Time: 5-8 mins
Baking Time: 14-16 mins
Makes: about 24 medium sized cookies

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
1 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash up the bananas with a potato masher or a fork. The riper, the better! They’re more sweet!
  3. Add in the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg and stir until combined.
  4. Add in the oats and mix until combined. Finally, stir in the dark chocolate chips. The darker the better. MMMMMMMmmmmm. The dough will be pretty sticky & that’s totally ok!
  5. Using two spoons, scoop out dough & plop on the baking sheets. These cookies don’t really spread, so press them down with your fingers to flatten them a bit.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes. All depends on your oven, but they’re ready when the bottoms are golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a wire baking rack & enjoy!

These last for a few days at room temp, or up to a week in the fridge. Trust me, they won’t last that long!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken with Roasted Peppers

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken | Spit Up & Sippy CupsYou know that feeling, when you’re in the kitchen and you just feel inspired to create?

Yea, me neither.

Typically my kitchen looks like a bomb went off. There’s a half emptied dishwasher left open and a toddler trying to climb inside. There are mysterious crumbs all over the floor and it’s not uncommon to step on something squishy and wet. There are a few toys scattered around in an attempt to distract O, when all he wants to do is play with the stove. Oh, and there is a mysterious smell coming from the green bin under the sink.

So, while once upon a time, I used to draw dinner inspiration from the ingredients in my fridge, these days I draw inspiration from Googling “Easy and Fast Meal Ideas that require minimal clean up” and pray that I have all the ingredients in my fridge/cupboard.

That’s how these yummy sandwiches came to fruition. Ok, I’d actually seen these on Pinterest awhile back and thought they looks simple and yummy. I WAS going to make them a bit spicy, but since O eats mostly what we eat now, I opted out.

These were SO yummy. Like, I would just eat the chicken and the peppers, forget the bun. O loveddddddddddddddd the chicken. He couldn’t get enough. He also liked the peppers too, which surprised me. We’re still working on veggies.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken | Spit Up & Sippy Cups

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken | Spit Up & Sippy Cups

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken | Spit Up & Sippy Cups

The only thing I would change next time is getting a better bun. I’m all about the bun to meat ratio and there was WAYYYY too much bread. That was my own fault though, maybe next time I’ll just make my own.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh dear.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken with Roasted Peppers
Original BBQ Chicken Recipe by Family Fresh Meals

Servings: 2-4
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Sweet Peppers (Red, Yellow and/or Orange)
  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup your fave BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Buns

Instructions:

The Peppers:

  1. Set oven to “Broil” on low. Make sure your oven rack is in the middle. If it’s too close to the element, there is a good chance your peppers will scorch too quickly.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Cut your peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes (the white stuff on the inside).
  4. Place peppers insides-down on the baking sheet and pop in the oven. It really depends on the oven for how long this will take, but keep a close eye. You’ll know they’re done when the outside skin is charred and the peppers are soft.
  5. Put cooked peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 mins or so. This will make it easier to peel the skin off the peppers.
  6. When you’re able to, peel skin off peppers. Cut into strips and set aside until ready to use.

The Chicken:

  1. Combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire Sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. Add a small amount of salt and pepper to chicken. Cover with BBQ sauce mixture.
  3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Check chicken at 3 hours. It should easily shred with two forks. If t doesn’t leave for another hour or so.
  4. When cooked, shred chicken and mix together with the sauce.
  5. Serve immediately on fresh, crusty buns and top with peppers.

Seriously – easiest. meal. ever. You could make it even easier by eliminating the peppers (but they are SOOOO good).

Enjoy!

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Mental Illness is like Diabetes…

Image result for mental health
Image via InuksukSaftey.ca

Weird title, but hear me out.

My whole life, I have been aware of mental health and mental illness. Growing up, I knew my mom was mildly manic depressive (what they call Bipolar now). She never hid it from us and we always knew when she was going through a “mini manic” or a “mild depressive” stage. We also knew she was on medication and she had regular appointments with “Mr. Fix-it” her counselor to help her deal with abuse as a child from her father. She was a very vocal advocate for mental health at a time (late 80’s) when NO ONE talked about mental health. It was considered shameful, embarrassing and something you swept under the rug. For most people, it was just too uncomfortable to talk about.  I admired (and still do) her ability to not give one shit about what people thought and to put it out there anyway. She’s still like that to this day (love you, mom).

So, while I understood mental health and mental illness, I never really thought too much of it. After all, no one else talked about it, so maybe it was just my mom.

By the time I was in grade 5, I had been to 4 different schools in 5 years. It was a lot. Halfway through the school year, I witnessed my cousin in a tobogganing  accident. It was terrifying. There was a moment I thought she had died from breaking her neck. Around this time, I started to develop stomach pains. I wasn’t up to going to school for 3 months. For a several months, my family doctor and other specialists, ran test after test after test.  There was no physical reason for my stomach pains. Then we went to an allergy specialist. Nothing there either. A nurse friend suggested it was probably related to anxiety and encouraged my parents to make a plan with the teacher to get me back to school.  Finally, one morning, in April, despite my tears and protests my mother literally DRAGGED me out of bed, dressed me and walked  me to school. As soon as I was there, I was OK. We came to name it “The School Anxiety Thing” and whenever I felt nervous or mild stomach pain think about going to school in the morning, Mom and discussed was it “The School Anxiety Thing”. It felt good to give it a name. But in time, I  chalked it up to “who knows” and moved on.

High school came…I was an OK student. Quite frankly, the only reason I maintained the average I did was because of music. Math, Science, I did OK, low 70s, but music is really where I excelled. I was good at music and it came easy to me. I didn’t try very hard in my other classes because I had to work at it. What if I worked at it and I didn’t do well? That would mean failure. Failure, as I’ve learned is a big trigger for me.

My mom had always thought I had some sort of learning disability, so she took me to get tested at a psychologist. All I remember from the results was that I had mild ADD, mild ADHD and subclinical depression. I was in Grade 12 at that point, had been accepted into University and was in my first REAL relationship. Life was good, so I brushed it off.

University. My high school boyfriend had broken up with me and I was a complete disaster. I turned to food and alcohol as a way of coping. I had failed at at relationship which mean I was a failure (nevermind that most high school relationships don’t survive to Thanksgiving). Food became my crutch, my medicine. I gained almost 30lbs, lost it the following summer and gained it back the next year. I was constantly up and down. By 4th year (I had decided to study Psychology. Partly to figure out my brain, but I also find the study of human behaviour absolutely fascinating.) I had enough and put myself on a waiting list for a psychologist at the school. I knew something was up.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fit. I was pretty much done school by the time I got in, but I had started taking Celexa, a SSRI designed to help with depression and anxiety. It was a VERY mild dose, but it helped me a lot.

After I graduated, I met my an amazing man (my now amazing husband). I landed a great job (especially for someone with a Hon BA in Psychology) and life was really, really good again. I went off my Celexa because I didn’t think I needed it any more.

HANG IN THERE FOLKS, THERE’S A REASON I’M TELLING YOU ALL THIS.

Then, my parents decided to end their marriage. This hit me harder than I ever could have imagined. Even though I knew it was for the best, my family unit had really been the only concrete thing in my life. I was back to eating and drinking and gained a bunch of weight. At that point I decided to go back on the SSRI’s.

Fast forward a couple years. I wasn’t in a great place. I mean, I was FINE, but not great. I was just kind of coasting. Even though I’m a huge advocate for mental health and had taken psychology in school I was afraid to seek out a counselor. I don’t know why, I guess for some reason I thought I could fix my brain on my own. I rationalized that I just needed to X, Y and Z and then I’d be happy again. I mean, I had a wonderful life. I had a good job, a wonderful husband, a great home, a car, food…but I was still feeling so lost.

Finally I got a recommendation from a friend and J and my Mom really encouraged me to go. I did…and it was really hard. I had to work through some really hard stuff. I finally acknowledged my overwhelming anxiety issues. I was given tools to help get me through all of my most anxious moments and healthy coping strategies.

This really got me to thinking…I have decent knowledge about mental health issues. I’m also a huge advocate for seeking help when you need it. I believe it should be talked about and for the stigma around it to be lifted. Yes, despite all of the above, I was STILL embarrassed and ashamed to seek out help. Why?

When I had a hard time overcoming the shame and embarrassment, my mom put it to me like this (and this is where the title of my post comes from). “If you were diabetic, you would go to the doctor to get insulin. You wouldn’t try to “think” your way through it, you wouldn’t say ‘If I just didn’t eat sweets any more, I would get rid of this pesky diabetes'” No, because that’s not how it works. In order to live with diabetes, you have to take insulin and be monitored by a medical professional regularly.

Mental illness (especially severe mental illness) is no different. Sometimes, it is situational. Sometimes you’re going through a really rough patch, like a divorce. You’re not prone to depression or anxiety, but due to the circumstances, you’re no longer in a place where you can just “get yourself over it”

Sometimes though, you have a chemical imbalance in your brain that is not situational and CANNOT just be “thought away”. You can’t just wait it out until it goes away. Even if it seems to subside, life happens and you’re often back where you started. Beating yourself up about not being able to “make yourself better” isn’t going to fix it. In fact, it will make it worse.

So what do you do?

  1. First, reach out to family and friends you feel comfortable sharing your struggles with. I will say this again and again – ASKING FOR HELP DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK. It takes incredible strength to admit you need help.
  2. If you’re struggling from an addiction (alcohol, drugs, food, gambling) reach out to a local support group. It may take a couple tries (no one group is right for everyone) but don’t give up.
  3. If you’re struggling from depression, anxiety, OCD, whatever, there’s a support group for that too. If you prefer to remain anonymous, try an online group. FB is full of them, but there are lots of forums and chat groups out there.
  4. If you feel it is safe to do so, talk to your employer and see what kind of mental health coverage your workplace has. I know seeking out a counselor isn’t cheap but many workplaces have coverage that you may not know about. (You may want to mention it’s called EAP – Employee Assistance Program. P. S. They usually offer 3 free consultations per issue and may give more if you name a different issue.  I know ‘cuz I’ve used 2 differento employers EAP a few times)
  5. If you live in Ontario, Psychiatrists are covered by OHIP. I know many people feel like Psychiatrists are just pill pushers, but a good one won’t give you drugs unless they feel it is necessary for you.
  6. Talk to your family doctor – they are also able to prescribe medication and can refer you to a counselor/psychiatrist/psychologist/social worker.

Here is some other really great information from CAMH about finding help that is right for you.

And listen, maybe you’re not ready. It’s scary and it takes a lot of work. I’m still working on it. Every damn day, I’m working on myself. I want to be my best self for me and for my family. I want to raise boys who aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. I want to raise boys who feel safe to express their emotions and feelings.

So hang in there, just know, if and when you’re ready for help, it’s there. Or heck, send me an email. There are always options.

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Why I’m happy to be back to work.

Every Mom (or Dad) who has taken Maternity/Paternity leave is faced with the notion of going back to work. Sometimes there is no choice, financially they have to (which was our case) but at some point most wonder “Should I or my partner stay home to raise our child/ren?”

*DISCLAIMER* OBVI I have done no research on this and could be completely making it up, but from all the parents I’ve talked to, this is the thought process they have gone through at one point or another. Don’t ask me where my stats are because I have none.

Ok, SO…the age old question. Return to work or stay home? Growing up I always thought I would be a stay at home mom (or in internet speak SAHM). I loved helping raise my sister, I loved the idea of being there for my kids every day and making home-cooked meals, making crafts, building forts and spending every single moment with them.

Then we had O.

As I mentioned before, I struggled with PPD and PPA after O came into our lives. It was a very hard time for me and for the first 3 months, I LONGED to return to work. I didn’t want to be stuck at home, boobs leaking, shirts covered in vomit and brain that had become complete mush.

Once we got through the first 3 months though, I started to relax a bit into motherhood. Most days were really good, but I often found myself feeling restless. O and I went out and did lots of different things. I made sure to keep busy and we had an activity planned almost every day of the week. It was the only way I felt human.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and then it was time to think about going back to work. All of a sudden, I was terrified. How could I leave my sweet little boy in the hands of a stranger 3 days a week? Was he going to forget about me? Were we going to lose our bond? Would I hate work? Would I even remember HOW to work?

That being said, I still felt restless and I knew in my heart I was ready to go back to work. I was plagued with guilt for feeling this way and that’s probably what made me most anxious about returning. Being a Mom is weird.

The night before I went back, I had a very restless sleep. Sure, being a SAHM wasn’t my favourite thing, but it had become routine and safe. Returning to work was a whole other ballgame. A year is a long time.

O at Daycare | SPit Up & Sippy Cups
O at Daycare

I dropped O off the next day at daycare and immediately I felt a bit of relief. I turned on the most recent episode of my favourite podcast “Death, Sex & Money” (check it out, it’s the tits) and got myself a coffee. I felt GOOD. Even better, our daycare provider texted me a picture of Oliver smiling and having a great time. AMAZING.

When I got to work, I spent most of the day catching up with coworkers (there was a lot of “No, you’re right, I AM pregnant again!”) bathroom breaks on my own, hot coffee, lunch with two hands and starting to dig in to a couple projects. I left work at 5, missing Oliver like crazy. I got home and found I was feeling at ease. Tired but at ease. J had already fed him dinner, made dinner for us and we sat at the table as a family.

I started to talk to more and more Moms who had also made the choice to return to work and while we all missed our littles, we were happy to be at work. The guilt started to subside and I started to relax into our new groove.

Don’t get me wrong. Some days are really hard. I’m tired, traffic is a bitch, O is sometimes super tired and fussy by the time I get home and all I want to do is collapse. But even when I was home with him I had days like that. I find now, I appreciate and cherish the time I have with him SO much more than I did before.

I also really miss my playdates with some amazing Momma’s. Those ladies got me through the hard times. It’s definitely more of a challenge to see them now and managing friendships has become harder, but that’s a story for another time.

So turns out, I’m a happier, better, more fulfilled Mom now that I’m back to work. During the day I get to interact with adults and use my brain in a different way. On the way home, even thought I’m sitting in traffic, I get to listen to the news, my podcasts and music. I get to have some alone time. And sure, it’s still the early days. I’ve only been back for a short period, so I’m sure things could change and maybe I’ll feel differently in a few months, but for know, I’m happy to be back to work.

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Toddler Meals: Mac n’ Cheese “Muffins”

Mac N' Cheese Muffins | Spit Up & Sippy CupsI’m so excited to be doing a recipe blog post. It has been SO LONG.

Anyway, this weekend was complete and utter chaos. J and I (ok, it was mostly my doing) committed to WAY too many things this weekend. I find, when you have a little one, it really helps to get out and do things (especially when your little one is as busy as O is). This weekend though, we for sure bit off more than we could chew. A couple birthday parties, a Euchre tournament and dog sitting. Anyway, I was sitting in the kitchen with O Saturday morning thinking about all that we had to do and I thought “You know what, I should do something else. I should make some freezer meals for O”

Because, logic?

Anyway, I’m super glad I did. While O was eating breakfast I did all the prep work (and cooked the pasta) and then made the cheese sauce while O was pulling on my pants and crying. He was fine, he was just pissed that I wouldn’t let him touch the stove.

Moms…amirite?

Anyway, these lil mac n cheese cups are perfect for making ahead of time and either freezing or tossing them in the fridge for later. Plus, I snuck some veggies in and O was none the wiser. They’re not just for toddlers either. Jon and I had some because they were so good.

Easy Toddler Meals: Mac n’ Cheese Muffins
Original Recipe: Real Food Real Deals

Servings: 8-12
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25-30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat macaroni noodles (I used Catelli Smart Vegetable Pasta)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour (use whole wheat if you want added nutrition)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup (or more) shredded cheese (I used Old Cheddar)
  • 1 cup small uncooked broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup shredded zucchini (pat dry) or frozen peas
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tins with butter OR with muffin liners (next time, I would use cupcake liners to make it easier to remove).
  2. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the package (you know…boil it). Leave a bit al dente as the pasta will absorb some moisture while it bakes.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour. Fun Fact: This is called a “Roux” pronounced “Roo” – most cheese sauces start out with a roux.
  4. Turn temp to medium. Slowly add the milk while whisking (trying to avoid lumps). Stir for about 5 mins or until sauce is thickened (this is important!)
  5. Once sauce has thickened, add in MOST of the cheese. Also, use more than a cup. Cheese is awesome. Test your sauce to see if you need salt, pepper or more cheese.
  6. Add in the pasta, zucchini and broccoli and combine.
  7. Taste again and see if there is anything else you might want to add (i.e. cheese)
  8. Spoon mixture into muffin tins and top with more cheese (are you sensing a theme here?)
  9. Bake for 25-30 mins or until the tops are golden brown (or in my case, you need to get out of the house because your toddler is going stir crazy)
  10. Unless you’re serving right away, let it cool for a bit. I found it easier to remove them when they weren’t piping hot. It was still a mess though, so next time muffin liners for sure.

That’s it! Here are some more pretty pictures in case I haven’t convinced you yet how yummy these are!

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Do you have any go-to toddler/make ahead meals? If so, leave the link/recipe in the comments!

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5 Things That I’ve Accepted Since Having Kids

5 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Mother

Since becoming a mom, I’ve realized that pretty much nothing is in my control any more. I’m a complete control freak though, so most of the time I pretend that I have a say in my every day life.

That being said, these are 5 things that I’ve completely given up trying to have ANY control over.

  1. No matter how often I sweep or vacuum, there will always be Cheerios or crumbs on my floor.
  2. No matter how often I tidy, there will always been toys everywhere.
  3. No matter how often I do laundry or how long I wait before putting on my “nice” clothes, I will always have mysterious debris and food on said clothing.
  4. Despite my best efforts to get everyone on a schedule and getting myself to bed at a decent time, I will never NOT be tired.
  5. I will have the theme song of The Wiggles in my head forever and always.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point you guys but I think after months of fighting, I’m ready to give up the ghost. One day I’ll have nice things again. One day.

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This is going really well…

Well, I haven’t blogged at all since May 27…now that we’re halfway through August, I think it’s safe to say I’m not nailing this whole blog thing.

Quite a bit has happened since my last post. In an effort be remain open and honest (which is what I want the tone of this blog to be) I’ve been struggling a bit. For the most part, I’m happy and I’m finally getting to a point where I’m happy most days.

Let’s break it down…

We had to give up our dog, Molly. Molly first came to us from another home when her current owners could no longer look after her due to some personal issues. Molly was a holy terror. We loved her so much, but she wreaked so much havoc in our lives. She destroyed both my wedding band and my engagement ring. She peed all over our house. She ate all our pillows. She tore apart our duvet. Yet, we loved her to pieces anyway. She was always so happy to see us and we were always happy to see her. She was our baby.

Then, we had an actual baby. We already knew from previous experience that Molly was not great around kids, but we were hopeful that because it was OUR baby, she would be different.

She wasn’t.

So after almost 10 months, some scares and O starting to crawl, we decided it wasn’t working. We were SUPER fortunate that J’s cousin was willing to take her on the basis we may be able to take her back in a few years. They have a black lab who adores her and they are able to give her all the attention she could ever want. It’s the absolute best case scenario in an otherwise totally crap situation.

I got pregnant. Now, this had happened before the blog, but the sheer enormity of what it meant to have a newborn IN ADDITION to a very busy 15 month old suddenly felt crushing. My early days with O were really tough. I suffered from PPD and PPA. I couldn’t breastfeed. I was an emotional mess. And that was with one baby. Given that these two are going to be so close together in age, well…I’m fucking terrified. Some days I don’t think I’m even fully recovered emotionally from the birth of O. Listen, I know it can (and will) be done. I’m not the first mother to go through this, I’m aware, but it doesn’t make it any less scary.

I returned to work. Granted, this was a MUCH easier transition than I expected. We were lucky to be put in touch with an amazing daycare provider just around the corner from us. She loves O almost as much as we do and he is absolutely thriving in her care. Once that was out of the way, transitioning back into work was kind of like riding a bike. Sure, I had to re-teach myself some time management skills and deal with the commute, but I feel like a happier, better Mom.

Which of course made me feel guilty because what kind of Mom prefers to be at work than at home? Thankfully, most of the other women I work with feel the same way and assure me, there is nothing wrong with the way I’m feeling. Plus, realistically, O is probably having WAY more fun at daycare than he is with me.

Finally, this next one is a very sensitive and personal topic so I’ll only touch on it briefly. A long-term friendship of mine ended. It was a mostly mutual “break” but not completely amicable. I have a really hard time letting go of friendships. I pride myself on being a good friend and helping people in their time of need but sometimes it’s not always meant to be. Truthfully, we probably should have gone our separate ways awhile ago, but sometimes things have to hit a rock bottom before it’s time for both parties to say “enough.” However, I’m still plagued with the question “What could I have done differently?” and “Am I a bad friend?”

This had me taking a step back and I looked at my other friendships. In all honesty, my friendships aren’t what they used to be. Long gone are the days of staying on the phone until midnight, grabbing dinner on a whim or going out dancing. I barely have enough energy to shower after I put O to bed let alone anything else. I feel like shit friend, and maybe I am or maybe that’s just my reality for now. Either way, this has been really hard for me.

It’s funny because some days, I’m totally okay and I feel like I have my shit together. Then I have days (like this past weekend) where everything comes to a head and I just think I can’t do it any more. Not in a suicidal way, but in a “pack my bags and run away” way. Obviously I won’t because I love my family and everything that I have, but sometimes I just feel crushed.

I’m still figuring out how to get through these days. So far, the best advice I’ve found is to treat these moments like a train going through a tunnel. You know that there is light at the end of it, so you buckle down and ride the emotions until you pass through the tunnel and into the light. It seems to be working really well.

Anyway, sorry for the heavy post. I think it’s so important to share daily struggles outside of the perfect life we post on FB and Instagram. There is so much more to life than just the perfect moments we see online. I guess it’s all of these moments put together that make life truly worth living. Yea…I went there.

That being said, I’m being a bit of a coward and posting this while I know no one will really read this blog. BUT if there is a mom (or just person) out there feeling some of the same things I do and even get a little bit of peace from this post…it’s worth it.

Also, if you did read this, thank you. ❤

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Spit Up & Sippy Cups

You guys…I love blogging. Four years ago I started Running to Bake and I absolutely loved writing, expressing myself, baking and sharing my journey. Since then, quite a lot has changed. I found I needed a space for not JUST baking, but cooking as well, so “My Real Life Kitchen” was born. I never really connected with that blog…it was also just not the right time. I had just gotten pregnant with O and work had completely taken over my life.

Becoming a mom was hard for me. Like, really hard. I was completely blindsided by how lost and confused I felt all the time. As some of you know, I really struggled with breastfeeding and I was not mentally healthy. Luckily, I got the help I needed (which included medication) and was able to heal and progress.

Since becoming a Mom last July, I’ve found my groove as a mother, but in the process lost my groove as myself. I also wasn’t expecting that. Yes, I am a mom, but I’m also an individual with goals, aspersions and challenges. Trying to find a balance between these two people has lead me back to the blog world.

I’ve been posting a lot of Insta Stories and I’ve had so many moms reach out to me and say “YASSSSSSSSSSS, thank you for telling it like it is” So, I wanted to carry those over to this space.

There will be a lot of poop stories, a lot of temper tantrum stories (both O’s and my own) as well as my journey back to connecting with myself. I know I’m not alone in this and for anyone else going through this (even if you’re not a mom) I want us to share in the adventure.

Spit up and Sippy Cups…here we go!

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