What Does A SAHM Do All Day?

When I became a mother, I didn't really have a lot of expectations. I thought that I would maybe work from home some, but other than that I wasn't really sure. And then she was born. At first I freaked the fuck out about work thinking that I should be working more. Then I panicked because I didn't actually feel this big desire to work (despite myself); I just wanted to hang out with my baby. What did that mean, I wondered? Finally, I moved into acceptance that even though I work from home here and there, I'm basically a stay at home mom (SAHM).

Once I grasped the realization of being a SAHM, I ran with it in my own quiet way. I was excited to find a new routine--one that worked for me and my baby. That in and of itself was a task. Slowly we fell into a morning routine, a napping routine, and even a workout routine (where applicable.) This all, of course, is subject to change at any moment given what is happening developmentally, or just in our daily schedule. 

Still, even though I had grasped that I was, in fact, a SAHM on a personal level, I had yet to shout it from the rooftops because a part of me felt ashamed. I know. I shouldn't be ashamed. I should be elated, and I am elated. It's a wonderful thing I can do for myself, my family and my child. But I am also very type A. I can do a million things at once. Currently, I am keeping an eye on my daughter, doing laundry and texting with my sister-in-law. Sometimes I think that I am falling into the feminism catch 22. Our predecessors wanted the right to have any lives they wanted, and now we can do it all.

The thing is, I don't WANT to do all of it. I just want some of it. I have written about this before, but it's never been more true in such a personal way. Sure, I am capable. I am smart. I'm not just going to sit around and sing kids songs for the rest of my days (not that there is anything wrong with that.) But all things at once? Ugh, no thanks. This is now. And now is good.

My days are full and they go by so fast. It's true what they say about babies--they grow up really quickly. And I enjoy it watching it. Even on days when it's crazy. Or messy. Or just plain upsetting. I think we have a need to over analyze. Or at least, I know that I do. I want to think about what I could be doing better, or smarter or more of. Our society breeds this type of thinking on many levels; tells us to do more and have more, be more productive. Some of that is good.

And sometimes you just have to be happy with what you have and not question if there is more. That is sort of what being a SAHM has taught me. I don't have to question or analyze each day, I only have to bask in the now and appreciate this precious time for what it is. It's different than any other experience I have had in my life, and it's wonderful. 

The question of what a SAHM does all day is one that we moms will periodically be confronted with. What we do is take care of our children. It's not relaxing, it's more than full time, and it's fleeting. It's a privilege that should be afforded to more people because I believe that they would relish it. What it's not is something to be ashamed of, or something you should be uncomfortable with. I'm lucky to have come to that quickly because it allows me more time to enjoy myself with daughter.

So how do you feel? Are you a reluctant but happy SAHM like me or was it always your calling? Do you work and feel satisfied with that? Share with me in the comments section below! 

Stuff I Use [Parenting Edition]: The Honest Company

First let me start by saying this is NOT a paid advertisement in any way. I am just honestly a fan of The Honest Company. When my daughter was born, a friend of ours gave me a gift certificate. I sat on it for an abnormally long time because frankly, I had so much stuff for my new baby daughter, I had no idea what I needed. But eventually, I did need diapers.

Let's all say that Luv's does a pretty effective job in marketing to us parents and telling us that we don't need those fancy diapers...and I think that is mostly true. Actually, I hadn't planned on using diapers at all. I had planned on cloth diapering. I didn't do it. Had 'em all, didn't do it. I just didn't. No excuses. And while I love Luv's and all, sometimes they leak. So anything was worth a try.

After ordering The Honest Company's all natural fancy pantsy diapers (with the super cute designs--gasp!), I was totally and utterly sold because they stand up to the bigger brands and do a lot better. All that, and they are cute as hell.

But they have a lot of great products that go way beyond diapers. I am also super happy with their kitchen spray and their laundry detergent. They also have a fabric spray that I really liked as well...it'll probably take me forever to use it all, but I really love it.

The only product I wasn't totally happy with was the shampoo. I enjoyed it for myself, but I don't think it was as tearless as it claimed, so it didn't work for baby. Other than that, everything else made me one happy mama! They also ship pretty quickly and give free shipping over $50, which I think we can all agree is fabulous. Oh, and did I mention that they have some pretty awesome customer service? 'Cause they sure do!

So, if you're thinking of ordering from them, I would definitely give them a whirl. I can't imagine you'd disappointed. With people being into natural products these days, I have found that I can never have enough convenient sources to buy from and this one is at the top of my list these days. You can even have them just send the diapers to your house like clockwork. So that is pretty awesome. They bundle with the wipes, which is great for most people, too.

Anyway, that's my story and I wanted to share. CLICK HERE to shop. Happy shopping! 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

So, about a week or two ago, I showed you a good, basic granola bar recipe (which I hope you really loved.) I also promised a tasty follow up, so here it is! I've been so into these homemade granola bars, but I have also been really into peanut butter and jelly.

The funny thing about me being into peanut butter and jelly is that I was never a fan of it as a child. I know...so weird. But pregnancy changed EVERYTHING. Now I have a sweet tooth and I've got a hankering for all things PB&J. So these bars really hit the spot for me. Oh yeah, and I've got a ton of homemade jam on hand, which works out perfectly for these, too.

You can use virtually any jam to make these--store bought or homemade. I went with blueberry jam.  You can also use this recipe for strawberry jam. Whatever jam you choose to use, you will be happy you made these truly delicious granola bars.

Now, in terms of the peanut butter, I've been experimenting. Regular peanut butter, it melts pretty well, but it just is so sweet. And I'm trying very hard to get the sugar out of my food wherever possible. So I went with an all natural organic peanut butter with no added sugar.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars
Time: 1 1/2 hours | Makes 16 bars | Difficulty: Easy 

You will need:

1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup oat flour 
1/2 cup applesauce 
1 cup all natural peanut butter 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1 half pint of jam, your choice 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8 by 11 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats and oat flour. Set aside. 

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the peanut butter and brown sugar. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sugar/ peanut butter and applesauce to the oat mixture and mix well. 

Press 3/4 of the mixture into your prepared pan using a spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the whole thing. Crumble the remainder of the oats over the jam and then, using the spatula, press it down. 

Bake for 35 minutes on 350 degrees. 

When done, cool on a baking rack for two hours. To slice, remove the parchment paper from the pan and slice. Store in the fridge. 

Slippery Dumplings [A Sort of Recipe]

When my grandmother died, my mom and I made her lentil soup because cooking is a wonderful way to bring up good memories, and it's something active you can do. And doing is good. This week a friend of mine said that he had never had slippery dumplings. This was not surprising, but certainly something that I had to fix.

My Poppop (my father's father) passed away a week ago...and slippery dumplings was one of his favorites meals. My Mommom, also deceased, used to make it all the time. Boy did she make it well. I don't know that my Poppop ever cooked, but I do know that he could sure eat a meal, so it seemed a fitting time to make this popular dish and share it with my readers.

The funny thing about this dish is that it's very native to our geographic location. You will only find these slippery dumplings in two places: certain counties in Pennsylvania and the Delmarva Peninsula. True story. This dish is about as local as my Poppop was. He was a Sussex County man; lived his life here and was the Mayor of Georgetown (our county seat) for 27 years. He was well-liked because he was a charismatic and funny man, always ready with a joke. As a grandchild, I mostly saw was his playful side, but he was also a brigadier General, and I have the notion that he was a task master when it came to work.

My Poppop will be missed, not only by his children, grandchildren and extended family, but also by the town of Georgetown because he was, in many ways, a man of the town. This [sort of] recipe is my dedication to him.

I am calling this a sort of recipe because here's the thing about slippery dumplings: there are lots of ways to make them. More chicken, less chicken, veggies, no veggies, etc. So I want to encourage independence of thought when it comes to making your dumplings. The only hard and fast rule is that you'll need the dumplings. I can get mine at the local grocery store... but you may also order them on Amazon because I'm not sure they are available in all places.

I'm going about this a little differently than some of my other recipes, because I want to keep it loose. The basic idea is to end up with a big old pot of YUM!

Here's what I used: 

2-3 boneless skinless thighs
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
frozen peas
frozen corn
frozen green beans
Lawry's seasoned salt, to taste
olive oil (for frying the chicken)
1/2 box Anne's dumplings
Chicken bullion (to taste)
Flour (for thickening)
Pepper, to taste

Some thoughts and suggestions: you can use vegetables, or not. I believe my Mommom only used peas in hers. Also, you could totally use rotisserie chicken. Or just white meat chicken. Whatever you fancy is the ticket. Also, I slice up my chicken, but other people cook the chicken, remove it from the pan and then shred it. No rules.

Method (sort of):

Heat oil in a pan and slice your raw chicken. Throw the chicken in the pan with the to oil and cook until done. Add your raw veggies (not the frozen) and sauté them about 5-10 minutes. Add water...now this another place you'll have to go with preference. I like to add 4-6 cups of water and later thicken it to a nice gravy.

Add the frozen veggies, chicken bullion (4 should do it, right?), and bring it all to a boil. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, you are ready to add the dumplings. Add the dumplings 3 at a time. I do this to keep the pot at a boil as I am adding the dumplings. Once you've added about the half the package, you'll be good. Let it boil for about 10 minutes then reduce heat to simmer and cover for another 30 minutes.

If you are serving them right away, adjust seasonings and then thicken it to your liking. I like to mix a tablespoon or two of flour with water. I bring the whole pot back up to a boil, and I add my flour mixture to thicken it all into a gravy. However, if I am serving it later, I simply remove it from the heat and leave it covered. Once it's cool, you can refrigerate it and it thickens considerably with time--you may even have to add MORE water to thin it!

Now, I know there are a lot of locals out there who make this dish, and I know they have a method different from mine. I am hoping that some people will share their recipes in the comment section below! 

So, Um, Oil Pulling

Having a baby throws off your body's rhythm...major! First going through pregnancy (joy of joys), then the birthing process, and then (if you choose) breastfeeding. Let's just say that since the day I conceived, shit's been a little wacky. My point in this rambling is that I reached the point where I would do anything to get back to homeostasis as I once knew it. Which brought me to oil pulling.

First of all, what is oil pulling? Well, it's pretty simple. I take a hefty teaspoon of organic coconut oil and swish it in my mouth for anywhere from 10-20 minutes each morning. I'm careful not to swallow it. After I spit it out (in the trash, not down the sink), I rinse my mouth with salt water, then I brush my teeth. That's it. Very simple.

Why am I doing this? Oil pulling is purported to have many benefits, one of which is that it can be hormone balancing (hello, yes please!) It also is said to remove toxins/ bacteria. The mouth, and actually the tongue in particular, correlates to other parts of the body (much like the foot does in reflexology). If you believe that everything is connected in the body, then you won't have trouble buying into the fact that cleansing the mouth in this way each morning can be extremely beneficial.

For me, I was looking to establish a routine that would help my overall health. Since I began breastfeeding, I've found that my immune system has suffered. I've also had terrible sugar cravings, and I read that oil pulling can help clear candida, which is a yeast overgrowth that can is stimulated by sugar. Let's just say I'm caught in a vicious cycle. The one thing that the oil pulling couldn't do was hurt, so I figured I would give it a shot and see what happened.... here's what I found.

I've been oil pulling for over two weeks, and..... drumroll please....I love it.

There have been some very clear benefits for me. The first is that I have always had these stains on my back molars (since I've been an adult, anyway) and they are always there, even after trips to the dentist. Since I started oil pulling, they are gone. That was unexpected, but totally welcome. My teeth feel extremely clean after I do my morning routine!

Oddly, I feel very hungry after I do my oil pulling. But then I read that it stimulates digestion, so that's not as surprising. And a word on that: boy does it stimulate digestion. Like, better than coffee. Take that how you will.

As for my immune system, well, I'm working on that. I don't know if the oil pulling helps or not because I am doing a lot of things to give my immunity a boost. Here's the list: I do Bragg's Vinegar almost every day (1 shot followed by a glass of water); somewhere in my day I also have an Emergen-C pack in a glass of water. I also still take my prenatal vitamins in addition to a Vitamin D supplement and a DHA supplement. And raw honey, in my tea each day. Immunity overload? Eh, who cares. It makes me feel better.

Now let's talk sugar cravings because honestly, I have sympathy for those with cravings like I never have before. They struggle is real, people, I swear. Since I began oil pulling, my sugar cravings have not gone away completely, but they have become diminished and more manageable. I can say no more often, so it's a start. Also, I don't feel like I am always on the verge of a yeast infection, which is a nice change. Cutting down on sugar is hard, but I'm really trying my best and I believe the oil pulling is helping.

If you are considering doing oil pulling, I advise choosing an organic, high quality oil. I have read you can use sesame oil, but I use coconut oil and I really like it. It's important to do it on an empty stomach (before your coffee or breakfast). Simply swish the oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. The swishing can be gentle. After you are done, rinse your mouth with salt water and then brush your teeth. That's it! Enjoy. 

Don't Flip Your Sh*t [It's Just Valentine's Day]

Is it just me or do people seem to really be flipping their lids over Valentine's Day this year? I mean, seriously. I have seen more woeful posts of loneliness--or fear of loneliness-- in the past week than ever before. Or maybe it's me. Maybe I am just noticing it in a new way.

Either way, I just wanted to hit you with a dose of honesty and let you all know, single, attached or whatever, STOP LOSING YOUR SHIT. IT'S JUST VALENTINE'S DAY. 

Will some people be posting on social media about their awesome Valentine's Day with their husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Yes, they will. But you know, let's take a moment here to pause and put some social media into perspective. Honestly, the crap you see on someone's FaceBook is not really real--it's the highlights reel. Seriously.

If I wasn't me, and I was solely judging on my FaceBook, then I might look at it and think, "Wow. Home girl is seriously an over achiever. She must be a perfectionist....with her pictures of her kid and her recipes. She looks like she has all the time in the world to sit around and cook up fancy recipes!" But the reality of my life is much different than what my FaceBook might look like... sure, I love my life, it's great and it's mine. I have a ton of fun. But I have my problems... I just don't go posting about my disappointments (like when I get yet another rejection letter from a literary agent), or my panic attacks or whatever.

So just remember when you see those lovey Valentine's Day posts (mine will be about tacos, by the way), you never know what the reality is. Sure, that could may be going out on the town, but they might come home and fight about bills. Or not have sex. Or they might truly be the world's best and most happy couple. But who fucking cares. Worry about yourself.

Not having a date on Valentine's Day doesn't mean anything special. It doesn't mean you are somehow undesirable. It just means that you don't have to go out and spend money on a made up holiday. Sure, these little Hallmark holidays can be fun, but there just shouldn't be that big of an attachment to them.

I was listening to a great talk by Tara Brach the other day called "Real But Not True." Things can be real enough, but that doesn't always make them true. It's timely in light of Valentine's Day. Sure, it's real, we can perceive it, but it's just not true. Valentine's Day is no more the truth of love than Thanksgiving is the truth of "sharing" with the Native Americans (don't even get me started on how far off we've gotten there!)

So if you're feeling a little down in the dumps this Valentine's Day, I'm not going to go soft and Taylor Swift and say "Shake it Off." No, I'm gonna go a little Roseanne Barr on your ass and say "get the hell over it." It's one day. By Sunday morning we'll all be back to our no good, unappreciative selves when the day of love is ended. 

Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

I love granola bars. They are so good and easy to grab on your way out the door...or when your child is clinging to your knees and you just have no time to make an actual meal. Or when you are hungry for an afternoon snack. Okay, fine, they are good any time that you are awake.

Since I went dairy free, I've had quite a time finding dairy free granola bars...go figure. The KIND granola bars are really great, but they cost a pretty penny, and once I came out of my early days of being a parent malaise, I was like, "hot damn! I've been spending too much money on these bars!" In an effort to pinch those pretty pennies, I decided to make my own.

That, and I've been on Pinterest a lot lately during my daughter's afternoon naps. And there I found a ton of wonderful recipes for homemade granola bars. So it began, my quest for the best homemade granola bar recipe. Bear with me here because there is a distinct possibility this may be the first of a few recipes coming your way. Which is great if you share my passion for granola bars.

Now, I used coconut oil in the recipe because that is what I've been using these days. It's delicious and nutritious, and I found it pretty affordably at my local BJs Wholesale. You can sub in vegetable oil here if you like, or even melted butter.

I've been playing with making these no bake (which are easy, but aren't quite as good) as well as with different proportions of honey/sugar/ peanut butter. (For those of you out there who love peanut butter, don't worry, I've got something up my sleeve for later.) And I think this is a great recipe that isn't overly sweet. Some of the bars I have made in the past veer dangerously into dessert territory.

Homemade Granola Bar Recipe
Time: 45 minutes | Makes: 16 bars | Difficulty: Easy-ish 

You will need: 

2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats 
2 cups mixed nuts, chopped
two handfuls sesame seeds
two handfuls chocolate chips 
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey 
several dashes cinnamon 
2 egg whites 

parchment paper 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread your oats. Bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes. 

While the oats are baking, in a large bowl mix the nuts, sesame seeds, and cinnamon. I added cinnamon and tossed it until it was fragrant to my liking, and this worked well. So just use your judgment.

When the oats are done, toss them into the nuts, and give them a good mix (I used my hand.) Then let it cool a bit while you get the wet ingredients ready.

In a bowl combine the coconut oil, honey, and egg whites. This is also a good time to line your 9 by 13 baking pan with parchment paper, which you will pour the granola bars into. I used the same parchment paper from the oats because it was easy and saves parchment paper (that shizz is expensive!)

Once the oats have cooled a bit (it doesn't take long), throw in a couple of handfuls of the chocolate chips. Again, use your judgement. More, less, whatever you like.

Stir your wet ingredients into the whole dang thing, combining fully. Using a spatula, place it all in your 9 by 13 baking dish and press in firmly and evenly.

Bake in the oven (which is still heated) for 30-35 minutes.

When done, place it on a cooling rack and allow it to cool for a couple hours (until fully cool) before cutting. To cut them, just take the parchment paper out and cut them right on the paper! Easy!

<<I stored mine in the refrigerator. >>

Bossy Italian Book Review: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

I've held off on doing a review of this book for a while because I wanted my experience to encompass more than the first couple of months. Now that we have reached the nine month mark with breastfeeding (!) I feel the time is right for this book review. Let's start with: I was given this book by a friend while I was pregnant, and that was when I began reading it.

I knew right out of the gate that I wanted to breastfeed. I had a great support system (both my mom and my husband's mom breastfed) and our hospital was baby-friendly, which is a pro-breastfeeding certification (to sum it up without going into it too much). Armed with those things, I picked up this book, which, ideally, will be how you feel when you pick up this book.

This isn't a book you can just read through and be like, "wow, great read." This is the opposite of that, really. This is a book you go back to time and again, as you think of it and/or need it. Starting while your pregnant is great preparation because I feel confidence and being fortified in your decision beforehand is a great helper. But the day I am writing this was the day I picked up to read the 9-18 month chapter....what a realization that was!

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is filled with everything you need from getting started to co-sleeping and night nursing to pumping to dealing with (unwelcome) comments from others on breastfeeding to supply to problems and introducing solids to your baby. There is a ton of information. It's from the experts at La Leche League International (LLL), and the copy I have is the 8th edition.

I can't tell you how helpful it's been for me. There have been times in breastfeeding when I felt afraid (yes, afraid) because I felt a little lump and soreness (hot compress took care of that!), or times when maybe I might have been scared, but wasn't because I had read this book. Like the time that I got the flu really bad, but knew I could continue to breastfeed and pass on immunities to my daughter.

I want to be clear that having a book like this is worth its weight in gold. While breastfeeding might feel like common sense (and yes, a lot of it should be), the reality is that our modern world gets us all kinds of mixed up when it comes to following our instincts. It's good to be reinforced, helped out, and supported, and very few books can really give you that, but this book does.

Of course, I think real life support is also paramount, so I want to add that if you don't find yourself in good company like I am, get yourself to a LLL meeting (or something similar) or find an online support group. And get the book. Because of all the books I had, and gave away to other expecting mommies, this one I am keeping!

Things No One Tells You Before You Become A Parent

I come across these posts often...the ones where they are all about telling you "what you didn't hear" before you became a parent. But they are so PG. I mean, really, yes, no one told you how much you were going to love your child, or how much you would cry about commercials or whatever. Or they are about poop--as if I don't have those conversations enough already! Blah blah blah.

Look, if you really want to know some shit, I'm about to tell you. This the real deal. Or at least it is for me. If you don't have these issues, god bless ya. I wish I woulda known.

Your electric bill will go up 
God love me, I never saw this coming, but if you think about it, it totally makes sense. I have to heat a whole extra room now. There are lights in said room that I didn't have before, and those lights stay on. Guests come over more often, and, of course, I am home waaaaaay more than before I had a child because her life revolves around her home right now. So, do yourself a favor and prepare for bigger bills.

You will hate those baby channel shows
At first you will try to reject them in the name of all things adulthood. And then, before you know it, you are singing the theme song from Harry The Bunny with your own set of lyrics (mine goes, "He's Harry the hoarder, he's full of disorder.") I woke up one night with the Baby First channel theme song in my head one night...it was horrifying.

Giving up the word fuck will be harder than you think 
Oh my fucking god. I can't fucking stop saying it. And it's like I tell my husband, "stop fucking saying fuck or our child's first fucking word is going to be fuck." Ah...fuck it.

Porn is ruined
I used to enjoy porn. You know, here and there, nothing excessive. I don't know how it is to have a son because I have a daughter...and it's ruined porn. Suddenly all those chicks are someone's daughter, who used to be a baby. Fuck.

It will take an average of four tries to watch any show 
Okay, it's not really a huge complaint because, hey, at least I am still able to watch my shows (for now anyway, while my kid doesn't understand.) But seriously, sometimes I miss watching a damn show all the way through on the first try. Even when I do get to watch it on the first try, my attention is usually diverted trying to peel my kid off something she is climbing, or playing with her on the floor with the TV as background. Thank goodness for DVR, right?

Other adults become creepy
Once someone said to my husband and I, "The good lord had a plan when he didn't give me children; if he had, I would be in jail right now. But I like your baby--she's really cute." We thanked her for the compliment and mentally logged to never let her hold our baby. Ever. Other adults never creeped me out so much in all my life...suddenly I see people in a whole new light, and it's like a flashlight that they are holding under their chins in the dark. Creepy.