When Homeschooling Makes You Want to Cry

The title says it all.  Homeschooling has not been going well the last 2 weeks.  Early in the year I started a tradition in our house “Field Trip Friday” and the last 2 weeks FTF has been cancelled because of poor attitudes and not completing schoolwork.

Tonight, things got tough again at bedtime.  It was 630 AKA clean up time- when the kids are supposed to clean up their messes, put on pjs, brush hair/teeth and go to bed.  Allllll day Aubrey had been making huge messes saying “I promise I’ll clean it up!” and all the while I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  Cue the circus music.

5 seconds after telling her it was clean-up time she fell into a puddle on the floor screaming “I CAN’T DO IT!” and it was that moment I decided I was done negotiating with toddler terrorists, swiftly grabbed a garbage bag out of the closet and began loading dolls, tiaras, stuffed animals, books, and more.  The whole process she was screaming, rampaging and calling me a mean mom and a bully.  After depositing the newly acquired blackmail for better behavior in the closet I instructed her to brush her hair and was met again with anger, tears and name calling and then spontaneously she screamed “I NEED A HUG”.  At that point I needed one too, so I held the little girl that was hating me beyond all measure tightly and told her I loved her.  When she calmed down a bit I put Jack to bed, my patience and mind fully exhausted from the whirlwind of energy that just swept our house.

In the moment that I wanted to do nothing more than send her to her room for the night, I ignored the shenanigans and continued to put toys away while she finished up.  I walked into the kitchen and made a cup of hot cocoa, walked to the table and asked her to join me, sliding her the cup of cocoa in an act of grace and forgiveness and hoping we could have a moment to talk.  She burst into tears and asked if we could sit next to each other instead.  So we went to the couch to cuddle.

We snuggled under a blanket, tears continued to softly stream down her face and I asked the million dollar question, “what’s wrong”.  She looked at me  and said “I’m scared to go to a new school”  Shit.  She overheard me voice-to-texting one of my friends tonight when I said I was considering public school next year because of all the issues we’ve had.

I took a deep breath and asked her if she enjoyed being homeschooled.  Much to my surprise she said yes.  We talked quite a bit, she said she was tired during school lately.  We agreed she needed to have time for rest (not tablet time) after lunch before school.  I did my best to explain how important it was to learn and how much I enjoy teaching her, but lately I’ve felt very frustrated she fights with me every lesson.

After she went to bed I had a chance to reflect on myself as her teacher, and the simple fact was that my outside stresses were also leaking into our kitchen classroom.  I’ve been distracted, I haven’t been fun as a teacher lately, I was hurrying things along so we could check off the box and I could move onto the adult tasks of calling our insurance adjuster, mudding corner beads in the basement, cleaning our hopelessly cluttered upstairs and keep up with everyday stuff.  My husband has also recently switched shifts and I’ve been struggling to find time for myself (not to mention time for the two of us) and I’m not afraid to say I need time to myself to be able to function.

Tonight I realized that her behavior has been trying to tell me she too is struggling with all the chaos around her .  It’s not just impacting the adults, it’s trickling down to the kids.  A cup of cocoa unlocked the emotions I hadn’t noticed until I took the time to focus strictly on her.  I’m thankful tomorrow is a new day.




New Year, New Me?

Fitspo and diet culture promises have been filling up every corner of every media outlet I have access to for the last 2 weeks.  The underlying message is shouting- “you’re not good enough!  You need to lose the baby weight!   I saw how many cookies you ate during Christmas!” I can’t deny, the call of a “better” life through weight loss has been alluring.  For years I’ve thought skinner me=better me.  

For the first time in years my resolution has nothing to do with changing my body.

I’m choosing to love my body for what it is.  I won’t belittle myself for eating when it’s required for survival.  I won’t be defining myself as “good” or “bad” for eating “good” or “bad” foods.

I won’t be shouting “NEW YEAR NEW ME!” because the me right now is actually pretty awesome.  The me right now, is enjoying food without dieting, binge eating, guilt, counting a bunch of crap or micromanaging portions.  The me right now is doing exercise I enjoy, without excess or misery.  

I won’t be buying any magic wrap, cleanses, life altering fixes for cravings or joining Facebook groups to hold myself accountable.  I won’t force myself to drink puke green smoothies because of their mystical healing powers or eating something I don’t like because it’s healthy.

I’m not going to keep a pair of too-small jeans collecting dust in my closet to motivate me.  I’m not going to put a picture of myself at my “hottest” on the fridge to make me feel guilty for having a scoop of ice cream.

This year I’m choosing self-love.  I’m making peace with my body.  I don’t have to eat clean like it’s a religion to be a good mom or set a good example for my kids.  This year I’m choosing balance.

I’m 2017 my only resolution is to love the skin I’m in.


Screw Your Resolutions

Last week I was fumbling through the many corners of the internet and came upon this gem: 

Every year I’ve made resolutions to weigh less, be more organized, have a cleaner house, be financially savvy, and every year I’m one of many who slowly but surely go back to my old habits.  For the last six months I specifically decided to set zero goals and it was freeing settling for “mediocrity”- or as I like to call it; having a life that doesn’t revolve around setting unrealistic goals.  However, with feeling self-conscious about my weight gain and the huge influx in coaches/distributors/weight loss ads everywhere I’ve been having a lot of trouble not getting sucked into another weight loss resolution and diet realm.  In fact, to be completely honest- I DID go on the South Beach Diet in November for 2 weeks.  Moving on. 

Shortly after reading through what the “Screw Your Resolutions” challenge was, I signed up and was added to the HHHM facebook group. After 4 days of observing I knew I was in the right place.  I was already familiar with Jennifer of MamaLionStrong, a woman who is “unapologetically anti-diet” advocates for a balanced fitness perspective vs a weight loss focused lifestyle and the Facebook group was a very positive, upbeat group.  I had recently left the Intuitive Eating group after some cattiness and feeling as though I couldn’t openly post about my internal struggles and dietary changes without major scrutiny.  It was great to be in a community that is was health oriented, without the obsession and weight loss focus.   

I won’t be setting resolutions this year, but I’m looking forward to creating positive habits and getting back to a body positive mindset again.  I hope you join me and head to their page to sign up

Is Being a Mommy Hard? 

Today my daughter observed me lying sick on the couch through her 5 year old eyes and asked the million dollar question- “Is being a mommy hard?” 

I’m currently wiped out from strep, body aches, drs visits and rounding up antibiotics so today was spent trying to get any rest I could.  When a 3 hour nap made no difference, I resigned to couch parenting while trying really hard to sound serious enough that they’d listen, but not so loud to strain my  vocal chords or turn into some streppy/psychotic version of June Cleaver.  Today being a mommy is really, really hard.  

Being a mommy is hard, and this year I feel like I’ve had the unfortunate job of opening up my daughter’s eyes to so many of life’s hardships.  I’ve had to explain death and heaven to the best of my ability when one of my parents died, yesterday I had to explain that the baby cow didn’t fall out of its mommys butt (which resulted in lots of tears over the exit strategy of animal birth), we’ve had talks about some of the poor choices other grown ups make and now my sweet girl has seen me deal with grown up problems like sadness and sickness.  I have tried extremely hard in the past to avoid letting her see me cry or be in pain because I don’t want her to be afraid of the hurts of life.  For awhile I also didn’t want her to see me as anything but supermom- but I’m not.  I’m hoping that as she grows seeing me sick or hurting she can also see a mom that still pushes forward as best she can. I hope she can see there is no shame in feeling emotion for the people you love and things that are wrong in this world.  Emotions don’t make you crazy, they make you human.  

Today when she asked me if being a mommy was hard I smiled weakly and said “yes, it’s hard but I love it more than anything.  I love you and your brother more than anything on this whole planet”. And I think that’s why being a mommy is hard- we love them so much it hurts when they hurt.  We constantly hope we did the right thing and second guess our decisions and pray to God we are leading them the right direction.  Being a mom is REALLY hard.  

A few minutes later she brought me a cup of cold water from the fridge and said “I love you mommy, I hope you feel better soon”.  It made me remember we’re doing something right.  I’m so blessed God gave me you little girl. 


Supreme Pizza Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This recipe is perfect as an appetizer, or if you’re like me you’ll gobble this up as your meal!  I love mushrooms, what can I say? 

Makes 2 servings (or 1 of you’re really hungry!)

2 Portobello Mushrooms (remove stems, wash, dice and save for filling)

2 serving pre-cooked turkey pepperoni (quartered) or turkey sausage crumbles 

2 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese or other brand (my preference is Aldi Garlic & Herb)

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/4 red onion, diced

olive oil or cooking spray

1/4, shredded part-skim mozzarella 

1) Brush mushrooms with olive oil, place on baking pan in center of oven and broil high, 5 minutes each side, or until tender.  

2) drizzle small pan with 1t olive oil and add diced veggies, cook on medium 5 minutes, add turkey pepperoni or sausage and sauté an additional 2 minutes.  

3) mix the meat/veggie mixture with the cheese wedges 

4) fill the mushroom caps with the mixture, 1/2 on each mushroom, then sprinkle shredded cheese on each. 

5) Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes. Turn broiler on high for a few minutes at end of baking to brown cheese, if needed.  I can’t wait to try this on the grill this summer! 

Is Intuitive Eating Still Right for Me?

I have no idea how to start this blog. As I write this, my mind is full of thoughts and my house is full of distractions. My kids are in the living room having a very loud pretend pool party, the dogs keep asking to go out every 5 minutes or start barking at some invisible predator out the window.   #momlife.

I recently found myself wondering if Intuitive Eating is right for me and debated sharing that after 6 months I’m getting cold feet.I almost didn’t share my true feelings because of my fear of judgement or criticism.  That was the moment I realized my biggest hangup with EVERYTHING in my life has to do with what people think and a fear of being judged. Huge problem. So, let’s hop on the crazy train and go for a ride.

Let’s start with the good stuff: I feel like I learned A TON about myself and my body the last 6 months. I got back in touch with my passion for cooking and wine pairing, stopped binging (*note* I still had trouble with overeating), found pure and lasting bliss by chucking my scale, finally found a healthy balance with exercise, and found myself able to confidently navigate foods that would trigger a binge. I have been able to stop numbing my feelings by hitting the fridge, but I will also say the strong emotions I’ve been experiencing due to stress and grief have been overwhelming. There are days I can’t help but feel like all this pain would be so much easier numbed with a bag of chips or a bottle of wine. I recently watched a video by Brene Brown which discusses the power of vulnerability where she stated  “we are the most in debt, obese, most addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S history and here’s the problem- we cannot selectively numb emotions…. you cannot numb those hard feelings without also the other affects, our emotions… we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness and then we are miserable”. Hearing that struck such a chord with me as I had shared something that day that made me almost instantly take it down. I felt so exposed.  Numbing pain is so much easier than admitting and sharing it with the world but now I feel as though the shame has been lifted from what I had been hiding.  Numbing is a like putting a bandaid on a leaky pipe.  It doesn’t fix the problem.

While I can go on about all the good stuff, I hit a point where I had to acknowledge I was no longer comfortable with my body and its level of functioning. I was doing fine right up until my stomach began interfering with normal activities such as tying my shoes, practicing yoga and other things a little too embarrassing to mention. At that point I took a step back and admitted my food choices don’t have much nutrient dense produce and I’ve been relying on the drive thru to help ease my stress of busy family life. I have been feeling rundown, depressed, and I’m currently dealing with physical pain on top of it.  For me that’s where I drew the line.  I began researching inflammation, how it manifests and how it can be connected to my life right now and decided to make changes to my nutrition. My next doctors appointment I have requested getting bloodwork done so I can make sure my thyroid and hormone levels are functioning properly and after the results come back we’ll have to see what the next steps will be.

I have thought about this so much- am I going back to a diet mindset?    Am I going to end up back in a place that is obsessed with control and having perfect nutrition/exercise? Why do I think so much?  What will people think of me?  I can’t answer any of these questions. What I know for sure is that I will take several principles of IE with me as I work to change my health again. I won’t be buying a new scale, meticulously measuring, tracking calories, overexercising or heavily restricting.  It’s hard when I feel like I’ve taken several steps backwards and I have tried only to fail (in my eyes) yet again.  I need to forgive myself, forget what others might think and move forward in the direction that’s best for me.

I Ran, I Cried

This morning I ran. I ran outside because my hubby didn’t have to be into work until this afternoon, so I went on a 2 mile loop around our neighborhood.

Today during my run I ended up crying. Partly because running is the worst, but mainly because life has been hard lately and since I was alone, I just let it all out. I let the tears fall like rain and mix in with the sweat dripping down my face. Life has been downright sucky. I’ve found myself in a pattern of being extremely hard on myself, feeling like a failure, feeling left out/alone but then completely drained in a group of people, and feeling like some emotional crazy lady that is hiding a world of hurt behind a mask sponsored by Urban Decay cosmetics.

When people ask me how I’ve been my answer is usually with a smile “oh, you know the usual. Homeschooling a lot, hubby is working a lot, the new gym routine is fun”. I keep it pretty surface level because when I get deeper than that, I start to feel exposed for being the utterly weak person I am. I feel like if I let my guard down and share my struggles I’ll be met with an awkward silence that comes when people don’t know how to handle sadness, grief and emotions. I don’t want to burden them with a ride on Michelle’s crazy train. So I put on my mask. I keep smiling. I keep it surface level to avoid looking too crazy. I keep putting up cute pictures of my kids and family because they genuinely make me smile and take some of the pain away.

I’ve never enjoyed talking about personal struggles until they’re over and I can confidently say “I made it and this is what I learned” with some valiant message about resilience even in the hardest of times. I don’t have some inspirational message today because I’m in the thick of it. I don’t like opening up about my struggles because from an outside perspective even I have trouble understanding myself right now. I have a great life with so many good things going, why should I feel this way? My problems don’t seem big enough compared to others. I hide the truth because this week I learned that grief, depression and emotions make some people uncomfortable. Yet, I can’t deny that I am just not the same person I was a year ago, even 6 months ago. I’m trying to figure out what my next move will be, and if I can move forward in a direction that is scary to me.

We all have a mask we wear. Maybe it’s to protect others, maybe it’s to protect ourselves. I imagine a world where we all take that mask off and are downright real with how hard life can be and that sometimes, we just aren’t as strong as we want to be. Thank you to those that allowed me to take off the mask this week.


4 Must Try Recipes, Perfect for Fall

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you probably noticed I’ve been cooking up a lot of yummy, comfort food this last week.  Before sharing this blog I had to try every single one, and make sure they were as delicious as they looked on Pinterest.

1. Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup from Damn Delicious.  I found this recipe relatively easy, super creamy despite no actual cream, and full of flavor.  My family also loved it and I’m excited to make it again to see if it’s freezer friendly.  I topped mine with sour cream instead of goat cheese since that’s what we had on hand, and it was still good.

2. Cheesecake Stuffed Baked Apples from Creme de la Crumb.   This was an AMAZING fall inspired dessert, perfect for a crowd.  I added some of the suggested toppings (toasted pecans, caramel, graham crackers) and it was a hit with the grown ups.

3. Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup from Pinch of Yum: this is my favorite Olive Garden soup and my hope was the slow cooker version was just as delicious.  But, there was some skepticism (how many of us are pumped to try a great crockpot recipe only to have a hot bowl of mush at the end of the day?) so I made sure I was home to supervise for this one.  Thankfully, it turned out great and did NOT turn into a clumpy disaster.  This made a huge batch fit for a crowd and  I served this with Copycat Olive Garden salad for an at home Olive Garden night.

4. Harvest Sweet Pan Chicken from Well Plated.  One of the best parts of Fall is the delicious veggies and apples- a combination of Brussel sprouts, apples and sweet potatoes this was a yummy dinner but my kids were a little finicky on this one.  This dish takes away a lot of time and dishwashing spent in the kitchen which any cook can appreciate.  I paired this with a local wine (Wollersheim River Gold) which a sweet white, but would also like to try it with an apple based wine.

We Went to Pizza Ranch and I Didn’t Ruin My Diet

Sunday night we went as a family to the greatest family restaurant of all time.  I say this because our Pizza Ranch is awesomely accepting of my needy children, and costs the same as a dinner anywhere else for our family of 4, but we get options!  

But in all honesty, I used to avoid buffets like the plague because of my fears it would be a trigger, thus binge eating would occur.  It all started when I was a kid, probably 10ish, and my Grandma loved to take us to restaurants.  But her favorite line: get your money’s worth has followed me for years.  It’s hard to negotiate your way out of a clean plate when they are raised in the depression era.  It’s also hard when you’re trying your best to get grandmas approval by stuffing yourself far beyond comfort.  Have you ever felt unable to trust yourself in certain situations?  

Yet, I’ve been making progress on this.  During my dieting days I’d just do weird things like eat a crapton of salad and only eat the topping on the pizza to avoid that awful macronutrient carbs.  Or set limits on the types of pizza (only thin crust, lots of veggies no fatty meats).  Drink lots of water to feel full.  You know, all the old tricks.  

So tonight we went and I got to eat a little of everything, I felt comfortable leaving food on my plate, and I left a little full than preferred, but I still felt comfortable.  I even had a bite of dessert.  Totally guilt free.  

And I had the best company a gal could ask for!  

It feels good to continue moving in a path that isn’t dictated by rules and strict guidelines and even better to make progress away from the clean plate club. 


Rules of Family Photo Day

This Fall I decided it was time- our family pictures haven’t been updated in 3 years, and we don’t have any professional pictures of the two of us since…. 8 years ago when we got married.  So much to my family’s dismay, it was time.  When the morning was upon us, I whipped out my clipboard and went through a list of demands to get us through Family Photo Day.  Welcome to bootcamp minions.

1. Don’t eat or ask to eat anything that will stain or make a mess.  This means yogurt, applesauce, spaghetti, ketchup, ranch, soup, and pretty much anything else we have available in the house.  Here’s some bread and water to get you through the day- We will have Pizza Ranch for dinner if you can keep yourself clean and follow the rest of the rules. 

2. Don’t whine, or mommy will lose it.  Husband, I’m referring to you most of all.  I know you hate having pictures taken.  I know you hate wearing a dress shirt.  I know you hate smiling endlessly for some stupid picture.  I have known you for 10 years, therefore I know.  Don’t whine. You are racking up some serious points on the “hottest hubby ever” meter right now by putting yourself through this and like every married woman who just desperately wants some family photos there will be guaranteed sexy time tonight if you don’t whine.  Just smile and look pretty. 

3. To the 2 year old- don’t you dare poop mid photo session. Time is money kid, and our family needs every second to look as Facebook perfect as possible. And I’m sorry we weren’t able to get your haircut before this- your baby mullet will go down in infamy.  

4. To the 5 year old, no attitude, no whining, no drama, no picking on or touching your brother.  I mean it.  While I’m at it, no whining about not being able to pick out your outfit for today.  Sometimes fuzzy boots, red on pink on Zebra on purple, 3 headbands and layers of plastic princess jewelry doused in sparkles just don’t cut.  Today is that day.

5. Don’t get dirty.  Don’t even think about getting dirty.  No you cannot play outside, or paint or play playdoh or touch anything. In fact, I’d prefer if you just sat there on the couch like a statue with Paw Patrol on repeat for the day.  

6.  I love you guys and I want photographic evidence to prove it, so deal with it. A mom cannot live on selfies alone.  Now let’s go to Pizza Ranch!