5 Quick and Easy Toddler Approved Meals

How many times have you searched and searched for the perfect meal that your whole family will love (including that picky toddler) only to realize it wasn’t nearly as perfect as you had hoped? My answer? Every. Single. Time. But then you find the one, the golden recipe that everyone loves; including that picky toddler.

Fear not readers, I have done the research for you and have compiled a list of our favorite recipes completely picky toddler approved!

Ham and Swiss Rolls

This became a quick favorite in our household. My husband gets so excited when he sees this is on the menu!

  • 1 package of Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (12 rolls)
  • 18 slices of thin deli ham (choose your favorite)
  • 12 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1 stick of butter – melted
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cover 9×13 baking sheet with foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cut rolls in half length wise.
  4. Place bottom half in foil covered pan.
  5. Layer with half of the ham, then the Swiss cheese on top, and lastly the rest of the ham.
  6. Add the top layer of rolls.
  7. Melt butter in microwave (30 seconds always works with ours but always adjust for your microwave) and whisk the remaining ingredients together.
  8. Pour evening over the rolls.
  9. Cover with foil and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Bake in over for 20 minutes.
  11. Slice into individual sliders and serve warm. Enjoy!

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Alfredo Tomato Pasta

Ingredients

  • 12 oz pasta cooked and drained (any you like, we love the bowties)
  • 1 (24 oz) jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 (16 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 sauces – making sure they are well incorporated.
  3. In a second mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, seasonings, and milk. *Add addition milk as necessary, the consistency should be like sour cream.
  4. In a 9×13 pan, lightly coat with cooking spray.
  5. Place approximately 1/2 cup of mixed pasta sauce along the bottom (make sure there is a think coat covering the entire bottom of the pan)
  6. Place 1/2 of cooked pasta in pan and then 1/2 of the pasta sauce on top
  7. Lightly spread the cream cheese sauce over the sauce
  8. Add remaining noodles and then remaining sauce
  9. Sprinkle cheese on top
  10. Loosely cover with foil and back for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbly around edges.

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Cheese Tortellini

Hands down little J’s FAVORITE right now!

Ingredients

  • 1 (20 oz) package of mixed cheese tortellini (I get the spinach/cheese package and sneak in some veggies! He has no idea muahaha!)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use the Spice World brand and use 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp of dried basil
  • 4 Tbsp of butter

Directions

  1. In a large pot, add 3 cups of chicken broth, tortellini, and water until tortellini is covered. Cook until tortellini floats.
  2. Whisk together 1 cup of chicken brother and cornstarch.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in garlic and basil and cook for approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add broth-cornstarch mix and bring to boil; simmer until moisture thickens, about 2 minutes.
  5. Mix with drained tortellini and garnish with some parmesan cheese!

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Pigs in a Blanket

This one is really hard y’all. Pay close attention.

Ingredients

  • 5 hot dogs, cut into 5 slices
  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • Ketchup and/or mustard for dipping

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Lightly grease large cookie sheet with cooking oil
  3. Slice hot dogs into 5ths
  4. Roll out crescent dough and press seams together
  5. Cut into 5 strips both ways
  6. Wrap hot dogs in crescent pieces
  7. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown

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Crockpot Queso Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 10 oz can of original Rotel
  • 4 oz can of mild diced green chiles (I opted out of using these)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup salsa con queso
  • taco shells, hard or soft
  • favorite toppings

Directions

  1. Lightly spray crockpot with cooking spray
  2. Place chicken and add the taco seasoning, Rotel, green chiles, chicken broth, and queso. Mix together.
  3. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours. All cookers are different though!
  4. Drain excess juices, shred chicken and enjoy!

BONUS: Pizza Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 tub of pizza crust
  • Pepperoni slices
  • 10 mozzarella sticks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Spread pizza dough out on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cut the dough into 10 rectangles.
  3. Place about 4 slices of pepperoni on each rectangle and add the mozzarella stick.
  4. Roll up the pizza dough, enclosing the cheese stick, making sure the seams are pressed together
  5. Melt butter and add the garlic powder and dried parsley. Bruch the pizza sticks with the mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Enjoy!

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There you have it! Our recent favorite quick meals that are toddler approved!

Have you tried any of these recipes? What did you think? Do you have any recipes that are always a win? Share below, I want to try them!

5 Must Have Toddler Toys

Have you ever sat there and looked at all the toys that your toddler has and wondered if they really needed all of them? (Of course you have, let’s be honest you’re not really a parent unless you’ve contemplated this.) Everyone loves to give your toddler toys and sometimes it’s hard to not pass up a toy at the store that you just know your toddler is going to love. I don’t know about you but I LOVE seeing the look of astonishment and surprise before giving you the biggest smile ever when receiving a new toy.

Then there are other times and you start to worry that your toddler doesn’t have the right type of toys or maybe you need a gift for another toddler and you aren’t really sure where to start. So I’ve compiled a list of our current favorite toys and staples I feel every toddler should have!

1. Mega Blocks/Building Blocks

Mega Blocks

Infantino Balls, Blocks, and Buddies

 

*excuse the mess, we’re making memories 🙂

2. Books, Books, and More Books!

Here are some of our recent favorites:

Snuggle PuppyGood Night Texas The Good Night Series is absolutely amazing! They have one for every state and even have some for big cities. We’ve been picking them up and collecting them as we have visited new places. J absolutely loves these!; First 100 Words We love this one, there are so many different variations, we even have one that’s Disney based. It’s be great with learning his animals, transportation, and many other things!; The Pout-Pout Fish I have this whole book memorized, we turned it into a little song and it has been so much fun to sing/read.

We created a little reading nook for J and we have so much fun hanging out there and going through all of his books! I love when I have a mini heart attack because he’s silent and I peek around the corner and see this –

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3. Puzzles

Melissa and Doug have become a quick favorite of ours in every toy that they make but here are a couple puzzles J adores!

Farm Animals, House and Shapes, Farm, Safari, and Vehicles.

And for some great organization of the puzzles, we love this rack.

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4. Stuffed Animals

Okay, full confession, J has never been a big one for stuffed animals. I don’t know why but he’s never had a ‘lovey’ blanket or binky or stuffed animal that he absolutely adored until recently. We took him to a bookstore to pick up a few books and he found this Clifford and has even since absolutely loved his stuffed animals. I never knew what I was missing until I saw him cuddling his doggie at night and my heart melted. I mean, look at this!

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5. Cars/Trucks

Roll n’ Rattle – these are perfect for those little hands and fingers!

Dump Truck – this has been perfect for outdoor play and I can’t wait for it to warm up a little more so we can take it to the beach!

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Bonus: Squishy water things (official name)

Infantino Tub O’Toys– J has been absolutely obsessed with his ‘animals.’ He loves to carry them around in his mouth (he learns this from the dogs lol) and he loves to chew on them. They definitely seemed to help with teething.

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He loves to also line them up on the windowsill while watching the cars drive by.

**I will say that you have to be careful to not actually get any water in them because they mildew very easily and we have yet to figure out the best way to clean them so we wind up throwing them away and buying more. Do you already have these and have a great cleaning tip?? PLEASE share with me below!

 

What have I left out? Am I missing anything? Tell me what your favorite toys are for this age!

 

**As an Amazon Associate I earn a small profit from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to reach out to me!

ThredUP Review *from a real consumer

Have you heard about the latest craze of consignment clothing? ThredUP advertises as “The Largest Online Consignment & Thrift Store.” They feature brands such as Lululemon Althetica, J Crew, Kate Spade New York, Roxy, etc. etc. They literally have every brand you can think of for a discounted price; whether the clothes are gently used or sometimes brand new the prices are too good to beat!

The question is, is it too good to be true? Well, I decided to test them out for you and below is my review.

PRO: They have thousands of brands.

When you sign up with ThredUP, they have you put in your sizes which is always on as a filter (unless you close out of it) so the clothes that are being shown to you are in your size.  There is nothing I hate more than falling in love with a piece of clothing and realizing it’s not in your size, ugh don’t get me started I feel my blood pressure starting to rise thinking about it!

CON: They have thousands of brands.

I know, I know, how can this be a pro and a con? But while this can be a great thing, it can also be extremely overwhelming when you first look at the website. I mean, all these things they are showing are brands I’ve never heard of or are definitely not my style. How in the world do I find anything that I like?

I started off with searching for my favorite brands (check out the pictures for how to search).

I know it seems so simple but when I first started it definitely overwhelmed me and I always drew a blank as to what my favorite brands were. I mean I shop for look and style not usually the brand!

PRO: After a few purchases and searches the website’s algorithm starts to tailor to your likes and frequently searched brands.

*Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect for sure. I still get some weird things that show up on the feed but for the most part it seems okay.

PRO: You can save any specific searches in your favorites and receive notifications anytime a new item gets added that meets your search requirements!

This is great especially if you are looking for a specific item in a brand you like and have some time to wait for it to come around. Check out how to save a search!

CON: Sometimes things get labeled wrong.

I’ve seen somethings get the wrong brand label (like LuLaRoe leggings get labeled as Lululemon, big difference).

PRO: You can save an item to come back to later if you like but need to keep looking.

There is a little heart next to each item, click it and they all store in your favorites!screenshot_20190411-131332_thredup

CON: Depending on the item, it can go fast!

Once you add something to your cart you have 24 hours to purchase it before it goes up for grabs again. Unfortunately, some people have like alarms set or something for when their 24 hours are up because I know those Lululemon pants have been in someone else’s for like 3 days now.

CON: The ‘Shop Similar’ button is a joke.

It has yet to work for me, every time it pulls up something completely unrelated. I’ve just stopped using it all together.

PRO: Check out process is quick and easy.

You can add your PayPal account for quick and easy check out. There is also a timer at checkout that lets you know how much time you have before your item becomes available to others again.

CON: Shipping is SLOW and everything comes in multiple packages.

It takes up to two week every time I order something, I don’t understand why it takes items so long to get to me when everywhere else I’ve ordered from arrives within a week. Anyway, many of the items are at different wear houses so they come from different places increasing the amount of packages you receive. While that can be fun, it also seems extremely wasteful and annoying to not receive all your items together.

Now they do have a Bundle and Save option where they promote less packages and cheaper shipping options but it seems like it’s a month before you get everything and I’m just too impatient for that. Have you tried it?? If so, let me know!

PRO: If you order over $150 during one calendar month you receive free shipping for the remaining of that month and the next month!

I’m all about free shipping.

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Review on the clothes themselves:

You’ve searched, found the one, waited for shipping and finally received your item…is it all it’s cracked up to be?

So far, YES! Everything that I have ordered looks brand new (or is because it still has the tags on it). I have only received two items that didn’t fit right because I’m a little in-between sizes but unfortunately I was unable to return them because they were non-returnable (they were only $5 each, so no sweat). I haven’t had to return anything yet but it seems like a pretty easy process.

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Selling on ThredUP:

ThredUP also buys your gently used or new items through their Clean Out program! I ordered a clean out kit over a month ago but have yet to receive it. So I don’t know what their payout is yet or how the process is. When (or if) I receive it, I will definitely update and let you know!

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Interested?

Despite some cons, I will definitely continue to be ordered from ThredUP! Are you interested in trying them out? Use my link for $10 dollars off your order! Save here!

Happy shopping 🙂

 

*I am not an affiliate of ThredUP. However, if you use my link I will receive $10 towards my account.

10 Things About ME

Hello all you beautiful people! It’s a lazy day in our household and I figured it would be the perfect time to tell you all a little bit more about me and some of my favorite things. So, without further ado…

10. Traveling

You guys, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I love getting to explore new places, eat at local restaurants, and get lost in a new city. Check out my post with my 5 Best Travel Tips!

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Uptown Charlotte

9. Florida State University Football

Yeah, we may not have the best team or reputation lately but I will always be a Seminole!

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8. Elephants

There are so many reasons to love elephants; the strong matrilineal family, their love language is touch, they have emotions and never forget often times pausing to mourn where family members have passed. Symbolically elephants represent strength, honor, and stability. Plus baby elephants view humans the same way we view puppies, I mean how freaking cute is that?!?

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Yes this is a fake elephant from Jungle Cruise at Disney World, but it’s the best I’ve got.

7. Bullet Journaling

Okay, this one really changed my whole view of journaling. I always hated the whole ‘Dear Diary’ thing but have always wanted to journal. One day while on maternity leave, a video came across my Facebook feed about bullet journaling. There are no rules, you can make it as pretty or as messy as you want. You can draw, you can do short bullet notes, you can even rub the journal in the dirt, whatever you want! So I quickly went out and bought one. I joined a few Facebook groups and searched Pinterest for all the fun ideas. While I don’t have a single original idea in my head and copy everything for the most part from other images, the whole process is incredibly therapeutic. I have always wanted to be artistic and of course I’m not very good at it but it makes me feel like I have a small artistic bone in my body.

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Acceptance is my word of the year and Be Present is my family’s word(s) of the year. I love taking time each day (or week) and really try and focus on what these words to me and how they are being put into play each day.

6. Target

Are you even a stay at home mom if you don’t love Target?

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Little J making sure I head towards the toys next.

5. Reading

Is there anything better than getting lost in a good book? Confession: my guilty pleasure is young adult novels. I’m so obsessed.

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This was right after my husband built me this bookshelf, it’s definitely gotten a lot fuller and messier since then but I absolutely adore it!

4. Dogs

I don’t even have the words to explain how much these two mean to me. I’ve always been partial to dachshunds because that’s what we’ve always had but I’m sure my dogs are the absolute greatest.

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3. Coffee

That first sip of coffee in the morning when it touches your soul and you know that whatever life throws at you today you can conquer it.

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2. Pure Barre

I have always been the least athletic person you have ever met (I still am if I’m honest). I have never once found a work out and stuck to it. I knew that I liked the group fitness classes but always felt like such a dork in Zumba and forget any of the other classes (omg spin class was awful). But I have two great coworkers (who are more like family) who convinced me to try Pure Barre with them. My whole life changed since then. I was immediately addicted! Each class is set up very similar but the workouts are different with different instructors, it’s amazing for all fitness levels, ensures you’re held accountable (you can’t cancel class within 4 hours of class starting without being charged, something I definitely needed to ensure I actually went), and the most amazing group of women you have met who are there cheering you on! I could sing the praises of Pure Barre all day everyday! I’ve lost all my baby weight and even more, I’ve got some killer biceps and my abs are starting to pop through. But most importantly, I feel fit and healthy and it does absolute wonders for my mental health!

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Signing the barre after completing the Black Barre Challenge which was a year long challenge, I’m so proud of myself for sticking it out!

1. Being a mom

Oh man, there is nothing in the world that I love more than being a mom. I never wanted to be a mom, the idea of actually birthing and having a child scared the living crap out of me and when I found myself pregnant (big surprise to us) all of those fears and more came out. But when I held him in the hospital, it sounds so cliche, but it was the most amazing feeling in the entire world. I am so proud to be a mom but more importantly, I’m proud to be HIS mom.

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My tiny baby, chillaxing like a master.

 

Those are my top 10 favorite things but let’s be honest, I could go on for days!

What are you favorite things? Do any of my favorites stick out to you or do you share similar favorites? Let me know! I want to know each and everyone of you!

Remember: Happiness blooms from within 🙂

5 Best Travel Tips

 

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE traveling! Getting to explore new places, eat new foods, meet new people, etc. etc. I grew up on the road (like, I’ve been to 48 states, grew up on the road) but still going to new places (or returning) fills me such a sense of awe.

My husband’s company Christmas party was a couple weeks ago (in January, lol) in New York City. When I learned they were going to pay for spouses to come as well, I flipped out and began immediately scouring the internet for all things New York City! We lived in Connecticut for a few months when I was growing up and we drove over the George Washington Bridge a thousand times with my dad but we never had the opportunity to go into the city. When I typed in Pinterest, things to do in NYC, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of pins proclaiming ‘New York Itinerary, What to Do and See in 4 Days in NYC,’ ‘How to Spend Three Days in NYC,’ ‘29 Free Things to do in NYC,’ ‘12 Things You Have to Eat when in NYC,’ to simply name a few that stuck out to me. From these I was able to come up with a list of attractions, things to do, and where I might want to eat. I got to thinking and was like, I can make one of these lists for my favorite things to do while I’m in NYC! However, the more I looked through lists the more I realized, none of them touched on the things I like to do when I go to a new city. I thought, instead of a list of things to do in NYC (since there are literally thousands of them), how about a different kind of list, things to do when visiting a new city? So here you go, my top 5 things I like to do when visiting a new city!

5. Eat Like a Local

I wish this didn’t have to be said but my husband is the type of person who won’t try anywhere new and will just stick with fast food/chain restaurants. For me, breakfast, lunch, and dinner is always all about local places. For one, I’m a huge fan of supporting small businesses and when you visit another city you literally can’t get that same food back home. Don’t be afraid to try new cuisines (I tried Indian food in NYC and I am now a huge fan). Pull out my friend Google and type in food near me, check out the ratings and browse the menus. Don’t get stuck in the fast food/chain restaurant rut. One of my dad’s favorite things to do is look up to see if the city was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, he wishes he could be Guy Fieri. Ask the people at the front desk of your hotel, the bartender, or your host (if you like to AirBnB it). Just don’t ever eat at a chain restaurant, you’re literally robbing your taste buds of something fantastic and I just can’t let you do that.

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Okay, maybe locals don’t eat at Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe (unless they’re crazy rich) but don’t be afraid to splurge a little too! Some things are once in a lifetime opportunities. Also, instead of getting what was preset on the menu, I got the chef’s special for something extra different!

 

4. Look for the less common things to do

Obviously have your list of must sees but also look for the hidden things to do. Check out Facebook events, look for the local news website (watch the news when you get there!), and even get on snapchat and see what’s going on around you. There is always something off the beaten path that is a must see and what makes the city you are visiting unique.

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While in Charlotte, I joined the local mom Facebook group and asked them what were somethings we should do while visiting. One mom told me about Tiger World, in all my searching this never came up! (Another great idea to go with tip number 2!)

 

3. Visit downtown and go shopping

Find downtown and go exploring, don’t be afraid to get lost or to wander around aimlessly (more on this later). Find the place with the most local shops and take time to poke around, it makes for some great gifts to bring back or something unique for your home (instead of the typical shot glass or fridge magnet).

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2. Make friends with the bartender

Staying in a hotel? Hang out at the bar, even if you don’t drink you can order a soda and maybe some snacks. Strike up a conversation with the bartender, find out what they like to do in their free times, where their favorite spots are to eat, and where to get the best deals.

Not staying at a hotel? Find a spot near you, a bakery, coffee shop, bar, anywhere local and strike up conversation with one of the workers.

Just a spot of advice, I wouldn’t immediately get into asking them questions or else they may not give you the best suggestions, spent a little extra time just making small conversation and getting to know them before jumping into the touristy questions. Bartenders are people too, so don’t forget to tip them for their amazing service and advice.

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We found the most amazing bakery one block from where we were staying in Charlotte. Be sure to check out Villanis Bakery if you’re in the area!

 

1. Don’t be afraid to get lost!

This is literally my favorite thing in the world to do anywhere I go. Take a day and just drive around (or walk), take the first turn that seems interesting to you. If you see something that looks cool down one street, take a walk down that street. When I was in NYC, I literally walked 5 miles aimlessly around the city because I loved seeing everything. I can’t stress this one enough because it is such a carefree feeling to walk or drive around ‘getting lost,’ not having an agenda and not feeling like you have to get xyz done since you’re only visiting for a short amount of time. I promise, try this one time (even if it is just for a couple hours) and let me know how it goes. Once you are fully lost and ready to head back, my friend Google is right there to help you get home.

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We randomly stumbled upon an authentic Banksy in NYC and I just about lost my mind!

 

That’s it, my best 5 travel tips for visiting a new city (or revisiting one)! What else would you add? What are some of your favorite things to do? Did you try any of the things off my list? What was your experience like?? I want to hear from you!

 

Day 3

Okay guys, I’m three days into this journey and I am ending the night with a giant glass of wine.

To be far, it really hasn’t been that bad so far. The first day it was raining so we just played around the house and terrorized the dogs. The second day we attended a music class and then hit the park. But today, today was rough because of me. While J has been out of daycare for three days, I’ve been out of work for two weeks and three days and I was missing my freedom a little more today. All I wanted to do today was to lounge around in my pajamas and watch sappy Christmas movies. It didn’t help that J didn’t get to nap as long as normal because our dumb dog wouldn’t stop barking so he was super grumpy the rest of the day. So instead of peacefully lounging and crying my eyes out at a stupid Hallmark movie, I dealt with a screaming child and only watched the movie (instead of hearing it). The struggle was real because….

Okay, here’s your trigger warning*** 

Ya’ll, depression is real. It’s a struggle that I deal with every single day and have for as far back as I can remember. Some days are a lot worse than others and today was one of those days. This particular instance did have a predecessor but they definitely don’t usually have one.

All growing up I struggled with the idea of suicide, including multiple attempts. It wasn’t until a very close family friend had a drug overdose and killed herself when I realized I needed help. I couldn’t put my family and friends through something like that. I sought out therapy but mainly I sought out antidepressants. I hoped beyond all hope that being on drugs was a temporary thing, I would quickly ‘get over’ my depression now that I’m in therapy and took a couple drugs. Unfortunately, that was not the case (obviously). Therapy does absolute wonders, please don’t get me wrong! (I recently went back to therapy and have already realized SO many things about myself that I’m working on.) My main point, is my depression isn’t situational, it’s biological. I come from a long line of depression and accepting that I would have to take medication the rest of my life was hard. But then J was born, I knew from that moment that it wouldn’t matter what I took, how long I was in therapy, or how much I struggled with my depression because nothing, NOTHING mattered as much as this little boy.

J will always look at me for how to handle feelings, how to deal with relationships, and how to deal with life. He will always look up to me as his example and I have to provide the best example I know how to. Wow, that’s crazy daunting to think about. Okay, so bad example if you’re a parent don’t think of things that way. Think about it as…Shit I’ve got nothing. It is a daunting thing to think about, it’s a scary ass thing to raise children. But god are they cute and amazing and their laugh, oh we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing better than the sound of a baby’s laugh!

Alright, this wine is getting to me. Some words of wisdom before I sign off…at any given moment, you are doing the absolute best you know how to do and no one (especially yourself) can ask for anything more than that!

 

Stay At Home Mom?

One day my husband turns to me and nonchalantly states, “If you want to stay at home mom with our son, then you can.” I whipped my head towards him and very loudly pronounced, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!” To say I was ecstatic at first would be an understatement! From the moment I had J, I knew that I wanted to stay home with him. Forget work! Butttttt I’m a strong independent woman and don’t need no man to take care of me!

After maternity leave, back to the trenches I went, kicking and screaming and if I’m completely honest, balling my eyes out. You see, I’m a social worker; but not just any social worker, I work in child welfare specifically adoptions recruiting for the kids whose parents’ rights have been terminated and are considered the harder to place children (teenagers, large sibling groups, and children with severe medical and mental disabilities). Let me tell you, I LOVE MY JOB!!! But wow, is it difficult. The late nights, the long road trips, the secondary trauma, the drama, the arrests, the Baker Acts, etc. etc…but oh! the love, the laughs, the connections and ability to build a bond with a child who hates everyone else and not to mention the sheer joy of being able to give a child a family, a family that they deserved from the beginning but a family who chose them. It’s one of the most magic feelings in the world!

So you can see why my enthusiasm quickly switched to anxiety and uncertainty. How can I leave my kids and my families? How can I leave my coworkers (whom are my closest friends)? How can I leave a company where I have worked for the past 6 six years, since leaving my undergraduate career (GO FSU!)? How can I leave a position that has changed my life forever but also one that has changed so many others? My blood, sweat, and lots and lots of tears were put into helping my kids become successful. (Oh gosh, I’m crying as I write this.)

But then the unthinkable happened, one of my kids passed away from medical complications. I was the only one who had met him because he was placed literally on the opposite side of the state. I sat at his bedside and held his hand, I watched him grow, and I cried because he was only three years old. I cried because he died in a hospital with no family, no one to hold him, no one to sing to him, no one to tell him stories, no one to love him or call him their own. He died without knowing what a parent is. My heart quite literally broke in half. I went home and I held J (as long as a toddler would let me) and I cried because of the love and support J has and something the other child will never get to know. I knew then that I needed a change and I was missing out on some of the most important years of my son’s life.

I was so wrapped up in my job that many nights I didn’t get to do bedtime or if I did it was rushed because I was coming home so late. Then in the mornings, he wouldn’t be awake because I would have to leave so early. I would see him on the weekends and he would surprise me with a ton of firsts, many of which weren’t really firsts but simply a first for me. Can we take a second and talk about mommy guilt? Because holy freaking cow, the struggle is real. I couldn’t keep missing these moments with him, it wasn’t fair to me and it definitely wasn’t fair to him.

So wait, did I just decided to leave to my job and become a stay at home mom?? Yep, that definitely happened but WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I JUST GET MYSELF INTO?!?

We were one of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael and were without daycare and power for a week. In the just the first day, J managed to steal ALL of the toilet paper out of the bathroom (while I was using it mind you), he discovered how to climb onto the couch and completely terrorize our 16 year old dachshund, he tore down the blinds in the living room and left teeth marks all along the window seal. Of course the week steadily got better but what in the world do I do with a toddler all day, every day?? I guess we’re about to find out!

Parents, I write this to tell you to take the leap! Whatever that may be. You only get one chance at life and your babies don’t stay little long enough. A very wise ‘big sister’ told me that you will never regret the time you took to spend time with your kids. No one can teach, nurture, and mold him like you.

Give your kids an extra hug and kiss today. You’re a rock star parent and you are the exact person they need you to be.

P.S. T-minus 21 days until I’m a full-time stay at home mom. Send me all the good vibes!