To The Man Who Served My Husband Sympathy For Having 3 Girls

To the man who served my husband sympathy,

You may not remember us, but we were the table of 5 that sat in your section on Tuesday night.  You greeted us with coasters, gave us your name and addressed my husband,

“3 girls?  I’m sorry, dude.

Yeah, you sorry alright.  

You’re a sorry excuse to try and bond with my daughter’s proud father by apologizing to him (in front of our girls) for their gender.  As if he is cursed, or less fortunate that God didn’t bless him with a boy.

My husband wanted to put your gangly neck in his 20” bicep while I force fed you the horse shit that just flew out of your mouth, but that would just be uncivilized.  Instead, my husband responded as he usually does when misguided people make comments like this about, and in front of, our daughters,

He simply said, “don’t be. I’m extremely blessed,” and then smiled across the table at our girls.

Once you left, our girls asked, “why did he apologize for us being girls?”  My response to them will come later, but as for you Mr. Waiter…

I don’t believe you’re a bad person.  I won’t even label you a sexist or a misogynist.  I think you are a representation of society’s view of women and your unconscious comment was something you’ve heard and maybe repeated numerous times before.

I mean, who doesn’t already know that girls are way too emotional, and 3 of them?  Forget about it!  My poor husband is going to be a prisoner in his own home with 3 bossy, PMSing girls who make it their mission to bring their cursed misery down upon their old dad.

Those bitches are going to drive him crazy with their non stop talking and drama.  Can a guy just come home to a warm, home cooked meal and a cold beer without their women getting their panties all in a bunch over nothing?

Oh, and just wait until they’re teenagers!  Those curves are just “asking for it” and boys will soon be breaking down dad’s door in hopes his precious little girls will be ready and willing.  You’ll be on 24 hour pussy patrol, and that no longer is a good thing, dude.

You’re screwed either way, Dad.  Bring them up to be ladies who don’t raise their voices, and they could be whores, easy, or loose.  Then again, raise them to be strong women who speak up for themselves, and rejected boys will just call them those names anyway.  

From a reputation standpoint, all a boy has to worry about is throwing a ball without getting called a pussy, or reading a book without getting called a little bitch, or… wait, those are just more labels used against boys that actually insult women.  

Maybe it wasn’t a playful joke and you were sincerely apologizing for the worry Dad will endure by having 3 girls.  Maybe you’re aware that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age 18 or that young girls are 4 times more likely to be a victim of rape than adult women.  Maybe you were making a joke at the expense of the 20 million women who have been raped at some point in their lives.  I don’t think you’re a bad person, so I’m going to assume this was not your intent.

I believe you meant no harm, it was just a little statement.  I should probably quit being a snowflake and “man up,” but here’s the thing, I have daughters to raise.

sympathy-3-girls

After you left, I told my daughters that girls like them are changing the world.  That once upon a time, girls couldn’t vote but now we represent the majority of voters.  

I told them that once upon a time women couldn’t work, but now the amount of women becoming doctors, lawyers, and accountants has tripled since the 1970’s (maybe later I’ll show them pictures of those bra burning, man-hating feminists).  

I told them they can be heroes, serving as police officers or as one of the 1.6 million women in our US military.  

I told them women represent the largest population in America and that strong, smart girls like them can be intimidating to some boys.  

Then I gave them a wink, and hoped my words answered the question posed by our server, and filled their hearts with courage as they face all the obstacles ahead of them.

When you came back, they smiled like they knew something you didn’t, and they did.

be-the-change

My daughters didn’t deserve to feel bad about being born girls.  While they are not entitled to much, they are entitled to self worth.  You didn’t give them their first lesson in gender bias and it won’t be their last.  They will deal with discrimination from good intentioned, misguided people throughout their lives.  I just hope that this letter, and the faces of my 3 girls, will make you think a little more about who’s sitting at your table.

Sincerely,

Mom to the Smart, Powerful Bosses at Table 23

 

Empower

The Amazing Gift of Empowerment

Maybe I’m just speaking for myself here,  but in my experience, aside from a quiet, peaceful house, there are few things a mom really wants for her birthday:  

  • A tighter ass
  • Perkier boobs
  • Less jelly rolls
  • A whiter smile
  • Fewer wrinkles
  • A cure for chin hair

Okay, maybe just a few things.  My 37th birthday was yesterday and I gave myself a gift nobody else could give me.  I gave myself the gift of empowerment.  As I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself, fully exposed, I thought about all I had endured.  As a girl, as a single, independent, educated woman, as a mother of 3, as a wife; as a lover, as a survivor, as a fighter, I’m all here.

My presence was the best present I got and I didn’t even mean to give it.  My husband and kids woke me up to coffee and gifts.  Before my amazing hubby left, he gave me a $100 bill and told me to go pamper myself (he’s pretty awesome).  By the time noon rolled around, I was just finishing work on my blog and still in my PJ’s.  I decided to take a hot shower and go from there.  

That’s when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Usually I see fat, then I silently berate myself for not going to the gym enough or eating like crap lately.  Usually I see wrinkles and droopy body parts that time (and childbirth) has bestowed upon me.  Usually I see spots, and paleness, and unwanted body hair, and the list goes on, and on, and on.  

Usually I see flaws, but on my 37th birthday, I saw sexiness and felt empowered.  I saw a woman whose strength has carried herself, and her family through sadness, anger, and fear.  I saw lines around eyes that first looked upon the miracle of her daughters.  I saw wrinkles forming around lips that have been given so many reasons to smile and laugh.  I saw soft skin worshipped by a man who loves her.  I saw a beautiful, powerful 37 year young woman.

Did this just happen?  Is it a gift from the universe?  Are my hormones aligned perfectly right now to help me see this beautiful image of myself on the 37th anniversary of my birth?

Nah, although I’m a sucker for Shakespeare, I’m no fortune’s fool.  My life has been a culmination of triumph and failure.  I have overcome challenges and loss.  I’ve created the life I’m living and I’m making a conscious choice not to let insecurity overshadow happiness.

It helps to be surrounded by amazing people.  Parents who aren’t perfect, but have always reminded me of my amazing presence in the world.  My husband who makes me feel beautiful and encourages me in everything I do.  My kids who give me more love than I could ever imagine.  Finally, close friends and family who support me without judgement.  At 37, you pretty much get to choose your circle and I’ve selected carefully.

I spent a lot of time searching for my purpose; wondering, questioning, guilting myself along the way.  I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life in order to find true happiness.  While I will continue to make mistakes and fumble through life, I’ll remember my 37th birthday.  

I’ll remember to take a moment, and give myself the gift of appreciating who I am right now.  From where I’m standing, that naked chick is pretty freakin’ amazing!

3 things you can do to empower yourself today

 Embrace flaws

1.  Embrace your flaws

Our flaws are part of who we are; stop fighting them and start accepting them.  You may never have that squat booty but you’ve worked your booty off to get where you are today.  Eat right, cheat a little, exercise as much as you can tolerate and stop comparing yourself to others who have a different story than yours.

 

2.  Create an unbreakable circle

I already mentioned how important it is to choose a circle of people who encourage, support, love and appreciate you, but I think we all have people in our lives who make us feel bad about ourselves.  I have 2 at the present moment.  These are people who stalk you on social media and find fault with just about everything you do.  As if we don’t already know what our flaws are, these people find it necessary to point them out.  If you’re like me, you’ve tried to be who you think they want you to be, only to fail and feel even more inadequate.   The thing is, to people like this, you will never be skinny enough or pretty enough.  You will never have a better car or bigger house.  These people want you to feel small, because it makes them feel better about themselves.  

Toxic people usually come in and out of your life, and for good reason.  If it’s possible to prevent them for infecting your life for good, move on.  If not, take away their control by being yourself in their presence. Maybe your happiness will infect them (probably not, but it’s worth a shot).

Note:  If you find yourself comparing your armpit fat to the armpit fat of every new girl you meet, it’s not her, it’s you.  Once you can get over your own issues, you’ll develop better relationships, beginning with your relationship to yourself.

 

3.  Be present

Who you were, and who you are yet to be, can only be controlled by how you handle it right now.  If you decide to hold on the your failures and mistakes, or live in fear of what may be (or what may never be), it will distort the image looking back at you.  

Instead, accept who you are right now. Look at your flaws and remember everything that brought you to this moment.  Say them out loud if you’re finding that voice in your head hard to believe.  I promise you will stand taller when you realize how powerful those flaws are to who you are and why you are here.   

If these affirmations don’t work, seek support.  We all need someone in our life we can talk about our fears and inadequacies.  If you don’t have someone, reach out via support groups online.  If you need information on support groups out there, please let me know.

My 37th birthday was a reminder that while I am not perfect, I am healthy, and happy, and loved, and so proud to be expertly flawed.

Empowerment

 

husband sets standard

5 Ways My Husband Sets The Standard For How A Woman Should Be Treated

Sometimes I look at my husband and think, how did I get so lucky?  Other times I want to tear his lips off because his loud, wet, open mouthed chews classify him as a full neanderthal.  

Sometimes, at night I find myself counting his flaws like sheep while I lay awake listening to his deep, guttural snores.  He’s obsessed with the gym, extremely impulsive, loves food, craft beer, sex, cut-off shirts, the beach, and just about anything that takes him away from having to do yard work on the weekends.  

Neither of us are perfect (I’ll get to some of my flaws later), and our relationship began at a time when our flaws were probably most visible.  I had just ended a terrible marriage and he had just stopped dating his on again, off again high school sweetheart. Normally this would be a no fly zone, and we definitely didn’t entertain the idea of anything serious for a while.  

I’m not sure my husband knows how infectious his love is.  I’m certain there were girls before me that fell hard for him, and he didn’t really know why.  I know this because loving other people is just part of his nature, it’s not an act or something he forces himself to do in order to make others happy, he just does.  As time went on, I saw his unconscious love as a son, friend, brother, and eventually as a husband and step dad.

I want to clarify before I continue, that Brent’s love is not completely selfless.  He needs affection and love as much as he gives it… a lot!  I am not, and have never been, the most affectionate person in the world, so I have to make valiant efforts to reciprocate his affection on a regular basis.  Like all flaws, it’s a work in progress and I often find myself jealous of his effortless affection for others.

There is no perfect relationship, Brent and I have serious struggles when it comes to our flaws, but there is one thing we never struggle with, and that’s loving each other.  

Here are 5 ways my husband sets the standard for how a woman should be treated

 

  1. He never points out my flaws

standard for men

 

I think I might be a bad wife because I started this post by pointing out a few of his flaws, but we can’t talk about marriage like it’s always perfect.  He’s flawed, I’m flawed, you’re flawed, we’re all flawed, especially when it comes to relationships.  Blending two lives isn’t supposed to be easy.  

The first few years of our relationship people would ask what my quirks were and he’d say, “nothing, she’s perfect.”  I’d laugh inside my head and think, just wait, buddy.  I’m not always affectionate like him, I worry a lot (which could possibly come across as nagging), and I get annoyed at things like chewing and wearing cut off shirts outside of the gym, but he never points out my flaws.  Instead, after 5 years, he still treats me like I’m flawless.

  • (Me) “My ass is getting big”                           (Him) “No it’s not, it’s perfect.”
  • (Me) “Is my make up in the car?”                (Him) “You don’t need makeup.”
  • (Me) “I feel like the worst mother ever!”  (Him) “You’re the best mom in the world.”

No matter what I say, he comes back with a comment that makes me feel like I’m beautiful.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror after a really icky day and think why?  Then, he comes up behind me, puts me in his strong embrace and I suddenly feel like the sexist woman on the planet.

 

2.  He TELLS me he loves me

Some people think that their partner must know how much they love him/her because they married them after all.  This belief is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage.  We change, and our relationships change so much, that we need reminders of love often.  Here are some things Brent does to remind me he loves me everyday:

  • He sends me a text every morning to say I love you and good morning.  Sometimes he adds a little something extra in there 😉
  • He says I love you every time we hang up the phone.
  • He wakes up from a dead sleep and says, “I love you,” and then gets mad when I don’t say it back (okay, maybe that’s a little annoying).
  • He hugs me tight and says things like, “have I told you how much I love you today?”
  • He sings, terribly off key, love songs to me.

 

3.  He SHOWS me that he loves me

I thought constant affection wasn’t important, until I got it.  I’m not talking about the smothering kind.  Usually husbands and wives can’t smother each other because you barely have time to touch each other.  I’m talking about the kind of affection that reminds us why we’re married in the first place.  If there’s no affection, it’s just a roommate sitting next to you on the couch.

When it’s easier to tell someone you love them than show them, try Brent’s approach:

  • He hugs me everyday, as soon as he gets home.
  • He kisses me at least twice a day (more often if I let him, lol).
  • He always wants to sit next to me to hold my hand.
  • He brushes my hair and gives me massages because he knows how much I love it!
  • He chooses me – Affection isn’t always about touching, it can also be showing love in your choices.  Coming home on time (or even early), skipping an invite to spend time together, or choosing not to drink at a party and be the DD are all choices that SHOW your partner you love them.  When you’re married you always have to think about how your partner would feel about your actions.

The best part about all this, is this is who Brent is.  I don’t guilt him into doing these things, he just does.  When you’re shown this kind of love on a regular basis, it makes for a very “healthy” marriage!

4.  He’s a great dad

Brent didn’t just marry me, he became a father to my 3 girls.  It took me a while to introduce them (a year maybe), but when I did they bonded immediately.  I knew this would happen given Brent’s nature and I took so much time because I wanted to wait until we were in a serious, committed relationship.  

Of course, it wasn’t until they met that things truly got serious.  He was a natural dad, playing with them all the time, listening and taking part in all their daily routines.  He rearranged his work schedule to get them ready and take them to school in the mornings.  He was a natural at taking care of them, and making them feel loved.

He’s not their biological father but he sets the standard for what a dad should be.  Here are some things he does that makes me feel loved through his love and care of them:

  • He’s present; he’s not on his phone or working when he’s with us.  
  • He’s home on time to have dinner as a family every night.
  • He asks the kids about their day and listens.  He responds without criticism.
  • He helps with a little homework, especially math.
  • He knows what the kids like (food, movies, etc.) and surprises them often.
  • He has no problem getting the kids ready for school or to go out.
  • He helps with housework (most notably the dishes) so we can cuddle on the couch asap.

 

5.  He’s my biggest fan

Without his encouragement and support, I would be in a miserable job, but instead, when I reached the end of my rope, he gave me the freedom to let go.  

  • He trusted me enough to know the weight of my decision and didn’t parent me with all the possible negative outcomes.
  • He had faith in my new venture and encouraged me to go for it it in spite of our finances.  
  • He believed in me and bought me flowers when I launched.  
  • He never once said, you could fail.  
  • He never once made me feel guilty for my choice.
  • He doesn’t come home and ask what I did all day.  

Like love, trust and faith are also strong points for my husband. I know that as freely as he gives these things to me, I must treat them with extreme care.  If ever, any of those things were violated, he would be broken.  

There may have been some luck that brought Brent into my life, but keeping our marriage healthy has nothing to do with luck; it’s work, it’s compromise, it’s looking past the flaws and appreciating all the qualities that make your partner, and therefore your partnership, unique and amazing.  

I get to spend my forever with this man <3  


What makes your relationship unique?  How does your partner let you know how much he/she loves you?  Share your comments below.


 

read-rap-like-ludacris

Why Every Parent Needs To Rap Like Ludacris With Their Kids

Have you ever heard something you want to listen to over and over again? Ludacris rapping “Llama Llama Red Pajama” just made my night.

When my kids were little I used to rap all. the. time. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a cool mom (most moms who try to rap to be cool end up being the opposite), I rapped to them because I got so tired of reading the same thing and hearing the same songs over, and over, and over again.

I’m also a little bit gangster

One of my kid’s favorite books was “Pout Pout Fish.” How many times can you say Blub, Blub, Blub, before losing your freakin’ mind? So my girls and I took turns using different accents for all the characters and every time there was a Blub Blub Blub part, they had to change it up. For example, “blub to the blub to the blub, blub, blub.” When he met the pretty lady fish, I always added a few fun slang words in there. That was their favorite part!

Changing up a story anytime it gets boring not only makes the same stories better, it makes time together creative and fun.

When each of my 3 girls were born, I gave them a song; “You are my sunshine”, “This little light of mine,” and Brahms Lullaby. They always begged for me to sing their song before bed and as much as I loved it, as they got older I had to change it up. After they’d ask me to sing it, I’d ask them how they wanted it; country, rap, rock and roll, or opera.

The giggles that came from those nights were unforgettable.

Even as an English teacher, I changed up the classics. I taught rhythm and rhyme using 2Pac’s, “Dear Mama” and turned Homer’s Odyssey into a campfire country song. Music and literature are embedded in my life and I never waste a moment sharing those lyrics with the world.

I had to share Ludacris’ simple retelling of “Llama Llama” because it not only reminded me of those irreplaceable moments with my daughters, but because it can inspire other parents to read, sing, change it up and be silly with your babies every chance you get.

13 Ways to Save a Life: Inspired by 13 Reasons Why

Nobody wants to be the one asking what they could have done after someone they care about has committed suicide.  Unfortunately, those suffering often don’t ask for help and do everything to protect the secret that is destroying them.  

So, how do we get through to them before it’s too late?  How do we tell them they are loved and that people care?  How do we spare them from further pain when they no longer trust anyone?  

HERE are 13 WAYS TO SAVE A LIFE:

WHAT ANYONE CAN DO

SHARE YOUR STORIES!  Whether you’re a parent, someone who works directly with teens, or just a concerned human being, you can help save a life by sharing your story.

13 reasons 

Those who suffer with suicidal thoughts, say they feel empty or alone.  Sharing your personal stories and how you got through it, could save a life.  It shows suffering teens that their pain is real and by acknowledging it, you’re giving them a chance to feel safe and express their own story.

The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why deals with real high school issues, such as, gossip and how it can destroy a reputation, social hierarchy/bullying, sexual assault, and substance abuse.  This is not a “kids these days” problem, and it’s not one we can ignore.  Real people suffer, I suffered, my mother suffered, and future generations will suffer if we don’t put a stop to it.

So, how do we spare kids like Hannah Baker from a broken heart, a destroyed reputation, and a soul so broken, they feel taking their life is their only option?

  1. SHARE YOUR STORIES!  Stories of teenage sexuality, struggles and overcoming pain  
  2. Stop brushing off teenage drama as natural rebellion and hormones.  
  3. Stop normalizing bullying as a right of passage.

Seems simple, but it’s only a start.  Shows like 13 Reasons Why and your stories will get the conversation going but putting an end to things like social hierarchy in schools and sexual entitlement means changing patterns that have been in place for decades.

WHAT TEACHERS CAN DO

I’m not a psychiatrist, but as a high school teacher, I have experience working with teenagers and here is what I’ve learned:

4.  Give them outlets.  

    • Outlets are a way for them to express themselves and can be anything from writing in a journal, to creating art, or playing a sport. 

5.  Tell them they can come to you with anything

  • When they do, stop what you’re doing, put everything down and give them your full attention.

6.  LISTEN

  • Don’t talk, just LISTEN. Did I say LISTEN?

7.  Offer understanding and validation when they’re done talking

  • Thank them for trusting you to share their feelings with you.  Share a time when you felt that way.  Tell them you’re worried about them but give them confidence by mentioning their strengths.
  • Whatever you do, do not make a generalized statement.  Phrases like “suck it up,” or “you just gotta get through it,” don’t acknowledge their personal feelings and could make them feel even more hopeless.

8.  Offer a safe place

  • A crowded hallway, a lunchroom where they don’t have a seat, can be very overwhelming.  Offer your classroom as a safe place.

I listened a lot and I wanted to save every single one of them.  I never lost one, but I know teachers who did.  It’s devastating and something nobody ever gets over.  So, let’s stop minimizing our kids problems and start dealing with them together.   

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO

Teachers save lives and the burden to reach every student is huge, but it doesn’t compare to the responsibility a parent has to their own child.  In the show, Hannah had great parents.  They were caring and attentive yet she still felt she couldn’t talk to them about what she was going through.  Why?

  • Teens want their parents to be proud of them. They’d never want you to think they’d put themselves in a harmful situation
  • Teens want to spare their parents from pain and worry.  Sometimes it’s because they think they’ll lose their independence and other times they’d rather burden the pain than have you hurting too.
  • Teens don’t want their parents marching into their school pointing fingers at every “bully” who hurt their wittle baby.  Embarrassment is the ultimate betrayal to a teen.

So what do parents do?  I’m a loving mom to 3 girls who are entering this stage of life.  I want to preserve their innocence and protect them, but I know they are entering a world of chaos that I can’t completely spare them from.  Here’s what I can do:

9.  Stop looking for answers in everything and everyone else, and get real with them.

  • My kid is not perfect and neither am I, but as a parent, I always want to believe that my child is better, they’re a representation of me, after all.  This is a flaw!  Allowing our kids to fail and holding them accountable is part of the maturation process.  The key is making sure one mistake doesn’t spiral into 10.

10.  Make sure they feel safe enough to ask me personal questions rather than relying on technology or the school.

    • I do this by sharing odd questions I had as a teen and funny stories about how I found the answers.  One time I asked my mom what a period was and she said it’s the dot at the end of a sentence.

11.  Be open with them about my own choices and acknowledge how they are affected.  

    • For me this is divorce, marriage, moving schools, but for others it could be parental neglect, substance abuse, etc.  These choices affect our kids and can make them feel powerless.  

12.  Make sure they know that no matter what I will love them unconditionally

    • But also that my unconditional love does not mean their actions will not have consequences.

13.  Make sure they know I will drop everything to bail them out of a peer pressure situation.

    • I’m naive to think this will always happen but giving them the option could be the difference between life or death.  I have given them specific examples of how to do this. No matter the situation or where they are, if they text me 111 and drop a pin, I will pick them up. They can tell their friends their grandma is in the hospital or their mom is being a bitch, or just slip out when nobody’s looking.

You can’t parent high school kids thinking it’s going to be all rainbows, you have to prepare for the storms that come first.  Being open with your kids and making them feel safe enough to come to you is much better than ignoring the problems in hopes they’ll just go away.  If the end result is a Tropical Storm, instead of a Cat 5 hurricane, you’ve done your job well.

The show ends with Hannah saying, “I felt something shift after I poured it all out (on the tapes). I felt like I could beat this, but this time I was asking for help because I knew I couldn’t do it alone.”  Unfortunately, when she went for help she was told her pain was no big deal and she should try and get over it.

Rape is a big deal.  Safety is a big deal.  Protecting our children is a big deal.

State legislatures need to get active in making laws that allow schools to take action in the best interest of students, not funding.  Schools should focus on destroying social hierarchies, rather than minimizing a destroyed reputation.  

Schools do not bear this burden alone.  Many people blame schools for not using social media accounts in bullying cases, but guess what, that’s on the parent.  Parents should have full access to their child’s social media accounts and if you don’t, you can only point the finger at yourself.  If a naked photo of a minor or devastating texts come through that phone at the hands of your kid, why do they even still have the privilege of technology?  

We all have to find a way to work together because whether it happens on school grounds or off, it is embedded in these kids lives forever.

When it comes down to it, no single person is to blame for the death of Hannah Baker, or the 44,000 other people who died in 2015 at the hand of suicide, but we can all do something about it together.  We can all save a life, not just by talking about suicide, but by getting personal.


 

coparenting holidays

How To Co-Parent During The Holidays

If you’ve been through divorce, you remember the day that changed your life forever.  For me, it was Easter.  My husband had made some extremely selfish choices and I was left to protect our girls, 5, 3, and 11 months old who no matter what came my way, managed to keep me going.  

This was me walking to my first Easter celebration alone.  I had 3 babies and a dog as I walked up to greet my entire family who were full of questions I didn’t have the answer to.

That Easter the girls had no idea what their dad and I were going through.  They were so happy to find their Easter baskets and they picked through each egg one-by-one.  They held up their Easter goodies and snuck sweets well before their traditional bunny pancake breakfast.  I made sure to keep their normal traditions and routines alive, while their dad spiraled out of control.

A lot has happened over the last 7 years.  Holidays have come and gone with or without their dad.  He missed his daughter’s first steps, first birthday, first Easter, and continues to choose which life events are worthy of his time.  Through it all, I have been their constant. 

Except this Easter.

  • This Easter he decided that it was on his weekend so I did not get to spend Easter with them.
  • This Easter he decided that the Easter bunny wasn’t coming, even though 2 of 3 kids still believe. 
  • This Easter, the girls didn’t wake up before the sun to scurry find their Easter baskets, instead they were ignored in their room until 11:00
  • This Easter they didn’t get to eat my famous bunny pancakes
  • This Easter he decided church wasn’t important.  

How many more years do they have before they stop believing?  Before they don’t wake us up early and find pure joy in the surprises those baskets hold.  How many more years do we have before they don’t care about bunny pancakes?  When will they stop having faith because of the inconsistencies in their parents?

This Easter, I cried all morning long.  I couldn’t even look at Facebook because all I saw were happy Easter pictures.  All I could think about were my kids ignored in their rooms on a day that is usually filled with so much love and magic.  

I texted Madie to make sure they knew the Easter Bunny didn’t forget about them:  

“Did the Easter bunny come?”

“NO.”

“Well, he came here!”

“He did!”

“Yep!”

“What did he do?”

“Well, I went to do laundry and found a basket in the washer machine!”

“OMG!!”

I called to talk to Makenna and her little face was pouty as she stared at her iPad.  I told her the silly Easter bunny messed up and came to our house instead.  She said she wanted to come home and I told her she’d be home soon and I’d leave everything the bunny brought for her to find when she gets here.  

I underestimate their intelligence since even when we were camping last year, the Easter bunny managed to find our tent, but they went along with it and I sent my Easter love before hanging up and bursting into tears, again.

Why do I always find myself making up for his mistakes?  It’s an easy answer… While it’s not fair to me, it’s what a good parent does.  A good parent is consistent and always makes sure that their kids feel safe and loved. A good parent is selfless when it comes to their child’s needs.

This is not the first, and it is definitely not the last holiday celebration he will ruin.  One year, he returned all of the kid’s Christmas gifts, because he said I was ungrateful.  I went to the store and purchased them again.  

A few months ago he told them to bring a lost tooth home because the tooth fairy didn’t come to his house.   On Halloween, he posted pictures of them in their homemade costumes and said he was getting ready to take them trick-or-treating.  Meanwhile, he had chosen to not see them in over a month.  He doesn’t seem to care about actually spending holidays with them, as long as it can look like he did.

So, why keep them from me this Easter?  It has always been my holiday.  He is not religious, he’s never done Easter bunny duties, he doesn’t find joy in waking them up to spend Easter morning with them.  Another answer I can’t swallow; even after 7 years and all I’ve done to raise our kids with consistency and love, he still uses them to hurt me.

I have learned that the secret to coparenting, is to rise above.  

Easter holds some bad memories for me and this year just adds to it, but I will rise up.  I will celebrate Easter because it’s a day of rebirth.  It was the day my daughters and I rose from the ashes and started a new journey together.  This year, I realized that he isn’t capable of hurting me, because through his actions, I have only become a stronger woman and a better mom.

coparenting

The Greatest Lesson In Co-Parenting

There is no secret to co parenting. Some people may have a great relationship with their ex, and make it look easy. Others may never get along and the kid’s suffer. I am somewhere in between. I’ve been separated from my ex since April 2010. The catalyst may have been his 8 month affair, but the separation triggered a year and a half of hospitalizations that left me alone to care for our girls.

Now, he claims to be in a good place. He’s married to a women with 3 kids, all of whom were involved in his wedding. Our girls were not invited. When his kids come to visit they sleep on a pull out sofa and an air mattress in a living room they converted into a media/guest room. They fall asleep to pictures of their dad’s memorabilia, mainly special edition horror DVD’s.

It could be worse that’s for sure, but for 40 days a year, that’s their life. They sit far away from friends and social life. Far away from their bedrooms decorated by and for them. Far away from their home with 2 loving parents who help with homework, volunteer at their school, pack nutritious lunches, make them go to bed at a reasonable hour and tuck them in every night with cuddles and love, and maybe even a booty shake out the door.

I can’t protect them when they aren’t with me. That is the hardest part about co parenting. 

Give them confidence when they question his love

The only thing I can do is to try to make them strong and happy the 324 days a year they are with me. When they are exposed to one of his episodes, I do damage control. I say things like,

Your dad loves you, he just shows you love in a different way that we do.
Your dad doesn’t always make the best choices, but he always loves you.
Your dad doesn’t get to see you a lot so he probably doesn’t know ______.

Encourage them to share their feelings

My girls aren’t actually themselves when they talk to their dad.  With me, they have no problem expressing themselves, but with him, they act the way they think he wants them to act.  I encourage them to share their feelings because I can’t always fight their battles. Depending on his mood, I’m either a controlling bitch or great mom who they girls are lucky to have. Of course, what he thinks of me doesn’t matter, my priority is making sure the girls feel safe and loved.

Remember it’s not about you

I have spent the last 7 years protecting our children from his inconsistent, selfish behavior. I have shown them happiness when everything was literally falling apart around us. Some days have been hard, and I wish he would fall completely out of their lives for good, but then I remember, it’s not about me.

I can only hope that after my daughter’s experiences with their dad, they will not feel unworthy of his love, or rejected and damaged. Instead, I hope they will learn the true lesson of unconditional love.

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: Irish Week

You could say that Irish food is in my blood, because it is.  My great grandparents met on the boat to America and my grandmother’s Irish cooking has stuck with me years after she left us.

I love everything Ireland and always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a week of Irish cooking.  It’s no secret that this week’s themed menu is Irish!

Before I get to the meal prep, let me give you some tips on dinners.  Irish food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  There are a lot of options to sub the otherwise carby, saucy food for healthier options.  

I’m not sure how happy my grandmother would be with me turning her delicious recipes healthy but it’s a different time, grandma.  For example, instead of potatoes with my bangers and mash, I used this recipe and made cauliflower rice: 

While Grandma White made THE best cabbage roll, or pigs in a blanket as she called them, I stick to this easy cabbage roll casserole recipe:  

I don’t think she’s too angry with my modern twists, because at the end of the day, I always know to use good beer with my roasts.  Guiness all the way, baby.

Now that I’ve given you 3 yummy dinner options, let’s jump into our breakfast and lunch meal prep.

Menu

Breakfast

  • Corned Beef Hash

Lunch

  • Meat of your choice and Pub Salad
  • Healthier Reuben Wraps

Shopping List

  1. 6 lbs or larger Corned Beef
  2. Low Carb Tortilla Wraps
  3. Bib lettuce
  4. Red cabbage
  5. White shredded cabbage
  6. 1 Sliced Cucumber
  7. 1 ½ lbs Potatoes
  8. 3 Small Onions
  9. 4 Garlic Cloves
  10. 1 Block Cheddar Cheese
  11. 4 eggs
  12. Healthy mayo (made with avocado or olive oil)
  13. Tomato Paste
  14. Pickles
  15. Spicy Brown Mustard
  16. Apple Cider vinegar
  17. 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  18. Olive Oil
  19. Dijon Mustard
  20. 2 tbsp Tarragon
  21. 2 tbsp Thyme
  22. 2 Guiness Beers

1/4 tsp of the following spices

  1. Basil
  2. Oregano
  3. Paprika
  4. Salt & Pepper

Recipes

First you have to cook the corned beef.  Here is the recipe I used and you can let it go in the crockpot while you make everything else.  Once it’s done take out 4 cups (2 for ruebens and 2 for breakfast) and eat the rest for dinner that night!

Corned Beef in the Crock Pot

Combine the following ingredients in the crock pot

*If you have a small crock pot, scale potatoes, cabbage and carrots

  • 5-6 pounds Corned beef brisket
  • 5 Carrots, sliced
  • 1 lb Potatoes, cut in chunks
  • ½ head cabbage, cut in pieces
  • 1 Yellow onion, sliced

Stir together the following ingredients and then pour over meat and veggies.

  • 5 tbsp Brown Mustard
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 2 8-ounce beers
  • 1 ½  Tbsp. Thyme

Cook on high 4 hours or best at low 8 hours

Don’t forget to save 3 cups for sliced or diced corned beef!

 

Reubens:

Let me start by saying, ruebens are not very healthy!  I used a version of homemade sauerkraut and homemade thousand island dressing to make this a healthy lunch option.  If you’ve never had a reuben before, don’t even think that this healthy recipe comes close to the real thing.  I’m just trying to keep us healthy here!  

Prepare the dressing:

Combine the following ingredients in a small container to store:

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup clean mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickles

Prepare the “sauerkraut”

Combine the following ingredients in a medium tupperware container

  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

Assemble the reuben wraps by placing a tortilla flat on the plate.  Smother with thousand island dressing.  Add sauerkraut then your corned beef.  Wrap it up and enjoy!

 

Prepare the Pub Salad:

You will have a lot of leftover meat this week so if you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure that doesn’t go to waste.  Pair the beef roast or cabbage roll casserole with an Irish Pub Salad twice this week for a hearty lunch.

 

Prepare dressing for salad:

Combine all of the following ingredients in a salad dressing mixing container

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water

Mix well and store.

I always wash, slice and store the salad ingredients to make my week easier.  In this case:

  • Wash the lettuce
  • Slice the cucumber and onion
  • Cube the cheese
  • Hard boil 4 eggs

When you’re ready to eat the salad combine Bibb lettuce with shredded cabbage and top with cucumber, 1 egg, onion, and cubes of cheddar cheese.  Drizzle tarragon dressing.

 

Breakfast hash

  1. Slice the 1 onion, mince 1 garlic clove, dice 2 cups corned beef and 2 cups potatoes.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp olive oil in skillet. Then saute the onion and garlic. Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook until lightly browned. Season with ¼ tsp thyme, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp basil, ¼ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Stir in the corned beef and cook for 5 minutes.1/4 tsp Basil

 

By the end of this meal prep you will have breakfast for every day of the week, enough for 3 reuben wraps and 3 Pub Salads (don’t forget to add leftover meat).   

Remember the bangers and cauliflower mash AND the beef stew AND the cabbage roll casserole ingredients aren’t listed here.  If you want to make those dinners this week, make sure you visit the Pintrest recipe and add it to your list. https://www.pinterest.com/expertlyflawed/week-4-themed-meal-prep/

 

I had an amazing St. Patrick’s Day thanks to some great friends, and some delicious Irish food!  What did you do for St. Patti’s Day?  Add your comments below.

Next week is an All American menu…

 

3 Reasons You Should Start Meal Prepping Today

This week’s Themed Meal Prep is Italian food.  I scoured the pages of Pintrest for recipes that are healthy (low in calories, carbs, and fat) and put together a complete weekly meal plan for you below.  If you’re not familiar with meal prepping, or have been resistant to try it, here are three reasons why you must start with this plan TODAY!

Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t think food prepping is a good idea.  The reasons usually include:

  1. I don’t have time
  2. I don’t have money
  3. I don’t want to eat the same thing again and again.

If you’re among them, I’ve solved these three issues with my Themed Meal Prep, giving you absolutely no reason not to prepare clean, healthy, delicious meals for yourself every week.

  1. You’re not too busy to meal prep!  You’re too busy NOT to meal prep.

We are no longer scavengers, we don’t have to hunt and gather for every meal.  So, why are you making it so hard on yourself when it comes to eating 3 well rounded meals per day?  Meal prepping using my shopping list and recipes are so easy and most menus take less than 2 hours in your kitchen.  Less than 2 hours and an entire week’s worth of breakfast and lunches are done.  Most times, even that night’s dinner will be ready to feed your hungry family.

2.  If you have the money for Starbucks, or Chick-fil-a, or Ruby Tuesdays, then you have money to meal prep.

I get it, clean, healthy foods can be expensive.  There usually aren’t coupons for produce and meats, but I’ve found a way to cut my grocery bill in half.  I’ve done this by making the menus culturally themed.  One week it’s Greek, the next Italian, etc. etc.  Making the menus themed cuts down on the ingredients because you’re using the same ones in different ways.  Genius!  Most of my shopping lists contain less than 20 items, any many will already be in your cabinets allowing you to buy even less.

3.  If you’re bored with your meal prep, you’re not doing it right.

Since my menus are culturally themed, the ingredient list is small and the variety is BIG!  You’ll love the variety of foods and never get bored eating the same thing every day.  Some days I have a salad, some days a rice bowl, some days a wrap.  There are a ton of options!  The best part about Themed Meal Prep is, just when you’ve had enough, the week changes to another themed set of meals.

We all know what happens when we don’t prepare for lunch; we skip it, or end up eating crap. Treat yourself and go out once a week but don’t get frustrated wondering what you’re going to do everyday.  Okay, let’s get cookin’!

MENU

Breakfast:  

  • Frittata Muffins

Lunch:

  • Tuscan Tortillini
  • AntiPasta Salad
  • Caprese with Pork

SHOPPING LIST

  1. 1lb salami (cut 3-4 times at deli counter)
  2. 1 package pepperoni
  3. 1 package spinach
  4. 1 package of romaine
  5. ½ cup red onion
  6. 1 red and 1 green pepper
  7. 1 Lemon
  8. 2 containers sliced grape olives
  9. Jar of Sundried tomatoes in oil
  10. Jar of Artichokes in oil
  11. Small jar of pesto
  12. Small can black olives (sliced)
  13. Small jar green olives (sliced)
  14. Package Cheese Tortellini (I buy whole wheat)
  15. Parmesan Cheese
  16. 6-8 oz mozzarella balls
  17. Eggs
  18. Milk
  19. Olive Oil
  20. Balsamic Vinegar

*Optional:  Peperoncini peppers and pine nuts for antipasta salad

RECIPES

This is so easy it’s going to blow your mind!  You only have to cook one of the three lunch recipes this week!

How to Make the Tortellini Lunch:

2 lunch servings

  1. Boil tortellini according to package directions – Set aside.
  2. Add ¼ cup olive oil to skillet, saute ⅓ cup red onion and a minced garlic clove
  3. Add ½ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes, 1 cup spinach, and tortellini
  4. Salt and Pepper as needed
  5. Store in two containers for lunches

 

How to Make the Anti Pasta Salad

4 lunch servings

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 2 heads diced Romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 red onion sliced thin
  • ¼ cup small can black olives
  • ¼ cup green olives
  • ½ package pepperoni
  • ½  deli salami sliced
  • Full jar of artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 1/2 container of grape tomatoes
  • *Optional: Toasted pine nuts and peppercini peppers

Divide between 4 containers and store for lunches.

 

How to Make the Caprese Salad

4 Servings

Prepare the Caprese Salad by combining the following ingredients:

  • ½ bag spinach
  • 1 crate halved cherry tomatoes
  • Package of mozzarella balls
  • 2tbsp Pesto
  • 4tsbp Olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt Pepper

I stored this in a container and ate it with leftovers from the week.

I made some delicious dinners this week; Veggie lasagna, chicken bruschetta, and Italian pork in the crock pot.  If you’re interested in seeing those recipes, check out my Pintrest board:  https://www.pinterest.com/expertlyflawed/week-3-themed-meal-prep/

Finally, to prepare the breakfast muffins follow this recipe:

  1. Dice green pepper, red pepper, and red onion – Add 1 cup shredded spinach
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (spray well).
  4. In a large bowl, beat 10 eggs and add diced ingredients above.
  5. Sprinkle in cheese of your choice (I used shredded mozzerella)
  6. Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into each compartment.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center of the muffin is completely cooked.

So easy and so good!  Next week is St. Patrick’s Day so guess what my themed menu will be?  Irish food!  This Irish girl can’t wait!  See you next week…

I’m sorry for the lack of pictures this week.  I lost everything on my memory card while recording my daughter’s chorus concert (priorities)!  I’d love to see your pictures though.  Please post your Italian Meal Prep pics below.  Happy, healthy cooking!


 

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: Greek

Do you find yourself staring into a full refrigerator wondering why there’s nothing inside you want to eat?  My kids do it all the time so I’ve made sure to stock “their shelf” with plenty of healthy snacks they can grab and go.  Moms often forget to do this for themselves.  I’ve found a meal plan that keeps the guess work out of what to eat and only takes a couple hours to prep for the entire week of meals!

I love Themed Meal Prep because my menu changes each week and the ingredients are generally the same which saves me time and money.  Each week I choose a theme, search healthy recipes on Pintrest and then prep on Sunday so I’m worry free for the week.

My Pintrest Board for this week

 

Last week, we focused on Asian food which included lots of nuts, soy sauce (or healthier aminos) and garlic.  This week, garlic is about the only similarity as we spice it up with greek food.  A mediterranean diet is especially healthy because of the oils and ingredients like artichokes, olives, and cucumbers.   While I’m not including my dinner recipes here, I made an awesome mediterranean baked chicken that you have to try!

 

Step One:  Put the chicken nugget down and pick your menu theme (Italian, Asian, etc).  My Greek themed menu is outlined for you below.  Just screen shot the grocery list and go buy the simple ingredients.

Grocery List

  • 2lbs chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • Minced Garlic (4 heads)
  • 4 lemons
  • Oregano
  • 6 cucumbers (peeled and sliced)
  • brown rice
  • container of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • feta cheese
  • kalamata olives
  • s&p

Step Two:  Get Cookin’

Once you’re home, start marinating the chicken immediately!  These recipes require the chicken to be in the fridge for at least an hour, longer if possible.  Mix up the chicken as stated below:

  1. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp garlic, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt and salt and pepper.  Mix well
  2. After mixing, remove 1/4 cup for the salad dressing and place in fridge for later
  3. Add the restof the marinade to a large storage bag and add 2 lbs chicken.
  4. Massage to make sure chicken is fully covered.  Marinate in fridge for at least one hour.

While chicken is marinating, prepare the Tzatziki sauce: 

  1. Mix the following ingredients in a storage container.  1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 diced cucumber, 1 Tbs minced garlic, 1/2 Tbs dill, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, S&P to taste
  2. Once fully combined, place in fridge.  This go toward both the bowl and the salad.

After preparing the Tzatziki, prepare the salads

  1. Greek Bowl:  Mix the following ingredients together in a storage container:  2 cubed cucumbers, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs red wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbs minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried oregano – Store in the fridge until ready to eat
  2. Salad Mix:  Mix together  romaine lettuce, 3 cubed cucumbers,  8 oz cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced green pepper, ½ sliced red onion, Feta cheese, 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives.  Store in a container until ready to eat.

Cook the brown rice according to the package

Cook the chicken

  1. Remove the chicken from the fridge and drain the  marinade from it. Discard.
  2. Heat some olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken. Cook approximately 5-6 minutes per side. Cooking time depends on thickness and size of the chicken.
  4. Let it cool and then cut into bite sized pieces

At this point, everything should be stored in separate containers:

  • One chicken container
  • One brown rice container
  • One with greek salad
  • One with cucumber salad
  • One with tzatziki
  • Small container of salad dressing from marinade

Then, when you’re ready to eat:

Assemble Salad:  Place desired amount of salad on plate, mix with desired amount of chicken and salad dressing.  You may add tzatziki sauce if you want.

Assemble Bowls:  There’s a trick to these… heat up the brown rice and chicken before placing the rest of the ingredients inside your bowl.  After heating the chicken and rice for a minute or so, add cucumber salad and tzatziki.

*Follow serving sizes that are appropriate for your weight goals.

This should make about 6 lunches for your week.  I made 3 bowls and 3 salads so I didn’t get bored.  The awesome thing about a Themed Meal Plan is just when you do get bored, another awesome menu, with completely different ingredients is coming next week.

Finally, as promised from last week, I said I’d share my breakfast prep with you as well.  This recipe was awesome so if you’re worried about putting eggs in a crock pot, don’t!  The Greek flavors make this healthy egg white recipe delish!  Add it to your grocery list and mix it up in your crockpot while your prepping the lunches to have 12 meals done in under 2 hours!

 

If you would like to see how I assembled my bowls, or hear me talk about this week’s Themed Meal Prep, here’s a link to my youtube channel for the episode connected to this post.