When life hands you pumpkins

I don’t know about you but there’s something about Fall that always seems to bring me back to life. To say it’s my favorite time of year would be an understatement; Halloween is my favorite holiday (yes even more than Christmas,) I got married in the Fall and last October our little dude entered the world. This year more than ever I feel like I am so caught up in the hecticness of daily life, from trying to manage an-almost toddler to still being a present wife, daughter and friend. It can be so overwhelming and one thing I’ve noticed amongst parents is this sense of competition;  “my kid walked by this age, my kid already eats those things, my kid doesn’t sleep like that” etc etc etc. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve been finding a great support system in the parenting community but this sense of competition amongst friends, strangers, social media and so on is crazy to me. Growing up I can remember my dad always telling me to not compare my grades to the other kids and to try to do well for myself, not to be like others who maybe did better than me. All I know after this year is that parenting is hard, and every child, every teenager, every adult is different. We all do things our own way and we should embrace the differences in our kids rather than criticize them. It’s so awesome to see parents come together and support one another by offering advice or to be a sounding board, which as we know is more than necessary to keep our sanity. As my little dudes 1st birthday approaches I hope to gain more confidence as a parent and realize we’re all doing good as long as our kids are happy. That being said, excuse me while I go get a hot coffee, throw on a sweater and geek out over finally having some cold weather.  

 

When life hands you lemons

You have no choice but to make lemonade. As many parents know, vacations and relaxation come far and few between these days. We went up to Clearlake with my husbands family at their beautiful new house, and the first day of our trip consisted of trying to soothe our lil human who is teething badly right now. By later afternoon he was finally feeling better and mama was ready to get her vacation on. I swam, tanned, played games, drank some coronas and throgouhly enjoyed having family there to help with the baby so we could rest a bit. We all went to bed late after talking and fishing on the dock, which was so fun. Then our vacation was cut extremely short, I woke up at 4 am feeling as if I was going to die so my husband ran me to the ER (on 4th of July) and turns out I developed gallbladder stones and some liver issues. Life is going to be very different from now on in terms of my lifestyle, no more fatty foods, no more Taco Bell after a night out on the town, no more dairy, which for an Italian is unthinkable; veggies, fruit, chicken and fish is all I can stick to. I’m trying to look at this as a positive in terms of finally getting fully healthy and getting my weight back to pre-baby status, but I’d be lieing if I said I think it’ll be an easy change. Have any of you made this change or have advice? I’d love to hear some  

 

Balancing life at the moment

Is something I’m having a hard time doing. Between the baby teething, having a working husband, trying to stay on a healthy diet and just being a 26 year old woman trying to maintain balance in her love life, her mom life, family life and friend life, can be more difficult at times than others. I’ve been realizing as each month goes by how important it is to let people help more than I have been: in my head I take care of my little human better than anyone else. When my husband gets a day off here and there I always take advantage of it and go shopping, do lunch or even go out for happy hour with friends..but those days are so far and few between that I’m starting to realize we as parents not only deserve some more quality time to ourselves, but we NEED it. Summer means more family events and they have already started, which is great but can be so hectic with a baby and so many family members it’s hard to please everyone. I’m learning to say no to people when I need to as hard as it is for me, because a stressed environment or a stressed parent solves nothing. This isn’t an easy job but there are some awesome kids out in the world so we must be doing alright. How do you guys maintain balance in so many aspects of your life?    

    

What I’ve learned in the past 6 months 

Hint: I’ve learned that I have A LOT more to learn. I’ve learned that raising a human is a lot harder than most people care to tell you; it’s stressful, it’s exhausting, you never feel like you’re doing the right thing, and yet, it’s even more rewarding than you could even imagine because this little human is yours and you’re his. I think I was surprised at how I’ve adapted to being a mom. I grew up an only child, was somewhat of a party girl and for lack of a better word have been fairly selfish in terms of liking to do what I want when I want to do it. As we all know, that just doesn’t happen anymore! It’s true what they say that when you have a baby something inside of you changes (hopefully for everyone) and you can’t imagine not putting everything you’ve wanted aside for this new lil guy or girl. Now all the mushy stuff aside, I have definitely struggled a lot and sometimes yearn for the days of sleeping in, going out every weekend or even just getting to shower whenever I feel like it. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that I appreciate and respect my parents more than I ever have; something about going through it yourself makes you look at your own parents in a whole new light, and wow, do they deserve a medal. What have you guys learned so far or what’s the best advice you’ve gotten?

Can’t Fail Crockpot Chicken Parm

Now I come from an Italian family so we take our chicken and eggplant Parmeseans very seriously, however lets be real, sometimes they can be a pain in the ass to make. I’ve been using this crockpot recipe for a while now and it’s so dang easy but most importantly, delicious. I shop at Trader Joes so my ingredients are catered to that store but of course you can modify very easily to the ingredients your frequent at your own grocery store. I hope you enjoy and please let me know if you try it or make any interesting modifications!

Ingredients

  1. Organic chicken breast tenders (the amount is up to you depending on family size)
  2. Three cheese marinara sauce 
  3. Quattro formaggio shredded cheese blend (or shredder Parmesean and provolone)
  4. Organic bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Place a layer of sauce on the bottom of crockpot
  2. Combine 1/4 C cheese with approximately 1.5 C breadcrumbs
  3. Dip each chicken tender in mixture and ensure it is thoroughly coated 
  4. Place several strips in crockpot then add another sauce layer to cover, followed by a final layer of chicken 
  5. Finish off with a generous final layer of sauce
  6. Set crockpot on LOW for 5-6 hours
  7. When 1 hour is left, open crockpot lid and add a few handfuls of cheese, allow to mix in with the sauce. Replace lid.
  8. Serve over pasta or with a side such as rice, Caesar or my favorite roasted peppers   

Weekend update with Chrissy McD

Holy cow guys, did we have a long, fun and crazy weekend. We took the lil human on his first road trip, which needless to say had its ups and downs. About 25 minutes outside of our destination, we took a wrong turn and all I have to say is thank the lord for Google maps, am I right?!  Without it we would probably still be trying to find our way. The lil guy was so upset because he was hungry so in the dark we pulled over on the random road and I went in the back to feed him while my husband tried to multitask driving and direction duty. We finally made it to Carmel where my family has a vacation home. I think one of my favorite parts of having a baby is seeing how much joy he brings my parents, they were like pigs in shit (excuse my language) to be with him all weekend. We did some exploring Saturday and had a delicious dinner with wine flowing and a gorgeous sunset to end the day. The hubs and I had our first Sunday wedding and drove back home Monday morning only to discover that our dog got fleas from another dog…Welcome Home!!! Ug, needless to say coming home immediately jerked us out of vacation mode but I just keep thinking about next weekend and what it will be like to experience my first Mother’s Day as not only a daughter, but now a mom too. Does anyone have exciting Mother’s Day plans? I’d love to hear about them!  

   

Move over Starbucks, momma’s coming through 

Back in the day I used to make my own lattes and fraps all the time: then the stress of my last year of college, followed by planning a wedding then having a baby led me back to the lazy route of going to a coffee shop almost every day instead of making my own. I got back in the habit of frequenting Starbucks, Peet’s etc., until the other week when I realized how much I was spending a day for just a SMALL coffee! Needless to say I decided to go back to making my own coffee and I’m glad I did. A huge draw for me to go to coffee shops is the fraps because they are delicious and you usually think they’re too hard to make ok your own. But they’re not. They’re actually really simple, not to mention less expensive and you know exactly what you’re putting into your own drink. Here’s a recipe I’ve always used that can easily be adjusted to how much coffee you like, what flavor coffee mate you want to use and so on. I hope you give it a try and let me know if you make any delicious substitutes, I’d love to hear about it.

Chrissy’s crazy easy Frap

Ingredients 

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1/2 cup milk

1.5 oz coffee mate of your choice (I used vanilla and hazelnut)

1-1.5 cups ice

Blend until smooth frap consistency, and enjoy!