Category: Motherhood

Personal Development Books

I love reading. I have loved reading since I was little. And I love all kinds of books- serious, dark, scary, funny, romantic. Fiction and nonfiction. I have also grown to love personal development books. I know people think those books (call them “self-help,” call them stupid, call them trite, call them whatever you want) are silly or weird or just plain stupid. And I know people make fun of them. But I really like them! And I kinda sorta think everybody should read them.

I think personal development books can offer us so much- even if your life is perfect and you’re bursting with happiness. Even if you wake with a song in your heart and drift off to peaceful sleep with a smile on your face each day. Even if you’re living the life of your dreams….Or, even if you couldn’t care less about dreams and fluffy stuff like that. There doesn’t have to be something wrong to read a “self-help” book. We could all use a little time for self-reflection, maybe a little inspiration.

I think there’s value to reading these kinds of books, just like I think there’s value in taking classes, trying something new, doing something you’ve never done before. Lots of life experiences- good or bad- expand us. Expand our minds, our thinking, our perspective. And sometimes doing something new, even if you think it’s silly, can add to your life experience. There are lots of ways to do this, but not all of those ways are as easily accessible as reading a book. Reading a book that has a positive message or can help us think of things in a new way or helps us find something out about ourselves is a good thing. It certainly isn’t a bad thing.

These books, the good ones, usually make you feel pretty good too. They’re positive. It’s a little mental/emotional/spiritual pick-me-up. They can be very motivating- to do whatever. To pursue something you’ve always dreamed of, to find a job that brings you more happiness, to do a race, to organize your home, to wake up earlier, to be more productive, to be better with money, to be more decisive, to be more confident, to love your life the way it is more or to make a change. Or they can just be a nice positive thing to add into your day.

If you have never read one of these kinds of books, you should give one a try. Look at it as an act of self-care. Or a break from reality. Or just something you do because it’s good for you, like eating vegetables.

I try to read 15 minutes of “personal development” a day. It started out feeling like a chore, something I did because I felt like I should. I think I just started with the wrong books. Once I found a book I loved, though, it became something I enjoyed. Pick something not too heavy, something that won’t make you feel the opposite of how you want it to make you feel. Something that won’t dredge up things you don’t want to dredge up or get too deep. Just a nice something to add to your day.

I also changed when I read it. I used to read it at night. My personal development book replaced the fiction I usually read at night. I didn’t like that either. I don’t want to think too much before bed. I want to turn my brain off. And I missed my fiction! I missed having a book that totally sucked me in and kept me up at night reading. (Some personal development books can suck you in like that, but I find most I can put down and look forward to reading tomorrow.)

So I started reading it in the morning (I know that sounds crazy, even to me it sounds a little crazy). I already get up early to exercise before my kids get up; I’d read after my workout while I drank my water. Ten or fifteen minutes, and it’s a nice way to start the day. I get to read my fluff before bed and I still get some time to read something that’s helping me live life. Making me feel better. Inspiring me. Making me think. Motivating me.

Another way to get some of this positivity into your day is to listen to something positive. There are audiobooks, so you can listen instead of read, and podcasts. I listen to podcasts while I clean sometimes. They can really change your mood, just like listening to music, but with more intention.

So, I just bought these two books yesterday. I had a gift card to Barnes & Noble 🙂 I haven’t read them yet, so I can’t tell you what I think yet. But I’m excited to read them! I just love Shaun T. I love his workouts, I love his motivation, I love his story. I feel like he genuinely cares about people. And the other book is one I’ve been hearing about. It’s supposed to be very good, and has been on my list for a while. Even if it doesn’t transform my life by 8AM, I’m sure it will inspire me in some way.

I just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and loved it. It had a real focus on creativity, and doing what you love, and not being afraid of what other people think. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero is one of my favorites. It is flat out fun to read. She is very funny, very down-to-earth. I felt like she was one of my friends. She kind of reminds me of one of my college friends- some of her adventures and her no-nonsense way of saying things 🙂

Even the books I haven’t loved have given me something to take away from it. I read 12 Week Year and while I liked it, it was a little too high maintenance for where I was at. It required too much diving in, too much work. But I did learn a lot from it. It helped me think about what I really want to do, about goal setting, about being more concrete about what I want in life. Sometimes we just don’t think about the big picture because we’re caught up in the day-to-day, not necessarily being “present” or “in the moment” but just busy and feeling like a hamster in a wheel. Sometimes we don’t even think about what we really want.

I’m happy- I love my life. But I am at a kind of crossroads and I want to think about what I really want as I move forward in life. Before life pushes me along, maybe in a direction in which I don’t necessarily want to be going.

For “fun” I’m reading Game of Thrones. I remember before I had kids I would try to read classics. I read new books, too, but I would try to read classics and “good” books. I still think there’s value to reading those books, but in the throes of motherhood I knew I needed to lighten things up a bit….A teacher friend had once asked me what I was reading and when I told her she said, “Sheesh. No wonder you’re depressed.” I had been telling her about some sad stuff going on in my life then, and how I was having trouble not letting it weigh on me all the time. She had a point- maybe I couldn’t fix the stuff that was going on in my life. But reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy probably wasn’t helping my outlook on things.

So, I am a total reading dork. I love good books, I love fluff, I love personal development. I also love the library. And bookstores. And talking about books. And hearing what books other people are reading….Books of all kinds can change your world. And I’m happy I’ve made the commitment to reading something with the specific purpose of growing as a person. I think it’s when we become stuck or stagnant or stop evolving that we can get in trouble in this world. We should always be growing.

Have you read a personal development before? I’d love to hear what you have read!

When Your Little One Goes to Kindergarten

My youngest started kindergarten yesterday. He’s the first one of my kids to have full-day kindergarten. And I’m sad about that.

I am feeling so many things- lonely. The house is so quiet. Who am I going to eat lunch with? I’m missing the special time when it was just me and him. Who’s going to ask me to snuggle on the couch? Who’s going to run errands with me?

I’m also feeling a lot of regret and a good bit of guilt. I should have done more with him. I should have made better use of the time we had together. Why didn’t I take him to the zoo? Just the two of us.

Loss– these days are gone forever. I know he’s still my baby- they all are. But the carefree days of childhood before school are gone. That time in my life and his life is gone. My whole life for the last 12 years- staying home with my babies- is gone. I’m grateful for the time. I’m grateful I got to be home, and I’m not taking that for granted. But now it’s over. And I’m sad.

The crazy beginning part of motherhood is gone. I’m glad the diapers and potty training and nightly wake-ups are gone. But I’m sad that me being everything to them is gone. Is that selfish? They will never love me again the way they did. And I’m happy for them and excited for what is in store for them. But it’s bittersweet to let go of that cozy time in our lives when they were everything to me and I was everything to them.

I forget so much! I don’t remember so much of the last 12 years. Days are a blur. I came across a picture the other day of my four children. It was just a regular day. No one was dressed up, no one was visiting, nothing special was going on. Danny was in his exersaucer and the other three were just sitting around it playing with him. And I thought to myself, “Now those were the days.” Why didn’t I realize it then? I’ll never have those days again. I wish I could somehow have held on to that time more- that it didn’t just fade away into the past. I wish I still had those days. Somehow.

I wish I did it better. I wish I could go back and do it all again. I would do it so much better now! I would get out more. I would do more. I would care less about stupid things. I would have friends over even when my house was messy.

And I feel a little bit now like I blew it. Like I had this great gift and I didn’t appreciate it enough. I didn’t take full advantage of the last 12 years.

It’s also hard sending him out into the world. My sweet little boy. He’s everything to me but he’s not everything to anyone else. His teacher doesn’t know him and love him. It’s hard sending your babies out to the world knowing it’s not always so great out there. Knowing there’s not much you can do to help them or protect them.

It’s hard knowing that that isn’t your job anymore. It was when they were babies. You had to cover them and protect them and feed them. It’s not your job anymore. They are the world’s now. They are their own.

It makes me think of that developmental time when they realize they are separate from you. It’s hard. Remember reading that there is a time when babies first realize they are a separate being from you? That up until a certain point in development they think they’re part of you? Now they’re really separate.

And I’m not going to be a crazy person and stunt them or hold them back. I’ll stand on the sidelines and watch. But it’s hard….I’m sure it will get easier- I’ll appreciate having time to get stuff done. I’ll enjoy watching him go off on a day he’s excited about something. But there sure is a sadness too.

I think the hardest part of motherhood is knowing that all-consuming love is fleeting. On their part. I know they’ll always love me and I’ll hopefully always be near the top of their list. But the fierceness of that love will fade. Natural? yes. Normal? yes. Will I adjust? yes. But it makes me sad.

I won’t wallow. I won’t continue with the melodrama. I’ll have spontaneous bursts of crying for a few days and then I’ll adjust to life as it is now and enjoy it. (I hope- if you catch me crying when I see a mom and baby in ShopRite maybe it’s time to intervene). But I just have to acknowledge my sadness. I have thanked God every day I got to be home with my children.

I’m also a little uneasy. What now? What do I do with myself now? What am I now that I’m not anyone’s everything?

There’s no stopping it and I know that. There’s lots to enjoy and lots to look forward to. And he still loves me in a special way, a way the others don’t anymore. So I’ll hold onto that while I have it. That and the beautiful places my other kids are at. I’ll hold onto them while I can and try to capture the memories so these days, these days right now that are wonderful in their own way, will stay with me forever.

December: New Month, New Goals

December doesn’t seem like a really good time to set goals for some reason, does it? It’s a busy month. Lots of shopping, running around, decorating, baking, socializing, class parties, winter concerts, etc….


And you don’t need a new month to set goals. I love that I have learned (and really believe) that any day can be a fresh start, a good day to start anew, a time to set goals. That said, there’s something about a new month, a new year, a Monday, that feels like a fresh start. So, don’t let a Tuesday or March or the 4th of the month keep you from making a new start, but take advantage of those days that just feel like a natural time for it.

I’ve been in a goal setting frame of mind lately. I think it’s an area I neglect. I don’t really set goals, and if I do they’re usually vague. A vague idea of what I want to do. But a lot of the reading I’ve done lately, and things I’ve listened to in podcasts and stuff, has emphasized the importance of clarity. It makes sense to me. So it’s an area I’ve chosen to work on…

This month’s goals are…

  1. To set goals (haha!). Clear ones.
  2. Run 2-3 times a week.
  3. Decorate more for Christmas.
  4. Enjoy the season and avoid the stress.
  5. Read books that will help me grow (at least 10 minutes each day)


#1 Well, I talked about goal setting. I want to really work on the vision I have for my life. I’m not sure where I’m going. Does this sound crazy? I’m 41; shouldn’t I know? This might be because I’m approaching a time of transition in my life. Next year my youngest will go to kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten. I feel like a phase in my life is coming to a close. (I will not cry right now, I will not cry right now, I will not cry right now) So this raises some questions. What will I do? Will I go back to work? I don’t want to go back to teaching full-time, not yet at least, maybe not ever. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but this is on my mind. I need to figure out what I want so I can better go about making it happen. I think having a bigger picture kind of goal will help me with goal setting in the different aspects of my life.

#2 I think I need to run more. I love my at-home workouts and I will never give them up. They are my base. They make me feel good, I enjoy them, and they get me the best physical results. But running is good for me in other ways. Mostly it’s good for me because it gets me outside. There are benefits to exercising outside that you just can’t get at home. Fresh air and sunshine are so good for us; even when it’s cold air and clouded sunshine. So I’ll be happy to roll out of bed and go work out in my living room on all those cold winter mornings. But I know I need to get out for it too sometimes. I have house-cat tendencies and I need to make sure I don’t become a full-on hermit sometimes 🙂

#3 This is not to impress anyone but my children. I am low maintenance when it comes to holidays and home decorating. But my children love decorations! I have overheard several conversations over the years between kids about what kinds of decorations kids have at their house. Danny, he’s 4, was especially disappointed at Halloween time. He brought it up again yesterday, and I said, “Well, we put out some pumpkins….And a scarecrow.” The pumpkins are the size of baseballs and they were plopped lamely on the mantle. The scarecrow is about a foot tall and I stuck him behind the piles of crap on the dining room table. I felt guilty even as I said it. So, I have decided to up my game this year to make them happy. They are also easy to please and very appreciative, so I know it won’t take a killer light show or anything.

#4 Again, this one is inspired by my little ones. I don’t want to be stressed or overtired this holiday season, because I hate when I get snappy with them at happy times. I also want to watch Frosty with them and bake with them and have fun with it all.

#5 This is a topic for another day. But I think reading books that are thought-provoking and/or positive and/or encouraging can only be good. Some people might find the idea too touchy-feely or silly or whatever. But I think it’s important to put time into developing as a person. Reading or listening to positive stuff with this intention is an easy step in the right direction.

I’m sure more goals will pop up as I go along, but this is my new month mindset for today.

What are your goals for December?

Do you set goals for yourself?

See yourself as somebody else sees you…

See yourself as somebody else sees you…


The other day I asked my husband what he was reading on his phone. He said, “an interview with {I forget her name}.” My daughter asked, “Who’s that?” And he said, “The greatest female athlete.” My son, without missing a beat or looking up from his book, said, “Mama’s the greatest female athlete.”

I have to pause here for a second. And reread the last paragraph.

My first thought was, “I’m not an athlete.” My second thought was, “My kids think I’m an athlete.” That’s crazy.

I never played a sport in my life. I never cared and still don’t care about playing a sport. I’m soft around the middle. I’m not a hard core runner. I run pretty slowly and I’m bright red when I finish. I suck at throwing and catching.

But…I’m strong and I’m tough and I love working out and I love to move my body and hike. I push myself through hard things because it feels good and because it makes me a better person and because it enriches my life. My children see that.

It never occurred to me that I’m an athlete. That sounds too accomplished or competitive or something. Something other than what I am. But just hearing my son say that made me feel like one. It’s a nice feeling.

So try to see yourself as somebody else sees you. See yourself through your children’s eyes. Or your niece’s eyes, your parent’s eyes, your sister’s eyes. See what someone else sees when they look at you.

Not long before that day, I had one of those days where I felt like I sucked at everything. Everything. Ev. Ery. Thing. Being a mother. Being a wife. Making a nice home. Being a friend. Giving a go at this coach thing. Giving a go at this blog thing. Being a mom in the mom world. Shopping. Balancing responsibilities. Everything.

But I know my children didn’t see me that day as sucking at everything. They didn’t see the dust and the laundry and the lack of farmhouse decor. They like my grilled cheese and my monkey muffins. Danny smells me for God’s sake, just takes a big sniff of my shirt or my neck to smell me and be near me and he loves the way I smell. My daughters think I’m beautiful. My son thinks I’m an athlete. My husband thinks I’m a wonderful mother and someone he loves to come home to.

Sometimes we need to see past the mess we think we are. And see ourselves as somebody else sees us…

a warm mother

a good cook

a beautiful wife

a doting daughter

a strong athlete

We all have bad days, but we are usually harshest on ourselves. Be easy on yourself, love yourself, redefine yourself. That day last week when I felt like there was not one thing in this world I was good at was a rough one. And I didn’t reach out to anyone because I didn’t want to hear, “That’s not true. You’re a wonderful mother.” I felt sucky and it’s all I would have believed that day. But when my little guy crawls on my lap and puts his hands on my face, it’s hard not to feel like he’d still have me over any other mom out there. Even on those days I feel like I do suck at everything.


Happy Halloween!


I have a love/hate thing with Halloween. I love seeing little kids in costumes. I love their excitement. I love the old-fashioned trick-or-treating. I love when they dump their candy out on the floor like I used to do and trade with each other.

I also love the new tradition of Boo-ing. If you haven’t been Boo-ed it’s when someone knocks on your door and runs away leaving a bag or bucket full of treats. Then you have to Boo other people. It’s fun getting boo-ed, the surprise of it, the suspense of not knowing who did it and trying to figure it out, the joy of candy left on your doorstep. Adding to the joy is that fact that I think every time we’ve been Boo-ed the Boo-ers have made sure all of our treats are ok for my kids. If you don’t love someone with food allergies you might not appreciate what a big deal that is. I get a little teary-eyed thinking about it. My kids are so used to not being able to have things; to get a bucket full of stuff they can have is so exciting. And it warms this mama’s heart.

As fun as getting boo-ed is, boo-ing is even more fun! We make the goodie bags up and drive off in the minivan. Sneaking up to the door and knocking and running before they open it is just so much fun. You have to try it if you haven’t. I might start boo-ing people at random throughout the year. We park the car a little bit away from the house and it feels like an adventure. This year, Thomas wore a black ski-mask and Danny wanted one. Poor Danny ended up with one of my hats 🙂 We laugh and laugh, having so much fun. I think it will be a favorite Halloween memory for them, I know it is for me!

For all the fun, I hate the stress of costumes, class parties, the lure of peanut candy. Having four children with peanut allergies surely puts a dark cloud over the whole getting candy from strangers thing, but it’s not the only reason I hate Halloween. I also hate that all the candy around makes it harder to stick to my clean eating! That’s a story for another day.

I hate when Halloween is dragged out over days and days and days. I feel like a bah-humbug when I say that but it’s true. There were some years I had to get my kids in costumes 6 times or more. And as cute as they are once they’re in their costumes, getting them in those costumes is not always so cute. It’s hard enough to get them in regular shoes sometimes, let alone regular clothes plus costume plus coat.

Those years when they had to dress up for school when their school day did not fall on Halloween, dress up for the playgroup we went to, dress up on actual Halloween, dress up for the friend’s party with a Halloween theme that did not fall on Halloween…then there are the Girl Scout Halloween parties, the local trunk-or-treat events. Enough already! (I say this, but when the actual time comes it’s hard not to be happy for the little buggers in their costumes, and I end up getting caught up in the sweetness of it all, and chat happily away with the other moms!)

And having to find all the costumes? All the costume parts and pieces for 4 kids? Not my strongest area. I’m not a great, “Ok, we’re done with that, let’s put it where it belongs,” kind of person. God only knows where the cat tail or witch hat could be.

We also have our magical upstate place (a bungalow in a bungalow colony in the Catskills that’s really hard to explain but is the the happy place for all of us) Halloween. We celebrate our own little Halloween there on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend. This is actually more a blessing though. While it drags the whole Halloween thing out more than I might like, it also forces me to be prepared well ahead of the real Halloween. Whereas in years past, I might be scrambling to throw something together the night before (or ugh- morning of!) Halloween, I am now strangely calm in the days before…something I am not quite used to.

On October 29th….”Oh, you don’t have costumes yet? I took care of that weeks ago.” I don’t really say that. But I chuckle to myself at the reality that I am prepared ahead of time. This does not happen often. (And this year our costumes arrived the Friday of Columbus Day weekend, causing us to leave late and costing me $30 in expedited shipping. Shhhh….)

It does leave an awfully long time for things to get lost, too. That poses a problem. This year, though, I shoved them all in the back of a closet shelf, and actually remembered where I put them 🙂

My kids were very cute and excited this morning, though, and Halloween falls on a day when all of them have school. Today we will wrap up Halloween for another year. So I am feeling a little more charitable. I’m looking forward to seeing them parade around in their costumes…and it’s Thomas’s last elementary school parade. I just thought of that…now I’ll probably cry at some point too!

And I have to run now, because of course I also just remembered I have to glue Thomas’s Riddler stick back together! So much for being calm…I don’t think I have any crazy glue! Hope your Halloween is a happy one 🙂

The end of summer….

I have had the greatest summer…


It started out at a place I love in upstate New York. My husband’s family is part of a bungalow colony in the Catskills and it is a very special place. You know everyone there and your kids have a ton of freedom. You get to spend a ton of time with your best friends and lots of people you love. There’s also a lot of family time- extended family time. My husband is one of eight children, so there are lots of cousins and my wonderful father-in-law. Grandpa makes his home feel like our own and we love having the time with him.

After a few days up there, we hopped in the minivan and headed off to Disney for the first time! My oldest is ten and has been asking to go for years. So this was the trip of a lifetime. My amazing family would be meeting us there to celebrate some milestone birthdays…80, 50, 40, and 10! On the way we stopped off in a little Florida beach town and headed to Orlando in the morning. So even the long ride felt like an adventure.


Disney World was so great. I am not a planner and I was worried about feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, but…it really is a magical place. And to have the chance to experience it with my parents, all of my siblings, and all of my nieces and nephews made it that much better. It was one of the happiest weeks of my life.

The ride home was fun too, including a visit to Nashville! My sister was attending the Beachbody Summit there, and I thought it would be a good excuse to check out Nashville. I’m very jealous I didn’t get to stay for the summit, but maybe next year…


We also took a scenic ride on the Skyline Drive on the ride home and checked out Shenandoah National Park. I love how tired I look in this picture! I feel kind of like that right now, too, as a matter of fact 🙂

Most of the rest of the summer was spent upstate, with one wonderful week in the middle spent at the New Jersey shore. Lots of quality family time there, too, with just us and with my parents and cousins and aunts and uncles.

I am at the end of the summer and feeling very thankful and very blessed. We are surrounded by so many really good people. I am sad another summer is ending, but there is always a sense of renewal in September.

I am also a little relieved to be home more regularly; living out of bags gets tiring. I also look forward to getting back to food prep and meal planning and a sense of normalcy. As much as I think I’ll feel lonely with the kids and my husband back at school, and not surrounded by a bunch of friends all the time, I think I’m ready to nest a bit and take better care of my body!

I have gotten really derailed with my nutrition this summer and while I’ve been pretty consistent with exercise, I look forward to getting back to a program. I’ve been kind of jumping around, doing whatever workout suited me that day. It’s nice to change it up like that, but I’ll be happy to be back on a schedule.

I think a lot of people feel the same bittersweet feeling this time of year…the fun of summer will be missed, but I just couldn’t keep going like that for too much longer! I’ve also missed keeping up with my little blog; I’m feeling very negligent. Looking forward to fall and getting back into my passion for nutrition and exercise, trying out new foods and recipes, and sharing my progress here.

After too many cheeseburgers and chips, too much ice cream and beer, I also feel like I’ve set myself up for quite a challenge this fall! I have some work to do! I’m hoping the challenge of it gets me going…

Happy September, everyone! What are your goals for the fall ahead?


Clean Eating with Kids

I should say Clean-er Eating. And I should start with the following disclosure: my 7-year-old son took Triscuits to school for lunch today…and has almost every day this school year. I would like to say that my children go to school with vegetables and hummus, whole wheat pitas filled with egg-salad made with homemade mayonnaise, fresh cut fruit, and plain yogurt drizzled with pure maple syrup. But they do not.


So rest assured, there are no judgements here. I eat bad things sometimes, and my children (guilt) eat them even more often. I keep Oreos in the cabinet for birthday parties (my kids can’t eat cake at parties due to allergies), they eat Goldfish regularly, and the bread we usually buy, although whole wheat, is not perfect.

I have made and continue to make changes gradually. In addition to my Clean Eating Tweaks, these are some kid-specific things I do…

  • I stopped buying Wheat Thins because the ingredient list is a little long. I only buy Triscuits now- 3 ingredients and I recognize them all! They love Ritz, but they only get them at friends’ houses or at Grandma’s:)
  • My guys aren’t big macaroni and cheese eaters, but I never buy Kraft anymore; when we do have it I make it homemade with whole wheat pasta (and I keep a box of Annie’s organic in the cabinet in case they have a friend over or something and I have to make it in a pinch).
  • I stopped buying microwave popcorn and use the air popper or pop it in coconut oil on the stove. If I want it faster I’ll put some in a brown paper bag and pop it in the microwave.
  • My kids love turkey bacon. I know it’s not a superfood, but we have it every week. I buy the kind made without nitrates or nitrites. And when my mom buys me a four-pack of turkey bacon from Costco, nitrates or not, we eat it.
  • Breakfast can be a big headache when I have to persuade or discuss options! So, my son likes Rice Krispies. The regular brand (aside from being void of any nutritional value) has BHT in it…I’m a little fuzzy on the details but I know it’s a preservative, it’s bad and it’s banned in other countries. So I buy him the Trader Joe’s rice crispies. Yes, they are void of nutritional value as well, but they have no BHT. One day I’m hoping he’ll move on, but in the meantime he is a delight in the morning.
  • Autumn Wheat (made by Kashi) is a good breakfast option- and is delicious with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top. I always have this in for breakfast and it’s good as a snack too. All four of my kids will eat it if push comes to shove…two out of four eat it willingly and even happily. The day might be coming when this is the only cereal option! But I’ll wait for summertime to try that out…
  • Toast is good, too, if you have good bread…which can be hard to find. Lately I’ve been buying bakery bread from the supermarket. It’s near the deli counter and has very few ingredients. It doesn’t stay soft as long as the other bread, but my kids love it toasted.
  • We use Polaner All Fruit instead of jelly. It’s really all fruit. Not as nutritious as eating the grapes themselves, but better than Smucker’s.
  • I use whole wheat pasta all the time, as well as whole wheat bread crumbs.
  • When I bake I use as much whole wheat flour as I can, and I’ll use sugar alternatives like coconut sugar or turbinado.
  • I just put fruit and vegetables out on the kitchen table more. I am still a little surprised that it can be that simple to get them to eat more healthy food! Just make it easily available.

I think feeding children is one of the most difficult parts of parenting, especially in the early years. And it’s touchy. It can be an area of judgement, a reflection of your parenting. But like most other things you mess up along the way, it can be fixed…or at least made better. My older son had rice krispies for breakfast, triscuits for lunch, and ground turkey for dinner. Meanwhile my younger son had kefir and whole wheat toast for breakfast, sunflower seeds and granola for lunch, and turkey chili- including beans and lots of veggies- for dinner. He also snacked on raw veggies and fruit during the day. Maybe he’ll be the one going to school with hummus in five years…

I just think eating clean makes sense and it is the way I try to eat most of the time. I still use white flour in baking…but I do bake. And I feel like baking stuff is better than buying boxed stuff. So while I try to use whole wheat flour more and more, I use white flour so my kids will eat what I bake.

And I ask that you don’t judge me either! Not as a cook, not as a mom. I royally screwed up the whole feeding thing about 9 years ago, and have been trying to fix it ever since. But I’m doing my best, and I’m not letting meal times turn into crying sessions and fights. I go back and forth between philosophies, but it’s all a struggle. I wish I knew then what I know now, but can’t we say that about most things in life? So I have stopped berating myself (most days) and ask that you refrain from berating me too.

We have made progress. Last night, my pickiest eater (I know I shouldn’t label him picky- that’s probably part of the problem) ate baked cajun chicken over salad. And tried cauliflower. Last week he tried salmon. And kinda liked it. I feel like the sky has opened up and let the sun shine down…

But he still took Triscuits to school for lunch.


There have been times I said I was just going to send him to school with a healthy lunch, because that’s my job as his mother. My job was to provide a healthy, well-balanced lunch. If he didn’t eat it- too bad. But guess what? He didn’t eat it. For days, then weeks. And I got sick of throwing out sandwiches (other kinds of guilt there)…and sick of feeling sad thinking of him at school, hungry. Even if he is a pain in the butt about food. So I caved. Now I send him to school with a monkey muffin and milk, Triscuits, and Smart Food popcorn. No veggies or hummus in sight.

I try to be firm at dinner, and I don’t make pre-packaged chicken nuggets any more even though they love them. They eat what my husband and I eat more and more often. Sometimes they do have toast or crackers and cheese, though. I try to make things that are healthy and that they like a few times a week- so we eat meatballs more often than I might like to:)

I know and love a lot of parents who make one thing for dinner and always have. They never let their kids eat something else, much less cook something separate. I admire them. I don’t cook separate meals, but I am guilty of letting them have alternatives. I think it stems from feeding my oldest. She was probably ready to eat regular food long before I tried giving them to her. I chalk it up to lack of experience, lack of persistence, and being a big softie. But I am working to make positive changes and I will not let those perfect food parents make me feel inferior any longer!

My hope is that by setting a good example for my children, and showing them what it means to eat healthy, I’ll be setting them up for a healthy adulthood with good habits. And when they have children I’ll tell them all the things I wish I knew when I started having kids…and they won’t want to hear it!

Mom Guilt

I feel guilty, or could easily find a way to feel guilty, about everything as a mom.  It’s crazy, it’s unnecessary, but really I think it’s unavoidable.  So, of course, I used to feel guilty about exercising…used to being key here!

I felt like it was unfair for me to take time from my children to exercise.  Now, two years since Insanity magically transformed me into an exercise person, I realize how unfair it would be for me to not exercise.  When I exercise, I am a better mother.  I didn’t notice it for a while, but one day it dawned on me- I snap a lot less than I used to.  I have had fewer “crazy/mommy dearest/why does nobody listen or care until I scream?” moments.  Maybe some of this has to do with experience or age or wisdom.  But a lot of it definitely comes from exercise.  It’s just made me a happier person.  I feel better physically, emotionally, mentally.  I have more energy.  I also have something that’s mine- and I think this part is very important when you’re a mother of young children.


My whole life is theirs, but this exercise thing is mine.  Me strengthening my body is mine.  Me pushing myself and making progress and seeing new muscles is mine.  I share it with them often, and I enjoy that.  But this exercise thing is my thing.  For so long my body wasn’t mine- it was growing babies and feeding babies.  All day long there was little time that some little being wasn’t asking something of it- to sit on it or be held by it, to be washed by it or changed by it, or for it to do something- get juice, make lunch, read, draw, play.  Some days it was a relief after bedtime to just be- to move freely, to use two hands to do something!  I still have days like this sometimes, though they are fewer and farther between.  And believe me I know enough now to savor them- I’ll miss these days soon enough!

But when your’e giving and giving and giving, when all your time and energy is spent taking care of your children, thinking about your children, worrying about your children, analyzing yourself in relation to your children…it’s nice to have something separate, something your own.

I very much get a kick out of my two-year-old doing push-ups with me, or my then four-year-old daughter high-fiving me during Insanity.  And I love showing my nine-year-old the new muscle I noticed on the back of my arm, or watching my seven-year-old show me the push-ups he did in gym class that are like the ones mommy does with Shaun T.  That is all so cool!  So it’s not that exercise is mine in the sense that I don’t want to share it, but it’s mine in that I own this.  I own what I’ve done, I own the person I’ve become.  I have pride in something I started doing just for me.  I have no need to feel guilty about that.

Now, in a less abstract, metaphorical, lalala way- there are days I feel bad if I stick my little guy in front of a Barney because I didn’t get out of bed to work out before the kids were up.  But those days don’t happen too often.  And I can cut myself a little slack when they do happen.  One week early in the school year, there were several of those days strung together and I did feel badly about it.  A couple days in, it was a beautiful fall morning and I couldn’t turn on the TV again.  It wouldn’t just be the 30 or 40 minutes I had to exercise, it would also be the showering and getting ready that followed it.  So I dragged out the jogging stroller and changed my plan and we had a great little run.  (But wow, I forgot how hard running with a stroller can be!)  I got my exercise in, and he got some fresh air and had a ton of fun on our outing.

All in all, though, I’ve put away the mom guilt on this one.  I have plenty of other things to feel guilty about!  This exercise stuff is a good thing.  For me, for all of us, in so many ways…