Category Archives: Advice

Momaste’s Five Minute Facial Treat

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People frequently ask me how I get such a glowing, radiant complexion and manage to look so fresh and young, despite my hectic-working-mom lifestyle.

Nah, I’m just kidding.  No one has ever asked me that, ever, never, not once.

But I do have a little facial hack that makes me feel so dewy it seems people should be stopping me in Target to ask my beauty secrets.  

As you may have realized, Momaste is not the place you want to come for straight up advice, awesome life hacks, or recipes.  The reason for this dearth of sage wisdom is because I mostly suck at life, unless it involves getting comfortable while simultaneously breastfeeding and sleeping.  Oooh, I should write a post about that!  Because that is one thing at which I most definitely have not sucked!

But I digress. . .

Anyway, I love you guys, and want to share a sweet little thing you can do to show yourself a little kindness.

My facial is an elegantly simple treat you can give yourself whenever you feel your complexion is getting a bit sallow, like say when you have endured blizzard conditions for the past three weeks and haven’t seen any sun.  True story.

The ingredients are simple, and probably stuff you have lying around right now, or can pick up on your weekly trip to Trader Joe’s.  You will need:

  • The juice of an organic lemon (or a regular lemon, or the squeezey stuff in the fake, plastic lemon)
  • About three tablespoons of coarse, organic sugar (or, you know, regular sugar)
  • A couple squirts of pure jojoba oil (a dab of melted or soft coconut oil would also be lovely, or you could use a tiny bit of olive oil, or EVOO, for those of us who think we are cool and like to use abbreviations)

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1.  I start by squeezing the juice of about half an organic lemon (or a few squirts of the fake, plastic lemon) into a ramekin.

2.  Then add your sugar.  It is best if you add the sugar right before you are ready to do the facial, otherwise it tends to melt, and the coarseness of the sugar, which gives a lovely, exfoliating scrub, loses some of its magic.

3.  Add a couple squirts of the oil of your choice.  I love jojoba because it has a natural ability to unclog pores, and is a wonderful makeup remover.  I’ve also found through trial and error that it is an oil I can wash with on my face (yes, I did just say wash with oil, it’s a hippie thing) and I won’t break out.  It is mild and light, but also very moisturizing.

4.  Scrub a dub dub!  

Since this sugar scrub tends to get a bit messy, I use mine in the shower.  Then I can also use it on my neck and décolletage.  The sugar helps scrub away dead skin cells, while the lemon treats your flesh to a burst of vibrant vitamins, lightens dark spots, and invigorates your complexion.  The oil (and yes, I know jojoba is actually a wax and not technically an oil) helps to quench and moisturize, and also removes any left over makeup or grime.

Just be careful that if you do go out in the sun (fat chance in my neck of the woods right now) you wear sunscreen.  Something about the vitamins in the lemon juice makes skin particularly sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays. . .  oh mama, if only we had some harmful rays right now. . .  IMG_7044

But I digress.

Let’s face it, we are all busy people, and in the course of mothering and cooking and cleaning and working and commuting, we tend to forget about taking as good care of ourselves as we do our kids, spouses, clients, etc.  For me, taking five extra minutes a couple times a month to engage in this wonderful-smelling ritual makes me feel like I am really caring for the skin I’m in.

So, try it out and let me know what you think!  
Unless, of course, you are allergic to any of the ingredients in this facial.  In that case, for the love of goddess, please do not indulge.  Melt some chocolate and stick your toes in it or something else (a pedicure I actually gave myself one time, true story).

Do you have any beauty hacks that make you feel amazing?

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40 Is The New 40

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20140625-103926-38366869.jpgAmong the decor in my almost 40-year-old crown is this little jem:  If you google “nipple trauma from breastfeeding,” my post entitled Nipple Trauma and Healing is number three in the search results.

Not too shabby for a little mommy-blog, if I do say so myself.

When I was a journal-happy teenager, I imagined growing up to be a famous novelist.  I was going to write the next great Gone With the Wind.  I practiced posing in front of my mirror for photos that would grace the cover of my books.

Well, that obviously did not come to pass, as time has all but burried me under the thick, dusty, bedraggled mantle of social work.  But at least I have a post on a topic that is important to me (and apparently to many other nursing moms) coming up third in google search results.

Over the past year, I’ve been “taking stock” of my life, as I inched towards the big four oh.  I kept thinking I would write some witty or poingnant post about turning forty, how I’ve met all my goals, or how I’ve never been to Paris in the spring, or how I’m being here now.

I obsessed over it so much I gave myself blogger’s block and didn’t write a word on the topic.

A 72 year old friend asked me why turning 40 is such a big deal to me.

It’s a good question.

I mean, why does this arbitrary number of revolutions around the sun have me feeling like I have to trade in all my funky clothes and sparkly makeup for frumpy sweater sets from Talbots and taupe eyeshadow?

I’m not sure if it has to do with my waning fertility, or the fact that maybe my life is half over, or if I feel like I haven’t done “enough” yet in my time on the planet.  Maybe it is related to societal pressures and ideals.

Whatever the reason, I’ve learned some stuff, and I’ll probably continue learning.  Here is a list of some real life advice from the practically forty-year-old author of the third most popular blog post on nipple trauma:

1.  Wear what you like, even if it sparkles or is leopard print, and especially if it is sparkly leopard print.  You are never too old for sparkles or leopard print; it is timeless and so are you.

2.  Like who you are and don’t obsess about who you wish you were.

3.  Speak your truth, but do it in a way that is kind.

4.  Be kind.

5.  Smoke a cigar, or don’t, they are disgusting, but it’s fun to say you did it.

6.  After becoming a mom, there is no such thing as “me time” unless you are a millionaire and can afford a nanny and daily trips to a spa.  It is better to just accept this fact and try to steal 63 extra seconds in the bathroom with the door locked when you can.

7.  Recycle.  I mean, duh.

8.  Laugh in the face of disaster, and cry for joy at least once.  Preferably in college.

9.  Ask for help and accept help when it is offered.

10.  Accept compliments with a simple “thank you,” and resist the urge to explain how you only wore your hair up like that because it was really greasy and you didn’t have the gumption to wash it that morning.  No one needs to know that.

11.  Live boldly and disobey rules, but know one thing for sure:  Married men never leave their homes.

12.  Love truly what you have rather than lusting after what you do not have.

13.  Motherhood is amazing and well worth the trip.  You will learn what it feels like to be willing to fight wild dogs off of your babies with your bare hands, but you will also learn that a lot of your job description simply involves the much less glamourous task of picking up used band-aides from all over the house.

14.  Marry someone you love because you love them and they love you.  All you need is love.

15.  Write things down because it helps you remember.  Write things down because it gives you something to go back to.  Write things down because you love it and it helps you breathe.

16.  Never clean your closet when you are angry.

17.  Don’t quit breastfeeding on a bad day.

18.  While we are talking about breastfeeding, nurse in public and don’t ever let anyone shame you into weaning your baby early for any reason.

19.  Co-sleeping is great if you all feel comfortable about it and get sleep while doing it.

20.  Buddha said you could look all over the world and never find anyone as worthy of love as yourself.  Or something like that.  True story.

21.  The Dalai Lama said not to let the actions of others affect your inner peace.  This is not always easy, but if you can practice it, it is pretty awesome.

22.  Spending money on music can almost always be justified.

23.  Don’t bother trying to have anything nice while the kids are little.  Kids are messy, loud, chaotic little creatures and they get indelible finger, foot, and butt prints on just about everything.

24.  DO bother getting comfortable with general disarray and confusion.  Embrace it.  It isn’t that bad.  (Actually it is pretty rough, but once the Stockholm Syndrome settles in, you’ll assimilate.  I promise.)

25.  Mister Rogers is God.

26.  Focus on the list of things that make you awesome as opposed to the list of things that make you suck.

27.  It is completely normal for your children to enrage you to the point of despair and then melt your heart with tenderness in the space of four minutes and 37 seconds.  Hang in there.

28.  Do what you love.  Do what fires passion inside of you.  But if you can’t do that, do whatever you have to do to keep health insurance for yourself and your family because kids get lots of colds and flus in the winter and those copays rack up.

29.  Jane Eyre can not be read too many times.

30.  Try to laugh when your kids spill stuff instead of getting cross.  And if they spill water, thank them.  If your house is anything like mine, a spilled bottle or cup of water can only make your floor cleaner.

31.  Make friends with your neurosis.

32.  Get up in the night with your babies whenever they make a peep.  They are little for so short a time.  It won’t spoil them or sabotage their sleep training.  You won’t believe how someday in the relatively near future you will lie in bed awake at night, longing to feel their sleepy, little body and how heavy and content it instantly becomes in your arms.

33.  While you are feeling like a lunatic in the middle of the night with a sick/sad/scared/colicky/nursing/needy child remember that they use sleep deprivation as torture.

34.  Sex is free.  Sex is fun.  Don’t forget about sex, even when you feel like a frumpy, frazzled mom.  You know the cure for feeling frumpy?  Sex.

35.  Make time to sit and stare at a tree in all the different seasons of the year.  This is time well spent.  Being busy is way over-rated.

36.  Cheese.  On everything.  Forever.

37.  40 is 40.  It is not then new 30, or the old 50.  It is another day and part of a life to live well.  Sure, if you were a cave person you would have died seven years ago, so in that sense we are doing okay.  But come on.

38.  Be true to yourself.  It is okay to not like the Beatles.

39.  Never stop stretching.  Losing your flexibility sucks.

40.  All is well.  All is well.  All is well.  (Someone told me that once.)

and one more for good luck:

Tomorrow is always another day.

Happy birthday to me.  Thanks to everyone for sticking around with me on the way.

PS.  Coconut oil cures just about anything.

 

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Somebody Needs More Sleep– The Anti-Hero-Mom’s Song To Daylight Savings

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20140310-131457.jpgIt’s six, but to my body it still feels like five.  Like clockwork, Emily is up in her crib, right next to my side of the bed, chirping, “Mommy!  Mommy!” in that sweet, little voice she has first thing in the morning.

“More night-nights,” I moan in that deep, drunken-hobo voice I have at any given time.

I think about that post, Mommy, Somebody Needs You, that recently went viral.  If you haven’t read it, it is worth reading.  It’s a mother’s ode to being at her children’s beck and call and what a blessing it is to be a mom.

For those of you who know me, that last sentence miiiiiggghhht sound a bit cynical.  But I’m actually not being cynical here.  Being a mom is the greatest gift and the most amazing journey I’ve experienced as a human on this planet.

So, I get it.

At six (which still feels like five) my two-year-old needs me to roll over, hug her, give her nursies and get up to make her oatmeal.

Then my six-year-old trundles in with his blankie and lego ship and he needs to cuddle.  Then he needs pancakes.  Then he needs me to referee between him and his little sister who has attacked his lego creation.

The fact I have these two miracles and all their needs is awesome.  It is awesome they need me, because their needs make me a mom.  

But you know what?  I’m freaking tired.

There. I said it.

Mommy wants 20 minutes of sleep, uninterrupted by cartoons, or crying, or the smell of a soaking wet diaper right next to her face.  Mommy is worn out from the relentless hum and drum of all that working motherhood has to offer.  Mommy doesn’t want to make a fricking bowl of oatmeal.  Mommy doesn’t want to exercise her WWF skills to change the sopping diaper about which her two year old could care less.  Mommy doesn’t want to pick up legos and put them back together.

There are a rash of viral posts about cherishing every moment of motherhood, appreciating the downs because they are just as much of a blessing as the ups.  Overall, I agree with their basic premise.  Slow down, smell the roses, cherish your children, etc.

These posts are great and worth reading, if you haven’t already.  They are beacons of grace and light, which counteract beacons of vinegar like me.  The moms who wrote those posts have got motherhood (and blogging) down pat.  They are maybe at a higher level of self-actualization than me.  Those posts are full of acceptance and humility to which I might only aspire.

But I’m not going to read them anymore.

I screw up a million and three times per day, and I know it, and I lament it deep into the hours of the night.  So, I don’t really need to read about the three words I am saying to destroy my son’s sense of self, or the eight things I am doing that will make my daughter become anorexic, or how I’ve severed trust with my children forever because of the times I raised my voice, or how if I tell my children to “hurry up” in the morning I will one day regret it big time because we’re all gonna’ blow.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids like crazy cakes.  Crazy cakes I tell you!

My daughter’s chubby little starfish hands kneading playdough melt me into a puddle on the floor and I seep through the cracks right down into the cellar, where thankfully it is cold enough for me to re-solidify so I can go back up and ensure she does not devour said playdough.

Watching my son in his karate class almost always almost brings me to tears, as I watch him punch and kick with confidence and enthusiasm, as I watch him do everything he is told for a solid hour and feel like oh my, there is hope!

My children take my breath away, and knock my feet right out from under me all the fricking time by doing the slightest things:  Jack leaves a sticky note on my computer that says, “I love you mama,” or brings home a paper he wrote about groundhogs and I am blinded by his brilliance.  Emily sings to her baby dolls or says, “Missed you mommy,” when I come home at the end of the day, and I am certain I’ve glimpsed Nirvana.

So, I get it.  I get how important and amazing it is to be a mom.  I get how fleeting and precious it all is, and honestly, I am doing my very best to treasure and be utterly present in every moment.

It is hard.  There is an almost bi-polar experience to parenting for me.  One moment I sigh about how amazing Jack and Em are, and how lucky I am, then the next moment I am sighabout the desperate, deep despair of my exhaustion and frustration at the relentless pace of it all.  I happen to have a very helpful and supportive husband who does more than his share, and I still feel overwhelmed.

While I respect those blogs, and think they are thoughtful and well written, having someone else suggest I should be enjoying it more, doing it right-er, and appreciating stuff at a higher level is not helpful.  Maybe there are moms out there who need to know and hear those things, but for me, it deepens the self-depreciation when I forget to be thankful for a mili-second.

Expectations for moms are already ridiculously high.  I know I am not alone when I say that I am in an almost constant state of exhaustion and falling-apart from trying to keep everything all together and rise for my children.  It isn’t just moms either.  Most of the dads I know (including my amazing husband) are also wringing their hands, wondering, how do I do it all?  

It makes me wonder what we parents need to hear and see and have to keep us going.

Personally, having a Huffpost article tell me I am not meeting those standards because there was one week when we ate Happy Meals twice, or because of that one time I corrected my child before connecting with them is not what I need.  Like I said, I generally agree and respect all of that stuff, and I’m trying my best.  But what about when I fail?  What about when I fall short of the mark?  What about when I wake up early and just don’t want to be needed for a while?  Does that make me a bad mom?

I think not.

It is easy to convince myself I am a sucky mom.  I’m not.  I’m a good mom who loves her family whole heartedly, but I’m not supermom.  I also do not believe striving to be the perfect parent or feeling frustrated with our own fatigue or limitations are mutually exclusive issues.  Modern parenting is a package deal filled with some interesting conundrums, and it is a task in and of itself to try to integrate everything without going cray-cray, or at the very least putting ourselves way down.

Maybe you can relate.

So, while I am speaking my truth here, I would also like to take a moment to let you know if you feel less than positive about Daylight Savings and how it affects your children (particularly in regard to how your children affect your sleep), that is perfectly okay.  If for some reason you weren’t thrilled by your two year old pulling off her diaper after her nap and finger painting with the contents, then you are perfectly normal.  If you lost your spedoinkle a bit after your kid’s third tantrum of the day and forgot to be blissed out, you’re just fine.  And if you don’t have the moxie for floor time with your baby after a 12 hour work day, you are not going to parenting hell.

What about if you yelled at your kid?  Hug them, apologize and move on.

Cut yourself a little slack.  How come there are no articles out there telling us that?  Because that is one I would read.  Through compassion and acceptance of the self we generate lovingkindness for others.

We are only human, after all.  And sometimes we just need more sleep.

Does Daylight Savings affect your little one?  And what would you like to hear as a parent to help motivate you and help you feel supported in doing your best?  

You Are Okay

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“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.  Yet it’s never too late or too early to practice loving-kindness.”  Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart. 

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You look in the mirror, hating on your puffy eyes and the two deep lines in between your brows.  You look in the mirror, thinking your lips are thinning, but your cheeks look fat.  You look in the mirror, counting gray hairs, extra pounds, stretch marks.  You look in the mirror and step on the scale, weighing your disappointment in yourself.

Stop.

You are okay.

You are wonderful.

Your body is a miracle.

Your hips will never fit back into a single-digit-size pair of pants because your pelvis has been stretched to accomodate the new life you brought into this world.

Your thighs and bum carry an extra store of fat, put on to accomodate your little one’s need to be nourished at your breasts.

The corners of your eyes have become creased from hours of smiling down on your children, teaching them the world is friendly and safe.

The commercials are correct, motherhood changes everything.  One of the things that changes is your body, and likely your attitude towards it.  But consider the miracle your body performed.

Your body did what it was created to do.

You are a mom.

You do not need to compare yourself to the mom who proudly sported a bikini after having twins.  Maybe she was blessed with different genetics than you, and that is nice for her.  You do not need to hate on her, but more importantly, you do not need to put yourself down for not being her.

Your body accomplished what it was meant for in a pristine and gracious manner, to be compared with no one else.

It is okay for you to enjoy cake on birthdays, burgers off the grill in the summer, pizza on Fridays, and mashed potatoes with butter on winter holidays.  It is okay for you to show your children moderation is a wonderful thing.  Show them we can treat ourselves here and there without feeling ashamed, fat, or ugly.

Your children will be happier and healthier if they learn to love their bodies, and all the wonderful, physical activities their bodies perform- jumping, running, climbing, dancing, swimming, kicking, twirling- to keep them fit and strong.  Your children will learn to love their bodies if you love yours.

Your children will be happier and healthier if they grow up not thinking the “F word” is “fat”.

Your children love your body.  It is their home.  They will not believe the place from which they seek comfort and love is anything less than beautiful, unless you convince them otherwise.  Were you a size 0 model on the cover of a magazine the gazes you attracted would not be more adoring than eyes of your children.

Keep yourself healthy and strong for them, but also for yourself.  Make wise choices about how you use your body, and what you put into your body.  But know, also, that your sum total is so much more than a number on a scale.

Your stomach jiggles when you run, and is tie-dyed with bleached tiger stripes of motherhood.  These are talismans to be worn with pride and confidence, not to be covered with shame or self-loathing.

Your breasts are big and floppy, lumpy and bumpy because they produced the most amazing food on the planet.  Your breasts have done what they were meant for, and they have provided nourishment, comfort, and bliss for your babies.  Your bra size is bigger because of this evolutionary miracle, not because you didn’t log enough hours at the gym.

And speaking of the gym.  It is okay for you to miss workouts to stay home and snuggle with your children.  It is okay for you to take them for long nature-walks by the bay or in the woods instead of running in smelly isolation with your ear buds in at the gym.  But if you do feel like working out at the gym, that is okay too, and you do not need to feel guilty for leaving your children for an hour to take care of yourself.

Tend to yourself.

Be healthy.  Be reasonable.

You are beautiful.

You are allowed to love yourself as unconditionally as you love your children.

You are not a bad person for calling yourself names in the past.  It is never too late to turn to loving-kindness.  You do not need to be your own worst enemy when you look in the mirror.  Instead, consider the art you created.

Loving others begins with loving ourselves.  How much better would the world be if we could support and cherish ourselves, rather than constantly putting down or insulting?  How much would kindness be increased if we could bring ourselves to view the changes motherhood creates in our physical beings as pure and natural, not abhorrent or aberrant?

Try it now.

Love yourself.

You are okay.

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My Gift To You (via NPR)

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On Friday mornings, I look forward to hearing National Public Radio’s “Storycorps” segment.  This little treat I enjoy during my morning commute is a showcase of stories told by everyday people about their everyday lives, which are touching and extraordinary.  The stories are then archived in the Library of Congress.

They recently did a retrospectives of some of their special episodes, and followed up with the people to see where and how they are today.  I heard the best Storycorps I have ever heard.  It was entitled, “Never Say Goodbye:  A Love and Life Kept Vivid.”  The retrospective took us back to 2004.  An elderly couple, Annie and Danny, told the story of how they met.

Annie read aloud one of the many notes Danny left for her every day, “To my princess, the weather outside is extremely rainy.  I will call you at 11:20 in the morning.  And I love you, I love you, I love you.”

If you do one thing today, go to NPR on Youtube and watch this piece, set to animation.  I promise  your breath will catch in your throat, or you will make an involuntary little moan, or you will just start to cry as though you are witnessing splendor in the universe.  It is four minutes of sweetness that has the potential to change your day, maybe even your life.

It gave me comfort to think there are everyday people out there who live their love in every little thing they do.  Their innocent actions make the world better.  Danny and Annie have a love that permeates the very fabric of space and time.  It sounds corny, I know.  But go listen to it and you will understand.

Storycorps recorded another segment on this couple two years later.  Danny was living with a very lethal cancer.  Annie cared for him.  Selflessly.  Tenderly.  He said, “She lights up my life. . .  just by asking me “wouldn’t you like a little ice cream?”  Or “would you please drink more water”. . .  I mean, those aren’t very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart.”

It made me think.  When was the last time someone lit up my life just by asking me a simple, everyday question.  Or more precisely, when was the last time I allowed my life to be lit and stirred?  Furthermore, when was the last time I did something to stir someone else?

Of course I got to work and immediately texted my husband to tell him I loved him.  It wasn’t as good as something Danny would have written, but I had good intentions.

Some blogs do giveaways and special gifts to their readers.  That’s nice, but I’m not going to do that.  At least not materially.  My gift to you is to encourage you to go and read this piece, listen to or watch their story, and be awed and inspired.

Or maybe you won’t like it and you can quietly exchange my gift for something else.

What did you think of Danny and Annie’s story?  What have you done lately to show your love?  

Cardiac Attack Mac N Cheese

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This post is dedicated to my BFF Nikel, who is a way better cook and home maker than I could ever dream of being.

In general, Momasteblog is not the place you will find awesome recipes, house cleaning tips, or sweet DIY projects.  I’m not very crafty or clever, and I HATE to cook.  But I am a mom, so feeding my family healthy and balanced food is a necessity.

Since I am a working mom, there is very little time to cook.  I usually make a big batch of something (pasta, lentil soup, etc.) on Mondays to last a couple nights.  My husband is home on Wednesday, so he will cook on that night.  Thursday is leftovers, cereal, or cheese and crackers.  Friday is pizza (aka family fun night).  And the weekends are a free for all.

I sort of fantasized my kids would breast feed until they were old enough to make their own grub.  This was not the case. I despise cooking to the point where I resent having to boil water to make a box of mac n cheese.  It doesn’t help I have a kitchen the size of an airplane bathroom, and everyone I live with is extremely picky:  I don’t eat meat (usually), my husband is allergic to tomatoes, and my son will only eat PB&J.  My daughter has the most versatile palate in the family, to which I attribute starting her on whole table foods at six months old, instead of doing the typical baby cereal and purees.  (Baby led weaning–  check it out!)

Anyhoo, my buddy, Nikel, occasionally shares simple recipes with me.  Once a year, I cook up a big crock pot of what I’ve affectionately nick named “Cardiac Attack Mac N Cheese.”  You’ll understand why I call it this, and why I only make it once a year, once you read the ingredients.  (You also might send me hate mail/comments mocking me for feeding my family the very opposite of a “healthy diet.”  But whatevs.)

It is a simple recipe for a massive amount of delicious, creamy comfort food in your slow cooker.  I’ve tweaked the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using high protein/fiber pasta, low fat sour cream, and low fat milk.

So, here it is folks:  the ONE RECIPE I will ever share with you.

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1 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp butter cut into pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup

3 eggs beaten

2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1/2 tsp pepper

Boil the macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain.  In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese.  Stir until the cheese melts.  In a slow cooker combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard, and pepper and stir well.  Then add drained macaroni and stir again.  Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for three hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve with a big, green salad.  

Yield:  12 servings.  Prep time:  5 minutes.  Cook time:  3 hours.  Exercise time necessary to stave off cardiac incident:  90 minutes (or more if you have second serving…)

Ps, if you cook it longer, you get yummy crusty cheesy goodness on the sides of the slow cooker which gives the mac and cheese a delightful texture, in my opinion.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer:  Momasteblog is not responsible for any obesity or other health issues incurred by the making and eating of this meal.

How do you feel about cooking for your family?  Do you have any super fast and easy recipes you depend on?

I Choose You

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I ran into a friend from work in the parking lot after a staff meeting.  We work in different departments, so we don’t see each other often, but we have a tradition of hugging each other after these monthly meetings, then going about our business until the next time with the occasional email in between.  It is a little ray of sunshine.

She asked how I had been and without thinking, or editing myself, I offered that I had been stressed lately.  Jack has been going through a particularly persnickety phase, having to do mostly with his adjustment to the rigors of first grade.  We only had a moment to chat before bustling back to our respective buildings and work days.

I felt like a jerk pouring out my heart in a parking lot.  Sometimes I wish I could just smile and say everything is great, but if ya’ ask me how I’m doing, more than likely, I’m going to tell ya’.

The next day, I came into work and found a lovely email from her.  She told me she had worried about me, so she checked out my blog (I mean how else do we find anything out about each other these days, right?) and read a few of my recent posts about my struggles in mommy-land.  She shared with me that when she was a young mom (her children are now grown adults, and she is a grandmother herself) she struggled with many themes similar to mine.

She resonated with the post about Jack’s potential past life, and shared her belief that our children chose us, that somehow their little soul comes to grow in and with us for a reason.  She wrote of her grand daughter who died from a rare and vicious cancer at five months old.  The baby, she said, was an old soul, and while everyone wondered why this sadness fell on the family, my friend remained convinced that the baby picked her parents for a reason.

“I’ve told my mother, ‘I chose you,’ and I could tell that it gave her joy to think it,” she wrote to me.  “I like to think that my children chose me.  Somehow, it makes all those years when I didn’t live up to the ideal Mom okay, because they chose me regardless.”

I mused on these thoughts, rolling them over in my head like a pebble in the ocean, until they became my own.  When that pebble came to rest, I was filled with a warmth as though on a sundrenched shore.

Here is what I came up with:

1.  Sometimes honest sharing is good (even in a parking lot), and increases the potential of getting a need met.

2.  Perspective is everything.  It is  a blessing to have friends of all ages, in all phases of life to lend me their views.

3.  In mindfulness, part of the work is recognizing our thoughts and being aware of how they influence our emotions.  As a mom, I have many thoughts that work against me.  When Jack has a tantrum and I think to myself, “This is hopeless!  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t do anything to help and so nothing will ever change,” I feel despair course though every cell of my being.  When I think, “I am a child therapist for goodness sake, and even with all my experience, I am clueless!” I become possessed with deep insecurity and a sense of failure as both a mom and a therapist.

I looked at a picture of Jack on my desk and thought, “You chose me.  There must be some reason that I am your mom.  I can hold you and all your feelings.  I can do this.  We will figure it out and get through it together because you chose me to be your mom.”

The feeling was remarkable.  I felt strong and confident, infinite and open.

Whether or not I can tap these thoughts when I am in the middle of a five-alarm Jack attack remains to be seen.  But I guess if I tell myself that I can use it and do it and be it, then I have a better chance of being successful with it, and keeping my cool in the middle of the chaos (which is the NUMBER ONE rule when dealing with a strong-willed chicklet, by the way).

4.  Accepting my thoughts, feelings, and urges for what they are, as they are is an important step towards self acceptance.  It reminded me of how Pema Chodron speaks about compassion towards the self as being crucial to compassion for the rest of the world.

5.  It is pretty and comforting to think my children chose me, that there is some kind of ripening of karma in the fact that we are together making our way through life as a family.  But I also chose my children when I decided to become a mom.  True, our children come hard wired with some interesting temperaments over which we have less control than we might have thought before bearing children, but when we decide to become parents, we decide to love and nurture whatever karma throws our way.

I have bucked karma on this point many a time.  I’ve questioned why I got Jack– the ornery, intense, picky eater as opposed to a peaceful, kale and quinoa eating yogi.  But at the end of the day, he is the child I am kissing goodnight, see ya’ in the morning light, love ya’, sweet dreams.

We chose each other.

We chose our thoughts.

We chose our happiness.

They are powerful thoughts and I think they will serve me well, thanks to the caring kindness of my friend.

What thoughts do you have that help you get through the day with your child?  Are there any thoughts you have that don’t serve you well?  

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