Kickin’ Keto Gumbo

I am always on the lookout for healthy alternatives to feed my family! We’ve been having a cold spell lately so last night I cooked up this amazing low carb Gumbo. Enjoy!

Kickin’ Keto Gumbo

2 pkg of Chicken Sausage (4 count, I used one pack apple and one pack basil)

1 bag of Frozen Peeled Shrimp

2 Green Peppers, chopped

3 cloves Garlic, Chopped

1 Onion, chopped

1 cup Celery, chopped

2 cans Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

1 large can Crushed Tomatoes

3 cups Frozen Okra

2 cartons Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

2 Bags of Riced Cauliflower

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Creole Seasoning (low sodium)

First sear the sausage on medium high heat, remove once browned and let rest.

Dump all the veggies in the pan and allow them to soften, next add the diced and crushed tomatoes. Add okra, chicken broth and seasonings. Chop the sausage into bite size pieces and add to the pan. Boil for 8-10 min.

Add shrimp and cook until bright pink.

Serve over steamed cauliflower rice.

A new chapter…

It has been a hot minute since I have been able to post. In that minute a lot has unfolded in my life. Some of it is exciting, some terrifying. All of it is wonderful. I cant wait to share with you all what has been taking place in my life.

Since August was born, and even before, I became so worried about loosing myself. Loosing my body, loosing my likes and dislikes. I was afraid of becoming a shell of a person whose only contraction to society was containing a wild little boy.  Don’t get me wrong- I wanted to be a mom. More than anything I want to be a stay at home mom; but I still want to  have drive! I want to an interesting person who has their own talents and creations to add to the world. I didn’t know what to expect or what motherhood would look like, but I was just as scared as I was excited.

After I had him it was like life cake wave after wave. Breastfeeding struggles, diastasis recti, low weight gain, anxiety, work, school, on and on it went. Part of the reason I started this blog was to try and find myself in the midst of all of this change and movement. Now, at nine months postpartum I feel like I have finally been able to ground myself.

Over the past few weeks I have been in touch with several ladies who work to encourage women to take care of themselves- physically and emotionally. I am so grateful to be able to come on board with these women and work to help make a change in other mommas lives.

I am so sorry cited for this new journey. It has given me purpose, focus, and drive. It has provided me with the accountability and motivation to eat better, work out, and help my family become healthier as well.

I can’t wait to support other women as they make the same changes and find the same freedom that I have! If you are needing a change- if you want to live a healthier life, if you want to have a purpose, if you want to become a role model of being a boss babe, if you need a tribe please please please reach out to me. I would love to be on this journey with you!

Professional Looking Milestone Pictures: Setting the Stage

Milestone pictures are the hottest new thing in the world of new moms. As if we didn’t have enough on our plates with trying to feed, clothe, nap, and keep our new little fella alive- now we feel the pressure to take monthly photos! While they are adorable, trying to take the perfect picture of your baby can be a very frustrating challenge so here are a few tips that can help you create professional looking pictures of your precious little one.

Use a real camera.

If you own a real camera- use it. It definitely a little more of a hassle, but it will pay off. A camera allows you to select the mode and shutter speed that will be conducive to your setting. This means no wired focusing issues, no harsh flash, and no grainy cell phone photos.

Set the space.

Have a plan for the look you are going for and set the space. Lay out any blankets, props, and backdrops. Be sure to take a couple test shots of the space that way you can make any adjustments before you place baby in the scene. This is also a great time to check your lighting. It is always better to adjust the exposure and shutter speed on your camera to allow the right amount of lighting versus using an automated flash setting.

Outside pictures are great, but morning or evening light is better. The bright afternoon light often leads to a squinty, hot, and fussy babe.

Be mindful of babies age and development.

When setting up the space be mindful of your individual baby. Can he sit up unsupported? Is he naturally smiley or would sleeping pictures be better? Is he going to grab at the props? Don’t get so caught up in copying a Pinterest image that you forget what would be best for your baby. A lot of times I set up my space in an area of the house that I can close off from the dogs so that I can do the pictures in several sessions so that August didn’t become bored or frustrated.

“Aren’t they too young for that…”

Fall is finally here! Leaves are falling, the air is getting only slightly cooler here in Florida, and all the the fall festivals are underway. From here until January there are so many things taking place in the community- fall festivals, trunk or treats, family-night downtown, and not to mention all the Christmas events taking place! I love looking at what’s going on in the community and taking August, but so often I get asked “Isn’t he too young to do any of that?”

No. No. No.

I am so tired of hearing some women complain that they can’t do anything fun with their baby, cause they are “too little”. The only one setting those guidelines is you! So how do you enjoy these seasonal events with your little one? Here’s some tips I have learned…

Come prepared

The key to any good day with baby- be prepared! Pack the diaper bag full of everything you might need: diapers, wipes, blanket, snacks, bottles, nursing scarf, fishing toys, etc. Bring the stroller or baby carrier- the more comfortable the baby, the better the day!

Look for engagement opportunities

So the flyer says Costume contest, pumpkin patch, hayrides, pumpkin painting, corn maze, and petting zoo! What is there for a little one to do when all the activities are gauged for pre-school aged children and above? Well they can dress up in a fun costume (okay, this one is just for us mommas. I love a good costume on a baby.), they can feel all the bumps and ridges on a pumpkin and take in all the vibrant colors, take a hayride with mom and dad, put their sweet little hand print on a baby pumpkin, take a walk with mom and dad through a corn maze, and watch all the animals taking in the sounds, smells, and maybe even textures if your a brave momma!

Enjoy the simple things

Sometimes as mom we set our expectations for certain experiences too high, it’s like a guaranteed trip “not-good-enough” lane. As a mom one of the mist important things I have learned is to be grateful for the little things. Those tiny moments of feeling a fall leaf for the first time. Looking curiously as the pumpkins. The first rush of a cold winters wind. Staring at the Christmas lights in awe. These are the moments that matter. Don’t expect a perfect day, but make the little moments perfect.

Take it slow

Often times when we go somewhere like the zoo, Disney, or a festival we try to do and see everything possible- but with a baby, that is asking for a day full of stress. Don’t worry about seeing and doing everything. Pick a few things you would like to do and enjoy those things. If baby is having a good time looking at all the animals in the petting zoo, stay there! Soak it in. Don’t be so focused on doing, instead just take the day as it comes. Kids don’t follow plans, so don’t try and force them into one- just live in the moments and you’ll find that the best memories are made without you even trying.

Takes cues from baby

This is by far the most important- take cues from baby bot. If they are acting hungry or sleepy find a place to nurse or nap. If the are getting cranky, take a break, or even call it a day and be thankful for the time you had. Your little one can be unpredictable so just go with the flow and follow their lead.

Postpartum Anxiety: Taking Steps to Getting Back to Me

I passed the initial Postpartum Depression screenings without any hesitation right after August was born, but over the course of the next couple months things began to shift. I wrote about those first few months here. It wasn’t until we switched pediatricians that a professional began the conversation with me about Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Our pediatrician recommended medicine, but I was extremely hesitant. After several more appointments without any improvement on my PPD screening and the same recommendation from my OBGYN I was left with a choice: to medicate or not?

Now at six months postpartum I would no longer revive the PPD screening so our pediatrician (a Godsend of a woman) left me with one last piece of advice; she said, ” looking back at my own life, raising my kids, I was happy and I was able to manage- but I felt so overwhelmed and my memories are tainted with those feelings. Now, I am on a low-dosage of an antidepressant and I can’t help but wonder what those memories with my sons would have looked like if I would have gotten help sooner.”

Fast forward a few weeks and we’re getting ready to board a Disney Cruise Ship, something I have been looking forward to for over a year, and my heart is racing, I am nauseated, dizzy, and filled with a sense of dred. Thankfully those feelings passed and I was able to have a great week away with my family- however, it made me think about what the pediatrician had said. I didn’t want all my memories to laced with a these overwhelmed and panicky feelings. So after we got home I made the call and got a prescription for 50mg of Zoloft.

They told me it takes around three weeks to feel any of the effects. To be honest, I fully expected to not feel any different after those weeks have passed, but as of today I have been medicated for four full weeks.

I can honestly say I am overwhelmed with gratitude to all the women who advised me to take care of myself- I still have stress and I still feel overwhelmed sometimes, but I do not feel trapped by my stress anymore. I don’t have the obsessive thoughts about everything that I need to do, I no longer play through every worse case scenario, I don’t lay awake at night worrying, I don’t feel panicked when August cries, I don’t dred going out with people. I still have to get myself in the right frame of mind to balance all I have in my plate, but I finally feel as if I can.

Mommas and really everyone else- if you are feeling overwhelmed and trapped by insane amounts of fear and stress please talk to your doctor. It is not anything that you are doing wrong. It is not that you are weak. It’s all about our bodies chemistry- sometimes that chemistry gets off and we can’t fix it with out medicinal intervention. Don’t waste one more day spent worrying and miss out on your life- do this for yourself.

Medication is not the answer for everyone, but if you are feeling “off” don’t be ashamed- it is natural and the right person can help get you back to feeling like yourself.

Six Month Must-Haves

When August turned six months I really started noticing how much he was developmentally growing and I wanted to encourage that growth! It’s so important to introduce different activities and stimulates to keep you little one curiousness challenge them to explore even more! Here are some of my top picks for when they start needing to be challenged:

Sit and Play Toys

Sit and play toys are so important- August was a late bloomer and only started sitting up around six months. We wanted to encourage him to sit on his own more frequently so we bought him so toys that are more involved than just a rattle or teether.

Fisher Price Double Poppin’ Dino

This fun toy has two trampolines that bounce the balls up and out. With fun music and sounds that you is crazy engaging for baby. Fair warning though- the balls go everywhere. When playing along side baby you will definitely get in some cardio! August was dazed with this toy at first cause there was so much going on- you could see his little wheels spinning. For now he watches as mom and dad play and he attempts to place the balls into the Dino, it is definitely a toy that can grow with him.

Workbench Toy Set

This toy has a lot to offer an exploring baby. The saw and drill both can be pushed down by the handle to trigger sound effects and lights. A happier, screwdriver, and wrench can be used to twist and push the nails and screws and the middle area has a place to sort and fit shapes. Again, it is another toy that will definitely grow with your little one and encourage imaginative play.

Fidget Busters

These toys are great for keeping baby happy on the go:

Skip Hop Camping Cubs Soft Adventure Book

I love this book for on the go- with a teether, mirror, and fun little flaps and pockets for bear to explore it is a great boredom buster for my little guy- plus he loves the crinkle sound it makes.

Teeth and Twirl Station

We just recently got this and I am so glad! August is at the point we’re we can put him in a high chair at restaurants, but he becomes very bored very quick. This toy has lots of fun textures and colors, but best of all it suctions to the table!

My Pirate Friends

This one was a gift from Grandma on our recent vacation and August loves it! Each little animal makes a different sound or rattle and they are the perfect size for him to grab and manipulate-plus they can be carted along in their super cute pirate ship!

Making Your Own Babyfood

Any parent can tell you that baby food can get pretty pricey- not to mention that there are so many option on the market that contain harmful additives and chemicals.

When it came time for August to start eating solids I knew I wanted to try and make my own so that I knew exactly what was going into his little body. (Not to mention it saved me a few bucks!) But the question is- where to start?!

Here’s how I went about making my own baby food!

Find the Veggies and Fruits

Seems simple, and it pretty much is all you have to do is ask yourself a few questions.

Do you care if the veggies are organic?

Do you care if your baggies are locally sourced?

Yes to both? Head to the farmers market!

Just want organic? Try Aldi, Trader Joe’s, or Chamberlins for a large selection of organic products.

No to both? Head to whatever grocery store you prefer!

I chose to go with as much organic as possible, whether from the grocery store or from the farmers market. I was afraid this would drastically increase the cost, but in the long run it was actually very affordable and still cheaper than buying pre-packaged.

Cook It Up

Most fruits and vegetables will need to be cooked before they are ready for baby. A couple exceptions are avocados and bananas. Not only does cooking the veggies get them to the right consistency for purée, but it also helps make them easier to digest.

Purée!

Blend it to the consistency you want- you can thin out a food with breast milk or formula for a baby that is starting solids or you can leave it a little chunky to help baby transition to solids.

Freeze It!

I use these trays to freeze my purées. Each cube is one fluid ounce so it makes it easy to portion out meals. You can either bag up enough cubes in snack size bags to equal one meal, or you can use a gallon sized bag to store all of one flavor together.

I usually take a day and mix up a whole bunch of goodness and then freeze it for when I need it. My cost averages out at about $0.07 an ounce- not too shabby!

Time Flies!

Did you know that there are only about 940 Weekends between the time your child is born and the time the turn 18? That really puts into perspective how fleeting our time is.

So many people have made comments “Just wait until he is older and can do more things.” Or “Wait until he’s at a fun age!” But I don’t want to wait to make fun memories with my child! I know that a 7 months only will not have lasting memories of the moments we have together, but they feel joy in the moment and as parents we will remember that joy for the rest of our lives. So what are some things that you can do with baby to build some fun family memories? Here’s a list of some of my favorites!

Picnics

Sometimes just a picnic out in the backyard is the perfect setting for fun filled memories. Nothing fancy, just some snack eaten in the fresh air followed by tummy time or even a nap on the blanket. Babies love all the sights and sounds of outside and being outdoors is wonderful for their development; so next time it’s a beautiful day outside, lay down a blanket and enjoy!

Water Play

I don’t know about your little one, but mine LOVES the water. Filling up a sink, kiddie pool, or tub for just a little playtime can be a fun activity to break the routine and offer your baby some giggles.

The Zoo or Aquarium

Oh the sights, sounds, and smells! August loves animals and fish. He is perfectly content strolling around and taking in all the different colors and sounds. It’s amazing to watch the wonder on his face and honestly gives me such a different perspective of the world around us.

Christmas Lights

Christmas is coming up soon and just a stroll down the Christmas aisle at Hobby Lobby had August in a full trance. As the season approaches give them time to explore- look at the lights, push all the buttons on the interactive decor, let them feel a tree branch. It may seem simple, but sometimes that’s when the most precious memories are made.

The Park

Going for a walk together or playing in a swing is a great way to get away from the busyness of the day. I will always look for ways to get my little guy outdoors- he loves it and it is so good for him to experience different environments. Daily we go on the front porch to swing. Take your sweet baby outside- it’s good for the whole family!

Welcome Home

Well, I am getting back to this way later than I anticipated.

I thought I would get off our cruise ship recharged, fully of energy, and ready to dive headfirst into this blog and my work. But it didn’t.

Instead I felt oddly slow- a perfect mixture of sadness and peace.

I had spent two busy weeks preparing for the in-laws to visit, packing, shopping, working ahead on assignments for school, cleaning, etc. Then I stopped for 7 days. No WiFi, no emails or Facebook. Just hubs and my baby boy- it was glorious, but terrifying. In the midst of one of August’s afternoon naps (a time I would usually use to get something done around the house) I laid there with him, watching a movie with Devon and realized how little time I had spent like this. Not multitasking, not scrolling through Facebook, just resting and watching my baby sleep.

I actively make time for August, but what was lacking was the quality. Holding him while I run around the house or type an essay does not count as quality time. I thought that I was doing good at being a “super mom” and finds no balance- but in the midst of trying so hard to be present I had completely missed the mark. I knew I needed to make changes- that’s why I have taken so long to get back on here.

I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I’m making progress.

I still am working full-time and taking classes full-time, but I also have found time for more important things:

Going to Disney Springs with my family

Watching a movie with my husband

Splashing in the pool before dinner and stripping out of our jammies first thing in the morning to take a dip.

Bath times.

Nap times.

Playing on the floor.

Swinging on the porch.

It’s still a work in progress, but I am striving to be far more present in my daily life.

I will get back to posting on here, but not before I take time for my family.

Setting Sail….

I’ve been off of this blog and social media for a few days now, only posting occasionally. At first I felt guilty for neglecting this space, but I just had so much on my plate…

Only after a few days did I realize how out of wack my schedule and priorities have been. We have Grandma and Grandpa visit, sickness to fight off, anxiety attacks to manage, doctors appointments to keep, and a trip to plan and pack for all on top of our normal schedule- there was no way I could continue to do EVERYTHING.

My milk supply was dropping and my anxiety was spiking. I was feeling run down, tired, overwhelmed and it was bringing to take a physical toll on my body. I had to choose to take a step back and let a few things drop for a bit.

Sometimes as mothers we have to chose to let things go. It’s difficult to do this. We feel like failures. But if I am honest with myself I would rather thrive at a few things instead of feeing like I’m drowning in all my responsibilities. I was to be a successful mom and wife that my husband and children can be proud of- but more than success I want to bring joy to their lives. And joy is not found in juggling one million circus acts, it’s in a cuddle and a movie or a bowl of ice cream while baby naps.

We leaving for a cruise. I won’t have any work, school assignments, or interment connection for a whole week. Just me, my husband, and my little man- so basically my whole world. I use to stress about pre-writing posts so that they would be ready to go live in my absence, but that’s not my reality. My reality is that I am going to be unplugged from pall of this and living in each minute with my beautiful family.

We all fall into wanting to show our best sevens or act like super mom- I am not. I’ve been dropping the ball on this blog and social media so I can start showing up for me and my family and that is ok.

Did not worry about being the kind of mom we see in the media. Don’t try and do everything. Just be the mom you babies need. Be the wife your husband needs. Be the you that YOU need and have faith that the pieces will fall into place.

I can’t wait for my week of being unplugged- consider taking some time this week to disconnect and plug into to something real that’s happening right in front of you.

Bon Voyage!