Learning to Say Yes

So lately I’ve been trying on a new parenting approach. I guess you could call it somewhat permissive, lax, free-flowing – all scary words in the world of parenting, I know!

yes quote

It came about after reading this blog post from Janet Lansbury about the power of acknowledging our child’s perspective. It got me thinking about what Lila’s world must feel like. She has about 20 words, but can’t yet communicate all she wants. She is starting to flex her independent spirit, yet still wants on hand firmly planted around my finger. She is learning about the world with an insatiable curiosity, but doesn’t know it’s limits yet.

Sounds like a pretty confusing and frustrating place to be, right?

I decided to take a few days to really hone in on my observation skills to see what was causing her frustration and how I could help. I watched her in her play and interactions with people – especially with her main care-giver, me. It became clear rather quickly that her moments of big frustration were usually after being told “no,” or having something taken away, or not being able to do something she wants. Pretty normal.

But I also noticed that I was saying no to her a lot (not the actual word, but the intention). “We’re not going to do bubbles right now, I’m folding laundry” “I can’t let you play with my makeup, it will make a mess.” “Please don’t put your hands in the dirt.” “Don’t pick that up off the ground, that’s yucky.” In fact, when I thought back on one ten minute period, I had essentially told her “no” eight different times. Eep!

I realized too that while many of my “no’s” were totally necessary, others were more MY opinion or desire for how I thought our day should go and weren’t necessarily needed. I mean there really isn’t a reason I can’t put the laundry aside for a minute to blow bubbles out on the deck, right?

I decided to start giving Lila as many “yeses” as I could. As long as it wasn’t something that could be a safety issue or be so annoying as to make me lose my cool, then I am trying to go with it. And so far, my quest to say yes has taken us on some fun adventures.

You want to take your shoes off and put your feet in the lake? You want to taste the sand? OK!

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Sure, you can try eating your smoothie yourself with a spoon. It’ll make a mess, but that’s ok.

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You want to try climbing this ladder by yourself? Let’s go for it. (she made it to the top on the first try!)

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Running in the dirt? Why not!

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I think having more yes in her life has helped Lila deal better with the necessary nos. Giving her a little more control over her decisions, actions and feelings has cut down on her frustrations while also building her confidence as a little decision-maker.

And it’s also taught me a good lesson … how to look on the bright side and be open to the “yes” moments in life.

10 Easy Yet Delicious Weeknight Paleo (+Dairy) Dinners

Luke and I have a pretty good routine going in terms of keeping our house going. I do the laundry, he takes the trash out, I do the cooking, he does the dishes. We like to eat at home usually, so I am cooking on average six meals a week. When we were first married, I definitely felt a bit overwhelmed going from only cooking once a week or so to cooking every night.

I quickly devised a strategy to help me get through the nightly cooking grind: keep it simple, don’t spend a lot of time on prep, but make it taste delicious. I created an excel spreadsheet with all my go-to meals and collapsed the ingredients for grocery shopping underneath. So when I need to meal plan for the week, I can just reference back to the list and copy/paste the ingredients I need to buy into an email.

Usually for Sunday Supper Series on this blog, I post fancier recipes I make on special occasions (like on Sunday, duh), but I thought it might be beneficial for some of you if I shared my list of easy, go-to, weeknight dinners.

Now keep in mind, we are Paleo (+ dairy), so these recipes lean that way. But even if you’re not Paleo, they’re super yummy. Oh and these are just main dishes. I typically will pair these with a vegetable of choice cooked in grassfed butter and topped with a lot of sea salt.

10 Easy Yet Delicious Weeknight Paleo (+Dairy) Dinners:

1. Pulled Pork Over a Sweet Potato: Cook a pork shoulder in the crock pot overnight and through the next day. “Pull it” apart and top with bbq sauce. Serve over a baked sweet potato.

Pulled Pork over sweet potato

2. “Spaghetti” and Meat Sauce: Spaghetti squash cut in half and baked for 45 mins at 375. Scrape with a fork to make noodles. Top with ground grassfed beef with your marinara sauce of choice.

3. Salmon with Bacon & Blue Cheese: Pretty self-explanatory, salmon topped with blue cheese and strips of bacon. I will cook the bacon in the microwave under a paper towel for a minute before adding it to the salmon so it crisps in time. Bake at 350 for 35-40 mins.

4. Roast Chicken: Place small potatoes in the bottom of a baking dish (that has a lid). Top with whole chicken legs seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary (you can also marinate the chicken in buttermilk for four hours beforehand). Top with lemon slices. Bake for 35 mins with the lid on in a 375 degree oven. Take the lid off, turn the temp up to 425 and bake until the chicken skins are crispy and the lemon is blackened, about 15 more mins.

Easy roast chicken

5. Creamy Shrimp & Asparagus: chopped asparagus cooked in butter until soft. Add thawed frozen shrimp, cook until pink. Add two heaping spoonfuls of store bought pesto (look for a kind in olive oil, not canola oil). Add two tablespoons of heavy cream. Mix and serve over rice.

6. Lamb chops w/ Cherries: lamb chops seasoned with rosemary (fresh or dried). Baked at 350 for 45 mins. Top with frozen cherries cooked in a sauce pot with butter.

7. Skirt Steak Roll Ups: Skirt steak topped with pesto, goat feta cheese, roasted red peppers and red pepper flakes. Rolled up and baked at 350 for 45 mins.

8. Fireside Stew: Put a beef shoulder roast in the crock pot with rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder and some pre-cut butternut squash. Cook overnight and through the day on low. Serve over rice adding some of the juice on top.

beef and butternut squash stew

9. Pork Chops w/Apples: Pork chops seasoned with paprika, baked at 350 for 35-40 mins. Top with chopped apples cooked in butter with cinnamon.

10. Steak & Onions: Slice an onion and cook it on the stovetop in butter for a hour, stirring occasionally until caramelized. Baste steaks in grassfed butter and minced garlic. Grill or pan-fry your cut of steak (we do the pan-fry method with our cast iron pan). Let the meat rest for 5 mins and serve with onions.

Bonus! Any of these Paleo-approved crock pot recipes: on Nom Nom Paleo or Paleomg. 

Those are just some of my go-to weeknight meals. I currently have about 50 in my “database,” so I’ll post more later if you want. What are your easy weeknight meals of choice?

More Than I Can Chew

I am a compulsive over-achiever. For some reason I have an aversion to the word no, and feel guilty if I ask for help.

The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least. I took on a three-month contract position that has me working 25 hours a week on top of my other clients. You know how it goes too … one month you’re slow, so you send out emails to drum up business, then BAM it all hits at once.

When I first started consulting, I aimed to work 5-10 hours a week. I really thought of it as just something to keep my skills fresh and prevent there from being a gap in my resume. Flash forward six months and I’m now working 30 hours a week with great clients. I feel so blessed, excited about the future, motivated to build my business but also … exhausted!

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In true “over-achiever” fashion, I’ve attempted unsuccessfully to do my work AND care for Lila full time. For awhile it was working – I would work an hour before she woke up, then all through her 1.5 – 2 hr nap and then again at night when Luke got home, after I made dinner. Sure I was able to get it all done, but I quickly felt totally burned out.

And my do-it-all approach made it difficult for me to be present with Lila. That feeling of having an urgent email to respond to while your baby whines for you attention is not good. I got some sense knocked into me when I was at the playground with Lila and she fell and hit her nose while I was distracted by … you guessed it … responding to an email.

I realized right then that enough was enough. I needed to find separation between my work and my parenting, while also carving out some time for myself. I decided to use our amazing babysitter more often and make a commitment to NOT check email etc except for my designated “work” hours. I told my clients that if they need me urgently to call me, otherwise I’ll respond to their emails each evening.

And right now? I had a sitter for an hour to get work done and when she texted to see if she could keep Lila a few extra hours, I obliged without any guilt. I so badly needed some down time (and time to write here!).

I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to be my own boss, set my hours and keep my career going all while fulfilling my very strong need to be involved in Lila’s day to day, but I need to remember that I am one person. I can’t do it all – nor would I want to!

How do you make finding balance a priority in your life?

PS – if you know of anyone looking for public relations, social media or online marketing help, send them my way! I am always looking for new clients, because in true consulting fashion … next month will be all quiet. :)

Dear Lila: You’re 15 Months!

Dear Lila,

It makes me sad to say it, but you are no longer a baby. It seems like overnight you have morphed into a full-fledged toddler – and I must admit, I love it! Every where I take you people ask “how old is she?” and when I proudly respond that you are 15 months, they always say “she is soooo cute!”

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You finally started letting me do your hair without yanking the hair tie out immediately. You have really thick hair, but it’s grown in at different paces, so pony tails take some finesse on my part. It seems like once you have your hair up you suddenly morph into a little girl vs a baby.

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Your language has exploded and you are talking a ton. Doggie, woof woof, mommy, dada, baby, milk, bye bye and yes are all some of your many words, but your favorite word? “NO!” Yes I couldn’t believe it when you started with the NO’s because we don’t really say that a lot, but you figured it out and like to let your will be known!

Of course, out of all your words, “Mama” is my favorite.

You mastered walking last month and now happily toddle along. You are getting more and more confident on your feet and have even started walking down stairs at the park. You are still a big climber and will often use random objects, like the laundry basket, to get some leverage to climb higher and higher.

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I take you to the park pretty much every day so you can enjoy the outdoors. You like to swing, climb, slide, eat grass (when mom’s not looking), but once you spot a dog, you have a one-track mind to PET. THAT. DOG! You’ll say “dodee, dodee!” or “Woof woof!” as you walk over to pet it. (here you are with Aunt Amy petting a dodee)

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Now that you’re older and talking, it’s been so fun for us to have “conversations” with you. Last night we went out to get Mexican food and on the way home I asked you “Lila, did you like your dinner?” You said “Yeah!” Then 10 minutes later I asked you the same question and you said “No!” I guess you must have changed your mind? :)

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Every day with you gets more and more interesting little bug. You are growing up right before our eyes and it’s just the best thing I have ever seen. You’re our independent, confident, curious, happy girl and we love you to bits.

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Love,

Mommy