THE BEST Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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The Best Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is probably my favorite recipe—ever.

I got it from my mom :). I have toyed with similar muffin recipes before, but I’m not sure why because these are by far the best I’ve had. It is my go-to when people visit! I can’t get enough of them.

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Always helping <3

So, without further ado, here’s how to make ’em!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (sometimes I use white, sometimes whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I highly prefer Hershey Special Dark, but any will do)
  • 1/2 cup butter (make sure it’s room temp)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I plan to try substituting with stevia sometime)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (I always use three, typically ones that I’ve stored in the freezer after they’ve gone bad.)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix first 3 dry ingredients together and stir in chocolate chips.
Cream together butter and sugar. Be sure to dip a finger in for a taste because butter and sugar are an insanely delicious combination. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add banana and vanilla.
Add moist mixture to dry mixture, all at once. Stir until moist but still lumpy.
Fill muffin cups. Bake for 21-24 min (I always do 21 min because I like them moist).
I know recipes usually say to wait for them to cool, but I highly recommend eating one fresh out of the oven!

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Enjoy 🙂

 

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Toasted Coconut & White Chocolate Fondue

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I made this fondue on Valentine’s Day, and, well, it was delicious. When I created our wedding registry back in 2013, I decided to add a few things that were super expensive and figured we’d never get. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?! Well, a Mauviel fondue pot was one of those items, and I’m glad we registered for it because we got it! We only use it a handful of times per year, but it’s always fun. We also got this cookbook, from which this recipe is adapted.

Please excuse my crappy iPhone photography 😛  I’m trying!

fondue ingredients

Ingredients:

  • unsweetened coconut milk – ¼ cup (I used A Taste of Thai coconut milk, which separates in the can, so I used a Magic Bullet to blend it all back together)
  • white chocolate – ¾ lb, finely chopped or 1 package (¾ lb) white chocolate chips (I used Baker’s white chocolate morsels, which melted quickly)
  • lime zest – freshly grated from 1 lime
  • fresh lime juice – 2 tbsp (I used the same lime that I zested)
  • dark rum – 1 tbsp (I didn’t have any and didn’t want to buy a whole bottle, so I used 1 tsp McCormick’s rum extract. Note that rum extract is much richer than actual rum! So, use less.)
  • kosher salt – pinch (I used sea salt because it’s what I had at home)
  • flaked sweetened coconut – ½ cup toasted in a 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes (I used Baker’s flaked sweetened coconut)

To dip:

  • Pineapple chunks
  • Kiwi slices
  • Strawberries
  • Banana slices

There are so many great dipping options! These are what I used, but you can also use crepes, toasted pound cake cubes, butter cookies, other fruits, etc.

Instructions:

In a small fondue pot over low heat, combine ¼ cup coconut milk and white chocolate chips. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted. Add the lime zest and juice, rum (or rum extract), salt, and toasted coconut flakes. Stir! If the fondue is too thick for dipping, add more coconut milk, 1 tbsp at a time.

Before serving, make sure the heat source below the fondue pot is set to very low! Serve right away.

UM, YUM.

dipping fruit husband helping

Aaaand here are some adorable pictures of my three favorite guys on Valentine’s Day.

husband, baby, dog

 

 

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Thoughts for Today – Part One

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This is one of those days where I’m feeling a million different things at once.

Events:

My parents were visiting from out of town for the long weekend and left this morning.

I got a call yesterday about setting up a job interview.

Corey has a night flight, which means he’ll land sometime in the middle of the night.

I’m reminded of the sacrifices that come with being a military spouse…

My kid(s) won’t grow up living near his (their) grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. Though we learn to lean on support systems wherever we go, it’s just hard not having little conveniences like grandmas as babysitters 🙂

I will struggle career-wise as we move every few years. As a social worker, it helps to dig roots into a community and learn it inside and out. No doubt, I can learn about and pour my heart into wherever I am; it’s just difficult starting over. Also, transferring my license from state to state is expensive and annoying. Aaaaaand also daycare is expensive and leaving your kid there is heartbreaking, but that has nothing to do with the military life—just comes with parenthood.

Nights like this when Jack is screaming for no apparent reason and I have a pounding headache… it’d be nice to have Corey here to help.

So here’s the thing…

These are all good things! I got to see both my parents (and my son got to see his grandparents!) even though they don’t live near us. They have the means to visit us, and so they did. I’m finally making some progress on the job hunt! And my husband has a job that pays the bills, so I’ve been able to stay home with Jack for 5 months—a luxury, for sure.

First world problems much?! 😜 This is one of those days where I just need to count my blessings and realize how good I’ve got it. Now I’m gonna go sip this hot cup of tea.

cup of tea

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Discipline: the Best Self-Care

the best self-care discipline

I am a social worker. One particular practice the social work field highly emphasizes is self-care.

You can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself. At one point, I didn’t think this was necessary. I somehow had it in my head that because I loved serving others, service in and of itself was my self-care. While I do love serving others (why I pursued the social work field), I absolutely need time to take care of just me. This realization came to me while spending a year (2012-2013) in Chicago, volunteering fulltime for AmeriCorps through a program called Amate House. The realization didn’t just come to me; it had to be put right in front of my face. At Amate House we participated in weekly “community nights” which consisted of spending each Wednesday with the other program members to focus on central themes. During one community night, we discussed the importance of self-care. This means different things to everyone. To some, going for a bike ride is self-care—to others, taking a nap. For me, self-care manifests itself in many ways: a phone call with an old friend, painting my nails while sipping hot tea, writing while listening to depressing indie love songs, etc. Self-care is vital in a high burnout career fields like social work. Even with a passion for serving others, we must restore and nurture our own well-beings.

I recently had another realization. I’m not working right now, but self-care is absolutely necessary for another life facet, one about which I’m just learning—parenthood. Putting our needs on the backburner can easily become second nature when we’re taking care of tiny humans who are incapable of taking care of themselves. Yeah, I know I’m preaching to the choir here. But I’m just figuring this out! So, I’m searching for ways to take care of myself while I take care of my little miracle 24/7. I think I’ve figured out what I’m lacking that has the potential to make my life a lot less stressful: Discipline.

But how do I get said discipline? I called my mom and asked how she does it—“Years of practice,” she said. Oh, man. I better get started.

Needs I’m Putting on the Backburner

1- My house looks like a tornado tore through it.
Yes, I live in tornado alley, but we haven’t had any actual tornadoes lately. Yes, I have a 4-month-old baby, so visitors typically give me a pass on household cleanliness. But it makes me crazy. And frankly, my house was like this way before Jack came along, but that’s neither here nor there. Point is, it’s gotta change. We let our house get terrible and then despise it. We love a clean house! We just lack discipline. Here are some of our habits: A- let the dishes pile up until the sink overflows. Granted, we have shallow sinks, but this is an excuse I need to stop using. B- let the laundry sit unfolded for a week or two until we have enormous piles of wrinkly clothes that take forever to fold. We have other bad habits as well, but these two are the worst.

2- I’ve plateaued on losing my baby weight.
“You’re young,” they said. “The weight will fall right off,” they said. Well, 22 pounds fell off pretty quickly, which was awesome. The other 18? Not so much. I truly wish I didn’t care so much about this; after all, I did just spend 9 months growing a human and then faced the immense task of pushing him out. I think I deserve a cookie or ten. But the fact is, I miss my clothes and don’t want to buy new ones. And I just want to feel better about myself. I recognize that my body will never be the same; motherhood has changed it. I am totally okay with this. However, I do need to be healthy! Not only do I want this for myself, but I want to set a good example for Jack, as well. Right now, he only eats delicious breast milk, but before we know it he’ll be on to solids, then crawling, then walking, then running marathons, etc. I want him to know that eating well and exercising are important. I’m not into that “do as I say, not as I do” crap (well, maybe a little bit, but I try not to).

3- I need a creative outlet.
Don’t get me wrong; I am so happy and grateful for all the time I get with Jack, especially at this age. I can’t imagine not getting to spend this time with him, watching him change daily. The thought of going back to work soon is breaking my heart. Women who go back to work sooner are total badasses. Teach me your ways. (*SAHMs are awesome, too*). But all of this aside, I still get a little stir crazy. I’m used to pouring myself into school and work, so, even though I’m busy with Jack, it’s a little weird for me to be home all the time. I need an outlet! Thus, this blog was born.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to hang out with this naughty baby all day?

Implementing Discipline

1- Making my house not look like tornado alley
I have been making a point to do dishes as soon as I dirty them. No piles. Rinse them and put them straight in the dishwasher. It takes 30 seconds, as opposed to 20 dreaded minutes. Just doing a little at a time makes a big difference. When the dishes are clean, put them away so the sink doesn’t pile up. I have not been perfect at this, but I’m doing much better than usual! I’m using a similar approach with laundry. Fold it as soon as it’s out of the dryer! A little bit at a time sure beats an overwhelming amount all at once. Yeah, yeah, cleaning doesn’t sound like self-care, but it’s working for me right now!

2- Losing my baby weight
I finally started going to the gym. Not every day, but I started. Sometimes I work out at home. I’ve gone to a few Zumba classes (since they are baby-friendly), run on the treadmill using the C25K app, used the 7-minute workout app, started doing YouTube yoga, and dug up some workout DVDs I purchased right before I found out I was pregnant. I aim to do at least one of these every day. I’ve also started logging all of my food intake and exercises into the My Fitness Pal app. I’m a little bummed they don’t have breastfeeding under exercise (since it burns 300-500 calories a day!). Nonetheless, the app is helping me hold myself accountable. I am not supposed to “diet” while breastfeeding, but I’ve stopped allowing myself to shovel anything and everything into my mouth.

3- Finding a creative outlet
I have wanted to blog for years but figured I had nothing of importance to say. Well, I finally stopped letting that excuse stop me and found I have quite a lot to say. Whether it’s of importance is neither here nor there! I’ve put my excuses aside and decided to follow Nike’s advice—just do it. My goal is to write every day. I don’t plan to post every day, but I have to write something, whether it be a paragraph or page.

This was kind of a novel. Whoops!

How do you do self-care? How do you practice discipline? Let me know in the comments!

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Curing Postpartum Backache (fix me, please)

Curing Postpartum Backache (fix me, please)

I love being Jack’s mom. He’s a pretty cool baby. Every morning, I peek over my bedside and see him smiling (like seriously glowing) from his bassinette. Literally every morning. He’s such a morning person! I roll out of bed to pick him up, and HOLY CRAP OUCH HOLY **** WHAT THE ****.

My back. I’m dying. I don’t know what happened, but around Jack’s 3-and-a-half month mark, my back decided it just wasn’t gonna put up with all this anymore. Now I have a constant backache.

What it actually feels like: a tight, dull pain around the mid/right part of my back, just under the shoulder blade. If I irritate it (typically by lifting something, like my child), the pain sharpens.

Corey tried cracking it, and I thought I had died and entered the sixth circle of hell. He tried massaging it, to no avail. I took my last Percocet from my birth recovery and decided we’d have to figure something out.

Did some research and figured this pain must be some combination of poor breastfeeding posture and picking up Jack while bending my back, rather than my knees. So, how to remedy?

1 – Fix that Posture.

Sit up straight. Bend at the knees. Try not to anger the back.

2 – Medical Attention

I made an appointment with my doctor, and this is how it went:

“Sorry, you’re just gonna have to live with it.”

Okay, so those weren’t his exact words, but in a nutshell, he said he couldn’t do anything except prescribe Motrin. Hhhhh. I’ve been diagnosed with a “muscle spasm,” which, as he explained, means that a particular muscle in my back is mad at me and decided to tighten up for an extended period of time. Seeing as I’m exclusively breastfeeding, he can’t prescribe a muscle relaxer, lest we risk having a floppy baby. Boo. I know I’m being a total whiner, but on the bright side, he said I’m probably through the worst of it. I’m not actually dying. I will most likely live to see my son’s first birthday. He said a heating pad could help relax the muscle. Also, he found the spasmed muscle on my back and massaged it, and HOLY MOLY, it felt amazing. Apparently, Corey just sucks at massaging (but we love him anyway). Finally, doc recommended using a tennis ball to massage my back against the wall, similar to this:

3 – Yoga

I’ve done yoga a handful of times, and frankly, I suck. So don’t get the impression that I’m a flexible, fit, Pinterest-perfect, yogi mom. I am not. Total props to these women! You are awesome. Maybe one day I’ll catch up to that level of cool. As for right now, I’ll settle for looking like a fool to get rid of this backache. I looked up some moves specifically for backaches and am giving ‘em a try.

4 – Chiropractor

Okay, I haven’t actually gone to a chiropractor, but I know people who swear by chiropractors. Frankly, I don’t feel like shelling out all the cash to go every week or two, but if worse comes to worse, I just might give it a try.

5 – Professional Massage

Doc said this could definitely help, and tbh I’m feeling pretty inclined to shell out the cash for one next payday.

*I ended up getting a massage, and it was amazing.

Do yall have any methods you recommend to relieve backaches? Let me know!

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Applying for Jobs After Having a Baby

Applying for Jobs After Having a Baby

If you’re looking for some good advice on this topic, I have none. This blog entry is merely me freaking out a little bit.

I finished my Master of Social Work degree this past May, four and a half months before giving birth to my wittle Jackiepoo. I didn’t bother looking for a job because A- we moved two weeks later, and B- I was five months pregnant and figured I could chillax for a bit, at least until he was three months old. By then, I’d have my bearings as a mom and be ready to put him in daycare so I could finally work to pay off that pricey (but worth it!) degree.

Three months with Jack came and went. I felt, in no way, ready to go to work. I’ve never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), but boyyy do I totally get it now. I so admire women who go back to work shortly after having their babies. The thought makes me want to cry a river. I had put Jack on the base daycare waiting list before he was born, indicating that I would need care when he was three months old. Well, the waiting list is ridiculously long, and even though I put Jack on it ages ago, the online status predicted they could get him in when he was six months old.

All right, that sounded doable. Six months. So, that was the plan—until last week, when I received an email stating there was a spot available for him NOW. Ummmm what? Exsqueeze me? I thought I had another two months! I haven’t built up my frozen milk stash yet! Plus, I’m not done cuddling with my baby all day! They gave me two days to accept or decline the offer. Though I keep my eye out for potential jobs, I obviously hadn’t been applying. As I always do when I freak out, I called my mom. Without skipping a beat, she said I should decline it. Put him back on the waiting list (indicating that we’ll need care in another month or two), start applying for jobs, see what I get, and if I somehow find a job before another spot opens up at daycare, she would come from Colorado to Oklahoma to watch him. My mom is a saint.

Two days ago, I started applying for jobs. Living in a tiny town has its pros and cons. One pro is that there isn’t too much job competition in my field. One con is that there aren’t many job openings to begin with. I found TWO in my field for which I actually qualify. And I’m hoping they pay enough to actually make it worth putting my kid in daycare 🙂 If neither work out, I’ll just have to keep looking and applying. Man, adulting sucks. #millennialproblems

I will say… submitting applications has given me a small sense of relief. Sometimes anticipation is the worst part.

Have yall ever had to go back to work after having a baby? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments!

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My Harry Potter Baby (Part One)

harry potter, newborn photography

From day one, I knew what Jack’s nursery theme would be: HARRY POTTER. I started reading the Harry Potter series at age ten, and the last book came out the summer I turned seventeen. Over those seven years, I laughed. I cried. I cried really hard. And I learned to love reading. These books played a profound role in my life during some pretty darn significant years. Also, J.K. Rowling is one of the absolute coolest people in the universe. All right, I could go on for days, but I’ll spare you the time! We had an exceptionally talented photographer, Jessica Kennedy, from Lawton, Oklahoma take these photos in our home when Jack was just a sleepy five-day-old. I was so excited that she was on board with the Potter theme! Newborn photography can be super expensive, but these were worth every penny. Below are photos of just Jack, but I’ll have a Part Two post of his nursery!

house elf, harry potter, newborn photography

Dobby the Free Elf

A friend of mine crocheted these adorable house elf ears. I wish this perfect little hat grew along with him!

 

quidditch, harry potter, newborn photography, hufflepuff

Hufflepuff Seeker

 I guess I’ll forgive him if he gets sorted into another house.

 

mandrake, harry potter, newborn photogaraphy

Sleepy Mandrake

Yeah, yeah. Mandrakes are supposed to scream and cry. This kid didn’t make a peep through his photo sesh! Also, that same friend crocheted this sweet hat.

 

hogwarts, harry potter, newborn photography

Ready for Hogwarts!

No such thing as having too much Harry Potter paraphernalia.  

 

hufflepuff, harry potter, newborn photography

That Face Though

I can’t even.

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My First Post!

Let’s be real.

I am prejudiced against mommy blogs. No offense intended here; I just get annoyed quickly. There are so many! Don’t get me wrong—I’ve certainly learned a thing or twelve from mommy blogs, especially as a first-time mom. As soon as I found out I was pregnant in February of 2016, you bet I delved right into mommy blogs… but I never imagined myself starting one. Yet, here I am. And I’m not necessarily saying this is a “mommy blog,” but considering I’m right in the thick of it, let’s face it, I’m going to talk about my kid. But like, I’m totes gonna talk about other stuff, too.

Getting Out All My Reasons Not to Start This Blog

One of the reasons I haven’t already started a blog is because I have absolutely no idea what to write about. I’ve read articles and other blogs that advise focusing on something specific—something on which you have expertise, something about which you are passionate, etc. Finding your niche will help you to have better content. Welp, I’m an expert on nothing, and I’m passionate about too many things, and who would want to read a blog with crappy, no-rhyme-or-reason content? But whatever, I’m just going to blog about all the things because why the heck not.

Another reason I haven’t already started a blog is because I absolutely care what people think of me. Should I? Probably not. But I do. Always have. I don’t like upsetting people or offending people or wondering what terrible things people think about me. BUT I’M WORKING ON IT. I swear. Notice that I said an almost mean thing about mommy blogs in the first paragraph and am publishing anyway.

While I am admittedly worried that all the people who read my blog will think I’m stupid or something, I’m simultaneously worried that no one will read it. Either way, it’s lack of confidence. However, a friend of mine encouraged me to blog, simply as a matter of discipline. And discipline is something I need more of in my life. So, whether or not anyone reads this, I’m writing it. Self-discipline, here I come.

What I Imagine This Blog Will Be About

Probably a lot of things. But, what I envision as my “niche” is more along the lines of millennial-figuring-out-how-to-be-a-good-parent-while-working. So, it’ll probably take on more of a this is what I’m trying vibe, rather than a listen to me, I’m an expert vibe. I have more questions than answers. Also, I haven’t gone back to work yet! That should be coming in a few months. Stayed tuned so you can witness the struggle.

Thank You

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thank you. I hope my blog will see more of you in the future!

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