mental illness

A lot has been happening the last few weeks. I had lunch with my brother after yoga that week and returned to work in a daze: It was bomb after bomb after bomb — erratic and dangerous behavior, sleeplessness, weight loss, wild ideas. I was overwhelmed and underprepared for what would ensue.

Without going into great detail, the remainder of that week involved many phone calls with my parents, a trip to my former IVF therapist for any tips/insights/suggestions, a call to the national suicide prevention hotline for resources, little sleep or food, and an abundance of stress I never knew was even possible.

The following week, my parents visited. I’d created a timeline of dangerous and erratic behaviors that span the course of the last several years. My parents have added much to it. Through discussion with them, I realized that my concerns were really just the tip of deep iceberg.

I am now trying to draw boundaries with my parents so that they understand that while I love my brother, my top priority has to remain with my own family. I have three kids to raise and their mental, emotional, and physical needs are at the top of my decision making around these topics.

I’ve been so distracted reading about mental illness [bipolar], looking for potential apartments for my parents (should they relocate), and processing all of this while maintaining structure and safety at home as I try to help my brother regain autonomy in his own life.

Still, I am trying to prioritize my health because I think it keeps me focused or distracted and honestly, I’m so exhausted lately that I’m not sure which. While I am not engaging with my family as I typically do (I am clearly distracted), I am trying to maintain a sense of calm at home — staying with our routines, meals, dog walks, and activities. I feel like all of this is burning me out but at the same time, I need my own level of normalcy as well.

I’m not sure if anyone has been in a position where they were completely caught off guard by concern that someone close would cause severe self-harm. It’s really scary and I feel like I just needed a space to throw some of this energy into the universe and hope that a little of the stress leaves my shoulders while trying to be as supportive to my own family, my parents, and of course my brother in the meantime.

turkey wraps for lunch

I play around with my own lunches because I can’t eat the same thing day to day or week to week. This past week, I bought One Mighty Mill tortillas.


They’re thicker than what I’m used to, so one goes a long way. I’ve been using them as a vessel to hold Havarti cheese, tomatoes, pickles, stone-ground mustard, and deli roasted turkey. It’s been a great, filling lunch! (I’ve tried to pair it with a piece of fruit but am so full, I’ve yet to finish a whole pear with this.)

This wrap is 417 calories and has 22g protein, 30g carbs, 3g fiber, and 24g fat and includes 2oz of Havarti, 3oz of turkey, 4 grape tomatoes, and 2 mini pickles, plus an unmeasured teaspoon of the mustard.


Next, to try with these wraps are mini pizzas with Rao’s pizza sauce, roasted red peppers, artichokes, Wellshire Farms pepperoni, and some crumbled goat cheese. I can’t wait!

meals, march 29-april 1

We now are a home with a teenager, as 12 is 13.

It’s wild, man.

We are doing a celebratory dinner over the weekend to celebrate the teenage years. Because we will be out celebrating, my typical yoga schedule is going to need tweaked some, which means our meal schedule will need that as well.

Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, we will do parfaits. We did them last weekend for brunch and I want to make sure we use all of the granola before it gets stale. These parfaits will be simple: Icelandic plain yogurt, honey, granola, and berries. It’s a decent breakfast — high in calories and rather filling.

For the week, the kids are going to take egg sandwiches; they’re quick, easy, and filling and I can send them with a fruit and vegetable smoothie to round things out nutritionally.

Weekday lunches will be in the slow cooker. We have two freezer meals left and they’ll both be used this week. Easy. I will probably do salads and smoothies to have before class/yoga.

Dinners will vary, as usual.

Friday — I’ll be at yoga and will probably stop at Dig Inn afterwards; I’ll also swing by Georgetown Cupcake and grab a special treat for Saturday. My husband and the kids will keep it simple with a sheet pan beef fajitas with peppers, Spanish rice, and salads.

Saturday — Chrissy Teigan’s scalloped potatoes and beets on the side.

Sunday — We’ve been trying to keep Sundays simple; takeout or easy meals so that we have some down time and feel like we can actually rest some over the weekend. This Sunday is no different — I will make a pasta salad in the morning for dinner and we will load it with vegetables to make sure it’s filling enough.

Monday — Sheet sausage, potatoes, and peppers with a big salad.

Tuesday — I’ll be at yoga: Tuna mac and salads it is!

Wednesday — Cheeseburgers on the grill with sliced tomatoes, pickles, and thousand island dressing; plus fries and raw vegetables on the side.

Thursday — Date night! The kids will have frozen pizza and salads/raw vegetables.

meals, march 22-27

This week was busy! 10 turned 11 yesterday and my parents came up for a visit. They are staying through the weekend and I have some fun things planned for meals — the kids don’t have school on Friday, so we are going to do a fun, little brunch to shake things up some (and allow my parents to celebrate 12’s upcoming birthday in addition to 11’s). My husband and I are able to get out for an actual date night in Boston tonight, which is exciting, so I took a morning yoga class with my mom (her first ever yoga class) and will take another tomorrow (I’m trying to convince my husband to join). Sunday, my husband is running a 20-mile race (his last in preparation for the Boston Marathon), so I’ll take a Sunday night yoga class.

Friday’s Brunch: We will serve yogurt parfaits and will also have a charcuterie board with salami and manchego, cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, olives, and nuts, and then crudité with hummus. We will have sparkling cider as well to fancify our meal.

Saturday: Breakfast will come from True Roots — we will do the stuffed acorn squash again with eggs (SO GOOD) and for dinner, Buffalo chicken salads with fries, boiled eggs, and some shredded cheddar. My husband uses tapioca flour and spices alongside an egg wash to make the tenders; they’re great!

Sunday: While my husband runs, we will do staples we have on hand — oatmeal, cereal, eggs or something like that. We’ve been trying to make things easier on ourselves and have adopted the idea to order take-out/delivery on Sunday nights. There’s so much food to prep for the week and this allows us to front load the day with that and then truly be able to relax in the afternoons/evenings. Plus, I’ll be taking a late yoga class, so it’ll be nice to come home to dinner.

Weekday breakfasts and lunches are going to be more of the same: Eggs/oatmeal and crockpot meals/sandwiches/salads. Dinners will vary —

Monday: Sauerkraut, Applegate Farms hot dogs, and mashed potatoes. I’ll look forward to eating when I get home from my night class.

Tuesday: After yoga, I may stop at Dig Inn for vegetables — this past week, I got a bowl with their citrus salad, beets, and apples. So good!

Wednesday: Steak and roasted potatoes with chimichurri, served alongside a healthy side of beets. (My husband has been making chimichurri almost weekly and I’ve been eating A LOT of it — I love using the leftovers on eggs and potatoes!)

Thursday: Date night!

this week, march 17-22

Originally, I was planning to take 3 and visit my parents for a few days this week. It’s spring break, baby; and I can’t think of anything sexier that a trip to western Pennsylvania!

Okay, that’s a joke.

Regardless, our plans shifted and my parents are now coming to New England on Wednesday. We will celebrate 10 turning 11 on Thursday and since the kids don’t have school, we will also celebrate 12 turning 13 on Friday for lunch (she turns 13 next Thursday — aaaaah, a teenager!!!) before they return to PA. It should be a nice break in the normal routine to have some additional attention from Grammy and Papa.

I told the kids today about the visit and can already see the gears grinding away — Papa is the family doughnut supplier. I cannot think of a single visit with them coming here or us going there where he did not supply my children with sugary dough to start their day. There’s a great little doughnut shop in our neighboring town — they have s’mores doughnuts, stuffed full of a marshmallow creme they make and I must say, it’s as delicious as it is decadent. (Apparently, the kids aren’t the only ones interested in doughnuts!)

We are hoping for a visit that allows for a couple of walks to beach, playing games at home, a visit with my brother, and cake — lots and lots of birthday cupcakes/cakes.


sunday funday, bath edition

Now, I’m not going to lie, I love baths. I take at least one bath a week with bath salts or a bath bomb from LUSH. This week took more out of me than I can even put into words, so I started my day with an 85-minute yoga class, came home and ate while my husband and the kids were at church, and then started to prep the kids’ lunches for the week. It was a nice morning and I decided to cap off the afternoon with the same sense of ease and relaxation.

My husband was downstairs cutting potatoes and the kids were in 12’s room playing. I ran some scalding hot water, tossed in a cup of Yog-ahhhhh bath salts, and climbed in ready to relax. Apparently, the children caught wind of my attempt at relaxation and decided it was a good time to establish a garage band, but in our sitting room. As I closed my eyes, I heard the echoes of two harmonicas (3 & 10) and a triangle (played by 12). The dog was clearly auditioning for the lead singing role because I heard his [barking] voice above the music.

Ahhhhhh, indeed.


meals, march 11-22

We are continuing through our March. I am taking 3 on a trip to visit my parents over my spring break next Monday and I’m really excited about it. I’ll get to eat all of those hometown foods that would send me into cardiac arrest if I ate with any regularity. Also, loads of mashed potatoes and my mom’s corned beef and cabbage (even though my husband makes it too) is always so good, as is my grandma’s HOMEMADE sauerkraut! We are in for the treatiest of treats!

I did not go back and read what we made last week to see what adjustments needed to be made for this week’s meals, but I’m just going to review our meals. We are making some changes to Tuesday and Friday nights to accommodate my yoga schedule. I’m not supposed to eat for four hours before yoga, so it always has my meals at odd times. I started researching what to eat before/after yoga; I’ve also been experimenting with these ideas, and it seems I can handle a light fruit smoothie with half an avocado, fruit, and some almond milk or juice before class. It’s light and keeps me from daydreaming of dancing french fries while I’m in savasana.

Monday, I had class but my husband made steak frites for my return. It was a long day for everyone and it was nice to unwind with a great steak.

Tuesday, I have yoga until 8:45 and am going to have a big salad with marinated chicken (Primal’s Dreamy Italian), artichokes, tomatoes, and some Alexia rosemary fries. The fam will be finishing up some rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes & carrots, and a chimichurri.

Wednesday, I am making Chrissy Teigan’s pasta dish — it’s a favorite and it’s super easy. I’m looking forward to this meal!

Thursday, Date night! I’m not sure where we are going yet but we are looking forward to some much-needed 1:1 time.

Friday, the kids are going to do Trader Joe’s orange chicken with carrots, peas, and rice. My husband and I are going to have Chrissy Teigan’s carrot soup after my yoga class. It should be nice and filling.

Saturday, Brad is out for a 17 mile run at 4AM and I have yoga around noontime. I’ll probably grab a smoothie for breakfast while Brad and the kids have acai bowls after his run. For dinner, we are going to try Gillian’s GF frozen pizza dough and make our own pizzas.

Sunday, I am going to try to take a morning yoga class and possibly grab brunch afterwards. Last Sunday, my husband made stuffed acorn squash with sausage, celery, and over-easy eggs (True Roots). They were amazing. If I return home after yoga for brunch, I’m requesting these again!

For school, the kids are going to have the Cheerio bars we made last week (Cheerios, protein powder, honey, and nut butter) and smoothies (at least for Monday and Tuesday). Lunches and dinners while we are away, freezer meals for the slow cooker. There are a few things to choose from still in there and we will have to reload our freezer meals after we return, but I’m glad my husband has these to make the week easier. He will probably make tacos on Tuesday and then chicken parm on Thursday when 10 turns 11. Friday, we are celebrating 10-11’s birthday with lunch after airport pickup! What a great way to kick off the weekend — no school and a lunch out!


potty training

We started potty training 3 last month. We did the 3-day potty training idea where we had him sit on the potty every 30-45-60 minutes and see how it goes. He seemed to figure out the potty training piece pretty quickly and I think it was more out of his own frustration than anything.

I’m not sure if there are other parents on here who have children with swallowing disorders. 3 has several health issues but one of them requires a thickening agent to drink. We are wondering if the thickened liquids take longer to process and work their way through his little body. He drinks a lot and still only goes to the bathroom every three hours or so. He’s been consistent with this from the start of his training.

Our experience with him has been largely great; but not completely. We went through a 2-day period where he had some spite peeing while with my husband. He didn’t seem to enjoy having to clean himself up afterwards, though, so that ended pretty quickly, fortunately.

Night-time potty training is a whole other experience. We are still doing diapers at night. First, we tried waking him every 3-4 hours through the night which turned into a nightmare for us because nobody was getting any sleep. After a few days of realizing that just wasn’t going to work, we changed things around. 3 goes to bed at 7:30PM; at 9:30PM, we get him up and put him on the toilet and then put him in a diaper. He’s half asleep at this time, so he doesn’t really know what’s going on but he’s been going, which is great. My husband gets up for work at 5:45AM and gets 3 up, puts him on the toilet, and then gets him dressed in underwear and puts him back in bed until 7AM when his get-out-of-bed clock lights up.

This is a strategy that’s worked for us. Aside from the spite pee incidents, he’s been doing great through the day and even the 9:30/5:45 toilet trips, which is great. I am flying solo with him over my spring break, so I’m hopeful that he can keep it up on the flight and we can stay dry on our trip from Boston to Pittsburgh!


breakfast scramble

I do not claim to be a wonderful food blogger by any means: I rarely have my phone around when food is involved, so I am always forgetting to photograph meals. When I do take pictures, they’re not particularly beautiful. I remembered to snap a few pictures as I made this breakfast scramble — it’s something I’ve been eating to fuel my body when I feel I have a big day ahead or if I’m just feeling leisurely in the morning.

Serves: 1
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: ~10 minutes

Cooking spray (optional)
4-5 slices Canadian bacon (Trader Joe’s) — the meat can be anything; I’ve used WF 365
breakfast sausage as well (4 links)
1-1.5c fresh spinach
2 eggs
1-2T almond milk
Trader Joe’s Everything but the seasoning
2 Campari tomatoes
2T jalapeños (I used pickled ones)


Whisk eggs, almond milk, and TJ’s Everything seasoning in a bowl; set aside. Chop tomatoes and jalapeños if desired; set aside.


Spray pan (if needed), cook ham/meat.
Once the meat browns, add the spinach and let it cook down.
Add the eggs; scramble.
As the eggs start to cook, add the tomatoes and jalapeños.
Finish cooking eggs to your liking; plate.
I rounded out my breakfast with two kiwi and about 1/3c of blueberries.


I used MyFitnessPal to figure out the nutrition breakdown for this (including the kiwi and berries) *based on 2000kcal diet:

Calories: 432
Protein: 32g
Calcium: 16%
Carbs: 49g
Fiber: 7g
Fat: 14g

feb reflections & march goals

I re-read my post: jan reflections & feb goals. Basically, the only thing that I was able to keep was practicing yoga at the studio and eating in a way that largely works with my body. I did not get around to starting The Grace of Enough, largely because I’ve had to read three novels and a slew of short stories to plan for the semester. Sadly, reading for pleasure is probably on a hiatus until spring break.

My spring break is in the middle of the month this semester. I am taking 3 to visit my parents during the week and am hoping to read my book, visit a local coffee shop for a lavender tea latte, and indulge in a doughnut from my favorite gem of a shop and/or some chili-cheese fries and a cheeseburger from a local dive (they’re amazing). I also want to head to a local chocolate shop and pick up a few things for Easter for the kids and us, and take 3 to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. It’s a great place and I’ve not been since 10 and 12 were much younger.

I am planning to continue with yoga and as I mentioned in my last post, I’d like to try some different classes as well. I also would like to start trying to practice 4-5x a week instead of three times with consistency. I’d also like to reintegrate weight training and a day of cardio, even if it’s just taking walks regularly or the elliptical for 10 minutes. I enjoy being active but with the weather and the winter blues, I’m not moving around through the day nearly as much as I should or as I’d like. I think this will pick up naturally once there’s no snow on the ground and the weather is better, but for now, I need to make a more deliberate effort.

As for my food/weight goals — well, I am pleased with the progress from February. I cut down on grains but still ate them; I never felt deprived or hungry; and I seem to be falling into a routine that works better for my body but only has changed slightly from how I’m used to eating. I am noticing inflammation more easily, so that’s something I want to keep my eye on more as March progresses. For the month of February, I’ve lost around 4lbs and a total of 6.75 inches (mostly from my waist and hips). I am pleased with this because it’s a slight transformation but I definitely see change. I don’t have any specific goals around this for March — just keep doing what I’m doing and be mindful of planning meals that best fit the needs of my body.

I look forward to reflecting at the end of March and seeing what progress I’ve made!