I Wonder What Outsiders Think

I can only imagine what I look like to outsiders. Every day at kindergarten pick-up, my two boys run and play on the school lawn. There, beneath a shedding oak tree surrounded by grass and partially encircled by a well-tended flowerbed, the younger siblings of the school’s students play as we await the daily exodus.

The preschoolers and toddlers run in the shady grass, sharing toys and digging with sticks in the dirt. Meanwhile, moms look on from the sidewalk, chatting about extracurricular activities and school happenings.


Then there’s me. I bob from one mom group to another uttering perhaps one maybe two complete sentences before racing to fish acorns from my 1-year-old’s mouth (trying not to get bitten in the process and swiping his back-up acorns from his soil-smothered mitts), fetching him from the flowerbed as he attempts to hurl a rock at the school building, redirecting him when he acts like a chinchilla and hurls fistfuls of dirt over himself as if taking a dust bath, prying him off of a bike left locked to the metal bike rack, reminding him not to tackle bigger kids, correcting him when he uses the metal flagpole as his own personal xylophone. Meanwhile, my 3.5-year-old scampers happily with the others, playing tag or airplanes in the sun.


Every day I leave pick-up feeling like a haphazard bulletin board. Ideas and phrases, reminders and memories tacked at random but none of it illustrating a cohesive work. It’s simply an organized mess. Harnessed chaos.

And such is my life with three kids 5 and under. It’s a mess. It’s chaos. It’s exhausting. It’s mine.

One day I’ll be able to speak in complete sentences. One day life will be calm.

Until then, I will run and chase and scold and laugh and save and redirect, all while trying to pretend I am still capable of adult conversation. I will live this mayhem — exhausted and fulfilled — every day I’m able.

Who cares what outsiders think? I hope they laugh. I do.

Dairy-free Caprese Sandwich with Creamy Kale Soup

Looking for a no-cook, fast, fresh, and flavorful family-friendly dairy-free meal? I’ve got you!

This easy, perfectly summery meal was a hit with my herd. Even my dairy-loving husband gave his belly-patting star of approval.

Crunchy ciabatta bread encases this summery sandwich. Acidic-yet-sweet vine ripened tomatoes, aromatic fresh basil, and velvety Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella sing in the company of the creamy-tangy zip of balsamic mayonnaise.

Pair this fresh and fast sandwich with the vegan, simply prepared, and perfectly delicious LAJ Foods Creamy Kale Soup for a easy, nutritious, family-pleasing dairy-free meal.


Dairy-free Caprese Sandwich with Creamy Kale Soup

Dairy-free Caprese Sandwich with Creamy Kale Soup


Dairy-free ciabatta bread (such as Wegmans’ bakery’s variety)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbl mayonnaise

1 Tbl balsamic vinegar

Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella 

Handful of fresh basil leaves

2 thick tomato slices


Fresh ground pepper

LAJ Foods’ Creamy Kale Soup


Cut the Ciabatta bread in half lengthwise to create a sandwich top and bottom.

Place the bread on a baking sheet so that the cut side of the bread faces up.

Drizzle olive oil in the cut side of the bread and broil until golden.

Remove bread from oven.

Mix the mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and spread on the cut side of one slice of bread.

Cut your desired amount of vegan cheese for your sandwich.

Place the tomato slices on top of the bare bread slice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top the tomato slices with the basil leaves and vegan cheese.

Place the balsamic mayonnaise smothered bread slice mayo side down on the vegan cheese.

Heat LAJ Inc.’s Creamy Kale Soup and serve alongside the sandwich.



The Busy Season

Summer: the stay-at-home parent’s busy season. Long days, warm nights, swimming pools and splash pads, playdates and summer camps, vacations and family outings. Summer requires a lot of planning.

2016-05-31 07.04.54When you go grocery shopping, your entire herd goes with you. There’s no quick Target run while the kids are in school or mom coffee date with just the baby in tow. You’ve got all of your minions all day long, every day.

This is great because you love your kids. The extra time to focus on appreciating them, experiencing summer fun through their awestruck eyes, stockpiling the new experiences, and revisiting family traditions… it’s magical. All of that magic doesn’t happen on its own though.

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Months of planning, researching, budgeting, and form-completing goes into making a summer great. Getting the right balance of vacation, relaxation, and scheduling takes effort.

Amidst all of this well-planned fun, your to-do list is ever-growing: schedule playdates with friends the school year holds hostage, pack and unpack suitcases and day trip bags, buy tickets and passes for destinations and summer events, scour websites for family activities, get medical forms completed for camps and the eventual school year, ensure bathing suits fit and flip flops are functional, buy cart loads of sunscreen and bugspray, stock up on Band-Aids. Meanwhile, all of your usual chores — from dishes to laundry, from sweeping to bathroom tidying, from grocery shopping to meal preparation — amplify with all of the extra sweaty, chlorinated, sun-baked, snack-obsessed bodies constantly milling about.

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The extra family time. The opportunity to be with your children, to soak them in. The countless memories. The sun and salt and sand. Summer is wonderful! It’s also a crapload of work.

Here’s to you, stay-at-home parents! Enjoy it. Savor it. Survive it.

Mean Mommy

I am the hard-ass. I make the rules. I dole out the punishments. I say, “no”, “be gentle”, “say ‘excuse me'”, and “are we being friendly?” countless times daily. I ensure vegetables eaten and hands are scrubbed, manners are remembered, and squabbles are settled.

I also arrange the playdates, ensure we do fun activities outside of the house twice daily, keep the calendar stimulating, manage camp registration and extracurricular sign-ups, plan the parties, and scope out family activities. I make the fun stuff happen but that is thankless work, the stuff of elves and magic wands.

I’m ok with that. It’s not credit I’m after but the outcome. You don’t beccome a stay-at-home-mom for the glitz, glory, and benefits.


I know that being “mean mommy” indicates I’m caring enough about my children and their future to suck it up and do the undesirable, unglamorous, necessary part of parenting. As the primary caretaker, I consider it a method of self-preservation to have the kids see me clearly as a loving authority figure. If I had to wait until my husband was available or defer to him for every infraction or, worse yet, have my authority questioned without his immediate backing, my days would be disastrous.

That said, there’s a trade-off. Mommy is “The Enforcer” which means Daddy is “Fun.” Full disclosure, that part sucks. It just does. I mean, I want to be taken seriously but I’d also like to be picked first for tickle fights and fort-building. I’d love for the littles I birthed and cherish to glow with excitement when I walk through the door, to want to run any errand with me, no matter how dull, because it means being in my fun-filled company, to consider me top choice for preschool pick-up and drop-off. Instead, I get correctional enforcement, nutritional policing, toilet duty, and skirmish negotiations.

However, there’s one job I wold never rebuff: healing. When karma bit you, when you scraped your knee, bruised your ego, caught a stomach bug, or you just need a hug: “Moooom!” Daddy is fun; Mommy makes it better. Sometimes, being Mom has its perks.

Comforting #2 at the beach

Comforting #2 at the beach