The dinner time ritual

Let me paint you a wonderful picture:


A family is sitting down for dinner. Mom and dad are pulling the delicious meal from the oven, maybe putting a few sides in bowls and placing them on the table, the kids are adorning the table with napkins and forks. Everyone sits down to enjoy the meal mom and/or dad labored over for at least the last 45 minutes. UNTIL….

“I’m not hungry.”



Welcome to my hell. Yes, dinner time is my actual hell. Feeding two kids under the age of 5 is actual torture. If the CIA/FBI/NCIS/Any other acronym you can think of really wants information from someone, ask them to cook a dinner and sit down to enjoy that dinner with toddlers. I promise you, they will give up any information they are holding on to.

Dinner in my house seems to be done before it even gets started. Most recipes take 30 minutes (plus the prep time). I am averaging 45 minutes in the kitchen, which in the scheme of things it isn’t that long, but when you sit down to eat that meal and your kid won’t even take a bite and the other one is picking at the broccoli, you wonder what the heck you are doing it all for.

Will they eat chicken nuggets and mac & cheese every night if you let them? ABSOLUTELY. Do you want to feed your kids chicken nuggets and mac & cheese every night? ABSOLUTELY! But you realize that as the grown up in this situation, you have to make tough choices, and for whatever reason that means you put yourself through self-inflicted torture of making a meal you yourself are probably half-excited about to feed to a pond of flesh hungry piranhas for them to say they are done after licking their fork.
Forget that 5 minutes before dinner was ready, your kids were on the verge of disintegrating because they were so famished. Forget that they were whining about needing food NOW and you promised them food in just five minutes. Dinner literally just needed to be taken out of the oven, placed on the table, then onto their plates. Yet, somewhere in that point of dying because they were so hungry and sitting down at the table, the three animal crackers in their bellies turned into a 5 course meal and their stomachs are magically full. Who knew I was experiencing a miracle every night at the dinner table!

So if your dinner table looks anything remotely like mine, don’t despair. All you can do is put food on the table, get the kids to sit for 5.7 seconds, and just know that they will never be so hungry that they will actually disintegrate. Then try to enjoy an unplanned romantic meal by yourself or with your significant other while the the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song in the background sets the mood.


Wardrobe Capsule Guide *GIVEAWAY*

Are you looking for ways to make your wardrobe easy and stylish?! I have a capsule wardrobe guide ($27 value) to giveaway from my dear friends at Apple and Pear Wardrobe Design! The goal of the capsule wardrobe is to make it easy for you to have better style. Capsule wardrobes save you time and money, and take away wardrobe stress each morning, with less $ than you ever thought possible. 35 pieces, over 100 outfits, all mapped out for you!!

Jennifer Mary spoke to my MOPS group recently and I love her simplicity and straightforwardness. I love that she made it clear that just because most of us were stay-at-home moms that there was no reason we couldn’t be put together. I have always been a mom who needs to be dressed and ready before my kids get up. Even in college, I never wore yoga pants or sweatpants to class. I believe in getting dressed, even if I was the only one seeing it.

I find that too many stay-at-home mom are stuck in this “I have no one to impress” mindset and that not only can damage one’s own psyche but can also feed into other areas (marriage, self-esteem, kids). Just by putting on real adult clothes and stepping out of the over priced, “feels like butta” leggings or yoga pants you are sporting and putting on a simple cotton black dress or jeans and a graphic tee can totally change your mindset and get you feeling more like a human than just a chauffeur, chef, maid to your family. These simple to assemble outfits will get you out the door in no time and really pick you up!


In order to enter the giveaway, you must head over to my FB page and:

1. LIKE Darling Chaos page; 2. Comment on THIS post; AND 3. SHARE the post.

Winner will be announced Sunday night at 8:30pm!


When I was first home from the hospital after having both baby number 1 and number 2, there are lots of hours in the day that you can’t do much else besides feed your baby. I found Bloglovin’. I found some amazing blogs to follow on there from parenting to cooking/baking, to healthier living. I’m now on there! I would love for you to follow me and while you are on there, find some other amazing blogs to follow!

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Potty Train in 24 Hours?!


You probably clicked on this post because of the amazing title, right?! So we are in the middle of potty training the second child. It’s also our first experience with a boy. I have read EVERY 3-day training guide that is out there. I’ve asked for tips and tricks from other moms. I have had dreams about Toy Story and Mickey undies and lots and lots of laundry. Then we started!! I was ready. I was amped! I was going to get my son potty trained in 3 days, if not less!! And…… it failed.

So while there are a ton of moms out there who are claiming the 3-day potty training guide works, it did not for us. OK— so I will also admit that I was not FULLY committed. I was not ready to throw away ALL diapers/pull ups in the name of my sanity. Rest time and bed time were non-negotiable times of the day that we used these. Being a military wife and dealing with potty training with a boy on my own, I wanted to keep my limited sanity of not cleaning sheets twice a day (or more) and I’m pretty sure my washing machine is also singing my praises and thanking me for this decision. I can ONLY handle so much bodily fluid in one day. Between dog walks, a 4 year old daughter who still needs some bathroom help, and a potty training 2 year old, I had to set limits!

So, why the post, you ask?! While the 3-day method didn’t work, I have found some success. Are we fully potty trained yet? No, but we are well on our way. He turns 3 next week and I would love to be over the hump before then. So I am going to share what I have done and maybe it will help someone else in the wide world of the internet!

Is your child ready?

This always seems to be the first step. I was told by lots of people that I will know when he is ready to start potty training. Even my daughter, at 18 months, started to show interest in the potty without any attempt from me, so why wouldn’t my second? We had only one indication. It was much like a war zone. He would find a hiding place, set up camp, keep a look out, and defend his territory if we began to advance. All so he could poop in “private.” OK– this MUST be the indication he is ready, so I followed the books and pumped him with water, juice, milk– whatever liquid I could entice him with and placed him on the potty every 15 minutes. HUGE MISTAKE.

Feeling the pressure

He began to feel the pressure of being put on the potty every 15 minutes. I mean, I was totally cool, calm, and collected. I couldn’t imagine why he didn’t want to go on the potty through my screams and cries of pee on the floor that I had to mop up for the 20th time that day, all happening 30 seconds after he screamed to get off the potty because he was done. He clearly wasn’t ready. I clearly wasn’t ready.

Bring in reinforcements

If you have a spouse at home to help, FANTASTIC!!! They can be the one who leaves the house and worries about the grocery shopping or the errand running or the chauffeuring the other kid(s). OR you make sure you are all on the same plan and it allows YOU to sneak away for a short period of time. This step is HUGE. I had my parents in town for a weekend and it was the perfect time to introduce the “no diaper while we are awake” concept. I was able to still run to the store or make sure my poor 4 year old wasn’t house bound for 3 days because her brother was being potty trained. My parents were on the same page as me and it allowed me to always have one adult at home with him so we weren’t tempting fate. Then they went back home and I fell apart. More because I can’t be house bound for a week. My oldest has preschool; I work in the afternoons; we have babysitters. It wasn’t practical and all that progress went right out the window because I immediately reverted back to pull-ups.

The last straw

I’m anxious for my boy to be ready for camps this summer and school in the fall. The whole being diaper free is just icing on the cake. We are back to the idea of wearing undies at all times when we are in our house (minus rest/bed time). We have had HUGE success this time around. I’m keeping the pressure low and the enthusiasm high. He gets 2 M&Ms for each time he pees. He especially loves yellow ones, so this is our incentive. It doesn’t work every time, but it works enough. Wearing his favorite characters is also a pretty big incentive… although having Mickey on the pull-up sort of defeats this incentive some days. When we make some ground on the #2, I will update this post. Until then, feel free to share your best potty training tips— for boys or girls or if you can provide us with a good laugh with an experience, I would love to hear it!

To all the mamas potty training, may the force and the Clorox wipes be with you!

I decided NOT to give up something for Lent


It’s that time of year, where many people are giving up chocolate, coffee, swearing, whatever it is they choose to give up for a 40 day period called Lent. I remember growing up and the biggest “sacrifice” for most of my school aged friends was chocolate. I never seemed to have the will-power to give it up for the whole 40 days and eventually I stopped trying.

In my wise old age, I have decided to return to this Lenten ritual, but doing something a little differently. Yesterday, I was chatting with some of my MOPS friends at our meeting and I was saying that I decided to not necessarily “give up” something but to do something which will cause me to give up something. I always look to Lent as my second chance– my second chance to recommit myself to that New Year’s resolution I have already put on the back burner.

I’m running a lot of things through my head and this is where I’m at:

  • Saying “yes” to my kids. This means putting the dishes on hold or that tedious thing I need to do to play 15 minutes with my kids because they are asking me to or giving in once in a while to that random request like eating ice cream for breakfast.
  • Before I react to something my kids are doing that is driving me crazy, counting to 10 to refocus myself.
  • Waking up 20 minutes earlier to get in a quick workout or to start my day off with some quiet meditation.
  • Putting a REAL timer on electronic use in our house.
  • Taking 15 minutes to either read the Bible or do the rosary.

I’m hoping I can commit to one or more of these and hopefully become a better mom, wife, friend, daughter and to take away some of my shortfalls. What will you be committing yourself to for the next 40 days?

Who is your priority?

Sex. It tends to be the topic of a lot of fights between couples and a hot topic of conversation among friends. It’s a taboo topic to some and an every day conversation for others. It takes over magazine covers and news headlines, yet is still an uncomfortable thing to talk about. So why am I bringing it up?!

This last week, something showed up on my newsfeed. It was this commercial:

The comments, for the most part, were upset that a baby food company had the gall to make this commercial. I personally think the commercial is a little bit awkward, but what an important message it is sending.

I’ll be the first to admit that I put my husband second (then third) when kids entered our lives. I had a hard time finding the time and energy to go out for date night, let along find the time to catch up on our favorite shows. I was falling asleep early (and I was already an early sleeper). I was in denial for a lot of it– I knew in the back of my mind our relationship wasn’t coming first but I had my arsenal of excuses. I didn’t like the idea of leaving my kids with a sitter and we waited for family to be in town or for us to be visiting family to go out. Our nights were full of eyes closing early and us barely even getting a conversation in.

Moms were adamantly against this commercial because they felt that they were being told to have sex or being guilted into being intimate with their partner despite the fact they were exhausted. Some other comments echoed what was going on in my head— if you wait until you aren’t exhausted, you will see your partner in about 25 years after having your last child. And TRUST me when I say I am not an expert on this topic, but I think sometimes you need something this blunt to get a message across.

Plum Organics is talking about a much bigger topic– making your partner a priority. It was so easy for me to complain about being tired or being on constant demand of little hands all day long that by the end of the day, I was ready to sit alone in my own little corner of the couch and relax or fall asleep as I saw fit. I loved my husband tremendously during those times, but I’m sure it didn’t seem like it.

I promise you, your kids will still feel loved even if you go out every so often with your significant other. If nothing else, they will love you more because you are showing them that a family is not about catering to one person (or two or three little persons) but is about making time for everyone; putting forth an effort to love and show that love.

Plum Organics focused on sex in this commercial, but making your significant other a priority goes FAR BEYOND the bedroom. It’s actually not really about sex at all, but they were going extreme to drive home the issue. If you head to their website, you will see they want you to pledge: “To grant myself the permission to make my relationship and myself a priority. Not just for fun, but also for the good of my family.” Remember, you can’t care for your family unless you take care of yourself. Take care of yourself, take care of your partner, and together you can take care of the family.

Ways to them they are still a priority:

  • Put the phone away when you are both home from work and look each other in the eye and have a quick conversation about your day.holding-hands-1031665
  • Share a small snack or dessert.
  • Write a “thinking of you” note and stick it in their briefcase, bag, or lunch.
  • Write a “thinking of you” email during the day.
  • Bring home their favorite treat.
  • Let them have the last piece of pie (or piece of cake or cookie or scoop of ice cream).
  • Grab their hand.
  • Send a wink emoji or a kiss face text.
  • Go out for coffee.
  • Put kids to bed, make a favorite drink (wine, hot chocolate, frozen concoction- whatever tickles your fancy), and watch a movie.
  • Flip through your wedding album together or old pictures of yourselves.

Just find small ways to show them you are still thinking of them, love them, and they are still a priority in your life.

**I am in no way affiliated with Plum Organics. I was not approached by them or being sponsored by them. This is my own opinion and my own view on the topic, commercial, and pledge.**


School Registration Anxieties

It’s the beginning of February and everywhere on the mom FB pages I follow, there are anxious moms wondering what to do with their kids next year. I never knew Kindergarten was such a hot topic until I became a mom. I was even a kindergarten teacher in my past life, and still didn’t know the turmoil so many parents go through. As a person with an April birthday, the school year came with no question as to when I would start. I am lucky to also have two spring babies and essentially the decision is made for me. I do not envy any parent who has a summer birthday child, especially the child they aren’t completely confident in whether they are sending their child forward to kindergarten or working with one more year of pre-K.classroom-658002

How do you know if your child is ready for kindergarten?! I feel like I have some insider knowledge since being an Early Childhood Educator and a former kindergarten teacher. Just be aware that this is by no means a one-size-fits-all scenario and when it comes down to it, you as the parent have to make the decision that is best for you and your child.

Social and emotional ready for Kindergarten:

  • Your child can easily get along with others (peers as well as other adults)
  • Demonstrates self-help skills (gets dressed, uses the potty on their own, washes hands)
  • Separates from parent with little to no issue

Expressive and receptive language:

  • Speaks mostly in full sentences
  • Understands and follows at least 2-step directions (example: go to your room and get your book)
  • Talks about a story (making simple predictions and comments about what is being read

Phonetic awareness and print knowledge:alphabet-40515

  • Recognizes his/her own name in print
  • Identifies the letters in his/her name
  • Attempts to write letters in his/her name
  • Demonstrates book awareness (cover and back of book, works left to right, notices print on the page
  • Identifies two rhyming words
  • Identifies words that begin with the same letter
  • Recites the alphabet and can identify at least 10 letters

Mathematic readiness:

  • Able to count to 10 verbally
  • Show understanding of one-to-one correspondence (example: counting ducks on a page, pointing to each duck as they count)
  • Identifies basic shapes (circle, triangle, square)
  • Attempts to draw basic shapes
  • Identifies colors

Physical Development:

  • crayons-1445053_1920Demonstrates gross motor skills (hops, jumps, runs, catches and throws ball)
  • Uses a variety of drawing and writing tools with control and intent
  • Uses child-sized scissors with control and intent has some great ideas on how to build these skills with your child, whether they are ready to head to kindergarten or not. No matter what your child is capable or not capable of doing, the decision is ultimately yours. Some people might tell you if you wait to send them, you will blame yourself for anytime they are bored in class. If you send them ahead, you will blame yourself for anytime they struggle. The best thing to do is look at your child as a whole, talk with their preschool teacher and other adults in their life, and just listen to your gut. It knows way more than anything else!

The Flood of Emotion and the March on Washington

16114655_10210795092706159_1063478231159640766_n(Photo credit: Kirsten Nichols. The streets of D.C.)

I have been grappling with what happened yesterday, in our nation and all around the world. I am not an overly political person. In fact, I like to keep my political views to myself, however, this year it seemed very hard to talk about anything else. Many emotions flooded me. I felt saddened yet enthusiastic. I felt anxious yet full of hope. Crazy, I know. In all this emotion, I am finding the need to write it all down and try to understand it all myself.

The idea that saddens me the most about the march and rallies are the people who claim President Trump is not their president. That they have this idea that taking to the streets, peacefully or not, is somehow going to change the outcome of the election. We are a very divided nation today. We are a very divided world based on the events of yesterday. There were many who attended these events because they feel victimized, threatened, and needing to fight back. However, the majority of people I know who attended the rally and march were more about allowing President Trump to hear their voice in order to guide his presidency and first 100 days of office. That he is now the President of the people, all people, in the United States.

I recently read a FB post from a former colleague of mine who attended the march in D.C. and I finally found clarity. Scarlett Johansson spoke these words at the rally, “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are our President. I want to be able to support you. First, I ask that you support me. Support my sister. Support my mother. Support my best friend, and all of our girlfriends. Support the men and women here today that are anxiously awaiting to see how your next moves may drastically affect their lives.” When I read this, I felt less saddened and anxious about the march and more uplifted and enthusiastic that women, men, children, all over the world were just speaking out. They were not necessarily speaking out AGAINST President Trump but instead making their voices heard to say, “we are here. You have been chosen to work for us and with us. Respect is a two way street and we are ready to give it if you are ready to reciprocate.”

Yes, maybe I am naive in my thinking. Maybe I am holding on to this thought because if I think of it any other way, the idea that HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people took to the streets yesterday to protest the President of the United States, who will be our President for the next 4 years at least, it would cause even greater anxiety and fear to what is to come. In pictures from friends, I saw a lot of signs with a be kind message. If his presidency does nothing else, maybe it will bring out the good in more of us and our nation. I am holding on to this, firmly!

16114626_10209073662374116_44411497671293680_n(photo credit: Katie Siviniski, A living constitution that she got to sign! 100 people carried it through the march.)

My hope today is that our new Commander in Chief understands his new, very powerful role; that he understands that he is a public servant to the people of the United States; that he understands that there are protocols and proper ways to go about creating change; that he will be the change our government needs to become a stronger, healthier, better version of ourselves because no matter who our president is, that should be our goal everyday!



My Top Quick and Easy Weekday Meals


OK… It’s a Tuesday night and you are either just getting home from work or it’s approaching that time that everyone starts to turn …….. You realize you didn’t quite plan for dinner and you need to get something on the table before the family begins to riot. You think ordering food might be the easiest option, but in my own personal opinion, you end up waiting a long time and the rioting can get worse!

I thought, what could you all use that could benefit you this week the most. What better way than to set you up with some of my tried and true recipes that are SUPER quick and easy to throw together. Hopefully you have most of these ingredients at home, but if not, it’s only Saturday and you have time to stock up before the week gets away from you.

  1. Salsa Chicken
    • What you need: (There are no amounts as you can use as much or as little as needed)
      • Chicken Breasts
      • Jas of salsa
      • Taco seasoning (this is the one I make in batches and keep in my cabinet)
      • Mexican cheese
    • Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Pound the chicken (if necessary– the thinner the fast it cooks). Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of the chicken and place in a single layer. Spoon salsa on top of the chicken. Bake for about 20 minutes (or until fully cooked). Sprinkle with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve over rice or noodles and pair with a simple salad.
  2. Stir-Fry
    • What you need:
      • Cut up chicken breast, pork, or beef
      • Stir-fry sauce (I like this one because it’s gluten-free)
      • Veggies for stir fry (I like to buy the bag of frozen stir-fry veggies to make life THAT. MUCH. EASIER)
    • Directions: If you have a WOK, pull it out and use it. If not, use a deep frying pan. Heat a little oil on medium heat. Throw in your cut up meat of choice with a little stir-fry sauce. Cook until desired doneness. Throw in frozen veggies and sauce to taste. Cook until everything is soft. Serve over rice. This is a great meal to bring to a new mom. It’s my go-to ‘meal train’ meal because it’s super easy and has everything you need in one dish.
  3. Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
    • What you need:
      • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (8-12)
      • 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard
      • 1/2 honey
      • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
      • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
      • 1/4 tablespoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
      • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
      • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • Directions: Combine all the spices in a bowl. Poor 1.5-2 tablespoons into a zip-lock bag. Combine all other ingredients in the gallon resealable freezer bag. (Can be then placed in freezer to use at a later date.) Thaw completely. Preheat oven to 375°. Place in greased 9 x 13 baking pan; bake 50 minutes or until chicken reaches 165°. Makes about 6 servings. Tip: This recipe could also be make in your crockpot – cook on low 5-6 hours or until tender.

I hope you find these three recipes helpful in your meal planning for this week or in the future. What I love about these is that I usually have most of the ingredients on hand so even when I have lacked planning, I can whip these three meals up!


Why Preschool?

It’s that time of year again. Local MOMS Club chapters are gearing up for local Preschool Fairs. Registration papers are being sent to the printers. Questions are swirling around the mommy communities: play-based or academic-based? 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, or 5-days? 3-4hour programs or extended/enrichment programs?

These questions can make most parents fall to the floor in the fetal position. There are so many opinions out there and so many options, so what works best for you?  I will tell you right now that I am completed biased. I went to school for 4 years as an Early Childhood Education Major. I have wanted to be a preschool teacher for a long time. I have read article after article on the importance of the preschool years. I am writing today in hope that I can shed some light for anyone who has these questions taking over their sleep, while trying to keep my own personal views out of the way.

First, before I enlighten you on 11 years of being in the Early Childhood field, I want to urge you first to also do your own research. There are a lot of people out there who will supply you with their own opinion– and it is just that– an OPINION!

How can sending a child to preschool at 3 or 4 provide any benefit? So and so’s kid never went to preschool and he is now in honors classes in high school. Yes, there are a ton of kids who leap right into Kindergarten and succeed, however, what is their background? Did they stay at home with a very active parent? Did they attend daycare? Did their parents bring them to playdates or moms group meetings? Did they have any reason to listen to another adult during their first 5 years of life? These are huge factors.

Let’s explore some literature that explains the benefits of preschool:

Research provides solid support that preschool programs have a statistically significant effect on children’s performance on cognitive assessments of prereading and reading skills, prewriting and spelling skills, math reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Preschool programs have also found to benefit children from a diverse income community, including those who are eligible for free lunch to those who receive no lunch subsidies at all. (source)

Oklahoma is one of the few states who offer a preschool program to every 4-year old. They have tested 4-year olds and 5-year olds with nationally normed tests to examine a child’s skills in reading, writing, and math. For example, asking a child is they recognize a letter. They ask a child to draw a letter or shape. When given a picture, a child can count the number of a specific object they see. Through these nationalized normed tests, three groups of children were compared: those who were about to begin pre-K, those who had a year of pre-K, and those who have not attended a pre-K.  Oklahoma has seen a seven-month gain in prereading skills, a six-month gain in prewriting skills, and a four-month gain in permath skills. (source)

There are a ton of articles, studies, and stories how preschool benefits children. I can give you a quick, personal example, which doesn’t even describe the academic gains a child can have. My daughter, from day one, was always reserved. She preferred me over anyone else. She didn’t go to strangers (family members). When someone said “hi” to her in a store, she would immediately hide behind my legs (not the worst characteristic by the way). It took her days to get comfortable when visiting family members we didn’t see on a regular basis. This was just her personality. When preschool started, she CRIED! It broke my heart, but I knew she needed the time away from me to blossom. She cried every day at drop off well into October. We were EXTREMELY lucky to have two of the most amazing teachers anyone could ask for and they loved her and cared for her. For months, she would need to be with one of the teachers at all times. She was three. She went two days a week to school. I knew her personality. I expected this and I was okay with this. As the year progressed, her teachers would tell me how her little personality was coming out, slowly and quietly, but they saw it.

Fast forward to her second year of preschool. Her interactions with family members (the ones we see a few times a year) has made a complete 180. She will immediately go in and be polite and say hi. She warms up much quicker. When given a compliment our in public, she says “thank you” and allows a sweet smile or hi to the nice lady standing in line with us. She walked into school, on her first day, not having any friends from the previous year with a smile on her face and confidence in her step. Every teacher (and even the director) could not believe that was the same girl from the year before. Her personality that she has with me and her closest friends was with her.

While she is not one to speak out or be crazy, she is more herself than she was walking into preschool that VERY FIRST day. She will always be a little quieter. She will always be my cautious and more reserved child, but her personality and her confidence BLOSSOMED in those preschool walls. She was forced out of her comfort zone, was placed in a nurturing, loving environment, and she was allowed to learn and be who she was.

If preschool does nothing else for your child, it teaches them to be with their peers, without their parent over their shoulder monitoring and refereeing every moment. It gives them a chance to make choices independently. It provides them an opportunity to learn and be with other caring and loving adults. It is a place for them to grow as a person.

Yes, I know this last part was me rambling on about why I think preschool is important, there is plenty of literature provided for you to make your own conclusions. Don’t let me or anyone else give you simple an opinion of the benefits of preschool. Make your own educated decision.

As we go forward in January and February, may you find peace in your decision. If you choose preschool, I hope you find the absolute best school to fit your child’s needs. This is by no means an easy decision.