It’s OK to Complain

I get annoyed by people who complain. 

Why complain if you can do something about it? 

I always felt this way.

I recently looked in the mirror and looked deep into my hazel eyes, I’ve had a lot of alone time lately, and realized I am a complainer. 

And complaining can actually be healthy and will get you a free hotel upgrade. 

My family moved to central PA about six weeks ago, four of those weeks I’ve been in Pittsburgh training for my new job. In Pitt I’ve been pampered with all expenses paid and classy five-star hotel rooms. I feel like the modern day Eloise at The Plaza, except I’m in my mid-to-late twenties raising havoc in Pittsburgh. 

After the initial shock of grand entrances, city views and ten crystal chandeliers in the lobby wore off, I started to notice my actual hotel room.. which was filled with white towels dirty with someone else’s makeup, someone else’s hair in the shower and someone else’s makeup all over the bathroom counter.

Gross.  

My normal self would have been disgusted but cleaned it up and go on with my life. But through my recent learning experiences, I decided to say something. 
So I complained. And I felt bad doing it. Then the room wasn’t cleaned,  so I complained again, and no lie, I had to complain four different times before someone at this hotel actually assisted me and put me in a new room. Which just happened to be an upgrade. ?

The moral of this story isn’t to complain to get things for free, but to make your complaints matter. 
I learned if something is an actual issue it is best to let someone know ASAP so they can actually fix it for you. 

Complaining about his dirty hotel room left me feeling empowered and strong, not annoying and greedy, which is how I initially viewed compulsive complainers. 

Once I got into this mindset, I started complaining about everything. Most pominate complaint, being away from my family for so long. 

I feel so helpless and lonely in Pittsburgh. I miss my husband, I miss my family and helping with homework. I even complain about not being home to clean the house. C’mon that’s a terrible complaint. 

After complaining to someone about being away from home for the gazillionth time, I stoped myself mid-sentence. How ungrateful am I? I was given a great opportunity and handed amazing resources to succeed with a company that actually values their employees, which shows through their rigorous training schedule. 

I get to play Eloise, eat a hot meal, stare at a beautiful city’s skyline and take a hot shower without interruption, all while learning out to excel at my new career. 

There’s a place and time for complaints, big and small. 

So the next time you want to complain, take a step back. Could you shift your perspective to be grateful? Can you do something to fix what you’re complaining about? 

Social media is filled with constant complaints – everything from politics to food at a restaurant to jobs, how many of your own complaints could you alter with actions instead of a status or tweet? 

Make an impact, not just another post to scroll by. 

But if you have a dirty hotel room, go ahead and complain. That’s just gross. 

Cheers from a classy hotel in the 412 ?

With and Without Series: Friday Night

TGIF! Freaking TGIF! I don’t know about all of you but THANK-FREAKING-GOODNESS it’s FRIDAY!

Last week was not just rough for me at work, it was rough for: my husband who has been pretty much working 24/7 on expanding his business (he even has a nice ol’ shiner to prove it), my big puppy who has been having nightmares and Charlie, who has a sinus infection, leaving her congested and coughing.

So let me say it again, THANK GOODNESS it’s the weekend!

I have so many things I will be able to do this weekend… like fold one of the three baskets of clothing that are meticulously placed throughout my house so I will not be guilted into doing them. I’ll go to the store and make something since we’ve been living off leftovers and pizza this week. I am finally going to freaking clip Charlie’s nails, she’s starting to look like the Wolverine. And I’ll start planning her first birthday party since it’s only a few weeks away.

I’m going to do all of that on Friday night so I can spend the rest of the weekend relaxing with my family and enjoying the sunshine!

Obviously I had an ambitious itinerary for the start of the weekend. So, let me tell you what really happened..

This is the introductory blog post into a new series I like to call ‘With and Without’ where I will explain the differences in everyday tasks when you do not have children vs. when you do.

WITH AND WITHOUT : FRIDAY NIGHT 

  5:00

Without kids: Yes! Out of work, time to dance, time to relax. Hmm.. what to do? Let’s snag a co-worker and go grab a drink! That will be fun! Get out and socialize a bit, relieve some of the stress from the week. Who is ready for happy hour?!?!

With kids: Yes! Out of work, time to dance, time to relax. Hmm.. what to do? I hope my husband picked up the baby from daycare, it closes at 5. Call him, no answer. Fingers crossed and head home. Good, he’s home with the baby, but baby is crying, baby is hungry. Let me put my bags on the counter quick and feed her. Phew, now I can sit down for a few minutes. Pull out phone to catch up on all the social media from the day, take a deep breath, yes, it is finally the weekend. Transcending into relaxation, you look into your darling daughter’s eyes while she’s nursing and it hits you that this has been what you’ve been looking forward to all week. Then, OUCH, she bites you! OUCH, OUCH, OUCH, not only is she nipping at your nips, she has a bear trap locked on you and is pulling, biting and tearing with her two baby teeth. So much for relaxation.

6:00

Without kids: Just finished a happy hour specialty cocktail. Let me call my girlfriend, she just go off work maybe she’ll meet me for dinner! I don’t have much planned for tonight, time to hangout and have some fun, ITS FRIDAY!!

With kids: Finally got the Sabertooth Tiger of the nip, now she’s walking around the table laughing at me. Grab her fun Violet dog, that will entertain her for a few minutes, maybe I’ll grab a basket of laundry quick. Oh, and I have shows recorded! Yes, I’ll fold quick and catch up on a show while she plays, perfect!! Get set on the couch with all my weapons: laundry basket, remote, some puffs just incase Char wants a snack. Perfect. Come on Grey’s Anatomy! Two t-shirts in and watching April and Jackson’s relationship start to deteriorate, and the tv shuts off.. WTF? Oh you better believe little Char angel loves the blue lights on the cable box – which she is now pounding on changing all of the settings, while laughing with her two-toothed smile.

7:00 

Without kids: Dinner time! I’m starved! There aren’t any tables available at the restaurant so we’ll just sit at the bar for dinner, it’s more fun there anyway! It’s so nice to catch up with friends and unwind from the week. Oh look, girlfriend A, B, C and D are here too! It’s fate we came here, we can all eat dinner together!

With kids: Laundry basket is still half full, folded clothes that were in piles on the coffee table are being strategically thrown about the living room by an enthusiastic 10-month-old. My stomach starts growling, my husband is working downstairs, maybe he’ll want to get something to eat? Grab Char, her food, a bib, spoon and head down to the restaurant. Hubby is busy, restaurant is packed, no tables available only the bar – crap I can’t put a high chair at the bar. Guess I’ll head back upstairs and feed Char and I’ll snack until hubby gets off work. Pop Charlie in her high chair and give her some puffs to hold her over while I spend ten minutes cooking up a masterpiece meal of baby food, yogurt and kiwi. Do you know how long it takes to cut kiwi? Time to teach this girl how to eat it out of the skin. Oh crap, the dog needs to go out. Grab Char, put her in her jacket, run Molly downstairs, wait for her to pee, run back upstairs. Put Char back in her seat and re-warm up her food. Perfectly place the kiwi on her tray, Charlie looks at the green and black-seeded fruit, smiles, grabs a handful and squashes all the pieces into pulp in her hand. Attempt to feed her yogurt and baby food, but she gags and spits it out. Looks like it’s puffs for dinner.

8:00 

Without kids: Dinner was delicious! We did finally get a table and now all of my girlfriends are here and we’re on our third round of margaritas! We’ve been talking about jobs, boys, shopping, reality tv and, of course, Grey’s Anatomy! Last night with Jackson and April, ah I couldn’t believe it! I definitely cried! Oh look, the guys at the bar bought us some shots! Bottoms up!

With kids: Run a bath because the kiwi squasher is sticky and messy from spitting out all of her food. Take a nice, fun bath where you, of course, get soaked because you thought it would be a great idea to teach Charlie what ‘splash’ means. Manage to get her out of the bath, diapered, lotion up, and in pjs in less than ten minutes (MOMMY WIN!)! That’s when your sinus infection-ed daughter gets into a coughing fit and spits up all over you and her pajamas. Time for some new pjs.

9:00 

Without kids: We didn’t want this night to end so we moved back to the bar to catch up! The girls think we should all go dancing tonight! There aren’t too many places with a dance floor around here but if we’re all together we won’t care where we dance! Bottoms up ladies!

With kids: New jams and we’re back on the couch, Charlie is getting tired so it’s the perfect time to nurse her again and try to put Grey’s back on, I wonder what happens with Jackson and April!?! Finally, relaxation. Then my stomach grumbles, but Charlie is nursing and her eyes are fluttering closed. Getting her to sleep > me eating. At least Grey’s is on. Crap, I can’t reach the remote, oh well I’ll just watch the commercials – first world problems, right?

Down for the Count! 10:00 

Without kids: Dance, dance, dance, dance! I would have never thought this  night would turn out like this!! SO much fun!

With kids: Fell asleep during first commercial of Grey’s.

11:00

Without kids: Still dancing

With kids: Still sleeping

1:00 AM 

Without kids: Headed home, so happy tonight turned out like this! It was nice to finally catch up with my friends, now time to go home and sleep in tomorrow!! I’m going to stay in my sweats all day! Maybe I’ll re-watch Grey’s just for fun!

With kids: Still sleeping. Husband came home from work while you were sleeping and didn’t want to wake you. We’ll catch up in the morning over coffee. Tomorrow you’ll fold the clothes, plan Charlie’s party, go to the store, maybe you’ll even paint your nails? Oh, and watch Grey’s!

THANK GOODNESS IT’S THE WEEKEND!

Kid-Approved Spinach and Apple Muffins

I love my carbs. I love my sugar. I pretty much love anything that tastes good, not necessarily things that are good for me.

Before I had my daughter, eh, it was no big deal. I would eat my salads and protein, but I would also eat a whole container of ice cream in one sitting.

But I can’t feed my 10-month-old ice cream for dinner.

Charlotte has been exclusively breastfeed since she was born. At about six months we started feeding her baby food. I was extremely interested in trying baby-led weaning (BLW), but with food allergies running in my family, I was very hesitant and we decided to go with purees first, then BLW later.

Now, months later, I am lost at what to feed my daughter. She’s a fairly good eater, besides carrots. But I’m having a hard time finding healthy choices for her to snack on and for meals.

Plus, it has been extremely easy for me to just whip out my ‘milk makers’ and feed her whenever she is hungry instead of making something to eat, or more over, being creative enough to come up with healthy, tasty options for her.

I have neglected some possible blog posts this week in order to research “kid-friendly,” “toddler-approved,” healthy food options.

And then I came across these muffins!!

 Questioning my sanity because of the green color? Don’t! They are actually extremely delicious and easy!

My Charlotte loves them, and has my manners – check that massive, straight shove into her mouth.

Shoving her face

Charlie is easy since she’s so little, she pretty much just shoves everything in her mouth – at least once. But for toddlers, who may not be quite keen on green, try something fun to call them like ‘Hulk muffins’ or ‘Green machines.’

Enjoy!

Kid-Approved Spinach and Apple Muffins

Serves 12
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Bread, Breakfast, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
Website Tribe
Veggie packed muffins that are kid-tested and approved!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Spinach (Raw)
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • pinch Salt

Optional

  • 1/2 cup Carrots, Squash, Zucchini, Kale, Beets, etc. (Shredded)

Note

I found the muffins stayed moist when lined in baking cups and had a crispy edge if baked in pan alone.

Directions

Preheat
Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Blend
Step 2
Add applesauce, spinach, egg, vanilla, banana, syrup and coconut oil to blender and blend till smooth.
Dry Ingredients
Step 3
In separate bowl, add rest of dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Mix
Step 4
Slowly mix the blended mix with dry mix. Can do this in mixer or by hand. Batter gets fairly thick, add splash of milk or water if you think it's too much.
Bake
Step 5
Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.
Step 6
Enjoy!

Easiest Crock Pot Burrito Bowls

When it comes to cooking, I’m definitely not a pro. Far from it actually, that’s why I married someone who owns a restaurant.

But, I am trying to learn. So welcome to this fun, smokey, sometimes burnt journey of Chef Jillian.

I need easy, at least a few days a week. This recipe is so easy, it’s one I recommend to my early-20’s brother who would rather go through the drive-thru four times a day than cook a meal in the kitchen. IT’S THAT EASY.

I tend to make this on Sunday afternoons, cook it for four hours, eat till my belly wants to explode and take the rest for lunches throughout the week. It’s also perfect for freezing and put luck meals!

Plus the four key ingredients are probably in your fridge right now

Check the recipe below, I tried to take as many pictures as I could but by the time this bad boy was done I couldn’t take the sweet smells and my stomach was grumbling, I devoured my whole serving and licked the bowl.. so no finished product picture. Whoops.

Crock Pot Burrito Bowls

Serves 6
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 8 hours
Total time 8 hours, 5 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Occasion Casual Party
Quick, easy, tasty burrito bowls that fill you up and remind you of warmer weather on a cold winter day.

Ingredients

  • 2lb Chicken Breast
  • 1 jar Salsa (16 oz)
  • 1 can Beans (Black or Kidney (drained))
  • 1lb Frozen Corn
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper (To Taste)
  • 3 cups White Rice
  • 8oz Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend or Cheddar)

Optional

  • 4oz Green Chilies
  • 1 cup Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Shredded Lettuce
  • 1 can Black Olives (Sliced)

Note

Add any other taco/burrito favorites to transform this easy recipe into your own!

Directions

Crock Pot
Step 1
Add chicken, salsa, corn, beans and green chilies (optional) to crock pot. Follow with all spices and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good mix to make sure all of the chicken is covered.
Step 2
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4 hours.
Step 3
Toward the end of cook cycle, cook rice according to package directions and prepare lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
Step 4
After cook time, shred chicken (chicken will either come apart by stirring it or you can take it out and shred it with two forks and put it back in the crock pot). Stir up all of the ingredients.
Step 5
Build your burrito bowl! I generally build it with rice on the bottom, burrito mix, lettuce, tomato, olives, sour cream and cheese! Yum!

Working Overtime

I spent my Monday off running errands with my daughter, and overdosing my usage of the kitchen, which means there will be plenty of recipes coming your way this week (teaser – spinach and apple muffins, crock pot burrito bowls and of course lots of chocolate).

Having days like today make me appreciate my time that I do get to spend at home with my family.

While nursing my daughter to sleep for her first nap of the day, I reminisced about close to a year ago when baby C was first born and I was struggling with going back to work.

I found myself having anxiety about leaving C, stressing over pumping milk, keeping up my supply, not being able to soothe her cries and missing out on her life. Missing her smiles, coos, what if she did something she’s never done before and I don’t get to see it?

Forty hours a week away from my baby, it seemed like the impossible.

My husband was very sick through the last few weeks of my pregnancy all the way through the first six weeks of our baby’s life. He was actually admitted to the hospital twice, the first time just days after she was born, and the second time was the night before I was supposed to go back to work. My first thought was, “Yes, I don’t have to go back to work yet!” immediately followed by, “Holy sh*t woman, your husband is in the hospital, snap out of it!”

That was my wake up call. That was my ‘earth to mommy, time to put your big-girl work pants back on.’

I took the extra few days to make sure everything was set for C’s first days of daycare and organized the house in-between visiting the hospital and caring for my six-week old daughter.

The night before my first day at work was terrible. The babe didn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep, it was almost if she knew I was going to be away from her.

After no more than a few hours of sleep it was time to get up. Getting ready for work the next week seemed strange, like I was watching myself get dressed and put make up on. I got up earlier than I needed to and I spent those last fleeting minutes nursing this tiny little nugget.

As I drove to work, which is only a mile away, I held back tears and the feeling of guilt for going back to work and leaving her in the care of someone else instead of taking care of her myself. My body was at work, but my heart and head were at home with my Michelin-man thighed daughter with an even bigger smile.

I thought my first few days at work would drag and I would count down the minutes until I could go home, but between getting back on task, pumping and talking about C, my days went by faster than I could ever imagine. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and now being a working mom is second nature.

  • Relax. Easy for me to tell you, right? But you have to soothe your anxiety and breathe. Not only is your stress doing damage to you, baby and hubby will feed off your vibes too.
  • Take pictures. Bring in frames, keep out your phone, DIY the crap out of your office with that baby’s face. Keeping pictures near will help you remember why you are going back to work in the first place.
  • Know why you are going back to work. It doesn’t make a difference if you can’t afford to stay home or enjoy your job, either way they both end with it being the best thing for your family and you. That’s the priority.
  • Have a plan if pumping. Make a plan when and where you are going to pump/store your milk before your first day. And talk to your boss/immediate co-workers about your schedule so they know when you will be unavailable.
  • Create a relationship with daycare provider. Keeping close touch with whoever will be taking care of your child is irreplaceable during those first few weeks. Be honest with them if you want pictures and updates throughout the day, or if you don’t. Creating a comfortable relationship with them will help just not for everyday communication, but you when you’re on the verge of a breakdown and have to see their face either in FaceTime or picture. And don’t worry, you won’t be the first, or the last.
  • Enjoy the time you’re at home. And if you can, keep work at work so you are 100% present at home.

Lastly, and most importantly..

  • Drop the guilt. You know, that sinking feeling like you’re doing something wrong by going back to work, kick it to the curb. I’ll be the first to tell you, you are not doing anything wrong by going back to work. Do not feel guilty!

You’re an employee, you’re a boss, you’re a coworker.. You’re a mom. That means you’re also a master chef, cleaning lady, sex-pot wife, Thursday night tv watcher, toenail painter, DIY-er, laundry folder extrodinare, do I need to go on?

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard, exhausting, stressful and so much more, but it’s worth it. The first few days will be hard, but life has this crazy way of moving fast and not stopping for anyone, including you momma.

You can do this, you can do everything – you created a life, how hard can work be?

You are woman, let’s hear you roar.

Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. Lots of coffee.

Cheers to you, you 40 hour+ lioness. Rawr.

I won’t be that kind of mom

That’s what I would say for the whole, full nine months I was pregnant, “I won’t be that kind of mom.”

I won’t freak out over little things and I will stay close with every single one of my friends. I won’t stare at baby monitors and triple wash baby bottles to make sure every speck of ‘maybe it’s dirt or maybe it’s a water mark’ is gone.

I will be a cool mom, duh. I’ll be chill, relaxed, dress impeccably everyday and still had time for dates, girls weekends, coffee and cocktails.

Duh, it won’t be that hard.

The ‘duh’ is on me.

After ten short months of full-blown motherhood, I will admit, I was completely wrong. So, I made a list, because that’s what I do, of all the things I was so, so completely, immeasurably, wrong about:

  • Boogers gross me out. Snot, boogie, farmer’s blows, whatever you want to call the nasty stuff that lives up in those nostrils, I hate them. They give me the heebie geemies and make me squirm. Well, all except my daughters, I willingly dive in there knuckles deep and dig for gold, I’ll use my own shirt to wipe her draining nose. But your boogers, keep them away from me.
  • Ew, what is that smell/stain/coming out of your baby. Pretty much any adult bodily function shouldn’t be shared, in my humble opinion. But spit up, diarrhea, yellow, seedy breast fed baby poop, farts and so much more – bring them on. My baby once had a blow out up to the back of her neck in Sam’s Club, all up the back of her shirt (unbeknownst to me), I didn’t find it until I put her in her carseat… that’s a fun story.
  • I hate going to grocery stores alone. Not anymore. I find solace in the aisles of Wal Mart, peace between the produce at Tops. Thank the lord for quick trips, long hauls and everything in between, as long as I am alone. I’ll bring my baby another time, now I will meditate next to the meats please.
  • I won’t be overprotective. Yeah freaking right. You bet your bottom dollar I have the need to know exactly what my daughter is doing at every minute of the day (emphasis on need, I work 40 hours a week). When she was first born I was very close to collecting social security information and a background check if you wanted to hold her. I’ve since gotten better, now I only require a copy of a driver’s license.
  • I won’t rely on caffeine, I’ll sleep when the baby sleeps. HA!! Let me say that again, HA!! That one actually makes me laugh out loud, I can’t believe I actually believed that. While my first few weeks at home with my daughter was a little different than most (I’ll get to that in a later post), I did not sleep, coffee was my savior, my God and top of my favorites list.
  • I will not be able to function without at least eight hours of sleep. I love sleep, it is one of my favorite things to do. That was a hard habit to quit, and my body paid for it. This reverts back to my previous point of still being so completely and totally in love with coffee.
  • I won’t compare myself to other moms. Oh but I do. And it’s a hard hurdle to jump over – accepting that we all are amazing mothers to our kids and are giving the best love to our children, nobody else can come close. Even if you made a new train set with fresh, organic wood from trees you grew in your backyard all while the baby was sleeping.
  • I will not lose touch with friends. It’s not that you want to lose friends, nobody picks that as a goal to have, but it happens. Just like any other time in your life, people change, you as a mother change, and your friends that don’t have kids won’t really understand what’s going on in your life no matter how much they try, or don’t try. I have a core group of friends that I couldn’t get rid of if I tried, but I am lucky, and sometimes it is still hard to find someone to talk to. (So if you’re a momma or not a momma, I’ll be your friend!)

Those are all things I swore up and down wouldn’t change when I had my baby. But they did, and it is for the better. Even though I may be a tinsey bit strict and a little nutzo, I’ll ease up eventually. Like maybe when she’s 33. I’ll be 58, I could be chill at 58.

Mostly, the list contains everything that I wouldn’t do. But now, I’m not the center of my universe, she is. So I have no problem wiping boogers, butts or always having an eye on her. I will happily stay home and cuddle than go out. Everything I do is to care, love, and protect her.

Maybe I was too immature to see that from the start, but from the moment I held her in my arms, my fears and silly things I wouldn’t do disappeared, and my life changed, for the better.

So here’s to boogers, dirty diapers, and relaxing next to the frozen vegetables. Cheers.