Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s a little more lately, and last week I picked up a package of the microwaveable butternut squash Mac and cheese, on a recommendation, and it did not disappoint! It was creamy and full of warm spices, just so delicious! So I decided to try to make a homemade version inspired by that. This was delicious, and bonus points for sneaking veggies in, and my kids gobbling it up!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

1 package of pasta, cooked.

1 cup cooked butternut squash. (I cooked mine, quartered, in my instant pot for 25 minutes high pressure, and the scraped off the skin.)

3 tbs of butter

1 tbs of flour

1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

A dash of thyme powder

And a dash of cayenne (up to a 1/4 tsp depending on how much heat you like it!)

-Boil pasta according to package instructions.

Sauce:

-Start by melting the butter, and adding flour to make a roux. Then add butternut squash and cheddar cheese, and let the cheese melt. Add the spices, and let simmer for about 3-4 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in the noodles and enjoy!

It’s super easy, but so delicious! Perfect for a fall lunch, or pair it with some chicken or steak for a hearty dinner!

Love,

Becca

Current Favorite Children’s Books

I love books. I’ve always been a avid reader, and continue to make time to read, even as a busy mom, (Once I’m done typing this post, I am going to read a bit while the kiddos nap! A book I’ve been waiting for on hold at the library finally came in!)

So it stands to reason that we also love children’s books, and have amassed a little library! I’m always looking for new books to add! These are some of our current favorites!

Lost and Found- by Oliver Jeffers

A boy finds a penguin, and sets off to take him home to the South Pole ! On the way they become fast friends. The story is really sweet, and the artwork is adorable!

Cuddle bug – by Nicola Edwards

This one is a very favorite! The rhyme is so sweet, and endearing, and my kids love the cute cutouts! A perfect bed time story!

Toot- by Leslie Patricelli

This little book explains certain bodily functions, and always makes my 2 year old and husband giggle. Okay fine, it make us all laugh! This isn’t my kind of humor at all, but I knew they would appreciate it, and it’s become a favorite as it always brings hilarity!

The Going to Bed Book- by Sandra Boynton

Her artwork is so cute! And the stories are nonsensical and perfect for bedtime! A group of animals gets ready for bed!

I Am a Big Brother- by Caroline Jayne Church

A new baby arrives, and big brother learns all about how to help out with everything Baby needs! We bought this before our daughter was born, and it’s been a fun book to read as our son learned about being a big brother himself!

Little Blue Truck – by Alice Schertle

We love little Blue! The artwork is so fun, and the stories are wonderful, and sweet! Usually there’s a good lesson woven in, and little blue truck is so kind! A great read with littles!

We also love the Block Books! (We have found them at Costco.) they are so informative and so fun! The Alphabet one is our favorite right now, it’s perfect as a tool to help learn the alphabet!

What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?

With love,

Becca

Being a Mama Right Now

Heavy. That’s what I have been feeling lately. Every time I open my phone, scan headlines, read about some new event, catastrophe, horrific suffering and evil people all over the world doing unspeakable things. It feels so heavy.

It’s been 18+ months of our world being turned upside down, mass panic, freedoms being stripped away so fast most people don’t even have time to notice. It feels so overwhelming. My heart is breaking for the nation of Afghanistan. For the people who are losing loved ones in hospitals across the country and can’t be by their sides right now as they slip away. For the families who have been separated for the past 2 years due to borders closing. For the hurting people across the globe. The children without families to love them.

Everyone refers to these “unprecedented” times. But I keep thinking, every generation has had their unprecedented time. When world events upset their lives and changed things, whether the betterment of mankind or the worsening, this isn’t unusual. In my great-grandparents day it was the world wars and Great Depression. I can garentee those were unprecedented times. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to cope with the heaviness of that time in history. Before that was the invented of cars, and airplanes, which must have been an exhilarating time to be a part in history! Those were unprecedented times. Suddenly travel was revolutionized and the whole world was available to everyone!

My point in all this is this: every generation has had their unprecedented time. This is ours. I’m not downplaying the hurt, fear and loss that people are dealing with every day.

But I have two wonderful children. One learned to talk in full sentences and paragraphs over the summer and doesn’t stop talkin for for a moment from the second he pops out of bed until we close the bedroom door after singing and tucking him in. The other learned to walk, and is toddling around everywhere, proud as can be of her new skills, and getting into everything.

I’ve had to limit my consumption the news lately for their sake as well as mine. I can’t let that heaviness take over our entire lives. I am praying for those hurting, and keeping aware of the current events, but I can’t let myself get sucked into whirlwind that is the media and big opinions that every single person has right now. We’re Christians and believe that God is in control, so we are trusting in that. My kids need a mom who is present. And that means turning off the news, limiting social media’s, and avoiding political talk with most people. My kiddos are too important to spend these precious years when they are babies and toddlers riddled with anxiety and fear. These may be “unprecedented” times, but my babes will only be little once, and I want to be here for every moment. ❤️

Becca’s Apple Pie

This pie is a classic dessert year round, but especially in the fall! It’s so comforting and awesome for holidays, or just to brighten gloomy rainy evenings! The addition of clove and vanilla give it extra flavor and compliment the tart apple flavor so well!

Pie crust:

2 1/2 cups of flour

1 cup of butter, cold and cubed

6-8 Tbs of cold water

1 tsp of sugar

1 tsp of salt.

Mix flour, sugar, salt and butter together until they are a coarse crumble. (Not completely mixed together, pea sized clumps. Add cold water, mix gently until dough comes together in a ball and can be handled without being super sticky. Use plenty of flour to roll it out into a round dough to fit your pie plate. Fold into 4ths, to transfer to plate easier. This recipe works awesome for both sweet and savory pies!

Apple Pie filling:

4-5 large Granny Smith apples

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Dash of clove

Peel, core and chop apples into thin wedges. Mix flour, sugar and spices (minus vanilla) together. Sprinkle over the apples, and mix. Add the vanilla and mix again. Spoon over the pie crust, add a top crust, crimp shut, and make sure to cut two ventilation slits on top, and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. (May need longer/shorter bake time depending on your oven. I set a timer for 45 minutes and check every 5 minutes after that until it is perfectly golden!) Enjoy with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream!

Happy baking!

To the moms of toddlers: (or the mom who is overwhelmed.)

Parenting has been really hard for me this year. It’s been hard for a combination of the season we’re in, (toddlerhood, with a baby, postpartum, Scott works a ton, we are living in a very small space, just a lot of things.).

Even though we are younger statistically than the average parents these days, I don’t think we had crazy expectations that parenting was going to be a breeze… I’ve been around toddlers and babies my whole life, and knew there are seasons where it is just hard. What has been unexpected has been the overwhelm of always onto the next thing. You get potty training down, they go through a sleep regression. You get them sleeping again, and they start having meltdowns in public, you work through the meltdowns, and they try to give up naps even though they desperately need them daily…. Always something hard. At least that’s where we are at. Last night alone I got up 6 different times to deal with kid needs, and by the time the alarm went off at 5:30 I could have cried I was so exausted.

And this is totally normal;

this is toddlerhood.

I’ve been really discouraged lately, especially by the comments I have been getting, and hearing from other young mamas. They are from moms of older kids who are no longer in the thick of toddler hood and babies, essentially it’s “ I am so glad I’m not there anymore,” or “I’m watching these young moms with their kids and just so glad that I don’t have littles anymore, it’s just looks miserable.”

And every time I hear someone say this, whether it’s to me or to someone else, it’s just so disheartening. I understand being thankful you’re past this stage of parenting, but vocalizing that in such a negative way is really damaging to the moms who are in the young children stage of parenting right now.

So this is for the mama of toddlers.

You are doing amazing! I see you being consistent, patient and loving even when it’s frustrating and exhausting. I see you holding back tears while you handle yet another meltdown. I see you alone, supervising your kids at every social function. This is really hard, but I can see you’re doing your best! And it’s 1000% worth it when your kid smiles up at you, or hands you the weed they picked. When they loudly announce “me happy!” Or cuddle up in your lap! So keep going, it’s just a season, and the seasons change eventually.

Running // my goal to a healthier lifestyle

In March 2021, I was five months postpartum with my second baby in two years. I was not in shape, exausted, and dealing with some major hormone issues that come with postpartum. Anxiety, depression, etc.

I was active all throughout my pregnancy, and walking postpartum, but it wasn’t enough to build up stamina or make a difference muscle-wise. With my husbands work schedule, I didn’t have the option of leaving my kids at home to go to the gym. So I bought a used double bob jogging stroller, a couple new pairs of leggings, and decided to try to learn to run.

The first time I went out, I just started running… And quickly stopped a few minutes later, heart racing, out of breath and in considerable pain. I jokingly told my husband that I could have gone in to the ER with symptoms for a heart attack and they probably would have believed me.

The very first run.

I did some research, and checked out several different apps that have been created to help beginners start to run. I settled on the Start Running for Beginners. It is super simple to use, affordable, (less than $5, a 1 time charge.) and did exactly what I was looking for; you click on the workout for the day, hit start, and it coaches you through you’re entire run, from warm up to cool down, when to walk, when to run, counting down the minutes, and letting you know when you’ve reached the halfway point. The ultimate goal in the app is to work up to running 60 minutes, and that took me 14 weeks and 143 miles. (I did one day extra per week). The program works you up so gradually that it doesn’t ever seem overwhelming, and you don’t get super sore at any point.

The last run of the plan

Once you reach the 60 minute goal, you can continue to use the app to track your runs, both with the freestyle option, or creating your own custom runs to work towards your individual goals. (Which is what I am doing now, working on getting my MPH up, and further distance.)

My current customized plan.

It’s been really amazing to have a consistent workout program, and to start to see actual results. I am excited to be working on my goals and getting better! I love the extra energy, and that I am building more muscle and stamina! I would really recommend using the Start Running app, or one like it, to help meet your own fitness goals!

10 Things making our summer easier

Inflatable pool from target

My kids (2 and 9months) are loving this pool! It’s a great size, and I have been happy with how it’s holding up, especially for only $15! The kiddy pool we had last year was great, but toddlers are hard on things, and Liam ended up braking the sides pretty fast while climbing in and out. The inflatable pool seems a little more forgiving!

Bucket hats!

I love bucket hats on little ones, and they are great for extra sun protection! Especially with a babies with not a ton of hair to protect their scalps! Bonus points for the straps that keep them on.

Trampoline

We put a trampoline in the yard a couple of months ago, (found extremely cheap but in great condition on Facebook marketplace.) and it’s been the best purchase! Both the kids love it, and the trampoline has a net around it, which is amazing with a crawling baby! I can let Tori play freely, and it’s honestly one of her very favorite things.

snack lunches

I was getting frustrated with lunches, but realized that I’m feeding a 2 year old. He literally doesn’t care what he eats, so long as I feed him something. So often when we don’t have leftovers for lunch, I feed him a snacky lunch, usually cheese or chopped chicken, a fruit, a veggie, and possibly chips or a piece of bread. It’s quick, super easy, not very messy, and Liam loves it!

early morning stroller runs

I started running back in March, and as it has started really heating up, we are heading out the door around 6:30am, for about an hour, and we are all loving it! The exercise is invigorating, and I am much more likely to actually get it in first thing, but it also means that no matter what our plans for the day, we have spent at least an hour out in the sunshine and fresh air.

getting outside as much as we can in the morning before it gets super hot.

This is similar to the last one, but I am trying to let go of my morning routine of sorts, and prioritize getting the kids outside as long as we can in the mornings. Our patio is in full sun in the afternoons, and gets extremely hot, so it isn’t safe to be out in in the summer heat. We also take advantage of the wonderful HOA parks around us.

letting go of expectations in the afternoons.

I am a creature of habit, and routines. It’s hard for me to just relax or enjoy slow lazy days. But the kids are little, and I am trying to make a point of enjoying these slow summer days.

all the berries and apples on hand for snacks.

Liam is super into snacks right now (growth spurt!) so I am keeping lots of berries and apples on hand for easy snacks! He can even get himself an apple out of the drawer in the fridge (with permission.) which is a bonus when we are busy!

ice and lime essential oil to encourage drinking water.

I struggle with drinking enough water, so this has been a game changer for me, and it really helps encourage Liam to drink more water too!

pizza one night a week

I started getting pizza one night a week a couple months ago, and it has been so nice to know I get to have a break! I love cooking, but sometimes it gets monotonous and exhausting. Knowing that I don’t have to think about it one night a week has been really refreshing!

What are some things that are making your summer better this year?

Favorite things lately

This is inspired by Laura Tremaine’s podcasts about her favorite things.

-iced coffee

My coffee taste changes every few months. Sometimes I drink black, sometimes with cream, sometimes hot, right now I am drinking a lot of iced americanos with a little cream. And I found a easy way to make it at home which is an added bonus! (Instant coffee, oat milk, a little water, and ice in a mason jar, shake up until frothy, and enjoy!)

-nail wraps from nailsmailed.com

I love having my nails painted, but don’t love how fast polish chips. I can’t afford to do manicures constantly, and my nails didn’t do well with the super popular red aspen glue on option. So nail wraps are my new favorite! And I have been so impressed with the price as well as the quality from Nails Mailed! They last a week or so for me, and I think that’s awesome for $2-5!

-air pods

I made fun of my husband for buying these, and didn’t understand why having cordless earphones was such a great thing. Haha. It’s amazing. I use them mostly while running in the morning, but it’s awesome because I can throw my phone in the stroller, and don’t have to keep it where it’s close enough for the cord to reach. And I can put my phone down while I’m doing housework and stuff around the house, and still have a book or podcast in my ear. (I only wear one, partly because I want to hear the kids and not check out completely, and partly because I recently got a tragus piercing and didn’t think about the fact that it would make it hard to wear earphones. It’s totally fine though!)

-lime essential oil

I put a couple drops into the pure La Croix, add ice and it’s my favorite summer drink! It’s the perfect way to trick myself into drinking more water, and is really delicious! I have also added it to pico de Gallo and it was amazing!

-Summer vibes

Bear with me. I am loving the warm sunshine, the hours spent outside, the extra vitamin d. Extra light hours every day. My toddler spending hours outside entertaining himself, getting dirty and using his imagination. The way the schedule goes out the door, and spending time outside and together becomes the priority.

What are some favorite things you’ve been loving lately?

mamas need photos too

I don’t have a ton of photos of myself, especially with the kids. I take thousands of my children, and tons of cute pics of my hubby with the kids. But when I scroll back through the photos, there are only a handful of photos with me in them.

Part of the reason is that Scott doesn’t take pictures often. And that’s okay, we are totally different people! When the kids do something cute, he will sit and watch them and enjoy the moment. And I’ll run for my camera so we can capture the memory! (Perhaps we need to balance both of those! )

But a huge piece for be reason there aren’t many photos of me from the last few years is that I’m just not comfortable seeing photos of myself. And often when someone has taken pictures for me, I’ll just delete them right away.

Having kids changed everything about my body, and I didn’t “bounce back” the way other women seem to after pregnancy. Postpartum was really hard for me both times, and while I have always tried to excercise and eat decently, through those times getting through the day and keeping the tiny humans alive and thriving is the priority and main thing I can handle.

I used to be super tiny, and that was the all consuming thing for me for several years. Every time I weighed myself I wanted more “progress.” And sometimes I can feel myself slipping back into that mental space, where my weight is the only thing that matters, and the desire to be skinny enough is consuming. But then I remember what it took to be in that place. There was two years straight where I only ate one meal a day, and skipped that when I could. I had constant headaches, and very low energy. The price for “skinny enough” was feeling awful constantly. Not to mention the mental space it takes to be there, tormenting yourself every time you look in the mirror or eat a piece of food.

Its never skinny enough, is it? It’s always 2 more pounds, or when my tummy is a little flatter.

Flash forward 4+ years later. I had 2 babies in 2 years, and I eat like a normal person now. I have some leftover baby weight (from both of them, honestly.) And while I do struggle with that on a daily basis, (because it is a constant battle in my mind!) I also recognize that being skinny does not determine my worth, and I am not going to ever let it take over my life again. I am working my booty off right now to get back in shape. But now it’s not just about the weight goal, its having energy, and being healthy.

So I am going to ask for more photos with my kids. I want to look back and be a part of those memories! They won’t care that my stomach isn’t as flat as it used to be, or that my arms aren’t toned. They just care that I am there!

Opinions

Recently I had an a brief interaction that has left me thinking. It was a short conversation with an extended family member who doesn’t think much of my lifestyle. They were trying to not so subtly tell me their big opinions on why my choice to stay home with my kids wasn’t okay. And it’s had me thinking a lot.

We all have opinions! I have thoughts and feelings about a lot of things, big and small. I jump to conclusions, and make snap judgements. I tend to think my thoughts on everything are more important than anyone else’s. But after dealing with some very over opinionated people over the past couple years, I am trying very consciously not to impose my opinions and judgments on people. It’s really hard sometimes, but I think it’s very important.

The definition of opinions is; a view or judgement formed not necessarily based on fact or actual knowledge.

I am a really big fan of the movie Inside Out, it’s one that Liam and I have watched over and over. But my favorite line is when they spill a couple of boxes on the train, and Joy says: “oh no, these facts and opinions look so similar!” And then Bing Bong laughs, “Don’t worry about it, it happens all the time!” As they shovel them all back into one box. It’s funny, until you realize how often you say something that isn’t fact, it’s just your opinion, and ultimately it doesn’t even matter.

I’m not talking about big picture things, or moral absolutes. There are absolutely things that are black and white, and we don’t have to agree with people just to get along with those things.

But there is a huge problem of mommy shaming and constant disagreeing with people just because they think or do things differently than you or I would. And I think we need to make a very conscious effort to just keep our mouths shut more often! (And I’m 100% talking to myself here, I’ve been catching myself doing this! It really is something I’m working on!)

We are living in a crazy, divided world right now. It’s gotten to the point that we can’t do anything without having to deal with other peoples judgement. We need to work (as a society, but starting individually) on giving people grace. We don’t know every person’s story, and it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to do things exactly your way. It’s not my job to police other people on every little thing! People are different, and that’s part of what makes the world so interesting and beautiful!

Peoples words really stay with me, whether they are hurtful or uplifting, and I am striving to be more uplifting and gracious with the people around me. ❤️