A summer away from my family

This summer has been rather…interesting, and I’d like to take the time to share what I did, since it was quite an unconventional way for a wife & mother of a 1.5 year old to spend their time. (I should probably say that this YEAR has been rather interesting but more on that in future posts).

I spent six weeks during the summer in graduate school. Yes, graduate school. Cool, right?

Such a gorgeous campus.

I was accepted into a prestigious program that works with my currently hectic life the best way possible. In four consecutive summers, I take a full course load of rigorous graduate classes in order to obtain my Masters in Spanish. It is a bit lengthy, however, it is a much better option than trying to work full time, go to school full time, take care of my daughter/family and my house for two years straight. For six weeks each summer, I pack up my stuff, leave my family, and head to Middlebury, VT to work and to learn. My time is still hectic because I am committed to working full time for my online teaching job year round; but then again, it is less chaotic than if I had to balance everything else for two years straight.

what a great study location

So what did I do with my young daughter?  My husband, who was extremely supportive of me continuing my education, cared for her full time along with my MIL.

Shoutout to my husband for doing a superb job taking care of our daughter for six weeks! The real MVP along with my MIL!

Surprisingly or maybe unsurprisingly I got some mixed reaction when I told people about my summer plans.  I would say that many were either skeptical or discouraging of my grad school goals (6 weeks away from home):

  • “Are you sure you want to do this? You should really think about Ava. She is going to be so sad without you.”
  • “That program sounds so amazing! How did you even find it?”
  • “That program sounds nice…maybe you can just do one summer now and then continue it when Ava is older.”
  • “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

So I decided to stop telling people and to keep my plans quiet. Hence my radio silence on all social media platforms for several weeks.  Well, that and I was insanely too busy to keep up with Facebook & Instagram.

And I get it…6 weeks is a long time to be away from one’s family. But it is a month and a half out of the whole year. It’s not like I want to run away from my family. Here is a look back to something I wrote the night before I left for Middlebury:

It’s 11pm. Late. Well, late for me. I spent the whole day running around, packing, cleaning, seeing family. I should be tired. But I’m not. I’m having a flashback to when I was in high school–the night before school started. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. It seems so dorky to admit (who cares, I’m a well adjusted 30 year old now), but I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before school started because I was so excited to start school. What were my teachers going to be like? With whom would I have class? What would I learn? Would I finally like my Spanish teacher (I didn’t like a lot of my Spanish teachers–how funny)?

Well tonight is like that. Because tomorrow, I begin my journey north to my grad school program. I will be doing my Masters in Spanish, over the course of four summers. I am pretty darn excited.  I’m finally going to focus on a subject that I’ve always loved.

But I’m also petrified.

The program is six weeks long. Six weeks of full immersion in the Spanish language. Six weeks away from my little Lima bean and hubby (and doggie). That may seem like an idyllic situation to many (vacay from the fam–woot woot), but I’m freaking out.  This is NOT a vacation. I literally can’t imagine my life without my little nuclear family. I can’t imagine not having them there, to hold, to kiss, and to tell them all that I love them. To kiss away the boo boos. To make yummilicious dinners that makes everyone go “mmmmmmmmmmh!”  Ava literally does something new everyday. Last week, she started saying “bubbles”–her first clearly pronounced word with intent. She gives kisses on command, whether in English or in Spanish. She gives big hugs. And when she thinks you’re sad, she goes up to you and pats your back.

How will I survive the summer?”

I missed my family (dog included) dearly during the six weeks. I probably talked about them way too much while I was at school.  But how empowering to take the reins of my life and to get up and to say, I will still work on my education and better myself, even though I am a full time mommy/wife/teacher (that should be a profession title. “What do you do?” “Oh, I’m a mommy/wife/teacher.”  “How fascinating.” :D). I’d like to think that Ava would be proud and understanding of the fact that I decided to get my masters in a subject area that I adore and to better myself in my knowledge of all things Spanish/Latinx/Hispanic. Also, the effect trickles down to her, since I am better equipped to teach her Spanish.

I felt a bit like a rebel feminist this summer all for taking classes as a married, working mother. I was one of probably a few students that I knew who was married AND a parent of a small child. But I made it! With less tears than I thought. And with all As!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


the no sleep grad student, as evident by various under eye bags

The experience was worth it. The benefits outweighed the risks. This summer was so enriching. I felt “smart” for a change. Real life has no clear right or wrongs but the academic world does and I can navigate that world well. I usually feel quite lost and often insecure when it comes to the “real world”. But give me a book in Spanish and tell me to write an essay about it–I’m DOWN. Tell me to study a list of prepositions in Spanish that “don’t make no damn sense” and I’m already making flash cards to study them.

somehow, i understood these notes perfectly. #gradschoolflow #keepup #beastmode

two personal obsessions this summer: cuba & son cubano



Some other mommy friends thought what I was doing/did was inspiring. One person said, “you’re making me think about myself now. What is it that I want to do with my life?”

I’m still not sure what exactly is my next step in life.  Teaching online gives me the flexibility to do what I like but also to run errands and to care for my daughter. But I feel like there is a next step in my career.  Or that I’m supposed to be taking it up a notch. I’m just not confident in what that is.  But at the very least, I know that it will involve Spanish.  😃

Here are some more pictures from my experience, in no particular order:


The drive home.  An alleged 9 hours. LIES. It was 12 hours!


The PokemonGo bug bit me…


The sunsets were magnificent.


Last day of class silliness with Snapchat. 😛

“Please, Manolo, no more rules about the subjunctive! We will kill ourselves (/each other?)! We love you!” hahahahaha

Grammar class was always fun with this character!!! #lovegrammar #teamManolo


Even during a trip to visit family in Burlington, I couldn’t escape my Afro-Latino/Caribbean obsessions.


Oda a mis cafecitos: Queridos cafecitos, como les amaba  /  Sin ustedes, no hubiera aguantado / Todo el estrés que me pesaba.  / Los ensayos, las lecturas y mi trabajo. / Pero siempre estaban, dulces y calientitos / Mis amorcitos / tan ricos y benevolentes ❤ jajajajajaja 😀 (to say I loved my coffee is an understatement) 


The sky was more expressive and beautiful than any other sky I’ve seen.

Breakfast of…champions? Well, champions who want to gain several pounds by the end of summer 😦 Project workout has commenced to right all of my wrongs.

My fav. café


off to class/a clase

those clouds.  it’s like a painting.

Caring for a sick Ava

This past week Ava has been dealing with and recovering from a cold.  Today, she is back to 100%, except for a lingering clogged nose.

Like any other mom, I hate when my child is sick.  It drains my soul and pushes my anxiety to new heights. But, thank God, this is only the second time that Ava has been sick in her almost 10 months of life!


::Last time Ava was sick::

Her symptoms started innocently: a stuffy nose.  Then her eyes were constantly watery and glassy (along with lots of mocos, according to my babysitter, haha).  I thought maybe it was allergies.  The next day she was irritable and clingy.  I thought maybe it was because of her teeth growing in (her four top teeth are all coming in at once…yes!…said no mom ever).

That same day Ava wasn’t eating as much as she normally does. That was a red flag.  Because if there is anything that this girl likes to do, it’s eating (followed by terrorizing our chihuahua and sleeping).

Then I discovered that Ava had a fever.  She looked flushed and felt hot to my lips when I kissed her forehead. Her temperature was almost 101 degrees. I think my heart dropped when I read the thermometer, even though I knew that it was a low grade fever and not something to freak out about.  But I think that as a first time mom, my simple mental equation is fever = very bad & serious.

The worst part about having a sick baby is trying to play the guessing game as to what is wrong.”

I was able to get a same day doctor’s appointment and he assuaged my fears & mental ramblings of “what if this…” and “what if that..”.  He diagnosed Ava with a simple viral infection, aka, a cold.  He directed me to give Ava Tylenol when her temperature reached or was above 101.

After her appointment, I decided to give Ava all my love, energy, and attention, leaving work or anything else for nap times only. My number one goal was to keep her super comfortable and to hopefully reduce her cold symptoms.

Since cold & flu season is approaching, I wanted to share some of the things I did to help Ava recover quickly and as comfortably as possible. Do you have any other home remedies for babies & small children? Include them in the comments below!! 


  1. Baby Chest Rub, a.k.a., Vicks Vapor Rub

Why: Has anyone ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Do you remember how the father believed that Windex was the cure all for everything? That is how I feel about Vicks Vapor Rub.  Go ask my parents–they’ll tell you.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.47.31 AM

I swear by the power of Vicks for stuffy noses.  My grandmother used to use it on me every time I was sick.  It’s so great for opening up a congested nose.  Also, it is just soothing to feel someone rubbing your chest and back when you are a sick, little kid.

::click image to play::

2.  Little Remedies Saline Spray

Why:  Ava HATES this stuff. I literally have to wrestle her to get even one drop into her nose (you may laugh now, but you try fighting Ava–she’s really strong!).  After I finally get a few drops into each nose, I suction out (click here for link to the nasal aspirator that I use) whatever guck is in her nose.  This stuff is great for simultaneously moisturizing and drying out her nose. I administer it every morning & night, at least.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

3. Tylenol (for babies)

Why:  Not much to write about Tylenol.  It’s a fever reducer.  Enough said.

4. Campbell’s Chicken & Rice Soup

Why:  Sadly, I don’t have a real reason for this one.  Everyone told me to do it and I myself am a believer in the great healing powers of Chicken Soup.  I know it can help with dehydration.  Since Ava wasn’t eating a lot, it was great that this was appetizing to her and that she actually ate it. I fed it to her in small portions once a day (I kept the left overs in the fridge).  My babysitter swears by the below soup, as opposed to the Campbell’s brand, but I didn’t have time to run out and buy some. It’s called Maggi Sopa Sabor a Pollo con Fideos/Chicken Flavored Noodle Soup Mix. 


5.  Babies R Us Crane Humidifier

Why: I put this on every night to help Ava breathe a little better.  It adds some moisture into the air.  I ran it every night.

Now that I’ve listed a few of my go-to remedies, what are some of yours?

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Mighty Mug Review + Giveaway!

Anyone who knows me (or follows my Instagram page) knows that I have a slight addiction to…coffee.

I can’t start any day without it.  It annoys my husband to no end.  This meme probably explains it best:

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, @Livingfortwoplus

Here are some others that summarize my relationship with my cafecito:

Some of my favorite coffee memes, gathered from Instagram.

Some of my favorite coffee memes, gathered from Instagram.

So when I got an email from a company named Mighty Mug asking if I wanted to try out one of their travel mugs and see if I liked it, I was intrigued.  Their claim is that they created a mug that doesn’t fall over easily (click here for a demonstration).  After checking out their videos and reviews, I found out that they use some sort of magical technology where the mug sort of suctions (but not in the way you’re thinking) to whatever surface it is on, so when bumped into, it doesn’t spill over.  Yet, it can be lifted effortlessly.  I was ALL about that life–especially since I have a 9 month old daughter who moves through my house like a tornado and a dog that desperately runs & jumps  everywhere to get away from her.

I used to say this all the time to my high school students when I was a school teacher. One bump into my desk could mean a ruined day.

I used to say this all the time to my high school students when I was a school teacher. One bump into my desk could mean a ruined day. Created on someecards website.

I decided to purchase a cute red travel mug.  I use it a lot at my house to keep my coffee warm because it seems to take an eternity for me to finish my coffee in the morning. The mug does a decent job keeping my drink warm.  And it does a pretty good job not falling over.  My husband and I fool around and try to flick it or make it fall over, haha.  ::Two kids over here:: One caveat though: do not punch the mug and expect it not to fall over.  It will fall.  The mug is really protecting you from those day-ending accidental bumps.  Earthquakes not included.

The nice guys at Mighty Mug are letting me give away a mug to one lucky reader.  Click this link and enter to win!  Contest ends on Friday, September 18th, 2015.  I’ll announce the winner next Monday! Good luck and I hope you enjoy the mug as much as I have. 😀

Contest details

One lucky winner chosen at random will receive a $30 gift card to purchase their very own Mighty Mug.
The $30 gift card will cover one of our $19.99 mugs and free US shipping. If the winner is outside of the US, they’ll need to cover the costs above $30.
Entries will be collected through Friday, September 18, 2015 9pm EST.
Disclaimer: Contest is run exclusively through Mighty Mug.  Livingfortwoplus.com is not` responsible for the administration of this giveaway or the selection of a winner.
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Blue Apron Review: Promo Code Included!!

We have all been there.  Looking in our fridge, scratching our heads, wondering what to make for dinner.  Or, trying to think of a new, creative dinner (yet healthy) in order to break the monotony of eating our “go-to” meals.  For me, that’s baked chicken or baked salmon with sides of baked sweet potatoes or brown rice with veggies (can you tell I like baked items?).  Combine that with being short on time and the idea of healthy meal planning becomes an arduous task.

In a casual chat with one of my girlfriends, Brittany, I discussed how hard it can be to meal plan AND to go food shopping.  Excitedly, she told me about a food service that she uses called Blue Apron.  Blue Apron is a snazzy food delivery company that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep, along with detailed recipe cards for three dishes.  She proceeded to show me a stack of glossy recipe cards with familiar, yet exotic dishes.  Calorie counts and educational asides were included on the cards.  I was intrigued.

To be honest, I was wary about the service–were the food portions going to be enough for my husband and me? (Yes, they were perfect.) What if I didn’t like the food but already committed to it? (You can cancel or modify an upcoming week’s meal online if you don’t like what is being offered.) What if my food bill was now even higher because of this “added” expense? (My food bill was actually LESS expensive. Adding the cost of Blue Apron ($59) with my food bill, I STILL spent less than I would normally spend on a weekly basis.)

So I took a baby step and tried a few of their online recipes. I tried the Crispy Catfish with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata.  Obviously, I didn’t have catfish & eggplants laying around the house, so I had to plan a shopping trip.  I also had to pick up tomato paste, rice flour, capers, and red wine vinegar.  I had to forgo the marjoram because I couldn’t find it (honestly, I never heard of that before).  The finished product was great (click here for blog post on that dish), but I was left with a lot of extra ingredients that I will probably never use again.  What a waste of money.

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

I decided to try out the service. What’s the harm? I told my girlfriend I was thinking about trying it out so she gifted me a week free so that I could try it “commitment free” (Disclaimer–>I DID have to enter my credit card info, but I could cancel before they charged me if I didn’t like my first free week of food).

On Saturday, I got a gorgeous and impeccably organized & insulated box of food delivered to my door. I got three selections of raw meat that were sitting on ice packs. Separate from the meats were various vegetables and “knick knacks”–all labeled and perfectly measured for their corresponding recipes. The recipe cards were super stylish: large glossy cards with pictures detailing each step of the cooking process. 

Since I had three meals already taken care of, all I had to do was think about two other meals for the week. I found the inexpensive solution of buying a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club for under $5. I then bought some other basic necessities like bread, milk, etc. My food bill was $50–more than $75 less than what I normally spend.

A recent study showed that when customers purchased the ingredients in one Blue Apron delivery at grocery stores (from local grocery stores to Whole foods) in five different cities, the ingredients were 60% more expensivethan a Blue Apron delivery, and fewer than 75% of the ingredients were available at any one store on average” (Blue Apron, About Us)

The meals:

I had this, this, and this. The recipes took me out of my comfort zone, as I never really “seared” anything before, made cod fish, or prepared an Indian dish. Each and every dish was absolutely lovely. The only downside was that since it was my first time making these meals (and I had a busy baby in the background), it took me a long time to get through preparing each dish–washing & chopping the veggies, rereading the recipe cards, and debating whether or not the meat/fish was fully cooked. If I were working full time outside of my home (instead of being a WAHM), I’d have to prepare these meals on the weekend.  Or, maybe over time, I’ll get faster.  Also, the other downside is that there are no left overs.  So I’d recommend opting for a family plan if you are looking for extra food to last more than one day. 


Special promo for you!

I reached out to Blue Apron to 1) tell them how much I love their service and 2) see if they would be interested in offering my blog readers a promotion code so that you all can try out Blue Apron.  I figured many of you would appreciate a few free meals (without a shopping trip). So here you have it faithful reader, a promo code so that you too can fall in love with Blue Apron –> My first 50 readers who use this link will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box (for first time customers only).

Some cool Blue Apron facts from Blue Apron’s About Us

Blue Apron is building a network of family farmers that champion sustainable farming practices.  These direct farmer relationships allow Blue Apron to give customers access to hard-‐‐to-‐‐find seasonal produce (e.g., fairytale eggplants, fiddlehead ferns, watermelon radishes and micro-‐‐basil).”

As of June 2015, over 1.1 million pounds of specialty crops were  planted and harvested by small, family-‐‐run farms for Blue Apron recipes. “
Blue Apron ships over 3 million meals per month to 99% of the U.S.”

I really, really, really hope that you enjoy Blue Apron as much as I did.  I decided to keep my subscription, so I got my second box of food yesterday.  I can’t wait to write & to post Instagram photos about this batch of food (follow my Instagram page here.


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I ❤️ Nautical

If you know me well, you might know this one thing about me.

I absolutely love nautical themed everything.

Actually, my favorite structured dress is a blue and white striped dress.  And because I recently squeezed myself into this somewhat tiny, prepregnancy dress, I wanted to share my thematic obsession.


This is the first time that I’m wearing this dress post pregnancy! I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to fit this *small* dress again. But ::whew::, I made it! Side note, Ava’s dress is striped as well, haha.


This dress is from Ann Taylor The Loft. I found a similar dress here. Shoes are Valentino and can be found here.  Similar shoes here, here, and here!


My favorite watch is a nautical themed watch.


This watch is by my fav watch company, La Mer. A good friend of mine introduced me to them. I like them because they specialize in wrap watches and take the guesswork out of how to stack your “armwear.” Similar watch here.

My favorite fitted blazer is…you guessed it…nautical themed.


This fitted blazer though…literally gives me life. And I love when it is chilly enough to wear it. Then I can bust out my ingrained NY combination: boots, blazer, jeans, & scarf. You just can’t lose. Jacket (kind of old) is from H&M. Similar blazers here, here, and here.

There is something so classic about a nautical inspired outfit. And there are so many ways to “nautical-ize” your outfit, from a watch, a jacket, or a pair of slacks. Usually bllue & white stripes will do the trick.

Now that I’ve shared my obsession, do you have your own style craze? What is your go-to theme?

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Baby Food Ideas with Fruits, Veggies, and Poultry

Every few weeks I head over to my local Spanish supermarket, Fiesta, in order to pick up Ava’s favorite cereal: Nestum.  She loves this stuff.  When she first started eating solids, she couldn’t stand the standard American option of Gerber–it was the spicier Nestum that got her tastebuds hopping.

During my last visit, I walked through the baby isle and took a look at the jarred baby foods.  I hardly ever look at the jars because I make all of her food at home.  I use a Baby Bullet and I’ve had a lot of success with it.  But I make simple and bland things–sweet potato puree; mashed peas; applesauce. I looked at the jars on the shelf and there were so many interesting combinations: turkey with a starch and veggie puree; mixed fruits; mixed veggies.  I felt really bad that I wasn’t making such cool things too!

I bought some veggies and other items with the intent of making some new & interesting meals for Ava.

The results were fabulous.

Mango Applesauce:

I can’t have a little girl who already has a propensity towards Caribbean culture to not like mangos.  So I decided that might be fun to mix in with her standard applesauce.  It’s so easy too.

  1. Wash fruits.
  2. Peel, core, and chop up 2 apples.
  3. Steam apples until soft.
  4. Place in blender with slices of 1 peeled/deseeded mango
  5. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you enough meals to enjoy for 4 days and freeze leftovers!

It’s sweet, delicious, and pretty to look at.  I even enjoyed a taste.

Sweet Potatoes and Peas Puree:

Ava loves sweet potatoes.  She loves peas (I use Birds Eye Frozen Peas, which have no additional or artificial ingredients).  So why not combine them? It is a nice, heavy meal, and is likely to make her sleepy (not a bad thing!).

  1. Wash sweet potato.
  2. Peel & chop up 1 large sweet potato.
  3. Steam sweet potato until soft.
  4. Place frozen peas in microwave and follow package instructions.
  5. Place both items (in portions) into blender.
  6. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you about 2 weeks of food, depending on how much your child eats.  You might not use all of the peas, so save them to eat with YOUR dinner.  I think it’s a good sign if you are serving your kid something you would eat (unlike some nasty, foul smelling formulas I’ve given Ava!–no shade). I also ate her left over quinoa and threw the extra chicken into my Spanish rice.

This looks a little weird.  Kind of like poo.  But I’ve tasted it, and yet again, it is yummilicious.

Quinoa, Chicken, and Carrot Puree: 

I was pretty proud of this one.  I adapted it from a Turkey, Rice, and Carrot recipe from the Baby Bullet cookbook. I wanted to try a meat with Ava, and chicken seemed like the obvious choice.  I had a ton of quinoa and i took a quick look in my baby book (yes, I still use it occasionally, lol) to see if that was ok: it was ok for babies! This recipe was a little more involved.

Remember to keep everything STERILE.  You do NOT want to cross contaminate raw meat with uncooked veggies.  So prep your meat last and clean up before combining everything. 

  1. Wash 1 carrot. Peel & chop up.  Steam.
  2. Rinse 1 cup of quinoa.  Place in 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and lower flame.  Let simmer for 15 minutes.

  1. Put carrots & quinoa aside.
  2. Grill or boil chicken: whichever is more convenient.  I pan grilled slices of 1 large chicken breast with a little dab of olive oil.
  4. Combine carrot, 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1/2 cup of chicken, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth in blender.
  5. Blend until desired consistency.


This tasted ok, but as an adult, I’m not used to eating meat purees.  Ava, on the other hand, loved it!

I hope you enjoy these recipes and share them with your little ones.  I’d love to hear what recipes you use, so feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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Ava’s Precious Pink & Gray Nursery!

I am so in love with my daughter’s nursery.  It is my, ::ehem:: I mean her, sanctuary. I worked on it for months.  And now that we spend so much time in it playing, I thought this would be a great time to showcase it.

For those who have followed me, let’s not forget what this room USED to look like. 

You can see the full project at projectnursery.com!!

I organized all of my inspiration on Pinterest.  I love that site!

General nursery inspiration: https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/little-girls-nursery/

Specific items for Ava’s room:  https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/avas-room/

Nursery organization ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/nursery-organization/

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Motivation Monday: Meal planning

Diet and meal planning: UGH.

It can be so hard to plan balanced, healthy meals and then, to COOK them.  Everyone is short on time, regardless of whether or not they are a SAHM (I am busy ALL the time at home).  Here is how I had a successful food week last week without much effort.

But first, some advice for making sure you eat well all week long:

  • Take the time to sit down and plan your week’s meals. The 20 mins you commit to planning will pay off.
  • Meal formula: meat/fish + veggie (+ optional extra side). 🍴
  • Always have a lot of microwaveable veggies in the freezer. In a pinch, you have a healthy side dish ready to go in 5 minutes (make sure there aren’t any unnecessary ingredients).
  • Bags of already made salads provide another source of quick side dishes OR a salad for lunch with left over meat from the night before.
  • Always have brown rice or quinoa at home. Better yet, make a ton and freeze it in ziploc bags (portioned by serving size). Then when you’re ready, you can easily defrost in two minutes. ALSO, you can buy rice in freezer bags (just like the veggies).
  • Do your food shopping on Sunday morning.  For me, that is the best time to shop.  There aren’t many people and I accomplish something before my laziness sets in. 😝
  • Cook 1-2 meals on Sunday that will last you until Wednesday.

Here is a look at my meals from last week: 3 in total

  • Sunday & Monday: We ate baked chicken (about 542 calories*), string beans (30 calories), and sweet potatoes (90 calories)
    • Chicken took about an 1 1/2 hrs.  You can follow the recipe above, but I basically just wash the chicken, squeeze lemon on & in it, butter it, season it, cook it.  Everything else is just decorative and not needed.
    • String beans: 5 minutes in the microwave, Bird’s Eye frozen variety
    • Sweet potatoes: cooked in the microwave for about 10 minutes

  • Thursday/Friday:  We had baked catfish (609 calories–>fatty, but “good” fatty–in an Omega fats, prevent cancer kind of way) with left over quinoa and/or green peas & caponata sauce and/or plantains
    • Now this was the bomb! I really enjoyed this and recommend it.  It took hardly anytime. And quinoa is delicious.
    • For the catfish, skip all the hoopla: coat in olive oil and your favorite seasoning (mine is Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic) & bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  DONE!


  • Saturday: A Kale/Coconut/Apple/Honey Smoothie.  Yum!
    • Grab a bunch of Kale, 1 apple, half a can of Goya coconut water, and honey.  Blend with ice.  Add to or subtract from ratio in order to adjust to your taste


  • Snacks: tortilla chips & salsa; brownie with walnuts; yogurt; ice cream
  • Drinks: coffee, water, wine

I exercised by walking, doing yoga, and zumba.  This week, I’m looking forward to another healthy, yummy, and fast meal makin’ week!

Hopes this motivates y’all to plan a great food week as well!!

*all calorie counts are approximations from My Fitness Pal or from the recipe’s website.  I don’t normally count calories, but I wanted to provide them for my readers.

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This week, I took Ava to the supermarket.  Not a big deal, right? Nope, it was a huge deal.  Why? Because Ava was able to sit in the cart, alone, without the car seat. It was amazing. She was fascinated by the world around her.

There were adorable moments, where people would just come up to us and compliment her on how cute she was…

 But for the majority of my shopping trip, Ava sat with her feet up, leaning on her side.  Like she was a little gangster! Everyone I passed got a kick out of it. It was a total #thuglife moment for Ava.

Have a laugh. Enjoy your day!

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Netflix maternity leave–and why I’m furious

I recently read an article about a topic near and dear to my heart. 

Maternity leave. 

Netflix announced that it will be offering unlimited maternity leave for the first year after having or adopting a child. Not only that, a parent (whether mother or father) could return on a modified status. 

We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.”


While I am happy that a company recognized the importance of PAID maternity leave, part of me is furious. 

For the past three years, I worked in a predominantly female profession. I was a teacher. And I loved my job. Until I got pregnant. 

I would have never thought that a profession so dominated by females (84% that is, according to the National Center for Education Information, 2011) would have a barbaric maternity leave policy. My job only adhered to the minimum of what is federally mandated: 12 weeks of UNPAID leave. This policy, also known as FMLA, guaranteed that my job was protected during my leave. 

12 weeks aka 3 months. Regardless of when it started. So when I was put on early bed rest due to preterm contractions, my maternity leave kicked in. Meaning that four weeks after giving birth, the school expected me to return to work or risk losing my job. 

I would talk to fellow employees in outrage at my unpaid and short leave. However, it seemed to be accepted as the status quo. A shrug here. A story there, about how they had to return two weeks after delivery in order to continue earning a paycheck. A blank stare. A recommendation that I use my sick days during my leave for pay: my FIVE sick days that I’m allotted.  A shocked look at me that I even  contemplated taking off my full maternity leave. “You’re taking the whole three months?” What? I couldn’t believe how lax people were. No one seemed to want to change the policy. Everybody seemed to be more critical of me and my “choice” to get pregnant. “Why didn’t you plan to have her in the summer?” The comments I got from people were ridiculous. 

Meanwhile, at my husband’s firm, they offered paid maternity leave. I guess I didn’t choose the right profession. 


First days home.

The United States has one of the worst maternity leave policies in the world.  It is the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave.  Most countries offer at least three months of PAID leave.  

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 8.59.33 PM

Not a single week is paid during maternity leave in the US. Credit: The Guardian.

I was due in December.  The doctor ordered a mandatory bed rest in October since my employer and I could not reach an agreement on a part time schedule—a flexibility that would have allowed me to work longer.  But the US doesn’t mandate that companies offer accommodations to pregnant women.  Seems silly.  To lose an employee completely as opposed to having them work part time. 

After Ava was born, I had to apply for a disability leave.  During this leave, my job wasn’t necessarily “protected,” which the school made evident by a job posting that I saw online for my position. 


I received no pay during my leave.  And, to add insult to injury, I was unpaid when I returned to work.  How is that possible? The way my district calculates pay, I “owed” them money because of the amount of time that I took off.  So I worked “for free” for about 2 months AFTER I returned.  And, as if to further the inequity of the situation, a man who was ostensibly hired to replace me, but wasn’t clear to work before I returned, was present during this time.  Since I had returned, he was relegated to observing classes because he had signed a contract.  During the time period that I worked without paid, he received checks while not actually teaching (his own set of 6 classes).  Such is the real-life consequences of maternity leave in America.

My story is not that bad in comparison to the many women who suffer through poor maternity leave policies.  I am lucky: I was in a stable, dual income relationship during my pregnancy.  But what about the single woman who is pregnant? Or the family with no savings who finds themselves expecting? To forgo pay for months is an impossibility for many families.  

But there are consequences to rushing to return to work right after delivery.  The physical trauma of pregnancy & delivery does not heal itself within a matter of weeks.  In fact, it takes month for a woman to feel “back to normal,” if she ever does at all.  


And what about finding and paying for childcare?  Our dismal maternity leave is matched by our disgraceful early childcare industry.  And what about nursing? How can one expect a company to be flexible with a nursing mother if they can’t be with a pregnant mother? 

“I can’t sympathize with your nursing thing.  I guess because I didn’t do it.”

-coworker at my high school

(Who says these things??!!)

The US maternity policies (or lack of) make me sick.  While I think it is commendable that ONE company, Netflix, has decided to take a huge step in accommodating parents with new children, I can’t help think about all of the other companies that don’t offer any paid leave, or any job protected leave outside of the FMLA 12 week cycle.  Or what about half of all employees who don’t even qualify for FMLA, therefore living in the daily fear of losing their job.  I applaud Netflix, but I’m waiting for the country as a whole—not private companies, not individual states—the entire United States of America to adopt better, federally mandated maternity leave policies.  

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