Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Meet Our Newest Addition

Hello friends!

It's been a while, yes? That's because of one thing and one thing only:


(Or should I say, one pup and one pup only?)

It's true. A little over a month ago, we happened to acquire another addition here in the Frantic Mama household. 

Her name is Sunny. And it was allll my decision to get her and convince my family we couldn't live without her.

Let me introduce you to our newest handful, Sunny.

Before we got a puppy-- kind of like when you're pregnant or hoping to get pregnant-- everyone who has had puppies before me felt the need to inform me how much work the puppy would be. I even had people think it was their place to tell me not to get one. 

Aw, naw. Don't be telling a tough, hardworking grown woman what she can or can't do, people! Amiright?!

But I digress...

We got one, despite all the [annoying] naysayers, and has it been a ton of work? Has it been life-changing? Yes! 

Yes, indeed it has!

(But it's also been worth it, for the record.)

I might have scoffed if someone compared dog ownership to having a child before going through the ringer myself, but now that I've done both, I can say that yes ma'am, having a puppy at home keeps me almost as busy as having a baby or toddler! They are constant little tornadoes of energy... until they sleep...and those naps are most precious to us hoomans. (Just like those of us who savor/ed our baby/toddlers' naps. It's much the same. Naps are the best invention of all time in the whole wide world.).

In case you don't believe me, I came up with a handy dandy meme about it. (While the puppy napped. Because just like babies, there is no getting anything done when your puppy/baby is up.).

It's funny how the world turns, because back in the day (9 years ago), I was the first of most of my good friends to have a baby, and after I had one, I didn't feel like any of them really 'got' what it was like to be home with a baby 24/7. Life-altering doesn't feel strong enough.

And while a puppy may not be quite as life-altering as a baby, it's very clear that people who've never done it truly don't know what my day is currently like with a pup. (This gives me a brilliant idea: maybe they should borrow Sunny for a day. Ha! Please feel free to puppysit, folks.)

I'd love to hear from other busy mamas who decided to dive in and get a pet. We already have a much-loved cat and a bunny, and they also provide us with tons of joy and love. I feel like Sunny has a lot of joy to share with us in the years ahead. And for all the work it's been, it's also exciting to grow our family.

And...she's up! Quick, someone grab a Kong and fill it with peanut butter so I can finish my sentence...

Until next time, find more frantic motherhood fun (without the sarcasm & snark) on Facebook.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Let's Give Marie Kondo a Break

I get it. The Japanese tidying method invented and popularized by entrepreneur Marie Kondo is an easy target. Making fun of her premise to only keep things that "spark joy" is easy to make fun of because, let's ask ourselves: do these Rubbermaid containers spark joy? Does my favorite pair of old sweatpants spark joy? No, not exactly. The containers are simply a necessity. And, well, so are the pants. Ha!

What bugs me when people hate on the actual person-- like Kondo-- is that it reflects that tendency to forget that public figures are actually people with feelings. It's easy to think that comments making fun of her-- and I've seen even some vicious ones-- will never reach a real person. Why would she care anyway, right? She's probably made millions from her book and her t.v. show. And maybe she won't ever see them. But still. Do we want to put more negativity out there? Especially towards other women?

Have you watched Marie Kondo on her Netflix show or read the book from cover to cover? She is the most humble, down to earth, sweet person. She doesn't judge people. She truly seems to be there to help them live better lives. And yes, she's been highly successful at it.

Also, as a woman and a mother, how is it ever a good thing to knock down a successful woman who has created an entire brand (and yes, she has two young children to boot)? She's one of many women who have been successful with class, kindness, and intelligence. We should be building them up!

I know I wouldn't want my daughter to see me belittle another woman, especially one like Marie Kondo who embodies qualities many of us value-- non-judgmental, kindness, enthusiasm, smarts. You name it.

We need to think before we pull the punches and remember our sons and daughters are watching us. Maybe it's just Twitter to you, but if she happens to be reading the comments that day-- or your kids saw them-- will you feel good about what you wrote?

It's about to go up a notch in here...wait for it...

Can we extend this to other strong women? How about our current First Lady? That's another situation that irks me. Whether or not you voted for her husband, why do so many insist on making fun of her and "hating" her? She's a mother (and I'm always trying to support other moms), and she has given back to many charities and philanthropies (the American Cross, Love Our Children USA, the Police Athletic League, Wounded Warrior Project, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, to name a few). She visits children in hospitals and schools constantly. 

Making cruel remarks about her just because you don't like her husband or her political views is thoughtless behavior I would never ever want my daughter see me show towards other women.

Can we keep judgments to ourselves and not bash other successful woman who are working hard to create careers and basically just live their lives? I know so many awesome ladies, and I know together we can find a more positive way to support each other, even if our priorities and causes differ from each other.

That is all.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

5 Friday Faves: February Edition

Well, did you survive January?

I did, but just barely. Boy oh boy am I glad to move on to February. Yes, it's still cold. It's still snowy. It still gets dark early...but it's also just a little less cold (or hinting at less cold), and it's a little less dark. February has always been a comforting reminder for me that yes, winter will end eventually, and spring will arrive.

Here are a few of my current faves to help us eek out as much enjoyment from February as we can. Enjoy!

1. Kuhl brand clothes. I'm always on the hunt for warm clothes that won't make me feel frumpy.  (Ever noticed how those two usually go hand in hand?) I stumbled upon this outdoorsy brand recently, and I am now the proud owner of a couple of their fleece tops-- a half-zip pullover and a zip-up vest. No buyer's remorse here! I already wear them constantly and feel no frumpiness about it.

2. Too Cute! (Animal Planet). Did you experience any weather-related school closings in January? Here in Minnesota, we did. We had 4 days in a row cancelled due to severely cold weather. By the final day of being trapped inside with young kids, I gave up and found a show OnDemand that I seriously had to watch and told the kids to just sit there and watch it with me (ha!).

What's not to love? It's a fluffy documentary series about puppies and kittens of various breeds that follows the wee ones from birth until they go to new homes. I'm 100% addicted! I'm pretty sure I sit with a big goofy grin on my face the entire episode. If you love animals, you'll love it too.

3.  Beauty Sleep Tea. Remember how I wrote that I'm trying to drink decaf tea in the evenings to unwind before bed? One company came up with an elixir that is just beyond clever with their marketing ("beautify while you sleep") and gorgeous packaging that I was a total sucker and bought it on the spot: Republic of Tea's Beauty Sleep Tea.

I can make my my skin all bright and glowy with a cup of tea infused with all kinds of "beautifying botanicals"? Sold! It tastes really nice and mild. I sometimes have it in the afternoon because it doesn't really make me sleepy-- it's more relaxing.

4. Sea Salt Caramels (Von Maur). It is the month of love (and chocolate) after all! My husband proposed 12 (I think?) years ago on Valentine's Day, so the Day of Love will always hold a special place in my heart (Get it? Heart? Valentine's Day?).

Anyway, no February Faves list would be complete without a treat or two, and here's something I've been munching on and hiding from my kids: the chocolate-covered sea salt caramels from Von Maur. 


5. Warriors book series. I always try to put one kid-friendly product in my faves-- something that's actually tried and true in our house. To go with the "too cute" theme, I have a young adult book series recommendation for anyone with a cat lover in their house. 

Warriors is a pretty advanced youth series with challenging vocabulary and length (they're super long!), so for families with younger cat lovers, I'd recommend reading it aloud to your kids. They're very dramatic, but you'll crack up at how the author calls people "two legs," and often mentions the cats' "fresh kill piles." It's all from the cat's respective, and well, I could go on an on, but I'll sound like a crazy cat lady...

That's all she wrote, folks! And don't be strangers. I'd love to hear about your faves this time of year. I'm posting this before Friday as a little extra treat for all you hardworking mamas out there ;).

Happy Valentine's Day!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Friday, December 21, 2018

Self-Care for 2019

Self-care has been a buzzword(s) for a while now. I think that's a great thing. It means many of us realize how important it is to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

But in reality, even the best intentions of self-care are easy to let slip. My own emotional vices and challenges-- perfectionism, insomnia, hyper-ambition-- can shadow my best intentions of self-care. Physically and mentally daunting, I work 3 part-time jobs, raise two kids without childcare or family help, and have a home to keep decent without a housekeeper. Woe is not me-- many of you have busy lives too. We're fortunate to have kids and homes and jobs and goals and volunteer work and what-have-yous. I'm just pointing out it's so easy to take a backseat in your own life.

So, as many of us do, I'm setting some positive goals for 2019, and I've already started working on them (teacher's pet and all). In the recent past, my New Year's resolutions were about focusing on finding the fun in life. I still plan to do that. It's an awesome goal and I'm [usually] an eternal optimist. But recently I'm thinking that in order to fully enjoy life and live out all that fun, there are certain things I need to add and subtract from my life.

Here are some of my newest self-care measures. I'd love to hear what you prioritize for the sake of your own physical and mental health, and/or what it is that blocks you from taking care of yourself fully.

My 6 Self-Care Measures:

1. Less Texting. When I had babies and toddlers climbing all over me, all the time, texting was a gift. It helped me connect with family and friends when I was at home almost 24/7, surviving a cycle of nap schedules, bedtime routines, long winters, constant sickness, etc. However, I've noticed that if I have the sound turned on my phone, it dings with a new text at least a couple of times an hour. That constant steady, stream adds up. It interrupts my time with my kids, my writing time, my alone time. All of it!

So I'm texting less and less. When I do text, I'm trying to keep it focused on practical things-- what time/where are we meeting, can we carpool to sports, have the kids had dinner yet, etc.-- rather than never-ending conversations.

I also just disabled group messaging on my phone. I feel like those can easily get out of hand-- all the sudden there are like 8 people on there and none of the messages really apply to me. It feels stressful, especially if the tone takes a turn for the worse. If people need to reach me, they can certainly still send me an individual text, make a phone call, leave a voicemail, send an email, etc. The options to connect are still rather endlessly daunting.

2. On that same note, I've been turning my phone completely off earlier and earlier each night. I figure, nothing truly needs to get my attention past, say 8 o'clock, does it? The social media posts can wait. Late night texts never lead to anything good. Voicemails can be listened to in the morning. If there's an emergency, well, what can I do about it at 11 at night anyway? Knock on my door if you really need me.

For my own relaxation purposes and my need for family time, alone time, and sleep, I decided yes, turning off the phone-- and it's powerful blue light-- is a simple self-care move I can make on a nightly basis. And no, I can't really care if it makes someone mad who likes texting me late at night.  In fact, maybe I should text them at 5:30 when I usually wake up... nooooo, that's just getting evil ;).

3. I would venture to guess that 90% of people make it an annual goal to exercise more. And why not? It's clearly a healthy move for all of us. It's just not easy to stick with on top of kids, a house, job(s)... life. But since September, I've tried to get to a group exercise class two times a week.

Much less often than some, but it's what I can fit in realistically for now. It helps take the edge off, and I feel stronger and more energized. In the depths of winter, making myself get up and move really helps my overall mood. Which, of course, is a win for my whole family.

Happy, healthy woman = happy, healthy mother.

4. Sleep keeps popping up on this list. It's just so important! So I've also switched to drinking a cup of calming, sleepy-time tea most nights over a cocktail. Wine definitely wakes me up at night, and I rarely drink it. I'll always love a great wheat beer, but again, most nights, not as much as I love a great night's sleep. I'm experimenting with Golden Milk too (Google it). All the potions...

5. Would you believe I've lived in Minnesota for over a dozen years and had never bought a 'happy light' (i.e. sun lamp) until this year?! Now we have one on our kitchen counter, and I turn it on at 7 a.m. sharp every morning (the sun doesn't rise until at least 7:30 these days), and from 4-5 p.m. every evening (it gets dark here by 4:30!). I can't prove 100% if it magically improves mood and energy levels, but it certainly can't hurt. I think it feels way more normal to have light at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. than total darkness!

6. Here's my final self-care measure, and it's intense ya'll!: I'm actively trying to stop letting people bulldoze over me and then being the pushover who just lets them waltz back into my life whenever it's convenient for them. We regularly remind our kids of the Golden Rule-- treat others how you want to be treated-- so why do I forgive and forget so easily without so much as an explanation from the hurtful party? My whole life I've put other peoples' feelings above my own. It's exhausting and probably not a healthy pattern.

I'm far from perfect, but I do try to treat people with kindness and respect, and if they don't return that simple favor, then it's not my job to make room for them in my life right now. My plate is just too full. An apology can turn things around quickly, but it has to be said. I don't have room for self-focused, careless types right now.


Readers: I'd love to hear your self-care plans for 2019. What positive changes do you want to make and what practical measures can you take to get there? Message me. Leave a comment. Remember to put yourself first when you can so that you are in the best emotional shape you can be to care for others.

It's so easy to forget, but so important to keep working on. I'm right there with you!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

My Adventures in Instant Pot Land

I don't remember when I first started hearing about Instant Pots, but the buzz has been building and I was intrigued...here's my story!


I must start with a shoutout to my brave friend Jen for lending me her cherished Instant Pot. I mentioned I was toying with the idea of buying one and giving it a whirl, and she said I could give hers a test run. How generous!

For reference, this is an Instant Pot:

It's a fast-acting pressure cooker that resembles a slow cooker crossed with a futuristic rice cooker and comes with every other bell and whistle you can think of (porridge anyone?). The issue: it's intimidating! So many buttons! And what is pressure cooking anyway? Will it explode? What are those noises?

After staring at Jen's pot on my kitchen counter for almost a week, I decided I had to least try it before I returned it to her. There is one important step I took prior to my launch: Jen walked me through how to put the lid on and off (yes, instruction is necessary for this), how to use the quick release steam valve (it's a thing), how to clean it, and she pointed out a couple of other functions.

If you want to give one a go, I highly recommend having one of your Instant Pot friends do a hands-on demo for you. Second best option: watch some You Tube videos!

Ok, so here's what I did one morning, feeling brave (and this is no joke):

1. I sprayed some Pam in the pot because I didn't want to ruin her pristine stainless steel bowl, and I added a pound of chicken breast tenderloins.

Yes, you just plop them at the bottom of the stainless steel bowl.

2. I drained a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and dumped the contents on top of the chicken.

I always have a couple cans of this on hand: it's great to add to taco meat or chili.

3. I closed the lid, set it Poultry, and let it pressure cook for 20 minutes.

4. I did a Quick Release once the 20 minutes was up (watch out-- lots of steam comes out the top!), I took the lid off, and here's what it looked like. Not so promising, BUT...

5. After stirring and draining the excess liquid, look what I had! A bowl of juicy, moist (sorry to people who have aversions to those words; they're the only accurate ones I can think of!) shredded chicken (it shreds super easily) with a mild salsa sauce!

Voila! My very first Instant Pot dish: I call it Salsa Chicken but you could definitely be more honest and call it Chicken & Ro-tel :).

Here's the kicker: my son LOVED the chicken and couldn't get enough. That says it all, folks.

Follow up:

After scrubbing the washable parts, I tried to give the machine back to Jen, but she insisted I give it another try... I was worried. What on earth would I make next? Wasn't I pushing my luck?

I like to end on a good note, but she was right. Before I buy one, I should try one 'step up' recipe. Did you know you can brown ground meat in this thing? Yeah, that's what I wanted to do.

Enter my vision of making a big pot of chili all in one pot. No separate frying pan to brown the meat first. But where to begin?!

So many sites have complicated recipes they say are simple, but come on. Most involved all kinds of button pushing. I wanted to be as hands-off as possible. Luckily, I eventually found a great turkey chili recipe on Oh Sweet Basil.

Did I have everything on hand their recipe required? Of course not! So I subbed in a few things I had in my pantry and it still turned out fantastic.

A big pot of hot, flavorful chili in under 30 minutes. Awesomeness. Scroll to the end of the post below for my subs if you want to try your own.*

I feel like my food images don't do it justice, but it smells delish and tastes even better! YUM!
So will I buy one? I haven't officially decided yet, but I think I will eventually. I'm not in a rush. I think I only need the 6 Qt. version for my family of four. I used the 8 qt. and I don't have a bunch of extra cupboard space-- it is not a small thing. Perhaps the after-Christmas sales will speak to me...

In the meantime, I'd love to hear if you have an Instant Pot, if you've tried it, and if you love it or hate it!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

*My chili subs: 
I had only one can of beans (I used Great Northerns).
I subbed one of the two cups of chicken broth for one cup of tomato sauce. 
I didn't add the bacon (didn't have any).
Still yum!