Working Mom

I’m a working mom.

On weekdays, I spend maybe two hours with my son.

Imagine Monday morning.

I wake up, have coffee immediately, and then get ready for work — all before 7 a.m. Because at 7 a.m., my son wakes up, and we have half an hour together that consists of a diaper change, morning milk, getting him dressed and chasing him around the house to get his shoes, gloves and jacket on.

I mean, it’s time for my son to wake up 7 a.m. But sometimes he doesn’t want to wake up at 7, so he sleeps until 7:15 or 7:30.

Then we’re hurrying. And our half hour is crammed into five minutes.

Of course, sometimes he wakes up at 6:30 because he wants mommy to have gross hair and wear the same pair of pants for the second (or third) day in a row.

Hey, I’m working mom.

Now, imagine Monday evening.

After an 8-hour workday, I come home to my son… and immediately distract him, so I can make dinner, which takes 30 to 45 minutes depending on what I’m cooking.

We’re a one-pan, one-pot kind of dinner family days daddy works.

Dinner he’s of course not going to eat. Dinner is a 15 to 20 minute fight. Now, when I say “fight,” I mean I try to get him to eat the food, and he tries to feed it to me instead.

You know, unless it’s chips. He doesn’t share chips.

Hey, I’m a working mom.

Dinner is a messy, uphill, mommy-always fails kind of battle.

Here, kid, have a yogurt pouch.

After dinner, it’s time to clean up — and time for another toddler fight. I try to clean his hands and face, and he tries to cover me and his hair in whatever I failed to feed him.

Finally, somewhat fed and somewhat less sticky, it’s quality-time time. Daddy usually gets home from work around this time, so we get to spend quality-time time together as a family.

It’s lovely, but it last about half an hour — and we’ve got to shove a toddler shower and 300 bedtime stories into that half hour. Because then it’s bedtime, and the bedtime fight begins. Mommy and daddy nearly always win the bedtime fight (knock on wood), and kiddo is sleeping like a baby by 8 p.m.

Repeat on weekdays that end in “y,” and there you have it. The household routine. Maybe two hours a day I spend with my son, and at least an hour of toddler arguments about the things we’re doing when we’re spending time together.

Weekends are better. Breakfasts and lunches are easier. Naptimes are less of a fight than bedtimes, if you could believe it.

But weekdays are trying. Weekdays are exhausting. They’re sometimes sad and sometimes painful.

People call it “mom guilt.” Being away from your child for any extended period of time. I don’t feel guilt. I’m not doing anything to feel guilty about.

I do feel loss.

I lose hours, or I lose moments. Time necessary to build a bond with my growing, changing child.

He doesn’t remember the nine months he spent in-womb or the 13 months I was his main source of nutrition. He’s a toddler. His brain is making connections, and one of the connections it’s making is that I’m not with him for eight hours a day, five days a week.

When he’s upset and wants comfort, he doesn’t always find it in me.

When he wants a story or to play, he doesn’t often turn to me.

When he wakes up in the middle of the night because he’s lost his binky or his lovey or he had a bad dream, I’m not as good a fixer as I used to be.

And sometimes it breaks me.

I love working, and I love being a working mom. I love my job. I couldn’t do a weekday that ends in “y” any other way.

I’d lose my mind.

But on some weekdays that end in “y,” I want nothing more to be at home with my son.

To the working moms out there, I feel your loss.

I don’t know how to repair it. I don’t know how to fill up the potholes along your week-long journey to Saturday. I do know you cherish every snuggle. Every tiny finger reaching to be picked up. Every cry for comfort — even when you’re elbow deep in the mop water the floors that get less attention than your hair and unshaved legs so desperately need.

Every moment you can find and take and hold forever.

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Noom 14-Day Trial

An ode to BABR…

Your biceps are flabby.
Your belly rolls are, too.
Abs are made in the kitchen.
Arms are made in the weight room.

One of my Be Pain Free tactics is to lose weight. Why? Less weight > less pressure on my spine > less pain. Super simple. I also want to build a stronger core to protect my spine. (Don’t worry. I’ll always have the rolls. I had a baby. Let’s be serious.)

Of course, you’d think I’d have a 6-pack by now walking around all day with my abdominals flexed in attempt to move pain-free from one position to LITERALLY EVERY OTHER POSITION.

But, no.

I suck at losing weight. I’m much better at eating whatever I want. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I figure a little help won’t hurt, so I signed up for a 14-day trial of Noom.

Noom is a wellness program (read: weight loss program) designed to help users live healthfully by changing habits (read: losing weight). I’m a tad pessimistic about the “wellness” claims — if that wasn’t obvious. I was annoyed to discover the personalized meal planning and workout parts of the program were add-ons and cost extra.

Necessary parts of the wellness program don’t come with it.

Seems weird for something that costs $50/month.

I also purchased the workout because they were having a Black Friday sale that made it pretty inexpensive. It’s a PDF. That was disappointing.

Noom is not a diet. It doesn’t tell people what they can and cannot eat — or provide a personalized meal plan unless you pay more — but the structure of the program is built around food and users’ psychological triggers to food. #NoomNerdsLovePsychology

They use a lot of hashtags…

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#See.

Noom uses a three-color system to categorize food to help users make better decisions about what they choose to eat.

  • Red foods are non-so-great-for-you foods, such as red meat (delicious), doughnuts (heaven) and ice cream (my favorite).
  • Yellow foods are ok-for-you-in-moderation foods, such as lean meats, eggs and avocados.
  • Green foods are best-for-you food, such as leafy greens (not Romaine), broth-based soups and brown rice.

Green foods also have low caloric density, which means you can eat fewer calories of these foods and still feel full. Foods with high caloric density, such as almonds, have a lot of calories packed into a smaller space.

Almonds aren’t bad for you, but that trick to eat a handful of almonds when you feel the hanger probably doesn’t work because almonds won’t fill you up.

I’m behind this. Eating a handful of almonds is horrible.

The goal is to eat a well-rounded diet of each of these types of foods: 30 percent green, 45 percent yellow and 25 percent red.

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How do you figure out if you get your ratios right? You log your food. Yes, Noom requires you to log everything you eat.

So if you hate food journals, Noom is not for you.

They makes it pretty simple, thought. Logging food is as easy as searching for it in their database. If it’s not there, you can add it. The library also has generic food items like “chicken strips,” “rose wine” and “tomato soup.” While you might not be getting the most exact recording, it’s better than not recording.

Here’s what a typical Noom day looks like:

  • Wake up, weigh in. You have to weigh yourself every day.
  • Eat breakfast, log breakfast.
  • Learn a thing. Noom walks users through a habit-changing tactic or food lesson every day.
  • Eat lunch, log lunch.
  • Get your steps in. Noom will be a pedometer through your phone, but it also connects to Fitbit. Handy (and way more accurate)!
  • Do more. You can add exercise, blood pressure and glucose levels through the app.
  • Eat dinner, log dinner.
  • End the day with a quick quiz about what you’ve learned, and then get ready for the next day.

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Pretty easy. (Yes, that’s how much I weigh.)

Throughout the week, a Goal Specialist will help users create and meet the SMART goals for their programs. My Ultimate Goal is to Be Pain Free. Surprise, surprise. Noom also asks for an Ultimate Why. Mine is to play with son without pain.

You’ve never not been able to lift your toddler when he wants to snuggle and feel bad about it until chronic back pain.

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My Goal Specialist is very energetic, and I almost can’t take her seriously.

Other Noom things:

  • Noom piece-meals information to you because they don’t want to overwhelm you, according to them. I asked my Goal Specialist a bunch of question over the weekend that were answered the very next day in the “lesson.” Oops.
  • It has a recipe library with the green-yellow-red ratios prepared for you. Make the food to the instructions, get your ratio.
  • You can also add custom dishes to the library, which I’ve been wanting in a meal planning app. It’s time-consuming, but it works. (It also looks like you ate one calorie of vegetable stock.)
  • You can save daily tips and tricks to your personal library. Say I wanted to be able to refer to something multiple times, but I didn’t want to go hunting for it through the week, I can add it to my library.
  • Supposedly, there’s some sort of Group you get to be a part of to challenge each other and provide support — like Weight Watchers, I guess — but I haven’t seen it yet.

I completed my first week with Noom, and I nearly don’t hate it. Daily weigh-ins don’t bother me. Logging food is a pain, sure. The Goal Specialist is fine. I didn’t lose any weight, and my ratios were red-heavy.

It’s just… wine is a red food. And that makes me very sad.

I promised myself to try harder my second week. They say it right at the start that they can’t make you eat right or work out. Your job.

The closest thing to Noom I’ve ever tried is having a Beachbody coach, which was all sorts of annoying.

So, why Noom?

I saw an ad for it on Instagram, which is also why I own a pair of dress-pant yoga pants.

I will report back on this program… unless I cancel it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

BABR: November Update

First, BABR stands for Biceps and Belly Rolls. Now I don’t have to spell it out again.

Next, wow. It’s been a minute.

Life has a pretty fantastic way of getting in the way, which is why I’ve abandoned boxing, dieting and taking care of myself.

Yay, life.

Life also throws happy days, great opportunities to educate, learn and participate in the community and thankful moments in the way, too.

So, thanks, life.

Let’s focus on the good.

Happy Days

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We dressed the toddler up as a puppy for Halloween.

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He was literally a little puppy running around with his puppy lovey. (Thank you to my sister-in-law and her sweet boys for hand-me-downing this ADORABLE costume.)

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I die.

I realize Halloween happened in October, not November, but this. kid. is. too cute.

Opportunities to Educate…

The Junior League of Wichita Child Advocacy Committee conducted a child abuse information panel with representatives from the Wichita Children’s Home (WCH), the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit (EMCU) and two foster parents to discuss the League’s focus area, child abuse prevention and intervention.

The goal was to inform the League about available resources in the community and their needs to assist with child abuse prevention and intervention.

EMCU detectives said the greatest need they see in the community is education. Other panel members agreed. Education not only on how to be a parent — one detective brought up the number of parents who don’t know safe sleep needs for infants — but also education in knowing what support is available to young parents in the Wichita community as well as what programs do for children and families.

Education is an area with which the League is familiar.

The League’s puppet show teaches elementary students about physical and sexual abuse, reaching 23,000 third and fourth graders so far.

In 2013, childabusewichita.org launched as a website designed to be a resource for Wichita to learn more about preventing child abuse and community programs.

In 2014, the League gifted $300,000 to the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County for its education and training wing.

And last year, the League took on a three-year project with the Wichita Children’s Home, granting $150,000 to help build up young mothers and their children through volunteering to mentor, providing necessary care items, such as diapers and formula, and encouraging healthy relationships and secondary education opportunities.

The Two Lives at a Time project is where my heart is, if not where my time is right now.

Top the contributions of the League with the individual contributions of its members, and this group of women shows itself as a force for change within Wichita.

…to Learn…

Junior League of Wichita gets together for a General Membership Meeting (GMM) every (or every other) month for League announcements, project updates and some education of our own.

In November, Kaye Monk-Morgan, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Wichita State University, presented Living Our Values: Respect to the League.

Kaye Monk-Morgan presents to the Junior League of Wichita at the November GMM

I can’t speak for the rows behind me, but from the third row forward, she had women on the edge of their seats. Her insights were heartfelt. Her stories were full of heart — and hilarious.

How do we live our values? When the League comes to serve, Kaye Monk-Morgan charges us to do it with unconditional regard — respect — for ourselves, each other and the people we serve.

At the November meeting, hosted in the Child Advocacy Center’s education and training wing, League members also donated new and gently used professional clothing items to the Two Lives at a Time project with the Wichita Children’s Home for upcoming mock interviews aimed at preparing participating mothers for job and secondary education applications.

Professional attire donations for the Wichita Children's Home Two Live at a Time project with Junior League of Wichita.

Special shoutout to some friends at work who helped grow this donation. Thanks, ladies.

…to Participate

I had a unique opportunity to participate on a panel with KMUW’s Engage ICT’s Democracy On Tap in November, too. The topic was #Activism, or social activism. Thanks to my boss who passed the recommendation to me.

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You can watch the video of our discussion at http://www.kmuw.org/post/democracy-tap-activism. I hope I don’t sound dumb. There’s no way I can verify that I don’t sound dumb because there’s no way I can confidently listen to myself speak during this video…

…without it being awkward for me. I will not be taking one for the team here. My boss did. She said I didn’t sound dumb 🙂

Thankful Moments

November was a busy month for me personally and professionally. A true highlight of my month was spending time with family and friends.

First, a dear friend from high school travelled to Wichita for early Thanksgiving celebrations. It’d been three years since we’d seen each other, and it felt like we’d talked just days before getting together to catch up.

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I failed to take a picture of our high school reunion with two other dear friends Friday night, but it was good to spend time with them and talk about our recent or current rewatchings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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And he met my toddler AND BECAME BEST FRIENDS IMMEDIATELY. **heart eyes**

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Our formerly yearly Christmas-time get together happened at my mother’s house, where we played six rounds over two nights of cutthroat Pitch. Pitch is a traditional card game of ours. Cutthroat means we didn’t have partners.

He won three rounds. My mother one two rounds. I won only one.

Hey, I was tired.

We played with my great grandmother’s cards, a 50-year-old set I dug out of the junk drawer in my house. They still smell like her house. Smell, I hear, is the strongest trigger for memory.

It’s true.

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My husband and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon enjoying family time and a trip to the park, and then went to bed early for the first time in NIGHTS.

Black Friday had a trip to his parents for an amazing lunch — of which my son ate rolls and cake, if you needed more proof that he is my son.

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One of my favorite days of the season, Small Business Saturday, found me running up and down Douglas to work in some Christmas shopping.

I picked up a few books for the nephews at Watermark books.

Watermark Books and Cafe on Small Business Saturday

Stops two and three on my #SBSICT run picked up some fun gifts at The Workroom and gift wrap at Love of Character.

Love of Character and the Workroom on Small Business Saturday

Not to be excluded, I also got a cup of coffee outside The Workroom from Sunflower Expresso. It’s a coffee truck. **additional heart eyes**

I cut my shopping trip in half for lunch with girlfriends…

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and we talked for like three hours, so I quit shopping and headed home to spend more time with my nugget.

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I’m not usually this busy with the real-world. Usually, I’m just busy with toddler world. December isn’t looking any less busy.

Get ready for the next BABR update.

 

Whole30: Practice Week

MONDAY

I ran out of time in the morning, which happens fairly often, so I ate a blueberry Rx bar for breakfast… and I was starving two hours later. (I had another one after lunch because I was fading fast at 2 p.m.) Thankfully, I had a busy morning and four or seven cups of coffee to keep me going.

I inhaled a leftover pork chop and handful of sweet potatoes from Sunday night, which reheated super well. Then, I devoured a side salad that more resembled the size of a full dinner salad of arugula, Romaine, chopped walnuts and cherries, which I pitted sans cherry pitter.

buy a cherry pitter for gods sake

My fingernails are still pink.

cherry walnut salad

This salad was so good, I made it again for dinner alongside some chicken thighs that I had to dip in stone-ground mustard because turmeric is not a strong spice, in case you didn’t know.

Monday: Whole30 Compliant

TUESDAY

I woke up early enough to make breakfast Tuesday, but it was too early to eat. I need breakfast, but I don’t need it before the sun comes up.

…so I ate a blueberry Rx bar.

I sense a pattern.

I also drank a Bolthouse Farms B Balanced Sweet Green Smoothie, which I’m pretty sure is Whole30-compliant, but I can’t be completely sure. It has no added sugar.

B Balanced Sweet Green Smoothie

It even says so.

Whole30 does prefer you eat your calories over drinking your calories, but I was tired and not hungry enough to make and eat eggs at 7 a.m.

Lunch was leftovers again. Those pork chops are definitely staying on the menu; they taste good and keep so well.

For dinner, I planned a family favorite: Roast Sausage with Potatoes, Peppers and Onions. It’s a sheet-pan meal that takes little to no preparation, and it’s tasty, especially with a side of spicy ranch.

I can eat potatoes, peppers and onions. I cannot eat the mild Italian sausage I use. Why? I have no idea what’s in it, but I’m positive it’s not compliant.

It’s too delicious.

I made the meal as usual, with the non-compliant mild Italian sausage. For my husband. For myself? I sliced up leftover chicken-apple sausage we’d eaten Saturday night, reheated it in a frying pan, and then fried an egg in the sausage… juice? Fat? I dunno. You pick whichever one sounds less weird.

Roast Peppers Potatoes and Onions Whole30ed

Pretty tasty, and the runny egg yolk made a substitute for the spicy ranch. I say “a substitute” because it wasn’t a better option… just an option.

I’d pick spicy ranch every day.

Tuesday: Whole30 Compliant (probably)

WEDNESDAY

Pattern Identified: Blueberry Rx bar — and four cups of coffee — for breakfast (and afternoon snacks).

I’m nothing if not predictable.

I also forgot to prepare lunch before leaving for work, which is equally predictable, so I had to wing it. Previously, winging it involved a microwaved black bean burger, whole avocado and two servings of cottage cheese. (I really like cottage cheese.)

Whole30 winging it is a packet of tuna and an avocado.

Tuna and Avocado Cat Food

Yes. Cat food.

Blecgh.

Crackers, pita, tortillas, any bread… might have made this more edible. And, oh my, have I wanted some gluten.

Thankfully, my husband made a delicious dinner we devoured in minutes. Venison steak and a mixed greens salad with cucumbers, strawberries and sliced almonds. It was perfect… except for one small thing.

My husband cooks steak in butter.

Real butter.

And I ate it.

I also ate a pound of strawberries, I’m sure. Suuuuuggaaaaaarrrrrrrr.

Wednesday: Not Compliant (but compliant enough for me)

THURSDAY

Another morning, another blueberry Rx bar, and another Bolthouse B Balanced Sweet Green Smoothie.

These things are seriously good, but I miss my organic toaster pastries and Bolthouse B Strong Coffee Protein Smoothie, which has dairy and soy and whey (probably).

Lunch was leftover salad from Wednesday night…

…and a packet of tuna and a whole avocado. Turns out, lemon-garlic salad dressing puts a good mask on the cat food-ness.

Now, for dinner — and a situation I was sure I’d run into: long day, exhausting toddler, too tired to cook and clean. What’s the solution?

Take out.

I stopped by Jimmy John’s to get my husband a sandwich, and I refrained. I can’t eat any of that food. So what was I going to do? Improvise. Next door is Chipotle, which is full of non-compliant food. I did my best: salad, no rice, no beans, meat, salsa, quac, no cheese, no chips, no Mr. Pibb.

The sink mess visible top of frame is major reason I couldn’t bring myself to cook when I got home. I did chop some home(not my home)grown tomatoes to go on top. Made a nice meal and maybe my sixth or seventh salad of the week.

I’m only Whole30-ing for a practice week. How am I going to improvise when I’m the one home all day with a fussy toddler? Ugh.

For dessert, I ate another pound of strawberries because I’m starving, and I really like strawberries.

Thursday: Close Enough

FRIDAY

I almost made it. SIGH.

Friday began the same as every day this week: a blueberry Rx bar and a gallon of coffee. I worked through lunch, munched an apple at my desk and speed-cleaned my house before getting the toddler.

It was a long week. I was hungry. There was a leftover sandwich from Jimmy John’s in the fridge, and I wanted a beer.

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At least it’s gluten free! (The sandwich wasn’t.)

Friday: Practice Week Ended (early)

I feel pretty good about the effort I put in this week. While I did not enjoy the benefits of reduced inflammation, which is the goal of this little diet experiment, I did discover one not-so-small benefit.

I lost five pounds.

If I lost five pounds in four and half days, how many pounds would I lose in a full 30 days?

What was the cause of my weight loss? Maybe because I didn’t eat ice cream, drink Dr. Pepper or eat after 7 p.m. all week. (I didn’t have a rule for not eating after 7 p.m., but there wasn’t food to have after dinner… except the occasional pound of strawberries… so I didn’t eat.)

More likely, it was a reduction in calories. Salad has fewer calories than French fries, and I ate a LOT of salad.

Monday starts a new week of Whole30 meals before date day at the beer fest with my husband. Maybe I’ll lose another five pounds (not likely), but it’d be nice to keep those five off for good.

Whole30 Practice Week: Calling It a Success

Whole30: (Practice) Day #1 (Again)

So I made it a day and a half…

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I am not surprised and only a little disappointed. On vacation, not fully prepared for running out of eggs, mindlessly eating toddler leftovers, mindless eating other food, trying to start a thing ON A THURSDAY.

No one starts things on Thursdays.

I did not fail without learning a few lessons.

  • Moving forward, we buy two dozen eggs a week.
  • Lettuce doesn’t wilt as quickly if you store it properly and can therefore be used to make a quick salad whenever you need a quick salad, so I bought these things. Take that wilty lettuce.
  • Berries last longer if you store them properly, too.
  • I now know what the inside of a rotten sweet potato looks like. FYI, it looks just fine on the outside.
  • I’m keeping packets of Whole30-compliant tuna nearby at all times.
  • QuikTrip iced tea, unsweetened, is probably not Whole30-compliant BUT WHO WOULD KNOW THAT?! IT’S TEA. Luckily, my favorite beverage is Whole30-approved because I’m not doing anything without coffee.

Also, don’t leave the house. The world is not compliant.

I found safe sausage, mustard, salad dressing, tuna and vegetable broth during my grocery run today.

Finding compliant dressing was actually easy BECAUSE IT’S LABELED. Hallelujah.

whole30-compliant salad dressing

Guess what I didn’t find.

TRAIL MIX.

It’s nuts and seeds and sometimes dried fruit.

I get added sugar in dried fruit, but what do pumpkin seeds need with dextrose? Why do all the bulk options at Dillon’s have to have soy beans mixed in? I just want some nuts and seeds mixed together and maybe a coconut flake, gah.

It’s probably for the best I didn’t find a bag of compliant trail mix — or try to make my own. The sausage, tuna and broth I bought were at least $1 more expensive than their non-compliant counterparts. Only one vegetable broth on the shelf didn’t have some form of sugar in it. (Did you know there was sugar in broth? Yeah, me either.) The only available sausage I found was nearly $3 more expensive. Who knows how much sugar-free, slightly salted, pre-mixed nuts and seeds and maybe a coconut flake are.

Less ingredients, more money. I will never understand processed food.

Whole30 Skillet Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Coleslaw

We tried another Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook recipe last night, and it wasn’t bad. My husband wasn’t fond of the almond-flour coating on the pork, which — yes — would have had a better texture if we’d used day-old crusty breadcrumbs. But breadcrumbs have the gluten, and the gluten is not OK on Whole30.

Never in my adult life have I cooked sweet potatoes in a skillet, and I might never go back to the oven. They’re so yummy from the skillet — cooked and delicious without getting hard or chewy, which occasionally happens in the oven because… I don’t know, ovens are hard.

I made the slaw on the side simple by buying a bag of coleslaw mix, dumping it in a bowl with dressing and mayo… and ignoring the other ingredients I was supposed to add. I’m not toasting or buying toasted pine nuts. We already know how expensive sausage is.

And my husband’s mayonnaise recipe is already compliant. No added sugar. No wine. No whatever else gets added to store-bought mayonnaise. Pro-tip, homemade is way better.

Whole30 Skillet Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Coleslaw

If I make this one again, I’ll duplicate the recipe with a breadcrumb dredge for my husband. Non-Whole30 recipes can be adjusted for Whole30 compliance, and Whole30 recipes can be adjusted for people who want to eat bread — and I honestly have no idea why I didn’t think of that before just now.

Probably something to do with the buckets.

Today is (Practice) Day #1 (Again). Wish me luck.