Mama’s Lunchkit: 5 Quick & Easy Grab-and-Go Snacks

I’ve always struggled with healthy eating. I’d say it’s because I don’t like the taste of good eats, but that would be a downright lie. Truthfully, I’m lazy!

In February of 2016, I was fed up with my weight gain from having a baby, and ultimately from giving up on my body after baby was born. It was no longer an excuse when she was almost 2 years old! I felt crappy and tired all the time (even with ample sleep), I was at my heaviest weight, and I felt very uncomfortable in my own skin.

I actually got mad one day. Pre-anger, I followed many health gurus on Instagram and Facebook, post-freak out I deleted everyone. I sold all of my pre-baby “skinny” clothes. I started wearing baggy clothes that hid my body.

Basically, I was a grumpy bitch.

Finally, I made the decision to join up with a friend I had been following along with on social media. She was super motivational, posted a ton of tips and tricks for food prep/recipes, and she was using effective workouts that were 30 minutes or less (WIN!). I told myself, “Hey if I don’t like this, can’t do it, or fail; I’ll quit and sell my stuff.” I had zero faith in my ability to get out of my funk. Little did I know joining the health movement was exactly what I needed at that time in my life.

It’s been two years since I started my wellness journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs, bumps and bruises, and kicks to the ol emotional lady balls. Overall, I’ve learned some amazing things and gained a ton of likeminded friends who support and cheer me on daily. Life is serendipitous sometimes.

I knew that one aspect of my health I needed to focus on greatly was my nutrition. The biggest quam I had about starting a healthy lifestyle was that I did not want to give up on the foods I loved the most. In addition, most importantly, I did not want to live that “salad” lifestyle. You know, where you eat lettuce every meal, no dressing, no flavor. Yuck. Bland food is not the key to success. Lucky for me, I was able to utilize an incredible group of women that shared their favorite foods and was able to choose what I loved, and what I could go without.

I scoured the internet for “approved” snacks that were simple but tasty. Now, as a full-time student and social worker who also runs a  moderately successful household and keeps a tiny human alive, I KNOW I need things I can throw into my little lunch kit that are nutritious, easy to prep, and keep me full. When I know that I have meals prepped and ready to go, I am less likely to reach for an unhealthy option, or run for fast food. Because how easy is it to swipe that little debit card for some treats? Too easy!

Without further ado, these top five faves are my grab-and-goes when I’m in a hurry or want something quick at home!

  1. Grapefruit slices with coconut Greek yogurt and homemade granola.
  2. Apple slices with nut-butter (you do you girl, pick your poison –> they all taste like happiness) OR your favorite flavored Greek yogurt.
  3. Canned tuna (drained) with Greek yogurt, spicy mustard, dill pickles, celery, and shredded cheddar in a lettuce wrap
  4. Mashed garlic-avocado toast with scrambled-cheesy eggs (heaven!)
  5. Chopped veggies and mini hummus cups (I discovered these at Costco this year for my nursing clinical – my life was forever changed)

They are simple, easy to throw in a lunch bag, and (best of all) tasty!

Now listen friends, I am in no way saying that weight loss is the solution to happiness. (Organization is, just sayin’ haa). There are many things I’ve learned and incorporated into my life over two years that helped me transform into who I am today (and who I continue to grow into).  My point is, when you don’t feel good about yourself, are uncomfortable in your skin/clothes, and hate the way you look…you need to make changes. Not only did I focus on weight loss, but I also started meditating at night, listening to personal development podcasts that were specific to what I was feeling/going through, and also started doing self-care activities that were focused on my mental health.

Progress is 80/20 and it sure as hell doesn’t come from dieting. Hell naww. Success is balance, moderation, and learned behaviors applied over time.

80% of your success is made in the kitchen, 20% is obtained in workouts. Combined, they give you the absolute best results for your body. Funny enough, never would I ever suggest owning a scale (unless it’s to track your progress for a program – to use it ONLY once per week or biweekly). The scale should not define how you feel about yourself or your progress. Muscle weighs more than fat.

So, keep that in mind! You’ve got this!

The Pregnant Packer: Birth Bag Essential’s

When I was pregnant I had zero clue what to expect when it came time to the actual due date. I did a lot of research but I still wasn’t sure what I needed to bring to the hospital for myself, for our newborn, or even for my husband. What does the hospital supply for you? What is absolutely necessary? What can I go without?
I’m no seasoned mom of multiples but lucky for you, I’ve been there done that with one bambino! So, I’ve compiled a list of the things I think every mama should bring in their birth bag.
Note: Things that were provided during our stay for Mama’s (we live in Canada, so keep this in mind):
Mesh panties and postpartum pads, a peri-care bottle (best friend post birth, trust sister), any medications necessary, and hospital toiletries (not great in any way and super drying to the skin – make you smell like a hospital = no dice).
Alrighty! Grab yourself an awesome weekender bag and let’s dive in!
1. Toiletries: A toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, your own favorite body wash & shampoo/conditioner, chapstick that is moisturizing and healing (I recommend the blue blistex pot). Hair ties and a few bobby pins for that sexy-functional mom bun!  You might want some basic makeup supplies like a bb cream, blush and mascara for some candids post delivery. Up to you!
Side note: I would also suggest bringing tucks pads for those post-birth buddies that may or may not rear their ugly heads*
2. Comfy mama clothes for post birth. A comfy shirt, loose yoga pants/sweats, a nursing tank+ hoodie. If you had a c-section, I’ve heard lower riding pants or high-waisted pants are a must – nothing that touches that incision will do! Some people can go straight back into their post baby clothes, some choose to still wear their maternity gear. I was the latter. Comfort trumps all postpartum. You just pushed a human being out of your business. Give yourself a break.
*I will also note that I stupidly wore a sports bra into the hospital the week prior to Sawyer’s arrival…one that I could not get off due to an IV site that was constantly running. Save yourself and use one that does up with clasps or has removable straps.
3. Comfy, dark-colored undies (think granny panties, yes I’m serious) OR (don’t laugh at me) I recommend the Always brand discreet “underwear.” I refuse to call these diapers. They were a life saver post birth. They saved my bed sheets from disaster, and were comfortable and dry. You’ll thank me, I promise. We can laugh about it later – with wine, when you aren’t on the lochia train.
4. A pair of slippers that are easy to get on and off but don’t fall off your feet. Feet swell post birth (mine looked like elephant feet, hellloooo pre-eclampsia) and you may not be able to get those sneaks on. I used Sanuks (during a huge snow storm) and even those were tight… + flip-flops for showers. Protect those toes, you really don’t want warts do you?
5. Some people like to buy a birthing gown so that during labour they don’t have to wear one from the hospital (you know, the ones were your ass hangs out). That being said, I went with the hospital provided gown x2 (one front ways and one back ways like a house coat) and that was sufficient. My reasoning…birthing is messy. Spending an upwards of $50 on something that I would potentially stain and ruin seemed wasteful. If you find one that works for you, you do you boo. Otherwise save your money for other things! Same thing goes for a robe!
6. Snacks (duh, carbs are NOT the enemy atm)! Some hospitals don’t let you eat during labour. Ice chips or “hospital champagne” don’t cut those hunger pangs in the midst of the push party. However, I was in the hospital a week prior and 2 days post birth. Hospital snacks are expensive and hospital foods get boring/gross. Smart popcorn, nuts and bolts mix, granola/protein bars, baby bell cheese, and fizzy waters were my go to faves. + change for snack/pop machines and PARKING.
Tip! Know you’ll be staying for a week? Buy a week pass to your hospitals parking lot. It saves money! If you didn’t know you’d be staying, hey things happen! You can take your parking receipts for the days leading up to that week and use them towards a week/month parking pass. Yay!
7. Breastfeeding? A nursing bra! Nursing pads! Nipple cream! Your tatas will hurt at first (sad face). I’ve also heard putting breast milk on your nipples post feed is a trick to stop dry and cracking skin. Worth a try to save the girls.
8. Your phone + a super long charger (the plug-in is always so far away from your bed) and a tablet (Netflix hollaaa). A book and magazines are also good ways to pass the time. Some people bring a camera. I find that new cell phones have decent enough cameras with adjustable settings to get rather good pictures. So save that clunky cam for the home pics, and take the simple route.
9. A comfortable pillow (can also serve as a breast-feeding support, win-win!)
10. And for daddy-to-be: a change of comfy clothes, toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant and snacks.
Things that were provided for baby (ours was in NICU post birth but they do these for all the babies):
Preemie or newborn diapers (wipes were warm wash cloths), formula and/or a provided breast pump with supplies for milk storage, a soother, swaddlers, knit hats, and baby wash. Another great thing: vaseline. Put that on the bum and the meconium (a.k.a poop tar) wipes off WAY EASIER, you’re welcome.
Our hospital was really great for giving us what we needed.
So, pack for baby:
(2) onesies, (2) pairs of booties/scratch mittens, a going home outfit, a blankie, and have your car seat base pre-installed! The hospital is required to check your car seat and teach you how to place baby in properly/securely, so this is a given!
Note: Depending on the season you may need an extra layer for baby to go home with.
Each hospital will likely be different but most hospitals will provide the absolute necessities for you and baby until discharge time rolls around
Finally!
At discharge I was supplied with a weeks worth of analgesics, a weeks worth of colace, and was also given some mesh underwear and pads to take home to tide me over (I still used those adult incontinence underwear until I ran out). Plus I was set up with a home care nurse who came every other day to do our check ups, baby weights, and provided us with supports in everything from breast-feeding to diaper changes.
So there you have it! I think I covered the essentials necessary for a successful hospital stay.
Parent? Pregnant? What were/are your must-have’s for your baby journey?
Comment in the sidebar!

Following those dreams

If you’ve read my first post you’ll know that I’m a Social Worker in YXE. I joke that I became a social worker because there’s no math involved. And I’m only kind of lying. I hate math. No doubt. But my dream when I was in high school was to work in a medical profession. My ultimate goal was to work with children and my highschool yearbook says I wanted to be a pediatrician.
Alrighty, obviously I aim big.
I entered University at the fresh age of 18. Over a years time and through a series of hit and miss classes, I began to steer myself away from medicine  and focused my energy on social justice. I loved psychology. I loved sociology. This seemed like the perfect mix. I worked full-time in  the evenings in a hospital as a housekeeper and completed my degree by day. It was hard work but it was something I was good at. Fast forward four years (and a bit) and there I was, up on stage with a Dean handing me my degree. I felt like on top of the world.
Welcome to the real world Terrilynn.
Getting jobs that are well paid in this field is difficult. If you get paid well, your expected burn out rate increases exponentially. I started my career working in a government ran protective model home. I did it casually and I loved the work, but it took a toll on me emotionally. Protective model is not for the faint of heart. I attempted to switch to youth corrections but the staff were so jaded by their own experiences that I quit soon after the extensive training. I would not let myself become bitter.
Then I found my happy place. And that’s where this all begins…
If someone had told me at 24, after I had convocated with my first degree, that I would ever consider going back to post secondary…I would have laughed in their face. I was so done with writing essays and exams by the time I completed my four-year degree that I never wanted to step foot in an educational institution again.
It wasn’t until I had my daughter in 2014 and life threw me a few curve balls that I thought to myself…is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? I realized I wasn’t going to be cool with where i was at in the next 10 years, and I needed a change. I needed to follow my heart.
The idea was really daunting. When I had my daughter I was 25. Prior to my year-long mat leave i was working as a Program Coordinator for a non-profit human service organization. I was managing 4 residential homes for at risk youth, one of which was a 30 day shelter. I really loved what I did, but it was hectic and stressful for someone who was pregnant. That being said, I was excited to return to my position once my mat leave was over. The relationships I had with the people I worked with was like family.
Four months before I was to return to work I received a phone call from our top boss saying there were changes happening with the organization and that I should expect a letter in the mail detailing this within the week. He wouldn’t give me anymore information and it made me sick to my stomach knowing that my position had likely been cut.
I waited the week. Anxiously. Terrified. And then it came. I cried when I read it. I felt frustrated and defeated. I felt like the next four months of my mat leave would have to be devoted to securing a new job rather than enjoying the last few months I had full-time with my kiddo. I was so angry. But life does that sometimes. It knocks the wind out of your sails and you don’t understand why.
In hindsight I was being guided to a new path. It was truly a blessing in disguise. Someone, somewhere knew that I had more growing to do as a human.
I chose to stay with my organization. But instead of bumping someone with lower seniority, or changing to another program, I decided to become a casual worker within our residential homes. I didn’t know if it would work or if I would get enough hours. I just put my faith out there and hoped for the best. Turns out, I love it and the freedom it allowed me.
That was the month I applied for Nursing school. That was the month that I set aside my excuses and fears of the unknown. That was the month that completely changed the course of our families future.
As I patiently (anxiously) waited the next 6 months to see if I would get in, I almost felt like I applied as a joke. I had my doubts. There was no way I would be accepted, the programs was too competitive. I felt too old. When April hit, I felt like if I hadn’t heard by then, I wouldn’t be accepted. I began filling out an application for our cities Police service. The exact day I printed my application was the day I got accepted to the SCBSCN Program in my city.
I was going to be a nurse.
Every single excuse ran through my head as to why I shouldn’t go back. Money was the biggest concern (isn’t it always). My husband simply said, “we’ll figure it out and sell what we need to.” That was all I needed to hear and I graciously accepted my spot.
Here I am. Two years later. Living a super exhausted, fast paced, over flowing schedule of a life.
Being a mother and a wife, still working while obtaining my second degree hasn’t been easy. Yes, I’m stressed. Yes, I feel overwhelmed at times. But at no point have I ever felt like choosing to chase my dream was the wrong move.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing that her mama made every effort to better herself. Did you know that children with parents in school are more likely to follow the same path? It sets a precedent and creates realistic expectations of what’s required of them to succeed in post secondary. It shows them determination. I really love that idea, knowing that I’m setting an example for our little.
Following your passions is important. Living a full life that makes you proud is important. It is not enough to just live to survive because when you reach the end of your life, you should feel peace knowing you went for it. You gave it your all. You chose YOU.

Mama’s DNA

People are probably curious, why the name “my mama’s DNA.”

Let me tell you. When I had my daughter, I could feel almost instantly, that something was not right; not only physically, but mentally. First off, I was incredibly sick after I had her. My entire body became swollen and full of fluid, my blood pressure was in the 190s (ick, I know. Regular is 120/80 FYI). I had this incredible pain in my flanks and my abdomen that made me constantly throw up. I had horrible sweats and cold spells. In addition, it took them a month, multiple emergency room visits, and a lot of pain to figure out what was going on with me. The long and the short of it, I tore my stomach during delivery. Ouch.

Wait, what? That happens. I guess so! If you ask my husband though, he wasn’t surprised. He said my face was purple during the push process. Lovely. As if birthing a child wasn’t attractive enough, knowing I looked like a busted eggplant. Cool. Birth is a beautifully disgusting thing. I saw my daughter for one picture before they swept her away to do the necessary tests and procedures in the neonatal unit (NICU). She needed antibiotics and monitoring. I would say that it likely attributed to the start of my long journey with postpartum depression, and let me tell you, that was some ride.

They’ll tell you about postpartum depression, but in my experience, they were vague about it. I was told during my discharge from the hospital,

“If you experience periods of prolonged sadness for more than a week, you should talk to someone about it.” They called it “baby blues.” Normal amounts of sadness they attribute it to the flux of hormones in your body post-delivery, anything outside that is irregular sadness.

“Ok,” I said. I looked at my husband and he nodded as well. We knew nothing. First time parents don’t get some glorious manual explaining things. You are literally handed some papers, they check your car seat, and you are discharged. You start a new life, with a screaming little bundle of joy to keep alive. Scary shit.

The problem was, she would not be coming home with us. We were told likely a month. She was born at 34 weeks, so she was technically 6 weeks early. About two weeks under the “fully cooked” stage when they stop worrying about everything important being developed (like lungs). The day I was discharged was the only day I cried. It felt wrong leaving her there. It felt like I was a failure of a mother because I wasn’t leaving with a baby to take care of.

I then spent the next couple of days in and out of emergency. My husband ran back and forth between me and our daughter in NICU. He slept in the waiting room when he could. He was really a rock. When I was able to, I went to the NICU and I would hold her and rock her. We would have to put her back in the incubator so that she wouldn’t get cold. She was eating through a little nose tube as she worked on learning her sucking reflex. She had jaundice so she was in the “bat mask” as I called it and was put under light therapy to help. She was so cute. She was so tiny. But still, I didn’t feel motherly. It was a foreign feeling. I knew that she was mine, but there wasn’t an instinct. I loved the idea of her, but it felt like I was in a complete fog.

We called her Super Sawyer because after only a week, we got a phone call that she could come home. I had just come home to change and sleep. My husband was at work and I called him to tell him to meet me at the hospital. When we arrived, it was both frightening and exciting knowing that we could leave with her. We tried to put on her “coming home” outfit. But it was way too big. The nurses were nice enough to give us an onesie and an adorable teeny knit hat to keep her warm. And just like that, we were parents.

It took me a while to figure out that what I was feeling was “baby blues.” It was confusing for me. I was tired because I was a new parent. I didn’t feel particularly sad like they said I would. Instead, I felt agitated and angry ALL the time. Everything made me feel like I was going to explode. I would look forward to my husband coming home each day for work and the moment he stepped in the door I felt anger towards him, for no good reason at all. I wanted to sleep all the time. Sawyer and I would spend hours and hours in bed laying there, watching movies and TV. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to be active or take her in the community. I didn’t want to visit anyone or have anyone visit me. I felt like I was drowning.

It was over 6 months before someone said something to me. They noticed that I wasn’t myself. I almost laughed in their face, because they were telling me something I was incredibly aware of. I lied and said I was okay, just tired. Another 6 months went by; I finally admitted to my husband that I was just done with everything. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I knew I wasn’t being the best person I could be. I was having anxiety attacks multiple times a day and I was having horrible night terrors. He was very supportive. He told me to go to the doctor, to talk to someone about it and to do what I needed to do to get myself back to feeling happy and healthy. So I dialed my doctor’s number into my cell phone and deleted it. Dialed and hung up. I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it, I was so embarrassed.

I went to the doctor 3 months later. I was prescribed something to alleviate my anxiety and to help me out of my depression. It took 6 weeks and I caught myself laughing at something. I hadn’t actually laughed in a long time. I started to feel human again. I had energy again. I had ambition again. It was a beautiful thing. Now I joke, “My daughter changed my DNA” because at times it truly feels like I am a completely different person then when I became a mother. My brain chemistry changed itself and I don’t think it’s ever gone back to who I was before she arrived.

Postpartum depression is real. It can be sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration. It is complex. It is traumatic. It makes you feel less than. It robs you of the joy of feeling like a mother. But it is not something that anyone should every feel ashamed of, or be made to feel ashamed of. You are a warrior that rose out of an incredibly dark place; and if you are still there, you need to know that you are not alone, there are others just like you. Ones who are scared to own their story or to seek help for fear of being judged. I was one of them. Hell, I still am one of them at times.

Why share this? Because it needs to be normalized. My daughter is three now. I’ve had help managing symptoms for over a year. I have bad days and good days. I still have anxiety attacks on occasion; when I am feeling particularly run down, stressed out, or feel myself falling back into that depressive state. We are humans. We aren’t perfect. We are meant to feel a range of emotions. But we should never expect to feel like prisoners in our own minds.

So here is an open invitation for anyone who has been through, is going through, or is scared they will face postpartum depression, anxiety, or depression (or all three) at any point.

Here’s your soapbox. I want to hear you speak your truth. Speak it loudly so the people in the back can hear. XOXO.

10 Things I Hate About You

You guys! Welcome to my first blog post. Really, actually, my first official – I own this biz – blog!

This is some scary stuff right here, isn’t it? Starting a blog has been in my mind for ever! Writing has always been something I’ve wanted to do, but never really pursued outside of my own little beside pen and paper. I used to write a lot of journals, poetry and short stories in high school, and as I got older and had less time that kind of fell off my list of priorities. BUT, there’s no time like the present to reinvent ones self and to do things that ultimately bring you happiness, so here I am.

Why start a blog you ask? Well, I like to talk about real stuff. I definitely DO NOT sugar coat things, it benefits zero people. When my husband and I first decided to start a family I had this grand idea that I would write a tell-all book about the shit no one talks about in life…the absolute honest truth about pregnancy, birth, becoming a first time parent, raising a toddler, being a working mother. I was like,

“yeah, let’s do this! Time for the honesty train!”

…and then POW pregnancy hit me like a ton of bricks. I soon found out that I didn’t want to do ANYTHING aside from sleep and throw up for 7 months. And then she was born premature at 34 weeks. Best laid plans, amiright? Pregnancy was awful (a blessing most definitely, of course)…but awful for myself nonetheless. That’s definitely a topic for another day. Carrying on!

I started toying with the idea of writing this blog about 6 months ago. I get my best ideas when I’m about to fall asleep. I found a note the next day that I had text to myself that simply said, “mama’s DNA” and I was like…wtf are you talking about Terrilynn? Then I remembered, sleepy me was trying to motivate mostly awake/productive me to get my ass in gear. And thus an idea was born. Sounds magical doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t really. Like I said above, it’s kind of scary. The idea of putting your words out there for everyone to see is rather daunting.

Like, am I cool enough for this? Do people actually care what I have to say? Probably not, but you know what? That’s okay. If the last two years of reinventing myself have taught me anything its that your vibe attracts your tribe. Those who like me will be like, “yaaahhh girl, we’re with you!” and others…well, lets just say you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Totally cool.

So who am I? Deep question. Let’s start with the basics. I’m 28. The last of the 80s babies, I’ve grown up in a small town almost my entire life, moving the the city for post secondary education in 2007. I am a wife to my best friend – my high school sweetheart, the most supportive husband around –> this guy is gold let me tell you. Love of my freakin’ life. I am a mother to a threenager. Little Soy Bean, our joy. She just turned 3. She is my absolute light (BUT) I look forward to this stage/age to move a bit quicker… I love her but these tantrums are impressive. Let me tell you, when a toddler starts to discuss self autonomy, watch out world shit is getting real!

I am a Social Worker in the lovely (freezing) city of Saskatoon. I work with at-risk male youth in various types of homes. It is a passion of mine, I love my job dearly and the boys I get to see grow up with us. I am also a full-time Nursing student going into my Year 2/2nd Term. It has been an overwhelming life as of lately to say the very least. I did not expect at 27 years old, with a child, that I would ever go back to school. EVER. That isn’t how life works though is it? Best laid plans.

Enough sentences though! I thought I’d compile a list of 10 things about me that people may/may not know about this gal:

  • Tattooed x 3
  • Obsessed with: Tim Burton, Harry Potter, &  B-list Horror movies
  • Pregnancy cravings included: Reese cups & ichiban&mushroom soup
  • Night owl who prefers 12 hr sleep increments
  • Carb addict (popcorn & poutine’s are life)
  • Personal developement podcasts all day er’ day
  • Empathic soul
  • 70% rebel/30% straight edge.
  • Dye obsessed – change your hair, change your life!
  • Runs on coffee, energize, snacks and dark humour

So that is ME in a nutshell. What do I want to talk about each week? Life. Plain and simple, messy and disorderly, burning at both ends, life. Topics like: raising a todhole, how to be a mostly amazing parent, and how to maintain your sanity when you feel like like an escaped maniac on the LAM.

I’m just kidding, kind of.

I look forward to hearing from you all as I navigate this new and completely confusing world of blogging.

Stay tuned!