What It Is To Be A Mom: My Momtra

You’ve probably run across this issue before. It took me the first 2 years of my son’s life to figure out, and now that I’m 9 years into motherhood, I feel like I’m getting it down to a rhythm.

I’m talking about my momtra. What I stand for. Which battles I’ll pick and which I’ll let by. Who I am now that I’m a mom. What I want my kids to see in me.

Have you thought about it? It’s kept me up at nights, and caused lots of over-thinking. I used to worry about it. Mostly because I realized I was a mom before I really thought about what it was to be a mom.

I Thought I’d Come Up With Everything To Prepare For My Firstborn

  • Crib
  • Baby registry
  • Decorating the baby’s room
  • Choosing of names
  • The washing of newborn clothes before he came home
  • Perfect rocking chair
  • One million baby blankets (just in case)
  • Cloth diapers
  • Books on sleeping patterns
  • Books on what to expect
  • Enough baby clothes to cover every inch of my house

That and more was done to get ready for him. What I didn’t think about was me. I remember clearly going to a friends house when Josh was 5 months old and listening to her talk about her parenting style. The topics were wide. They spanned from if she would homeschool or public school, whether her baby was advanced or not, if she was going to allow processed food near her child, and much more.

I felt like all I could do was listen, because I hadn’t thought of any of that. I had gotten as far as keeping my baby safe, playing with him and trying to talk to adults once a day. Even that was a challenge. Especially at 5 months when babies are mobile!

That’s when I realized there was much more to being a mom than keeping them alive. I had decisions to make. Big decisions that could effect my little guy’s entire future. As an already avid list lover, I began researching and writing. Making goals, talking to my husband about what was realistic and asking the hard questions about our baby’s future.

My Momtra

I searched my heart and came up with what I now call my “momtra”. It’s what I believe has helped me not only survive motherhood, but thrive while I’m in it. And boy, am I in it. Now 3 kids deep, I’m so thankful for these simple truths that make me who I am as a mom.

  1. Children are a JOY.
  2. It is impossible to OVER-communicate. Keep trying!
  3. I will teach my children that fear is not a part of their DNA. Being fearful and being wise are two different things. We will be wise in our decisions.
  4. Work is good. It feels good to work hard. Laying on the couch watching TV is not the goal, but a simple way to rest after hard work. (this is for me AND my kids)
  5. I will do life with my kids. They are not excluded from activities with me (such as housework, errands, cooking, they’ve even come to business meetings from time to time).
  6. My children have feelings and opinions that are as important as mine. I will not belittle them. If we cannot do what they want to do, I will take the time to explain why. If they are upset, I will not tell them they can’t feel them or that they aren’t justified in that feeling. I will acknowledge them and help them to move passed that feeling or emotion.
  7. No deal is too big, no event too grand. If my children need me, if there is ever a crisis or emergency- I will be there for them. There is no age limit to this. I don’t care if they are 45 and need me- I will be there.

That’s it. I know, nothing was said about what kind of school I’ll put my kids in or how I will discipline, but that’s sort of the point. Those things are decided and they are important, but they aren’t the MOST important. They never will be. I’ve noticed that those things can change with each child too. I discipline my three kids in different ways, because they are different people. My momtra is what stays constant.

Total honesty, there are still days I’m just trying to keep them alive, but this is my goal. That my children grow up to be amazing humans. That they work hard for what they love. I want to see my children enjoy kids around them and even have kids of their own someday (I hear grandkids are the best!). I want them to know their worth, and know beyond a show of a doubt that their mom has their back. I want to see them charge ahead towards exciting new ventures, without letting fear hold them back.

So, that’s my momtra. What’s yours? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you’re new to our Sweetest Moms Community, be sure to check our some of our top read posts Fighting Screen-Time Zombies, The Art of Caring, and The Conductor of the Potty Train. 

Join The Sweetest Moms Community One Facebook! We are a kind, fun group of moms who definitely don’t know what we’re doing all the time.😉

Strawberries in Balsamic Yogurt Sauce

Today I’m celebrating. Coffee in hand, kids at school, and complete silence are my party decorations. Something incredible happened this weekend. Our little family of 5 went hiking.

Hiking by itself is nothing new for my crew; what’s new is how we hiked. Minimal planning, and minimal child-holding on the hike. My kids are now 9, 5 and 2 1/2. As you can imagine, the last few years of parenting have come with lots of planning and LOTS of child-holding in order to maintain the life we love. That hike was magical. Our two boys hiked the whole way with no complaining. Our 2 1/2 year old daughter rode in the hiking back pack and only complained because she wanted to walk too. We let her down whenever we stopped to swim and that made her very happy.

My husband and I have been pretty ruthless in keeping what we love regardless of the kids. Meaning, we haven’t stopped hiking, going to concerts, camping, road-tripping, and all around adventuring. We’ve gone into countless activities with the attitude of “this is going to be even better than last time” as opposed to “we’ll just try to cope because the kids are with us this time”. This has become our life mantra.

Sweetest Lemonade was actually named after our intense focus to make not just lemonade out of lemons, but the sweetest lemonade. Life doesn’t have to be “less than” when kids enter your world. Or even when things start to turn sour for that matter. When life gets hard, you still have the choice to make it the best out of what you have.

Parenting is hard, and complaining about it is the easy way out. I choose to live every day enjoying my kids, my messy house and my knack for cooking.

That brings me to today’s recipe. A simple, surprisingly sweet yogurt balsamic sauce dolloped over strawberries.

Plain Greek yogurt gets a bad rap because of its strong tangy flavor and complete lack of sweet. I wish we weren’t all so addicted to sweet (myself included) and could appreciate foods that have other flavors. But, that topic is for another day.

I love the clear red color of this balsamic!

This twist on yogurt is superb. No one would guess a white pomegranate balsamic and a little bit of honey could transform plain Greek yogurt into a snack even your kids will request!

The best part is, this recipe is only 4 ingredients, and perfect for summer![amd-zlrecipe-recipe:91]

Honey Caramel Sauce

Ah, honey caramel sauce. The caramel flavor everyone loves with a light, airy taste. Honey can be used for a variety of things, not just food. I use raw, local honey in all my recipes. This stuff is too good to make into some sort of face mask or hair removal treatment. Some things simply must be eaten.

I am in love with raw honey. The taste alone gets me, but the way it holds its own in recipes has me sold out. I am not new to cooking with honey. When I used to buy generic honey from the store (gasp) I had no clue what was missing. The flavor wasn’t nearly as prevalent and the texture was slightly different.

Getting the ingredient portions right for this recipe was tricky, but definitely worth it. My kids hardly complained about “bad batches” either.😉

Uses For Honey Caramel Sauce

Honestly, I haven’t found a dud, but here is what I know works!

What do you love to do with caramel sauce? Whatever it is try this honey caramel sauce instead of your regular one. Looking for a darker caramel flavor? Click here to read about our caramel sauce using coconut sugar.


Gorgeous Gluten Free Soft Pretzels

I’m sorry. I did that thing again. The thing where I made something so delicious, you decided you’d rather move in with me than try to make all this food on your own. I get it. I used to be that person too. While I have contemplated the pros an cons of having a huge piece of land my friends can all live on, for now you’ll have to look at these pictures long enough to convince yourself to make them.

Pretzels are incredible. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like them. If that’s you, maybe just don’t tell me. I’m not sure I could handle that.

Having fun trying out various sizes!

Back in the day I worked at the gift shop in the mall. The pretzel place was the closest to me so naturally when on my breaks, I frequented it. I might also add that I was just over 300lbs at the time…. If you didn’t know that part of my story, you can read about it here.

Needless to say I generally stay away from pretzels because I love them too much. Until this recipe happened. Gluten free pretzels that only use coconut sugar. They’re dairy free too!

The Pretzel Process

Begin with by mixing the warm water and yeast. Then add in the dough mixture. Cover and let rise for 60-70 minutes.

Roll out the dough onto parchment paper. I sprinkled my parchment paper with brown rice flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Transfer the pretzels from the paper to the hot water bath. They only need to be in the water for 3-5 seconds, not much.

Olive oil is the key for these savory pretzels. Most recipes finish with a butter glaze, but I wanted a different zing-zing flavor. I used Buckeye Creek Farm Olive Oil for this recipe. Brush the olive oil on the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle the rosemary and kosher salt on top. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

One batch can make 12 medium pretzels, or 6 large pretzels.

Dip them in your favorite sauce and enjoy!


Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake

Did you know that 78% of American families are cooking 5 or more times a week?  For a “cook real food at home” enthusiast like me this is so encouraging! I hear so much about families eating out more and more, or that traditional cooking at home families are dying out. So no true!!

We eat out once a week, depending on what’s going on in our lives. The rest is completely at home, and 90% or more is made from scratch. This lifestyle sounds like a lot of work to some, but it’s really simple! I strategize by cooking a few things ahead of time on Sunday afternoons. Grilled chicken, brown rice and hard boiled eggs are just a few that get made once a week to save time during the week. To read more about meal planning, check out this blog post.

Coconut oil is a great way to prep cake pans.

I’ve learned the beautiful art of cooking with real, whole ingredients and allowing for time in my day to do so. Part of what had to happen is I needed to slow down on the “rush” mentality. The idea that we need everything now- and can’t wait more than 5 minutes for our meals to be ready to eat. I now enjoy the methodical time it takes to create an amazing dish, and how simple it can be in the process. I’m convinced that anyone can cook – and I’m not just talking about chicken nuggets and tater tots😉

These little chocolate cakes are the perfect example. I made these a few times to get the ingredients and baking time just right, but I enjoyed the whole process! My kids had no complaints about the multiple batches either.

Warm chocolate pudding cakes are a great for a coffee date or a decadent dessert. They are gluten free too! The presentation is so fun to see. I made them in 2 different pans. One is a ramekin, which is a small little oven safe dish. When you flip the cakes out of the ramekins, the pudding on the bottom stays in liquid form and pours perfectly oven the cake. I found a great price on a set of ramekins here. I also used a pan of mine that makes little cakes in batches of 6. They look like mini bundt cakes, but without the hole in the middle. When making the recipe in this pan, the pudding layer cooked through, giving a 2-tone affect when the cake is flipped over. Here’s the pan I use for the mini fluted cakes. 

Perfectly baked on top, with the pudding still in liquid state underneath.


Asparagus Salad

Salads for dinner are a sign that summer is on its way. I love the idea of keeping the house cool by making a quick salad for dinner. Not to mention the additional perk of extra time to be outside.

I have these friends. Let’s call them skeptics. They love the idea of healthy living, but claim that it’s just not realistic for their lifestyle or budget. My friends love coming over to eat whatever food I’ve been making, but say they could never have the time or patience to cook regularly. Whelp. Today I’m busting them. I’m proving that dinner can be fast, healthy and affordable.

This salad is ahhhh-mazing and only 4 ingredients. Seriously.

It’s simply the right food paired together and drizzled in a sweet tangy pomegranate balsamic.

I whipped this up in under 3 minutes. Yes, I timed it. That’s how stubborn I am. You can ask my skeptic friends. They’ll testify. If this 3 minute salad is too easy for your level of cooking, then try making it as a side with Garden Variety Herbed Pork Tenderloin. I’m going to make it teamed up with Italian Lemon Turkey Burgers next!



Gluten Free Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This recipe goes out to my first born Josh. He’s been requesting pulled pork sandwiches for months! Josh is a huge fan of meat & anything that can go into a sandwich. He’s a bit like his dad in those regards. I haven’t met a food combo yet that my husband won’t at least try to turn into a sandwich.😉

There is a right way and a wrong way to make pulled pork sandwiches. If this is news to you, don’t worry. I am here to help! Please don’t buy shredded pork, throw some bbq sauce on top and call it good. There is a method to this classic entre!

Step By Step Pulled Pork

First, buy a pork roast. Pick one with a good amount of fat on it. I know, I know. You probably have some silly idea that fat is bad for you. Animal fat is great for you. All in moderation of course, but this is a good fat! For more info on why animal fat is good for you read my post on bone broth. Buy from the butcher if you have one available to you. We have a friend who raises pigs and we get all our pork from her. It’s amazing.

The bone will literally come out clean!

Second, prep your crock pot by spraying it with olive oil.

Place the pork in the crock pot in the morning and set it on low. “Low and slow” is the name of the game for this recipe. Let it cook about half the day, say from 8am-1pm before adding the other ingredients.

While the pork is cooking, make your homemade bbq sauce. The recipe I linked is easy to set up and simmers for 30 minutes.

At the half-way point of cooking, add in the onion slices.

Once the pork has been cooking for 7 hours on low, add in the bbq sauce. Cook on low for another hour.

Shredding the pork takes seconds!

Then begin shredding the pork. It should be really easy to do. I like using two forks and gently pulling in opposite directions from the place I started.

Set the crock pot to warm and assemble the other ingredients. I use gluten free buns (Udi’s is my go-to brand) and top the pork with Salt And Savour Sauerkraut. My current favorite is the Horseradish and Mustard Seed. The flavors collide in a beautiful outpouring of zip and tang with a hint of sweet.

You’ve never tasted pulled pork quite like this!


Banana Pecan Muffins

“Mom – she touched me!”

“Well he wouldn’t stop looking at me!”

“That’s because you won’t play with me.”

“I don’t wanna play with you. I’m not a baby anymore!”

“Mom – she called me a baby!”

Crying. Whining. Yelling. Don’t forget the fiery darts coming out of your child’s eyes.

If only whining could be neutralized. Will there ever be a cure?!?

I know what you truly want for Mother’s Day. It’s not breakfast in bed or a bouquet of roses. None of those little coupons promising dishes will be done for a week. You don’t want jewelry either. Okay, I should say you don’t want just jewelry. Sweetest Moms Tip: Don’t ever say no to jewelry.

What you really want is for your children to get along. To stop whining, nagging, tattling and everything else in between.

People, I’ve figured it out. It’s not a séance or new video game that teaches manners either.

There is something you should know. This recipe will calm your kids down. Mellow them out. Create a peaceful environment where everyone can hear themselves think. Can you picture it? I’m still in the stage of not being able to use the bathroom by myself- so you can imagine why I created this recipe.

The Trick

Muffins are a friendly enough food to kids at any age. From toddler to teen, a muffin is a welcome sight.

I’ve disguised these muffins to appear normal, slightly sweet & delicious. Kids will ever know your plan to keep them calm for an afternoon.

Cardamom is a natural anti-depressant and helps reduce muscle spasms. It’s also used for heart issues and stomach pains. Bottom line, by using this spice, you are taking care of multiple things that can make kids cranky. Have you ever experienced the horrors that come with a child having growing pains? Not fun. Or he ate too much at lunch and now everything is making him angry due to gas or a bloated stomach? My son has actually come home sick from school only to find the problem was an upset stomach from lunch time.

Cloves will surprise you. I use ground cloves quite often. Did you know cloves are an amazing remedy for headaches? So whether the whining is causing a headache or the result of one, cloves are important for calming the situation.

Pecans have a wealth of vitamins and nutrients. Possibly lesser known is that nuts have been proven to lower anxiety. No matter what started the whining sound, a lower amount of anxiety will definitely help!

Bananas are simply the best. The can level out your metabolism and be the perfect go-to snack when you’re on the run as a typical banana is only 90 calories. They are high in potassium and have natural occurring sugars in them.


So give yourself a treat, make some muffins and put the whole family in a better state of mind. This will be the best Mother’s Day yet! 😉

I am siting Organic Facts for the information listed above about spices and foods.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:85]


Pomegranate Iced Tea

Bring on the iced teas and summer breeze. I’m ready. Summer is just around the corner and I can already smell the sunscreen in the air. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but you know what I’m saying.

My kids are in the countdown for summer. Only 5 more weeks! Josh has loved 3rd grade, but next year he will be in the fourth grade which means he’ll be in the “big kid” part of the school. Different recess times, different lunch times, and no more little kid stuff like the school Easter egg hunt or 100 days of school celebration. He’s the kind of kid who acts more like an adult in most respects and can’t wait for his age to catch up to his mind. Then there’s Sam. He’s decided kindergarten will be amazing because- NO NAPS! This kid has been asking me all year long, “When do I graduate from preschool?”. Little Rori thinks preschool is the bees-knees and can’t wait to go more than once a week in the fall.

So, the countdown. As a mom, the countdown is full of anticipation and conflicted feelings. I love a schedule and have grown quite used to our every day routine. However, summer is the BEST with kids! We go swimming, hiking, make popsicles just because and play outside every day. We can hop in the car and go for a mini road trip whenever and don’t have to worry about their school schedules.

Pineapple pairs with iced tea so well. Yumm!

I love the simple summer days. Wake up early to see the sunrise, start some iced tea on the back porch and go for a bike ride while it’s still cool. Come inside for a cold drink and do a little play time before lunch. Kids all rest in the afternoon or go to a friend’s house while I put laundry on the line and plan a dinner that won’t heat up the house. I love it all. We live in one of the most beautiful little spots in Northern California. Late at night we can just lay out in the back yard looking at stars as the sun goes down.

Yes, summer is coming. This pomegranate iced tea can be done “back porch” style or right in your kitchen.

It is everything that is summer; simple, refreshing and creative.


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Mushroom Cheesy Rice

Traditional dishes turned healthy make me smile. This side dish screams flavor and is nutrient dense as well.

We’ve all had a version of creamy mushroom cheesy rice before. Undoubtedly it has included cream of mushroom instead of real mushrooms. Hang on tight, because this recipe is a game changer. Fresh mushrooms locally sourced are a huge flavor improvement from your typical rice recipe. We are lucky enough to have Mushroom Authority right here in Northern California. Not only can you buy a wide variety of mushrooms from them, but you can purchase mushroom kits and grow your own!

Mushrooms are high in Vitamin B as well as Vitamin D. However, when you pour out a can of cream of mushroom, you’ve sadly lost a lot of the nutrients that were in the mushrooms to begin with.  

We paired sresh shiitake mushrooms with local cheese from Pedrozo Dairy. They have an outstanding gold cheese that has won the hearts of the kids. My husband is what I like to call a “cheese snob”. He cares very much about what kind of cheeses enter our house and this one passed with flying colors.


Pair this with our honey sesame pork chops or homemade chicken nuggets for a complete meal!